Saturday, February 23, 2013

Catholic priests should be allowed to marry, says U.K. cardinal

From Toronto-

Roman Catholic priests should be allowed to marry and have children, Britain’s most senior Catholic cleric said Friday.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, who heads the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said the requirement for priestly celibacy is “not of divine origin” and could be reconsidered.

He told BBC Scotland that “the celibacy of the clergy, whether priests should marry — Jesus didn’t say that.”

He said that “many priests have found it very difficult to cope with celibacy,” and while he had never considered marriage himself, “I would be very happy if others had the opportunity of considering whether or not they could or should get married.”

O’Brien, 74, will form part of the conclave of cardinals that chooses the next pontiff, following the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

Benedict announced earlier this month that he will step down Feb. 28 — the first pope to resign in almost 600 years.

The cardinal said that the next pope would be free to consider changing church policy on issues, such as celibacy for priests, that were not “basic dogmatic beliefs.”

More here

Gospel lessons from ‘Downton Abbey’

From Tom Ehrich-

I got home from a church event on Sunday evening, in time to watch the season three finale of “Downton Abbey” on PBS, but I stuck to my guns about catching up on previous episodes first.
But on Monday morning, The New York Times had two articles about the finale and I couldn’t stop myself from reading them.

So now I know that two key characters get killed off — because the actors playing them wanted to move on from the show. Does that mean watching the older season three episodes is pointless? Not at all. As any Christian can tell you, knowing how the story ends doesn’t take away its meaning or mystery. If anything, you become even more alert to character development.

Killing off characters can work wonders for a television series, but it rarely works for the actors who overestimated what they uniquely brought to the program.

Ask any executive, pastor or educator about moving on and then bombing in the next job: their success wasn’t about them in the first place. It was circumstance, luck or an “alignment of the planets,” if you will, that existed only for an instant.

Maybe this reality explains why Christianity has been such a flawed enterprise. Think about it. Virtually nothing of what Jesus intended has come to pass. His followers aren’t one, they aren’t even nice. Humankind has neither learned to love God or neighbor, to make peace, or to proclaim the good news of salvation in any way deeper than institutional arrogance. Nor have we learned to be bold in justice, magnanimous in healing, generous with wealth, or welcoming of outcasts.

More here-

Hymn Marks 175 Years

From Florida-

As the Diocese of Florida’s annual convention gathered at St. John’s Church in Tallahassee, the congregation sang a hymn that had never been sung before. “In Every Place Where God Is Found” was commissioned in celebration of the Diocese of Florida’s 175th anniversary to communicate the diocese’s anniversary theme of “Procession: Unified in Mission”:

In every place where God is praised by many or by few;
in every heart where prayer breathes life and hope begins anew;
where ever searching leads to faith or love melts hearts of stone;
where new life rises from death’s hold;
God’s presence will be known.

As clergy and lay leaders processed and more than 400 people joined in singing the hymn, the theme of unity in mission came to life, said the Rev. David C. Killeen, rector of St. John’s.

“Right here in the state capital, downtown, there was this sense of witness to the wider world in procession into the church,” Killeen said.

Composed by Carl P. Daw, Jr., to the tune of “Kingsfold,” “In Every Place” exemplifies the diocese’s anniversary theme.

More here-

Downtown churches in frenzy of renovation

From Texas-

If area churches have anything to say about it, Tyler is getting renovated.

Three churches in downtown Tyler, Christ Episcopal Church, Marvin United Methodist Church and First Baptist Church of Tyler are coming together to host the Renovation Tyler conference on March 2, in an unusual blend of Christian denominations.

The hope is the ideas and inspiration presented at the conference will spark the “renovation,” leaders said.

“From the beginning, the thing that excited us was different denominations coming together to do something for the body of Christ,” Pike Wisner, pastor of First Baptist, said. “This is for Christians who want to grow in the faith and learn to live like Jesus.”

The event will be at Marvin, and doors open at 8:15 a.m. Award-winning songwriter Kyle Matthews will lead opening worship at 9 a.m.

Richard Foster will speak about “The Nature of God’s Kingdom: A Reign of Grace,” at 9:25 a.m.

Foster is an internationally known writer and speaker, and his book “Celebration of Discipline,” has sold more than 1 million copies and was named by Christianity Today as one of the Top 10 books of the 20th century.

