Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pope lets Anglicans keep traditions Catholic-Anglican use of church in Calgary a first

From Calgary-

It was something that had been in the making for a very long time. But just recently St. John the Evangelist became the first Roman Catholic-Anglican use parish in Canada.

"This is really the end of a long journey for St. John's," says Lee Kenyon of the Inglewood church.

Kenyon was the former parish priest and will be the new parish pastor in June, when he is ordained as a Catholic priest.

"It's been an Anglo-Catholic parish of the Anglican Diocese of Calgary for about 30 to 40 years now," Kenyon says. "As an Anglo-Catholic parish, it has emphasized certain things in common with the Catholic Church, particularly in matters of liturgy and ritual and worship.

"But also in terms of some theological aspects, as well. We've always placed a very high value on sacramental worship, a high view of the priesthood, Marian devotion, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to the saints, prayers to the dead and that sort of thing. Things that are much more in common with the Roman Catholic way of thinking."

Kenyon says 90 per cent of parishioners affirmed that decision in November 2010.

Read more:

Mount Airy donation leaves residents puzzled

From North Carolina- (with video)

A mystery in Mount Airy has a local thrift shop searching for a good Samaritan.

It centers on a donation that has the recipients thinking the gift was a little larger than intended.

It all started a few days ago, when volunteers at the St. James Episcopal Church Thrift Shop found a large amount of cash in a clothing donation that had just been dropped off.

A gift? Maybe. But parishioner Lynda Ellis says she felt it wasn’t intended.

Now the church is trying to track down the donor to make sure it was a gift and not a mistake.

“They may say no we really meant to donate that to you and that would be wonderful for our thrift shop and for our community but we really want to find that person and at least be able to thank them,” Ellis says.

More here-

People surprise you

From Columbus-

I've learned in my years as a religion reporter that pastors collect some pretty interesting/crazy/touching stories.

I heard one yesterday from the Rev. George Glazier, rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church on the Ohio State University campus. I was interviewing Glazier for this story about church finances in 2012.

Here it is, paraphrased:

Glazier used to work at a church in Wheeling, W. Va., where an unkempt woman who appeared to be very poor would worship on Christmas Eve. That was the only time all year that she came, and the staff got to know who she was because of her appearance and because she didn't smell very good.

After the woman died, the church was shocked to find out she left $500,000 to the congregation. The reason? On at least one Christmas Eve, an usher was kind to her and gave her a good seat.
I'd say you never know how your kindnesses will pay off, but of course that's no reason to be kind. It is a remarkable story about how people can surprise you.

Church hosts sin-along

I'm sure the headline is a typo (right?)

St. James’ Episcopal Church will host the eighth annual communitywide “Messiah Sing-Along” today at 3 p.m., under the direction of Scott Smedinghoff.

Singers of all levels and abilities are invited to participate in the informal sing-along that will include the Advent and Christmas sections of Handel’s choral masterpiece, as well as the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

There will be several soloists including the rector of the church, the Rev. Scott B. Neal, a tenor and Mark Madison, a bass.

The chorus and audience will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra of local musicians.

Even those who don’t know the whole piece but want to sing or hum during a favorite part are welcome to the free event.

A limited number of copies of the score will be available to singers. Those who have their own copies are encouraged to bring them.

Light refreshments will be served in the church hall following the event.

More here-

'Epiphany 'Lovefeast' marks full communion

From Delaware-

To celebrate the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church being in full communion, an "Epiphany Lovefeast" will be held at 6 p.m. Friday at St. George's Chapel, 20274 Beaver Dam Road in Harbeson.

The service is part of the Moravian tradition and is a way to encourage prayer, religious conversation, the singing of hymns and the celebration of important events.

Odes are the primary order of service. In addition, food is often shared, usually in the form of buns and a drink.

The Moravian Church, the world's first Protestant denomination, was founded in Bohemia in 1457 and can be found in North Carolina and Pennsylvania today.

Syracuse rector is moving on but hopes her local food blog will continue

From Syracuse-

Grace Episcopal Church is losing its food-blogging rector, but the food blog itself may live on in some form.

