Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sacred Mysteries: Bring fiddleback chasubles back?

From The Telegraph-

Does Anglican patrimony include fiddleback chasubles? If this question means nothing, do not despair, for it is the ecclesiastical equivalent of an interest that rivet-counters or gricers take in the wheel arrangement of locomotives (2-4-0, and so on).

Anglican patrimony is a thing that the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is supposed to express within the Roman Catholic Church in England. It is exemplified by Coverdale’s translation of the Psalms, which is used at Evensong in Ordinariate churches.

The Ordinariate does not yet have its own Communion service (Eucharistic liturgy) or Missal. For this purpose work is being done to revise the Book of Divine Worship. That book is used by Roman Catholics in America who follow the Anglican use; it is based on the American Book of Common Prayer. These waters are complicated, like the Thames at Oxford, with backwaters and hidden streams.

The first church in England to be given over to the use of the Ordinariate was not the charming old church of the Assumption, Warwick Street, but a more angular building to the south of the Thames, the church of the Most Precious Blood, Southwark.

It was designed by the remarkable F A Walters in a Romanesque style, with a baldacchino resembling a dovecote over the altar. Walters, who should be found a place in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, also designed Buckfast Abbey. One of the earliest of his churches, from the close of the 19th century, is the strikingly sited Sacred Heart, Wimbledon: stone and flint with flying buttresses.

More here-

Ghana: Anglican Church Goes Wild

From Ghana

The Anglican Church, the first Christian mission to be planted in Ghana, has embarked on a rebranding exercise to save it from losing its face in the country.

The Right Reverend Dr. Daniel Sylvanus Mensah Torto, Bishop of the Accra Anglican Diocese, who made this known in an interview with Ghana News Agency in Accra, on Thursday, said the rebranding efforts are meant to revive the mission to be alive to the commission that Christ gave the church.

He said it was in this light that the church was organising a three-day crusade in Accra with Dr. Lawrence Tetteh, President and Founder of UK-based World Miracle Outreach at the Black Star Square in Accra on the theme: "Only Jesus Can Save." The event spans May 15-May 17, and will be crowned with a Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, May 19.

Bishop Torto said the church had five solid pillars that would underpin "our vision to build the Anglican Diocese of Accra".

These are: "Equipping and empowering church agents, clergy, to deliver excellence; deepening spirituality; growth based on integrity and discipline; financial sustainability, and social impact."

The church engages in television and radio broadcasts, and actively involves members on the internet and other social media, and equips them to live and express their faith within their communities.

More here-

Former Anglican archbishop accused of abuse cover-up

From CNN-

 A former archbishop of York was accused Friday of covering up child abuse by a Church of England clergyman who has since died.

The accusations against the late Very Rev. Robert Waddington are the result of a joint investigation by the Times of London and The Australian newspaper, based in Sydney.

The Times alleges that Waddington, who died in 2007 from cancer, abused choirboys and school children, and that the former archbishop of York, David Hope, failed to report the abuse claims to police or child protection authorities after he was made aware of them in 1999 and 2003.

The former archbishop, who was made Lord Hope after he stood down in 2005, said he had followed the legal requirements of the time.

More here-

Catholic and Crazy: The Asylum of Faith

From Patheos-

When you’re locked in a rubber room, wearing paper pajamas that leave far too little to the imagination, trying to find patterns in the ceiling tiles as cracked as your brain, you wouldn’t expect to find yourself conversing with the spirit of an Irish teenager 1400 years dead—murdered by her own father, the story goes, when she resisted his incestuous advances. But that’s how it works when you’re Catholic and crazy. 

The communion of saints means we’re never alone, even in a psych ward.

In 2009, when I found myself in said rubber room and said paper jammies, pouring out my heart to St Dymphna, I wasn’t even technically Catholic. I was an Episcopalian, at a particularly low point in what I now know is a lifetime of (until last year) largely untreated mental illness. That morning in April, I’d casually mentioned in a Facebook message to my best Episcopal friend that I didn’t want to be alive. Friend that she is, she saw right through the casual and recognized that this was more than just my usual blue mood. She called our Episcopal rector, who, after asking me where God was in all of this and hearing me respond “Nowhere,” bundled me off to the emergency room of the local hospital where he was a board member. He and my friend were upbeat and supportive, until they heard me tell the intake nurse that I did indeed have a plan for hurting myself. That shocked them, almost as much as it shocked me to hear it coming out of my mouth; I was so deep in the abyss of depressive apathy that I couldn’t manage to reassure them with a reminder of how terrible I am at following through on plans, even on the best day.

More here-

SC Episcopal battle may go to federal court

From South Carolina-

The legal fate of competing Episcopal groups in South Carolina may be determined in federal court.
A series of actions aimed at determining which group holds the legal right to use the Diocese of South Carolina’s name, seal and property, as well as who can officially call themselves the presiding bishop over said group, has made a jump from a Dorchester County Circuit Court to a U.S. District Court in Charleston.

Meanwhile, local church spokesman say a California Episcopal case decided this week, in which a breakaway church was ordered to return property to the national church, probably has no bearing on the South Carolina case.

Complaints and responses, filed by both the Diocese of South Carolina, which disassociated from the national church last year, and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a smaller group of those wishing to remain with the national church, have been flying back and forth for months now. The most pertinent issue now at stake is whether the legal issues should be determined by a federal court or a South Carolina court.

When the Dorchester County Circuit Court issued a temporary injunction allowing the Diocese, led by Bishop Mark Lawrence, to keep rights to the name, seal and property, The Episcopal Church in SC responded by raising the question of whether a diocese even has the right to disassociate from the national church. The Episcopal Church in SC has held firm to its conviction that while individual members are free to leave the church, a diocese may not unilaterally leave or secede.

Bishop Charles vonRosenberg, head of The Episcopal Church in SC, said, “If the Diocese and the parishes were not validly withdrawn from the church, then Bishop Lawrence and the rest of the ‘current leadership’ are not the true leaders of those entities.”

More here-

Friday, May 10, 2013

The new Archbishop should stop this gesture politics

From The Independent-

It is about time the Church became serious about politics. The debacle over its opposition to the Government's welfare reform programme offers the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, a God-given opportunity to totally reshape the role of bishops in the House of Lords.

A week before the House of Lords voted on key aspects of the Government's welfare cuts [in March], 43 bishops issued a statement to the effect that this was the most vicious attack on children since Herod slaughtered the innocent. The welfare cuts are serious in the impact they will have on the living standards of some families, but let's leave aside the judgment as to whether the cuts were almost of a criminal nature.  What did the bishops do?

The bishops of the established Church have had, since time immemorial, places in the House of Lords, and currently hold 25. The two Archbishops, and the bishops of London, Durham and Winchester, become members as soon as they are appointed to these senior posts. The other 20 places are filled by seniority. Of the bishops signing the letter attacking the Government, 16 had the power to help vote down the changes and so throw the Government's programme into further chaos.

More Here-

Child sex scandal in two countries rocks Anglican church

From Australia-

A CHILD sex scandal involving victims in Australia and Britain has hit the top echelon of the Anglican Church, with allegations that some of its most senior clergymen failed to respond properly to complaints of horrific abuse.

The former archbishop of York, now Lord (David) Hope of Thornes, yesterday expressed regret over failing to report to police allegations in 1999 and 2003 about a former Queensland Anglican school principal, who rose to become the head of education for the church in Britain.

The late reverend Robert Waddington has been accused of beating and sexually abusing students during the 1960s at St Barnabas boarding school in Ravenshoe, north Queensland, and later, when he was in charge of the choir as dean of Manchester.

A joint investigation by The Australian and The Times newspaper in London has revealed that church officials, including Lord Hope, failed to report the 1999 allegations of abuse made by a former Queensland student and similar claims made in 2003 by the family of a choirboy in Manchester. The alleged victims were never told of the existence of the other allegations.

More here-

Organists confess to tune-smuggling

From The Church Times-

THE secret, says Jeffrey Makinson, sub-organist of Manchester Cathedral, is to clothe the theme in a different harmony, tempo, or rhythmic metre. Even then, there is a risk that your mischief will make at least a few ears prick up.

Half of churchgoers have heard of an organist slipping unexpected tunes into a service, suggests a new survey from Christian Research, which has been published to coincide with the Christian Resources Exhibition International next week.

From sneaking Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a prayer" into a sung eucharist to playing "Money, money, money" during the collection, instrumentalists appear to be combining the topical with the irreverent. One of the 2250 respondents recalled hearing "Roll out the barrel" during the funeral of an alcoholic.

Organists are not above using their instrument to exact revenge. Stephen Goddard, who carried out the research, told the BBC Sunday programme last week that one organist, when asked to play at a former boyfriend's wedding, segued into "Can't help loving dat man", as the couple processed back down the aisle. At one church in Glasgow, an organist bearing a grudge against the choirmaster opted for "Send in the clowns", as the choir took their places.

More here-

Sixth Largest Episcopal Church in US to Expand Dallas Campus

From Christian Post-

The sixth largest Episcopal church in the United States will soon begin looking towards expanding its facilities to accommodate its growing Texas-based congregation.

The Church of the Incarnation of Dallas will be announcing Sunday the results of their capital building campaign, "Lift High the Cross", which is also the name of an early 20th century hymn.
The Incarnation's congregation has increased by 35 percent since 2008, with a regular attendance presently around 1,300, but expected to reach 2,000 within ten years.

Anthony J. Burton, Rector of The Church of the Incarnation, said in a statement that despite the encouraging numbers his congregation's focus "is not about growth, but changed lives."

"Size does not make a church better, but if its clergy and parishioners are sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, God can cause their work in His name to grow a parish that is a resource of great blessing to its community and denomination," said Burton.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Praying to Padre Nuestro

From The Living Church-

Four years after adopting a strategic vision for reaching Latinos and Hispanics, the Episcopal Church has more congregational resources and more settings where Episcopalians praise God in Spanish.

That’s according to the Rev. Canon Anthony Guillén, the church’s Los Angeles-based missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministries. Though the church has not reached all of its goals because of limited funding, he says, it has laid important groundwork for building on recent progress.

Since 2009, the Episcopal Church has established 23 new Latino congregations in states where Latino populations have grown fastest in recent years. That falls short of the 44 envisioned in the 2009 plan, but efforts were limited to what was possible with $300,000 appropriated from General Convention to implement the strategic plan, he said.

Latino congregations tend to have many bilingual members who prefer to worship in Spanish, Guillén says. They cater largely to second-, third-, and fourth-generation immigrants, who were routinely overlooked in earlier outreach efforts, he says.

More here-

Women united at conference

From Australia-

A HUGE influx of visitors was welcomed over the weekend when Gunnedah hosted the 2013 Anglican Diocesan Christian Women’s Conference last Friday and Saturday.

Women from throughout northern NSW converged on the Town Hall to hear keynote speakers, inspirational music and share fellowship in the theme of Songs for Life.

Gunnedah was selected from towns throughout the Armidale Anglican Diocese to host this important women’s conference that is staged annually.

The Women’s Ministry Committee at Gunnedah Anglican Church worked hard over the past 12 months, planning the conference and received an outstanding 585 registrations from as far away as Moree, Gilgandra, Emmaville, Glen Innes, Lightning Ridge, Warialda, Wee Waa and Newcastle.

Women’s Ministry Committee member Jo Dunlop said it was a highly successful event.

“The conference went so well, all the ladies had a fabulous time and were able to hear God’s word through the amazing speakers and music that was so inspirational,” she said.

More here-

Pope Francis To Nuns: Don't Be Old Maids

From Huffington-

 Pope Francis has told nuns from around the world that they must be spiritual mothers and not "old maids."

Francis also warned the sisters against using their vocations for personal ambition, saying priests and sisters who do so "do more harm to the church."

Francis has complained frequently about such "careerism" in the church – a buzzword that is frequently used to describe Holy See bureaucrats.

The pope made the comments during an audience Wednesday with about 800 sisters attending an assembly of the International Union of Superiors General, which gathers the leaders of women's religious orders from some 75 countries.

The meeting came before Francis' general audience in St. Peter's Square, where in a break with tradition, he walked around a quadrant of the square greeting pilgrims.

More here-

Calif. Judge Rules Against Breakaway Anglican Congregation in Property Dispute

From Christian Post-

A California judge has ruled against a conservative breakaway Anglican congregation in a property dispute between it and The Episcopal Church.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Kim G. Dunning ruled last week that the property of St. James Anglican Church of Newport Beach belongs to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.

"As a matter of law, the Diocese is entitled to enforce the trust in its favor and eject the current occupants," reads the court order. "All the church property acquired by and held in the name of St. James Parish is held in trust for the Episcopal Church and the Diocese, which have the exclusive right to possession and dominion and control."

The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, said in a statement provided to The Christian Post that he was thankful for the conclusion of the years-long litigation.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Anglicans who split over gay bishop must return church to diocese

From The Los Angeles Times-

An Anglican church campus in Newport Beach belongs to the larger Episcopal Church Diocese of Los Angeles, an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled last week.

St. James Anglican Church members split from the Episcopal Church nine years ago after a fissure over the ordination of a gay bishop and other issues.

The court order, which comes at what could be the end of a series of court battles over three church properties on 32nd Street, was reaffirmed Monday by Judge Kim G. Dunning.

"I give thanks for the culmination of this marathon litigation, and I pray this action will settle the fact that people can disagree but cannot take property that has been entrusted to the Episcopal Church for ministry," Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the six-county diocese, said in a statement. "I give thanks to God that, after these cases spanning more than eight years, we now can proceed with the continuing ministry of the Episcopal Church in Newport Beach."

St. James leaders said they were "obviously disappointed by this ruling."

"We're praying about discerning the next steps," said the Rev. Richard Crocker, leader of the St. James congregation. "Our lawyers have advised us that a final judgment needs to be negotiated; that's happening over the next few days."

Whether the property was held in trust by the larger diocese or owned by the local church first came into dispute in 2004, after the St. James congregation voted to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and to instead align with the Anglican Church.

More here-,0,3893131.story

Communique from the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission

From ACNS-

The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, the official body appointed by the two Communions to engage in theological dialogue, has held the third meeting of its new phase (ARCIC III), at the Mosteiro de Sao Bento, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, (29 April–7 May 2013). This is the first time in its forty year history that ARCIC has met in Latin America, and, indeed, in the southern hemisphere.

Members of the Commission are grateful to Dom Filipe da Silva OSB, the Abbot, to his community for their gracious hospitality. The Commission participated in daily Vespers and in the Sunday Eucharist at the monastery church, and were held in prayer throughout by the monastic community.

A wide range of papers was prepared for the meeting and discussed, taking the Commission further towards its goal of producing an agreed statement. The mandate for this third phase of ARCIC is to explore: the Church as Communion, local and universal, and how in communion the local and universal Church come to discern right ethical teaching. In exploring this mandate, the members of the Commission engaged in theological analysis and shared reflection on the nature of the Church and those structures which contribute to discernment and decision-making. Time was spent considering some case studies of ethical issues which members had prepared, and analysing the ways in which the two Communions have come to their present teaching on these matters.

More here-

Anglican faith in church attendance is not enough

From The Guardian-

The graphs in the latest of the Church of England's attendance figures look like the cool-down portion of a bicycle ride – the precipitous and frightening descent is over, and now there is just a gentle slightly downward path. The problem for the church is that they all look like that whatever is being measured. There isn't really a large portion of hope in the age profile and there is nothing in the figures to supply a cheerful story, equivalent to last year's cathedral figures.

The British Humanist Association was quickly out with a press release pointing out that the figures show the church is still irrelevant to most people and to argue that this shows the wrongness of establishment. But this could have been written at any point in the last 20 years, and almost certainly has been. A possibly more interesting question is whether things are going to change, or whether the church will pootle along, like an exhausted cyclist, until it finally wobbles over and collapses.

Most of the people who really believe this as a matter of urgency are other Christians. Catholics have grown rather less self-confident about reconverting England since their experience of the former Anglicans in the Ordinariate. But the various evangelical and charismatic groups, most of them loosely organised as Baptists, remain confident that liberalism will erode the church and that only the rotten media are propping up its rotting facade. Then they see themselves inheriting the remains.

More here-

Anglican Church accused of human rights breach

From New Zealand-

The Anglican Church breached the Human Rights Act by stopping Eugene Sisneros from entering a priesthood training programme on the grounds he was in a same-sex relationship, says his lawyer.

His lawyer David Ryken gave his closing arguments today at the Human Rights Tribunal hearing in Auckland into the alleged discrimination after two days of witnesses.

Mr Ryken said that excluding someone from a training programme because of their sexuality breached Section 38 of the Human Rights Act.

He said the church could not take away the opportunity for someone to take part in training, comparing it to professional training for law school graduates.

``Any gate-keeper decision to not allow a person into professionals would equally be a breach of section 38.''

Mr Sisneros wanted the opportunity to enter the training programme, after which he understood ``there is no guarantees he would be selected for ordination'', he said.

More here-

Judge: Property belongs to Episcopal diocese

From AP-

A Southern California congregation that split with the Episcopalian church over the ordination of gay clergy and other issues must return its church property to the denomination's Los Angeles diocese, a judge has ruled.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Kim G. Dunning on Monday reaffirmed an earlier ruling, possibly ending a nine-year legal battle between the St. James congregation and the larger church, The Orange County Register reported Tuesday.

The ruling marks the latest in a string of decisions in California ordering breakaway congregations to return property to the six-county diocese after lengthy battles spurred by anger over the Episcopalian denomination's ordination of gay clergy.

In 2011, the state Supreme Court sent the Newport Beach case back to the lower court for trial, which was to have begun Monday.

"I pray this action will settle the fact that people can disagree but cannot take property that has been entrusted to the Episcopal Church for ministry," the Right Rev. J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the six-county diocese, said in a statement.

Read more here:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Church of England attendances 'stabilising'

From The BBC-

The long decline in Anglican churchgoing is levelling off, the Church of England has said.

A spokesman said average weekly attendances overall fell by 0.3%, to about 1.1 million in 2011, representing a "stabilising" of attendance figures.

The figures also suggested a continuing large presence of "nominal" Anglicans - those who believe in God but only go to church occasionally.

Christmas churchgoing rose by 14% and the number of baptisms also rose.

The annual Church of England statistics also showed an increase in cathedral attendances.

Biggest drop
The diocese where the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the Church of England, presides saw the biggest drop in average weekly and Sunday worship figures.

Canterbury had a 9.5% drop in average weekly church service attendance between 2010 and 2011, closely followed by Portsmouth with an 8.2% drop and Durham with an 8% decline.

Bishop accused of gay discrimination cites 'considerable opposition'

From New Zealand-

The Anglican Bishop of Auckland has today conceded to a Human Rights Tribunal that he is discriminating against a gay man wanting to be a priest, but his church maintains it is not breaking the law.

The Right Reverend Ross Bay is accused of discriminating against a gay man by not allowing him to enter the Anglican Church's training or discernment programme for priests because he is unmarried and in a sexual relationship with his male partner.

Eugene Sisneros, an events coordinator for St Matthew in the City, has taken his case to the Tribunal saying he has been "deeply affected by this discrimination".

Bay told the tribunal when he met with Sisneros in 2010 he was open about his sexuality.

He said Sisneros seemed to understand that even if he was allowed to enter the training programme for clergy he could not be ordained because of his gay relationship.

More here-

New York diocese announces search for bishop suffragan

From ENS-

The Committee to Elect a Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York announces the opening of the time period to propose candidates for consideration to the office of bishop suffragan. The profile describing the diocese and suffragan position, as well as forms to propose a candidate and the candidate application package, may be found here. Candidates may submit their own names, or they may be proposed by others, beginning May 6.

The period for proposing names of candidates ends at 5 p.m. on Monday, June 3. Candidates may submit their application packages at any time; the final deadline for packages is 5 p.m. on Friday, June 14.

The Special Convention to Elect a Bishop will be held at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, on Saturday, Dec. 7.  Other details surrounding the timeline for the process may be found on the website.

According to a diocesan press release: “The Diocese of New York is diverse in geography, culture, and demographics. It is composed of some 66,000 members, 72 deacons and 600 priests. It stretches from Staten Island to Sullivan County and from Wall Street to the Catskills. The diocese encompasses 10 counties that include some of the most densely populated urban landscape in the country and some of the least populated; some of the wealthiest parishes in the Episcopal Church, as well as parishes in the poorest communities. Most importantly, it is inhabited by children of God who are seeking a faithful pastor to join the people and clergy of the diocese and our diocesan bishop in the work that God has given us to do.”

More here-

California church faces setback in legal battle for property

From Los Angeles-

St James Anglican Church in Newport Beach, California, has received a serious setback in its legal case and fight to retain its property from being confiscated by the US Episcopal Church.

St James withdrew from the Episcopal Church and joined the Anglican Province of Uganda and the Diocese of Luwero in August of 2004.

Steps to disassociate from the Episcopal Church were initiated by the leadership of St James as a result of widening differences of biblical interpretation and the confirmation of the first openly gay Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson.

In August 2004, this decision, along with other theological differences, led the Rector, wardens, vestry, and a nearly unanimous congregation, to vote overwhelmingly to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church and to affiliate with the conservative Anglican Church of Uganda.

St James Church was soon joined by All Saints Church in Long Beach and St David's Church in North Hollywood. All three churches were then sued for their property by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national Episcopal Church.

Since 2004, the church has received national attention over its legal case against the Episcopal Church, but now, in a story by George Conger of Anglican Ink, the church's case to retain the property has been rejected by an Orange County Superior Court Judge.

More here-

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Search For Faith In 'Godless' Washington

From Washington DC-

War has brought the act of faith to the forefront for those who occupy the White House. President Lincoln famously issued a call to prayer during the Civil war. Franklin Roosevelt announced D-Day to the nation with a prayer.

Today, President Obama receives a daily spiritual meditation. The man who sends those messages is a Pentecostal minister named Joshua DuBois.

When he first moved to Washington, D.C., DuBois says he had already formed an impression about the spiritual life of the town.

"I had heard that Washington was, quite frankly, a pretty godless place," he says, "that people weren't serious about their faith and their values."

But what he found was quite the opposite.

"A lot of folks who were active in the public square, when they got back home, they took their faith practice pretty seriously, and that was illuminating for me," he says.

DuBois worked with religious communities across the U.S. as the head of the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships under Obama. In February 2013, he stepped down and took a teaching position at New York University, and also writes for the Daily Beast.

More here-

United by Climate Change

From the Living Church-

The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Church of Sweden have agreed to broaden their longstanding historical ties, pledging at a conference May 1-2 to cooperate more closely in seeking to limit climate change.

A joint statement issued at the conclusion of the conference, held at St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square, said the three churches would work together to “build the moral and political will that prompts action from our elected leaders.”

“As international churches with congregations in many nations, we can and will use our global networks to promote a political framework to limit climate change, while in a unified voice we speak to the world about the urgency of committed climate work,” said the statement, signed by Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson, and Archbishop Anders Wejryd of the Church of Sweden.

During a break in the conference the church leaders spent several hours lobbying members of Congress on Capitol Hill on the challenges of climate change.

More here-

South Sudan's Newly Appointed National Reconciliation Committee Takes Over

From Sudan-

The national reconciliation committee recently appointed by South Sudan's president Salva Kiir has officially began its mandate of overseeing efforts to reconcile the various communities in the country and identify the root causes of the conflicts with the aim of addressing them.

Under the chairmanship of Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul of the Episcopal Church, the new committee, which is predominantly composed of religious leaders was handed over documents on Saturday compiled by the outgoing committee in a ceremony presided over by South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar.

South Sudan's president issued a presidential order last month dissolving the former committee chaired by presidential adviser Tor Deng Mawien and established a new committee.

The documents handed over included the road map for the national reconciliation process, Conflict Mapping of all counties, detailing areas of conflicts, as well as files of the recently trained 200 peace mobilizes from the ten states and Juba, among others.

In extensive remarks to the new committee, VP Machar urged the committee to work hard and try to reconcile the communities that were separated by war.

More here-

Bikes, scooters, pets blessed in Wilbraham

From Massachusetts-

 Owners of mountain bikes, motorcycles, scooters and even a few pets should feel a little safer on the road now that their belongings have been blessed by three area ministers.

The Rev. Nathaniel Anderson, of Christ the King Lutheran Church, and the Rev. Meredyth Wessman Ward, of Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Wilbraham, and the Rev. Peter Swarr, of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in East Longmeadow, held a Blessing of the Bikes Sunday at Fountain Park on Tinkham Road.

“We wanted to do something a little different,” Swarr said.

While many people are familiar with blessing of the animals ceremonies, blessing of the bikes rites are not as common.

“You see these a lot in big cities where thousands of motorcycles will come out for the blessing. Cities like Boston use the blessing as an opportunity to talk about the environment and sustainability,” Swarr said.

More here-

Sunday, May 5, 2013

'Prophetic' Florida rector selected as the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey's twelfth bishop

From New Jersey-

The Rev. William Stokes, who has been an advocate in Florida for immigrants and the poor, was elected yesterday to be the bishop of New Jersey, the sixth largest diocese in the Episcopal church.

He will replace Bishop George Councell, who announced earlier this year, that he would pass on his mantle after nearly 10 years.

“I am humbled beyond expression and deeply honored to have been elected as the Twelfth Bishop of New Jersey. I am grateful to the people of the diocese for their confidence, support and prayers,” Stokes said in a church press release.

Stokes, currently rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Delray Beach, Florida, was elected after he received 328 votes, capturing the required majority vote of both lay people and clergy members. More than 600 clergy and lay deputies representing 150 churches voted for nine men and women from seven different Episcopal Church dioceses nationwide in the election.

More here-

Nigeria under siege

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Boko Haram, a ghost-like jihadist insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, has killed more than 3,500 people over the past few years. Its fighters materialize, strike, then melt back into the population without a trace.

Two weeks ago, a battle between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military laid waste to Baga, a prosperous fishing town on Lake Chad in the far northeast. More than 180 people were killed and some 2,200 homes and businesses were destroyed, mostly as a result of the army's scorched-earth tactics.

It is tragic metaphor for the problems that besiege Africa's most populous country, where poverty, corruption, inept leadership, tribal animosities and a rising tide of jihadism reinforce one another and threaten to break apart the nation. This destructive cycle in Nigeria also fuels a growing regional jihadist movement that sends weapons and warriors across porous borders. The West considers it dangerous enough to warrant military intervention in Mali and the establishment of a U.S. Africa Command.

Nigeria is oil and resource rich, yet it wallows in poverty and violence. In 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development released a damning report that said 138.6 million Nigerians, more than 90 percent of the country's population, live on less than $2 per day. Well over 70 percent live in absolute poverty. Worst off are those who live in the northern fringes, where Boko Haram is gaining ground and imposing sharia law in the territory it controls.

Read more: