Saturday, February 15, 2014

Church offers prayers after same-sex weddings – but bans gay priests from marrying

From The Telegraph-

Gay couples who get married will be able to ask for special prayers in the Church of England after their wedding, the bishops have agreed.

But priests who are themselves in same-sex relationships or even civil partnerships will be banned from getting married when it becomes legally possible next month.

The blanket prohibition opens up the prospect of an embarrassing rebellion from gay and lesbian clergy who choose to tie the knot.

It would force local bishops to bring lengthy disciplinary measures to effectively have them defrocked for getting married.

It is understood the Church is already bracing itself for “martyrs” prepared to challenge the rules.

More here-

Vicars needed: the Church of England's fight to fill its vacancies in the north

From The Guardian-

Tomorrow morning, like every Sunday, Anglican vicar the Rev Graeme Buttery will celebrate a Eucharistic service in his parish church in Hartlepool. If he's very lucky, the congregation might be nudging 40, in a church built to seat 800 – and four of those present will be his wife Gillian and their three children. Afterwards, the family will go back to their 1980s breeze-block vicarage next door to the church, where the glass in the front door was recently kicked in by a would-be intruder. All the windows have bars on them after the wife of Buttery's predecessor was attacked in her garden.

It's not what you might call an idyllic parish. But is being its priest the dregs of life in the Church of England or the 21st-century Christian missionary frontier? That's the question the Anglican church has been asking itself over the last few days, after a survey in the Church Times revealed that, while in London it takes around four-and-a-half months to fill a vacancy for a parish priest, with an average of three names on the final shortlist, in areas including the north-east many parishes are without a priest for two years or more, and shortlists are virtually unknown. Most priests, it turns out, simply don't want to work in places like Hartlepool; St Cuthbert's, another Anglican parish in the city, has just taken two-and-a-half years to appoint a new vicar. Of 75 names on the Lee List, a confidential list of clerical job-seekers, 54 were looking for a parish in the south-east.

More here-

Arctic Anglicans looking to England to recruit ministers

From Alaska-

Looee Mike was an Anglican minister in the community of  Pangnirtung, located in Canada’s eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut, for 20 years.

Last fall, her husband, Johnny Mike, was elected as a Member of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly, and later selected as Environment Minister.

The couple moved to Iqaluit, Nunavut’s capital city, last month, leaving Pangnirtung without a rector for its Anglican church.

That puts the community among 28 others across the Diocese of the Arctic without a full-time minister.

“Now for the last generation or so there’s been very few ministers in our diocese of the Arctic because our preachers have either retired or passed on,” Mike says.

The Diocese of the Arctic is the Anglican Church of Canada’s largest. It includes Canada’s Northwest Territories, all of Nunavut and the Inuit self-governing region of Nunavik in northern Quebec.

The shortage of ministers means scouting for young recruits who can carry on the work of the church.

More here-

Episcopal Bishops Rebuke Kansas Anti-Gay House Bill 2453 With Religious Righteousness

From Huffington-

On Wednesday, Kansas' Republican-dominated House passed Bill 2453, which makes it legal for individuals, groups, and businesses to refuse services for same-sex couples if they believe it goes against their religious beliefs to do so.

Though the bill claims that it "protects the rights of religious people," some people of faith are against it, explaining that legalizing discrimination doesn't protect religious freedom at all.

Two bishops of the Episcopal Church, the Right Reverend Dean E. Wolfe and the Right Reverend Michael P. Milliken, urged the rejection of Bill 2453 in a joint statement sent to all members of the Kansas Senate:

More here-

Episcopal bishop announces retirement in 3 years

From San Antonio-

The Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge was a parish priest in 2003 when colleagues courted him to vie for bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.

He resisted twice. His spiritual mentors prevailed.

His election more than a decade ago came at a turbulent time for his denomination, which was dealing with serious divisions over views of same-sex relationships.

He became a voice of civility and unity in his diocese and advocated for respectful interaction in the national church and the international Anglican Communion.

Now entering his 11th year, he recently announced plans to step down as bishop in three years.

On Oct. 25, lay delegates and clergy in the diocese will elect his successor, called a bishop coadjutor, whom he will assist until his departure in 2017.

