Saturday, April 5, 2014

Anglicans and Catholics continue Malines Conversations in Canterbury

From Vatican Radio-

A group of Anglican and Catholic ecumenical experts have concluded an international meeting in the English city of Canterbury, focusing on relations between the two Churches in light of the theme 'Memory, Identity and Difference'.

The Malines Conversations Group was led by its two co-patrons, the retired Catholic Archbishop of Malines-Bruxelles, Cardinal Godfried Danneels and the former Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.The name of the group refers back to a series of informal discussions that took place between Anglicans and Catholics in the 1920s under the auspices of Belgian Cardinal Mercier.

This second encounter in the current series of conversations, which took place from March 30th to April 3rd, continued a discussion of liturgical and sacramental theology within the two traditions. Participants made a pilgrimage to the tomb of St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury Cathedral and to the shrine of St Edward the Confessor in Westminster Abbey. They also met with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, and with the current leader of the Anglican Communion, Archbishop Justin Welby.

More here-

Welby's argument against gay marriage has strength. But we can't yield to moral blackmail

From The Guardian-

Justin Welby has come out with a fascinating argument against the Church of England endorsing gay marriage – which is that, were this to occur, African Christians would be murdered. He had in mind intercommunal massacres, such as the one he cited in Nigeria. He referred to a particularly harrowing experience he had in the middle belt of Nigeria, where the ethnic cleansing of a Christian village by Muslim neighbours was supposedly justified or prompted by something gay-friendly done by the Anglican church in the US.

There's no doubt that Welby was profoundly affected by the experience. He has talked about it to me privately – not your average cocktail party conversation – and he was clearly anguished by the memory of the mass grave and the way it smelled.

There was a similar account when Rowan Williams decided to ditch his old friend Jeffrey John in 2003: he was apparently told that, if John were consecrated as bishop of Reading, Christians in Pakistan would die in the subsequent rioting.

More here-

Rites and Consequences

From The Living Church-

The Archbishop of Canterbury said today that Christians in parts of Africa face abuse, violence, and even death because of decisions on sexuality made by Anglican churches in the West.

Justin Welby, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, made the comments in an hour-long phone-in program on LBC Radio today.

In particular he was responding to a question from Kes, a Church of England priest who had called in to ask why English clergy were not allowed to decide for themselves whether to marry couples of the same sex.

“Why we can’t do it now is because the impact of that on Christians in countries far from here like South Sudan, like Pakistan, like Nigeria, would be absolutely catastrophic and we have to love them as much as the people who are here,” he said.

More here-

With iPhone, pope starts a new era with Pentecostals

From AP-

The video, recorded on an iPhone, lasts less than eight minutes. The message is simple: We’re brothers despite our differences.

Yet, religious leaders say this informal greeting from Pope Francis has reset relations between the Roman Catholic Church and one of its fiercest competitors around the world, Pentecostals.

Recorded by a clergy friend Francis had invited to Rome, the message was directed to the spirit-filled Christians whose popular movements have for decades been draining parishioners from the Catholic Church, especially in Latin America.

Catholics often compared Pentecostal groups to cults and accused them of overly aggressive, unethical proselytizing. But Francis, saying he was speaking from the heart, said in the video made in January he yearned for an end to their separation and invited them to pray with him for unity.

More here-

Wilfrido Ramos Orench installed as provisional bishop of Puerto Rico

From ENS-

The Rt. Rev. Wilfrido Ramos Orench was installed as provisional bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Rico on March 28 at the Universidad Polytécnica de Puerto Rico in Hato Rey.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori presided at the three-hour installation service; Bishop José Antonio Ramos Orench, retired bishop of the Episcopal Church of Costa Rica and the provisional bishop’s brother, preached.

The diocese’s Standing Committee postponed and later canceled an election to replace Alvarez, who reached retirement age on Sept. 7, 2013.

Charges were made against Alvarez in August and September of 2013.

An accord regarding certain alleged violations of the disciplinary canons was reached between the presiding bishop and Alvarez; as a result of the agreed-upon accord, he is suspended from all episcopal duties until Oct. 31, 2014, said Bishop Clay Matthews, the Episcopal Church’s bishop for pastoral development, in a statement issued by the Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs.

More here-

Friday, April 4, 2014

Anglican church releases options for same-sex marriages

From New Zealand-

Solutions for solving the gay ordination and marriage issue in the Anglican Church range from doing nothing, to the effective end of the church.

A commission has come up with ten possible options, which include an agreement that the different views within the church are irreconcilable, which would lead to a complete splintering.

