Saturday, November 30, 2013

Warm Souls in Boston

From The Living Church-

Homeless people in Boston have a new way to keep the coming season’s wintry elements at bay: a water-resistant, wind-breaking thermal blanket made of Mylar. For that, they’re thanking a ministry by and for homeless people at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul.

The cathedral’s community of homeless and recently housed individuals rolled out its Cloak Project on November 18. That night, participants began handing out 8,000 of these donated, compact, and lightweight blankets, just like the ones that are used to cover marathoners when they cross a finish line.

“Why not have homeless helping homeless?” asked a man named David, who slept under a Cambridge bridge for years, as he prepared to hand out the blankets. “It might save someone’s life.”

Each blanket costs less than $1. Episcopal churches, schools and other institutions rallied their people to buy blankets on and ship them to the cathedral. Christ Episcopal Church in Needham donated 3,000.

More here-

Pilling opens door to gay blessings in church

From The Church Times-

CLERGY should be permitted to provide a public service to mark same-sex relationships, a House of Bishops working group has recommended.

The recommendations in The Report of the House of Bishops Working Group on Human Sexuality, known as "the Pilling report" after the group's chairman, Sir Joseph Pilling, are modest. They speak of the need for "pastoral accommodation", but do not propose any change in the Church's teaching on sexual conduct. Although the report does not speak of "blessing" gay relationships, Sir Joseph said on Thursday that he would not write a letter of complaint to a journalist who used such a term.

Other recommendations include repentance for homophobia within the Church, the avoidance of "intrusive questioning", and further debate (for full recommendations, see below).

As the Pilling report was published, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued a statement to draw attention to the report's status: "The document offers findings and recommendations to form part of [a] process of facilitated conversations. It is not a new policy statement from the Church of England" [their emphasis].

More here-

Former Archbishop of Canterbury to speak at Church of Redeemer

From Florida-

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, and his wife, Lady Carey, will visit The Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Ave., on Thursday.

Carey will preach during the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses Dec. 8. He will also preach at 6 p.m. Dec. 9 during the ordination of Charleston David Wilson, Jason Andrew Murbarger and David Stuart Bumsted to the Sacred Order of Priests.

In 1991, Carey became the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, serving 70 million Anglicans around the world. He retired in 2002, and was made a life peer as Lord Carey of Clifton.

He is now chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire and president of the London School of Theology. He also serves on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum and is a co-chair of the Council of 100.

"It is a great honor that Lord Carey, a world-renowned and respected theologian and speaker, will be preaching at Redeemer. It is especially distinguishing that he will also preach for the ordination," said the Rev. Fredrick Robinson, rector. "Our parish is thrilled to have Lord and Lady Carey as our guests."

Read more here:

Same-Sex Couples Set to Legally Marry in Hawaii

From Hawaii-

Some same-sex couples plan to get married as soon as they're able to do so legally in Hawaii on Monday.

A ceremony for six couples at the Sheraton Waikiki is one of several wedding events planned soon after 12:01 a.m., when a new law allows gay couples to marry in the state.

Couples who want to get married as early as possible Monday won't have to wait until Hawaii's Health Department opens its doors at 8 a.m. Same-sex couples can begin applying for marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m., department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.

Okubo said the state's marriage license application site will add options for bride and bride, groom and groom, or spouse and spouse.

The licenses can then be approved by any state-certified license agent around the state, Okubo said. The agents operate around the islands, including in resorts on Maui, the Big Island and Lanai. Okubo said the agents make their own arrangements and can quickly approve licenses through the online system.

More here-

The spirituality of the 2013 Red Sox

From Boston-

“As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ And immediately they left their nets and followed him.” — Mark 1:16-18

Back in 2004, I was still in seminary studying to become an Episcopal priest. Even though I’m from Massachusetts originally, I decided to try something new and so went to the Episcopal seminary in New York City.

And so, I was living in Manhattan when the 2004 Red Sox did their thing. The bloody sock. Dave Roberts’ steal. Manny. Papi. Pedro. Curt. The rest of The Idiots. The incomprehensible comeback over the Yankees. The four-game sweep of the Cardinals. The first Red Sox World Series championship in years and years, and the end of the Curse. Writing it all down still gives me chills. It was unreal. The morning after the Red Sox won that last game in St. Louis, when my seminary classmates went down to chapel for worship in the heart of Yankees territory, the 15-foot statue of Jesus has a Red Sox cap on. To this day, no one has admitted to being the perpetrator of that act of nonviolent resistance...