“This has been a great blessing to be called and serve the diocese,” he said. “This has been an important place to me.”

More here-

Friday, February 14, 2014

Dioceses given three months to vote on women bishops

From The Church Times-

IT WAS not the "hell-for-leather gallop" suggested by one member. The General Synod, none the less, set a brisk pace for the passage of the women-bishops legislation on Tuesday. As a result, the way was opened for a woman to be appointed a bishop "in the early months of next year", the Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff (above), said after the debate.

The Synod was swift in its own proceedings. Comfortable majorities were secured for both the draft Declaration from the House of Bishops and the draft procedure for the resolution of disputes, with few queries from the floor.

The Draft Measure and Draft Amending Canon were both revised quickly - in full Synod, without a revision-committee stage. Amendments concerning the Equality Act fell, after reassuring speeches that parish representatives and patrons would have enough protection against claims under this legislation.

More here-

Fish and chips and sex at church

From Anglican News-

My vicar took a risk last night. He decided that, following our monthly church meal (yesterday was fish and chips), the topic for discussion should be same sex marriage.

In the light of the Pilling Report and the British Government’s decision to legalise gay marriage, he wanted to ensure church members clearly understood the Church of England’s position on the issue. He also wanted to use the church’s monthly gathering over dinner as a safe space where members could share their thoughts, hopes and concerns about the subject.

Church members were first presented with certain facts: by March same sex marriages will be legal in the UK; the Church of England is prohibited by law from conducting same sex weddings or blessings; current Anglican teaching/theology worldwide defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman; the Anglican Communion has repeatedly condemned the victimisation of, or violence against, members of the gay community.

More here-

Congregants wrestling with Trinity’s $3.6m condo

From Boston-

Trinity Church’s purchase of a $3.6 million Beacon Hill condo to house its rector is sparking dissension among some members of the landmark Episcopal congregation, with a few even asking if the church could resell the property.

Some say they feel the new rectory, where the Rev. Samuel T. Lloyd III now lives, feeds the perception that Trinity is a bastion of privilege and obscures the congregation’s significant contributions to the city’s less fortunate. Others say the problem goes deeper than optics, maintaining that the purchase is a departure from the Christian ethic of standing in solidarity with the poor and marginalized.

“I thought it sent a very bad message about our values,” said Gary Sandison, a longtime congregant and former member of the vestry, the council elected by the congregation to make decisions for the church. “It pained me deeply because I know Trinity . . . is doing wonderful things in the city.”

More here-

Should a seashell adorn Boston’s Episcopal cathedral?

From RNS-

Forget crosses, saints and scenes from the Bible. The prominent face of a cathedral should be adorned these days with something more welcoming to all people: a seashell.

That logic has given rise to a bold new look for the front of the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Paul, which overlooks Boston Common. Since May, a giant aluminum sculpture depicting a cross-sectioned chambered nautilus has been lighting up the pediment in a brilliant blue and turning heads at one of Boston’s busiest corners.

It’s also igniting debate about what’s lost and gained when a church uses its high-profile facade to display an ambiguous symbol, rather than recognizable religious imagery.

The shell was chosen largely to draw attention to a granite, columned building that’s dwarfed by neighboring buildings and easily overlooked, according to Cathedral Dean Jep Streit.

More here-

We Christians must face it: the Bible is hugely misogynistic

From The Telegraph- (Talk about awkward)

This week the Church of England’s General Synod has voted to fast-track the legislative process which would allow women to be appointed as bishops. Usually local dioceses have six months to approve changes to church law, but in this instance they will have just three, paving the way for the first woman bishop to be in post by the end of the year.

However, the proceedings started rather awkwardly when the Bible passage. which happened to be that day’s lectionary reading. conveyed a message that was utterly at odds with the goal of elevating women to leadership roles within the church. It went something like this:

“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” (1 Timothy 2:11-14)

More here-

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Are hymns dying?

From The Spectator UK-

I love a good hymn, so long as I’m not expected to sing it. Lusty declarations of faith sound ridiculous coming out of my mouth and embarrass the hell out of me, so I pretend that I’ve forgotten to pick up a hymnbook on my way in. If someone shoots me an accusatory glance, then I move my lips like John Redwood singing the Welsh national anthem. (Talking of whom, has it dawned on the jolly self-important Dr Redwood, former Fellow of All Souls, director of Rothschild’s, cabinet minister, etc., that one day he’ll be remembered only for that delicious video clip?)

The earliest Christian hymns were chanted — but when we talk about a ‘hymn’ in everyday speech we mean a harmonised sacred song in which every verse uses the same melody. As a form it’s mainly the creation of Lutherans, who understood that singable hymns were the perfect vehicle for their theology. Martin Luther was a rather good amateur composer: he wrote the words and possibly the melody to Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott, ‘a mighty fortress is our God’ — an image that still sustains
his followers.

More here-

Anglican bishop blasts Obama, others over gay rights

From Nigeria-

Bishop  Godwin Okpala,  of the Diocese of Nnewi Anglican Communion, has upbraided the United States of America, Canada and other European countries over their negative reaction to Nigeria for promulgating laws against same-sex marriage .

Bishop Okpala, who was speaking with newsmen at the Bishop’s Court, Nnewi, on Wednesday, said the outburst of the so-called super powers had again betrayed their lack of respect for Nigeria and other developing nations’ sovereignity and independence to operate with minimal external influence.
He noted that the whole country was united over the law against homosexualism and lesbianism, because such negative behaviour was against the two dominant religions in Nigeria and that same-sex was also against the culture of the people, as well as negate reasons and all known logic.

Bishop Okpala said that the America and their allies’ threat to stop their support to the country in the war against malaria and HIV/AIDS should not bother President Goodluck Jonathan, as he stressed that the country was rich enough to take care of its domestic needs.

He recounted that the church, led by Anglican bishops in 1998 voted against same-sex marriage and that the communion with them stopped when an homosexual was ordained.

More here-,-others-over-gay-rights.html

Justin Welby says 'Church viewed liked racists over homosexuality'

From The Telegraph-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has told the Church of England it may have to accept changes many members do not like for the sake of unity – as it prepares for a battle over wedding-like blessing services for gay couples.

The Most Rev Justin Welby acknowledged that many Anglicans would view it as guilty of “betrayal” and even “apostasy” if it implements a landmark Church report which includes a recommendation to hold special services honouring same-sex relationships.

But he warned that others would see the Church as increasingly “irrelevant” and promoting attitudes “akin to racism” over its response.

In a personal address to the Church’s decision-making General Synod, which is meeting in London, he urged members not to be afraid of “incoherence and inconsistency” in some cases and “untidy” arrangements to avoid splits.

He insisted that it was not “wishy-washy” to attempt to accommodate people with opposing views and said it was time for a massive “cultural change” in how it approaches disagreement.

More here-

Absalom Jones’ vibrancy lives on at St. Thomas, Philadelphia

From ENS-

Feb. 13 may be the church calendar’s official recognition of the life and ministry of the Rev. Absalom Jones, but for Mary Sewell Smith and others at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, every day is founder’s day.

Jones – the Episcopal Church’s and the nation’s first black priest – founded St. Thomas in 1792 as the country’s first historically black church of any denomination, and “that spirit that permeated the early church has come down through the years and is still alive and well and thriving,” Smith said.
“A guiding force in our church is the life and legacy of Rev. Jones. It is just part of my life,” said Smith, a lifelong parishioner and current member of the church’s historical society. “We try to live up to the principles he espoused: freedom, liberty, education, worship, community service.”

Besides St. Thomas, 90-some historically black Episcopal churches remain today, congregations created by blacks not welcomed in mainline Episcopal churches post-slavery and during racial segregation throughout the United States, according to the Rev. Harold T. Lewis, a former staff officer for black ministries at the Episcopal Church Center in New York and the author of “Yet With a Steady Beat: the African American Struggle for Recognition in the Episcopal Church” (Trinity Press International, 1996).

More here-

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Women bishops plan fast-tracked after warning change ‘urgently needed’

From The Telegraph-

The Church of England has overwhelmingly approved a fast-track scheme which could see its first women bishops appointed this year – after being told it has run out of male clerics who are up to the task.

