Saturday, February 8, 2014

Judge advises dismissal of Narragansett man’s lawsuit over tolling church bells

From Rhode Island-

A federal magistrate judge is recommending that a lawsuit brought against the attorney general, the Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin and others over the tolling of church bells be dismissed.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan advised a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by John Devaney alleging that the chimes of nearby St. Thomas More Catholic Parish and St. Peter’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church were denying him the peaceful enjoyment of his home and had helped precipitate the demise of his 23-year marriage. Devaney counted 700 “claps” and “gongs” each week, more than 36,000 throughout the past 13 years.

Sullivan quoted poet Ezra Pound in issuing her recommendation to Senior U.S. District Judge Ronald R. Lagueux: “The act of bell ringing is symbolic of all proselytizing religions. It implies the pointless interference with the quiet of other people.”

Like Pound, Devaney, who chose to represent himself, “is deeply disturbed by the tintinnabulation of the church bells emanating” from churches in his Narragansett neighborhood, Sullivan wrote.

More here-

The Episcopal Church's Primate honoured by Oxford University

From Anglican News-

Six leading figures from the worlds of science, the arts and religion are set to receive honorary degrees from the University of Oxford this year, subject to approval by Congregation.

The degrees will be awarded at Encaenia, the University's annual honorary degree ceremony, on Wednesday 25 June 2014.

Degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa:

The Most Reverend Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, PhD, is Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America and 16 other nations. Over the course of her nine-year term, Bishop Jefferts Schori is responsible for initiating and developing policy for the Episcopal Church and speaks on behalf of the church regarding the policies, strategies and programmes authorised by General Convention. Bishop Jefferts Schori's studies for the priesthood, to which she was ordained in 1994, were preceded by her career as an oceanographer. She holds a BSc in biology from Stanford University, an MSc and PhD in oceanography from Oregon State University, an MDiv from Church Divinity School of the Pacific, and several honorary doctoral degrees.

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UTO, Episcopal Church ratify ‘historic’ agreement

From ENS-

The United Thank Offering and the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council officially agreed Feb. 7 on a memorandum of understanding and a new set of bylaws for the organization that for 125 years has supported the church’s mission and ministry.

The agreement is a “historic leap into a new day for the UTO,” according to a cover letter for the two documents from UTO Board President Barbara Schafer and Steve Hutchinson, chair of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Administration for Mission (GAM).

The documents provide “new mission opportunities and collaborative working relationships” between the UTO and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s departments and staff (the DFMS is the church’s corporate name), the letter says, and they outline a vision for UTO of “broader inclusivity of divergent populations within the church.” UTO’s activities will expand to contribute to the wider mission work of the church, Schafer and Hutchinson said.

More here-

Rock Hill minister wanted to be a nun; became Episcopal priest instead

From South Carolina-

Growing up, Janice Melbourne wanted to be a nun. Instead she became a priest.

Her lifelong journey of discovery began with her birth in Tehran, Iran, where her father was a U.S. foreign service officer. The journey now has come to Rock Hill, where the Rev. Janice Melbourne Chalaron is the rector at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour.

Her journey of faith began in a “marginally Methodist” family that went to church twice a year, attending Catholic Mass in Helsinki, followed by a return to the Methodist church, then an introduction to the Episcopal church through her husband, Pierre Chalaron.

Along the way, there have been personal struggles as well as time spent with family and friends.

“God calls you into his path,” Rev. Chalaron said. “You are invited to explore with God, with people, with yourself. That’s how faith is shaped. It’s a gift.”

The latest companions on the journey are the parishioners at Our Saviour. She came to the church as interim pastor in March 2012. But she and the church leadership found a fit and recently decided to make her appointment permanent.

Read more here:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Clergy flock to fill posts in ‘wealthy’ south-east

From The Church Times-

WHEN the Revd Philip North's former parish on a large Hartlepool estate fell vacant recently, it was two-and-a-half years before the diocese could find anyone to fill the post.

"Compare that with a recent vacancy in a richly endowed parish near Paddington, which attracted 123 firm applicants, and you will see the true measure of the spiritual health of the Church of England," he told the General Synod in November.

His speech, during a debate on evangelism, concluded that the Church of England was "failing the poor". The loud and sustained applause that followed suggested that the accusation had struck a nerve. But how accurate was it?

The numbers tell part of the story. Between May and November last year, there were 75 clergy on the "Lee List" (a confidential document that contains the CVs of clergy looking for work). Of these, there were 29 seeking work in the north and 54 looking in the south-east (the dioceses of London, Southwark, Canterbury, Rochester, Guildford, Chichester, Chelmsford, St Albans, and Oxford).

More here-‘wealthy’-south-east

Executive Council committee will tackle questions about boards

From ENS-

 The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council has begun an effort to clarify the responsibility and authority that reside in the agencies and boards that report to it.

As part of that process, the council Feb. 6 heard from representatives of the General Board of Examining Chaplains, the Board for Transition Ministry and the Board of the Archives of the Episcopal Church.

Council began to address the future functioning of the United Thank Offering and its relationship with the wider church at its last meeting in October. Council members will be asked Feb. 7 to approve a memo of understanding between the UTO and the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (the church’s corporate name), along with new UTO bylaws. The UTO board has approved both documents.

“There has been a confluence of events and circumstances within the last eight to nine months in the life of the church that have shown light on the problems of lack of definition, lack of clarity, lack of common understanding even of what ‘boards’ are,” Steve Hutchinson, chair of the council’s Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Administration for Mission (GAM), said in an interview.

More here-

Episcopal diocese on a mission

From Tennessee-

The local Episcopalian diocese declared a new mission for 2014: to stamp out poverty in Middle Tennessee.

The Episcopal Church in the United States has been known for issuing statements on social issues since the 1970s, and the local diocese continued that tradition during its recent convention at St. Paul’s Church in Murfreesboro.

The resolution to reduce poverty was approved Jan. 24 by the 182nd Diocesan Convention for the Diocese of Tennessee, which roughly covers Middle Tennessee. The resolution addresses problems faced by Tennesseans of all faiths, according to the priest at St. Paul’s.

“We’re all in this together,” said the Rev. James K. Polk Van Zandt “We’re all God’s children.”

The resolution called for the construction of a task force to assess and attack poverty in Tennessee, which rates 40th in the nation and is home to 1.1 million people living below the poverty line, according to the document passed by the convention.

More here-

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Head of Mormon church Thomas Monson summoned by British magistrates' court over Adam and Eve teaching

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department-

A British magistrate has issued an extraordinary summons to the worldwide leader of the Mormon church alleging that its teachings about mankind amount to fraud.

Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London next month to defend the church’s doctrines including beliefs about Adam and Eve and Native Americans.

A formal summons signed by District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe warns Mr Monson, who is recognised by Mormons as God’s prophet on Earth, that a warrant for his arrest could be issued if he fails to make the journey from Salt Lake City, Utah, for a hearing on March 14.

In one of the most unusual documents ever issued by a British court, it lists seven teachings of the church, including that Native Americans are descended from a family of ancient Israelites as possible evidence of fraud.

More here-

Clergy Exchanges Increase

From The Living Church-

Fifteen years after Episcopal and Lutheran congregations first opened their pulpits to each other’s clergy, the Episcopal Church is gearing up for wider clergy exchanges.

To date the practice has been used primarily in rural areas, where congregations often struggle to find qualified leaders from their denominations. But the need for sharing resources, including clergy, is no longer confined to rural dioceses, church officials said.

“It’s taken a long time for people to say, Oh, I think I’ll apply to that parish,” where Lutheran congregants could welcome an Episcopal leader or vice versa, said the Rev. Margaret Rose, the presiding bishop’s deputy for ecumenical and interfaith collaboration.

“We’re really just at the beginning of saying, Oh yeah, why not? We’re on the cusp of those changes.”

Almost since 1999, when “An Agreement of Full Communion: Called to Common Mission” first authorized Lutheran-Episcopal clergy exchanges, an estimated 200 to 250 congregations nationwide have used the practice at any given time. Those figures include Episcopal churches that have an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor at the helm, and vice versa, according to the Rev. Jon Perez, a member of the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee that keeps tabs on clergy exchanges.

More here-

Queen Elizabeth to visit Pope Francis at Vatican on April 3

From England-

The Queen of England will visit Pope Francis at the Vatican in April, Buckingham Palace announced.

A Feb. 4 statement said Queen Elizabeth II and her husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, will meet the pope on April 3.

The queen and prince will visit Rome at the invitation of Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, the statement said.

It said the royal couple would attend a private lunch hosted by the president at the presidential palace, then would have an audience with the pope at the Vatican.

The 87-year-old queen, who has reigned since 1952, was the first British sovereign to welcome a pope to England when she greeted Blessed Pope John Paul II in London in 1982.

In 2010, Queen Elizabeth also welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to Britain when he arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland, on the first stop of a tour that concluded with the beatification of Blessed John Henry Newman.

More here-

Wabukala differs with Church of England on gays

From Kenya-

Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala has criticised last week’s statement by the archbishops of Canterbury and York calling  for pastoral care and friendship to all, regardless of sexual orientation.

Wabukala said the archbishops’ intervention had served to encourage those who want to normalise homosexual lifestyles in Africa and fuelled prejudice against African Anglicans.  

“Christians should always show particular care for those who are vulnerable, but this cannot be separated from the whole fabric of biblical moral teaching in which the nature of marriage and family occupy a central place,” he said. He added: “The good advice of the archbishops of Canterbury and York would carry much more weight if they were able to affirm that they hold, personally, as well as in virtue of their office, to the collegial mind of the Anglican Communion. At the moment I fear that we cannot be sure.” 

Nigeria enacted a law outlawing homosexuality this month, while Uganda’s parliament passed an anti-homosexuality Bill that still awaits endorsement by the President.

Read more at:

What the United Nations demands of the Holy See: background and analysis

From Catholic World News-

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has released the full text of its report that criticized the Vatican’s response to the clerical abuse scandal.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child is responsible for examining compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a 1989 treaty signed by 193 states. (The United States is not bound by the treaty: although President Bill Clinton signed it in 1995, the Senate has not ratified it.) The Holy See signed the treaty in 1990, putting forward three reservations as it did so:

[The Holy See] interprets the phrase `Family planning education and services' in article 24.2, to mean only those methods of family planning which it considers morally acceptable, that is, the natural methods of family planning.

[The Holy See] interprets the articles of the Convention in a way which safeguards the primary and inalienable rights of parents, in particular insofar as these rights concern education (articles 13 and 28), religion (article 14), association with others (article 15) and privacy (article 16).

More here-

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Del Mar’s ‘Mother Paige’ makes news with her hand-painted icons

From Delmar-

Despite the more casual, contemporary use of the word “icon,” icons are actually part of an ancient tradition of Christian art, inspirational paintings of sacred subjects that may date back to the time of the apostles, when St. Luke was said to have painted images of the Virgin Mary. Icons were particularly popular during the Byzantine Empire, when frescoes flourished, and the art of iconography spread across Europe to Russia.

These days, icons are being painted locally by the Rev. Paige Blair, rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Del Mar. Her works recently gained wider attention when several were chosen as cover art for “Forward Day by Day,” a national quarterly published by the Episcopal Church.

How did Blair, who was born on March Air Force Base in Riverside and dreamed of being the country’s first woman fighter pilot, become “Mother Paige,” a parish priest with a talent for iconography?

More here-’s-‘mother-paige’-makes-news-with-her-hand-painted-icons/

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Wabukala Questions UK Bishops Over Gay Unions

From Kenya-

ARCHBISHOP Eliud Wabukala has questioned whether the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York "hold, personally, as well as in virtue of their office, to the collegial mind of the Anglican Communion."

In a statement released yesterday, Wabukala appeared concerned that the leadership of the Anglican church might be preparing to backtrack on its rejection of gay marriage.

This month Archbishop Justin Welby and Archbishop John Sentamu criticised repressive anti-gay legislation passed by the Nigerian and Uganda parliaments.

Last week the English College of Bishops accepted a recommendation for two years of "facilitated conversation" about gay marriage.

Wabukala, the leader of the Anglican Church in Kenya, said that the "intervention" of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York "has served to encourage those who want to normalise homosexual lifestyles in Africa and has fuelled prejudice against African Anglicans."

More here-

Erie's Episcopal bishop facing new role

From Erie-

The Right Rev. Sean Rowe realizes he's using the word a lot these days. But it's an approach he's committed to, and he thinks his interest in working with others is one of the reasons his life is about to change. He is poised to take on the role of bishop of a second Pennsylvania diocese, at least for a while.

Rowe, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, is the nominee for provisional bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem. If approved, as expected, by the Bethlehem diocese's clergy and lay representatives in a March 1 vote, Rowe will continue to head the Erie-based diocese he has led since 2007 and will also oversee the Bethlehem-based diocese for three years until a new bishop is selected.

"It certainly was not that I don't have enough to do here," Rowe said. "I have more than a full-time job as bishop of this diocese."

More here-

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Maryland: Diocese announces nominees for bishop suffragan

From Maryland-

In accordance with the Canons and Constitutions of the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of Maryland, the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland today announced its slate of three nominees for the office of Bishop Suffragan of Maryland.

The nominees have been presented by a Search Committee comprised of 15 individuals – six clergy and nine laypeople – who represent the diversity of the many congregations within the diocese.The search process began in May 2013.

“Eight months ago the Standing Committee charged the Search Committee with presenting to the diocese a slate of qualified and diverse nominees for Bishop Suffragan. The Standing Committee was excited to learn who the Search Committee discerned for the slate of Bishop Suffragan at our meeting on Thursday, January 30th,” said the Reverend Dina van Klaveren, president of the Standing Committee.

The Right Rev. Joe G. Burnett served the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland as its assistant bishopsince April 1, 2011, following the retirement of the Rt. Rev. John L. Rabb, bishop suffragan. Bishop Burnett had planned to end his tenure as assistant bishop with the consecration of the new bishop suffragan in the fall of 2014; however his final day in the Maryland diocese was December 31, 2013. Bishop Burnett became interim rector of St. Columba’s Church, Washington, DC, on January 1, 2014.

More here-

Burned Episcopal church is up for sale, arson investigation continues

From Florida-

The state fire marshal is offering a $5,000 reward for information about the arson investigation at Church of the Epiphany. Action News has learned that before the string of fires hit the church, the Episcopal Diocese of Florida had put the property up for sale.

Jacksonville firefighters were back at the site Monday to take a look at the damage left by massive flames over the weekend. It's the fourth time they've had to risk their lives to battles fires at the location in a span four months.

For neighbor Dwight Bayes, it's been an ongoing issue in his Westside neighborhood.

"They tried to burn the hotel over there. They were building a hotel and there's a small community center where the church is, they tried to burn that down," said Bayes.

The first fire happened in September when the adjacent school house was destroyed, just last month, two fires broke out on the same day. But the latest fire did the most damage to the sanctuary, leaving the building gutted.

More here-

Monday, February 3, 2014

Belanger ordained as Episcopal Church’s first French female priest

From ENS-

The Rev. Fanny Sohet Belanger loves to help people grow in their relationships with God. At the same time, she says, it is important not to be “trapped” in the church but to engage in mission and to reach out to people where they are. These are the principles that have guided Belanger’s spiritual journey, a path that led to her Feb. 1 ordination as the first French female priest in the Episcopal Church.

“My ministry is not to bring religion to people, but to enable them to craft their own theology and spirituality by helping them know their tradition and engage with the Scriptures,” she told ENS in a recent interview. “Prayer is very important to me and I consider it the heart of the church.”

Belanger, 38, was ordained by Bishop Pierre Whalon at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, where she moved with her husband, Xavier, in August 2011 to complete a Master of Divinity degree. She was ordained a deacon at VTS in March 2013.

Whalon, bishop-in-charge of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, described Belanger as a “candidate of extraordinary qualities [with a] very inviting, warm pastoral presence … She is a woman for all people.”

More here-

West Texas bishop announces leadership transition plan

From ENS-

The Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge, in a Jan. 28 letter to the diocese, announced his intention to step down from his responsibilities as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas sometime during 2017. His plans call for an orderly leadership transition over the next three years. As he begins his 11th year as a bishop this year, Lillibridge intends to remain very active, busy, and dedicated to the people and ministries of the diocese throughout this transition.

In 2017, Lillibridge will turn 61 years old and will have been ordained for 35 years. His leaving the position of diocesan bishop is by no means for retirement; rather, Lillibridge plans to stay active in his ordained ministry. He has no set plans at this time, and he trusts God will lead him when the time is right in his next season of ministry.

More here-

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Effort to end slavery began in Pennsylvania

From Pittsburgh-

Nearly a century before the Emancipation Proclamation, the leading anti-slavery movement in the United States was centered in Pennsylvania.

The Pennsylvania Abolition Society was founded by Quakers in Philadelphia in 1775, a year before the Declaration of Independence. Over the next 60 years, until the emergence of fiery anti-slavery advocates such as William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, the Pennsylvania group's philosophy of gradual emancipation of slaves was the leading edge of the anti-slavery movement in America.

And unlike most other abolition groups, which went out of business after the Civil War, the Pennsylvania society still exists, handing out about $30,000 a year in grants for historical and equal rights purposes.

It is no accident that the society was founded by Quakers, also known as the Religious Society of Friends, said Rochester Institute of Technology historian Richard Newman.

When the Quakers began as a Christian reform movement in England in the 1600s, he said, they quickly faced persecution, in part because they did not respect the hierarchy of the Anglican Church or social classes of the time.

Even their use of "thee" and "thou" in addressing all people was a sore point for gentry who expected to be called m'lord and m'lady, Mr. Newman said.

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New Anglican bishop promises justice, compassion

From Australia-

NEWLY installed Anglican Bishop of Newcastle Greg Thompson focused on the issues of justice and compassion during his first official sermon at Christ Church Cathedral yesterday.

Bishop Thompson, elected by the Anglican Synod in September last year to serve as the 13th bishop of the city, ushered in a new era of mission and ministry in the Newcastle Diocese in front of a congregation of more than 900 people.

Bishop Thompson replaces Dr Brian Farren, who retired after eight years in the job in December 2012.

In a ceremony which blended traditional and modern elements, a grand procession of clergy, including bishops from around Australia and other visiting church leaders, began the installation before Bishop Thompson knocked on the great west doors.

More here-