Saturday, March 15, 2014

Indian-American priest says local clergy more liberal

From India-

While the Indian judiciary appears to be inclined to criminialise homosexuality and society would like to sweep the issue under the carpet, Indian churches including those in the city are increasingly willing to explore the issue.

Earlier this week for instance, Indian-American priest Winnie Varghese of the Episcopal Church, who is openly lesbian, was in Chennai and Bangalore for consultations with church leaders as well as the Chennai-based collective Christians Against Homophobia on resources for people of faith to overcome homophobia and gender-based discrimination.

At the meet in Chennai, Varghese discussed how members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community in the US have fought homophobia in churches and urged her audience to support a similar movement in India. 

More here-

Up from Pavement and Puddles

From The Living Church-

Artists are odd. They look at the same world that we do, but they see it at a different slant, and pick up things we don’t. I recently had breakfast with an alumnus of Wycliffe, a friend of mine, who told me about two Christian artists he was encouraging. At a nearby college they were commissioned to produce paintings for the walls of the religious studies department. The first was given the assignment of a picture of the Incarnation, the birth among us of the God-man Jesus Christ.

Now the painter, it turns out, has a fascination with pavement and puddles. He walks around looking down. No one notices this stuff. He draws and paints them, including how they reflect the sky. They are simple things, easily overlooked. They are dirty, and trodden underfoot. The painting is called “The Great Mystery.” The baby Jesus lies on the hard and cracked ground. He is swaddled tight with a cord. He is confined. His tiny head is turned to look at two puddles, one on each side of him. In one a donkey has come to drink, in a second a lamb. In the puddles around him you can see a touch of the sky. Jesus is down at our level, bound like us, approachable like us. But we also are in God’s image, reflecting the heavens.

More here-

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bishop's attitude to Cathedral 'bizarre'

From New Zealand-

Nothing would symbolise survival, rebirth and memorial so dramatically as the restoration of the Christ Church Cathedral, writes Philip Burdon

The legacy of the earthquake is a devastated and broken city that has shown a brave and determined ambition to recover and rebuild.

The Arts Centre, the Canterbury Museum and the very badly damaged Provincial Council Chambers have all committed to a restoration programme that has the support and endorsement of their governing bodies.

Of the iconic symbols of the history and heritage of the city, only the cathedral remains an issue of bitter contention and debate.

The cathedral was, and remains, the physical symbol of the deeply religious convictions and beliefs of the founding fathers of the Canterbury Settlement.

More here-

Writers of new series of Rev explore tensions in C of E

From The Church Times-

THE Archdeacon arrived in a taxi; the church could be bankrupt in two years' time; and the Vicar is "furious" that he cannot conduct gay blessings. At a screening of the new series of Rev at St Leonard's, Shoreditch, on Tuesday night, it was evident that the writers really do hold up a mirror to parish life.

In the third series, set to begin on 24 March on BBC2, the Revd Adam Smallbone (above), played by Tom Hollander, is fighting on several fronts: new fatherhood, a diocesan secretary with an eye on the bottom line, and the diktats emerging from on high, including the statement on same-sex marriage.

The first two episodes screened on Tuesday include a multifaith fund-raiser with the imam of a local thriving mosque ("I love your church: there's always so much space"), and a request for a gay wedding.

More here-

Methodists Debate Punishing Pastors Who Perform Same-Sex Marriages

From Christianity Today-

The trial of a United Methodist Church (UMC) minister who performed a same-sex marriage ceremony has been halted by a bishop before it began. Meanwhile, a retired UMC bishop may face a trial of his own for a similar ceremony.

Bishop Martin McLee of New York committed this week to stopping all such trials in his region. The New York Times has the details.

Meanwhile, Religion News Service reports on the latest (and highest-ranking) dissident to potentially face punishment, and assesses how geography is shaping the "emerging dynamic that allows some pastors in the country's second-largest Protestant denomination to skirt rules banning clergy from performing same-sex wedding, while others risk costly church trials and the loss of clergy credentials."

More here-

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Georgia’s Episcopal bishops sign statement opposing Republican ‘guns in church’ bill

From Georgia-

The highest officials in Georgia’s Episcopal Diocese signed a letter on Tuesday urging the state legislature to abandon its push to allow guns in churches.

The letter appeared on after the Republican-led state House passed HB 875, which would allow gun owners to carry concealed weapons in churches, bars and schools. The state Senate version of the bill is expected to go before the legislature on Wednesday. If it passes, it will go straight to the desk of Gov. Nathan Deal (R) to be signed into law.

“Supporters of this bill claim our current quite expansive gun laws are not expansive enough,” wrote Revs. Robert C. Wright and Scott Anson Benhase. “They claim that if only the ‘bad guys’ have guns, then the ‘good guys’ cannot stop them. As one State Representative who sponsored the bill said: ‘Gun free zones that are created by well-meaning laws are gun-free to the good guys only. The bad part of our society does not care.’”

More here-

After 7 Years, U.S. Supreme Court Issues Final Word: The F.C. Belongs to Diocese

From Falls Church-

The U.S. Supreme Court announced this Monday its denial of an appeal from the congregants who defected from the Falls Church Episcopal Church in 2006, letting stand Fairfax Circuit Court’s ruling that the property of the historic church remains in the possession of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

Monday’s announcement finally exhausts the legal appeals of the ruling available to the defectors, ending eight years of contention which began with the defectors’ vote to leave the Episcopal Church in December 2006, to align with an Anglican bishop from Nigeria and to subsequently occupy the church property for over six years before before being mandated by the Fairfax court to vacate the site in 2012.

Central to the rift that led to the defection was the issue of homosexuality, specifically that the conservative rector at the church, Rev. John Yates, led the defection and subsequent occupation of the property that was ruled illegal, because of his opposition to the national Episcopal Church denomination’s election of an openly gay priest, the Rev. Gene Robinson, to standing as a bishop in 2003.

More here-

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

‘Homeless Jesus’ finds a home in North Carolina

From ENS-

Downtown Davidson, North Carolina, has all of the idyllic, small-town Southern charm a weekend visitor could want: old-fashioned brick sidewalks, quaint shops and lots of leafy trees. Residents of the town, known primarily for its prestigious liberal arts college, are proud of their postcard-ready community, but the recent installation of a sculpture outside of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church has reminded locals that not all members of the affluent community can afford to live in the town’s beautiful homes – or in permanent housing of any type.

A new arrival in the neighborhood

The sculpture, “Homeless Jesus” by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz, is a life-size bronze that depicts Jesus as a homeless man huddled in a blanket and sleeping on a park bench. The blanket’s folds hide the man’s face, and the only clues to his identity are the crucifixion marks through his feet and a nearby plaque revealing the piece’s name. From a distance, it is easy to mistake the sculpture for a living person. Situated in front of St. Alban’s at the entrance to the upscale St. Alban’s Square neighborhood, the artwork rests in stark contrast to its surroundings.

More here-

Brackets of the Saints

From The Living Church-

It’s that time of year again: break out those brackets, pick your favorites and get ready to compete for serious bragging rights. College basketball? No, a tournament in which stakes are not as temporal as those of the NCAA, but instead reach all the way to heaven: Lent Madness.

For the fifth consecutive year, fans of saints are lining up to make sure March excitement is not confined to athletics. They pick winners among 32 holy heroes and heroines, who battle it out for the coveted Golden Halo in an online tournament billed as “so fun you won’t know it’s edifying.”

While hoop fans revel, “Why should we as Christians be sitting around giving up chocolate and eating twigs all day?” said the Rev. Tim Schenck, creator of Lent Madness. By day, he’s rector of Church of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts. By night, he’s a self-described “huge sports fan” who loves saints even more.

More here-

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

White Mountain, shining face: Remembering Deacon Terry Star

From ENS-

As the Rev. Terry Star is buried March 10 out of his home church of St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, we share the following article from fellow seminarian Benjamin Jefferies from Nashotah House who reflects on the memories and the legacy Star leaves behind. Star died of a heart attack the morning of March 4 at Nashotah House, where he was studying for ordination to the priesthood. He was 40.

Truly, Nomen est Omen — the name determines the man: The brightness in Terry’s gentle eyes really did shine like a Star in the night sky. And what image is more apt to describe our peaceful, giant friend than his Lakota name :“White Mountain”. 

The impression of his calm, thoughtful, big, guileless, and playful presence is permanently etched into my memory. Although this memory-mark is indelible, how much fresher and warmer was the man himself, how much I would prefer to have him, and not just the memories.

More here-

Supreme Court won’t hear appeal of dispute over Episcopal Church’s property in Va.

From Virginia-

Seven years after 15 conservative Virginia congregations made global news by breaking away from the Episcopal Church — and refusing to give up tens of millions of dollars in property — the Supreme Court on Monday ended the complex legal dispute by declining to take up an appeal by the last remaining plaintiff.

The Falls Church Anglican, a 2,000-member breakaway congregation, had asserted that the nearly 300-year-old sprawling property belonged to the Anglican group because the Episcopal Church “left” its umbrella Anglican tradition by becoming more liberal in interpreting scripture and ordaining gay and lesbian clergy.

More here-

also here-

and here-

and here (with statement from the diocese)

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Church is alienating an entire generation over gay marriage.

From The Telegraph-

Planning a wedding, as any newly-wed will tell you, can quickly become one of the most stressful experiences of your life – particularly for the bride. From attempting to hand-make 100 place-holders for that “personal touch” to ensuring there's a cheese-free menu option for one lactose-intolerant aunt, many women will have something that triggers a major meltdown before they make it down the aisle.
But, for my friend Ella*, these issues and obstacles seem blissfully trivial in comparison to the worries that keep her up at night as the big day approaches. 

She's marrying her girlfriend of two years in the summer, and the wedding preparations are well under way. It should be a time of excitement and celebration, despite the anxiety-inducing ‘wedmin’ – but Ella, as well as being in a same-sex relationship, is also a Christian. And, as things currently stand, this creates some pretty insurmountable problems.

More here-


From Nigeria-

Some Catholic and Anglican Bishops, after celebrating the 50th anniversary thanksgiving of Archbishop Vinning Memorial Church Cathedral, on Saturday, barred their minds on the current security situation in the country.

Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, said the present crisis in the North-East is affecting all Nigerians both at home and abroad. According to him, “I have just returned from Europe. Anywhere I went, Nigerians in Europe were asking me the same question: why is Boko Haram killing innocent children?

The only thing I will advise Jonathan on is to go after those stealing Nigeria’s money. This money can be used to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and the violent attacks in the North. I will also advise Nigerians to be security conscious because in all Catholic Churches in Abuja Archdiocese, the faithful watches everybody’s back in order to prevent any attack.”

More here-

In first year, Pope Francis has challenged 'all' to live Gospel

From CNA-

Anticipating the one-year anniversary of the election of Pope Francis as the Bishop of Rome, Catholic leaders nationwide have reflect on his papacy thus far, noting his call for every Catholic to evangelize.

“In a certain sense, by his style of interviews and public statements, he kind of throws the ball back in our court as well – and I don't mean bishops, I mean all the faithful,” Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb. told CNA March 6.

“And what I mean by that is that…it kind of falls upon us to put him in context, and to tell people what he means. And that's part of the sensus fidelium, that's part of, really, our baptismal charism: that the faithful also have the responsibility of articulating the teaching of the Church, so it doesn't focus on one person, like the Pope, like a bishop; that we all have this responsibility of preaching the gospel, and explaining the Gospel, and articulating the Gospel.”

More here-

Christian Associates of Southwest Pa. elects new director

From Pittsburgh-

The bishops and other church leaders -- some in black clerical garb, some in business suits, most of them graying and male -- gathered behind closed doors around a long conference table for more than an hour before one of them emerged.

"There is white smoke," said a smiling Lutheran Bishop Kurt F. Kusserow.

And with that, he ushered the Rev. Liddy Barlow in to the board room as the newly elected executive director of Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, a coalition of more than two dozen Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant denominations that issues policy statements, oversees jail chaplaincies and promotes church unity.

"We voted unanimously and enthusiastically," the Rev. Sheldon Sorge, the board chair and a Presbyterian executive, told Rev. Barlow as she entered. "We believe this is something that is good for all of us."

Read more:

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Terry Star

From North Dakota-

Deacon Terry Star, 40, Cannon Ball, passed away March 4, 2014, in Delafield, Wis. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday, March 10, at St. James Episcopal Church, Cannon Ball, with the Rev. Michael Smith officiating. Burial will be at St. Gabriel’s Cemetery at Red Hail’s Camp, Breien.

A wake service begins at 5 with a prayer service beginning at 7 p.m. also at St. James Episcopal Church.

Terry was born Aug. 13, 1973, in Seattle, to young parents, Woodrow and Charlotte (Martinez) Star Jr. He graduated from Todd County High School, Mission, S.D., and Sinte Gleska College, Rosebud, S.D., Sitting Bull College, Fort Yates, and the North Dakota School for Ministry.

Woodrow, Terry’s father, began a career in law enforcement, a career that took the family to other reservations through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and tribal law enforcement agencies. Terry’s mother, Charlotte, has always been active in the communities by providing safe activities for neighborhood kids who adopted her as “Mom.”

More here-