The Church of England has overwhelmingly approved a fast-track scheme which could see its first women bishops appointed this year – after being told it has run out of male clerics who are up to the task.

Members of the Church’s decision-making General Synod voted by a margin of nine to one to suspend its normal rules to speed up the process of changing ecclesiastical law to admit women to the episcopate.

It came as one member of the Synod was applauded as he warned bluntly that it “urgently” needs to ordain its first women bishops because it has effectively run out of male clerics who are up to the task.

He said that, with a string of bishoprics already lying empty and a growing backlog of appointments to make, the “shallow pond” of suitable male candidates had already been “overfished”.

More here-

Welby pleads for reconciliation

From England-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has called on the Church of England to overcome fears about the introduction of women bishops and divisions over the treatment of gay people.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said there must be a "massive" cultural change within the Church of England to accept disagreement and build love and trust between opposing groups.

In a presidential address to the General Synod, he rejected claims that living with different opinions amounted to something "comfortable and soft and wishy-washy".

"This sort of love, and the reconciliation between different groups that it implies, is not comfortable and soft and wishy-washy," he said.

"It is exceptionally hard-edged, extraordinarily demanding and likely to lead in parts of the world around us to profound unpopularity and dismissal."

More here-

Missoula's Holy Spirit Episcopal Church to bless same-sex couples

From Montana-

A Missoula Episcopal church is one of the first three in Montana to approve a new blessing for same-sex unions.

“The main thing here is that it’s a step forward after years of talking about it,” said the Rev. Terri Ann Grotzinger, priest at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church.

For decades, the Episcopal Church at large has discussed sexual orientation in the church. During the 2012 General Convention, which is held triennially, it was decided that congregations could approve instituting a uniform rite to bless same-sex unions.

The rite is a uniform way to bless same-sex and straight couples, but does not equate to marriage, Grotzinger said.

“When you’re talking about deep values that people have, it takes time to talk it through, to make resolutions that make sense,” Grotzinger said.

More here-

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Church of England Synod to vote on women Bishops

From ITV-

Today the Church of England Synod is meeting to debate a crucial vote which, if supported, could see women Bishops in England by Christmas

The 470 members of the General Synod are meeting in London to debate proposals to fast track legislation to allow women to become Bishops. The speeded up timetable, if accepted, would mean the proposals would be voted on in July and could become law as early as November.

It hasn't always been a straight forward process. In November last year it was a very different story. The 'yes' vote failed to get through and left many disillusioned and lost.

The row has been going on for decades since the Church agreed to ordain women priests in 1994.

The opponents are mainly Evangelicals who believe the Bible teaches the church should be led by men and Anglo Catholics don't want to see any change in the well-steeped traditions of the church.

More here-

Two bad reasons to reject Pilling proposals on sexuality

From Ekklesia-

As the Church of England discusses the Pilling report on sexuality, it has come under pressure from certain other Anglican leaders, who claim that accepting the proposals would show a lack of commitment to biblical teaching and global Anglicanism. But the rationale for these claims is flawed.

Though the report has various weaknesses, it rightly recognises that there are diverse views in the church on same-sex partnerships and these differences should be handled constructively.

“We believe the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and trustworthy to tell us the Truth. Unfortunately, some in the Anglican Communion members no longer believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God,” wrote Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of the Church of Uganda, one of the leaders of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), after the report was published.

“We are very concerned that our mother Church of England is moving in a very dangerous direction. They are following the path the Americans in the Episcopal Church took that caused us to break communion with them ten years ago,” he warned. “The Church of England is now recommending that same-sex relationships be blessed in the church... We will resist them and, with our other GAFCON brothers and sisters, will stand with those in the Church of England who continue to uphold the Bible as the Word of God and promote Biblical faith and morality.”

However theologians and churchgoers in general do not agree on whether the Bible rules out committed and faithful same-sex relationships. Indeed some believe that to obey Ntagali would be to go against biblical teaching and betray Christ.

More here-

Female church workers raped, killed in South Sudan

From ACNS-

Scores of female church workers were massacred last month as they sought refuge at a church in the central South Sudanese town of Bor.

