Saturday, November 23, 2013

C.S. Lewis: No mere Christian

From National Post-

There have been many books that have I loved. There are some that have moved me. Only one book has ever made me tremble. In the midst of reading C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity there were passages that physically shook me, which made me feel exhilarated and troubled all at once. There were passages that spoke to me with such authority that I was incapable of ignoring what I was being told — even though at times I wanted to hide and pretend I had not heard a word.

I read it 10 years ago on the suggestion of an Anglican priest. I had told him I wanted to really understand what Christianity was about. The initial miracle was that my local bookstore, whose religion section is full of books on atheism, Tarot cards and Eastern Spirituality, had multiple copies of Mere Christianity.

More here-

There is no single 'authentic’ way to be an Anglican, or a Conservative

From The Telegraph-

Two interventions this week from men who inhabit very different worlds, yet have common diagnoses for the problems faced by the institutions to which they belong.

Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, has been waging a war against secularism, against the marginalisation of Christianity in national life, and the bigotry shown to individual Christians in the workplace. In particular, he led a rather unpleasant campaign against gay marriage, seeming to elide such reform with the sort of prejudice that censures airport staff who wear crucifixes. This week, however, he raised his sights, to warn his Church that it faces extinction within a generation unless it tackles the decline in support from the young.

Nicholas Boles is the Tory MP for Grantham and planning minister, one of the ├╝ber-modernisers within the Cameron project. You will not often read about Mr Boles without coming across the pejorative use of the adjective “metropolitan”. This is code for “gay” and “tolerant of people with different backgrounds”, as far as I can discern. Mr Boles would like to see more house-building; this is often translated as “concreting over the countryside”.

More here-

Nominee Leaves N.Y. Slate

From The Living Church-

Two weeks before the Diocese of New York elects a bishop suffragan, a nominee by petition has withdrawn his name. The diocese’s committee to elect a bishop announced the withdrawal by the Rev. Patrick Ward on November 22. Ward is interim rector of Christ Church Riverdale in the Bronx.

“After prayerful consideration I have made the decision to withdraw my petition for inclusion on the ballot in the upcoming election for Bishop Suffragan in the Diocese of New York,” Ward wrote to committee members. “May God bless the Diocese of New York, in the upcoming election. I will hold you all in my prayers.”

More here-

What Dallas pastors preached after JFK was killed

From North Carolina-

Facing crowded pews and heavy hearts, Dallas clergy took to the pulpits on Nov. 24, 1963 to try to make sense of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy just two days before.

“The ministers saw the assassination as an unwelcome opportunity for some serious, city-wide soul-searching,” said Tom Stone, an English professor at Southern Methodist University, who has studied the sermons delivered that day.

“Though Dallas could not be reasonably blamed for the killing, it needed to face up to its tolerance of extremism and its narrow, self-centered values,” Stone said.
Here are excerpts from their sermons, compiled by the Bridwell Library at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology:

More here-

After seven years, St. Matthews Episcopal Church re-opens

From West Virginia-

After a seven-year drought, St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Chester is once again opening its doors.

The church at the corner of Fourth Street and Indiana Avenue will hold its re-opening liturgy at 9 a.m. Sunday.

"I don't know for sure how many people we'll have there, but you have to start somewhere," said the Rev. Dale Eugene "Gene" Sheppard, parish missioner. "People who have seen the sign have called and said that they'll be there. I'm very excited."

A second-career clergyman, Sheppard, 65, of Follansbee, began his ministry to the Episcopal churches of Brooke and Hancock counties in June 2006. Four months later, St. Matthew's closed, the victim of declining membership.

At that time, the Rev. Jim Reed, who also was serving the Chester parish, decided to retire, and Sheppard continued his ministry to the three other Episcopal churches-St. Thomas in Weirton, Olde St. John's in Colliers and Christ Church in Wellsburg.

More here-

Friday, November 22, 2013

C.S. Lewis, Catholic Gateway Drug

From Aleteia-

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of one of the greatest Christian minds of the 20th century, the apologist, poet, and novelist, C.S. Lewis.

He authored over forty non-fiction books, eighteen novels, and four books of poetry, including such masterpieces as Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and the children’s book series The Chronicles of Narnia. Publishers report that his books have been far more popular since his death than they were during his lifetime.

