Saturday, January 25, 2014

One bishop's guide to ecumenism

From The Catholic Register-

Bishop Don Bolen of Saskatoon is Canada’s most ecumenically minded bishop.

He worked seven years for the Pontifical Commission for Promoting Christian Unity in Rome where he co-ordinated Vatican participation in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and watched and encouraged official dialogues between the Catholic Church and Anglicans and Methodists. Though now leading one of Western Canada’s most important dioceses, he remains a member of the Vatican’s ecumenical commission, co-chairs the Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission, is a member of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission, sits on the Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue of Canada and is a member of the Evangelical-Roman Catholic International Consultation.

Almost 30 years of thinking and acting ecumenically has given Bolen more than just the Cross of St. Augustine from the Archbishop of Canterbury. The bishop has also drawn some conclusions about how a Catholic should do ecumenism. In conversation with The Catholic Register during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Bolen laid out his six principles for achieving Church unity:

More here-

Zimbabwe Anglicans prepare for women’s ordination with CofE visit

From ENS-

 Bishop of Harare Chad Gandiya has expressed his gratitude for a recent visit to his diocese by three women priests from the Church of England.

The Rev. Canon Liz Walker, the Rev. Judy Henning and the Rev. Anne Jablonski, all from the Diocese of Rochester, traveled to the African nation with their bishop the Rt. Rev. Brian Castle.

The trip was, however, more than just a friendly visit, and the three women were deployed to various parishes within the Diocese of Harare. They spent two weekends in parishes and were in Zimbabwe from Jan 4-13.

In an interview with ACNS on Jan. 23, Gandiya said, “This was the first in the diocese! The [Church of England] priests were surprised by the reception they received in those parishes and they were able to carry out their work joyfully.”

The priests also joined fellow clergy from Zimbabwe for a week-long annual clergy retreat at Peterhouse, in the town of Marondera. “It was as if we had women priests in the diocese already,” said Gandiya.

At its provincial synod held in November last year, the Church of the Province of Central Africa, of which Zimbabwe is a part, voted against a motion to allow individual dioceses who want to ordain women to go ahead.

More here-

After 1,000 years, girls sing at Canterbury Cathedral

From AP-

The pure, high voices of the choir soar toward the vaulted ceiling of Canterbury Cathedral as they have for more than 1,000 years. Just one thing is different — these young choristers in their purple cassocks are girls.

Today, their public debut at Evensong will end centuries of all-male tradition.

Canterbury is not the first British cathedral to set up a girls’ choir, but as the mother church of the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion — one struggling to define the role of women in its ranks — its move has special resonance.

That is not lost on the 16 girls, aged between 12 and 16, who have been chosen to make this bit of history.

“That’s an amazing thought in the back of your mind — no girl has sung in this cathedral over an amazingly long period of time,” said 12-year-old choir member Abby Cox. “I’ve always liked singing, but I think this is the major event that has happened in my life and I’m so excited to be part of it.”

More here-

First female Anglican priest remembered

From Australia-

THE 70th anniversary of the ordination of the first female Anglican priest is being celebrated on Saturday.

Rev Dr Florence Li Tim-Oi was ordained in China on January 25, 1944.

A church service will be held at St Martin-in-the-Fields, central London at 11am on Saturday to mark the anniversary.

After the World War II, Li Tim-Oi was put under pressure by church authorities and resigned her licence as a priest, but did not give up her holy orders.

She was put in charge of a parish near the Vietnamese border, where she started a maternity home to ensure baby girls were not smothered at birth.

Li Tim-Oi eventually moved to Toronto, Canada, to be with other members of her family.

She lived there until her death in 1992.

A foundation was set up in her name two years later to enable women to be trained for Christian work in their own countries. It has given more than STG750,000 ($A1.43 million) in grants to more than 350 women in countries including Brazil, Fiji, Kenya, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

More here-

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Church of England's endless gay panic

From The Spectator UK-

Four bishops and a retired civil servant shut away in a palace, talking about human sexuality — it sounds like the beginning of a bad joke. But the resulting Pilling Report is, in spite of 200 pages’ worth of double entendres, neither funny nor enlightening.

