Saturday, May 25, 2013

Retired bishop pens Biblical novel

From Iowa-

The question of just how human Jesus Christ was is explored in a new book written by a member of the clergy who resides in Davenport.

Christopher Epting, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, also considers some other intriguing questions as he uses factual events and a bit of his imagination in "John Mark: A Gospel Novel."

The book is the story of the man who wrote the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament. Epting wrote the novel, he said, with the aim of making the Bible more accessible to readers.

"The Bible is like a foreign world to many people," said Epting, who served as bishop from 1988 to 2001. "This book is for seekers and also for people who are just interested. It can be read as a story in the eyes of faith or as a work of good literature."

Epting was inspired  to write a book after he took a 1995-96 sabbatical to the Middle East, including travels through Israel and Egypt. 

More here-

Unique stained glass adorns Maryland church

From Maryland-

It is the most unlikely of places to find a plump, silky, hungry muskrat.

Yet there he is, all but nibbling the leather soles of the Rev. Thomas Bray’s shoes in a stained glass window at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. On the other side of the sanctuary, filled with art in glass images of Jesus, St. John the Baptist, St. Philip and the three wise men, is a transom panel sporting a white chicken. The oven-stuffer candidate stands proudly in the center of a cornucopia that includes crabs, a peach, corn, butterflies, peppers and a Baltimore Oriole.

“We have something in our church that you won’t find in any other church in the world: a stained glass window with a muskrat,” said a smiling and proud Father Nathaniel Pierce. “About 60 years ago, a Roman Catholic bishop in Wilmington said it was OK to eat muskrat during Lent, so annual muskrat dinners were held here to raise money for churches.”

Though the Rev. Bray was only in Maryland for a few months in the early 1700s to organize the Anglican church, his legacy of literacy and books remains, captured for posterity in the window. Whether he even saw a muskrat up close and personal is a mystery.

For decades, the annual muskrat dinner at the church drew thousands of visitors to this Wicomico County village. Generations of some parishioners were also trappers.

More here-

Jersey City preservationists fear that demolition of 'landmark' church already may have begun

From New Jersey-

Construction work at the vacant St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jersey City has renewed concerns among city preservationists about plans to demolish the 143-year-old building.

John J. Hallanan, president of the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, called the construction work “highly suspicious,” noting that signs posted on the fence of the church indicated workers were removing asbestos, but the workers weren’t wearing any masks.

Meanwhile, city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said a city construction official who visited the Summit Avenue church last week found workers attempting to remove a stained glass window from the church, which closed in 1994. The official ordered them to stop because they did not have a permit to perform that kind of work, Morrill said.

More here-

Bishop Shaw’s tumor is cancerous and he will undergo treatment, Episcopal diocese says

From Boston-

Bishop M. Thomas Shaw has learned that a tumor removed from his brain last week is malignant and he will need cancer treatments, according to the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

Shaw underwent brain surgery on May 17 after tests revealed the mass on the previous day, the diocese said in a post on its website Friday. The bishop met with his doctors at the Dana Farber Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center on Friday, where they discussed the diagnosis, according to the diocese.

In the next few weeks, Shaw, 67, is expected to begin radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

The Rev. Mally Lloyd, who spent time with Shaw before his operation last week and continued to speak for him, wrote an e-mail to the diocese addressing the cancer diagnosis.

“This is hard news for all of us to hear,” Lloyd wrote in the e-mail, which was posted on the diocese website. “[Shaw] has great confidence in his doctors, and he has great confidence in his life of prayer.”

After his surgery, the bishop went home to the monastery of the Society of St. John Evangelist in Cambridge on Sunday, “where he has been recuperating and resting well,” said the diocese.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Beyond Provincialism

From The Living Church-

Reflecting on reactions to the consecration of Gene Robinson, Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold commented: “Possibly naively, we thought it was a local event.” But for catholic Christians, the consecration of a bishop can never be of purely local concern. 

The bishop is, to quote The Virginia Report (1997), “one who represents the part to the whole and the whole to the part, the particularity of each diocese to the whole Communion and the Communion to each diocese” (6.10). And, according to the English report Episcopal Ministry (1990): “In [the bishop’s] sharing in the collegiality of bishops the local church is bound together with other local churches” (para. 351). To be able to exercise this relational ministry, a bishop must be acceptable to, and recognized by, the bishops of the wider Church.

This is why Canon 4 of the Council of Nicaea required that at least three bishops of the province (the immediate manifestation of the Church beyond the local diocese) join in ordaining a bishop, the others having consented in writing and the metropolitan having confirmed the election. Hence the 1930 Lambeth Conference’s stipulation that “the minimum number of Dioceses suitable to form a Province is four” (res. 52): as the relevant Conference committee pointed out, “on the vacancy of a See there will be in the Province the number of Bishops necessary for the consecration of a new Bishop.” Lambeth 1920 had already observed: “It is undesirable that Dioceses should remain indefinitely in isolation, or attached only to a distant Province” (res. 43).

More here-

Church feels 'tremendous impact' after member charged with embezzling $55K

From South Carolina-

Charleston Police say a former church treasurer broke one of the 10 commandments at Calvary Protestant Episcopal Church over the last year. 51-year-old Stephanie Wright, of Moncks Corner, is facing charges after police say she embezzled $55,000 from church funds.

Wright turned herself in at the Charleston Police Department on Wednesday following a two-month investigation into missing funds at the Calvary Episcopal Church, located at 104 Line Street.

According to an incident report, the church's senior warden discovered that Wright, who served as the church's treasurer, had embezzled approximately $55,000 from the church between Jan. 2012 and Jan. 2013.

"The sums of money that were misappropriated... it's a tremendous impact," said senior warden Joseph Frasier.

Calvary Episcopal normally has 70-75 members at church each Sunday.

Police said documentation provided by the church showed Wright wrote numerous checks, primary to her mother, for fraudulent goods and services.

The warden told officers that in order for a check to be valid, it must be authorized by two individuals with signature authority. The warden said Wright would sometimes request a signature before making the check out to an unauthorized person, but most of the time she would just forge a signature.

More here-

Oklahoma bishop calls for aid for tornado victims

From The Church Times-

THE Bishop of Oklahoma, Dr Edward Konieczny, has asked for prayers and financial support in the wake of the devastating tornado which killed at least 24 people, including nine children.

Dr Konieczny, who is currently on sabbatical, sent a pastoral letter to his 70 congregations the day after the tornado - which has been upgraded to the most powerful level of twister - struck on Monday.

He said: "At this moment, the best assistance would be financial contributions. I am asking every congregation to make a special appeal this Sunday for tornado relief. Please forward those gifts to the diocese, and we will get them into the hands of those in need.

"We all know the people of Oklahoma are people of incredible faith, and it will be the strength of that faith that will sustain us in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead."

Churches seem to have suffered only minimal damage, though the roof on the Bishop's own home was destroyed by hail and wind damage.

The Bishop's chief-of-staff, Canon José McLoughlin, told the Church Times on Wednesday that the extent of the damage suffered as a result of the mile-wide tornado was "incredible". Two schools and a hospital had been destroyed, and entire neighbourhoods had been flattened.

More here-

Episcopal Leader Claims St. Paul of Tarsus' Curing of Demon-Possessed Girl Was Wrong

From Christian Post-

The head of the Episcopal Church has garnered outrage from some in the Anglican Communion over her claim that St. Paul of Tarsus' curing of a demon-possessed slave girl as described in the Bible was wrong.

In a sermon delivered before the Diocese of Venezuela on the island nation of Curaçao, Presiding Bishop The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori said that by driving the demon out of her Paul was "depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness."

"Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness," said Jefferts Schori.

"Paul can't abide something he won't see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it. It gets him thrown in prison. That's pretty much where he's put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God's nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so!"

The passage that Jefferts Schori was preaching can be found in the Book of Acts, chapter 16. The chapter provides an account of some of the mission Paul of Tarsus did in the early church.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pope Francis' Informal Exorcism, Latin American Style

From Huffington-

While Pope Francis did not perform a formal exorcism on the young man in wheel chair, he clearly realized an informal one known as a prayer of deliverance from evil. Without access to the transcript of his prayer, we are of course limited to the video footage of the event. However, we do know that the Mexican priest who brought the young man to Rome presented him to the pope as demon-possessed. Having observed hundreds of such exorcisms during the course of my research in Latin America, I view his firm and determined laying of both hands on the head of the afflicted young man as strong evidence of the pope having performed an informal exorcism in the form of a deliverance prayer. Note how, in contrast, he places only one hand on the head of the young woman he blesses, without a prayer of deliverance, right after exorcising the young man.

Since the late 1980s, competition with Pentecostalism has led to the formation of a cadre of Latin American priests affiliated with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) who specialize in "liberation" or exorcism ministries. Such is current parishioner demand for release from demonic possession that some priests, such as Brazilian Charismatic superstar Father Marcelo Rossi, even celebrate "liberation masses" (missas de libertação) on a weekly basis. Acknowledging his pastoral debt to Brazilian Pentecostal leader, Bishop Edir Macedo, whose Universal Church of the Kingdom of God brought exorcism to the fore of Spirit-centered Christianity in Latin America, Padre Marcelo stated in an interview that "it was Bishop Edir Macedo who woke us up. He got us up."

More here-

Houston man recounts near-death experience

From Houston-

Some people don’t believe in near-death experiences, but still, dozens of books have been written on the subject and thousands of people say they’ve visited the “other side.”

In 2009, Scott Corran was cycling with friends in Memorial Park, when he suddenly felt nauseous.
“I knew something was wrong, and I left my friends in search of a restroom,” he said. “Turned up into the park and about a quarter mile from the tennis center, my heart stopped, and I hit the street and was dead.”

Dead at age 44.  But what happened over the next 24 hours was miraculous. Scott was resuscitated several times by paramedics and doctors, and ultimately came back from the dead.

It was in the middle of that crisis that Scott said he had what thousands describe as a near-death experience, or NDE.

“What that was is really a period of leaving my body and returning,” Corran said.
During his out-of-body experience, he said he remembers a meeting with his dad in a Houston Playground.

“My dad joined me at the playground, and we sat and talked about my daughter. My dad had died five years before me,” he said. “I think it was my dad, came to comfort me and to help me understand, that I was to come back.”

There is an ongoing debate over whether near-death episodes are a sign from God, or merely hallucinations.

The Rev. John Price, a long-time Episcopal priest in Houston, said he believes each episode is a revelation.

More here-

F.C. Anglicans File Petition for Another Reconsideration by Supreme Court

From Falls Church-

Refusing to accept as final the April 18 ruling of the Virginia Supreme Court denying their appeal, leaders of the breakaway congregation from the historic Falls Church Episcopal filed yet another appeal to the state’s Supreme Court last Friday.

The breakaway group, reconstituted as the Falls Church Anglican congregation under leadership of a Nigerian bishop, is seeking to reverse the January 2012 ruling of the Fairfax Circuit Court affirming that the campus of the historic church in downtown City of Falls Church is rightfully owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and its congregation of “continuing Episcopalians” in Falls Church.

The “continuing Episcopalian” congregation, made up of members of the historic church who did not follow the defectors out of the denomination in 2006, returned to the historic campus a year ago, based on the circuit court ruling, and last week held a service to welcome their new rector, the Rev. John Ohmer, in which Bishop Shannon Johnston of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia participated.

More here-

Red Church Anglicans to be evicted?

From San Joaquin-

The Anglican congregation at Sonora’s historic Red Church could be moving as soon as this summer — the result of a legal settlement over church ownership.

Leadership and worshipers with St. James Anglican Church are finalizing the details of the settlement that will turn over the keys to the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, according to Fresno attorney Russell VanRoseboom, who has represented the Anglican diocese in the case.

VanRoseboom said on Monday that the settlement would be similar to an agreement between the Episcopal diocese and St. Francis Anglican Church in Turlock, which held a final service and officially moved on Sunday.

Both the Red Church and St. Francis have been involved in legal battles with the San Joaquin Episcopal Church over who owns the church properties. The churches were previously under the authority of the Episcopal Church, but their affiliations were shifted in 2007 due to ideological differences when the previous San Joaquin Diocese pulled out of the Episcopal Church and joined the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone.

VanRoseboom said a settlement over the Sonora church and nearby St. Michael and All Angels in East Sonora will likely include the Anglican group vacating the property by July 1.

More here-

Pope Francis: God redeemed everyone, ‘not just Catholics’

From RNS-

Pope Francis is warning Catholics not to demonize those who are not members of the church, and he specifically defended atheists, saying that building walls against non-Catholics leads to “killing in the name of God.”

“(T)his ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God,” Francis said Wednesday (May 22) in remarks at the informal morning Mass that he celebrates in the chapel at the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.

“And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.”

Francis explained that doing good is not a matter of faith: “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because he has made us in his image and likeness.”

More here-

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tories in denial while Kirk comes to terms with sexuality

From Scotland-

Sexuality and faith has been deeply divisive in both England and Scotland exposing deep rifts in David Cameron’s Conservatives in the House of Commons and among Scottish clergy in the General Assembly.

It has divided both church and state – but in the end both bodies voted, in one way or another, in favour of moving towards equality for the gay and lesbian community. But not without a great deal of agonising.

In the Commons, the prime minister relied on the support of the Labour Party to get his bill allowing same-sex marriage though parliament, splitting his party in the process.

Meanwhile the General Assembly voted for a compromise which affirmed the conservative view that ministers ought to be married – and that marriage is between a man and a woman – but which will allow liberal congregations to opt out in order to ordain or appoint a gay cleric.

It is perhaps worth noting that the Scottish Episcopal Church has said that the ordination of gay clergy is not a problem and has not been for many years. This suggests that Scottish religious culture is moving, if not in a different direction, certainly at a different speed.

More here-

Episcopal Church To Construct Bigger Cathedral In Juba

From Sudan-

The Archbishop of the Church of Sudan and South Sudan, His Grace Daniel Deng Bul Yaak laid the foundation stone on Sunday. 

According to Eng. Barnaba Dumo, a member of the committee for the construction of the new cathedral, the initial plan for the old cathedral was to have a much larger one but when the design was submitted to the provincial authority in Juba,  the then Governor of Equatoria Ali Bardo ordered its reduction in the size.

It is in this regard that he said the church thought of a long term solution to the problem of inadequate room for worshiping.

Eng. Dumo said the committee took decisions that a new cathedral be constructed and that the present building should be preserved as souvenirs and an auxiliary facility.

Eng. Dumo announced that the procurement process will be competitive and the bidding will be open to both local and international bidders.  A separate planning, designing and supervision consultancy firm will be hired to undertake the construction work.

More here-

Cape Cod Episcopal priest punished for plagiarizing sermons

From From The Daily News and Various Sources (Its hard to believe the traction this is getting)

A Massachusetts priest busted plagiarizing his sermons directly from the Web has been suspended.

The Rev. John McGinn, 65, is accused of directly lifting his speeches from the "Dynamic Preaching" book — which is only available via an online subscription at

The Episcopal clergyman also allegedly published some of the work in written form under his own name.

McGinn, who has led St. John's Episcopal in the Cape Cod town of Sandwich since 1993, was put on administrative leave earlier this month.

His shocked congregation of 300, who meet each week in a small wood-shingled village church, were told of his fate in a letter from the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

"This is a serious breach of the pastoral relationship between John and each of you," wrote Bishop M. Thomas Shaw.

Read more:

and here-

and here-

More here-


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Did Pope Francis Perform An Exorcism?

From Huffington- (with video)

After Sunday’s Pentecost Mass, Pope Francis approached the children with disabilities who attended the Mass. He put both his hands on top of the head of one of the children. According to a journalist of TV2000, a channel owned by the Italian Episcopal Conference, this gesture represents an act of exorcism. The network, who has a weekly programme called “Vade Retro,” questioned a few exorcists who confirmed his interpretation.

The images in the video show Pope Francis having a brief conversation with the priest who is standing behind the child, after which his expression changes and his hands cover the child’s head.

“The exorcists who have seen the images have no doubt: this was a liberation prayer from evil, or a real act of exorcism,” adds TV2000. Their next episode of “Vade Retro” will focus on Pope Francis’ battle against the Devil and its temptations.

More here-

Kirk avoid gay minister rift by backing compromise

From Scotland-

KIRK leaders believe they have averted a split in the Church of Scotland over gay ministers by adopting a compromise proposed by traditionalists.

After a six-and-a-half-hour debate, the General Assembly backed a plan to stick to its traditional teaching – that all sex outside marriage is wrong – while allowing individual congregations to choose ministers who are in civil partnerships.

Because the necessary church legislation has yet to be drafted, the issue will have to be debated again at next year’s Assembly and then go down to local presbyteries for approval, meaning yesterday’s decision could still be overturned and cannot in any case be implemented until 2015 at the earliest.

An alternative “live and let live” compromise would have seen the Kirk approve the ordination of gay ministers, but let individual congregations opt out as a matter of conscience.

The Assembly rejected a simple reaffirmation of the traditionalist stance, then voted by 340 to 282 in favour of the “opt in” compromise proposed by the Very Rev Albert Bogle rather than the “opt out” plan.

Mr Bogle, who ended his year as moderator on Saturday, said he came from the traditionalist view but recognised others had “more enlightenment”. Asking the Assembly to back his plan, he said: “It will give everyone what they want, but it will keep us together.”

Moderator the Right Reverend Lorna Hood said: “This is a massive vote for the peace and unity of the Church.”

More here-

Mass. priest suspended for plagiarizing online sermons

From Cape Cod-

A priest on Cape Cod has been suspended for plagiarizing sermons.

The Rev. John McGinn, 65, of St. John's Episcopal Church in Sandwich was placed on administrative leave earlier this month after the diocese learned he had allegedly been using other preachers' sermons since 2006, reports CBS affiliate WBZ in Boston.

They were reportedly taken from the subscription website

The Rev. Mally Lloyd, canon to the ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, told the Cape Cod Times as many as 15 sermons have been identified as direct copies.

Massachusetts Episcopal Bishop M. Thomas Shaw sent a letter to the St. John's community May 9 informing them of McGinn's suspension.

Lloyd said the diocese is working out a final agreement with McGinn, who told the paper he's going to retire.

The St. John's vestry released this statement to WBZ-TV: "For 17 years Fr. John McGinn has raised thousand of dollars for local charities and provided pastoral care for hundreds of people on the upper-Cape. Our prayers are with him as the diocese, St. John's church, and Fr. McGinn work to resolve this."

More here-

Monday, May 20, 2013

Some Nigerians richer than the nation

From Nigeria-

The Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Okigwe South, Rt. Rev. David Onuoha, has expressed worry over what he termed “the serious threat corruption is posing to our corporate existence as a nation”.

Rt. Rev. Onuoha made the lamentation in his address at the second session of the seventh synod of the diocese held at Saint Matthew’s Church, Umuezeala Nsu, Ehime Mbano local council area of Imo State.

“It is no longer news that our country sets a new record on this every year and all efforts at reducing the incidences of this national embarrassment succeeded only in the breach”, the bishop lamented.

He was particularly irked that the ever rising profile of corruption in the land means that the issue will remain in the public domain until a solution is found.

“The issue is not these mind-boggling annual revelations. What should disturb us as a nation are the denials, the rebuttals and deliberate refusal to acknowledge an obvious fact”, Onuoha said.

Continuing, the fiery Anglican cleric said: “What this clearly indicates is that this nation and her leaders are not in a hurry to fight this malaise.

More here-

Church attendance figures on the up in Elmbridge

From Surrey UK-

CHURCH attendance in Elmbridge is on the up, according to new figures released by the Church of England.

The Diocese of Guildford released official figures revealing that 36 parishes grew by at least 20% in 2011.

One church, All Saints Weston in Weston Green, recorded an increase of more than 33% in its average weekly attendance.

The Vicar, Revd Phillip Johnson, said they had made a ‘massive investment’ in children’s work in the past two years, making the church very family friendly and focusing their activities on the Weston Green community.

Rev Johnson said: “The figures confirm what we already know – that the church is alive and kicking in our parish.

“It can be difficult to hear the narrative of a church in decline, but in fact, we don’t want to rely on figures to prove that this isn’t the case in our parish, we hope that our presence, our work, our commitment to this community speaks for itself.

“Our growth has continued, we had a massive response to the Olympic celebrations we put on.”

More here-

Surge in number of people attending church

From Oxford-

A GROWING number of worshippers are going to Anglican churches in the Diocese of Oxford, bucking a national trend for falling attendance.

The rise in average weekly visits to Church of England services has been put down to local parishes making their churches more welcoming for families and the community.

Figures show the average number of people attending a service through the week in the Oxford Diocese has gone up by three per cent, from 55,400 in 2010 to 57,100 in 2011.

Nationally the average weekly attendance has fallen during the same period, with a 0.3 per cent drop across the country in the last figures available.

The Bishop of Dorchester, the Rt Rev Colin Fletcher, said: “These statistics are most encouraging and it’s quite nice to see the statistics demonstrating what I have been seeing for some time now. We have seen a large growth in work with young people and families.

More here-

Christ Church reboots

From East Carolina-

I was thinking of all the reboots we’ve had in the movie industry of late — Star Trek, Spiderman, Batman and Superman, for instance. Naturally this led me to thoughts of Christ Church in downtown New Bern.

We have quite a history of churches in this town. Our oldest house of worship, First Presbyterian, goes back to 1818; our oldest parish (Christ Church) goes back to 1715; and our colorful, if slightly self-obsessed founder, Baron Christoph deGraffenreid, described totem poles in the Indian village, which we can assume was church, even though they didn’t have bulletins, coffee or family-mandated pews.

Old things, of course, get reboots. Revivals, if you will — major changes in direction. In the movies, it can be because the last time a movie was done, it was done badly; or possibly it was done well, but now the times have just really changed and the old version is…well…dated.

Let’s talk about Christ Church’s reboots. Most were brought about for physical reasons (the congregation is on its third building); a couple were from societal causes.

Christ Church started its days Anglican, as one of a handful of parishes in the No Man’s Land of North Carolina in 1715. No Man’s Land? We wouldn’t even officially become North Carolina for another 15 years — we were just a little-known collection of forests and swamps overseen by a Charleston autocrat.

More here-

Blessing of the boats: Traditional Muskegon Memorial Day weekend event slated for May 26

From Michigan-

Landlubbers might not understand, but the beginning of the boating season – traditionally Memorial Day weekend – is a downright “spiritual” awakening for many recreational boaters.

The Muskegon boating community will again honor the natural setting that is Muskegon Lake, pay tribute to those who have served the nation on the high seas, kick off the summer season … and do a little partying. The latter will continue all summer through Labor Day.

The annual Blessing of the Boats will be Sunday, May 26, as part of the Memorial Day celebration along the Muskegon Channel that links Muskegon Lake to Lake Michigan. There will be plenty to do on the water and along the south channel wall.

“It’s all about showcasing the great recreation, commercial and municipal port we have, while paying tribute to those that have served on boats as part of history,” said Roger Zuidema of Muskegon Lake Effect Boating – a one-man-inspired social media movement to promote, celebrate and enjoy boating in Muskegon.

More here-

FAITH IN FOCUS: St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral Works Downtown

From Mississippi-

With a mission and ministry nearly 175 years old, St. Andrew's Episcopal Cathedral set a tone architecturally downtown.

Now 'revitalization' is the word in this weeks "Faith in Focus".

The Sunday service on May 12 celebrated baptism but it also welcomed new members to the Episcopal community in Jackson.

"My wife and I are here so we can be confirmed into the Episcopal church," Michael Boswell said.

"To us I think it comes down to not only a focus on Christ but also just a complete attitude of acceptance and openness and love as well that we have found at this church," Boswell said.

The Very Reverend Edward O'Connor, Dean of St. Andrew's Cathedral, reports the parish has roughly 2,000 members.

Of those there are 1,200 active members and a quarter of them are under age 32 - young with high energy, O'Connor said.

"This is a place where you might find a home and be filled so you go back out into the world and be light in the darkness," O'Connor said.

Parish leadership has made it a goal for church-goers to take messages learned during services and apply them in downtown Jackson.

More here-

Turlock Episcopal congregation walks to new church after closing service

From The Diocese of San Joaquin

The sign outside St. Francis Anglican Church reads “think FORGIVE act.” Action and forgiveness were the themes of the day, as the parishioners gathered Sunday for one last time at their church on Main Street before walking several blocks away to begin a new church in rented facilities.

The congregation opened its closing service with "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee," which includes the words, "Thou art giving and forgiving ... teach us how to love each other."

It was especially poignant because the St. Francis facility has been in a tug-of-war since 2007, when 40 of the 47 parishes in the San Joaquin Diocese voted to leave the national Episcopal church over theological differences. The departing parishes, including St. Francis, and the diocese were sued by the Episcopal church in 2008 and 2009 in a bid to regain those properties.

After several years of litigation and a ruling earlier this year that favored the Episcopal church against two independently incorporated parishes in Kern County, the decision was made to return St. Francis and the historic Red Church (St. James) in Sonora, which were similarly incorporated. Lawsuits against the diocese and other parishes are still in the courts.

Read more here:

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rector of burned Denver church wrestles with issues of urban homeless

From Denver-

Each of the seven stained-glass windows on the south side of the Church of the Ascension represents one of the holy sacraments — baptism, communion, confession, matrimony, confirmation, ordination and anointing of the sick.
The only window that shattered when the landmark Denver church caught fire early Monday morning was the one that symbolized the ordination of the priesthood.

"It was a blow to my morale," said the Rev. Lucas Grubbs, as he stood in the still smoky-smelling sanctuary Thursday afternoon. "It pretty much summed up my week."

Grubbs has been in action since he was awakened by the sound of sirens at 3 a.m. and ran outside to find his church in flames. He's been talking with fire investigators,insurance agents and stained-glass restoration companies.

He said he also is wrestling with his "own demons," pondering an incident the afternoon before the fire, when he asked a homeless man to move out of the bushes next to the church.

Like the leaders of many urban parishes, Grubbs struggles to balance Christian moral teachings about serving the poor with the need to keep people safe, especially the 50 children, ages 3 to 5, who attend Ascension's preschool at the corner of East Sixth Avenue and Gilpin Street.

Grubbs was hired as rector of the 107-year-old Church of the Ascension less than a year ago. The small, close-knit parish cherishes its people and its history. The church started as a Sunday school in the Capitol Hill home of Thomas Ward, a lawyer who was friends with Theodore Roosevelt. Many prominent citizens integral to the development of Denver have been members. The funeral of Doud Eisenhower, the 3-year-old son of Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower, was held there, even though Mamie's family attended Corona Presbyterian Church a few blocks away.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan elects 9th bishop

From Grand Rapids-

 The Rev. Whayne Hougland, Jr., was elected at a special electing convention May 18 to be the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan.

Hougland, currently rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Salisbury, N.C., was elected on the eighth ballot out of a field of four candidates. To be elected, a candidate must have received a majority of the votes in both the lay order and the clergy order. He received 87 of 139 votes cast in the lay order and 34 of 65 votes cast in the clergy order.

Under Episcopal Church canons, the election of a bishop requires the consent from a majority of bishops with jurisdiction and standing committees of the Episcopal Church. Assuming that consent is received, The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will consecrate Hougland as the ninth bishop of Western Michigan on Sept. 28 at the Van Noord Arena on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids.

The election, which was held at Grace Church in Grand Rapids, followed a year-long search process.

More here-

God is good for you

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

One of the most striking scientific discoveries about religion in recent years is that going to church weekly is good for you. Religious attendance -- at least, religiosity -- boosts the immune system and decreases blood pressure. It may add as much as two to three years to your life. The reason for this is not entirely clear.

Social support is no doubt part of the story. At the evangelical churches I've studied as an anthropologist, people looked out for one another. They showed up with dinner when friends were sick and sat to talk with them when they were unhappy.

The help was sometimes surprisingly concrete. Perhaps a third of the church members belonged to small groups that met weekly to talk about the Bible and their lives. One evening, a young woman in a group I had joined began to cry. Her dentist had told her that she needed a $1,500 procedure, and she didn't have the money. To my amazement, our small group -- most of them students -- simply covered the cost, by anonymous donation.

A study conducted in North Carolina found that frequent churchgoers had larger social networks, with more contact, affection and social support among their friends than their unchurched counterparts. We know that social support is directly tied to better health.

Healthy behavior is no doubt another part. Certainly many churchgoers struggle with habits they would like to change, but on average regular church attendees drink less, smoke less, use fewer recreational drugs and are less sexually promiscuous than others.

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