Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pope Benedict's butler arrested in Vatican leaks scandal, reports say

From Italy - via Canada - (So you mean the butler really did do it?)

Vatican police arrested Friday a man - reportedly the pope's butler - on allegations of having leaked confidential documents and letters from the pontiff's private study to newspapers.

The man was caught in possession of secret documents, the Vatican said, but it would not confirm the suspect's identity, age, or when he had been arrested.

"The inquiry carried out by Vatican police... allowed them to identify someone in possession of confidential documents. This person is currently being questioned," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told journalists.

According to Il Foglio newspaper and ANSA news agency, the detained man is none other than the pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, a member of the small team which works daily in Pope Benedict XVI's apartments.

The Italian daily said he is likely to be used by the Vatican as "a handy scapegoat" for several others suspected of being involved in leaking documents, some of which ended up in a new book on the tiny state published a week ago.

Faith and Values: Faith is golden. Beliefs are overrated

From Bethlehem (PA)

Faith is golden. Beliefs are overrated, as are works.

When one reduces religion to either beliefs or good works, both are overrated. Reductionism (think "nothing but") usually destroys anything it attempts to explain, as in: religion is nothing but belief or religion is nothing but morality.

Morality itself has for many been reduced to nothing but sexual morality. It is so much more, embracing personal, business and community relationships. And faith is so much more than belief, as in "I set my heart on" God rather than purely intellectual acts of belief.

Belief and good works are overrated especially when we think of them as prerequisites to being befriended by God.

Some 50 years ago, I sat in a university classroom in Rome when a professor introduced his course on the theology of revelation –– what we know about God because God told us –– with this image.

In a large lecture hall with several hundred students from perhaps 50 countries, he paced, slowly, on a raised platform.

He pressed one white dot with chalk on an enormous blackboard. After a dramatic pause, he said, in French-accented Latin, "The white is what we know about God. The black is what we don't. What we know is little. But the little God has given us to know is precious."

Among that precious little are two biblical themes: Be not afraid and you are loved.

More here-,0,2153356.story

Church of England’s House of Bishops moves to allow women bishops, controversy begins again

From England-

For years the Anglican Communion debated whether women should serve as bishops and while the Episcopal Church U.S.A. ordained Bishop Schori as presiding bishop, not all Episcopal or Anglican Churches accept women bishops, much less women priests.  

The House of Bishops decision last Thursday once again stirred emotions between the Anglo-Catholics, Conservative Evangelicals, and liberals within the Anglican Church, despite an amendment, which attempted to compromise between the groups.  Some predict future chaos and even more departures from the Anglican Church, which the next Archbishop of Canterbury will inherit from the retiring Archbishop Rowan Williams.

The consecration of women, along with homosexual bishops and same-sex marriages, is among the most divisive issues facing the 77 million members of the Anglican Communion around the world.
Other Anglican provinces already have women bishops, including the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

More here-

Ordinations continue Native Episcopal ministry

From Alaska-

On Sunday, at 3 p.m., the Rt. Rev. Mark Lattime, Episcopal bishop of Alaska, will ordain to the priesthood Bella Jean Savino and Shirley Lee. The ordination service, part of an all-day Pentecost celebration, marks a historic occasion, celebrating and continuing the tradition of Native ministry within the church.

Lee will become the first Inupiaq female, and Savino will be the second Gwitch’in female to be ordained to the priesthood within the worldwide Anglican Communion. Both are associated with St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church.

Lee, 52, whose traditional name is “Bunnikjoruk,” was born in Fairbanks, and raised in Fairbanks and Bettles Field/Evansville. Her family roots trace back to Noorvik and the Arctic Coast. She is a wife, mother of six, grandmother of seven and has studied at the University of Alaska, the Antioch School of Law and the Vancouver Anglican School of Theology. A former Fairbanks Native Association executive director and Tanana Chiefs Conference vice president, she is currently director of the TCC innovative “Housing First” program. Shirley was ordained a deacon in 2010.

More here-

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mercer County church league plays hardball with Mormons

From just up the road-

The 23 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Slippery Rock who signed up to play in a Mercer County church softball league weren't trying to make a religious statement, their would-be coach says.

"It's softball, for heaven's sake. We thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved in the community," said Brett Udy, 50, of Grove City.

The 10-team Grove City Area Church Softball League disagrees and won't let them join.

"It's more than softball -- it's church softball. If you're saying something's a church, that's more important than what's on the field," said Bryson Hoobler, 31, of Grove City, president of the league, who considers it a Christian league.

"Most of our churches don't view them as Christians. We don't regard the LDS church as a Christian church," Hoobler said. "When you include someone in a group -- that's kind of like saying they're fundamentally the same as most people in the group. We don't feel that's accurate with LDS."

