Saturday, August 10, 2013

Indiana joins push to allow public body prayers

From Indiana-

Indiana is one of 22 states hoping the U.S. Supreme Court will allow prayers that endorse a specific religion before public government meetings.

The Indiana attorney general's office last week signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to exempt public bodies from screening opening prayers for sectarian references.

The high court's justices said in May they would review a federal appeals court ruling that found upstate New York town of Greece, a Rochester suburb, had violated the Constitution by opening nearly every meeting over an 11-year span with prayers that stressed Christianity.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Greece should have made a greater effort to invite people from other faiths to open its monthly board meetings. Two residents who are not Christian complained that they felt marginalized by the steady stream of Christian prayers and challenged the practice.

The Supreme Court has previously ruled that prayer that doesn't endorse a particular religion is acceptable at public meetings. But Indiana and 21 other states want the justices to hold that sectarian prayer is also constitutional.

More here-

Judge again weighs issues in SC Episcopal schism

From South Carolina-

For the second time in recent months, U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck is weighing whether issues arising from the acrimonious Episcopal schism in eastern South Carolina belong in federal court.

As two bishops sat with their attorneys on either side of his Charleston courtroom, Houck heard about an hour of arguments Thursday on one bishop’s request for an injunction against the other.

Charles vonRosenberg, the bishop of parishes remaining with the national Episcopal Church, wants the court to block Mark Lawrence, the bishop of churches that left last year, from using the name and the symbols of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

The conservative Diocese of South Carolina last year separated from the more liberal national Episcopal Church over a variety of theological issues, including the authority of Scripture and the ordination of gays. The breakaway churches sued in state court to protect the use of the diocesan name and half a billion dollars’ worth of property.

In a consent order, meaning both sides agreed to it, signed by a state judge earlier this year, the churches that left were given the right to use the name and symbols.

The congregations that remained with the national church had tried to move the case to federal court. But Houck ruled in June that the First Amendment is not a main point in the case and sending it to federal court would disrupt the balance between state and federal courts.

More here-

Episcopal bishop announces retirement after 17 years

From The Diocese of Bethlehem-

Bishop Paul V. Marshall of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem began a sabbatical Aug. 1 that will lead to his retirement on Jan. 1, 2014, from a position he has held for 17 years.

Marshall, 66, said he is retiring for reasons of advanced age.

At the beginning of the month, he turned over ecclesiastical authority to the diocese's standing committee, which consists of five lay and five ordained members. The Rev. Canon Andrew T. Gerns of Trinity Episcopal Church in Easton is president of the committee.

Gerns emphasized that Marshall is still bishop until January. In a note on the diocese's website, Gerns said Marshall's sabbatical will be a time for Marshall to "pray, rest, wrap up some things and begin to imagine how he will serve God in the next phase of his life."

Marshall was installed as the eighth bishop of Bethlehem in June 1996 following his election in December 1995. He replaced the retiring Mark Dyer.

Marshall, a former Yale University professor, graduated from a Lutheran college and began his ministry as a Lutheran. During his tenure as bishop, Marshall made at least 15 mission trips to Kajo Keji in southern Sudan. He was moved by the poverty he saw there and later established New Hope, which he described as a capital campaign for others. The New Hope Campaign has raised $4.1 million in pledges and supported the establishment of five primary schools, one secondary school and a seminary and teaching college in Kajo Keji.

More here-

Former MD Episcopal Bishop Dies

From Maryland-

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland announced the death of a bishop Friday.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland says Rt. Rev. David Keller Leighton Sr., who served as bishop from 1972 to 1985, has died.

Leighton died on August 7th at the Fairhaven continuing care retirement community in Sykesville. He was 91-years-old. 

"A great oak has fallen,” Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of Maryland said. “The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, the City of Baltimore, and the State of Maryland has lost a beloved bishop, civic leader, social reformer, and spiritual friend. We mourn his loss, pray for his family and loved ones, and hold with affection his life and ministry.”

According to officials, Bishop Leighton became rector of Church of the Holy Nativity, Forest Park, in 1959. He served there for four years before being appointed archdeacon of Maryland by Bishop Harry Lee Doll. In 1968, Bishop Leighton was elected bishop coadjutor and was consecrated at Emmanuel Church, Baltimore, on November 30. In January of 1972 he became 11th bishop of Maryland upon the retirement of Bishop Doll. Bishop Leighton retired in 1985. He served on numerous boards and committees before and after his retirement.

More here-

Court Battle Over Who Is Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina After Schism

From South Carolina-

A judge will decide who has the right to the title of Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, which broke away from The Episcopal Church over theological differences.

U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck heard oral arguments Thursday over the Rev. Charles vonRosenberg's effort to halt the Rev. Mark Lawrence's usage of the title.  The Rev. Lawrence presently heads the theologically conservative South Carolina Diocese, which broke away from The Episcopal Church over its support for homosexuality and treatment of Lawrence.

The Rev. vonRosenberg presently heads the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, the name given to those Episcopalians in the Diocese who want to remain with the national church.  VonRosenberg has sued Lawrence over usage of the title of bishop, arguing that Lawrence renounced this title when he opted to leave The Episcopal Church in January.

After hearing about an hour of arguments, Houck stated that he should have a decision as to the fate of the suit sometime in the next seven to ten days.


St. Matthew’s Episcopal must sell church after split

From Southern Ohio-

A Westerville congregation that lost about two-thirds of its members in 2007 after a rift within the Episcopal Church is selling its building and worshipping in a temporary space as it tries to redefine itself as “a church without walls,” its presiding priest said this week.

A “For Sale” is posted in front of the 23,995-square-foot St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church at 233 S. State St., where congregants held their final service on July 7. Their first service in borrowed space at a respite-care center drew about 100 people the following week, said the Rev. Joseph Kovitch, who oversees the congregation.

“It’s a powerful story of a community of people who hold deeply to their faith, to their beliefs, but also to a desire to be diverse,” Kovitch said. “What we are is really the new beginning, the new opportunity to become what we want to become. “

The church had more than 500 members when it split. The group that left with the Rev. Ron Baird formed St. Andrew’s Anglican Church and began worshipping in Lewis Center in 2008. Dozens of congregations across the country experienced similar divisions following the Episcopal Church’s 2003 consecration of the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, as a bishop in New Hampshire.

More here-

Friday, August 9, 2013

Help From Evangelicals (Without Evangelizing) Meets the Needs of an Oregon Public School

From Oregon-

Four summers ago, on her first day as an administrator at Roosevelt High School here, Charlene Williams heard that the Christians were coming. Some members of an evangelical church were supposed to be painting hallways, repairing bleachers, that sort of thing. The prospect of such help, in the fervently liberal and secular microclimate of Portland, did not exactly fill her with joy.

“I was perplexed,” Ms. Williams, who was promoted to building principal in 2010, recently recalled. “What was their agenda? Were they trying to proselytize? Were they some kind of far-out group that takes advantage of people? Were they hard-core people trying to show the love of Jesus and nothing else?”

On a Saturday morning last month, when the latest wave of Christian volunteers descended upon Roosevelt, a public school serving a mostly low-income, nonwhite student body, Ms. Williams greeted many with hugs. They had come by the hundreds for an annual Day of Service — weeding, planting, varnishing, washing, even nailing together picnic tables. The air sounded of motors and smelled of mulch.

This invasion of the righteous was not a one-day sop to conscience. Throughout the school year, members of SouthLake Church in the prosperous suburb of West Linn serve as tutors at Roosevelt. A former N.F.L. quarterback in the congregation, Neil Lomax, helps coach the football team. SouthLake pays for another member, Heather Huggitt, 26, to work full time at Roosevelt helping to meet the material needs of students who often lack sufficient food, clothing and school supplies.

More here-

One Book, Two Worlds

From The Living Church-

In The Death of Scripture and the Rise of Biblical Studies, Michael Legaspi tells a tale of two Bibles: the Bible of Christian Scripture and the Bible of the secular academy. The narrative that Legaspi presents is clear and compelling, although some might wish to qualify parts of it. According to Legaspi, the Protestant Reformation introduced a crisis of authority for Christian Scripture. As both Reformers and Counter-Reformers grasped after proof texts, Scripture failed the Church as a court of final approval. This “death of Scripture” left the Bible open for new appropriations.

The bulk of Legaspi’s monograph focuses on one such appropriation: the use and transformation of the Bible at the newly founded University of Göttingen, Georgia Augusta. At the center of his inquiry stands the celebrated orientalist Johann David Michaelis (1717-91), who, according to Legaspi, was central to the birth of the academic Bible. In turning the Bible, primarily his beloved Old Testament, into a historical document, Michaelis was able to salvage a text capable of transcending the intra-Protestant polemics that threatened to destroy many theological faculties. “Given the choice between the scriptural Bible and something else, university men, the fathers of modern criticism, chose something else” (p. viii).

More here-

Eleven Things You Might Not Understand About Your Minister

Found this on a Facebook post and can't identify the author but thought it was worth passing along-

My dad was a minister in a church. My uncles were ministers. My cousin’s a minister. About thirty of my best friends are, or were, ministers.

I was a minister, until I quit seven years ago. Probably forever.

It’s difficult being a minister. In the hard times, I always felt like many of the people in the church didn’t really understand us. Where our hearts were, how we were feeling, what our intentions were, how best to help us help the church. Which often felt dysfunctional. And I spent a lot of my down time thinking about a list of things I wish the church understood.

But while I was in the position, saying them would have sounded only like whining. Or it would have been uncomfortably vulnerable.

Now that I’m seven years removed from ministry, with no chance of returning, I want to offer some of these things to you who attend church regularly, hoping that they might be received in a different, more constructive spirit. I’ve really got nothing invested here any more, except love and respect for my brothers and sisters who do this for a living. And a hope that I can make someone’s life just a little better.

A disclaimer is in order. I ran these by a large handful of ministers this week, and most of them said something akin to ‘Yes, exactly!’ But there were one or two who responded saying that they’ve had a different, better experience with ministry, and that most of these don’t apply to them. But I think it’s fair to say that about nine out of ten ministers relate strongly to most of what’s here.

More here-

Anglican Church to punish members involved in ‘idolatrous act’

From Nigeria-

The Anglican Diocese of Ohaji/Egbema in Ohaji/Egbema Local Government Area of Imo said it would sanction members found participating in wake-keep, ‘Owu Okorosha’ festival or any other idolatrous ceremonies.

The church announced the resolution at the end of its 3rd Session and 1st Synod of the Diocese held at St. Thomas Church, Ohoba-Ohaji, Imo.

The resolution is contained in a 13-point Communiqué jointly signed by the Bishop of the Diocese, Collins Oparaojiaku and the Deputy Registrar, Noel Chukwukadibia.

It condemned what it called the “indiscriminate practise of idolatrous act” in some parts of the diocese and the ‘eight days merriment’ practised by its members prior to a burial ceremony.
The church, therefore, recommended a service of songs between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. for the family of any of its bereaved members before burial.

It called on the State Government to have a rethink in its plan to relocate any of the Faculty of study from Imo State Polytechnic Umuagwu, Ohaji.

More here-

Boko Haram: Anglican Primate Advises Against External Prosecution

From Nigeria-

The Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, has advised against external interference in the prosecution of Boko Haram members.

Okoh gave the advice while answering questions from newsmen in Abuja.

He held that the Nigerian justice system was well equipped to handle matters relating to the Boko Haram sect.

He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to shun overtures in prosecuting members of the sect.

“I have always advocated that Nigeria has the necessary instruments to punish members of the Boko Haram sect whenever it desires to do so.

“We do not need any body anywhere to prosecute criminals in Nigeria; we have the necessary laws to punish them.

“Nigeria should not allow the international community to interfere in the prosecution of Boko Haram members.’’

The primate said the federal government must be discouraged from allowing international discussions as far as the prosecution of members of the sect was concerned.

Okoh, who opened the church’s Conference for 2012, told the bishops and members of the diocesan boards to take more interest in the welfare of their employees.

More here-

Christianity and Honor

From The Living Church-

Church schools support both Christianity and honor systems. They perceive no conflict. They see honor as harmonious with Christian theology and Christian ethical principles. Certainly no chaplain or school head ever arises in chapel and proclaims: I now know that we have been deceived into accepting this honor system all these years; shame on us! And yet conscientious Christians might want to raise some questions about their compatibility, and then go on to see if they can sort out any tangles that appear.

In church schools, honor is routinely experienced as a leading way of representing, embodying, enforcing, and growing this commitment to character. It’s almost right up there with chapel as a leading identifier of what the school is all about in relation to moral development. A school’s honor system is — dare I say it? — a familiar marketing tool.

Today’s students grow up in a world in which the lack of honor (although it would not be put that way) is almost taken for granted. Who, when accused of anything, ever says “Yes, I’m guilty, and I’m sorry”? Who does not first deny? Then, if left no room for escape: blame others, or the environment, or mental stress — anything but Yes, I was responsible, I did wrong, I am willing to face the consequences. That last bit gets said in court only as part of the plea deal. That’s what children grow up exposed to. Or they have parents who, rather than supporting the teacher who reprimanded or punished their child, blame the school, thinking they are defending their child.

More here-

Archbishop ‘uplifted by all traditions’

From The Church Times-

THE Archbishop of Canterbury said this week that he felt "encouraged and uplifted by all traditions" in the Church. He was speaking after a week-long tour of the country, during which he spoke to Pentecostal, Evangelical, and Anglo-Catholic gatherings.

Archbishop Welby spoke at Hillsong, a Pentecostal Church, at the O2 Arena, in London; HTB Focus, a week away for members of Holy Trinity, Brompton, and its plants, in Lincolnshire; New Wine, a Charismatic Evangelical festival in Somerset ( News, 2 August); and the Youth Pilgrimage to the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Writing on his blog on Sunday, Archbishop Welby admitted that, during mass and Benediction at Walsingham, on Wednesday of last week, "My first thought was 'What a contrast with the past few days.' But my next thought was: 'What's the problem?'"

He continued: "In the Epistle to the Ephesians, we're told that Christ broke down the barriers we put up as humans. People talk about 'extremes' in the Church, and certainly this week featured 'both ends of the candle'. But those ends are held together by Jesus Christ. We show the power of his barrier-breaking by our love for Him, and our desire to make him known in deed and word. . .

More here-‘uplifted-by-all-traditions’

Work continues to replace burned Houma church

From Louisiana-

Construction for the new St. Matthew's Episcopal Church and school is on schedule, pastor Craig Dalferes said.

“We're very happy. In the last few weeks in spite of the weather, they've made a lot of progress,” he said.

The new church, school campus and parish center will open next spring, ending an almost three-year period of homelessness for the congregation, he said.

The church's century-old sanctuary at Belanger and Barrow streets in downtown Houma burned down in 2010. Since then, parishioners have worshiped at Grace Lutheran Church while raising money and planning for a new building on the same spot.

While the old building had few fire safety safeguards, “all three (new) buildings will have a fire-suppression system — a sprinkler system,” Dalferes said.

The $5.6 million project, designed by Broadmoor Design Group and Blitch Knevel Architects, includes a 4,400-square-foot sanctuary and parish hall and a 6,000-square-foot school building. Byron E. Talbot Construction is the contractor building the structures.

More here-

Bend Church Rebuilding After March Arson Fire

From Oregon-

For the first time, Trinity Episcopal Church opened up their doors to show the damage done by a string of arson fires set five months ago. Wednesday, church officials say they are ready to rebuild and move on. Two blazes ripped through Trinity Episcopal church and it’s other building St. Helens Hall, devastating the church community. “We don’t want to cry too much about what we lost, because what we’re going to gain will be even better,” said the church’s senior warden, Pete Lovering. The fire was set in the oldest part of the church, which was built in 1918. That wing is completely destroyed and must be rebuilt from the ground up. 

What’s now an empty space, ripped out to the studs and sub-floor, was once full of prayer, song and a congregation. “We did not lose, in this part, any stained glass,” said Lovering. “We are very fortunate.” What looks like white wash is actually a shellac finish, sprayed on to get rid of the overwhelming smoky smell. “The entire roof burned all the way into there, and the ceiling in the middle fell into this kitchen, ” said Lovering. Across the way at St. Helens Hall, the work is really picking up. A second fire was started in the back of the building the same night. “The panes of glass all cracked because of the temperature difference outside, and they will be replaced,” said Lovering. A new roof was built after the old one caved in from the flames.

More here-

Thursday, August 8, 2013

'Good man' to lead his Anglicans

From Australia-

His 62 years might have made him a ''reluctant nominee'' but Sydney's next Anglican archbishop Glenn Davies says his is not a ''fuddy-duddy church''.

''We actually are a vibrant part of this community,'' said Dr Davis, elected to succeed Peter Jensen on Tuesday night. ''I think the challenges for the contemporary church are to allow people to realise that we actually have a message which is worth hearing.''

The Bishop of North Sydney and former maths teacher was ''overwhelmingly'' chosen to lead the diocese by the 800 members of its governing body, a process he described as an ''emotional roller-coaster'' after problems with the vote tallying forced a recount.

But Dr Davies said ''there was a real sense of unity in the synod'' when it reached the final decision. The only other candidate, Canon Rick Smith, the rector of Naremburn-Cammeray Anglican Church and Dr Davies' ''very good friend'', rose to speak in support of the final motion to have him elected.
Read more:

Anti-casino group push to repeal Mass. gambling law

From Western Mass-

Casino opponents across the state are gathering signatures to get a ballot question that could repeal the 2011 Gambling Law.

An anti-casino group in Winthrop filed a petition Wednesday with the Attorney General's office. They want a ballot question in November 2014 that, if approved by voters, could make gambling illegal in the state.

Anti-casino groups in western Massachusetts told 22News they expect this movement to gain momentum extremely quickly.

“I know that the Episcopal Diocese of western Massachusetts will be a big, big proponent of the repeal,” said Michael Kogut, Chairman of Citizens Against Casino Gaming .

Nathan Beach of No Casino West Springfield told 22News, “We the people should be consulted on this. It is absolutely realistic that the people could decide by next November that we don't want casinos in our state, and they could vote this thing down and over turn the legislature’s decision.”

More here-

Group of Episcopalians safe in Nairobi after airport fire

From ENS-

Six Episcopalians who had been in Kenya since late July reported via Facebook on Aug. 7 that they were safe after their flight was disrupted by a massive fire at the Nairobi airport.

Rebecca Wilson wrote on her Facebook page at 12:40 p.m. EDT that she, her son Jacob Bilich, Jim Naughton, the Rev. Lowell Grisham, the Rev. Jon M. Richardson and Ellie Rolfes Rencher were “safe and sound in a lovely Nairobi guest house.”

“We are working on rebooking flights now and are keeping our phones open and charged for calls concerning that process,” she said.

Prayers were said for the group during the noon day Eucharist at the Episcopal Church Center in New York.

The group had been scheduled to leave Nairobi on Aug. 7, according to an earlier Facebook posting by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, who said Wilson had contacted her from Kenya.

The six were part of a larger group of 16 Episcopalians who met July 29-Aug. 1 at the Jumuia Conference Centre in Limuru, Kenya, with Anglicans from nine African countries and ecumenical participants to explore issues of sexuality in dialogue with scripture. The Chicago Consultation and the Ujamaa Centre of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, convened the conference with the Consultation.

More here-

Attorneys back in court in SC Episcopal schism

From South Carolina-

Issues arising from the Episcopal schism in eastern South Carolina are going back before a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge C. Weston Houck holds a hearing in Charleston on Thursday on a motion filed by a churches remaining with the national church. It asks that only those churches be allowed to use the name and symbols of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

Many churches in the conservative diocese separated from the national church last year over theological issues including authority of Scripture and ordination of gays. Those churches then sued in state court to protect the use of the diocesan name and a half billion dollars' worth of property.

Houck is hearing a separate federal suit filed by churches remaining with the national body.

Find it here-

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Choosing a Royal Godparent

From England-

In just a few short months, probably September or October, His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge will be christened into the Anglican Church of England. As future king, this is a pivotal and important event in the life of the young prince because he will become Head of the Church of England at his accession to the throne. At the time of his christening, his parents, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will have the important task of choosing godparents for Prince George. Normally, six people, both male and female, are chosen. These chosen people will be responsible for guiding Prince George throughout his lifetime.

A royal godparent is typically a person who has had a special relationship with the baby’s parents, with a foreign royal thrown into the mix. When the Prince and Princess of Wales chose godparents for their sons, they followed the same formula.

- See more at:

The Very Hip Rev. Gary Hall

From The American Spectator-

Liberal Episcopal Church elites often seem determined to fulfill caricatures of themselves. The Very Rev. Gary Hall, new dean of Washington’s prominent National Cathedral, does so fulsomely, gregariously, wonderfully in a recent Washington Post profile by Sally Quinn. They met in his favorite French restaurant near the magnificent Gothic edifice, which hosts so many solemn pageants of American civil religion.

Hall has made a splash in town by focusing on gun control and same sex marriage. He hosted a press conference soon after last year’s tragic school shootings in Connecticut. And he’s opened the cathedral for homosexual nuptials. Liberal Episcopalianism strongly emphasizes sexual liberation, and for Hall that liberation includes heterosexuals too.

“We have this cartoon in America where you grow up, get married and stay the same person,” Hall told Quinn. “For the church to say, ‘No sex before marriage,’ is not realistic,” claiming he has wed over 500 couples, only about five of whom were not already cohabiting, statistics exponentially beyond the national average. He wants the church to model “how to live a life of faithfulness and integrity” while evidently embracing the new permissiveness.

It’s all about moving with the times.

More here-

Serving others brings St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church together

From Kansas City-

While most sit and eat, George Dunmore stands off to the side of the Center for Grace’s cafeteria hall.

From where he’s standing, he can see all 18 tables and keep a watchful eye for any empty plates. As soon as he spots one, he swoops down to the table, offering to fix another plate or refill an empty glass.

As he watches, he explains that serving others is at the core of what brings him and other parishioners of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church together.

“It just got contagious,” Dunmore said.

After it was nearly shut down in the early 2000s, this Olathe church with fewer than 75 active families has rallied around a central mission of serving its community to regain its stability and thrive as a mission-centric Episcopal parish.

Read more here:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Presbyterians stir debate by rejecting popular new hymn

From Religion Religion News-

Fans of a beloved contemporary Christian hymn won’t get any satisfaction in a new church hymnal.

The committee putting together a new hymnal for the Presbyterian Church (USA) dropped the popular hymn “In Christ Alone” because the song’s authors refused to change a phrase about the wrath of God.

The original lyrics say that “on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song wanted to substitute the words, “the love of God was magnified.”

The song’s authors, Stuart Townend and Nashville resident Keith Getty, objected. So the committee voted to drop the song.

Critics say the proposed change was sparked by liberals wanting to take God’s wrath out of the hymnal. The committee says there’s plenty of wrath in the new hymnal.

Instead, the problem is the word “satisfied,” which the committee says refers to a specific view of theology that it rejects.

Debate over “In Christ Alone” is a mix of church politics, the touchy subject of updating hymn lyrics and rival views of what Jesus’ death on the cross meant.

The decision to drop the hymn wasn’t made lightly, said Mary Louise Bringle, a religion professor and hymnwriter who chaired the hymnal committee. It was complicated by a foul-up with the rights for the song.

More here-

Braddock mayor performs Allegheny County’s first gay marriage despite state ban

From Pittsburgh-

The mayor of Braddock performed the first gay marriage in Allegheny County despite a state law that prohibits it.

John Kandray and Bill Gray were married Monday night by Mayor John Fetterman. Kandray and Gray said they’ve been together for 11 years.

“We’ve been in a relationship and for most of the time, (getting married) wasn’t a possibility,” Kandray said.

Fetterman said the state’s defense of marriage act is unjust and he was happy to marry the couple -- who obtained a marriage license in Montgomery County.

A county clerk there has been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the state law banning gay marriage and a lawsuit filed by Gov. Tom Corbett’s office.

“We said if we can do this close to home, let’s do it. So we made the drive and heard Mayor Fetterman would marry anyone with a valid marriage license, and that’s what we have,” Kandray said. “This is our standing up for ourselves.”

“They’re the stars. They’re the heroes. They’re the ones that had the courage to step up,” said Fetterman. "I've been on record expressing my support for same sex marriage for quite a while.”

More here-

The Protestant Mainline Makes a (Literary) Comeback

From Religion Dispatches-

The Protestant mainline, by whatever name, was bound to make a comeback—at least as a subject of academic discourse.

The “mainline” is usually identified with seven Protestant denominations, it was always a small group, and shortly after it acquired its name, it began to shrink. After the shrinking began, journalists lost interest in liberal Protestantism, except to retell the story of mainline decline, and the academy lost interest in it, except to sneer that “liberal religion” is oxymoronic and no match for the fundamentalist Right.

Now, as the New York Times recently noted, the books on liberal Protestantism and liberal religion are coming fast. Some are about the overlooked legacy of liberal Protestantism and some are about varieties of liberal religion in the United States. As a social ethicist and theologian I have a stake in both subjects, and a track record of worrying that make-up-your-own-religion yields shallow and self-absorbed spiritualities.

But the new books rightly emphasize that liberal Protestantism played a sizable role in creating the spiritual-but-not-religious sensibility that pervades the North American middle class, and they do so with a mostly appreciative attitude.

More here-

Comforting the Loan-Sharked Brethren

From The New York Times-

Britain’s new archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, is inviting the humblest of money lenders, credit unions, into the temple. His aim is to undercut the “payday lender” industry that routinely and notoriously charges usurious interest rates to the working poor, and is now the subject of national scandal.

“We’re trying to compete you out of existence,” Archbishop Welby told a ranking executive of the payday industry, which is under government investigation for charging borrowers what amount to loan-shark rates of interest compounding to as high as 5,000 percent a year.

The Anglican leader knows whereof he speaks. He is a former financial executive from the oil industry who is a member of the government’s banking commission. He arrived as an outspoken prelate who wasted no time in announcing that some 500 credit unions with drastically lower interest rates could use the church’s 16,000 properties to set up shop as rivals to the booming payday lenders. The initiative may take time because the credit union system is relatively undeveloped in Britain. But it is hard to doubt the archbishop’s refreshing resolve.

More here-

Cardboard cathedral opens to public

From New Zealand-

One solitary admirer was waiting as Christchurch's cardboard cathedral opened its doors to the public for the first time today.

Central city resident Ross Evans was the first to inspect the church when it opened at 9am.

''I like the place, it sort of grows on you, doesn't it?'' he said.

About half a dozen people trickled in after Evans, and for Woolston resident Tau, it was a particularly special moment.

''This was the spot where I got married, in the old St John's Church in 1965,'' she said.

''It's very interesting.''

Last week there were questions raised over whether or not the $5.3 million temporary Anglican cathedral would be ready before its scheduled opening today.

While there was still ''fine tuning'' to be done, in clearing the foyer and finalising places for furniture, volunteer manager Nicky Lee said it was ''a relief to get to this point, but it's a real delight too''.

''There's always been a great sense of belonging in the city in regards to the cathedral,'' she said

More here-

New Anglican Archbishop of Sydney chosen

From Australia-

Bishop Glenn Davies has been elected as the new Archbishop of Sydney.

Dr Davies was elected on Tuesday afternoon by the church's synod, the governing body comprised of 800 members from 280 churches around Sydney.

The church described Dr Davies' election victory as "overwhelming". But it was only reached after problems with vote tallying forced a recount.

The 62-year-old succeeds Peter Jensen, who held the position for 12 years.

Dr Davies was chosen over Canon Rick Smith, the 49-year-old rector of Naremburn-Cammeray Anglican Church.

When asked how he saw the role last week, Dr Davies said: "The Archbishop should encourage parishes to proclaim Christ and invite people to be saved through him."

Read more:

Tutu Accepted Kickbacks to Endorse Gay Agenda, Claims Anglican Archbishop

From Charisma News-

Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s recent comments in support of the gay agenda have drawn fire from colleagues, including a statement by an African archbishop that Tutu may have accepted gratuities to do so.

Anglican Archbishop Yinkah Sarfo of Ghana strongly condemned Tutu over his comments, in which Tutu declared he would not worship a God who is homophobic, adding, “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. ... I mean, I would much rather go to the other place [hell].”