More here-

First woman bishop installed in Ireland

From Ireland-

The first woman bishop in the UK and Ireland has been installed by the Anglican Church.

The Rev Pat Storey, 53, former rector of St Augustine's in Derry, made history when she was chosen by the Church of Ireland as the new Bishop of Meath and Kildare.

The married mother of two was ordained at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin during a service led by the Archbishop of Dublin, The Most Rev Dr Michael Jackson.

Bishop Storey is married to the Rev Earl Storey - who gave a reading during the service - and they have two adult children Luke, 22, and Carolyn, 25, and son-in-law Peter.

She grew up in Belfast and studied French and English at Trinity College, Dublin, before training at the Church of Ireland Theological College.

More here-

Friday, November 29, 2013

What do you see? Some parishioners call this picture a miracle in the suburbs

From Chicago-

One north suburban Catholic Church is talking about a very thought provoking picture, shot with nothing more than an iphone.

One woman snapped a photo last Friday in the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Glenview and says she got so much more.

Maureen Kent has been attending Eucharistic adoration at the church for more than 2 years. Kneeling last friday, she wanted a picture of the eucharist or host in the monstrance, the ornate gold stand it’s placed in.

The picture showed a bright light, an image larger than a human and appearing to hover next to the host on the alter. Catholics believe the host is the body of Christ.

No photo-shopping, she says, no doctoring the digital image. Just what she calls a great surprise when she looked at her screen.

Her friends in the chapel also believe it is the Virgin Mary, the supernatural right in suburban Glenview.  Authentication is not, right now, a consideration by Maureen Kent or even the church. They are relishing what they call a miraculous moment, privileged to have seen and believed, they say.

Read more

Churches should perform gay blessings, CofE says

From The Telegraph-

The Church of England is poised to offer public blessing services for same-sex couples in a historic shift in teaching.

A long-awaited review of church teaching by a panel of bishops recommends lifting the ban on special services which will amount to weddings in all but name.

Although the Church will continue to opt out of carrying out gay marriages, when they become legal next year, the landmark report recommends allowing priests to conduct public services "to mark the formation of permanent same sex relationships".

The report repeatedly speaks of the need for the Church to "repent" for the way gay and lesbian people have been treated in the past.

In what will be seen as a radical departure, it also suggests that the Bible is inconclusive on the subject of homosexuality.

More here-

Pope ramps up charity office to be near poor, sick

From Sant Fe-

When he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis was known to sneak out at night and break bread with the homeless, sit with them literally on the street and eat with them, as part of his aim to share the plight of the poor and let them know someone cared.

That’s not so easy to do now that he’s pope. But Francis is still providing one-on-one doses of emergency assistance to the poor, sick and aged through a trusted archbishop. Konrad Krajewski is the Vatican Almoner, a centuries-old job of handing out alms — and Francis has ramped up the job to make it a hands-on extension of his own personal charity.

More here-

Bishops Discuss Division of Episcopal Church of Sudan

From Sudan-

Leaders from the Episcopal Church of Sudan (ECS) began a six-day meeting in the Jonglei capital, Bor, on Wednesday to decide on whether the institution will separate as a consequence of South Sudan's independence from Sudan in 2011.

Reverend Peter Amidi, the diocesan bishop of Lianya in South Sudan's Central Equatoria state, says the meeting will cover a number of issues currently facing the church, including whether the 31 dioceses in South Sudan and Sudan are too many to be managed by one archbishop.

He described the Church's possible split as "not separation as such but an arrangement within the Anglican communion where you devolve power from the mother provincial authority to the area of clusters of dioceses".

More here-

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Church should allow blessings of gay relationships, CofE report says

From The Guardian-

The Church of England should lift its ban on blessing people in same-sex relationships, according to a long-awaited report on the church's attitude to sexuality.

The report of the house of bishops working group on human sexuality, which was chaired by the retired civil servant Sir Joseph Pilling, suggests couples in permanent and faithful civil partnerships could have their relationships blessed as part of an Anglican service.