The women, several of whom were elderly, had fled rebel attacks to hide in the St. Andrew's Episcopal Church compound, when rebels descended on them, raping several of them before shooting them at close range.

“The women were from different parishes in the diocese and had converged in the church compound when they were killed,” the Anglican Bishop of Bor, Ruben Akurdit Ngong, told World Watch Monitor by telephone from Bor. “This is very painful. They destroyed most of the churches in the diocese, but God is with us.”

Five of the women—Dorcas Abuol Bouny and Akut Mayem Yar, both 72, Tabitha Akuang, 60, and Mary Alek Akech and Martha Agok Mabior, both 70—worked as pastors in the church. A prominent lay leader, Agel Mabior, 72, was also killed.

More here-,-killed-in-south-sudan.aspx

Monday, February 10, 2014

Methodists in crisis over gay marriage, church law

From The Washington Post-

The dispute among United Methodists over recognition of same-sex couples has lapsed into a doctrinal donnybrook, pitting clergy who are presiding at gay weddings in defiance of church law against proponents of traditional marriage who are trying to stop them.

Since 2011, Methodist advocates for gay marriage have been recruiting clergy to openly officiate at same-sex ceremonies in protest of church policy. In response, theological conservatives have sought formal complaints against the defiant clergy, which could lead to church trials. One scholar has warned that Methodists are “retreating into our various camps” instead of seeking a resolution over an issue the church has formally debated since the 1970s.

More here-

East Carolina diocese announces 4 nominees for bishop

From ENS-

 The Standing Committee of the Diocese of East Carolina announced its slate of nominees for election as bishop. The announcement was made as the final piece of business during the 131st Convention of the diocese on Feb. 8, meeting in New Bern, North Carolina.

The nominees are:

The Rev. Mary Cecilia (Mimi) Lacy, rector, St. Timothy’s Church, Greenville, North Carolina;

The Rev. Canon David Pfaff, Canon to the Ordinary, Diocese of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin;

The Rev. Robert Skirving, rector, St. John’s Church, Midland, Michigan; and

The Rev. Stephen Smith, rector, St. Patrick’s Church, Dublin, Ohio.

More information about each of the nominees is available here.

A petition process for submitting additional names opened on Feb. 8 and will close on Feb. 22. Complete information about the petition process and the petition form are available on the website as well.

More here-

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Inside the tiny church where members of Uganda's beleaguered gay community have found sanctuary

From Uganda-

Sunday is a special day in Uganda, the conservative east African country that is threatening to put gay people behind bars for life. On Sunday you can see families flocking to churches all over the country for prayer, wearing their best clothes.

The sermons are predictable. Church leaders will pray for divine intervention against the corrupt leaders, poverty and the potholed roads, and then finally call doom upon the country's homosexuals who are sinning against the Christian God and ruining African culture.

But not at a tiny church tucked away in one of Kampala's suburbs. Here, gay people meet in devoted challenge to mainstream denominations that have declared them outcasts. With dreadlocked hair and in jeans and bathroom slippers, members of this congregation would stand out in the prim and proper evangelical church I sometimes go to. I feel overdressed in my white dress.

"Here we are all about freedom," Pepe Onziema, a gay rights activist tells me. "It is a universal church. We welcome people whether gay or straight."

More here-

Wielding Whip and a Hard New Law, Nigeria Tries to ‘Sanitize’ Itself of Gays

From The New York Times-

The young man cried out as he was being whipped on the courtroom bench. The bailiff’s leather whip struck him 20 times, and when it was over, the man’s side and back were covered with bruises.

Still, the large crowd outside was disappointed, the judge recalled: The penalty for gay sex under local Islamic law is death by stoning.

“He is supposed to be killed,” the judge, Nuhu Idris Mohammed, said, praising his own leniency on judgment day last month at the Shariah court here. The bailiff demonstrated the technique he used: whip at shoulder level, then forcefully down.

The mood is unforgiving in this north Nigeria metropolis, where nine others accused of being gay by the Islamic police are behind the central prison’s high walls. Stones and bottles rained down on them outside the court two weeks ago, residents and officials said; some in the mob even wanted to set the courtroom ablaze, witnesses said.

More here-