Saturday, March 29, 2014

Abp Welby hosts major gathering of Anglican Religious Communities

From Anglican News Service-

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is today welcoming over 100 members of a broad range of Anglican religious communities to Lambeth Palace to discuss the renewal of Religious Life within the Church.

The conference will bring together members of diverse religious communities – some centuries old, others newly emerging – that are bound together by a common commitment to prayer, community living, and a radical service of Christ, often in demanding social contexts.

The event marks a significant early step towards Archbishop Justin’s vision for the renewal of prayer and the Religious Life, which he has declared as a core priority for his ministry. The Archbishop will give a keynote address later this morning in which he will set out his vision to explain and encourage those gathered.

More here-

Gay marriage will change the Church of England forever

From The Telegraph-

The first British gay weddings today face the Church of England with a perfectly simple question to which it can only reply with embarrassed throat-clearing. Do we go along with this or not?

David Cameron's promise to safeguard the established Church from same-sex ceremonies rings pretty hollow when you read a story like this one, from our religious affairs editor John Bingham:

Gay clergy should follow their conscience and defy the Church of England’s restrictions on same-sex marriage, a prominent bishop has said as the most radical change ever made to the legal definition of marriage in Britain comes into force.

The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, said priests should be “creative” to get around restrictions on blessings for same-sex couples and that gay clergy who wish to marry should do so in defiance of the official line.

More here-

Pope Francis summons 'Bishop Bling' to the Vatican for private talks

From National Catholic Reporter-

Pope Francis met Friday in a closed-door meeting with the German churchman known as "Bishop Bling," Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, whose extravagant and expensive lifestyle cost him his job.
Tebartz-van Elst, 54, spent more than $40 million of church money renovating his home in Limburg, Germany. He became a worldwide phenomenon, in part because his lifestyle clashed so sharply with that of Francis, known for living in spartan and humble surroundings and for preaching restraint and austerity.

Vatican sources confirmed Tebartz-van Elst met with the pontiff at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. But there was no information about what the two men discussed or what conclusions were drawn.

Among the expenses from the refurbishment of the residence: $300,000 for an ornamental fish tank, $2.4 million on bronze window frames, and $240,000 on a spiral staircase. Tebartz-van Elst blamed the expense on a deputy who failed to keep track of cost overruns.

More here-

Friday, March 28, 2014

Noah After a flood of reviews and controversy, it's finally here. So should you see it?

From Christianity Today-

Here's my take: Christianity Today reader, you should see Noah.

I can't promise you'll like Noah. Nor would I suggest that if you don't, it indicates that something is necessarily wrong with you.

But as I struggled to write about this film this week—in the wake of dozens of other excellent pieces from both mainstream and Christian sources—that's what it all came down to. So yes, if you're wondering: Noah is worth your time and your ticket price.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury signals end of C of E's resistance to gay marriage

From The Guardian-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled that the Church of England will mount no more resistance to gay marriage among churchgoers.

Gay marriage will be legalised from Saturday with dozens of ceremonies planned around the country for one minute past midnight. This passing of the legislation caused deep rifts within the church.

"I think the church has reacted by fully accepting that it's the law, and should react on Saturday by continuing to demonstrate in word and action, the love of Christ for every human being." Justin Welby told the Guardian.

His comments mark a shift in tone, if not substance, from a letter from the bishops last month that attempted to forbid the clergy from marrying same-sex partners, and which led to a furious backlash from supporters. At least seven clergy couples are preparing to marry in defiance of their bishops, though none are known to be planning a public ceremony.

More here-

Christian Charity Backtracks on Gays

From The New York Times-

World Vision U.S., an evangelical Christian charity known for asking donors to sponsor a hungry child, set off an uproar when it announced this week that it would hire Christians in same-sex marriages.

The charity, the nation’s 10th largest, is based in Washington State, where same-sex marriage is legal, and said it intended to present a symbol of “unity” for Christians in an era when controversy over homosexuality is splintering the church.

Instead of the unity it sought, World Vision’s move was swiftly denounced by some prominent evangelical leaders as a “disaster” and a devil-inspired betrayal of biblical morality. Christians proclaimed online that they had canceled their child sponsorships. Less than 48 hours later, World Vision reversed course, calling the decision “a mistake” and pleading for forgiveness.

More here-

Church decline has halted, say Anglican statisticians

From The Church Times-

OFFICIAL statistics issued last week suggest that attendance at C of E churches may have levelled out after decades of decline.

A report by the Archbishops' Council, Statistics for Mission 2012, released on Friday last week, suggests that, on an average Sunday in 2012 (the latest year with available data) about 859,000 people attended a C of E church. This compares with 901,000 in 2003.

The average weekly attendance for the Church was higher, at 1.05 million people. About one in five of those who attend a C of E service weekly are reckoned not to attend on a Sunday.

Three months ago, a C of E report on church growth, From Anecdote to Evidence (News, 31 January), suggested that there had been nine per cent decline in average weekly attendance over the decade to 2010.

More here-,-say-anglican-statisticians

English priest shadows women bishops for a job she can’t have _ yet

From The Washington Post-

The Rev. Sue Pinnington is on a five-week mission to compile a job description for a post she’s currently not able to have: bishop.

During a recent stay in the nation’s capital, the English priest shadowed Episcopal Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, the first woman elected as the top leader of the Diocese of Washington. Outside a subway station, the two women imposed ashes on commuters for Ash Wednesday. Two days later, they heard the Dalai Lama at the Washington National Cathedral.

More here-

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Anglican parish in Carbonear under scrutiny for 'financial irregularities'

From Newfoundland-

An official with the Anglican Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador has confirmed that an investigation into alleged financial irregularities at St. James Church in Carbonear is underway.

Archdeacon Sandra Tilley, the executive officer with the diocese, also confirmed that the rector at St. James, Rev. Mark Janes, "has been granted a leave of absence."

Parishioners at St. James were informed of the situation during a church service on Sunday, March 23, in a letter from the bishop, Right Rev. Geoff Peddle.

More here-

Jimmy Carter says Pope Francis promised ‘women should have a greater role’

From The Washington Post- (with video)

Former President Jimmy Carter isn’t exactly known for withholding his opinion, so it wasn’t surprising on Wednesday to hear him say he typed out and mailed a letter to Pope Francis challenging the pontiff on the status of women in the Catholic Church.

“He promised me he thought women should have a greater role,” the 39th U.S. president told an audience during an appearance at The Washington Post. Carter was promoting his new book “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power.”

More here-

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

'Bishop Of Bling' Gets The Boot

From NPR-

The more than $40 million he allowed to be spent on renovations at his residence and allegations that he lied about some of his other lavish spending have now officially cost the "bishop of bling" his job.

The Vatican announced Wednesday that it has accepted the resignation of Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who had been the bishop of Limburg, Germany. He will be assigned other duties.

It was last October when the Vatican suspended Tebartz-van Elst, following reports about $475,000 that was spent on walk-in closets, $20,000 for a bathtub and other expenditures that drove the cost of what was supposed to be a $7.5 million or so renovation to nearly six times that figure.

As Agence France-Presse adds, "he had also come under fire for lying under oath about flying first class to visit slum dwellers in India."

More here-

Church leaders demand guns to protect faithful from attacks

From Kenya-

Pentecostal church leaders in Mombasa have renewed calls to the State to arm them to protect their property and faithful from terrorists following Sunday’s attack on worshippers in Mombasa’s Likoni slums. 

Speaking in Mombasa under the umbrella of the Kenya National Congress of Pentecostal Churches and Ministries (KNCPCM), they asked major churches such as the Catholic and Anglican Church of Kenya and their umbrella organisations to offer direction on the issue of security in churches, particularly in Mombasa. 

The church leaders expressed concern that the attacks could reduce the number of worshippers attending services due to fear. “We ask our national church leaders to meet as a matter of urgency to guide the church in this country at this crucial time,” said KNCPCM chairman Bishop Tee Nalo. Speaking at a Press conference held at the Darajani Hotel in Mombasa yesterday, the church leaders called on Kenyans to support the Government efforts to eliminate terror activities.

Read more at:


From Toronto (You can't make this stuff up)

Schryer, a devout Anglican at Toronto’s Church of St. Aidan, went to great lengths to ensure his Lent choices were proper getting his Reverend to bless the 100 litres of German lager that will keep him alive until Easter.

On his food-forfeiting pledge he told The National Post: “Without being dramatic, it definitely is not fun; it’s challenging. Every meal time there’s challenge.”

His choice of Doppelbock, a German-style strong lager, was deliberate as it is among the world’s heaviest beers and imbued with just enough nutrients to stave off starvation, providing him with 2,000 calories per day.

He said: “I would definitely be emaciated without the beer. The calorific value is just incredible.”

While a 40 day stint surviving only on beer might be manageable, extending such an extreme diet would inevitably lead to death and is not recommended.

More here-

House of Bishops concluding ‘bridge-building’ spring retreat

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church House of Bishops’ nearly complete annual spring retreat has been a time of community building and bridge building.

“You cannot work as effectively as colleagues if you are not also friends, and there is emotional and relational capital – spiritual capital – that’s generated in these gatherings that we depend on at other points in the life of the House of Bishops,” Diocese of Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe, vice president of the House of Bishops, said March 25 during a telephone news conference.

Diocese of Eastern Michigan Bishop Todd Ousley, co-chair of the House of Bishops Planning Committee, agreed. “As we continue to embrace the spring meeting as a time of retreat and reflection, we’re growing together as a house more deeply in that embrace with each successive meeting,” he said.

The bishops, Ousley said, are “beginning to deepen our appreciation for one another” and, by way of hearing reflections from their colleagues, are building bridges between “our own personal spirituality and the spirituality of what it means to be a bishop serving in the church at this time.”

More here-

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rebel Catholic priest who was too conservative for the CofE confesses he secretly 'married' a Muslim man in sham ceremony to help him stay in the UK

From The Daily Mail-

A high-profile Catholic priest has been suspended after a Mail on Sunday investigation discovered he was in a sham ‘gay marriage’ to help a Pakistani immigrant stay in Britain.

Father Donald Minchew – a former Anglican who converted to Catholicism after attacking the Church of England’s loss  of traditional values – admitted entering into a civil partnership as a favour to a family friend desperate to work in Britain.

Last night the Home Office said it was ‘determined to crack down on immigration offenders’ and Mustajab Hussain now faces an investigation and possible deportation.

More here-

Cardboard cathedral designer wins top prize

From New Zealand-

One of architecture's most prestigious international awards has been given to the man behind Christchurch's cardboard cathedral.

Shigeru Ban was today named the winner of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The 56-year-old Tokyo-born architect is known for his elegant, innovative and resourceful approach to design, as well as his humanitarian efforts.

Ban will be given the distinguished award at a ceremony at Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum on June 13, recognising his work creating community buildings for disaster victims around the world.

Over the last 20 years, he has worked locals, volunteers and students in places hit by natural or man-made disasters to design and construct simple, low-cost and recyclable shelters and buildings.

More here-

World Vision Goes Liberal

From The American Spectator-

The $1 billion relief group World Vision, which was until recent years seriously Evangelical, has greenlighted same-sex marriages for its employees, who are expected, as according to Christian teaching, to be chaste, i.e. celibate if single and monogamous if married.

Richard Stearns, chief of World Vision in the U.S., in justifying the decision, said some of its over 1,100 U.S. employees belong to denominations that recognize same sex unions, i.e. liberal Protestants like the Episcopal Church and United Church of Christ. (Overseas World Vision affiliates have their own self-determined policies.)

“I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue,” Stearns explained, as though an ostensibly Evangelical group deferring to declining liberal Protestantism were not the least bit unusual.

It’s likely that relatively few World Vision employees are liberal Mainline Protestants, and fewer still, perhaps a tiny fraction, are in same sex unions. So the shift in policy by the formerly conservative Christian group is mostly symbolic, signaling a new postmodern identity in sync with the secular Zeitgeist.

More here-

Davenport man to remain married as Catholic priest

From Iowa-

A Davenport man will continue his 29-year marriage when he is ordained this summer as a priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport.

Chris Young, 53, will join the clergy thanks to a 1980 dispensation from Pope John Paul II, according to the Quad-City Times. The order, called the Pastoral Provision, applies to former clergy of the Episcopal Church.

“I get to keep my wife, and I am keeping my wedding band on,” Young said.

Young will be one of about 100 men in the U.S. who became Catholic priests through such a process.

More here-

Monday, March 24, 2014

VTS Plans More Housing

From The Living Church-

Carol Kyber writes for Virginia Theological Seminary:

During its February meeting, the Board of Trustees for Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) approved the project proposal from a task force formed in the fall of 2013 to proceed with the building of additional on-campus housing for VTS seminarians.

The underlying concerns regarding housing were driven by the financial impact to the Seminary due to rising rental costs in the Alexandria area and whether satisfactory rental housing would continue to remain available in near proximity to the campus. The first recommendation to build on-campus housing for married students was considered in the 1980s. Then the monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment was $610. Today that same apartment rents for $1,738 a month with every expectation that rental prices in the Alexandria area will continue to increase each year. The decision by the board reflects that the time had come to address the matter.

More here-

Jersey churches 'must keep paying Winchester diocese'

From The BBC-

Anglican Churches in Jersey have been told they must continue to pay their Parish Share to the Diocese of Winchester for the time being.

The money is raised by congregations to help fund the wider ministry of the church and to pay the clergy.

The Channel Islands split from Winchester in January after a dispute over how abuse complaints were handled.

However, the island's dean said church finances would remain with Winchester for at least the first quarter of 2014.

Canterbury oversight
The Church of England in the Channel Islands pays hundreds of thousands of pounds each year to Winchester, which is then used to pay clergy, training and other costs.

More here-

High court with vocally devout justices set to hear religious objections to health-care law

From The Washington Post-

There’s something that makes the current Supreme Court different from some of its recent predecessors.

The justices got religion.

Or at least they seem more open about their faith, appearing before devout audiences and talking more about how religion shaped their lives or guides them now.

As the court this week weighs religious conviction vs. legal obligation in the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act, those who study the court say the change is hard to quantify but easy to notice.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. are devout Catholics who faced questions during their confirmation hearings about how their faith would affect their jurisprudence. Justice Clarence Thomas is a former seminarian who says God saved his life.

More here-

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sometimes-controversial Greensburg Bishop Brandt to retire

From Pittsburgh-

Greensburg Bishop Lawrence Brandt often recites a quote attributed to the 19th-century English Cardinal John Henry Newman: "To live is to change, and to have lived long is to have changed often."

Things have changed, and changed often, in the decade in which Bishop Brandt has led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg.

He has overseen the wrenching closings and mergers of numerous parishes and schools; strategic planning sessions; a capital campaign that exceeded its goal; sometimes-controversial spending decisions; and a growing use of foreign priests and permanent deacons in the face of declining ranks in the pulpits and pews.

Whether such changes have been for the better has been debated from cyberspace to the Vatican, which is considering a last-ditch appeal by Fayette County parishioners who want their churches reopened.

Read more:

Pope appoints former victim to sex abuse commission

From USA Today-

An Irish woman who was a victim of sexual abuse as a child is among eight members of a special commission appointed by Pope Francis to start the long and arduous process of confronting the church's chronic sexual abuse problems.

Francis appointed four women and four men — a mix of clergy and laypeople — from eight different countries to a panel that will advise the church on the best ways to protect children, identify and punish abusers, and train church personnel. Plans for the panel first emerged in December.

The creation of the commission is one of the strongest steps Francis has taken to confront the problem that has severely stained the church's reputation and cost it billions in court settlements and legal fees. The pontiff has called the issue of sexual abuse "the shame of the church" and vowed to take strong steps to confront the issue.

More here-

Amarillo women move up church ranks through perseverance, faith

From Texas-

While some denominations are still struggling with accepting women in the clergy, three Amarillo church leaders have emerged as examples of the power of perseverance and faith.

But the concept was foreign not that long ago.

“I remember telling my grandmother that I was going to be a priest,” said the Rev. Jo Roberts Mann, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. “She assured me that I could do anything that I wanted, but that wasn’t going to be one of them.

“You can not be a priest in the Episcopal Church.”

The paths of Mann; the Rev. Joan Gaines, chaplain of the Spiritual Care Ministry Team at BSA Health System; and Carol Rohane, ruling elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church, have varied, but all are leaders within their denominations.

More here-