Lewis’ writings are not only appreciated by Catholics but have been influential in actually leading numberless converts across the Tiber river to the Catholic Church. Though he remained an Anglican until his death, Lewis has been one of the most effective evangelists for the Catholic faith in the last hundred years.

More here-

Church of England backs proposals which could allow female bishops in 2014

From Express UK-

Members of the General Synod, the CoE's ruling body, voted 378 in favour compared to eight opposed with 25 abstaining on the ground-breaking vote.

The ballot, which included a "declaration" giving guidance on parishes who reject the female ministry, received widespread backing from supporters and opponents.

However, the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu warned against celebrating after conservative evangelicals said there are 'major issues' still to be resolved.

He said: "We should not open the champagne bottles or whatever drink we regard as celebratory because we need to agree to work together until the end.

More here-

Lord Carey warns of Church’s extinction

From The Church Times-

THE Church must change, or face extinction in the next generation, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, has warned.

In an address to Shropshire Light, a Christian conference on Saturday in Holy Trinity, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury, he said that people did not see church as a "place where great things happen", but instead mention of it was met with "the shrug of indifference, the rolled eyes of embarrassment, the yawn of boredom".

He said that, for many clergy, any joy in ministry had been replaced by a feeling of "heaviness" and defeatism, and that Muslim communities had more energy than churches.

Churchgoers needed to move beyond just "keeping the machine going" to an "expectation for transformed lives", he said. Every church should be working for its community, through foodbanks, credit unions, or other ministries.

More here-’s-extinction

Abuse victims at Anglican home told church had no liability

From The Guardian-

If the dozens of people who were abused at a Church of England (Anglican) home had sued successfully it would have been financial ruin for the New South Wales diocese of Grafton, a lawyer has told a national inquiry into child abuse.

Peter Roland, former lawyer for the diocese, is being grilled at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on why, in 2006 and 2007, traumatised survivors of the North Coast Children's Home (NCCH) in Lismore were told the church had no liability.

The commission has heard at one stage a letter to 41 victims mentioned a modest ex-gratia payment for "their inconvenience in these matters".

At the request of the commission chair, justice Peter McClellan, documents showing how much money was spent by the diocese on lawyers were produced, showing bills of $27,000 and $11,000. One bill gave an estimated figure of $62,000 if the case went to court.

More here-

Jonathan Daniels House to open as Episcopal Service Corps member

From ENS-

An exciting hurdle has been crossed by the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island’s Jonathan Daniels House (JDH) project, which aims to open a service-oriented intentional community for young adults. After three years of planning and preparing, last week JDH received official membership into the Episcopal Service Corps, a national network of more than 25 Episcopal young adult service programs across the United States.

As an Episcopal Service Corps community, Jonathan Daniels House will draw upon a diverse group of young adults from across the country, and plans to welcome four young adults in August of 2014. Participants will live together, work in service agencies embedded in local communities, and engage in vocational and spiritual discernment for a period of 10 months. They receive a modest stipend and are supported by a program director and mentors.

“We recognize that young people’s lives are formed by their experience in young adulthood – and that the service they provide will change them as well as those around them, said Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Diocese of Rhode Island. “They will bring energy, vision and ideas to us and new hope to the people they serve.”

More here-

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Very Rev. Jonathon Wesley Jensen called to Calvary

From Pittsburgh-

November 20, 2013

Dear Fellow Calvary Parishioners,

It gives me great pleasure to share with you the news that the Vestry has called the Very Reverend Jonathon Wesley Jensen to be the Sixteenth Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church and that Jonathon has accepted the call, effective February 1, 2014.

Jonathon has been Dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock, Arkansas, since 2009 and was previously Rector at Trinity Church in Lawrence, Kansas. A more detailed biography, along with a letter from him, is enclosed.

Since his ordination 17 years ago, Jonathon has been a pastor, a rector of a large parish and a dean of a cathedral, a minister to youth and young families, an author and editor, an innovative creator and implementer of new missions, a faithful minister of the Gospel, a successful financial manager, a meaningful preacher, and a trusted priest to a multitude of parishioners. He listens inordinately well.

Jonathon is energized by solving problems, by bringing people together, and by identifying needs for new programs. Parishioners praised his gift of identifying the right person for specific ministries, often someone quite unexpected. He is also praised as a mentor by his current and former assistants. One of his own mentors has been The Very Rev. David Bird, whom some of you may remember from his time in Pittsburgh as rector of St. Andrew’s, New Kensington and who is a close friend and colleague of Leslie Reimer. David Bird first worked with Jonathon when Jonathon was a seminary student, and Jonathon later preached at David’s installation at Trinity Cathedral, San Jose, California.

 More here-

The death of Tory Anglicanism

From The Spectator-

This week the General Synod edged one step closer towards permitting the ordination of female bishops. The final outcome is likely to be some kind of compromise to appease traditionalists similar to that in 1992 when the ordination of female priests was passed. But unlike that occasion, one crucial voice will not be heard nor probably venture an opinion — the Conservative party, which has distanced itself from ecclesiastical affairs over the past 20 years.

This was not the case back in 1992 when a band of Conservative MPs joined Anglican traditionalists in opposing female ordination. Enoch Powell considered it a ‘blasphemous pantomime’, Ann Widdecombe spoke of her ‘utter grief and anger’, while John Gummer judged that it undermined the ‘whole basis of the Elizabethan settlement’. In the end, many followed clergy and laity out of the Church of England to Rome.

No such protest is likely to greet a parliamentary measure on female bishops. The Conservative party, once the defender of Anglican interests, now looks upon the General Synod with bemusement or worse, uninterest. This distancing from the church reflects the party’s distancing from its Christian roots and, indeed, its secularisation.

More here-

Anglican Church failed to censure alleged paedophile priests

From Australia-

THE Anglican Church failed to take disciplinary action against three alleged paedophile priests - one of whom was later convicted for indecent assault - despite receiving several reports they had abused children, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard this morning.

All three men were allowed to continue to publicly describe themselves as a priest and attend worship.

One, the Reverend Campbell Brown, had a licence to officiate at church services until June this year, the commission has heard.

The former Professional Standards Director of the Anglican Diocese of Grafton in northern NSW, Phillip Gerber, told the commission he did not report allegations of abuse committed by Reverend Brown to police for over a year.

"I'm not trying to defend myself. It might have potentially ... put other people at risk, children and vulnerable people at risk. I'm appalled that my actions might have caused that," he told the commission.

More here-

Thousands of United Methodists petition bishop: end gay marriage prosecutions

From Philadelphia-

Just days after one of their pastors was found guilty and penalized for officiating over a same-sex marriage, United Methodist pastors are expected to on Thursday deliver a petition with more than 19,000 signatures appealing to Bishop Peggy Johnson to cease putting pastors on trial for the violation.

The United Methodist Church prohibits ministers from presiding at gay weddings. On Tuesday the Rev. Frank Schaefer was suspended for 30 days from all ministerial duties and put on notice that he will be defrocked if he presides over another gay marriage. Schaefer, pastor at Zion United Methodist Church of Iona, on Monday was found guilty by a church judicial jury of violating and disobeying church law. In 2007, he presided over the gay marriage ceremony of his oldest son, Tim, in Massachusetts.

On Thursday morning, local United Methodists plan to deliver more than 19,000 petition signatures to the Johnson, who is the United Methodist Bishop of the Philadelphia Episcopal Area. The petition will be delivered to her office in Norristown.

More here-

Billy Graham hospitalized with respiratory problems

From USAToday-

The Rev. Billy Graham has been taken to a hospital in Asheville, N.C., with respiratory problems, a family spokesman said Wednesday.

"Mr. Graham is in the hospital with a respiratory congestion issue, similar to what he had a few weeks ago," Mark DeMoss said. "As was the case then, we expect he will be able to return home in a day or two."

Graham, who celebrated his 95th birthday earlier this month with a party in Asheville, was taken to Mission Hospital.

Graham's birthday celebration featured hundreds of well-wishers and what is being characterized as his final sermon.

More here-

Women Bishops For Church of England Proposals Approved

From Huffington (RNS)-

The Church of England’s governing body has approved new proposals that would allow women bishops to be ordained by this time next year.

Meeting in London on Wednesday (Nov. 20), the church’s General Synod passed a motion by 378-8, with 25 abstentions, that paves the way for the endorsement of women bishops. Bishops also approved a declaration that sets out guidance for parishes that reject female consecrations.

The package would end nearly two decades of bitter and damaging conflict, and the vote is a victory of sorts for the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who was appointed last year just as the General Synod came within six votes of allowing women bishops.

Welby called last year’s defeat “a very grim day for women and their supporters,” and vowed to find a way to allow women bishops without creating a schism within the church. Wednesday’s vote also creates an ombudsman position to rule on disputes involving traditionalist clergy who oppose women bishops.

More here-

Episcopal Relief & Development gets grant for ‘groundbreaking’ work

From ENS-

Episcopal Relief & Development announced Nov. 20 that it is a Grand Challenges Explorations grant winner, an initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The grant will allow Episcopal Relief & Development, in collaboration with its Ghanaian partner, the Anglican Diocesan Development and Relief Organization (ADDRO), to pursue an innovative global health and development research project, titled “Testing a Financing Solution & Technical Assistance Package to increase Women Smallholder Farmers’ Labor Productivity through Ownership of Donkeys with Ploughs.”

“It is a tremendous honor for Episcopal Relief & Development to receive the Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Gates Foundation,” said Rob Radtke, the agency’s president, in a press release from Episcopal Relief & Development. “Innovations such as the donkey plough can increase farming efficiency, allowing women to increase their harvests and devote the time they save to other endeavors such as building skills and marketing produce. Empowering women economically helps bring all members of a community into fuller participation in the creation of a brighter future for their families.”

More here-

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Church of England votes overwhelmingly for women bishops

From The Telegraph-

The Church of England’s General Synod has voted overwhelmingly in favour of women bishops exactly a year after previous legislation was brought down by traditionalists.

Members of all three strands of the Synod – bishops, clergy and laity – gave strong support to a new measure in its first formal consideration by the Church’s governing body.

In an initial test of opinion, only eight members voted against with 378 in favour and 25 abstentions. A further, more formal vote, was due to take place later.

It marks a dramatic turnaround in just a year described by one bishop as “nothing short of miraculous”.

During the debate at Church House in London one leading women cleric warned that the failure to agree the issue in the past made them simply look “weird”.

More here-

Guardian Link here-

Sky News here-

African Bishop Vindicated After Gay Rights Stance Cost Him Job

From Cahaisma News-

An African bishop, whose appointment as dean of a foundation at Dartmouth College was rescinded over his past comments about homosexuality, has been named a fellow at a Massachusetts divinity school.

Bishop James Tengatenga of Malawi will serve as a presidential fellow at Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge for six months starting in January 2014, the school said in a statement on Monday.

In July, Tengatenga was named as dean of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth, which seeks to educate students at the Ivy League school for "lives of purpose and ethical leadership." But the New Hampshire school revoked the appointment amid a controversy over past remarks by Tengatenga.

More here-

Survey: Same-sex couples create own rules in wedding planning

From RNS-

When the Rev. Susan Russell and Lori Kizzia marry next June, they will have a small Episcopal wedding complete with traditional vows and the exchange of rings.

“If you were to follow us around with a camera, it would look like any other wedding that anyone ever planned,” said Russell, a priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, Calif., and a member of the national church’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

But a new survey has found that same-sex weddings differ in distinct ways from heterosexual nuptials, and that gay and lesbian couples also vary significantly from each other.

More here-

More Latinos Convert from Catholics to Protestants; the Latin Wave in the Anglican Church

From Latino Post-

You can't get much more "Anglo" than the Anglican Communion, known in the United States as the "Episcopal Church." But in border areas like Texas, this church is starting to show the effects of an influx of Hispanics into its congregations. Long associated with attending Roman Catholic churches, the Hispanic Episcopalians reflect a growing trend of Latinos in Protestant churches across the U.S.

Episcopalians are not known to be quite as adoring of the Virgin Mary as the Roman Catholics; but in the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, a portrait of the Virgin of Guadalupe, in her trademarked green cloak, is prominently displayed in the front of St. Matthew's Cathedral. It was installed during a special bilingual ceremony in 2003.

The Virgin is a symbol that the Latino community has carried with it, a part of their tradition that the former Catholics have brought with them into this faith that is closely related to the one they've left behind.

More here-

Blessing of the beer unites Episcopal clergy, benefits namesake congregation

From Lancaster-

A dozen Episcopal priests walk into a bar.

It happened on a blustery November Tuesday in Lancaster, when a clericus broke out at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant.

It was the day for the annual blessing of the St. James Brown Ale, a dark-brown brew that celebrates the hard-water ales of northern England as well as supports the good works of the North Duke Street church that bears its name.

Priests and deacons from Lancaster County Episcopal churches gathered to nosh and partake of the first tapping of the fall brew at their monthly clericus, or confab where Episcopal clergy come together to talk shop and share support.

Clad in clerical collars, wrapped in tweed and shod in sensible shoes, the Episcopalians started their afternoon with a personal tour of the Harrisburg Pike restaurant's brewery led by head brewer Chad Rieker.

Then the Rev. David Peck, St. James rector, led the group in a prayer. Peck offered thanks for the community and for the ale, noting it was made with care and would be drunk in the same way.

Read more:

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Anglican Primate condemns persecution of Christians in Nigeria

From Nigeria-

THE Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, Anglican Church, Most Reverend Nicholas D. Okoh, on Monday, condemned killings of Christians in some parts of the country.

Most Reverend Okoh, who disclosed this while delivering his welcome address at the 2013 Divine Commonwealth Conference of the Anglican Church, however, thanked God for bringing the participants to the event safely.

Over 6,000 delegates are currently in Abuja for the third edition of the conference, holding in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

According to him, the theme of the conference, “Go Forward,” was prayerfully chosen to encourage faithful, in the face of current difficult circumstances and seemingly insurmountable challenges daring Christian faith.

The cleric who wondered how Christians could go forward, in the face of opposition and constant attack to the church, said “we need to operate the kind of faith that Joshua and Caleb exhibited, when they silenced the faithless people,” stressing that  “we must adopt a no retreat, no surrender approach in our walk with God, for with Him on our side, we are more than conquerors.”

More here-

Germany's shamed 'Bishop of Bling' pays fine to settle court case

From The Los Angeles Times-

The German bishop suspended by the Vatican last month for spending lavishly on foreign travel and furnishings for his $42-million residence renovation has paid a $27,000 fine to settle a court case brought against him for lying under oath.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg was accused by German prosecutors of bringing a false claim against Der Spiegel after the weekly news magazine reported that he had flown first class on trips to minister to slum-dwellers in India last year.

Tebartz-van Elst told court officials in two sworn affidavits backing his complaint against Der Spiegel that he had not taken first-class flights to India. The Der Spiegel reporter, however, had videotaped an interview in which the bishop admitted doing so, and the court in Hamburg accepted the tape as evidence that the 53-year-old cleric had lied under oath, Deutsche Welle reported Monday.

Proceedings against the bishop were dropped Monday after receipt of the fine, Der Spiegel reported.

More here-,0,302110.story#axzz2l5uM8Z1w

Gettysburg Address laced with religious language and meaning

From Utah-

Few speeches have had more influence or been more examined than President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Delivered 150 years ago today as the closing remarks at the dedication of a cemetery, the short speech — or at least a portion of it — is etched into the minds of most Americans. Books have been written analyzing the 272-word speech's structure, rhetorical tools, historical context and legacy.

But nearly all the books and papers examining this famous and enduring speech either gloss over or completely miss the religious language and meaning of the Gettysburg Address, said A.E. Elmore, a retired English professor and playwright.

More here-

Bp Tengatenga named presidential fellow of Episcopal Divinity School

From ENS-

Citing a strong record of human rights activism and pastoral leadership, Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) announced Nov. 18 that the Rt. Rev. James Tengatenga, bishop of Southern Malawi, will serve as a presidential fellow for six months beginning January 2014. The fellowship was made possible with the support of the Episcopal dioceses of Connecticut and Massachusetts.

“I am very pleased to offer Bishop Tengatenga this presidential fellowship,” said EDS president and dean, the Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale. “His dynamic faith, moral leadership, and commitment to justice are values that have long defined EDS. We look forward to his work and witness among us and are delighted that our students will have the opportunity to learn from his wisdom and experience. We are thankful to the dioceses of Connecticut and Massachusetts as well for their support and counsel in helping to facilitate Bishop Tengatenga’s appointment as a presidential fellow.”

The presidential fellowship comes just three months after Dartmouth College rescinded Tengatenga’s appointment as dean of the William Jewett Tucker Foundation, after a student group alleged he was homophobic. In an open letter to Dartmouth, Ragsdale, along with other Episcopal Church leaders, academics, LGBTQ advocacy groups in Malawi, and other human rights advocates, disputed the student group’s claim and described Dartmouth’s actions as “a gross injustice to an individual who would have made an ideal person to provide moral and ethical leadership at the college.”

More here-

When Christians Are Christianity's Worst Enemy

From Huffington-

I'm a Christian. I'm proud of my faith, and I love the church. But sometimes my fellow Christians make me want to scream.

Like a couple days ago, when a restaurant server posted the following photo to reddit.

The story: The pastor was part of a large party who ate at this server's restaurant. Like many American restaurants, this particular one has a policy of adding an automatic 18 percent tip for large parties. It's something the computer does automatically, not something the server has any control over.

According to the server, the pastor's party tried to get around the automatic 18 percent tip by asking for separate checks, even though the same person was paying for the whole table. The server says that everyone was happy with the service; they just didn't like the idea of a compulsory tip.

The result? The pastor scribbled out the tip, leaving none at all, and adding the note, "I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?"

More here-

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rector explains theology behind Mass celebrated with Catholic priests

From The Irish Times-

A Church of Ireland rector who concelebrated the controversial 2006 Easter Sunday Mass in Drogheda with three Augustinian priests has, for the first time, given his theological reasons for doing so.

The Mass at St Peter’s Augustinian Church was concelebrated by Rev Michael Graham, Fr Iggy O’Donovan, Fr Richard Goode and Fr Noel Hession. Rev Graham told worshippers then it was “the first public celebration in Drogheda of the Eucharist by a Catholic priest of the Anglican tradition in a Catholic Church of the Roman tradition since the Reformation”.

Fr O’Donovan welcomed “members of our sister Church of Ireland” there and later described the event as “the most meaningful Eucharist I ever celebrated”.

Within a month a statement from the Augustinian congregation said Fr O’Donovan, Fr Goode and Fr Hession had written to the Catholic Primate Cardinal Brady, the papal nuncio and the prior general of the Augustinian Order in Rome, apologising “for the ill-considered celebration”. Fr O’Donovan was dismissed from his annual six-month teaching stint in Rome.

More here-

Reporter Learns to Listen Anew

From The Living Church-

Television reporter Judith Valente’s first visit to Mount St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, Kansas, was supposed to be a routine speaking gig at a retreat center. But within a few hours on site, she began to feel a different pull: to be changed, on a personal level, by the cloistered community.

 “I realized I wasn’t really feeding my own soul,” recalls Valente, a correspondent for Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on PBS. “I was running around the country giving all these programs, [and] I wasn’t taking care of my own sense of the sacred in daily life.”

Valente was so impressed by the sisters, who had “such an ease with which they walked through their days,” that she became a pilgrim. Traveling six hours each way from her home in Normal, Illinois, she visited the Mount for several days per month from 2008 to 2011.

More here-

Canberra's Sarah Macneil to become Australia's first female Anglican head

From Australia-

With a real sense that she is answering God's call, Sarah Macneil will next year be installed as the 11th bishop of Grafton and the first woman to head an Anglican diocese in Australia.

The announcement of the Canberra priest's appointment comes as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse begins public hearings into the Grafton Diocese's response to claims of child sexual abuse at a Lismore children's home.

Dr Macneil is married, a grandmother and a former Australian diplomat.

She is a former dean of Adelaide and archdeacon in the diocese of Canberra-Goulburn.

Dr Macneil will give up her role as senior associate priest at Holy Covenant Church in Jamison, to lead a diocese with 28 parishes, taking in major centres such as Lismore, Ballina, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie.

"This does feel right, this does have a sense of call to it,'' she said.