The league's vote last month to keep the Mormon church out -- after at least two teams threatened to quit -- highlights a continuing issue involving how some Christians view Mormons, observers said. The issue cropped up on the national political stage as presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has answered questions and concerns over his Mormon faith.

More here-

Church getting repaired stone by stone

From Massachusetts-

The historic St. John’s Episcopal Church is undergoing major repairs for “incredible damage” caused by water in its stone walls, according to the chair of the church’s capital campaign.

Some exterior walls on the 1880s church at Roanoke Avenue and Revere Street are being taken down stone by stone for repair. The stones are being numbered and will be put back in the same order, according to Thomas Burgess, project manager for the architecture firm Menders, Torrey & Spencer.

Nicole Parsons, the church’s capital campaign chair, said there are concerns that the wall problems eventually could affect some “precious” stained glass windows. They include one from the abolitionist era that depicts a black Madonna, “which is so very JP,” she said.

More here-

In The Footsteps Of C.S. Lewis: A Pilgrimage

From Huffington-

A little over a year ago, I found myself channeling Chaucer, embarking on my own pilgrimage while studying abroad in York, UK. Instead of Canterbury, however, my destination was Oxford. And instead of St. Thomas a Beckett, I sought the sites of another divine: Clive Staples Lewis.

I was never much into "The Chronicles of Narnia," but when I read Lewis' "Mere Christianity" at the age of 16, it completely changed the way I thought of my faith. Lewis has provided answers to millions since his death in 1963, speaking to an age that views traditional expressions of faith -- and even faith itself -- with skepticism. And as I boarded the train from York to London in desperate need of answers to my own questions, I hoped Lewis could help me.

I was at a pivotal point in my own faith journey. In the throes of discerning a call to ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church, I had just come out of a complete upheaval of my previous religious identity as a Southern Baptist.

After disembarking the train at the Oxford train station and checking into my B&B, I headed up to Headington just North of Oxford to pay a visit to Lewis's grave and to make an appointment to tour Lewis's nearby home, The Kilns. 

More here-

Taize movement brings throwback appeal to U.S.

From The Washington Post-

Chris Soukup was on the verge of leaving the Episcopal Church as a 19-year-old freshman at South Dakota State University. He had grown tired of years of going to church just because his parents said so. When he was asked to take a job as a counselor at a church camp, he had his reservations, but decided to give it a try.

Soukup was moved by the Taize-style camp that was led by a visiting brother from France. Three weeks of singing simple phrases over and over, extolling God as the light out of darkness, and quiet time to pray and meditate on passages that exemplify living the life of the gospel captivated Soukup’s soul.

“It’s a really relaxing style of worship that you don’t get with a lot of the denominations ... where they’re focused on more of a sermon style or a praise-and-worship kind of thing,” Soukup said. “The silence is really the biggest thing for me where you just have time to reflect.”

By the end of the three weeks, Soukup realized how much he longed for church. He now goes twice weekly for spiritual nourishment and a strong sense of community, both at home and at school.

More here-

Bishop J. Jon Bruno leaves hospital, continues leukemia treatment

From LA-

Episcopal Bishop J. Jon Bruno, who has been hospitalized after being diagnosed with leukemia, was released today and returned to his residence for continued recovery.

The 65-year-old bishop heads the six-county Los Angeles diocese and is credited with leading the church in a more liberal direction.

He will stay at his Episcopalian residence for two weeks, Bruno said Thursday in an open letter. During that time, Bruno said, he will be in protective isolation to decrease the chance of infection.

After two weeks, Bruno will return to City of Hope for three weeks during which he will receive chemotherapy. He will then return home and then undergo another three-week stay at the hospital.

"My physician team has indicated I may fully recover," Bruno said. "I believe  without a doubt that this miraculous type of recovery has only been possible because of the outpouring of prayer from our faith communities."

In May 2010, Bruno ordained the region's first two female bishops. One of them was the first lesbian bishop ordained in the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Nkoranza campus of Anglican University College to open this year

From Ghana-

The Anglican Church is set to open the first campus of its University College of Science and Technology at Nkoranza in the Brong-Ahafo Region within the year.

The university which would be affiliated with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has many structures for lecture halls almost complete while syllabi, lecturers and other core staff are all ready.

This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a four-day National Conference of Bishops and Diocesan Council of the Church, held at the Samaritan Villa in Kumasi, where they deliberated on ways of promoting the growth of the church.

It expressed concern about the growing indiscipline among the youth and encouraged Regional Managers’ of the Anglican Education Unit, to do everything to strengthen supervision in the schools and ensure that they help the children to uphold the values of not only hard work and honesty but to be God-fearing.

More here-

Church rummage sale raises $52,000

From California-

Assuring a smooth transition to new management, more than $52,000 was raised by this past weekend’s 12th annual Grace Episcopal Church rummage and estate sale.

Funds derived from the event, titled “Not Your Mother’s Rummage Sale,” support three homes for orphans in Russia and Uganda, said the sale’s general manager, Braulio Muñoz. Muñoz assumed administrative leadership of the sale from Norm Manzer, who created it and shepherded it through its first 11 years.

“It was a total success and everybody’s happy,” Muñoz said.

Bringing in the highest price of the sale of pre-used merchandise was antique furniture, which sold for more than $1,200, he added.

Former Club To Be Razed

From Wheeling-

The landmark Fort Henry Club at 14th and Chapline streets is set to meet the wrecking ball.

Leaders of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Wheeling confirmed Wednesday morning that after more than three years of effort, working in concert with others, they are unable to renovate and preserve the Fort Henry Club building.

The Rev. Mark Seitz, rector, said, "As a result, the church is now seeking bids for demolition of the building."

Seitz said despite numerous efforts to obtain tenants for the stately building, costs to renovate the structure proved too much for potential renters who have inspected the property.

"It took a while to come to this decision. It's not what we wanted, but frankly it was problematic from the beginning," Seitz said.

In December, St. Matthew's purchased the building for $1. The Fort Henry Club is located across the street from the church property.

The Fort Henry Club, a Wheeling social organization dating back to 1890, closed it doors last September as membership had dwindled. The facility was a popular destination for businessmen during the early 1900s and a much-utilized facility for social events.

More here-

Anglicans Hand Keys of Historic Falls Church to Episcopalians

From Falls Church-

Last Sunday marked the epochal formal handover of the historic Falls Church property from the breakaway congregation that had occupied it since 2006 to its legal owners, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. The Falls Church congregation affiliated with legal owners, known as "continuing Episcopalians" had been banished from the church property until now. While they celebrated Easter at the historic chapel on the property last month, this past Sunday marked the first of now on-going Sunday services there following the official transfer last week.

The breakaway group, the Falls Church Anglican, voted itself out of the Episcopal denomination in December 2006 due in part to its objection to the election of an openly-gay priest as a bishop in the denomination in 2003. It was compelled for the first time last Sunday by court rulings in January and last month (to deny a stay pending appeal) to move off the historic church campus to hold its Sunday services elsewhere.

The Anglicans' destination last Sunday was the Columbia Baptist Church a few blocks up the road for some early morning activities, and the Kenmore Middle School in Arlington for two main worship services that a spokesman said were "full."

This coming Sunday, the group, affiliated with the Council of Anglicans in North America (CANA) structure formed following the split to be inclusive of similar breakaway congregations, will move its main Sunday services to the auditorium of the Bishop O'Connell High School, a private school only blocks from the City of Falls Church border in North Arlington.

More here-

Faith-Based Organizations Partner to Fight Malaria

From the Sacramento Bee-

UMCOR to Join Episcopal Relief & Development's NetsforLife® Program Partnership

NEW YORK, May 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The relief and development agencies of two mainline Protestant denominations are forming a new strategic partnership to prevent and control malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.  By uniting in common mission, Episcopal Relief & Development's award-winning NetsforLife® program partnership and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) will be able to reach 21 countries in sub-Saharan Africa where malaria is endemic.


"The strength of our NetsforLife® program and UMCOR is that we both work with churches and other grassroots institutions to fill gaps in health service coverage – mostly in rural areas – and develop solutions that fit the context and challenges of each locality," said Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development.

The partnership began informally in 2010, when NetsforLife® and UMCOR began working together to amplify United Methodist and Anglican/Episcopal anti-malaria efforts in Africa. It has been particularly effective in areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.

"The root of our partnership is a shared belief in the strength of African churches to take action, empower local communities to become whole and healthy, change behavior and target resources for greater reach and impact," Radtke continued.

Read more here:

Becoming Episcopalian: Mass Exodus from the Catholic Church

From Chicago-

The National Catholic Reporter had a nice article breaking down the reasons why Catholics leave the church. About half because Protestants, and about half became unaffiliated. The article focused on the Protestant half, and in that, a portion became evangelical, and another portion joined some other mainline denomination. It's interesting seeing the statistics. (Hat tip to Episcopal Cafe for linking to it.)

It made me contemplate why I left.

So, Why did I leave?

That's a simple question, but it's difficult to articulate all the reasons. Faith is a strange thing, and changes in it are multifaceted. Some things I simply could not tolerate any longer. Some things my subconscious did not like, but it wasn't fully articulated or realized until after I was received into the Episcopal Church.

If you want the short answer, I left because the Church was becoming more intolerant at the cost of its loving messages.

If you want the long answer:

More here-

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Anderson will not seek re-election as House of Deputies president

From ENS-

Bonnie Anderson has announced that she will not stand for re-election as President of the House of Deputies during the July 5-12 meeting of General Convention in Indianapolis.

In a May 23 announcement letter to the deputies and first alternates of the Episcopal Church’s General Convention, Anderson said she plans to spend more time with her family.

“I have been honored beyond measure to lead this house, and gratified to observe the many ways in which Deputies and Alternates serve and lead God’s Church, both when General Convention is in session and when it is not,” she said in her letter. “Your voices resonate not only within the great representative diversity of General Convention, but also in our communities and in commissions during the triennium, in vestries, and in the leadership roles you hold in our congregations, dioceses and provinces.”

The president of the House of Deputies is elected every three years to serve throughout the triennium. Anderson was vice president of the House of Deputies and a lay deputy from the Diocese of Michigan when she was elected at the 2006 General Convention to serve as president of the House of Deputies. She was re-elected at the 2009 General Convention.

More here-

Episcopal Letter Expresses 'Disappointment' With Falls Church Anglican's Court Appeal

From Falls Church-

The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia issued a letter today stating that in the context of "a cascade of settlements" the Diocese has made with six of the seven breakaway Council of Anglicans in North America (CANA) congregations in Virginia in the wake of a decisive court judgment in January, it reports "with disappointment" that the same is not the case with the CANA congregation that occupied the historic Falls Church until last weekend. 

The leadership of that group, it reports, "has made it clear that they plan to pursue their appeal before the Supreme Court of Virginia unless the Diocese pays them a significant sume of money." It added that those in the Diocese leadership "remain confident in our legal position" as an appeal goes forward.

Excerpted from the text the Diocese's letter by Chief of Staff Henry Burt is the following:
"With disappointment, I report to you that we have been unable to reach a final settlement with the CANA congregation now known as the Falls Church Anglican. 

Their leadership has made it clear that they plan to pursue their appeal before the Supreme Court of Virginia unless the Diocese (with the Episcopal Church's approval) pays them a significant sum of money; we both are unwilling to do so. As a result, we expect the Falls Church Anglican to file their petition for appeal at the end of this month, asking the Supreme Court of Virginia to hear their case. We must file a responsive brief three weeks later, and the Court will issue its decision on whether to take the case at some point this fall. We remain strongly confident in our legal position.

More here-

For sale: One church with smalltown charm in Oakfield

From Wyoming-

If you’re in the market for a property filled with colorful stained glass windows, decorative mahogany wood, plenty of reading materials and an entertainment center, Steven Metcalfe has got just the thing.
St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, which closed for services in August 2009, is up for sale.

“We would love for somebody to come in and operate a church here. We’re open to whoever can see the possibilities,” the Rev. Metcalfe said Tuesday at the South Main Street site. “It’s a beautiful example of a small town church; it has been a fixture in this community. I know folks here are eager to make a sale possible. There’s a lot you can do with it, especially with the house next door.”

Metcalfe is leading the effort on behalf of St. James Episcopal Church. In 2009, the Batavia church got a letter from St. Michael’s officials informing them there were not enough people to support the Oakfield site any longer.

With the bishop’s blessing, St. James took over the property and has been maintaining it and paying utility and insurance costs with some leftover funds from St. Michael’s account. It has taken a couple of years to work out the details and the site is now up for sale. The church and former rector’s house are on 1.2 acres and are going as a package for $150,000.

More here-

Southerners Stranded in Sudan Waiting for a Trip Home

From Sudan-

Nimuli struggled to rise from a rope bed to greet pastor James Mading Bui at an Episcopal church where she lives in a suburb of Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, waiting to travel back home to the newly independent south.

Nimuli is one of as many as 700,000 South Sudanese who have become regarded as dark-skinned, often Christian outsiders in mainly Arabic Sudan since the oil-rich south seceded in July. Verbally abused as “insects” by some Sudanese on the streets, they have no citizenship or residential rights and no idea when they are going to be able to travel to South Sudan.

“It has been a really tough time for us,” Nimuli, a 49- year-old mother of four, said in a May 19 interview at the church, refusing to give her last name for fear of retribution from the Sudanese authorities. “We’ve been waiting for months, unclear of our fate, running out of money and options, and now with no legal status.”

More here-

Back and Tan

             Spent a week at the beach. Anything happen while I was gone?