Saturday, June 8, 2013

Episcopal factions in South Carolina battle in court

From South Carolina-

Attorneys for two factions of South Carolina Episcopalians made their case Thursday to a federal judge in Charleston over the proper venue for their legal battle — state or federal court.

In a courtroom jammed with more than two dozen attorneys, District Judge Weston Houck heard arguments arising from the Episcopal schism.

The conservative Diocese of South Carolina last year separated from the more liberal national Episcopal Church over theological issues, among them gay marriage and the consecration of homosexual bishops.

The diocese then sued in state court seeking to protect the use of its name and a half billion dollars’ worth of property controlled by its parishes. Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein issued an injunction saying only the parishes that left the denomination may use the name the Diocese of South Carolina.

When the diocese left, it had 70 congregations with about 29,000 parishioners. About two dozen parishes and worship groups remaining in the national church formed a new diocese and had the lawsuit moved to federal court.

Officials of the diocese that separated have characterized the maneuver as an attempt to move a state property rights case to a court that will support the national denomination’s seizure of local assets. Attorneys for the diocese asked Houck to move the case back into state court.

More here-

Former Anglican Bishop Warns of 'Tyranny of the Majority' in Mideast Region

From Christian Post-

Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, former Anglican Bishop of Rochester and co-head of the Anglican-Al Azhar Dialogue, warned against the rising threat of a "tyranny of the majority" in Arab Spring countries, in a speech last Thursday.

He called on all concerned to "commit themselves to equal rights for religious minorities and women in these countries."

Bishop Nazir-Ali's speech was part of a series of lectures hosted by Christian Solidarity International (CSI) on the future of religious minorities in the Islamic Middle East.

In the lecture entitled "The Arab Spring and its Aftermath: Implications for Muslim-Christian relations," the bishop criticized what he called the Western "love affair" with democracy promotion in the Middle East.

He noted the failure of such Western intervention in Iraq, Syria and the hypocritical relationship with the "Salafi-Wahhabi government…facilitated by what the Western powers" of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These countries routinely result in an environment in which Christians and women are treated as second-class citizens.


Consecration set for rebuilt Cannon Ball church

From North Dakota-

 Less than a year after being destroyed by a fire, the new St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball on the Standing Rock Reservation will be consecrated.

The historic St. James Church burned to the ground last July 25. In the year since, a new structure has been going up a mile south of Cannon Ball on Big Lake Road South.

The consecration of the new building will take place during the Cannon Ball Flag Day Wacipi, or powwow, at 10 a.m. June 15.

The Rt. Rev. Michael Smith, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota, will be the celebrant. Also attending will be Bonnie Anderson, former president of the Episcopal Church’s House of Deputies and honorary chairwoman of the Ikpanazin Fund to rebuild St. James.

The church, one of three Episcopal congregations on the North Dakota side of the Standing Rock Nation, has a long history there, more than 122 years.

The new building, constructed by Prairie Outpost Log Homes of Mandan, has incorporated traditional motifs into its design, such as a “dream catcher” effect in its rafter beams, said the Rev. Canon John Floberg, canon missioner for the Episcopal Diocese’s North Dakota Council on Indian Ministries.

More here-

Episcopal bishop names Holden rector to staff

From Western Massachusetts-

The Rev. Richard M. Simpson, a longtime rector at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Holden, has been named a canon to the ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts.

A canon to the ordinary is a staff officer who performs tasks assigned by the bishop.

“Among his many gifts, Rich brings spiritual depth, extensive experience in parish and campus ministry, creativity, and a sense of humor to a demanding ministry,” Bishop Douglas Fisher said. “I am blessed that he said `yes' to my invitation to join our staff.”

Canon Simpson has been rector at St. Francis for 15 years.

Before coming to Holden in 1998, he served for eight years with the Diocese of Connecticut — four years as associate rector at Christ and Holy Trinity Church in Westport and four as the Protestant campus minister at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.

More here-

Friday, June 7, 2013

Archbishop Justin Welby: The 'muscular Christian’ setting a fine example to his flock

From The Telegraph-

We are used to the idea of the Archbishop of Canterbury as an elderly man swathed in vestments, sandals and a beard. Which is why the latest picture of the most senior man in the Anglican Church took a while to absorb. Here was Justin Welby wearing a T-shirt, shorts and running shoes, going for a jog along the streets around Lambeth Palace.

For a 57-year-old asthmatic, he looked pretty trim. He certainly seemed in better fettle than George Osborne, 15 years his junior and at least 15 pounds his senior – one of many politicians who inflict their sweating, corporeal forms on those enjoying the peace and quiet in St James’s Park.

There was no wobble on Welby. Indeed, the Archbishop appeared to have a bit of spiritual zip in his feet as he dashed along the Thames: “They shall run, and not be weary,” as Isaiah said.

His predecessor, Rowan Williams, spent his evenings translating Welsh poetry. George Carey listed walking (note the lack of breaking of sweat) as his pastime in Who’s Who. Robert Runcie’s hobby was keeping pigs.

But the pictures of Welby are the latest evidence that the Archbish is refreshingly down to earth and shares many of the pastimes of his flock. A Lambeth Palace spokesman was coy about his exercise routine, but confirmed that running a few times a week is among his favoured diversions.

More here-

Church Of England Drops Opposition To Gay Marriage Bill

From Huffington (RNS)

Bishops in the Church of England, who had strenuously opposed a bid to allow same-sex marriage, signaled that they won’t try to derail the bill after an overwhelming vote of support in the House of Lords.

Church of England spokesman Steve Jenkins said that in the same way the church will eventually allow women bishops, England will eventually allow same-sex marriage.

“It doesn’t mean the Church of England is happy, but that’s where our government is going,” Jenkins said. “Now it’s about safeguarding people’s right to hold religious beliefs.”

The Right Rev. Tim Stevens, the Bishop of Leicester who leads the bishops in the House of Lords, issued a statement on Wednesday (June 5), one day after the parliament’s upper house voted 390-148 against an amendment to kill the gay marriage bill.

“Both houses of Parliament have now expressed a clear view by large majorities on the principle that there should be legislation to enable same-sex marriages to take place in England and Wales,” Stevens said.

The bill will now go into committee where bishops — who hold 26 seats in the upper chamber — will attempt to insert amendments to add protections for teachers or other workers who object on religious grounds. The bill passed the House of Commons on a vote of 366 to 161.

More here-

Pastors become peacemakers during George Zimmerman trial

From Central Florida-

Just four days before jury selection in the George Zimmerman trial, a group of pastors filed into the Seminole County Sheriff's Office to talk strategy for their upcoming jobs as peacemakers and informers.

Growing concern is not only for the trial itself, but how central Florida will react to the testimony and the verdict. So, local pastors in Sanford who will be in the courtroom met with the Department of Justice to discuss the best way to keep the peace.

Clergy will get four seats inside the courtroom each day, but many more will be outside, surrounding the courthouse, to help pacify potential protests.

A year ago, when rallies clogged Sanford and racial tension grew, a group of pastors met to talk peace. The Reverend Harry Rucker of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Sanford and The Reverend Charles Holt of St Peter's Episcopal Church in Lake Mary were among them.

"The ultimate request a year ago was that he [Zimmerman] be charged, was that he get arrested. Now that he's arrested, now that he's in the system, let's let the system do what it's supposed to do," said Rucker.

They're part of Sanford Pastors Connecting, which will rotate clergy in and out of their four assigned seats inside the courtroom to take what happened back to their churches.

More here-

and here-

MY VIEW: Story wrong on church and same-sex marriage

From Albany-

It was erroneously reported in the Register-Star for Thursday, June 6, that Christ Church Episcopal “will be able to recognize same-sex marriage.” This is emphatically not the case.

This misunderstanding arose out of the DEPO status recently granted to Christ Church by Bishop of Albany William H. Love. DEPO, or Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, means that Christ Church will now receive pastoral oversight from a Visiting Bishop, in this case, Bishop Skip Adams of the Diocese of Central New York.

However, as the article correctly pointed out, Christ Church remains in the Albany Diocese and under the authority of Bishop Love. Therefore Christ Church is still bound by the official Canons (laws) and policies of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany and of Bishop Love, which prohibit any blessing of same-sex unions or marriages and prohibit the participation of any of its clergy in such rites.

The Episcopal Church as a whole has authorized a liturgical rite for same-sex marriage (or the blessing of a same-sex union), and this rite is being used in many dioceses, but the Church recognizes the authority of each Bishop and Diocese to set its own policy.

By granting DEPO status, Bishop Love is making provision that Christ Church will benefit from the spiritual nurture, support, and access to resources of a bishop more in accordance with its own theology, which differs substantially from that of the Diocese of Albany. On Bishop Love’s part, this is an act of pastoral concern for the well-being of Christ Church, a parish that continues in his care and under his authority.

More here-

Traditionalists slam women-bishops plan

From The Church Times-

THE House of Bishops' preference for "option one" for the legislation to enable women to be consecrated bishops ( News, 31 May) has been strongly criticised by the Catholic Group in the General Synod as a "step backwards". The motion involves "the repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the 1993 Measure".

Forward in Faith, another traditionalist group, warned that the proposed legislation "sweeps away existing legal security" and "damages trust".

In the first detailed traditionalist response, issued last Friday, Canon Simon Killwick, chairman of the Catholic Group, said that it was "saddened" by the Bishops' choice, accusing them of "closing down debate before it has started".

He wrote: "Option one will not help to achieve a consensus; it will not create legislation capable of achieving the required majorities. It would tear up the current settlement over women priests, and replace it with arrangements which no one would be obliged to follow."

More here-

Federal court considers S.C. Episcopal division

From South Carolina (AP)

Attorneys for two factions of South Carolina Episcopalians made their case Thursday to a federal judge over the proper venue for their legal battle — state or federal court.

In a courtroom jammed with more than two dozen attorneys, U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck heard arguments arising from the Episcopal schism in eastern South Carolina.

Last year, the conservative Diocese of South Carolina separated from the more liberal national Episcopal Church over a variety of theological issues, among them gay marriage and the consecration of homosexual bishops.

It then sued in state court seeking to protect the use of its name and a half billion dollars’ worth of property controlled by its parishes. State Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein later issued an injunction saying only the parishes that left the denomination may use the name the Diocese of South Carolina.

More here-

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Zimbabwe Anglicans return to shrine for Bernard Mizeki celebrations

From ACNS-

Thousands of pilgrims from Zimbabwe and beyond are expected to gather in Harare next week to commemorate the life of Bernard Mizeki, a lay African catechist and missionary martyred in 1896.

The celebrations, between 14 – 16 June, will be the first ones held at the martyr’s shrine in more than five years. Previously Anglican pilgrims had been barred from the site by excommunicated former bishop Nolbert Kunonga.

Bishop of Harare the Rt Revd Chad Gandiya told ACNS, “After having been in exile for five years and failing to host these celebrations at the shrine, this years’ celebrations are indeed special and the theme God is faithful could not be more timely.

“This time we are back at our churches, and all other church properties including the shrine are back in our hands,” he said. “Going by last year’s numbers which were estimated at over 10,000 people, we do not expect anything less this year,”

Last year Dr. Kunonga, with backing from the police, stopped members of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) from worshipping at the shrine. Pilgrims instead went ahead and celebrated the event at the Marondera show grounds, an area located about 11 kilometers from the shrine.

More here-

Funding for oldest Anglican church approved

From New Zealand-

The Auckland Council has approved funding of $3 million to help renovate New Zealand's oldest and biggest Anglican church.

At a council meeting, the Holy Trinity Cathedral asked for help with the project which has a total cost of $12 million. It includes finishing a chapel, joining the neighbouring St Mary's Church to the cathedral, and repairing two pipe organs.

Despite some strong opposition during a two-hour debate on Thursday, councillors decided to support it in a 10 to 6 vote.

Councillor Calum Penrose advised the church to start charging groups using its property in the suburb of Parnell to raise the funds needed.

Howick ward councillor Sharon Stewart said although the project is appealing, there are many other communities in need of similar facilities.

Supporting the project, Councillor Richard Northy said it would provide great opportunities for all communities.

The council will give the church $1.5 million next year, and the remainder in 2015.

More here-

Church free to recognize same-sex marriage

From Albany-

There’s an air of excitement at Hudson’s Christ Church Episcopal these days — it’s undergoing one of the biggest changes in its history. The parish has applied for and, on Friday, received authorization for “DEPO,” or Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight, a change that should bring it more in line with today’s Hudson.

For the first time, the church will be able to recognize same-sex marriage. While the Episcopal Church in this country is liberal, the Albany Diocese is one of the most conservative Episcopalian dioceses in the entire church, said the Rev. John Perry.

Whereas the Episcopal Church as a whole has sanctified a liturgy for blessing same-sex marriage, its dioceses have a great deal of autonomy, so parishes within the Albany Diocese never received this liturgy.

“Normally, there’s a two-way flow of information,” Perry said. “There’s no flow here because of these disagreements. The bishop can run the diocese as he wishes; it makes us feel very isolated and alone here.”

More here-

Churches to honor Evers

From Mississippi-

Medgar Evers’ life and legacy are an important part of Mississippi’s historic struggle for equal rights. That is why four Jackson Episcopal churches are coming together to hold an annual “Liturgy of Racial Reconciliation Commemorating the Life and Legacy of Medgar Wiley Evers” at 4 p.m. Sunday at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral.

Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of Medgar Evers, will be the guest speaker. The noted civil rights activist and former NAACP president currently lives on the campus of Alcorn State University, where she is a distinguished scholar-in-residence. She also serves as chairwoman of the Medgar and Myrlie Evers Institute, with the mission of championing civil rights with a focus on history, education and reconciliation, especially among young people.

Judy Barnes, a member of St. Alexis Episcopal Church in downtown Jackson, said the service was the idea of Bishop Duncan Gray III of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, who activated an anti-racism task force in 2010 and wanted to acknowledge several upcoming 50th anniversaries in Mississippi’s civil rights history.

More here-

SC Lowcountry Episcopalians set to return to court Thursday; pension dispute aired

From South Carolina-

Lowcountry Episcopalians who are battling over the right to claim title to the history and property of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina return to court Thursday to argue where the case should be heard.

Bishop Mark J. Lawrence and a majority of clergy that split from The Episcopal Church (TEC) last year want the case returned to state court, where they have received favorable rulings.

Clergy and congregations continuing with the national church — now operating under the name, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina — believe the dispute involves trademark infringement and First Amendment questions. They want a federal judge to determine what congregations rightfully belong to the centuries-old Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

At issue is millions of dollars in church property that the national Episcopal church believes should remain within its hierarchy. District Judge C. Weston Houck will hear the arguments in Charleston, although no ruling is expected.

Read more here:

Federal court hearing set in SC Episcopal schism

From South Carolina (AP)

Attorneys representing separate Episcopal churches in eastern South Carolina are facing off in federal court.

The matter before U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck on Thursday is whether issues resulting from the split should be heard in state or federal court. 1 of the issues is title to an estimated half billion dollars in church property.

The conservative Diocese of South Carolina separated from the more liberal national Episcopal Church last year over a variety of theological issues. It then sued in state court seeking to protect the property of the churches that left.

The national church and two dozen parishes and worship groups remaining with the national denomination had the case moved from state to federal court. The parishes that left want the case moved back to state court.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Institution May Be Dying, But the Need Is Not

From Huffington-

Of course, there's another major institution that everyone includes in such doom-and-gloom scenarios: the church. Though America is still broadly considered a religious nation, statistics reveal a major shift. A recent Gallup study was headlined, "Most Americans Say Religion Is Losing Influence in U.S.; But 75% say American society would be better off if more Americans were religious." For many years, mainline denominations have lost members at alarming rates, but recently more conservative churches have been suffering the same phenomenon. No matter what denomination or faith tradition, organized religion is declining.

And yet people still yearn for a connection to their spiritual core, a relationship with the reality beyond themselves. They believe there is something more in life than the physical, but they are finding other ways and platforms to find it and satisfy their need. Thus we hear endlessly about the "Nones," those who in personality profiles select no particular brand of religion, but rather consider themselves "Spiritual But Not Religious." Such people can be very frustrating to those of us still involved in the institution, and we all know some of them.

For centuries, the church has been the primary delivery system for Christian faith and spirituality, but now people are finding fulfillment in other ways, individually and communally. So, like the automotive magazine industry and all the other struggling institutions, the church is "scrambling to find the right way to connect to an audience that has fractured and fragmented to numerous different platforms."

More here-

Episcopal church gets solar panels

From Olympia-

When Bishop Craig Anderson was asked what he wanted for a retirement gift, he always replied, “I want a solar system for our church.”

After almost six years as part-time Rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Parish of Orcas Island, Anderson announced his retirement in April. Now, just a month later, solar panels have been installed on the water side of the newly renovated Benson Room, located to the right of the church. Thanks to a retirement gift from an anonymous donor, Anderson has received his wish and he’s not the only one looking forward to some changes in the green direction.

“I’m all for it,” said George Garrels, an active member of the church. “When we were renovating the Benson room it was on our wish list to do the solar, but we had other issues. We found a lot of mold and rotten timber and so we finally had to ... back off with the solar. When this gift came through we were able to say let’s do it.”

More here-

Agenda: Independence debate gives churches a chance to discuss the place of faith in society

From Scotland-

THE debate about Scottish independence is about identity and how we measure the distinctiveness – or otherwise – of Scotland.

It's also about the things which are the staple diet of politics – economics, defence, education, health and more.

Inevitably this debate touches on and involves the life of churches. I believe that churches should be agnostic – indeed should be absolutely determined not to have a view – on issues of constitution, flags and governance. In the membership of our churches there will be people on either side of this debate. They are entitled to hold and to express their views without finding themselves any more or less respected as members of our churches.

There are deeper issues too. Churches believe that faith should colour and enrich the whole of life. So membership of a faith community should connect to deeper questions of identity and belonging in our society. You can see that in the names our churches – the church which I represent is the Scottish Episcopal Church; our national church is the Church of Scotland; and so on. We should feel good about that. Faith should not be privatised, compartmentalised and pietistic.

More here-

Episcopal Church Holding Retirement Accounts 'Hostage,' Breakaway Diocese Alleges

From Christian Post-

A diocese that recently voted to break away from The Episcopal Church has alleged that the denomination is "holding hostage" the retirement accounts of over 80 lay employees.

The Diocese of South Carolina alleged that The Episcopal Church's insurance entity, the Church Pension Group, is refusing to allow lay employees to roll over their 403B plans. The Rev. Canon Jim Lewis, spokesman for the Diocese, explained to The Christian Post, "Similar to a 401K, a 403B is a tax-advantaged retirement account available for employees of non-profits or educational institutions.
"There are currently over 80 lay employees of the diocese and our parishes whose retirement savings are held in a 403B account controlled by the Church Pension Group. The Episcopal Church is not allowing these employees to roll their funds over to another qualified plan of their choosing."

The South Carolina Diocese also provided The Christian Post with an email "paper trail," showing the correspondence between the Church Pension Group and the diocese.

Read more at 

Also here-

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Thousands pray at Namugongo to celebrate Martyrs Day

From Uganda-

Prayers are underway at Namugongo as thousands of Christians commemorate the day the Uganda Martyrs were killed some 127 years ago.

The martyrs who refused to reject their faith in Jesus Christ were killed on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga in 1886.

At both the Roman Catholic and the Anglican Martyrs shrines, prayers started at 10 am.
Police and other security agencies have been deployed to ensure safety at the shrines and all pilgrims to the annual event are subjected to detailed checks before accessing the prayer grounds.

