Saturday, January 11, 2014

Remember Haiti on Sunday

From The Living Church-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called on all Episcopalians to give generously during a special offering January 12 aimed at assisting the Diocese of Haiti in rebuilding the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince. Haitians are still struggling to recover from the massive earthquake that destroyed the cathedral and caused untold devastation to lives and property throughout the country four years ago.

The Haitian government has said that up to 300,000 people were killed in the magnitude 7.0 quake, which struck just west of the capital of Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010. As many as 1.6 million Haitians, in a country of roughly 10 million, were left homeless, and more than 170,000 still live in makeshift housing.

“I ask that you share your blessings with the Haitian people on January 12,” Jefferts Schori said, adding that the “spiritual heart” of the church’s ministry in Haiti centers on the cathedral. She said that ministry comprises more than 170 congregations and 250 schools, a dozen clinics and two hospitals.

More here-

Oklahoma City church opens doors to unusual visitors for Epiphany service

From Oklahoma-

An Oklahoma City church had several unusual visitors appear at a recent service.

Two camels were part of the Epiphany celebration Jan. 5 at St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, 14700 N May.

Epiphany is the Christian celebration of the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles, represented by the Magi.

The Magi also are known as the three kings or wise men.

Epiphany is generally observed Jan. 6.

According to the Bible, the three kings presented baby Jesus gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The Rev. Joseph Alsay, rector of St. Augustine, said the live camels have added a realistic and fun flair to the church's Epiphany service the past few years.

He said children, in particular, seem to enjoy watching as the unexpected visitors slowly make their way through the sanctuary.

More here-

Historic Cleveland Church taken down piece by piece

From Cleveland-

The historic Emmanuel Episcopal Church, at East 86th and Euclid no longer exists, dismantled, piece by piece. It stood there for a century and was beyond repair.

Finished in 1902, Emmanuel Episcopal was built during a time when millionaires lived on Euclid Avenue and was once a place of worship for hundreds of Clevelanders.

But how the church started isn't as interesting as how it ended.

Too historic to bulldoze, but too far gone to save, it's was taken down stone by stone, and preserved.

Small hand tools and saw blades carefully cut the stone fa├žade, wood work and religious pieces inside.

"There's a great deal of handcarved wood work. There's beautiful buttresses that will be salvaged and saved and used somewhere else down the line in Cleveland," says Mallory Haas, a historic archeologist with Cleveland State University.

More here-

Friday, January 10, 2014

Review: 'God Loves Uganda' examines evangelical anti-gay campaign in Africa

From Nebraska-

“God Loves Uganda” is a documentary about the effort to ban homosexuality in Uganda, a campaign driven by American evangelicals who see the African country as the place where they can impose their religious cultural values on an entire nation.

This isn’t the first time that the assault on gays in Uganda, where a parliamentary bill would make being gay punishable by death, has been brought to the screen. “Call Me Kuchu,” which shares some of the same primary subjects as “God Loves Uganda,” earlier documented the struggle of gays and lesbians against the bill and the efforts to shame and banish them.

With “God Loves Uganda,” director Roger Ross Williams looks at the U.S. conservative Christian efforts to evangelize Uganda and bring their solutions to the American culture war to the African nation.

At the center of those efforts is the International House of Prayer, which is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo. Preaching throughout the world, IHOP sends young missionaries to many places. But as its elder Lou Engle enthusiastically states, “Africa is the firepot” for evangelism.

More here-

Draft ‘baptism lite’ criticised

From The Church Times-

AN ALTERNATIVE baptism liturgy, which does not mention sin or the devil, is "baptism lite", and should be thrown out by the General Synod, the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, said this week.

The experimental texts have also been criticised on social media by other clerics, including the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd David Walker, who tweeted that he "reckon[ed] these draft texts are more banal than even ASB".

The text is currently being piloted in 450 parishes. It was developed by the Liturgical Commission after the Synod approved a motion from Liverpool diocese asking for an alternative text in "accessible language" (News, 11 February 2011).

A note attached to the text, which was published on Sunday, says that "Clergy frequently find themselves conducting baptisms for families who have little contact with the Church. . . For the majority of those attending on such occasions, the existing provision can seem complex and inaccessible."

The note states that the Commission had sought to "express the primacy of God's welcoming grace, while retaining the solemnity of the promises to turn away from evil and towards Christ".

More here-‘baptism-lite’-criticised

Dallas homeless find place to worship in Thanks-Giving Square

From Dallas-

Once a week, drawn by word of mouth, homeless people from across Dallas congregate at a downtown landmark Thanks-Giving Square to worship together.

“Really, this is an outdoor service,” said retired Rev. Charles Keen, who preaches to the nearly 100 homeless people who come together in the square at 1 p.m. every Sunday.

