Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pope declares Catholic television pioneer has heroic virtue

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Televangelist Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen is one step closer to becoming the first American-born man -- and the first Emmy-winner -- to be canonized a saint, after Pope Benedict XVI declared him "venerable" on Thursday.

That means he lived a life of "heroic virtue" and can be considered for beatification and canonization. A claim of a miracle for beatification is already pending at the Vatican. It involves a stillborn baby who was revived an hour later. But as a back-up, Ven. Archbishop Sheen's advocates have a case involving a newborn that was documented in Pittsburgh.

"He seems to have a very powerful influence with infants," said the Rev. Andrew Apostoli, a Franciscan from Yonkers, N.Y., who, as vice-postulator of his cause, has a key role in vetting the miracle claims. "At least four cases that I was working with have involved newborn infants and even a pre-born infant."

Canonization is a formal declaration by the Catholic church that someone lived an exemplary life and is in heaven, able to pray for those still on Earth.

Read more:

Women bishops: what should happen next

From The Church Times-

THE General Synod is in trouble. In ten days' time, it is to consider giving final approval to the consecration of women bishops. In the normal run of things, this would be the stage for a general debate in which the participants return to first principles, examine whether the legislation does or does not fulfil their wishes, and vote accordingly. This debate looks increasingly unlikely to happen.

What has changed things are the amendments appended to the Measure by the House of Bishops (News, 25 May). These were a) that the episcopal min­istry of a male bishop acting under a diocesan scheme was derived from his own orders but delegated from the dio­cesan bishop; and b) that the Code of Practice should give guidance that a diocesan bishop should, when ap­pointing a bishop or priest to oversee a dissenting par­ish, select someone "the exercise of ministry of whom is consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration or ordination of women" of the PCC.

These amendments were designed to achieve two things. The first was to reassure traditionalists that proper provision will be made for them in the Measure and the Code of Practice. The second was to give the Measure a better chance of passing.

More here-

Ordinariate pays back £1 million to Anglican charity

From England-

THE Ordinariate has paid back a £1-million grant it received from the Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament (News, 8 July 2011) after the Charity Commission ruled that the payment was "unauthorised".

The Commission announced the conclusion of its investigation of the grant yesterday. Its statement says that the decision to make a grant to the Ordinariate, a Roman Catholic body for former Anglicans, "was taken at an inquorate meeting, the majority of the trustees having a (financial) personal interest in the decision" and was "in breach of the charity's governing document".

Since the meeting was inquorate, it says, the decision to award the money was "invalid. There was no valid exercise of the power to make a gift to the Ordinariate and the payment was unauthorised."

The Confraternity, a registered charity, was founded in 1862 to support the Catholic revival in the Church of England. The Charity Commission website states that its charitable objects are "for the advancement of the Catholic faith in the Anglican tradition".

More here-£1-million-to-anglican-charity

Thieves steal three antique bibles from oldest church in mainland B.C.

From British Columbia-

Want a one-way ticket to hell? Steal a Bible.

That’s what blaspheming thieves did Thursday morning, when they defiled an Anglican church in Hope, making off with three cherished antique Bibles and valuables from the Christ Church National Historic Site.

“I’m still in shock coming in and seeing it all,” said church staff member Christine Elliott, who discovered the break-in when she arrived at the church at about 9:30 that morning.

Elliott noticed the padlock on the historic church was smashed when she arrived. She quickly contacted the Rev. Gail Newell and went to investigate the sanctuary with her supervisor.

They found the church’s sound system had been stolen, money taken from the gift shop, some silver goblets missing, and brass vases, lamps and candlesticks strewn about. Three priceless 150-year-old Bibles stored in two glass cases had also been removed. The Bibles are large, up to five inches thick, bound in brown leather.

More here-

A muddled Archbishop of Canterbury, a whining folk singer and a nude Jeremy Paxman

From The London Telegraph-

Where does the Church of England really stand on gay marriage? That’s a tricky one, but let me try to simplify things by presenting two snapshots of Anglican opinion.

The conservative point of view is that allowing gay weddings would “alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history”. The Coalition must drop its “deeply unwise” plans.

