Saturday, March 10, 2012

Christians were dragged from St Paul’s while they prayed

From London-

A group of Anglican clerics have called on St Paul's Cathedral to fully explain why praying Christians were dragged by police from the steps of the famous landmark during the eviction of the Occupy London Stock Exchange camp.

Five praying Christians were forcibly removed from the cathedral steps during the operation, despite the fact that an eviction order had only been granted for the land opposite St Paul’s which is owned by the City of London Corporation.

The group had gathered on the steps to pray for the evicted protestors in the mistaken belief that they would not be removed.

The five Christians that were forced off the steps have written an open letter to St Paul’s calling on them to explain whether the cathedral gave police permission to remove them.

The letter to Canon Pastor Michael Colclough, seen by The Independent, has been countersigned by twenty-one people including 11 Anglican clerics and six Baptist ministers.

More here-

Convert Priest Thrilled To Host Pope And Archbishop Of Canterbury

From Eurasia Review-

Catholic convert Father Peter Hughes prefers to describe himself as “an Anglican who is now in full communion with Peter.”

“In a personal sense I have made this journey, and it has been both a fascinating and a demanding one,” said Fr. Hughes, the prior of San Gregorio al Celio monastery in Rome, in an interview with CNA.

Fr. Hughes was received into the Catholic Church in 2000, after many years as an Anglican vicar in his native Australia and in England.

This weekend he will experience his life come full circle as he hosts both Pope Benedict XVI and the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. The two religious leaders will pray Vespers together to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the monastic Camaldolese Order, which has overseen San Gregorio since the mid 1500s.

More here-

RAK's new Anglican church is Gulf's largest

From United Arab Emirates-

The emirate's first Anglican church and the Gulf's largest was consecrated on Friday at the new church complex in the Al Jazeera Al Hamra area.

Hundreds of people of different nationalities arrived on buses from all over the country to attend the elaborate opening ceremony.

Bishop Michael Lewis, of the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, officially opened St Luke's to worshippers.

He gathered worshippers around the entrance before the service and said: "Let the doors be opened."

A hymn was sung after the procession moved into the church and the congregation took their seats.

More here-

Province IX adopts financial self-sustainability as a focus

From ENS-

The Province IX Synod, meeting at the Hotel San Juan, Boca Chica in the Dominican Republic on March 8, passed resolutions aimed at moving the province and Cuba toward financial self-sufficiency, and an additional resolution in support of restructuring the Episcopal Church.

Bishops, clergy and lay leaders meeting for five days, March 5-9, also re-elected Colombia Bishop Francisco Duque as president and Ecuador Litoral Bishop Alfredo Morante Espana as vice president. Gina Angulo, of the Diocese of Ecuador Litoral, was elected secretary; Darling Martinez, of the Diocese of Puerto Rico, was elected treasurer; and Pragedes Coromoto Jimenez De Salazarr, was elected to serve as the Province IX representative for Executive Council.

Synod unanimously adopted a form of Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls’ resolution, which calls for a Special Commission on Missional Structure and Strategy to develop a plan to restructure the church in a way that maximizes resources available for mission.

More here-

In 'Lent Madness,' saints vie for the Golden Halo

From St. Louis-

As college basketball fans prepare for March Madness, a holier tournament already has Christians rooting and cheering this Lenten season.

For three years running, "Lent Madness" has taken to the Internet as a competition between Episcopal saints in a single-elimination bracket tournament resembling the one followed by March Madness fans.

This Lenten devotional, first created by the Rev. Tim Schenck on his blog "Clergy Family Confidential," allows readers to learn about and vote for the saints presented daily on the website, with the winning saints moving closer to the coveted prize of the Golden Halo.
"I was looking for a fun way to embrace the Lenten season," said Schenck, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Hingham, Mass.

"Lent doesn't have to be all doom and gloom," said Schenck. His goal, he says, is to help people "connect with the risen Christ during this season" and to "have a bit of fun in the process."
Combining his love of sports and passion for the saints, the Lent Madness competition includes 32 holy men and women from the Episcopal Calendar of Saints. The saints move through the Round of the Saintly Sixteen, the Elate Eight and the Final Four. After the championship, the winning saint is crowned with the Golden Halo on the Wednesday before Easter.

Read more:

Friday, March 9, 2012

Anglican bishop issues challenges

From Canada-

Each year, for the past five years, some 300 people have assembled at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Cobourg, on the first Saturday of March.

They come from the Trent Durham area of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto, which extends from Pickering to Brighton and north to Haliburton. For a large part of the day, they attend a choice of 30 workshops on a wide variety of topics, ranging from such broadly based subjects as the future of the Anglican Church to highly personal ones about various ways of living an individual Christian life.

Two sessions of particular interest this year were presented by the Bishop of Trent Durham, the Rt. Rev. Linda Nicholls. In one, she spoke about the basis of Christian faith and its application in daily life in today’s world. In the other, about where the church is situated at this very challenging time in its history, and what to do about it.

“Christianity is not just something that has to be believed, but an act of faith that has to be experienced,” Nicholls said.

“Everyone simply has to come face-to-face with God and decide the way of Christ is the way of life…. We must have intimacy with Jesus before we have a story to tell,” she said.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Benedict to 'Bury Hatchet' Over Anglican Shift?

From Christian Post-

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and head of the Catholic Church Pope Benedict XVI will come together in prayer this coming Saturday in a symbolic gesture of solidarity and unity after years of tension over Anglicans shifting to the Roman Catholic Church.

Tensions between the Anglican and Catholic churches were heightened in 2009 when the Vatican launched a controversial program to allow disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.

The churches have divergent perspectives with regard to the ordination of women, homosexual bishops, and same-sex marriage. The Catholic Church has maintained a traditionalist stance on gender and homosexuality. Meanwhile, homosexual and female priests have been ordained in the Anglican Communion, which has been undergoing intense internal debate on those issues, leaving some of the church's 77 million members worldwide distressed.

More here-

Homeless people could soon sleep in AG church parking lot

From California-

Some homeless could soon call an Arroyo Grande church parking lot home, but the program is raising issues with both neighbors and homeless people.

The proposal comes at the same time San Luis Obispo police have been increasing their patrols and citations along Prado Road. That's after increased complaints from neighboring businesses about the RV's and cars homeless people park there. City code prohibits sleeping in your vehicle over night.

3,774 people are homeless on any given day in San Luis Obispo County, according to the 2011 Homeless Enumeration Report performed by the Homeless Services Coordinating Council.

The new program would start out by helping just three people or three families, but organizers say they hope it leads to much more. It's a hole homeless people on Prado Road say desperately needs to be filled.

More here-

Church body reacts to ‘witch’ case

From The Church Times-

THE abuse of children accused of being witches will not be solved by regulating churches, or by making it illegal to accuse a child of being a witch, the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) said after the trial of a couple found guilty of the torture and murder of a 15-year-old boy whom they had accused of witchcraft.

Kristy Bamu was murdered on Christmas Day in 2010, in a flat in east London. His sister, Magalie Bamu, and her partner, Eric Bikubi, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, were found guilty on 1 March, and were sentenced to life imprisonment on 5 March.

Kristy had received 130 internal and external injuries from a variety of implements, before being drowned in a bath full of water.

The charity Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA), renewed its call for the practice of branding children as witches to be criminalised. “The branding of children as witches is in itself a serious form of emotional abuse, which leads to untold anguish and suffering by victims.

“There is nowhere in UK law where the link between witchcraft branding and emotional abuse is explicitly made, despite the level of harm and devastation that can occur. This anomaly needs to be urgently corrected.”

AFRUCA has also expressed concern about the activities of “rogue faith leaders” who are “preying on people’s beliefs to brand children as witches for the sole purpose of extorting money from their parents to perform fake exorcism rites”.

More here-

St. John’s Episcopal Church feeds the hungry

From South Carolina-

At 4:15 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, representatives of St. John’s Episcopal Church delivered 2,249 pounds of food collected in just one day at two different Piggly Wiggly locations. The collected shelf-stable food arrived in two pickup trucks, a trailer, and a filled SUV.

The donated food, collected in just one day by St. John’s Episcopal volunteers, totaling 2,249 pounds will provide 2,924 meals for hungry individuals and families.