More here-

Richmond bishop issues directive on unique Anglican-Roman Catholic community

From Richmond VA-

Diocese of Richmond Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo has issued a directive to a one-of-its-kind Virginia Beach church to bring its liturgical celebrations, primarily the Mass, into conformity with the universal Roman Catholic Church. At the same time, he has offered options for additional combined worship and prayer services that would affirm the unique character of the 35-year-old ecumenical community.

Bishop DiLorenzo met Thursday evening with the two priests and members of the Vestry Council of the Church of the Holy Apostles, the world’s only combined Anglican-Roman Catholic (ARC) Community, to reiterate a plan presented last fall and again in January to Catholic priest Rev. Msgr. Raymond Barton and Episcopal priest Rev. Michael Ferguson. The meeting was held at St. Bede’s Catholic Church in Williamsburg.

“I’m grateful to all who were involved in these proceedings, and for the friendly, productive and constructive nature of our conversations,’’ said Bishop DiLorenzo.

The liturgical directive, effective Feb. 28, would bring Holy Apostles back into compliance with the norms established by the Roman Catholic Church for celebrations of the Mass.  Namely, the directive requires that the Catholic and Episcopal liturgies be separate. The directive encourages the two communities to come together in an ecumenical spirit for Morning or Evening Prayer before and after the liturgy of the Mass.

More here-

Friday, February 22, 2013

Island’s Anglican bishop steps down after 9 years

From British Columbia-

Vancouver Island’s top Anglican priest, Bishop James Cowan, has announced his retirement.

Cowan, 61, who has served as bishop of British Columbia for nine years, said he will retire Aug. 31. He made the announcement to the diocesan council, indicating he had already informed the church hierarchy.

Cowan, who is married with two grown sons, said he has no firm plans for his retirement. But he joked to church staff his immediate plans are to rest, perhaps even “sleep for four months.”

In an interview, he said that during his church career, he has always known when it was time to step aside and now seemed like the right time.

“I think it’s time to go,” he said. “There is a need for new leadership, different leadership.”

Cowan was consecrated and installed as the 12th bishop of British Columbia on Jan. 25, 2004. The Diocese of B.C. only takes in Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. It includes about 45 parishes with 10,000 members.

More here-

Sheffield diocese’s ‘total surprise’ at Kenyan ordination

From The Church Times-

THE diocese of Sheffield has expressed "total surprise" at the ordination in Kenya of the minister of a church planted by Christ Church, Fulwood.

The Revd Pete Jackson, the founding minister of Christ Church, Walkley, was made deacon in the Anglican Church of Kenya by the Bishop of Kitui, the Rt Revd Josephat Mule, on 9 February.

Anglican Mainstream issued a statement about the ordination on Monday, signed by the Revd Tim Davies, the senior minister of Christ Church Central, which is another plant of Christ Church, Fulwood; and by Jane Patterson, a trustee of Christ Church Central who is also a member of the General Synod and sits on the Crown Nominations Commission.

Christ Church Central, in Sheffield city centre, was set up by Christ Church, Fulwood, in 2003. It was planted "outside the formal structures of the Church of England", the statement said, after "diocesan support for this initiative was withdrawn".

More here-’s-‘total-surprise’-at-kenyan-ordination

Ordinariate is a ‘permanent feature’ for the Church, says Vatican spokesman

From The Catholic Herald-

The Personal Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham will remain “a permanent feature in the life of the Church,” Fr Federico Lombardi has said.

Fr Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office told the Catholic Herald: “As the Holy Father said during his visit to the UK in 2010, they will continue to ‘set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion’. The Personal Ordinariates are a permanent feature in the life of the Church and a sign of our lasting and unswerving commitment to that ultimate goal”.

Fr Lombardi said that the establishment of the ordinariate was a project, “particularly close to the heart of Pope Benedict XVI.” He said: “The ongoing development of these structures in the future will be a lasting legacy of his pontificate, but also a continuing contribution to the work of Christian unity and ecumenism.”

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was established on January 15 2011 following the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus.

Pope Benedict issued the apostolic constitution in order to, “guarantee the unity of the episcopate” by providing a structure through which Anglicans could enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

More here-

Presiding bishop notifies Eau Claire of successful consent process

From ENS-

The Office of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has notified the Diocese of Eau Claire that Bishop-Elect William Jay Lambert has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

As outlined under Canon III.11.4 (a), the Presiding Bishop confirmed the receipt of consents from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction, and has also reviewed the evidence of consents from a majority of standing committees of the Church sent to her by the diocesan standing committee.

In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are “fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ.”

More here-

Md. Episcopal Congregation Votes to Join Catholic Church

From Maryland- (Christian Post)

A Maryland congregation belonging to The Episcopal Church has voted to leave the denomination and join the Roman Catholic Church.

St. Timothy's Church of Catonsville, a small but historic congregation, voted overwhelmingly on Sunday, Feb. 10, to leave the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland and join a Roman Catholic Ordinariate.

Created in 2012, the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is a Catholic body created for Episcopalians and Anglicans that want to leave the Anglican Communion yet retain their liturgy and tradition.
This Ordinariate is specifically for Anglican congregations in North America. Other Ordinariates have been created for Anglicans in Australia and England. 

The Rev. Terry Sweeney, rector of St. Timothy's Church, told local media that he will retire as an Episcopal priest on April 1 as part of the transition process.


Episcopal Presiding Bishop Visits Orlando March 3-5

From Central Florida-

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, is scheduled to visit the Central Florida Episcopal diocese Sunday, March 3 through Tuesday, March 5.

Schori will preach at Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Longwood, on Sunday; tour the diocese on Monday; and meet with diocesan clergy at Canterbury Retreat and Conference Center, Oviedo, on Tuesday morning, Central Florida Bishop Gregory Brewer said.

“It is both our responsibility and our privilege to welcome the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, to the Diocese of Central Florida,” Bishop Brewer said. “It be an opportunity for our diocese to be a witness for Christ as we showcase a number of our vital ministries that are making a difference in people’s lives here in Central Florida.”

More here-

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Anglican Church of Tanzania to elect archbishop

From ACNS-

The Church of the Province of Tanzania has called on Christians world over to pray for the Province as it prepares for the election of an archbishop on Thursday February 21.

Current archbishop and Primate of the Pprovince, the Most Revd Valentino Mokiwa has served his first five-year term and he is still eligible for re-election.

Archbishop Mokiwa succeeded the Most Revd Donald Mtetemela who served two five-year terms. In a brief statement to the Anglican Communion News Service and other partners, Provincial Secretary for the Anglican Church of Tanzania, the Revd Canon Dickson Chilongani explained that, “according to our constitution, any bishop can be elected.” He added that he “values prayers for this important event in our Province.”

Archbishop Mokiwa was elected Archbishop of the Province in February 2008 during a special session of the Provinces’ General Synod in Tanzanian capital Dodoma.

More here-

Bishop vonRosenburg to visit Florence's Christ Church

From South Carolina-

The Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, will be at the historic Christ Church, on Highway 327 in eastern Florence County for a question and answer session on Feb. 26 at 7 p.m.

vonRosenberg’s visit is part of the deliberations among the congregation at Christ Church on whether to go with the breakaway Diocese of South Carolina or remain with The Episcopal Church. It is one of the few Episcopal congregations in the state yet to vote on the matter.
Doctrinal questions led to the separation. The situation is creating a split among South Carolina Episcopalians and is apparently leading to a situation in which there will be (at least) two sets of Episcopal churches in South Carolina.

More here-

How the Pope Selection Process Works (VIDEO)

From Christian Post-

The Catholic Church has an episcopal form of church governance which means the bishop is the main authority figure.

According to Theopia, an online encyclopedia covering religion, "There are basically three types of church government that have developed in the various Christian denominations: the episcopal, the presbyterian, and the congregational."

More here-

Deal Is Close For Fort Henry Club

From West Virginia-

McKinley and Associates of Wheeling is close to purchasing the former Fort Henry Club building from St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, the architectural firm and church leaders confirmed.

"We have a deal in principle, but the devil is in the details," said the Rev. Mark Seitz of St. Matthew's. "The lawyers have it. Once they get to reading it, we will have a deal."

Ernie Delatorre, president of McKinley and Associates, agreed the firm was "very close" to closing on an agreement to purchase the building.

"We're looking at it, but the deal is not finalized," he said.

Delatorre said he wasn't certain yet how the building might be utilized if purchased by McKinley.

"We're going to evaluate it," he said. "It could either be used for office space, or we're even evaluating having it as residential space. Most likely, it would be office space."

More here-

Catonsville Episcopal church makes switch to Catholocism

From Maryland (ABC News)

St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Catonsville is now Catholic.

Members of St. Timothy's voted on Feb. 10 whether to leave The Episcopal Church and whether to enter the Ordinariate. Eighty of 100 parishioners were present; 55 were voting members. Of the voting members, six people abstained; 83 percent elected to leave The Episcopal Church and 76 percent to enter the Ordinariate.

The vote was held in the presence of the Rev. Scott Slater, canon to the ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, and Rev. Scott Hurd, vicar general for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
"This has been a long process of discernment, guided by the Holy Spirit," said the Rev. Terry Sweeney, rector. He added, "I am grateful for the gift of faith nurtured within the Episcopal Church and for the opportunity for those members who have been called to continue their journey of faith within the Catholic Church to be able to do so without losing the beauty of Anglican traditions."
Sweeney will retire as an Episcopal priest on April 1, 2013.

Read more:

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Abp of Canterbury's first hire reflects on his appointment

From ACNS-

The first appointment made by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is David Porter as Director for Reconciliation at Lambeth Palace. On his blog, Shouting at the Devil, he has reflected on his journey thus far...

Reflections on a journey

Over the last five years life has brought some unexpected developments, not least the events of recent weeks as I have taken up responsibilities at Lambeth Palace as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Director for Reconciliation. This is a part time secondment from Coventry Cathedral which itself is to be the focus for the new Archbishop’s commitment to reconciliation. As a practical expression of this responsibility by Coventry I am to provide support to ++Justin, a former Canon for International Ministry at the Cathedral and my predecessor in this post.

We first met in April 2005 at a consultation in Coventry arising out of the Lausanne consultation in Thailand the previous autumn where I had represented ECONI on the reconciliation track. The Thailand event was a formative experience for me and the declaration signed by those present in the reconciliation working group hangs on my office wall. It lead to our sabbatical in the US at Duke Divinity School where my wife and I enjoyed five months in 2006.

Coventry Cathedral had played a full part in that consultation and little did I realise in 2005 that I would be working there within three years. It was in fact my second visit to Coventry, the first in 1997 with a group of Southern Baptists who were developing a reconciliation ministry and network which still has links to the Coventry Community of the Cross of Nails. It was one of them, Phyllis Hardin, who sent me the information on the job at Coventry to see if I knew anyone suitable, the assumption being they would need to be Anglican and ordained.

More here-

An Abundance of Grapefruit

From The Living Church-

The city of Lockhart, Texas, isn’t known as an ideal environment for citrus, but two trees at Emmanuel Church consistently produce delicious ruby red grapefruit and help pay for parish ministries.

A parishioner planted the two trees 15 years ago between Emmanuel’s nave and its parish hall.

“The fact that they do so well is a miracle in and of itself,” parishioner Liz McGinty said.

During especially good harvests in the past few years, the parish has sold grapefruit at an annual library festival to raise money for various causes.

This year, the grapefruit ripened later than usual and, with the threat of impending freezing temperatures, Emmanuel’s senior warden called on the church to help pick the particularly abundant batch of grapefruit immediately after a Sunday-morning service. That morning, the congregation harvested more than 1,000 grapefruit.

More here-

Charity fur sale to benefit Staten Island victims of Hurricane Sandy

From Staten Island (only in the Episcopal Church)

Staten Island Furrier Frank Siller is spreading the warmth this winter.
His annual fur sale takes place this weekend with proceeds benefiting victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Buyers can browse through hundreds of new or gently worn fur coats on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, located at 40 Old Mill Road in Richmond.

Prices range from $200 to $2,000.

"We have a lot of inventory, depending on what you're looking for," said Siller, owner of Staten Island Furrier and chairman of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which established a Sandy relief fund in the days after the storm.

Siller collects coats throughout the year. In recent weeks, some of his vendors have donated new merchandise for the sale.

More here-

Episcopalian, Baptist churches combine services

From Dayton-

A Baptist church and an Episcopal Church began working together out of necessity, but hope to continue the collaboration.

Members of Christ Episcopal Church, 20 W. First St., and First Baptist Church, 111 Monument Ave., will worship together for about a month.

The Episcopal church is undergoing renovations, and its membership is temporarily displaced. The Baptist church members decided to open their doors.

“The chapel that is adjacent to our entry way was in danger of collapsing,” said the Rev. John Paddock, of Christ Episcopal. “I approached them initially thinking we could hold our services at a different time, but they invited us to join our services with theirs. It has been great and a wonderful learning experience as we explore our various traditions.”

Two examples of how Baptists and Episcopalians differ in their beliefs are baptism and celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

“The Church of England and Anglican churches, including the Episcopal church, are a bridge of sorts,” Paddock said. “Our liturgical practices are very Catholic, whereas our theology is more Protestant.”

More here-

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New Anglican director for reconciliation

From Christian Today-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has appointed Canon David Porter as Director for Reconciliation at Lambeth Palace.

Canon Porter already works in reconciliation ministry at Coventry Cathedral and will bring his experience to Lambeth Palace and the wider Church. This includes chairing the Northern Ireland Civic Forum's working group on peacebuilding and reconciliation, and serving as a member of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council.

He will support the Church as it seeks to transform the violent conflicts affecting people around the world.

This will begin with a renewal of conversations and relationships focusing on "deeply held differences" within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion, the Archbishop's office said.

Parts of the Anglican Communion have been at odds over thorny issues like women bishops and homosexuality.

Canon David will remain Canon Director for Reconciliation Ministry at Coventry Cathedral, a role he has held since 2008, whilst working part time on the Archbishop's personal staff.

More here-

Huts for the homeless: 'It’s very secure and very comfortable

From Oregon-

Dianne Sciacca has not wasted any time making herself at home in her new Conestoga hut, located in the parking lot of the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Eugene.

She describes the hut as having a “simple elegance. That’s the only way to describe it: simply elegant.” 

Since Sciacca moved in at the beginning of January, she has already painted the exterior and created a small tile foyer from sampled and broken tiles in front of her hut.

Sciacca is one of three tenants who the Church of the Resurrection has welcomed to live in the new Conestoga huts as a part of an initiative to increase assistance for the homeless in Eugene.

The huts, which cost between $200 and $500 to build, are created with the help of donors and volunteers. So far, the huts have received positive feedback from local officials.

Initially, the Conestoga huts were an experimental living alternative for unhoused members of the St. Vincent De Paul’s Overnight Parking Program. The program sites were for unhoused members of the community to legally park their campers, cars and tents.  

More here-

Bishop's service a first since 1066

From The Oxford Mail-

OXFORD’S Keble College played host to a very special ceremony when it welcomed Bishop Jerome of Manhattan, of the Russian Orthodox Church.

When His Grace celebrated a Western Orthodox Episcopal Liturgy on Friday, it was the first time the service had been held in the UK since 1066.

Before then the church in the UK was Orthodox, but the Norman Conquest saw the Roman church take over.

Father Stephen Platt, parish priest at the Russian Orthodox church St Nicholas the Wonderworker in Marston, Oxford, said: “Orthodox services generally have an Eastern origin, while Catholic and Anglican churches have services which originate in Ancient Rome.”

Philip Pughe-Morgan, who came from Weston-super-Mare for the service, said: “Many people are put off by what they see as a form of worship which doesn’t relate to their traditional culture.
More here-

All eyes on Texas, S.C. church property fights

From The Washington Post (Via RNS)

When disgruntled congregations have left hierarchical denominations such as the Episcopal Church, they’ve often lost property battles as civil courts ruled buildings and land are not theirs to keep.

But outcomes could be different this year, court watchers say, as high-profile cases involving dozens of Episcopal congregations in South Carolina and Texas wind their way through state courts. That prospect has observers watching for insights that could shape legal strategies in other states and denominations.

Both cases involve conservative dioceses that voted to leave the Episcopal Church over homosexuality, among other issues. In South Carolina, congregations representing about 22,000 people are suing the Episcopal Church for control of real estate worth some $500 million and rights to the diocese’s identity. In Texas, the national Episcopal Church is suing about 60 breakaway congregations in the Fort Worth area for properties estimated to be worth more than $100 million.

The Episcopal Church argues, as it has in past cases, that local properties are held in trust for the denomination and can’t go with parishioners who choose to disaffiliate. But recent court actions are giving breakaway groups hope that things might go differently this time.

More here-

Episcopal Church expands missions

From Sarasota-

Leaders from area Episcopal churches are looking at strategies to reach out to the unchurched or those missing a spiritual life.

A mission conference last month in Bradenton that brought together clergy and churchgoers from Tampa to Naples was moderated by the Rev. Eric Cooter, the diocesan missioner since Jan. 1 under Bishop Dabney Smith.

"The purpose of the event was to stir enthusiasm and also to create an educational opportunity to bring in some people that are not theorists, but doing it 'boots on the ground' in other parts of the church," he said.

Speakers included the Revs. Karen Ward and Bob Leopold, both of whom knew Cooter when he led a young adult ministry at Lamb of God, a federated Lutheran Episcopal church in Fort Myers. Cooter also served as rector at St. David's in Englewood.

More here-

Monday, February 18, 2013

National View: The case for an American pope

From Massachusetts-

An American pope? No chance.

That was the consensus a mere eight years ago — a blip in church time — upon the death of Pope John Paul II. Both Europe, the institutional epicenter of the Catholic Church, and the developing world, its demographic stronghold, were too resentful of America's global footprint: its ostentatious wealth, its ubiquitous military presence and its saber-rattling, diplomacy-scorning president bent on prosecuting two unpopular wars. Big Brother hardly needed a partner in the Vatican.

Nor did U.S. social trends inspire confidence among the men who would elect the next pope. They were not alone, of course, in deploring the values celebrated in American popular culture and exported across the planet by Hollywood and Wall Street. But the cardinals appointed during the 27-year pontificate of John Paul II shared a more pointed diagnosis of the American soul: U.S. constitutional guarantees of individual freedoms, distorted by the materialism and hedonism of unbridled capitalism, had produced a climate of moral license — to have abortions, use birth control and eschew marriage.

The cardinals traced their concern about the denigration of the sanctity of human life to this American source. Would not the selection of an American prelate as pope signal an implicit endorsement of "the culture of death" described and decried by John Paul II?

And just when the church needed all the moral authority it could muster, the sexual abuse scandal was bringing disgrace, in particular on the American hierarchy. Several U.S. cardinals were implicated in the coverup. Viable American candidates for the papacy were nowhere on the horizon. So the conclave went with a German, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI.

More here-

Central Africa’s Anglicans helping women tackle violence

From ENS-

 “The statistics on gender-based violence in Zambia are appalling,” says Grace Mazala Phiri, national programmes director for the Anglican Church in Zambia.

As an example she cited a survey conducted in Chipata, a town in Eastern Zambia, from January to March last year. “[This] revealed that within three months alone more than 1,000 women were victims of battering, while over 50 women were raped.

“Cases of child abuse were more than 100, with 12 people reported as having died as a result of gender-based violence.”

Zambia, is not the only country in Africa that struggles with gender-based violence. It is an issue that cuts across culture, race, religion and socio-economic status. It is defined by the Southern African Development Protocol on Gender and Development as: “All acts perpetuated against women, men, boys and girls on the basis of their sex which causes or could cause them physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or economic harm, including the threat to take such acts…”

More here-

Grace Cathedral: a place of religious immunity, anonymity and unity

From The Telegraph-

This past week I've been in a sunny, blue-skied San Francisco playing Liszt's 2nd concerto with the San Francisco Symphony and Pablo Heras-Casado. The hotel at which I was staying was quite close to Grace Cathedral and I would pass by it at least twice a day on my way to rehearsals or concerts. It is an imposing structure on one of the city's many imposing hills and I finally found the time a couple of days ago go inside for a visit.

I was struck by two things: firstly, as I walked through its front doors, it was less visually overwhelming inside than I was expecting; but secondly, and more importantly, as I sat down in the AIDS Interfaith Memorial Chapel immediately to the right of the entrance, I became aware of this Cathedral's mission of inclusivity. I was disarmed and deeply moved by the sheer sense of acceptance symbolized by this small room devoted to the memory of those who died from a modern plague.

It hit me: We are loved: before accepting, after rejecting. Always. It was palpable – a sense (if God exists) of what God has to be like; and faith (which is really 'trust', not ticks down a list of doctrinal propositions) has to begin with a safe space. Grace Cathedral is one of the safest spaces I've encountered, a realization not unrelated to something I wrote last year on this blog about Anglican thresholds and Evensong.

More here-

Faithful use 'Lent Madness' for saintly gains

From Milwaukee-

The brackets are out, and the pools are under way. Players are sizing up the field. And there's no shortage of hype as that annual rite of spring begins en route to the championship.

March Madness?

Check your calendar.

This is Lent Madness, a saintly smackdown in which pious protagonists - from John the Baptist to Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr. - battle it out for the right to claim the Golden Halo.

"There's no reason we have to be dreary during Lent," said the Rev. Tim Schenck, a Milwaukee native who runs the online devotional at with a fellow Episcopal priest, Father Scott Gunn.

"This gets to the joy of Lent," said Schenck, who serves a parish on Boston's south shore. "And what could be more joyful than a season specifically set aside to get to know God in a more intimate way?"

The 2013 tournament, which began Thursday, draws participants from across the country and across denominational lines.

At the website, celebrity bloggers tout the virtues of their respective candidates - all saints on the Episcopal calendar - and the faithful vote online.

So far this year, Jonathan Daniels, a martyr of the American civil rights movement, trounced the obscure Macrina the Younger. Third-century St. Lucy edged out perennial favorite John the Baptist. And Ignatius of Antioch won Saturday's "Battle of the Iggys" in a matchup with Ignatius of Loyola.

More here-

Episcopal bishop brings Lenten message of hope to McKeesport

From The Pittsburgh Tribune-

In his first formal visit to McKeesport, the Right Rev. Dorsey W.M. McConnell spoke about the impact of hope and faith with parishioners of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.

Consecrated in October as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, McConnell has spent his Sundays traveling among 37 parishes across 11 counties.

“Until you've been to a community, it's hard to connect with the residents and what's going on in their lives,” he said. “As a parish priest, you get to know the people over years.”

McConnell sought to relate with McKeesporters on Sunday with a Lenten service, luncheon and casual conversation.

“We need to be taught by the people who are in local communities about the needs of those communities,” he said. “You are the ones who have lived here, in some cases for generations, and you know what's going on.”

Parishioners shared their concerns for McKeesport, identifying physical needs such as jobs and housing, as well as a less tangible regard for neighbors and the law. Some spoke of the city's message campaign to teach the concepts of respect, dignity, hope and love through positive reinforcement in local schools, households and churches.

More here-

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Archbishop of Canterbury faces 'a challenge for the imagination'

From Ekklesia-

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said that in his new role he is faced with “a challenge for the imagination”, reports the Anglican Communion News Service.

Speaking in an interview with the Communion’s official magazine, Anglican World, Welby said: “What do we mean by the Anglican Communion, and how does it contribute as a blessing to the world in which we live in its present circumstances?

“That’s something I think Rowan [Williams] has been brilliant at, so have the Primates generally, and the ACC—as we see from the range of subjects covered in New Zealand1. It’s something we need to continue," he added.

“That challenge to the imagination is something that is constantly renewed and we need to be very reactive to it, and not allow ourselves to get bogged down in looking inward,” said Welby.

The Archbishop has been well received since the announcement of his appointment and his taking up his post earlier this month. He will be consecrated in March.

However, the Anglican Communion, which claims over 78 million members, has been riven with division in recent years - notably over authority, the interpretation of the Bible, and sexuality.

Archbishop Welby come from the charismatic evangelical tradition, but with an openness towards others. He has significant management experience outside the church, as well as training and experience in conflict resolution and transformation techniques.

More here-

Historic departure part of Pope Benedict XVI's legacy

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Pope Benedict XVI, the German pope who some feared would spend his pontificate scourging liberal Roman Catholics, focused on preaching about God's love.

"His greatest legacy is his spiritual hunger and thirst to bring people closer to God," said Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh.

But it's how he ended his papacy, as the first pope in 600 years to resign, that is guaranteed to make the history books.

"In one fell swoop, he brought the papacy into the modern world. It was a very courageous act that has probably been needed for a long time," said John Thavis, the former Vatican bureau chief of Catholic News Service and author of "The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church," which will be published this week.
"A very tradition-minded pope made a very untraditional decision."

He is an introvert who followed the 26-year reign of an extrovert who had redefined the papacy. Elected at 78, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who had presided over the Vatican's doctrinal office for 24 years, didn't expect a long papacy. He set out to build on the call of Pope John Paul II for a "new evangelization" that would appeal to secularized Westerners who were abandoning the faith. But his intended messages often were overshadowed by world-shaking gaffes, such as an unvetted speech on faith and reason in 2006 that triggered rioting in parts of the Muslim world.

Read more: