Saturday, March 1, 2014

First priest to defy Church ban on gay marriage for clergy

From The Telegraph-

The Church of England is facing a rebellion within its own ranks over same-sex marriage after a vicar became the first priest to publicly defy its ban on gay clergy marrying.

Father Andrew Cain, vicar of two large parishes in north-west London, said he would not be “frightened” into cancelling his wedding to his long-term partner, Stephen Foreshew, by the prohibition.

An acrimonious row broke out within the Church of England two weeks ago after the House of Bishops decided, during a meeting behind closed doors, to ban gay clergy from marrying when same-sex marriage becomes legal later this month.

The decision was applauded by traditionalists and several primates overseas but infuriated liberals in the Church.

Although the Church of England officially objected to the legalisation of gay marriage and has opted out of performing the weddings, there have been growing signs of a more relaxed stance on homosexuality.

More here-

Rev Sarah prepared to step into history

From Australia-

A THUNDERSTORM was crashing and flashing around Rev Dr Sarah Macneil the day she took the phone call that left her thunderstruck.

It was a phone call that was to move her life in an unexpected direction and create a breakthrough for the Anglican Church in Australia.

The 59-year-old had been among three people interviewed to become the new Bishop of Grafton, but was left stunned when the caller invited her to take up the position and become the church's first female bishop to take charge of a diocese.

"I thought they were ringing to invite me to come back for another interview, so I was standing there going oh...oh....OH, REALLY!" Dr Macneil said.

"It was the middle of an electrical storm, I couldn't hear properly. I was out in an open plaza thinking I'm about to be zapped by lightning. It was very Shakespearean."

Today one of the last stained-glass ceilings will be broken when Dr Macneil is consecrated at Grafton's Christ Church Cathedral and becomes Bishop Sarah, the 11th bishop of the diocese.

More here-

A church divided: Methodists in crisis over gay marriage, church law

From the AP-

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.

“At this point, we have kind of come to the place where we know what the brute facts are,” said Matt Berryman, executive director of Reconciling Ministries Network, which advocates for gay and lesbian Methodists. “Most folks, after 40 years of trying legislative solutions, realize they won’t work. The way forward is to claim what we know to be true. And we’re going to continue doing it in an aggressive way.”

More here-

C.S. Lewis lecture focuses on connectivity as common theme between religion, science

From Missouri-

According to Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, science and religion have more in common than most people would think.

In her 2014 C.S. Lewis Lecture at Westminster College Thursday morning, Jefferts Schori told those gathered in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury that the "Great 'Why' questions" often posited by Lewis are also often a focus in both religious and scientific circles.

"We will focus on scientific and religious frameworks of meaning-making, and I will tell you as we begin that I don't see them as mutually exclusive," Jefferts Schori said. "I see the scientific and religious stories as parallel systems of meaning that are overlapping in their method, but not in the questions they ask or the outcome they seek."

The first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, USA, Jefferts Schori also holds a bachelor of science degree in biology from Stanford Univeristy and master's and doctorate degrees in oceanography from Oregon State University.

More here-

Fire damages parish hall at downtown Springfield church

From Missouri-

What authorities believe started as a fire in a nearby dumpster damaged an addition to one of downtown Springfield’s longest-standing landmarks Friday.

The parish hall at Christ Episcopal Church at Walnut and Kimbrough sustained some damage to its exterior walls.

The parish hall is the addition, built in 2007, and not part of the historic structure.

“Fire started in the dumpster and it spread to a storage shed and that storage shed was destroyed. Then it also destroyed some of our privacy fencing at the rear of the church,” said Pastor Ken Chumbley.

More here-

Churches find creative ways to observe Ash Wednesday, Lenten season

From Oklahoma-

Not daunted by the chilly temperatures that occurred on Ash Wednesday 2013, a local Episcopal rector and deacon stood in the parking lot at their church to offer the congregation an opportunity to participate in the observance in an unusual way.

The Rev. Joseph Alsay, rector of St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, said he will once again offer “Ash and Dash” on Wednesday at 14700 N May.

The Ash Wednesday initiative is a new approach to a centuries-old Christian ritual and one of the more creative ways that some area churches are observing the Lenten season.

More here-

St. Catherine’s in Florence officially becomes a mission church

From South Carolina-

The members of St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Florence were recognized last week as an official mission church at the annual convention for The Episcopal Church in South Carolina after nearly a year of working to create a church out of thin air.

During a ceremony held at All Saints Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island, St. Catherine’s, along with four other worshipping communities, were promoted and accepted into the fold, joining 22 other parishes and missions already in union with the convention.

