Saturday, March 8, 2014

An Open Apology to the Local Church

From Christianity Today-

You might think I'm writing to throw my lot in with your strongest defenders. After all, I've faithfully attended one of your high-church Anglican iterations for seven years, watching with disdain as peers hop from building to building, seeking an "awesome" and "powerful" worship experience (and attractive members of the opposite sex). Instead, I'm writing to apologize. While claiming publicly to have loved you as Christ does—like a spouse—in spirit I have loved you like an on-again, off-again fling. My faithful attendance suggests a radical commitment to gathering with your people. But many Sundays, my heart is still in it for me. And while I think the blogger is ultimately misguided about his relationship (or lack thereof) with you, I can appreciate his honesty. At least he's not leading you on.

Here's where I need to confess my true feelings about you, Church: The romance of our earlier days has faded. The longer I have known you, the more I weary of your quirks and trying character traits. Here's one: You draw people to yourself whom I would never choose to spend time with. Every Sunday, it seems, you put me in contact with the older woman who thinks that angels and dead pets are everywhere around us. You insist on filling my coffee hour with idle talk of golf, the weather, and grandchildren. As much as I wax on about the value of intergenerational worship, a lot of Sundays I dodge these members like they're lepers. (This is of course my flesh talking, to borrow a phrase from one of your earliest members.) Many Sundays I long to worship alongside likeminded Christians who really get me, with whom I can have enlightening, invigorating conversations, whom I'm not embarrassed to be seen with in public. I confess to many times lusting over one of your sexier locations, wondering if I would be happier and more fulfilled there.

More here-

New Bishop Offers Promise to Anglicans

From British Columbia-

Robed in a flowing, full-length purple cassock, the Rev.

The slim, grey-haired grandmother was about to be ordained as Vancouver's first female Anglican bishop. Formerly a brand manager for Procter & Gamble, Skelton is also the first businessperson -- and first American -- to be made Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, headquartered at Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Vancouver.

Canon Melissa Skelton stood with her back to the crowd of over a thousand people in Vancouver's Convention Centre last Saturday and faced her inquisitors: fifteen bishops of the Anglican Church. She answered each of their questions in a clear, confident voice.

More here-

Ugandan orphanage provides Tender Mercies to its inhabitants

From Montana-

With work nearly done on an orphanage in central Uganda, it’s time to thank the people who pitched in to make it a reality and invite others into its future.

That’s the idea behind a gathering on Tuesday by AIDSpirit in Billings, to talk about the successes of Tender Mercies Ministries and outline upcoming projects.

“There are so many people who have participated monetarily or with their prayers and their support,” said Kathy Brayko, an AIDSpirit board member. “We’re so appreciative, and we want to thank them and show them what their generosity has achieved.”

The hope is also that others who have never heard about the African outreach will come and learn about it, Brayko said.

She gathered with Tom Jacques, chairman of the board, and board member Terry Fettig to discuss the international aspect of the faith-based ministry.

Read more:

Priests rock the house with a religious message

From Milwaukee-

They call themselves the Rectors of Rock. The Fathers of Funk. The Collar Studs.

It’s all cheeky fun, but believe it or not, these four Episcopal priests live up to the billing.

Fathers Drew Bunting, Andrew Jones, David Simmons and Don Fleischman are the fab four of Monstrance, a rock, blues and country band more interested in fun than fame, whose members lend their considerable talents to worthy causes throughout the Milwaukee diocese.

“We’re not in this to make money. We know we’re never going on tour,” said Drew Bunting, priest-in-charge at St. James Episcopal Church in Milwaukee, who sings lead vocals and plays bass in the band. “We just want to have a good time. We know we have these gifts and we want to use them in service of the greater good.”

The good fathers fired up the amps under the stained glass windows of Simmons’ home church — St. Matthias in Waukesha, Wis. — for band practice on a recent Friday. There, they ripped through covers of Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and the Ramones, not to mention an ecclesiastic parody of the J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold.”

More here-

Friday, March 7, 2014

African church leaders resist gay rights, call it a colonial import

From The National Catholic Reporter-

A call for greater acceptance of gays and lesbians has put African and Western churches on a collision course, as some African clerics liken mounting criticism from the U.S. and Europe to a new wave of colonization by the West.

Consider some of the statements at a news conference last week led by Bishop Arthur Gitonga of the Redeemed Church in Kenya:

“Homosexuality is equivalent to colonialism and slavery,” said one participant.

“We feel it’s like a weapon of mass destruction,” said another.

“It is not biblical and cannot bring blessing to Christians,” said a third.

Gitonga, a powerful East African Pentecostal church official, is among a group of Kenyan leaders who have launched “Zuia Sodom Kabisa,” Kiswahili for “Stop Sodom Completely.” The campaign seeks 1 million signatures to petition legislation to criminalize homosexual acts in Kenya.

Scholars warn that such radical comparisons blur real issues.

More here-

Federal judge agrees to dismiss Narragansett man's lawsuit over chiming of church bells

From Rhode Island-

 A federal judge has agreed to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a Narragansett man against the attorney general, the Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin and others over the tolling of church bells.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux on Wednesday ordered the dismissal of John Devaney's  lawsuit 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.

In dismissing the suit, Lagueux accepted U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia A. Sullivan's recommendation. Sullivan quoted poet Ezra Pound in advising Lagueux: "The act of bell ringing is symbolic of all proselytizing religions. It implies the pointless interference with the quiet of other people."

More here-

TV birth will focus on faith

From The Church Times-

BEFORE giving birth to her first child, Sheona Beaumont avoided watching One Born Every Minute, deeming it to be "too raw, too real".

By the time she was pregnant with her second child, she was ready not only to watch the programme, which documents births in close detail, but to participate in it. Furthermore, she is planning to use the reaction to the episode to create a piece of artwork.

Mrs Beaumont, an artist, who is married to the Revd Adam Beaumont, Assistant Curate of Holy Trinity, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, has been commissioned to contribute to the Birth Online: Birth Offline art project, which will explore perspectives on public birth. It will form part of the Birth Rites Collection, on permanent public display at the University of Salford and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in London.

More her-

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ashes to Go!

So "we" got a lot of press on the  "Ashses To Go" thing-


Rhonda Harding says she has always been a believer. But Wednesday morning, she proudly wore the mark.

“I feel blessed,” Harding said of the ashes drawn in the shape of a cross on her forehead by the Rev. Brent Was during a streetside Ash Wednesday gathering of local Episcopalian clergy and lay people who offered the rite to passers-by at the Lane Transit District plaza downtown.

More here-

from Massachusetts- 

 Rhode Island-





Vatican's Turkson criticises Ugandan anti-gay law backed by country's bishops

From The Tablet-

Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said this week that “homosexuals are not criminals” and should not be sentenced for up to life in prison.

He was speaking at a human rights conference in Bratislava, where he was asked about new legislation in Uganda that bans funding, recruitment and promotion of homosexuality.

Cardinal Turkson said the Vatican also called on the international community to keep providing aid to Uganda.

The World Bank has suspended a US$90 million loan for that would help fund maternal health, newborn care and family planning because of the legislation.

His intervention directly contradicts the country’s bishops’ conference, which along with Protestant, Orthodox, Pentecostal and Muslim leaders last week welcomed the law saying it would promote morality, describing homosexuality and lesbianism as “part of human weakness” that had to be addressed through repentance.

More here-

Anglican Communion women in USA for UN Commission

From ACNS-

Women from 18 Provinces of the Anglican Communion are converging on New York, USA, to collectively take part in the annual session of the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women.

On Monday, 10 March, the United Nations will launch the 58th session of the Commission, which this year has the theme of Challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.

Anglicans and Episcopalians were selected by their Primates to attend on behalf of their Province and will be monitoring plenary sessions and attending parallel events (panels and meetings) on topics that all speak to that theme.

After the Commission concludes, the women will be returning to brief their Provinces on the discussions and outcomes from the event.

More here-

Pittsburgh Episcopal diocese offers 'ashes to go'

From Pittsburgh (with video)

The bishop and priests of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh were marking the beginning of Lent with "ashes to go" at several nontraditional locations, in hopes of reaching people who cannot, or would not feel comfortable, attending an Ash Wednesday service at church.  

Bishop Dorsey McConnell will distribute ashes from about 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. in Market Square, an open-air gathering place popular with the city's downtown luncheon crowd.

More here-

Also here-

and here-

Deacon Terry Star, Executive Council member, found dead at seminary

From ENS- (Terry was a friend and we served together on Executive Council)

The Rev. Terry Star, a 40 year-old deacon in the Diocese of North Dakota and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, has died suddenly at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin, where he was studying for ordination to the priesthood.

After Star did not attend chapel the morning of March 4 and failed to show up for classes or meals a member of the Nashotah House community went to check on him and found he had died, according to the Rev. Canon John Floberg, a fellow member of the Diocese of North Dakota and also an Executive Council member, and the Rev. Phillip Cunningham, Nashotah House associate dean of administration.

More here-

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Anglicans left out of cathedral briefing

From New Zealand-

The Anglican church says a British multimillionaire's suggestion that it hand over Christ Church Cathedral for restoration is "completely bizarre".

UK businessman Hamish Ogston yesterday announced he would fund an independent survey to find out what residents wanted to see happen to the ill-fated Cathedral Square centrepiece. Shortly after the February 2011 earthquake Ogston pledged $4 million to kickstart the restoration of the building and said he wanted to reiterate his pledge.

"There should be a foundation set up which will take over the reconstruction of the cathedral, independent of the Anglican church, but with their co-operation," he said.

The media announcement took place at the Christchurch City Council building alongside former MPs and co-chairmen of the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT), Jim Anderton and Philip Burdon, and Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

More here-

Clergy to take Ash Wednesday to the streets today in Concord

From New Hampshire-

Episcopal clergy plan to hit the street in Concord to offer ashes to pedestrians today, which is Ash Wednesday, the start of the 40-day season of Lent.

The Episcopal bishop, the Right Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, and three other Episcopal ministers will take part of Ashes to Go, a nationwide program designed to mark the foreheads of Christians who don’t have the time or forgot to attend a service, according to the website
They will be at the State House Plaza from noon to 2 p.m.“It has been a long and grueling winter. The ashes on Ash Wednesday could be seen as the hope for Mud Season,” Hirschfeld said in a statement. Last year, more than 70 Episcopal parishes in 18 states took part in Ashes to Go.

Catholics and Christians of Western churches begin Lent today. They are urged to abstain from certain foods, give more to charity and pray.

“Take up the exercise of prayer again. Get up! Get to Mass! And don’t just let it happen — pray your brains out,” Catholic Bishop Peter A. Libasci said in prepared remarks.

More here-

and New Jersey- 

and Arizona-

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Of gimmicks and Gospel

From Seven Whole Days-

Now, this time of year, I’m likely to be accused of sowing confusion on this topic, because I’m a proponent of Ashes to Go. How can this be? Isn’t it a gimmick? Depends on your perspective, I suppose. The chief complaint about Ashes to Go is that it is cheap, since you don’t have to go to an entire liturgy; one merely receives ashes in a public place. My sense is that in our culture, wearing ashes is costly. This is why Christians love to rationalize wiping them off pronto. Indeed, the Gospel for the day exhorts us to, “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them.”

If wearing ashes on your forehead were viewed as cool (and you’d know this because celebrities and powerful people would wear their ashes on the teevees), then we would want to remove them pronto. But I suspect a smudge on one’s forehead is actually a bit embarrassing to most people. It invites questions, “What is that, and why is it there?” In other words, there is a cost to that ashen cross. So when someone in a train station receives this reminder of their mortality, they are doing it at some cost — as opposed to the socially acceptable way of getting into a station wagon and driving to church where the ashes are quickly removed in the narthex after mass, which is, from the perspective of culture, cheap and easy. My point is that what is in our hearts matters more than some other measure. Like a good GenXer, I view this through the lens of authenticity. I like Ashes to Go, because I think it can carry deep authenticity matching what happens in church.

More here-

Bishopthorpe Palace helps to showcase church careers

From England-

BISHOPTHORPE Palace, near York, staged one of the largest events for young people aged between 18 and 30 who may feel the Church of England is their vocation.

The delegates – who were all considering working for the church – attended the Step Forward Conference on Saturday.

David Goodhew, director of ministerial practice at Cranmer Hall, Durham, and one of the Step Forward event organisers, said: “Some of these young people up until this weekend have never told a soul that they think this might be their vocation, fearing friends or family would think them bonkers for doing so.

More here-

Trinity Church moves on in debate on condo

From Boston-

Leaders of Trinity Church pledged on Sunday to reexamine the church’s decision-making procedures and renew its commitment to social justice following criticism over its purchase of a $3.6 million Beacon Hill condominium to house the rector and his family.

The real estate investment, recently outlined in the Globe, surprised many in this historic Episcopal church in Copley Square, which is known for its charitable giving. Church leaders have defended the purchase as a sound investment, but others called it an extravagance at a time when other parishes are struggling financially and renewing their focus on the poor.

More here-

Sikhs, Muslims, Christians meet at Franklin mosque to educate, understand

From Tenessee-

Three groups of three Sikhs, three Muslims and three Christians met Sunday to share their faith and then, like any good gathering, share a meal.

The session was the final in a series of interfaith scripture dialogue circles — a structured time to share scriptures from each tradition.

“This was very powerful,” said Harjeev Lahil, a Sikh from Brentwood. “All three meetings were all about God and being closer to him.”

Members of the Islamic Center of Williamson County on Carothers Parkway, as host for Sunday’s session, chose the final topic: forgiveness.

More here-

Princess Basma meets bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States

From Jordan-

Her Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Talal met on Tuesday with the Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States, Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is currently visiting the Kingdom.

The two sides discussed the current situation in the Middle East and voiced hope that peace and stability will prevail in the region.

Princess Basma welcomed the visit, which coincides with the International Women's Day, as Bishop Katherine is the first woman to hold this religious position, a fact that represents a distinguished accomplishment for women at the international level.

Her Highness praised the services provided by the Jerusalem Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children to the followers of the three monotheistic religions.

The Executive Director of the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development, Farah Daghistani, who attended the meeting, reviewed the programs of the fund that aim to achieve sustainable development of local communities.

More here-

Monday, March 3, 2014

Anglican Church in Nigeria subjects members to oath denouncing homosexuality

From Nigeria-

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has introduced a clause in its constitution subjecting members, who intend to hold positions in church, to take an oath of allegiance to God denouncing homosexuality.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the public denunciation took place in Abuja on Sunday at St. Matthews, Maitama, during the swearing-in of new members of the Parish Church Council (PCC).

The Vicar of the church, Ven. Ben Idume, who administered the oath to members of the PCC, said the church recognised that those with such sexual orientation needed help and counselling.

“But they would not be allowed to hold any position in church,’’ he said.

The legislation is significant because it applies to members of the laity, clergy and house of bishops of the church.

More here-

Churches paying price on same-sex marriage

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

When Massachusetts' top court legalized same-sex marriage a decade ago, opponents correctly argued that the justices were getting ahead of the people, as most Americans opposed the practice at the time.

A decade later, judges and lawmakers who are striking legal barriers to same-sex marriage are barely keeping up. Most Americans -- including Pennsylvanians -- now favor the practice.

And amid that revolutionary shift, religious groups that have been most vocal in opposing homosexuality have suffered brand damage, according to a new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute. Most people think that Catholic, evangelical Protestant and Mormon churches are unfriendly to gays, the survey said, and believe such groups are alienating young people -- an opinion especially strong among young adults themselves, nearly one-third of whom claim no religious affiliation.

And among people who grew up religious and now claim no affiliation, one-quarter of them cited negative teachings or treatment involving gays and lesbians -- hardly a majority, but still significant in the growing secular segment of the adult population.

Read more:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Local Episcopalians elevate new mission groups, hear from Bishop vonRosenberg

From South Carolina-

About 400 Episcopalians gathered last week for their annual convention of congregations across eastern South Carolina, an opportunity to recognize new worship communities and to elevate five to full mission status within the church.

About 400 delegates, clergy and visitors from 30 Episcopal congregations gathered to conduct official business and to hear from the Rt. Rev. Charles G. vonRosenberg, bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.

Delegates approved promoting five worship communities to mission status: St. Francis in Charleston, Good Shepherd in Summerville, The Episcopal Church on Edisto, St. Anne's in Conway and St. Catherine's in Florence. They join 22 other parishes and missions in the diocese along with new worshiping communities in East Cooper, Okatie and Myrtle Beach.

A mission is a worshiping community that has been formally organized for at least one year, elected officers and meets various canonical requirements. They can elect delegates to the convention while worshiping communities cannot.

More here-

New bishop to head Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem

From Bethlehem (PA)-

A special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem elected the Rt. Rev. Sean Rowe as the provisional bishop of Bethlehem, according to a diocese news release.

Rowe, 39, has been bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania for seven years and will continue in that role. His position in the Bethlehem diocese will be for three years.
"It's a great day in the kingdom," said Rowe, in the release. "I am humbled and count it a privilege to stand before you today as your bishop. I am excited about this opportunity to serve you."

All 64 of the clergy present and 99 of the 100 laypeople voted in favor of Rowe's election, which required a two-thirds vote. The diocese comprises 14 counties in northeastern Pennsylvania and includes the cities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Hazleton, Reading, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre.

More here-,0,7725190.story