Saturday, September 7, 2013

Auckland Anglicans say no to gay marriage

From New Zealand-

Auckland Anglicans have said no to gay marriage - despite church heads being in favour of it.

A motion to press the issue has failed at this weekend's conference, despite both Auckland bishops and a majority of clergy being in favour.

72 members of the synod voted to push for gay marriage, 65 were against and eight abstained.

80 of the clergy support conducting single sex marriages, but with 44 against and four abstentions the motion fell short of a two-thirds majority.

If it had passed the vote would have been the first step towards allowing homosexuals to marry within the Anglican church.

The Auckland clergyman who's been pushing for the Anglican church to conduct gay marriages, says he's not disappointed at losing the vote.

More here-

Rivers Police begin search for kidnapped Anglican Archbishop

From Nigeria-

The Police Command in Rivers said on Saturday that its detectives had commenced search for Bishop Ignatius Kattey, Archbishop of Niger Delta North of the Anglican Communion.

The command’s Public Relations Officer, Angela Agabe, told the News Agency of Nigeria in Port Harcourt that Mr. Kattey was abducted with his wife, Beatrice, on Friday.

Ms. Agabe said the bishop and his wife were abducted at 10.30 p.m. at Eleme, in Eleme Local Government Area, on their way to Port Harcourt.

She said the kidnappers abandoned the wife in her husband’s car and fled with the bishop into the bush.

“As we speak, detectives and our Anti-kidnap Unit are on top of the case, they have commenced serious search to free the bishop unharmed.

“No group has claimed responsibility and no ransom demand has been made,’’ she said.

More here-

Southern Baptists: No Gay Weddings For Military Chaplains

From Huffington-

The agency that commissions Southern Baptist military chaplains says no Baptist chaplain will be allowed to perform, attend or support a same-sex wedding either on or off base.

The Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board released guidelines on Aug. 29 stating that endorsed chaplains will not “offer any kind of relationship training or retreat, on or off of a military installation, that would give the appearance of accepting the homosexual lifestyle or sexual wrongdoing.”

The updated guidelines were issued in response to the military’s repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the Supreme Court’s decision this summer to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act.

“A lot of our chaplains were asking for clarification,” said Mike Ebert, spokesman for the NAMB, which is based outside Atlanta. “We wanted to clearly articulate in writing for the Department of Defense that these are our expectations.”

More here-

There's a place for everyone in church

From Connecticut-

In the days following 9/11, houses of worship all over the country were opened during the day for private prayer.

Interfaith worship services were put together quickly, and overall, regular weekend attendance at worship increased.

This is actually true in any time of national crisis, when many more people turn to their faith, for many different reasons.

The reasons, however, have to do with where an individual is on his or her spiritual-life journey.

For some, it is almost the "default" mode of their lives. They have been raised in a household of faith, whatever it may be.

The first reaction for anything -- joy, sorrow, anxiety, confusion -- is to fall on their knees and have a conversation with their God. Every life event, big or small, is entered into with the eyes of faith.

People such as these know that they are on a spiritual journey and rejoice in it daily.

More here-

Church, presiding bishop respond to UTO resignations

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a statement Sept. 6 regarding the recent resignation of four United Thank Offering board members in response to a draft revision of UTO’s bylaws.

“The resignations of several members of the United Thank Offering board in the past few days deeply distress me. They appear to be the result of grave suspicion and the attribution of inappropriate and unhelpful motives,” the presiding bishop said.

“The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS), and its elected and official leadership … have no intention of divesting the United Thank Offering of its funds or applying excessive controls to its practices. Our goal is the one that has continued from the beginning of this United Offering – to relieve suffering and help to build a series of ministries that ‘proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,’” she added.

The presiding bishop’s statement came after two of the resigning board members – Robin Sumners and Barbi Tinder – issued a public declaration on Sept. 3 saying that under the proposed new bylaws they believe “the United Thank Offering board will possibly be rendered powerless and voiceless by Episcopal Church leadership.”

More here-

Episcopal Diocese seeks demolition of Euclid Avenue church, after Cleveland Clinic emerges as land buyer

From Ohio-

Another historic Euclid Avenue church is facing demolition, now that a marketing effort by the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio appears to have netted a big buyer: the Cleveland Clinic.

The diocese recently applied for a demolition permit for the Church of the Transfiguration, a shuttered Gothic Revival building that occupies 0.83 acres on the northwest side of the Clinic's main campus. The Cleveland Landmarks Commission, which exerts some control over significant buildings and historic districts in the city, expects to consider the demolition request at its Thursday meeting.

David Hollister, a real estate broker representing the diocese, identified the Clinic as the buyer but would not disclose the purchase price. A Clinic spokeswoman said nothing has been finalized.

More here-

Friday, September 6, 2013

PB Responds to UTO Concerns

From The Living Church-

A statement from the Presiding Bishop about United Thank Offering

The resignations of several members of the United Thank Offering Board in the past few days deeply distress me. They appear to be the result of grave suspicion and the attribution of inappropriate and unhelpful motives. 

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS), and its elected and official leadership (the President of the House of Deputies, the Chief Operating Officer, the Executive Officer of General Convention, the Treasurer, and I) have no intention of divesting the United Thank Offering of its funds or applying excessive controls to its practices. Our goal is the one that has continued from the beginning of this United Offering — to relieve suffering and help to build a series of ministries that “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

More here-

International Buy a Priest a Beer Day!

From Catholic Gentleman-

Did you know that this coming Monday, September 9, is International Buy a Priest a Beer Day? On this festive day, faithful Catholics all over the world take their priests out for a beer and get to know them better. It’s a beautiful Catholic tradition that goes back to the time of St. Hopswald of Aleyard, the first man to take his priest out for a beer.

Okay, if you’re getting suspicious by now, there’s a good reason. Buy a Priest a Beer Day is not a real holiday. But I would argue that it should be!

Believe it or not, priests are real people, and they enjoy socializing over good food and drink as much as anyone. They also have a thankless and difficult job, a job that we couldn’t get to heaven without. Priests are the lifeblood of the Church, and they deserve some appreciation.

So with that in mind, I would challenge you to do something concrete to show appreciation to your priest in the month ahead. Yes, it could be taking him out for a beer, or it could be inviting him over to share dinner with your family. Be creative if you want, but give back to your priest somehow, and let him know that his ministry is making a difference.

More here-

Pope Francis’ peace appeal for Syria marks Vatican’s return to global stage

From RNS-

Pope Francis on Thursday (Sept. 5) told world leaders gathered in Russia for the G-20 summit that a military intervention in Syria would be “futile,” urging them to focus instead on dialogue and reconciliation to bring peace to the war-torn country.

The Argentine pontiff’s first major foray onto the global stage comes as the U.S. Congress prepares to vote on a military strike against Syria in response to a reported chemical weapons attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21.

For Francis, just six months on the job, the Syria question will test his ability to summon the power of his global bully pulpit and could play a major role in shaping the global image of a man who’s drawn more attention for his down-to-earth pastoral appeal.

Western nations blame the chemical attack on the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad, a member of the minority Alawite sect with links to Shiite Islam who is trying to suppress a two-year-long Sunni-led rebellion that has claimed more than 100,000 lives.

More here-

El Paso Religious Leaders Holding 'Prayer for Peace' in Syria

From Texas-

Catholic and Episcopal leaders in El Paso and New Mexico are encouraging a local "Prayer for Peace in Syria" for this Saturday.

The churches are responding to Pope Francis' recent call to people of all faiths to spend a "day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria."

"My heart is deeply wounded by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments," Francis said at his weekly papal appearance to crowds in St. Peter's Square on Sunday.

Like many, Francis is against the U.S. and France committing a military strike on the Syrian regime for an alleged chemical weapons attack. The U.S. government claims more than 1,400 people, including 400 children, were killed in an Aug. 21 attack by the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad on a rebel-held suburb of Damascus. The Syrian government has denied the allegations and blames the rebels.

President Barack Obama is seeking the approval of Congress to authorize a U.S. military strike. Francis is asking people to pray for peaceful negotiations instead. 

More here-

‘Dear Mr. President’

From The Living Church-

Dear Mr. President,

I am Bishop Adam Andudu Elnail, Bishop of the Diocese of Kadugli, Episcopal Church of the Sudan. I hope you remember my earlier letters to you in March this year and August 2011.

For over two decades the civil war tore apart my home region of Nuba Mountains, where I have suffered much personal loss of family, friends, and neighbors. This war against the black people of Sudan, many of whom are Muslim, extended to Blue Nile, Darfur and eastern Sudan. Our whole country was and continues to be ravaged by this campaign of genocide, subjugation, and the enslavement of black people.

The suffering of the people of Nuba Mountains started again on June 6, 2011. The Government of Sudan (GoS) and its militias in Kadugli town hit my house with heavy guns, and all valuable things were taken or destroyed. They proceeded to burn the Diocesan offices and Diocesan Guest House in the same hour. From that moment the church leaders and others scattered as displaced or refugees in more than five countries. It pains me to remember many of the young men in my town who were killed in cold blood in the same week.

More here-

God and Country in the Same-Sex Era

From The American Spectator-

Catholic thinker Jody Bottum’s recent controversial Commonweal essay suggested, “American Catholics should accept state recognition of same-sex marriage simply because they are Americans.” A bow to legally institutionalizing sexual liberalism has become the ticket to American civic engagement, it is suggested.

Noting he is a “Christian first, and an American second,” columnist Rod Dreher responded to Bottum by noting that “traditionalist Christians should think about what patriotism means in an America that is turning hostile to them.” He recalls that “many conservative Christians have thought, wrongly or rightly, for many years that being a ‘good Christian’ and being a ‘good American’ were one and the same.” But the “emerging order is forcing them, or should force them, to rethink all this.”

Dreher cited the provocative 1996  symposium that Bottum’s predecessor as editor of the influential journal First Things, Catholic priest and thinker Richard Neuhaus, hosted, which suggested a time when orthodox believers no longer can affirm “God and country” but must choose between “God or country.” Neuhaus himself was unashamedly committed to America as a political and spiritual project. In his final book, American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile, which explored the duel loyalties of Christians, he declared: “When I die, I expect to meet God as an American.”

More here-

Anglican-Methodist unity urged on

From The Church Times-

TEN years since the signing of the Anglican-Methodist Covenant, it is time for the two Churches to overcome their "inertia" and move towards "institutional" unity, a new report by the Covenant's Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) says.

The Covenant, which was signed in the presence of the Queen a decade ago, committed the two Churches "to overcom[ing] the remaining obstacles to organic unity", and "bring[ing] about closer collaboration" (News, 7 November 2003). This was to include welcoming each other's baptised members, and encouraging forms of "eucharistic sharing".

In a foreword to a report published today, Behold the Servants of the Lord: Assessing ten years of living in the Covenant, the co-chairs of the JIC, the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, and a former Vice-President of the Methodist Conference, Professor Peter Howdle, acknowledge that the implementation of the Covenant has been, "for some, painfully slow. . . Clearly some issues which were difficult to resolve over 40 years ago are no easier now, and sometimes seem more difficult."

More here-

There are better ways to end Syria conflict

From Iowa-

A hymn that has been circulating in my mind these past few days, sung to the wonderful Welsh tune Cwm Rhondda, says in verse three: “Cure thy children’s warring madness, bend our pride to thy control. Shame our wanton, selfish gladness, rich in things and poor in soul. Grant us wisdom; grant us courage lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal, Lest we miss thy kingdom’s goal.”

Christians struggle with the issue of war and international acts of violence. On Sept. 4, the Episcopal Church celebrated the life of Bishop Paul Jones, an Episcopal bishop of Utah. He was convinced that “war was unchristian,” and he protested entry into the first world war by the United States.

For his belief, he was asked to resign as bishop by his peers through the Episcopal House of Bishops. His response was: “Expediency may make necessary the resignation of a bishop at this time, but no expediency can ever justify the degradation of the ideals of the episcopate which these conclusions seem to involve.”

More here-

Puerto Rico bishop election rescheduled for Dec. 7

From ENS-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico rescheduled the election of the next bishop for Dec. 7, according to a Sept. 4 statement on the diocese’s website.

The statement also included the name of an additional candidate, the Rev. José Díaz of the Diocese of Pennsylvania.

On July 8, the Standing Committee issued a slate of four candidates. They are:

The Rev. José A. Peña Muñoz, Diocese of Puerto Rico
The Rev. Luis F. Padilla, Diocese of Puerto Rico
The Rev. P. Rosalí Fernández-Pola, Diocese of Puerto Rico
The Rev. Juan Carlos Restrepo, Diocese of Colombia

A petition process for submitting additional candidates closed July 15.

On Aug. 23, the Standing Committee issued a statement on the diocese’s website saying it would postpone the election based on a letter from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in which she expressed her concern over “recent events in the process” and suggested a period of time to “harmonize” and “reorient” the same process.

More here-

Breakaway South Carolina clergy removed from ordained ministry of Episcopal Church

From South Carolina-

More than 100 South Carolina clergy have been notified that they have been removed from the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church and are “deprived of the right to exercise ... the gifts and spiritual authority conferred in ordination.”

“Notice of Removal” letters signed by the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, Bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, were issued this week to individuals who are “canonically resident” in the diocese, meaning they are under the authority of Bishop vonRosenberg within The Episcopal Church.

Many of those affected by the removal have publicly announced that they are no longer affiliated with the church, and have aligned themselves with a breakaway group led by Mark Lawrence. Bishop Lawrence was removed from the ordained ministry in December 2012, and is no longer recognized as a bishop in The Episcopal Church.

In the hope of an eventual reconciliation, Bishop vonRosenberg exercised an option available to him under the Constitution and Canons of the Church, and “released and removed” the affected clergy, rather than allowing them to be “deposed” on the grounds of abandonment of the church.

While both actions result in the loss of authority to act as ordained ministers, being released and removed allows options for a person to return to the ministry of The Episcopal Church, something that would be more difficult for clergy who have been deposed.

More here-

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A renegade Polish priest and an Episcopal bishop walk into a bar …

From Patheos-

OK, not really. But you know how we’re always going on about stories that make people not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church seem like they are, in fact, affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church? Well, here’s a great example of a religion journalist doing it right. Here’s the very top of St. Louis Post-Dispatch religion reporter Tim Townsend explaining part of a complicated scenario:

It has stood up to three Catholic bishops. It has weathered a decade-long legal storm. It has embraced doctrine far afield from its Roman roots.

Now St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is on the verge of aligning with a different denomination entirely, joining forces with the Episcopal church.

More here-

Sinai's St. Catherine's Starves, Monastery Shuts Down

From Egypt-

In the Sinai city of St. Catherine, a few thousand people and around 800 camels have been left struggling since the first week of July, when Egyptian security authorities ordered the total shutdown of the town's 1,500-year-old monastery. Bedouin residents of the mountainous area were forced to sell their camels, which they cannot feed, to feed their families.

Over the past 50 years, St. Catherine's Monastery closed its gates twice, in 1977 when former President Anwar Sadat made his historic visit to Jerusalem, and in 1982 when the Egyptian military entered Sinai after the withdrawal of Israeli forces. This time, the shutdown, which wasn’t explained by any official statements from either the Defense or Interior Ministry, was allegedly ordered after a failed attempt to kidnap a monk traveling in South Sinai in June and rising suspicions of a possible attack on the monastery.

Read more:

Church Center Responds on UTO

From The Living Church-

Recently a statement by former members of the board of the United Thank Offering has been circulating. The following is offered in the hope of providing some clarity.

The United Thank Offering is a central part of the life and mission of The Episcopal Church. The United Thank Offering is all of us who offer our coins in thanksgiving for the blessings that God has bestowed upon us. As our Episcopal Church leadership has frequently expressed, the Church needs a healthy and vibrant United Thank Offering. Its important work is not threatened, and United Thank Offering programs and grants will continue.

As part of the support of this important work, drafts of new bylaws and a Memorandum of Understanding were put forward by Episcopal Church leadership as part of a process agreed to by the United Thank Offering board. Leadership’s proposal would establish standard business and fiduciary practices, including for accountability and transparency, expected in the life of the Church and as is expected of all CCABs.

It is Leadership’s hope that respectful and reasoned dialogue, as was anticipated by the agreed-upon process, will continue around these proposals, with all stakeholders sharing their points of view to enable life-giving creativity and health to the United Thank Offering in the 21st century.

Please keep The Episcopal Church and its United Thank Offering in your prayers as we move forward.

Shellfish, slavery and same-sex marriage: How not to read the Bible

From ABC-

In recent days a number of strange claims have been made about slavery and shellfish in the Bible.

The line normally goes something like this: although the Bible prohibits God's people from eating shellfish and also endorses slavery, we can disregard these ethical instructions because we have come of age and can see things differently - indeed, more clearly - with our advanced knowledge and superior wisdom concerning what is right and wrong. Therefore, when it comes to novel concepts such as redefining marriage to include two persons of the same sex, we can simply abandon the teaching of the Bible, and in particular, even the teaching of Jesus, on the grounds that the Bible has been superseded by the moral insights of the twenty-first century.

This confused way of handling the Bible springs from an ignorance of the Bible's own narrative. The Bible's story is a progressive one, unfolding through the lives of Noah, Abraham and Moses (and the nation of Israel) and culminating in the arrival of Jesus, the long awaited Messiah, not only of the Jewish people, but of all people - from every tribe and nation.

More here-

Waikato elects first Anglican woman bishop

From New Zealand-

After weeks of whispering and speculation among the faithful, the Waikato's Anglicans have chosen their first woman bishop.

The Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley, a former religious advisor to the BBC, was elected as the Waikato's seventh Anglican bishop after her predecessor David Moxon headed to Rome as the Anglican Communion's ambassador to the Vatican.

Mrs Hartley, 40, was nominated by several Hamilton based Anglicans after spending 18 months teaching at the theological college after previously completing a four month study placement here where she finished her book Making Sense of the Bible.

''I was quite properly moved and there were a few tears shed,'' she said after her election.

''There was not much sleep that night.''

It's a job Mrs Hartley would never have obtained in her native UK, where women have stopped at the role of Dean of a cathedral, and it makes her New Zealand's third woman bishop.

More here-

Anglican priest bans funerals on Sundays

From Uganda-

To bury or not to bury the dead on Sunday is the latest bone of contention in a little known Anglican church in Amolatar district.

Fed up with the constant interruption of his Sunday church routine by one funeral after another, Rev. Levi Okello (right) of St. Luke’s Church of Uganda, Chakwara in Awelo Archdeaconry in Lira Diocese has said he will no longer preside over funerals on Sunday.

This announcement in effect bans the practice in the cleric’s area of jurisdiction.

Incidentally, Okello made the proclamation recently at the burial of Sam Ogwang, a resident of Okuruwie village in Etam sub-county.

The deceased drowned in Lake Kwania after his boat capsized during a fishing expedition gone wrong.

Sad as the moment was, Okello said the practice of burying the dead on Sunday has been affecting church programmes, like fund-raising activities fellowships and baptism services among others.

“Today has marked the end of presiding over a burial service on the Sabbath (Sunday). Sorry if you die thinking that the church will bury you on Sunday,” he said.

More here-

Anglican Diocese of Grafton apologies to North Coast Children's Home victims

From Australia-

The Anglican Diocese of Grafton in northern New South Wales has apologised to victims who suffered abuse over decades at a church-run children's home.

The Diocese received a number of claims in 2006 about abuse at the North Coast Children's Home in Lismore between the 1940s and 1980s.

Thirty-nine were settled but two people did not accept the conditions and seven others later came forward with similar claims.

In May this year the Right Reverend Keith Slater resigned as bishop.

He admitted to not passing on all complaints to the church's professional standards director, saying legal liability questions clouded the issue.

The church has now offered an unreserved apology to those who suffered sexual abuse, harsh punishment or a lack of appropriate or nurturing care.

More here-

Rosslyn Chapel revamp work finished after 16 years

From Scotland-

Work at a medieval chapel in Midlothian, which featured in the Da Vinci Code blockbuster film, has finally been completed after 16 years.

Rosslyn Chapel is free from scaffolding for the first time since its major conservation project began in 1997.

Work to the chapel, which is Category A-listed, was instigated after a report in 1995 warned of damage to the stonework because of dampness.

In March 1997, a steel structure was erected to cover the building.

The structure allowed the stone roof to dry out naturally, and this remained in place until summer 2010.

Since then, stone and mortar repairs have been carried out on the chapel's external walls, pinnacles and buttresses.

More here-

More Cities Sweeping Homeless Into Less Prominent Areas

From North Carolina via NPR-

In North Carolina, a fight is brewing over the homeless in the capital city of Raleigh. Elected leaders have asked charitable and religious groups to stop their long-standing tradition of feeding the homeless in a downtown park on weekends.

But advocates for the poor say the city is trying to push the homeless out of a neighborhood that business leaders want to spruce up.

'I Will Arrest You'

Almost every day, the Rev. Hugh Hollowell walks through Moore Square, a centuries-old city park in downtown Raleigh.

As he strolls down paths shaded by towering willow oak trees, Holloway greets nearly everyone here by name. Most are homeless. On weekends, when soup kitchens are closed, Holloway and his church workers distribute breakfast to as many as 100 people. But recently a policeman showed up.

"And I said, 'Um, is there a problem?' And he said 'I'm not here to debate with you sir, I'm here to tell you you have to leave. And if you don't leave I will arrest you,' " he says.

More here-

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Texas Megachurch At Center Of Measles Outbreak

From Texas-

Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. more than a decade ago. But in recent years, the highly infectious disease has cropped up in communities with low vaccination rates, most recently in North Texas.

There, 21 people — the majority of whom have not been immunized — have gotten the disease, which began at a vaccine-skeptical megachurch.

The outbreak began when a man who contracted the virus on a recent trip to Indonesia visited the Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, about an hour and a half northwest of Dallas.

Earlier this week, crowds flooded in for regular services. Rose Mwangi had her Bible in hand and said she's not worried "because I know Jesus is a healer, so I know he's covered us with the blood...There's no place for fear."

A Mixed Message

Eagle Mountain is led by pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons, the daughter of televangelist Kenneth Copeland. Church leaders wouldn't grant interviews, but Pearsons released a statement after the outbreak saying she isn't anti-vaccine. But Pearsons added that she still has some reservations about vaccines.

More here-

Vicar hits out at lesbian couple who say he refused to name them both as 'mother' for their child's baptism

From The Daily Mail (England)-

A CHURCH of England vicar refused to christen a baby boy because his lesbian parents both wanted to be registered as his mother.

Aimi Leggett, 25, and her civil partner Victoria, 22, had hoped to welcome  one-year-old Alfie into the church with a traditional christening.

But Reverend George Gebauer told them it was ‘impossible’ for him to have two mothers – forcing his archdeacon to intervene and give permission for  the  service to go ahead.

The 87-year-old from St Mary’s Church in Warsash, Hampshire – who says he ‘feels sorry’ for gay people because they are medically ‘imbalanced’ – refused to conduct the ceremony claiming it could be ‘illegal’ to proceed in the way they wanted.

The couple stormed out of the meeting after the vicar suggested that one of  them should be listed as godmother instead because the baptism certificate only has space for one mother and one father. Alfie’s birth mother Aimi said: ‘There was no way one of us was going to be listed as the godparent. We are both Alfie’s mum.

More here-

Four Members of the UTO Board Resign in Protest of Proposed Bylaw Changes.

From Mark Harris' Blog-

A Statement from the Former Communications Convener of the United Thank Offering Board:
With the stroke of a pen, the United Thank Offering Board (UTO) will possibly be rendered powerless and voiceless by Episcopal Church leadership.  This is a complete reversal of a three- year study process that resulted in the General Convention ratifying the report of a Study Committee (INC-055 AdHoc) in 2012. The report praised the UTO Board’s work and declared:

                  “We believe that the United Thank Offering must continue to be autonomous but interdependent as regards the corporate entity that constitutes The Episcopal Church.”

The abuse of power seems staggering.  With the revision of bylaws written by DFMS leadership, anticipated to be presented to The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church in October 2013, the current United Thank Offering Board, representing 125 years of service, will cease to exist.
The revised bylaws document eviscerates the United Thank Offering. It is monstrous and the worst set of revisions ever seen by one longtime bylaws expert.   Several Board members described initial reactions to the document as "Horror."  The Board President said the word "eviscerate" occurred to her as well.

More here-

Also in The Living Church-

Zimbabwe gets first woman priest, more than 12,000 km away in New Zealand

From Zimbabwe/New Zealand-

When the Lynfield Community Church minister was first ordained by the Anglican Church in New Zealand four years ago she was breaking new ground as a female Zimbabwean minister.

It was upon discovering women were not accepted as Anglican ministers in Zimbabwe that Ms Gumbeze made the decision to leave her family behind to fulfil her calling.

“When I grew up I had never seen a woman priest but it never crossed my mind that there were professions that women weren’t allowed to do,” she says.

“For someone who is so strong on social issues it bothered me. I thought this was an injustice – if I would like this and I believe God wants me to do this, who are these men to tell me I can’t?”

More here-

New addition to church debated

From West Virginia-

While Mt. Zion Episcopal Church has seen nearly 260 years of change, an upcoming addition to the church has left some members of the congregation and the town of Hedgesville divided.

Mt. Zion Episcopal Church is constructing an addition to the church that will serve as a fellowship hall and Sunday school space. When church leadership decided to build the addition and brought the decision before the congregation two years ago, opinions both for and against the pavilion were expressed.

Jim Poisal, a longtime member of the church, was one congregation member who opposed adding the pavilion. Poisal claims that part of the money used to build the structure came from a will endowment that was not specified for construction use.

More here-

Idaho church leaders launch fast, prayer vigil for immigration reform

From Idaho-

Immigration reform advocates are joining the Episcopal Diocese of Idaho along with Mennonite and Unitarian churches in Boise to launch 11 days of fasting and prayer for immigration reform, culminating in a candlelight prayer vigil Sept. 13 at Lakeview Park in Nampa, with the 11-day timeframe symbolizing the 11 million undocumented immigrants now estimated to be in the United States.

Church leaders said the issue goes straight to their faith. “Abraham himself was an immigrant,” said the Rev. Debbie Graham, an Episcopal priest serving Meridian, Payette and Weiser, in a news conference at Boise’s historic St. Michael’s Episcopal Cathedral today. She noted the Biblical injunctions to welcome the stranger. “One of the sad things in our country is that for too long, our undocumented neighbors have been strangers to us,” she said. The advocates noted that the Catholic Church is planning immigration reform messages at services nationwide on Sunday.

More here-

Texas Supreme Court Sends Property Dispute Between Episcopal Church and Breakaway Diocese Leadership Back to Lower Court

From Ft. Worth-

The Texas Supreme Court has decided that a property dispute between the Episcopal Church and a breakaway diocese leadership should be reheard at the lower court level.

