Saturday, April 12, 2014

Nathan Baxter reflects as he prepares to retire as bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania

From Lancaster PA-

As Nathan Baxter prepares to step down as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, he recalls to the beginning of his tenure as a newly minted prelate.

Though he had grown up in the area, and served it as both professor and priest, Baxter, 65, says that when he arrived at the diocesan headquarters in Harrisburg, he still felt the weight of his new responsibilities.

"I remember saying to God: 'Oh God, I don't know if I can do this or not.'"
Wandering to his office window on Front Street, he stared reflectively across the Susquehanna River.

More here-

Friday, April 11, 2014

Oxford 2014: Healing the past and hopes for the future

From Vatican Radio-

Theologians from different countries and different Christian traditions are gathered in the English university city of Oxford for the 8th international conference of the Ecclesiological Investigations research network. Their three day meeting is exploring the theme of new hope in ecumenical and interfaith relations, with a particular focus on the English context of Anglican-Catholic dialogue.

From the soaring spires of the medieval Oxford colleges to the brand new, prize winning chapel of the seminary at Cuddesdon where we’re staying, participants in this conference are being constantly challenged by memories of the past as they search for hope in the modern ecumenical movement.

Ripon theological college was built in the mid- 19th century by prolific English architect George Edmund Street who’s best known as the designer of the Royal Courts of Justice in London. A leading practitioner of the Victorian Gothic revival, he also designed the two Anglican churches of All Saints and St Paul’s in Rome . Built in the idyllic and peaceful setting of rural Oxfordshire, just a few miles from the city centre, Ripon is today the largest training institution for Church of England clergy with around 70 men and women currently being prepared for ministry.

More here-

Officials look for ways to fast-track women into Lords

From The Church Times-

CHURCH officials and advisers are considering ways to speed up the entry of women bishops into the House of Lords, the Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Revd Tim Stevens, confirmed on Monday.

Episcopal admission to the House of Lords is determined by the Bishopric of Manchester Act of 1847. This limits the number of places for Lords Spiritual to 26. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York and the Bishops of Durham, London, and Winchester are ex-officio members of the House of Lords. The remaining places on the Bishops' Bench are held by the 21 diocesan bishops who have been in post the longest.

On Monday, Bishop Stevens, the convener of the Bishops in the Lords, said: "The discussion is about whether it would be helpful to the Church, and, indeed, to Parliament, for the Bishops' Bench to be both male and female in rather quicker time than the present process would naturally allow. . .

More here-

Anglican Leader, Under Fire for Remarks, Urges Caution on Same-Sex Marriage

From The New York Times-

The archbishop of Canterbury, under fire for appearing to link expanded gay rights in the United States to violence against Christians in Africa, said on Thursday that he is advocating for a slow and deliberative response to same-sex marriage, mindful of the global implications.

“I think we need to be aware of the realities on the ground, in our own countries and around the world, and to take those into account when we’re moving forward,” the archbishop, Justin Welby, told reporters in Oklahoma City, where he was meeting with the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church and attending a conference on violence.

“It doesn’t mean you necessarily do something other than you feel is the right thing to do,” he said, “but you’re aware of the need perhaps to do it in a different way.”

More here-

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Presiding Bishop visits Western North Carolina

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori visited the Diocese of Western North Carolina April 6-8, leading a retreat where members of the diocese explored the theme, “Do Justice, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly in a 21st Century World.”

The retreat, held at Lake Logan Episcopal Center in Canton, North Carolina, focused on what mission means and how the church can be encouraged and inspired to do God’s work. Jefferts Schori stressed that missionary work is necessary at both the local and the global level. “The universe is connected in all scales in God’s transcendent, created reality,” she said. “The dream of God is that abundance is possible if we’re not selfish.”

Jefferts Schori’s address is available here.

More here-

Watch it: Episcopalians to meet for peace gathering

From Oklahoma-

Today,  the Episcopal Church USA and the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma said that four plenary sessions at the denomination’s “Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace: An Episcopal Gathering to Challenge the Epidemic of Violence” conference will be available for live stream viewing.

Organizers said the sessions will be live streamed free of charge.

The conference begins tonight at the Reed Conference Center in Midwest City and continues through Friday.

The host diocese is led by the Rt. Rev. Edward Konieczny (pictured).

Catch the live stream events and more information about the conference here: “Reclaiming the Gospel of Peace”

Episcopal Church Moving Headquarters To Meriden

From Connecticut-

The Episcopal Church in Connecticut has a new headquarters, about 20 minutes south of Hartford, where it has been based for more than a century.

The church offices will move next week into the third floor of the Meriden Enterprise Center at 290 Pratt St., once a location of the New Departure ball bearing company.

The 11,200-square-foot space has high ceilings reminiscent of a cathedral, the church says, and will include space for a chapel.

The diocese is taking stained-glass panels from its current headquarters in a three-story mansion at 1335 Asylum St. in Hartford to its new Meriden quarters. The panels will be reconfigured for room dividers, Karin Hamilton, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said Wednesday.

More here-,0,2146634.story

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Pope Francis 'to meet Nicky Gumbel of HTB' – England's most dynamic vicar

From The Telegraph-

There's a rumour – which Lambeth Palace is neither confirming nor denying – that next time Archbishop Welby visits Pope Francis he'll take with him his old friend the Rev Nicky Gumbel, Vicar of "HTB", the evangelical parish Holy Trinity Brompton. If so, it's a smart move. Gumbel (like Welby, an Eton and Trinity Cambridge man) is the arguably the most dynamic leader in the Anglican Communion. He didn't invent the Alpha Course, an introduction to Bible-based Christianity, but it's thanks to his influence that it has now been done by 20 million people around the world.

When I first encountered HTB, 20 years ago, it was regarded by its enemies as a "happy-clappy cult" of upper-class evangelicals with a habit of poaching Catholics. If there was some truth in the caricature then, that's no longer the case. I interviewed Nicky Gumbel for the Christmas 2012 edition of the Spectator, soon after the announcement that Justin Welby, a long-time worshipper at HTB, would be going to Canterbury:

More here-

Anglican Bishop follows his fleeing flock across Africa

From Anglican News-

A bishop in Sudan has bemoaned the worsening war situation in his country. He said the continuing air bombardment on civilians and lack of humanitarian aid has increased the immigration of people from his diocese to neighbouring countries.

Bishop of Kadugli Diocese, the Rt Revd Andudu Adam Elnail said this in a report to highlight activities of “pastoral, administrative work and participation in peace talks between the Government of Sudan and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in North".

No safe haven for immigrants

More than 200,000 Nuba People had sought refuge in the Republic of South Sudan only to find themselves in another war torn area. “Many got confused and traumatized and some ran back to the war zone areas in the Nuba Mountains preferring to die in their home land,” reported Bishop Andudu.

More here-

Evangelism Booms, Catholicism Suffers in Post-Genocide Rwanda

From Jakarta about Rwanda-

Kigali. Jean-Claude Zamwita’s family abandoned the solemn organ music and stained glass windows of the Catholic church in 2006, eight years after the genocide in Rwanda, and started visiting an evangelical church with tambourines and drumming.

Such churches have been springing up across Rwanda, partly because the traditional churches, notably the Catholic Church, were largely discredited by the role played by some of their clerics during the killings.

Since the end of the genocide, which left some 800,000 people — essentially Tutsis — dead, Rwandans have increasingly turned to pentecostal churches or in some cases to Islam.

Zamwita, who was 15 when his family changed churches, said it was an easy decision.

“When we used to attend mass there was no interaction between the priest and the congregation. I was like a slave, being told what to do and what not to do. Here I feel free,” he said.

More here-

Video: The American Cathedral in Paris: A place of transformation

From ENS-

The American Cathedral in Paris, officially the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, was built in the 1880s to serve an expanding community of ex-pats and English-speakers abroad. It has since grown in its diversity and outwards in its ministry to the local community.

The Very Rev. Lucinda Laird, who has just completed her first year as dean and rector, speaks with ENS about the American Cathedral being a place of transformation and its commitment to social outreach and serving those on the fringes of Parisian society and beyond.

Located at 23 Avenue George V, the American Cathedral is a pro-cathedral, meaning it remains a parish church. It is the seat of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, presided over by Bishop Pierre Whalon.

Today, the cathedral congregation is composed of about 400 permanent parishioners and includes Americans, Britons and French as well as many other Europeans, Asians, Africans and Latin Americans.

More here-

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Niagara Bishop to get public apology from blogger

From Canada-

The legal squabble between Niagara Bishop Michael Bird and an Oakville blogger who criticized him is over.

The Diocese of Niagara says the pair has reached a settlement.

Blogger David Jenkins offered an apology to Bird for "any suffering he has experienced as a result of blog postings" on Jenkins' Anglican Samizdat blog, the diocese said in a media release issued Monday.

The terms of settlement also stipulate that Jenkins publish an apology on his blog, pay the majority of the legal costs, remove Bird from blog posts and agree not to publish any similar posts about him in the future.

More here-

Virginia church may look Anglican, but it's fully Baptist

From Charlottesville-

Sunday mornings at All Souls Charlottesville are fairly common for an Anglican congregation.

The Book of Common Prayer and the Revised Common Lectionary are standard, creeds are spoken together, the Eucharist is the central focus of the liturgy and the minister blesses the congregation before it scatters back into the world.

But the Charlottesville, Va., congregation isn’t an Episcopal church. It’s Baptist — in fact it’s a plant of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2014.

This isn’t a Baptist church in the Charleston tradition, a structured expression of worship often distinguished from the more revivalistic Sandy Creek tradition. It goes beyond that to include wine in communion and the view by some, including Pastor Winn Collier, that worship and life ought to be expressed sacramentally.

More here-

Princeton Theological Seminary awarded $1.1 million grant for confirmation research

From Princeton-

The Princeton Theological Seminary has received a $1.1 million grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. to fund The Confirmation Project, Christian Youth: Learning and Living the Faith. Lilly Endowment, Inc. is a private foundation from Indiana that supports advancements in religion and education.

The focus of the research project will be on how confirmation, a rite of initiation in several Christian denominations, and equivalent practices build lasting faith and discipleship in youth. The project will study five Protestant denominations in North America: the African Methodist E
piscopal Church, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church in America and the United Methodist Church.

More here-

Statement from the Anglican Communion delegation to the 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

From Anglican News-

The priority theme for the 2014 session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW58) was “Challenges and Achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for Women and Girls”.

We are at a historic point in global development and understanding as we review the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), move toward the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action by the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 (Beijing+20), and negotiate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2015-2030. Despite hard-won gains, women currently account for about two-thirds of the 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty. One in three women experience violence in their lifetime. Gender equality and women’s rights are the essential precursors to meeting global challenges, which have disproportionate and burdensome impacts on women and girls. These include:

More here-

Monday, April 7, 2014

Assassins storm Anglican church in Ijebu-Ode, kill high chief

From Nigeria-

An Ijebu chief, Chief Tola Okuneye was shot dead during a church service in Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State, by suspected assassins on Sunday.

Dailypost gathered that the chief was shot dead by ten armed men who stormed St. John African Church, Oke Sopen around 11am while service was ongoing.

A member of the congregation who witnessed the attack said “The service was on when we noticed that some boys numbering about ten armed to teeth entered the church and headed straight to where Chief Okuneye was sitting and shot him on the head. It was the time our preacher was about to mount the pulpit. It was about 11.00a.m.”

More here-

The facts of killing: how do we write about the Rwandan Genocide?

From The New Statesman-

In the 20 years since the genocide, Rwanda has become a much-studied topic, in writing that has proliferated across genres. There have been official reports by the United Nations and by human rights charities; significant studies such as GĂ©rard Prunier’s The Rwanda Crisis (1995); literary accounts such as Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families (1998); novels such as A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali (2000) by Gil Courtemanche; and a host of witness testimonies, by victims and killers and others, either made to journalists such as Linda Melvern, whose A People Betrayed: the Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide (2000) is another important book, or formally under the auspices of the International Criminal Court and other judicial bodies.

More here-

Who owns historic White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church?

From Delaware-

One of Delaware's oldest and most historic congregations is in a religious dispute that will be argued this month in the Court of Chancery.

Many members of White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church want to split from the Presbyterian Church (USA) because that body has voted to allow gay and lesbians to be ordained. Congregants voted 96-2 to affiliate with ECO, a recently formed conservative order of Presbyterians.

The issue before Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster on April 30 is whether the congregation or the governing body, the New Castle Presbytery, owns the church building and surrounding property. The church is located about two miles east of Newark along the Kirkwood Highway, which is named for Revolutionary War hero Robert Kirkwood who is buried in the church cemetery.

According to Frank Zebley, chronicler of Delaware's churches, the congregation was organized in 1722 and incorporated in September 1787 within days of the adoption of the U. S. Constitution. The present brick church, dedicated in 1856, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

More here-

Local places of worship seek balance between security, accessibility

From Bradford PA-

In light of several violent or otherwise criminal acts in or near area places of worship in recent years, local religious leaders are looking to strike the right balance between security and accessibility.
Churches and synagogues have always been places of sanctuary, where anyone is welcome to seek answers or assistance. They don’t keep regular business hours and they don’t turn anyone away — and, lately, that open-door policy has left them open to some safety issues.

Last month, a man claiming to be under the influence of drugs went inside the Grace Lutheran Church and threatened to blow it up with the parishioners inside. Meanwhile, there have been break-ins at St. Bernard Roman Catholic Church and the First Presbyterian Church, and the Temple Beth El synagogue has been vandalized several times in recent years.

Perhaps the most devastating act of crime in a local place of worship occurred in December 2012, when a elementary school music teacher entered the First United Presbyterian Church of Coudersport and fatally shot his ex-wife as she played the organ for the congregation.

More here-

Sunday, April 6, 2014

New bishop selected for Episcopal diocese

From Massachusetts-

Episcopalians of Eastern Massachusetts on Saturday elected the Rev. Alan M. Gates, rector of a large church in Ohio, to succeed Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, who will retire in September after a 20-year tenure.

Gates, 56, will lead a diverse and active diocese with 183 congregations and 63,000 baptized members, but one that, like most mainline Christian churches, continues to struggle with attracting young people and with meeting the spiritual needs of a society that has drifted away from institutions and organized religion.

More here-

Why does progressive Pope Francis allow anti-gay bishops to preach hate?

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

A president struggling in the polls at home recently traveled to the Vatican. He was hoping that a photo with the wildly popular Pope Francis might boost his dismal approval ratings. But because the president had been championing historic LGBT legislation to appeal to his base, some wondered if the pope would actually use their meeting to chastise the president — reminding him how the policies he favors are out of sync with church teachings.

Barack Obama, right? No — the president was Nigeria’s embattled leader, President Goodluck Jonathan.

As we all know, the media reported, analyzed, critiqued, conjectured and speculated on every aspect of President Obama’s meeting with Pope Francis, including whether or not the two men would discuss same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights in the United States. But five days earlier, with little attention or fanfare, Pope Francis received Mr. Jonathan, fresh off the president signing a bill criminalizing homosexuality in Nigeria.

Read more: