Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rethinking Community and the Sacraments

From St. Louis-

Have you ever read something that was so striking that you can literally remember where you were sitting and what was going on around you when you first read it, even after many years have passed? A few years ago, my spiritual director recommended a book called Reconciliation: Preparing for Confession in the Episcopal Church by Martin L. Smith. I remember taking a tea break in the cafeteria one afternoon, book in hand, thinking I could just plow through the reading and finish the assignment.

Then I got to the following passage:

“We cannot under any circumstances baptize ourselves. Someone who is baptized has to baptize me. There is always community involved. Reconciliation with God cannot leave me in my solitude, with my individuality and autonomy unaffected, as if my relationship with him were a purely private affair. God’s act of reconciliation in Christ established a reconciling community of the reconciled—the church.”

The words hit me with such force that I got a little light-headed and I felt tears slip down my cheeks. I remember feeling that I had to sit very still and close my eyes, as if the world might simply fall away around me if I weren’t very careful to hold on tight. I believe I was, to borrow a phrase from my evangelical friends, convicted.

More here-

Did A Supreme Court Justice Just Admit To Being An Atheist?

From Huffington-

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in a case about the constitutionality of a New York town's practice of beginning local legislative meetings with mostly Christian prayers.

During one exchange, Justice Antonin Scalia pressed a lawyer for the town of Greece -- which is arguing that a court of appeals erred in ruling that the prayers violated the establishment clause of the Constitution -- on the equivalent of prayer for nonbelievers.

"What is the equivalent of prayer for somebody who is not religious?" asked Scalia, a devout Catholic.

The lawyer, Thomas Hungar, had trouble pinning down an answer, which eventually led Justice Stephen Breyer to interject with a remark that is being seen by atheist and non-theist advocates as a possible admission that he may share their views on religion.

"Perhaps he’s asking me that question and I can answer it later," Breyer said, seemingly suggesting that Scalia had directed the question about nonreligious prayer to him.

While Breyer -- thought of as the most conservative of the liberal-leaning judges -- grew up in a Jewish household, his family did not observe the faith strictly. His daughter, Chloe Breyer, is an Episcopal priest.

More here-

Gay marriage goes to final Hawaii House vote

From Hawaii-

Hawaii House lawmakers were poised to take their final vote Friday on a bill to legalize gay marriage on the islands, with strong chances the measure will pass and move to the Senate for its second approval.

House members returned to the floor Friday morning for their final debate after a five-day public committee hearing and an 11-hour floor session earlier this week.

The debate — expected to go into the night — was playing out amid noisy crowds outside the chamber and maneuvering inside from lawmakers for and against the bill.

Lawmakers shot down four floor amendments by Republicans before lunch, rejecting calls for a task force to study gay marriage, opt-outs for people who object to gay marriage and for children learning about gay people in schools, and a carve-out for religious organizations in the state's public accommodations law.

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Factions Within Texas Episcopal Diocese Hold Separate Conventions as Legal Battle Continues

From Ft.Worth-

While legal disputes continue over the name and property of The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, the two competing parties are holding their annual church conventions separately.

In 2008, the leadership of the Texas-based diocese voted to cut its ties with The Episcopal Church over growing theological differences. Since then, dispute over who owns the diocese's property has been debated in court.

This weekend, The Episcopal Church's faction is holding its 31st Annual Convention at the Ray Clymer Exhibit Hall of the Multi-Purpose Events Center in Wichita Falls.

Katie Sherrod, director of Communications for the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth (TEC), told The Christian Post that despite the developments in the legal battle, things will go on as usual.

More here-

Friday, November 8, 2013

Anglican is first woman, African WCC moderator

From ACNS-

In one of their first decisions as the Central Committee for the World Council of Churches, the newly installed 150-member committee made history Friday by electing Dr Agnes Abuom of Nairobi, from the Anglican Church of Kenya, as the moderator of the highest WCC governing body.

Abuom, who was elected unanimously to the position, is the first woman and the first African in the position in the 65-year history of the WCC.

