Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Primate elected for the Church of the Province of West Africa

From ACNS-

The Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa yesterday elected the Rt Revd Dr Solomon Johnson as its ninth Archbishop and Primate.

Dr Johnson, who is currently the Bishop of Gambia, was elected to be the next Primate for the province at a special synod held at Cuttington University, Suacoco, Bong Country, Liberia, between 25 to 28 September.

He succeeds The Most Revd Dr Justice Akrofi who has been Primate since 2003.
There has been no word of whether the synod agreed to the proposal to adopt a constitutional change that would see the creation of two internal provinces with two archbishops, in the style of the Church of England.

More here-

Church of England end three days of talks with no new archbishop

From The Guardian-

The Church of England has said the body responsible for choosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury is continuing its work after a three-day meeting, amid speculation that internal wrangling has left it unable to choose a candidate.

As the secretive Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) reached the end of a meeting scheduled to be its last, the CofE issued a statement apparently aimed at dampening down commentary on who will succeed Rowan Williams, who steps down at the end of the year.

The meeting had been expected to yield two names – a favoured candidate and one who could step in should the first not work out. The names would then go, via No 10, to the Queen for approval.

But a statement on Friday appeared to indicate no announcement was imminent.

"Previous official briefings have indicated that an announcement is expected during the autumn and that remains the case; the work of the commission continues," it said.

Of the buildup to the announcement, which has been keenly anticipated not only in the CofE but in the 77 million-strong Anglican communion, it said: "This week's meeting of the CNC has been accompanied by much speculation about possible candidates and the likely timing of an announcement of the name of who will succeed Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury when he steps down to become Master of Magdalene College.

More here-

Church of England Committee Fails to Choose New Archbishop of Canterbury

From Christian Post-

A 16-member committee has failed to agree on a successor to Dr Rowan Williams as the next Archbishop of Canterbury. Despite deliberating for a scheduled three days the group was unable to make a choice for the next spiritual head of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
It was hoped that the committee would be able to come up with two names - a "preferred candidate" and a "runner-up" - to send to the British Prime Minister and then the Queen for approval.
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The search for the new Archbishop of Canterbury has been unique in that there has been no clear outstanding candidate for the job, as well as the fact that for the first time ever candidates have been interviewed by the Crown Nominations Commission. However, despite the unprecedented move to question candidates face-to-face the committee has been unable to come to a conclusion.
A fourth meeting will now be scheduled to take place, with the likely date being some time in October.

The Church of England has released the following statement: "This week's meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission has been accompanied by much speculation about possible candidates and the likely timing of an announcement of the name of who will succeed Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury when he steps down to become Master of Magdalene College."


Anglican priest is first to be ordained in UAE

From The National-

The first Anglican priest to be ordained in the country made history on two fronts yesterday - she was also among the first women to be ordained in the Arabian Gulf.

Jo Henderson, 49, was welcomed at St Andrew's Church by dozens of Christians from around the UAE.

The Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf only began to ordain and appoint female priests last year after it received permission from the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

After the hour-long ceremony yesterday Mrs Henderson, from Surrey, England told of a journey she embarked on at the age of 16.

She has lived abroad for nearly 20 years with her husband, a civil engineer. They first relocated to Greece, where Mrs Henderson was very active in the church.

After moving to Qatar and then to the UAE in 2005, she felt that it was time to become a priest.

More here-

Friday, September 28, 2012

Secretive committee still 'discerning' next Archbishop of Canterbury

From The London Telegraph-

The secretive Church of England committee chosing the next Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled that it has yet to reach a decision after three days of discussions.

The Crown Nominations Commission, said that its “prayerful” work of “discerning” who should be the next leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans would “continue”.

In an attempt to quell speculation about the identity of Rowan Williams’s successor, the 16-member commission issued a brief communiqué saying only that a decision would be announced during the autumn.

The group, chaired by the former Tory minister Lord Luce, has been meeting behind closed doors since Wednesday in what is expected to be its final round of deliberations.

Its decision could be officially announced by Downing Street next week after being approved by the Queen, who is Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

Members have been sworn to secrecy for fear of leaks but the last few days have seen intense speculation about the likely choice of the next Archbishop.

A Fragment Is a Fragment

From The Living Church-

Season after season brings change and surprise, but a canny gambler could do well by betting that after any protracted silence on the “sensational news about Jesus” front, another shattering announcement is right around the corner.

In mid-September Karen King — the eminent and highly respected professor of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School — announced to startled fascination that she had been entrusted with a very small scrap of papyrus in which Jesus is quoted as referring to “my wife.” News spread like wildfire, fueled (it must be said) by her injudicious decision to label the fragment “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.” Larry Hurtado of Edinburgh University has more neutrally dubbed it the “Jesus’ Wife Fragment.” Headlines blared and reporters queried, and observers from outside the networks of academia wondered what to make of the whole furor.

The controversy should be parsed into two distinct questions: First, is the papyrus fragment an artifact from antiquity or is it the work of a modern forger? Second, assuming the fragment to be a genuine ancient manuscript, what does it tell us about Jesus?

More here-

Prayers asked as commission meets to choose archbishop

From The Church Times-

CHURCH HOUSE published a special prayer on Wednesday as the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) met to decide whom to ask the Crown to nominate as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Commission's 19 members (three non-voting) were scheduled to meet at a secret location on Wednesday and Thursday to decide on two names - a preferred candidate and a back-up one - to recommend to the Prime Minister to succeed Dr Williams after he steps down at the end of the year (News, 16 March).

Since 2007, the convention has been that the Prime Minister passes on the name preferred by the Commission to the Queen. An announcement is expected soon.

Church House created a Twitter hashtag, #prayforthecnc, to be used in messages on the social-media site during the meeting. Church House also published a prayer, which asked God to keep the CNC's members "steadfast in faith and united in love".

The director of communications at Church House, the Revd Arun Arora, said: "Over the next two days, the CNC will need the gifts of guidance and wisdom as they together come to a decision. Just as we pray for those we love and those in need, so we also pray for those who shoulder responsibility, that God will guide and support them."

More here-

Moravian pastor to lead a U.S. Episcopal church

From ANCS-

This month, a Moravian pastor was installed as rector of a U.S. Episcopal Church for the first time since the two denominations inaugurated a full-communion relationship in 2011.

The Rev. Carl Southerland was formally received on 16 September at St. John's Episcopal Church in Franklin, North Carolina, reports Episcopal News Service (ENS).

"It is an exciting day for the Moravian Church and the Episcopal Church," said Southerland. "My appointment into the Episcopal Church has been a wonderful process ... I've felt so welcome."

Southerland served in various positions with the Moravian Church in North Carolina for 41 years before joining St. John's, including positions as pastor at three churches.

The two denominations formalized communion on 10 February 2011. The official text of the agreement included a statement explaining, "We seek this relationship of full communion so that our mission as Christ's church will be more effectively fulfilled and each of our communions might be more complete because of the spiritual treasures of the other."

David Guthrie, president of the Provincial Elders Conference, Southern Province, Moravian Church in America, and Bishop G. Porter Taylor of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina, officiated at Southerland's installment, ENS reports.

Jerusalem bishop sees vital role for small Anglican community

From Richmond-

The Anglican Church has a shrinking presence but robust ambition and sense of importance in the Middle East, the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem said Thursday during a visit to Richmond.

The church there can serve a vital role as a bridge in reconciliation efforts between the Jewish and Muslim communities, the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani said in an interview at the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia's offices before a lunch meeting with members of the local Episcopal mission community.

Dawani's visit Thursday and today is an effort to renew the relationship between the dioceses in Jerusalem and Richmond. The native of Palestine is going to spend the weekend in Alexandria, where he attended the Virginia Theological Seminary in the 1980s, then return to Jerusalem on Sunday.

"The Christians, we are a bridge for others and we are a voice for reason in a region witnessing so many hardships and violence," he said. "So we have a role to play … (as) we focus very much on a ministry of reconciliation."

He said the task was harder than ever, with a Christian population that has shrunk from about 30 percent of the population of the overall total just after World War II to about 1 percent today.

More here-

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Princess Anne preaches togetherness

From Zambia-

Visiting Princess Anne of the United Kingdom says Queen Elizabeth’s devotion to service is a reminder to the commonwealth countries of the power of togetherness and convenient strength of family and friendship.

Princess Anne says she is aware of the increased awareness of women positions in society and realizes the difference that women make.

She said this in Lusaka today during a thanksgiving service to mark the occasion of the diamond jubilee of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the Anglican cathedral of the holy cross.

Speaking on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, Princess Anne, who is the Queens only daughter, says she was saddened by the untimely death of former first lady Mama Betty Kaunda.

Princess Anne says the Queen has pledged to devote her entire life to the service of the commonwealth community.

The thanks giving church service was attended by vice president Guy Scott, defence Minister Geoffrey Mwamba, British High commissioner to Zambia James Thornton, and ambassadors and high commissioners accredited to Zambia, senior government officials and leaders of church mother bodies.

Anglicans Meet to Pick New Leader

From The New York Times-

Church of England officials met in secret on Wednesday to choose the next archbishop of Canterbury, a centuries-old task that now comes with the modern concern of preventing 80 million Anglicans worldwide from splitting over same-sex marriage and the ordination of women as bishops.

The departing liberal archbishop, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, 62, has said his successor will need “the hide of a rhinoceros and the constitution of an ox.” The 105th leader of the Anglican Communion will face a long-term decline in church attendance and divisions between modernists and traditionalists.

Those seen as likely candidates are the bishop of Durham, England, Justin Welby, 56, a former oil executive who trained as a priest after the death of his infant daughter in a car crash, and the archbishop of York, England, John Sentamu, 63, a Ugandan-born traditionalist.

Among the other possibilities is the bishop of Coventry, England, Christopher Cocksworth, 53, a father of five who is popular among more liberal members of the church.

Many traditionalists favor the bishop of London, Richard Chartres, 65, who opposed Anglican blessings of “civil partnerships” that give same-sex couples legal recognition.

The arcane selection process is wrapped in layers of protocol, with roots going back 1,400 years.

More here-

Landmarked religious institutions look to sell air rights

From New York- (with video)

 New York City wants to re-zone Midtown East from 39th to 57th streets and Second to Fifth avenues to allow for taller buildings.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg hopes the incentives will lead to the demolition of outdated offices, but some religious institutions want a piece of the development pie.

The City Planning scoping session is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, when representatives from St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral will be pushing to modify the proposal so they could sell air rights to developers and reap the benefits.

For years, landmark institutions have been barred from selling precious air rights. St. Pat's has a million square feet, while St. Bart's has 650,000. At $200 a square foot, the money would be significant.
St. Patrick's is in the middle of a massive renovation project, inside and out.

"The entire building is being repointed, and the windows are being fixed, and the outside and inside of the cathedral are being brought up to snuff," St. Patrick's rector Monsignor Robert Ritchie said. "That's going to cost us over $175 million."

More here-

Rev. Paul A. LaCharite, Episcopal priest charged with sex abuse, found dead

From Boston-

An Episcopal priest who was arraigned earlier this month in a Somerville courtroom on charges that he repeatedly sexually assaulted a child who was a former parishioner has died, his lawyer and the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts said on Wednesday night.

“With sorrow I received news this evening that the Rev. Paul LaCharite has died, an apparent suicide,” Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of the Episcopal Diocese said in a statement. “This is a shocking tragedy, and I’ve asked our diocesan community to pray for everyone concerned.”

LaCharite, 65, had pleaded not guilty on Sept. 10 to charges that he sexually assaulted the former parishioner, who is now 26, over a ten-year period at the St. James Episcopal Church in Somerville, where the priest had been assigned from 1989 to 2005.

“This is an unspeakable tragedy,” said David Meier, a lawyer for LaCharite, who was found dead on Wednesday night in Boston. “Father Paul LaCharite was truly an innocent man who was driven to the depths of despair by a false accusation.”

More here-

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Virginia Supreme Court to Hear Falls Church Petition

From The Anglican Crumudgeon-

Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia informed the parties that it would hear a brief oral argument on October 16, beginning at 1 p.m., on the petition filed by The Falls Church to review the judgment entered against it in Fairfax County Circuit Court. In Virginia, appeals from civil judgments are not a matter of right. Only the Supreme Court hears civil appeals, and it has discretion to refuse review. The purpose of the brief argument is to give the appellant's attorneys an opportunity to emphasize to the Court's writ panel (which will consist of just three of the Court's seven justices) the reasons why it should accept the case for review.

The argument is limited to just ten minutes. Only the appellant's attorneys (the ones who filed the petition seeking review) may argue, but the appellees, their attorneys, and members of the general public may attend and listen to the proceedings. There is more about the writ panel procedure
at this link.

The last time this case was before the Virginia Supreme Court, in April 2010, only five of the Court's seven justices heard the case (including two retired senior justices), because four active justices recused themselves (most likely on the ground that they were Episcopalians). Of the active Justices who did not recuse themselves, Justice Cynthia D. Kinser is now the Chief Justice, and the former Chief Justice, Leroy R. Hassell, is no longer on the Court. The only other active Justice who sat on the prior appeal is Justice LeRoy F. Millette. The two senior justices who participated, Justice Elizabeth Lacy and Justice Lawrence Koontz, are
still hearing appeals in the place of Justices who recuse themselves.

More here-

Church leaders meet to elect new Archbishop of Canterbury

From The London Telegraph-

Members of a group responsible for senior Church of England appointments will begin a key three-day meeting today to decide who should succeed Dr Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury and spiritual leader of the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion.

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) will continue its deliberations at a secret location in an effort to find a successor to Dr Williams, who announced earlier this year that he is stepping down after a decade in office.

The commission, with 16 voting members and chaired by former Conservative arts minister Lord Luce, has to submit the name of a preferred candidate and a second appointable candidate as Archbishop of Canterbury to Prime Minister David Cameron.

Under convention agreed since 2007, the Prime Minister commends the name preferred by the commission to the Queen for approval, with the second name used only if there is a change of circumstances which means the appointment of the recommended candidate cannot go ahead.

The meeting comes amid growing speculation about possible candidates to replace Dr Williams, who leaves his post at the end of December in time to take up a new role as Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, in January.

More here-

Who Was the Most Religious President of All Time?

From Slate-

If elected, Mitt Romney “would arguably be the most actively religious President in American history,” according to a profile in the latest New Yorker. Who’s been our most religious president?

Jimmy Carter, probably. It’s impossible to know the contents of a man’s heart, but historians who study the religious lives of the presidents point again and again to the words and deeds of James Earl Carter Jr. The Georgia Baptist set a new standard during his 1976 presidential campaign when he described himself as “born again,” and he was frank about his religious beliefs throughout his presidency. While in office, Carter attended church wherever he went, even while on the road, and continued to teach Sunday school when at home. He prayed daily and read the Bible, and when he wasn’t reading the Bible he read theologians like Reinhold Niebuhr. Like Romney, he also knocked on doors as a missionary, addressing potential converts by saying, “I’m Jimmy Carter, a peanut farmer. Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” Since his presidency he has continued his Christian mission on annual trips for Habitat for Humanity, and when he accepted the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, he spoke of Jesus Christ as “the Prince of Peace.” His Secret Service codename was “The Deacon.”

Prior to Jimmy Carter, the most God-fearing U.S. president may have been James Garfield. Garfield is the only president who was actually a clergyman. At a young age Garfield became a minister for the Disciples of Christ, where he was lauded for his skill as a preacher, and he learned Greek—the original language of the New Testament. Though it was not his full-time job, he continued to preach and minister for years until his presidency.

More here-

Getting back on the path to decency

From The Washington Post-

Nothing will get better in our troubled and divided nation until we take to heart three lessons about what it means to be a decent person.

First, give back to God.

In researching trends in giving, I was shocked to discover that more than 50 percent of those who attend Episcopal congregations give nothing at all — not a dime — to their churches. Giving has plummeted 50 percent over the past 20 years, even as personal income has soared 900 percent.

Across mainline Protestant traditions, giving has sagged to 2 percent of household income — one-fifth of the biblical tithe. Even conservative traditions that teach the tithe give at only the 3 percent level, and Roman Catholics give 1.5 percent of income.

As wealth has soared, especially for the few, gratitude has been replaced by arrogance. We earned it, say the lucky, and we deserve to keep it. Trouble is, that wealth would vanish were it not for bailouts, government protections, tax breaks, and a complex infrastructure of education, technology, transportation and laws that they feel entitled to exploit but not obligated to support.

More here-

Christian Ethics 101: What Makes Ethics “Christian”?

From Patheos-

I am teaching a five-week course at my Episcopal church on Christian ethics. In tandem with the class, I’m going to post a “Christian Ethics 101″ column on the blog once a week, reflecting on what my class participants and I discussed the previous Sunday.

What do we mean by “Christian ethics”? Ethics in general is a discipline that people of all religious backgrounds, and none, can participate in. In our diverse and pluralistic culture, we frequently call upon very general principles—principles that are not unique to a particular religious or philosophical world view—to help us figure out what actions are and are not “ethical.”

To kick off my Christian ethics class, I asked participants to list principles that the secular culture uses in ethical decision-making, and contrast that list with principles that are explicitly Christian. 

Here are our two lists:

Secular Principles
Reason (We ask, “Is this reasonable?” about a particular ethical stance.)
Cultural norms
Level of harm to self and others (We ask, “What leads to the greatest good/the least harm?”)
Parental values and guidance (“What would my mom/dad do?”)
Autonomy (independence, freedom of choice)
Duty (What allegiance or actions we owe to family, community, nation)
Avoiding or preventing suffering

Christian Principles
Stewardship (caring for what God has entrusted to us)
Sacrifice — putting others ahead of self, doing the right thing even when it means our needs might go unmet
Valuing both self and others as made in God’s image
Respecting self and others because we belong to God
Dignity of all people (every person is valuable because they are made in God’s image)
Community/communal values over individual values
The Baptismal Covenant — staying true to all that we profess when we commit and re-commit to our Baptismal Covenant
The broader idea of “covenant” with God and others — allegiance not just to ourselves and our families, but to God and our community
Compassion (responding to suffering when we see it)

To me, the two principles that best illuminate the difference between how we discuss ethics in a democratic, pluralistic context, and how we discuss ethics in a Christian context, are autonomy and suffering.

More here-

Prayer for the Crown Nominations Committee

From ACNS-

A Prayer to be used for the Crown Nominations Committee on the 26th and 27th September 2012 as they consider the appointment of the new Archbishop of Canterbury

Almighty God,
you have given your Holy Spirit to the Church
to lead us into all truth:
bless with the Spirit's grace and presence
the members of the Crown Nominations Committee.
Keep them steadfast in faith and united in love,
that they may seek your will, manifest your glory
and prepare the way of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

People on Twitter are being urged to pray for the Crown Nominations Committee (CNC), as the Committee meets today to consider the appointment of the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

More here-

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The 105th Archbishop of Canterbury is about to be revealed

From The Daily Mail-

The time has come to select a new Most Reverend Father in God, by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Primate of All England and Metropolitan. The CVs have been sifted, references requested, candidates shortlisted, and Google consulted (just in case.. skeletons.. cupboard..).

The betting shops display the usual array of odds, with the favourites presently enthroned in the cathedrals of York, Liverpool, Durham, Norwich and Coventry. You can even get 200/1 on Richard Dawkins succeeding Dr Rowan Williams, of which there’s about as much chance as the Pope beatifying Martin Luther.

It is to the eternal credit of the Church of England that the Reformation was not marked by the imposition of a ‘Year Zero’ in the historical episcopacy. Thomas Cranmer was the last Archbishop of Canterbury to have been appointed by the Pope – the 69th in a line going back to 597 when Augustine of Canterbury became the first Apostle to the English. But Cranmer was also the first Archbishop of Canterbury to be appointed by the King, which was a logical corollary of the Monarch having become ‘the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England’.

More here-

Horse Race for Lambeth Palace

From The Living Church-

The Crown Nominations Commission, the body tasked with choosing the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, meets this week at an undisclosed location. With a fair wind a successor to Rowan Williams could be known within a month.

The agreed name will go, along with a “reserve,” to Prime Minister David Cameron. Thanks to changes set in place by his predecessor, Gordon Brown, Cameron will not have a direct say in the matter, but will simply present the preferred name to the Queen and, if she gives her consent, will send a letter from 10 Downing Street offering the office.

In times long gone, when choosing an Archbishop of Canterbury was the sole prerogative of the British Monarch, he or she was said to have carried out this task as the representative of the laity. In 2012 the commission consists of four bishops, five clergy and seven laypersons. Their chairman is Lord [Richard] Luce, a former Conservative Cabinet Minister. The Anglican Communion is represented by Archbishop Barry Morgan of Wales as a voting member and the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon, Secretary General, present as an adviser.

For the first time there will be interviews from a shortlist agreed during earlier meetings of the commission. This creates an irony: appearing to be ambitious tends to disqualify clerics eager to attain high office, but these candidates will need to compile a CV and inevitably answer questions like Why do you want the job? and What qualities do you think you can bring to it?

More here-

Churches ask higher power

From The New York Post-

Three powerful religious institutions are raising holy hell over the city’s proposed East Midtown Rezoning, claiming the district’s lines unfairly cut them out of selling air rights that could pay for urgently needed maintenance and restoration.

At a public hearing Thursday, reps from the Catholic Archdiocese of New York and St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church say they’ll urge the city to modify the proposal so they could sell air rights to developers seeking to put up larger structures which new rules would allow. And Central Synagogue says it “wholeheartedly” supports the churches’ efforts.

To understand the religious bodies’ ire might first require a refresher course in the rezoning scheme backed by Mayor Bloomberg and Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden.

Generally backed by real estate executives who say it’s overdue, it’s also complicated to the point of exhaustion.

Starting five years from its likely approval in mid-2013, it would allow larger office towers than are currently permitted to rise along and astride the coveted Park Avenue corridor — a 78-block area roughly bounded by Lexington and Fifth avenues and by East 39th and 57th streets, but with different north and south boundaries.

More here-

Living in Egypt through revolution, protests, new opportunities

From ENS-

The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler is an Episcopal priest living in Egypt. He has served since 2003 as rector of St. John the Baptist Church in Cairo. In this ENS interview, Chandler reflects on the changes in Egypt over the past two years and speaks about the recent protests triggered by a film containing anti-Islam content.

ENS: Egypt has seen some major transformations in the past two years. How would you describe the country’s current political landscape and infrastructure to someone who doesn’t really understand the context?

P-GC: Where does one start, when it comes to Egypt over the last 18 months, let alone the last few weeks, even days? Each day is so full of surprise that it is hard to stay up with it all.

Obviously, after more than 60 years of authoritarian rule, and decades of being a police state, Egypt is experiencing what might be called “growing pains.” However, it has to be said that in the most democratic elections since 1952, the Egyptians did freely select their leader, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who won 51 percent of the vote. The famous Tahrir Square went crazy with joy when the announcement was made. Many were jubilant because a proponent of conservative Islam had won. Others, not so excited about this and even concerned about the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, nevertheless rejoiced in the revolution’s true victory.

More here-

Monday, September 24, 2012

Appeal for prayers after Pakistan church stormed

From Christian Today-

The Bishop of Peshawar in Pakistan is asking Christians to pray after a church was destroyed.

According to Anglican Alliance, thousands of people stormed the compound in Mardan, near Peshawar last week.

They burnt down the church and destroyed the homes of two priests and the headteacher of the church school.

The attackers also looted newly installed computers from the school before setting it on fire.

No one was harmed in the attack but Bishop Humphrey Peters said the damage had been "very severe".

"We will need to rebuild. We are asking for people around the world to keep us in your prayers," he said.

The Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Most Rev Samuel Azariah told the Anglican Alliance that the attack would be "very damaging" to relations between communities in Pakistan.

More here-

Christianity’s Best-Kept Secret: A Powerful Woman Leader

From the Wall Street Journal  (a little late with the "Mrs. Jesus" Story)

Could an ancient scrap of papyrus rock the foundations of Christianity as we know it?

Professor Karen L. King, Historian of Early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, has identified a 4th century, Coptic language papyrus fragment that contains a phrase never before seen in the scriptures:

Jesus said to them, “My wife . . .”

Elsewhere in the faded script, still more provocative words could be found:

She will be able to be my disciple.

While King cautions that this papyrus can’t be taken as proof that the historical Jesus was married, it suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married and that he had female disciples.

Both these themes prove highly contentious today. Particularly in the Roman Catholic Church, the belief that Jesus was chaste and chose only male apostles set the template for an exclusively male, celibate priesthood.

While expert papyrologists, including Dr. Roger Bagnall, Director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in New York, have examined the fragment and judged it to be genuine, other international experts have expressed doubts about the fragment’s authenticity.

More here-

Ceremony honors Pittsburghers who served in War of 1812

From Pittsburgh-

Two hundreds years to the day after members of the Pittsburgh Blues left for military service, each was remembered by name during a service Sunday in the burial ground at Trinity Cathedral.

Their commander, Capt. James R. Butler, is interred in the small cemetery that faces Sixth Avenue, Downtown.

"Shoulder firelocks ... prime and load ... make ready ... present ... fire," re-enactor Steve Nuckles ordered. A salesman from South Fayette, he was dressed in the blue-and-white uniform of a U.S. Army colonel from the 1803-12 period.

The sound of musket fire echoed off the walls of the Episcopal cathedral and the nearby First Presbyterian Church as re-enactors shot three volleys over Butler's grave.

The ceremony was conducted by the living-history interpreters, all wearing period costumes, from the Slippery Rock Reenactment Association. A handful of spectators, including the Rev. Tim Hushion, an assistant priest at the cathedral, attended the outdoor commemoration.

Read more:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

PAKISTAN: Bishops condemn attack on church compound, request Communion prayers

From ENS-

Thousands of people Sept. 21 broke into a church compound in Pakistan, burnt down the church, and destroyed the homes of two priests and the school headteacher.

The motivation behind the attack in Mardan, near Peshawar, is not yet clear, but the school was looted with newly installed computers being stolen and the building was set alight. No-one is reported to have been injured in the attack.

The Bishop of Peshawar Humphrey Peters has appealed for support from the Anglican Communion: “The damage has been very severe, and we will need to rebuild. We are asking for people around the world to keep us in your prayers.”

The moderator of the Church of Pakistan, the Most Rev. Samuel Robert Azariah, condemned the attack: “This news is very damaging to relations between the communities in Pakistan and around the world.

“The government and faith leaders in Pakistan have a role to play in educating people that they have the right to protest, but to damage property and terrify people in this way is completely wrong. The government and faith leaders should provide the lead in preventing attacks.”

More here-