The Anglican archbishop was speaking at a United Nations’ Gay Rights Campaign function in Cape Town, South Africa, recently.

“Archbishop Tutu is respected in the Anglican church and around the world, but this time he has misfired, and all Anglican bishops from Africa, Asia and South America condemn his statement in no uncertain terms,” Sarfo told Ghana’s Adom News.

Sarfo said Tutu’s comments were not the stand of the entire Anglican communion, which is increasingly led by traditionalist voices from the global south that adhere to a more conservative theological perspective.

More here-

Marriage study task force begins work by sharing experiences

From ENS-

The 12 Episcopalians given the task of exploring the “biblical, theological, historical, liturgical and canonical dimensions of marriage” and marriage’s “changing societal and cultural norms and legal structures” began their first face-to-face meeting July 29 by each talking in depth about their own experiences of marriage, divorce, singleness and lifelong committed relationships.

“It was a very moving and holy time,” the Rev. Brian Taylor, chair of the A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage, told Episcopal News Service during an interview July 31 as the gathering neared its close.

“We heard an awful lot of what makes us human, about parents and childhood, trauma and the constant presence of God and the grace of God through relationships of love and commitment,” he said. “It was a powerful to humanize our work as we went forward to begin in that place of real lived experience and reflection on that.”

The task force was formed in response to a call (via Resolution A050 (click on “current version”) from the 77th General Convention in July 2012 for a group of “theologians, liturgists, pastors and educators to identify and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical and canonical dimensions of marriage.”

More here-

Monday, August 5, 2013

Offbeat funeral services specialize in celebrating the deceased

From the Tribune Review-

As the closing theme song from “The Lawrence Welk Show” played in the background, family and friends circled the casket at a funeral in Indiana County, puffing iridescent bubbles into the air.

The family of the late Georgine S. “Jean” Butekoff of Conemaugh Township, Indiana County, is one of a growing number who plan personalized “life tribute” services.

The themes for the services typically are inspired by the deceased's favorite things: motorcycles, hunting clothes, fishing gear, personalized crossword puzzles, Clark bars, Popsicles, even Genesee Light beer.

Usually headed by a celebrant such as the funeral director, offbeat services are gaining popularity in tandem with the growing number of people who don't identify with a specific religious denomination. One-fifth of Americans have no religious affiliation, and the number is growing “at a rapid pace,” Pew Research Center figures show.

The trend likely will continue because of the proliferation of memories shared on social media, the appeal to baby boomers and Generation Xers, and the growing choice of cremation.

More here-

NATHAN BOLES: How fundamentalism misses fundamentals of Christianity

 From San Joaquin-

An extraordinary thing is happening in Bakersfield, the "City of Righteousness." It began on July 7 and, week by week, seems to grow in strength in an old church property downtown. Fundamentalism is being dealt a mighty blow by the new and inclusive community at the historic St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

The prologue to this story is easily drowned out in the Kern religious landscape. Over 10 years ago, irreconcilable differences tore apart one of the oldest church families in Bakersfield; and though you may have heard it, only the children of a broken family can know the story.

But Bakersfield Christians and non-Christians alike can learn from this story, because the foundation of the Anglican-Episcopal schism is a darkness that has cast a heavy shadow over us all.

Fundamentalism is not having deep and sincere religious beliefs; being faithful to faith; or having a "scriptural basis." Nor is it feeling a need for salvation in a harsh world. Fundamentalism is never about these "fundamentals" that make up the elements of all human faiths. Once more, humanity is a family, Christians are taught, wherein each person is made by God in his image.

Christianity especially is defined by juxtaposition, believing in an immeasurable and all powerful creator who is also the personal father to all his creation. The creed different people profess, and what they think it means, doesn't change that.

More here-

Laramie cathedral has new dean

From Wyoming-

Officials at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral in Laramie are pleased to announce that they have named the Rev. Canon Stephen Askew of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Tennessee to serve as their dean. Askew will be joining the cathedral on Oct. 1, and will be seated as the dean on Oct. 11. Askew is replacing the previous dean, the Very Rev. Marilyn Engstrom, who retired on July 31, 2012.

According to Taimi Kuiva, senior warden at St. Matthew’s, the cathedral’s selection of Askew was received with excitement and hope at the church.

“The St. Matthew’s community is very excited to have Father Stephen joining us. Stephen shares our commitment to outreach and ministry beyond our four walls. Like the cathedral, Stephen truly embraces our theology of welcoming all at God’s table, which is not only important to St. Matthew’s but to Laramie as well. We look forward to the years ahead as our community and Stephen grow into the image that God has called us to be,” Kuiva said.

The Rt. Rev. John S. Smylie, Episcopal bishop of Wyoming, shares the cathedral’s excitement in Askew’s selection.

“Stephen has experience working with both congregations and the diocesan office. Because of this experience, I expect that Stephen will be able to help the cathedral grow in its ministry and interaction beyond Laramie and become a greater resource for the 49 Episcopal churches throughout our diocese,” Smylie said.

More here-

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Does Anglicanism have a future? The priority of the local and the inevitability of conflict

From Religion and Ethics-

Many of those concerned about our increasing global interconnectedness think it important that our religious and moral convictions not depend on the particularities of place and/or history. A universal ethic, they say, is required if we are to negotiate a mode of survival for the future. Philosophers are working overtime to develop the conceptual tools necessary to sustain an account of rationality that is free of contingency.

This, of course, has profound consequences for the future of the local parish. The very phrase "local parish," I assume, is redundant because by its very nature a parish is local. The parish is the ecclesial form that has tied the church to place. Yet it seems that form of the church may not have the resources to respond to an increasingly mobile population that is no longer tied to place. American developments beckon because the church in America, with few exceptions, has not been tied to place. In America you do not belong to a parish, but you can be a member of a church.

In an insightful article, Grace Davie notes that the dominant mode of religious and political organization and power in Europe was territorial. Populations lived and many continue to live in "parishes." Parishes were not only ecclesial structures, but they were also a mode of administration for civil purposes. You were born in a parish, Davie observes, whether you liked it or not. That mode of administration worked well for pre-modern Europe, which was constituted by relatively stable social orders. The church was accordingly embedded physically and culturally in the everyday.

Stop spending national treasury in fostering religious disunity •Anglican synod tells FG

From Nigeria-

A call has gone to the Federal Government led administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to stop spending the national treasury due to every Nigerian in fostering religious disharmony.

Making the call at the recent first session of the second synod of the Anglican Communion, Diocese of Oke-Ogun held at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Apinnite, Saki, the Synod noted that the Federal Government’s involvement in the “Almajiri matter” was nothing short of enthroning the tenets of Islam against other religions in the country.

According to a communiqué signed by the Diocesan Bishop, Rt Rev Dr Solomon Olaniyi Amusan and the Registrar, Barrister Soji Olabiyi, Synod stated that “While it is desirable for the menace of Almajeris to be tackled, —this should be done by the leaders of the Islamic religion that have produced the menace.”

The Synod, however, warned the Federal Government not to use the monies due to every Nigerian, whether Muslim, Christian or traditional worshipper on Islam, adding that “The Federal Government is accordingly called upon to stop spending “our monies” on Islam.”

Synod also considered the introduction of Islamic banking as being against the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) in as much as it promotes the tenets of Islam in the banking sector nationwide, saying “No Government should allow itself to be seen as promoting any religion in a secular state that Nigeria professes to be.”

The Synod, therefore strongly urged the Federal Government to have a re-think over the Islamic banking issue and do the right thing.

More here-•anglican-synod-tells-fg.html

Churches have a role in climate change

From New York

Organized religion has seldom been on the cutting edge of needed change, but of late there is some encouraging news for the many unchurched activists who have waited long for the Christian Church or churches to weigh in on the high profile environmental (and social) issues of the times.

Major Protestant denominations are acknowledging the deleterious effects of fossil fuel combustion on the global climate, and many are consequently withdrawing their investments in the fossil fuel industry. This an indication that Lutherans, The United Church of Christ, Presbyterians, Methodists, and other mainstream congregations are paying more attention to their Earth stewardship obligations. And considering the indisputable fact that we humans are systematically trashing out the planet, this is a welcome if long overdue development.

The symbolic significance of their divestment decisions is extensive indeed, and out of proportion to the modest monetary investments that these communities of faith have in the oil, coal, and gas industries. Bill McKibben, himself a Methodist as well as the founder of, characterizes divestment as a moral issue of the times. “If we're called to love our neighbor, we're not allowed to enrich ourselves by drowning our neighbors, making it hard for them to grow their crops, spreading sickness in their midst.” McKibben was referring to the fact that climate change has impacted the lives of third world peoples far more than those of more affluent societies, and until fairly recently, the U.S. led the world in greenhouse gas emissions.

More here-

Bishop of SC churches remaining with national Episcopal Church: 'Our goal is reconciliation'

From South Carolina-

Bishop Charles vonRosenberg was enjoying his retirement, taking some strokes off his golf handicap and spending time with his six grandchildren, when the Episcopal Church in eastern South Carolina was rent by schism.

Now, instead of spending carefree days on the state's coast after 37 years of service to the church, the former bishop of east Tennessee finds himself again ministering to individuals and congregations remaining with the national church and dealing with lawsuits resulting from the South Carolina split.

The conservative Diocese of South Carolina last year separated from the more liberal national Episcopal Church over a variety of theological issues, including the authority of Scripture and the ordination of gays. The breakaway churches sued in state court to protect the use of the diocesan name and half a billion dollars' worth of property.

More here-