As part of its yearlong centennial celebration, St. John’s Episcopal Church held the food drive for Harvest Hope Food Bank on Saturday, March 3 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at the Piggly Wiggly grocery stores on Forest Drive and Devine Street. Volunteers from St. John’s gave out shopping lists of items currently needed by Harvest Hope and encouraged shoppers to donate those items as they finished shopping. St. John’s Episcopal delivered the donated food at 4:15 p.m. to Harvest Hope at 2220 Shop Road.

More here-

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Episcopal Church Joint Committee offers a place to voice opinions on 2013-2015 draft budget The Episcopal Church

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church Joint Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) has established a blog for comments on the draft budget approved by Executive Council in January.

“PB&F offers this blog as a place for the Church to comment on the Executive Council draft budget,” explained Diane Pollard, PB&F chair. “Concurrently, the purpose of the blog is also to give PB&F an additional way to hear the comments on the Draft Budget.”

Pollard, a deputy from the Diocese of New York, stressed that the blog is open to all: bishops, deputies, alternates, clergy and lay people.

The blog was launched on Thursday, March 8 and will be monitored by PB&F members.

Following the approval by Executive Council, the draft budget of $104.9 million was sent to PB&F for review. In July the information shared on the blog as well as the testimony received at three General Convention hearings will help to inform the budget that is presented to General Convention for approval. PB&F will prepare a proposed budget which then will be presented at a joint session of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops on July 10. The final triennial budget will be approved by General Convention.

More here-

Past the pearly gates, our suffering is over

From Chicago Tribune-

Q: I grew up in the Lutheran church, but left because they were so exclusive. I'm currently a member of an Episcopal church with a beautiful but aging building and a dwindling congregation. Our current priest lacks leadership skills.

We have an endowment that's keeping us going, but the money will run out in about seven years. Church meetings about this issue are not good and I'm fed up with the whole situation. At 78, I don't need this aggravation in my life.

In general, I feel that religious institutions, including many churches in our town, are problematic. Therefore, I'm thinking of leaving the church and becoming, as they say, simply "spiritual," by which I mean following the commandments, helping others and trying to live a good life. However, my wife is worried. She asks me, "What will God think?" Can you help us? -- Anonymous, via

A: Listen to your wife! Obviously, I can't speak for God, but I can speak for my brothers and sisters in the clergy who've given their lives to build and sustain communities of faith. The key to understanding your agony is to pray about and think about the role of community in your faith life.

You absolutely do not need a community of faith to live a good life, a compassionate life, a virtuous life. There are wonderful atheists and horrible religious people, and vice versa. However, there is a singular benefit to being a member of a religious community: What God wants us to do here on earth is way too difficult to do alone. This is the reason we come together in faith. We give and receive courage and hope when we pray together and do good works together and study God's word together.

More here-,0,4376788.story

New Dean of Liverpool Dr Pete Wilcox unveiled

From England-

THE man who will fill one of the most senior positions at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral was unveiled to the public.

The Rev Canon Dr Pete Wilcox was revealed as the new Dean of Liverpool in an announcement made yesterday by 10 Downing Street after his appointment was approved by the Queen.

The dean is effectively deputy to the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Rev James Jones, and is in day-to-day charge of the running of the cathedral.

But he is also responsible for reaching out to the rest of the Merseyside community and making sure the church does not become too “exclusive.”

As well as many years’ experience in the church, dad-of-two Dr Wilcox is a keen sports fan and a supporter of Newcastle United.

His wife, Catherine Fox, is a published novelist who has also written a book about becoming a karate black belt.

Dr Wilcox’s appointment as dean comes after his predecessor, the Very Rev Justin Welby, was made Bishop of Durham. The new dean was selected from a shortlist of five.

Read More

Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop of Canterbury to meet

From Christian Century-

Despite differences over women's ordination and a controversial Vatican initiative to woo back disgruntled Anglicans, Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will pray together in Rome on Saturday (March 10).

The heads of the Roman Catholic Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion will celebrate vespers to mark the 1,000th anniversary of the Camaldoli monastery in Italy, which is revered by both Catholics and Anglicans.

Benedict and Williams are scheduled to have a private meeting on Saturday morning.

The Catholic Church has strongly criticized the decision to ordain women priests by the Church of England, which is also considering ordaining women bishops.

Before he was elected pope in 2005, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent a personal letter of support to U.S. conservatives who later left the Episcopal Church over the ordination of an openly gay bishop.

Relations between the two churches were further strained after the Vatican announced a special structure, called an 'ordinariate,' to allow conservative Anglicans to convert to Catholicism while retaining bits of their Anglican tradition. Two ordinariates have already been created in the U.S. and in Britain.

Even as official relations remain tense, the two men enjoy a strong personal relationship and have met often in the past, most recently in Assisi last October during the World Day of Prayer for Peace.

More here-

Christchurch after the cathedral

From New Zealand-

For once, the much-overused adjective "iconic" is being used in a correct context. The Christchurch Cathedral, which last Friday was sentenced to demolition by the announcement of the Bishop of Christchurch that the Anglican diocese no longer had definite plans to rebuild it, has been over the 131 years of its existence an important and enduring symbol.

That the symbol carried strong connotations of origin, faith and culture only adds to its significance and the extent to which it had become indivisible from the identity of a city and its people.

Christchurch without its cathedral in the square is, for most people, unthinkable. There should be little surprise, then, that there has been a public backlash to the decision: a petition to save the building has been launched, calls have been made for the church to make public all information on the cathedral rebuild, and there is talk of legal and other recourses to stop the demolition.

Yet while that may be a perfectly understandable response, it is an inescapable part of Christchurch's tragedy that the city that once was will never be quite the same again. This, however, should not necessarily be emblematic of loss and despair.

More here-

Judge dismisses priest's defamation suit

From New Mexico-

The New Mexico Supreme Court has made the grounds more restrictive for defamation cases by ruling against an Episcopal priest who sued four parishioners for accusing him of pedophilia.

State District Court Judge Nan Nash dismissed the Rev. Walter F. Smith III's lawsuit, ruling he had not demonstrated an injury to his reputation.

The state Court of Appeals in 2010 overturned Nash's ruling, finding that "humiliation and mental anguish is sufficient to establish actual injury for liability purposes in a defamation action."

But on Monday, the state Supreme Court unanimously reversed the appellate court, effectively upholding Nash's decision.

"Evidence of humiliation and mental anguish, without evidence of actual injury to reputation, is insufficient to establish a cause of action for defamation," said the opinion written by Justice Patricio Serna.

Smith, a former priest at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Rio Rancho, sued St. Francis vestry members Will Durden and William DeVries and their spouses, Denise Durden and Marion DeVries, over a packet of information they prepared for the Standing Committee of the Diocese of the Rio Grande.

More here-

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Anglican leader to pray with pope on Saturday

From Vatican City-

The Archbishop of Canterbury will pray together with Pope Benedict XVI in a rare gesture of unity on Saturday despite simmering resentment over the Catholic Church's move to recruit Anglicans.

Anglican leader Rowan Williams and the pope will celebrate vespers together in the monastery of San Gregorio al Celio near the Colosseum in Rome and a stone Celtic cross brought from Canterbury will be put up in the church.

Late pope John Paul II held ecumenical prayers with the Anglican archbishop's predecessors Robert Runcie in 1989 and George Caregy in 1996.

There have been tensions, however, following Benedict's move in 2009 to set up special structures in Britain and the United States to allow disgruntled conservative Anglican clergymen and faithful to join the Roman Catholic Church.

But Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the prayers, as well as two joint performances by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and the Vatican later this month, were "a sign of moving together along the same path."

More here-

Faith and the search for the God particle

From Scotland-

A LEADING theoretical physicist claims the God particle will be found within months.

Professor Peter Higgs, who has just been given the Edinburgh Award for services to the city, believes experiments being carried out at CERN will help explain the origins of the universe.

Scientists at CERN, the world’s largest participle physics laboratory, which is situated near Geneva on the Franco-Swiss border, have been conducting tests with the large hadron collider to verify an explanation for the origins of mass as a property of matter.

The so-called God particle, named after a theory Professor Higgs first propounded in 1964, will apparently solve the mystery of why objects around us have weight.

According to the Higgs boson theory, as it is also known, at the very beginnings of the universe – the big bang – the smallest building blocks in nature were weightless but became heavy a fraction of a second later when the fireball of the big bang cooled.

Mass, a term first coined by Isaac Newton in his 1687 tome Principia Mathematica, is a phenomenon few scientists ever queried until recent times.

More here-

‘New Community Gathering’ unites Episcopal ethnic ministries

From ENS-

Stories of faith and personal witness animated the historic Feb. 29 – March 3 “New Community Gathering” in San Diego of about 300 Asian, Black, Latino and Native American clergy and laity from across the Episcopal Church.

Community engagement, mission focus and collaboration ranked high on the agenda for the event, themed “Reclaiming our Mission; Reinterpreting Our Contexts and Renewing Our Communities.”

Organized through the Ethnic Ministries offices of the Episcopal Church, the gathering challenged enthusiastic participants – as well as the wider church – to embrace renewal through creative mission, sharing resources and honoring ethnic and community context.

“There was a sense the timing was right for this historic gathering,” said the Rev. Winfred Vergara, missioner for Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries (EAM). “It is simply a time of sharing joys and hopes and rethinking possibilities.”

“We need to find resonance in each other’s experiences because we have experienced feeling unwelcome, and because we have the capacity to welcome and embrace,” he said. “The Spirit is here, expressing that we can reach out to one another because of common experiences of pain and common vision of hope.”

More here-

Episcopal Church, Breakaway Anglicans Fight Over Property

From VOA-

Outside the U.S. capital stands a red brick church with white wooden pews where George Washington served as a vestryman, or lay leader. The Falls Church was founded in 1732 and even gave its name to the well-to-do suburb where the church is located in northern Virginia.

But in recent years, The Falls Church has become a symbol of a division in the Episcopal Church, a Christian denomination that has given the United States more presidents than any other, and a good share of the country's Anglo-Saxon Protestant elite.

The rupture came after an openly gay man was consecrated as Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire in 2004. The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and The Falls Church was one of many congregations that broke from the U.S. church by aligning with conservative Anglican provinces in Africa and South America.

The Reverend John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, says the break was not only over the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson. He says broad disagreements over scripture stretched back to the 1960s, with the Episcopal leadership becoming "looser and looser in terms of the range of theological thinking" as well as "the range of what is acceptable morally."

More here-

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Irish Christians shocked by theft of saint's heart

From The "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department, Ireland-

The recent theft of a 12th century Irish saint's heart from a Dublin church has left local Christians stunned and devastated.

“All I would ask is that whoever took it would return it with no questions asked. It's valueless to anyone but the Cathedral here and our community and the community of Dublin...we're grieving over it, really,” church dean Rev. Dermot Dunne told CNA on March 5.

The heart of St. Laurence O'Toole was stolen from Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin sometime between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on March 3 and has yet to be recovered.

Rev. Dunne said that the local Christian community is particularly devastated “that someone should deprive us of a special link” of their past and their Christian founder.

Although Christ Church Cathedral is part of the Anglican Church, Rev. Dermot said that both the Catholic and Anglican dioceses of Dublin venerate St. O'Toole as the patron of the city.

More here-

Breakaway Anglicans ordered to return property by April 30

From Christian Century-

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.

"We hope that this will mark the end of this lengthy litigation," said Virginia Bishop Shannon Johnston.

More here-

Archbishop Fights for Covenant

Video from the Living Church-

Quoting from a transcript available on the Archbishop of Canterbury's website:

[O]ne of the greatest misunderstandings around concerning the Covenant is that it’s some sort of centralising proposal creating an absolute authority which has the right to punish people for stepping out of line. I have to say I think this is completely misleading and false.

More here-

Pig Motivates Congregation to Lose Weight

From Texas-

A church in Flower Mound has adopted a pig as its weight-loss mascot.

The St. Nicholas Episcopal Church congregation is losing weight, inspired by its pet pig.

Avery may not be a picture-perfect model, but the potbelly pig is breaking the mold.

"Most of the time, if you think about a pig. You think, 'to market, to market, to buy a fat pig,'" church member Laurel Wright said.

But not when thinking about Avery, who is motivating church members with her weight loss.

"God spoke to us through Avery the pig," said the Rev. Mark Wright, St. Nicholas pastor. "[It's] just a unique way God always speaks to us."

Wright said Avery was put on a diet because she was unhealthy.

"She was so large that the fat was rolling over her eyes ... and her belly was dropping to the ground, and she couldn't get up on a sidewalk," Wright said.

The four-legged friend is now 100 pounds lighter, and church members have followed in her footsteps. So far, the congregation as a whole has lost nearly 600 pounds.

More here-

Hunger banquet teaches teens about world poverty

From South Carolina-

Lauren Templeton admitted she didn't like the rice very much, even though that was her only option at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church on Sunday night.

"It makes me feel sad to say that when so many people don't have enough to eat," admitted the Church of Good Shepherd teen member from Augusta.

That's just what leaders from Good Shepherd, St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church in Aiken and the host St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church in North Augusta had in mind with a "hunger banquet."
Some young people and adults received spaghetti, beans, rice and dessert as a "high-income" group. The middle-income people were given rice and beans, while the largest group - the low-income folks - got the bowl of rice.

The activity is available in conjunction with Oxfam America, a branch of Oxfam International. The nonprofit organizations address social injustice, according to their websites, and assist with disasters, social services, educating and training.

More here-

Becoming Episcopalian: my journey

From Chicago-

My faith journey is taking me on a path I never thought I'd ever take. I was (and still am) very Catholic, but for a variety of reasons, I felt like I could no longer be part of the Roman Catholic Church. I will delve more into the reasons as I write, but yes, one of the reasons has to do with the quite baffling outrage on part of the bishops regarding the "contraception mandate." I had been publicly disagreeing with a few things on my Facebook, questioning the soundness of some of the Church's moral theology.

I am not the first, nor am I the only one to publicly call out the bishops' idiocy and point out the political maneuverings behind some of these decisions.

I know many Catholics are in a similar situation. Quite frankly, the vast majority of dissenters are silent, or at least shouted down by the vociferous minority. Some people are able to just roll their eyes and continue being Catholic, despite being at odds with some of the theology. I tried to do this, but I couldn't sustain it. I just could not consciously say I'm Catholic and and yet dissent, even if I do believe the Church is wrong. It just seemed...hypocritical, maybe. I don't know what word best describes it. Quite simply, there was no room for me if I wanted to keep on growing spiritually and intellectually.

As a result, I'm joining the Episcopal Church.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Religion for Everyone

From The Wall Street Journal (several weeks ago)

One of the losses that modern society feels most keenly is the loss of a sense of community. We tend to imagine that there once existed a degree of neighborliness that has been replaced by ruthless anonymity, by the pursuit of contact with one another primarily for individualistic ends: for financial gain, social advancement or romantic love.

In attempting to understand what has eroded our sense of community, historians have assigned an important role to the privatization of religious belief that occurred in Europe and the U.S. in the 19th century. They have suggested that we began to disregard our neighbors at around the same time that we ceased to honor our gods as a community.

his raises two questions: How did religion once enhance the spirit of community? More practically, can secular society ever recover that spirit without returning to the theological principles that were entwined with it? I, for one, believe that it is possible to reclaim our sense of community—and that we can do so, moreover, without having to build upon a religious foundation.

Insofar as modern society ever promises us access to a community, it is one centered on the worship of professional success. We sense that we are brushing up against its gates when the first question we are asked at a party is "What do you do?," our answer to which will determine whether we are warmly welcomed or conclusively abandoned.

More here-

First Presbyterian mulls split from national organization today

From Colorado-

First Presbyterian Church Colorado Springs will vote Sunday on whether to proceed with efforts to leave its national organization.

The church, one of the first in Colorado Springs, was founded in 1872.

With about 4,000 members it is one of the largest in the country that belongs to the Presbyterian Church (USA). It may seek to join the conservative Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO).

Nationally, Presbyterians have been battling over same-sex marriage and ordination of homosexuals since last spring, when PCUSA agreed to allow gays and lesbians to be ordained ministers.

The Colorado Springs congregation will take what it termed a non-technical vote at 3 p.m. Sunday in the downtown sanctuary. Depending on that outcome, there could be an official vote later. A team from the regional Pueblo Presbytery, which oversees First Presbyterian and 25 other churches, will be at the meeting.

The local governing board voted in January to recommend that the congregation request dismissal from PCUSA.

Pastor Jim Singleton was not available Friday for comment.

First Presbyterian staff leader Alison Murray said there are many complicated theological issues that the congregation must consider.

Read more:

Sentamu criticised for writing column in Sunday Sun

From The Church Times England-

THE Archbishop of York, Dr Senta­mu, attracted criticism this week when he wrote a column for the first edition of The Sun on Sunday, saying that the newspaper represented a “fresh start”.

The Sun on Sunday replaces the News of the World, which was closed by Rupert Murdoch in July last year after revelations about phone-hacking at the newspaper. On Monday, the Leveson inquiry into media standards was told by the Metropolitan Police’s Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Sue Akers, of a “culture of illegal pay­ments” to public officials at The Sun.

A spokesman for Dr Sentamu said on Tuesday that he was on retreat, and so would not yet be aware of Ms Akers’s comments. He said that Dr Sentamu was approached to write for the first edition of The Sun on Sunday, with the option to continue writing, but “there is no indication about anything going forward.”

He said: “The Archbishop has written for The Sun for a number of years; it is not a new thing. He is trying to reach a wider audience. With all the articles he writes, his intent is to get the gospel message to them, to reach out to people who aren’t necessarily in the Church.”

In his column, Dr Sentamu said that he expected that he would be criticised “for writing in a newspaper which will be seen by many as filling the gap left by the News of the World. However, I am always one for responding to change positively and embracing new beginnings — seeing the best in all people, especially in adversity.”

More here-

Lost chalice found 112 years later

From Minnesota-

The little red church on New Richmond's north side is full of history and mystery.

Kirby Symes can tell you all about how the St. Thomas and St. John Episcopal Church came to be. The retired history teacher can tell you how a tornado ripped through the city more than one hundred years ago and destroyed the first church.

But there's a bit of history that gets a little fuzzy even for Symes. Several weeks ago, Symes found an old chalice in a cabinet in the basement. It had been there for years.

"It just kept appearing and flopping out and getting in the way," he said.

Turns out that chalice that kept getting in the way is the only church artifact that survived the deadly 1899 tornado. Just how it survived and how it got back to the church is a mystery.

"Who found this thing lying in the rubble? I have no idea, none. I have no idea who might have found it and how it gravitated back to the church," he said.

More here-

Church helps hungry: Holy Faith Episcopal Church in Dunnellon assists as many as 80 families each week through food donations

From Florida-

Every week on food pantry hand-out day at Holy Faith Episcopal Church, four or five new families arrive with the “regulars” church members have gotten to know.

With jobs scarce and unemployment high, sometimes as many as 80 families show up each Thursday morning, where a year ago it was more like 50, said Dale Meehan, food pantry coordinator at the church.

Depending on the size of each family, the number of people being helped has increased from roughly 125 to as many as 180 or 200, he said.

“We’re a small church with only about 100 members, and we came close to closing the food pantry down during the holidays. There are so many people who need help, and we didn’t have the money or the food donations to continue,” Meehan said.

More here-

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pittsburgh's Episcopal diocese narrows its search for bishop

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (and I was quoted accurately)

Next month the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh will elect a permanent bishop to lead it as it continues rebuilding after a split that took the majority of its parishes, clergy and its former bishop.

Its current prelate, Bishop Kenneth Price Jr., is a "provisional bishop" on loan from another diocese.

The Rev. George Werner, president of the diocesan Standing Committee, cited a diocesan history of hardball church politics in expressing his hope for the April 21 election.

"It's been 30 years since we've been healthy," he said. "It's a question of healing, a question of starting to rebuild, of patching up people who are still damaged and finding ways to use people who are still doing good things."

Last week the diocesan nominating committee added a local priest, the Rev. Scott Quinn of the Church of the Nativity in Crafton, to a slate of four outside candidates announced in January to lead the diocese, which has 32 parishes in 11 counties. His name emerged from a petition signed by clergy and laity from several parishes. All five candidates will tour the diocese March 20-23, taking questions at churches in Franklin Park, Brentwood, Homewood and Ligonier.

The diocese split in 2008, with the majority leaving the Episcopal Church for the theologically conservative Anglican Church in North America. But some of its conservatives stayed. Leaders on opposite sides of divisions over biblical interpretation and sexual morality now serve together in a diocese where more liberal voices were once shut out of power.

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