The Gathering, which is supported by the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas, provides the church service and lunch. The short service usually takes place outside in the garden of the square, at North Ervay and Bryan streets. Only a few times, including last Sunday, has it been held inside the chapel due to inclement weather.

“We wanted to be at a place that we felt homeless people would feel comfortable,” said Jim Webb, a retired deacon in the Episcopal church who works with The Gathering. “Part of the purpose was to be in an environment where they would be totally comfortable; many homeless people don’t want to go to a church building.”

More here-

St. Pauls in the Pines congregation to remember first female Episcopal priest

From East Carolina-

Lucy Talbott said she was called to Fayetteville to heal hearts.

But if a few prejudices were broken along the way, so much the better.

So, when the friends and former congregation of Talbott gather Jan. 18 for a memorial service, they'll share stories of their rector as a friend and comforter, rather than a ground-breaker.

"She was our rector," said Jo Anne Lowder, a member of

St. Pauls in the Pines Episcopal Church for nearly 50 years. "But she was also a friend.

"She changed many things during her time here. But above all, she touched people's hearts."
Talbott, the first female Episcopal priest in eastern North Carolina, served as rector of St. Pauls from 1983 until health problems forced her to retire in 2001. She died Oct. 26 in a care facility in New Orleans.

When Talbott was announced as St. Pauls priest, there were murmurings outside the church.
"People were saying, 'Whoa! A woman priest!'" said Pam Frawley. Another longtime church member, Frawley said anyone who doubted Talbott's ability to lead a congregation was soon set at ease.

More here-

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Anglicans mark 70 years since ordination of first woman priest

From Anglican News-

A service marking 70 years since the ordination of the Anglican Communion's first woman priest will be held in London, England.

The event - at St Martin in the Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, on Saturday 25th January - has been organised by members of a foundation set up to honour Reverend Dr Florence Li Tim-Oi's legacy.

Already appointed as a deacon to serve in the colony of Macau at the Macau Protestant Chapel, Dr Li Tim-Oi was ordained a priest on 25 January, 1944 by Bishop of Victoria Ronald Hall. His decision to do so came in response to a crisis among Anglican Christians in China caused by the Japanese invasion.

Since it was to be thirty years before any Anglican church regularised the ordination of women, her ordination was controversial and she resigned her licence (though not her priestly orders) after the end of the war.

More here-

Pope Francis’ Holy Land Visit to Focus on Ecumenism With Orthodox

From National Catholic Register-

Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to be held in May, will center on his encounter with Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Eastern Orthodox archbishop of Constantinople, and their discussions on ecumenism.

Announcing the trip Jan. 5, Pope Francis said its “principal goal” is “to commemorate the historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Patriarch Athenagoras I, that occurred … 50 years ago today.”
That encounter was the beginning of ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches and led to a joint declaration issued in 1965, which declared the two leaders’ desire “to overcome their differences in order to be again ‘one,’ as the Lord Jesus asked of his Father for them” and which lifted the mutual excommunications of their predecessors issued in 1054, which profoundly contributed to the schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism.

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Episcopalians on prayer: ‘just pray’ ‘God is not a gumball machine’

From ENS-

When drought conditions worried Oklahoma City environmental groups, Ferrella March and Bishop Steven Charleston organized a gathering to pray for rain.

There was a downpour.

In Detroit, St. John’s Episcopal Church held a worship service to pray for a winning season for the local baseball team, the Tigers.

The team came within reach of the playoffs.

In Los Angeles, an emotional Bishop Jon Bruno told a Dec. 7 diocesan convention gathering that, while battling leukemia, “doctors gave me a one percent chance of living and I was perfectly happy to go.”

Then came an outpouring of prayers for healing from family, friends and the diocesan and church-wide community. Now, a year later, doctors have declared him “metabolically clear” of cancer and he says he “felt all the prayers.”

All of which raises questions about how prayer works, or does it? How do we understand our relationship with God if it appears our prayers aren’t answered? How, when and why to pray, and whether any prayer too small or too large? To begin to start to answer some of these questions, a range of Episcopalians across the church shared their experiences and understanding of prayer with the Episcopal News Service.

More here-

From bullet hole in Jesus window to 'Gone With the Wind' tie-in, Episcopal Cathedral tabletop history is 'amazing'

From Alabama-

Cathedral Church of the Advent now has a coffee table book about its architecture, stained-glass windows and timeline that may rank as one of the most impressive parish histories ever written.

"Witnesses to the Light: An Adventure into God's Workmanship Past, Present and Future," was written and compiled by the Rev. John Harper, who was interim dean of Cathedral Church of the Advent in 2004-05.

"It took me two and a half years," Harper said. "It has been a labor of love. It has been a joy from the very beginning. Anytime you start to do something for the Lord, it works that way."

