Saturday, May 18, 2013

Anglican church in Turlock to close, open elsewhere

From San Joaquin-

After years of fighting a lawsuit over its property, the parishioners of St. Francis Anglican Church in Turlock will close their doors for the final time Sunday and walk to a new beginning a few blocks away.

The 75 or so regular attendees will take almost nothing with them — not even membership and financial records of the past few years — and instead will start from scratch as Grace Anglican Church in rented space at another local church.

"At the end of the day, we walk away from all this with a great deal of peace in our hearts," said the Rev. Gerry Grossman, who has led St. Francis Anglican Church since 2008.

The tussle over property began after the San Joaquin Diocese left the national Episcopal church in 2007 over issues such as the ordination of gay priests and the interpretation of Scripture. The theologically conservative group that left remained part of the larger worldwide church called the Anglican Communion.

Seven parishes, including Christ the King in Riverbank, and other individual parishioners stayed with the Episcopal church, which filed multiple lawsuits in 2008 and 2009 against the departing Anglican diocese, claiming all property belonged to the national church.

St. Francis and the historic Red Church — St. James in Sonora — are the two most recent parishes to turn over their property to the Episcopal church. Parishioners in St. Paul's in Modesto walked away from its property in 2009. That congregation formed Wellspring Anglican Church, which recently purchased a new facility near the Modesto Junior College West Campus.

Read more here:

Sandwich reverend accused of plagiarizing sermons

From Cape Cod (with video)

An Episcopal reverend from Sandwich was suspended from his post amid allegations that he plagiarized several of his sermons from a book.

Rev. John E. McGinn of the St. John's Episcopal Church, was placed on administrative leave after he was accused of plagiarizing sermons, reports The Cape Cod Times. The allegations of plagiarism go as far back as 2006.

According to the newspaper, McGinn, who has led the church for 20 years, is accused of taking the sermons from a book entitled "Dynamic Preaching." Some of the sermons were signed by McGinn and published on the church website and newsletter.

Church officials announced the allegations in a letter to the community on May 9. They say the allegations were brought up last year and that the issue was discussed with McGinn, who said it wouldn't happen again. Officials say they learned through further investigation that he continued to plagiarize and had been doing so for many years.

McGinn did not comment on the allegations to the newspaper, but did say he plans to retire.

Read more: 

The great Auckland Castle rescue

From The Telegraph-

We are talking by the walls of Auckland Castle, the historic palace of the bishops of Durham. It stands proud, like the medieval hunting lodge that it once was, surveying the River Wear and the hills beyond. It has an ancient park, a throne room, the largest private chapel in Europe and one of the most extraordinary sequences of religious paintings anywhere in the world. And now it belongs, through a charitable trust held on behalf of the people of the North East, to the animated and eccentric man explaining it all to me.

Jonathan Ruffer has the air of an old-fashioned Regius Professor of something or other. He talks learnedly, wittily and fast. His conversation is full of paradoxes, and circuitous but telling analogies with historical events. Surprisingly, these abilities have made him rich. As a private client fund manager, he carefully studied previous business cycles and the fundamentals of human greed and fear. Among other things, he predicted the credit crunch. He made a great deal of money for his investors and himself.

But Ruffer is also a serious Christian – an Anglican – with a contemplative side to his character. In 2010, on an Ignatian retreat in Wales, he suddenly saw clearly that he must, within two years, ''spend the last part of my energetic working life [he is 62] doing something for the deprived’’.

More here-

Bishop Shaw undergoes surgery

From Massachusetts-

Updated 9:30 p.m. / May 17, 2013:  The Rev. Canon Mally Lloyd, Canon to the Ordinary, reports that Bishop Shaw's surgery went well, with no complications, and that it is expected he will be fully awake tomorrow morning.  More will be known in a week or so as to whether any further treatment is necessary. She extends gratitude for the concern that so many have expressed and for continued prayers.

3:30 p.m. / May 17, 2013:  The Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, is undergoing surgery this afternoon to remove a mass on his brain that was discovered following tests conducted on Thursday.  More will be known following the surgery as to his recovery and any other required follow-up.

"Bishop Tom and all of us feel the unexpectedness of this, but please know that he has confidence in his doctors and was well prepared for the surgery," the Rev. Canon Mally Lloyd, Canon to the Ordinary, said in an e-mail message to clergy and diocesan leadership.  She spent time with him pre-surgery at the hospital and said the bishop "was in good spirits, was engaged with the ongoing matters of diocesan life and, as always, his faith and confidence were contagious."

He has asked for prayers but requests no calls, visits or e-mails.  Cards and letters are welcome and can be sent in care of The Monastery, Society of St. John the Evangelist, 980 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02138.

More here-

Friday, May 17, 2013

Anglican Diocese chief Bishop Keith Slater quits over abuse handling

From Australia-

THE head of the Anglican Diocese in Grafton has resigned over the way allegations of abuse at a NSW north coast childrens home were handled.

Bishop Keith Slater today apologised for his past failings in managing the allegations of physical, psychological and sexual abuse at the North Coast Childrens Home in Lismore between 1940 and the 1980s.

"As a sign of my recognition of these matters and in the hope that it may contribute towards healing and wholeness for those who are abused I forthwith resign from being the Bishop of the Diocese of Grafton," he said in a statement.

Bishop Slater said the diocese had received a number of allegations of abuse at the home between the 1940s and 1980s.

The alleged perpetrators included staff, visiting clergy, members of holiday host families and other residents.

More here-

Welby fêted by HTB in Albert Hall

From The Church Times-

THE laughter and standing ovation that the Archbishop of Cantebrury received in the Royal Albert Hall on Monday suggested that, despite his saying that the "deepest wounds" he had suffered had been at the hands of his fellow Christians, he does not lack support.

The Archbishop was the first speaker at the leadership conference organised by Holy Trinity, Brompton (HTB), the Evangelical church in London. The event drew 5500 people from 86 different countries, all "united around Jesus", the Vicar of Holy Trinity, the Revd Nicky Gumbel, declared.

Archbishop Welby's appearance took the form of an interview, conducted by Mr Gumbel, which perhaps vindicated the headline in The Daily Telegraph that greeted his appointment ( "HTB lands its first Archbishop").

Introduced as a "great friend", Archbishop Welby was asked what it "felt like" to be Primate, to which he replied: "A bit less overwhelming than this! What does it feel like to be Vicar of HTB? . . . We're in the same boat." It was the first of several self-deprecating jokes.

More here-êted-by-htb-in-albert-hall

Christ Church Cathedral celebrates history, music

From Indiana-

Christ Church Cathedral will commemorate its 175th anniversary this year. The Episcopal church is one of the oldest buildings in Indiana; the current location was finished in 1857.

In the early 19th century, Christ Church was known as “The Little Church on the Circle,” which later became the title of the history of the congregation, written by church member and philanthropist Eli Lilly. It was established as a parish in 1837 being one of the four churches at the center of Monument Circle. It’s the only church still there.

“It’s an honor. How many people get to serve in a church with this long and rich history,” said Stephen Carlsen dean of Christ Church.

In addition to its unique history, the Episcopal cathedral will also honor its music during a concert entitled, Music for Royal Occasions on May 19 at 4:30 p.m. The choirs of Christ Church Cathedral and soloists and the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra will perform.

According to Dana Marsh, director of music at Christ Church, the music is festive and enriching.
“It’s happy music! It’ll be presented in a way that everybody can appreciate. When people can connect with what the heart and soul of this music is they absolutely love it,” said Marsh.

More here-

Sandwich priest suspended for plagiarism

From Massachusetts-

One of the Ten Commandments is "thou shall not steal," but an Episcopal priest has been suspended for allegedly lifting more than a dozen Sunday sermons verbatim from a book.

The Rev. John E. McGinn, 65, who has led the 300-plus families at St. John's Episcopal Church since 1993, was placed on administrative leave amid allegations that he plagiarized sermons dating back to 2006, said the Rev. Mally Lloyd, canon to the ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, a position equivalent to the bishop's chief of staff.

As many as 15 sermons have been identified as direct copies, Lloyd said.

They were allegedly taken from a book called "Dynamic Preaching," which can be accessed only with an online subscription.

The bishop's office pointed out a Dec. 11, 2011, sermon as an example. The sermon is still on the church's website.

"I keep saying that one of these days I'm going to sit down and write a book because some of the things that have happened in my ministry need to be written down so that people can read them," the opening line of McGinn's sermon states. "They probably will think they are fiction but in reality they really happened."

The sermon goes on to tell a detailed story of officiating at the funeral of a man who died suddenly and had "Jingle Bells" sung at his funeral instead of "Glory Bells." An Internet search shows the same story, with slightly different wording, has been told at other churches.

Members of the tiny, wood-shingled 1899 church with vibrant red doors in the heart of Sandwich's historic village were notified of McGinn's alleged plagiarism through a May 9 letter from Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. The letter announced that the rector had been removed from the pulpit.

More here-

Anglican Congregation Seeks Rehearing After Losing Property Suit to Episcopal Church

From Cristian Post-

An Anglican congregation in Virginia that recently lost a property suit against The Episcopal Church is asking for a rehearing before the state Supreme Court.

George Ward, senior warden of the vestry of The Falls Church Anglican, told The Christian Post that the congregation will submit a petition that may be heard by the Court.

"Our attorneys looked carefully at the opinion and they briefed our vestry on it, and the attorneys highlighted for us that the opinion is based at least in part on arguments that really had not been raised in the seven years of litigation," said Ward. "Since they had not been raised, we have not been able to either brief them or argue them before the Court. And so, by putting in a petition for a rehearing, that would enable us to argue those issues."

Last month, after years of legal actions surrounding its historic property, the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia against the departing congregation of The Falls Church Anglican. The Court's decision stated that while the church property belongs to The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Virginia, ownership of the funds tied to the property still remained to be decided.


Christianity declining 50pc faster than thought – as one in 10 under-25s is a Muslim

From The Telegraph-

A new analysis of the 2011 census shows that a decade of mass immigration helped mask the scale of decline in Christian affiliation among the British-born population – while driving a dramatic increase in Islam, particularly among the young.

It suggests that only a minority of people will describe themselves as Christians within the next decade, for first time.

Meanwhile almost one in 10 under 25s in Britain is now a Muslim.

The proportion of young people who describe themselves as even nominal Christians has dropped below half for the first time.

Initial results from the 2011 census published last year showed that the total number of people in England and Wales who described themselves as Christian fell by 4.1 million – a decline of 10 per cent.

But new analysis from the Office for National Statistics shows that that figure was bolstered by 1.2 million foreign-born Christians, including Polish Catholics and evangelicals from countries such as Nigeria.

They disclosed that there were in fact 5.3 million fewer British-born people describing themselves as Christians, a decline of 15 per cent in just a decade.

More here-

May 17: William Hobart Hare, Bishop of Niobrara, and of South Dakota, 1909

From Holy Women Holy Men-

William Hobart Hare was a missionary bishop to the Niobrara Territory and later the first bishop of South Dakota.

Hare was born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1838. Although he studied at the University of Pennsylvania, he never received a degree and prepared for ordination without attending seminary. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1859 and to the priesthood in 1862. He served St. Luke’s and St. Paul’s, Chestnut Hill, both in Philadelphia.

He moved to Minnesota in 1863 with the hope that a different climate would improve his wife’s failing health. It was there that he first came into contact Native Americans, an encounter that would change his life and shape his vocation. Hare returned to Philadelphia in 1867 to become the Rector of the Church of the Ascension, but his personal interest in the church’s ministry among Native Americans never waned.

In 1871, the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church created the Missionary District of Niobrara encompassing much of the Dakotas. A year later, the House of Bishops elected Hare to become the Bishop of Niobrara and he was ordained to the episcopate on January 9, 1873.

Bishop Hare, often referred to as “The Apostle to the Sioux,” devoted himself to work among the Native Americans in the vast expanse of the Niobrara Territory. Well ahead of his time in his approach to mission work, Hare believed it was important to honor as much of the tradition and culture of the people as possible. His desire was not to destroy the fabric of Sioux culture, but to bring the gospel into the midst of it so that the people could also come to know Jesus. Instead of suppressing the customs of the people, he saw them as vessels that could communicate God’s grace.

More here-

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Anglican Communion launches worldwide survey on reconciliation

From Christian Today-

The Anglican Communion's Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN) has launched a worldwide survey to gather the experience of Anglicans and Episcopalians who have taken part in national or local truth and reconciliation commissions.

The aim is to learn from Anglican contributions to past and present truth and reconciliation processes. The information received will be used to create resources and mechanisms to support Communion churches who may become involved in such reconciliation work locally. It will also identify Anglicans and Episcopalians who can offer insight and advice.

APJN convenor South African Ms Delene Mark anticipates a wealth of information from the APJN survey which has been addressed initially to the Primates* and Provincial Secretaries of the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion, as well as the Bishops of extra-provincial dioceses.

"We have already received details of Anglican engagement with truth and reconciliation processes associated with ethnic conflict, slavery and racism, the exclusion of people experiencing the sharp end of poverty from decisions made about them, and two national initiatives concerned with the legacies of the separation of Aboriginal children from their parents", she said.

More here-

Christian leaders seek to overcome polarization

From RNS-

Twenty-five top Christian leaders gathered in the U.S. city with perhaps the worst reputation for civil discourse Wednesday (May 15) and committed themselves to elevating the level of public conversation.

Meeting in a row house three blocks from the U.S. Capitol, the group spanned the Christian spectrum, and included officials from liberal churches and the most conservative of interest groups.

“The ground of our spiritual understanding is in treating other people as the image of God, treating people with respect,” said Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

“Faith leaders have a remarkable opportunity to shift the conversation, but it’s very challenging, particularly in a larger society that wants to understand everything as a battle, as engaging the enemy, rather than with someone who might have something to teach us,” she said.

Joining Jefferts Schori at the two-day meeting sponsored by the nonprofit Faith & Politics Institute were Kenda Bartlett, the executive director of Concerned Women for America; the Rev. Jeffery Cooper, general secretary of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; and Sister Marge Clark of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, among others.

More here-

ENS launches ‘On The Move’ for churchwide appointments, transitions

From ENS-

Episcopal News Service has launched a new section, On The Move, sharing the news of churchwide appointments, job transitions, clergy ordinations and retirements.

“We wanted to add this new section to the Episcopal News Service website to make it easier for people to share the news of their job transitions with the wider Episcopal Church,” explained the Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service editor/reporter.

On the Move, available here provides an area for announcements of ordinations, promotions, calls, hiring or retirements in an Episcopal Church-related job. A user-friendly form can be uploaded by the person or someone on his/her behalf, provided they verify their relationship.

Matthew Davies, Episcopal News Service editor/reporter, added, “Based on the number of job-change announcements Episcopal News Service routinely receives, we believe that our readers will greatly appreciate this service.”

“While Episcopal News Service will continue to report major employment announcements such as bishop elections, this new service expands the news available to our readers and assists us in our comprehensive coverage of the Episcopal Church,” explained Lynette Wilson, Episcopal News Service editor/reporter.

More here-

'A lost art:' Stained glass windows of Bay City's Trinity Episcopal Church get a facelift

From Michigan-

Faded, darkened and broken glass obscured the beautiful stained glass windows in the nave of Trinity Episcopal Church, 815 N. Grant in Bay City.

Over the past month, two artists have been giving the windows a facelift.

Robert Lovas Sr. and his son, Frank Lovas, with Lovas Family Studio of Stained Glass from Cochrane, Wis., removed, repaired and replaced 23 window panels in the church.

"We couldn't see the faces before," said the Rev. Ann Grady.

"There's light in the nave again."

Some of the panels were so broken that figures were distorted.

The nave of the church is lined with multi-panel windows of realistic art. Some of the panels are 126 years old, their color faded and darkened over the years.

More here-

Falls Church Episcopal celebrates past, looks to future

From ENS-

When the members of The Falls Church Episcopal formally install their new rector and celebrate their ministry together May 15, it will be just more than a year since they first returned to their historic building, nine months since their rector joined them and five days ahead of what they had hoped would be the last deadline in the parish’s nearly seven-year-old property dispute.

“It will be a night where we give gratitude for the past and we express our excitement about the present and the future [and] the great things that God is doing here,” said the Rev. John Ohmer, Falls Church rector, in an interview.

Diocese of Virginia Bishop Shannon Johnston, who will lead the service, told Episcopal News Service that the celebration and renewal of ministries “holds tremendous significance” for the congregation.

“After returning to their home parish a year ago, the members and leadership of this congregation have invested tremendous energy in their mission and ministry as a congregation. At this service, we will come together to celebrate that renewal and commitment to a very promising future,” he said. “That we can do so in this historic setting, home to so many generations of Episcopalians, is most fitting.”

More here-

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Is Invoking the Saints Dangerous?

From Catholic Culture-

While still an Anglican, Blessed John Henry Newman had some trouble coming to a Catholic appreciation of the role of the saints in Christian life. He seems to have understood from the first that the saints were wonderful witnesses to Divine realities and a superb inspiration to us all, but he balked at invoking their intercession for fear of diluting the honor due to God.

Newman emphasized this concern in a letter to the Anglican Bishop of Oxford in 1841, some four years before his conversion. He expresses what was then the common high Anglican attitude on the subject, including a notable disdain for the spiritual perception of what we might call the “common man”:

More here-

Miracle: All Saints church leaves me reeling in shock

From Kenya-

My friend has for a while been inviting me for her church’s monthly worship night and I have been coming up with excuses not to attend.

My friend fellowships at All Saints cathedral, Nakasero. And when she said ‘worship night’, I imagined my sleepy self in the wee hours of the morning still flipping the hymnbook, and swaying to Nsanyuse or What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

I love those hymns – don’t get me wrong – but would I manage to pull off those hours without thinking about my bed once, being used to the more groovy Pentecostal worship at my church?

Yet in all fairness, I had invited this friend to my church a couple of times and on all occasions, she had honoured my invite. So, on May 10, I dressed up after my Zumba class and told Jesus we had a date at All Saints cathedral and prayed I would resist the urge to sleep through the gentle Anglican service.

And what a shock All Saints served me! It was a worship night like I have not experienced in a long time – if ever. The hymns were saved for Sunday service; we were grooving away to regular praise and worship songs I often dance to at my church and this congregation was on fire.

During praise, one man stepped into the aisle and danced ekitaaguriro with such abandon, never mind that the praise song was in English. Sorry, if this sounds even a bit condescending, but I never expected what worship night turned out to be.

Never in my life have I seen an Anglican priest in collar burst into tongues, sweating and his ministry shirt turning a dark shade due to sweat patches from all the dancing for the Lord, as Rev Moses did that night.

More here-

"Avoid politics of the belly, care for electorate," Zambian bishop urges politicians

From ACNS-

Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Eastern Zambia, the Rt Revd William Mchombo has challenged Zambian politicians to stop practicing “politics of the belly if they genuinely care for the electorate”.

The bishop made the call during the 10th Synod of the Diocese of Eastern Zambia held from the 2 to 5 May at St Luke’s Cathedral in Msoro, an area in the Eastern Province of Zambia.

“The crossing of opposition members of parliament to the ruling party thereby necessitating the holding of by-elections has become another matter of great concern,” noted the Bishop.
In the statement that addressed various social, economic and political aspects of the country, the bishop emphasised that public funds should be channeled towards developmental activities such as education and health.


“While it is appreciated that no-one is breaking the law by crossing the floor, this is one occurrence that can easily be avoided if indeed the people involved genuinely care for the electorate and not practicing what is now known as politics of the belly,” said Bishop Mchombo was referring to the recent trend of Zambian opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) stepping down and defecting to the ruling Patriot Front party with the hope of being adopted and contesting again under the ruling party.

More here-

Anglican synod to face tribunal over bullying accusations

From Australia-

BRISBANE's Anglican Archbishop Dr Phillip Aspinall has been accused of bullying in a discrimination complaint brought by a former church director, a tribunal has heard.

Lawyers for the Archbishop and the synod of Brisbane diocese have failed to get key elements of the sexual harassment and discrimination case thrown out of Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Peta Smith, former executive director of the Anglican Schools Commission, lodged Anti-Discrimination Commission complaints in 2009, shortly before her five-year contract expired.

The tribunal was told she held the Corporation of the Synod of Brisbane's Anglican Diocese vicariously liable for those who allegedly spread a rumour she was in a lesbian relationship with a colleague.

Ms Smith also held the synod responsible for alleged victimisation, saying her contract was not renewed after her sex discrimination complaint was made.

A summary of allegations filed in QCAT said Ms Smith claimed that after she told Archbishop Aspinall in February, 2008, about the alleged sexual discrimination his behaviour towards her changed.

More here-

Bishop Stanton Announces Retirement

From Dallas-

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

On 14 May, I informed the Standing Committee and Executive Council that I had sent the following letter to the Presiding Bishop:

On 6 March, 1993, I was consecrated as the sixth Bishop of Dallas. On 6 March next year, 2014, I will complete 21 years in this Office. 

These have been the most challenging, fulfilling and joyful years of my ministry. I am grateful for the trust vested in me by the People and Clergy of the Diocese, and cherish the many relationships which have developed and deepened over this time.

I have come to the place where I believe it is time to relinquish the responsibilities of the Bishop Diocesan, and permit the Diocese to consider and chart its future mission under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, I herewith submit my resignation effective May 31, 2014. Please proceed with the canonically appropriate next steps.

This is the way we go about retiring from the Episcopate in our Church. But I want to take this opportunity to thank one and all for the gracious way you have received me and Diane, and our whole family, over these last twenty-plus years.

More here-

Few Churches Onboard With Performing Same-Sex Marriages

From Minnesota-

With gay marriage signed into law, the attention now turns to its implementation.

The option for churches to turn away gay couples is written clearly into the law, and it appears to be an important component, at least for Mankato churches.

Of those we spoke with, only St. John's Episcopal Church on Warren Street said they would be performing same-sex marriages.

The Reverend Paul Rider says, "They would need to come and talk to me, establish a relationship with both me and the congregation, which isn't that hard to do, we're a pretty welcoming and open congregation. And then we need to begin the process of pre-marital counseling which typically lasts six sessions."

Episcopalian churches are one of the few denominations to allow gay marriages.

The others are the Evangelical Lutherans, and United Church of Christ.

First Congregational UCC leaders were unavailable to comment, but we did speak to ELCA churches, who said they have yet to have a conversation with their members about whether a ceremony could take place at their church.

And still other congregations in town had support for gay marriage from both its members and the clergy, though not from the denomination as a whole... a subject on which they hope to have a continuing conversation.

Leaving just St. John's.

Rider says, "I believe that expanding it to same-sex couples says that God's love is inclusive of all people. The love that exists between two people in a covenanted sacramental relationship is one which God, I believe, has made holy and is showing signs of Christ's love for the whole world."

More here-

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Canterbury Cathedral says it’s not closing its doors

From RNS-

England’s best-known cathedral and mother church of the 77 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion will stay open to the public despite the fact that two-thirds of the historic building is in urgent need of repair.

The BBC reported on Sunday (May 12) that Canterbury Cathedral would soon close to visitors after it missed out on a 10.6 million pound ($16.2 million) request to the Heritage Lottery Fund for structural repairs. That report was dismissed on Monday as “greatly exaggerated” by cathedral spokesman Christopher Robinson.

“The Germans didn’t force us to close Canterbury Cathedral during the Second World War,” he said in an interview. “So there’s no chance it will be closed to visitors because we need to carry out some urgent repairs.”

The cathedral’s dean, Robert Willis, said cathedral leaders will need to examine why their bid failed before deciding whether to submit another request in November. “We remain committed to restoring the cathedral and to offering our many pilgrims and visitors a warm and rewarding experience,”

More here-

Anglican Church rejects emergency rule in Borno, others; calls for National Conference

From Nigeria-

The Primate of All Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Nicholas Okoh, on Monday opposed the call for emergency rule in parts of the country affected by armed conflict.

Mr. Okoh said this in Abuja at a press conference on the forthcoming 2013 Synod session of the Abuja Diocese of the Anglican Communion.

He said that government should rather support a national dialogue by various interest groups to address the myriad of problems militating against the country’s quest for socio-economic development.

The Primate advised the Federal Government to pursue a comprehensive security programme to address some of the glaring signs of increasing insecurity in the country. He said that efforts by the Federal Government to resolve uprising in parts of the country in the past through emergency rule did not yield any result hence, the need for a different approach.

“I believe that insecurity should be addressed comprehensively, the Federal Government had tried this emergency rule in other parts of the country but it didn’t work,” he said.

More here-

Early morning fire damages 107-year-old Denver church

From Colorado-

The Denver Fire Department is investigating the cause of the fire at the Church of the Ascension, including the possibility that the fire started near where a homeless person had been sleeping in the tall juniper bushes outside the church.

"We're still trying to determine the point of origin and the ignition source," said department spokesman Mark Watson. "Investigators have talked to the priest, the neighbors and local business owners, and they've gotten that information also — that at one point in time, a homeless person was staying there close to the church in the bushes. But we have not been able to make that determination at this point in time."

Firefighters were called at 3:02 a.m. and when they arrived at the church, 600 Gilpin St., they found flames had spread to the interior of the 107-year-old structure named a Denver historic landmark in 2004.

Church pastor Rev. Lucas Grubbs, who lives next door to the church, said he was awakened by fire trucks arriving.

"Don't let it burn down," Grubbs said he thought as he watched the flames witnesses said shot 20- to 25-feet into the air.

More here-

From Dante to Dan Brown: 10 things about Hell

From The BBC-

Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown's new book borrows its title and theme from Dante's Inferno, an account of the Italian poet's imagined journey through hell. Writer and church historian Stephen Tomkins gives a 10-point tour of the underworld.

1. Hell is conical

Hell, as Dante described it, consists of nine concentric circles, going deeper each time as they get smaller, towards the centre of the Earth. Which of the nine you are condemned to depends on your sin, with circles devoted to gluttons, heretics and fraudsters. The centre point of the surface of the cone is Jerusalem. The river Acheron runs around hell, separating it from the outside world. Outside hell itself, but still part of the scheme, there are the people who somehow never did anything good or evil in their lifetime. Even they are punished for their neutrality, running round for eternity being stung by wasps while maggots drink their blood.

2. Hell is diverse

Dante Aligheri, author of La Divina Commedia
The modern cartoon image of Hell, with flames and pitchforks for everyone, is tragically bland compared with medieval depictions. This modern version is probably the legacy of Milton, who in Paradise Lost describes hell as "one great furnace" whose flames offer "no light, but rather darkness visible". Then again, he is setting it in the time of Adam and Eve when its only population is demons, so even his Hell might have livened up a bit later. In the medieval hell explored by Dante and painted by Hieronymus Bosch, punishments are as varied as sin itself, each one shaped to fit the sin punished. In Dante, sowers of discord are cut to pieces, those who take their own lives are condemned to live as mere trees, flatterers swim in a stream of excrement, and a traitor spends eternity having his head eaten by the man he betrayed. In Bosch, one man has a harp strung through his flesh while another is forced to marry a pig in a nun's wimple, and other people are excreted by monsters. This Hell is not a fixed penalty, but the fruition of bad choices made during our lives.

More here-

Celebrate "Church in the Park" at Linn Park Wednesdays at noon

From Alabama-

Is there a better way to re-charge your batteries spiritually and physically, than walking to an urban park, enjoying the bright sunshine, spring flowers, blooming trees, and the flow of a water fountain, eating a meal and hearing the gospel?

This coming Wednesday, May 15th, 12:00 noon at Linn Park in downtown Birmingham, the Episcopal Church will be holding one of its weekly "Church in the Park" worship services. The services are organized and conducted by the young clergy from Birmingham area Episcopal Churches.

"’Church in the Park’ is an attempt to evangelize through the sacraments, and to share the love of God and the beauty of our tradition with anyone who passes by,” said the Rev. Katie Nakamura Rengers, associate rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham.

Along with the 25 minute outdoor worship service, participants can bring a lunch (a sack lunch will also be provided) and all are welcomed. If you miss this week's service, "Church in the Park" will be held each week Wednesdays, Noon at Linn Park.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Episcopal Church regains control of two buildings; some Anglicans must move

From California (Diocese of San Joaquin)-

St. Paul's Anglican Parish in Bakersfield is looking for a new home following a courtroom decision that hands control of its church property back to the Episcopal Church.

The Anglicans are on the move following a little-noticed ruling in February that parishioners in two of several breakaway Kern churches lacked the authority to disaffiliate from the Episcopal Church.

Even though Anglicans at St. Paul's and St. Michael's Anglican Church in Ridgecrest both held their own titles to church property, Kern County Superior Court Judge Sidney P. Chapin ruled that they had to vacate.

His ruling essentially dismissed the permission a former Episcopal bishop granted them to secede, saying he overstepped his authority in supporting their move to disaffiliate.

A number of other Anglican churches aren't affected, pending the outcome of a different case in Fresno.

The legal battles are part of a larger schism that led congregations in the San Joaquin Valley and across the country to leave the Episcopal Church.

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No African country is large enough to absorb Nigerians as refugees –Primate Okoh

From Nigeria-

Following the present insecurity bedeviling the nation, the Primate of the Anglican Communion, Nigeria, the Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, has argued that no African nation would be able to accommodate the aftermath of the disintegration of Nigeria, just as he called on every Nigerian to understand that religion could only be practiced in a peaceful environment.

Okoh further argued that sincerity of purpose at all levels was key to resolving the conflicts paralyzing the nation’s economy. He made this position known while receiving the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Rt. Honourable Michael Gifford who was accompanied by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Dr Andrew Pocock when they paid a visit to the country.

According to Okoh, “Every country has its own problem but this is a very strange type of problem that we are having. We think that the government ought to be allowed to face the issue of empowering the people, take to fighting poverty, unemployment, disease and so on and so forth and improving the living standard of the people but it’s been highly distracted by the security challenge and now becomes very difficult to say that government did not do this or that, because it needs a peaceful time to consider very important issues of development.

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Theft of artifacts from Christ Church Cathedral probed

From Canada-

A Victoria Anglican congregation is shaken after several historical artifacts were stolen from Christ Church Cathedral Saturday night.

The items — some dating back to the 17th century — were missing when police arrived on the scene just before 10 p.m.

“There’s a sadness within the church,” said the Very Rev. Dr. Logan McMenamie, Rector of Christ Church Cathedral and Dean of Columbia.

“There’s a sense of invasion, like when someone steals something from your home. ... Probably for the person who’s got [the artifacts], there’s very little value to them. The historical significance is for us as a community.”

An alarm call alerted Victoria police to a theft at the cathedral just before 10 p.m. Officers arrived and were met by one of the church representatives, who said the building had been empty at the time of the break-in.

Patrol officers and a police dog searched the building, but did not find anyone.

McMenamie said he believes someone hid in the downtown cathedral after it closed and was inside when church officials locked the doors and set the alarm.

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UK church orders abuse inquiry

From Australia-

THE Church of England has ordered a formal independent investigation into the handling of child-sex allegations against a senior clergyman in Australia and Britain.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu at the weekend commissioned the high-level inquiry into the alleged child sex abuse in the 1960s and 80s by the late Reverend Robert Waddington, and the church's response to complaints over the past 15 years.

It comes as the head of Australia's Anglican Church, Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, flew to north Queensland to meet the region's bishop over the revelations, which centre on Waddington's stint as principal of St Barnabas boarding school at Ravenshoe, west of Cairns, and later as dean of Manchester.

The Anglican Church in Australia is widening its internal investigation into Waddington's behaviour to include Archbishop Aspinall's Brisbane diocese. The priest also worked at a school at Warwick, in southern Queensland, for three years from 1956, and later served as headmaster at St Barnabas from 1961 to 1970.

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Anglican-Catholic dialogue concludes meeting in Brazil

From Catholic World News-

The official dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion—the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC)—has concluded the third meeting of its third phase.

The first phase of dialogue (ARCIC I), begun following the Second Vatican Council, focused on the sacraments and the Church and concluded in 1982. The second phase (ARCIC II), which focused on the Church and the Blessed Virgin Mary, issued its last document in 2004.

ARCIC III, which began in 2009 at the behest of Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, is devoted to the “Church as communion - local and universal,” and “how in communion the local and universal Church comes to discern right ethical teaching.”

During a weeklong meeting in Rio de Janeiro, “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,” according to a joint statement. “A day was spent considering some case studies of ethical issues which members had prepared, and analyzing the ways in which the two Communions have come to their present teaching on these matters.”

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A Medieval Pottersville

From The Living Church-

HBO’s epic sword and sorcery series Game of Thrones returned for its third season March 31, and my local cable provider replayed the first two seasons in celebration of this event. In watching the series over a week’s time — and after making the requisite adjustment to HBO’s “We’re premium cable so we can show naughty body parts to our heart’s content” routine — I noted a significant parallel to a previous film fantasy: I was watching a medieval version of Pottersville, the dystopian hamlet from Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

In Capra’s movie, decent, self-sacrificing George Bailey, having wished that he’d never been born, is granted a vision of his world without him. In it, his home town of Bedford Falls, renamed Pottersville (for the film’s miserly bête noir), has been transformed into a harsh, raucous land of bars which men frequent not for conviviality but merely to drink themselves into a stupor, where widows are suspicious and rude, single women are either trollops or spinsters, and relations between the sexes are limited to “Dime a Dance” halls and, well, whatever’s going on upstairs.

Throughout Game of Thrones we are treated to pretty much the same thing. The only marriages on display are purely political matters honored in the breach if at all (one exception is a middle-aged couple who are separated for pretty much the entire first season and permanently thereafter by death). The males are generally of two types: brawling, lecherous brutes or ambitious (generally equally) lecherous schemers. The women are all harlots, with the difference being that the underclass are paid for their services and the high born are technically married to those they lie with (though of course adultery remains a blood sport).

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Spreading the word: The modest cardinal and his powerful blog

From Ireland-

I WOULDN’T want to put the Pope and Pierce Brosnan in the same boat, but whenever I hear the radio ad for that Sky bundle thing, it rings a papal bell for me.

The ad has Pierce working very hard to be an ordinary and humble lad from Meath who somehow got lucky/famous/rich, but who — fair dues to him — really hasn’t changed that much. The comic point of the ad being that nobody’s paying a blind bit of attention to Brosnan’s don’t-mind-me-I’m-really-one-of-you self-deprecation.

Modesty seems to play better if you’re a highly-placed churchman than if you’re a film star. You will remember that when Pope Francis came through as the new pontiff, world media fell over themselves about his humility. He travelled back to his hotel by bus, they told us. Imagine. And paid his bill in the hotel all by himself. The way commentators went on about it, you’d think travelling by bus qualified the traveller for beatification and paying one’s own bill was the ultimate indication of how the new head of the Church was down to earth and authentic and not given to notions about himself. No Pierce Brosnan irony at all.

It’s a bit like that with Cardinal Seán O’Malley in Boston. Those close to him say he likes to be called Cardinal Seán, fada and all. This is clearly meant to underline his accessible ordinariness, but it’s a bit puzzling. Cardinal Seán. As opposed to what? He’s hardly going to sign his blog “His Eminence, Cardinal Seán O’Malley”, and, anyway, being invited to address someone as Cardinal Seán does kind of leave you in no doubt as to his eminence. Which is groovy. I’m cool with mannered obeisance. I call ministers “minister”, bishops “bishop”, and gardaí who flag me down with sirens shrieking and blue lights flashing “officer”. (Hell, I’d call them “superintendent” if I thought it’d prevent a point or two from going on my licence, but I don’t think that would work.) Mannered obeisance joined at the lip to casual intimacy doesn’t work for me, but, hey, I’m never likely to meet the man who prefers to be called Cardinal Seán with the fada, so my pathetic preferences are irrelevant. Let’s give the man a small round of applause for seeking to be a man of the people. 

More here-

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Episcopalians on Science and Faith: gettin’ it done

From Patheos-

“The goal of human knowing is neither to exalt science over other forms of inquiry nor to use theology as a magic wand to make things we can’t otherwise explain vanish. The goal of human knowing is instead to seek to engage God, the world, and ourselves in one unified frame of meaning.”
~The Very Rev. Gary Hall (Dean, Washington National Cathedral), “Cathedral Age” (Autumn 2012)

Recently I stumbled onto a website of the Episcopal Church, The Network for Science, Technology, and Faith. This website is an attempt to foster community on the issue of science and faith stemming from the Episcopal Church’s recent (77th General Convention, July 2012) statement affirming the essential compatibility of science and faith.

One resource developed by this body is a Catechism of Creation made up of three parts: Theology of Creation, Science and Faith, and Caring for Creation. The presence of Parts 1 and 3 suggests a full-orbed approach that I feel is typically not part of the evangelical dialogue, and there is much to discuss here. But I want to focus on Part 2.

More here-

Leading from the frontline

From New Zealand-

When Philip Richardson was named archbishop- elect in March, the piles of cards, letters and emails was "just extraordinary". On one day there was a card from Stratford and one from the United States.

The letter writer from Stratford said, "you don't know who I am but I just think this is great". Katharine Jefferts Schori, the head of the Episcopal, or Anglican, church in America also wrote in support. She is the presiding bishop or primate and the pair were once in a Bible study group together.

Archbishop Philip, 55, grins at the memory during an interview with the Taranaki Daily News.

"I thought it was lovely to open those two cards, one after the other, and have them associated with what's happened."

Coming back on the plane recently, three people stopped to shake his hand. He knew only one of them. "There seems to be a little bit of Naki pride going around, which is lovely really."

Locals have had 14 years to get used to their own bishop. Richardson was installed in July 1999 - before that Taranaki was presided over by the Bishop of Waikato.

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Verger ‘like a master of ceremonies’ in church

From New Mexico-

As the procession enters The Church of the Holy Faith on a typical Sunday morning, it seems to be a conventional high-church Episcopal ritual.

You’ve got your acolytes with the large cross and candles; you’ve got your choir; you’ve got your priests – but who’s that fellow out in front? The one dressed in a medieval-looking getup holding a stick out in front of him?

That’s the verger.

“He (or she) is kind of like a master of ceremonies,” said verger Marshall Binns. A recent immigrant to Santa Fe from Oklahoma, Binns is a qualified verger and has volunteered his services to Holy Faith, the historic church on East Palace Avenue. He leads the processional and later accompanies the head acolyte and priest from the altar to the middle of the aisle when the Gospel is read. He leads everybody out at the end of the service. During the service, he sits in a special seat in the stalls that has been outfitted with a brass holder for his stick. He does not say anything.

Binns was a longtime verger at the Diocesan St. Paul’s Cathedral in his native Oklahoma City. In a conversation about a year ago, he mentioned the fact to the rector of Holy Faith, Father Ken Semon, who said he’d like to have a verger himself. When Binns and his partner David Beatty retired to Santa Fe in November, Semon suggested Binns study the smaller Holy Faith Church and review the “customaries,” the way the services are ordered. Binns debuted as the Holy Faith verger in March.

“He’s just been fabulous,” Semon said. “I think he gives an additional dignity to the service.”

More here-