Saturday, September 15, 2012

Candidates Give Views on Poverty

From The Living Church-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and dozens of other Christian leaders concerned about poverty in the United States and around the world have released two exclusive video presentations by President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney outlining their policy prescriptions for addressing the issue.

The videos, released on September 12, were requested by the coalition of Christian leaders, the Circle of Protection, in separate letters to the two politicians in early July.

“We believe that this presidential campaign should include a clear focus on what each candidate proposes to do to provide help and opportunity for hungry and poor people in the United States and around the world,” the letters said. “We write to request that you address this issue publicly, consistently and systematically in your campaigning.”

Bishop Stacy F. Sauls, chief operating officer of the Episcopal Church, said that “as people of faith, we encourage Episcopalians and congregations to view these videos and discuss the issue of poverty in our country.

“We need to make clear that we maintain poverty is a touchstone issue in this election,” he said, noting that domestic poverty was cited by the General Convention as a priority issue for the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Author Anne Lamott talks about faith, politics, and her new grandson

From Tennessee-

Novelist Anne Lamott has built a career of writing hilariously and movingly about her own shortcomings: she's bossy, she's anxious, she often forgets important lessons she's already learned many times. Nevertheless, she has become a kind of patron saint to millions of readers, whole categories of readers, who welcome her advice on parenting, writing, faith, and recovery from addiction. Lamott's book of writing advice, "Bird by Bird," is a bestseller. Her books on faith — "Traveling Mercies," "Plan B," and "Grace (Eventually)" — are bestsellers. Her first parenting memoir, "Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year" is, yes, a mega-bestseller.

Now Lamott is back, this time with her first grandparenting memoir, "Some Assembly Required: A Diary of My Son's First Son" (Riverhead). Written with her son Sam Lamott, who was 19 and unmarried when he learned his girlfriend was pregnant, "Some Assembly Required" is an account of the year Sam learned to be a father and Lamott learned the difficult role of a grandmother: to love recklessly and keep her mouth shut as tightly as possible.

More here-

Faith grapples with art, lust

From St. Louis-

In the middle of the 16th century, Catholic bishops and theologians met sporadically in the city of Trento in northern Italy to discuss the church's response to the Reformation. In periodic meetings over 18 years, the Council of Trent produced documents correcting abuses like indulgences and other corruption.

A surprising victim of the Counter-Reformation was Michelangelo, whose depiction of the "Last Judgment" in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel was altered as a result of the Council's dictate that "all lasciviousness be avoided; in such wise that figures shall not be painted or adorned with a beauty exciting to lust."

In 1564, the council ordered that certain naked figures in the "Last Judgment" considered "obscene" be painted over with loin cloths.

It will be difficult for critics to compare Michelangelo's nudes with the Rev. John Blair's. Just after the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri launched an investigation of the St. Louis priest Tuesday evening, many of his photos of nude models were removed from the Internet.

And yet the diocese's disciplinary board, whose members will decide if Blair's photography constitutes sexual misconduct, will try to answer the same question as Trent's participants 450 years ago: How does the church recognize the beauty of art that depicts God's creation — the human form — without seeming to condone, in the council's phrasing, "a beauty exciting to lust"?

More here-

Friday, September 14, 2012

Bishop-elect of Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to preach in city Sunday

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette- (Actually The Bishop-elect will be preaching in Ligonier that morning)

Those eager to hear the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh can do so Sunday, Sept. 16, when Bishop-elect Dorsey McConnell preaches at an evensong in St. Andrew Episcopal Church, Highland Park.

The service begins at 4:30 p.m. and features the music of Ralph Vaughn Williams, Richard Runciman Terry and other composers associated with traditional British choral anthems and chant. St. Andrew’s Schola Cantorum, featuring members of the congregation and professional singers, will sing in the context of evening worship.