It comes seven months after the church said that the ban on blessing same-sex relationships would remain in force.

The recommendations of the report, which was commissioned by the church in January 2012, are likely to be welcomed by liberal Anglicans but provoke fury among conservative evangelicals, who remain deeply opposed to any moves to soften the church's line on homosexuality.

While stressing that there should be no change to the "church's teaching on sexual conduct", the report notes that society has moved on.

More here-

From Michigan (Via New York)

The unearthing of a century-old time capsule has sparked a mystery in Michigan.

Parishoners at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Great Ledge cracked open the treasure trove of artifacts from 1913 only to discover the copper box equivalent of a message in a bottle.

The attendees all paused and gawked at a sealed envelope addressed to the surviving relative of Rev. J.E. Foote, a local holy man at the time.

The envelope read, “May 2 1912. If opened after the lapse of many years, these are to be presented to relatives of Rev. Foote if any are alive. Cassius Alexander, Warden.”

Read more:

Pastor, client killed in Md. church food bank fire

From USA Today (with video)

The pastor of St. Paul's by-the-Sea Episcopal Church died of injuries suffered early Tuesday after a man set himself ablaze in the building's basement.

Witnesses said the fire started when a man set himself on fire and entered the food bank housed in the Ocean City church's basement. That man also died, and a woman suffered life-threatening injuries.

STORY: Man reportedly lit himself, causes blaze at food bank

The Rev. David A. Dingwall died at Atlantic General Hospital, according to the Rev. Canon Heather Cook of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton, Md.

The man who reportedly started the fire, a client of the food pantry, has not been identified by authorities. His body was at the scene late Tuesday, being reviewed by a medical examiner, city spokeswoman Jessica Waters said.

More here-

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Number of abusive priests on Anglican register a 'fraction of true figure'

From Australia-

MORE than 100 Anglican priests are known to have allegedly committed child sexual abuse or other sexual misconduct, yet this number could be only a fraction of the true total, the royal commission has heard.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has heard that dozens and possibly hundreds of other allegedly abusive priests have yet to be entered into the church's national register of such claims.

The Anglican church's general secretary, Martin Drevikovsky, told the commission that hundreds of historical files of alleged abuse are currently being reviewed, while technical problems have also hampered the updating of information on the current system.

"Lack of resources is an issue ... That's a matter for each diocese to assess what their need is and to meet that need," Mr Drevikovsky said.

More here-

2 Killed In Fire at St. Paul's By-The-Sea Episcopal Church

From Easton (with video)

A second person has died following a fire at St. Paul's By-The-Sea Episcopal Church this morning in Ocean City.

The Rev. David Dingwall died as a result of his injuries Tuesday afternoon, according to the Rev. Canon Heather Cook of the Episcopal Diocese in Easton.

The name of another person who died inside the church on Tuesday morning and the name of a third person who incurred life-threatening injuries have not been released.

The remaining victim is at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, according to Ocean City spokeswoman Jessica Waters.

More here-

Episcopal Church Files New Motion Against Breakaway SC Diocese

From Christian Post-

The Episcopal Church has filed a new motion against a diocese that broke away from the liberal mainline denomination over theological differences and the treatment of its bishop.

In a motion delivered Monday against the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, The Episcopal Church named four diocesan leaders including its bishop, the Rev. Mark Lawrence.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), the group within the Diocese that remains with the national denomination, is arguing that the diocesan leadership violated state law.

In total, TECSC argues that South Carolina Diocese leaders have committed among other things a "Breach of Fiduciary Duty," "Breach of Contract," "Negligent Misrepresentation," "Fraud," and "Constructive Fraud."

"Bishop Lawrence, like the Bishops before him, had no more authority over the corporation than he inherited ecclesiastically under the bylaws, the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, as supplemented but not contravened by the Constitution and Canons of the Diocese," reads the motion in part.

More here-

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Church of England's partnership with Stonewall challenged

From Christian Today-

Reports that the Church of England will be working with gay charity Stonewall against homophobic bullying in its schools has received opposition from some Anglicans.

Anglican Mainstream, a group representing the orthodox Anglican community, has challenged why this partnership was not discussed at last week's General Synod, and has encouraged its readers to write to their bishops on this matter.

