Saturday, January 12, 2013

Nigerian bishops’ threat to Church of England on sexuality

From Ekklesia-

Nigerian Anglican bishops have condemned the Church of England decision to allow celibate clergy in civil partnerships to be bishops, threatening further action. The statement highlighted ambiguous attitudes to the Bible among Church of Nigeria leaders.

It followed criticisms by Kenyan and Ugandan archbishops. According to the Nigerian statement, the Church of England’s stance on civil partnerships when they came in was a “first step towards the recognition and institutionalisation of behaviour contrary to the plain teaching of scripture and reaffirmed for all Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10”.

The Nigerian bishops urged the Church of England’s House of Bishops to reconsider allowing partnered bishops, in view of “the call on all clergy, especially bishops, to live holy lives and not encourage what are, at best, morally ambiguous partnerships that make it impossible for a bishop to be a wholesome example to the flock. Especially since the supposed assurances of celibacy, while perhaps well intentioned, are both unworkable and unenforceable.”

More here-

How the Gospel Brings Renewal

From The Living Church-

Joe Thoma writes for the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida:

The Rev. Dr. Reid Hensarling, Associate Rector at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Lakeland, has spent 35 years studying and teaching the Scriptures and preaching about Jesus Christ and spiritual renewal. He has served several Episcopal congregations over the past 12 years. Fr. Hensarling holds a Master of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin, a Master of Divinity from Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry, and a Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.

Fr. Reid’s new book, The Biblical Gospel: Its Significance and Impact in Spiritual Renewal, explores the only sure solution to the ongoing problems of our world — the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ.

People are beset by a variety of “cures” for modern societal and personal ills, from the religious, political, and economic realms. But The Biblical Gospel points out that only the absolute truth of the gospel of Christ has the message that ultimately answers the most pressing questions and serious concerns of the human soul. The book is concerned with encouraging and helping church leaders bring spiritual renewal to their people through the biblical gospel.

More here-

For South Carolina Episcopalians, a break from lifelong homes

From Lubbock Texas-

Beyond the headlines, the story of the Diocese of South Carolina’s split from the national Episcopal church is the story of people like Rebecca Lovelace.

For most of her 64 years, she worshipped at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in this quiet farming town and bedroom community about a dozen miles from the high-rise condominiums of Myrtle Beach.

That was until about three months ago, when Lovelace and a small group of other parishioners decided they could not go along when their church followed the Diocese of South Carolina in breaking ties with the national church over ordination of gays and other issues.

Lovelace told her priests she couldn’t stay: “I really truly felt like there was a death in the family.”

Now, her fledgling congregation of about 35 people known as the Conway Worship Group gathers each Sunday at the chapel at Coastal Carolina University. Usually with a retired priest or one on loan from another church, they pray, sing, celebrate communion and make plans for the future.

The schism has been years in the making, dating to the national church’s consecration of its first openly gay bishop in 2003, which upset conservative Episcopalians.

“I think everybody reached a point where they couldn’t go any further,” said Dan Ennis, one of the organizers of the new congregation and who is dean of the university’s College of Humanities and Fine Arts. “A lot of us saw this coming and a lot of us dreaded it, but now at least we know what to do.”

The diocese in eastern South Carolina had 70 congregations with about 29,000 parishioners. It dates to the 1700s and is one of the originals that joined others to form the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Friday, January 11, 2013

Nigeria: Gay Bishop - Anglican Church in Nigeria Threatens to Breakaway

From Nigeria-

The Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion has threatened to breakaway from the Church of England over the decision of the later to drop opposition to gay bishops in civil partnerships.

The announcement, from the Church's House of Bishops, would allow gay clergy to become bishops if they promise to be celibate. The move that did not go down well with Conservative evangelical Anglicans.

Arising from its 2013 annual retreat, held at the Ibru Centre, Agbarha Otor, Delta State, the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) said they heard with dismay, the news of the recent action of the Church of England House of Bishops.

The Primate, Church of Nigeria, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh said "the decision to permit homosexual clergy in civil partnerships to now be considered for the episcopacy is one step removed from the moral precipice that we have already witnessed in The Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada.