“I’m working currently on an idea that will keep ‘Cookin’ in the ’Cuse’ alive, perhaps asking other folks to help curate and write those stories and perhaps edit from afar,” the Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows said. “I’m not quite sure how we’ll work that out but I’m hoping there will be a model that will sustain it.”

Baskerville-Burrows will give her last sermon as Grace rector on Sunday. She’s accepted a job as director of networking with the Episcopal diocese of Chicago. Besides her job as rector and her food blog, she served as the Episcopal chaplain at Syracuse University and was a community columnist for The Post-Standard.

The process to find a new rector, or head pastor, for Grace could take a year or more, said Nancy Radke, a member of the Grace church vestry or council. In the interim, clergy or sometimes lay people will fill in, she said.

More here-

Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan to become Alabama Episcopal bishop

From Alabama-

The Episcopal church in Alabama is getting a new bishop.

The Rt. Rev. John McKee Sloan will be invested as the state's 11th Episcopal bishop on Jan. 7 in Birmingham. The 56-year-old Sloan will replace the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley Jr., who is retiring.

Sloan will serve as chief priest and pastor to the Diocese of Alabama. That includes 90 congregations with more than 32,000 members in north and central Alabama.

Sloan who has served as Alabama's suffragan bishop since January 2008. Before that, Sloan served 14 years as rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Huntsville.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bishop of Durham issues hard hitting New Year message

From England-

The Bishop of Durham has issued a hard hitting message for the New Year.

In it, Bishop Justin calls for confidence, optimism and hope based on God's love and urges generosity and courage to make a stance against the downturn in the economy and the impact on jobs.

"I would love to see business leaders making sane plans for expansion, investment and creation of jobs. Lets remember that investing in people is the very best asset any business can possess."

Bishop Justin
"I'm setting myself three New Year Resolutions to seek at all levels, generosity, care about moral values and spiritual renewal," he said.

"These are key messages for all of us to take to our hearts in what is sure to be a very challenging new year in 2012.

"But, if we all work together for the common good, we can turn these difficult times into something that can have a significant beneficial effect.”

More here-

Doors open for Anglicans to join Catholic Church

From Florida-

New Year’s Day ushers in a new era for Roman Catholics and members of the Anglican Church who will have the opportunity to enter into “corporate reunion” with the Holy See.

An apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, issued by Pope Benedict XVI, will lead to the creation of “personal ordinariates,” geographic regions similar to dioceses but typically national in scope.

Parishes in these ordinariates are to be Catholic yet retain elements of the Anglican heritage and liturgical practices. They are to be led by an “ordinary” who will have a role similar to a bishop, but who may be either a bishop or a priest.

The Vatican’s action was in response to repeated and persistent inquiries from Anglican groups worldwide who were seeking to come into sacramental communion with Rome.

Some are currently part of the Episcopal Church and others, though Anglican, are not part of the Episcopal Church. Ordinariates seek to provide a way to enter in “corporate reunion” as a group and not simply as individuals. This would allow them to retain their Anglican liturgical heritage and traditions, and to have their own leadership structure, accountable to the Pope alone.

More here-

Neighborhood Table celebrates eight years or helping community

From Wisconsin-

When Ginny Steen prepared for the first Neighborhood Table community meal, she thought about 50 people would attend the New Year's Eve gathering.

Eight years later, organizers and other volunteers have kept the program going strong -- serving about 400 during the weekly Thursday meals and another 225 during the once-a-month Tuesday gatherings.

"We've grown a lot," said Steen, who started the tradition to provide a free meal and a place to socialize for the Wisconsin Rapids-area community.

The first Neighborhood Table meal was a spaghetti dinner. On Thursday night, volunteers served jambalaya. For dessert, they had a cake to celebrate eight years of operation and more than 150,000 meals served.

More here-

IRS: 'Partying priest' owes $358G in taxes

From Central PA-

Gregory Malia, the former Northeast Pennsylvania Episcopal vicar dubbed "the partying priest" by a New York tabloid, owes the Internal Revenue Service $358,576 in back taxes, according to a Thursday court filing.