They raise several specific issues of potential concern, firstly that while Stonewall is an anti-homophobia charity, the majority of bullying in schools is not specifically anti-gay.

"No Place for Bullying", a report commissioned in 2012 by Ofsted, the UK schools inspection body, concluded that the vast majority of bullying is to do with issues of appearance, with sexuality accounting for a relatively small percentage.

More here-

National Cathedral in DC to charge tourist fee

From Businessweek-

Struggling to cover its costs, Washington National Cathedral has decided to begin charging an admission fee for tourists who visit the church beginning in 2014.

Cathedral officials said Monday that they will begin charging a $10 fee for adults and $6 for children, seniors and military members in January. Admission will be free on Sundays, as well as on weekdays for those who visit to worship or pray.

The Rev. Gary Hall, the Episcopal cathedral's dean, said the decision to charge a fee was made reluctantly. But he noted that the cathedrals of Europe charge fees to help fund their upkeep.

"All we are charging for is tourism essentially," Hall said. "We're not charging for the essential services of the cathedral."

Some in the cathedral's congregation, though, have been vocal in opposing the move, Hall said. "Nobody is excited, but most people understand it," he said.

The church is not aware of any other U.S. cathedrals that charge admission, spokesman Richard Weinberg said. Church officials looked to models in the United Kingdom, such as Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's Cathedral, which do charge entry fees.

More here-

Sioux Episcopalians celebrate new church arisen out of arsonist’s ashes

From ENS-

On a brilliantly bright but frigid late Nov. 23 morning here on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, the people of St. James Episcopal Church officially came home to a new church that echoes a teepee and feels as if the worshippers are gathered in a dream catcher.

The temperature hovered around 6 degrees Fahrenheit and a slight wind was blowing off the nearby Missouri River as congregation members and visitors stood in the gravel parking lot for the beginning of the service.

They sang “Many and Great,” a hymn that the Rev. John Floberg, St. James rector, said was believed to be the first Christian hymn written in Lakota. It was sung, he told the congregation, by 38 Dakota men as they walked to the gallows Dec. 26, 1862 in the largest one-day execution in U.S. history after they were convicted on allegations that they were part of an uprising that year.

“Let the door be open,” said North Dakota Bishop Michael Smith, wearing an Indian feather headdress in place of a miter and loudly pounding on the door.

More here-

Pittsburgh-area Episcopal priests get 'local option' in blessing ceremonies for gay couples

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Bishop Dorsey McConnell of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has decided to allow, but not require, priests to conduct blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.

The decision Monday came after months of deliberation and talks in the diocese, seeking consensus on a volatile issue that, along with other matters of sexuality, was already a major factor in a 2008 split among local Episcopalians.

Bishop McConnell's decision authorizes priests, beginning in early January, to preside over a rite for blessing lifelong covenants for same-sex couples. That rite was approved in 2012 by the Episcopal Church's legislative General Convention, subject to approval by local bishops and to further review at the next convention in 2015.

Read more:

Monday, November 25, 2013

From Scott Gunn-

Every church building should be open day and night for prayer and refuge. That’s the ideal. When churches are locked, and when they’re not free to enter, we’ve fallen short of the ideal. Let’s agree on that.

It’s no surprise that some media jumped all over recent news that Washington National Cathedral will soon begin charging $10 for admission (reduced for children, yada, yada). Check out samples here and here. The Washington Times used the sensational, but slightly misleading, headline, “Pay to pray.” ABC did better, saying that the cathedral would “Charge Fee to Tourists.” The right-wing church blogs love this story too, because it fits their narrative. I’ve already seen some loud wailing on social media from several quarters. But let’s look at the whole story.

I’ve traveled around the world a fair amount, and it’s pretty common to pay entry fees for religious sites. I’ve paid to visit Hindu temples in India and Shinto shrines in Japan. I’ve also paid to be a tourist at Christian sites in several countries. Anglicans will probably already know that you have to pay for tourist access to Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. I believe it’s also the case that in every single one of the examples I cited, access for prayer is free and open.

More here-

Threat of Extinction of the Anglican Church: leading bishop says either evangelize or fossilize

From The Asian Tribune-

The stark warning issued by Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, this week that the Anglican Church would be extinct in a generation, has opened up the intellectual, not necessarily the spiritual, debate about the influence – and the relevance - of once-powerful institution in the lives of indigenous majority of modern Britain.

