Saturday, September 8, 2012

Connellsville school district covers Ten Commandments monument

From The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review-

School bus driver Carol Burkholder thinks it would be a sin to lose the Ten Commandments monument that has stood near the entrance of Connellsville Area Junior High for more than 50 years.

A sheet of plywood now covers the stone since its removal was requested by a parent and a national group that advocates church-state separation.

“I think most Christians in the area are very upset,” Burkholder said on Friday. “I think people need to stand up for what God has given us.”

In August, the Connellsville Area School District got two requests to remove the monument — one from Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the other from a parent through a Pittsburgh law firm, Superintendent Dan Lujetic said.

The district plans to comply — a move that is unpopular but necessary to avoid a costly lawsuit, he said.

“It’s been here since 1957, and now we have to remove it,” Lujetic said. “If we wanted to fight this, there’s no way we would win.”

The monument, donated by the Connellsville Fraternal Order of Eagles, may get a new home.

Pastor Nelson D. Confer of Connellsville Church of God said the church will decide on Sunday if it will accept a donation of the monument.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury: 'I could have done more'

From The BBC-

Dr Williams, who retires in December after 10 years, told the Daily Telegraph he could have engaged sooner with US bishops over gay ordinations.

The "problem" with the job was that the "demands of the communion have grown and are growing", he said.

He suggested a "presidential figure" could be appointed to share duties.

The BBC's Robert Piggot said deep divisions had dogged Dr Williams' leadership of the Anglican communion.

The Telegraph interview was his most candid acceptance of personal blame for the rift over homosexuality, he added.

Dr Williams said that during his 10-year tenure he had "at various points, disappointed both conservatives and liberals".

"Most of them are quite willing to say so quite loudly," he added.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed remorse on the split in the Anglican Church over homosexuality.

More here-

My job is too big for one man, says Archbishop of Canterbury

From The Daily Telegraph-

The outgoing leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans suggested a form of job share after admitting that he had failed to do enough to prevent a split over homosexuality.

Dr Williams said a new role should be created to oversee the day to day running of the global Anglican communion, leaving future Archbishops of Canterbury free to focus on spiritual leadership and leading the Church of England.

In his last major interview before he steps down later his year, he acknowledged that he had struggled to balance the growing demands of the job at home and abroad and admitted he had “disappointed” both liberals and conservatives.

He also said that the Church had been “wrong” in its treatment of homosexuals in the past but reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Daily Telegraph, Dr Williams also acknowledged that his handling of the controversy over the role of Islamic sharia law in Britain had caused “confusion” but said he stood by his central views.

More here-

Anglican church to appoint a 'presidential' figure

From The Guardian-

The Anglican church is planning to hand over some of the global duties of the Archbishop of Canterbury to a "presidential" figure, it has been reported.

Dr Rowan Williams, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, said plans are being drawn up for a role to oversee the day-to-day running of the Anglican communion and its 77 million members, leaving the archbishop free to concentrate on leading the Church of England.

The tenure of the archbishop, who steps down after 10 years in December, has been marked by a war between liberals and traditionalists in the Church of England and the wider Anglican communion over the issue of homosexuality, including the ordination of gay bishops. There has also been a row over female clergy.

Admitting he may not have got it right, he said the top job might better be done by two people. "I don't think I've got it right over the last 10 years, it might have helped a lot if I'd gone sooner to the United States when things began to get difficult about the ordination of gay bishops, and engaged more directly. I know that I've, at various points, disappointed both conservatives and liberals. Most of them are quite willing to say so, quite loudly."

Of the new role, he said: "It would be a very different communion, because the history is just bound up with that place, that office [archbishop]. So there may be more of a sense of a primacy of honour, and less a sense that the archbishop is expected to sort everything."

More here-

The line between Religion and Politics

From Minnesota-

Religion plays an important part in the lives of many Americans, but how do those views transfer over when it comes to their political beliefs?
A few things people are told never to talk about in social settings: money, religion, and politics, but St. John's Episcopal Church Pastor Wendy Abrahamson does not necessarily agree.

While she doesn't preach about politics, she does think people should talk about it.

"Jesus was really political, so you can't separate them. I don't think a church should endorse a politician,” Abrahamson said.

Pastor Abrahamson says her church is full of people with all sorts of political viewpoints, and that's a good thing because like the gospel, those different positions make up the complete picture.

"You can't be a Christian and not bring that with you to the ballot box. In our denomination your independent in how you interpret that is how you would make a vote but absolutely you bring your faith and you should,”

Some churches believe that politics should not be brought into places of worship. Crossroads in Albert Lea, Minnesota, an Evangilical Church, has a political safezone.

More here-

Friday, September 7, 2012

No sign of compromise over women-bishops legislation

From The Church Times-

THE House of Bishops will meet next Wednesday to discuss the next step in the legislation to allow women bishops. The response to a con­sultation in August suggests that opinion remains polarised.

The legisation, as it stands, con­tains Clause 5(1)(c), inserted by the Bishops before the July sessions of the General Synod in order to cater for traditionalist parishes. It stipulates that the Code of Practice should cover "the selection of male bishops or male priests the exercise of ministry by whom is consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration or ordination of wo­men" of the PCC. The clause was so divisive that a vote on final approval of the legislation was post­poned until November (News, 13 July).

The steering committee proposed seven possible options in relation to the contentious clause (News, 27 July). A total of 120 submissions were received, it was announced on Wednesday. A third (41) were for simply deleting it; just under a third (35) were in favour of retaining it.

More here-

Masked, armed robber invades St. Stephen Episcopal Church in D.C.

From D.C. (with video)

A gun-wielding, masked robber invaded St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church in Columbia Heights Saturday afternoon.

Police and church workers say crime is a growing problem at the church, which is known to have an open-door policy.

The church, on Newton Street NW, just off 16th Street, was founded in 1925 and was the first Episcopal church in D.C. to integrate. It currently houses a dozen non-profit organizations in its basement, including Thrive D.C., which serves meals to 200 people every day.

D.C. police say the suspect ran up and pointed a gun at a 26-year-old man as he walked into the church around 12:30 p.m., then put a gun to the back of the man's head and said "Yo, do you have any money?"

As the victim handed over his wallet, iPhone, and Kindle, Rev. Sarabeth Goodwin walked out of the sanctuary and came face to face with the gunman who then pointed the gun at her.

More here-

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Compassionate Heart’s Prayer

From The Living Church-

Jena Lee Nardella, cofounder and executive director of Blood:Water Mission, offered the benediction Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention, after First Lady Michelle Obama’s keynote address.

Nardella, a resident of East Nashville, is a member of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Chapel at Vanderbilt University, which describes itself as “the Wesley/Canterbury Fellowship and a Center for Contemplative Justice.”

At age 22 in 2004, Nardella founded Blood:Water Mission (with the members of the Grammy-award winning band Jars of Clay) to address water and HIV/AIDS crises in sub-Saharan Africa. More than 700,000 people in 1,100 communities have gained access to safe water and tens of thousands living with HIV/AIDS have access to medical treatment, care and support.

Nardella recently attended the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., and participated in a gathering of faith leaders with Department of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the White House.

More here-

God Among the Democrats and Republicans

From The American Spectator-

The Republicans also had prayers from an Episcopal priest who pastors George H.W. Bush's Houston congregation and who comes from the dwindling conservative side of that denomination. He also liked the Declaration of Independence: "We thank you for guiding our nation's founders who secured the inalienable rights that you bestow upon us: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." And he appeared to be an American Exceptionalist: "May America continue to be a light unto all the nations, enabling those who lead us to make dreams, hopes and aspirations of all Americans into realities, and to make the American ideal a certainty not just for some, but for all."

Plus he honored the military: "May we never forget that our freedoms have been won with the blood and the sacrifice of our patriots, always remember that our industry and innovation has been forged with the sweat and toil of American men and women, always believe that houses of worship and places of service are born of the fruit of your inspiration, the desire to honor and serve others, and may we never forget that we are at our best when we know in our hearts that we are not just one nation, but one nation under God."

More here-

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Christians Claim Workplace Discrimination in Landmark Case

From The New York Times-

One of Europe’s highest courts is considering a landmark decision on the employment rights of Christians, including two British women who were disciplined for wearing crucifix necklaces at work.

They were among four Christians who this week took their cases to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg claiming workplace discrimination that a former Archbishop of Canterbury says has turned them into victims of a new secular orthodoxy.

The four, all Britons who claim national laws failed to protect them, argue that their employers contravened European human rights legislation that bans religious discrimination and allows “freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

A lawyer for the British government argued at a hearing in Strasbourg on Tuesday that these rights were only protected in the private sphere and not in the workplace.

The cases include those of Nadia Eweida, a British Airways employee who was sent home in 2006 after refusing to remove or conceal a cross that she was wearing on a chain around her neck, and Shirley Chaplin, a nurse who was taken off ward duties after her hospital decided that her crucifix necklace posed a health and safety threat to patients.

More here-

Texas Supreme Court agrees to hear Fort Worth Episcopal dispute

From Ft. Worth-

The nearly 4-year-old property dispute between the two groups that claim to be the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is heading to the Texas Supreme Court.

Justices agreed last week to hear oral arguments Oct. 16, the same day the state's highest civil court was already set to hear a similar case involving an Episcopal church in San Angelo.

A group headed by Bishop Jack Iker made a direct appeal to the Texas Supreme Court after losing its case in a Tarrant County civil court to maintain control of numerous properties, including the stately St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in downtown Fort Worth.

"Bishop Iker and our legal team are extremely pleased with this development, which brings us closer to a complete resolution of the lawsuits which began in April 2009," the group said in a statement posted on its website Friday.


The dispute stems from the decision in 2008 by Iker and a majority of the 56 congregations in the Fort Worth diocese to leave the national church because of disagreements that included the ordination of a gay bishop.

Iker's group, which continues to call itself the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, allowed the parishes that voted to remain in the Episcopal Church to keep their assets. It took the rest of them, saying they were diocesan property under state law.

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sydney's Anglican Church introduces 'submit' wedding vows 'after Fifty Shades of Grey'

From The Telegraph-

The Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, known as one of the world's most conservative Anglican bishops, defended the new vow as an attempt to combat the destructive rise of egalitarianism and individualism.

He said the vow was "not an invitation to bossiness, let alone abuse".

"In the last three or four decades a certain egalitarianism has crept into society and the way people think and I understand that's the reigning philosophy," he told ABC television.

"I just happen to think it's wrong, unhelpful, and in the end we will find it's better to recognise that men and women are different, that we have at certain points different responsibilities and men will be better men if we acknowledge that."

The new ceremony, expected to be approved by the diocese of Sydney at its synod in October, requires the minister to ask the bride: "Will you honour and submit to him, as the church submits to Christ?". The bride then pledges "to love and submit" to her husband.

More here-

New Amicus Brief in Fort Worth

From The Living Church-

The nonprofit Liberty Institute has filed an amicus brief in the dispute between the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Fort Worth and the Diocese of Fort Worth led by the Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker.

In arguing that the Texas court should dismiss the case, Liberty cites the U.S. Supreme Court’s January ruling in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC. In that ruling, the high court found that “the First Amendment permits hierarchical religious organizations to establish their own rules and regulations for internal discipline and government.”

“When the factions of a church disagree about its hierarchical nature, and its structure of control is ambiguous on its face, the courts must treat the issue as a ‘religious question’ and dismiss the action for lack of jurisdiction,” the Liberty brief argues.

Kelly J. Shackleford, a graduate of Baylor University’s School of Law, founded the firm in 1972.

The court has granted a request from Bishop Iker’s diocese to expedite the case and it will hear further arguments Oct. 16. The request for an expedited hearing resulted from Title IV allegations being filed against seven bishops after they filed an amicus brief in 2011.

More (including the text of the brief) here-

Early Success in Rebuilding St. David's Calls for Celebration

From Pittsburgh-

St. David’s Episcopal Church in Peters Township is marking its early success in rebuilding its congregation by inviting its many neighbors to come celebrate.

The church, on East McMurray Road just outside of Upper St. Clair, plans to kick off its first full-program year since reorganizing by hosting a service and picnic open to all on Sunday, Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

“It’s a celebration of rebirth. Come, join us for Sunday services and stay for the fun,” said the Rev. Lou Hays, a priest-in-charge at St. David’s.

The festivities will begin with a Holy Communion service, led by the Rev. Kris Opat McInnes, who attended St. David’s as a youth and currently serves on its ministry team.

The cookout, which follows, will offer grilled meats, sides, desserts and vegetarian options. Activities including a bounce house and face painting will be provided for children.

A postcard invitation is being mailed to every household within one-and-a-half miles of the church, including residences in Upper St. Clair.

St. David’s began its rebuilding just three months ago, after its former clergy and others in the congregation who had left the Episcopal Church moved to a new location.

From a small core of members who decided to remain at St. David’s as Episcopalians, the congregation has grown.

More here-

Monday, September 3, 2012

Anglican Church reacts to ban on National Anthem

From Namibia-

Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Namibia, Nathaniel Ndaxuma Nakwatumbah has denied reports that the church has banned the singing of the national anthem during religious services.

Nakwatumbah clarified the church‘s position in a media statement availed to Nampa last Thursday. The statement was a response to the dissatisfaction expressed by President Hifikepunye Pohamba in July that the church did not accord people attending the tombstone unveiling of Lukas Haleinge Nepela the opportunity to sing the national anthem. Pohamba expressed his concern about the matter at the opening of the second phase of the Northern Railway Line Extension Project at Oshikango in the Ohangwena Region on July 05.

The Head of State officiated at the tombstone unveiling, which took place on June 30 this year, because Nepela, a member of the Anglican Church, had participated in the liberation struggle. The Head of State last month noted that he has seen soldiers in uniform attending church services in England, where the roots of the Anglican Church in Namibia lie, and as such he demanded to know why the Namibian national anthem cannot be sung in the Anglican Church here. At the time, local media reports had it that the retired Anglican Bishop Shihala Hamupembe, who was also present at the tombstone unveiling, said the church is not against singing the national anthem in the church or raising the national flag, but is against political songs and political flags. Nakwatumbah in Thursday’s statement explained that the national anthem was not sung because of an omission in the drafting of the tombstone unveiling programme, which was a result of a misunderstanding between those who were in charge of organising the event.

More here-

In the Spirit: Did priest’s work at ground zero cost him life?

From Wisconsin-

In the weeks and months following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dozens of clergy members attached to federal agencies rotated through the World Trade Center, praying over the pulverized remains of victims and providing spiritual support to rescue workers.

One of those clergy members was the Rev. Thomas Winslow, an Episcopal priest from Pewaukee and chaplain for the Wisconsin FBI. The week he spent there, in November 2001, would define his final decade. It gave him a deep sense of pride in his country and its people, but it also possibly killed him.

Winslow died Aug. 23 at UW Hospital at age 68. His death, of acute respiratory distress, now becomes another murky statistic in the ongoing debate over health problems suffered by so many of the people involved in the post-9/11 cleanup.

Winslow was convinced that the toxic air he breathed at ground zero triggered serious sinus and bronchial problems, then pneumonia, gastric reflux disease and, ultimately, lung failure.

Read more:

The Episcopal Church, Bain Capital and Heavenly Returns

From The Fiscal Times-

During his acceptance speech in Tampa Thursday night, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that he was risk-averse during the early years of establishing his private equity firm, Bain Capital. So he didn’t approach his elders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to ask them to invest a portion of their pension fund in the venture. But, he said, one of his partners snagged the Episcopal Church’s pension fund, set up to fund the retirements of that denomination’s clergy.

“That shows what I know,” said Romney. “Another of my partners got the Episcopal Church pension fund to invest. Today there are a lot of happy retired priests who should thank him.”
They should indeed, and they could thank their pension fund managers while they’re at it. Though it hasn’t fared quite as well over the last few years, the Episcopal Church’s pension fund, with some $9.5 billion in assets as of March 31, 2012, is one of the best run and most successful around.

That may come as something of a surprise to anyone who has heard many of the Mainline Protestant clergy preaching left-wing, anti-capitalist messages from their pulpits every Sunday. When masses of privileged college students and aging hippies pitched their tents in Zuccotti Park one year ago, for instance, prominent Episcopal parishes in New York — including the venerable Trinity Church, a parish that derives much of its operating income from its well run and closely guarded Manhattan real estate portfolio — threw their public support to the anti-establishment rabble … even though they continued to hit up their well-heeled, Wall Street banker parishioners for money.


St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Kalamazoo celebrates 175 years of putting 'spirituality into action'

From Michigan-

Charles Large has sat through a lot of Sunday services in 79 years as a member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

In 1933, at 10 years old, Large joined St. Luke's renowned boys choir, and this year, he and the rest of the congregation will celebrate the church's 175th anniversary.

The church plans to commemorate the milestone in September with a concert, a workshop and a celebration of the Holy Communion followed by a reception.

"We are celebrating spirituality and action," Pastor Randall Warren said. "It's about how St. Luke's has put its spirituality into action by caring for people in need."

More here-

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Prayer books mark Anglican milestones

From Canada-

Two prayer books linking Old England with modern Canada will be celebrated by Anglicans in Victoria next weekend.

On Sept. 8 and 9 in a special weekend of services, Christ Church Cathedral will be marking two anniversaries: the 350th anniversary of the 1662 adoption of the Book of Common Prayer in England and the 50th anniversary of adoption of the Canadian Book of Common Prayer.

Ian Alexander, a Christ Church parishioner helping to organize the events, said Canadian Anglicans are lucky to be able to celebrate "a double anniversary."

"We have something that we have inherited from England (The original Book of Common Prayer)," Alexander said.

"But we also have continued in this country making our own contributions, refining and reshaping it to make it uniquely Canadian (Canadian Book of Common Prayer)."

According to Alexander and Rev. Logan McMenamie, rector at Christ Church, the original Book of Common Prayer marks one of the milestones in English-language religious life and its reformation.

Read more:

Remembering the legacy of Saint Frances Perkins this Labor Day

From The Washington Post-

The other day, a colleague wished me luck on my upcoming “Patron Saint Festival.” He was joking, of course. He was referring to Labor Day.

It’s true, Labor Day is a busy time for labor secretaries. But my friend’s comment got me thinking.

I was raised with saints. I always thought it strange that our large, Hispanic-American family belonged to Saint Louis of France parish in La Puente, Calif. Whenever my mother misplaced something--her address book, eye glasses or house keys--she would immediately ask Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of lost things, to intercede. Saint Anthony never failed her.

My father had an even more personal relationship with a saint. In the 1920s, Rafael Guizar Valencia was known as Mexico’s “Bishop of the Poor.” He cared for the wounded and dying during the Mexican Revolution. But he also baptized my dad, gave him his first communion, confirmed him and sponsored his attendance to seminary school in Mexico City. He was canonized a saint by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006. When my father died earlier this year, Saint Rafael’s picture was on his mass card.

More here-