Saturday, January 5, 2013

Priests in same-sex relationships may become Anglican Bishops

From CNN- (additional links below)

Men in a civil union will now be allowed to become bishops in the Church of England, but they are not allowed to have sex.

Intercourse between two men -- or two women -- remains a sin.

"Homosexual genital acts fall short of the Christian ideal and are to be met with a call to repentance and the exercise of compassion," according to Anglican doctrine.

Men and women in same-sex unions were already allowed to serve as priests in the Church of England, but there was a moratorium on advancement to the episcopate -- becoming a bishop -- while the church considered the issue.

The church announced Friday that if men in celibate civil unions may be priests, then there is no reason for them not to be bishops, as long as they are "living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality."

Any priest looking to become a bishop must undergo a thorough examination of "personal and family circumstances," according to a statement released by the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

More here-

From The Guardian-

The Telegraph-

The Independent-


South Carolina Lawsuit Info

Here's the link to the information on the lawsuit in South Carolina from South Carolina-

How Did We Get Here?

From The Living Church-

The compact geography of England means that our General Synod is able to meet much more frequently — twice or occasionally three times a year — than on the other side of the Atlantic. The advantages of this arrangement include the opportunity to work towards important decisions through several stages of deliberation, and the opportunity for members, who are elected for five-year terms, actually to get to know each other personally, and to establish relationships across diverse backgrounds and positions. This, in turn, ought to lead — at least in theory — to greater mutual respect. It should also be noted that, for certain types of business, a two-thirds majority in all three Houses (bishops, clergy, and laity) is required for the legislation to pass at the final stage, although only simple majorities are required up to that point.

Twenty years ago, when the Church of England’s General Synod approved a measure to ordain women as priests, assurances were given to those who in conscience could not accept this development that they would continue to have an “honoured place” within the church, and that their “integrity” would be respected. An Act of Synod was passed to make arrangements for them, including the provision of Provincial Episcopal Visitors (“flying bishops”). Indeed, it is widely accepted that this measure could not have achieved the necessary two-thirds majority in all three Houses without such provisions.

More here-

Gun cult?: Theology issue

From West Virginia-

Some Charleston churches, such as historic St. John's Episcopal, are pondering a call for U.S. congregations to unite in a nationwide crusade -- against the "cult" of guns that idolizes weaponry, causing 30,000 U.S. violent deaths each year.

The crusade is based on a new book, America and its Guns, by retired Presbyterian pastor James Atwood, published just before the Connecticut school massacre. The book says U.S. politicians won't protect American families from gun murder, so churches across the nation should join in a mass movement for gun safety.

Gun-lovers are more than just shooting fans, the book alleges -- they actually worship weapons like members of a cult. The minister-author says America's "Gun Empire" is rooted in shoot-'em-down video games, violent movies and toy guns cherished by American boys. The cult has more than 5,000 U.S. assemblies per year: gun shows drawing throngs.

More here-

Legal fight begins between breakaway Diocese of South Carolina, The Episcopal Church

From Charleston SC-

In an effort to retain control of church property that local officials say is worth more than $500 million, the breakaway Diocese of South Carolina, joined by 16 parishes, filed a lawsuit Friday against The Episcopal Church, asserting its historical sovereignty and newly established independence.

The lawsuit, filed in circuit court, also seeks to prevent the church from infringing on the trademarks and identity of the incorporated “Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina,” the name disaffected Anglicans aligned with Bishop Mark Lawrence claim for themselves.

The Episcopal Church certainly has a right to maintain a local diocese, said the Rev. Jim Lewis, canon to the ordinary under Lawrence, but it cannot assume the diocese’s legal identity. It will have to come up with a different name, he said.

At the heart of the dispute is the definition of the word “diocese” and the diocese’s legal claim to the physical property located in the region. People loyal to The Episcopal Church say a diocese is an administrative and geographical entity that’s part of a larger institution, and it cannot “leave” the church. Only people can leave the church.

More here-

Episcopal bishop resigns to pursue new opportunity

From East Carolina-

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel III, bishop of the Episcopal Church's East Carolina diocese since 1997, resigned Friday to become bishop provisional of the diocese of Pennsylvania. His resignation becomes effective Feb. 28.

"I do love and treasure our Diocese of East Carolina and count it as a privilege to serve as your bishop for these years," Daniels said in a statement posted Friday at the diocese's website. "I have confidence in the leadership of the standing committee going forward and in the skills and abilities of a wonderful and dedicated staff at Diocesan House."

Since the diocese has no coadjutor, or deputy bishop with the right of succession, Daniel's vacancy will be filled by a church election. In the interim, a six-member standing committee of Episcopal priests and lay members will handle the diocese's day-to-day affairs. Among the members of this standing committee is Jane Martin of Wilmington, a member of St. James Parish.

More here-

Myrtle Beach, Conway parishes join lawsuit against The Episcopal Church

From Myrtle Beach-

A number of S.C. Episcopal parishes, including Trinity Myrtle Beach and St. Paul’s Episcopal in Conway, joined the Diocese of South Carolina and the Trustees of the Diocese in a lawsuit filed Friday seeking to stop The Episcopal Church from trying to take the Diocese’s real and personal property as well as that of the parishes.

The suit also asks the court to stop The Episcopal Church from infringing on the protected marks of the Diocese, including its seal and historical names, and to prevent The Episcopal Church from assuming the Diocese’s identity.

“At its heart,” said Jim Lewis, the Diocese’s canon to the ordinary, “this is about freedom of religion.”

Read more here:

S.C. Episcopal diocese files lawsuit over property

From South Carolina-

Officials of the Diocese of South Carolina said Friday that they filed a lawsuit against The Episcopal Church, saying it needs to protect its property from the national body.

A statement from the diocese said the lawsuit was filed in South Carolina Circuit Court. It also seeks to prevent The Episcopal Church from infringing on the protected marks of the diocese, including its seal and its historical names.

The diocese says The Episcopal Church has already tried to adopt the Diocese of South Carolina’s identity by calling for a convention to identify new leadership for the diocese, and creating a website and other material using the diocesan seal.

“The Episcopal Church has every right to have a presence in the area served by our Diocese — but it does not have a right to use our identity. The Episcopal Church must create a new entity,” the Rev. Jim Lewis said in a statement.

Spokesman Neva Rae Fox said Friday that The Episcopal Church has not received the lawsuit and cannot comment.

The Diocese of South Carolina is made up of 71 parishes with approximately 30,000 members. It says the parishes participating in the suit, along with the other supporting parishes, represent 74 percent of the members in the diocese.

More here-

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy, clappy, and out of the closet: Evangelicals who say being gay is OK

From The Independent (UK)-

Jeremy Marks used to believe you could make a gay man straight through prayer. Despite knowing he was himself gay, as a committed evangelical Christian he was utterly convinced that homosexuality was wrong in all circumstances.

In the late 1980s he set up a group which he hoped would “heal” homosexual men and women on their way to becoming straight. Then something remarkable happened. He began to change his mind.

“However much support we gave people it didn’t result in a change in their orientation at all,” the 60-year-old explains. “Once support was withdrawn they just felt high and dry, worse than before. Many lost their faith altogether. The only ones that did well accepted they were gay, found a partner and accepted it was right. It made me begin to realise that what I was doing was wrong, not them.”

The ongoing theological debates surrounding women bishops and same sex marriages has often been framed as one where liberal Christians are battling against a rising tide of highly organised evangelical zealots. Evangelicalism, the fastest growing form of Christianity in Britain today, is often seen as a byword for social conservatism.

More here-

Pastors learn to heal themselves

From Columbus OH-

Pastor Rickey Baker was wrapping up a Sunday sermon at New Palestine Church in North Linden when he suddenly felt exhausted and weak, so much so that he eventually left the sanctuary and found a seat in the foyer.

Chest pains prompted him to call for emergency medical service, and he was taken to a hospital, where the father of four learned he had had a massive heart attack.

More than two years later, the 50-year-old Baker has changed his eating habits and slimmed down. He says God was trying to wake him up and set him on a path to ensure he’d be able to keep doing the work he was meant to do.

Baker is not alone in his struggle to stay healthy as the leader of a church congregation. Recent studies indicate that clergy members might sometimes be so focused on taking care of their flock that they neglect their own health.

For example, researchers at Duke University in Durham, N.C., found in 2008 that United Methodist pastors in North Carolina had an obesity rate of about 41 percent, versus the state average of about 29 percent. The pastors also had higher rates of high blood pressure, angina, diabetes, asthma and arthritis.

More here-

Houses of Worship Seeking FEMA Grants Face Constitutional Barrier

From The New York Times-

Hurricane Sandy flooded and battered St. George Malankara Orthodox Church of India in New Dorp, Staten Island, ruining its basement, windows and doors. Yet, when its vicar contacted the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ask for a grant to help with the estimated $150,000 rebuilding cost, he said he got a clear answer: No.

“FEMA said that they considered the church a business, so they offered us a loan,” the Rev. Alex K. Joy said in an interview about a month after the storm. “But we don’t want a loan. We have 400 members, 90 families. In this situation, we need some assistance.”

A broad range of private nonprofit organizations qualify for federal disaster assistance grants, including zoos, museums, performing arts centers and libraries. Houses of worship, however, are not on the list, even though in recent years the federal government has ruled that some religiously affiliated institutions like schools and hospitals can get grants.

An effort is under way to change that, led by several Jewish organizations, including the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America and the American Jewish Committee. Last month, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, introduced an amendment to the multibillion-dollar Hurricane Sandy recovery appropriations bill that would explicitly place houses of worship on the list of qualified organizations. But because of an unrelated bipartisan deal meant to ease the bill’s passage, that amendment was locked out of consideration.

More here-

Bishops lift ban on consecration of civil-partner clerics

From The Church Times-

THE moratorium on the appointment as bishops of gay priests in civil partnerships has been lifted.

The House of Bishops announced in 2011 that clergy in civil partnerships should not be appointed as bishops until the outcome of a review of its 2005 statement on clergy in such partnerships ( News, 8 July 2011). The Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, was subsequently appointed to chair the review group ( News, 2 December 2011); its other members were the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, and the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher.

Shortly before Christmas, Church House published a 13-point summary of business conducted by the House of Bishops when it met on 10 and 11 December. Point 7 of this, which has caused some confusion in online forums and among campaigners, said that the Bishops "considered an interim report from the group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling on the Church of England's approach to human sexuality". This group was set up in January 2012, with a wider remit than the group chaired by Bishop Paterson, which was looking specifically at civil partnerships ( News, 6 January 2012).

The summary said that the Bishops did "not intend to issue a further pastoral statement on civil partnerships" until the Pilling group concluded its work later this year. It did not mention the work of Bishop Paterson's group.

More here-

Thursday, January 3, 2013

OPINION: Times changing, so must church

From Australia-

CHURCH-going in Australian society has changed and the churches have to respond.

It is no longer a feature of our culture that a church is one of the first community buildings people wish to see erected, so they might give thanks to God, pray, learn about their faith and share in ritual actions of profound meaning.

Though the majority of Australians still identify themselves as Christians in the census, very few of them go to church each Sunday. And they might come fortnightly or monthly, rather than weekly.

Changes in the way we commute and shop mean that people will drive to a church that engages them, bypassing buildings in easy walking distance.

Most people are less willing to sit on rough benches with an open window and a toilet out the back, preferring more comfortable surroundings.

Once, the church facilities were at the heart of the local community life – the hall was filled with music and dance and the grounds were used for tennis and sport.

More here-

Westminster diocese ends gay-oriented 'Soho Masses,' establishes church for Anglican ordinariate

From England-

England’s leading Catholic prelate has called an end to the “Soho Masses” that had drawn homosexuals to a London church, and announced that the church will be dedicated to the Anglican ordinariate of Our Lady of Walshingham.

Apparently taking action under pressure from Rome, Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster said that the ‘Soho Masses,” which were organized to welcome lesbians and homosexuals, would be stopped. In a statement explaining his decision, the archbishop noted that the Church insists “a person must not be identified by their sexual orientation,” and the Mass should be a universal celebration, open to all.

The ‘Soho Masses’ had been heavily criticized for appearing to offer Church approval to homosexual relationships. Last year Archbishop Nichols had shrugged aside that criticism, saying that the special Masses “are not occasions for confusion or opposition concerning the positive teaching of the Church on the meaning of human sexuality or the moral imperatives that flow from that teaching." However the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had reportedly investigated the practice, and pushed for action by the Westminster diocese.

More here-

Marketing as Conversation

From The Living Church-

The goal of your local church’s marketing effort is to increase the number of inbound leads and to drive conversions (see “Market Your Parish,” TLC, Sept. 9). This is no different than the goal of commercial marketing, except we’re dealing in spiritual rather than tangible goods. Understanding how to increase inbound leads (people who express an interest in your church) and drive conversions (people who actually join your church) is not hard, but it does take leadership, planning, creativity and sustained effort. In other words, it takes a little work.

Most churches are already engaged in some forms of marketing. Any of the basic functions of parish life are marketing processes, including outreach, hospitality, ushering, preaching, maintaining the parish’s website and Facebook page, tweeting, and promoting the Sunday worship schedule. The challenge is to move from efforts focused on maintenance to efforts focused on growth.

More here-

Anglican, Episcopal, Lutheran Epiphany devotions available

From ENS-

Epiphany devotions for 2013 developed by the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada are available here.

“These devotions for Epiphany are a mark of our deepening partnership and the common work of our four churches,” noted Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.  “Our working together is another sign of our full communion relationship.”

The six devotions for the season of Epiphany are based on the shared gospels for the Sundays and are appropriate for groups or individuals.

Sunday, January 6: Epiphany 1, Feast of Epiphany
Sunday, January 13: The Baptism of Our Lord
Sunday, January 20:  Epiphany 2
Sunday, January 27: Epiphany 3
Sunday, February 3: Epiphany 4
Sunday, February 10: Feast of the Transfiguration

The contributors to the devotions are members of the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee (USA), and the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission (Canada).

“We commend to your use an inspired collection of devotions for the season of Epiphany, each prepared by a different member of the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee (USA) and the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission (Canada),” the denominational leaders stated in a joint letter.

More here-

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Anglican Bishop ask Ghanaians to place value on national peace

From Ghana-

Right Reverend Daniel Sylvanus Allotey, Diocesan Bishop of Cape Coast Anglican Church, has called on Ghanaians not to take the peace the country is enjoying for granted.

He also asked leaders of the political parties to only handle their followers well and offer qualitative leadership that would enhance national peace.

Rt Rev Allotey made the call in his New Year message in an interview with Ghana News Agency in Cape Coast.

He pointed out that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and Christians and mankind in general should be ambassadors of peace.

He prayed for peace and goodwill for Ghana and Africa at large and called for the strengthening of State institutions as well as all the arms of Government to sustain development.

More here-

Churches join to provide shelter for homeless

From California-

Recipients of a newly resurrected homeless shelter program inside Santa Cruz churches speak of the joy in a warm, safe place to sleep and a dinner and breakfast with friends.

The Interfaith Satellite Shelter Program consists of a handful of churches that provide shelter, dinner and breakfast to about 20 people. Five nights are covered and two more churches recently signed up to make it a nightly event, organizers said.

The program was administered by the Homeless Services Center for several years but was discontinued a few years ago when the shelter lost funding, said Jim Weller, a minister who volunteers at the Sunday night shelter at First Congregational Church.

"We decided we needed to revive it earlier this year, and to start with churches close to downtown since we don't have transportation," Weller said. "They get there on their own. It's kind of been a shoestring operation."

Monday, the group goes to Calvary Episcopal Church; on Tuesday, to the Circle Church; on Wednesday to Trinity Presbyterian; and on Thursday, to Holy Cross. First United Methodist and Messiah Lutheran have stepped up to cover Friday and Saturday nights, respectively, Weller said.

More here-

Christ Episcopal pastor honored by Archbishop of Canterbury

From Wisconsin-

The pastor of Christ Episcopal Church in La Crosse has received the Anglican Church’s second-highest honor from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Bishop Ed Leidel presented the Rev. Patrick Augustine with the Cross of St. Augustine during a surprise ceremony Dec. 16.

In the citation for the award, Archbishop Rowan Williams wrote of Augustine’s “lifelong commitment to defend the free exercise of faith in countries where believers are marginalized and persecuted” and the hope and reconciliation he’s brought to communities that have endured decades of conflict, violence, poverty and persecution.

One of only three people to receive the award this year, Augustine said his parish and the people of La Crosse, where he’s based his ministry for the past decade, share in the honor.

Augustine invoked a phrase attributed to Mother Teresa that she is but a pencil in the hand of God, saying God has used him in Sudan, Kenya, South Africa and Pakistan among other places.

More here-

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Archdeacon appeals for return of stolen church’s money

From St. Kitts-

ARCHDEACON Valentine Hodge of the St. George’s Anglican Church on Cayon Street, Basseterre is calling on the armed man to return the money he stole yesterday morning (Dec. 30) from the house of worship.

Speaking this morning with SKNVibes, the Archdeacon revealed that the armed man stole EC$13,921,47 from the church’s office while the Treasurer was awaiting the arrival of a security agency to remove the money from the church.

“The church, which I represent, would really like to have the money back because that is very important for us. It is people’s hard earned money which they have given for the work of the church to the glory of God and, therefore, it is of paramount importance to us. So, having the money back is one of the things we would really like,” the Archdeacon said.

He noted that it was an unfortunate incident but was high in praise of the police.

“The fact that the money was stolen from the church is unfortunate. I understand that the police are working on the case and that they are making some progress, and that is salutary on behalf of the Commissioner, the CID and his staff. And it does give us some confidence in the Force and in the work they are doing in order to apprehend those involved in criminality in the Federation.”

More here-

Rowan Williams: faith is not an 'embarrassment'

From The Telegraph-

Dr Williams will use his final New Year’s message, to be broadcast this afternoon, to offer a vision of faith as the “wellspring of energy” driving selfless efforts to make society fairer.

The message follows a disclosure from one of Dr Williams’s closest colleagues that the Archbishop has been “deeply hurt” by the criticism he has received during his often controversial tenure.
In his broadcast, Dr Williams highlights the work of the Robes project in London, where more than 20 churches work together to offer food and shelter to the homeless.

“Religion here isn't a social problem or an old-fashioned embarrassment,” he says.

“It's a wellspring of energy and a source of life-giving vision for how people should be regarded and treated.

“So let's recognise this steady current of generosity that underlies so much of our life together in this country and indeed worldwide.

“It's all based on one vision - to make our society, our whole world, work for everyone, not just the comfortable and well off.”

More here-

Luwalira appeals for a new Uganda in 2013

From Uganda-

Namirembe Diocese Bishop Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira has appealed to all Ugandans to try and put away all the old things that do not add value t to them and their neighbours and start the year 2013 a new.

In his New Year eve  midnight sermon at St. Paul Cathedral Namirembe, Luwalira said that there is a dire need for  having new  wave of people in a country that was  filled with lies, prostitution, corruption, sorcery, theft, fornication right from the homes, churches and government in 2012.

“As we go into 2013, Let us think of a winning strategy.  We should not be keeping things either physical or spiritual, which are no longer useful in our lives. Let us leave all those in the year 2012,” he told the fully packed church. 

Most of the congregants were less concerned on leaving the church to view the fireworks that is always the reason of people going to Namirembe hill for a good view.

Luwalira blamed the problems that the country is going through to individuals, who care less about others and misuse government resources.

Borrowing a bible reading of Joshua chapter 7 where Achan’s breaking of God’s covenant saw the whole Israel being defeated by Ai, a city east of Bethel.

More here-

Anglican Head Holds Final Service in Front of Hundreds; Rowan Williams Retires

From Cristian Post-

More than 700 participants attended the final service of Rowan Williams as the Archibishop of Canterbury on Sunday, Dec. 30. The Anglican leader will officially steps down from his post as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury as 2013 begins.

Williams, 62, retired as leader of the Church of England and the wider 77-million strong worldwide Anglican Communion after 10 years of service.

"It was a way for the local congregation and the people of Canterbury to come together and say thank you to archbishop Rowan for all he has done for the last 10 years," a Canterbury Cathedral spokesperson said of Sunday's service, during which Williams was presented with five porcelain bowls by the Very Rev. Robert Willis as a gift for his service.

In his last Christmas Day sermon on Dec. 25, Williams told congregants that he believes Christianity is still strong, regardless of a recent census report which indicated the Christian religion declined by 13 percent over the last decade across England and Wales.


Monday, December 31, 2012

Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan William's Bids Farewell

From Huffington-

Dr Rowan Williams has attended his last service as the Archbishop of Canterbury at the city's cathedral, before he leaves office as head of the Church of England and spiritual leader of the 77 million-strong Anglican Communion.

More than 700 people turned out to bid farewell to 62-year-old Dr Williams before he officially departs as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury tomorrow following a 10-year tenure.

He will go on to take up the posts of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and chairman of the board of trustees of Christian Aid, the international development agency.

Dr Williams will be replaced by 56-year-old former oil executive the Rt Rev Justin Welby, the Bishop of Durham, who will be consecrated in March at Canterbury Cathedral as Archbishop of Canterbury.

At the end of today's service, Dr Williams was presented with a set of five porcelain bowls created by ceramic artist Edmund de Waal, the son of a former dean of Canterbury, by the current dean, the Very Rev Dr Robert Willis.

A cathedral spokesman said: "It was a way for the local congregation and the people of Canterbury to come together and say thank-you to Archbishop Rowan for all that he has done for the last 10 years."

More here-

Nigeria: No More Excuses, Mr President

From Nigeria-

President Goodluck Jonathan recently, yet again, invited Nigerians to be patient with his administration's apparent inability to successfully tackle the nation's myriad of social and economic problems.

The coming year, he promised, would be better. At a Christmas worship session at the Anglican Church of the Advent in Abuja, the president appeared primed to respond to the sermon by the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, Reverend Nicholas Okoh, who commended what he said were government's achievements in rice production, rehabilitation of railway transport, and road reconstruction in the aspects of these he had witnessed in Ebonyi State, and called for spiritual, traditional, and political leadership to give priority to the welfare of Nigeria's poor.

Adding to Okoh's list, Jonathan said the administration conducted free and fair elections and made major efforts to address its security challenges. He noted that his administration would appear to be slow; this was necessary in order to avoid rushing to play to the gallery, he added.

He had been decisive when the need arose, he said, pointing as evidence, the government's response to this year's floods that ravaged many parts of the country.

More here-

Witchcraft 'thriving in the Welsh countryside'

From The Telegraph-

Witchcraft is thriving in the Welsh countryside, a church minister has said, as he described stumbling upon an increasing number of effergies, users of the evil eye and exorcisms.

Rev Felix Aubel claims occult practices in rural Wales have been increasing during the two decades he has been working in the area.

The minister spoke out after latest figures in the 2011 census has revealed 83 witches and 93 satanists are living in Wales.

He said there was an "unusual connection" between Christianity and witchcraft in some chapel circles in Wales.

Rev Aubel, who is the minister of five Congregational chapels in rural Carmarthenshire, said he has called out an exorcist after a witch placed a curse on one of his parishioners.

He said: "This is not a joke and I would warn people not to get involved in the occult.

More here-

Parishioners, friends say farewell to St. George's Spesutia at final service

From Maryland-

The parishioners at St. George's Spesutia Church were not celebrating Christmas on Sunday morning, the Rev. Bill Smith told them amid poinsettias and holiday decorations, but rather The Incarnation.

"We tell it over and over and over again for one reason: so we can become part of the story," he said about the tale of Christmas.

But for those gathered at the Perryman church, the oldest Episcopal parish in Maryland, Sunday's service was the end of one part of their story.

The Eucharist service is expected to be the last one to be held at St. George's, after The Right Rev. Eugene Sutton, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, ordered an end to the parish's services earlier this year.

"Although we would hope that this is not the final chapter in St. George's history, today brings the current chapter to an end," Rev. Scott Slater read in a message to the congregation as the service closed.

Slater, a Canon to the Bishop, had come to oversee the parish's last service and collect some items, including a silver set that dates to 1722 and a copy of a historic Bible known as the "Vinegar Bible," because of a typo in the Parable of the Vineyard.

More here-,0,6640493.story

Emotional services for Mobile congregations rendered 'homeless' by Christmas Day tornado

From Mobile-

The Rev. Julius Bryant said he felt nervous Sunday morning as he stood before his congregation, which was displaced by the Christmas Day tornado. 

Since taking the position of senior pastor at Sweet Pilgrim Baptist Church only three months ago, he thought he had overcome the nerves he felt the first few times he preached.

“It was a very emotional service for my church, but they were not emotional in the sense of sadness but emotional in the sense of thanking God that we were all together and had such a good turnout,” said Pastor Bryant, recalling the morning service Sunday night. He said he turned to Joshua 6:1-5 from the Old Testament to deliver a sermon on “when victory looks like defeat.”

Bryant estimated that about 240 people – almost a normal crowd -- attended the Sunday service, which was held at Emmanuel Seventh-day Adventist Church, not far from damaged Sweet Pilgrim on St. Charles Avenue. “It was quite an awesome experience today,” he said.

More here-

Episcopal Bishop of Yambio put on leave to diffuse conflict

From Sudan-

The Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan, Daniel Deng Bul has sent the Bishop of Yambio Diocese, Peter Munde, for a Sabbatical in Uganda, apparently to diffuse a diocesan conflict in which some pastors are reported to have abandoned the Church, believers and religious leaders told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

Archbishop Bul was responding to calls asking him to contain an internal dispute between Bishop Munde and pastors to avoid further defections from the diocese following the resignation of nine high profile pastors in February 2012.

The Church has not released any statement surrounding the circumstances which triggered the mass resignation and subsequent dismissals. Religious leaders have avoided commenting on the dispute in the media although privately they acknowledged the existence of administrative challenges which require resolution.

Anonymous religious leaders in interviews with Sudan Tribune on Sunday from Yambio, the capital of Western Equatoria State, charged Bishop Munde of nepotism, misappropriation of the diocesan funds and promotion and assignment of illiterate pastors.

More here-

Jane Holmes Dixon, Bishop Who Stared Down Barriers, Dies at 75

From The New York Time-

Jane Holmes Dixon, a former eighth-grade teacher and homemaker who was ordained as an Episcopal priest in her 40s and elected 10 years later to be the second female bishop in the history of the Episcopal Church, died on Tuesday at her home in Washington. She was 75. She died in her sleep, apparently of a heart attack, her family said.

Bishop Dixon, whose rapid rise in the hierarchy placed her in the thick of ideological conflicts dividing the church over gender roles and sexuality, had no known history of heart ailments or warning of any kind, said a son, David Dixon Jr.

In a statement on the Web site of the Diocese of Washington, Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, the current bishop, said of Bishop Dixon, who retired in 2002: “Called to serve at a time when some refused to accept the authority of a woman bishop, Jane led with courage and conviction, and sometimes at great personal cost.”

In 1997, when Bishop Dixon was the assistant bishop of the diocese, she faced silent protests during visits to several conservative parishes that opposed the ordination of women as bishops. Altars were stripped of linens and candles,
and prayer books were removed from the pews.

More here-

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Back to Guatemala

From Arkansas-

It might be called a kind of collective epiphany — those medical mission trips of Arkansas Episcopalians in the rugged countryside of Guatemala.

For the incredibly poor people of the mountain villages, the coming of Americans has meant salvation of many kinds, especially health care. For the visitors, they have enjoyed the fulfillment of giving sustenance to people in dire need.

The Guatemala excursions debuted at the behest of Marianne Welch, a communicant at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway and director of the laboratory in the Conway Regional Health. Ms. Welch has led three teams over the past three years. Two were medical; on the third trip they performed needed basic construction tasks. The fourth team, this one again with a medical emphasis, will be in the country in April of 2013.

More here-

Episcopal rector leading charge here on Staten Island

From Staten Island-

The Rev. Kevin Fisher, rector of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Brighton, is leading the charge on Staten Island for gun control, specifically a ban on assault rifles such as the one used in the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders.

“We call upon our elected officials to institute an immediate ban on assault rifles in this country with no grandfathering,” the Rev. Fisher said a gun control plan for his church that he e-mailed to the Advance.

Annually, about 12,000 Americans are killed by guns, he said, calling upon the vestry of his parish to establish a Center Against Gun Violence.

The center will work in collaboration with the Brady Campaign, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the Million Mom March, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence and the New York Police Department, he said, to promote political change on gun control issues, education in schools and for the general public, oppose violence in the entertainment industry and encourage the voluntary surrender of weapons to authorities.

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Building congregations around art galleries and cafes

From The New York Times (via the Post-Gazette)

The mural painted on the side of a building in this city's Deep Ellum warehouse district is intentionally vague, simply showing a faceless man in a suit holding an umbrella over the words "Life in Deep Ellum." Inside there are the trappings of a revitalization project, including an art gallery, a yoga studio and a business incubator, sharing the building with a coffee shop and a performance space.

But it is, in fact, a church.

Life in Deep Ellum is part of a wave of experimentation around the country by evangelicals to reinvent "church" in an increasingly secular culture, and it comes as the megachurch boom of recent decades, with stadium seating for huge crowds, Jumbotrons and smoke machines, faces strong headwinds. A national decline in church attendance, the struggling economy and the challenges of marketing to millennials have all led to the need for new approaches.

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