Saturday, December 17, 2011

+Barnum and +Glenn offer a letter of clarity

From AMiA-

December 16, 2011 Ember Friday

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the Name of Jesus who was and is and is to come. We are writing in order to send letters to you from the entire House of Bishops in the Anglican Province of Rwanda (PEAR). As you will see, these letters were actually sent a week ago. We had hoped to have the proper mechanism to send them to every member of the clergy in the AMiA but have been unable to have access to this, despite our efforts. As a result, we are sending them to any possible email address list that we can assemble in hopes that you, in turn, will pass it along to those you know in the AMiA. The letters attached to this email were sent to all congregations and clergy from Archbishop Rwaje and a unanimous Rwandan House of Bishops (HoB) on Friday, December 9, in response to the resignations of most of the Anglican Mission in America bishops from the Rwandan HoB.

More here-

The nativity gets updated for the modern age

From London-

There's a beautifully groomed Mary in a blue party dress, a fashionable Joseph gazing adoringly at the baby, and wise men carrying a Faberge egg, a crystal bottle of perfume and a decorated skull.

With only twelve days to go until Christmas, a church group unveiled a poster Thursday to remind people of the religious aspect of the holiday — while making a statement about modern-day extravagance.

The poster, deliberately designed to look like a fashion photograph, has the words: "However you dress it up, Christmas starts with Christ."

Francis Goodwin, chairman of multi-denominational religious group ChurchAds that organized the poster campaign, said the image is meant to remind people of the origins of Christmas.

"We are not killjoys, we do not object to giving presents and having a good time," he said. "This is just a reminder that the real reason for Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Christ."

Goodwin said he hoped the poster would also modernize the traditional Christmas image.

"We wanted to update the Christmas message, to put a new image out there," he said. "Most people outside the church think the nativity just means the traditional Victorian images we all recognize — it's not something that is relevant to many people."

More here-

Florida’s new Episcopal Bishop faces big challenges

From Central Florida-

It’s a confusing time to be a member of the Episcopal Church. More than two decades of bickering over a range of theological issues, notably the question of whether openly gay and lesbian people can be ordained as priests and bishops, has left one of America’s oldest denominations splintered.

Over the past eight years, the ordinations of gay and lesbian priests as bishops has prompted strong objections from traditionalists, and some bishops have gone as far as schism — leaving the Episcopal Church for an array of more conservative Anglican groups.

Into this situation comes the Rev. Gregory Brewer, who recently was elected bishop of the Diocese of Central Florida, based in Orlando. Brewer, who was pastor of Calvary-St. George’s Episcopal Church in New York City, has big shoes to fill. He will succeed the Rt. Rev. John Howe, who is retiring in March.

Howe has been a stalwart of the traditionalist wing of the Episcopal Church, and his voice — unwavering yet charitable toward those who disagreed with him — has wielded influence far beyond Orlando.

Howe lobbied for policies that would allow conservative dioceses like his to have a measure of independence, remaining within the Episcopal Church as a kind of loyal opposition. He was willing to talk with those he disagreed with, including Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. Howe’s approach earned respect and kept most of the traditionalists in his diocese pacified.

The controversy about the role of gays and lesbians in the church has proved nearly insoluble among mainline Protestant churches that have been debating it actively since the 1980s. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Presbyterian Church (USA) have within the past year loosened their policies to allow the ordination of gays and lesbians in some situations. The fallout has been predictable: Significant minorities of congregations — especially large and wealthy congregations — are planning to leave.

Read more:

The Catholic priest with nine children

From The Guardian (London)

Father Ian Hellyer is a Roman Catholic priest – but far from being celibate, he's a father. Not just to a couple of children, either: in true Roman Catholic fashion, Father Ian has lots of them – nine, in fact, ranging from 18-year-old Clare to seven-month-old Rose – taking in Teresa (17), Angela (15), Martha (11), John (nine), Luke (seven), Simeon (four) and Gregory (two) in between.

Ian (45) hasn't done all this on his own, naturally: his wife Margaret (43) has been heavily involved too. And yes, he agrees genially over a cup of tea at his cluttered family home, his lifestyle does surprise a lot of people. Just the other day he was wheeling Rose's buggy into a church before a service, clerical collar visible, when a whole row of elderly Catholic ladies turned to stare at him. "They had this mixture of delight and horror on their faces – delight at the baby, and horror that she belonged to me," he says.

This time last year, Ian was an Anglican priest, and he and Margaret and their children lived in a large Victorian vicarage in Devon. The house, and the life, seemed to have been made for them: they had six bedrooms and two staircases. There was a huge garden and plenty of friends for the children in the surrounding villages.

More here-

Virgin Mary’s surprise pregnancy test in billboard a shocker

From New Zealand via Toronto (In case you missed this several days ago)

The Virgin Mary is pregnant and it’s an unpleasant — even shocking — surprise.

At least that’s how she is depicted in a controversial new billboard erected Tuesday by St. Matthew-in-the-City, an Anglican church in Auckland, N.Z.

