Saturday, December 24, 2011

Church leaders hit out at 'selfish' Hong Kong

From Hong Kong-

The leaders of Hong Kong's Anglican and Catholic churches yesterday denounced the "selfishness" of a city beset by a widening gap between rich and poor, saying the quest for personal wealth was inconsistent with the true spirit of Christmas.

Seizing on last month's deadly fire in Mong Kok's Fa Yuen Street market as an example, Anglican archbishop Paul Kwong (pictured) said in his holiday message to the city that Hongkongers' selfishness was at the root of some of this year's most controversial issues.

Kwong accused the Fa Yuen Street hawkers in particular of being "cold-blooded" for protesting against plans to dismantle their stalls at night, a safety measure proposed after the fire broke out in the market in the early hours of November 30 .

He said their protests had shown they were more worried about their businesses than the victims of a fire that killed nine people - a number some dismissed as "a trivial matter".

More here-

Tis the time to be generous: archbishop

From Australia-

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney has called for Australians to dig deep and give generously to help the world's poor at Christmas time.

As Australia faces an economic downturn, now more than ever is the time to be generous, Dr Peter Jensen says.

In his heath annual Christmas Message, Dr Jensen spoke of the signs of financial difficulty in many parts of the world.

"For some countries it is not just a downturn," he said. "They will need to grapple with a breakdown in their economic systems.

"Already, many people go hungry each day. If times get worse, it will be the poor and disadvantaged who suffer most."

Christmas is the time to be generous, he says.

"The greatest inspiration to generosity that the world has ever known is Jesus.

More here-

Fewer to Celebrate Christmas in Sudan After South’s Split

From The New York Times-

Hanging from the wall of Bishop Ezekiel Kondo’s living room — a few blocks from a silver-coated dome marking the tomb of Sudan’s 19th-century Muslim leader, the Mahdi — are a cross, pictures of fellow clergy members and a photo of him with the former archbishop of Canterbury above a small plastic Christmas tree.

Much has changed for Bishop Kondo, and for the nation, since the holidays last year. Though he presides over one of Sudan’s largest churches, he is more in the minority than ever. South Sudan, with its large Christian population, became an independent nation over the summer, making for a Christmas of mixed emotions.

“This Christmas, since Southern Sudanese have gone, we don’t know what the attendance will be, but I would say people will celebrate with mixed feeling of joy and fear,” said Bishop Kondo, who is the bishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and the former chairman of the Sudanese Council of Churches.

More here-

Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde

From NPR- (click on "listen" for the interview)

A decade of schism in the American Episcopal Church has taken a toll. New polls show the number of Episcopalians in the U.S. has dipped below two million for the first time in modern history. The church is losing conservatives who say it is too secular and accepting of gays and lesbians. Liberals are leaving to find spirituality not based on a centuries-old theology. The first female bishop of the Washington D.C. diocese -- one of the nation’s largest and home to the National Cathedral -- has a plan. She’s looking for ways to grow the church and bring people together. Diane talks with the Right Reverend Mariann Budde about saving the Episcopal Church.

Mariann Edgar Budde Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D. C.

Pastors help congregation keep true meaning of Christmas in focus

From Texas-

Despite last-minute shopping trips, meal preparations and all the stress that comes from holiday arrangements, pastors are hoping people keep the true meaning of Christmas alive.

Pressure to get the perfect gift, frustration from standing in long lines and stress to create the perfect holiday family experience can make the holidays a hectic – and joyless – time, but clergy members are trying to make sure church members don’t lose focus of what’s really important.

“That is a challenge for everyone who either wears a collar or who calls themselves pastor or priest,” said the Rev. Jerald Hyche, senior pastor at St. James the Apostle Episcopal Church. “It’s a challenge for us as well because obviously this is one of the busiest times of the year ... with us as well. It really does put us there with everyone else with all the extra services and details.”

In the Episcopal Church, the Advent season, the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day, help church members dedicate time to prayer, reflection and quietness, Hyche said. Still, it’s tough to find the time during the holidays.

“A lot of that is unavoidable,” Hyche said. “In the midst of the craziness, the focus is to take a moment to take a break.”

More here-

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fresh mood in Bethlehem, but little joy

From The Church Times-

AT THE first Christmas in Bethlehem since the start of the Arab Spring, Palestinians are welcoming the new mood in the region — although without being able to point to specific signs that the revolutionary atmosphere is helping their cause.

