Saturday, October 6, 2012

May the next Archbishop of Canterbury be a true non-conformist

From Christian Today-

Rowan Williams is proving a hard act to follow. Ten years ago Dr Williams was the obvious choice as Archbishop of Canterbury but things are very different this time around. Ugandan-born John Sentanu has his supporters, but it seems that his conservative views don’t go down well with everyone on the appointment’s committee.

Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, seems to have ruled himself out because of his attitude towards female clergy and the current bishop of Durham is said to suffer from a lack of experience (which has led to the suggestion that an older man might be appointed in some sort of caretaker role).

I am a non-conformist and no fan of an established church, but as a Christian I have a genuine interest in the future of the Anglican Communion. And so I pray that whoever finally emerges as the Commission’s first choice will be God’s choice too, and that he will be given the wisdom and strength to become the kind of spiritual leader the church deserves and the nation needs. His will be no easy task as the Bishop of Norwich knows only too well. He told the BBC he was praying that he would not be chosen!

We can be sure of one thing though: whoever it is, he will not be able to please all the people all the time. But why should he? If he is to be true to his calling he should be expect to be controversial.

More here-

Former Waco rector to be consecrated as bishop suffragan in Episcopal Church

From Texas-

The Rev. Jeff W. Fisher, former rector of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Waco, will be consecrated as a bishop suffragan in the Episcopal Church during a service today in Tyler.

Fisher was elected to that position at Christ Church Cathedral in Houston on June 2.

He will be based in Tyler and will serve congregations in the Diocese of Texas, which covers the eastern and central portion of Texas, which includes an area that spreads from Waco to Austin to Galveston and east to Louisiana.

A bishop suffragan is an assisting bishop and serves under the direction of the diocesan bishop, in this case the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, said Carol E. Barnwell, spokeswoman for the diocese.

Among Fisher’s duties is oversight of prison ministries within the region.

Today’s consecration ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. at Caldwell Auditorium, 300 S. College Drive in Tyler.

While Fisher was rector of St. Alban’s in Waco from 2006 to 2012, the church’s congregation grew by 85 percent.

Forced to close the school on campus, Fisher led the congregation to start a community center that now houses theater and music programs for church youths as well as other area groups and outreach programs.

More here-

Episcopal bishop says he was denied entrance to Catholic archbishop’s installation Mass

From The Washington Post-

What started off as a rocky relationship between the Episcopal and Roman Catholic bishops of San Francisco got even worse on Thursday (Oct. 4) when Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus said he was denied entrance to the installation Mass of the new Roman Catholic archbishop.

Andrus said he arrived at St. Mary’s Cathedral 30 minutes before the installation Mass of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was scheduled to start, but was kept in a holding area with an employee of the Catholic archdiocese until after the service started.

After other local clergy had processed in for the 2 p.m. Mass, Andrus said the message was clear that he was unwelcome, even though he had been invited.

“At 2 PM, when the service was to begin, I said to the employee, ‘I think I understand, and feel I should leave.’ Her response was, ‘Thank you for being understanding.’ I quietly walked out the door. No one attempted to stop me,” Andrus wrote on his blog.

More here-

Friday, October 5, 2012

'We can demolish Cathedral'

From New Zealand-

Custodians of the Christ Church Cathedral have flatly rejected claims they cannot legally demolish the Christchurch landmark building.

A last-ditch legal bid to repair the neo-Gothic style cathedral has been launched by the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust at a two-day High Court hearing in Christchurch.

The opponents are seeking a declaratory court judgement to determine whether the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch's decision to deconstruct breached an Act of Parliament designed to protect church buildings.

But a lawyer for the Church Property Trust said today that the Church Properties Trust Act 2003 allows them power to "build on or develop any property whatsoever."

Lawyer Jared Ormsby said that "clearly means" the church can deconstruct the current stricken structure in order to build a new cathedral in its place.

More here-

Ground-breaking partnership between churches to take place in North Yorkshire

From England-

A GROUNDBREAKING partnership between the Church of England and the Methodist Church will be inaugurated in the region this Saturday.

The agreement, between the Ripon and Leeds Anglican Diocese, which covers a large chunk of North Yorkshire, and the Leeds Methodist District, will mean greater sharing of clergy and joint services, with both churches working together to support their ministry and mission.

Under the Covenant Area Partnership – the first of its kind in Great Britain – there will be greater consultation and co-operation between 85 Anglican parishes and their 65 neighbouring Methodist churches.

The agreement is being signed at a celebration at Trinity Methodist Church, in Harrogate, on Saturday at 1pm. The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Right Reverend John Packer, said the partnership was an important opportunity for both.

More here-

Thank You, God, for Cancer

From Buffalo-

I am an Episcopal priest serving two congregations in Buffalo, N.Y. Two years ago this Thursday, on Oct. 4, 2010, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

My prayer, as I was listening to the doctor say the words, "invasive, lobular carcinoma," came suddenly and clearly: "Gracious God be with me through this journey, allow me to walk it with dignity and grace. And help me to be grateful, whatever may be."

Thanks be to God, that prayer was answered -- and then some.

As I awoke in the recovery room at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, I was so overwhelmed, so overcome with gratitude that the only prayer I could utter through the tears was "thank you."

Thank you.

Thank you for the presence of a world class cancer institute in my backyard.

Thank you for the newly arrived surgeon, who full of smarts and compassion, full of determination and grace, removed the cancer from me and painstakingly poked and prodded until she was sure -- absolutely, positively sure -- that all of the cancer was gone. That anything that looked or felt suspicious was removed. That the margins were checked, double checked and triple checked. That lymph nodes were felt and if not absolutely normal in texture and appearance, were also removed.

More here-

Second female Anglican bishop elected by Southern Africa

From ENS-

A South African woman has been elected as the second female Anglican bishop in Africa. The Rev. Canon Margaret Vertue, the senior priest in a diocese which includes most of the poorer suburbs of greater Cape Town, was elected bishop of the Diocese of False Bay on Oct. 3.

The second of two women elected to the episcopacy in recent months, Vertue was one of the two first woman priests to be ordained in Cape Town by Archbishop Desmond Tutu 20 years ago.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, primate of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, said, “I am absolutely delighted that the Rev. Canon Margaret Vertue has been elected the next bishop of the Diocese of False Bay.

“Margaret was my junior when we were both training for ordination at the College of the Transfiguration, then St. Paul’s, and I have worked closely with her on the board of HOPE Africa. She is well known, respected, and liked throughout Southern Africa, and we thank God for this new chapter in her life and ministry, and the life of False Bay diocese.”

More here-

+Andrus Turned Away

From The Living Church-

The Diocese of California’s Pacific Church News reports briefly:

The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California and an invited guest for the installation of Archbishop-designate Salvatore Cordileone, was not allowed to be seated. He was escorted to a basement room at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and detained by an usher until the time the service began, whereupon Bishop Andrus left the cathedral. More information will be forthcoming as it is available.

On Oct. 1, Bishop Andrus wrote to the people of his diocese:

I will not change my course with regard to the full inclusion of all people in the full life of the church. I hope that public disagreements can be handled respectfully and that criticisms of public statements may be met with mutual respect. Some Catholics may find themselves less at home with Salvatore Cordileone’s installation and they may come to The Episcopal Church. We should welcome them as our sisters and brothers.

More here-

Air over the CNC meeting remains smokeless

From The Church Times-

NO further information is being released about the deliberations of the Crown Nominations Commission (CNC) after it failed to agree two names to submit to the Prime Minister at its meeting last week.

The dates of the Commission's three earlier meetings were released by the C of E's communications department. On Wednesday, however, it was giving no details of when the Commission might be meeting again.

All meetings of the CNC are confidential. The news that its 16 voting members had been unable to agree could be inferred from a phrase in a short press statement issued last Friday evening: "the work of the Commission continues."

The full statement read: "This week's meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission (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.

"The CNC is an elected, prayerful body. Its meetings are necessarily confidential to enable members to fulfil their important responsibilities for discerning who should undertake this major national and international role. Previous official briefings have indicated that an announcement is expected during the autumn and that remains the case; the work of the Commission continues.

More here-

Anti-individualist, but Williams speaks his own mind

From The Church Times-

HE was "exasperated" by the slogans of the Occupy protesters; he disagrees that atheists should be invited to present Thought for the Day; and he believes that, no, the Church of England is not in a worse position than when he took office as Archbishop ten years ago.

When asked on Monday night whether he regretted being outspoken during his tenure, Dr Rowan Williams expanded on his answer (in short, no) by providing frank replies to questions that probed some of the thorniest issues he has grappled with.

Dr Williams was speaking at Methodist Central Hall, where he gave the fifth annual lecture of the Christian think tank Theos. Asked by the BBC newsreader Mishal Husain, who chaired the lecture, to look back on certain comments that had got him into "hot water", Dr Williams said: "I do regrets all right, but I do not think that it will do to be too cautious in a job like this. . .

"You are here to try and say what you believe you have been given to say . . . to try and share a particular picture of what the world is like, what God is like. . . You have to keep trying to preserve the big picture."

More here-,-but-williams-speaks-his-own-mind

Churches offering Sunday services for short attention spans

From Florida-

Some South Florida churches struggling with shrinking attendance are shortening their traditional Sunday services, promising to get a generation with limited attention spans out the door in as little as 30 minutes.

These abbreviated ceremonies are an innovation leaders hope will lure back the enormous numbers of young people who avoid Sundays at church. With distractions such as the Internet and a weak connection to the faith of their childhoods, many are steering clear, to the dismay of religious leaders who desperately want them back.

"We are increasingly aware of the time pressures on families, and they have been telling us that the traditional service is too long for them," said the Rev. Chip Stokes of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Delray Beach. "We recognize that things are changing and we have to be more adaptive without losing our core."

More here-,0,704781.story

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Former Anglican minister becomes Liverpool’s first married Catholic priest

From England-

A PIECE of history was made when a former Anglican minister became Liverpool’s first married Catholic priest.

Father Jonathan Brown needed special permission – or “dispensation” – from Pope Benedict to be released from the ordained Catholic priest’s traditional vow of celibacy.

That was because as well as being married 37-year-old Fr Jonathan is the father of two young children.

He will only be required to follow the rule of celibacy if he outlives his wife Kara.

Although it is not unusual for former Anglican ministers to convert to Catholicism and become ordained priests, only a handful are married and with a young family.

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Presiding bishop, House of Deputies president appoint triennial leaders

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies Gay Clark Jennings have announced new appointments to the church’s standing commissions and joint standing committees of General Convention and committees of the House of Deputies and House of Bishops.

Jefferts Schori appointed 115 bishops to those commissions and committees, as well as to the Court of Review for the Trial of a Bishop, the Title IV Disciplinary Board and nine House of Bishops committees.

Jennings was responsible for appointing 142 lay and clergy leaders to standing commissions, joint standing committees and the House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church. Nearly 750 people were nominated for leadership during an online process that began in July.
The two also appointed the members of their councils of advice for the 2013-2015 triennium.
Appointments to the task force on church structure established by Resolution C095 of the 77th General Convention, which met this past July will come later in October, according to a press release.

More here-

Harlem Woman Becomes Episcopal Church's First Female Korean-American Priest

From New York (Who keeps track of this stuff?)

When she first started attending All Angels', an Episcopal church on the Upper West Side with her husband a decade ago, Christine Lee, who grew up in an Asian-American church, wasn't particularly fond of worshiping there.

"I just didn't feel like I fit in at All Angels'. It was too different, the liturgy, the worship style. Going from an Asian-American church to a church where there were only about five Asians, I had such a hard time connecting to anything or anyone," said Lee, 40, who has lived in Harlem for nine years.
But over time, Lee, the daughter of a reverend, connected with the congregants at the 5 p.m. service, which includes people who are homeless and others from diverse ethnic, racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

"Everywhere else in the city, even in a diverse city like New York, people are separated from
each other by race and class," said Lee, who had graduated from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill. years earlier.

Soon, she found herself moving towards a career in ministry, spending the summer as the interim minister at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in West Harlem. And on Saturday, Lee, who was born in Indianapolis, was ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church, making her the first Korean-American woman ordained in the church, according to officials.

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San Francisco set to welcome new Roman Catholic archbishop with pomp and protests

From California- (Via the Washington Post)

The installation of a new Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco — a backer of California’s same-sex marriage ban — is drawing support and concern as the 56-year-old priest assumes the ceremonial seat at St. Mary’s Cathedral during a Mass Thursday.

Such inductions have not historically been cause for much interest or angst in San Francisco, where the population of church faithful is smaller than in many major U.S. cities. But attention is intense this time.

Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, a native Californian who served as bishop of neighboring Oakland for the last three-and-a-half years, has a nationwide reputation as a fierce defender of the Catholic Church’s positions on homosexuality in general and same-sex marriage in particular.