Mr. Malia, 46, formerly of Laflin, failed to pay taxes in 2006, 2007 and 2008 on income derived from self-employment or through his interest in a small business, according to the filing in Luzerne County Court.

Attorney Edward Patrick Heffron, who represents Mr. Malia in another matter, did not return a telephone message Thursday night. Mr. Malia, who lives on Wall Street in New York City, could not be reached for comment.

According to the federal tax lien filing, Mr. Malia owes $130,367 in personal income taxes for 2006, $39,997 for 2007 and $188,211 for 2008.

The document did not specify Mr. Malia's self-employment or small business interest. State records indicate Mr. Malia remains the sole officer of New Life Home Care Inc., a pharmacy he founded in Pittston a decade ago for hemophilia patients.

Investigators from the state attorney general's office raided the offices of New Life Home Care in August 2009 as part of what a spokesman for the office called an "ongoing insurance fraud investigation." No charges were filed, but Mr. Malia and the company have faced several lawsuits alleging overbilling and misappropriation of funds.

Mr. Malia, the former vicar of St. James Episcopal Church in Dundaff, Susquehanna County, made national headlines in December 2008 when the New York Daily News painted him as a frequent guest at upscale city nightclubs and a patron willing to buy expensive champagne and leave five-figure tips.

Read more:

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Clergymen clash at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity

So much for "Heavenly Peace"-

The annual cleaning of one of Christianity's holiest churches deteriorated into a brawl between rival clergy Wednesday, as dozens of monks feuding over sacred space at the Church of the Nativity battled each other with brooms until police intervened.
The ancient church, built over the traditional site of Jesus's birth in Bethlehem, is shared by three Christian denominations -- Roman Catholics, Armenians and Greek Orthodox.

Wednesday's fight erupted between Greek and Armenian clergy, with the sides accusing each other of encroaching on parts of the church to which they lay claim.

The monks were tidying up the church ahead of Orthodox Christmas celebrations in early January, following celebrations by Western Christians on Dec. 25. The fight erupted between monks along the border of their respective areas. Some shouted and hurled brooms.
Palestinian security forces rushed in to break up the melee, and no serious injuries were reported. A Palestinian police spokesman would not immediately comment.

Read more:

Baby Jesus Goes Missing; 'We Just Want Him Back'

From Illinois-

Dennis Fornoff, the sexton of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Des Plaines, saw the one-foot long Baby Jesus in his manger at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

The next morning, a woman in the neighborhood informed him that the figurine was gone.

"I built the manger in my garage and my family donated the figurines. Seven or eight are still there and the manger," Fornoff told the Journal & Topics Newspapers. "These are heavy ceramic figurines painted in different colors and are very realistic looking."

The nativity was well lit.

A report has been filed with the Des Plaines Police Dept. and appears in the Des Plaines Journal's Dec. 28 edition Police Blotter.

More here-

Video: Presiding bishop’s Christmas Eve sermon 'We gather to celebrate his birth'

From ENS-

“The eternal hope and yearning of the human race emerges from darkness into light in the birth of this child both humble and divine,” Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori noted in her homily for Christmas Eve, 2011. “We gather to celebrate his birth and recover that eternal hope.”

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori presented her homily during the hour-long 2011 CBS Christmas Eve television special originating from the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at General Theological Seminary in New York City. The special aired nationwide on December 24 and is available for on-demand viewing below.

More here-

David Killeen: Battle doesn't end when wounded warriors come home

From Florida-

Padre, I need to speak with you."

Robert is a wounded warrior in his early 20s who served in Iraq, and as he utters these words, I see an urgency in his eyes that I have learned to recognize as a pastor. His expression says: "I need to unload a whole bunch of stuff, and it's not going to be pretty."

Robert and I were at a Wounded Warrior Spiritual Retreat held by the Episcopal Diocese of Florida at the Cerveny Conference Center and Camp Weed in Live Oak. A partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project in Jacksonville, the ministry seeks to care for the spiritual wounds of veterans.

By New Year's Eve, all of our troops in Iraq will be home for the holidays. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the lives of many warriors have been saved by the use of body armor and advances in battlefield medicine. That's the good news.

More here-

Episcopal Church in Mohegan Lake Has Grown Over the Years

From New York-

The Rev. Claire Woodley-Aitchison has been rector at St. Mary's Episcopal Church for the past 10 years and during that decade the number of people attending the Mohegan Lake church has grown tremendously.

According to experts, the growth of the church is contrary to what's happening nationally to mainstream churches in the United States.

According to the latest data in Association of Religious Data Archives, in 2000 the Episcopal Church in Westchester County had an adherence rate of approximately 16 (16.1), which means that 16 out of every 1,000 people in the county are Episcopalian.

Woodley-Aitchison was invited to the church 15 years ago as a consultant to help the church sort out a conflict inside the congregation. Churches sometimes can have negativity and unless you do "good spiritual housecleaning," negative personalities can take over, she said.

More here-

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tom Prichard pursues peace, education in South Sudan

From Sudan-

Tom Prichard is working to build 41 schools in the new nation of South Sudan. But he is also building something else: peace between former enemies in this war-torn region of East Africa.

South Sudan, which gained independence in July, has one of the highest rates of illiteracy in the world. The need for better education is plain. And after decades of civil war, the need to build peace between former enemies is equally urgent.

Mr. Prichard uses one to support the other. "The pathway to peace has to be doing things that grow grass-roots reconciliation and understanding," says Prichard, executive director of Sudan Sunrise, the nonprofit group he founded in 2005.

In the 55 years since it gained independence from Egypt and Britain, Sudan has been in a state of nearly constant civil war. From 1983 to 2004, the hard-line Islamist regime of Omar al-Bashir waged war against the largely Christian population in the south.

More here-

Seeds of the Ordinariate, Part One: Our Lady of the Atonement, San Antonio

From Catholic Online-

With just a few short days before the official announcement of the new Anglican Ordinariate for the United States, I wanted to take some time to review some of the important developments that led to this momentous event, whose seeds can be found in the Pastoral Provision from Pope John Paul II in 1980.

Anglicans becoming Catholic is not new. It has happened often in the years since Henry VIII broke off relations with the Sea of Peter and took the reins of a "new" jurisdiction. Even former Anglican clergy had been received and ordained into Holy Orders - including Blessed John Cardinal Newman, who is now on his way to canonization.

But with the "pastoral provision," the Holy Father allowed diocesan bishops to establish Anglican Use parishes within their jurisdiction and to ordain former Anglican priests who are married, as Catholic priests. Such dispensations had been granted since the mid-20th Century to Anglican and Lutheran clergy on a case-by-case basis, but the provision set a formal mechanism in place to undertake this work.

Two of the earliest Anglican Use parishes under the provision were in Texas.: Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston and Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio. Recently I had a chance to talk with Fr. Christopher Phillips, pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement, about the early days of Anglican Use.

More here-

ECs Archbishop Cautions Against Corruption, Igniting of Jonglei Conflicts

From Sudan-

The Archbishop of Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) Daniel Deng Bul yesterday advised Christians to keep themselves away from corrupt practices which he said are now being heard everywhere in South Sudan.

While preaching at the All Saints Cathedral of Juba the Archbishop said that corruption is a sin and people who called themselves believers should not be mentioned in such practices, adding that all the things done should be for the benefits of the nation not individuals. Bul said there are many consequences of corruption and people who get addicted to it in particular should refrain and all South Sudanese should abstain from misusing public property. The Archbishop stated that it would be meaningless for South Sudan to vote for their independence and again does not satisfy people, and if corruption continues even the martyrs who died for the freedom of South Sudan would be in vain.

More here-

Memories Of An Old Priest Still Illuminate Our Time

From Oregon-

The Rev. John Roberts was our family priest from 1883 until his death in 1949. In a cheering change of pace, we white people were something of an afterthought to him compared to the Shoshone and Arapaho Indians who were his enthusiastic focus.