The more traditional ideas include sticking with the view that only a man and a woman should be in a sexual relationship, leaving things in their current murky state, and letting individual Bishops decide.

More here-

Rich are pushing world into crisis, Williams warns

From The Church Times-

THE former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams has blamed the lifestyle of the affluent West for the effects of climate change in the world's poorest regions.

Lord Williams, who now chairs Christian Aid, singled out the "uncontrolled burning" of fossil fuels as a significant contributor to global warming.

His comments, in an article for The Sunday Telegraph last weekend, were timed to coincide with the publication on Monday of a report by the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (News and Comment, 21 March).

The report says that climate change is already having an impact around the world, on areas from human health to agriculture and wildlife. Rising temperatures will increasingly threaten security, health, and food supplies, exacerbate poverty, and damage species and habitats.

More here-,-williams-warns

Bishop of Texas responds to Ft. Hood shooting

From Texas-

The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, issued the following response to the shooting at Ft. Hood.

"To serve and protect our country is a sacrifice and an honor. The women and men who offer themselves to this high calling should be safe at home at least. The shootings at Fort Hood are a tragic reminder that we must redouble our efforts to tend to our wounded in body, mind and spirit. There is a clear need for mental health support for our troops and it is our responsibility to help provide this care as people who benefit from their service,” said the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Episcopal Bishop of Texas. “Our Episcopal congregations in Copperas Cove and Killeen stand ready to help their community respond to this recent tragedy. The souls of the dead, the healing of the wounded and all their families are in the prayers of Episcopalians in Texas and across the country, as are all those who serve.”

More here-

Thursday, April 3, 2014

‘The Way of Wisdom’ at GTS

From The Living Church-

General Theological Seminary will change its style of education beginning in the fall of 2015. The seminary’s faculty reflects on the need for change in “The Way Of Wisdom: A Challenge to Theology and the Life of the Church,” a declaration released April 2.

The Very Rev. Kurt H. Dunkle, General’s dean and president, also introduces “The Way of Wisdom” in his column for GTS News Quarterly.

More here-

Queen prepares to meet Pope with thorny questions left in the background

From The Guardian-

The Queen will meet Pope Francis for the first time on Thursday on a visit that coincides with the anniversary of the start of the Falklands war between Britain and Argentina.

The Queen's meeting with the Argentine pope also takes place against the backdrop of difficult Anglican-Catholic relations.

The foreign trip, a rarity these days for the 87-year-old monarch, had to be postponed last year because she was unwell. She will be accompanied by Prince Philip.

Before their audience with the leader of the world's Catholics they will have lunch with the Italian president Giorgio Napolitano, a former communist.

The couple's last foreign trip was to Australia in 2011, and the one-day visit to Rome and the Vatican will last only a few hours, without much of the pomp usually associated with royal travel to avoid tiring the ageing couple.

More here-

New Episcopal mission church is official

From South Carolina-

Episcopal clergy and delegates from all over eastern South Carolina admitted five Continuing Worship Groups as official Missions of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and The Episcopal Church, at the 223rd Annual Convention of The Episcopal Church in SC at All Saints Episcopal Church in Hilton Head.

Mission churches from Florence, Conway, Edisto, West Ashley, and Summerville had completed all steps required by The Episcopal Church in establishing themselves as strong viable congregations. As more than 25 representatives of the Summerville church processed down the aisle behind their new Good Shepherd banner, they were thunderously welcomed by hundreds of cheering members of the wider church.

More here-

F.C.-Episcopal Launches Concert Series After Reclaiming Historic Church Home

From Falls Church-

It has been a long road for The Falls Church-Episcopal in its struggle to regain control of its historic church home. The seven-year battle between church defectors who held onto the property and “continuing Episcopalians” over use of the centuries-old site ended last month with a decisive U.S. Supreme Court decision, and now they are launching a concert series with hopes to rebuild their relationship with the community.

The first performance in the Community Concert Series is next Monday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. and will feature the renowned choral group The Thirteen. The concert will take place in the main sanctuary of The Falls Church, 115 E. Fairfax St., Falls Church.

