Saturday, April 21, 2012

Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh elects new bishop

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Rev. Dorsey McConnell, a Yale-educated former agnostic whose classical theology moves him to build relationships with those on the other side of divisive issues, has been elected the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Like the other four nominees, he has an extensive background in bringing together people of opposing viewpoints on gay ordination and other theological issues. That was considered critical in a diocese that split in 2008, with the majority of its clergy and laity leaving the Episcopal Church to form the more conservative Anglican Church in North America. However not all the conservatives left, and the Episcopal diocese remains theologically diverse.

He won election on the sixth ballot, after going head-to-head in earlier rounds with the Rev. Stanley Runnels from Kansas City, Mo. Rev. Runnels, a longtime advocate of gay ordination and gay marriage was the more liberal candidate. Although Rev. Runnels led among lay voters on five ballots, the final vote was 47 laity and 31 clergy for Rev. McConnell and 35 laity and 10 clergy for Rev. Runnels.

Bishop-elect McConnell had a majority of clergy from the first ballot.

Bishop-elect McConnell, 58, is rector of the Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill, Mass. He has also served in Seattle and New York City.

More here-

The Ripped, Bikini-Clad Reverend

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

I stood by the mailbox holding a package that weighed about as much as an apple. Inside, I knew, there was a bikini. I was almost afraid to open it. How could something so small hold such a big risk?

As an Episcopal priest, I am usually more interested in what is going on inside a person than in what shows on the outside. Most days, if I have official duties, I put on my black clergy shirt, my white collar and a suit that looks decent and head out looking like a priest.

Now here I stood with my package, wondering how “priestly” I would look in its contents. The fabric was fire-engine red; a sprinkling of rhinestones along the edge caught the light.

I needed the bikini for the physique competition at the Wisconsin State Fair. I started training the year before. I loved how strong it made me feel. Now I was about to compete in front of hundreds of people.

The competition would be on a Sunday morning, a day I had requested off for “a personal enrichment experience.” I would not know many people in the crowd. No one from church would be there. Men and women would perform poses of “front double biceps,” “side triceps” and “back lat spread,” while at the other end of the exhibit hall, judges would award ribbons for apple pie and pickled beets. This was a wholesome environment; still, I knew I couldn’t share widely what I was doing.

More here-

Members debate budget process, consequences of racism

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council wrapped up its work of the 2010-2012 triennium here on April 20 by discussing its on-going work against racism and issuing a memo saying that the proposed draft budget released to the church “is not exactly” the one it passed.

“We’ve tried to give a non-blame but descriptive, supporting document,” council member Fredrica Thompsett (Diocese of Massachusetts) told her colleagues in presenting the memo for their approval.

The memo says there are “potentially many explanations for the multiple errors in the document,” including “too many spreadsheets, too little time” and the “rapid discourse” involving two different budget proposals on the final day of council’s January session.
And, the council said, a decision to schedule the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance‘s meeting on the budget to begin the day after council adjourned in January required council to agree “to a final document before the treasurer’s office had adequate time to draft the document for final review by Executive Council.”

More here-

Friday, April 20, 2012

Episcopal bishop vote set Saturday

From Pittsburgh-

Five finalists seeking to become the first permanent bishop of Pittsburgh's reconfigured Episcopal diocese have strong records in mediating and listening to people, a church official said.

"We are clearly looking for people who are healers and reconcilers," said the Very Rev. George Werner, former dean of Trinity Cathedral and former president of the house of deputies of the Episcopal Church, the national church's second highest position.

In addition to mediating well, he said, the candidates "are people who build the community." Among the finalists is the Rev. Canon Scott T. Quinn, 57, of Crafton.

Certified church deputies, clergy and designated diocesan leaders will vote Saturday at Trinity Cathedral, Downtown, until a nominee gets more than 50 percent of the vote. Anyone can attend the electing convention and tonight's pre-convention meeting at 7 o'clock at the cathedral.

The bishop will take the job after a fractious decade in which the Pittsburgh diocese split in 2008. Then-Bishop Robert Duncan tried to realign it with more theologically conservative churches that opposed the U.S. leadership's support for keeping abortions legal and the 2003 consecration of openly gay pastor V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.

Read more:

The Church of England faithful left to fend for themselves

From London-

Members of the congregation at St Michael and All Angels parish church in Croydon, south London, don’t ask for much. A decent sermon, perhaps a few rousing hymns; clean pews; a tidy garden at the back; someone to help with Sunday school. But this month, they need something rather more important: a new vicar, to replace the one who converted to Catholicism and took 69 of his flock with him to a church up the road.

A “Parish priest: vacant” sign now stands outside the towering red-brick church behind West Croydon train station. Seven weeks ago, it housed 100 parishioners and a vicar who had served there for 16 years. Today, St Michael’s has less than half its original congregation, after the Rev Donald Minchew quit his post and was received into the Catholic faith at St Mary’s, 500 yards away.

This extraordinary leap of faith was prompted by the Rev Minchew’s decision to join the Ordinariate, a structure within the Roman Catholic Church that allows Anglicans to enter into full communion while retaining some of their C of E heritage. The practice started last January, when three former Anglican bishops were ordained as Catholic priests, following a decree from Pope Benedict XVI to heal division between the faiths. Since then, dissatisfaction with aspects of Anglican doctrine – including the Church’s attitude towards homosexuality and its willingness to consider female bishops – has led hundreds to take up the offer of conversion.

More here-

Church to re-dedicate Napoleonic chandeliers

From North Carolina-

All Saints’ Episcopal Church’s four brilliant chandeliers were first lit at the original downtown Concord church May 9, 1937.

But they had burned long before that – by candlelight – in the Paris palace of Prince deRohan Bonaparte, cousin of French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, according to church archives.

At morning worship April 22, a simple ceremony of re-consecration and re-dedication, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the four chandeliers as part of the church, will be observed in the sanctuary of the building on Lake Concord Road that All Saints’ Episcopal erected in 1972.

Leading the service will be the Rev. Nancy Cox and the Rev. Chip Marble, assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. A reception will take place after in the parish hall.

A writer covering the first local lighting for the Concord Tribune wrote that even the royal pomp and ceremony of the coronation of King Edward VI of England couldn’t match the brilliance of those chandeliers

Read more here:

Ex-diplomat installed as rector of Trinity Episcopal in Ashland

From Oregon-

Fresh from 25 years as a U.S. diplomat — most of it on the front lines of international political and cultural interactions in China — the Rev. Anthony Hutchinson was installed Thursday as rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland.

Hutchinson, 58, who was ordained in the Hong Kong Anglican Church in 2008, took the Ashland post on Jan. 1. He says he brings a church tradition rooted in thoughtfulness and faith, not "bumper-sticker slogans."

"I bring an international Anglican breadth to the church, a sacramental view," he says, noting the Episcopal Church is rooted in Protestant and Catholic traditions. "It's a prayer made manifest."

From 2009 to 2011, Hutchinson served as assisting pastor and minister of music at the Congregation of the Good Shepherd in Beijing, where his parishioners hailed from a wide spectrum of Christian faiths. He also had served as chaplain at St. John's Cathedral, and taught biblical languages and literature at Minghua Theological Seminary in Hong Kong.

In the Foreign Service, he specialized in public diplomacy in China and also served in Africa. In China, Hutchinson was a right-hand man for ambassadors, sometimes providing the prayers for the embassy's solemn occasions, including on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

More here-

Five vie to lead Episcopal Diocese of Western Mass.

From Western Massachusetts-

The panel charged with drawing up the slate of nominees to replace retiring Bishop Gordon P. Scruton, the spiritual head of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, which includes Worcester County, apparently cast a wide net — selecting candidates from Connecticut, New York, Idaho and California.

Church officials last night announced that five clerics, one of them a woman, are under consideration to become the diocese’s ninth bishop.

They are: the Very Rev. Richard A. Demarest, 55, the dean at St. Michael’s Cathedral in Boise, Idaho; the Rev. Dr. Douglas John Fisher, 57, the rector at Grace Church in Millbrook, N.Y.; the Rev. Nancy Gossling, 60, the rector of St. James’ Church in Glastonbury, Conn.; the Very Rev. Ron W. Griffin, 58, the rector of Christ Church in Eureka, Calif.; and the Very Rev. Mark B. Pendleton, 49, the dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford.

More here-

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Executive Council looks to future near end of triennium

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council began its last meeting of the 2010-2012 triennium contemplating its leadership role — and emotional investment — in the church’s journey to its future.

The council has spent much of the last three years exploring how the Episcopal Church must change in response to the challenges facing all mainline churches, including declining memberships and thus declining finances, demographic shifts and cultural changes in the place and authority accorded to religious communities in society. When General Convention convenes in July in Indianapolis, deputies and bishops will grapple with a variety of calls (some of the proposals can be seen here) for changes in the church’s structure that their proposers say will help the church meet those challenges.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson and Bishop Stacy Sauls, Episcopal Church chief operating officer, all addressed the impact and implications of those challenges during their opening remarks April 18.
Jefferts Schori reminded council members that they began the current triennium “just past a major budget cut [made by the previous meeting of Convention] that forced a public and painful reduction in church center staff.”

More here-

Pawn-ticket trail leads to suspects

From New York-

From pulpit to pawn shop is a journey few burglars or cops take.

And it's a long trip when the path to pawning religious artifacts leads two alleged criminals on a bus ride to New Haven.

Police in that Connecticut city charged Joseph Plouffe, 32, of 310 25th St., Watervliet, and James Zaremski, 30, of 25 Holland Ave., Albany, with third-degree grand larceny, accusing them of intending to pawn sterling silver items stolen this past weekend from St. John's Episcopal Church in Troy.

Plouffe was apprehended Tuesday at Superior Exchange after the pawn shop notified police of the religious items. Zaremski was collared at the intersection of Chapel and Church streets on the New Haven Green a short time later.

Read more:

Episcopal Diocese set to announce 5 bishop nominees

From Western Massachusetts-

The Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, which encompasses Worcester and four other counties, is expected to announce today the five nominees under consideration to replace retiring Bishop Gordon P. Scruton.

Bishop Scruton, who was consecrated in 1996 and who served at one time as rector of St. Francis Church in Holden, announced last June that he would step down as spiritual shepherd of the local church at the end of 2012.

The process to find a replacement formally began last August with the appointment of Search and Transition committees.

“At this point, we’re coming near the end of our search for a new spiritual leader,” said the Rev. Tanya Wallace, the chairman of the Transition Committee and rector of All Saints Church in South Hadley.

More here-

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Seeds for souls: A vegetable garden to feed the poor

From Florida-

Heirloom tomatoes are ripening beautifully in Tim Hadsell’s "give back" garden, just weeks after the Greenacres man planted his first crops in the fertile lot behind his local Elks Lodge.

It was a rather neglected patch of land, overgrown with melaleucas and weeds, but in it Hadsell saw great, green possibilities.

Green like the broccoli, lettuce, zucchini and robust heads of lettuce that are now sprouting in the varied patch he planted in February.

Great like the mission these crops serve: to feed the needy at St. George’s Episcopal Church and Community Center in Riviera Beach.

More here-

It started in a schoolhouse

From The Diocese of Bethlehem-

A worship area that 100 years ago served as a schoolhouse offers a glimpse of the history and tradition at Church of the Epiphany in Glenburn.

On April 20, as part of the yearlong centennial celebration, the Rt. Rev. Jack Croneberger, Assistant Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, will join the Rev. Craig Sweeney, rector of the Church of the Epiphany, in a rededication of the church’s renovated parish hall and centennial celebration . A catered dinner dance will follow with Big Band and Jazz music provided by the Jim Welsh Band. A host of activities for youngsters, including a movie, games and music catered to their taste will round out the event. Seniors will be treated to a free shuttle service and babysitting for children will be available at no charge.

The formation of the church began on the Festival of the Epiphany, January 6, 1912, at a small gathering of residents of the Abingtons held in the 1876 Centennial Schoolhouse in Glenburn. The meeting was cut short because the potbelly stove provided insufficient heat to encourage extended discussion. Enough interest was expressed though, and the schoolhouse was subsequently purchased and renovated; it serves to this day as the worship area of the Church of the Epiphany.

More here-,140197

Joint Statement from Truro Anglican Church, Fairfax and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

From Virginia-

Truro Anglican Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia announced today a settlement that concludes five years of litigation that arose after Truro Anglican and other parishes left the Episcopal Church in 2006 to become part of what is now the Anglican Church in North America.

The settlement follows a January ruling in which the Circuit Court of Fairfax County held that all real and personal property held by the parishes at the time they left the denomination belongs to the Diocese.

Under terms of the settlement, the Diocese has given Truro Anglican a rent-free lease of the church buildings at 10520 Main Street in Fairfax, as well as two rectories, until June 30, 2013. Truro Anglican will deed the properties to the Diocese by April 30, 2012, and will pay the operating costs of the properties during the term of the lease. In addition, the Diocese has the option to use a small portion of the church building during the lease, as determined between the Rev. Tory Baucum, rector of Truro Anglican, and the Rt. Rev. Shannon S. Johnston, bishop of the Diocese of Virginia.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Sends Message to the Archbishop of Sudan On Latest Violence

South Africa and Sudan-

The Most Revd Dr Thabo Makgoba, Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town has written to the Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan, expressing the support of his church in the light of increasing tension and violence between Sudan and South Sudan.

Writing in Easter Week, Dr Makgoba highlights his 'reflections on what it means to be each other's neighbours in living out the renewed hope of Eastertide'. He assures Dr Deng of prayers for a successful outcome to negotiations, delivering a settlement between Sudan and South Sudan 'which will bring lasting peace with justice to both nations and all who live within their borders' and also offers prayers for those killed, bereaved, injured or otherwise harmed by the violence.

The full text of the letter follows below.

Letter to the Most Revd Dr Daniel Deng Bul Yak, Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan

My Dear Brother in Christ,

The good news of Easter, and my own reflections on what it means to be each other's neighbours in living out the renewed hope of Eastertide, compel me to write to you, to assure you of our continued support and prayers for you and the people of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and indeed all the people of the Sudan and South Sudan, especially in the light of news of increasing tension and violence.

More here-

Anglicans Welcome International Development Select Committee's Report

From Sudan-

UK Parliamentary recommendations on the Church's role in education and peacebuilding have been welcomed by Anglican Alliance partners in the UK and South Sudan.

The recommendations come in the report from the UK Parliament's International Development Select Committee who held an inquiry into prospects for peace and development in the world's newest country.

The Anglican Alliance brought together the Episcopal Church of Sudan, the Diocese of Salisbury and Lambeth Palace to provide evidence to the inquiry.

Rebecca Coleman, representing the Episcopal Church of Sudan, and Canon Ian Woodward of the Diocese of Salisbury, gave oral evidence to the Select Committee, focusing especially on the church's education services in South Sudan, and the role played by the Church, in particular by Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul Yak, in peace-building.

The Select Committee report, which comes against a background of renewed and growing conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, concludes:

More here-

Silver artifacts taken from Troy church

From Troy NY-

City police are investigating the theft of nine religious artifacts from St. John's Episcopal Church over the weekend.

The theft of the sterling silver pieces occurred Friday evening or Saturday morning from the church at 146 First St., police said Monday.

Stolen from the sanctuary were two chalices (goblets), two lavaboes (which hold water for the washing of hands), two patens (small plates), one cruet (a vessel), one ciborium (a container for the host) and one collection plate.

In an unusual twist, the thief "was able to 'swipe' his way into the church, defeating electronic security measures," Capt. John Cooney said.

Read more:

Monday, April 16, 2012

When spirituality and religion collide

From USAToday-

Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion, recently announced that he would step down by year's end. A few days later, the Church of England rejected a Williams-backed unity plan for global Anglicanism, a church fractured by issues of gender and sexual identity. The timing of the resignation and the defeat are probably not coincidental. These events signal Anglican's institutional failure.

But why should anyone, other than Anglicans and their American Episcopal cousins, care? The Anglican fight over gay clergy is usually framed as a left and right conflict, part of the larger saga of political division. But this narrative obscures a more significant tension in Western societies: the increasing gap between spirituality and religion, and the failure of traditional religious institutions to learn from the divide.

Until recently, the archbishop of Canterbury was chief pastor for a global church bound by a common liturgy and Anglican religious identity. Expectations for religious leaders were clear: Run the church with courage and vision. Bishops directed the laity, inspiring obedience, sacrifice and heroism; they ordered faith from the top.

More here-

Cardboard Anglican cathedral planned in New Zealand’s quake-hit Christchurch

From New Zealand-

New Zealand’s Anglican church will build a temporary cathedral made of cardboard in earthquake-devastated Christchurch as it works towards a permanent replacement for its 131-year old landmark destroyed last year.

The Victorian-era, Gothic-style cathedral, which dominated the city’s central square, was badly damaged in the February 2011 quake, and is being demolished.

The replacement, an A-frame structure designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, will be built on the site of another historic church, which was also destroyed in the 6.3 magnitude quake.

“The Transitional Cathedral is a symbol of hope for the future of this city as well as being sustainable and affordable,” spokesman Richard Gray said.

The temporary cathedral will be made of cardboard tubes, timber beams, structural steel and a concrete pad, and is intended to last more than 20 years. It is expected to be finished in time for Christmas services in December.

More here-

Temple breaks ground at tri-faith campus

From Omaha-

What's special about the project, organizers said, is that it's part of a plan to build a tri-faith campus that will include the synagogue, a mosque, an Episcopal church and a center for all faiths.

The American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture and the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska will join Temple Israel on the campus. The groups heard the others were looking to build and decided to work together.

The mosque, the church and the tri-faith center each will be on about four acres. The remaining nine acres are green space, including the humorously named Hell Creek.

It's expected that the project, when completed, will draw wide attention to Omaha.
"It's amazing that it's going to be right here in Omaha," Sherman said. "We don't know of any other place in the world where this has come together."

Rabbi Aryeh Azriel said the tri-faith center will be a place where all religions can come "to study, to learn and to celebrate. It's going to be a home."

The synagogue is scheduled for completion in August 2013. The mosque, church and center will come later.

More here-

Grayslake church distributes clothing, good will

From Chicago-

Elijah’s Mantle is a bible story concerning the transfer of clothing (mantle) from the Prophet Elijah to his son Elisha.

But more than clothing, it’s also about transferring knowledge and spirit.

For the past seven years, a group at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (located at the corner of Lake and Park in Grayslake) has been serving up a generous amount of clothing while also serving up an equal portion of heart-lifting spirit at its Elijah’s Mantle clothing giveaway the second Saturday of every month.

Marjie Jobes, 74, of Grayslake recently led a tour to show how the well-oiled giving machine works.

People in need of children’s clothing come in and fill out a form and get a number. A personal-shopper volunteer takes the person through the well stocked department store that’s set up in the church where each child gets two outfits and a pair of clean underwear if they have the right size. Some sizes are tough to get.

More here-

Ministry is third career for local Episcopal Vicar

From Maryland-

In this day and age, it seems all of us have used the phrase “multitasking,” but few can appreciate the challenges of this skill as well as Vicar Theresa Brion.

At the beginning of this year, Brion accepted the position of vicar at both St. George’s Episcopal Church in Mount Savage and Holy Cross-St. Philip’s in Cumberland. This is in addition to her position as bishops’ deputy for Western Maryland for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

The path that led Brion to this region is as diverse as the families she now serves.

Ministry is not the first career choice for Brion, or even the second. She came to ministry after serving as a professional in both the fields of education and law. She earned her law and teaching degrees at Washington and Lee University School of Law and Longwood University, respectively.

More here-

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Orthodox Christians take steps toward unity

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

As Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter today, they have resurrected a movement toward unity in America, where they are divided into a hodgepodge of overlapping ethnic jurisdictions. On orders from patriarchs in Constantinople, Russia, Serbia and elsewhere, all Orthodox bishops in this country are working on a plan for one American Church.

The patriarchs say they want to approve such a plan at a yet-unscheduled Great and Holy Council of global Orthodoxy. The last such council was in A.D. 787. In 2010, 66 American bishops formed the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America, to devise the plan.

"This has great potential," said Bishop Melchisedek of the Diocese of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania in the Orthodox Church in America, which is self-governing but has Russian roots. He cited existing differences on matters such as divorce or re-baptism of converts.

More here-