A Welshman, Roberts was 30 when he arrived on the Wind River Indian Reservation. This was a few years after President Ulysses S. Grant in effect “gave” the Shoshones to the Episcopal Church in an early version of modern-day faith-based initiatives designed to enlist religious denominations in aiding needy citizens.

Father Roberts became friends with both Chief Washakie and his fellow old soldier, my great-great-grandfather Sgt. Ed Alton. Washakie’s legend still shines radiantly from that bedarkened time. In “Son of the Morning Star,” a masterpiece about Custer and the Little Big Horn, author Evan Connell paints this lush picture of a preliminary June 17, 1876 battle: “embarrassing scenes alternated with moments of intense beauty. Chief Washakie, the great Shoshone, rode naked to the waist, wearing a bonnet with so many feathers that they swept the earth.”

More here-

Community groups join to create a Code Blue shelter for the homeless

From Philadelphia-

For the past few years, whenever Bucks County declared a Code Blue emergency, only homeless people in Lower Bucks had a place to go.

Homeless people in Central and Upper Bucks had to find a way to get to Lower Bucks or stay outside in the cold.

“I think there’s a sense that there are more homeless people in Lower Bucks County than there are in Central and Upper Bucks County,” said the Rev. Lucy Amerman, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church in Buckingham.

“I don’t know the numbers. I think people who are homeless in Central and Upper Bucks are just less visible. But they’re there. They’re definitely there,” she said.

Bob Clark, facility manager at Covenant Church in Buckingham, said people regularly call or walk into his church seeking help.

Trinity Episcopal Church, Covenant Church and several other area churches and community service organizations have joined to offer the homeless in Central and Upper Bucks a place to stay on nights when temperatures drop below 20 degrees. The churches and service organizations call themselves the Coalition to Shelter and Support the Homeless.

More here-

The Rev. Richard Turk, known for his prison and church ministry, dies at age 72

From Florida-

To the Rev. Richard Turk, church wasn’t contained within the four walls of a sanctuary.

He ministered to prisoners throughout North Florida, served on a board that prepares ex-offenders to re-enter the workforce, helped build homes for the needy, collected presents for underprivileged children, served parishioners at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and taught college courses.

The former Catholic priest also was involved in an unlikely love story with a former Catholic nun that endured to his death Christmas morning. The Rev. Turk was 72 and died from complications of a heart condition.

“He had a servant’s heart, especially for the poor, the forgotten and the disenfranchised,” said Frank Cerveny, retired bishop of Florida. “He will be greatly missed because he was greatly loved.”

Read more:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Voting for hall of fame about to get tougher

How about a little baseball diversion- HOF voting this week- (Like to see Tim Raines make it)

The Baseball Writers Association of America has the significant task of annually determining who is and isn't worthy of a bronze plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It can also be considered an unenviable task with the long list of steroids-tainted greats becoming eligible very soon.

Mark McGwire excluded, the BBWAA will wait one more year to mull the topic over as it first must focus on selecting the 2012 HOF class. Voting is released on Jan. 9.

This year's newcomers appear to be a pretty weak bunch, with the likes of Bernie Williams, Vinny Castilla, Javy Lopez and ex-Ranger Ruben Sierra highlighting the group. If anyone has a chance, it's probably Williams, who spent his entire 16-year career with the Yankees.

The Puerto Rican outfielder was a five-time MLB All-Star who earned four Gold Gloves. If Williams is elected, playing a key role on a New York team that won four titles will have just as much to do with it as his statistics.

Ballot holdovers who received more than 40 percent of the 2011 vote include shortstop Barry Larkin (62.1 percent), pitcher Jack Morris (53.5), reliever Lee Smith (45.3) and Jeff Bagwell (41.7).

I'll be surprised if Larkin doesn't get the 75 percent of the votes needed for election. And I'll be surprised if anyone else makes it.

More here-

God would not allow Ghanaians to die in 2012 - Bishop

From Ghana-

Rt. Rev, Francis Benjamin Quashie, Bishop of the Koforidua Diocese of the Anglican Church has assured that, God would not allow Ghanaians to die because of the greed and selfishness of some politicians in the country.