But the highlight is expected to be Bishop-elect McConnell’s sermon. There is more than the usual level of curiosity about the man from Massachusetts, who will be consecrated and installed Oct. 20 at 11 a.m. in Calvary Episcopal Church, Shadyside. The Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh split in October 2008 when the majority of its members and clergy followed Bishop Robert Duncan out of the Episcopal Church into what eventually became the Anglican Church in
North America.

The remaining Episcopal diocese had to be restructured, and has been under the guidance of two different interim bishops. In April it became the first of four such split dioceses to elect a permanent bishop when Bishop-elect McConnell was chosen.

More here-

Orlando Anglican church first in Florida to become Catholic

From Orlando-

A College Park church will become the first in Florida to convert from Anglican to Catholic on Sunday under a process approved by Pope Benedict XVI.

The Cathedral of the Incarnation will become the Parish of Incarnation during a 10:15 a.m. Mass of Reception at the church on 1515 Edgewater Dr. in Orlando. The Parish of Incarnation joins about 20 other former Anglican or Episcopalian congregations in the Ordinariate of the United States and Canada formed on Jan. 1.

The ordinariate allows those churches to become Catholic while maintaining some Anglican practices and traditions.

"The majority of our people consider themselves Catholics already," said Father William Holiday. "And now the Catholic church will recognize us as Catholics also."

Holiday, who has been married 25 years, is going through the process of becoming a married Catholic priest, which requires the Vatican's approval.

Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop, will confirm the parishioners as Catholic during the Sunday service. Orlando Catholic Bishop John Noonan will participate Sunday, but the Parish of Incarnation will not be part of Orlando's diocese.

More here-

Bishops look to woman priest to salvage women-bishops legislation

From The Church Times-

THE House of Bishops, meeting this week to rescue the women-bishops legislation, has adopted an amendment suggested by a woman priest.

The House met on Wednesday to find a way out of the impasse over the legislation. In July, the General Synod declined to vote on the final wording, after the House had inserted clause 5(1)(c), which stated 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 of women" of the PCC in a traditionalist parish.

Opponents of women bishops quietly welcomed the clause, but many supporters found it unacceptable, and threatened to vote against the legislation if it remained. As a result, the final vote was postponed until an extraordinary meeting of the General Synod in November, giving the Bishops time to reconsider.

More here-

Nation pays tribute to ‘world icon’ Neil Armstrong

From ENS-

The United States honored “the first human being to walk on another world” at Washington National Cathedral Sept. 13 with a combination of Scripture, a voice from the past, tributes, traditional hymns and Frank Sinatra.

Neil Armstrong, 82, “can now finally put out [his] hand and touch the face of God,” Eugene A. Cernan, the Apollo 17 mission commander and last man to walk on the moon, said during the service.

Armstrong died Aug. 25 of complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures, according to a family statement. He had undergone heart bypass surgery earlier in August in Cincinnati, Ohio, near where he lived. A private memorial service was held there on Aug. 31.

More here-

Episcopal Priest Speaks of Need to Reclaim Liberalism Within Biblical Christianity

From Christian Post-

The Rev. John Liebler, an Episcopal priest, lost his faith in an ironic place: seminary. Studying for the priesthood in the late 1970s, Liebler was inundated with a theological liberalism that left him believing that Christianity, and all religion, was just a mirror we hold up to our own wishes rather than a window through which we see true spiritual realities. After a few years pastoring, he finally realized his spiritual emptiness.

We asked Liebler, who now leads St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Fort Pierce, Fla., about how he returned to faith, and why he believes orthodox Christians urgently need to reclaim liberalism.

CP: What was it like for a pastor to lose his faith?

Liebler: It was exceedingly painful. Most people who go through a time of doubt or loss of faith struggle with a sense of emptiness and meaninglessness. For a pastor, who must preach every week and speak about God with parishioners, there is an additional sense of dishonesty.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

How to kill off religion

From Australia-

WITH an ever dwindling number of churchgoers gracing the front door of their local parish, you'd think the major Christian faiths would be aiming to attract believers rather than repel them.

Yet it would seem Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen is determined to alienate as many people as possible.

Fresh from infuriating every sensible woman in the nation, he's now focused on insulting as many gay men as possible.

At this rate there won't be anyone left to offend.

First up, of course, was the Anglican Church's grand unveiling of new wedding vows which require a woman to "submit" to her husband.

In the wake of a subsequent outcry from prospective bride and grooms who feared they had accidentally booked their wedding ceremony in the wrong century, Dr Jensen sought to assure everyone there was nothing sexist about it.

Men and women are different and must therefore commit to different vows, he insisted, before criticising the "destructive individualism and libertarianism" of "secular views of marriage."

More here-

Women bishops: Changes made to women bishops concessions

From The BBC-

Senior Anglican bishops have significantly watered down proposed concessions to those in the Church of England who are against women bishops.

It is hoped the proposals - to consider the views of individuals and lobby groups - will allow for agreement ahead of a planned vote in November.

Meanwhile, a BBC poll suggests nearly 80% of people support women bishops.

But one in five would have a less favourable view of the Church if women were not allowed to become bishops.

Legislation thrown out by the Church of England's General Synod in July would have given traditionalist parishes significant exemptions from serving under a woman bishop.

It came after pro-women campaigners objected to an amendment to the draft law - altered by the Synod's House of Bishops in May - allowing parishes who do not accept women bishops to request a male bishop who shares their beliefs about the ordination of women.

More here-

Vandals Ransack Shoals Church, Pastor Speaks Out

From Alabama- (with video)

The Grace Episcopal Church in Sheffield got ransacked by vandals. Lamp posts were knocked down and every door got broken and pried open.

The thieves stole cash but the pastor says the senseless damage done to the church is most shocking.

“The place was just in disarray,” said Grace Episcopal Church Pastor, Rick Oberheide.
Oberheide walked into his office and found his computer tipped over and the contents of his closets, scattered.

“The first impression was kinda shock when you see something like it’s not suppose to be, trying to make sense of it. Then I felt a real sense of violation like, it`s a sacred place to me, this is my church family. Somebody walked into it without any respect or regard to the sanctity of this place and what it represents and turned it upside down,” said Oberheide.

The pastor believes the vandals cut a screen on an outside door to get inside.

“When you do things like this there are consequences and it’s not just consequences for the victim, there are also consequences for the perpetrator,” said Oberheide. “I believe in justice. I also believe in mercy and sometimes they are not mutually exclusive.”

More here-

Happy ending for 1923 pipe organ from G’town church

From Philadelphia-

The journey that began in sadness five years ago for the 1923 E.M. Skinner Opus 407 pipe organ came to a happy conclusion Sunday, Sept. 9. The exquisite gem of an instrument that started its life of service to the faithful at the now-shuttered St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Germantown was officially given a second life of making music for the parishioners of Old St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Society Hill with a service of blessing and dedication.

The solo organ recital was performed by Andrew Senn. The Curtis Institute of Music alumnus previously was organist and music director of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Germantown; he now occupies the same position at the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia. Senn opened the program with his own transcription of Rossini’s Overture to his opera, “The Turk in Italy.” J.S. Bach’s “Prelude & Fugue in E-flat major” followed. Senn then played the Folk Tune and Andante Tranquilo movements from Percy Whitlock’s “Five Short Pieces,” Franck’s “Choral No. 1 in E major” and closed with Vierne’s “Les Cloches de Hinckley.”

Pipe organs are always designed to fit into a specific space and to support a specific liturgy. In the case of Skinner’s Opus 407, the architectural setting was in the Victorian Gothic Revival of the second half of the 19th century; the liturgical practice was the “low church,” Protestant-leaning worship style of many if not most Episcopal congregations at the time in the U.S. Although Old St. Joseph’s Church is the oldest parish in Philadelphia, its current church is the third structure built on the site. Styled in the Greek Revival fashion of the early 19th century, it was consecrated in 1837. Gothic Revival churches tend toward both visual and acoustical darkness whereas Greek Revival churches tend to be bright and open in look and sound.