“'We ought to be ashamed of ourselves. We are one generation away from extinction – if we do not invest in young people there is going to be no one in the future,” said Lord Carey in a church conference held in Shrewsbury, England. The frank admission shows that Dr Carey, who led the Church of England up until 2002, is prepared to accept his share of the blame for the inability of the institution to reverse the trend.

The Most Reverend John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, was even more blunt in his assessment about the failures. While addressing the General Synod where the bishops debate on appointing women bishops, he partially recognized the problem: “the need is attracting new worshipers; everything else is like re-arranging furniture when house is on fire,” said the outspoken bishop while venting out his frustration.

More here-

I'm not sure I'm still a Christian, Anglican priest Pat Comben says

From Australia-

THE priest who was at the centre of handling a group claim from abuse victims at an Anglican Church children's home in NSW has quit, saying he is no longer sure he call himself a Christian.

Former registrar of the Grafton Diocese, Pat Comben said he had taken the view that he had some guilt and responsibility in the mishandling of the claims by 42 former residents of the North Coast Children's Home in Lismore who suffered shocking sexual and physical abuse.

He said on Monday he was quitting because history is being re-written by some members of the church.

Mr Comben said he had signed the letter of holy orders relinquishment outside the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse on Friday. That was just before he took the stand to give evidence into the diocese's handling of allegations by former residents of the home.

- See more at:

Brothers carve cross for Trinity Episcopal

From Iowa-

After nearly 14 years of planning, sanding and carving, the Trinity Episcopal Church congregation welcomed a new handcrafted crucifix Sunday.

The cross started as an adult education initiative at the church, but was set aside after the group disbanded. Off and on for more than a decade, clergy members would draw and carve images, but never finished the piece.

Jim and Chuck Hawtrey, two Iowa City brothers and members of the congregation, started work on the crucifix last year and finished in May. The clergy displayed the large cross in the atrium at the church at 320 E. College Street this week, to the excitement of many members.

More here-

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Methodist pastor, suspended for performing gay marriage, weighs options

From Pennsylvania-

It had been six years since the Rev. Frank Schaefer officiated at the wedding of his son, Tim, to another man — long enough that he rarely thought about the ceremony anymore.

Long enough that he didn't expect it to become an issue for parishioners at his church in this quiet, rural area in eastern Pennsylvania, especially since he'd made a point of not telling them about it.

But Schaefer's United Methodist Church does not tolerate same-sex marriage, and Schaefer has become the latest poster child in the fight between reformists and traditionalists, who after learning of the wedding took Schaefer to a church court this month and won. After an emotionally charged trial, a jury of fellow pastors convicted Schaefer of breaking church law and suspended him for 30 days for performing the April 2007 marriage of his son in Massachusetts.

More here-,0,7737929.story#ixzz2lZ3quDSO

Churches face thorny issues after split on gays, other issues

From South Carolina-

“It’s like a divorce,” said Emily Guess, senior warden of Christ Episcopal Church in Denmark. “It hurts my heart.”

“I felt very sad,” said Pinckney Thompson, senior warden of the Church of the Redeemer in Orangeburg. “We love our brothers and sisters who remained.”

Guess and Thompson represent the two arms of a church separated by a huge body of differences.

The Church of the Redeemer is a member of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, which officially separated itself from the national Episcopal Church in November 2012.

Christ Episcopal Church belongs to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which continues as a part of the national church.

The groups disagree on numerous issues, including the causes of the rift.

More here-

Calvary Episcopal Church names new rector

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

The largest congregation in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh has tapped an Arkansas cathedral pastor for its next rector.

Calvary Episcopal Church announced Thursday the appointment of The Very Rev. Jonathon Wesley Jensen to be its rector. He has been dean of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock, Ark., since 2009.

Rev. Jensen, 42, is slated to start Feb. 1, 2014, in Pittsburgh.

Rev. Jensen is an "inordinately good listener and a caring and warm person," said Joseph D.C. Wilson III, senior warden at Calvary. While the church has a long history of urban ministry, it is looking to redouble such efforts after years in which internal matters in the denomination have commanded much of the church's attention.

Read more: