Saturday, May 31, 2014

Something new: Same-sex wedding ceremonies at churches

From Chicago-

Church musician Robert Vogler, 62, has participated in his fair share of marriage ceremonies. But none will be more special than the one taking place Sunday. It’s the day marriage equality becomes legal statewide in Illinois. And it’s the day he and his partner of 23 years, Anthony Dobrowolski, will exchange marriage vows in the place they’ve called their church home for two decades. The couple always wanted to get married.“We never had that option, and it didn’t seem like . . . in our lifetime that we ever would,” Vogler said. “When [the law] passed, we decided we’re going to do it, and we wanted to do it on June 1.”

More here-

Combined Easton church prepares to move forward

From Massachusetts-

Sandy and Edward Rollo live right around the corner from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Their two children were confirmed there. Sandy has been worshipping at St. Mark’s since 1976.
But the final worship service at the graceful old church with simple stained glass windows was May 11. It is now for sale.

St. John’s of Taunton and St. John the Evangelist of Mansfield are also being sold. All three Bristol County Episcopal churches are merging into one – the Bristol Trinity Episcopal Church. It’s also known as the Bristol Cluster. That’s because the three churches have been in a “cluster” relationship – sharing sermons and space since the early 1990s.

More here-

Hmong priest finds 'different vision of Christ' in Episcopal church

From The National Catholic Register-

In June 2013, Toua Vang became the first Hmong man in the world to be ordained an Episcopal priest, and is now pastor of the only Hmong-majority Episcopal church anywhere.
His roots are in Catholicism, but the Episcopal church offered an option for non-celibate priesthood. "I come from the Hmong culture, and men are expected to have a family," he said.

Vang, 47, is one of hundreds of Hmong who began attending Holy Apostles Episcopal Church in St. Paul in 2005. The church was about to close, with only about 60 members remaining. Then 700-plus Hmong, making up 78 families who were searching for a new place to worship after leaving the nearby St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, found a home at Holy Apostles. They were welcomed and quickly became a part of church leadership.

More here-

Friday, May 30, 2014

Ninety-seven Iowa faith leaders ask White House to cut carbon emissions

From Iowa-

Ninety-seven Iowa faith leaders have signed a letter sent to the White House and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in support of the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution at American electrical generating plans.

The Iowans include Bishop Richard Pates of Roman Catholic Diocese of Des Moines, Bishop Alan Scarfe of the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, Bishop Julius Trimble of the Iowa Area of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Phil Barrett, General Presbyter of the Presbytery of Des Moines, Bishop Michael Burk of the Southeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Bishop Martin Amos of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport, and Rabbi Steven Edelman-Blank of Tifereth Israel Synagogue of Des Moines.

More here-

Tight security for Archbishop Welby in Pakistan

From the Church Times-

THE threat facing minorities in Pakistan was laid bare on Monday, the day of the Archbishop of Canterbury's arrival in the country, when an American doctor was shot dead in the Punjab province.

Mehdi Ali, a volunteer cardiologist born in Pakistan, was a member of the minority Ahmadi community, which faces persecution in the country.

Security is tight for Archbishop Welby's visit to the country. On Tuesday, he met the diocesan bishops of the Church of Pakistan, the Governor of Punjab, and leaders from a range of faith communities.

More here-

Retired Bishop Daniel L. Swenson dies

From ENS-

The Rt. Rev. Daniel L. Swenson, eighth bishop of Vermont, died May 24. A private service with his family took place May 29 (Ascension Day) in Northfield, Minnesota.

Swenson leaves behind family and countless friends whose hearts and lives have been warmed by his friendship and laughter. Following Swenson’s ordination in the Episcopal Church in 1960, he and his wife Sally lived in a number of towns in Minnesota including Minnetonka Beach, Wayzata, Virginia, Eveleth, Faribault, and White Bear Lake. In 1986 they moved to Burlington, Vermont, when he was elected the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont and was active in the wider Episcopal Church.

More here-

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Group of Arizona clergy backs marriage equality

From Arizona-

Clergy members from several Valley churches and church groups say marriage equality is a basic tenet of their beliefs, contradicting the vocal opposition to same-sex marriage by numerous religious groups.

They met Tuesday in Phoenix to illustrate that numerous religious leaders support marriage equality, as opposed to vocal opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and others.

The gathering, put together by Why Marriage Matters Arizona, a group attempting to promote marriage equality in the state, took place at the office of the United Church of Christ, the first Christian denomination to permit gay clergy and marriages in states where it is allowed.

More here-


Greg Griffith from "Stand Firm" (Ironically)-

After more than ten years on the front lines of the Anglican wars, I have made a major change. This past Easter vigil, my family and I were confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church.

It’s a measure of what a long and strange journey it’s been for me over this past decade that I’ve even had to entertain the question of what kind of reaction this might cause among people I’ve never even met, or the political ripples it might send out through the various quarters of my allies and opponents.

I was raised in a straight-from-central-casting, large Southern Baptist church: The building occupying an entire city block, the Sunday service televised, communion (as it were) once a year, consisting of saltine crackers and Welch’s grape juice.

More here-

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury to meet Pope in Rome next month

From The BBC-

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is to meet the Pope next month, Lambeth Palace has confirmed.

The head of the Church of England will visit Rome from 14 to 16 June as part of a human trafficking and modern slavery initiative he launched with Pope Francis last year.

The pair, who met in 2013 in a private meeting, will meet on the final day of the archbishop's trip.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis this week completed a tour of the Middle East.

Speaking to reporters during his return flight, he announced he was to meet a group of sex abuse victims next month, after he compared the "ugly crime" to performing "satanic mass".

He said he would show zero tolerance to anyone in the Roman Catholic Church who abuses children.

More here-

Interfaith harmony: Anglican leader on trip to Pakistan

From International New York Times-

The Archbishop of Canterbury met church leaders in Pakistan on Tuesday as he began a week-long visit to the region.

Justin Welby, the leader of the world’s Anglicans, will meet Muslim leaders and senior government officials during his stay, part of a week-long tour that will also take in India and Bangladesh.
Christians are a small minority in Pakistan, where 97 per cent of the 180 million population are Muslims.

They have suffered attacks in recent years, most notoriously last September when a double suicide attack at a church in the northwestern city of Peshawar killed 82 people.

Welby met Bishop Samuel Azariah, Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, in the eastern town of Raiwind on Tuesday, a spokesman said.

More here-

Ten Years Later, Why Gay Marriage Is Winning

From Christianity Today (RNS)-

What a difference 10 years makes.

In May 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to allow same-sex marriage. Six months later, with dire warnings about schoolchildren being forced to read “Heather Has Two Mommies” and threats of legalized polygamy, so-called “values voters” passed bans on same-sex marriage in 11 states and ushered George W. Bush to another four years in the White House.

Fast-forward to 2014, and the cultural and legal landscape could hardly be more different. Today, 19 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage, and federal courts have struck down bans in 11 more states. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages after ditching a central portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act last year, and 44 percent of Americans now live in states that allow same-sex marriage.

More here-

Why So Many Latinos Are Leaving Catholicism – And Religion Altogether

From Miami-

To gauge how dramatically things have changed in the Latino community, look no further than the gold chain around Marisol Medina’s neck.

The necklace, which Medina’s devoutly Roman Catholic mother gave her, once held a cross – which has been replaced by a globe.

“It represents my shift from religion,” says Medina, “to the world, which I now believe in more than the cross or religion.”

Medina, a 24-year-old senior at Florida International University in Miami, was born in Colombia. She was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school. A generation ago, her renunciation of religion would have been rare for anyone of Latin American origin. The problem for the Catholic Church is that you really can’t call it rare anymore.

More here-

Episcopalians Bail Out Of Omaha Tri-Faith Initiative

From Nebraska-

The Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha may become a “Bi-Faith” Initiative thanks to the efforts of Dr. Mark Christian, the Executive Director of the Omaha-based Global Faith Institute.

The Tri-Faith Initiative is a project that planned to co-locate a Jewish Synagogue, an Episcopal Church and an Islamic Mosque on the same campus, with a common building for the use of all three faiths at its center.

Dr. Christian’s discovery, of links between the Mosque organizers and the Muslim Brotherhood, was detailed in an earlier article published here at the Daily Caller. The article drew some overdue attention to the un-vetted project from the citizens of Omaha, sparking a lively debate on a local radio program that featured Dr. Christian, Rabbi Aryeh Azriel, the Senior Rabbi of the Synagogue at the heart of the project, and a member of that Synagogue, Robert Freeman, who also serves as the President of the Tri-Faith Initiative.

Read more:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

From Malta-

Pope Francis said late yesterday that he believed that Roman Catholic priests should be celibate but the rule was not an unchangeable dogma, and "the door is always open" to change.

Francis made similar comments when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires but his remarks to reporters on a plane returning from a Middle East trip were the first he has made since becoming pope.
"Celibacy is not a dogma," he said in answer to a question about whether the Catholic Church could some day allow priests to marry as they can in some other Christian Churches.

"It is a rule of life that I appreciate very much and I think it is a gift for the Church but since it is not a dogma, the door is always open," he said.

The Church teaches that a priest should dedicate himself totally to his vocation, essentially taking the Church as his spouse, in order to help fulfil its mission.

More here-

Richard Dawkins calls himself a 'secular Christian', has sense of nostalgia for church traditions

From Christian Today (Australia)-

The outspoken atheist and evolutionary biologist was presenting the first volume of his memoirs, An Appetite For Wonder, at the festival over the weekend.

According to The Telegraph, he made it clear he felt nothing for the spiritual teachings of Christianity, but his comments suggested a tolerance of the church as a cultural tradition.

"I would describe myself as a secular Christian in the same sense as secular Jews have a feeling for nostalgia and ceremonies," said Dawkins.

"But if you don't have the supernatural, it's not clear to me why you would call yourself a minister.

"But I am a secular Christian, if you want to call me that."

More here-

The little church on the corner

From Oklahoma-

When you walk through the ancient red doors of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Woodward, you sense a presence.

Perhaps it is the echo of 120 years of history in this, the oldest church still in use in Northwest Oklahoma and the panhandle.

Or just maybe, it is the energy, still swirling, from the hundreds of weddings, baptisms, christenings, candlelight services on Christmas Eve and early morning Easters, which took place each year since the little church was built in 1893 on its original location at 701 Main Street.

You could be sensing the spirit it took to plan and move the sturdy little Late Gothic Revival style structure, built within months after the land run.

- See more at:

Retired New York Vicar Bishop Don Taylor dies at 77

From ENS-

Bishop Taylor suffered a stroke in February and had pursued faithfully a long and difficult process towards recovery. This past week, however, his body began to fail, and he was admitted to the ICU of Phelps Memorial Hospital in Sleepy Hollow. He died last Saturday, May 24, 2014, with his daughter Tara and other members of his family by his side.

Bishop Taylor held the distinction of being the first West Indian to become a Bishop in The Episcopal Church. Born and raised in Jamaica, he was ordained a priest in 1961 and began a ministry at St. Mary the Virgin, then a small mission in Kingston, Jamaica. In 1970, he left a flourishing congregation to take up his next appointment as Headmaster of Kingston College. He came to the United State in 1973 and served communities in Buffalo and Atlanta for some 14 years, until election in 1987 as Bishop of the Virgin Islands. As Bishop, his strong pastoral ministry contributed to significant church growth. A former radio announcer, he established a Diocesan Radio Studio and proclaimed the gospel in weekly broadcasts.

More here-

Episcopal churches from Taunton, Mansfield, Easton unite; first combined service set for June 15

From Easton-

Three Bristol County Episcopal churches are merging into one, and will celebrate their first service together as the Bristol Trinity Episcopal Church on June 15.

The new congregation will be moving to space leased from the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 143 Lincoln St., in North Easton.

The three churches, St. John’s of Taunton, St. John the Evangelist of Mansfield and St. Mark’s of North Easton, have been in a “cluster” relationship since the early 1990s, sharing a priest and often gathering together f

or services during the summer months. With small congregations and aging buildings, the churches of the Bristol Cluster voted in September 2013 to begin the merger process. The churches have been worshipping together since October of this year, rotating between the three church buildings for weekly services and other activities. Average Sunday attendance for the combined congregation is around 70.

More here-

Monday, May 26, 2014

A World War II survivor's Memorial Day sermon

From Kentucky-

Memorial Day has been set aside as a federal holiday to remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. For the survivor who chooses to testify his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory.

To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive. To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.

These words I quote from Elie Wiesel, a German Jew who survived the Holocaust. We know, as Wiesel reminds us, in the end it is all about memory. So today it is my duty as a survivor to speak for those silent ones who are with us only in spirit and memory.

More here-

Historic church to reopen

From Vermont-

St. John’s Church in East Poultney is reopening its doors for the summer for the first time in 83 years. Since closing in 1931, the church has opened only once a year for an annual service. Now, the community is pulling together to reopen, and hopefully save, the historic building.

St. John’s has “no heat or electricity, except through its charm,” said Ida Mae Johnson, historian and chairwoman of St. John’s Executive Committee. “We haven’t renovated,” Johnson said of the nearly 200-year-old building. 

More here-

Following last year's merger, new church has a new priest

From Salem Mass-

As the first priest in charge at All Saints Episcopal Church of the North Shore, the Rev. Marya DeCarlen has a lot on her plate.

She has taken the reins of a new church, formed by the merger a year ago of Calvary Episcopal in Danvers and St. Paul’s Episcopal in Peabody. Both churches date back more than 100 years but, faced with smaller memberships, decided to consolidate to cut costs, reduce overhead and grow membership.

They came together in the former Calvary church at Cherry and Holten streets, and as time has passed, DeCarlen said members no longer talk about belonging to their former churches.

More here-

O Judge of the nations, we remember before you with grateful
hearts the men and women of our country who in the day of
decision ventured much for the liberties we now enjoy. Grant
that we may not rest until all the people of this land share the
benefits of true freedom and gladly accept its disciplines. This
we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Broke churches turning city into holy ghost town

From The New York Post-

Is nothing sacred?

Preservationists are raising hell to protect the city’s historic churches as parishes in desirable areas close and developers snatch up the holy properties.

Chelsea neighbors are fighting a proposed 11-story tower above the 150-year-old French Evangelical Church, which has struggled to pay for repairs and sold its air rights to survive. Residents say the plans are “atrocious” and want the Presbytery of New York City to try a Hail Mary.

“It’s not just about the preservation of this block — it’s about all the city’s historic churches,” said Paul Groncki of the 16th Street Block Association.

More here-

What's God got to do with Memorial Day? Everything, as president after president has reminded us

From The Tribune Review-

Throughout American history presidents often have used religious rhetoric for various reasons: to provide comfort and consolation, argue that God providentially directs our nation, celebrate our Christian heritage, defend democracy, hold citizens and the country accountable to transcendent standards, help accomplish their own political aims, justify America's actions, foster traditional morality and justice, promote prayer and Bible reading, call for national and individual repentance, unite Americans and satisfy citizens' expectations.

More here-