It has been clear ever since the Lambeth conference in 1998, which contained the ponderous resolution that ‘we commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons’, that the Anglican church’s position has been to agree not to agree on the issue. From the Jeffrey John affair to the debate over gay marriage, the church has handled the question like a whoopee cushion at a vicar’s tea party — with a mixture of bemusement and embarrassment.

Having spent many months interviewing everyone from the Society of Ordained Scientists to the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, Sir Joseph Pilling’s report comes up with the less than profound conclusion that the issue requires the church to have a ‘facilitated conversation’. What do the bishops think they have been doing for the past few months? At times the authors seem to try to dodge confrontation with the gay rights lobby by blaming global capitalism which, we learn, ‘is founded upon making desire an end in itself’. That is a fascinating insight which did not even occur to Karl Marx.

More here-

West Africa: More Anglican Communion Leaders Pay Tribute to the West Africa Primate

From AllAfrica-

The news of the sudden death of Primate of the Church of the Province of West Africa, Dr Solomon Tilewa Johnson, have prompted more tributes from Communion leaders. The Most Revd Dr Eliud Wabukala, Archbishop of Kenya and Bishop, All Saints Cathedral Diocese, Nairobi said, "It was with shock and great sadness that we heard about the sudden death of our brother Primate, S. Tilewa Johnson, earlier this week. "In October last year we shared fellowship at GAFCON 2013 here in Nairobi and we thank God for his commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ whom he served with a robust faith and cheerful energy throughout his ministry. He was a man of global vision and his death, so untimely from our human perspective, has deprived not only the Church of the Province of West Africa, but the whole Anglican Communion of a talented leader.

"We assure Mama Priscilla, his family and the Church he served of our prayers in their loss, that they may know the presence of the Prince of Peace who has conquered death and from whose love nothing can separate us."

Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church the Most Revd Katharine Jefferts Schori said, "The bishops and people of The Episcopal Church are grieving the death of the Primate of West Africa. The province and his family are in our prayers."

More here-

A woman bishop this year?

From The Church Times-

THE first woman bishop in the Church of England could be appointed by Christmas, the secretary general of the General Synod, William Fittall said on Friday of last week.

At a press briefing in preparation for the meeting of the Synod in February, Mr Fittall said that it was "entirely conceivable" that an appointment could be made: "there is no shortage of vacancies coming up." But Mr Fittall also cautioned that the Synod was "unpredictable".

In November, the General Synod voted overwhelmingly to welcome the new women-bishops proposals, by 378 to eight (News, 22 November). On 11 February, the revision stage of the draft legislation will take place - unusually, without having first been seen by a revision committee. The Synod had "one opportunity to engage with the detail of the Measure and the Canon", Mr Fittall said. "There's a strong hope that the momentum that's been achieved, the consensus that's been building, will carry us through."

More here-

Bishop Confronts Casinos

From Western Massachusetts-

Bishop Douglas Fisher did not seek his role as an anti-casino spokesman, but that has not made the Bishop of Western Massachusetts timid in challenging gaming interests that want to build casinos in his hometown of Springfield. One such proposal, under review by the state gaming commission, would license MGM Resorts International to build an $800 million resort casino in the heart of downtown Springfield, about six blocks from Christ Church Cathedral and the diocesan offices. “We like to think we choose mission. We pray and then decide to act for a certain cause or group of people,” Fisher said via email. “But I think mission chooses us. It sucks us in.”

Fisher was ordained and consecrated as bishop in the fall of 2012. By the following summer, he and others from the diocese had joined ecumenical partners and other volunteers in the fight to defeat the MGM proposal in a city referendum. The proposal, strongly backed by Mayor Dominic Sarno and the city council, was approved by 58 percent of voters in the July plebiscite. Casino supporters hope the development will revitalize the economy and infrastructure of the struggling city of 150,000 that borders the Connecticut River.