Two vice-moderators were elected, United Methodist Church Bishop Mary Ann Swenson from the USA and Prof. Dr Gennadios of Sassima of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

"My open prayer is that we shall move forward together, in the next years, despite our diversities that have the potential to divide us," Abuom said shortly after her election, "…and that the WCC will continue to remain an instrument for providing a safe space for all who can come and share their hopes, aspirations and visions, and prophetic voice."

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Excommunicated Kunonga Withdraws Case,Ordered To Pay Costs

From Zimbabwe-

Harare, November 8, 2013-Former Anglican Church leader Archbishop Nolbert Kunonga, has since been dumped by his lawyers from Samkange and Venturas law firm, a move which forced him to withdraw a High Court civil matter where he was seeking to have the church’s properties indigenised.

Following the withdrawal, the court ordered Kunonga to pay costs of the civil suit at a higher scale.
In December last year,excommunicated Kunonga filed an application seeking to have the Anglican Church’s properties indigenised under the country’s indigenisation laws following the Supreme Court’s ruling that stripped him of control of the properties.

The Supreme Court had ruled that the Bishop Chad Gandiya-led Church of the Central Province of Africa (CPCA) was the rightful owner of the Anglican Church’s properties and not Kunonga and his breakaway faction. This did not go down well with Kunonga who then sought to have CPCA properties indigenised.

More here-

Maori Anglican Church asks: "Which way forward?"

From New Zealand-

The 2013 Runanganui of Te Pihopatanga o Aotearoa began in Gisborne last evening – with questions being raised about the fundamental structure of the body which is the Maori Anglican Church.

In his kauwhau, or charge to the runanganui, Archbishop Brown Turei, Te Pihopa o Aotearoa, made it clear that the stakes were high.

Much of the next three days, he said, will be devoted to discussing “future visions of our Amorangi and for Te Piohopatanga o Aotearoa as a whole.”

“It is only natural,” he said, “that in this discussion there will be differing hopes, dreams and aspirations.

More here-

Hundreds fill a Fresno church to remember Bishop John-David Schofield

From California-

Nearly 1,000 people filled a Northwest Fresno church Thursday to celebrate the life of a well-known religious leader. Bishop John-David Schofield may best be remembered for splitting apart the Episcopal Church.

Parishioners and clergy from different denominations joined together in faith and in honor of the Retired Bishop John-David Schofield.

The 75-year-old's reach was one that spanned across church lines and many in the Valley say his loss is quite a void.

Bishop Eric Menees described how it feels to fill such a man's shoes in the Diocese of San Joaquin. He said he took the succession "with fear and trembling to be sure."

Bishop Eric Menees delivered the sermon at Schofield's celebration of life and described the funeral as a day that is "awesome and tragic."

At the same time Menees said, "Oh he had such a sense of humor and a joy in life, he would laugh the deep laugh that just made you feel good."

The retired Anglican Bishop is often remembered for leading the Episcopal Church split, separating the church over the defense of traditional marriage.

More here-

Global Slate in Vancouver

From The Living Church-

As the Diocese of New Westminster seeks its ninth bishop, its nominees include two priests born in the United States, a British-Canadian priest serving in Massachusetts, and a priest from 7,000 miles away in New Zealand.

The new bishop will succeed the Rt. Rev. Michael Ingham, prominent as an advocate for gays and lesbians in the Anglican Church of Canada, who was a liaison for several years to the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church. Ingham retired August 31, and an electing synod will meet on November 30 at Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver. The diocese will receive any names for nominees by petition until November 19.

The eight nominees are:

More here-

Clergy who support same-sex marriage in Illinois might not perform ceremonies

From Chicago-

Clergy of different faiths support same-sex marriage in Illinois.

In fact, over 300 signed a letter asking members of the Illinois House to support The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

And the House did, this week, by a vote of 61-54.

Of course, supporting the Act doesn’t mean clergy have to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies.

The bill passed this week does not require any religious organization or leader to “accommodate” same sex marriages.

But state law doesn’t mean much when it comes to church law.

Reverend Doctor Richard L. Tolliver is Rector at St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church in Washington Park.

“We’re given authority from a secular point of view,” said Reverend Tolliver. “But from a religious dimension we are not.”