Swathed in blue, green and red robes, a shocked Mary clasps her hand over her mouth while looking at a pregnancy test.

“Regardless of any premonition, that discovery (of being pregnant) would have been shocking,” vicar Glynn Cardy and associate priest Clay Nelson wrote on the church website. “Mary was unmarried, young and poor. This pregnancy would shape her future. She was certainly not the first woman in this situation or the last.”

The billboard has sparked outrage, with many comments on the church’s website condemning the image as clashing with the gospel account of Jesus’ birth in which Mary has given her assent to God.

“Please reconsider repenting on what you have just created,” wrote Nader Mansi from California. “You are contradicting the Bible itself (which) you claim to side with.”

More here-

Kunonga Militants Target Schools Helping Evicted Anglicans

From Zimbabwe-

ZANU PF militants are harassing school authorities that have offered their premises to Anglican parishioners, evicted from their own church buildings by the faction of the church led by excommunicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga.

In 2007 Kunonga unsuccessfully tried to withdraw his diocese from the Church Province of Central Africa (CPCA), claiming differences over the ordination of gay priests. Without the necessary two thirds majority support he still went ahead to unilaterally withdraw the diocese and form his own church.

Since 2008 Kunonga has seized over 90 properties belonging to the church, including the main Cathedral in Harare, 19 primary and secondary schools and several orphanages around the country. The seizures have been done with tacit support from Mugabe's regime, that has also provided police to protect him.

The head of the Anglican church worldwide, the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, travelled to Zimbabwe in October and handed over a dossier to Mugabe detailing the abuses suffered by their members over the last four years.

But Precious Shumba, a press officer for Bishop Chad Gandiya from the CPCA, said the visit didn't change anything and they are still not getting any protection. He said Kunonga's priest in Mhondoro, identified as Langton Munindwa, is moving around with ZANU PF youths and threatening school authorities who have offered premises for worship to Rev Charles Muzanenhamo and his parishioners.

More here-

Evidence of alleged miracle credited to Archbishop Sheen heads to Rome

From Illinois via Boston-

Boxes wrapped in ribbon and a happy little boy are Christmas images, but the combination had another joyful meaning Dec. 11 during ceremonies closing the Diocese of Peoria's inquiry into an alleged miraculous healing through the intercession of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

"May God, who has begun this great work, bring it to fulfillment," said Peoria Bishop Daniel R. Jenky after affixing a wax seal on a box containing evidence gathered in the past three months by an investigative tribunal. The assembly gathered for the special Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral responded with sustained applause.

That evidence is now on its way to Rome for consideration by the Congregation for Saints' Causes. The congregation is studying the sainthood cause of Archbishop Sheen, a central Illinois native and priest of the Peoria Diocese who became an internationally known evangelist, radio/TV personality, writer and missionary.

In a pew just outside the cathedral sanctuary, the focus of the testimonies contained in the box -- 15-month-old James Fulton Engstrom -- sat contentedly with his parents and two older siblings, squirming occasionally as all healthy little boys will do.

More here-

Evangelicals urge Salmond to protect traditional marriage

From Scotland-

Leaders from some of Scotland’s largest evangelical churches have handed over a letter urging First Minister Alex Salmond to support the traditional definition of marriage.

Read the letter and the list of signatories.
The open letter was signed by leaders from over 70 evangelical churches, representing more than 20,000 people.

The letter was formally handed to the Scottish Government on Thursday morning at a rally organised by Scotland for Marriage, a group seeking to preserve the definition of marriage.


At the rally Revd David McCarthy, of St Silas Episcopal Church in Glasgow, warned that the careers of those who adhere to the traditional definition of marriage could be jeopardised by any change.

He said: “We’ve already seen Gordon Wilson forced off the Citizens Advice Bureau in Dundee because of comments he made in defence of marriage.

More here-

Desmond Tutu Backs Occupy Wall Street Push for Duarte Square

Form New York-

Occupy Wall Street protesters seeking long-term use of a Trinity Church-owned lot in Hudson Square gained a powerful backer Thursday night, when Archbishop Desmond Tutu urged the house of worship to allow protesters to use the space.

In a "message of solidarity" posted to that addressed protesters as "Sisters and Brothers," the South African Nobel Peace Prize winner likened his country's and the protesters' struggles and asked Trinity to work with them.

"I appeal to [Trinity] to find a way to help you," he wrote. "I appeal to them to embrace the higher calling of Our Lord Jesus Christ — which they live so well in all other ways."

Tutu added on Friday that protesters seeking to occupy land at the northeast corner of Varick and Canal streets, where demonstrators and a DNAinfo photographer were arrested Nov. 15, should not use his statement to justify breaking the law.

"It is not necessary to forcibly break into property. Nor is it [necessary] to reinforce or build higher the barriers between people of faith who seek peace and justice," he said.

Read more:

Episcopal bishop urges restraint from Occupy NYC

From The Wall Street Journal-

The top bishop of the Episcopal Church is asking Occupy Wall Street protesters not to trespass on the property of a New York City church that has supported them.