He said often when one hears the pronouncement of some of the political leaders of the country, it makes one feel that the world would come to an end after the 2012 elections in Ghana.

Rt Rev. Quashie said sometimes the politicians tries to assure the people of peace, their pronouncement and actions does not give any assurance of peace and therefore called on the people of Ghana to have trust in God and serve him faithfully and he would be with the people of Ghana till the end of times as he assured.

Rt. Rev. Quashie was preaching the sermon on Christmas day at the Saint Peter’s Cathedral at Koforidua.

More here-

Christians Say Christmas 'Unique', Pray for South Sudan Unity

From Sudan-

Religious Leaders and Christians have described this years' Christmas as unique as it is the first South Sudan is celebrating as an independent country.This follows the declaration of South Sudan as a separate country from Sudan in July.

The Dean of All Saints Cathedral Rev. Fraser Yugu said that this year's Christmas was far much different from other years with huge church attendance by Christian followers, including returnees from different countries after the country won its independence from the North.The Rev. Yugu also said that the celebrations were peaceful with no cases of violence registered."Last years' Christmas attendance was poor but this year, more than three thousand people prayed at All Saints Cathedral and it was a very colorful Christmas celebration" he told The Citizen yesterday at the Church premises.

More here-

Shelter's 'Bingo Lady' is there for the rewards, not the jackpot

From Connecticut-

Susie Hermanson spins a small gray basket sending dozens of little white balls spinning in a clockwise direction.

Twelve sets of eyes watch her closely.

She stops after one of the balls rolls from its metallic enclosure. Across the table, 10 feet away, Sherry Gieger has her fingers crossed, both hands raised above her head.

"O. 70," Hermanson calls out.

"Bingo!" Gieger exclaims, shooting out of her seat.

Gieger brings her sheet to Hermanson, who examines the numbers, her black eyeglasses perched on the end of her nose.

"We have a lot of false alarms," Hermanson says, but tonight Gieger's sheet is really a winner.
It's a cool, rainy autumn night, but inside it's warm and dry at 76 Federal St. The 50 or so people here know they'll have to be back on the street by 7 a.m. the next morning, but for now, it's bingo night at the homeless shelter in the St. James Episcopal Church.

For Hermanson, 67, the shelter's unofficial "Bingo Lady," it's all about providing that short reprieve from life's daily hardships.

More here-

Retired bishop to assist in dispute over same-sex marriage

From Canada-

A disagreement over the issue of blessing same-sex marriages in the Anglican diocese of Montreal has led some of its parishes to request the help of a retired bishop from western Newfoundland.

Bishop Leonard Whitten of Pasadena retired from his ministry in 2003, but has been asked to provide what’s known as a shared episcopal ministry to parishes within the diocese of Montreal that disagree with the stance taken by Bishop Barry Clarke of Montreal.

Since 2007, at the direction of a diocesan synod, Clarke has authorized at least two blessings of two civil marriages without controversy.

However, in recent months, parishes in the diocese have protested the induction of a partnered gay priest, Very Rev. Paul Kennington, as the dean of Montreal and rector of Christ Church Cathedral and the ordination as a deacon of a partnered gay man, Rev. Robert Camara.

More here-

Pittsburgh cathedral aligns with Episcopalians in wake of 2008 split with Anglican majority

From Indiana-

The governing board of the Trinity Cathedral in downtown Pittsburgh has voted to affiliate with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh more than three years after a majority of parishes left to form the more conservative Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The board voted 11-7 last week to align solely with the Episcopalians, ending an agreement under which the cathedral was affiliated with both dioceses. That agreement had been in place since the Anglican parishes broke away from the Episcopal diocese in 2008 over differences including the authority of the Bible and the Episcopal church's ordination of gay clergy.

The Episcopal diocese has about 9,000 members in 29 parishes. The Anglicans have about 20,000 members in 74 congregations.