A number of dark clouds still hang over the Holy Land, in the form of significant obstacles in the way of the Palestinians’ dream of statehood, and continuing tensions within the community.
On the positive side, inter­national attention was refocused for a time away from the Arab Spring earlier this year, when the Palestinian leadership lodged a demand with the UN Security Council for international recognition of statehood. While this route will be blocked, the Palestinians achieved a break­through by being awarded full membership of UNESCO.

But these diplomatic gains have come at a price. Israel has responded by putting new energy into the West Bank settlement expansion programme. So, as the Palestinian Prime Minister Salem Fayyad was turning on the lights of a Christmas tree outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem earlier this month, the Israeli government was approving the construction of 40 new settlement units at Efrat, just to the south of the town.

At the tree-lighting ceremony, Mr Fayyad said that Christmas brought the attention of the world to Bethlehem for a brief moment each year. He might have gone on to say that this applies to the Holy Land and Palestine as a whole. In this year of the Arab Spring, as never before, all eyes have been fixed on developments in the wider Middle East.

More here-

Former Episcopal Bishop Jeffrey Steenson to be named the first American Ordinary

From David Virtue-

Former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande, Jeffrey Steenson, is to be named the Ordinary when the Anglican Ordinariate is erected on January 1, 2012, sources tell VOL.

Word seeped out from the Vatican late last week that Steenson -- who left The Episcopal Church in 2007 over TEC's polity - has been tapped for the new post as the Ordinariate gets its first foothold in the United States.

The former Episcopal House of Bishops' member has been deeply concerned with the continued fracturing of Anglicanism. The Episcopal Church's insistence on autonomy has further distanced itself from other Anglican provinces and resulted in a shredding of the fabric of Anglicanism.

This reporter came into possession of a private communiqué late Wednesday revealing that Steenson is being tapped for the Ordinariate's top post. A second confidential source has confirmed the communiqué.

When asked if the former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande has received the nod to be the first Ordinary the source replied: "Yes, Jeffrey Steenson will be the new Ordinary."

On Tuesday, a third source, The Bovina Bloviator Blog theorized that Steenson would get the miter.

"It is being noised Jeffrey Steenson, the former Bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande in the Episcopal Church, who was received into the Catholic Church in 2007 and is now a priest, will be named Ordinary of the American Anglican Ordinariate on January 1, 2012," the Bovina Bloviator posted under an Ordinariate Buzz header.

More here-

Kalinga churches ask parishioners to donate for Sendong victims

From The Phillippines-

The parishes of this city are asking their parishioners to give relief assistance for the victims of tropical storm Sendong.

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern Luzon (EDNL) appeals to all parishioners in its area of responsibility to donate cash to thousands of victims. They are only receiving cash contributions since they have no means to transport in-kind donations.

Rev. Renato Abibico, EDNL Bishop, is asking each and everyone to share whatever little money for the victims. “Love through sharing, this after all is one of the themes of this season,” he said in his letter read during masses and through the media.

“Let us not forget that God was the one who started this (sharing) during the first Christmas – that He shared to us His unconditional love through the birth of His Son Jesus Christ. Sharing our blessings, however, little it may be, will be great act of love, hoping that by doing so, we will all experience the true meaning of giving this Christmas,” he said in his letter.

Rev. Denver Marrero also of EDNL said all contributions will be coordinated with their Mindanao counterpart for proper distribution to victims.

Bishop Abibico also asks for prayers that the lessons of this disaster will truly be discerned.

More here-

Pantry marks 20 years of alleviating hunger

From New Jersey-

Jackie Goedesky said it has been a journey of faith that has kept the Hands of Hope Food Pantry going for so many years.

It’s been 20 years since Goedesky, president of the pantry located at St. James Episcopal Church, and her friend Sue Gajewski decided to establish the nonprofit food pantry in 1992. Gajewski has since moved on and now lives in South Jersey.

“Sue came to me and said, ‘You are going to think I’m crazy, but I think we should start a food pantry,’ ” Goedesky recalled. “We went to the father with the idea and told him our concerns, and he told us to pray about it. It was three months later when we went back to him and said we will start the food pantry, and if it is God’s will then the pantry will succeed. If not, then it will not succeed.”