In a rare comment on a local issue, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori (SHOHR'-ee) said in a statement Friday it's "regrettable" Occupy members want to seize fenced-in property owned by Trinity Wall Street Episcopal church in Manhattan. She says it could result in "legal and police action."

Occupy press representatives say protesters may take over Duarte Square on Saturday to mark three months of the movement against economic inequality.

The protesters were cleared from their encampment at lower Manhattan's Zuccotti Park on Nov. 15. They have asked church officials to let them occupy the church-owned property but have been denied.

Friday, December 16, 2011

All for the love of Jews

From The Jewish Chronicle-

Earlier this year, a memorial stone was placed on the grave of an Anglican minister whose remains had lain unmarked in a north London cemetery for 80 years. The inscription reveals this minister to have perfectly exemplified the trait whose manifestation by the English forms the subject of Gertrude Himmelfarb's poignant book.

Curiously, his name goes unmentioned in Himmelfarb's history of "philosemitism in England from Cromwell to Churchill", as she subtitles her book.

The minister who so graphically exemplified the love of Jews was William Hechler. Heading the inscription on his stone is a line from Psalm 102: "When The Lord Shall Build Up Zion, He Shall Appear in His Glory". Below it, Hechler is characterised as "a Lover of God, His Word and His Ancient People; a Tireless Adversary of Anti-Semitism; and a Friend and Counsellor of Theodor Herzl".

You certainly do not have to be a Christian to be a philosemite, but it undoubtedly helps, especially if of that evangelical variety Hechler and so many other British and American Protestants have been.

Inspired by a speech by Lord Ashley, a prominent Victorian philosemite who does feature in Himmelfarb's book, protesting at the pogroms following the assassination of Tsar Alexander II in 1881, Hechler travelled to the Ukraine where he spent a year helping homeless Jews, before relocating to Vienna as chaplain to the British embassy.

More here-

Behold, I tweet glad tidings

From The Church Times-

CHRISTIANS are using the social-media site Twitter to re-tell the Christmas story in novel ways this year.

In Germany, a Twitter-user called Joseph von Nazareth is journalling the nativity story from the perspec­tive of Joseph. Describing himself as a “35-year-old third-generation car­penter from Nazareth”, he regularly updates the site with short descrip­tions from the Christmas story.

This week he started recounting the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. In one of his 140-character tweets, he wrote: “Please note: my carpenter’s workshop is closed till January 1 because of census, we’re on company outing. Thanks for your understanding.”

The Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, this week an­nounced the winners of his Christ­mas Twitter competition, in which he asked people to describe the mean­ing of Christmas in one tweet.

Bishop Baines said that he was impressed with the standard of entries, and that the winners had “all managed to articulate some­thing of the enduring significance of Christmas”.
His own tweet read: “Christmas is about God opting into the world in all its messiness and not exemp­ting himself from it — showing he is on our side, one of us.”

More here-

Philippine church leaders join movement against big mining firms

From ENS-

Leaders from Philippine Roman Catholic and Protestant groups have joined non-government and indigenous peoples’ organizations in a renewed campaign against big mining firms.

“The campaign against large-scale mining is also a campaign against greed,” the Rev. Eduardo Solang, a retired priest of the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, told ENInews on Dec. 14.
Solang was among 150 delegates to a Dec. 13-15 mining and human rights summit convened in the northern Philippine city of Baguio by the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance and the Ecumenical Bishops Forum.

According to organizers, the summit was aimed “to sum up the economic, social, cultural, environmental and human rights impacts of the ongoing destructive large-scale mining operations in affected communities based on shared experiences.”

During the summit, the Ibon Foundation, an independent research organization, listed 28 large-scale metallic mines nationwide, mostly owned by transnational firms, engaged in extracting gold, silver, copper, nickel, chromite and zinc.

It also reported 2,358 mines that extract non-metallic elements such as sand, gravel and cement.

More here-

Spirit of generosity and outreach is the heart of Christ Church

From Newark-

The welcoming, busy and generous congregation of Christ Episcopal Church, 400 Ramapo Ave., steeped in history and family tradition, is celebrating its first year with Priest-in-Charge, Reverend Stephen Rozzelle.

"The signature of this church is their outreach," said Rev. Rozzelle. "They respond to others during crisis."

After the devastating floods brought on by Hurricane Irene at the end of August, the parish raised $8,000 and replaced washer and dryers for residents on one street in the town.

"These are people they did not know and they went out of their way to help strangers," said Rev. Rozzelle. "That's true generosity."

Christ Church Pompton is a historic church, according to its website,, and part of the Anglican Communion, and the Episcopal Church. Established in 1798, it is the fourth oldest congregation in the Diocese of Newark.

And yet, their original mission statement speaks for today: "The mission of Christ Church is to restore all peoples to unity with God and each other in Christ through education, worship, outreach, fellowship, and communication in seeking to achieve a deeper relationship with God and compassion for others."

More here-

Rebirth taking place at Grace Episcopal Church

From Connecticut-

Grace Episcopal Church has been a fixture in the Windsor community since 1845, when the Rev. Arthur C. Coxe founded St. Gabriel’s Church. The same building, now known as the Grace Episcopal Church, has been a cornerstone for the town of Windsor ever since. The church stands next to the main branch of the public library on the town green near the historic district of Windsor. Part of the church’s history is even on display at the local Windsor Historical Society.

Earlier this year, the church struggled to stay in business as tough times hit, with some parishioners leaving and their former reverend retiring.

“Going back to earlier this year, we lost a number of parishioners,” said parishioner Max Kuziak. “No fault of our own, some passed on, some retired and went south. We had a number of parishioners who moved to other parts of Connecticut.”

More here-

Province IV bishops call meeting with colleague ‘honest, forthright’

From ENS-

Six of the 20 Province IV diocesan bishops said Dec. 15 that their meeting the previous day with their colleague, Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence, was characterized by “gracious hospitality and collegiality” but not complete agreement.

The bishops of the Episcopal Church’s Province IV had asked Lawrence Dec. 5 to meet with them “to have a clarifying conversation” about his decision to issue property deeds to each diocesan congregation.

At Lawrence’s direction, Diocesan Chancellor Wade Logan Nov. 16 sent a quitclaim deed to every parish in the diocese. A quitclaim deed generally transfers ownership of the property from the party issuing the deed to the recipient.

In a statement e-mailed by Diocese of Upper South Carolina Bishop W. Andrew Waldo and later posted on the South Carolina diocesan website, the bishops said that they were a “representative group who were available at the appointed time and date.”

In addition to Waldo and Lawrence, the bishops present at the meeting were Diocese of Georgia Bishop Scott Benhase, Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry, Diocese of East Carolina Bishop Clifton Daniel III, Diocese of West Tennessee Bishop Don Johnson and Diocese of Western North Carolina Bishop G. Porter Taylor.

Daniel, the provincial vice president, had requested the meeting with Lawrence, saying that the other provincial bishops want to know under what canonical authority he proceeded, whether he involved the diocesan Standing Committee, and whether the members of the Standing Committee were in accord with his action. Daniel also asked who signed the quitclaim deeds.

More here-

Episcopal Relief & Development Receives $350,000 Award from Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

From The Sacramento Bee-

Episcopal Relief & Development is pleased to announce that it is the recipient of a $350,000 grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for work in rural Zambia. This grant will support the incorporation of early childhood development into the integrated community development program currently run by the organization's partner, the Zambia Anglican Council (ZAC). Episcopal Relief & Development will raise funds to match the full amount of the grant, enabling the project to reach an estimated 4,000 families in areas with a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.


The prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS in Zambia is among the highest in the world, leaving hundreds of thousands of children orphaned or vulnerable. Parents who are HIV-positive may succumb to the disease, or be too sick to provide sufficient care for their children. This responsibility often falls to a relative or a sibling, who may lack the resources or knowledge to support the child's health, growth and development.

The program will work with 4,000 families affected by HIV/AIDS, addressing the interrelated needs of children under five and empowering their parents or caregivers to support their healthy development. The program will incorporate learnings from the development of The Essential Package: A Framework for Action for Young Children and Their Caregivers Affected by HIV and AIDS, a unique initiative spearheaded by CARE, Save the Children, the Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care and Development and other stakeholders, with funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

Read more:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Episcopal Presiding Bishop’s Christmas 2011 Message

From ENS

“Jesus comes among us to remind us of a world living together in peace, to reclaim and make real that vision of creation for all humanity and all God’s creatures,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says in the Christmas message for 2011.

The following is the text of the Presiding Bishop’s message:

Christmas message 2011

See, your salvation comes – Isaiah 62:11

The great prophets before Jesus proclaimed a vision of a nation and a people redeemed. We continue to share that yearning – as the Christmas hymn puts it, “the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” We’ve seen abundant hopes spring up in the past year across the Arab world and Eastern Europe, and in the global Occupy movement. Those voices seek a world of greater justice, communities in which decisions and the gifts of creation are more available to all. Our understanding of salvation is most profoundly about justice in community, and as Christians we believe that help and healing for all are grounded in the incarnate presence of God – among us and within us.

We look for salvation to the one who came among us in the most humble way, a helpless child born in a scandalous way to a poor peasant couple. The Incarnation, God with us, changed the world in ways that we insist are leading to the ultimate healing of all creation. “See, your salvation comes,” says the prophet in every age, yet it is not yet fully come upon us. We live in hope for its fullness. May hope be nourished within us, in each and every human being and community, for the journey toward God’s healed and holy future.

More here-

Virgin Mary billboard sparks outrage in New Zealand

From New Zealand-

The large poster outside St Matthew's in the City, a prominent Anglican church in Auckland, was designed by an advertising agency and depicts Mary in the style of a classical Renaissance painting.