"When the Church of England failed to exercise its legal and moral right to opt out of the civil partnerships legislation in 2005 warnings were given in England and around the Anglican Communion that this was a first step towards the recognition and institutionalization of behaviour contrary to the plain teaching of scripture and reaffirmed for all Anglicans by the 1998 Lambeth Conference in its Resolution 1.10.

More here-

Bishop Justin Welby becomes archbishop of Canterbury-elect

From ENS-

A medieval ceremony has begun the process of the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby becoming the archbishop of Canterbury.

The College of Canons of Canterbury Cathedral has unanimously elected Bishop Justin Welby as the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

The 35-strong College of Canons, made up of senior clergy and lay people from the Diocese of Canterbury, met at Canterbury Cathedral’s 14th-century Chapter House to take part in the formality, which dates back more than 1000 years.

The process of electing the next Archbishop of Canterbury by the cathedral community is enshrined within its constitution and can only take place once a Congé d’Élire and Letter Missive from the Crown has been received.

The ceremony was chaired by the Dean of Canterbury, Robert Willis. As is traditional, the candidate was not invited to attend the ceremony, and only one name featured on the ballot sheet for the College of Canons to select.

The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral Reverend Dr Robert Willis said: “The decision we made this morning is taken formally to London.

More here-

Ministry puts pastor face-to-face with 21st century slaves

From Iowa (written by an Episcopal priest)

Human trafficking sounds like something that happens in third world countries to nameless, poverty-stricken foreigners, but the truth of it is human trafficking happens right here in the Quad-City area, every day.

My ministry puts me in Quad-City places where I’ve met many women who tell me they’ve been bought and sold.

Here are two real stories from women I met in our community.

The first I’ll call Karen. She was born is Asia and was brought to this country by promises of a job as a maid or seamstress. Once here, she learned quickly that she would have no say in her life. Karen was raped repeatedly and taught that she was damaged goods and could not go home. Worse, she was told there was no one in the U.S. who cared or wanted to help. She had been sold four or five times by the time I met her and learned her story.

Her eyes always looked past me, making sure her handler wouldn’t catch her speaking with a priest. Her slaver made her have sex for money with any man or woman who would pay. Her slaver had bought her and her debts from another man. For her to earn her freedom, she had to pay off that debt.

More here-

Civil partnerships: ‘We should have shown workings’

From The Church Times-

THE Bishop of Sodor & Man, the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, expressed his disappointment this week with the way in which the news emerged of the opening of the episcopate to priests in civil partnerships as bishops ( News, 4 January).

Bishop Paterson was appointed to chair a group looking into whether clergy in civil partnerships should be eligible for nomination to the episcopate ( News, 2 December 2011). The House of Bishops had recommended a moratorium on such appointments until the group reported ( News, 8 July 2011).

Speaking on Monday, Bishop Paterson said that the group - whose other members were the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, and the Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Revd Colin Fletcher - had produced a 20-page report for the House of Bishops in May last year.

The group's report examined three questions: should the moratorium be maintained or not? If not, should there be any additional requirements made of candidates for the episcopate that would not be made of those seeking a parish appointment? If so, what should those additional requirements be?

More here-‘we-should-have-shown-workings’

Obama To Use MLK, Lincoln Bibles During Oath At Presidential Inauguration

From Huffington-

President Barack Obama is putting a symbolic twist on a time-honored tradition, taking the oath of office for his second term with his hand placed not on a single Bible but on two – one owned by Martin Luther King Jr. and one by Abraham Lincoln.

The inclusion of King's Bible is particularly significant since the inauguration comes on Jan. 21, the federal holiday in honor of the civil rights leader, who delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech 50 years ago at the Lincoln Memorial. Obama will be facing the memorial as he takes the oath. King's Bible, which his children say he used early in his career as a preacher, has never been part of a presidential inauguration.

The selection of the pair of Bibles announced Thursday is richly symbolic of the struggle for equality in America, beginning with Lincoln's emancipation of slaves 150 years ago this month, through King's leadership of the civil rights movement, and ultimately to Obama becoming the nation's first black president.

Inaugural planners say Obama plans to place his left hand on the stacked Bibles held by first lady Michelle Obama as he raises his right hand to repeat the oath administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. It hasn't been determined which will be on top, with Obama's hand actually resting on it, but King's is larger, so it may need to be on the bottom.

More here-

Trendy Episcopalians and the Dakota War: Romanticizing a grisly time and some ugly atrocities.

From The American Spectator-

Recently a blog for liberal Episcopalians commemorated the 150th anniversary of the 38 Dakota Indians hanged on December 26, 1862, on the orders of President Abraham Lincoln. Titled: “Remembering the martyrs of Mankato,” the blogger rued how these Indians were executed in Mankato, Minnesota, for their role in the Dakota War of 1862. Originally 303 were scheduled to hang. But Lincoln personally reviewed their cases and reduced the number by nearly 90 percent. On December 26, 2012, several hundred gathered in Mankato to dedicate a memorial to the 38 who were executed.

The liberal Episcopal blogger pondered the irony of Lincoln the Emancipator ordering these executions. Of course, the blogger did not acknowledge the horrific atrocities that prompted the hangings. Instead, he described the reverent crowd for the new monument. And he quoted an Episcopal priest and artist of tribal background named Robert Two Bulls who blogged in 2011 about his painting of Minnesota’s first Episcopal bishop, who had intervened for the condemned Dakota warriors with President Lincoln. The painting was part of a Minneapolis exhibit about the Indian response to the 150th anniversary of Minnesota’s statehood several years ago.

More here-

Bishop nominated for remaining Episcopal parishes

From South Carolina-

A retired bishop who lives on Daniel Island has been nominated to become provisional bishop for a diocese of Episcopal churches in eastern and lower South Carolina remaining with the national Episcopal Church.

The Rt. Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenberg is a retired bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee, a native of North Carolina and has long ties to South Carolina.

The Diocese of South Carolina located in the eastern and lower part of the state last year severed ties with the national church in disputes over ordination of gays and other issues. But 19 parishes and six worship groups from the diocese are remaining in the national church.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the presiding bishop of the national church, will be in Charleston later this month for a special convention to create a diocese of the parishes remaining with the national church.

More here-

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Charles vonRosenberg nominated as South Carolina bishop provisional

From ENS-

The Rt. Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenberg, a retired bishop of East Tennessee with longtime ties to South Carolina, has been nominated as bishop provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

His name will be presented for a vote on Jan. 26 when local clergy and laypeople who are continuing with the Episcopal Church gather with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in a special meeting of the diocesan convention at Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, according to a diocesan press release.

The continuing Diocese of South Carolina needs a new episcopal leader because Jefferts Schori said Dec. 5 that Mark Lawrence had renounced his orders. She and her Council of Advice agreed that, in a Nov. 17 speech to a special diocesan convention, Lawrence said the diocese had left the Episcopal Church a month earlier on Oct. 17 when she restricted his ministry after the church’s Disciplinary Board for Bishops had certified to her that he had abandoned the Episcopal Church “by an open renunciation of the discipline of the church.”

More here-

Much ado about bishops: time for a more humane dispensation?

From Ekklesia-

There has been much ado about bishops of late. First, the Church of England's House of Laity rejected the consecration of women, to the consternation of a majority in their own communion and the incredulity of wider society. Then the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster soured the Nativity season - perhaps the tenderest of all our celebrations of the myths of faith - with negativity about same sex love and marriage.

Now, with its statement that civil-partnered gay clergy may become bishops as long as they promise sexual abstinence and renounce their previous sexual activity, the Established Church shows itself to be in a deeply damaging state of confusion about the relationship between civil partnerships and marriage, about faithful and committed relationships, about love and trust, the imposition of impossible conditions and about the nature of a vocation to celibacy.

Ekklesia colleagues who have a far greater knowledge of the ways of the Church of England than I do, have written eloquently of the implications of the House of Bishops' statement. I find myself in sympathy with the child in the probably apocryphal story who, on seeing a bishop in full fig, turned to her mother and said, “Mummy, what is that man for?

More here-

Anglicans in Zimbabwe Regain Cathedral and Other Properties

From The Council on Foreign Relations-

For the past five years, Robert Mugabe’s government has, in effect, persecuted the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe.  As I blogged previously in 2011, the ex-bishop of Harare, Nolbert Kunonga, a long-time Mugabe supporter, sought to take his diocese out of the Anglican Communion, ostensibly because of Anglican Communion support for gay rights.  The church thereupon deposed him and chose a new bishop, Chad Gandiya. But, Mugabe continued to support Kunonga and a pro-Mugabe judge gave him “custody” of church property pending a high court ruling. Kunonga also ended up with a confiscated, previously white-owned, farm. Pro-government goons over the past five years have, in effect, overseen the transfer of the cathedral in Harare, Anglican schools, orphanages, and parish churches to Kunonga and his supporters. The archbishop of Canterbury protested directly to Mugabe last year.

The attack on the Anglican Church appeared to fit Mugabe policy of “Africanizing colonial institutions.” Even though the church is overwhelmingly black African in its membership, it was initially established in Zimbabwe by the British who built the elaborate cathedral in Harare.  At least some of Mugabe’s supporters thought that Anglicans disproportionately supported the opposition Movement for Democracy Change.  They also bitterly resented the criticism of the Mugabe regime by Anglicans worldwide.

More here-

African Anglicans denounce Church of England gay bishop rule

From Yahoo News-

Senior African Anglican leaders have lined up to denounce the Church of England's decision to allow celibate gay bishops, warning it would only widen the divisions within the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Archbishop Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, effectively the largest province in the Communion, said such reforms "could very well shatter whatever hopes we had for healing and reconciliation within our beloved Communion."

His comments on Wednesday followed similar denunciations on Monday by Ugandan Archbishop Stanley Ntagali and Archbishop Eliud Wabukala of Kenya, who is also head of the Gafcon group of traditionalist Anglican primates opposed to gay clergy.

The global Communion of 80 million Anglicans split deeply after Canada's Anglican Church began blessing same-sex couples in 2002 and the Episcopal Church, its United States branch, ordained Gene Robinson as its first gay bishop in 2003.

The African churches, a major bloc of Anglicans around the world, were in the vanguard of the traditionalists opposing the change as contrary to Biblical teaching.

More here-

Don’t worry! Chuck Hagel is an Episcopalian, not Catholic

From Religion News Service-

When President Obama nominated former GOP senator Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary there was some murmuring — behind the louder concerns about his past issues with Jews and gays — that Obama was developing a “Military-Catholic Complex.” (Sorry, Ike.)

Hagel is Catholic, succeeding Leon Panetta, a Catholic, while his National Security Adviser is Tom Donilon, a Catholic (and brother to Terry Donilon, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s spokesman). Not to mention that veep Joe “Last Man in the Room with the President” Biden is Catholic as is the incoming secretary of State, John Kerry.

Oh, and Obama’s counterterrorism chief, John Brennan, was nominated to head the CIA the same day as Hagel. (And the rest of the governmnet is looking quite RC, which must unnerve the Catholic bishops, who keep telling us Obama is persecuting the Church.)

As Pat Lang wrote at his blog:

“I would not have picked Brennan. He seems to me to be a rule obsessed product of too much Catholic education.”
Well, all is not lost! Yes, like Brennan, Hagel was a product of a Catholic education. But  sharp-eyed Episcopal Cafe readers saw that his Wikipedia entry was wrong (take note, youngsters) and that Hagel now attends an Episcopal church.

More here-

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church announces Growing Campaign

From Texas-

On Sunday, January 6, the congregation of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church viewed a new, professionally-created video supporting their new chapter of “Growing in Grace”, a strategic campaign with goals which include expanding the current facilities.

The Vision and Strategic Planning Committee defined 12 goals for 2013-2014, based on a parish-wide survey and mission field demographic data, refined by a committee visioning session.
“Our future education and preschool building will transform the lives of children; it will serve our needs for mission and ministry, and it will be the place where future parishioners will come to know the love of Christ we know at St. Mark’s,” said the Reverend Bert Baetz.

The church, which services the Greater Fort Bend community from its location at 7615 FM 762, the extension of Crabb River Road across from George Ranch, was originally founded in Rosenberg in 1956 by a nucleus of 13. In 2009 the FM 762 facility was donated by Dean and Jackie Leaman. St. Mark’s is quickly outgrowing its present sanctuary and fellowship areas.

More here-

Episcopal Church in Totowa closing after 91 years

From Newark-

Borough resident Shirley Gerhardt, 88, remembers her early days at the Christ Episcopal Church on Totowa Road. She started going there as a teenager.

Church members sing hymns and the Rev. Mark Waldon leads a service on Sunday. It is the church’s final service as they are closing after serving the community for 91 years.

"My father used to say I spent more time there than I spent at home because I used to do yard work in the garden, planted plants and all kinds of stuff, in addition to actually worshiping there," Gerhardt said.

She would go on to represent the church before the Diocese Council, which with the working group that governs the church, and last week recalled some of the outreach efforts that the church conducted in its prime.

They started a program for residents at Preakness Healthcare Center in Wayne, Gerhardt said. The church provided the residents of Preakness with games and entertainment on a monthly basis, something that lasted until the 90s, she said. They also reached out to St. Paul’s Church in Paterson to help with their men’s shelter.

More here-

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why Is God Still Absent from Downton Abbey?

From Christianity Today--

Let's start with the basics:

The record-breaking Downton Abbey spans a deliciously long stretch of time. The show includes the wreck of the Titanic, in which the Crawley family loses its heir, the lead-up to World War I, the War itself, its aftermath, and now, in Season 3 (or "soon in Season 3," depending on where in the world you live and/or how good you are at locating British Broadcasting Corporation web feeds) the advent of the roaring 20's.

The show's writer and primary creative force, Julian Fellowes, is a practicing Catholic.

The show is set in an old abbey. The family who own Downton, especially the older generations who have the most to lose by losing the house, are obsessed not only with the house itself, but also with its history.

Also they employ a vicar.

So how is it that God is a peripheral presence at best?

More here-

Ntagali attacks Church of England over gay bishops

From Uganda-

The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda Stanley Ntagali has attacked the Church of England over its recent decision to allow gays to be consecrated as bishops.

Ntagali in a statement on Monday said, “It is very discouraging to hear that the Church of England, which once brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Uganda, has taken such a significant step away from that very gospel that brought life, light, and hope to us.”

Recently, the Church of England has dropped the prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships from becoming bishops if they promise to be celibate.

In England, the evangelical Anglicans have vowed to fight the move by the Church’s synod, and warned of divisions if gay clergy are appointed bishops.

Ntagali said that this decision by the Church of England violates the Biblical faith and agreements within the Anglican Communion.

More here-

Anglican university in the Congo attacked

From ENS-

One of the member schools in Colleges and Universities of the Anglican Communion (CUAC) in Africa has been affected by the fighting in Congo. Despite being 250 miles north from the fighting in Goma, the Université Anglicane du Congo experienced its first attack since its opening two years ago. The Revd Canon Daniel Sabiti Tibafa, the university vice chancellor, has sent the following report:

“Yes, the morning night of 22 December 2013 at around 2:00 am, armed people broke the door of our house threatening to kill all of us if we did not have any money on us. They forced the door with heavy stones…and the guns to destroy the lock of the door. In the house we managed to get $200 and they forced me to take them into my office where we got another $250. They beat me on the back and on my right hand. The right hand pain is still being dealt with by our lovely nurse Miss Kiiza Kahwa.

More here-

Media Blackout Of New Nuns – OpEd

From Albany-

Aside from Deacon Greg Kandra, the Catholic News Agency, and EWTN, both the religious and secular media—including the Catholic media—have failed to report an important story that deserves wide attention: on New Year’s Day, 11 Anglican nuns from the Community of St. Mary the Virgin in England entered the Catholic Church. Moreover, a sister from another order of Anglican nuns joined with them to form a new Catholic order, the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The 12 sisters were received wearing their black habits, the signature color of their new Benedictine order. William Oddie, a prominent English writer and broadcaster (himself a convert), described the scene: “Here was a pristine, freshly minted Catholic community, fizzing with new life and (unlike, I fear, most Catholic sisters these days) wearing full habits….I had feared they might be received in lay clothes, only being clothed in their habits once the new community had been formally established, but there was no nonsense of that kind.”

The sisters will spend the next six weeks with a Benedictine community, learning the contours of the normative order. After that they will live a life of poverty in service to the Lord. “This historic event (I don’t think it’s too much to call it that),” says Oddie, “is a sign of great hope for the future of the Catholic Church in England.”

More here-

Petition Seeks Legal Ceasefire

From The Living Church-

“Bearing with One Another in Love,” a petition that urges a non-litigious resolution of tensions within the Diocese of South Carolina, has attracted support from Episcopalians and Anglicans in 27 states (including South Carolina), Canada, and England.

The petition also urges the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops to “seek, alongside other leaders of our Church, a new application of the discipline of this Church that will build up the body of Christ in South Carolina and the Episcopal Church, mindful of our call in Christ to ‘be patient, bearing with one another in love.’”

The petition has drawn support across diocesan boundaries, including from several well-known leaders and bloggers:

The Rev. Tony Clavier, vicar at St. Bartholomew’s, Granite City, and St. Thomas’s, Glen Carbon, Illinois

The Rev. Tobias Stanislas Haller, BSG, rector, St. James Church Fordham, Bronx, New York

The Rev. Robert Hendrickson, curate, Christ Church, New Haven, Connecticut, and director of St. Hilda’s House

The Very Rev. Mike Kinman, dean, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Louis

The Rev. Jonathan A. Mitchican, rector, Church of the Holy Comforter, Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania

The Rev. Yejide Peters, rector, All Saints’ Church, Briarcliff Manor, New York.

The Rev. Ephraim Radner, Wycliffe Hall, Toronto

Charles Wingate, Maryland

The Rev. Jesse Zink, United Kingdom

More here-

Petition here-

No Ordinary Year for the U.S. Anglican Ordinariate

From National Catholic Register-

When Father Scott Hurd, vicar general of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter — a home in the Catholic Church for former Episcopalians and Anglicans — reflects back on 2012, he points to a period of rapid and exciting growth marking its first year of existence.

On New Year’s Day 2012, Pope Benedict XVI erected the ordinariate, which allows former Anglicans to retain certain treasured traditions within the Catholic Church. It was created in accord with Anglicanorum coetibus, the Pope’s apostolic constitution permitting former Anglicans to come into the Church corporately instead of as individuals.

On the same day, the Holy Father named Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, a married Catholic priest and the former Episcopal bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rio Grande, as the first ordinary.

Read more:

Same-sex weddings to begin at Washington National Cathedral

From The Washington Post-

  Washington National Cathedral — the seat of the Episcopal Church, one of the world’s largest cathedrals and the host of the official prayer service for the presidential inauguration later this month — has decided to start hosting same-sex weddings.

In some ways, the announcement that is expected Wednesday morning is unsurprising for a denomination and a diocese that long ago took up the cause of marriage equality. But the cathedral’s stature and the image of same-sex couples exchanging vows in the soaring Gothic structure visited by a half-million tourists each year is symbolically powerful.

Even though it is known that the Episcopal Church, a small but prominent part of American Christianity, has been supportive of equality for gay men and lesbians, “it’s something for us to say we are going to do this in this very visible space where we pray for the president and where we bury leaders,” said the Rev. Gary Hall, who became dean of Washington National Cathedral in the fall. “This national spiritual space is now a place where [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people can come and get married.”

More here-

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Leading by example

From The Pittsburgh Trib-

The ups and downs of his first five years as leader of the McCandless-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America‘s Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod have, at times, been both literal and painful for Bishop Kurt Kusserow.

The pain has been tempered by the joy of sharing the journey as spiritual and administrative leader of 78,000 baptized members in 177 congregations over a 10–county region.

“I am often surprised by the depth of faith and hope and love that I find among the members of our congregations when I go to visit, even in difficult situations,” says the Hampton resident, raised by his missionary parents in the Far East, where he spent 15 years.

Significant challenges presented themselves soon after he was installed as only the synod‘s second bishop in 2007. He‘ll reach the end of his six-year term this summer.

“He certainly has experienced some trial by fire,” says John Frantz of Franklin Park, former synod treasurer, “with the economic meltdown of 2008, the loss of congregations, membership and financial support following the 2009 national church-wide votes on the sexuality statement and the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy, and his own personal recovery from injuries he sustained.

More here-

Kenya: Anglican Church Rejects Proposal for Gay Bishops

From Kenya-

The Anglican Church of Kenya has denounced a decision by the Church of England's House of Bishops to allow gay priests to become bishops.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala yesterday wrote to the Bishops of England saying their move would create further confusion about Anglican moral teachings and make restoring unity to the communion an even greater challenge.

Wabukala sent the letter in his capacity as the chairman of the Global Anglican Future Conference (Gafcon). Gafcon was formed in 2008 as a response to the West's church leadership led by the Archbishop of Canterbury who had invited the Episcopal Church of the USA to attend the Lambeth Conference that year.

The Episcopal Church is a proponent of gay inclusion in the ranks of the Anglican clergy, while the Lambeth Conference is a ten-yearly meeting of bishops from the world-wide Anglican Communion. Gafcon boycotted the conference in 2008.

More here-

Parents Who Forgave Their Daughter's Killer: It 'Frees Us'

From Texas-

After their daughter was murdered in a fit of rage by her fiancee in 2010, a Florida couple decided to do the hardest thing possible - forgive him.

Instead of pushing for a life sentence for their daughter's killer, Andy and Kate Grosmaire chose to pursue a process called restorative justice, which they learned about after a church friend referred them to an Episcopal priest who works in the Florida prison system. An alternative to a criminal trial, restorative justice gathers the families of both parties, the accused, and law enforcement in the same room to talk about the crime and determine how best to repair the damage done.

The Grosmaires met with Conor McBride, who had admitted to police that he had shot their daughter, Ann Grosmaire, with his father's shotgun on March 28, 2010, after two days of arguing with her. McBride's parents were also part of the process, which began while Ann was still on life support for four days after being shot before she died.

More here-

Breakaway SC Diocese Files Suit Over Church Property, Name

From Christian Post-

A diocese leadership that broke away from The Episcopal Church last year has filed suit against its former denomination over the estimated $500 million in church property under its supervision.
The South Carolina Diocese, headed by Bishop Mark Lawrence, filed their suit Friday with the intention of gaining not only the property but also exclusive rights over the title and seal of the diocese.

"[T]he plaintiff, The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina ('Diocese of South Carolina') is the only properly organized civil corporation and organization entitled to the use and control of the corporate entity, its names, emblems, styles and seal, its corporate assets, its real and personal property," reads the suit in part.

Jan Pringle, spokesperson for the breakaway South Carolina Diocese, told The Christian Post that the diocese has confidence that they can defeat The Episcopal Church in court.


Episcopal Diocese offers Richmond St. Matthias church property for free

From Maine-

St. Matthias Episcopal Church property, including two buildings and a half-acre lot, has been offered to the town for free.

The church's dwindling congregation voted last May to cease holding services at the church at 15 Spruce St., according to a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.

Church officials said they offered the church and another building on the same lot to the town, hoping the property could continue to serve the community. One possibility might be as a food pantry, for which it has been used previously, said Heidi Shott, a diocese spokeswoman.

Shott said the congregation wanted "to give it to the town so the food ministry and pantry could be kept in the community."

"They wanted to see it perpetuated," Shott said. "We're delighted the town is interested in talking about taking over that property and continuing that service to the community. That's part of what the congregation wants to do, continue the tradition of serving the people of Richmond, to take care of people."

More here-

Monday, January 7, 2013

Gay bishops and women bishops are not the same issue

From The Spectator UK-

This being the Ephiphany, churchgoing Anglicans will be on the receiving end of any variety of sermons on the visit by the three kings to the infant Christ. There won’t, by and large, then, be much attention given to the whole issue of gay bishops. No attention at all, probably.

You’d never think it, though, judging from the broadcast and press reaction to the news. On the Radio 4 Today programme yesterday, the presenter said sternly to one conservative Anglican, Norman Russell, the Archdeacon of Oxford, that the fuss over the issue of gay bishops just goes to show why people are turned off by the church: it can only ever think about sex. The archdeacon replied mildly that this wasn’t quite the case: the church did talk about other things.

Russell could have made a stronger case. He could have said, nope, it’s not the church that’s obsessed by sex; it’s journalists. The only reason why it feels like the church spends its time arguing about sex and gender is that these are the sole issues that are taken up in broadcast discussions about religion. Week after week, clergy treat congregations to reflections on justice, mercy, charity; much of the time in synod is taken up with the question of how best Anglicanism can serve the wider community; most of the time, Anglican clergy try to put these principles into effect on the ground. And what are the chances that any of this will be reflected in BBC coverage of religion? Quite. But give most papers, most pundits, a sniff of a row about gay clergy or women bishops and they’re off.

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For many Staten Islanders, faith triumphs over tragedies

From Staten Island-

Staten Islanders of different religions came together yesterday to pray for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., finding common ground in their grief and in their faith that the darkness of those events wouldn't overcome the light in the world.

"We can all agree on the unassailable reality that light dispells darkness, both metaphorically and literally," the Rev. Roy Cole of St. John's Episcopal Church, Rosebank, said Sunday.

Father Cole was one of many clergy members present at an interfaith service at Holy Rosary R.C. Church, South Beach, where the light shined in the form of dozens of tiny candles, carried mostly by children, serving as symbols for each of the 24 Staten Islanders killed by Sandy and the 26 children and educators of Sandy Hook Elementary School slain in Connecticut by gunman Adam Lanza.

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HIDDEN HISTORY: Clergyman charged with murder, 1949

From Western NY-

On a warm June morning in 1966, George P. Hetenyi walked out of Attica State Prison, a free man for the first time in nearly 17 years.

He climbed into a station wagon and a corrections officer drove him to the Trailways Bus Terminal on Court Street in Batavia. A group of reporters and photographers awaited him.
Hetenyi was sharply dressed in a dark hat, blue suit, white shirt and green tie. Sunglasses covered his eyes.

The 57-year-old smiled as he walked past the assembled reporters. He quietly refused their questions and asked to be left alone.

Most people in the bus terminal probably didn't realize a convicted killer was in their midst.
Hetenyi purchased a bus ticket but instead left the terminal in a car driven by a Batavia man. He was later seen in several downtown Batavia stores and walking down Main Street carrying two newly purchased suitcases.

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Priests Can Bless Gay Unions

From Rio Grande-

Episcopal priests in the Rio Grande Diocese can begin to bless same-sex relationships following an announcement by Bishop Michael Vono that he would provide an official liturgy, as of Sunday, for that purpose.

The announcement comes six months after the General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved a liturgy enabling priests to bless same-sex relationships with the approval of their bishops. The blessings are allowed both in states where same-sex marriages are legal or, as in the case of New Mexico, where they are not.

“It’s not a marriage in any way,” Vono said in an interview Sunday. “It’s not a legal marriage. It’s not a marriage in the church. This is a recognition of a commitment, which is a covenant, of two people who vow to live their lives in a monogamous relationship.”

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Eastern North Carolina Episcopal bishop resigns

From North Carolina-

Episcopalians in Eastern North Carolina will soon be choosing a new bishop.

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.

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Parishes look to transform churches into cafe-style gathering places

From Australia-

A CAFE-STYLE church that provides a community hub and less conventional family-friendly services is part of a "radical" Anglican Church plan to transform under-performing parishes.

St Barnabas parish church at Croydon - built in the 1920s and now with only a handful of elderly parishioners - will be overhauled during the next year.

Adelaide's Anglican Bishop, the Venerable Dr Tim Harris, has described the proposed transformation as a "pilot" plan designed to see how the Church could better use some of its churches to engage with the wider community.

The Elizabeth St parish church will be known as Nova Church Croydon.

Plans for the site include:

LINING the body of the church with cafe tables and armchairs.

A SUNDAY event called "conversations" where people sit in the body of the church to discuss current issues from a Christian perspective.

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Trinity Episcopal has rich history

From West Virginia-

Trinity Episcopal Church, 430 Juliana St., will celebrate 170 years this year, and behind those 170 years are stories of outreach and community.

The church's roots go back to 1843 when its first rector, the Rev. Thomas Smith, came to the area and began to form and lead the church. The need for a rector and place of worship came after several English families had moved to the Parkersburg area from Virginia, said the Rev. Larry Jackson, rector of the church.

"After they started their settlement, then they started reaching out for a place to worship," Jackson said.

Jackson explained those English families had been members of the Church of England, which became known as the Episcopal Church after the Revolutionary War.

"The Church of England is what came to the shores of America first. And it was during the Revolutionary War, when we broke away from England, that the Church of England became known as the Episcopal Church, which means it's pastored by bishops," Jackson said.

More here-