More here-

Thursday, January 23, 2014

FACE of Jesus shot out by vandals armed with air rifles causing thousands of pounds worth of damage to church

From The Daily Mail-

Vandals have caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to a church after they attacked stained glass windows - shooting out the face of Jesus Christ.

The damage is just the latest in a two-month spell of vandalism attacks on St Bartholomew’s Church in Crewkerne, near Yeovil in Somerset.

Five stunning windows at the Grade I-listed Anglican church have been smashed by the air rifle-wielding thugs - each set to cost more than £2,300 to repair.

Churchwarden Dorothy Tozer said: ‘It is very distressing. Just one of the windows would cost us £2,350. We spent a lot of money last year to get the church a bit warmer for visitors.
‘But the holes in the windows are not helping at all. They are small holes but the windows are painted and bespoke making them very expensive to replace.

More here-

Priest 'bullied' out of his Merseyside church by powerful drinkers' club among his flock

From Liverpool-

An inner circle at a Merseyside church turned against their priest after he challenged their after-service drinking culture, a report into his departure revealed.

The damning investigation was carried out by a retired Bishop followed reports of difficulties at  St Faith’s in Crosby, which once counted future Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Robert Runcie  among its flock. 

The report found that the inner circle at the church encouraged and  organised a campaign of  bullying against newly-arrived Father Simon Tibbs, who was forced out in September 2013.

 Bishop Stephen Lowe, who wrote the report, described its findings as “disturbing  and  distressing”.

A six-month episcopal visitation carried out by Bishop Stephen in the wake of Father Simon’s  departure found “serious  failings” in some  church-goers. Their behaviour towards their priest was   described by Bishop Stephen  as “not befitting of a Christian community”.

More here-

Baptist chaplain ordained as a priest in ceremony at UAB Hospital

From  Alabama-

The Rev. Malcolm Marler, director of pastoral care at UAB Hospital, has been on a spiritual journey.

His father, the Rev. Lewis Marler, was pastor of Gardendale's First Baptist Church from 1970-83. Marler followed in his father's footsteps and was ordained a Baptist minister in 1978.

But after 35 years as a Baptist minister, Marler is now an Episcopal priest. In 2004, he married Mary Bea Sullivan, and they were members of Baptist Church of the Covenant near the UAB campus. In 2007, Sullivan, raised Catholic, told Marler she missed church liturgy. They became Episcopalians.

"I believe you can find God anywhere," Marler said.

Sullivan felt called to the priesthood, and recently graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary. Marler looked into the possibility of becoming a priest. Since he already had a master's and doctorate in theology from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., he enrolled in a special study program with the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama.

More here-

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ukraine protests: claims that police used live bullets as demonstrators die in clashes

From the Telegraph-

(An Orthodox priest tries to stop clash between protesters and the police in the center of Kiev)

A third person has died during overnight clashes between radical protesters and police in central Kiev, marking a serious escalation in the political crisis that has gripped Ukraine for more than two months.

Violence broke out when police attempted to dismantle a camp set up by protesters demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, using tear gas in their onslaught.

Doctors at the opposition headquarters on Independent Square reported that two protesters died of gunshot wounds - one almost certainly from a live round, the other from a plastic bullet - early on Wednesday morning, following a third night of violence on the capital's streets.

Anglican Communion shocked by West Africa Primate's sudden death

From ACNS-

By Jan Butter with additional reporting by Bellah Zulu, ACNS.

The Anglican Communion is reeling at the sudden death of the the Primate of The Church of the Province of West Africa yesterday (Tuesday).

Archbishop Dr Solomon Tilewa Johnson, 59, was also Metropolitan Archbishop of the Internal province of West Africa, and Bishop of Gambia. A popular figure both home and abroad, he died in Fajara while playing tennis--one of his favourite pastimes.