More here-

Welby tells of longing for church unity

From Church Times-

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has called on the international Church to renew its "commitment to the ecumenical journey" at the tenth Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) at Busan, in South Korea.

Archbishop Welby spoke of his "tiny place among God's great Church", but said that his presence at the assembly in Busan was a sign of how important the fellowship was to Anglicans.

"We cannot be satisfied while there is a lack of visible unity," he said. "If we are satisfied, we defy the great high-priestly prayer of Christ himself."

Christians must seek peace and reconciliation, Archbishop Welby said - first between themselves and God, and then in unity with each other.

"We are to be one because we are more effective together than apart," he said. "We are to be one - one people worshipping one God, eating and drinking round the one table of the Lord; for that is Jesus's prayer for his disciples, then and for us now."

More here-

Episcopal Megachurch Betting $27 Million on New Growth, Missions

From Dallas-

The Church of the Incarnation, an Episcopal congregation in Dallas, will break ground on a campus expansion on Sunday. Of the $27 million raised in the capital campaign—more than six times the parish's annual budget—$1.5 million will fund future and current missions and outreach.

As befitting a congregation with roots in the Church of England, the groundbreaking ceremony will begin at 10:20 a.m. with a classic English hymn, "Lift High the Cross," also the name of the capital campaign.

The expansion will add three buildings to the campus—another worship facility seating more than 500, a welcome center and an education facility—all matching the gothic-style architecture of the existing buildings at 3966 McKinney Ave. Construction is expected to take two years.

"This is a historic time in the life of our parish," says Bishop Anthony J. Burton, rector of Church of the Incarnation. "We have been growing quickly, both in numbers, faith and commitment to the poor in the neighborhood around us."

More here-

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Public prayer: why devil worshipers came up in Supreme Court arguments (+video)

From Christian Science Monitor-

The US Supreme Court plunged into treacherous constitutional waters Wednesday as the justices took up a case examining whether the practice of conducting a prayer before a town board meeting violates the separation of church and state.

How the high court answers that question could have a profound effect on the content of religious invocations offered at gatherings across the country, from daily sessions of Congress and state legislatures, to town councils in the smallest of hamlets.
By the conclusion of the hour-long oral argument it was clear that the court was sharply divided over the First Amendment implications of conducting overtly Christian prayers at the start of town meetings.

What was less clear was how the high court is likely to resolve the case.

At issue in Town of Greece v. Galloway (12-696) is the longtime practice of inviting a volunteer to deliver an invocation prior to each monthly board meeting.

More here-

Ten Year Old kidnapped in Abuja Church

From Nigeria-

A 10-year-old boy, Chibuike Ogbusu, has been abducted by unknown persons at St. Bartholomew Cathedral Church (Anglican Communion) Kubwa, Abuja.

The young boy had attended the Boys Brigade rehearsal at the church last Saturday and was on his way home when he was abducted.

According to PUNCH Metro, information as to the situation and current developments as provided by Dr. Peter Ogbusu, Chibuike's father, was that word from the kidnappers had yet to reach the family.

Chibuike Ogbusu had been taken after coming home from church after Boys' Brigade practice when he had been descended upon and snatched by the kidnappers. His friends had gone to drink some water from the borehole in front of the church and had thought Chibuike had gone home without them when they came out of the church and did not see him around the premises.

More here-

Revealed: winner of Canterbury Cathedral entrance contest

From Canterbury-

Landscape architect Hyland Edgar Driver has won the competition to revamp the landscaping around Canterbury Cathedral

The jury was unanimous in choosing the London and Winchester-based practice, which beat off competition from teams including Gianni Botsford Architects, Purcell, Tonkin Liu and up-and-coming practice Michael Lee Architects.

Inspired by the cathedral’s archives and glass art, Hyland Edgar Driver’s proposals suggested developing a pavement of large flagstones forming a new piazza, alongside restoring flint walls and reintroducing herbs and wild flowers.

More here-

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church closes in Charlotte

From North Carolina-

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

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

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

Read more here:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

WCC Assembly listens to indigenous voices

From Ekklesia-

National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald has spoken about the "living relationship" that indigenous people have with the land.

He also shared his thoughts about the "sense of kinship" that people feel when they meet with others from around the world.

The indigenous leader from the Anglican Church of Canada was reflecting at the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches, which is meeting through to 8 November 2013 in Busan, Republic of Korea.

Jasmine Bostock, also a member of the Episcopal Church's delegation from North America, spoke about how being at the WCC Assembly helps facilitate exchanges of knowledge about indigenous issues worldwide.

The Episcopal Church's Sarah Eagle Heart expressed her thoughts about the connectivity of prayer and worship via images shared on social media.

Indigenous Christian voices from around the world – including Asia, India, Africa, Polynesia, Australasia, Aotearoa, the Middle East and North America – have been heard around Busan.

More here-

Modified Liturgy Coming to Ordinariate Parishes in Advent

From National Catholic Register-

One of the most beloved prayers in the Anglican tradition is called the Prayer of Humble Access, but some cherished words were omitted from the Anglican-use Mass, the Vatican-approved liturgy that allowed former Episcopalians and Anglicans to bring elements of their liturgical tradition with them into the Catholic Church.

Come the First Sunday of Advent, however, the missing words of Humble Access will be included in the new ordinariate-use Mass, no doubt gladdening the hearts of many former Episcopalians who recently have become Catholics through the ordinariate.

Said by a kneeling congregation before going to Communion, the famous Prayer of Humble Access begins:

“We do not presume to come to this, thy table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies …”

Read more:

From Pentecost to Matthew Fox

From The Living Church-

Well over two decades later, the event is still seared in my memory — the loud, insistent music, the energy, the expectation. The bishop had imposed a eucharistic fast on the catechumens, all 220 of them, in anticipation of their reception into the Episcopal Church. For most, it had been a long and unexpected journey from a perfectly respectable Assemblies of God congregation to the no man’s land of nondenominationalism and finally to the bosom of what their pastor — not yet a priest — kept referring to as the historic Church.

As I wrote in Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory 23 years ago, Stanley J. White, the Assemblies of God minister and then a postulant for the priesthood, had pushed the envelope any number of times since succeeding his father as pastor of Evangel Assembly of God. His devotional readings had led him to the Book of Common Prayer, among other sources of spirituality, and he had already grown weary of evangelicalism’s endless quest for innovation. Some time after he initiated a liturgical procession — perhaps still the only instance in the century-long history of the Assemblies of God — some complaints alerted denominational authorities in Springfield, Missouri. White was quickly sacked, but, much to his surprise, a significant number of his congregants indicated their willingness to join him on his spiritual journey, wherever it might lead.

More here-

'This is major': Gay marriage supporters rejoice in Chicago

From Illinois-

Robyne O'Mara and Lynne Burnett have been together 33 years, and on Tuesday they watched, almost in awe, as Illinois lawmakers cast votes that would make the couple's decadeslong relationship equal to any other.

"We were just blown away," O'Mara said after the General Assembly passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. "I think the momentum in our nation has convinced people. It's been an amazing ride the past several years. We're so grateful the legislators took it upon themselves and recognized that every citizen has the right to marry."

Across the state, gay and lesbian couples and their advocates celebrated as Illinois was poised to become the 15th in the country to allow same-sex marriages. The bill will now go to Gov. Pat Quinn, who has said he will sign it into law.

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Buyer Found For Mansion Housing Episcopal Diocese Headquarters

From Connecticut-

The Hartford mansion used by the Episcopal Church for its state headquarters since the 1950s is now under contract to a buyer who intends to return the West End building to its original use as a home.

"The buyers are planning to use it as a single-family residence and are incredibly excited to be in the home and be part of the West End Civic Association," Paula Fahy Ostop, an agent at William Raveis in West Hartford, who has the listing, said Tuesday.

Both Ostop and the diocese declined to identify the buyers or what they had agreed to pay for the 25-room mansion at 1335 Asylum Ave. The property was listed a year ago for $749,900.

Ostop said the purchase is expected to close in the first three months of 2014.

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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Female cardinals: Could the Pope be about to humiliate the Church of England?

From The Telegraph-

The Archbishop of Canterbury had better get his skates on. Because if he's not careful that bastion of illiberality - the Catholic Church - will steal a march on the Anglicans in its attitude to women. I refer of course to the suggestion that Pope Francis may be about to usher in the first female cardinals.

It's hard to over-state how momentous such a change would be. No woman has sat in the Holy See's papal conclave since cardinals were given the job of electing the pope in the 12th century. It would mean that in theory, a woman could become Pope. And there's even talk that an Irish feminist, Professor Linda Hogan (pictured above), could be in line for the honour.

More here-


From Long Island-

After the community was devastated by the closing of the beloved 111-year-old Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Woodhaven a couple years ago, residents shuddered at the thought of what was to become of the historic building that has been called one of the finest examples of English gothic architecture on the East Coast.

Fears that the property, which includes a cemetery with 160 individual gravestones denoting burials from 1793 to 1892, would be sold cast long shadows across the neighborhood.

Those fears, however, were cast aside last week, when religious leaders and residents celebrated the beginning of a new life for the building at 85-45 96th St. All Saints Episcopal Church, which had been operating in Richmond Hill, is moving into the Woodhaven spot, and it celebrated its reconsecration with a well-attended ceremony last Friday night.

The Bishop of the Diocese of Long Island Lawrence C. Provenzano, along with other clergy, civic leaders and residents gathered on the corner of 96th street and Jamaica Avenue for the reconsecration.

More here-

Justice, peace, reconciliation top main agenda for global Christianity

From ACNS-

Whether it’s advocating for gender equality, speaking out against religious persecution, addressing global poverty, discrimination, climate change, or a myriad of other concerns, global justice and peace issues are at the heart of theWorld Council of Churches’ 10th General Assembly, which has drawn thousands of Christians from 345 member churches in 110 countries to Busan in the Republic of Korea.

The theme of the gathering, meeting Oct. 30-Nov. 8, is “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.”

For Native Hawaiian Jasmine Bostock, one of the four official Episcopal Church delegates to the assembly, the WCC’s greatest gift is to play a facilitating role in addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues. “They’re the only eagle-eyed view … on a global ecumenical level that we have.”

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Anglican leader hints at joint ‘surprises’ with Pope Francis

From Catholic Culture-

The head of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, said in an interview with Vatican Radio that “a few” Catholic-Anglican “surprises” may be forthcoming.

“There are very fundamental and extremely important doctrinal and dogmatic differences that we have between us and they have to be worked on, as they are with Rome and the Anglicans with ARCIC [the Anglican - Roman Catholic International Commission], and we take those extremely seriously,” he said. “It’s absolutely essential that those are worked on. But we need to make sure we’re working on them in the context of churches and ecclesial communities that say no sacrifice is too great to be obedient to the call of Christ that we may be one.”

“God has given you, and given us all, a great Pope,” he continued. “And he’s a great Pope of surprises… Surprises? Yes, I think there’ll be one or two surprises. We’re hoping to produce a few surprises.”

More here-

Episcopal Church Continues Downward Trend According to Report

From Christian Post-

The Episcopal Church continues to decline both in baptized members and average weekly worship attendance, according to recently released statistics for 2012.

Parochial Reports gathered by The General Convention of TEC show that according to the 2012 report, among its nine provinces, TEC has 2,066,710 baptized members, with 1,894,181 in the United States dioceses and 172,529 in dioceses abroad.

This contrasts with 2011, where TEC had 2,096,389 total baptized members.

Average Sunday attendance during the same time period dropped from approximately 690,000 in 2011 to below 680,000 last year.

More here-

New Priest Takes Command of N.J. Episcopal Diocese

From NBC New Jersey-

A priest from Florida has been installed as the 12th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey.

Hundreds of people came out for a consecration ceremony that was staged Saturday at Trinity Cathedral in Trenton for the Rev. William Stokes.

He was then formally welcomed to the cathedral and seated in his new church during a service on Sunday morning.

Stokes succeeds Bishop George Councell, who stepped down earlier this year after nearly 10 years of service.

The 56-year-old Stokes formerly served as rector of St. Paul's Church in Delray Beach.

More here-