Saturday, March 9, 2013

Floorboard allegedly reveals Jesus image

From Canada-

As a carpenter, it’s only natural that Jesus has chosen to return to Earth in a pine floorboard.

While mere mortals ascend to the Jay Wells Salon by stairs, our Lord was delivered by a crew from Hefler’s lumber mill in Middle Sackville.

The visage of Jesus was covered by the bed where women lay while getting waxed until Wells went into the room to rearrange the furniture.

“I had a staff member leave and so I came into this room thinking, hmm, what am I going to do now, and I sat on the end of this bed and I was, ‘Oh my God, it’s Jesus!’” Wells said Friday.

“People say he looks kind of surprised, and I say ‘Well, he has witnessed a lot of Brazilians, he’s not your typical Jesus.’”

It was last June when Wells discovered the holy knot, but he thought it over for a long while before deciding to go public.

“I’m a little nervous. Everybody’s like, ‘Oh my God, there’s going to be freaks lined up out the door,’ or ‘They’re going to think you’re crazy,’” he said before interrupting Lisa Dunn’s highlighting to show her the 15-centimetre-long image on the floor.

“Oh yes, as soon as I walked in,” Dunn said, when asked if she saw Christ in the Barrington Street salon’s floorboard. “For sure.”

More here-

Biography cites Welby's past views on gays

From UPI-

Justin Welby, the new head of the Church of England, supported a ban on adoption by gay couples when he was a parish priest, a new biography says.

The biography by the Rev. Andrew Atherstone of Oxford University quotes letters Welby sent to his parish at Southam, Warwickshire, during the 1990s, The Daily Telegraph reported. The newspaper is to publish selections from the book, "Archbishop Justin Welby: The Road to Canterbury," starting Saturday.

Welby replaced Rowan Williams last month as Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England and of the worldwide Anglican Communion. He is to be enthroned March 21.

He has an unusual background, having worked as an oil company executive before deciding when he was over 30 years old he had a call to the Anglican priesthood. He became bishop of Durham in 2011.

Welby is from the church's evangelical wing, which generally takes a harder stance on homosexuality. But he has recently warned against homophobia and said he supports civil unions for same-sex couples.

Read more:

Why Priests?

From Patheos-

Over at Stories Untold is an interview with Gary Wills about his book on Why Priests? A Failed Tradition. Wills objections to the idea of a priesthood on three grounds: (1) The theology of Hebrews prohibits it, (2) The negative historical impact of the priesthood in politics and socio-economics, and (3) It is symbolic for monarchial hierarchy. In the interview he states:

The idea of a separate Christian priesthood is as invalid for the Anglicans as for the Catholics because it, too, is based on the Letter to the Hebrews, which is riddled with fallacies. The basic point of my book is this: it comes from Luke 9, when the disciples try to stop someone from casting out devils in the name of Jesus and he says, why do that? They’re doing it in my name. 

If they’re doing it in my name, they’re not against me. Well, the priesthood has, in all cases, Orthodox or Lutheran or Anglican or Catholic, has been a way of saying, stop, to people who don’t have the priesthood, of dividing the body of Christ. Owning Jesus can be claimed by lots of sorts, but it’s especially claimed by priests who are exclusive in their worship credentials.

Well, as someone who now trains candidates for ordination to the Anglican priesthood and who works with a number of Anglican priests, I do have an opinion on this.

More here-

The day the Archbishop took a double glazing call - at gunpoint

From The Telegraph-

The Most Rev Justin Welby has recounted how he once found himself staring “up the barrel of a gun” at a road block in when his mobile phone rang.

After an embarrassed pause, he fished the phone out of his pocket and confidently answered, acting as if nothing was out of the ordinary.

But any hope of giving the soldiers manning a roadblock the impression it was an urgent call were scuppered when he heard a voice on he other end.

“Warwick Glass here, Mr Welby,” the voice said.

“Can we fit your new window this afternoon?”.

The incident, from the Archbishop’s time as a Canon of Coventry Cathedral, when he worked as a conflict negotiator between warring groups in west Africa and the Middle East, is contained in the first biography of the new leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans.

It discloses how during scores of trips to the troubled Niger Delta in Nigeria, Burundi, Iraq and Palestine, his life was in danger several times.

More here-

Transformation turns Anglican Church into housing

From Canada-

From the outside, nothing much has changed at the large, red-brick building at the corner of Maryland Street and St. Matthews Avenue.

But the inside of what was once the city's largest Anglican Church is now clearly a construction zone as the building is slowly transformed into affordable housing. A worker removes debris from St. Matthew's Anglican Church. The historic church will contain affordable housing and is now called WestEnd Commons.

Last week, the last official mark of St. Matthew's Anglican Church vanished when the exterior church signs were replaced with two large banners proclaiming the new name of the building, WestEnd Commons.

"Up until now, for people outside the building, it's been an idea," explains Rev. Cathy Campbell of the structural work and gutting of the former grand worship space.

"The outside isn't going to look massively different, but the inside is massively different."
The new banner at the south end also lists the six congregations that worship in the space, indicating the building no longer belongs exclusively to St. Matthew's Anglican Church.

