Saturday, February 16, 2013

Working the Web (Advice for parish web sites)

From The Living Church-

1. Use .org
The internet uses a clear and useful system of classification for websites. The suffix .org was one of the original six “top-level domains” used in this classification system, and it is intended for use by nonprofit organizations such as churches. (For the curious, the other five were .gov for governments, .mil for the U.S. military, .net for internet service providers, .edu for educational institutions, and .com for commercial websites.) Parish web addresses should end in .org whenever possible. An address like is intended for use by a company, not a church.

2. Make links to stable, responsible sites
If your parish website includes links to external sites, learn something about the organizations behind these links. A small number of useful outbound links is better than a large number of links that are poorly maintained and may misrepresent your parish’s commitments. Always include a statement on your links page like this one from Ascension and St. Agnes, Washington: “These links were selected on the basis of their potential interest to those who visit [our parish website]. Comments and suggestions will receive careful attention. When using this and any other portal, however, be sure to read with critical attention and careful judgment.”

More here-

Former Anglican leader not surprised by papal resignation

From ACNS-

Pope Benedict’s retirement was not such a surprise to the former Archbishop of Canterbury, who had discussed “the pressures of office” with the pontiff during their last meeting a year ago. Bishop Rowan Williams, now the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, told Vatican Radio that in a private meeting in the Vatican last March, the two Church leaders discussed “the promise of being able to do a bit more thinking and praying”. The former leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion also said he was aware that Pope Benedict was increasingly "recognising his own frailty”.
Bishop Williams revealed that he has written a private letter to the Pope and he says this resignation may have a significant impact on ecumenical relations by “demystifying the papacy”.

Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Bishop Rowan Williams:
Read the transcript here Real  MP3
“It wasn’t a total surprise, I think because in our last conversation I was very conscious that he was recognising his own frailty and it did cross my mind to wonder whether this was a step he might think about…..

Can you share any of that conversation with us?

These conversations are private of course…but it was a sense I had that he was beginning to ask the question, ‘is it possible to carry on with a good conscience’, and I’m sure it must be in his mind that for all the previous pope’s immense courage and the example he set in shouldering on to the end, it might not be - now - for the best interests of the whole church.

You yourself were due to retire at the end of the year – did you talk about your own plans, your feelings with him? 

More here-

Fittall: gay marriage ‘not on horizon’

From The Church Times-

THE prospect of the Church of England's allowing clergy to solemnise same-sex marriages is "nowhere on the horizon", the Secretary General of the General Synod, William Fittall, said this week.

Mr Fittall gave evidence to MPs on Tuesday during the Committee Stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, which passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons last week ( News, 8 February). The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, and the deputy legal adviser to the Synod, the Revd Alexander McGregor, also gave evidence.

Mr Fittall told MPs that, apart from one or two people who had expressed personal views on their blogs, he did "not detect a strong debate among our bishops around moving to same-sex marriage". It would be "possible" for the General Synod to pass legislation enabling clergy to conduct same-sex marriages, "but I have to say my assessment is, it is nowhere on the horizon."

Asked by an MP whether the Church's official stance on homosexuality might change in years to come, Bishop James said that a group chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling was looking at the Church's approach to sexuality ( News, 6 January 2012). "I think it's possible, of course, that our understanding of same-sex relationships and how we treat them would change," he said. But this would not necessarily "lead automatically to the Church approving of same-sex marriage."

More here-‘not-on-horizon’

Episcopal priest brings spiritual season to hospital

From Texas-

Black crosses slowly started appearing upon people's foreheads at the hospital as the priest made his annual rounds.

For the past four years, the Rev. Bur Dobbins, of Trinity Episcopal Church, has visited local hospitals and businesses to bring Ash Wednesday to people who can't make it to their services that day.

At Citizens Medical Center, Dobbins was a familiar face to hospital staff.

Doctors and nurses approached Dobbins for a quick ashing on their way to their next patient.

Patient Judy Murphee, 68, wore a pink, sequined cap over a leopard print sash as Dobbins placed the blessed ashes upon her head.

Her husband, John Murphee, 73, watched and was happy to see his wife receive the blessing from their church priest.

Judy Murphee, who had undergone chemotherapy for the past several weeks at Citizens, said she's often visited by other members of the Episcopal church.

More here-

Huntsville's St. Stephen's Episcopal Church begins 50th anniversary celebrations with Lenten Series

From Alabama-

The congregation of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 8020 Whitesburg Drive S., in Huntsville, a daughter congregation of the Church of the Nativity, Episcopal, and also a child of Huntsville’s rocket-age boom, celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2013, beginning with a Lenten series Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

Founding Rector, the Rev. Dr. Doug Carpenter, now of Birmingham, will be the first speaker for the Tuesday evening series.

Each Tuesday, the congregation will have an evening service at 6 p.m., with supper and reflections at 6:30 p.m.

Carpenter, the author of “A Powerful Blessing,” the biography of his father and Civil Rights pioneer Bishop Charles Carpenter, will speak Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013, at 6 p.m., at the church.

More here-

Friday, February 15, 2013

Is God the missing character in ‘Downton Abbey’?

From RNS-

The third season of the megahit PBS series “Downton Abbey” wraps up on Sunday (Feb. 17), capping another must-see run of ruin and redemption at Lord Grantham’s stately English manor. Yet some are still left puzzled over the absence of what should be a leading Upstairs player in this colorful cast: God.

Writing last month in the flagship evangelical magazine Christianity Today, Todd Dorman wondered why — despite the heart-rending melodrama and all the “divine trappings” that gild the 1920s scenery — “God is a peripheral presence at best.”

“There are numerous fascinating blog posts … that search for implicit Catholic and Christian themes in the show — good and evil, suffering for cause, various types and grades of love and devotion,” Dorman wrote. “At some point, though, especially with a vicar in the family’s employ, it seems odd for such connections to remain unnamed, unspoken, and, for all we can see, unperceived.”

More here-

Structure task force gathers for first time

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, Feb. 14 each gave the church’s Task Force on Structure their own sense of the work facing the 26-member group.

Their remarks came on the first day of the task force’s initial meeting being held Feb. 14-16 at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.

“Your task is to bring all of your creativity, strategizing, thought and prayer to the work of suggesting how we might better support and undergird and challenge the life and work of this Church and to do it with as one person says, ‘sheer holy boldness,’” Jefferts Schori said.

The presiding bishop said church members are currently directing their attention to four areas. The first are the issues around identity, she said, such as “who are we, what we are for.” The second is mission, which she said is “a primary response to the question of identity.” Sustainability in mission is the third area and includes the question of how all parts of the church can grow to be self-supporting. The final focus of attention is organizing and structuring for mission.

Jefferts Schori noted that the group is expected to report to the church in late 2014, “with the hope that our next General Convention will take up your proposals.”

“Change and reform are not waiting until then, however,” she said, adding that the group charged with shaping the next General Convention “has already begun to look at how we might work more effectively.”

More here-

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pilgrimage via Eden is bishop's Dolorosa

From Australia-

As you toil without chocolate, coffee or another vice this Lent, spare a thought for the bishop you may witness lugging a large cross through a town near you.

Bishop Stuart Robinson will begin a six-week pilgrimage on Saturday morning, taking a two-metre wooden cross 514 kilometres, spreading the Christian message through the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

"Initially, I think, because it's such an unusual idea, people did do a bit of a double take and said 'you're carrying a what, where, how?'" Bishop Robinson said.

"But people now see the value of it, because it will give me an opportunity, as I'm travelling, to speak to people about the Christian message … and to be connecting with people who we might not normally connect with.

"Over the years various Christian leaders have carried crosses at significant moments in history, and given the fact it's Canberra's 100th anniversary, and the 150th anniversary of our diocese, I thought it might be appropriate for the Anglican Bishop.

Local priest deemed ‘celebrity blogger' for Lent Madness

From Michigan-

The Rev. Chris Yaw of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Southfield was recently selected to participate in this year’s Lent Madness fourth annual “saintly smackdown” tournament as a “celebrity blogger” and provide enlightenment for the competition.

The Rev. Tim Schenck of St. John’s Church, an Episcopal church in Hingham, Mass., is the creator of Lent Madness, an online devotional tool for the Lenten Season, a 40-day preparation for Easter Sunday observed by Roman Catholics and select Christians.

Schenck came up with the idea of Lent Madness by combining the basics of the well known NCAA college basketball tournament, March Madness, with the devotion of Lent.

Schenck hoped to educate Lent observers of the history of saints that have come before them, remind them of the purpose of the Lenten season, and to have fun doing so.

More here-

Scottish bishop preaches unity in South Carolina

From ENS-

Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney Robert Gillies visited Grace Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Feb. 10 for its “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan” service.

Gillies presented South Carolina Provisional Bishop Charles vonRosenberg with a crozier carved by John Jaffries from oak from Balmoral Castle. Jaffries, before his retirement, was gillie (fishing and hunting guide) to Her Majesty the Queen at Balmoral.

The Scottish bishop spoke in his sermon of the deep bonds of history and affection between the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church.

Gillies called the “Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan” an “experience to end all experiences” in an official report about his trip. He noted that 500 people attended the 9 a.m. service and another 650 worshiped at 11 a.m.

The pipe band from the nearby Citadel military college of South Carolina led the procession into Grace for the annual service. More photos from the day are here.

More here-

More "Ashes to Go" coverage

Western New York

Rhode Island-





Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Special Lenten Message from Bishop McConnell

This worth the 3 minutes it takes to view-

Freeport church gets new life

From Pittsburgh-

After sitting empty for more than five years, the Trinity Episcopal Church in Freeport has new life.

The Freeport Renaissance Association has teamed with the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh to rejuvenate the church into a social hall and museum.

Members of the Renaissance Association hope the 144-year-old church, now called Freeport Community and History Center, will be home to wedding receptions, banquets, and any other sort of get-together that a social hall can host.

“We realized the building had sat empty for many months; what a shame nothing was happening there,” said Mary Bowlin, the director of the Freeport-Leechburg-Apollo Group (FLAG). “When we were first pondering the project, we went inside and said ‘Wow — we are smitten by this building.'

“It's really a facility that's worth the elbow grease to save.”

The church, which was built in 1868, closed in 2007 because membership was down to about only 15 people.

The church has a long, rich, history in Freeport.

Read more:

In the Spirit: Pastors to offer 'drive-thru' ashes on Wednesday

From Wisconsin-

Several Madison-area pastors will hit some of the city's busiest streets and intersections Wednesday to offer drive-thru ashes for the start of Lent.

Motorists need not exit their vehicles to get their foreheads smudged.

"Anywhere a car can pull over, I'll go right up to their window," said the Rev. Mike Tess, pastor of Good Shepherd Episcopal Church in Sun Prairie. He plans to be at Market Street Square, across from Sun Prairie City Hall, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The effort is part of a national "Ashes To Go" campaign intended to engage people who otherwise might not be planning to attend an Ash Wednesday service.

Five Madison-area Episcopal churches and Monona United Methodist Church are among those participating, each for the first time.

Read more:

Episcopal church offers 'Ashes to Go' to its flock

From Pittsburgh-

This Ash Wednesday, Bishop Dorsey McConnell is thinking outside the church.

Building, that is.

Today, the leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, along with the Rev. Catherine Brall and possibly other Episcopal priests from Trinity Cathedral, will visit Market Square, Downtown, to mark the day that begins the Christian observance of Lent. The clergy will distribute ashes, traditionally a symbol of repentance and renewal.

Anyone who would like them can get ashes to go.

This year is the first time the Episcopal church in Pittsburgh is bringing ashes to the streets on Ash Wednesday. But the practice has been spreading to different Episcopal dioceses throughout the country in recent years.

The idea of "Ashes to Go" began at an Episcopal diocese in Missouri a few years ago, according to a website about the event.

Read more:

Pope resigning for "the good of the church"

From CBS-

Looking tired but serene, Pope Benedict XVI told thousands of faithful Wednesday that he was stepping down for "the good of the church," speaking in his first public appearance since dropping the bombshell announcement of his resignation.

The 85-year-old Benedict basked in more than a minute-long standing ovation when he entered the packed audience hall for his traditional Wednesday general audience. He was interrupted by applause by the thousands of people, many of whom had tears in their eyes.

A huge banner reading "Grazie Santita" (Thank you Your Holiness) was strung up at the back of the hall.

Benedict appeared wan and spoke very softly, but his eyes twinkled with joy at the flock's warm and heartfelt welcome. He repeated in Italian what he had told his cardinals Monday in Latin: that he simply didn't have the strength to continue.

More here-

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

General Seminary to Award Three Honorary Degrees at the 2013 Commencement Ceremonies

From General Seminary-

Bishop Dorsey McConnell was formally seated as the Eighth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh in November 2012. He earned his Master of Divinity from General Seminary in 1983, cum laude, and went on to minister as Curate of Saint Thomas Church, New York City; Chaplain for the Episcopal Church at Yale; Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in New York; and Rector of Saint Alban’s Church in Edmonds, Washington.  In 2004, he returned to the East Coast, accepting a call as Rector of Church of the Redeemer in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, where he served until his election as Bishop of Pittsburgh. Bishop McConnell is the first tenured diocesan bishop to shepherd the Pittsburgh diocese since its previous bishop led a schism over theology and sexual ethics in 2008.

General Seminary conferred its first honorary degree in 1885.

More here-

Task force on church structure plans first meeting

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church’s Task Force on Structure will conduct its inaugural meeting February 14-16 at the Maritime Institute in Linthicum Heights, Maryland.

The opening prayers and remarks from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings on Feb.14 at 3:00 p.m., as well as a review of the group’s mandate, are open sessions, according to a media advisory here.

The remainder of that day, the next two days’ proceedings and small-group discussions are private. The closing worship on Saturday is open.

The task force plans to issue a statement following the conclusion of the meeting, the advisory said.
The task force was called for via Resolution C095, approved at the July meeting of General Convention.

Resolution C095 calls for a 24-member task force charged with presenting a plan to the next General Convention in 2015 “for reforming the church’s structures, governance, and administration.” According to the resolution “the membership of the task force shall reflect the diversity of the church, and shall include some persons with critical distance from the church’s institutional leadership.”

More here-

National Cathedral's Gay Marriage Stance Sparks Calls For Defunding

From Huffington-

A prominent conservative interest group has launched a petition to suspend all federal funding from the National Cathedral in light of the landmark church's recent decision to perform same-sex weddings.

"We believe the definition of 'marriage' to be the union of one man to one woman," the petition, sponsored by right-wing activist Ralph Reed's Faith & Freedom Coalition, reads. "Pro-family and Pro-freedom Americans cannot sit idly by."

Representatives for the National Cathedral remain undeterred by the petition's threat. "We have absolutely no intentions of changing course [on gay marriage]," Richard Weinberg, the Cathedral's director of communications, told The Huffington Post. "For us, it's a theological issue and an issue of how we're living out the gospel as faithful Christians."

The 106-year-old Episcopal church announced last month that it would begin hosting same-sex nuptials, following the appointment of prominent gay marriage advocate the Very Rev. Gary Hall as its dean.

More here-

Binghamton priests to offer 'ashes to go' on downtown sidewalk

From Binghamton NY-

Two local Episcopal priests will take a Lenten ritual to a downtown sidewalk Wednesday morning and offer “ashes to go” to anyone who wants to partake in a Christian custom that starts Lent.

Though “ashes to go” has been offered elsewhere, this is likely the first time that clergy in the Binghamton area have taken the Ash Wednesday ritual to the masses outdoors.

“When people spot clergy with ashes, they might say, ‘Hey, it’s Ash Wednesday,’” said the Rev. Janet Watrous, pastor of Christ Episcopal Church in Binghamton. “Sometimes it’s important to make a witness to something regardl

Watrous and the Rev. David Drebert, of Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church, will offer ashes and a prayer from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Wednesday on Trinity’s sidewalk on Main Street across from Binghamton High School.
More here-

Monday, February 11, 2013

Anglican leaders praise 'great theologian' as Pope resigns

From Christian Today-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, has greeted news of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation with a "heavy heart".

He praised the 85-year-old Pope as someone who had held office with "great dignity, insight and courage".

"As I prepare to take up office I speak not only for myself, and my predecessors as Archbishop, but for Anglicans around the world, in giving thanks to God for a priestly life utterly dedicated, in word and deed, in prayer and in costly service, to following Christ," said Archbishop Welby.

"He has laid before us something of the meaning of the Petrine ministry of building up the people of God to full maturity."

The Archbishop said he was praying God would bless the Pope "profoundly" in retirement with health and peace of mind and heart.

"And we entrust to the Holy Spirit those who have a responsibility to elect his successor," he added.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said the Christian world would will "miss a great theologian with great spiritual depth".

More here-

Pope Benedict XVI to resign

From USA Today- (Additional links below)

Pope Benedict XVI will resign his office on February 28 because he is too old to cope with the demands of being the head of the Catholic Church.

The announcement was made in Latin during a meeting of cardinals in Rome and comes as a surprise to millions of Catholics around the world.

"After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry," he told the cardinals. "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only by words and deeds but no less with prayer and suffering.

However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary — strengths which in the last few months, have deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me."

More here-

Chicago Trib-,0,123038.story

New York Times-




Saint up for holy brackets with Lent Madness

From Detroit-

According to a survey Chris Yaw just read, 12 percent of Americans think Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.

More people can name the Brady Bunch, he suspects, than can identify the four writers of the Gospel, who were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but not George or Ringo.

As the rector of St. David's Episcopal Church in Southfield delicately puts it, "Our Biblical literacy is not great." That's the principal motivation for Lent Madness, starting Thursday at a computer near you — and for Yaw to be one of its trash-talking commentators.

Basically, Lent Madness is like the NCAA basketball tournament, but with saints. While March Madness will include competitors such as Michigan, Michigan State and Indiana (and OK, St. John's and Saint Louis), the 32-person field for Lent Madness features a dandy first-round matchup between Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr.

Ultimately, one member of the Episcopally exalted will earn the coveted Golden Halo — a title worn proudly (but not too proudly) last year by Mary Magdalene.

More here-

Applicants sought to plan national Episcopal youth event

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

The Episcopal Church is seeking adults and teens to help plan its 2014 Episcopal Youth Event.

So far even the location hasn't been chosen. The 2011 Episcopal Youth Event in Minnesota drew more than 700 Episcopal teens from across the country, plus several hundred adult chaperons and staff members. A lengthy report to the denomination includes information about the duties and decisions of the planners.

Nominations for the planning team are due by Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013. Those chosen will be announced in March.

To be eligible for the Mission Planning Team youth applicants must currently be in grades 9-11 and must be active in an Episcopal parish. Adult applicants must be at least 25 years old, active in an Episcopal parish and have experience working with high school-aged teens. More requirements, including travel dates, are on the denomination's Web site.

More here-

Pope to Resign

From The Wall Street Journal

Pope Benedict XVI intends to resign at the end of this month as he feels he lacks the energy to continue in the job, his spokesman said Monday.

The pontiff announced his plans in the Vatican in Latin at a consistory meeting on Monday, the spokesman said.

The resignation, which will be effective at 1900 GMT on Feb. 28, means that a new pope should be in place by Easter, the Vatican spokesman said.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Signs, signs, everywhere signs.

From St. Mark's Penn Yan New York

New Haven's Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. James to worship on Facebook in wake of storm

From Connecticut-

The congregation at the Episcopal Church of St. Paul and St. James may be scattered on Sunday, but they’ll still be able to worship together.

Services have been canceled, but the Rev. Alex Dyer, priest-in-charge, will hold “virtual church” on the parish’s Facebook page.

“It’s always a tough decision to cancel church,” but with a travel ban still in effect, “We want to get the word out early and we want people to stay safe.” Dyer said the decision was made after consulting with lay leadership.

“Instead we’re going to do church via Facebook,” Dyer said. “Social media is a great tool and doesn’t replace church by any stretch of the imagination, but in times like these it’s great to have a community that can reach out and connect.”

Dyer will post the parts of the service from the prayer book, spacing them out so as not to rush through too fast, and post the hymns as YouTube clips. Parishioners will be able to post their prayers as well. The only thing missing will be Communion.

More here-