The Provincial Secretary Canon Anthony Eiwuley said he had received confirmation of the Archbishop's death from the family. He added that, in time, he planned to open a book of condolence to receive messages on behalf of the Province and the family.

Shock and sadness

People across the Anglican Communion have already been expressing their shock at his death. In an email to the Anglican Communion's Francophone Network, Episcopal Bishop in charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe Pierre Whalon said, "What a loss for the Province of West Africa, for the Anglican Communion and for us all."

Why Are We Silent About the Falsification of Biblical History in Artworks?

From Algemeiner-

When I recently visited the impressive Marc Chagall exhibit at the Jewish Museum in New York City, I was surprised that more than half of the 31 paintings include a crucifixion theme.

More surprising, the dying Jesus is clearly a Jew, frequently shown wearing a Jewish prayer shawl rather than a plain loin cloth. For Chagall, the crucifixion represented the common ground of suffering of Christians and Jews. In reminding us of Jesus’ Jewish identity, Chagall departed from the massive numbers of artworks that have falsely pictured Jesus as strictly Christian, thus fueling the historic rift between Christians and Jews.

“Do you know that Jesus was Jewish?” I posed this question to both Christians and Jews when I was doing research for my book Jesus Uncensored: Restoring the Authentic Jew. Many people acknowledged that Jesus was indeed Jewish. But I discovered that what they really meant was that he used to be Jewish – before he became Christian.

“Of course, he was Jewish,” said Jane, a young woman educated in Catholic schools. “And did he remain Jewish throughout his life?” I asked her. “Oh, no, he became a Christian.” “When did that happen?” I asked. “When he was baptized by John the Baptist,” she said. “It says so in the Gospels.”

More here-

Cathedral seeks Divine intervention, preservationists voice condemnation over proposed apartment development

From New York-

The struggle continues over Morningside Heights’ grand cathedral.

A Community Board paved the way for the cash-poor Cathedral of St. John the Divine to build two more apartment towers and bring much-needed moolah to the Episcopal Diocese of New York, while still allowing most of the campus to be landmarked.

Sounds good, except that local preservationists, residents and even the newly elected City Councilman are promising to continue raising holy hell.

“No one wants to see this building come up over here,” said Laura Friedman, president of Morningside Heights Historic District Committee, which opposes the development and launched an online petition. “We’re continuing this fight. It is not over.”

Community Board 9 approved a resolution last week calling on the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to landmark the Cathedral campus — minus the north side, where the church hopes to build two 14- to 15-story buildings. The Diocese hopes to generate roughly $1 million a year, money that will pay for long-needed repairs.

Read more:

Dinner as donations: Church raising funds to build homes for needy

From Arizona-

Including herself, Maria has 10 people, many of whom are children, living in her small home made of plywood and wood pallets just across the border in San Luis Rio Colorado, Son.

Also on the property, her family has a cement washboard and trough to wash and rinse laundry and a clothes line made of barbed wire, as well as an outhouse with a sunken in floor and a rickety door that often doesn’t stay closed.

To support the family, her husband works to sell plastic bottles and cans that he collects in a basket on his bicycle as he rides around the community.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, I don’t know that we have poverty like that in Canada and the U.S.,” said Rossie Smart, a winter visitor to the Yuma area for the last seven years.

Her husband Les explained that he and his wife, along with members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, have teamed up with Casitas de Cristo, a non-profit Christian ministry in Yuma through Trinity United Methodist Church, that partners with a church in Mexico to build homes for families in need in San Luis. They are currently working to build a home for Maria and her family that is expected to be finished on Saturday, Feb. 8.

More here-

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Rev.

From Episcopal Cafe-

Today, let's take a moment to put "The Rev." back in "The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." In a sermon preached in Chicago in 1967, King said, "before I was a civil rights leader, I was a preacher of the gospel. This was my first calling and it still remains my greatest commitment. You know, actually all that I do in civil rights I do because I consider it a part of my ministry. I have no other ambitions in life but to achieve excellence in the Christian ministry. I don’t plan to run for any political office. I don’t plan to do anything but remain a preacher."