More here-

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Anglican Head Rowan Williams Admits Mistakes in Handling Homosexual Issues

From Christian Today-

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, has admitted that he could have done more to stop the division that formed in the global body over the issue of homosexuality, and suggested that leading the church might be too much for one person to handle.

"Thinking back over things I don't think I've got right over the last 10 years, I think 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 with the American House of Bishops," Williams, who is retiring from his position in December, shared with the Daily Telegraph.
The Anglican Communion experienced great divisional troubles over the ordination of Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the United States. Same-sex marriage has also been a controversial subject, with the American Episcopalian division of the Anglican community declaring its openness to include homosexual couples in the definition of marriage – something which Williams and the Church of England has strongly stood against in the U.K.


B.C. church gets windfall from sale of chairs

From Vancouver-

A financially challenged Anglican church in B.C. has received a remarkable $630,000 windfall after discovering that a pair of antique armchairs donated to the parish decades ago were actually 300-year-old Qing dynasty treasures from China.

The chairs, described as a "godsend" by the Rev. Robert Arril, rector of St. Matthias Anglican Church in Victoria, were sold Tuesday at a Sotheby's auction in New York City for about triple their estimated value of between $180,000 and $250,000.

An antique furniture buff's fortuitous visit to the church two years ago for a Bible study session led to the identification of the chairs as rare pieces expertly crafted in 17th-century China.

They were donated to St. Matthias at some unknown point in the church's history, possibly even before the congregation's building was opened in the 1960s.

In recent years, the parish has struggled to survive a 2009 schism over same-sex marriage that saw about 95 per cent of the church's former members leave to join a more conservative offshoot.

Read more:

Neil Armstrong to Be Remembered Thursday With Public Memorial at National Cathedral

From Washington DC-

Neil Armstrong, the first person to step foot on the moon, will be remembered Thursday by NASA leaders and other dignitaries at a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral.
Armstrong, who died last month at age 82 following complications from cardiovascular surgery, will honored by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and retired astronaut Michael Collins, the third member of the Apollo 11 mission in which Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their famous moonwalk.

The Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, will lead the service, which will also include remarks by former Treasury Secretary John W. Snow and a performance by the jazz musician Diana Krall, who will sing Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon."

The National Cathedral is a fitting place for a tribute to Armstrong. Among the grand church's many stained-glass windows is one depicting a peaceful sea of celestial bodies. Officially called the Scientists and Technicians Window (Space), the "Space Window got its name after Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins presented the cathedral with a 7.18-gram basalt lunar sample in 1974. The rock now sits embedded in the glass.

More here-

Grace in Built Form

From The Living Church-

Incarnation Center in Ivoryton, Connecticut, grew out of a late 19th-century “fresh air” ministry of the Church of the Incarnation, Manhattan. From its beginnings in the summer of 1886 in a rented farmhouse on Mohegan Lake, New York, it served the children of recent immigrants, affording them an opportunity to experience rural American life. Incarnation moved to Ivoryton in 1929 and its ministry has now flourished through three centuries.

Today, Incarnation Center offers conference facilities all year long, a traditional summer camp supported by the Diocese of New York and parishes in the Diocese of Connecticut, Elderhostel activities, and a wide range of year-round nature programs on a wooded property close to the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound.

The most recent chapter in the life of Incarnation Center began with the consecration on June 9 of a new chapel, designed in its architect’s words to be “large enough to create a place for everyone at camp and visiting groups to assemble, sing, and perform in a variety of expressions.” It seats up to 320 children or 240 adults, and embraces an impressive 2,300 square feet on the shore of Lake Mohegan.

The construction phase, from groundbreaking to consecration, took just three months in early 2012, allowing for use of the chapel throughout this year’s peak camping season. All engineering and design services were donated.

More here-

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Archbishop offends smokers: Labor senator From:

From Australia-

A LABOR senator and marriage equality advocates have taken aim at Sydney's Anglican archbishop, describing as offensive his comments about the health risks of homosexuality.

Peter Jensen, during a TV appearance, backed the views of Australian Christian Lobby head Jim Wallace who suggested a homosexual lifestyle was more hazardous to health than smoking.

"As far as I can see the lifespan of practising gays is significantly shorter than the ordinary so-called heterosexual man," Dr Jensen told ABC's Q&A program on Monday night.

Federal Labor backbencher Trish Crossin told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday the remarks were offensive.

"Particularly for people who have smoked, who have developed cancer as a result of that, and (for) loved ones who have lost families," she said.

Senator Crossin is the co-sponsor of a private bill to legalise same-sex marriage, which could be voted on next week.

"What we want to do is force the coalition to have a conscience vote on this, like they do with every other piece of legislation," she said.

Marriage equality advocates called on Dr Jensen to apologise for his "cruel" comments on homosexuality.

More here-

Bishop Blesses New Grace Church Boiler

From Massachusetts (Must be a slow news day)

The Reverend Gayle Elizabeth Harris, Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, blessed Grace Episcopal Church's new boiler during her official visitation to the parish Sunday.

"Almighty God, your Holy Spirit equips the church with a rich
variety of gifts to accomplish your will and mission in the world.
Today we celebrate the most practical of gifts, the gift of boilers to
warm our church, that it may serve as the gathering and meeting place
for our congregation and the community," she said in the blessing.

The $100,000 project replaces the church's old oil system, which was failing, with high efficiency gas condensing boilers. The boiler project, installed by Medford Wellington Service, is expected to save the church money on energy costs and reduce the building's carbon footprint.

More here-

Episcopal Church Woos Latinos To Congregations

From NPR-

Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, but only 5 percent of all Hispanics attend a mainline Protestant church. The vast majority are Roman Catholic.

For the Episcopal Church, those numbers are an opportunity.

The denomination is seeing fast-growing pockets of new Latino congregants. Episcopal churches in Nevada and Washington, D.C., are seeing considerably higher attendance from Latinos. In Oregon, there were only 150 Latino Episcopalians 20 years ago. Now, there are more than 800.

A denominationwide outreach plan notes that Hispanics represent a huge growth potential. The plan outlines strategies to reach Latinos, including focusing efforts on first- and second-generation women, whom the church calls "gatekeepers."

Roberto Arciniega, head of Latino ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon, says the outreach is about staying vital and relevant in a multicultural society, and it signals a shift in how his church views Latinos. Arciniega says Latino outreach is about inviting people to stay and be a part of the congregation.

More here-

Monday, September 10, 2012

Anglicans, Catholics could share in Chch

From New Zealand-

Christchurch could be put on the international map with a concept that could see Anglicans and Catholics share a place of worship.

February's earthquake significantly damaged both the Catholic Basilica and the Anglican ChristChurch Cathedral.

The rebuild or otherwise of the cathedral has become increasingly controversial, with action pending in the High Court.

It's understood discussions about the creation of a super cathedral, are on hold until that matter is settled.

Mayor Bob Parker says the idea of joint forces is a theme of the city's rebuild.

"A lot of organisations have merged through this trauma that they've been through as a community. Nothing is the same as it was. So I look at this idea and I say why not - it makes a lot of sense to me."

He says the concept seems appealing, smart and exciting.

More here-

Fed Up with “The Church”? Try a Different One (Maybe Even in the Mainline!)

From Patheos-

In a hugely popular post titled “Confessions of an Accidental Feminist,” blogger, author, and evangelical upstart (in a good way) Rachel Held Evans shared this quote from her exasperated husband:

“It seems to me that the only thing you have to do to be controversial in the Church is to say something true and be a woman at the same time.”

This statement was so lusciously tweetable because it speaks to many evangelical women’s experiences. Within American evangelicalism are people advocating for traditional “Biblical” roles for women (that is, as homemakers and supporters of their head-of-household husbands) as well as people who consider themselves feminists and who advocate for an egalitarian model of marriage. When people with such different worldviews attempt to abide and converse within the same religious community, fireworks can result.

In such an environment, many women indeed feel that their contributions to the fraught conversations over how we are to live as Christians are judged more harshly, and given far less weight, than the contributions of their male counterparts. Rachel Held Evans’s relatively moderate views on women and social issues are regularly branded as dangerously radical feminist vitriol by some evangelicals. I’ve privately conversed with a number of women writers who feel that the work they produce for major evangelical publications is judged differently, and more harshly, than work produced by men.

More here-

Repression of Christians in Pakistan

From California-

I chatted a few days ago with the Rev. Khushnud Azariah, the first Pakistani-born woman ordained as a clergy member.

Azariah has been serving at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Riverside since May.

Azariah first started living in Southern California in the early 1990s, when she and her husband moved their three daughters to West Covina. The couple divided their time between California and Pakistan for years, but Azariah moved here full-time in 2001.

Azariah said the main reason the couple wanted their daughters to grow up in the United States was because of pervasive discrimination against women and Christians in Pakistan.

Azariah said she has many Muslim friends in Pakistan and has long worked on interfaith efforts. But repression against Christians remains common, she said. Some hard-line Muslim fundamentalists want to purge Pakistan of all Christians.

Christians comprise less than 2 percent of the population in overwhelmingly Muslim Pakistan.

More here-

Sunday, September 9, 2012

AMIA Leader Responds to Archbishop Duncan's letter

From David Virtue-

We are writing this letter, and providing this documentation, in response to a letter recently written by Archbishop Bob Duncan dated August 20, 2012 to Bishop Nathan Kyamanywa and copied to Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda [see attachment #1]. This letter wrongly presents the Anglican Mission as a divisive and hurtful movement that other jurisdictions should no longer support or become involved with until it "repents" and "reconciles." One week later, on August 28, similar arguments were once again advanced by the Archbishop in a televised interview on Anglican Ink.

We believe that the Archbishop's recent letter, and his interview a week later, make it painfully clear that the leadership of the Anglican Church in North America [ACNA] is now actively engaged in efforts to isolate and damage the Anglican Mission [AMiA] in the name of North American "unity." We further believe that these efforts demand of us a thoughtful response, along with careful documentation, in an effort to both set the record straight, and encourage a more healthy relationship between the GAFCON/FCA Primates, the ACNA, and the AMiA as we all seek to move forward in our work and in our mission together here in North America and beyond.

Regrettably, rather than acknowledging or affirming the longstanding efforts of the Anglican Mission to join in the building of new coalitions and expressions of unity among orthodox Anglicans in North America, the Archbishop's recent letter portrays the Anglican Mission as exhibiting a pattern of separation and division.

More here-

Retired reverend writes book on 'A New Way to be Human'

From Washington state-

He calls it "polishing the world." And "leaving a footprint of compassion."

With his new book and a lifelong history of working to brighten the world, the Rev. Robert Taylor is spreading a message of inclusion, goodness and spirituality from what was once darkness and despair.

His recommendations aren’t all that different from what parents might advise their children — create and share joy, don’t exclude anyone, listen carefully, discover similarities with others.

Kindness trumps everything, says Taylor, who lives in the Lower Yakima Valley. People don’t have to be divided by politics, race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

An author, nationally known speaker and leader in social justice causes, Taylor, who is 54, was also the first openly gay dean, or head pastor of a cathedral, in the Episcopal Church.

Born in South Africa, he fled to the United States in 1980 because of his outspoken views against apartheid. He then attended Union Theological Seminary in New York, graduating in 1984 with a Master of Divinity degree.

More here-