A caption competition on the church's website has already drawn some questionable responses.
Suggestions include "Yay! I hope it's a girl," "Now, which way to the abortion clinic?" and "If I say I'm a virgin, mum and dad won't kill me."

One contributor protests: "You have crossed the line! Mary should not be the object of a trite campaign, whatever your good or not so good intentions."

St Matthew's, on a busy corner site in the centre of New Zealand's biggest city, is no stranger to controversy.

A billboard the church posted at Christmas two years ago showed Mary and Joseph in bed, apparently naked after having sex, with the caption: "Poor Joseph. God was a hard act to follow."
It provoked such fury that it had to be taken down after being attacked several times.

Another condemns the billboard: "Can it be more offensive?"

More here-

Humane Society of United States announces winner of hymn contest (video)

From Maryland- (with video)

I love that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has launched a faith outreach dedicated to engaging people and institutions of faith with animal protection issues, recognizing that religious values call upon us all to act in a merciful way toward all creatures.

And to launch that outreach, the HSUS held a contest and invited people to submit a video of themselves performing their interpretation of the hymn “O God Your Creatures Fill the Earth,” by lyricist Pastor Carolyn Gillette. And the winner is St. George’s Episcopal Church in Glenn Dale, Md.!

It might not be the most polished performance, but doggone it, it’s the most heartfelt! The performace was videotaped during their Blessing of Animal Companions service on October 1, 2011 and included both parishioners and their pets.

Woof! Woof! Woof! Wooooof!

“St. George’s Episcopal Church really captured the spirit of celebrating our bond with all animals,” said Christine Gutleben, HSUS senior director of faith outreach, in the press release announcing the winner. “We particularly enjoyed the dogs chiming in with the congregants during the hymn.”

More here-

Luke 1:39-56: Magnificat for a Broken World

From Huffington-

I left St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in New Haven with a soaring spirit. The Lessons & Carols service -- quintessentially Anglican worship interweaving Scripture and music -- had just concluded. Particularly memorable had been a haunting setting by Roderick Williams of one of the seven Greater Antiphons of Advent: "O Adonai, et Dux domus Israel" ("O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel"). This stunning piece has a dark edginess that beautifully captures what waiting for God can be like. Dissonances rise and clash above powerful choral continuities; impressions of order are challenged by free-form melodic descants; a tenor solo seeks valiantly to unfold the narrative of Israel's redemption against the backdrop of luminous but subtly disturbing musical chaos.

O Adonai, and leader of the house of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and to him gave the Law: Come to redeem us with outstretched arms.

As I drove away, I passed the turn that would have taken me to the other church in my life. St. Andrew's, where I currently serve as a deacon, is just a few blocks away from St. Thomas', but it's in an entirely different world. The well-resourced St. Thomas' is located in a lovely neighborhood with million-dollar houses along the broad, tree-lined streets.

St. Andrew's is in the troubled Newhallville area of New Haven. Across from the church is an overgrown vacant lot with trash and used drug paraphernalia caught up at the bottom of a chain-link fence. The neighborhood is plagued by crime; several shootings have taken place within a few blocks of the church in the past three months. With a tiny congregation and no endowment, St. Andrew's struggles to stay open. It hasn't helped that in recent months, the church has experienced two break-ins, an off-site robbery of its Sunday offering, and the home invasion of an elderly parishioner.

More here-

Brazen Woman Bandit Believed To Have Hit Ten Churches During Services

From Maryland- (Video)

9News Now has learned as many as ten area churches from Leesburg to Bethesda may have been hit by the same woman bandit who brazenly steals purses and wallets during Sunday services. She often walks right into the church office first stealing keys from desks, and then lets herself in to other locked rooms where valuables would be.

According to area church leaders, the ten churches hit by the same woman bandit are Ashburn Presbyterian and Sterling Leesburg Presbyterian (December 11, 2011), Fairfax UMC and Centreville UMC (November and December, 2011), Leesburg UMC and Leesburg Presbyterian (October, 2011), St. Luke's Episcopal Church and North Bethesda United Methodist Church (both September, 2011), Herndon UMC and Floris UMC ( December 2010).

Leaders at Floris say they had good surveillance video of the woman and gave it to Fairfax County Police a year ago. They believe the same woman has continued to victimize other churches eluding police by moving to other counties and cities.

"You feel vulnerable, and you feel violated that somebody is preying on folks when they come during the holiest time of the week," said Rev. Debbie Scott of North Bethesda United Methodist, which was hit on September 11th. The heist happened just after the same thief apparently hit the church across the street on Old Georgetown Road.

At St. Luke's Episcopal Church, the thief took Reverend Dr. Stephanie Nagley's purse from the sacristy room while the minister sat on the other side of the wall leading the 8:00 am service. Rev. Nagley says she heard the door open to room behind her, and regrets not going to check. When she went to get her purse, she got that 'sinking feeling' and soon realized it had been swiped.

More here-

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jesus toasters selling briskly

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department. CNN (with video)

From telephone poles, to store receipts to a cheesy snack, people have claimed to see the image of Jesus Christ in all sorts of unconventional places.

Others have drawn divine inspiration from what they believe is the face of the Son of God on their morning toast. A miracle? Perhaps. Or maybe it’s just toast.

This holiday season, Galen Dively, a Vermont entrepreneur, is capitalizing on the hunger for Jesus crust.

For $31.95, you don’t have to wait for a miracle to see Jesus on your daily bread. Look no further than the Jesus Toaster.

Dively’s company, Burnt Impressions, also offers toasters that imprint images of the Virgin Mary, peace signs and pot leaves among others.

Dively tells CNN affiliate WCAX right now, he’s selling 50 to 100 Jesus toasters every day.

What do you think? All in good fun? Marketing gone amok? Leave your comments below.

More here-

Fond Farewells John Stott

From Time-

One of the world's most influential and popular Evangelical figures, Anglican pastor and theologian John Stott helped transform the movement into a worldwide phenomenon. The Englishman headed the drafting of the 1974 Lausanne Covenant, which led 2,300 leaders from 150 nations to affirm their dedication to global evangelism, cementing his status as an ambassador and supporting the faith in the developing world. Indeed, his focus on earthly concerns such as poverty and social justice served as a counterpoint to more-boisterous Evangelical leaders who set their sights firmly on the afterlife. A consummate intellectual, Stott, who died July 27 at 90, wrote more than 50 books.

When Stott was named to the TIME 100 in 2005, the Rev. Billy Graham wrote that he "represents a touchstone of authentic biblical scholarship that ... has scarcely been paralleled since the days of the 16th century European Reformers."

Read more:,28804,2101745_2102136_2102268,00.html #ixzz1gW1tqWQZ

Archbishop Hepworth to resign as head of Traditional Anglican Communion

From Australia-

The leader of the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) has announced that he will step down next year. But other bishops of the Anglican group want his resignation immediately.

Anglican Archbishop John Hepworth said that his resignation would take effect in May 2012, on Pentecost Sunday. He said that move was prompted by the “considerable dissension” that has arisen within the TAC in recent months.

The House of Bishops of the TAC has voted to seek Archbishop Hepworth’s immediate removal. But the Australian prelate said that vote was not binding.

As leader of the TAC, Archbishop Hepworth was the most prominent Anglican leader in the drive to secure a means of corporate entry into the Roman Catholic Church. He said that he remains proud of his role in the process that led to the release of Anglicanorum Coetibus and the establishment of Anglican ordinariates within the Catholic Church.

More recently, however, Archbishop Hepworth has been in the headlines because of his charge that he was sexually molested while he was a seminarian, studying for the priesthood in the Catholic Church. The Melbourne archdiocese has acknowledged that Hepworth had grounds for his charge, and offered an apology. But the Adelaide archdiocese has said that the charge was without merit.

More here-

Church won't let theft of gifts ruin holiday

From Ohio-

A recent break-in at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church had all the makings of a bad end to a good effort.

On Friday, someone burglarized the church at 515 48th St. NW and stole gifts intended for families the congregation adopted through Community Christmas.

Sue Little, president of Episcopal Church Women and coordinator of the Christmas project, said the thieves took gifts purchased for three families.

“We had adopted half dozen families for Christmas,” she explained. “We were going to be wrapping on Sunday morning between church services. The janitor was here Saturday night and noticed that one of the windows in the Sunday school room had been broken. There was blood.”

The burglars left through a back door.

“They must have backed up their car to the door, loaded it, and off they went,” Little said.

But Little said parishioners have determined they won’t let the crime ruin the recipients’ holiday.

More here-

Land buys a big Tri-Faith leap

From Omaha-

Omaha Jewish, Muslim and Christian organizations have purchased land for neighboring houses of worship, and at least one, Temple Israel, plans to begin construction in the spring of 2012, leaders of the Tri-Faith Initiative said Tuesday.

Construction also is expected to begin next year on a planned fourth building, called a Tri-Faith Center, with social, educational and conference facilities that all the groups could use.

A synagogue for Temple Israel, a mosque and study center for the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture, a church for the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska and the Tri-Faith Center would be built near 132nd and Pacific Streets, as part of a development on the site of the former Ironwood Country Club.

Leaders announced Tuesday that each entity had purchased land for its building. They consider that a major leap toward a dream, five years in the making, of a shared campus for Jews, Muslims and Christians.

"This is probably the first time that Jews and Christians and Muslims have collaborated to intentionally co-locate houses of worship in the same common neighborhood," said Bob Freeman, chairman of the Tri-Faith Initiative Board of Directors.

More here-

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rwandan HOB Appoints Bishops Glenn and Barnum to Oversee AMIA Congregations in US

From David Virtue-

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Province of Rwanda (PEAR) has appointed Bishop Terrell Glenn, Jr., of Charlotte, NC, and Bishop Thad Barnum of Fairfield, CT, to oversee the care and shepherding of all clergy who are canonically resident in PEAR and affiliated with the Anglican Mission in the Americas. Bishops Glenn and Barnum will work on behalf of PEAR and with the leadership of The Anglican Mission in the Americas in assisting clergy and congregations with their present and future canonical residencies.

"We are deeply saddened and dismayed by the recent turn of events that have brought pain and separation between the Province of Rwanda and the Anglican Mission in the Americas. We are also deeply grieved by the subsequent 'Internet' eruptions and email trails that have contributed to further damage in our witness before believers and non-believers alike," wrote The Rev. Alan Hawkins, Network Leader of the Apostles Mission Network in the AMIA. (NOTE: VOL was told that this statement did not include Virtueonline as one of the eruptors.)

"To that end, we are requesting an 'Advent Respite' while leaders representing those clergy and congregations concerned can honorably and honestly work through their respective issues. We respectfully ask members of the different media sites and those who 'blog' to observe this respite as well. We recognize this situation has raised numerous questions, especially those of canonical status and future affiliations. We believe these situations will be addressed and questions will be answered "in a manner worthy of the gospel" of Jesus Christ. We also know that, in God's time, there will be an opportunity to bear witness a positive and a Christ-honoring resolution to this painful situation.

"In addition, we request of all clergy and congregations in PEAR, that all recruiting, posturing, and gathering for allegiance to one side or another in these matters cease immediately. In place of these, we commit to join everyone in fervent prayer to our Lord that His reconciling love would prevail in our hearts and that His grace would abound as we seek a way forward that blesses Him and brings glory to His Name," wrote Hawkins.

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Paws and reflect: Dog brings joy to Rock Springs church

From Wyoming-

In the Episcopal Church, priests wear stoles that drape across their necks. Deacons wear colored cloth across the shoulder. But the church rules are silent about what vestments dogs should wear.

So necessity once again gave birth to invention, and Chewy the church dog routinely dons a white coat with a cross on the back.

Meet and greet

Each Sunday, Rev. Bob Spencer pulls a white garment over his clothing, which is meant to represent the clothes worn in the days of Jesus. He adds the stole — blue this time of year for advent season. Then he straps on Chewy’s vestments and together they follow the procession into the Church of the Holy Communion at Rock Springs, where Spencer conducts services and Chewy oversees them — both at Spencer’s feet and while roaming the pews and greeting parishioners

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Christ Church Episcopal returns home

From Georgia-

Christ Church on Johnson Square on Monday was quietly returned to its Episcopal congregation after a four-year absence.

The noon handoff of keys to the church completed an agreement reached Dec. 1 between the break-away congregation, Christ Church Anglican, which agreed to return possession of the property to Christ Church Episcopal in accordance with a Nov. 21 Georgia Supreme Court ruling for the Episcopal group. They asked to have until noon yesterday to comply.

The actual handoff of keys between the top two members of the church’s governing board, senior warden Mimi Jones and junior warden Margaret Miller with Christ Church Episcopal, and Joan Malley, parish administrator of the departing congregation, was followed by prayer with the Rev. Michael White, Diocesan spokesman, the Rev. Frank Logue, said.

He described Malley as being helpful with the maintenance of records and other documents for the quiet exchange.

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Grace Episcopal Church on Canal Street will close next month

From New Orleans-

Grace Episcopal Church, a fixture on Canal Street in Mid-City for nearly 60 years, will close next month, Episcopal Bishop Morris Thompson said Monday.

The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana hopes the closure is not permanent. It may be able to reopen the church in a year or so after rethinking its mission and gathering new resources, Thompson said.

Thompson said he informed Grace’s small congregation of his decision Dec. 4. He said there were fewer 15 people in the pews at one of the two services that morning.

A final “service of suspension” will be Jan. 5, he said.

Like other mainline Protestant congregations around Mid-City, Grace was in gradual decline when Hurricane Katrina delivered a hammer blow to the building and its little congregation.
At its peak in the 1950s the congregation numbered more than 1,000, said Betty Zachary, a lifelong member and volunteer who keeps the church going today.

Zachary said the congregation is financially stable. It owes no debt and enjoys steady rental income by leasing its fellowship hall to several contractors building the nearby Veterans Administration hospital.

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Episcopal Church’s tension: tradition and change

From The Washington Post-

In an Episcopal parish where I once worked, the custom was to give the Christmas plate offering to local charities. A generous, very progressive leader of the parish objected. “Maybe it makes you clergy feel good, but I give money to my church to build it up so it can do its own unique kind of good.”

He was expressing the no-nonsense wisdom of air travel: “If there is a loss in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down. If you are traveling with a child or someone who needs assistance, strap yours on first and then help the other.”

God knows the Episcopal Church needs some oxygen for itself if it has a prayer of helping anyone else. While we’re not exactly on life support, we are diminished and in danger of becoming what the new bishop of Washington calls “a boutique church.”

I remember repeating the prideful mantra, “We may be statistically small, but we have influence out of proportion to our size-more members of Congress, the Supreme Court, past (and then current) presidents.”