King wanted to remain a preacher—a man ordained by God to a special ministry. Our second reading today describes ordained leaders as people chosen to offer gifts and sacrifices, people who can deal gently with others because they themselves are subject to weakness and need forgiveness, and people who do not take their priesthood to glorify themselves.

This priesthood is something that we all can share through our unique gifts, callings, and contexts. The Baptismal Covenant welcomes each of us into an eternal priesthood, into a ministry of resisting evil, proclaiming good news, seeking Christ in all persons, and striving for justice and peace.

More here-

Nave or Navel? National Cathedral Goes Off Deep End

From Town Hall-

The Episcopal Church-run National Cathedral in Northwest Washington, D.C. has hosted many events in its storied history, from Martin Luther King’s final Sunday sermon before his assassination, to U.S. presidents’ state funerals.

Last week, it was the site of “Seeing Deeper,” a five-day exploration of “expansiveness, immediacy, and insight.” Before we get into that, here’s a brief history.

In 1791, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who laid out the capital city, included space for a “a great church for national purposes.” The original site now houses the National Portrait Gallery.

A century later, on Jan. 6, 1893, Congress granted a charter signed by President Benjamin Harrison for the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation of the District of Columbia. The foundation stone was laid on Sept. 29, 1907 at a ceremony attended by President Theodore Roosevelt, and it took 83 years to complete the world’s sixth largest cathedral.

More here-

Church keeps doors open on frigid nights

From New Jersey-

With a forecast calling for frigid temperatures this week, volunteers at a downtown church are preparing for an influx of the city’s homeless looking to escape the cold.

As part of the Code Blue initiative the city adopted this month, Trinity Episcopal Church opened its doors at 5 p.m. Saturday for the local homeless population.

In the coming days, when the National Weather Service predicts temperatures will drop to the low 20s and single digits following a heavy snowstorm today, homeless residents will need shelter.

“We’re calling everybody, getting dinners and clothes prepared, scheduling people to work shifts,” volunteer Susan Jessat said of the church’s preparation for the days ahead. The church is looking for more donations in the way of nonperishable food and clothing, she said.

More here-

Judge Rules Against Episcopal Church's Motion Against Breakaway South Carolina Diocese

From Christian Today-

A District Court judge in South Carolina has ruled against a motion by The Episcopal Church to try and gain the identity of a breakaway diocese.

Judge C. Weston Houck of the District of South Carolina, Charleston Division ruled last week that a motion by TEC against the Diocese of South Carolina will be denied. The motion came in response to Houck's decision last August to dismiss a federal lawsuit the Episcopal Church made against Diocese of South Carolina Bishop Mark Lawrence.

The Rev. Charles vonRosenberg, head of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which is comprised of Episcopalians who opposed leaving the national denomination, filed the motion.

"Again, it appears that Bishop vonRosenberg is using the motion to express his disagreement with the Court's ruling and to 'rehash' previously presented arguments," wrote Houck.

More here-

Monday, January 20, 2014

The New Intolerance Will liberals regret pushing Christians out of public life?

From The New Republic-

I couldn’t believe it. I was trying to discuss traditional marriage—and the state was trying to stop me.

Incredible, in a 21st-century European country, but true. I was invited to speak at a conference on marriage last summer, to be held at the Law Society in London. The government had just launched a public consultation on changing the law to allow same-sex marriage. The conference was a chance for supporters of traditional marriage to contribute to the debate. The participants included a retired philosophy professor, a representative of the Catholic archdiocese of Westminster, the chairman of the Tory party’s oldest pressure group, the Bow Group, Phillip Blond (another Tory adviser) and spokesmen for various Christian organisations. The title, “One Man. One Woman. Making the Case for Marriage for the Good of Society”, could hardly have sounded more sober. I accepted without a second thought.

A few days before the conference, someone from Christian Concern, the group which had organised the event, rang me in a panic: the Law Society had refused to let us meet on their premises. The theme was “contrary to our diversity policy”, the society explained in an email to the organisers, “espousing as it does an ethos which is opposed to same-sex marriage”. In other words, the Law Society regarded support for heterosexual union, still the only legal form of marriage in Britain, as discriminatory.

More here-

Shutting down the Sunday school

From VTS-

What would you do if:

the families in your parish were exceptionally regular in their attendance at worship, but only a few were committed to church school;

the well of prospective teachers was truly dry;

you had a Vestry who was willing to take risks and try new things, and a Rector who had your back at all times and in all places; and

Virginia Seminary’s Digital Missioner Kyle Oliver and CMT Director Lisa Kimball dared you to try something different (and promised to help)?

What did we do? We shut down Sunday school. Let me clarify: We adopted a pilot program of online faith formation, and we suspended our Sunday morning classes. St. Andrew’s FISH program

At the Forma Tapestry Conference in Albuquerque last winter, “The Church, Post-Sunday School” was a topic much discussed in workshops and after hours, including in my conversations with Kyle Oliver. Many of us struggled to discern whether the church school model had served its purpose in a changing church and world. I came home with a head full of ideas and the energy to try something new.

(Families Integrating Sunday and Home) began in September.

More here-

Why the Pats lost: A pastoral response

From Boston-

As a clergyman, I am always sensitive to the pastoral needs of my flock. As a priest in New England, I realize that many in my congregation are grieving the Patriots loss to the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game. Yet as a Baltimore Ravens fan, I don’t really care about their feelings when it comes to football. So I’m torn in my pastoral duties. Since next week is the Annual Meeting and it’s best to keep the peace, I’ll err on the side of pastoral concern.

In times such as these, many are left wondering why? Why did my team lose? Why did God do this to the Patriots? Is God mad at me? To ease some of the confusion, I thought I’d share some light on why the Patriots lost to the Broncos. Understanding why is an intellectual response and so Patriots fans will still need time to grieve. I’m sensitive to that and I will walk with them during this painful time.

Here are the reasons the Patriots lost:

God’s wrath for cutting Tim Tebow after the preseason. (Of course he was also cut by the Broncos when they signed Peyton Manning but whatever. God’s complicated).

God prefers Anglicans (aka Redcoats) to Patriots (aka religious dissenters).

Read more:

Preaching memories of working for King's dream

From Maryland-

Waymon Wright broke down Sunday morning as he spoke before the congregation at All Saints' Episcopal Church about his own struggles during the Civil Rights movement and his relationship with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“You start thinking back on different images and different situations you've been through,” he said.
Wright grew up in South Carolina and attended college at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he met King.

“This celebration of a saint in our church is significantly different than the celebration of any of our other saints, because I lived during his time,” said Wright, a layperson, during the special Sunday sermon. “I was very close to this one, knew him, worked with him, admired him, loved him, was his fraternity brother, as well as his Christian brother.”

Wright recalled King as a man who had suffered through the struggles of being black in America at the time and as an outstanding preacher and orator.

More here-

Local volunteers celebrate MLK Day of Service

From The Delaware Valley-

The Delaware Valley Interfaith Council hosted its fourth annual Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day on Sunday at Trinity Episcopal Church in Solebury.

The event attracted people from nine congregations around the region, and volunteers got into the mood of MLK Day by participating in activities that benefit others.

Marjorie Kaplan, member of Kehilat Hanahar, a synagogue in New Hope, explained that the Interfaith Council has brought everyone together for the past four years, and each year, the event grows.

“We seem to get another congregation interested in participating (each year), and we’re all starting to get to know each other. We’re becoming like a very large family,” she said.
That family is a gathering of churches and a synagogue from both sides of the Delaware River, and throughout the day, volunteers visited different stations completing various tasks to help others.

