Saturday, June 14, 2014

Gay marriage presents clergy with difficult situations

From Milwaukee (via

The Rev. Amanda Stein was in the middle of preaching a sermon last Sunday when one of her closest friends called and left a message on her cellphone.

The friend and her partner had been issued a marriage license in Dane County, part of the wave of same-sex couples taking that step after a federal judge ruled Wisconsin’s ban on gay marriages unconstitutional. The friend wanted to know if Stein would perform the ceremony.

“I was just thrilled — how could you have such terrific friends and say no to them?” said Stein, an associate pastor at Sun Prairie United Methodist Church. “So it was absolutely a yes. Then some back-of-the-mind questions surfaced.”

Stein’s denomination prohibits pastors from performing same-sex marriages and has defrocked some and put others on trial for doing so.

More here-

Portland dean William Lupfer named rector of Trinity Wall Street

From ENS-

The Parish of Trinity Wall Street has called the Very Rev. Dr. William Lupfer, the dean of the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon, as its next rector. Lupfer was named at the vestry’s June 11 meeting.

Lupfer will succeed the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper to become the 18th rector of the historical Episcopal parish, chartered in 1697.

“Early in the Call process, a rector from another church advised us to seek someone ‘who loves the people.’ We believe we have found such a person in Dr. Lupfer. The Visitation team that went to see him at Trinity Cathedral in Portland was struck by the palpable affection that seemed to flow within that Congregation and between the Congregation and their Dean. We have faith in the Holy Spirit that as the steward of Trinity Wall Street, Dr. Lupfer will be a profound leader who will forge a strong and pastoral bond with the members of our parish and engage the diverse viewpoints of our community and our world,” said Church-Warden Christopher McCrudden.

More here-

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Council takes action on both justice and governance issues

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council concluded its three day meeting here June 12 by taking a series of actions focused on the good order of the church and answering the call to speak out for justice.

More support for mission and ministry in Navajoland

Council members agreed to increase the triennial disbursement to the Navajoland Area Mission, also known as the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, by $225,000 to $1.25 million.

The decision came after a June 11 committee presentation about the history of the church’s work in Navajoland, including its failings.

Navajoland Bishop David Bailey said during that presentation that when he came into the diocese in 2010 “there was no plan for sustainability; there was no plan about how do we live into the future.” He added that his description of the history of Navajoland is not meant to be a criticism but rather an acknowledgement that there was “a different understanding of ministry than what we have today.”

More here-

Abp Welby's message to global summit to end sexual violence in war

From ACNS (with video)-

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby gave this video message today to the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict, hosted in London by the UK government.

The message was played at a panel discussion on the role of faith leaders in preventing and responding to sexual violence in conflict.

The panel, chaired by Nicky Morgan, Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women, discussed examples from across the faiths where religious leaders and communities have played a distinctive role in addressing the root causes and consequences of sexual violence. They also considered how barriers to their effective participation can be transformed.

More here-

Services set for former Oklahoma Episcopal bishop

From Oklahoma-

The retired Rev. Gerald Nicholas McAllister, former bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, died Tuesday. He was 91.

McAllister served as bishop of the Oklahoma diocese from 1977 to 1989.

He was born in San Antonio on Feb. 16, 1923.

He graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary and was ordained to the diaconate on Sept. 30, 1953. He married Helen Black Teague two days later. He was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 24, 1954.

McAllister served in the Diocese of West Texas at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Raymondville, Texas, as a deacon from 1953-54; priest-in-charge at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Victoria, Texas, from 1958-63; canon to the bishop of West Texas from 1963-70; and rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio from 1970-77.

More here-

Priest killed, another one injured in attack at Catholic church in Phoenix

I'm in Phoenix for Executive Council and this story is headlining-

A priest was killed and another critically wounded in an attack at a Catholic church in Phoenix, police said early Thursday.

The Rev. Kenneth Walker was fatally shot, and the Rev. Joseph Terra is hospitalized in critical condition, police and church officials said. It was not clear what type of weapon was used to attack Terra, Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department said.

A 911 call came in about 9 p.m. Wednesday (12 a.m. ET Thursday) from the Mater Misericordiae, or Mother of Mercy, Mission Catholic Church, Martos said.

The church celebrates Mass in the traditional Latin.

The emergency call to police was for a burglary and was made by one of the victims, Martos said.

More here-

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Executive Council discusses process used to fund churchwide mission

From ENS- Later on I am quoted (accurately)-

The liveliest discussion during the opening session of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council June 10-12 meeting here surrounded how much money the General Convention ought to ask dioceses to contribute to the church-wide budget – and what should be done about dioceses that do not pay the full amount.

The discussion took the form of an informal poll of council members by Diocese of Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth, chair of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission. FFM, as the committee is known, is in the process of helping to shape the draft 2016-2019 budget that council must construct by February 2015. Hollingsworth gave each council member 30 seconds to share what they are hearing around the church about the budget-funding process, and what they think ought to be done.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury inspires RAP song about scourge of payday loans

From The Mirror-

A rap combo have penned a song about the scourge of payday loans - inspired by the unlikely figure of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Music producer Charles Bailey recruited rapper Question Musiq to create We Need A Union On The Streets after the Most Rev Justin Welby's efforts to expand Britain's network of credit unions.

The track tells the story of young people who get into debt because of payday loans and features the words of personal finance guru Martin Lewis in which he warns that "payday loans gone wrong are a horrendous thing".

The song has the chorus "What we need is a union, we need a union on the streets/Everybody hand in hand, people can't you understand" and the verse "Yeah it's unfair/But they don't care/The rich get richer/While poor get less".

More here-

'Selection by faith' axed at new wave of Anglican schools

From Telegraph-

The Church of England today signalled the creation of a new wave of faith schools with no places reserved for Christians to ensure they properly “serve their local community”.

Rising numbers of schools established in the future will operate “open admissions policies” to give equal priority to non-believers and the children of other faiths, it emerged.

The CofE’s newly-appointed chief education officer said the Church wanted to expand the number of Anglican school places to address the crisis in primary education.

It is estimated that an additional 130,000 places will be needed within the next three years because of a rise in the birth rate combined with the effects of immigration in some areas.

More here-

Sewanee reverses same-sex ceremony ruling

From Tennessee-

Caught between the Episcopal Church's official policy and the protests of alumni, faculty and students, Sewanee: The University of the South has struck a compromise that could set a precedent for religious universities' approach to same-sex ceremonies across the country.

A same-sex couple will be allowed a ceremony that proclaims lifelong commitment this fall in All Saints' Chapel, the nearly cathedral-sized church on Sewanee's campus — despite the fact they are already married.

The university originally turned down the request of Kathryn Kendrick and Eva Walton, who were wed May 31 in Washington, D.C., because the couple would be married before the covenant ceremony was to take place.

More here-

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

House of Deputies president’s opening remarks at Executive Council

From ENS-

Not too long ago, I had an alarming moment when I opened a book to read an essay by my friend and former colleague Dr. Matthew Sheep. The book is What We Shall Become: The Future and Structure of the Episcopal Church, edited by former council member and Deputy Winnie Varghese and published last fall by Church Publishing, Inc. I’m honored to have an essay in it along with Bishop Katharine, Susan Snook, and other people you may know from your work in the wider church.

The experience was alarming not because of the book, which is excellent, or Matthew’s essay, which is insightful. It was alarming because the further I read, the more it became clear that his project was to explore the “discourse” of the restructuring of the Episcopal Church by doing what my English professor used to call a “close reading” of Bishop Katharine’s and my remarks to the first meeting of the Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church in February of 2013.

More here-

Presiding Bishop’s opening remarks at Executive Council

From ENS-

Good to see you all; welcome to the desert.  When I landed in Phoenix Saturday evening It felt like coming home – to see those multi-colored mountains, dry air, and fascinating plants!  The culture in this part of the world really is different – people retire here from all across the U.S., others come to work here from around the world, shorts and sports shirts frequently count as formal attire, and you can’t predict a person’s political stance on one issue if you know it on another. The Episcopal Church is thriving here – Bishop Smith tells me they’re working on their 10th new congregation in the last 13 years.  Susan Snook has started a vibrant one, which you’ll get to sample this afternoon.  Carmen Guerrerro has started three Latino congregations, and members of the most recent one visited Susan’s congregation on Pentecost.

We’ve got a number of significant issues at this meeting, all of which are related to how best to use the gifts we have as resources for churchwide mission.  All of you been involved in dreaming and prioritizing about the budget for the next triennium, and that work will continue here.

More here-

Genealogy Shows Cardinal O’Connor’s Mother Was Jewish

From The New York Times-

In his 16 years as the Catholic Church’s top official in New York, Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor was a staunch friend and defender of the Jewish people.

He spoke often about what he had seen at Dachau as a Navy chaplain. He used his platform as head of the Archdiocese of New York to support Soviet Jewry, and played a role in the Vatican’s recognition of the state of Israel. Mayor Edward I. Koch, a Bronx-born Jew who worked closely with the cardinal, proclaimed that he loved him “like a brother.”

Yet there was something Cardinal O’Connor apparently never knew: His mother was born a Jew, the daughter of a rabbi and butcher.

“The basic fact is, my mother was Jewish,” said Mary O’Connor Ward-Donegan, the cardinal’s 87-year-old sister. Observing the Jewish matrilineal tradition, she added, “That means my two brothers were Jewish, my sister was Jewish and I am Jewish. Of that I am very proud.”

More here-

Church shows its feminine face as dog collars go floral

From The Telegraph-

The decision to admit women to the priesthood was always expected to change the face of the Church of England forever.

But while the political, social and theological implications were hotly debated, few will have predicted one very practical change it would bring – in the field of fashion.

Now, almost 20 years after the first ordinations of women even the traditional dog collar is changing with new ranges of clerical dress incorporating floral designs, paisley patterns and even touches of leopard print.

Some of the latest designs were put on display in a catwalk show at Sandown Park racecourse in Surrey this week at a massive trade fair for all things clerical.

More here-

Presbyterian Church's Next Move Could Be A Tipping Point In The Israeli Divestment Debate

From Huffington-

When thousands of leaders of the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination meet this week for the church's biennial General Assembly, they'll pore through detailed proposals on dozens of topics, from gun violence to same-sex marriage to organic farming. But members expect one controversial issue to dominate the discussion: The 1.76 million-member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) may be poised to become the largest religious group to divest millions of dollars from a handful of major corporations that pro-Palestinian activists have said contribute to violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After years of failed attempts to remove at least $17 million of the church's funds from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard, a divestment measure could pass at the upcoming Detroit meeting, which begins Saturday, June 14 and runs for a week. An internal church committee focused on social responsibility has targeted the three corporations for the way their products are used in building Jewish settlements, running checkpoints and constructing the Israel-Gaza barrier.

More here-

Two churches with Nashville ties tackle same-sex marriage

From Tennessee-

Southern Baptists are taking up the issue of same-sex marriage twice in one year, with the denomination's top policy official calling it the No. 1 topic pastors are asking about.

Homosexual behavior is still a sin, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Russell Moore says, and same-sex marriage biblically forbidden. But pastors need guidance as they face more questions from the community and from gay and lesbian church members who may have kept quiet before.

At the same time, the nation's second-largest Protestant denomination, the United Methodist Church, is embroiled in a debate over the same issue. After widespread religious media coverage last month of a letter from 80 UMC pastors predicting a church schism over same-sex marriage, the denomination released a poll showing only 11 percent of Methodists surveyed believe it's the church's "most important" issue, and more than 90 percent don't want a split over it.

More here-

Transgendered priest to give sermon at Washington National Cathedral

From The Washington Times-

The most visible Episcopal church in the U.S. is hosting its first openly transgender priest this month.

The Dean of the cathedral, the Rev. Gary Hall, said in a statement that he hopes Mr. Partridge’s presence sends a message of support for the transgender community.

Rev. Cameron Partridge is set to give the June 22 sermon at the Washington National Cathedral in Northwest.

“We at Washington National Cathedral are striving to send a message of love and affirmation, especially to LGBT youth who suffer daily because of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” he said. “We want to proclaim to them as proudly and unequivocally as we can: Your gender identity is good and your sexual orientation is good because that’s the way that God made you.”

More here-

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Festival Draws Stars of Christian Preaching (Not as Seen on Television)

From The New York Times-

Quick: Name a famous American preacher.

Chances are you came up with an television evangelist. The names come easily: Billy Graham, Robert H. Schuller and Oral Roberts; Jimmy Swaggart and Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker; Joel Osteen and T. D. Jakes. Since World War II, American preaching has been synonymous with high-tech, media-savvy soul-winning, usually with a conservative, evangelical theology.

But while these evangelicals have sizable audiences and book sales, they appeal primarily to like-minded Christian conservatives. For those in the more liberal wings of the Congregational, Episcopal, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches, there is a parallel world of preaching stars.

Last month, Minneapolis was the center of that sphere.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby found his faith in Africa as a gap year student after having to cut down the hanged body of a schoolboy

From The Daily Mail-

A teenage Justin Welby rediscovered his Christian faith after dealing with the suicide of a teenage boy while on his gap year in Kenya, a new book has revealed.

The new biography of Archbishop Welby said that while an 18-year-old gap year student teaching with an Anglican Missionary group, he was suffering a crisis of faith describing himself as 'agnostic'.

However, after the traumatic experience, the young Welby told a friend that he had 're-committed himself to Christ.

More here-

The healing priest: In late 1800s, thousands sought out Rev. Mollinger at Troy Hill church

From Pittsburgh-

He was born to a wealthy Belgian family, studied medicine in Europe, became a priest, and rode on horseback in northwestern Pennsylvania to say Mass and treat people's ailments.

But it wasn't until the Rev. Suitbert Godfrey Mollinger arrived in Pittsburgh at the end of the Civil War and became priest at Most Holy Name of Jesus parish in Troy Hill that his reputation blossomed, said Kate Lukaszewicz, lead educator at the Heinz History Center.

During his more than 20 years here, she said in a talk at the history center Saturday, the "healing priest" became so well known that 20,000 people would make the pilgrimage to his church for the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua each June, seeking cures for everything from blindness and deafness to crippling ailments and heart problems.

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