That was when we claimed 3 million members in a nation of 200 million. Now we’re less than 2 million among more than 300 million. The old mantra is laughable.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Savannah's Christ Church forced to leave building after split with Episcopals

From Georgia-

Christ Church, the mother Church of Georgia, was first founded in Savannah in 1733 when General James Oglethorpe, founder of the colony granted the land for that purpose.,

The first pastor was John Wesley and the church is famous for being the home church of Juliette Gordon Lowe, founder of the Girl Scouts.

The three million dollar structure has hosted numerous tours, Girl Scout groups, musical events and topical discussions and is perhaps one of the most recognized buildings on Johnson Square.

But in 2003 things started to go downhill with the national Episcopal Church as leaders were becoming more liberal and moving further away from the teachings of Christ by placing an openly gay Bishop at the head of the New Hampshire diocese.

More conservative Episcopalians argued that the church was not following the Jesus of Holy Scripture, but a culturally-manufactured Jesus.

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Magnolia is site of new Episcopal church

From New Jersey-

Once there were two Christ Episcopal Churches in Camden County — one in West Collingswood and the other here. On Saturday, the two became one as a newly built church on Evesham Avenue was dedicated and consecrated during a special ceremony.

Unlike the forced closings and mergers that have taken place over the last couple years at Roman Catholic churches throughout the Diocese of Camden, this unification was a voluntary one.

“The (merger) process began in 2008,” said Pastor Robert Critelli. “The resources of both churches were failing. So we came together as one people and realized we needed to look to the future.”

It was decided that the Collingswood property, assessed at $478,000, would be put up for sale, said Critelli.

“It sold in three days,” he said.

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Obamas take short walk across Lafayette Park to attend services at Episcopal church

From The Washington Post-

President Barack Obama and his family attended a worship service Sunday morning at an Episcopal church just across the street from the White House where presidents frequently have visited.

The president, first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia made the short walk across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church.

The sermon by Rev. Dr. Luis Leon was based on the story of John the Baptist, who told the religious leaders he was neither the Messiah nor the prophet, but a voice calling in the wilderness.

Leon likened the story to the president and the expectations Americans may have of him. People have illusions about the nation and about God, the pastor said, and urged the congregation to open its eyes not “to the God we have created, but to who he really is,” he said.

Just before the announcements, the congregation laughed when a young boy ran to the front of the church and took a good look at the Obamas.

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Obama gets sympathy from the pulpit

From USA Today-

President Obama and his family attended church services today, and the president received some political sympathy from the pulpit.

At one point, the Rev. Luis Leon of St. John's Episcopal Church spoke of the expectations placed on Obama when he came to office -- how people expected a "messiah" who could cure all of the nation's ills.

Now we know it's not so easy, Leon said.

"This is not a political diatribe by the way," he added. "It's simply stating the obvious."

From the pool report:

At 11:03 a.m., temperature is chilly, but the sky is crystal clear as the smartly dressed first family leaves the White House and start their walk -- holding hands -- through Lafayette Park toward St. John's Episcopal Church on 16th Street N.W. Malia especially stands out in pinkish Sunday dress with white trim at the bottom and burgundy leggings. First Lady is wearing beige-looking heavy coat, while Obama's outfit is his customary dark.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Anna Frank resigns from Episcopal Diocese

From Alaska-

Rev. Anna Frank sparkled Friday night as hundreds of family members and friends surrounded her for her retirement party. Frank wore a glittering purple shirt, a red skirt and beaded Athabascan moccasins to the occasion where attendees honored her work with the Episcopal Diocese of Alaska.

Members of the Diocese organized a party for Frank’s retirement, which was technically a resignation. As Bishop Mark Lattime said, priests can’t retire.

“Once a priest, always a priest,” he said.

Frank applied for postulancy (a step before becoming ordained as a deacon) with the diocese in September 1973. She was 34 years old, had four children and had been married to Richard Frank for about half of her life. In her application, she wrote to the Diocese that she was led to the ministry to serve Alaska Natives. She was ordained as a deacon in March 1974. Almost 10 years later, in 1983, she was ordained as a priest.

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Are you there, God? It's him, Eric Weiner. Read more:

From The Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh)

I came to Eric Weiner's "Man Seeks God" looking for a fight. But in the end, I didn't find the fight I was looking for; instead, I found an affable, candid, deeply thoughtful, sometimes ironic and funny soul, with whom I shared certain similarities (among them, we've read many of the same authors and we're both prodigious underliners).

What accounts for the proverbial chip on my shoulder? The author bio describes Mr. Weiner as "an agnostic by default." And I, as one of those freaks of modern society who still believes the Bible is the inerrant and infallible word of God, have a major disagreement with that premise. The Bible says that all humans are theists by default, and instead of seeking God, most are running from Him, filling their lives with distractions from Him, and/or worshiping humanistic distortions of Him.

Mr. Weiner, erstwhile NPR correspondent and author of the 2008 New York Times bestseller "The Geography of Bliss," is a self-described "grump," "gastronomical Jew" and "Confusionist." That means "confused -- deeply and profoundly -- when it comes to question of God and religion."

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