Read more:

Woodlands church to host racism forum, honor Civil Rights

From Texas-

This year marks the 150th anniversary of The Emancipation Proclamation, the 50th anniversary of the pivotal March on Washington, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Medgar Evers and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Parks whose civil rights stand helped spawn the Montgomery Bus Strike. And in 1964 the Civil Rights Act was also signed into law.

In recognition of these milestones Trinity Episcopal Church in The Woodlands hosts a film and two taped panel discussions at 3 p.m. Friday in Butler Fellowship Hall entitled: “Fifty Years Later: The State of Racism in America”.

The workshop is a make-up showing of the film after the event had to be cancelled Nov. 15 and 16 due to technical issues.

Trinity Episcopal’s Mtr. Genevieve Razim and parishoner Judith Randolph will serve as on-site hosts and moderators for the live discussion following the film presentations. The film and taped panel discussions were recorded live on Nov. 15 from St. Andrews Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, MS (Diocese of Mississippi).

More here-

The Believer Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Prayer Journal’

From The New York Times-

This slender, charming book must be approached with a special tact. To read it feels a little like an intrusion on inwardness itself. The volume contains, alongside a lightly corrected transcription, a facsimile of the Sterling notebook in which Flannery O’Connor, just 20 years old, began a journal addressed to God. Written in her neat hand, it is reproduced complete with the empty final pages (her concluding words are “there is nothing left to say of me”) and not omitting a bit of musical notation floating on the inside of the back cover. The prayers, attempts at prayer and meditations on faith and art contained in it were written in 1946 and 1947, while O’Connor was a student in Iowa. The brilliance that would make her fictions literary classics is fully apparent in them.

The complexity of O’Connor’s thinking, together with the largely flawless pages in her hand, suggest that these entries may be fair copies of earlier drafts. Clearly O’Connor’s virtuosity makes her self-­conscious. Young as she was, new to writing, she could only have been pleased, even awed, at having produced these beautiful sentences. Perhaps nothing written is finally meant to go unread, even if the reader is only a creature of the writer’s mind, an attentive and exacting self that compels refinements of honesty.

More here-

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Church's Online Communion: Sacrament or Sacrilege?

From North Carolina-

A North Carolina church's new plans for breaking bread are also breaking with its denomination's wishes.

Central United Methodist Church in Concord, northeast of Charlotte, earlier this year said it would launch a "virtual campus" complete with streaming services, webcam Bible study, counseling via live chat and a dedicated online pastor.

The church also planned for virtual users to be able to regularly take Holy Communion when it is being offered during services: Online users can simply grab some grape juice and any bread or crackers they have in the house, and consume them after the pastor, in the sanctuary, blesses the juice and bread as representing the blood and body of Christ.

The practice, common in many evangelical churches, could help make Christianity more accessible, especially to young people who read the Bible on an app, if at all, the century-old church says. "We believe that God is not bound by space and time," said the Rev. Andy Langford, Central's senior pastor. "We believe that when we bless the bread and the cup in one place, if there are others who are worshiping with us, God will bless that bread and cup wherever they are."

But Central has run afoul of the United Methodist hierarchy. On Friday, the denomination's leading body, the Council of Bishops, declared a moratorium on all online sacraments, including communion, and called for further study of which practices would be acceptable online. The moratorium was declared at the request of an influential group of United Methodist ministers and theologians, who said in a statement that communion is understood to be celebrated "within a physically gathered community."

More here-

Episcopal Church tackles continuing challenge of US racism

From Ekklesia-

Racism is ingrained in US culture and, despite substantial progress, Americans must remain vigilant about their tendencies to exclude those they define as “the other”.

This is what was agreed by participants in the 15 November 2013 opening session of “Fifty Years Later: The State of Racism in America,” a two-day gathering sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Mississippi in the United States.

Human history has seen a “lurching expansion” of the categories that previous generations used to define and then exclude, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in her keynote address.

“There is good news in the increased crossing of old boundaries; there is hope in the shrinking ability of younger generations to recognise those boundaries,” she said. “Yet continued vigilance is required, beginning with our own interior lives.”

How, she asked, does one encounter a stranger and make assumptions that influence how one decides to interact with the person?

Saying “the human heart is larger than the fences we build between us,” Jefferts Schori defined vigilance as “an essential spiritual discipline linked to the examination of conscience and repentance.”

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