More here-

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury: Nigeria's Anglican Church "A powerhouse"

From Anglican News-

Churches in Nigeria are "suffering" but are "determined and full of faith", the Archbishop said during a BBC World Service special on the country's prospects for peace and prosperity.

The Archbishop of Canterbury took part in a special programme on Nigeria’s prospects for peace and prosperity on BBC World Service’s Newsday yesterday.

Archbishop Justin, who first visited Nigeria in 1978 while working in the oil industry and has since returned regularly as a priest working on reconciliation and development projects, joined the show which was exploring Nigeria’s potential to become a major economic player.

The Archbishop, who regularly speaks with contacts in Nigeria, described its Anglican Church as an ‘extraordinary powerhouse’.

More here-

How Has Pope Francis Differed From Previous Popes?

From Slate-

A few things Pope Francis has done differently than previous popes in his first few months:

He refused to wear ermine-lined capes other popes wore.

Rather than blessing the people in St. Peter's Square on his election, he asked the people to bless him.

He refuses to ride in a bulletproof Mercedes limousine. He rode on a bus with other cardinals right after his election. He uses a Ford Focus around Rome and drives himself around the Vatican in a 1984 Renault.

He refers to himself as "bishop of Rome" rather than as "supreme pontiff."

He is the first pope to use the word gay rather than homosexual or "those suffering from same-sex attraction."

He has stated he intends to transform the Synod of Bishops to a decision-making body rather than a ceremonial rubber stamp.

More here-

Burned Bend church cleared to reopen

From Oregon-

Ten months after arson fires tore through Trinity Episcopal Church near downtown Bend, the congregation is set to move back in to its fully repaired church.

The March 6 fires torched both the historic church building on Wall Street and St. Helens Hall, a former Lutheran church located next door that Trinity Episcopal purchased in 2004.

Since then, the church has held services off site, primarily at the St. Francis of Assisi Historic Catholic Church on Franklin Avenue. On Jan. 19, the congregation will hold its first services at a rebuilt St. Helens Hall.

The city did its final inspection of the building Tuesday morning, and within hours church members had arrived to start moving a truck full of new chairs inside.

Though the renovation looks complete at first glance, Senior Warden Pete Lovering said there’s still a lot of small projects that need to be completed before the 19th, including fine-tuning the sound system, installing kickplates on doors, and swapping out the white light switch covers for an almond shade. Later this week, the organ and altar will arrive.

More here-

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

South Sudan: Anglican Communion Responds to South Sudan Crisis

From All Africa-

Anglicans and Episcopalians around the Communion are responding to first-hand accounts of conflict and the growing humanitarian crisis in Africa's newest country, South Sudan.

Since hostilities broke out on 15 December different factions of the South Sudanese army have been fighting each other and killing civilians, says the UN. The UN believes that thousands have been killed and as many as 180,000 displaced in the violence.

Eye witness accounts of the conflict shared by clergy from the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan (ECSSS) over the past few weeks have fuelled calls for prayers and support for the beleaguered country. 'It's a war zone'

The most disturbing reports came from the Bishop of Bor Ruben Akurdit Ngong, now in Juba, who spoke to several media outlets about the sitution in the town.

In a recent BBC interview he described it as "really terrible, it's horrible. You cannot even describe it.

More here-

Neither an Invasion, Nor Surprising: Lambeth Palace, Chemin Neuf, and Anglican Charismatics

From First Things-

In December Peter Berger wrote a brief reflection on Archbishop Justin Welby’s inviting four members of the Catholic Charismatic community Chemin Neuf to live and pray at Lambeth Palace. His reflection was based on a story in The Tablet. For Berger, this development was a pleasant surprise and represented a kind of invasion by global Pentecostalism into the heart of Anglicanism. I have a strong appreciation for Berger’s sympathetic interest in the dynamics and spread of Pentecostalism, which he uses as a short hand for the entire Pentecostal and charismatic movement. As I have said before, Pentecostals need friends like Berger who combine sensitivity with constructive dialogue.

Having said that, from my vantage point the event at Lambeth was neither an invasion nor surprising. It was, instead, a natural extension of a growing charismatic movement within the Church of England. In some ways, it could be seen as the fruition of a relationship between Pentecostals and Anglicans forged in 1907 when the Anglican vicar Alexander Boddy invited Thomas B. Barratt to speak at his parish, All Saints’ Church in Sunderland just outside of Newcastle upon Tyne in the north of England. Boddy had already been impacted by the Welsh Revival (1904-1905) and the preceding conventions at Keswick. Barratt, on the other hand, was a Methodist who had experienced a Pentecostal-type Spirit baptism at the Azusa Street Revival (1906-1909). From Barratt’s ministry, Boddy had his own Pentecostal experience. Beginning in 1908, he sponsored annual Whitsundtide Conferences at All Saints’, which became the epicenter of early Pentecostalism in England. He also began publishing Confidence, a periodical that served as the voice of British Pentecostalism.