Concerts in the series will be free to attend, but the church welcomes donations to benefit its scholarship fund for young musicians. The charitable endeavor, operated by The Falls Church-Episcopal in cooperation with local schools and music education programs, seeks to assist children who have the talent and enthusiasm for music, but don’t have the financial means to fund music lessons.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


From Rectory Porch-

There are a lot of reasons why we need to start exploring new models of ministry in the life of the Episcopal Church today. Most of these reasons, for me, have to do with a genuine and gospel-based desire to be more collegial and collaborative and mission-minded – to get over ourselves, get outside of ourselves, and better form disciples of Jesus Christ. That argument goes over pretty well with my  colleagues and the lay leaders I have the pleasure of working with at St. George’s, Valley Lee. I’m also blessed that several neighbor Episcopal congregations – their clergy and lay leaders – are also on board with this desire to do more and be more, together.

Crowe meets Anglican leader after ‘Noah’ premiere

From The AP-

The pope said no but the leader of the world’s Anglicans was happy to meet Russell Crowe, star of watery Biblical epic Noah.

Crowe was denied a private audience with Pope Francis when he was promoting the movie in Rome last month.

But Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby met the actor at the cleric’s Lambeth Palace home yesterday, the day after the movie’s British premiere, to discuss faith and spirituality.

Director Darren Aronofsky’s film is a box-office hit in the United States but some Christian conservatives have complained it takes liberties with the Biblical account of the flood. It has been banned in much of the Muslim world because of its depiction of the prophet.

Welby’s office said the archbishop had seen Noah and found it “interesting and thought-provoking.”

also here-

From Beacon Hill to ‘Bishop Bling,’ clergy housing faces new scrutiny

From The Washington Post-

Bye-bye, “Bishop Bling.” So long, “Pastor Perks.” The so-called “Francis effect” may be real, at least when it comes to clerical housing, and could be coming to a church near you.

Pope Francis famously eschewed the trappings of the papal office, including deluxe digs in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, and the pressure of his example seems to be making itself felt.

Last week, the pontiff accepted the resignation of the most ostentatious offender, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg in Germany, aka “Bishop Bling” who spent a cool $43 million on a swank new residence and office complex while cutting staff.

Now Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta is the latest to feel the peer pressure. On Monday (March 31), Gregory responded to anger over his decision to move into a new $2.2 million home (pictured)  by repeatedly apologizing in a letter to his flock and saying he would explore the possibility of selling the mansion and moving into simpler quarters.

More here-

also here-

St. Paul's to demolish fire-ravaged rectory

From Maryland-

The leadership of St. Paul’s by-the-Sea Episcopal Church has decided to demolish its historic rectory destroyed by arson in November, the church announced in its latest newsletter.

“This was not an easy process,” wrote the Rev. Dr. Mark Cyr in the church’s April 1 newsletter, “but the vestry realized that there are more possibilities available to us to exercise our ministries if we are not constrained with the present building.”

Cyr said church leaders met March 23 to discuss the future of St. Paul’s in the wake of a November fire that took the life of pastor the Rev. David Dingwall. The sanctuary has since been shuttered for cleanup and renovations. Parishioners have been holding Sunday services at the adjacent DeWees Hall, the church’s community center.

More here-

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Noah vs. Son of God: The Twin Pitfalls of Biblical Films

From The Atlantic Monthly-

“The persons and events in this motion picture are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons or events is unintentional.” This line, tucked among Noah’s credits in tiny, swirling, Tolkien-esque script, captures something very important about the movie: It was intended as art, not evangelism.

Critics may have dubbed 2014 “the year of the Bible” in Hollywood, but it’s a mistake to group every Biblical flick into one trend: Not all movies that crib their plotlines from the two testaments are alike. In fact, the biggest Biblical hits so far this year, February’s Son of God and last week’s Noah, don’t have much in common at all, other than their roots in the good book. While Son of God is an earnest story of heaven, miracles, and the salvation of the soul, Noah is a human drama, crafting a fantasy-like world into a parable about how people should act.

More here-

Reconciliation in Canada

From The Living Church-

The Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod Communications reports:

The final national event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission took place from March 27 to 30 in Edmonton, Alberta. Representatives from the Anglican Church of Canada and its ecumenical partners were among thousands gathered to hear survivor testimonies, celebrate Indigenous culture and resilience, and work toward reconciliation.

More here-

Re-imagining task force making progress toward November deadline

From ENS-

The Task Force for Re-imagining the Episcopal Church is on track for reporting its recommendations and specific legislative proposals to the church this November, according to the group’s co-conveners.
“I think we’re where we need to be at this point,” said the Rev. Craig Loya, dean of the cathedral in Omaha, Nebraska, who leads the task force with Katy George, a member of the Diocese of Newark. 

“I think we’re well on track to having a very thorough report that honors what our mandate was by the end of November.”

That mandate was set in General Convention Resolution C095, passed in July 2012, that called for a task force “to present the 78th General Convention with a plan for reforming the church’s structures, governance, and administration.”

More here-

Ugandan president dismisses aid cuts at rally against gays

From Reuters-

President Yoweri Museveni told a rally of religious leaders, politicians and thousands of supporters on Monday that Uganda could live without aid that Western donors suspended or diverted in protest at an anti-gay bill that became law in February.

Western donors have halted or re-directed about $118 million in aid since Museveni signed the law, which toughened existing rules against gays and prescribed life in jail for what it called "aggravated homosexuality", such as sex with a minor.

Despite the Western outcry, the thousands who turned out at Monday's rally in a square in Kampala underlined public support for the law. Uganda now has of some of the toughest codes, yet it is only one of 37 African nations that outlaw homosexuality.

Museveni may have in part been prompted to back the law to shore up support, analysts say. He is widely expected to seek another presidential term in 2016. He has ruled since 1986.

More here-

Monday, March 31, 2014

Removal of Bible from Trinity college crest ‘correctness gone mad’

From Ireland-

Senior church graduates of Trinity College, Dublin have reacted with disappointment and anger at the college’s decision to remove the Bible from its official insignia, in a new branding initiative.

The eminent institution, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, is taking religious symbolism out of its official crest.

The Bible is being replaced with “an open book” in what is described as “a deliberate and symbolic change”.

Trinity graduate, the Rev Dr William Morton, Dean of Londonderry’s St Columb’s Church of Ireland cathedral, said it was “political correctness gone totally mad”.

More here-

Detroit Tigers get church's blessing on eve of Opening Day

From Detroit-

The faithful showed up Sunday morning at St. John’s Episcopal Church to pray for the Detroit Tigers on the eve of Opening Day.

The flock of fans included Shirl Howell, 64, of Hazel Park, who sat in a front pew of the 156-year-old church wearing an orange-and-black “Tiger” striped hairband featuring two pointy striped ears.

“I’ve been doing this for several years — it’s become a tradition,” said a smiling Howell, sporting a T-shirt that read, “God First, Family and then the Tigers.”

Howell was among more than 70 parishioners seeking some extra help for their favorite baseball team.

Some were familiar faces to the Rev. Steven J. Kelly, who gave the blessing after a 20-minute program that included prayers, Scripture, hymns and, at times, a majestic organ accompaniment. The church, at Woodward and the Fisher Freeway, is within a block of Comerica Park.

More here-

San Joaquin: David Rice elected, seated as bishop provisional

From San Joaquin-

In the midst of hundreds of applauding and cheering supporters and well-wishers, the Rt. Rev. David Rice was formally seated March 29 as bishop provisional of the Diocese of San Joaquin in California’s Central Valley.

“I am truly excited about experiencing the many ways in which Episcopalians in San Joaquin will continue to join in and respond to the extraordinary things that God is already doing in the lives of the people of this valley,” said Rice, before the overflow gathering at St. Paul’s Church in Bakersfield. He had been elected at a special convention earlier in the day.

Guest preacher at the festal Eucharist celebrating Rice’s election was Archbishop Philip Richardson of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, who said he brought a message “to the Diocese of San Joaquin and the wider Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. that the bonds of affection between us are important and strong.”

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Historically black Va. college sees hope in sale

From Virginia-

The St. Paul’s College campus and the 35 buildings on its roller-coaster grounds are for sale in hopes it can continue to educate young black men and women in this rural community.

Located in Virginia’s tobacco-growing belt, the private, liberal arts college closed in June 2013 under crushing debt and questions about its governance, and following an ill-advised foray into football years earlier.

Now the school’s 11th president presides over the largely abandoned grounds and looks ahead to the April 9 sale of a campus that has everything you’d expect of a college, except for students.

More here-

Unifier of Christians lauded as he retires

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

The Rev. Don Green’s colleagues sometimes tease him about the photo in which he, a Lutheran minister, appeared to kneel before Pope John Paul II in a 2004 audience.

But this spiritual descendant of Martin Luther wasn’t going to let appearances get in the way of his passion for bridging differences between Christian groups, and he was crouching down for a reason. John Paul by then had a pronounced hunch due to Parkinson’s disease, and “if I wanted to look him in the eye, I had to get down,” Rev. Green said.

He told the pope “it was my prayer that we could share in the Lord’s Supper on the way to unity and not as the end of the journey. He smiled with acknowledgement that he understood what I said.”

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