Saturday, March 3, 2012

Breakaway Va. churches lose legal bid to keep donations

From The Washington Examiner-

Seven breakaway Anglican churches in Virginia have lost their last-ditch appeal to keep their personal property, including Bibles, office supplies and cash donations.

The churches broke away from the Episcopal Diocese in Virginia in 2007 over issues that included the ordination of homosexual bishops, kicking off a years-long legal battle over whether the diocese or the congregations owned the buildings in which they met.

A Fairfax County judge ruled against the churches in January, and followed that ruling with a decision Thursday to deny the churches' appeal to keep personal property, including cash donations. The churches argued that the money belonged to them since donors had specifically requested the money not go to the Diocese, but the judge rejected that argument.

“We hope that this will mark the end of this lengthy litigation,” said the Rev. Shannon Johnston, bishop of the Diocese of Virginia. “By closing this chapter, both the Diocese and [the breakaway churches] have the freedom to focus our energies on the mission and ministries of our respective congregations.”

More here-

Breakaway Anglicans ordered to return property by April 30

From The Washington Post-

A Virginia judge has ordered seven congregations that broke from the Episcopal Church to return all property to the local diocese — from valuable land to sacred chalices — by April 30.

The Diocese of Virginia had wanted the properties returned by March 30, a week before Easter. But Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows agreed to give the breakaway congregations more time.

In a closely watched case that reached the Virginia Supreme Court, Bellows ruled in January that congregations had the right to leave the Diocese of Virginia, but not to take church property with them.

The conservative congregations must return an estimated $40 million worth of property, according to The Washington Post, including several large, historic churches. They must also return chalices, prayer books, crosses and some of the money they had on hand before they left the Episcopal Church.

Bellows also ordered the breakaway congregations not to use the name “Episcopal” or “Episcopalian” in their names.

More here-

Are breakaway Protestant denominations here to stay?

From Kansas City- (Interesting that this article states that ACNA "Seeks to supplant the Episcopal Church")

In some ways, the rifts are nothing new. American Protestants have been splintering since Roger Williams left Plymouth Colony in the 1630s, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University.

Yet the schisms counter a 20th century trend in which ethnic and regional Protestant groups merged to form big-tent denominations such as the ELCA and PC (USA).

“What we may be experiencing at this point is the limit of that movement to draw a lot of diversity under one umbrella,” said Ammerman, author of “Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners.”

Archbishop Robert Duncan, ACNA’s leader, said the new denominations herald a burgeoning movement.

“There is a Reformation going on in the Christian church, particularly in the West, and particularly in the mainline Protestant denominations,” he said. Duncan’s ACNA seeks to supplant the Episcopal Church as the U.S. branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

But some religion scholars say the new denominations are heading down a demographic dead end unless they can broaden their appeal beyond conservatives upset over pro-gay church policies.

“Public opinion about gays and lesbians and gay marriage are changing so dramatically that at some point in the future — 10 years, let’s say — it’s not going to matter very much,” said Robert Wuthnow, a sociologist and director of the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University.

Wuthnow and other scholars say American Protestantism provides fertile ground for offshoots, with the membership losses often encouraging the outgrowth.

Read more here:

Christ Church names rector

From West Texas-

Christ Episcopal Church has ended a more than 20-month search for a permanent rector to head one of the most prominent and storied churches in the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.
The Rev. Patrick Gahan, 57, will preach his first sermon March 11 at the 100-year-old congregation in Monte Vista.

Ordained for two dozen years after a career in the military and education, Gahan had been rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Wimberley since 2005.
His arrival is bringing a long-awaited sense of resolution to a trying chapter in the congregation's history.

The Rev. Chuck Collins left as rector in May 2010 as a way of cutting ties with the national denomination, the Episcopal Church USA. He and other members who left that year said the denomination had strayed from its theologically conservative roots and time-honored Anglican doctrine, including the approval of gay clergy and same-sex blessings.

Read more:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Local Episcopal priest nominated to be bishop

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

The Rev. Scott Quinn, an Episcopal priest in Crafton, is the fifth and final candidate for bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

He is the only local priest on a slate whose other members were announced in January. His name was added through a local petition. The election is April 21.

The diocese split over theological differences with the national church in 2008, when the majority of its parishes, clergy and its former bishop formed the conservative Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh. The current Episcopal shepherd, Bishop Kenneth Price Jr., is an interim "provisional bishop."

Father Quinn, 57, became rector of the Church of the Nativity in Crafton in 1983. He is among the theological conservatives who chose to remain in the Episcopal Church when the diocese split. Afterward he was placed in charge of pastoral care for hurting clergy and congregations.

"My job was to pick up the pieces after the battle and lay the groundwork for the healing to begin," he wrote in a profile the diocese released Thursday.

Read more:

Dave Dravecky on Bonds issue: A conflagration to be rekindled

From California-

At Grace Episcopal Church on Sunday, former San Francisco Giants pitcher Dave Dravecky talked about grace. His speaking appearance, sponsored by Marston Family Vineyard, packed the sanctuary at the St. Helena church.

It was a “message pitch” for the lefthander, who, in fact, doesn’t have a left hand anymore — or, for that matter, the left arm with which he won 64 major-league games. It was amputated in June 1991 because of a cancerous desmoid tumor. Dravecky has moved on admirably well. For the past few years he has been Dave Dravecky, cancer survivor, author, inspirational speaker and man of baseball.

After addressing the multitude in the church, during an interview outside on the church patio, Dravecky, the baseball man, also talked about grace. Specifically, his hope that people will have enough of it to set aside the steroid issue of the last decade when it comes to voting Giants slugger Barry Bonds into the Baseball Hall of Fame and reacting to his induction if he makes it.

The issue ignited in 2003, when Bonds first became involved in steroids, and set ablaze during the decade when Barry was brought up on perjury charges. It took something momentous — the Giants’ 2010 pennant campaign and victory in the World Series — to turn the burner down.

Read more:

Young people experience 30-Hour Famine

From Upper South Carolina-

Sixty-five young people between the ages of 12 and 18 began a 30-hour fast to raise awareness and funds to benefit the hungry and homeless here and around the world at midnight Friday, February 24, 2012. Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Youth joined with hundreds of thousands of other youth worldwide in the “30 Hour Famine,” a program sponsored by WorldVision, an international Christian humanitarian organization.

WorldVision serves children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries around the world by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. The youth of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral will donate 100% of monies raised this weekend to the WorldVision’s ministry to the people of Haiti.

According to World- Vision, in the wake of the January, 2010, earthquake that struck Haiti, an estimated three million Haitians are unable to access enough nutritious food to stay healthy. The growth of more than one in four children younger than five is stunted as a result of poor nutrition, more than half of the population struggles to survive at or below the global poverty level of $1.25 a day, and the 2010 earthquake and tropical storms that followed devastated 70 percent of Haiti’s agriculture.

Elementary schooler Timothy Smith adds a roof to his box shelter.
Early Saturday morning, February 25, 2012, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral’s youth began building 100 cardboard homes outside on the grounds of the downtown cathedral to sleep in that night. During the day on Saturday they participated in activities together including community service and fellowship.

More here-

Consultants reinstated as full members on ecumenical commission

From ENS-

The Rev. Katherine Grieb of the U.S.-based Episcopal Church and Archbishop Tito Zavala of the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone have been reinstated as full members on the Anglican Communion’s chief ecumenical and doctrinal commission.

The two members have served for the past two years as consultants to the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order (IASCUFO) after their full membership on that body was rescinded at the request of Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

Williams’ request concerning Grieb came in May 2010 following the consecration of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Douglas Glasspool, who is openly gay, and his decision about Zavala was made in October 2010 because the Southern Cone had failed to clarify whether it was still involved in cross-border incursions into other provinces.

Grieb is an Episcopal priest and professor of New Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary. Zavala was bishop of Chile at the time but has since been elected as archbishop of the Southern Cone province.

The request to reinstate the members fully was made by IASCUFO chairman Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi of the Anglican Church of Burundi.

More here-

Grace Episcopal taking part in The Bible Challenge

From Wisconsin-

Grace Episcopal Church, 1011 N. Seventh St., began Lent with The Bible Challenge, a project in which participants can read and discuss the entire Bible in one year. The project began this past Monday, but all are welcome to join at any time.

The Bible Challenge is the project of an ecumenical group, The Center for Biblical Studies.

Anyone who wants to take the challenge can follow the schedule starting on any day defined as Day One.

The schedule and weekly summaries can be found on the church website at

For each week, readings for six days are provided, with reading time being about 45 minutes a day.

On the seventh day, participants can listen to Scripture in their own church worship services.

Grace Episcopal will provide printed versions of the schedule and study guides to those who don't have good Internet access.

More here-

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Diocese Names Final Slate of Bishop Nominees

From Pittsburgh-

The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has completed the process of discerning who will stand for election as the next bishop of the diocese.

In a report to the Bishop, Standing Committee, and members of the diocese dated March 1, 2012, the Bishop Search/Nominating Committee identifies five priests on the final slate of nominees. The group includes those previously named by the committee to a preliminary slate, along with one additional nominee who qualified for the ballot during a designated period of nomination by petition. The five nominees are:

The Rev. Canon Michael N. Ambler, Jr., Rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Bath, Maine;

The Rev. Dorsey W. M. McConnell, Rector of Church of the Redeemer, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts;

The Rev. Canon Scott T. Quinn, Rector of Church of the Nativity, Crafton, Pennsylvania;

The Rev. R. Stanley Runnels, Rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri;

The Rev. Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, Rector of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Denver, Colorado.

More here-

Judge Orders Historic Falls Church Keys, $ to Episcopalians By April 30

From Falls Church-

Fairfax Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows ruled yesterday that the transfer of all property, physical and other assets, of the Historic Falls Church in the downtown City of Falls Church shall be transferred away from control of the breakaway Anglican congregation to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia by an April 30, 2012 deadline. The judge is slated to sign his final order today at 2 p.m.

The Diocese had sought a March 30 deadline, but Bellows agreed to comply with the request of attorneys for the breakaway "Convocation of Anglicans in North America" (CANA) group for a bit more time.

Judge Bellows ruled that all personal property -- including all furnishings, chalices, prayer books, portraits, historic documents and crosses and funds -- shall also be conveyed to the Diocese, and that they be calculated based on what was held as of January 31, 2007, the date the Diocese formally filed for legal action to recover its property.

As for the funds, it is estimated that $7 million is involved, with all of it to go to the Diocese except for what might be construed as money raised by the CANA group for its own specific missionary deployment. Resolution of some of monetary matters, therefore, such as money raised for a Southgate Fund to build an auxiliary building, could await a March 30 deadline set by Bellows.

Read more

Archbishop: Law should not redefine marriage

From The Christian Institute-

Marriage should not be redefined in law, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned yesterday in a speech about human rights.

Dr Rowan Williams said that some religious communities “feel that alien cultural standards are somehow being imposed – particularly in regard to inherited views of marriage and family.”

He added: “If it is said, for example, that a failure to legalise assisted suicide – or indeed same-sex marriage – perpetuates stigma or marginalisation for some people, the reply must be, I believe, that issues like stigma and marginalisation have to be addressed at the level of culture rather than law.”


He also said there is “anxiety that law is being used proactively to change culture – one of the chief anxieties of some religious people faced with developments in the application of rights.”

And he said that while law has a role to play in advancing rights “this falls short of a legal charter to promote change in institutions, even in language”.

More here-

Tanzanian archbishop shares insight on religious tolerance in ETX

From Texas-

Unexpectantly, in the Nacogdoches Episcopal Church office, the right reverend Dr. Valentine Mokiwa finds a connection to his home in Tanzania, Africa.

The SFA student's father is a priest in Kenya supervised by the archbishop's colleague.

"I live a very busy life style being bishop for the entire Tanzania, say 44 million, but 5 Anglicans, 27 bishops, and I have a diocese. Life tends to be very busy," said Dr. Mokiwa.

The archbishop studied in America and now comes here for rest, but he always takes time to promote his country and faith.

"Christianity is 45% and 33% is Muslim and the rest goes to other religions," said Dr. Mokiwa.
mokiwa says unlike many African countries, tolerance is important in the peaceful Tanzania.

"Forcing your faith is unbecoming. We encourage people to share faith, but we are not encouraging people to use force," said Dr. Mokiwa.

The archbishop takes interest in youth leader Rip Gibbs mission work in Tanzania.

Gibbs found the faith in Tanzania infectious.

More here-

No phones allowed: Muskegon church opens for 'quiet day' Saturday

From Michigan-

Since average smart phone users check their devices 34 times per day, a few hours without technology might seem like a recipe for anxiety.

But Linda Reynolds thinks a little silence is just what many people need to renew their spirits.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will hold its first “Leave the World Behind” day for quiet reflection of the year from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Visitors can enter through the church’s courtyard at 1006 Third.

Reynolds, a St. Paul’s member who organized the previous five quiet days, said she started them because she felt a need for a space to reflect silently in her own life, without any electronic distractions.

“I thought if I need it, a lot of other people probably need it too,” she said. “I think about the days in the past when people could, if they felt the need, just walk into a church and pray. The churches today are locked up tighter than a drum.”

More here-

York Countians make creative sacrifices during the 40 days before Easter

From York PA-

Jesus might have bested Satan, but he never faced a temptation as great as Facebook.

Lindsay Grady did, and she overcame. While it was hard, the Spring Garden Township woman gave up Facebook for Lent last year.

Grady, who attends Praise Community Church in Spring Garden, said she continuously picked up and put down her smart phone for the first few days. Finally, she deleted the Facebook app to erase the temptation.

"Every time I thought about how much I missed it, I thought about how I was showing God that he meant more to me than social networking did," she said.

Lent, which began last week with Ash Wednesday, is the 40-day period when Christians often practice sacrifice and self-denial. It concludes with Holy Week and the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Traditional targets of Lenten self-sacrifice include chocolate, sweets, alcohol and meat. Grady, 34, is among the new generation of Christians who are updating the list to include the addictive social media toys.

Stacy Portko said she "contemplated" giving up Facebook last year, but changed her mind. "This year I will!" she vowed in an email.

The Dillsburg woman has attended St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Mechanicsburg for the past 21 years.

More here-

Flood doesn't dampen spirits at Trinity Episcopal Church

From New Jersey-

Trinity Episcopal Church’s restoration project wasn't done in vain, even though it might have looked that way after Hurricane Irene swept through and destroyed some of the recently-finished work.

The Siano Brothers Contracting firm of Cranford deconstructed the original church building in 2008 and then by the end of 2010, had rebuilt the structure back to how it looked when it was first built in 1875. The firm was able to salvage some parts of the original structure and restore it, such as the church’s organ.

The organ was dismantled and removed to be refurbished and repaired. Then it was re-installed, taking four weeks, near the end of the reconstruction project in October of 2010.

Trinity Episcopal paid for the restoration project with a capital campaign it started in 2007. The church then sold a lot it owned on Arlington Road for $300,000, using the proceeds for the rebuilding fund.

More here-

Richard Dawkins, the Atheist Who Isn't, but the Episcopal Bishop Who Might Be

From Christian Post-

Just as the atheist Richard Dawkins discloses he doubts God's non-existence, Richard Holloway, Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh, asserts his doubt in the Deity's existence.

The atheist and the bishop have wound up at the same place. In the case of the world's most outspoken non-believer, the step is progression, but in the case of the leader in the Scottish Episcopal Church, the step is regression.

"I can't be sure God does not exist," said Dawkins, crusader against belief in God, during a debate with the Archbishop of Canterbury February 24. The next day Holloway was quoted as saying he can't be sure God does exist.

The Scotsman carried a February 25 headline focusing on Holloway, one of Archbishop Rowan Williams' colleagues. The banner in the Scottish newspaper read, "There may be no God, 'but let us live as though there were,' says Bishop Richard Holloway."

More here-

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Day-to-Day Glory

From Day 1- (Brian is a friend who I serve with on Executive Council)

Glory. I am supposed to tell you about the Glory of the Lord. In the lesson from St. Mark's Gospel, Jesus' face changed while praying on the mountain and his clothes became dazzling white and I am supposed to tell you about the Glory of the Lord that Peter and John and James were witness to on that day.

The Glory is such an odd idea in the Christian tradition. I have discovered that there are two kinds of preachers. There are the kind of preachers who love the word 'Glory' and use it every opportunity they can. 'Glory' ends up being used in every sentence and as different parts of speech and on the rare occasion even as a form of punctuation.

And then there is the second kind of preacher. I am the second kind. If I saw the Glory of the Lord coming down the street towards me, I might be tempted to cross over so as to not get too close.

Now, please don't misunderstand, I am not opposed to the Transfiguration. But unlike the other major events in the life of Jesus, I find it hard to know where to start. And I guess I am not alone.

A good dictionary definition of glory will tell you that glory always involves great honor and praise. Radiant beauty and splendor and lights and halos are often used in trying to describe and define glory.

So, maybe it is hard to speak of the Glory of the Lord because it seems so removed from our world, our present moment. Ours is an anxious age, not a glorious one.

More here-

Breakaway bishop who denounced gay bishop found murdered in Brazil

From The Washington Post-

A conservative Brazilian bishop who broke away from his church over the consecration of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire was found murdered with his wife in the northeastern town of Olinda, according to the diocese.

Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife Miriam were found dead on Sunday (Feb. 26). Their adopted son, Eduardo, is a suspect in the stabbing deaths, church officials said.

Conservative Anglican media sites reported that Cavalcanti was returning from a parish visit.

Cavalcanti launched the breakaway Anglican Church — Diocese of Recife after Bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.

According to a 2006 story by Episcopal News Service, Cavalcanti asked the House of Bishops in Brazil to express its opposition to Robinson’s election. When Brazilian bishops refused, Cavalcanti left the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil, the officially recognized Brazilian branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Cavalcanti canceled relationships with U.S. dioceses and participated in irregular actions within the U.S., including confirmations in Ohio in 2004 without the diocesan bishop’s permission, ENS reported.

More here-

Breakaway Anglican Group Experiencing Schism

From Christian Post-

A group of American churches that left The Episcopal Church over theological differences is experiencing its own issues with breakaway congregations.

The Anglican Mission in the Americas, a South Carolina-based denomination connected to the Anglican Church of Rwanda, has found itself in a complex power struggle that has thus far resulted in 20 of its 250 affiliate churches and congregations leaving.

This whole episode began with the varied responses that several conservative Episcopal congregations had as their church hierarchy became increasingly liberal on social and theological issues. The increasingly liberal hierarchy of The Episcopal Church resulted in several congregations leaving the denomination.

More here-

St. Timothy’s Episcopal makes ‘comfort dolls’ for children in Africa

From Ohio-

Members of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Massillon are turning scraps of yarn into multi-tasking “comfort dolls” to help children in Africa.

Chris Lane, who chairs the project, spotted the opportunity on the Internet and asked other members of the parish to join her mission to supply dolls to ICROSS Canada, a nonprofit organization that sends medical supplies to areas of Africa where AIDS is rampant. ICROSS Canada obtains AIDS vaccines, medications, treatments and medical supplies and instruments from pharmacies and hospitals.

The first supply shipments four years ago included glass vials and test tubes that needed special cushioning. Simple little knit dolls were developed to serve as packing material. Once that is done, the dolls are distributed to children orphaned by AIDS and those who have the disease.

More here-

Prayer Goes Social on Episcopal Church Drupal Website

From Chicago via San Fransisco-

The Episcopal Church has embraced the Internet to help its members embrace the Church. Among the features now available on its new website developed by Drupal developer Duo Consulting, church members can submit their prayers, view other prayers and 'like' prayers to offer their support. In addition to bringing information on missions, feasts, fasts, sermons and doctrine to its members, the Church also offers perspective for non-members on what the Church stands for and what it means to be Episcopalian.

The requirement to launch quickly, on budget and with a broad new and imaginative set of feature requirements dictated the Drupal open source content management platform and led the Church to Duo Consulting. The Episcopal Church and Duo worked together to construct a site that was easy for non-technical staff to manage. "The Duo team worked miracles, held our hands and delivered on time," says Barry Merer, manager of web services and social media for the Episcopal Church. Features of the new site include:

Read more:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gettysburg parish marks 20 years with local soup kitchen

From Gettysburg-

The Memorial Church of the Prince of Peace, a historic Episcopal parish located in Gettysburg in south central Pennsylvania, marked 20 years of close partnership with the Gettysburg Community Soup Kitchen with an open house event and special liturgy on Feb. 26.

Prince of Peace’s Rector, the Rev. Kate Kelderman, was joined by other area clergy in the liturgy and blessing, which was adapted from the prayers for the blessing of a house from the Book of Occasional Services. A ribbon cutting with the Mayor of Gettysburg officially kicked off the event.

“Prince of Peace is honored to have been the founder of the Gettysburg Community Soup Kitchen, and we’re constantly blessed by our long association with it,” said Kelderman.

Established in 1991 as a ministry of Prince of Peace, the soup kitchen has been since 1994 a community-based organization supported by more than 25 area churches, more than 15 local groups, businesses and foundations, and countless individual donors, volunteers and sponsors.
Housed since its founding in facilities at Prince of Peace on High Street in Gettysburg, the soup kitchen recently moved next door to “Peace House,” a former Roman Catholic rectory also owned by Prince of Peace. Extensive renovations to Peace House to accommodate the expanded soup kitchen facility were undertaken prior to the move.

More here-

Church official: St. Michael’s wants to stay on NW 43rd St.

From Florida-

A Ponte Vedra Beach developer has about two years left on a contract to purchase the St. Michael’s Episcopal Church and Day School property off Northwest 43rd Street but has no buyers since Walgreens backed out, a church official said.

Gary Miller, junior warden of the church, said the diocese bishop has said it is unlikely a buyer will come forward for the duration of the contract in the present economic climate.

The contract was given a six-month extension.

Diocese officials did not return calls for comment.

Miller also said church members have expressed to the bishop that they want to stay on the property the church has occupied since 1960.

Last year, diocese officials said the church needed repairs and renovations it could not afford and had planned to move and build a new facility with proceeds from the sales price of more than $3 million.

Miller said Monday that the church has become self-sufficient because of growth in membership and is taking care of the property.

He said he did not know how many members the church had but said Sunday attendance has been at about 60-70 people compared with 12 five years ago.

All but a handful of members left in 2006 to form the Servants of Christ Anglican Church after the ordination of an openly gay Episcopal bishop in New Hampshire.

The church is on the southwest corner of Northwest 43rd Street and 23rd Avenue. A CVS is under construction on the northwest corner.

More here-

Survey: Pastors Mostly Assess Church's Mission, Reputation to Improve

From Christian Post-

Pastors looking to improve their church mostly focus on assessing their church's mission and assessing their church's image in the community, according to a new survey.

According to The Barna Group's findings, 88 percent of pastors surveyed said they were definitely or probably going to "assess your church's vision and mission" and 72 percent said they were definitely or probably going to "assess your church's reputation in the community" in trying to improve their church.

David Kinnaman, who oversaw the research, remarked in a statement that pastors across the country are looking to adjust to the new realities of the culture.

"Most pastors are open to changing their ministries, yet many of them are struggling with the foundational questions of mission and vision," said Kinnaman.

More here-

Another Episcopal cathedral shoe drops

From Get Religion-

It is the year 2012, do you know where your local Episcopal cathedral is? Are you sure that there still is one?

Veteran religion-beat pro Richard C. Dujardin at The Providence Journal had a short, but important, story the other day about a church closing that — if what I am hearing is correct — represents a bit of a trend in the hard-hit liberal Protestant economies of the Northeast and Midwest. What we have here is a story that needs a few more facts on the ground and in the pews.

The basic question: Is there an official list somewhere of the Episcopal Church cathedrals that are being closed and/or sold? Does anyone have a website up with folks placing bets attempting to predict which of these lovely sanctuaries will be the first to be turned into condos? A really spectacular bed and breakfast? Here is the opening of this timely report:

More here-

Monday, February 27, 2012

Shroud of Turin a source of spiritual strength for academic

From Canada-

Trinity Western University professor Phillip Wiebe has been a convert to the power of The Shroud of Turin since 2000.

That's when the 66-year-old old Anglican academic had an epiphany upon first viewing the shroud in Turin Cathedral in northern Italy. Many Christians consider the shroud the bona fide burial cloth of a crucified Jesus.

Even though Wiebe teaches at an evangelical university where faculty are expected to adhere to traditional Christian doctrine, the member of the Church of the Ascension in Langley City admits being blown away by his first-hand experience of the Turin shroud.

In that ecstatic moment, Wiebe was finally convinced that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was an actual physical event. "I was shocked at the confidence I felt. It made me realize I had doubts about the resurrection."

Since then, Wiebe, a philosophy professor who has written scholarly books on reported religious miracles and visions, such as God and Other Spirits, has been giving scores of presentations about the four-metre-long shroud.

Read more:

Anglicans Seek a Quiet Strength

From The New York Times-

When the central heating broke down at a North London church midway through a snap of icy weather the other day, the vicar offered the faithful a choice: Attend another church for a cozier celebration, or display what he wryly called “muscular Christianity” by worshiping in a side chapel in their own, unheated church.

Perhaps surprisingly, perhaps not, the muscular, if shivery, Christians seemed to outnumber those who headed for warmer pews — an indication, some might argue, that Britain’s established state religion can draw on doughty reserves in the face of adversity.

It might need to.

In a broader debate that has preoccupied Christians and nonbelievers, some here have depicted a trend toward the exclusion of faith from public life, akin to the laïcité that offers such a stern and uncompromising separation of church and state in France.

The dispute began with a court ruling that outlawed Christian prayers at the opening of a local council meeting in the West Country town of Bideford — a decision that prompted a Conservative government minister to say he would use other methods to overturn the ban.

More here-

Pastor proud to serve both the military and the church

From Florida-

When the first strains of the closing hymn started, Holy Cross Episcopal Church pastor the Rev. Jeffrey A. Jencks was still wearing his purple cassock, a symbol of his priesthood.

By the time "Amazing Grace" finished, Jencks was standing near the church altar in full Army uniform, his military awards dripping from his uniform.

For years, Jencks had been a soldier and a priest, moving between disparate worlds. No more.

About 200 people stayed after Sunday's service at Holy Cross to honor Jencks for his military service. And congregation members were honored for sharing their spiritual leader with the Army. Jencks retired in January after a 21-year military career that included two tours in Iraq. His Army affiliations include service with the Rhode Island National Guard, the Army Reserve and active-duty Army.

More here-

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Atheists are right to challenge the sins of the Anglican church

From The Guardian-

Your leader ("Let's avoid a clash of faith and reason") refers to "the fury of atheist scientist Richard Dawkins" and then describes him as "intemperate". In reality, the foundation Professor Dawkins leads had simply published the results of a public opinion poll, accompanied by press releases with some very moderately expressed interpretations of the findings.

That such research can be described by Baroness Warsi as "militant secularisation" and be compared to "totalitarian regimes" says more about her views than those of the atheists she attacks.

You refer to the continued presence of Anglican bishops in our country's legislature, the Church of England's institutional discrimination against women and gays, and the use of state funds to support schools that refuse to admit children whose parents do not go to church, but then casually dismiss such scandals as among "the flaws and occasional absurdities of Christianity".

Faced with such provocation, there is surely a very good case for robust opposition to evil acts perpetrated by people of faith. One might have hoped that in such a conflict, the Observer would know where its loyalty lies.

More here-

Finding Dr. Livingstone: Technology and tenacity reveal the Victorian-era explorer's diary

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

A field diary partially written with berry juice on old newsprint, paper scraps and book margins in the last years of the life of British explorer David Livingstone is legible for the first time in 141 years, with the help of modern-day spectral-imaging technology and the old-fashioned sleuthing of an Indiana University of Pennsylvania professor.

Adrian S. Wisnicki, an assistant professor of 19th century British literature, studies the works of Victorian-era explorers and novelists including Livingstone, Richard Burton and Joseph Conrad, based on their travels to Africa and across the British Empire.

Recognizing a big void in Livingstone's history, Mr. Wisnicki decided to seek a long-lost 1871 diary that detailed his whereabouts and experiences during his arduous and final travels in central Africa when he was out of contact with the Western world for two years. New York Herald newsman Henry M. Stanley finally tracked him down in early November 1871, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, where legend says he greeted him with the famous, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"

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