More here-

Outreach Programs Spread Holiday Cheer at Christ Church

From Connecticut-

Outreach projects abound at Christ Episcopal Church in Bethany all year round, and Christmas is no exception.“We Come Bearing Gifts” and “A Baby Shower for Jesus” join carol singing, a church school pageant, and a beautifully decorated altar as time-honored December customs wholeheartedly favored by parishioners.

Named after the three kings who brought gifts to the Christ child, “We Come Bearing Gifts” was started in 1993 by parishioner Deborah Melycher of Prospect. The Rev. Dr. E. Bevan Stanley, the interim rector at Christ Church, enthusiastically declared, “We are very pleased that we could provide gifts for ten families. The generosity of this congregation is amazing and reflects our gratitude for all that God has given us.”

Each of the families received a large turkey plus all the trimmings, from potatoes and yams, vegetables, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, rolls and butter, to pumpkin pie fixings, nuts, a box of chocolates and a fruit basket.

At the request of Christ Church, the 10 needy families provided wish lists for clothing, toys, school supplies, and gift certificates. Most desires were met. These included hats and mittens, pants, towels, art supplies, Elmo, a telescope, two bicycles, and gift certificates to Kohl’s, Target, Walmart, and Stop and Shop.

More here-

It Looks Like Occupy Wall Street Is Starting A Fight With Trinity Church Now

From New York-

Nearly a week after Occupy Wall Street protesters attempted to takeover Duarte Square -- a Trinity Wall Street-owned piece of real estate -- an Episcopal minister in the city received some strange mail.

The mail was sent to the minister's home and it was addressed with his full name (including his middle name and his church title).

In the envelope, there were three superimposed photographs of Occupy Wall Street protesters being arrested at Duarte Square.

The captions on the pictures said, "Jim Cooper's Legacy," "The Trinity Episcopal Church Welcomes You" and "Do not forget the trust you committed to you as a priest of the Church of God," which is from the rite for the Ordination of a Priest in the Book of Common Prayer, p. 534.

There was no return address, but there appears to be a New York City postmark. What's more is there was no letter or note enclosed, just the superimposed pictures.

It's unclear who sent the mail or if other Episcopalians have received similar packets.

"Receiving it made me think, 'Is this a joke?' but then I couldn't think of who would send such a thing," the minister, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, told Business Insider.

"While the note wasn't threatening, I still wondered how someone got my home address and even knew my middle name," he said.

Read more:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Montclair rector encourages pajamas on Christmas

From New Jersey-

The Rev. John Perris is a man of the cloth, not couture.

He hasn't hesitated in past years to lead services on Christmas morning in his slippers and pajamas underneath his vestments.

For many religious groups, dressing in their Sunday best may be part of worship. But Perris says keep it casual and the people will come.

This coming Christmas morning, he is encouraging his congregation at St. James Episcopal Church to come as they are — clad in pajamas of flannel, fleece, or a favorite SpongeBob SquarePants knit.

"It's a fun thing to do and it probably makes it easier for parents to get their children to come. So if we can make it easier for the parents, we're happy to do that," Perris said.

Perris does believe that it is appropriate to dress up as a sign that one is aware of God's presence and also a sign of respect for one's fellow worshipers. At the same time, "I also know that God knows us better than we know ourselves and we don't dress up to impress God," Perris said. "We come to God just as we are."

According to Perris, the St. James clergy has maintained the tradition for 15 years. There are some occasions designated for informal worship and congregants are encouraged to dress casual. "This custom that we've had for Christmas morning comes out of that idea. But it also comes out of the idea that we want to make it easy for people to come to church on Christmas morning when they may have first been gathering around the Christmas tree with family, so that it's very simple for them to both have their family celebration at home and to come worship," Perris said.

More here-

St. Mark's Cathedral to Occupy Seattle: No room in the parking lot

From Seattle-

St. Mark's Cathedral, while professing its love for social justice, has denied a request by Occupy Seattle to pitch tents as "offices" in the cathedral's parking lot, a few blocks north of the movement's recent Seattle Central Community College encampment.

The pre-Christmas no-room-in-the-parking-lot decision was made by St. Mark's governing Vestry, which has in the past allowed the Tent City homeless encampment to pitch multiple tents in the lot of the Episcopal cathedral.