More here-

Franklin Delton Turner, 80, auxiliary bishop

From Philadelphia-

Bishop Franklin Delton Turner, 80, of Elkins Park, the first African American to become a bishop suffragan, or auxiliary bishop, of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, died Tuesday, Dec. 31, of prostate cancer at his home.

With his Oct. 7, 1988, consecration, Bishop Turner became the first person of color to receive such a post in the then-205-year history of the diocese that includes Philadelphia and the four surrounding Pennsylvania counties.

"Father, make Frank a bishop in your church," the bishops prayed during the service. "Pour out upon him the power of your princely spirit."

Bishop Turner, then 54, donned the miter, the liturgical headdress of a bishop, and accepted the crosier, a staff symbolizing the authority of the office.


Monday, January 6, 2014

CofE removes sin and the devil from new christening rite

From The Daily Mail-

The Church of England is trying out a new baptism service which drops all mention of the devil and sin.

Instead of asking parents and godparents to ‘reject the devil and all rebellion against God’, it asks them to make a single broad pledge to ‘reject evil’.

Among other phrases abandoned in the experimental new christening rite are those referring to ‘the deceit and corruption of evil’, ‘the sins that separate us from God and neighbour’, and a promise to ‘fight valiantly as a disciple of Christ against sin, the world and the devil.’

The new service has been developed, with the approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, to provide a baptism service in ‘culturally appropriate and accessible language’, the Church of England said yesterday.

It was prompted by complaints from a group of churches in Liverpool that the wording of the current CofE version of the service has words that ‘do not connect with too many people’.

More here-

Pa. advocates for gay marriage wonder: Is this the year?

From Meadville PA-

Bob Langley and John Despo exchanged vows last August in a quaint, white Episcopal church in western New York — just across the border from Pennsylvania.

The choice of location wasn’t entirely theirs.

An influence on their decision is revealed in wedding photos snapped by the Meadville couple at the border. One photo shows Langley and Despo standing in New York with a caption: “Legal.” Another shows them in Pennsylvania with the caption: “Illegal.”

New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware all recognize same-sex marriages. Pennsylvania does not.

“We are surrounded by marriage equality,” Langley said.

The contrast between Pennsylvania and the rest of the mid-Atlantic is prompting some same-sex couples to go out of state — not just to marry, but permanently — leaving behind a citizenry that remains divided on who should be allowed to marry.

More here-

James Renwick’s Trinity Episcopal Church was a striking place of worship

From The Washington Post-

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Answer Man remembers reading that somewhere. The point the author was trying to make was this: Nothing lasts forever.

That was certainly true of Trinity Episcopal Church, which stood for 85 years at the northeast corner of Third and C streets NW, where the Department of Labor is today. So striking was its design — especially the pair of spires, topped by airy, open steeples made of wood — that several readers turned to Answer Man for information on the red sandstone church.

The handsome house of worship came from the pen of New York architect James Renwick, best known in Washington for designing the Smithsonian Castle. In fact, Renwick’s Trinity Episcopal Church almost was the Smithsonian.

More here-

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Anglican church 'dumbing down'

From New Zealand (but regarding the C of E)

A former Anglican bishop has criticised a new trial version of the Church's baptism service that no longer calls for parents and godparents to "repent sins".
Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali said on Sunday, the move, which is being trialled until Easter in around 1,000 parishes, was part of a "constant dumbing down of Christian teaching".

"Instead of explaining what baptism means and what the various parts of the service signify, its solution is to do away with key elements of the service altogether," Nazir-Ali told the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

"Rather than the constant 'dumbing down' of Christian teaching, whether for baptism, marriage or death, we should be spending time preparing people for these great rites of passage.

More here-

Faith groups spread word on health care

From Pittsburgh-

The Rev. Jeff Tindall of Carnegie Presbyterian Church said he has agonized with parishioners who have needed health care and couldn't get it.

Some couldn't afford it, others lost a job that included health care benefits, still others were denied coverage due to the now-banned practice of insurers refusing to cover pre-existing medical conditions.

So on a recent snowy Sunday morning, Rev. Tindall yielded his pulpit for a couple of minutes to Shannon McGee of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit -- a branch of the Pennsylvania Department of Education -- which has been helping educate local residents about how to enroll for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

"It breaks my heart to see people who need health care and cannot get it and know that there is virtually nothing I can do for them but pray," said Rev. Tindall. But, he said, "Simply praying for someone is not enough. When opportunities are present where we can help people obtain the help they need, we should bring it to them."

Read more: