Saturday, July 6, 2013

Anglican head says determined to push for women bishops

From Reuters-

The Church of England must follow through on plans to ordain women bishops, its spiritual head said on Friday, as talks on the issue that have divided the church were set to re-open.

In his first address to its national assembly, the General Synod, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said the Church must adapt to a changing society in which congregation numbers are falling in many increasingly secular countries.

"Let's be clear, pretending that nothing has changed is absurd and impossible. In times of revolution we too in the Church of England must have a revolution," said Welby, a former oil executive who was named successor to Rowan Williams as the head of the Anglican church in late 2012.

In November, reforms to allow women bishops fell at the final hurdle. Despite receiving support from 73 percent of Synod members, a vote narrowly failed to attain the necessary two-thirds majority in one of the Synod's three houses.

Bespectacled and with his dog-collared clerical shirt rolled up to the elbows, Welby told the Synod at the University of York that the Church must get rid of its "baggage" after it came under sharp criticism in November for failing to push through gender reforms.

"If we say we will ordain women as priests and bishops, we must do so in exactly the same way as we ordain men," he said.

More here-

African Religious Leaders Reject Obama's Call For Gay Rights

From RNS-

Religious leaders in Africa strongly rebuked President Obama’s call to decriminalize homosexuality, suggesting it’s the reason why he received a less-than-warm welcome during a recent trip to the continent.

In a news conference in Senegal during his three-nation tour, just as the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on same-sex marriage, Obama said African nations must grant equal protection to all people regardless of their sexual orientation.

“My basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you … people should be treated equally,” Obama said. “And that’s a principle that I think applies universally.”

But Obama’s words rubbed religious and political leaders the wrong way. In Senegal, the West African nation where Islam is the predominant religion, homosexuality is a crime.

Christianity and Islam are growing fast on the continent, and religious leaders in both faith communities responded with vehement denunciations.

More here-

Bishop Mouneer congratulates Egypt on leadership change

From ENS-

The following is a statement from Bishop Mouneer Hanna
Anis Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa and President Bishop of the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East.

At last, Egypt is now free from the oppressive rule of the Muslim Brotherhood! The Armed Forces took the side of the millions of Egyptians who demonstrated in the streets since the 30th of June against President Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Armed Forces responded to the invitation of the people to intervene and force the President to step down at the request of the people of Egypt. Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-SiSi invited His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and The Grand Imam of Egypt Dr. Ahmed el-Tayyib, and other political leaders, to discuss the roadmap for the future of Egypt. After this meeting, it was announced that the head of the constitutional court will be an interim leader of the nation. The current controversial constitu-tion is now suspended. The new government will involve capable people from different backgrounds.

As soon as Field Marshall Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced this, millions of Egyptians on the streets went around rejoicing, singing, dancing, and making a lot of fireworks. I have never seen Egyptians rejoicing in such a way! They deserve this joy as they insisted to write their own history!

More here-

Parish, Episcopal diocese settle dispute: St. Barnabas can stay on church property

From Nebraska-

The Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska has settled a dispute with a local parish over whether the congregation could remain in its church building.

In an out-of-court settlement, St. Barnabas parish made a cash payment to the diocese. The settlement enables the congregation to permanently remain on the church property at 129 N. 40th St. Both sides are keeping the amount of the payment confidential.

In 2007, members of St. Barnabas voted to leave the Episcopal Church. The parish disagreed with the Episcopal Church over issues of church doctrine.

Last year, a Douglas County District Court judge ruled that the people of St. Barnabas must surrender the church building, plus its rectory and other property to the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.

The ruling came more than three years after the diocese sued St. Barnabas' priest and leaders for the church and rectory. The congregation argued that parishioners always have owned and maintained the church property.

The parish appealed to the Nebraska Supreme Court but decided it was best for the congregation to work out a settlement with the diocese, said Sean Reed, parish council president and senior warden. He said the settlement was fair for both sides.

More here-

Pope Francis’s Vatican: How the New Pontiff Is Shaking Things Up

From Time-

On Friday, Pope Francis fast-tracked approval for the sainthood of two recent pontiffs: Pope John Paul II, who presided over the Church at the end of the Cold War, and Pope John XXIII, who held the liberalizing Second Vatican Council half a century ago. To do so, Pope Francis undercut the Vatican’s traditional bureaucracy and its complex protocols regarding the proof of miracles required to canonize saints. For the Argentine cleric, who assumed the papacy’s top role earlier this year, the move is just the latest sign of his reformist impulses.

Far removed from the realms of saints and miracles, Pope Francis, it seems, has sought to shake up some of the Vatican’s more earthly institutions. The past two weeks have been filled with drama for the Vatican Bank, a tiny organization operating from within the Vatican walls that has been time and again a source of scandal and embarrassment for the Catholic Church. The latest intrigue began with the arrest on June 28 by Italian police of a senior monsignor, Nunzio Scarano, for allegedly planning to smuggle €20 million to Italy in a private jet. Pope Francis then ordered an unprecedented review of the bank by an independent commission. On July 1, came the surprise resignation of the bank’s two top managers. Director General Paolo Cipriani and his deputy, Massimo Tulli, who have led the bank for almost a decade, “have decided that this decision would be in the best interest of the Institute and the Holy See,” said a Vatican statement.

Read more:

Friday, July 5, 2013

Women bishops back on agenda as Archbishop of Canterbury makes first Synod address

From The Telegraph-

The Most Rev Justin Welby, who will give his first presidential address to the Church of England's national assembly as the Archbishop of Canterbury this evening, has been outspoken in his support of women bishops.

Earlier this year he said he was "certain" a woman would follow in his footsteps as leader of worldwide Anglican communion.

His address comes as General Synod members – whose vote was pivotal in the shock defeat of the women bishops measure last November – are attempting to restart talks over women bishops.
Members are to meet in private before debating new proposals on Monday, which could mean final approval for female bishops by 2015.

But traditionalist Anglicans say new proposals offer fewer concessions than legislation they neglected last year.

More here-

Women bishops are the first big test for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

From The Independent-

Temperatures are set to rise in York this weekend, as they are in the rest of the country, but members of the Church of England’s General Synod are unlikely to be getting their kit off. Instead, they will be meeting in their customary buttoned-up manner in the university’s unprepossessing theatre – all clerical collars and geography teachers’ checked sleeveless shirts revealing pale forearms – to argue yet again what to do about these irritating women priests who feel that they may be ready to be bishops. Bewildered, the outside world will stare down at them from the gallery like Yorkshire farmers at a cattle market.

Or perhaps it’s more like a debate in the parliament of Lilliput, the kind of eternal wrangle of a cut-off people, witnessed by the bemused Gulliver, where nothing matters any more other than the internalised priorities of its participants. As writers less original than Jonathan Swift observe, you couldn’t make it up. At last year’s brace of Synods, first the pro-women crowd in July refused to let legislation progress because it made too much provision for those who “in conscience” couldn’t accept their episcopal authority. Then in November, an anti-women ginger group, comprising an uneasy alliance of common conservative evangelicals and posh Anglo-Catholics, holed the proposal below the waterline by six votes in the House of Laity.

More here-

Group talks hold key to women-bishops outcome

From The Church Times-

GENERAL SYNOD members whose vote was pivotal in the defeat of the women-bishops Measure last November are holding their counsel, as they prepare for private discussions this weekend before a crucial vote on Monday.

Last year, eight members of the House of Laity wrote to The Times revealing that 12 of the members of the House had voted against the November Measure "in spite of most of us unreservedly supporting the consecration of women" ( News, 30 November). Several of these, contacted by the Church Times, declined to comment this week, saying that they first wanted to hear from others at the Synod meeting in York.

Two, though, were willing to share their views on Option One, selected by the House of Bishops from the four possible options mapped out by the working group on women bishops ( News, 31 May). A Measure instructing the steering committee to prepare draft legislation based on this option will be debated on Monday. The legislation would amend the canon that makes it unlawful for women to become bishops, and repeal the statutory rights that traditionalist parishes have to pass Resolutions A and B.

More here-

Sheffield church opens arms to Boy Scouts

From Alabama-

The pastor at Grace Episcopal Church in Sheffield extended his welcome in a letter inviting the scouts to use their facilities.

The Boy Scouts of America have been under fire since they voted to allow openly gay scouts, a decision that has some churches in Alabama denying them the use of their facilities.

Pastor Rick Oberheide states in his letter his beliefs as to why everyone should be welcome in the church. He feels young scouts should not have to suffer for decisions that are made beyond their control.

Pastor Oberheide also said that his decision to write the letter is not to criticize the beliefs of others, but a statement of disagreement with any decision that makes a group or individual feel unwelcome in the church. He said he'd like to see more people become more open and welcoming to others, especially those who are different.

"I think there's too many people walking around with rocks in their hands," said Oberheide. "We all need to drop them and admit we're all flawed in our own way and part of that is we need to listen to one another and respect other points of view."

More here-

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Here comes the God squad: what the new pope and the new archbishop have in common

From The Spectator-

It’s a few weeks after the election of Pope Francis, and a notoriously leaky church source is talking about the revolution to come. The new leader of the faithful is a sharp operator who finds himself surrounded by ‘a medieval court system of hopeless characters, each jealously guarding their own silos of activity. There’s lots of crap people in key positions.’ Meanwhile, away from the court, bureaucrats churn out windy memos. They may not know it yet, but the process of ‘clearing out the weeds’ will start soon — possibly as early as this August.

That might seem over-ambitious, but we’re not talking about the sleepy Vatican. The source is an Anglican cleric and the ‘medieval court’ is Lambeth Palace; the shinypants bureaucrats are mostly in Church House, Westminster, headquarters of the General Synod. And the new man who can’t abide flummery is, of course, the Most Revd Justin Welby, oil executive turned Archbishop of Canterbury.

The similarities between Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis are almost spooky — once you get past the fact that one is an Old Etonian evangelical Protestant and the other a South American Jesuit who prays in front of garlanded statues of Mary. Archbishop Welby was enthroned two days after Francis was inaugurated. That’s simple coincidence, but the other parallels tell us a lot.

Both men were plucked from senior but not prominent positions in their churches with a mandate to simplify structures of government that had suffocated their intellectual predecessors, who also resembled each other in slightly unfortunate ways. Rowan Williams and Benedict XVI seemed overwhelmed by the weight of office; both took the puzzling decision to retreat into their studies at a time of crisis in order to write books — Dr Williams on metaphor and icon-ography in Dostoevsky, Benedict on the life of Jesus. When they retired, early and of their own volition, their in-trays were stacked higher than they had been when they took office. Their fans were disappointed and the men charged with replacing them thought: we’re not going to let that happen again.

More here-

Three years later, Anglicans get new bishop

From Australia-

The Right Reverend John Ford will become the new head of the diocese and replace former bishop Ross Davies, who resigned amid a storm of controversy in September 2010.

Bishop Ford is currently serving as the Bishop of Plymouth in the Diocese of Exeter, in England.

He was elected unanimously by the Bishop's Election Committee.

The Venerable Richard Seabrook has been administrator of the Murray Diocese since Bishop Davies' resignation and said he was pleased to finally have a replacement.

"I am delighted the election of a new bishop has taken place and look forward, after such a long time without a bishop, to welcoming Bishop Ford to the Diocese of the Murray to lead the priests and the people here and build of the work of God's church," Father Seabrook said.

More here-

Nigeria: Catholic, Anglican Churches Battle Over Ownership of Onitsha School

From Nigeria-

Anambra State-owned Lafiagi Primary School in Fegge area of Onitsha has become a subject of controversy as Catholic and Anglican churches are battling for its ownership.

The school, which situates between St Michael's Catholic Church and St Faith's Anglican Church, both in Fegge, was before the clash used by both churches for social activities.

Vanguard gathered that an incident occurred during Sunday's worship as youths of both churches tried to stop the other from making use of the school field.

Parish Priest of St Faith's Anglican Church, Rev Canon Obiora Uzochukwu, told newsmen yesterday that there had been a lingering crisis over the ownership of the land where the school was built.

According to him, trouble started when the state government gave the Anglican Church the space in the school to conduct its church service.

Rev Obiora said: "The Anglican Communion has been worshiping at the primary school for more than 40 years and we view the recent attack by the Catholics as a way of playing scripts written by unknown hands to intimidate us.

More here-

Episcopalians celebrate saint Pauli Murray

From North Carolina-

Just over a year since Rev. Pauli Murray was named to the Episcopal Church’s book of saints, she was celebrated in the annual commemorative service at St. Titus’ Episcopal Church.

Murray grew up in Durham with her Fitzgerald relatives and became a lawyer, civil and women’s rights activist, author and first African American female Episcopal priest. She died July 1, 1985. Her day in the Episcopal liturgical calendar is July 1.

The celebrant for the service Monday night was Rev. Stephanie Yancy, interim rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Yancy, who started her job in May, received an email on her second day asking her to be part of the annual service for Murray, Yancy said during her sermon. St. Titus’ began hosting an annual service in honor of Murray in 2009. This was the second annual service commemorating her inclusion in the book “Holy Women, Holy Men.”

Yancy said she has long been an admirer of Murray and considers her “an older sister in Christ” who opened so many doors for Yancy and others. Both women graduated from General Theological Seminary in New York, and though were students three decades apart, both had the same professor of church history.

More here-

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Layperson's take on Mark Lawrence's June 21 Letter: from Lynnette Ras, Guest Author

From Acts 2:6-

axtwosix is reposting this piece because of the comments at the end of the article. I encourage participation in this conversation. I even will allow you to comment anonymously, although I would very much like to know who you are. See how nice and understanding I am? Seriously, though, I realize that some of these responses may well be  anonymous because the writers may fear for their jobs---sympahetic, but trapped, in PECDSC (Mark Lawrence's group). My colleagues in PECDSC are in jeopardy of being deposed by the Episcopal Church in short order. For most, this was "done unto them" by PECDSC leadership with no choice or say in the matter. Won't they at least TALK to Bp. von Rosenberg? Weigh their options? Look at what's happening? I have read that both in San Joaquin and in Pittsburgh the clergy were advised to lay low in the run-up to schism in those dioceses. See Jim Simons' post in his blog "Three Rivers Episcopal" (it can be found in the blog list in the side bar to the right). Look for the article entitled "The Case for Staying in the Episcopal Church".  Really sad. Whatever happened to transparency and openness and collegiality? It's not too late. Every bit of what has happened since last October could still be undone with little, if any, consequence. Lynn wonders below what TEC's response would be if any clergy and/or congregations sought to "come back". They would, in fact, be welcomed joyously and with open arms. 

Also, be sure to check out "Why I Stayed" in this blog under "Chris' Reflections"  CH +

Nigeria: Capital Punishment - Don't Be Gagged, Anglican Primate Tells FG

From Nigeria-

The Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, Tuesday, decried the condemnations that trailed the execution of four condemned prisoners in Benin City by the Edo State Government, urging the federal government not to allow itself to be gagged by anybody.

Reacting to questions at a press conference in Abuja, the Primate noted that Amnesty International had no justification to criticise the government's action, as they were neither directly nor indirectly affected by the action of the inmates.

He warned that the federal government should not allow anybody or organisation to teach it what morality is all about, insisting that, "the law on capital punishment for those who rightly deserve it should be enforced."

Painting a scenario where a victim of armed robbery was brutalised, raped and finally killed by the gang, the primate rhetorically asked "now where is the human right of this woman? Meanwhile, the armed robbers involved in that had been executed, and the people are crying for the human rights of the armed robbers.

"What I am saying is that the federal government should not allow people to teach them moral in our society. If somebody can afford to kill 79 people and they just sentenced him to 14 years imprisonment, if they think that is acceptable to them, it is okay, but here I think it is not okay.

More here-

In Canada, first joint assembly for Anglicans, Lutherans is a milestone

From ENS-

The Joint Assembly of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is a watershed moment in the full communion relationship of the two churches. This is the first time the national governing bodies of the two churches are meeting together. While it is a time to celebrate 12 years in full communion, the gathering also aims to challenge both churches to do more, as the theme says, “together for the love of the world.”

There are 291 Anglican delegates and 274 Lutheran delegates. When they all gather in the Canada Hall of the Ottawa Convention Centre, they will sit at 84 tables. They will meet, eat and worship together, but they will separate into the Anglican General Synod and the ELCIC National Convention for matters that require votes by each legal body.

The gathering officially begins with a Eucharist service in the Canada Hall on July 2 at 1:30 p.m. Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, and Bishop Susan Johnson, national bishop of the ELCIC, will then deliver a joint report. A community building session next is intended to help people get to know each other while stimulating their creativity with some art projects. The evening sessions will include the keynote address from the Rev. Christopher Duraisingh and a presentation on homelessness and affordable housing.

More here-

Debating the nature of marriage

From The Washington Post-

This is a significant moment in our public conversation on marriage. By ruling a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and choosing not to rule on the question of same-sex marriage in California, the Supreme Court essentially declared that the federal government may not set parameters for the definition of marriage but, instead, must leave that power to the states.

This means that the important debate about the meaning of marriage is destined to continue. Some have framed this debate in terms of “equality.” That rings with a certain American appeal. Everyone wants to be treated equally, with the love and respect due all people. But focusing on “marriage equality” gets the question wrong. Equality requires treating like cases alike. We need to determine whether we have “like cases” at all. If we want to address the principle of equality correctly, we need to get to the truth of marriage first.

Arguing that the law, for equality’s sake, should recognize two men or two women as “married” presumes that these pairs are the same as one man and one woman and that marriage is simply a committed relationship of any adults. All of this raises the question: What is the nature of marriage?

More here-

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Investigation after drunk vicar fell over in the aisle at a wedding and had to be locked in VESTRY (where he could be heard shouting 'In the name of the Lord, I'm not drunk!')

From The "No Comment" Department

An investigation is underway into a drunken vicar who had to be locked in the vestry after he fell over on his way into a church to conduct a wedding.

A replacement had to take the ceremony after Reverend Brian Taylor allegedly fell over in front of nearly 100 wedding guests,while it was believed he was drunk, and had to be ushered into the sideroom.

He could then apparently be heard shouting 'In the name of the Lord, I'm not drunk' from behind the door, while Chris John and Lori Collins were getting married at St George’s Church, in Cwmparc, South Wales.

The vicar has has now reportedly been given a month's leave to 'deal with some issues', according to The Sun.

A Diocese of Llandaff spokesman told MailOnline: 'This is a very unfortunate incident and we are investigating what happened. We are sincerely sorry for any upset or inconvenience caused to all those at the service.'

The happy couple, both 24 and from nearby Treorchy, South Wales, spent more than £20,000 on the wedding.

More here-

A Provisional Solution

From The Living Church-

Jesse Zink’s “Why Provinces Matter” and the responses from William G. Witt and Colin Podmore [TLC, May 26] illustrate the range of opinions on what South Carolina’s ultimate ecclesial structure should be, from standalone province to joining the Anglican Church in North America. One thing in common to all of the initial essays, however, was the recognition that any decision on ultimate structure might still be some time away.

This recognition has also been the starting point of the Anglican Communion Institute in our work on this issue in the last several months. We believe that South Carolina’s current status does not necessarily present a problem in need of immediate resolution, but rather inheres in the nature of this dispute. Taking our cue both from Bishop Mark Lawrence and the Instruments of Communion, we have proposed that the guiding principle of the next season for South Carolina is “provisionality.” During this period ultimate decisions are deferred precisely because they are premature. Bishop Lawrence has stressed this on many occasions. The rupture with the Episcopal Church is too fresh with many unresolved issues; the ensuing litigation is only beginning, not nearing an end. This is not the time to make such a momentous decision as that regarding the ultimate future of this diocese, which predates the formation of the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Prayers for Mandela: Healing or a`peaceful end'?

From CNN South Africa-

Nelson Mandela belongs to the ages whether he lives another hour, day or decade.

But in what may well be his final days, he’s focusing attention on a modern and yet very old question: When medical treatment can extend life interminably, what's the right thing to ask of doctors – or of the Almighty?

Few outside Mandela’s inner circle know the South African icon’s exact condition and treatment. Family members said last week that he had stopped speaking but was responding to voices. Officials have said he’s battling a lung infection, but they haven’t released much information beyond that.

What we do know is how Mandela’s countrymen have responded to what could be his last illness. More often than not, that response has included public prayer, vigils and hymns.

The South African network SABC reported one sort of prayer being offered, that of healing.

Elizabeth Lipule, 77, an African National Congress Women's League member, told SABC that the louder she sang the more her prayers would be heard.

"We pray that God gives him many years, we still need him."

But the South African Anglican archbishop, Thabo Makgoba, offered a prayer with a rather different tone.

Makgoba prayed the South Africans who will mourn Mandela's eventual death may be solaced. But he also prayed that the anti-apartheid icon will have "a quiet night, and a peaceful, perfect, end."

More here-

Eastern Orthodox feel comfortable with reunification

From Rome-

Is Pope Francis’ preference to refer to himself as “bishop of Rome” more than other traditional titles for the papacy a hopeful sign for Catholic-Orthodox relations?

That question was on the minds of those taking part in the recent Orientale Lumen Conference in Washington, D.C. The informal Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, which has been meeting since 1997, held discussions about steps toward full communion between Eastern and Western Christianity.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s first greeting from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica upon his election as Pope Francis struck not a few observers as downplaying his role of universal head of the Church with unlimited jurisdiction worldwide.

“The diocesan community of Rome now has its bishop,” Pope Francis told the crowds in St. Peter’s Square March 13. “And now, we take up this journey: bishop and people. This journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches. A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us.”

More here-

Ninth Mission Trip to Nigeria for Woodbury Family from Christ Episcopal

From Minnesota-

Christ Episcopal Church members from Woodbury go to Nigeria every year for medical mission work in the communities where they grew up.

Queen Obasi is working overtime before she goes to Nigeria to do mission work—but not the kind you might think.
She’s not just working hard to prepare schedules and plans for her trip to eastern Nigeria, her ninth annual trip to bring medical care to the communities where she grew up.

She’s literally working overtime at Allina Hospitals to raise thousands of dollars to pay for shipping and customs for medicines, walkers, wheelchairs and a donated ambulance.

“We are stepping out on faith that we will raise the money we need,” she said.

The ambulance and medicines are already in transit, being taken across the Atlantic right now. It will cost $7,000 for shipping and customs charges, as well as transporting all supplies to eastern Nigeria.

The ambulance was donated by Allina Health, and will be used to transport critical patients to the hospital.

More here-

Trinity Episcopal buying properties to build children, youth center

From Alabama-

Trinity Episcopal Church is purchasing lots to the east of its Dauphin Street sanctuary with the intent of building a ministry center for children and youth, a church official confirmed Monday.

Bob Howard, senior warden, said Trinity had closed on the purchase of one lot and was waiting to close on a second piece of property adjacent to it. The two, both located to the east of the church, have a combined purchase price of about $150,000.

A third lot nearest to Trinity has been owned by the church for about 15 years, he said.

Houses on the two properties, as well as Trinity itself, suffered serious damage in the Christmas Day tornado last year. The houses, Howard said, are beyond repair and will be torn down.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to use all three of those lots together to build a children and youth ministry center and also provide additional parking,” Howard said.

More here-

Monday, July 1, 2013

Gay, evangelical and seeking acceptance in church

From The AP (via Kansas)

Evangelicals are being challenged to change their views of gays and lesbians, and the pressure isn't coming from the gay rights movement or watershed court rulings: Once silent for fear of being shunned, more gay and lesbian evangelicals are speaking out about how they've struggled to reconcile their beliefs and sexual orientation.

Students and alumni from Christian colleges have been forming gay and lesbian support groups - a development that even younger alumni say they couldn't have imagined in their own school years. Gay evangelicals have published memoirs that prod traditional Christians to re-examine how they think about gays and lesbians. Among the most recent is Jeff Chu's "Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian's Pilgrimage in Search of God in America." Paul Southwick, a gay evangelical attorney in Oregon, has started an "It Gets Better" style video project, "On God's Campus: Voices from the Queer Underground," with testimonials from gays and lesbians at the Christian schools.

The goals of these activists and writers vary. Some argue monogamous same-sex marriages are consistent with traditional Bible views and hope to remain in conservative churches. Others agree with traditional teaching on marriage and have committed to staying celibate for life, but are speaking out because they feel demonized within their communities.

Whatever their aims, they are already having an impact.

"There are a growing number of us who grew up hearing a certain origin story about our same-sex attraction that didn't resonate with us," said Wesley Hill, 32, who teaches at a conservative Anglican seminary, Trinity School for Ministry in Pennsylvania, and wrote the book "Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality." "We are wanting to have conversations that older generations of evangelicals haven't had or haven't wanted to have."

Read more here:

Archbishop Peter Jensen to retire at 70

From ABC Australia-

Archbishop Peter Jensen is a man of strong convictions and his faith has surely helped him through some of the more controversial times of the past 12 years at the head of the Anglican Church in Sydney.

Under the rules of the Sydney diocese, Jensen must retire at the age of 70 and will step down on his July 11, his birthday.

But it was American evangelist Billy Graham's visit to Sydney in 1959 that set Jensen on his path to clergy. When Graham challenged his audience in Sydney to give their life to Jesus Christ, Jensen accepted.

"That moment was a defining moment. I decided, yes! That's what I wanted to do. And so I joined the hundreds of others, went down the front, committed my life to Jesus Christ and never regretted it," Jensen told 702 ABC Sydney Drive's Richard Glover.

More here-

Nigeria: My Ordination As Anglican Priest Source of Hope for Sexual Minorities, Says Nigerian Gay Man

From All Africa-

Five years after he was forced to leave Nigeria for the United Kingdom following threats to his life, Nigeria's first openly gay preacher and the founder of House of Rainbow Fellowship, a Christian community for sexual minorities and marginalised people, Reverend Jide Macaulay, has been ordained a Deacon of the Anglican Church on Sunday in Chelmsford, United Kingdom. The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend Stephen Cotterel, will hold the ordination service at the Chelmsford Cathedral.

Reverend Macaulay will serve as the Curate in the East Ham Parish, London. He is believed to have inspired many ethnic minority people in the Newham area of London when in 2000 he played Jesus in 2000 Newham Millennium Passion Play.

In an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Reverend Macaulay says his ordination is a source of hope for sexual minorities. He also spoke about his experience in Nigeria, the future of House of Rainbow fellowship and the recently passed anti-gay bill by the National Assembly.

What does your ordination into the Anglican Communion mean?

My ordination into the Anglican Communion is an important continuation of my call to parish ministry, to reach out to all people regardless of who they are. I believe whilst my ordination is not anything new to the church, for me it is both relevant on the state of persecution and righteous living for sexual minorities. My message to all people especially Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender people of faith and none is to hold on to their dreams and hopes in the face of hardship, God is a good God and loves all people.

More here-

Dundee tower block demolition narrowly misses church

From The Telegraph (pretty dramatic video)

Between Butterburn and Bucklemucker high rise flats lies the small church of St Martin's, and it's still there, but only just.

The congregation of the Episcopal Church was moved to another venue for its Sunday worship and prayers were said for the church to stay in one piece. And they were answered - well almost.
"There's always a risk with these things and they've just clipped the corner with the rubble coming down," Dr Nigel Peyton, Bishop of Brechin said. "Obviously we'll just need to look into just how much damage has been done. Clearly it has come through the roof in the corner here. But it's just really whether there's more structural damage underneath."

Extensive preparations were made before the demolition was carried out, including putting plastic seal around the church organ to protect it from dust, all valuable items were removed and outer doors sealed with tape.

The two tower blocks had been a landmark in Dundee for 42-years, climbing 25-storeys high they housed 374 flats - they were demolished as part of a regeneration for Dundee's Hilltown area.

More here-

Church built to honor Civil War soldiers turns 125

From Central PA-

When Gettysburg's Episcopalian community set out to honor fallen soldiers in 1888, they didn't think of a graveyard.

They built a church.

The Memorial Church of the Prince of Peace is the only Gettysburg church designed specifically as a Civil War memorial, parish publicist Art House said. The building houses more than 150 stones and plaques for fallen Union and Confederate soldiers, including 140 that form the foundation of the church's bell tower.

Nearly 100 congregants gathered Sunday for a service meant to honor soldiers, re-dedicate the church and continue its mission as a welcoming, vibrant religious community.

Prince of Peace was “not partisan at a time when we recognized the need for healing,” said the Right Rev. Nathan Baxter, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.

The Civil War "was the first time the country realized that wars are fought by young people,” Baxter said. “When we realize they are just children, young men and women, it forces us to ask the question, 'What can we do for peace?'”

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In the spirit of St. Francis, Episcopal church holds healing service for pets

From Alabama-

They circled up for prayer – men and women, boys and girls, Airedale Terriers and mixed breeds.

“Hear us as we pray for healing for our friends and companions – our loved ones – whatever their needs,” said the Rev. Ray Buchanan, leading the group in prayer Sunday outside the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in west Mobile.

“Remind us of your love for all of your creation and make us mindful of it daily as we care for them and they for us,” Said Buchanan, rector at the church.

The Healing Service for Pets, held Sunday afternoon, is part of the church’s St. Francis Guild Animal Ministry. The guild, headed by Buchanan’s wife, Nancy, hosts events for the community throughout the year, including an animal CPR class, a pet blessing service and Noah’s Park, a day of activities for owners and their pets. T

There’s also a place at the church where people can scatter the ashes of departed pets -- in the St. Francis Garden, named for St. Francis of Assisi, who had a great love for animals.

Buchanan says that taking care of God’s creation is “a matter of stewardship.” He added that the relationship between believers and their pets can be a manifestation of God’s love.

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Right Side of History Is Full of Rewrites

From Christianity Today-

Chances are you weren't surprised by yesterday's news that the Supreme Court found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.

A Pew Research Center poll last month found that 72 percent of Americans think that legal recognition for same-sex marriage is inevitable. That's the percentage of Americans overall—a slight majority of whom (51 percent) are okay with that. Strikingly, the poll found that there's little difference between evangelicals and Americans overall on believing that same-sex marriage is inevitable (70 percent of evangelicals think so), though only 22 percent of evangelicals support same-sex marriage.

The Supreme Court didn't actually say that there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage or bar states from limiting unions to a man and a woman. But there was widespread agreement that the decisions were historic—both an indicator and a catalyst for changing views on sexual ethics, marriage, family, social justice, government powers, and other issues.

In fact, Justice Antonin Scalia said as much in his dissent. "It takes real cheek for today's majority to assure us, as it is going out the door, that a constitutional requirement to give formal recognition to same-sex marriage is not at issue here—when what has preceded that assurance is a lecture on how superior the majority's moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is to the Congress's hateful moral judgment against it," he said. "As far as this court is concerned, no one should be fooled; it is just a matter of listening and waiting for the other shoe."

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Church of England set to bury Synod homosexuality debate

From The Telegraph-

Officials have quietly shelved a debate on the possibility of registering civil partnerships in Anglican churches for the first time, ahead of a five-day meeting of the Synod which begins in York on Friday.
The motion had been tabled almost 18 months ago and has the backing of almost 120 members.
A separate motion reaffirming the traditional “doctrine of Christian marriage” has also been postponed until another session to allow more time for arguments over women bishops.

Campaigners said the postponement reflected an “appalling” reluctance by some in the Church hierarchy to openly debate the issue of homosexuality.

But others believe it could reflect a behind-the scenes shift at the top of the Church which they are convinced could open the way for an historic change in its approach to same-sex relationships by the end of this year.

Bishops have been lining up meetings with Anglican gay rights campaigners.

They are thought to be privately considering the possibility of introducing “thanksgiving and dedication” services – similar to those offered to divorcees who remarry in register offices – for gay couples in civil partnerships.

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Inside 100 years of priesthood

From New Vision (Africa)

The first Ugandans to be ordained priests were Victor Mukasa Womeraka and Bazilio Lumu. They were ordained at Villa-Maria Parish in Masaka Diocese by Bishop Henri Streicher, then Vicar Apostolic of Northern Nyanza, on June 29, 1913.

The two priests were buried inside Villa Maria Cathedral, close to former bishops Streicher and Adrian Ddungu.

How it happened

According to the book A History of African Priests, by the late Fr. John Mary Waliggo, Streicher met lots of resistance when he suggested training Africans into priesthood. But he is quoted as having responded: “To get one indigenous priest is, for me, more important than converting 10,000 people.”

The two priests were among the first six seminarians who were admitted at a new seminary at Rubaga in Kampala, before it was relocated to Kisubi, near Entebbe. Laer, it was then relocated to Biikira, Kyotera in Masaka, to Bukalasa and finally to Katigondo in 1911.

According to Waliggo, Streicher introduced a tradition, which continues to this day during ordinations. Just after the first ordination, which was massively attended, he knelt down before the two fresh priests to receive their blessing.

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‘Guard against human trafficking’

From Zambia-

LIVINGSTONE residents have been urged to be alert and guard against cases of forced labour and human trafficking as the city prepares to co-host the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly in August this year.

Livingstone in Zambia and Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe will co-host the UNWTO General Assembly from August 24 to 29, 2013.

Livingstone Anglican West Parish Father, Emmanuel Chikoya urged residents to be vigilant as some visitors may take advantage of the UNWTO to promise them a better living but recruit them for forced labour.

Fr Chikoya said in an interview that the fact that several international delegates would be flocking to Livingstone with different interests created a perfect environment for people to be trafficked, especially for sexual services and any other forms of cheap labour.

The Livingstone Anglican Church Children’s Project in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) recently conducted inter-school debates on human tracking and forced labour at Shungu Primary School.

The project of sensitising the community of Livingstone on human trafficking and forced labour would run for four months.

More here-