"The heart of the cathedral community is in social justice, but legal and financial constraints made it unrealistic for us to approve the request," said the Rev. Canon Rebecca McClain, senior priest on the cathedral staff.

Coast-to-coast actions by churches show that the nimbus of the Occupy movement is wearing thin.

Trinity Church, the wealthy Episcopal congregation in New York's lower Manhattan, has fed and clothed Occupy Wall Street protesters -- but has refused to let them camp on a church-owned gravel lot. Several demonstrators were arrested there last weekend after scaling a chain-link fence onto the lot.

More here-

Lutheran-Anglican-Episcopal meeting a sign of hope for the church

From Canada-

Lutheran, Anglican and Episcopal leaders from the
United States and Canada met in December to explore new possibilities for
working together and to deepen their sense of unity for doing God's work
in the world. In a report issued from their meeting, the leaders stated
that their conversation and work together "are hopeful signs for the

"There was truly a spirit of Advent expectant hope as we met to pray
and plan for greater cooperation in ministry and mission," said ELCA
Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson of the meeting.

"There is so much more we can do when working together, whether that
is in military chaplaincy, global mission, campus ministry, planting new
congregations or advocacy. I look forward to our continued shared
leadership and to new possibilities that exist to proclaim the good news
of Jesus, engaging in God's work for the life of the world because of our
full-communion relationship," he said.

Gathered together for their second annual meeting was Hanson; the
Rev. Susan Johnson, national bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
Canada; the Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the
Episcopal Church U.S.A.; and the Rev. Fred Hiltz, archbishop of the
Anglican Church of Canada.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese wins legal dispute with breakaway church

From Wisconsin-

A Waukesha County judge has ruled in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee in a dispute over church property taken by an Elm Grove congregation when it broke away over theological differences in 2008.

The decision, by Waukesha County Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis, means members of St. Edmund's Parish who left the Episcopal Church to align with a new, more theologically conservative Anglican province must relinquish all church property and vacate the building at 14625 Watertown Plank Road.

Milwaukee Bishop Steven Miller lauded the decision and said he will begin working with St. Edmund parishioners pushed out by the split in an effort to help rebuild their congregation.

"For three years, the members of St. Edmund's Episcopal Church have been denied the use of their rightful church home," he said. "I am grateful the property will once again be used for its original purpose - the work and witness of the Episcopal Church."

The Rev. Samuel Scheibler, who was installed as rector of St. Edmund's after the split, and the church's attorney did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Marsha Ohlgart, a former church leader named along with other members in the lawsuit, said she no longer attends the church and declined to comment on the decision.

More here-

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bishop Price's Christmas Message

From The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh

Let's Focus on the Celebration

There was a time when I could hardly wait for Christmas Eve when the Advent carols would be over and we could sing out lustily "O Come All Ye Faithful." I still love to sing that carol and others, but in this modern age the Christmas music actually began weeks ago. We may sing of the twelve days of Christmas, but hardly anyone realizes the twelfth day comes at Epiphany. For most of us, long before the drummers start drumming, the music has ended and most of the decorations are packed away. In the secular world, the Christmas season comes to an end at New Years, effectively cutting off those last days of our Christmas celebration.

I lament the loss of those days, for we need all the celebration time we can get. In fact, if I had my way, I would make Christmas last even longer. This past year has been a rough one. We have had more than our share of natural disasters and the economic distress that haunts so many, accompanied by record unemployment, foreclosures and depression have hung heavy over us. And to top it all off, now the election debates are dominating the airwaves with rhetoric that can hardly be called uplifting. This Christmas I want a time out from all this so I can take some time to celebrate... for the full twelve days or even more.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury's new Secretary for Public Affairs

From ACNS-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is delighted to announce the appointment of Kay Brock LVO DL as his new Secretary for Public Affairs, based at Lambeth Palace.

Kay Brock brings with her a wealth of public affairs experience having spent time in a variety of senior roles, including Chief of Staff to six Lord Mayors of London and Assistant Private Secretary to the Queen. She also brings an international understanding to the post having worked throughout the 1990s on economic aid to ex-communist countries in eastern Europe.

Speaking about her new position, Kay said: “Now that many people are re-examining the values by which we live, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s role in our society and internationally has more relevance than ever. I feel honoured to be given the opportunity to assist the Archbishop in his valuable work within the church and in the public sphere”.

Kay has a degree from Oxford University and a MBA from the London Business School and holds various voluntary positions such as Chair of the charity Dance United, a trustee of the Academy of Ancient Music, and is also a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London.

More here-

Ligonier church sued over withdrawal

The Pittsburgh Tribune-

The Hempfield-based Presbytery of Redstone, which oversees more than 15,000 practicing Presbyterians in Western Pennsylvania, is suing a Ligonier church for allegedly ignoring internal procedures for withdrawing from the presbytery.

In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Westmoreland County, officials said the Covenant Presbyterian Church has refused to comply with the steps required to leave the Presbyterian Church USA, which is the national organization that monitors 79 affiliated churches in Westmoreland, Fayette, Cambria and Somerset counties.

The Ligonier church has announced it intends to affiliate with the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church, which opposes the ordination of gay ministers.

Steve Benz, interim presbyter of Redstone, said the Ligonier church issued a list of reasons for its wanting to withdraw from the organization, including opposition to the national policy that allows gays in the pulpit and in church leadership positions.

Read more:

Ligonier church sued over withdrawal - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Anglican Church 'does not and will not accept homosexuals': Archbishop

From Central Africa-

THE head of the Anglican Church in the Central Africa Province, Archbishop Albert Chama, said his church does not accept gay practices.

The Central Africa Province consists of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi and Zambia.

Archbishop Chama, who is based in Zambia and is on a visit to the country, said this yesterday when he presided over the Order of Epiphany at St John's Cathedral in Bulawayo. He said the church was not going to reverse its position on same sex marriages.

The Order of Epiphany service is when the church recognises the great work of individuals in its ranks who had sacrificed a lot in peace building and community.

Speaking after the three hour service, Archbishop Chama said his church did not support homosexuals as this was an unacceptable practise.

"The Anglican Church of the Central Africa province does not and will not accept homosexuals and that is our stand as Central Africa Province. We only have pastoral responsibilities towards them that are to counsel, care and pray for them," said Archbishop Chama.

More here-'does+not+and+will+not+accept+homosexuals'%3A+archbishop.html

Catholics and Anglicans unite in church-sharing venture

From England-

An historic joint service involving the Bishops of Plymouth and Truro and local Catholic and Anglican communities took place recently in Padstow, Cornwall.

For many years St Petroc's Parish Church has been used by the Catholic community during the busy summer months because their own church St Saviour and St Petroc could not accommodate everyone who wished to attend Mass.

Since 2010, Catholic and Anglican communities in Padstow have been engaged in discussions regarding the possibility of sharing the parish church. Consensus was reached and a 'Church Sharing Agreement' came into force in November.

The final Mass was said at St Saviour and St Petroc on All Saints Day and early in November the Blessed Sacrament was reserved by the Catholic community for the first time in a newly-installed tabernacle in St Petroc's Church.

At the joint service, which was called 'New Beginnings', Bishop Christopher Budd, and his Anglican counterpart from the Diocese of Truro, the Right Reverend Tim Thornton of Plymouth, formally embraced the 'Agreement'.

More here-

A Letter fro ACNA

From The ACNA-

20th December, A.D. 2011
Eve of St. Thomas the Apostle

Dearest Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Recent events within the Anglican Mission in the Americas have challenged us all. This letter is a brief report to you all about those events and about our efforts to find a path forward. The present reality is brokenness. The vision, however, that governs our fledgling Province remains unchanged: a Biblical, missionary and united Anglicanism in North America.

The resignation of nine Anglican Mission bishops, including the Bishop Chairman, from the House of Bishops of Rwanda, changed relationships with Rwanda, with fellow bishops and with the Anglican Church in North America. The resigned bishops lost their status in our College of Bishops as a result of their resignation from Rwanda. The Anglican Mission also lost its status as a Ministry Partner, since that status had been predicated on AMiA's relationship with Rwanda. In addition, confusion and hurt has been created in Rwanda and in North America, and there is much serious work ahead of us.

More here-

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trinity Cathedral picks affiliation

From Pittsburgh-

Ending three years of sitting on the fence during a breakup over doctrine, leaders of a historic Downtown church decided to break away from the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh and affiliate exclusively with the Episcopal Church.

Trinity Cathedral's governing board last week voted 11-7 to withdraw from the more theologically conservative sect, overturning an October 2008 resolution to serve both the Episcopal Church diocese and the Anglican diocese.

"This decision was not made lightly or hastily," the Rev. Catherine M. Brall, provost at the cathedral, said in a letter to members. "Many, if not most, of the comments made during the lengthy time of discussion had been previously raised."

Anglican officials said they were "saddened" by the vote.

"They have chosen to embrace exclusivity, rather than inclusivity," said Robert Duncan, archbishop of the Anglican Church of North America.

Bishop Kenneth L. Price Jr. of the Episcopal Diocese described Trinity's efforts to serve two dioceses "well-intentioned." In Pittsburgh, the Episcopal Diocese has almost 9,000 people in 29 parishes.

Brall said the decision gives a clearer sense of the church's identity. She said the vote does not compel anyone to leave the cathedral, regardless of their affiliation.

"We will continue to be a house of prayer for all people, and everyone is welcome in our worship and community," she said.

Read more:

Church leaders seek repeal of immigration law

From Alabama-

Saying he was in their prayers, leaders of the Catholic, Episcopal and Methodist churches in Alabama sent a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley on Monday urging him to support efforts to repeal the state's strict immigration law, known as HB 56.

The letter, signed by three bishops who sued to block HB 56 in August, called the statute a violation of the Constitution and said it imposed burdens on immigrants, law enforcement and small farmers.

The letter says the leaders would work with the governor to repeal the law.

"Short of that, we pray that you and the other leaders of the State will work together to make much-needed revisions to an unjust and unfair law, bearing in mind certain principles upon which our liberty is based," the letter states.

Bentley, along with House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, released a statement earlier this month saying revisions would be made to the law. However, all three leaders rejected repeal of the statute, a position echoed by Bentley spokeswoman Jennifer Ardis on Monday.

More here-

Monday, December 19, 2011

Controversial Virgin Mary billboard destroyed by protester

From New Zealand-

A scissor-wielding protester has destroyed a controversial billboard of the Virgin Mary, just days after it went up outside a New Zealand church.

Hours after the attack, 100 or so Roman Catholics gathered to pray in the rain in front of the ruined billboard, which had shown Mary gasping in shock as she examined a pregnancy testing kit.

The billboard outside the Anglican church of St Matthew's in the City, in central Auckland, New Zealand, had drawn thousands of angry comments as well as messages of support from around the world.

Arthur Skinner, a member of an organisation calling itself the Catholic Action Group, who described the Renaissance-style picture as "satanic", was photographed attacking it.

"Yes, it is vandalism," Mr Skinner proclaimed proudly outside the church.

"I'm guilty. If they want to arrest me, be my guest.

5 Things To Know About Handel's 'Messiah'

From Washington NY-

If you're going to the Messiah performance at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on Sunday at 7:30 p.m., here's five cool things to know about this world-renowned masterwork. According to Wikipedia and other sources:

1. George Frideric Handel composed "Messiah" in 1741 and it premiered in Dublin that December as a charity event. It was an instant hit in Ireland.

2. The oratorio is essentially an un-staged opera. It contains more than 50 separate musical pieces for soloists and chorus with orchestral accompaniment.

3. When played in full, the oratorio is broken into three sections, telling the Biblical story of the prophesy, birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Much of the English text is from the King James Bible.

4. The London premier took place at Covent Garden in March, 1743 and was not as well received. In time, "Messiah" would become the most popular work of its genre. Among the many composers who revised and re-arranged the work was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

5. There is controversy over the tradition of standing during the "Hallelujah" chorus. The story goes that at the London premiere,King George II did so during the piece, stunned by the music's splendor. When the King rose; so did his subjects in the audience. To this day, audiences stand during the singing of the contrapuntal masterpiece. But there is no firm evidence George II was even present for the premier or any other performance of the oratorio.

So, a Bishop Walks Into a Paddy Wagon...

From The Village Voice (with video)

As we reported earlier, at least 50 arrests were made yesterday as Occupy Wall Street demonstrators attempted to occupy Duarte Square and One New York Plaza. One of the most notable and vocal of the arrestees is retired Episcopalian Bishop George Packard. Packard was the first person over the fence surrounding Duarte Square, which is owned by Trinity Church. On his blog, Bishop Packard wrote before heading to the square, "I am still baffled that the Episcopal Church of which I have been a member all my life could not--through Trinity--find some way to embrace these thousands of young people in our very diminishing ranks." Shortly after entering the land owned by his affiliated Church, police slapped cable ties around his wrists and sent him to jail.

More here-

Christ Episcopal Church meets

From Savannah-

More than 450 people flocked to Christ Episcopal Church Sunday for two services in their return to the Johnson Square church they vacated four years ago in a theological rift with their Anglican brethren.

The Episcopal group regained possession of the church last Monday and have been cleaning and preparing this week for their return,

That follows a four-year court battle over who owned the church and church property.

Episcopal clergy arrested after entering Trinity Church property

From ENS-

Retired Episcopal Bishop George Packard and at least two other Episcopal priests were arrested Dec. 17 after they entered a fenced property — owned by Trinity Episcopal Church, Wall Street — in Duarte Square in Lower Manhattan as part of Occupy Wall Street‘s “D17 Take Back the Commons” event to celebrate three months since the movement’s launch.

Livestream video showed the former Episcopal bishop for the armed forces and federal ministries, dressed in purple vestments and wearing a cross, climbing a ladder that protesters erected against the fence at about 3:30 p.m. and dropping to the ground inside the property. Packard was the first to enter the site. Other protesters followed, including the Rev. John Merz and the Rev. Michael Sniffen, Episcopal priests in the Diocese of Long Island.

More here-

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Trinity Cathedral Reaffirms Tie to Episcopal Church

From Pittsburgh-

The governing board of Trinity Cathedral in downtown Pittsburgh has voted to reaffirm its historic role as the cathedral church only for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

Since 1928 when it first became the cathedral church for the Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church, Trinity Cathedral has served as the symbolic seat of the diocese. When some members of the diocese decided in 2008 to leave The Episcopal Church, Trinity sought to serve both the Episcopal Diocese as well as the diocese established by the former Episcopalians. By its vote on December 15, 2011, a clear majority of the Cathedral Chapter indicated that the time and purpose of that dual service had now passed, and that in the interest of the Cathedral’s future, it was necessary to re-affirm its original charter.

“Trinity's effort to serve two dioceses was well-intentioned in its time, which was a period of uncertainty,” said Bishop Kenneth L. Price, Jr. of the Episcopal Diocese. “With much of that uncertainly behind us, the Episcopal Diocese stands ready to help the Cathedral grow in its mission as a church open to all and serving all in the name of Jesus Christ in the heart of the city,” said the bishop.

More here-

Episcopalians in Savannah return to worship at Ga. 'Mother Church' after winning court battle

From Savannah-

Episcopalians in Savannah are returning to worship at the sanctuary known as Georgia's "Mother Church" for the first time in years after winning a long legal battle.

Georgia's Episcopal diocese is holding its first Sunday service at Christ Church since 2007, when the congregation broke away from the denomination in a dispute over homosexuality and other doctrinal issues. The breakaway congregation held onto the $3 million church property in downtown Savannah throughout a court battle over which group rightfully owned it.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled last month in favor of the Episcopal Church. The breakaway group moved out Monday and is holding Sunday services at another local church.

Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe set aside land for Christ Church in Savannah after he founded the colony of Georgia in 1733.

Arrests as Occupy Protest Turns to Church

From The New York Times-

From his spot at the center of Duarte Square in Lower Manhattan, Matt Sky watched on Saturday as hundreds of protesters streamed into the public areas of the triangle-shaped space at the center of an ideological tug of war between onetime allies turned adversaries: Occupy Wall Street and Trinity Church.

That began a long day of demonstrations and marches that extended as far as Times Square and resulted in at least 50 arrests.

By noon, protesters had streamed into the square from all directions under cold, cloudy skies to reinforce the vibrancy of a movement swept last month from another space, Zuccotti Park, and signal a resolve against ecclesiastical leaders resisting their wish to set up an encampment on property owned by the venerable Episcopal church.

“Everything about this movement is momentum,” said Mr. Sky, 27, an Internet consultant from the East Village. “We need to show people that we are still relevant.”

Even before the protesters were displaced on Nov. 15, Trinity gave many of them hot chocolate, blankets and a place to rest at a space owned by the church. But when the Occupy movement expressed an interest in setting up an organizing camp on vacant Trinity property at Canal Street and Avenue of the Americas, the church said no.

More here-