“St. Catherine's had a great day and we are so lucky to have them in our diocese,” Holly Behre, director of communications for TECinSC, said.

The congregation had to go through a very formal application process and adhere to strict guidelines in order to be accepted as a mission church.

However, for a group that started as a small band of displaced worshippers hoping to stay affiliated with the national Episcopal Church after a tense break with the Diocese of South Carolina, the members of St. Catherine’s are well-versed in what it takes to be on mission.

More here-

Friday, February 28, 2014

Anglican Church appoints first female bishop to lead an Australian diocese

From Australia-

There will be some notable absentees when history is made in Grafton tomorrow.

The Right Reverend Sarah Macneil will attend a ceremony in the Grafton Cathedral to be consecrated as Australia's first female leader of an Anglican diocese.

But she says some senior figures in the church will not be attending

"At one level yes, it does disappoint me that we're not able to all be together on this occasion," Dr Macneil said.

"But I've spoken with a number of the people who feel like this.

"They have been very gracious in their support for me, and very clear that this is just a reflection of the two realities of our church at the moment.

"The two integrities I think is how the Archbishop of Sydney has put it for instance.

More here-

Stained glass ceiling: Women in ministry

From North Carolina-

As women fight to break the glass ceiling in their secular professions, female clergy say some women are coming up against the stained-glass ceiling as they answer the calling to do what they believe is God’s will.

Some women ministers say while many religions have been ordaining women since the 1960s, many parishioners prefer a man as their spiritual leader.

Mary Jo Atkinson is a pastor in the Free Will Baptist Church organization and pastors two churches: Living Hope Free Will Baptist Church in Wilson and New Bethel Free Will Baptist in Rocky Mount. Marty Stebbins is head pastor of St. Timothy Episcopal Church, and Tuck Taylor heads Black Creek United Methodist Church.

"It is easier to become an Episcopal bishop as a woman than it is to become a rector of a very large church; it is what we call the stained glass ceiling,” Stebbins said in her pastor’s office. "Many times a congregation will have a certain image of what their rector will be, and wearing skirts and having tresses is not part of that picture.”

She said very slowly things are changing. 

More here-

Sexuality ‘fudge’ sticks in critics’ throats

From The Church Times-

THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, has described the House of Bishops' pastoral statement on same-sex marriage, which he signed a fortnight ago, as "Anglican fudge".

The Bishops have also been challenged over the accuracy of their guidance, issued on 15 February. In it, they reiterated the ban on same-sex marriages in church, and stated that clergy may not enter into gay marriages ( News, 21 February). Several priests have publicly declared their intention to defy the Bishops.

Dr Sentamu, speaking at a meeting of Jewish and Christian students in Durham in the middle of last week, said that the Church of England's position was that "a clergy person has a right, an expectation, to live within the teaching of the Church, but for lay people and others they should be welcomed into the Church.

More here-‘fudge’-sticks-in-critics’-throats

Protests and plaudits as anti-gay law is passed in Uganda

From The Church Times-

THE President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, signed the country's Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law on Monday, despite opposition from international governments, human-rights groups, and church leaders overseas.

President Museveni had previously indicated that he would not sign the Bill, saying that it was "wrong to punish somebody on account of being born abnormal".

But he says that he changed his mind after receiving the "unanimous conclusion" of the country's Department of Genetics, the School of Medicine, and the Ministry of Health that "homosexuality, contrary to my earlier thinking, was behavioural and not genetic. Itwas learnt and could be unlearnt."

Last week, the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, advised the President against signing. He "simply couldn't understand", he said, why a new law was needed. The existing law, imposed during British rule, had never been repealed.

More here-

also here-

Homeless Jesus sculpture causes controversy in North Carolina

From North Carolina-

Not everyone is happy about a sculpture depicting Jesus as a homeless man that has been installed outside St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Davidson, N.C.

The piece shows Jesus sleeping on a bench in front of the church -- an image that is apparently too life-like for some.

"I was concerned for the safety of the neighborhood," said Cindy Castano Swannack after calling the police about the sculpture.

"Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person who needs our help. We need someone who is capable of meeting our needs, not someone who is also needy,” she said.

Read more:

also here-

Episcopal Church of Cuba adopts three-year strategic plan

From ENS--

The Episcopal Church of Cuba has a clear vision moving into its next triennium: to be a church united in diversity, celebration, evangelism, teaching, serving and sharing the love of God.

Arriving at that vision has been “a very rich experience,” yet at times “somewhat difficult,” said Bishop Griselda Delgado de Carpio, during a post-General Synod interview with Episcopal News Service on Feb. 23.

For its 2014-16 strategic plan, the church finds inspiration from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, specifically Chapter 4, Verses 15-16: “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”

At the close of the last three years, Delgado’s first full triennium serving as bishop, a clearer vision for the church began to develop, with evangelism taking center stage in the church’s mission, she said.

More here-

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Wis. Seminary Draws Ire for Inviting Episcopal Presiding Bishop to Preach

From Christian Post-

An Anglican (sic) seminary's invitation to Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who has been accused of making statements outside of the church's traditional understanding of Christ, has drawn ire and led to at least one resignation.

Dean Edward L. Salmon, Jr., of the Nashotah House's historic seminary chapel in Nashotah, Wis., invited Schori for the first time to preach on May 1. And what followed was uproar.

Bishop Jack Iker of the Diocese of Ft. Worth resigned as a trustee from the Nashotah House Board after 21 years of service, according to Virtue Online, which features the latest events inside the U.S. Episcopal Church and the global Anglican Communion.

Iker referred to lawsuits initiated by Schori against the diocese, and notified the board that he "could not be associated with an institution that honors her."

More here-

Ordination as priest for Iowa diocese brings man's vocation full circle (Former Episcoapl priest ordaind by Rome)

From Iowa-

Chris Young will become a pioneer in the Diocese of Davenport this summer when he is ordained to the Catholic priesthood by Bishop Martin J. Amos.

Young, 53, is a married, former Episcopal priest, and Pope Francis has given Bishop Amos permission to ordain for the diocese him under a 1980 pastoral provision admitting former Episcopal priests who have become Catholic into the Catholic priesthood.

Under the provision, more than 100 men have been ordained to the Catholic priesthood in U.S. dioceses since 1983.

For Young, it's been a long, arduous process prolonged by the historic resignation of one pope and election of another.

On Feb. 3, while teaching his fifth-period religious class at Assumption High School in Davenport, he took a phone call from Father Thom Hennen, diocesan vocations director, with the good news about ordination.

Bishop Amos anticipates ordaining Young as transitional deacon before Easter and as a Catholic priest June 7, along with two other men studying to be priests for Davenport.

More here-

2 more in running for bishop’s post

From Boston-

Two new candidates have emerged to succeed the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts: the leader of a South End church who runs a citywide youth program, and a top official in the Episcopal Diocese who is one half of the first same-sex couple married by the retiring bishop, M. Thomas Shaw.

The Rev. Timothy E. Crellin, vicar of St. Stephen’s Church in the South End, and the Rev. Canon Margaret “Mally” Ewing Lloyd, who oversees diocesan staff and operations, were selected through a grass-roots petition process involving clergy and laypeople. They join five nominees named last month after a lengthy national search.

Shaw plans to retire in September, after having led the diocese for nearly two decades.

In 2011, Shaw, a vocal advocate for gay rights in the church, married Lloyd and the Rev. Katherine Ragsdale, dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, the first same-sex marriage he performed.

More here-

Standing Rock Episcopal Congregations donate $50,000 for propane crisis

From North Dakota-

The Episcopal Relief and Development Fund has awarded $50,000 to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to assist in heating homes on the reservation.

The Episcopal Congregations on Standing Rock announced the grant, which is to be used to provide propane to people who might not otherwise be able to afford it, food for people who had to choose between groceries and propane, and repairs on broken or damaged water lines.

Propane prices more than doubled last month because of short supplies caused by a large grain crop that needed to be dried and a cold winter nationwide. Propane is the dominant heating source on the reservation, which also has a high percentage of people in poverty. Chairman Dave Archambault II declared a state of emergency due to the problem.

More here-

Episcopal Church Severs Ties with Transgender Priest

From Arkansas- (video)

The Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas has reportedly severed ties with a priest who recently revealed he is transgender.

According to the Pine Bluff Commercial, the diocese made the decision Wednesday night to dissolve the relationship between Fry and Grace Church effective February 28th.

Rev. Fry told members of the church's congregation on Sunday that he now identifies himself as a woman.

A Little Rock gay, lesbian, and transgender organization has urged the diocese to support Reverend Fry.

The Center for Artistic Revolution said it applaud Fry's decision to go public with the change in gender identity.

They asked the congregation to embrace the change and keep Fry in a leadership role.

"Remember that this is the same person they knew yesterday, last week, last month, and she's just chosen to share some new information about herself with them," said Jeana Miracle-Huie.

Reverend Fry has not returned our calls.