The Court ruled in a five to four decision last Friday that the case should be sent back down to a lower court for reconsideration. Given that in the initial lower court ruling the Episcopal Church was declared the rightful owner of the property, many TEC leaders expressed "disappointment."

The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., recognized by TEC as the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth, wrote in a pastoral letter that the "continuing Episcopalians" should persevere.

"Now I, other diocesan leaders, and our legal team, including representatives of the Church and its legal team, have to make decisions about our next steps," stated High. "For now, we all must don the mantle of patience and forbearance. I ask for your prayers and urge us all to stay focused on the saving gospel of Jesus Christ in the days ahead."

More here-

Will St. Stanislaus join the Episcopal Church?

More from St. Louis- (with video)

A north St. Louis church that was in a bitter legal fight for years with the St. Louis Archdiocese may be changing its denomination entirely.

St. Stanislaus Church could become part of the Episcopal church.  The possible switch to the Episcopal church is laid out in a letter from Bishop Geroge Wayne Smith who leads the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.

Bishop Smith’s letter to the clergy and church members say Episcopal Diocese of Missouri and St. Stanislaus Kostka are in discussions that could lead to the church “coming into union” with the Episcopal church.

Smith calls the news “exciting.”   The letter says that St. Stanislaus could retain its Cherished Polish identity along with its practices and rites, or it could choose any or all of the liturgies in the Episcopal church.

St. Stan’s fight with the Archdiocese ended earlier this year when the Archidocese ended its appeal of a court decision which gave St. Stan’s control of its own church and assets.  As part of that court battle, St. Stanislaus agreed not to represent itself as affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

More here-

Narragansett man sues Catholic, Episcopal churches over bell-ringing

From Rhode Island-

Monday through Saturday at 8:45 a.m. the bell rings at St. Thomas More Catholic Parish. It chimes for a minute — one gong following another.

While some might find the chimes a comforting reminder that the day is under way, not so for John Devaney. They disrupt his life and helped precipitate the demise of his marriage, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.

Devaney lives directly across Rockland Street from the picturesque church. He is asking the court to order it to reduce the number of bell claps and gongs so he can “peacefully enjoy” his property.

A towering man with white hair, Devaney has long complained about the bell, the lawsuit says. The church bell did not operate when he and his now ex-wife bought the 1885 clapboard house — the former parish rectory –– 18 years ago.

About six years later a new church administrator came in. The bell was upgraded to operate electronically. It began ringing, its sounds amplified, the suit says.

More here-

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Candidate Slate Determined

From Fon du Lac-

The Standing Committee of the Diocese of Fond du Lac has announced a final slate of candidates for the next diocesan bishop as selected through both a search and petition process. Your prayers are asked for each candidate, convention delegates, the diocese and the working of the Holy Spirit as all prepare for the election.

Prior to walkabouts with the Candidates, within the next week, an election booklet will be published containing each candidate's name, photograph, biographical sketch, personal statement and answers to additional questions. A profile of candidates selected through the search process was previously published.

The three Candidates are the Rev. Matthew Alan Gunter, Rector of St. Barnabas, Glen Ellyn, Illinois in the Diocese of Chicago; the Rev. Eric Christopher Mills, Rector of St. Anne’s in De Pere, Wisconsin in the Diocese of Fond du Lac; and the Very Rev Michael Rasicci, Rector of Calvary, Batavia, Illinois in the Diocese of Chicago. The Very Rev. William Willoughby, III, Rector of St. Paul’s, Savannah, Georgia has withdrawn his name for personal reasons.

More here-

St. Stanislaus in discussions to join Episcopal Diocese of Missouri

From St. Louis-

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is in discussions to join the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, according to a letter by Bishop George Wayne Smith.

Smith sent the letter to the Episcopal Diocese’s clergy last week — and posted it online over the weekend — informing them that discussions with the former Catholic parish “could lead to the church coming into union with the Diocese, should both parties agree that this is in their best interests and in best service to Christ.”

In February, the Archdiocese of St. Louis dismissed its appeal of a 2012 St. Louis Circuit Court decision handing over control of St. Stanislaus Kostka, at 1413 North 20th Street, to its own lay board, and ending a decade-long legal battle between the church and the archdiocese.

St. Stanislaus was "suppressed" by then-St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke in 2005 as part of the battle. It has not been considered Roman Catholic by the Vatican since then.

Smith said in his letter that one connection between his diocese and St. Stanislaus is the Union of Utrecht, a group of Old Catholic churches that don’t recognize the authority of the pope. The Anglican Communion has been in full communion with the Union of Utrecht since 1931.

More here-

Prepare the Feast

From The LivingChurch-

Rembrandt painted his iconic The Return of the Prodigal Son only a few years before he died in 1669. The returning son kneels before his welcoming father. The elder brother, robed in crimson, stands to the right. A wealthy man sits, a servant stands, the mother watches from the background; but the painting highlights the returner and the receiver. The Prodigal has come home.

Many have mourned theology’s separation from the Church, but in the last 30 years we have witnessed resurgent efforts to reconnect academic theology to its ecclesial roots. The Scholar-Priest Initiative stands in this vein, endeavoring to be the servant in the background of Rembrandt’s picture: to do everything in our power to reintegrate theology back into the life of the parish; to rekindle theological vocation and imagination; in short, to welcome theology

Three Rivers Episcopal "One Million"

Yesterday the blog registered it's one millionth page view (not counting our own). Thanks to everyone who keeps checking in.