His stance, a key factor in his rapid, decade-long ascension from auxiliary bishop to archbishop, has endeared him to fellow Catholic conservatives who have long regarded the Bay Area’s gay-friendly parishes as wayward sheep in the flock.

More here-

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Last-ditch legal bid to save Cathedral from demolition

From New Zealand-

The Anglican Church cannot legally demolish the earthquake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral, lawyers told the High Court today.

A last-ditch legal bid to save the crippled landmark building from demolition has been launched by the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT).

The opponents to demolition are seeking a declaratory court judgment to determine whether the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch's decision to deconstruct breached a 2003 Act of Parliament designed to protect church buildings.

They believe the Church Properties Trust Act does not give the Anglican Church authority to destroy or deconstruct the cathedral, and the Church Property Trust (CPT), which owns the cathedral, is legally and morally obliged to save it.

Francis Cooke QC, counsel for GCBT, said CPT had the responsibility to "maintain and repair'' the 131-year-old historic building because it is a "public institution''.

More here-

Episcopal Bishop-Elect Underscores Humility as a Working Tool

From Liberia-

The Archbishop-elect of the Episcopal Church of West Africa, Dr. Solomon Tilewa Johnson says as he assumes authority in the West African region on October 30 this year, he will make humility as a practical working tool among his Christian brethren.

Dr. Johnson, who has served as a bishop in The Gambia, is expected to take over the Episcopalian prestigious position late October this year following the Christian body’s election.

Speaking to the Daily Observer in an interview yesterday, the archbishop-elect stressed that unity among the seventeen bishops in the West African region was cardinal to the progress of the church, and therefore would develop the system of ‘hanging heads’ to discuss issues that affect humanity.
The newly elected Episcopal Archbishop believes that leaders have to humble themselves to serve their people, rather than people serving them. He cited a biblical reference from the Holy Bible from Mark 9:35 which states, “And he (Jesus) sat down, and called the twelve and said unto them, if any man desires to be the first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.”

“I will begin with what my predecessor has left and develop new concepts that will enhance the growth of the church and unite the bishops,” he stressed.

More here-

In "welcome" to new Catholic archbishop, Episcopal leader calls Catholic teaching on marriage 'oppression'

From California-

On the eve of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s installation in San Francisco, the Episcopal Church’s bishop of California has written a letter to his faithful attacking the stand of the Catholic Church on marriage and inviting disaffected Catholics to join the Episcopal Church.

“Bishop Cordileone was an active supporter of Proposition 8, which I and the other Episcopal bishops throughout California opposed,” writes the Episcopal Church Bishop Marc Andrus.

“We make no peace with oppression,” he added. “The recognition of the dignity and rights, within civil society and the Church of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgendered people, and of women are as core to our proclamation of the Gospel as our solidarity with the poor, with victims of violence and political oppression, and with the Earth.”

Archbishop Cordileone is chairman of the Subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

More here-

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Race to Canterbury: Ugandan bishop's fate hangs in balance

From All Africa-

Chances of Ugandan born Archbishop of York John Sentamu becoming the first black head of the Anglican Church seemed to fade after it emerged that the cleric had been edged out on “diplomatic grounds”.

Dr Sentamu, according to sources quoted by the Daily Mail, a UK newspaper, who had been tipped for the big job, is a popular and charismatic leader, but sources say he may lack the diplomatic skills needed for the Lambeth Palace.

A 16-man panel sitting in London to choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury was by Sunday said to have turned down the original frontrunner, Dr Sentamu, amid signs that it was deadlocked.

The secretive panel is said to be torn between two other candidates, the Bishop of Norwich Graham James and the Bishop of Durham Justin Welby, although it is still said Dr Sentamu could bounce back for the Church of England’s top post if the deadlock continues.

The Telegraph also reported that one of the country’s leading Anglican priests, Dr Giles Fraser, had attacked the “secrecy” surrounding the appointment, amid claims that the committee making the decisions had been unable to reach a decision.

More here-

Rowan Williams defends outspoken approach as archbishop

From The Guardian-

The archbishop of Canterbury has said that making "risky and anything but infallible judgments" is a key part of the job as spiritual head of the Church of England, and that he doubts his successor will disagree.