The governing board and the cathedral's congregation approved a resolution in October 2008 to let the cathedral continue to represent both groups, but congregation officials said the dual affiliation was making it difficult to grow.

More here-

Monday, December 26, 2011

Trinity Cathedral opts to be solely Episcopal

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Trinity Cathedral, whose shared governance by the rival Episcopal and Anglican dioceses of Pittsburgh had been a symbol of civility amid strife, has chosen to move forward as solely an Episcopal cathedral.

The 11-7 decision, taken with three Anglican members of the cathedral chapter absent, has lit up the Episcopal and Anglican blogospheres since it was made last week. The Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh has criticized the procedural correctness of the vote.

A resolution that created the relationship in 2008 called for a Christian community "in which the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ may be evidenced in our practices of self-restraint, mutual accountability, and extending respect and forbearance to those with whom we differ."

"This is a very sad sort of thing," said the Rev. Catherine Brall, provost of the Downtown cathedral, who first proposed the shared arrangement. "It was a great idea. But, unfortunately, humans being what they are, it was difficult to put into practice. We gave it three years to work, and it just wasn't working."

The dual affiliation was created by an overwhelming majority of both the cathedral chapter and congregation in anticipation of the 2008 decision of the majority at the diocesan convention to leave the Episcopal Church. That group is now the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. The remaining Episcopalians continued the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. The cathedral had leadership from both and answered to both Episcopal Bishop Kenneth Price and Anglican Archbishop Robert Duncan.

Read more:

Anglican leader: Britain risks tearing itself apart

From London-

Riots and bankers' greed have sent Britain's communities "spinning apart in the dark" this year, the head of the Church of England will say in his Christmas Day sermon, warning against building a society on foundations of selfishness and fear.

Rioting and looting erupted across England this summer, leaving some towns ransacked and divided, while public anger against irresponsible behaviour and big bonuses in the banking sector has remained strong throughout the financial crisis.

"The most pressing question we now face, we might well say, is who and where we are as a society. Bonds have been broken, trust abused and lost," Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (picture) will say at Canterbury Cathedral in southeast England on Sunday, according to extracts released in advance by his office.

"Whether it is an urban rioter mindlessly burning down a small shop that serves his community, or a speculator turning his back on the question of who bears the ultimate cost for his acquisitive adventures in the virtual reality of today's financial world, the picture is of atoms spinning apart in the dark."

Williams, the spiritual leader for 77 million Anglicans around the world, told the Conservative-led coalition government earlier in December to consider the social impact of its austerity drive, particularly in cuts to youth services. He warned that Britain could face more riots unless communities and the authorities did more to reach out to disenfranchised young people.

Williams, no stranger to courting controversy with his remarks about politics, fairness in society and morality in global affairs, has also previously said the wealthy are not bearing their fair share of spending cuts.

More here-

Poll: Some worshipers took a holiday on Christmas

From The Washington Post-

Sunday services were starting in 15 minutes at Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church, and Pastor Andrew Walton was alone in the carpeted common area, marking up a program with a highlighter. At this time of the week, the space is normally a crazy intersection of kids and adults.

But this was Christmas. The only sounds in the room were the hum of a coffee maker and the organist practicing upstairs.

“The staff is on vacation, and we wanted to give families some time at home,” Walton said, explaining why the typical schedule had been altered. With Sunday School canceled and a small crowd expected at the 11 a.m. service, Walton jettisoned his sermon and asked congregants to share stories.

Smaller Sunday crowds on Christmas? Seems counterintuitive. But the confluence of the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth with the conventional church-going day actually proved a conundrum for many pastors.

A new poll by LifeWay Research shows that about 10 percent of U.S. Protestant pastors canceled Sunday services this Christmas. Many others had abbreviated or altered services. Some said they would use the smaller crowds to give their second-string clergy a chance to practice.

More here-

Kiir calls for peaceful Christmas celebrations, urges police to take charge

From Sudan-

South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir Mayardit on Sunday called for peaceful Christmas celebrations taking place across the new nation and urged police forces to take charge during the festivities.

Christmas Eve prayers were held at both Kator Roman Catholic Church led by archbishop Paulino Lokudu and Episcopal Church’s main cathedral at Mabil in Juba led by Daniel Deng Bul, with many other Christians attending prayers in different churches.

With a festive mood on the streets of the country’s capital Juba on Saturday, market areas and shops remained congested with residents busy with last minute shopping, as police authorities urged members of the public to be careful when using roads.

More here-,41086

Holiday dinner feels like home to those in need

From Michigan-

Lori Martin, of Howell, picked up a new Christmas tradition Sunday.

Instead of exchanging gifts and eating a holiday feast, Martin, 55, and six family members pitched in at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Marysville to bring Christmas dinner to others.

"You can't give to the community like this every day of the year," Martin said, as she gestured to people around her preparing and serving food in the church's steamy kitchen. "... It's a really good feeling."

Pastor Tracie Loffhagen of All Saints Episcopal Church, 543 Michigan Ave. in Marysville, said Sunday marked the sixth year the church has put on the Christmas dinner. Volunteers cooked and served up steaming trays of turkey, baked beans, scalloped potatoes and ham. Diners also had a pick of coleslaw, rolls and an assortment of pies, cakes and cookies.

More here-

Eviction deadline nears for Groton congregation

From Connecticut-

About 30 parishioners of the Bishop Seabury Church gathered for the 10 o'clock service Christmas morning. They took part in communion, offered prayers for others, and sang "Joy to the World" and "Away in a Manger."

And perhaps some silently hoped this would not be the final Christmas service at the North Road church.

The future of the congregation in its church building is uncertain. After eight years of contention with the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, a decision by the congregation to leave the diocese, and a legal battle over the property, the 135-year-old parish is under court order to vacate the premises by Jan. 4.

The diocesan bishop, the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, said Friday he is trying to avoid that end. He said he is not insisting on the deadline and has asked to meet with the lay and ordained leaders Jan. 12, when he hopes to offer solutions that would return the historic Bishop Seabury parish to the Episcopal fold.

But the pastor of Bishop Seabury, the Rev. Ronald S. Gauss, said Sunday that 200 members of the congregation have voted unanimously not to rejoin the Episcopal church. He said Sunday that members also have voted to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court a state Supreme Court ruling that the church and all its property must be turned over to the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

'Miracle baby’ Lawson Cook cast as Jesus in Bethesda Christmas pageant

From Florida-

The story of Lawson Cook truly is a Christmas miracle.

That’s why it’s so appropriate that he played Baby Jesus in the Christmas Eve pageant at The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea.

Last year at this time, his mother, Ejola Christlieb Cook, was five weeks pregnant and directing the pageant for the first time. Following the dress rehearsal, Cook ended up at Good Samaritan Medical Center, fearing she was having a miscarriage. The doctor found a heartbeat, and Cook was ordered on bed rest for a few days.

However, that wasn’t Cook’s last miscarriage scare. There were a few more throughout the pregnancy. Luckily, she delivered a healthy baby boy four months ago.

It just so happens that Lawson is the perfect age to play the Baby Jesus.

“For him to be here and play Jesus is huge for me,” Cook said. “There were quite a few times that we thought we might lose him, so he is my miracle baby.”

More than 50 children took part in this year’s Christmas Pageant, which came to life during Saturday’s 4 p.m. service.

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Children tell 'greatest story ever told' for Christmas

From Texas-

St. Paul’s on the Plains Episcopal Church relied on its children to share “the greatest story ever told” during a Christmas Eve pageant Saturday evening.

It was at least the fifth time since she was 5 years old that 17-year-old Taylor Liggett performed as Mary, this time narrating as the mother of Jesus as she told of his storied birth 2011 years ago.

As youths from her church acted while dressed in Middle Eastern robes or as angels, Liggett described the virgin Mary’s visitation by an angel informing her she would give birth to the son of God, her journey to Bethlehem with Joseph, the birth of Jesus in a manger, and their visit by shepherds and wise men.

She lit candles between visits from angels, wise men and shepherds as the audience of more than 130 sang Christmas hymns.

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