The mass at the Catholic Shrine is led by Archbishop Paul Bakyenga of Mbarara Archdiocese. Members of the clergy and the laity from the same archdiocese are assisting him.

At the Anglican shrine, the main celebrant is Rt. Rev. Timothy Yahaya, a bishop from Nigeria. He is being assisted by a team from the Uganda Christian University, Mukono.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury's speech to the Lords on the government's gay marriage Bill

From ACNS-

The Archbishop gave the following speech on the first day of a two-day peers' debate on government proposals to allow same sex marriages.

My Lords, this Bill has arrived in your Lordship's House at great speed. The initial Proposals, when published at the end of the autumn, have needed much work to get them into today's form. Much of that work has been done through detailed legal effort and discussion, and I am deeply grateful to the DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) teams – and especially to the Secretary of State for the thoughtful way in which she has listened and the degree to which she has been willing to make changes in order to arrive at the stage we’ve reached today.

We all know, and it’s been said, that this is a divisive issue. In general the majority of faith groups remain very strongly against the Bill, and have expressed that view in a large number of public statements. The House of Bishops of the Church of England has also expressed a very clear majority view –  although not unanimous, as has been seen by the strong and welcome contribution by the Bishop of Salisbury.

The so-called Quadruple Lock may have some chance of withstanding legal scrutiny in Europe, and we are grateful for it, although other faith groups and Christian denominations who’ve written to me remain very hesitant. There have been useful discussions about the position of schools with a religious character and issues of freedom of conscience. And I’ve noted the undertaking of the Noble Baroness the Minister on those subjects, and I’m grateful for what she has said. The Noble Baroness the Minister has also put forward all her views today with great courtesy and persuasive effect, and I join in the remarks of the Noble Baroness, Baroness Royall, in appreciation of that.

More here-

Episcopal Preaching Foundation celebrates 25 years

From ENS-

A celebration to honor the first 25 years of the Episcopal Preaching Foundation began with a memory that pointed to the future.

The Rev. Brent Norris, the rector of St. Mary’s Church in Asheville, North Carolina, recalled coming to the foundation’s annual Preaching Excellence Program (PEP) in 1995 and receiving “a brilliant, white-hot passion for preaching in the parish and what the word of God delivered in faithfulness to God’s people could do, and what place that might ought have in my ministry.”

Norris, speaking at a banquet May 30 during this year’s PEP gathering, recalled that the Rev. Jane Sigloh, a PEP faculty member in 1995, sparked in him “a love and passion for parochial preaching – preaching to the people God has entrusted to you on a weekly basis.”

“I hope that you can be instilled with that passion too and that it can become white-hot and burning in you so that at some point you pass that spark of passion on to someone else,” Norris, who was on staff for this year’s gathering, told the 44 rising senior seminarians and recently graduated seminarians who were among those attending the banquet.

And Annie Pierpoint, a seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary, replied during the tributes that she was indeed “white-hot with passion for preaching.”

More here-

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church closes in Charlotte

From North Carolina-

After more than 100 years in three locations in Charlotte, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church closed and ended services on Central Avenue last week.

While the immediate cause was financial, a spokesman for the Raleigh-based North Carolina diocese as well as the leader of the church-elected vestry said internal conflict that has roiled the church for several years contributed to the decision.

“It’s something that had to happen,” said senior warden Calvin Hefner. “The finances were a small portion of our problems. We simply were not able to move forward as a vestry.”

The Rev. Canon Michael Hunn, who represents Bishop Michael Curry and also is in charge of church transitions, says the diocese had worked with the congregation, including a series of meetings held over the last year.

“We were aware because of recent history that the finances were in dire shape,” Hunn said. However, he acknowledged problems within the church went further than the ledgers: “It’s been a struggling situation for some time.”

Read more here:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Atheists challenge churches' free parking permits

From Guardian-

Many churches give out holy communion wine and wafers to the faithful. In Woking, Surrey, congregations can also queue up to have their free parking permits validated. But this privilege of churchgoing, however, is about to be challenged.

The National Secular Society (NSS) is challenging Woking borough council in the courts, warning that the exemption amounts to direct discrimination against non-believers who must still pay to park in the town centre on Sunday mornings.

The issue has become increasingly contentious as more councils scrap free evening and Sunday parking in pursuit of additional streams of income. The charges were initially denounced as a "tax on worshippers", so a number of local authorities – including Wyre council in Lancashire and Canterbury city council – responded by setting up "worship parking permit" schemes.

Woking, which established its scheme in May 2012, is the authority that the NSS has chosen to target for a test case, exploring whether the preferential treatment amounts to a breach of the Equality Act 2010.

Their letter of claim, sent by lawyers Leigh Day, explains that the local Anglican Christ Church, evangelical Coign Church and Trinity Methodist Church have all been provided by the council with ticket validating machines. Woking United Reform Church gives out council-backed parking permits to churchgoers valid between 9.30am and 1pm on Sundays.

More here-

We must not reject the gay marriage Bill

From The Telegraph-

Later today, peers will begin a two-day debate on the same-sex marriage Bill, an issue that divides friends, families, political parties, different faiths and the Church of England. Inevitably, it is going to divide the House of Lords.

The cross-bench peer, Lord Dear, wants to reject the Bill at second reading. But this would stop it going forward to its committee stages and deny the Lords an opportunity to examine all the issues properly. That would be a terrible mistake. It would give the impression that the Lords had rejected the measure out of hand without proper debating this important proposed change to the law.
The Bill deserves full scrutiny by Parliament and all views need to be heard. Lord Dear has claimed that the legislation would take up parliamentary time – but that is exactly the reason we have the House of Lords, a revising chamber to consider and, if necessary, amend bills that come to us from the Commons.

I understand why many of my colleagues in the Lords have strong feelings about changing the law on marriage. The problem seems to be that there are different views on what the word “marriage” means and what it stands for. To many, it describes an event that takes place in a registry office, or on a lawn, or on a beach, or in a hotel. Sometimes, it is a religious event in a church — in fact, it is often one of the few times that couples actually go to church. Increasingly nowadays, the couple already have children or have been married before or are of different religious faiths.

More here-

Gay marriage: Will bishops in the Lords back a 'fatal motion' to kill the bill?

From England-

Senior religious figures are bracing themselves for a potentially explosive couple of days, as they weigh up whether bishops in the House of Lords could have the deciding vote on an effort to kill off gay marriage.

Reports suggest that senior officials are urging bishops to stay away from the Lords debate on the bill for fear of it being rejected – potentially raising questions about the right of bishops to sit in the Lords.

Peers are being asked to vote for Lord Dear's 'fatal motion' which would deny the equal marriages bill a second reading.

That would essentially kill off the legislation, but it would almost certainly be followed by a use of the Parliament Act by the Commons to overrule the Lords.

"The core proposal is to allow same-sex civil marriage. The elected house of parliament supports this by a majority of two to one," wrote Iain McLean, professor of politics at Oxford University.

More here-

Tracing descendants of Uganda martyrs

From Uganda-

In probably the first story of its kind, the Daily Monitor today brings you stories of Uganda Martyrs descendants, in a tale that takes you from Namugongo to Luweero and on to Ukerewe, an island on Lake Victoria, in Tanzania.

The descendants of Matia Mulumba, the Catholic martyr who has gone on to be beatified and declared a saint, are currently living on the Ukerewe Island, found just a three-and-a-half hours’ sail from the Tanzanian port town of Mwanza. Many, of course have since moved on, some living and working in Mwanza, other parts of Tanzania, and, some rumoured to have come back to Uganda.

We bring you stories of the journey that St Mulumba’s child took down through Lake Victoria to Tanzania, seeking refuge from war in Uganda in the 1890s, settling and going on to impact the church there.

We also bring you the tale of descendants of Frederick Kizza, the Anglican martyr whose descendants, to this day, are working in the church as priests and in many other church positions.

More here-

St. Paul’s College, in Virginia, Reportedly Will Close

From The Chronicle of Higher Education-

Saint Paul’s College, a historically black institution in Virginia that has been struggling shore up its finances and regain accreditation, has informed its accreditor that it will close, the Associated Press reported on Sunday. The AP’s source for that information was Belle S. Wheeler, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Colleges. Officials of the college could not be reached over the weekend.

Nothing on the college’s Web site indicates a decision to close. An “urgent appeal to alumni and friends,” apparently posted recently, says the Board of Trustees is working diligently to secure the college’s future. The message gives fund-raising totals for April and May, and says the college is about $400,000 away from completing a campaign, begun last summer, to raise nearly $1.8-million.

More here-

Telling Haitian Stories

From The Living Church-

In January, Diocese of Alabama seminarian Mary Balfour Van Zandt and her Seminary of the Southwest classmate Kellaura Johnson, from the Diocese of Texas, spent three weeks in Haiti gathering and communicating stories of the Episcopal Church there.

“Our desire was to spend three weeks in Haiti working alongside, listening to, and forming relationships with Episcopal Haitians,” Van Zandt said. “Our vision for our trip was to communicate the stories of the Episcopal Church in Haiti in a manner that magnifies the mission of the Church in Haiti and inspires people to view the Church in a new light.”

… The seminarians were “blessed to have had the opportunity to spend three weeks with our brothers and sisters in this amazing country,” Van Zandt said. “The Episcopal Church in Haiti is diverse, strong, working hard for the poor, and most importantly focused on Christ and being the hands and feet of Jesus. It is our hope that our communication efforts have shown the Episcopal Church in Haiti in a true and good light.”

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Queen's Coronation anniversary: A medieval rite for the modern world

From The Telegraph-

There’s nothing new about austerity. At the Coronation on June 2, 1953, there was a careful balancing act between regal spectacle and careful spending – sugar and meat rationing was still in force, eight years after the War had ended.

The 2,964 square yards of gold and blue Glaswegian carpet laid along Westminster Abbey’s medieval floor were later sliced into pieces to fit Anglican churches across the world. The timber boards used for the platforms for the 8,251 spectators in the abbey were sliced to lengths that could be recycled for the building trade.

Still, there was room for enough majesty to suit the most important ceremonial occasion in the British historical calendar. You don’t actually need a coronation to become a monarch – the Queen succeeded to the throne the moment her father died, 16 months before the Coronation, in February 1952; Edward V and Lady Jane Grey were deposed before they were crowned, and Edward VIII abdicated before his coronation.

But it was the 1953 Coronation, planned by the Earl Marshal, the Duke of Norfolk, that provided the Queen with a formal initiation rite and an investiture with her official regalia. It was a public display, too, of the Queen’s spiritual and constitutional role, stamping her place in a 900-year-long chain of coronations in Westminster Abbey.

She was the 39th sovereign to be crowned at the abbey; the first was William the Conqueror, whose coronation took place on Christmas Day, 1066.

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T.J. Thomas to present '10 Hymns You Need to Discover' June 6

From Deleware-

What makes a good hymn? T.J. Thomas, minister of music at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Lewes, will present "Ten Hymns You Need to Discover" at 7 p.m., Thursday, June 6, as part of St. Peter's Summer Spirituality Series. In an interactive workshop with congregational singing and time for questions, Thomas will present a selection of 10 hymns from various faith traditions and offer commentary on the textual and musical attributes of each.

In his role as minister of music, Thomas oversees a growing music ministry including vocal choirs for children and adults, a handbell program for beginning and advanced ringers, regular services of Choral Evensong and sung Compline, a concert series and the annual residency of a prominent Anglican church musician.

During his undergraduate career, Thomas served on the music staff at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., under the direction of his organ teacher and mentor, Canon Mark Laubach. An active member of the Royal School of Church Music in America, Thomas has been on the staff of the King’s College choir training course since 2007. He is also active in the American Guild of Organists, currently serving on the executive committee of the Southern Delaware Chapter, and the Association of Anglican Musicians, for which he helped plan the 2012 national conference in Philadelphia, Pa. Thomas received his bachelor’s degree in music from Marywood University in Scranton, Pa.

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