Pakistan: Open-air services bring healing to Peshawar Christians

From ENS-

The healing ministry of the Diocese of Peshawar in Pakistan organized an open-air two-day healing services program at St. John’s Cathedral Church lawn at the end of August.

These healing services were jointly organized by the Rev. Samson Anwar, who is in charge of the diocese’s healing ministry, and Pastor Anwar Fazal from Isaac TV, Lahore.

The basic theme of the program was taken from the parable of the courageous woman, a widow who kept on seeking justice from an unjust judge. Eventually her resistance against injustice, her hope, and waiting meant she was rewarded with justice (Luke 18:1-8).

The priests during the healing services encouraged people to keep on praying continuously, saying, “Jesus assures his followers that God will do justice in the end.”

Hundreds of people attended the services; large crowds of the faithful came from all over the province to hear the word of God.

A good number of non-Christians were there as well, seeking His blessings and were looking forward to receive healings, and to witness the miracles in the Holy name of Jesus Christ.

More here-

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hollywood's next big thing: religion

From The Christian Science Monitor-

As summer winds down, the hottest trend on Hollywood’s fall schedule appears to be religion. Faith-based entertainment is in the midst of a comeback, what with NBC announcing its sequel to “The Bible,” the highly rated cable mini-series; multiple upcoming movies about Moses; a new film about Noah (starring Russell Crowe); and a Ridley Scott production of Exodus.

And then there are the renewals of such ratings-busting shows as GSN’s “The American Bible Challenge,” back for a third season, and TLC’s announcement that not only will its franchise, “Breaking Amish: LA,” return, but there will be a reunion event as well. Add to that list ongoing reality shows such as “Preacher’s Daughters” and the list just keeps growing.

“We are certainly in the midst of a rush of interest in faith-based shows,” says Martha Williamson, creator and producer of the CBS hit “Touched By An Angel,” which ran from 1994 to 2003.

More here-

Law grad plans appeal after royal succession challenge dismissed

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department (Canada)

A Superior Court judge may have told him he doesn’t have standing to challenge the royal succession rules, but a recent law graduate says he’s not giving up his fight against a provision that bars Catholics from ascending to the throne.

Last month, Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland said the court doesn’t have jurisdiction to alter the rules and Bryan Teskey can’t argue the case because, in essence, he can’t become king anyhow.

“He deposes that he is a member of the Catholic faith but that appears to be his only interest in the issues raised in this application. He has no connection to the Royal Family,” wrote Hackland in Teskey v. Canada (Attorney General) last month.

“He raises a purely hypothetical issue which may never occur, namely a Roman Catholic Canadian in line for succession to the throne being passed over because of his or her religion. Should this ever occur, a proper factual matrix would be available to the court to deal with a matter of this importance.”

But for Teskey, who grew up in a “very Catholic” home, the issue is an important one that sets “a dangerous precedent.”

“It says politicians can choose who gets rights. It’s very odd that the government of Canada says Catholics and only Catholics cannot become heads of state,” says Teskey, a recent University of Ottawa law graduate.

More here-

Cardboard cathedral crushes 'prejudice'

From New Zealand-

Cardboard cathedral architect Shigeru Ban says reaction to the transitional building has been "unexpectedly big" after it broke the prejudice that it would be either humble or cheap.

Ban, from Japan, has designed buildings all over the world and is noted for his innovation with paper-based designs.

He was in Christchurch to see the cathedral officially opened last night.

"I am very happy, especially when I hear some good impressions from the general public."

People had been thanking him for the design - most recently a pianist who performed in a concert in the cathedral yesterday and said the acoustics were very good, Ban said.

He had seen the building when construction was completed, but it was good to now to see it "warmed up" with people and furniture.

"It's actually what I expected - no surprises," he said.

More here-

'God loves boat people': Churches take a stand

From Australia-

God loves boat people.

This is the message displayed outside more than 70 churches across the state, as religious institutions step in to care for an increasing number of asylum seekers with nowhere else to go.

One Sydney church has helped to rehouse more than 90 asylum seekers dumped in an inner-city hotel the day after leaving Curtin Immigration Detention Centre.

They arrived with the singlets on their backs and $85 to last them two weeks in a cramped room with no cooking facilities.

Reverend Andrew Bruce, the minister of St Peters Anglican Church, says Australia's asylum seeker policy is ''heartless, unacceptable . . . a complete shambles''.

He was halfway through a sermon on Good Friday when 45 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka filed into the back of his church.

More here-

Anglican Church Starts Massive Reconstruction

From Central Africa-

THE Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA), which inherited a huge debt and dilapidated infrastructure from excommunicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, has embarked on a massive rebuilding exercise.

The church's infrastructure collapsed after it was forcibly occupied by Kunonga until last year when the wrangle ended.

CPCA Bishop Chad Gandiya said the church had started a massive reconstruction exercise to repair the damage that was caused by five years of total neglect.

The exercise involves renovating all church building, houses and schools owned by the church.

"Our education secretary is working with the heads of our schools on renovating those schools and improving them," Gandiya said.

The church split in 2007 with Kunonga leading the breakaway faction that seized most of the church properties and bank accounts.

However, the courts last year ordered Kunonga and his followers to vacate the church properties.

More here-

Reward offered for return of lamp taken from New Haven church

From New Haven CT-

St. Thomas’s Episcopal Church on Whitney Avenue is offering a cash reward and a no-questions-asked return policy for a sanctuary lamp that was taken from the church Aug. 24.

Church staff discovered the lamp missing while they were cleaning the church in preparation for Sunday service. The lamp is an antique and has been with the church for at least two decades, said Julie Kelly, property manager for the church.

“It was like a hole,” the Rev. Michael F. Ray, rector of the parish, said of the lamp’s disappearance

The lamp was brought back from England by sisters who had been visiting the country, Kelly said. It was donated in their brother’s honor.

“Father Ray always says we aren’t about things, but when people give things to church it takes on a sense of permanence,” she said.

It holds much more sentimental than monetary value, Ray said. “It’s a spiritual symbol that is important. ... The most important element is people gathering to worship.”

“The whole symbol is that the candle burns perpetually, symbolizing how the sacrament is reserved,” he said.

More here-

Same-sex marriage debate goes to the pulpits

From Hawaii-

Two religious leaders in Hawaii are engaged in a debate over same-sex marriage, a debate that ensued after an Episcopal minister preached a sermon critical of Hawaii's Catholic bishop.

The Roman Catholic Church is one of the largest religious denominations in Hawaii, with more than 200,000 members in the islands. Bishop Larry Silva recently wrote what he called an "urgent letter to all Catholics regarding same-sex marriage."

In the letter, the bishop said the Catholic Church is clear that true marriage can only be between one man and one woman.

"Marriage is an institution, not a person," Silva told Hawaii News Now. "And when we're talking about an institution, we have to be discriminating between what is true marriage and what is not true marriage."

Being against same-sex marriage, according to Silva, is not unjust discrimination.

"When we're talking about gay people and straight people, we're all equal in dignity, no doubt about that," said Silva. "And there's no excuse for unjust discrimination against either."

In the letter, Silva wrote, "We discriminate quite justly between adults and minors, even though both have equal dignity. We justly discriminate between those who are married and those who are not, because marriage is a special societal bond that assures the continuation of the race in the context of raising children."

More here-

Local Episcopal church rejoices in ruling

From Ft. Worth-

For now, the Episcopalian churches that splintered away from the main church several years ago can breathe easier after the Texas Supreme Court on Friday overturned a Tarrant County district court’s summary judgment that would have forced the separated churches to surrender their properties.

The high court’s split 5-4 decision remanded the case back to the trial court, directing it to apply standards that apply under Texas corporate laws without deferring to a hierarchical church. The Episcopal Church wanted to claim the properties and buildings of the churches that left the main church several years over theological disputes, including allowing gay priests.

The churches that broke way reformed under the umbrella of The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, which amended its articles of incorporation to remove the The Episcopal Church and amended its bylaws, and aligned under the more conservative Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

More here-

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Anglican Church in the Caribbean: No to Same Sex Marriage

From The Caribbean-

The Head of the Anglican Church in St. Kitts and Nevis Archdeacon Valentine Hodge is making it clear that the Church does not support gay marriage, or condone a homosexual lifestyle. 

"I can only speak...on the behalf of the Anglican Church which is the church in the province of the West Indies…um at the moment we cannot marry in church two people of the same sex...We believe in indissoluble monogamous marriage that is something which should last for life.. indissoluble.. and,  we also believe that it is something between a man and a woman," the Archdeacon said, speaking on WINN FM's Breakfast Show Thursday. 

"We are not into same sex union in the province in the Caribbean, although we find that the Episcopal and the Church of Canada have been very much into that, but we haven’t reached that stage as yet and I think that we [aren't] going to in the foreseeable future given our constitution of the province of the West Indies. We are really holding on to the biblical tradition  and there are certain passages of scripture like Romans Chapter One...that very clearly [says] what’s enunciated in terms of marriage." The Archdeacon said that the issue of the rights’ of homosexuals and lesbians was one of the law and theology. 

More here-

Some clergy removed from ordained ministry

From South Carolina-

More than 100 South Carolina clergy have been notified that they have been removed from the ordained ministry of The Episcopal Church and are "deprived of the right to exercise... the gifts and spiritual authority conferred in ordination," according to an article on the diocese's website.

"Notice of Removal" letters signed by the Right Reverend Charles G. vonRosenberg, Bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, were issued this past week to individuals who are "canonically resident" in the diocese, meaning they are under the authority of Bishop vonRosenberg within The Episcopal Church.

Many of those affected by the removal have publicly announced that they are no longer affiliated with the church and have aligned themselves with a breakaway group led by Mark Lawrence. Lawrence was removed from the ordained ministry in December 2012 and is no longer recognized as a bishop in The Episcopal Church.

In the hope of an eventual reconciliation, Bishop vonRosenberg exercised an option available to him under the Constitution and Canons of the Church and "released and removed" the affected clergy, rather than allowing them to be "deposed" on the grounds of abandonment of the church.

More here-

God is pro-union After all, Moses was a labor organizer

From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

The two jobs I work complement each other nicely. One pays my bills but sucks my soul, while the other heals my soul but doesn't pay enough to cover my bills.

The soul-crushing job is in full-time retail. And in the interest of continuing that employment, I hasten to say that I'm not knocking my employer but the dynamics of the industry itself. The soul-healing job is in part-time pastoral ministry. Working between these material and spiritual spheres of life can generate some social and ethical insights -- at least I'd like to think so.

For example, at my retail job we have an entire cooler door devoted to energy drinks: Monster, Rockstar, Red Bull, Amp, you name it. And let's not forget the five-hour one available at the counter. I doubt that many customers give much thought to using them to get through the day. But I look at those products and think, "What's wrong with us? When did we start needing so many additives to keep us going? Didn't God make days off so we could rest up and recharge?"

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