More here-

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Brentwood man, 99, baptised and confirmed

From England-

Norman Machin, of Brentwood, Essex, is a parishioner at the Anglican church St Thomas of Canterbury in the town.

Mr Machin, who believes he was not baptised as a child because of World War One, said: "I've been thinking about this for a year or two."

Father Colin Hewitt said Mr Machin was the oldest person he had seen being confirmed and added that conducting the ceremony had been "very humbling".

'Feel relieved'
He added: "It was a great joy and is very moving that a person of 99 was there in the confirmation classes and asking questions that taxed my mind."

Mr Machin said: "I've been seeing these people confirmed and baptised and I've thought in years gone by my parents did not baptise me because the war was on.

"We've had these little sessions towards confirmation. Most of it I knew.

"I feel more relieved in being confirmed."

Mr Machin's godparents are the entire congregation present at the baptism mass.

More here-

Gore residents devastated after rumoured 'ghost church' burns to ashes

From Canada-

Residents in a small town south of Morin Heights are devastated after their tiny, ancestral church was burnt to the ground.

For years, the community of Gore fought to preserve St. John's Shrewsbury Anglican Church, built in the 1830s. Due to rumours the tiny church was haunted, it was vandalized repeatedly over the years, but no one imagined it would be destroyed by arson.

Once the heart of a vibrant community, the church was a powerful symbol, said local resident Jason Morrison, who serves as one of the town’s municipal inspectors.

Read more:

Methodist Church charges second high-profile minister for officiating gay son's wedding

From AP-

The United Methodist Church has formally charged another clergyman for presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son.

The Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be tried on March 10 for violating church law against officiating at gay unions, according to his spokeswoman, Dorothee Benz.

It’s the second high-profile United Methodist trial in recent months over same-sex relationships.
In December, pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son’s gay wedding in Hull in 2007.

The church considers homosexuality incompatible with Christian teaching.

Ogletree is a theologian, a former Yale Divinity School dean, and a retired elder in the church’s New York district, or Annual Conference.

Some clergy had filed a complaint after his son’s 2012 wedding announcement appeared in The New York Times.

Ogletree, 80, said he could not refuse his son’s request to preside at the wedding, which was held in New York, where gay marriage is legal.

Read more:

Same-sex couples prepare for religious wedding ceremonies

From Illinois- (with video)

Riding a crowded bus to Springfield last October, where they would join thousands of other advocates demonstrating for same-sex marriage, John Stilp and Jovi Tomaneng turned to the Rev. Mark Winters, who organized the busload of parishioners making the trip from Naperville.

"By the way, when this passes, we are getting married in the church," Stilp said.

The Episcopal Church's national governing body allows individual bishops to determine whether to sanction same-sex marriages. Bishop Jeffrey Lee, the leader of the Diocese of Chicago, has agreed to let individual churches choose for themselves.

Tom Neal and Mario Cruz-Lopez, of Des Plaines, went to Catholic Mass every Sunday, but once the same-sex marriage law was signed in November, they began searching for another Christian church that would perform their wedding.

At St. Martin's Episcopal Church in Des Plaines, the new priest-in-charge, the Rev. M.E. Eccles, told Neal, 29, and Cruz-Lopez, 30, she'd be willing to perform their ceremony in June if the church council approved. It did.

More here-

Episcopal diocese's Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas makes Earth's care her ministry

From Westerm Mass-

The Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas may have recently taken up a new ministry focused on environmental spirituality for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, but it is topic that has long been a focus for her.

"I've been increasingly concerned about climate change. In particular, I've been trying to help people of faith understand that tackling climate change is an urgent spiritual and moral issue," said Bullitt-Jonas, who has been involved with environmental activism for 20 years. She is part of an upcoming panel at the Springfield Central Library.

"It's climate change that wakes me up in the middle of the night -- more outbreaks of disease, rising sea levels, difficulty producing food. I worry about my son and my grandchildren. I think about climate change as the most urgent problem that faces human beings today."

More here-