More here-

Papal conclave to begin March 12 for Benedict’s successor

From The Washington Post-

The College of Cardinals will convene Tuesday to begin the formal process of selecting a new pope to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, the Vatican announced Friday.

In their eighth general congregation, or pre-conclave meeting, the cardinals voted to start the conclave Tuesday afternoon, after a morning “pro eligendo Romano Pontifice” Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The cardinals will convene inside the Sistine Chapel, and they are sworn to secrecy and barred from contact with the outside world until their deliberations are complete. Voting begins the first afternoon. If no papal candidate receives the required two-thirds of the votes, the ballot is repeated twice each morning and afternoon. If, after the third day, no pope is elected, a one-day break for prayer is permitted. Since the early 20th century, no conclave has lasted more than five days.

More here-

Some Church Folk Ask: 'What Would Jesus Brew?'

From The Wall Street Journal-

As several of the faithful from the Valley Church here prepared to bow their heads in prayer to open a recent Saturday-evening meeting, they introduced themselves.

"My name is Darin," the Methodist congregation's 37-year-old music director said, grinning. "And I like me a 30-pack of Busch Light!"

The circle broke into laughter as several people put down bottles of microbrew beer to applaud. It was a fitting introduction for the event—a semi-regular meeting of beer enthusiasts and home brewers who go by the moniker "What Would Jesus Brew?"

Pastor Matt Bistayi, who started Valley Church three years ago, says the goal of WWJB isn't to be "churchy," but rather to "reach out to people in a loving, grace-filled way that meets people where they are and as they are."

Valley Church is one of several congregations around the country tapping the growing craft-beer trend as a way to attract new members.

The number of American adults who consider themselves "unaffiliated" with any particular religion has grown from 15% to 20% in the last five years, according to a study released last year by the Pew Research Center. Among 18-to 29-year-olds, it's roughly a third.

More here-

Episcopal diocese kicks off convention with flair despite national divides

From South Carolina-

In an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation, clergy and delegates of the Diocese of South Carolina gathered Friday evening for an opening Eucharist to their 222nd annual convention.
With a theme that focused primarily on moving forward after their split with the national Episcopal Church, spirits were high among the crowd despite the most recent developments in a legal battle over rights to the Diocese’s name, seal and property.

All Saints Church member Libby Phillips said she feels that the Diocese will now be meeting the needs of a group of people that would not be met otherwise.

“We are just so enthusiastic and excited about what’s happening,” Phillips said. “We’re looking to the future and growth and spirituality.”

Participants and clergy present seemed eager to accept Bishop Mark Lawrence’s call to focus on the future and let the courts decide the more complicated matters of the once-Episcopal affiliated group.

More here-

Episcopal Church House of Bishops Spring 2013 retreat meeting

From ENS-

The House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church is meeting in retreat at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC (Diocese of Western North Carolina) from March 8 to March 12.  The following is an account of the activities for Friday, March 8.

In their first meeting since General Convention in July 2012, a sense of unity and good spirit among the bishops was evident.

The theme for the spring retreat meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Godly Leadership in the Midst of Loss. The schedule calls for prayer-filled sessions, and bishops participate in daily Bible study, reflection and worship.

Morning Prayer included a reflection on Godly Leadership in the Midst of Acute Loss, presented by Bishop Laura Ahrens, Diocese of Connecticut. Bishop Ahrens spoke  powerfully of her experience as a pastor and church leader in the days following the tragic shootings in Newtown. “There’s no one to impress when your heart is broken,” she said. “The cross reveals violence and speaks forgiveness offering new life. The love revealed in the life and witness of Jesus speaks to a peace.”
The emcee for the day was Bishop Dean Wolfe, Diocese of Kansas.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Tornado-damaged Trinity Episcopal parish hall to be repaired by Easter; plan for sanctuary uncertain

From Alabama-

From inside the damaged sanctuary of Trinity Episcopal Church, it’s easy to tell how close the east wall came to collapsing after the Christmas Day tornado was done with its dirty work.

Attached to the Gothic -style columns are large steel beams supporting the structure much like a rod would for a broken leg. Where pews once stood, four thick steel cables run from holes cut in the floor to the east upper wall, providing more stability.

“Whatever plan we do, the intent is to build the church back as close (as possible) to what it was before the tornado,” said the Rev. Bailey Norman, rector at Trinity, located on Dauphin Street.

The good news is that the congregation will be back in the repaired parish hall for Easter Sunday and beyond. The bad news is that the way forward on the main church is unclear for now.

More here-

Diocese kicks off convention in Florence

From South Carolina-

In the midst of a growing legal battle, the Diocese of South Carolina will hold its annual convention in Florence over the weekend, while The Episcopal Church of South Carolina will holds its own convention in Charleston.

Only a year ago, the two groups would have attended convention together.

Now, after a split over theological and moral issues, a court case that granted a temporary injunction in favor of the Diocese and a new suit filed by the presiding Episcopal bishop only this week, representatives from parishes around the state are attending separate conferences.

The diocesan convention, hosted by St. John’s Church in Florence on Friday and Saturday, will be attended by those parishes that voted to stay in the diocese and disassociated themselves from the national Episcopal Church at a special convention in November.

Currently, 47 of the original 71 parishes and missions have chosen to remain in the diocese, while six remain undecided and continue to discern the best choice for their congregations.

More here-

Preliminary injunction sought in SC Episcopal case

From South Carolina-

Bishop Charles vonRosenberg of the Episcopal parishes staying with the national church in eastern South Carolina asked a federal judge Thursday to immediately block the bishop of churches that have left from using the names and seal of the Diocese of South Carolina.

The motion for a preliminary injunction in federal court is the latest legal salvo in a schism among Episcopal churches in the eastern part of the state.

Attorneys for Bishop Charles vonRosenberg want U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck to issue the injunction against Mark Lawrence. vonRosenberg sued Tuesday alleging Lawrence's continued use of the names and seal of the diocese are federal trademark infringement.

Lawrence is the bishop of the diocese that broke away from the church last year in disputes over ordaining gays and other issues. When the diocese left, it had 70 congregations with about 29,000 parishioners. But 19 parishes and six worship groups are remaining in the national church and they elected vonRosenberg bishop at their own convention earlier this year.

There's a second suit in state court in which Lawrence was granted a temporary injunction giving him the right to use the name "Diocese of South Carolina" and the seal. That suit asks a state judge declare Lawrence's diocese has the right to the names and the seal and to a half billion dollars in church property controlled by parishes that left.

Read more here:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The secret life of the Archbishop

From England-

IT would be the perfect cover. With the geeky specs and narrow shoulders that make him a dead ringer for the vicar from Dad’s Army, Justin Welby would be the spy nobody ever saw coming. He looks so weedy he couldn’t hurt a fly even if he wanted to, but his enemies would be laughing on the other side of their faces when he pulls out the Walther PPK he carries hidden under his surplice.

Maybe he can kill with his bare hands.

Yesterday morning Lambeth Palace put out a statement emphatically denying that the new Archbishop of Canterbury works for MI6, ever has done or has ever had any connection with Britain’s external spy service. Unless the head of the worldwide Anglican Communion is prepared to break the eighth commandment and tell porky pies, we are obliged to believe that statement.

But the fact that his office felt the need to issue it at all is a sign there may be much more to Dr Welby than meets the eye.

His staff were responding to the publication of a grainy photograph showing the new Archbishop, at the time the humble director of the International Centre for Reconciliation at Coventry Cathedral, on a visit to Baghdad in 2003. Pictured in the same group, although not immediately next to him, is Sir John Sawers, who was the UK Special Representative in Iraq at the time and went on to become head of MI6, the job he still holds. They were also observed shaking hands and conversing for fi ve minutes.  

More here-

Celibacy for priests a hot issue, just not for church leaders

From CNN-

For centuries, the Vatican has required celibacy from its priests.

It is a vow the Catholic Church says not only underscores the commitment of seminarians to their vocation but also is a model of Christ's own celibacy.

But with the election of a new pope, many church watchers are wondering whether church teachings could change to allow all priests to marry.

Currently, the Vatican allows married Anglican priests who join the Catholic Church to become ordained as priests. Young Catholic seminarians, meanwhile, must remain celibate, and church leadership seems unlikely to move on the issue.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that while changes to church law on celibacy might be discussed, it is unlikely to change soon

More here-

Twenty year high for young priests

From England-

Statistics for 2012 show that the number of young people (under 30s) accepted for training for the Church of England ministry last year was 113, 22% of the total. This is the highest number in the past twenty years and is exactly the same as the statistics for the Diocese of Lichfield.

Says the Revd David Newsome, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands:

“There is now a full recognition that ministers need to reflect diversity of Body of Christ – our church communities – with people of all ages. The American theologian [name?] said that ‘without young ministers, the church loses cultural fluency’. Former Archbishop Rowan Williams phrased it ‘Without young clergy, how can we speak the language of a new generation?’”

Matt Harbage is 27 and in his first year of training to be a priest at Westcott House in Cambridge:
“I was at secondary school and attended a Baptist church when I first thought about calling and ministry. I finished my degree at York and came to work at Keele University’s chaplaincy team. I talked a lot to the chaplain there, and he saw something that made him want to connect me with the DDO. Through many meetings, we explored my budding sense of calling and desire to contribute to and support the church for over 10 months before I was recommended for training. There was some recognition that the church reflects its leaders, and keen to engage younger people in the church. I wonder if there’s a certain cynicism that age brings – I still believe we can radically transform the world and transform the church in the here and now.”

More here-

Suspicious fires burn churches, homes in Bend

From Oregon-

A string of suspicious fires burned homes and churches early Wednesday in Bend, where police tracked footprints in the snow in search of suspects.

There were no injuries. Numerous streets at the south end of downtown and the adjacent Old Town neighborhood were closed for the cleanup and investigation, KTVZ reported.

The fires began shortly after 2 a.m., when smoke was spotted coming from Trinity Episcopal Church. As police and fire units arrived, another fire was reported at nearby Grace Bible Church.

Dispatchers soon received a report of a home engulfed in flames and fires in trash cans in an alley near the Episcopal church. A garage fire in the alley spread to an adjacent house.

Larry Medina, deputy chief of fire prevention, told KBND radio that five structures had been involved, including the two churches, with extensive damage to Trinity Episcopal Church, which was built in 1929 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Police said rocks had been thrown through windows of the church.

Two vehicles also burned.

Fire crews from as far away as La Pine and Redmond were called in, as well as others from the Sisters, Cloverdale, Black Butte Ranch and Sunriver fire departments. The firefighters relieved Bend crews and helped staff fire stations.

More here-

Texas: ‘Please use your cell phone,’ says rector in service

From ENS-

Upon entering a church, we are all accustomed to the signs asking us to turn our cell phones off or on silent, but one church turned that conventional wisdom on its head. On Sunday, leaders at St. Andrew’s, Pearland, asked congregants to “Please use your cell phone.”

For weeks leading up to the event, dubbed “Bring Your Cell Phone to Church Sunday,” St. Andrew’s leaders encouraged everyone to bring their cell phones and take photos of the service. Their e-mail newsletter read, “Take at least one photo of our worship and post it on Twitter and/or Facebook and/or your Pinterest account.”

“We are just trying to find ways where people are comfortable inviting friends, and so we thought this would be a good way of doing it,” said rector, the Rev. Jim Liberatore.

Liberatore encouraged the congregation to post photos or status updates that referred back to the church’s Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest account. Liberatore said it was hard to tell exactly how many people mentioned St. Andrew’s in social media on Sunday, but the parishioners were excited, including those who attend the more traditional 8 a.m. service.

More here-

Court ruling supports breakaway diocese in battle with Episcopal Church

From San Joaquin-

A judge on Wednesday tentatively rejected a motion by the Episcopal Church that would likely have meant victory in its nearly five-year church property battle with the breakaway Diocese of San Joaquin.

In a seven-page written ruling, however, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Hamilton suggested the Episcopal Church may simply have failed to submit the documents necessary to prove its case.

The matter will be orally argued before Hamilton next Wednesday. If he affirms his tentative ruling, the Episcopal Church could appeal the ruling or the matter could move to a trial.

At stake is who owns property, such as bank accounts, the actual churches and a conference retreat center in Oakhurst. Is it the Episcopal Church and its Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, or is it the breakaway Anglican Diocese of San Joaquin?

Read more here:

Federal lawsuit filed in SC Episcopal Church schism

From South Carolina-

It’s now bishop vs. bishop in the Episcopal Church schism in South Carolina.

A lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday by Episcopal Bishop Charles vonRosenberg asks a federal judge to declare he is the only bishop with authority to act in name of the Diocese of South Carolina.

“The intent of this suit is straightforward,” vonRosenberg said in a statement. “We are asking the court to determine who is authorized to serve as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.”

The suit alleges trademark infringement and argues the diocese comprised of parishes remaining with the national church, of which he is the newly elected bishop, it the only entity with the right to use the name “The Diocese of South Carolina,” other diocesan names and the diocesan seal.

Read more here:

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Solar Panels Rare Amid the Steeples

From The New York Times-

In the early 1980s, after an energy crisis that gripped the world, a Catholic priest in the Texas city of Lubbock took a stand for the environment. His congregation needed a new church. So the priest, the Rev. Joe James, anchored the building deep in the earth to optimize insulation. He also ordered five wind turbines for the church grounds. The largest was called Big Bird, because it stood 80 feet tall.

“I don’t feel as though we are free to waste,” Father James told a videographer at the time. Staring earnestly into the camera, he argued that saving money was not the only reason for energy conservation.

Father James, who still lives near Lubbock, was an outlier. In the intervening years, few churches have made energy saving a priority. Experts say that churches, like other houses of worship, face particular challenges in going green because of unusual architecture and an often slow decision-making culture. Even Father James’s wind turbines got dismantled in the 1990s, after he had moved on.

Still, as the likely effects of climate change on people and nature become clearer, some religious leaders are increasing their engagement. Pope Benedict XVI, who stepped down last week, has been hailed as the “green pope.” He put solar panels on the roof of a Vatican auditorium, though they are out of sight of the general public. Last year, he also acquired an electric car to get around the grounds of his summer residence.

Environmentalists will be eager to see whether the next pope makes green issues a priority.

The Church of England has a goal of reducing its carbon footprint 42 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

More here-

Why Protestants should care who becomes pope

From Alabama-

The entire world is watching the Vatican – or is it?

Decidedly, the 1.2 billion Roman Catholics across the globe have a stake in who is elected pope to take the place of retired Pope Benedict XVI. He is their leader. But what about Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians and others? What’s in it for them?

Beyond the historical significance of a pope retiring and two popes living on Vatican grounds, there’s plenty for non-Catholics to care about, observers say.

In short, the pope sets the tone.

“The pope articulates for much of the world what it means to stand in the ancient Christian consensus,” said Russell Moore, dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. “We should hope then for a pope who, like his predecessors, stands for the small ‘c’ catholic Christian concepts of human dignity, accessible universal truth claims and so on.”

More here-

Fake bishop busted, booted from Vatican

From CNN-

Move over, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the Virginia ex-couple who famously — or infamously — crashed President Obama’s first White House state dinner. There’s a new impostor posing with dignitaries, and he set his sights on an even more coveted gathering.

Meet Ralph Napierski, a German self-declared bishop who reportedly called himself “Basilius,” said he was with the nonexistent “Italian Orthodox Church” and set out to infiltrate a Monday meeting of cardinals at the Vatican.

The fake bishop played the part of cardinal, donning a purple sash (really a scarf) over his vestments and mingling with cardinals and others who’d flown in from around the globe ahead of the conclave to pick a new pope. He smiled wide and posed for cameras while shaking hands with Cardinal Sergio Sebiastiana. He tried to blend in.

But before he could get into Paul VI Hall for a top-secret meeting, the Telegraph reported, Napierski was nabbed and booted by Swiss Guards. Seems the disguise, which was a little off, gave him away. The cassock was too short, the crucifix around his neck a bit different, the purple scarf conspicuous against all the red. The fedora on his head, against all the skullcaps, probably didn’t help.

More here-

At Vatican, rumors, theories swirl around St. Peter's Square

From The Post-Gazette-

In the absence of actual news, the 5,000 journalists gathered in Rome for the election of a successor to Pope Benedict XVI are awash in conspiracy theories. Some may have substance, but probably only by coincidence.

An example is the question of why three of the four cardinal-electors with archdioceses in Germany were among the dozen who hadn't arrived in Rome Monday for the first day of general meetings to prepare for the conclave. They had had two weeks' notice and, unlike latecomers from places such as Vietnam, face no travel challenges.

Could it be that they were trying to postpone the opening of the conclave? Did they fear that Italian cardinals who work in the Vatican would try to rush the international cardinals into voting before they could identify a worthy candidate from outside the Vatican?

German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is 80 but voting because his birthday fell after Pope Benedict stepped down on Thursday, could be construed as hinting at this in remarks to the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper.

"We need time to get to know one another," he said. "A papal election is not something you should rush."

Read more:

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Going Federal in Charleston

From The Living Church-

The Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg, the Episocpal Church’s provisional bishop in eastern South Carolina, has filed suit against the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence in a U.S. District Court.

Bishop vonRosenberg asks the court to declare that he is the rightful bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, and to restore the diocese’s “marks, names, and symbols” to the reorganized diocese he leads. The lawsuit seeks to override state circuit judge Diane S. Goodstein’s injunction that gives control of those marks, names, and symbols to the diocese led by Bishop Lawrence.

The text of the complaint follows.

More here-

Welcome to the House of Deputies Newsletter

From The House of Deputies

Welcome to the House of Deputies Newsletter

Welcome to the Episcopal Church House of Deputies monthly email newsletter. If you're a deputy or first alternate, you've been subscribed automatically. If you've come across this issue in another way and would like to subscribe yourself, you can sign up on our new website or on our Facebook page.

Do you have suggestions, ideas, or news about the work of deputies to share? Please email us. Want to learn more about the House of Deputies? Check out the new resources on our website, Facebook page, and Twitter feed.

More here-

Pope Betting Has Ghana’s Turkson in Lead

From Business Week-

Cardinal Peter Turkson was a soccer- loving 11-year-old when he declared to a playmate after a day running through forest paths near his Ghanaian home village that he would dedicate his life to the Catholic Church.

“He said with a solemn and serious tone after a period of silence, ‘Pawusey, I would like to be a priest,’” Daniel Pawusey, a 61-year-old retired mechanic, said in an interview in the Western village of Nsuta Wassaw. “I didn’t take him seriously. I didn’t quite understand what was at stake.”

Turkson’s journey has taken him from his rural hometown in the West African nation’s mining heartland to the Vatican and now to possibly becoming the world’s first black pope. The 64- year-old is the 2-to-1 favorite to replace Pope Benedict XVI as head of the Catholic Church, according to results today from betting company Paddy Power Plc (PAP) in Dublin. He’s placed third by London-based William Hill Plc.

More here-

Nigerian Anglican Primate Stirs Homophobia

From Nigeria-

The Primate of the Anglican Church of Nigeria, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, has condemned homosexuality and gay marriage, saying: “The basics of Jesus Christ will continue to be our teachings and we will not depart from it....The basics of Christian marriage is between man and woman."

British human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, has criticised the Primate, who heads the Anglican church in Nigeria, accusing him of "stirring up prejudice against gay people in Nigeria."

Okoh spoke during the ordination of three Anglican Bishops - James Olusola Odedeji (Bishop of Lagos West), Simeon Oluwole Borokini (Bishop of Akure) and Geoffrey Enyinnaya Okorafor (Bishop of Egbu) at the Cathedral of St. Jude Ebute Metta, Lagos.

During the service, Okoh described homosexuality and same-sex marriage as great evils and works of the devil that must neither be condoned nor allowed to exist in Nigerian society. He has previously condemned the “homosexual lifestyle”, describing it as “the way of death.”

The Nigerian Anglican church supports the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill, which is currently before parliament. It proposes some of the harshest anti-gay laws in the world.

More here-

Gun buyback program coming to Morris County in March

From New Jersey-

Got guns? Want to get rid of them?

Morris County will host a two-day gun buyback program in March.

Participants will trade cash for guns from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 15 at Saint Paul Inside the Walls at 205 Madison Ave. in Madison, and during the same hours March 16 at Saint Peter's Episcopal Church at 70 Maple Ave. in Morristown.

The guns will be purchased on a walk-in basis and with no questions asked. Guns should be submitted unloaded and either wrapped in paper, tied with string or tape, or transported in a box or container.

Participants won't be compensated for more than three weapons, and law enforcement officers and licensed firearms dealers aren't eligible for the program.

More here-

Confession solves case of Pittsburgh church's missing pipe organ

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

It was an act of love, not avarice.

A former church organist was trying to protect a beloved old pipe organ when he dismantled the instrument in the former St. Justin Catholic Church on Mount Washington and removed it last month, authorities believe.

And in the spirit of forgiveness and the Lenten season, the church has decided not to press charges.
The Rev. Michael Stumpf, pastor of the newly combined Catholic Community on Mount Washington, called the situation "very bizarre" in a statement Monday but said the one-time employee has taken responsibility and will make a formal apology.

"In our estimation, this was an imprudent and terrible mistake, but not fully criminal," Father Stumpf said. "There was no intention to sell, and there seemed to have been no maliciousness meant toward the parish community."

Read more:

Peter Lee nominated as bishop provisional for East Carolina

From ENS-

The Rt. Rev. Peter James Lee has been nominated to serve as bishop provisional for the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina, according to an announcement from the diocese.

A formal election will be held March 9 when the 130th diocesan convention will convene at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Greenville, North Carolina.

Bishops provisional are elected for an interim period until a diocesan bishop is chosen. Lee’s tenure as provisional bishop is expected to begin in early April and last approximately two years.

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel served as bishop of the East Carolina diocese for 15 years. He resigned on Feb. 28 to become bishop provisional of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

More here-

Episcopal Church's presiding bishop visits Titusville

From Florida-

The presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church stopped in Titusville this morning as part of a regional tour to hear what area congregations are doing to reach out to communities dealing with concerns both financial and spiritual such as job losses and apathy to the Gospel.

The Most Rev. Dr. Katherine Jefferts Schori, the chief pastor of the nation's 2.4 million Episcopal Church, joined several other ministers for presentations at St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church in Titusville. Schori oversees 110 dioceses in 16 countries.

"They're doing a remarkable work of listening to the hungers and the yearning in this community," Jefferts Schori said after a tour of the historic downtown Titusville Church.

Jefferts Schori began the morning praying before the church's altar in the sanctuary.

The Rev. Rob Goodridge, joined by the Right Rev. Gregory O. Brewer, the Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Central Florida, led Jefferts Schori on a tour of the compound.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Archbishop to rule on diocese shake-up

From England-

Church leaders have voted against plans to combine three Anglican dioceses into a new West Yorkshire ‘super-diocese’.

It is now up to the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, to decide the next step for the plan to combine the dioceses of Ripon and Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield.

On Saturday members of the Wakefield Diocesan Synod – which covers Kirklees – voted against the proposals.

Afterwards the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Rev Stephen Platten, said: “These last few weeks have been quite difficult for all three dioceses so this vote was a welcome end to that part of the process.”

The plan to merge the three existing dioceses into a new diocese for West Yorkshire and the Dales was published late last year.

Three of the Diocesan Synods affected met and voted on Saturday. Ripon and Leeds voted in favour of the plan, as did Bradford.

But at the Wakefield Diocesan Synod meeting at St Catherine’s Church Centre in Wakefield, 76 members voted against the plan, with 40 voting in favour and four abstentions.

Because only two of the dioceses approved the plan, the Archbishop of York will now decide if it should go before the Church of England’s General Synod for a final decision in July.

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Bishops' lobbying pays off as supermarkets stock "Christian" Easter Eggs

From The Telegraph-

Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and the Co-Op bowed to pressure after a three-year “pestering” campaign by figures including the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu.

Dr Sentamu used his Easter sermon in 2010 to voice alarm after research suggested that millions of children had no idea about the meaning of the main Christian festival.

One poll even found that one in three children thought that it was the “Easter bunny’s birthday”.
But now a range of fair trade eggs in which fluffy rabbits and chicks are replaced by three empty crosses is to go one sale in mainstream stores.

The so-called “Real” Easter eggs are made by The Meaningful Chocolate Company, a Christian fair trade group based in Manchester which donates its profits to charity.

Last year the group was at the centre of an unexpected stand-off between the confectionery giant Cadbury’s the Church of England over the ownership of an “ecclesiastical” shade of purple.

It was advised to redesign the packaging of a range of edible Christmas tree decorations after Cadbury’s, now owned by the US conglomerate Kraft, won a trademark battle over the shade of purple used on its Dairy Milk wrappers.

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Archbishop advises Christians to take inspiration from lotto stakers

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department (Ghana)

The former Archbishop of the Province of West Africa of the Anglican Church, the Most Reverend(rtd) Robert G. A. Okine has advised Christians to take inspiration from the courage , commitment and hope of lotto stakers in their service to the church and the country.

Archbishop (rtd) Okine said he was not a lotto staker and was not encouraging people to stake lotto but rather to learn from the commitment, courage and hope of lotto stakers and apply it in their work for the progress of the church and the country.

He was preaching the sermon at the consecration and dedication of the new chapel of the St. John the Divine Anglican Church at Nuaso, near Krobo-Odumase on Sunday.

The consecration and dedication ceremony was performed by the Anglican Bishop of Koforidua, Rt. Rev. Francis Benjamin Quashie.

Archbishop (rtd) Okine observed that, lotto stakers never give-up despite the huge amount of money they lose and always have the hope of winning in their next attempt and urged christens to demonstrate the same type of courage and commitment in their service to God and the church.

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Tanzania bishops welcome Archbishop-elect Jacob Chimeledya

From ACNS-

Bishops from the Anglican Church of Tanzania (ACT) have welcomed and expressed their support for new Archbishop, Bishop of Mpwapwa Diocese Jacob Chimeledya.

Provincial Secretary of ACT, the Revd Canon Dr Dickson Chilongani reports: “After the election, all the 25 bishops present (except two who are studying in South Africa) expressed their support for Bishop Chimeledya’s election by signing a legal document to endorse the results.”

He added: “Some bishops have described Chimeledya as a humble servant and leader who will strengthen unity within the Anglican Church of Tanzania and enhance its mission.” Dr Chilongani said the Archbishop-elect takes over from Archbishop Valentino Mokiwa after his installation on May 19.

The new Primate previously worked as principal of St Philip’s Theological College, in the town of Kongwa in Tanzania. He also worked as a priest in various areas of the Diocese of Mpwapwa before becoming Bishop of Mpwapwa in 2007.

The election, which took place on Thursday February 21 at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Tanzania’s political capital Dodoma, was supervised by Chaplain of St. John’s University, the Rt Revd Francis Ntiruka and witnessed by Provincial Registrar, Professor John Kabudi and General Secretary, the Rev Canon Dr Dickson Chilongani.

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Staying for the Glory of God: The Sibbes, Simeon and Stott Model

From Nine Marks-

Many times I’ve heard a conference preacher introduced like this: “Dr. Foreman is an internationally sought after preacher. He has pastored churches in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, and Tennessee.” Reciting them all together makes it seem like this is an accomplishment—“his pastoral skills have been recognized everywhere!”

I must admit that the skeptical side of me just won’t be quiet. What were his pastorates like in those churches in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Texas, and Tennessee? How long were they? Why, each time, did he make the decision to leave? Unless he’s very, very old, those were some pretty short pastorates!

This moving around—generally from a smaller church to a larger one—is the ladder that many ministers spend their lives climbing. We tell our old church that we’re leaving, ultimately, for the greater glory of God. We tell our new church that we’re coming, ultimately, for the greater glory of God.

But do we consider staying for the glory of God?


When I’m asked about my models for pastoral ministry I’ve often said, “Three Cambridge Anglican bachelor S’s—Sibbes, Simeon, and Stott.” Each of these men found a strategic location, began expounding God’s Word, and stayed. Expositional preaching is foundational to a Christian ministry, and it’s worth thinking about finding a strategic location and even remaining single. But for this article I want us to consider that other matter of longevity.

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Our stand against same sex marriage stands —Anglican Archbishop

From Nigeria-

THE Anglican Metropolitan Archbishop and Primate of Nigeria, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, has declared that there is no going back by the Anglican Church of Nigeria on its opposition to same sex marriages.

He spoke at the consecration of three new Anglican bishops last Sunday, at the Cathedral of St. Jude, Ebute- Metta, Lagos State.

He said that no amount of pressure from any quarter could sway the church on the controversial issue, which he emphasised, was against the scripture.

Okoh warned people to be wary of ongoing campaigns by promoters of the practice which was now in vogue among Anglican priests and others in Europe, stressing that the practice specifically contravened the law of marriage as instituted by God.

He also said such sustained campaign in the United States, Europe and some political forces in Nigeria to force “us to accept and approve same sex marriage” was misplaced.

“We are proud to say we stand by our belief in the true word of God, as we will never be part of such unholy practice presently destroying the Church of God in Europe,” Ukoh said.

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Will be the next Pope will be an Angelo?

From The Spectator-

Some wag has gone around Rome putting up spoof ‘Vota Turkson’ posters. This is a reference to the Ghanian Cardinal Peter Turkson, who has been much-tipped to be the first black Pope. Turkson has a lot of support, it seems, and not all of it sardonic. Many Catholics say now is the time for an African Pope. And there’s a sense that it might take someone from the developing world to knock the Roman Curia — widely thought to be an arcane and corrupt body - into shape.

But as I’ve written in this week’s magazine, a number of Vatican insiders think that, far from being an outsider, the next Pope must be an Italian. Only an Italian, it’s said, can understand and fix the complex problems within the Curia. The name I heard most often last week was Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture. Ravasi is said to have the right mix of intelligence, media appeal and personal holiness to be Pope. But there are strong arguments against him, too. He lacks administrative experience, his deputy at the Pontifical Council for Culture has just been accused of sex abuse), and there are questions over his language skills.

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Mind the Gap

From Foreign Policy-

Talk of a global "clash of civilizations," first propounded by Samuel P. Huntington in the early 1990s, has been criticized and debated for many years -- and like the current vogue for the walking dead, the "clash" thesis refuses to lie down. In his article ("The Convergence of Civilizations," January/February 2013), Charles Kenny takes aim at this thesis, arguing, quite rightly, that the West is not on an inevitable collision course with the Muslim world.

At the same time, however, it is unclear that "shared values are converging across countries," as Kenny argues. The convergence thesis rests on the premise that repeated exposure to the ideas and images transmitted by Hollywood during the heyday of movies, CNN International during the 1980s, and YouTube and Twitter today will gradually undermine indigenous values and local norms. Consequently, many deeply conservative cultures fear that opening the floodgates to Western media will erode faith in religion, respect for marriage and the family, and deference toward traditional sources of authority. This argument, however, exaggerates the impact of, and access to, globalized mass communications and social media in many of the world's poorer countries.

Evidence from the World Values Survey now covers almost 90 percent of the world's population, and the data allow analysis of trends in public opinion since the early 1980s. The results reveal the stubborn persistence of substantial contrasts in values among rich and poor societies around the globe.

Religiosity, for example, persists most strongly among poor populations vulnerable to physical and other harms. At the same time, secularization and the concomitant eroding of religious practices, values, and beliefs have occurred most clearly among wealthy, secure demographics in post-industrial societies. Thus a large -- and sometimes growing -- values gap driven by socioeconomic conditions persists between religious and secular societies irrespective of Western communications.

Similarly, the residents of affluent countries have become far more liberal over time on a wide range of social values and matters of sexual morality, exemplified by issues such as tolerance of homosexuality and support for gay rights, attitudes toward marriage and divorce, and ideas about the appropriate role of the different sexes. In high-income countries, the prevailing norms concerning gender and sexual orientation are changing much more rapidly than in low-income countries, with the result that a growing gap is opening between these societies. As illustrated by the deepening schism in the Episcopal Church over the role of female religious leaders, poorer countries often sharply reject this liberalization as Western decadence.

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

What kind of gun would Jesus carry?

From The Post-Gazette-

In the aftermath of the Newtown shootings, it occurred to me that Christian voices have been awfully silent on the issue of guns. Initially there was a flurry of religious commentary laying the blame for the Newtown shootings on something other than guns, as though guns were also innocent victims of Adam Lanza's evil intent.

Mike Huckabee said the shootings occurred because God had been removed from our schools, suggesting that the failure of public schools to provide a good religious foundation for Lanza was at fault.

A radio personality named Bryan Fischer took it a step further, saying that God didn't protect the children because prayer is not allowed in schools, suggesting that God is so angry about this that the children had to pay the price.

Fred Phelps, pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church, known for picketing soldiers' funerals and blaming all of society's ills on acceptance of gays and lesbians, tweeted that "God sent the shooter." Apparently, Mr. Phelps believes the Christian God is an angry God, one who required the sacrifice of children to appease him.

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The parents who cheat at school

From The Telegraph-

Every Sunday for at least two years before his son reached primary school age, Andrew Penman, an atheist, went to the service at his local Anglican church. As he sat in the packed pews and looked around, the 51‑year‑old knew that a sizeable proportion of the parents in the congregation were there for the same basic reason as he – to get his child into the popular Church of England school that was literally on the other side of the road from his house.

“There were lots of parents with children aged about two to five, but virtually none aged eight to 10, because by then they had got a place or hadn’t, so there was no point going to church unless you were religious,” says Penman, from Woking, Surrey. “I didn’t pretend to be a Christian for several years because I wanted to offend anyone, or because I thought it was fun. I did it because I wanted my son to attend the local state primary.”

The family is one of a growing number prepared to go the extra mile, bend the rules or even break the law to secure a place in a good school for their children.

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Cardinal Wuerl: Next pope must make faith compelling

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., hasn't decided whom he will vote for in the papal election, but he has a clear vision of the kind of man the church needs.

He must exude holiness and have a gift for making the Roman Catholic faith compelling to those who have rejected what they know of it, he said Saturday.

When the new pope is introduced, Cardinal Wuerl said, "He needs to step out onto that balcony and he needs to say, 'Christ is with us. We need to listen to him. He has the answers to the questions of the human heart. He shows us a better way to live than the secular world can offer.' "

Cardinal Wuerl, 72, who was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 to 2006, spoke at St. Peter in Chains, his titular church in Rome. Historically, the cardinals were the priests of Rome, so the pope assigns each of them a church here.

The minor basilica, which houses Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses, is an ancient one. A parish existed on the site near the Colosseum from the second century, and the foundations of the present building are from the fifth century.

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