Three months before he is due to leave Lambeth Palace after nearly 10 years in office, Rowan Williams said that although he had certain regrets he believed the role necessitated outspoken interventions. His comments on sharia law in 2008 proved particularly controversial.

"Oh, I do regrets alright," said Williams, after a lecture organised by the thinktank Theos. "But I just don't think that it'll do to be too cautious in a job like this.

"You're here to try and say what you believe you've been given to say … to try and share a particular picture of what the world is like, of what God is like, which of course leads you into sometimes risky and anything but infallible judgments about particular issues of the day."

Asked if he would be disappointed if the man taking his place on the throne of St Augustine proved less combative, he replied: "Looking at the names that have been mentioned as my successor, I don't think any of them [the candidates] is going to have that problem, frankly. I'm very glad of that."

More here-

CONGO: Anglican Archbishop ends Partnership with AMIA

From David Virtue-

The archbishop of the Anglican Church of Congo, the Most Rev. Henri K. Isingoma has sent a formal letter to Canon Kenneth Kearon, General Secretary of the Anglican Communion, saying that the Congo will not grant any canonical license to any clergy from [the] AMiA nor will it ordain any priest or consecrate any bishop from AMiA.

"The Province of the Anglican Church of Congo is a full member of the Anglican Communion; thus the individual actions from Bishop Bahemuka Mugenyi William (Diocese of Boga) in this regard with AMiA are illegal and he will solely account for them."

The letter was sent to the General Secretary on Sept. 30, 2012. A copy was obtained by Virtueonline.

On April 13, The Rt. Rev. Charles H. Murphy, III wrote AMIA bishops and friends that he had secured the Province of the Congo which he said is validly attached to the global Anglican Communion. The Anglican Mission's connection with the Congo began at Winter Conference 2012 when Bishop William Bahemuka Mugenyi generously made provision for scheduled ordinations to go forward, he said. Murphy later wrote that he had received an official letter from Archbishop Henri Isingoma of the Anglican Church of the Congo, receiving him as a Bishop of the House of Bishops in his Province and offering the AMIA a new canonical residence.

More here-

Episcopal clergy participating in non-violent civil disobedience and arrested

From "God Discussion"

Non-violent civil disobedience in the pursuit of justice and peace among Episcopal clergy happens often throughout history and some even participated in the Occupy Movement.  Some clergy, such as Jack Stanton participating in a march against the firing of union workers, are arrested for civil disobedience too.

“I took the extra step of volunteering to be arrested because I thought it would call more attention to what we were doing, and it proved to be so,” said Stanton, 75, priest associate at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Miami.

Over the years, a priests and sometimes bishops protest injustices, getting arrested in the processes in order to cause people to set up and pay attention to inequality, injustices, and peace movements.  Everything from the Vietnam war protests to the current injustices we see today, such a labour practices.

“I would say it’s been a steady but small presence throughout, from the anti-war days” of the Vietnam War era, said Mary Miller, who recently retired as coordinator of the Consultation, an umbrella organization for Episcopal peace and justice organizations, and formerly served as executive secretary of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship. “EPF was quite deeply involved with things like the Pentagon Masses.”

More here-

Monday, October 1, 2012

Anglican church deadlocked over new leader: report

From Reuters-

A Church of England panel meeting in secret to choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury has failed to reach agreement on who should be the new leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

After three days of talks behind closed doors in an undisclosed location, officials narrowed the field to three candidates, but will need to meet again to finish the job, the Sunday Times said, citing an unnamed senior cleric.

The choice of a replacement for Rowan Williams, who steps down in December, is critical for a church in danger of splitting over divisive issues such as gay marriage and senior women clergy, and facing a rising threat from secularism.

The Crown Nominations Commission (CNC), a church panel with 16 members whose chairman is appointed by the prime minister, had been expected to pick a preferred candidate and a second choice on Friday, a church source said last week.

More here-

Instructor, 81, banned from teaching yoga at St Andrew’s C of E Church in Dibden Purlieu

From England-

THE Anglican Church has been dragged into the yoga controversy – by banning an 81-year- old Christian fitness instructor from holding classes at a Hampshire church hall.

Despite being retired for more than 20 years, Eileen Meegan tirelessly teaches yoga for four hours a week – making sure pensioners socialise, keep supple and are de-stressed.

But the Daily Echo can today reveal that St Andrew’s C of E Church in Dibden Purlieu has banned her classes from its premises.

It joins the Roman Catholic St Edmund’s Church in Southampton which banned yoga teacher Cori Withell from its hall, saying her classes were not compatible with the Catholic faith.

Octogenarian Eileen said she has inquired about the halls on several occasions but she was told it was against the church’s religion.

More here-

The night in 1962 that shook the state and nation

From Mississippi-

The Rt. Rev. Duncan Gray Jr., retired Episcopal bishop of Mississippi and then-rector of St. Peter's Episcopal Church, was one of the only white clergymen in Oxford to openly support integration. He had gone to a friend's house to watch President Kennedy on TV.

"Just as soon as his speech was over, the network announced that a riot had broken out at the University of Mississippi and that two people had been killed," Gray recalled. "We got real concerned that Jim Silver (Ole Miss history professor and author of "Mississippi: The Closed Society") was one of them, knowing that he was out there."

Gray and two faculty friends went to campus and found the riot fully involved. They urged students to leave. Gray saw Gen. Edwin Walker, who had led the troops enforcing integration in Little Rock and who had retired to oppose integration, leading one portion of the mob near Ventress Hall. Gray climbed up on the Confederate statue to get his attention.

"I pled with him, 'Please, General Walker, ask them to stop all this,'" Gray said. "He turned and said, 'You make me ashamed to be an Episcopalian.'" Several people pulled Gray off the statue, but others rescued him as the mob headed into the Circle.

More here-

Grace Episcopal Church re-opens after earthquake damage 13 months ago

From South Carolina-

Members of a downtown church are welcomed home to Grace. Grace Episcopal Church re-opened its doors Sunday for the first time in 13 months.

In August 2011 an earthquake in Virginia sent tremors down the eastern coast, sending vibrations through the walls of the structure and pulling at the bricks like a zipper.

Since then the congregation has used about 12 different locations throughout downtown to worship while renovations took over the church.

"It was covered in scaffolding, it was not recognizable, but through the good work of our building committee and the construction company we've been able to restore it to its beauty and it is a beautiful church," Rect Michael Wright said.

Now they're back, fundraising from the comfort of what's been home to members since 1846. They say there's at least $5M more needed to cover repairs and loans. To help, you can go to

More here-

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Canton church splits with governing body over gay clergy issue

From Ohio-

The Rev. William Pawson likens his congregation leaving the Presbyterian Church, USA, to a divorce. Westminster Community Church’s break with its governing body was necessary, he said, because of a policy change regarding gay clergy.

Last spring, the Presbyterian Church, USA, adopted a new constitution, one the Westminster congregation believed strays too far from the Bible by permitting homosexuals in leadership roles and removing the requirement that church officers be in heterosexual marriages or celibate singles.

The change prompted Westminster to join the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

Pawson and other conservatives say the policy change is an end-run around repeatedly rebuffed efforts to allow homosexuals to serve as clergy, elders and deacons. In July, the governing body of the PCUSA rejected amendments to restore the language.

“The new constitution was in conflict with the deeply held convictions of this congregation,” he said. “For us, it was the straw the broke the camel’s back.”

More here-

Mrs. Jesus: Did Jesus have a wife? Probably not, but it would shake up Christianity if he did

From The Post-Gazette-

Prof. Karen L. King, who holds the Hollis Chair at Harvard Divinity School, announced to the world on Sept. 18 that she has an ancient manuscript in which Jesus uses the phrase "my wife." Reviving controversies that first emerged with Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code," this announcement quickly produced charges of fraud from the Vatican and will surely heighten the discussion over the purported marital status of the historical Jesus.

The manuscript was supplied by an anonymous donor and is written in Coptic, a form of Demotic or Late Egyptian script written with the Greek alphabet in the 1st century. This particular fragment appears to date from the 4th century, although the sayings may have originated as early as the 2nd century. But Prof. King was adamant in emphasizing that this text does not prove that the historical Jesus was married; the date precludes eyewitness evidence.

The text is similar to many other manuscripts discovered in Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in 1945, which are known collectively as "Gnostic" compilations, often referred to as "gospels," as they relate the sayings and teachings of Jesus. While some of the teachings mirror what we find in the canonical gospels, most of them present quite a different portrait of a Jesus who is more concerned with wisdom and esoteric knowledge than miracle stories.

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