And, in contrast, a more open-minded approach: “The Church is scratching its head and trying to work out where it is on all that, and what to think about it.”

The first statement comes from Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Church’s submission to the Government this month.

And the second comes from Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking to Christian teenagers this week.

Hmm. The Catholic saint Padre Pio was said to have the gift of bilocation, of being in two places at once. Padre Rowan, in contrast, has the gift of biposition, of holding two contradictory opinions at once.

More here-

Anglican debate on gays risks splitting church

From New Zealand-

Proposals being considered by the Anglican Church could see gay marriage services carried out in churches by gay priests.

Bishops and priests are to vote on proposals covering the blessing of same-sex civil unions, the church's response to requests to marry those couples, and ordination of gay priests.

The debate, to be heard next week at a meeting of the church's ruling body, the General Synod, has created concern it could divide parishes in New Zealand and - if adopted - cause a schism with the international faith.

The move comes against a backdrop of acknowledgement that secret blessings are being carried out contrary to church rules, and just weeks after moves to address concerns relating to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members by appointing a committee to report on the issue by 2014.

More here-

Martha Nussbaum and the new religious intolerance

From The London Guardian-

There's a popular student story about Martha Nussbaum giving a talk in a small living room of the Episcopal Church's chaplaincy centre on the leafy campus of the University of Chicago. As she was holding forth, a bird flew down the chimney and started to flutter around the room, bashing into the walls and generally panicking, as trapped birds do. The students were immediately busy opening windows and trying to shoo the poor creature to freedom. All their attention was taken up with the bird. But in the midst of all the excitement, Nussbaum didn't break her intellectual stride. She just carried on delivering the lecture as if nothing whatsoever was going on. She emanates detached academic cool – fully in command of herself and her material. From someone who has spent a distinguished academic career emphasising the riskiness and vulnerability of the human condition, all this slightly frosty control comes as something of a surprise.

Why, she once asked in a brilliant essay entitled "Love's Knowledge", do the gods of the ancient world often fall in love with human beings? Why would they prefer mortals to immortals? It is precisely because human beings are able to fail, she argues, that they are able to manifest so many attractive qualities. Take courage. What place can courage have in the world of immortal gods? How could an immortal god risk everything for another if their own welfare were always guaranteed in advance? And what sort of parent would an immortal parent be to an immortal child? Certainly not one that is up half the night worrying. Risk and vulnerability are intrinsic to being human. And that is what makes us attractive, sometimes heroic.

More here-

Like father, like father: Dad and son ordained Catholic priests

From Ft. Worth-

A tall, young man dressed in black kneels before the alter at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Keller.

"Do you promise respect and obedience to your Ordinary?"

"I do," the young man responds.

It's rehearsal for the ordination ceremony to become a Catholic priest.

Or as they say in one family, like father, like son.

"Go ahead."

"No, you go ahead," they talk over each other in comfortable, comedic banter.

"[I'm] Father Chuck Hough III," the older man says.

"And I will be father Chuck Hough IV," said the younger.

"Who is my son," his dad adds with a big laugh.

Talk about a proud father. Proud son, too.

Chuck Hough the third and fourth are Deacons from the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

More here

U.S. Presbyterians, Episcopals debate gay ceremonies

From The Chicago Tribune-

Two Protestant churches are set to review policies on same-sex marriages, as popular opinion moves toward favoring such unions and the growing number of states allowing them creates a dilemma for church leaders.

The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. opened its General Assembly on Friday, a biennial gathering to review church policy, and next week church leaders are expected to consider their response to the establishment of civil gay marriage in six U.S. states.

Several days later, the Episcopal Church, part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is due to hold its triennial General Convention during which it will consider establishing a ritual for blessing gay relationships.

"The landscape in the U.S. has changed radically even since our last assembly two years ago," said Michael Adee, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a national gay rights group. "The conversation has moved from the statehouse to the church. There's a great awakening."

Adee said he expects an "uphill climb" at the convention this week, which is being held at the David Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

More here-,0,1844179.story

Friday, June 29, 2012

Archbishop of Canterbury slams Christians who feel ‘disgusted’ about homosexuality

From The Washington Post-

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams criticized some Christians for feeling so “embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted” over homosexuality that they seem unwelcoming to outsiders and convey a lack of understanding.

Addressing a group of Christian teenagers at his Lambeth Palace residence in London, the spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion said Anglicans and other Christians are still in “quite a lot of tangles” about homosexuality. The confusion sometimes leaves the church “scratching its head and trying to work out,” Williams said.

His comments came barely two weeks after he slammed the British government for its plans to legalize same-sex marriages — something that Williams said would be a mistake. The Anglican Communion itself has been deeply divided over homosexuality. The Episcopal Church, the communion’s U.S. branch, allows gay bishops and sanctions same-sex commitment ceremonies, while more conservative leaders in Africa strongly denounce homosexuality.

More here-

These may be the bones of the Baptist

From The Church Times-

NEW scientific evidence suggests that relics claimed by medieval clerics to be from the time of Christ may, indeed, have come from first-century Palestine.

Radiocarbon dating of sacred relics in Bulgaria and Finland has shown that human skeletal fragments from at least two individuals date from the first century. The DNA analysis of the Bulgarian fragments has revealed that they came originally from the Middle East.

It is not yet known with which saint the Finnish material was associ­ated, but the Bulgarian fragments were thought by early-medieval clerics to belong to St John the Baptist. These fragments, including a knucklebone, a tooth, and part of the upper face, were found by Bulgarian archaeologists two years ago, under the floor of a medieval church on the island of Sveti Ivan (St John) in the Black Sea.

The knucklebone was dated by the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit within the university’s Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art.

“We were surprised when the radiocarbon dating produced this very early age,” said the unit’s deputy director, Professor Thomas Higham.

The evidence permits the pos­sibility that the material is genuinely from the skeleton of the Baptist.

More here-

Bizarre Standoff at St. Mary’s Church

From LA-

The St. Mary of the Angels Church, 4510 Finley Ave., remains locked down while a battle rages internally and through the courts, whether its rector Father Christopher Kelley has been fired and must vacate the property and his position of five years.

Kelley and a small group of sympathizers have ensconced themselves in the rectory—the church’s living quarters—and in the church basement. According to court documents, Kelley has hired a security guard to protect the property.

Meanwhile, another small band of parishioners, who maintain Kelley has been fired, remain in the church sanctuary and its offices.

Kelley, according to a letter from the Vestry—which is an Anglican Church’s governing body—and filed as part of court proceedings with the Los Angeles Superior Court, was fired by the church’s Vestry Dec. 10th, 2011.

The letter cited the reasons for Kelley’s removal including a “breakdown of honest communication;” an “unwillingness to address actual and/or perceived financial irregularities” and a “lack of transparency over budgetary concerns raised by the Vestry.” At the time, the Vestry offered Kelley a severance of $21,800.

But Kelley refused.

Complicating matters, the parish voted overwhelmingly in January to leave the Anglican Church and align with the Roman Catholic Church.

More here-’s-church/

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Presbyterians confront exodus over sexuality

From The Post-Gazette-

The last time Presbyterians held their national convention in Pittsburgh, in 1958, the event featured two of their largest denominations joining powers.

When they arrive this week to open their 220th General Assembly, leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA) — the country’s largest Presbyterian denomination with 1.95 million members — will do their best to stem an exodus over issues surrounding sexuality and the church.

Church leaders expect same-sex marriage to spark the most heated debate at the biennial conference that begins on Saturday and runs through July 7 in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. Gay ordination, same-gender partner benefits, immigration and Israel-Palestine relations are among the roughly 800 items of business to address.

“The whole question of what to do with same-sex people has been a topic of discussion in the denomination for decades in one form or another,” said the Rev. Sheldon Sorge, pastor of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, which includes 145 congregations and 37,000 members in Allegheny County. “I think there is a lot of energy and tension around the issue, much like is reflected in the larger society.”

The General Assembly, the church’s governing body, will consider several proposals concerning same-sex marriage:

• Confirm the denomination’s definition of marriage as “between a woman and a man” and require a two-thirds vote instead of a simple majority for amendments to the church’s constitution to take effect

• Endorse a constitutional amendment to change the marriage definition to between “two people,” which would require ratification, or

• Issue an authoritative interpretation, which does not need to be ratified, that would allow pastors to officiate same-sex wedding ceremonies in states where gay marriage is legal.

More here-

Presbyterian divestment vote riles Jewish leaders

From The Post-Gazette-

The Presbyterian Church (USA) will vote next week at its biannual meeting in Pittsburgh on a proposal to divest from three companies whose products are used by Israel to enforce occupation of the West Bank.

The closely watched resolution has ignited a firestorm of criticism from Jews nationwide.

In Pittsburgh, Jewish leaders are mobilizing to convince the church that divestment is more than a quiet rebuke, and instead represents a one-sided indictment that feeds global campaigns to undermine Israel. Jewish leaders say that the vote endangers continued collaboration between Jews and Presbyterians on a range of social justice issues in Pittsburgh and the influence of a growing peace movement within mainstream American Judaism.

"We're united because we see it as delegitimization of Israel," said Rabbi Alvin Berkun, rabbi emeritus of Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill, who attended a June 18 meeting between Pittsburgh Jewish and Presbyterian leaders. "Divestment is meaningless in a dollar sense. But it sends a powerful message."

Read more:

Ordinariate head wants group to grow, evangelise

From Catholic News (Australia)

Fr Harry Entwistle says his conversion from Anglican to the Catholic faith can’t be explained by anything other than the Holy Spirit’s “wicked sense of humour”, reports The Catholic Weekly.

As the inaugural head of the personal ordinariate of Our Lady of the South­ern Cross, a jurisdiction for former Anglicans in Australia, he said it’s “an awesome responsibility because it means that I have to lay the foundations of the Ordinariate to enable it to grow and flourish and be an evangelistic tool for the Church”.

“Apart from the legalities of erecting the Ordinariate, we’re getting enormous help from the Catholic Bishops Conference to set that up, it does mean with a shortage of few clergy we will have initially we have got to get the message out to others that we exist,” he said.

“Although we exist as an erected body that doesn’t mean that everybody knows about us. We will be hoping to encourage the Catholic bishops to spread the word. It will be a slow growth because groups will need to form.

More here-

Nun Sister Elizabeth Pio posts Twitter prayers online

From England BBC (video)-

A Portsmouth nun has turned to social media to convey her religious messages in-between spending time in silence.

Sister Elizabeth Pio, 41, has begun using Twitter on behalf of the Sisters of Bethany, an Anglican order who spend hours each day in silent reflection.

@bethanysister posts about prayer, saints and current events, including Euro 2012 football matches.

Harry Potter Bible School Casts a Spell on Kids

From Maryland-

Kids dressed as popular characters from the Harry Potter book series are in the middle of a fun-filled, week-long vacation Bible school at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church.

Patch visited the church on Wednesday to see what all the commotion was about. Kids were found petting a snake and gazing wide-eyed at an owl, which was being handled by aviary expert Bob Baltz of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

The Bible school is titled Wizards and Wonders: A Hero's Journey with Harry Potter.

All of the magic-themed activities serve as a backdrop to the lessons the kids learn each day at the Bible school, which are centered on self-discovery and finding true purpose in life, said Sarah Lamming, the associate rector for youth formation at the church.

The concept of a Bible school themed around a book series involving witches and wizards may seem strange to some, but as Lamming explained, the books by author J.K. Rowling tell a lesson of self-discovery that's relevant to Christianity.

"Harry was really struggling with his identity and the gifts that he'd been given. And we're trying to get the children to discover who they're called to be and to discover the unique gifts that God has given them," Lamming said.

More here-

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

3 heroes honored

Vestry member at St. Michael's wins a Carnegie Heros award-

Longtime golfing buddies Haldeman and Ledgard had just sipped their first beers at Fat Daddy’s Place in Ligonier on July 11 when all hell broke loose.

Stephen P. Fromholz, 41, of San Antonio, who left the bar after getting into an argument with a patron over the volume on the television set, returned with a semiautomatic rifle he retrieved from his truck and fatally shot patron Donald Holler, 65.

“Honestly, in a situation like that, you’re put in it and you just think he had to be stopped somehow,” said Haldeman, 52, an insurance agent from Ligonier. “You don’t think ... you just react.”

Haldeman rushed the gunman, and Ledgard helped him take Fromholz to the floor, which knocked the rifle from his grip.

The pair held Fromholz down until police arrived.

“When you think about what could have happened and think what didn’t — you feel really blessed that Kirk was able to react that fast,” said Ledgard, 53, a contractor from Greensburg.

“Kirk was really the one who took the first step. I used him as inspiration and just followed my buddy,” Ledgard said.

More here-

Kenya: Anglican Faithful Accuse Some Clerics of Corruption

From All Africa-

Some Anglican bishops in the country have come under fire from their flock over corruption in the church, the Star learnt yesterday.

Workers within the church headed by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala claimed that some of the 46 bishops had used church funds to enrich themselves and ignored the welfare of their juniors. There have been accusations that some of the clergy, who control massive sums of cash, have purchased personal vehicles using church resources.

Sources within the church identified bishops in Nyanza, Western and Rift Valley alleged to have made such purchases in the last one year. One source told the Star: most of the dioceses do not comply with the ACK constitution, government legislation and income tax requirements, adding that there is need to probe and ensure that all bishops pay taxes because they earn salaries and responsibility allowances.

According to ACK documents seen by the Star, a newly elected bishop earns a basic salary of SH51,980, house allowance of Sh25,900, responsibility allowance Sh17,000 and Sh7,000 hospital plus an annual leave allowance of Sh30,000, all totalling Sh1,282,560 annually. A vicar general and provost earn Sh612,000 while archdeacons are paid Sh341,000 with rural deans making Sh267,000 and priests Sh218,000 annually. Deacons take home a paltry Sh143,000.

More here-

Bishop's Bike Ride rolls through Canton

From Ohio-

Between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. today, approximately 50 participants in Episcopal Bishop Mark Hollingsworth Jr.’s  7th Annual “Bishop’s Bike Ride,” will spend the night in Canton, the first stop in the five-day ride. 

After stopping at First Friends Church at 5455 Market Ave. N, they’ll have dinner at 6 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church at 515 48th St. NW, then spend the night with host families from St. Mark’s, St. Paul’s in Canton and New Life Episcopal Church in Lake Township.

 The group will meet for breakfast at St. Mark’s at 7 a.m. and leave at 8 a.m. for the next leg of their ride.  They will stop Wednesday in Wooster, Thursday in Gambier, and Friday in Ashland, before ending their ride Saturday in Wakeman, where they’ll attend a diocesan picnic.

The purpose of the ride is to raise money for youth mission trips.

More here-

Polly Getz might seek House of Deputies vice president post

From ENS-

Pauline H.G. Getz, who has served as House of Deputies parliamentarian since 2003, announced late June 25 that she would stand for election as vice president of that house.

In a posting on her Facebook page, Getz said she had been asked to run by some of the leaders of the Episcopal Church’s Province VIII group of dioceses in the western United States.
She agreed, she said, because “Province VIII deserves more representation in the councils of the church.”

“I can bring that voice to the table,” she said.

Getz is the second lay person to announce that she intends to stand for election as vice president of the House of Deputies. Sally Johnson, a seven-time General Convention deputy from the Diocese of Minnesota, disclosed her plans June 24.

Johnson and Getz will be able to enter the vice presidential election if a clergy person is elected to be president of the House of Deputies. Canon I.1.1(b) requires that the president and vice president be of different orders.

Known to many in the church as “Polly,” Getz, 59 and a deputy from the Diocese of San Diego, has served the last three meetings of General Convention as House of Deputies parliamentarian. She began in 2003 for the Very Rev. George Werner’s first term as House of Deputies president, continued with Werner at the 2006 convention and went on to serve with House of Deputies President Bonnie Anderson in 2009. She is to be Anderson’s parliamentarian for the July 5-12 meeting of convention in Indianapolis.

More here-

Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches to Grapple With Same-Sex Marriage, Gay Ordination

From Christian Post (Interesting that I'm quoted but I never talked to them)

The Episcopal Church, which has also seen dozens of congregations leaving over the years for its increasingly liberal theology, has already been blessing gay and lesbian couples for decades, but those wishing to change the legal definition of marriage want to make the commitment vow free of gender and official liturgy.

"The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," as the Episcopalian proposal is called, would first be used on a three-year trial basis if it passes, and then another decision would have to be made on whether to fully change Episcopalian doctrine to include same-sex couples in the definition of marriage.

"I don't think there is any member of the clergy that stayed [in The Episcopal Church] that didn't know this was going to happen. This is the drift of the culture and, when you have a mass exodus of your conservatives, this is just inevitable," expressed the Rev. James Simons, rector of St. Michael of the Valley in Ligonier.

"This is a service for trial use," he added. "Even if the bishop gives permission, the parish still has to decide if it's something they want to do."

More here-

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

York man, Lawrence Edmonds, challenged to lick every cathedral in the country

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department (York)

A PUB bet has set Lawrence Edmonds off on a bizarre quest – to lick every cathedral in the country .

The 26-year-old from York was challenged by his friend Adam to complete the task in two years, or otherwise run naked round York Minster.

If he succeeds in licking every Anglican cathedral in the UK, his friend must do the streak instead.

Lawrence, pictured, who grew up in Heworth, attending Hempland and Bootham Schools, started his quest at Norwich Cathedral, but says Lichfield Cathedral in the Midlands tasted best, with the reddened sandstone beautifully warm on the tongue, while Wakefield tasted revolting.

he English Heritage worker said a visit to York Minster had completed his task in England, but he still had another 20 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to visit before he’d got it licked.
More here-

Bishops rebel against Church marriage policy

From The London Telegraph-

They say that the Church’s official position does not speak for them, nor for a substantial number of clergy and churchgoers.

Their intervention comes as critics prepare to challenge the policy at General Synod next month, exposing faultlines within the Church.

It now faces a second highly divisive row in the coming weeks – as the leadership struggles to avoid a disastrous split over women bishops.

Two weeks ago the Church published its formal response to the Government’s proposal to allow same-sex couples to marry, declaring itself firmly against the move.

The two bishops are the most senior figures to attack the stance. The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said: “The statement is narrow and legalistic ... Jesus didn’t say anything about being gay, but he said a certain amount about loving your neighbour as yourself.”

More here-

Alarm over demolition of church in Sudan

From Christian Today-

The World Council of Churches and All Africa Conference of Churches have condemned the destruction of a church in Sudan.

The Episcopal Parish Church of Saint John, Haj Yousif, in Khartoum was reportedly demolished on 18 June on the orders of Sudanese government officials.

The WCC and AACC have denounced the action as the latest in a series of "calculated attacks" on minority communities and Christians in particular.

On 21 April, the Sudan Evangelical Church Bible School in Khartoum was destroyed and books including the Bible set on fire in full view of the police.

Two days later, security forces occupied the premises of the Sudan Council of Churches and Sudan Aid in Nyala, Darfur, and confiscated property.

The WCC and AACC warned that Christians of Muslim background were being targetted and dispossessed of their property and their spouses.

More here-

Downtown Syracuse churches combine efforts to save food pantry

From Syracuse-

Five downtown churches have joined with Cathedral Square Development Corp, Catholic Charities and the Food Bank of Central New York to save a downtown food pantry from closing.

Officials say Park Central Presbyterian Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, Prince of Peace Missionary Baptist Church, Plymouth Congregational Church and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, coming together as Cathedral Square United Ministries, worked with Catholic Charities to create a transition plan to keep the Cathedral Emergency Services pantry open.

The pantry will close temporarily on Friday for refurbishing and restocking, and will reopen July 17. Without the collaboration, it was set to close for good at the end of June, officials said in May.

More here-

Sally Johnson may stand for House of Deputies vice president

From ENS-

Sally Johnson, a seven-time General Convention deputy from the Diocese of Minnesota, said June 24 that she will stand for election as vice president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies if a clergy person is elected president of that house.

“I have been encouraged to seek the vice president’s office and believe that I am being called not because I have the answers to the question of how we should change, but because I understand how the Episcopal Church is currently put together; what the rules are; and how decisions are made,” Johnson said in announcing her intentions on her Facebook page. “I understand how to make change work, how to take a vision and making it a functioning reality. I have a proven track record of assisting people in making organizational and structural change in the Church.”

“From my work in helping the Church strengthen its misconduct, Title IV, and background screening protocols, I know what it feels like and what it takes to challenge the church’s usual way of doing business. I know, too, the good that can come from persevering in campaigns to change an entrenched culture.”

More here-

Why the Next Archbishop of Canterbury Should Be African

From Religion Dispatches-

Fifty years ago, Howard Johnson, a priest at the cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, visited the nascent Anglican Church in Nigeria. He was distressed at the the unnecessary “Britishness” of the church—“are cutaway coats and Gothic slits of the essence of Christianity?” he asked—and the church’s inability to keep pace with the growth of Islam. “Unless we change our tactics and treble our efforts, Christianity may be doomed to play a diminishing role in the drama of African development,” he concluded.

But Johnson was wrong. Today, the Anglican church in Nigeria is a central player in a vibrant and aggressive religious marketplace. Along with Pentecostal churches, other so-called “mission denominations,” and, yes, Islam, something like twenty million Nigerian Anglicans compete for attention. And they do so as part of a world church. The church’s official name is Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), indicating the way in which they see themselves as part of the worldwide family of churches who look to the Archbishop of Canterbury as their “focus of unity.”

More here-

Rebuilding St. Stephen's

From Virginia-

Historic St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church survived shelling during the Civil War and likewise stood strong when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the town last summer. However, the nearly 200-year-old place of worship, a hub of community ministry, was battered and bruised in the temblor and is now faced with half-a-million-dollars in repairs.

The Generous Hearts Campaign is tackling that massive endeavor over the next several years, but needs the community’s help to restore the circa-1814 landmark to its pre-quake condition.

“We are trying to rebuild the church,” said Lina Frank-Marengo, fund-raising volunteer. “We have our 200th anniversary in 2012 and are really trying to get it rebuilt. We have put together quite an aggressive campaign. We are asking the community to rally behind us.”

Generous Hearts is organizing various events to raise money for church repairs including a high tea, murder mystery dinner and a commemorative bottling of wine by Gray Ghost in celebration of St. Stephen’s 10,400th consecutive Sunday of worship. The church also needs serious pledges of monetary support to replenish a trust fund that is fronting construction costs.

More here-

Monday, June 25, 2012

12 Theses on Bishops’ Ministry

From The Living Church-

The Episcopal Church is struggling to redefine its order and mission in the face of rapidly declining membership amid a radically changing civil society. The role of bishops has always been central to our church — hence our church’s name — but this role is now itself a part of the struggle for the Episcopal Church’s faithful mission. What are bishops for? To what are they accountable? How should they engage in the oversight (episcope) of the Church and what role should they have in her councils and decision-making? General Convention is only one place, if a key one, where these questions arise. Without addressing particular issues before Convention that involve our bishops — their constitutional responsibilities, doctrinal authority, discipline, and role in the Communion — let me suggest, in the form of several theses, some foundational elements that ought to inform our church’s understanding of her bishops.

1. The full description of the episcopal office is given in the Holy Scriptures’ description of Jesus Christ. This is because this full description of Jesus Christ is the figure that the episcopal office represents (1 Pet. 2:25).

More here-

2 denominations primed to debate same-sex issues

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette- (I'm quoted at the end)

This weekend, 3,000 Presbyterians will arrive in Pittsburgh to debate and vote on issues critical to the Presbyterian Church (USA), with proposals related to gay marriage and same-sex couples at the top of the agenda.

A few days later, the Episcopal Church will open its triennial General Convention in Indianapolis, with a proposed rite for same-sex blessings also high on the agenda. Both denominations have 1.9 million members, and have lost hundreds of parishes as both debated and eventually adopted local option on gay ordination.

Both the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Presbytery had a history of opposition to same-sex unions and gay ordination. But the Episcopal Diocese split in 2008, with the majority leaving the denomination, though some conservative clergy stayed. Pittsburgh Presbytery has lost three congregations over issues of sexuality and biblical authority, and four churches are known to be considering leaving.

Read more:

Anglican parish in Towson switches to Catholicism

From Maryland-

The Rev. Edward Meeks and his flock attended to a "million and one details" last week in the run-up to a momentous day for their church. People to talk to. Flowers to arrange. Food to cook. And, of course, the new sign.

On Sunday, Christ the King Church — Anglican — became Christ the King Catholic Church.

The Towson congregation of about 140 is one of the first groups in the United States to join a new "ordinariate" established for those who want to be Catholic but hold on to Anglican traditions. The largest Anglican church in the country to do so, it follows in the footsteps of Mount Calvary Church in Baltimore and St. Luke's Parish in Bladensburg.

Liberal stances by Anglican leaders, particularly Episcopalians, have driven some clergy and members to the Roman Catholic Church. But Meeks, who studied to become a Catholic priest as a young man, speaks not of rejection but of reunification — becoming one with the "authentic apostolic authority" of the church that dates back 2,000 years.

More here-,0,2426543.story

Green Hills Church Refuses to Surrender Fight for Independence

From Tennessee-

Already estranged from its Episcopal roots, the leadership from Saint Andrews Church in Green Hills voted unanimously this weekend to continue fighting for the land and building it has called home for more than 40 years.

The land and property battle is not unlike the roughly 56 identical battles continuing, nationwide, as local congregations continue to demand independence from the Episcopal Church. But Saint Andrews's ongoing battle is a unique one, insists one of the attorneys representing Saint Andrews in its legal battles.

"We paid money for (the land), actually out of our pocket," said attorney Ben Rose. "We got a deed, free-and-clear."

But attorneys representing the other side, the Tennessee Diocese, say its counter claim is quite simple.

"It's not theirs," insisted attorney Richard Lodge, in a file interview roughly one year ago.

Despite this already lengthy debate, members of Saint Andrews simply want to appeal their case, and the more sentimental side of it, before a panel of jurors.

More here-

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Poll: Many Americans Don't Know Obama Is Christian

From Christian Post-

Only one-third of Americans can correctly identify President Barack Obama's religion, according to a new Gallup poll. Though it's been three years now since Obama took office, many Americans still don't know he is a Christian.

Thirty-four percent say Obama is a Christian. Among them, seven percent say he's Protestant and four percent believe he's a Baptist.

Meanwhile, 11 percent believe Obama is a Muslim and 8 percent say he has no religion. Forty-four percent say they don't know what the president's religious faith is.

The poll, released Friday, was conducted in June among 1,004 adults. Polls over the last three years have revealed similar numbers. A 2010 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that 34 percent believed Obama was a Christian, 18 percent identified him as a Muslim, and 43 percent said they didn't know.

Obama has professed in writings, public speeches and conversations with fellow Americans that he is a Christian. This year, he spoke of his faith in Jesus Christ at the Easter Prayer Breakfast and most recently, stated in May when announcing his support for same-sex marriage that he and his wife, Michelle, are practicing Christians.

More here-

Maine Catholic convert brings wife, children to priesthood

From Maine-

When David Affleck was ordained earlier this month as Maine's newest Roman Catholic priest, his wife, Katherine, sat in the pews at Portland's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Two of his four grown children were there as well.

Wait, what?

A Catholic priest who's married? With children? That can't be right.

Except it is.

Affleck, 62, of York, is a former Episcopal priest who took advantage of a 1980 papal provision that allows him and others like him to become priests in the Catholic Church.

Only a handful of such ordinations take place in the U.S. each year. In Maine, it's happened just three times in 32 years, and Affleck is the only current convert. One died, and the other has left the church.

"It is indeed rare for a pastoral provision to be sought and granted," Bishop Richard Malone said in a statement. "The Church takes a great deal of time and energy to know that the man in question is truly being called to the priesthood and completely understands the responsibilities and ministry within the Catholic Church."

More here-