Saturday, May 5, 2012

Guest Commentary: The Journey Home: Returning to The Falls Church

From Falls Church-

In December 2006, the majority of worshipers at The Falls Church Episcopal decided to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and the National Church. However, a number of us felt, for a variety of reasons, called to start worshipping again as Episcopalians. Without access to our church building, we met in the living room of our home on a frigid Sunday in January 2007. An Episcopal Navy Chaplin came and oversaw our first service.

We elected a vestry, held communion, and shared our sadness that we could no longer worship as a group in our beloved church but also our joy that we were creating a new thing in Jesus Christ.
Word got around that we were meeting as Episcopalians and the second Sunday more people came. By the third week, we had too many to sit in our house so my husband called the Falls Church Presbyterian minister Tom Schmid, to ask if there was any possibility of using a space at their church. A kind man, Tom said he and his leadership were waiting for our call and he immediately offered us his loft space overlooking their Fellowship Hall. We moved in the next week!

These last five and half years have been challenging but also tremendously gratifying. In the early days of this new journey, we had nothing but our small group and our faith that we were doing the right thing in God's eyes. We were grateful for our Episcopal friends around Northern Virginia who gave us prayer books, altar linens and communion service items. As we had no offices, our ministers worked out of their cars. We would laughingly call our church "a church in a box" since we had to unpack and pack up every Sunday in the lovely but limited space we had, used by other groups throughout the week.

We shared coffee hour with our friends at the Presbyterian Church, and gradually joined with them in outreach programs to the community and Vacation Bible School. They will always be our friends in Christ.

More here-

Diocese of Virginia and the Episcopal Church Settle with Church of the Apostles Anglican, Fairfax

From Virginia-

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, the Episcopal Church and Church of the Apostles Anglican, Fairfax, have reached an agreement that concludes the property dispute which began in 2006.

Under the terms of the agreement, Church of the Apostles Anglican is conveying all real and tangible personal property to the Diocese, including a payment of $230,000. Apostles Anglican will retain various items of tangible personal property which will assist the congregation as it moves forward beyond this dispute. In addition, as Apostles Anglican further discerns its needs for additional items, the Diocese will seek to accommodate those requests wherever possible. The Diocese will retain the Episcopal parish registers and certain historic Episcopal communion silver. Apostles Anglican has withdrawn its motion to stay the Court's Final Order and will forgo any appeal of the decision.

"This settlement allows both Church of the Apostles Anglican and the Diocese of Virginia to move forward in our ministries," said Henry D.W. Burt, secretary of the Diocese. "We look forward to the new chapter for both the Diocese of Virginia and Apostles, and we hope that the Church of the Apostles is blessed in its journey."

Bishop: Episcopal Church must change

From Albany-

The Episcopal Church must embrace change and diversity if it is to move forward, the presiding bishop of the 2.4 million member church said Friday.

"We need to discover ways to engage in the outside community," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said, in urging the 125 delegates attending the Province II Synod of the Episcopal Church to recognize that while many believe the church is an unchanging rock, it too slowly evolves.

"'We are beginning to discover a way forward into a new chapter in the church's history," Jefferts Schori said. "If we are going to save the life of the church, we are going to have to lose it."

The Episcopal Church draws strength from its growing immigrant population who know the value of community, Jefferts Schori said. Even though this is labeled a time of connectivity via the Internet, she said, there is a spiritual hunger that needs to be filled in person.

"We value the voices of all in decision making," Jefferts Schori said.

Read more:

Homeless man suspected in Ellicott City church shootings

From Baltimore-

A homeless man who regularly visited the food bank at an Ellicott City church is thought to have shot a co-rector and killed an administrative assistant there Thursday night, police said Friday.

Douglas Franklin Jones, 56, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the woods near St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on Thursday night. Howard County police believe he shot the two women in the church office before going to the woods, where he had been living.

“Investigators have learned that Jones had recently been involved in a dispute with church members,” police said in a statement. “He visited the church regularly to access their food bank but recently had become belligerent and argumentative.”

Brenda Brewington, 59, of Ellicott City was found dead at the church. She was an administrative assistant at St. Peter’s, according to the church’s Web site.

The Rev. Marguerite Mary Kohn, 62, of Halethorpe, Md., is in critical condition at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, police said. Kohn is the co-rector of St. Peter’s, according to the church’s Web site. According to a statement by the church, she “remains on life support in critical condition to support the family intentions to provide the gift of life through organ donation.”

More here-

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI makes £150,000 donation to 'disaffected' Anglican church so it can convert to Catholicism

From London-

The Pope has donated £150,000 to help Anglicans who have become disenchanted with the Church of England’s liberal teachings move to the Roman Catholic Church.

The money has been handed to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established by Pope Benedict XVI in January last year to enable clergy and lay people to change faith while retaining elements of Anglican tradition.

At present it does not have a headquarters or properties for clergy, many of whom are having to rely on facilities provided by Catholic dioceses.

The Pope’s donation will be ploughed into a fund to buy places of worship and provide stipends for priests.

Our Lady of Walsingham has 1,200 lay members and 60 clergy spread across Britain, including 250 who joined in an Easter ceremony last month.

The ordinariate takes its name from an 11th century vision by a woman in Walsingham, Norfolk, who claimed the Virgin Mary led her in spirit to Nazareth to see the place where an angel told her she would bear a son.

Read more:

2 women shot in Ellicott City church; 1 dead; man found fatally shot nearby

From Baltimore-

A woman was found fatally shot Thursday evening in St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, a man was discovered dead on the grounds nearby and another woman was critically injured by gunfire — turning a quiet, family neighborhood near the historic downtown into a crime scene.

Police and SWAT team members swarmed the 3600 block of Rogers Ave., just up the hill from the historic mill town's Main Street, and blocked off a section of the road after receiving a call about 5:20 p.m. from a custodian at the church, who said he'd found two women in a church office suffering from gunshot wounds.

Inside the church, police found one of the women dead. The other woman, who was in critical condition, was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, police said.

More here-,0,7842552.story

Feuding Episcopal churches settle dispute

From Georgia-

Rival congregations that battled for five years over rights to Georgia's "Mother Church" after splitting in a disagreement over doctrine have settled their lingering legal disputes, both sides said Thursday.

The settlement gives the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia all rights to the property and assets of Christ Church, established by the state's colonial founders in 1733, as well as rights to the names Christ Church Savannah and the Mother Church of Georgia.

The congregation that broke away from the Episcopal Church will take on the name Christ Church Anglican.

Christ Church's pastor and congregation split from the Episcopal Church in 2007, but kept the church's 1840 sanctuary and property.

The breakaway group's leaders argue they left the Episcopal Church following decades of disagreement about doctrine, such as the path to God through Jesus and the importance of evangelization.

More here-

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Methodists reach across historic racial boundaries with communion pact

From The Washington Post-

The predominantly white United Methodist Church and five historically black denominations — after more than a decade of discussions — have entered a full communion agreement.

With an overwhelming vote Monday (April 30) at the UMC General Conference, the leaders of the denominations agreed to recognize each other’s churches, share sacraments and affirm their clergy and ministries.

The move comes a dozen years after the UMC held a repentance ceremony and apologized to African-Americans for racist policies that led to the creation of separate African-American churches. Some historic black denominations date to the 1700s, started by founders who no longer wanted to be relegated to the balconies of Methodist congregations.

Christian Methodist Episcopal Church Senior Bishop Thomas Hoyt Jr., a longtime ecumenist, was among the leaders celebrating the agreement this week, United Methodist News Service reported.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Northern Phl bags health award

From The Phillipines-

 The Department of Health (DOH) named the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Philippines (EDNP) as one of the five winners of the Second Outstanding Healthy Lifestyle Advocacy Awards which aims to prevent and control non-communicable diseases in the country.

During the recently conducted meeting of the Regional Coalition for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (RCPCNCD) in the region, Felicidad Talabong of EDNP reported that they are among the five winners of the said award under the non-government organization category and received a plaque of recognition and a check worth P100,000.

The “Outstanding Healthy Lifestyle Advocacy Award,” is a joint project of the DOH and the Philippine Coalition for the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (PCPCNCD) composed of 40 organizations working for the Prevention and Control of NCD. This gives recognition to organizations and institutions which have demonstrated exemplary contributions in the formulation of policies and programs that promote healthy lifestyle and caused its effective implementation resulting to clear and palpable impact on the health situation and outcomes in their areas of jurisdiction.

More here-

From Schenectady-

A stained-glass window, the only monument honoring the Civil War service of the 169th New York Infantry Regiment, has been found decades after it was last seen in a former Episcopal chapel in Menands.

The discovery that the artifact is safe in a Schenectady couple's home was greeted jubilantly by the descendants of soldiers who fought in the battle-tested Army unit known as the Troy Regiment.
They never lost heart that they'd find the memorial window from St. Margaret's Episcopal Church, even though they ran into numerous dead ends in their search.

"The big thing is we know where it is. And it's in safekeeping now," Bill Connelly of Northumberland said Wednesday

Connelly and Steven Wiezbicki of Fort Collins, Colo., have been searching for the window honoring the hard-fighting 169th in which their ancestors served.

Read more:

Columbus Mileposts | May 3, 1817: Episcopal priest inspires by example

From Columbus-

Connecticut Episcopalian priest Philander Chase came to Ohio on a mission in 1817: to preach the gospel on the frontier. On May 3, 1817, he conducted the first Episcopalian service in Columbus at the Buckeye House hotel.

Four days later, he preached again at the High Street home of storekeeper Lincoln Goodale. “Some of those who came were merely curious. Others believed that God’s inerrant providence brought them to that spot. All listened with reverence as Chase intoned the service from the Book of Common Prayer and preached to them,” Lisa M. Klein wrote in her 2003 history of Trinity Episcopal Church, Be It Remembered.

In 1833, Trinity built its first church, on the north side of Broad Street just east of High Street. By 1866 the congregation had outgrown the building and began work on its current Gothic Revival church at the southeast corner of Broad and 3rd streets.

More here-

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

From ACNS-

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." "All the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil." "Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest."

Shakespeare? The King James Bible? Close -- the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the liturgical and literary masterpiece that (next to the previous two sources) has helped shape the English language and marks its 350th anniversary this year.

St. Paul's Cathedral in London celebrates the occasion on 2 May with a special service of evensong, or evening prayer, from the 1662 volume, often shortened to the BCP or Prayer Book. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is to attend, along with members of Prayer Book societies in Australia, Canada and the U.K. that are dedicated to keeping the work alive.

"I hope and pray that people in Britain and around the English-speaking world realize the importance of this great work," Prudence Dailey, Chair of the Prayer Book Society in the U.K., told ENInews.
The service is the flagship of a nationwide series of events that includes an exhibit at Lambeth Palace Library that also acknowledges the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, looking at the relationship between the monarchy and the Prayer Book. It includes a copy of the first Prayer Book, published in 1549, and the copy used at Queen Victoria's wedding.

More here-

Prayer issue requires some reflection

From Kansas-

Because I am a retired Episcopal priest, prayer has long been a significant part of my day. My wife and I begin every morning with an extended time of Scripture study and prayer. We hope that being daily in prayerful conversation with our Lord Jesus enhances the quality of our relationships with each other, with our family, and with our community. We believe prayer works for good; we attempt to "pray without ceasing."

That's why I've been so interested in the recent struggle of the Reno County Commission concerning its practice of opening every official session with a prayer - most often a Christian prayer uttered in the name of Jesus. Some have objected to this obvious prayerful bias toward one religion. It seems in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits the "establishment" of any particular faith, while insuring the freedom of all citizens to practice their chosen religion. 

More here-

‘William White is Dead’

From The Living Church-

This past year during the clergy conference of the Diocese of Long Island our second day was devoted to the examination of the structures for ministry within our diocese. The day was entitled “Eisenhower is Dead,” encapsulating the notion that it is no longer productive to engage ministry in a 1950s model. The phrase has helped us all to focus on the task at hand - an engagement in ministry development that is adaptive and relevant to the present culture and future times that we believe we are called to serve in the name of Jesus Christ.

We prepare now for General Convention this summer. To do so is to tackle the enormous task of retooling the Episcopal Church for mission and ministry in changing times and circumstances. I believe that when we consider the internal structure that supports ministry (and is not ministry in and of itself); that is, the canonical, constitutional and governmental structures that support mission, we might do well to adapt the phrase: “William White is Dead.”

William White was the second Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. He was the chief architect of the bicameral system of governance we today call General Convention. He modeled our system on the United States Congress with two houses meeting separately, one a large gathering of elected deputies of both clergy and lay people and the other all the bishops of the church.

More here-

Trinity Wall Street hosts May Day teach-in

From ENS-

The Rev. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones, during “Occupy: A May Day Teach-In” webcast live from Trinity Wall Street, described the Occupy Wall Street movement as one he wished Trinity had had the “courage” and “insight” to birth.

“It’s so much of who we are … not just Trinity Wall Street, the whole spiritual enterprise,” said Bozzuti-Jones during the webcast.

Paraphrasing the Jesuit theologian Jon Sobrino, the real test is not so much about whether a person believes in God or not, but rather in idolatry, he said. For Sobrino, it came down to the human willingness to worship the wrong things.

“How do we teach the world that it is better to give than to receive?” asked Bozzuti-Jones.
Billed as part conference, part spiritual renewal, and part rally, the Occupy: A May Day Teach-In included brief talks by religious and secular thinkers who spoke about the moral, political and social justice and reconciliation issues that confront the Occupy movement.

The event also featured folk music performed by the Irish duo Peader & Pio.

More here-

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My new congregation is 10,000 Olympians

From England-

CATERING for the 10,000 athletes from 165 countries descending on London for this summer’s Olympic Games is a daunting prospect.

While a team of chefs will feed and water the competitors, Wivenhoe chaplain Thomas Yap will cater for their spiritual side.

Mr Yap, 36, has been selected as one of the Anglican chaplains who will be on hand in and around the Olympic village in July and August.

He will be part of a multi-faith team who will give services to their following.

Mr Yap may also be called to calm the nerves and mental anguish of an athlete on the eve of the biggest moment of their career Modest Mr Yap, chosen partly because he also works as a psychotherapist, said he didn’t think his support could make the difference between a competitor taking gold or finishing further down the field.

More here-

Anglican church makes global appeal to the world to make sermons easier to find

From ACNS-

All Souls Church, Langham Place in London, England, has appealed through Social Media and its website for volunteers to help 'tag' 3,600 free sermons and talks.

More than 12 years ago the All Souls church council decided to make its entire archive free, even though income from the sales of tapes and CDs paid for someone's annual wage. They believed the talks should be a resource for the global church.

There are now more than 3,000 talks going back to the 1960s when John Stott was still Rector. The archive is constantly being added to with all sunday and midweek talks are available as routine on the website as well as via podcast.

However, a lack of 'tags'--words added to files to allow visitors to search the archive--means specific sermons are hard for visitors to find.

The church believes that crowdsourcing is the answer:

"Currently, if you know the Bible passage, the preacher or even the sermon's title, it is relatively straightforward to find what you want," a church staff member explains on their website. "But what if you want a sermon on a particular topic? This is where tagging comes in.

More here-

St. Andrew's Parish may lose home in dispute with Episcopal Diocese

From Tennessee-

A local congregation that left the Episcopal Church six years ago may be leaving its church building as well.

An appeals court ruled last week that the property at 3700 Woodmont Blvd. in Nashville, currently home to St. Andrew’s Parish, belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee.

Leaders of St. Andrew’s say the congregation bought the property from the diocese in the 1960s and should be able to keep it after becoming part of the Anglican Church in North America, a conservative rival to the Episcopal Church.

But an Episcopal Church denominational rule, known as the Dennis Canon, says that all church property is held in trust for the denomination. So even if church members vote to leave the denomination, they can’t take the property with them.

The two sides disagree on the nature of the dispute. St. Andrew’s sees it as a simple property matter — they have a deed to the property, so it is theirs. The diocese says that St. Andrew’s agreed in the past to abide by the denomination’s rules and so has to forfeit the property.

More here-

Also here-

Monday, April 30, 2012

From All-Africa-

Outspoken Church of Uganda Kampala Diocese Assistant Bishop, Zac Niringiye, spoke to The Independent's Mubatsi Asinja Habati about his crusade for the restoration of presidential term limits.

There are people who think you are a politician putting on a cleric collar. What do you think?

Religion and politics interface in the common life of the people. Just as politics should be about the welfare of the people, religion is about the wellbeing of the people. In that sense, you can't say one thing is religious and the other is political. However, there should be a line between the political and religious offices. In the structuring of political power, those who contest for political office are contesting to have the authority to create, distribute and to be in charge of management of public resources and public space. The religious leadership also has the responsibility of a different kind: to help the same people to able to lead lives that are responsible, just, and social and empowered, loving God and neighbour. You therefore cannot separate religion and politics. We should also remember that religion has political dimensions and politics has religious dimensions.

In this country the process of holding a political office is now through political parties. If the question is Can religious leaders take a political party position or occupy political office? The answers are varied depending on the religious traditions. In my church, the Church of Uganda (Anglican) if a religious leader decides to vie for political office he has to resign his religious office; in fact the Church even requires him or her to remove ecclesiastical garb, such as collars, because he or she is now taking a partisan political position. But if the question is as to whether those of us who occupy religious offices as religious leaders should engage political issues - issues that affect the welfare of the people, then the answer is clear. Political discourse is about issues that affect the lives of the people and therefore we, their leaders have both the religious responsibility as well as being responsible citizens, to participate in the discourse. Please remember that religious leaders are citizens. We are affected by political decisions in our ordinary lives.

More here-

Dreadlocked pioneer elected new Bishop of Wellington

From ACNS-

Justin Duckworth has been announced as the next Anglican Bishop of Wellington.

And he may just be the least likely-looking bishop ever elected in New Zealand.

He has dreadlocks, for starters. He’s usually in shorts and bare feet, too.

But the voters in the Diocese of Wellington saw past that.

They saw instead that he’s been at the cutting edge of Christian ministry “to the last, the lost and the least” in Wellington for 25 years.

Justin, who is now 44, began Christian work in Wellington as soon as he’d left school.
In his early 20s, he and his new wife Jenny began running a home for teenage women in Berhampore.
After seven years there, they moved with their young children into Upper Cuba St to live among the street people – with transvestites on the one side of them, and prostitutes on the other.

Anglican Communion life impeded by insufficient communicators

From ENS-

The Anglican Communion faces a shortage of qualified communicators, according to an international Working Group on communications. The group — consisting of communications professionals from five continents — concluded that the Communion life was at risk of being detrimentally affected by some Provinces’ inability to source and share their news and stories widely.

“The narrative of the Body of Christ is very powerful,” said group member Revd Dr Joshva Raja “and currently the Anglican Communion is not properly equipped to share that narrative.”

Raja, originally from the Church of South India, explained that an informal survey had revealed that only a third of provinces have full-time communications staff.

“In many cases the job of telling the story of the church is left to busy provincial secretaries, unqualified volunteers or, in some cases, the bishop or primate,” he said. “How can the world hear about the best of our church life if we do not hire people with adequate time and/or the skills to source and share the stories of our part in God’s mission?”

More here-

N.H. Episcopalians may elect 2d gay bishop

From The Boston Globe-

Nine years after electing the first openly gay bishop in the history of their church, causing a rift in the worldwide Anglican Communion that remains unrepaired, New Hampshire Episcopalians may choose a second gay man as their leader.

The Rev. William W. Rich, a senior associate rector at Trinity Church in Boston and a married gay man, is one of three priests nominated by a Diocese of New Hampshire search committee to succeed Bishop V. Gene Robinson, who is retiring.

About 200 clergy and elected lay delegates will vote by secret ballot in Concord on May 19. The Rev. Adrian Robbins-Cole, president of the Standing Committee, a diocesan advisory board, declined to handicap the vote but speculated most delegates will see the nominees’ sexuality as irrelevant.

“I think electors in New Hampshire are interested in getting the best bishop for New Hampshire,’’ he said. “People are very parochial in the end.’’

Rich and the other candidates - the Rev. Penelope Maud Bridges, rector of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Great Falls, Va., and the Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst - will visit New Hampshire this week in advance of the election.

More here-

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Virginia court rules in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia

From Virginia-

The Fairfax Circuit Court ruled in favor of the Diocese late on Friday, April 27, denying the Falls Church Anglican's motion to stay the Circuit Court's Final Order issued on March 1.  With this loss, the Falls Church Anglican and it's 4,000 members will be vacating their historic church home on Broad Street by May 15.

"We are pleased with the Court's decision, and are gratified that the Falls Church (Episcopal) may return to their church home," said Henry D.W. Burt, secretary of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

The 100 member Episcopal congregation will be moving into the property with the Falls Church Day School remaining in their location under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Virginia.

After the court ruled, members of the continuing Episcopal congregation gathered outside the court room for prayer and members of the Anglican congregation were reported to have joined in the circle of prayer as well as the two congregations continue to work out next steps.  The Falls Church Anglican is considering an appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court if a settlement cannot be reached with the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

More here-