Saturday, July 27, 2013

Why millennials are leaving the church

From CNN-

At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.

More here-

Following scandal, Archbishop Justin Welby offers to open up credit unions

From The Washington Post-

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, said he was embarrassed and irritated following revelations that the Church of England has invested millions of pounds in a company that financially backs England’s leading payday lending company, Wonga.

Welby told the BBC:  “We must find out why this happened and then make sure that it never happens again.”

News that the Church of England invested several million pounds into Accel Partners, the U.S. venture capital company that led to the launch of Wonga, which dominates the 2 billion pound payday lending market in England, was broken by the Financial Times. Wonga charges annual percentage rates of more than 5,000 percent.

A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace, Welby’s London home, said: “We are grateful to the Financial Times for pointing out this serious inconsistency of which we were unaware. We will be asking the assets committee of the Church Commissioners to investigate how this has occurred.”

More here-

Greetings flood in as royal couple celebrate birth

From The Church Times-

IN THE past, Archbishops of Canterbury were expected to attend the birth of a future sovereign. On this occasion, Archbishop Welby blessed the new royal heir not at the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital, but from a respectful distance.

"I am delighted to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the arrival of their baby boy," he said on Monday evening. "Along with millions here and around the world, I share in their joy at this special time. May God bless this family with love, health and happiness in their shared life ahead."

Earlier that day, he concluded a speech at Featherstone High School, Southall, with the suggestion that the audience "remember the Royal Duchess of Cambridge, who, in this heat, has gone into labour".

The new Prince, named George Alexander Louis, was born at 4.24 p.m., weighing 8 lb 6 oz. Members of the Church Times staff were outside Buckingham Palace when the details of the birth were mounted on an easel that evening. Dotted among the various foreign correspondents, people could be seen opening bottles of champagne and toasting the infant Prince's health.

As the night drew on, those still outside the palace got a soaking as the violent thunderstorm which followed the day's heat broke over the capital.

More here-

Life-saving cleric’s vases auctioned

From The Church Times (Its roughly $154,000)

THEY stand five feet tall, come from southern China, and commemorate the life-saving action of a fly-fishing vicar in the 19th century. Later this year, they are expected to return to their homeland, after fetching up to £100,000 under the hammer.

Last week, Duke's Auctioneers revealed the story behind one of the treasures in its Asian art collection. The two vases, believed to have been fired during the reign of the Daoguang Emperor who ruled China from 1820 until 1850, were sent from China as a gift to the Revd Samuel Edward Valpy Filleul by a rich trader.

As a boy in the late 1880s, the trader had been saved from drowning in a river in Lancashire by Mr Filleul, a keen fisherman. The cleric then paid for the boy's education, and the vases were a token of gratitude after the young man made his fortune in China.

The vases have remained in the Filleul family since his death in 1931, and, before their transfer to Duke's, stood in a house in Poole Harbour.

"They are of fabulous quality," the Asian art specialist at the auctioneers', Andrew Marlborough, said on Tuesday. "Firing any kind of porcelain is a technically difficult process, especially when there are lots of different coloured enamels on the surface. Firing ones five feet tall brings with it some technical challenges; so it is quite amazing they were created at all and have survived until today."

More here-’s-vases-auctioned

Churches work together on downtown Habitat house

From Lexington-

Alimata Kumbakisaka decided to make Lexington her home in 2010, and construction has begun to make it official.

Members from seven downtown churches have collaborated to sponsor a home for Kumbakisaka and her family through Lexington's Habitat for Humanity. The build began July 10.

This is the first time seven downtown churches have sponsored a Habitat build of a house downtown, explained Dana Stefaniak, Lexington Habitat for Humanity resource development director.

"Since the churches worship downtown it seemed like a neat opportunity to do a service project there, too," she said, adding that all the churches have committed financial aid and labor for the building of the house. The Kumbakisaka home is on Second Street.

Read more here:

Fond du Lac bishop candidates announced

From ENS-

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Fond du Lac has announced July 26 a slate of 3 candidates for election as their next bishop. Your prayers are asked for the candidates, the diocese and for the working of the Holy Spirit through the electing process.

The three candidates are:

The Rev. Matthew Alan Gunter, Rector, St. Barnabas, Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Diocese of Chicago

The Rev. Eric Christopher Mills, Rector, St. Anne’s, De Pere, Wisconsin, Diocese of Fond du Lac

The Very Rev. William Willoughby, III, Rector, St. Paul’s, Savannah, Georgia, Diocese of Georgia

A petition process for submitting the names of additional candidates will continue until August 8th, when all nominations will be closed.

The next bishop will be elected during the 139th Annual Diocesan Convention on October 19th at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Fond du Lac. The ordination and consecration of the next bishop is scheduled for April 24th, 2014 and will take place at the facilities of Appleton Alliance Church.

Further details about the diocese and the election of its next bishop are available at
The bishop-elect will be the eighth diocesan bishop and succeed the Rt. Rev. Russell E. Jacobus, who has served as diocesan bishop since 1994.

More here-

Friday, July 26, 2013

St. James church readies for 150th anniversary

From Northwestern PA-

Sept. 15, 2013, marks 150 years St. James Episcopal Memorial Church has served the people of Titusville and others who use its central location as an agreeable meeting spot for many diocesan groups in the area.

First, on Aug. 10, the day of the Oil Festival, a carnival will be held in the side lawn of the church. It is planned to follow immediately after the parade and last until approximately 4 p.m.

Following the carnival, there will be a 150th anniversary celebration, on Sept. 15. A regular service/worship will be held at 10:30 a.m., followed by an afternoon service with the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pa., the Art. Rev. Sean W. Rowe, at a time to be announced.

However, to keep the church chugging along for many years to come, the old building must be well looked after and renovated, as needed.

According to Andy Schlicht, junior warden and co-treasurer of the church, along with Dave Gagnon, in recent years the parish hall and front steps have been in need of repairs.

“The parish hall used to have carpeted flooring,” said Schlicht, “It got old and hard to keep clean.”

More here-

Sauls announces innovative missionary program

From ENS-

Episcopal Church Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls has announced an innovative missionary program designed to connect dioceses and staff in a collaborative manner: The Diocesan Partnership Program.

“Our Episcopal Church yearns for connection,” Bishop Sauls explained.  “Our people want to be connected.  Our leaders are looking for opportunities to be connected. Through the Diocesan Partnership Representatives, the DFMS (Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society) staff can assist in connecting and offering resources to our dioceses and congregations.”

The purpose and goals of the Diocesan Partnership Program are twofold: to make resources available at the local level; and to build networks and partnerships to connect people across geography.
“This is an exciting venture with enormous potential to invigorate the life of the Church,” Bishop Sauls pointed out.

The Diocesan Partnership Representatives are DFMS staff members who will work together to connect the Church across a vast geographical area in 16 countries through Virtual Regional Offices. The Virtual Regional Offices, Bishop Sauls said, “will consist of representatives of DFMS staff from Formation, Diversity, Congregational and Diocesan Ministries, Global Partnerships, Government Relations, Episcopal Migration Ministries, Development, and Communications.”

More here-

Businessman steps in to save former Episcopal church in Warren from being demolished

From Rhode Island-

A new buyer has stepped in to prevent developers from demolishing the former St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Warren.

The church, which was designed by Russell Warren and built in the 1830s, closed in 2010 amid troubled finances and a shrinking congregation. The building was acquired by developers last May from the Diocese of Rhode Island.

Businessman David Westcott tells the Providence Journal ( ) he has purchased the building from those developers to prevent it from being torn down.

The news comes following a prayer vigil Thursday that was organized by former parish members to try and save the church.

Westcott says he plans to restore the building's exterior and is open to a new congregation moving into the church. But he says he may move into the building himself.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

As an Anglican ex-bishop, I can tell you: Iran's new president could be our best hope for peace

From The Spectator-

The installation of Hassan Rouhani as President of Iran next month heralds a new chapter for the country. It is clear that he was elected not only because it was felt — both at the highest levels and by the people — that he was best placed to negotiate with the West on Iran’s nuclear programme but also because he was the candidate most likely to appeal to reform-hungry Iranians.

Rouhani is a protégé of the former president Muhammed Khatami, with whom I have had the chance to work. When he was President, I spent a whole day with him meeting political, civil society and religious leaders. Visiting him in Iran, I was always struck by his learning and his humility. Khatami knew about the puritan origins of the United States and the ways that tension between religious beliefs and liberty was resolved. He never tired of pointing out similarities between the difficulties of the Iranian experience and the founding of America. In opposition to the then fashionable ‘clash of civilisations’ thesis, he launched his own ‘dialogue of civilisations’ programme.

Khatami’s presidency failed because the West, especially the US, did not respond adequately to his overtures, but also because he ran into opposition from hard-liners. His failure showed where real power resided — with the ‘Ulama’, the legal authority made up of the Guardianship of the Revolution, and with the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

More here-

Pope Francis gets warm welcome in Brazil with tough task ahead

From Brazil-

When Pope Benedict said Mass in São Paulo during a trip to Brazil in 2007, towers of speakers carried his halting Portuguese across acres of empty green space at the Campo de Marte Airport.

Organizers had greatly overestimated the enthusiasm among local Catholics for Benedict, who drew lackluster crowds during his five-day visit, the echoing speakers at the airport seemingly symbolizing a church that had lost touch with its flock in the world's most populous Catholic country.

But six years later Brazil is falling in love with a new pontiff, the rapturous welcome given to Pope Francis since his arrival on Monday a stark contrast to the one received by his immediate predecessor and recalling the heady, emotional days of John Paul II’s first visit here in 1980.

Even the miserable winter conditions did not deter hundreds of thousands of worshipers standing for hours in the rain to listen to Francis say mass at the country’s national shrine in Aparecida on Wednesday, an encouraging sign for organizers of World Youth Day (in reality a week-long celebration) whose events in Rio de Janeiro are threatened by inclement weather.

More here-

Episcopal leader talks conflict, faith during Sitka stop

From Alaska-

The leader of a major denomination of Christians is in Alaska over the next several days. Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in 2006. The church claims more than 2 million members in 16 countries.

But before she started in ministry, she was an oceanographer. During a stop in Sitka, she had a chance to meet relatives of both Jack Calvin and Ed Ricketts. They are co-authors of Between Pacific Tides, a book that redefined marine biology.

She spoke to KCAW the morning of Tuesday, July 23.

KCAW: You have a science background.

Jefferts Schori: I do.

KCAW: And you’re here on the side of the Pacific Ocean… you’re an oceanographer?

Jefferts Schori: I was. It’s hard to claim still to be one.

KCAW: It’s hard to get out on a research vessel when you’re (presiding bishop)?

Jefferts Schori: It is.

KCAW: Are you going to have a chance to experience some science here?

Jefferts Schori: This afternoon we’re going to visit with some people who are descended from scientists I knew of in my earlier career.

More here-

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Anglican Archbishop Sends Congratulations on Royal Birth

From Christian Post-

The head of the 85-million member worldwide Anglican Communion has officially sent his congratulations to the royal family over its most recent addition. The Most Rev. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, sent out the message Monday after news of the birth was released by Buckingham Palace.

"I am delighted to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the arrival of their baby boy," said Welby. "Along with millions here and around the world, I share in their joy at this special time. May God bless this family with love, health and happiness in their shared life ahead."

Throughout the weekend, the world was anxiously awaiting the news of the pending arrival of the child of Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. On social media, the phase #royalbaby trended across the world on Twitter while news organizations streamed live footage from the Palace waiting for the results.


Expert offers tips to Rhode Island churches to avoid shutting down

From Rhode Island-

When it comes to preserving the nation’s houses of worship there is little doubt, says A. Robert Jaeger, “we are at a critical moment.”

Not only here in Rhode Island — which has seen a number of churches shut their doors in the last few years including the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John — but all across the country congregations and local church leaders have taken the difficult step of closing churches, largely for financial reasons associated with a dwindling membership.

But while the situation may seem dire, there is no need to lose hope, says Jaeger, who heads the Philadelphia-based Partners for Sacred Places.

Jaeger was in town for two days recently at the invitation of the Providence Preservation Society, offering some tips as to what dioceses and congregations can do to keep their local churches from becoming vacant or from being put under the wrecking ball.

At a forum at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church on College Hill, Jaeger observed that the best way of saving a church from being torn down is to keep the congregation alive and vibrant.

That said, even churches that think they have reached the end may still have a future, he says, if they learn to articulate to the wider community how valuable they are — not only in terms of faith, but in terms of the service and economic benefit they provide.

There is, says Jaeger, a “halo effect”associated with having a church in a city or neighborhood. Not only is there direct economic impact that comes from a congregation spending money to repair a furnace or a roof, but there are indirect benefits that come from its members and visitors stopping at area restaurants and shops on their way to a service.

More here-

Priestly vocations a challenge for Pope Francis

From Central Florida-

Camilo Sandoval says he faces the choice of a lifetime: He can study engineering in college or he can devote himself to the church.

The 17-year-old from Chile is among the multitude of fervent Roman Catholics who have come to Brazil for the church's World Youth Day, and Pope Francis' success in drawing such youths toward the priesthood could be crucial to an institution that is starving for clergy to serve its growing congregations.

"I'm thinking about being a priest," Sandoval said after arriving at Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, where much of the Youth Day celebrations will be held. "I feel fulfilled when I participate in vocation days; there is a closeness to God that attracts me. But I haven't decided."

All too many Catholics, from the church's perspective, have chosen the secular path.

Nearly 25 percent of the world's parishes don't have a resident priest, according to Vatican statistics. And while the number of Catholics in the world grew by 68 percent between 1975 and 2010 the number of priests grew by just 1.8 percent, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

Most new priests are coming from Africa and Asia, with a sharp drop in Europe. And there has been "a downward trend" in the number of prospective Latin American priests in the pipeline, said the Rev. Gabriel Villa, who is the executive secretary of the commission for vocations and ministries of the Latin American Episcopal Council, though he said he had no precise numbers.

More here-

New Kensington Anglicans find new home

From Pittsburgh-

It's a new day for Christ Our Hope Anglican Church — formerly St. Andrew's Episcopalian church — as it moves into a new house of worship at a former Methodist church in Harrison.

Christ Our Hope will celebrate its first services in its new home, at 929 Painter Ave., on Sunday. Services are scheduled for 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

The congregation of about 80 worshippers is leaving St. Andrew's, 1090 Edgewood Road, in New Kensington after failing to come to an agreement to buy back the New Kensington church building, according to the Rev. John Bailey, pastor of the former Episcopalian church that is now known as Christ Our Hope.

St. Andrew's was one of 41 breakaway Anglican parishes scattered throughout Western Pennsylvania that left the fold of the Episcopal Church in 2008 in the wake of the election of an openly gay priest as bishop of New Hampshire.

Biblical teaching on salvation and other issues caused the split as well.

Those churches moved under the umbrella of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh.

“God helped us find this property,” Bailey said. “It seemed like the right place and at the perfect time. We find it to be a wonderful home for us to start a new ministry.”

More here-

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Security Not a New Concept for Churches in the Ozarks

From Missouri

As you would expect, First Baptist will be beefing up security following a weekend shooting, but it's not alone. Some churches already have a plan in place for situations like this.

Rev. Kenneth Chumbley is the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in downtown Springfield. On Monday, along with planning for his next service, he's thinking about security.

"We want people to be able to come to church and to feel safe and secure."

Increased violence is what he describes as soft spaces, like churches, has him concerned.

"So we can be ready," he adds. "So we can be prepared."

It's a message Mark Struckhoff, with the Council of Churches of the Ozarks, shares with leaders across the area. His organization encourages churches to work with police. He says it's necessary, but unfortunate.

"Deep sadness that there is a situation now where churches need to think and think again about their plan."

Rev. Chumbley's church has an emergency system, but he says it needs to be better.

More here-

Bells at historic Detroit church welcome Britain's royal baby

From Detroit-

To honor the birth of the royal baby in England, a historic Episcopal church in downtown Detroit rang its bells this afternoon.

The Rev. Steven Kelly, the pastor at St. John's Episcopal Church on Woodward Avenue, rang the bells a few minutes after the announcement that Prince William's wife, Kate, gave birth to a boy who is in line to be the king of England.

The Episcopal Church in the U.S. is rooted in the Church of England, whose ceremonial head is Queen Elizabeth II and someday will be the newborn boy.

"I heard that the Church of England was ringing bells, and so I thought we would join in the festivities," said Kelly said.

The pastor pushed an electronic carillon that played a recording of bells, and also rang the chapel bell, which dates back to the church's founding in 1859. The bells played for about four minutes at the church, which sits next to Comerica Park and is across the street from the Fox Theater.

More here-

Monday, July 22, 2013

How To Eat An Egg In A Rebounding Rwanda

From Rwanda (Forbes)

In a rural preschool at Rugarama in northern Rwanda, some two hours north of the capital city of Kigali, 90 or so three- to six-year-olds sit patiently on a grassy patch outside a crumbling one-room schoolhouse with only gaps where windows and the door should be. Having sung, prayed, counted, and chanted the days of the week and months of the year in their native Kinyarwanda and English (fluency in which is a national education goal), the children wait for the highlight of the day: a hard-boiled egg.

Firm taps of the shells against a ridge of rock produce a crack. Then the peeling begins. Some children take a bite as soon as the top is uncovered and then continue removing the rest of the shell. Others wait until the egg fully emerges. No one gobbles or grabs. Older children help younger ones. One little girl nibbles the white first and then savors the round ball of cooked yoke.

The eggs are no mere mid-morning snack. They provide an infusion of protein at a critical juncture in child development, particularly for these needy rural children. Even when there are sufficient calories in their diet, protein is often deficient, which can impair body and brain development. Eggs are a perfectly portable protein source with ample shelf-life, even at room temperature, and contain the right balance of amino acids for human consumption.

More here-

Why the Ecumenical Movement is a movement for peace

From Australia-

Statisticians inform us that the past decade has seen a drop in the number of armed conflicts around the world and fewer war-related deaths than any decade in the past hundred years.

While any reduction is welcome, I doubt that such statistics are reassuring to the people of Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, Somalia, or the Congo. And I guarantee you they are little comfort to millions of us in the United States where political leaders speak of the “war on terror” as a permanent feature of life in this era.

I suppose it is possible, with an eye on statistics, to argue that Australia largely escaped the military slaughter of the past century. But tell that to the 100,000 Australians who died in conflict in such places as Gallipoli, Fromelles, Tobruk, El Alamein, New Guinea, Yongju, Malaysia, Long Tan, Baghdad, and Kandahar. You know, far better than I, that Australia’s national character has been shaped by the “Anzac spirit,” with its idealised conception of war, and by a firm conviction that security is derived from military force, including alliances with those whose weapons are bigger than yours. When President Obama spoke to the Australian Parliament in 2011, anti-war groups derided this country as a loyal subsidiary of the US military industrial complex.

More here-

Minnesota churches preparing for gay weddings

From Minnesota-

Karl Starr and Christopher Haug pledged their love for each other on the altar of Central Lutheran Church — preparing for the day they will walk into Minnesota history.

The two men will be among the first wave of gay couples to wed legally in a church after Aug. 1, when same-sex couples can start getting married in Minnesota. On Wednesday, Starr and Haug rehearsed their Sept. 14 ceremony at the downtown Minneapolis church with the Rev. D. Foy Christopherson.

“We’ve both grown up Lutheran, and we’re not willing or ready to give that up ... this is our community,” said Haug, 56. “A lot of our friends are people we know through church. So we want them to be able to rejoice with us as well.”

Houses of worship that recognize same-sex unions are adjusting to the redefinition of marriage in Minnesota. The new dynamics require new language — no more “I now pronounce you man and wife” — and ceremonial changes.

For Christopherson, using the term “marriage” will be one of the biggest changes. Central Lutheran pastors have held religious “blessing” ceremonies for same-sex couples since about 2000.

The right choice of words is demanding attention by other churches as well.

More here-

New SW Virginia Episcopal bishop ordained

From Southwestern Virginia-

ROANOKE The new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia says the church needs to appeal to the millennial generation in order to continue its message.

The Very Rev. Mark Bourlakas was ordained and consecrated as the diocese’s sixth bishop on Saturday during a ceremony at the Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre. He succeeds Bishop Neff Powell, who stepped down after serving for 17 years.

Bourlakas met with media outlets and friends of the Episcopal Church on Friday to discuss his goals as bishop. He previously served as dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville, Ky.

“I think that we are going to have to get used to moving beyond that establishment place where we decide who’s included and try to ask where we might be included,” Bourlakas said. “I think it’s going to be millennials and the culture around us that’s going to decide whether we’re included or not.”

More here-

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Son of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby finds love after riots in Egypt

From The Telegraph-

When Peter Welby decided to attend university in Egypt, some of his friends were worried that the move would spell doom for his relationship with Jen Bates, his girlfriend.

Happily, however, absence has made his heart grow even fonder and the son of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has proposed to Bates.

“Peter got engaged to a lovely girl two days ago,” says the Archbishop. “That’s been a gradual thing.”
Since Peter moved to Alexandria to study Arabic two years ago, the country has been hit by civil unrest.

The military coup earlier this month that overthrew the democratically elected government of Mohammed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has heightened religious tensions.

Egypt’s minority Christian population were protected by Hosni Mubarak, the deposed leader, but some felt threatened as Morsi’s government became increasingly Islamist.

More here-

Hypocrites vs. climate change

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

The resolution on climate change approved last month by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ has garnered mostly admiring attention from the news media. But I admit to a degree of perplexity and sorrow over the document, which seems to place the blame for our heavy use of fossil fuels mostly on the companies that produce them -- not the consumers who demand them.

The resolution is intended to create a path toward divestment of church funds, including pension money, from "fossil fuel companies" unless they meet certain benchmarks. The text never defines "fossil fuel companies," but it's a good bet that the target is oil and mining enterprises.

The resolution also calls upon church members to "make shareholder engagement on climate change an immediate, top priority for the next five years" and to "demand action from legislators and advocate for the creation and enforcement of carbon-reducing laws."


I am put in mind of the General Convention of my own Episcopal church, which adopted a resolution a few years back condemning the use of public money to provide vouchers for poor children to attend private schools, and then rejected a resolution encouraging Episcopalians to send their own children to public schools. The breathtaking hypocrisy of the decision was evidently lost on the delegates, who saw nothing peculiar in placing the cost of their own enthusiasm for public education on the shoulders of those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder. (Later on, the Episcopalians allowed that perhaps a study of the issue was appropriate, but nothing has come of it.)
Read more:

White churches uncommonly quiet after Zimmerman verdict

From CNN-

Even before the jury read their verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a number of black religious leaders had responses at the ready.

The voices of white pastors and predominantly white churches and religious groups? Much harder to find.

Nearly a week later, some denominations that often weigh in on matters of national policy have yet to go on the public record. It's particularly notable in the leadership of the Catholic Church, the country's largest religious body.

Admittedly, the flood of responses from black religious leaders was a partly a function of where the TV cameras were pointed.

Familiar figures such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson hit Twitter moments after the verdict was released.

Less familiar figures, such as Pastor Michael McBride, head of the PICO Lifelines to Healing Campaign, immediately issued a call for peaceful demonstrations. McBride had also prepared a tool kit for "Hoodie Sundays" in honor of Martin before Saturday night's verdict.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor at the famed Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, preached a sermon about Martin's death on Sunday.

Others took longer to react.

More here-

Pope, in an Angered Brazil, to Focus on Social Justice

From The New York Times-

 A month ago, hundreds of thousands of young people took to the streets of Brazil to protest corruption, wasteful government spending, bad schools and hospitals, police brutality, and other abuses of power. On Monday, Pope Francis, in his first venture abroad, will dive into the middle of that ferment when he begins a weeklong visit to the world’s largest Roman Catholic country.

“This is a crucial moment for the church, the nation, society and the people, heightened by the fact this is Francis’ first trip,” said Fernando Altemeyer Jr., a theologian and philosopher at the Pontifical Catholic University in São Paulo. “Brazil has changed and things are bubbling, but there is no clarity. Everything is new and unknown, in the country and the church, even for the bishops.”

Francis has endorsed the protests in general terms, and, according to European news reports, will do so again more emphatically and specifically this week. Church officials here declined to confirm those reports, but they said that two Brazilian cardinals, Cláudio Hummes and Raymundo Damasceno Assis, have been working closely with the Vatican to assure that Francis’ declarations on social justice here will convey sympathy both for the protest demands and those involved in the movement.

More here-

Mission trip will take Lowery to Hong Kong

From Albany-

It's not that Sara Lowery's expectations are low as she prepares for a yearlong mission trip to Hong Kong to advocate for migrant Filipino and Indonesian domestic workers who are often subject to legal, sexual and financial abuses after leaving their families in search of a better life.

It's just that Lowery is a realist.

"At our training for this mission trip, a man who specializes in African and Arab relations and has trained more than 10,000 peacekeepers told us one of the hardest things about what he does is remaining whole doing something you're ultimately going to fail at," Lowery, a 22-year-old recent graduate of Sewanee, Tenn.'s University of the South, said. "He told us the story of a frog sitting before a growing bonfire who kept throwing drops of water on the fire, although they were too insignificant to have any impact.

"The frog said, 'I may fail, but at least I'll be able to say I did everything I could do.' That's the approach I'm taking."

Sara Lowery, whose father, the Rev. Lee Lowery, became rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Albany four months ago, will leave for her Hong Kong mission on Aug. 20 as part of the Young Adult Service Corps of the Episcopal Church. YASC is a division of global partnerships with the national Episcopal Church that focuses on connecting people through the Anglican Communion by sending young people ages 21-30 to serve as missionaries in foreign dioceses.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia ordains new bishop

From Southwestern VA-

Early in the morning, as the Very Rev. Mark Bourlakas approached the Roanoke Performing Arts Theatre, he knew what lay ahead.

Bourlakas, elected as the new bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia on March 9, was ordained and consecrated on Saturday, becoming the sixth bishop in the history of the diocese.

“I just hope I can take it in, just try and stay focused on the more spiritual parts of this and hopefully receive some strength and encouragement for the days ahead,” Bourlakas said.

Bourlakas succeeds Bishop Neff Powell, who served as the head of the diocese for the past 17 years.

“I’m very confident,” Powell said about Bourlakas. “I think he’s talented and well prepared. I think the diocese is in good shape, and in a good place. He’ll do a fine job.”

Powell said he was proud the diocese has welcomed all people during his tenure, no matter their background.

“I end every sermon by saying, ‘God loves you exactly as you are, without reservation, more than you can ask or even begin to imagine,’ ” Powell said.

More here-

Canon Andrew Gerns: Regarding the resignation of Bishop Paul and the work of transition

From The Diocese of Bethlehem-

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Diocese of Bethlehem,

Yesterday Bishop Paul announced that effective January 1, 2014, he will be retiring as Bishop of Bethlehem after a seventeen year episcopacy. He will, starting August 1, begin a time of vacation and sabbatical that will allow him time to pray, rest, wrap up some things and begin to imagine how he will serve God in the next phase of his life.

This means that we as a diocesan community will begin our own process of listening for God and each other as we discern God’s will and together decide how we will act on it. There are many questions and there is much to do. It is important that we do this process one step at a time.

In the Episcopal Church, the selection of a Bishop is a democratic process that requires, at various times, the participation of the whole diocese and is accountable, through the Bishops and the Standing Committees, to the whole church. During the absence of a bishop the role of “ecclestiastical authority” falls to the Standing Committee. Many but not all of the functions of a bishop go to the Standing Committee and it will be up to that group to provide for the pastoral ministry of a bishop when it is needed.

Please remember that until January 1, 2014, Bishop Paul will still be our bishop, even as he is on sabbatical. This time will allow us to organize and make some crucial decisions that will allow the discernment, search and election of the next bishop to proceed smoothly after Bishop Paul’s retirement. I am thinking of the Gospel for this coming Sunday when I suggest that we use this time to “set the table” for Jesus and listen for his voice as we prepare for the good work of transition.

More here-