Saturday, June 21, 2014

‘What I Heard Was a Marriage’

From The Living Church-

A conversation on same-sex marriage drew 55 participants to Kansas City on June 3-5. The conversation’s participants represented only dioceses and provinces that make provisions for civil marriage for same-sex couples.

“We invited every diocese of the Episcopal Church in places where there is civil marriage for same-sex couples (as of 1/1/14) and every province of the Anglican Communion where there is civil marriage for same-sex couples in some part of the province to nominate participants,” Ruth Meyers, chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, told TLC via email. “We invited the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies, both of whom accepted. We invited representatives of our ecumenical partners, as determined in consultation with the Ecumenical Officer of The Episcopal Church.”

More here-

Uganda's Anti-Gay Law and America's Right Hand

From Huffington-

The White House just issued a statement about our imposing serious sanctions on the country of Uganda for a law, signed by President Yoweri Museveni in February, which criminalizes homosexuality. The U.S. has cut aid, imposed visa restrictions, and canceled a regional military exercise in response to the law which imposes jail terms of up to life for "aggravated homosexuality," including acts such as homosexual sex with a minor or while HIV-positive.

While the White House's relatively swift and strong action against the hate legislation is commendable, there is a rather ironic left-hand-not-knowing (or turning a blind eye) to-what-the-right-hand-is-doing twist. The right hand is that of U.S. faith-based organizations and their global practices which are fomenting hate and contributing to global conflict.

More here-

'God did a real number on me'

From England-

About four years ago, one of the few passersby who dropped into Butterfield's enormous neo-Gothic barn of a church is St Augustine's on a prime piece of real estate in Queen's Gate, South Kensington, would have witnessed an extraordinary sight.

Hour after hour, standing at the altar, they would have seen an ex-offender with startling blue eyes, a shock of wavy brown hair and a face that has clearly 'lived' a little, practising the complex rituals and liturgy of a 34-page High Mass that owes more to 20th-century Rome than his own Church of England, until he knew every step by heart.

Rev Paul Cowley was awarded an MBE in the latest honours, for services to ex-offenders. His story and that of the church he now leads are living witnesses to the power of faith to transform.

More here-

Could the Archbishop and the Pope really reunify the Church?

From The Independent (UK)-

Something significant happened in Rome this week when the Archbishop of Canterbury met the Pope for the second time since the two men took office, within days of one another, just over a year ago.

They have agreed a joint project to use the worldwide reach of their churches to combat the global trade in human trafficking. They discussed how to pressure 50 top multinational companies to render their supply chains free of forced labour by 2020 – and how to “slavery proof” the investments and purchasing of their own churches. There were other areas of practical co-operation, including peace-building in areas like South Sudan. As he left Rome, Archbishop Justin Welby hinted that the two had discussed other new initiatives.

More here-

1st Black Episcopal Church in South to Celebrate 190 years.

From Baltimore- (with video)

The oldest black Episcopal Church south of the Mason-Dixon Line is getting ready to celebrate nearly 200 years of service this weekend.

St. James Episcopal Church is located in the heart of west Baltimore's Lafayette Square. It was formed during the slavery era in 1824 and was the only one of its kind in the south for decades.

"After the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, then we began to see additional black episcopal congregations being founded in the south. But for nearly 40 years, St. James was it," said the Rev. Allen Robinson.

The current site isn't the original location for St. James, but the church is old. Built in 1867, St. James took the current building over in the 1930s when the neighborhood was changing from predominantly white to black, and it became the cornerstone of the community.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Welby braced for 'difficulty' with Rome as Church of England prepares to approve women bishops

From The Telegraph-

A long-awaited vote, expected next month, to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England is likely to set back relations with the Roman Catholic Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury has acknowledged.

The Most Rev Justin Welby, a strong supporter of women in episcopate, said he was conscious he would have to “deal with” the ramifications but insisted it was a “difficulty” rather than a serious blow to hopes of eventual unity.

Speaking as he met Archbishop Welby in Rome earlier this week, Pope Francis described the more than 400 years of division between the two churches as a “scandal”.

More here-

Presbyterians in U.S. to allow gay marriage ceremonies

From USA Today-

At their gathering in Detroit, the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States voted to allow their clergy to perform same-sex marriages.

Members of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), an influential mainline Protestant group, voted at Cobo Center for the first time to allow ministers to perform them.

The Presbyterians are now one of the biggest Christian groups in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriages.

According to Religion News Service, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church voted to allow pastors to perform gay marriages wherever they are legal by a vote of 76% to 24%.

More here-

Church is not flaky, Welby tells MPs over pastries

From The Church Times-

FOR the first time in its 30-year history, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke at the National Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast, held on Tuesday.

The Prime Minister, and the Leader of the Opposition, Ed Miliband, joined almost 700 guests to hear Archbishop Welby speak on the theme "Global Christianity in the 21st Century". It was also the first time that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition had both attended.

The breakfast, in Westminster Hall, has been organised for three decades by the group Christians in Parliament.

Archbishop Welby told those present that the Church must not be just an "NGO with lots of old buildings". He spoke of how he had visited All Saints', Peshawar, in Pakistan, earlier this month. A bomb attack on the church last year had killed 200 people (News, 13 September), but the congregation had tripled since then, he said.

More here-,-welby-tells-mps-over-pastries

Episcopal priest writes summer devotional for vacationers

From Houston-

While many people take vacations for a break from hard work and big decisions, Russell and Laura Levenson say that summer getaways are often when they plot their futures.

The couple was on a beach vacation last summer when it occurred to them that when many people head out of town, they also take a break from church services.

That's when Laura Levenson suggested to her husband, rector of St. Martin's Episcopal Church in the Galleria area, that his next project be a book to serve as a summer devotional for those who go on vacation or simply use the season as a time to slow down a little.

More here-

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Presbyterian Church votes to allow same-sex marriage

From Detroit-

The U.S. Presbyterian Church’s highest council Thursday voted to sanction same-sex marriage.

The issue was among several considered during the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s 221st General Assembly, held at the Cobo Convention Center in downtown Detroit. The convention began June 14 and runs through Saturday.

The assembly approved an amendment to the church constitution that would redefine marriage as between “two people” instead of “a man and a woman.” It also approved allowing its ministers to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples in states where same-sex marriages are legal.

More than 650 of the church’s ruling and teaching elders voted on the issues. The elders were elected by presbyteries. There were also more than 200 advisory delegates who could speak and vote during committee meetings, but could only speak during the assembly’s plenary sessions.

More here-

Pope honours Lincolnshire vicar's daughter Frances Taylor with 'second stage of sainthood'

From the UK-

Frances Taylor, the Lincolnshire-born founder of a Roman Catholic order of nuns, is well on her way to being declared a saint - 114 years after her death.

Pope Francis, the leader of the faith, has declared that she can be called "Venerable."

It means that the youngest daughter of an 19th century Lincolnshire rector has been officially recognised for her "heroic virtues."

And the Vatican announcement marks the second stage in the process of being declared a saint.

Born in Stoke Rochford, near Grantham, in 1832, Frances was the youngest daughter of Anglican rector Henry Taylor.

Her experiences as volunteer nurse in the Crimean War alongside Florence Nightingale led her to convert to Roman Catholicism in 1855.

And in 1872, aged 40, she founded the religious order of nuns the Poor Servants of the Mother of God.

More here-

Pope, Anglican Archbishop urge joint action to share God's love

From The Pilot- (Boston)

Although they have not yet reached full unity, Roman Catholics and Anglicans continue their dialogue, come together in prayer and work side by side, including on a new project to combat human trafficking around the world.

"I thank God that, as disciples sent to heal a wounded world, we stand together with perseverance and determination in opposing this grave evil," Pope Francis told Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury June 16 during a meeting at the Vatican.

Archbishop Welby, the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, was in Rome to hold his second meeting with Pope Francis, to visit Anglican communities in the city and to participate in a meeting of the Global Freedom Network, which they and other faith leaders founded to combat human trafficking and modern slavery.

More here-

Where Christian churches, other religions stand on gay marriage

From Pew-

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) plans to hold a historic vote on same-sex marriage this week that could reverberate beyond the church’s nearly 2 million members. Church leaders gathering in Detroit are expected to decide as early as today whether to allow gay marriage or to continue to prohibit it, a move some Christian leaders believe could influence other centrist and liberal mainline Protestant churches as they also grapple with the issue.

In the last two decades, several religious groups have moved to allow same-sex couples to marry within their traditions. This includes the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.

More here-

Navajoland Area Mission continues to raise up native leaders

From ENS-

“This is believed to be a historic action of the election of an all-Navajo deputation,” Eaton, who was ordained to the transitional diaconate in December and is Bailey’s canon to the ordinary, told Episcopal News Service via e-mail, after the meeting.  “Most certainly to be true in the election of all Navajo clerical deputation.”

Plummer is the daughter of the late Bishop Steven Plummer, who served Navajoland as bishop from 1990 to 1994. Her mother, Catherine Plummer, is a priest at St. Mary’s of the Moonlight Episcopal Church in Oljato, Utah.

When Plummer and Sampson were ordained, they became the latest ordained Navajo leaders that the area has raised up and Bailey has ordained since he became bishop in August 2010. There are eight ordained Navajo and three others are in training.

More here-

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

ISIS Threatens Remaining Christian Population in Iraq

About Iraq-

The plight of Christians in Iraq has been a troublesome, violent story in recent years. Like much of Iraq, however, that story has turned tragic and horrific in the last few days and weeks as a terrorist group  rampages the country hoping to create Sunni Islamic states in the region.

Certainly Shiite Muslims are under attack from the group, but Christians are also facing a dire situation, one which some are calling a “targeted religious cleansing of Christians.”
Christianity Today reports:

“Things are so bad now in Iraq, the worst they have ever been,” writes Canon Andrew White, vicar of St. George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad. “The Islamic terrorists have taken control of the whole of Mosul which is Nineveh the main Christian stronghold. The army [has] even fled. We urgently need help and support. … We are in a desperate crisis.”

More here-

SERIOUSLY? Someone steals priceless cross from a local bishop

From Seattle-

Many would argue there’s a special place in H-E-Double Hockey Sticks for the person who steals from a bishop.

The Diocese of Olympia is hoping the public can help locate a special pectoral cross that was stolen out of Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel’s car Sunday in Seattle. .

Bishop Rickel, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia in Western Washington, parked his Toyota Prius downtown Sunday near the intersection of 6th Avenue and Stewart Street. While away from his car,  someone broke into it and stole several items.

Among the items stolen was a one-of-a-kind cross given to Bishop Rickel upon his consecration, the diocese said.

The cross was designed by Nancy Denmark and includes impressions taken from objects in Western Washinstion. It also features a sailing ship design from the diocesan seal mounted above the impression. It is silver.

Police are investigating the case. In the meantime, the diocese is asking anyone with information on the stolen item to contact Mr. Blaire Notrica, executive assistant to the bishop, at

Read more:

Garden rooted in faith to feed community

From Maryland-

Not just a tree, but a food forest grows in Brunswick.

The city's only grocery store closed last year, and out went the supply of fresh fruits and vegetables for anyone who did not, or could not, grow their own produce or drive 10 or more miles to get it.

Waiting for someone to solve the shortage was not the solution, the Rev. Anjel Scarborough said.
“We need to take charge of that,” Grace Episcopal Church's priest in charge said.

In the past 48 days, she, her congregation and others in the community have literally planted her inspiration: the Brunswick Food Forest. She got the idea for an urban garden at an Episcopal Buildings for a New Tomorrow conference in April.

More here-

Young woman emerges from ‘troubled’ teens to become priest

From New Jersey-

Church was the one constant that Katie McCallister said she had growing up; however, becoming a priest came as a humble surprise.

On May 24, McCallister, 26, was ordained as a priest in her home parish, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in South River.

“It was very meaningful to be ordained in the church I grew up in,” she said. “The coolest thing is, although the ordination was about me, it really was not about me at all.”

McCallister explained that the congregants at Holy Trinity currently have an interim rector, and the search for a full-time rector has been ongoing for two years. Last month, the congregants were able to witness McCallister, a fixture in the church, enter priesthood.

The journey to priesthood hasn’t been straightforward. McCallister went to elementary school in Old Bridge and spent the rest of her time in South Amboy, graduating from South Amboy High School in 2005.

“I was a troubled teenager,” she said, adding that she had dabbled in alcohol and a few drugs around the time her parents divorced.

More here-

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Why I kiss my stole

From The Christian Century-

As I vested for worship on a recent Sunday, a parishioner noticed me kissing my stole before I put it on. “I like that you do that,” she said, to my brief and unexpected embarrassment. I’ve made this small gesture every time I’ve vested since my ordination, but no one had ever prompted me to reflect on it before.

Augustine says that habit unresisted becomes compulsion. This maxim rings true with my experience of bad habits, but I’d never thought of it in terms of pious ones. My parishioner’s comment made me realize that kissing my stole has long since sunk from a distinct act into a habit—and may now be a compulsion.

“I guess it reminds me,” I told her.

I was apprenticed in ministry for a long time, even by Lutheran standards. I watched a lot of clergy vest. When I was young, the chance sight of a dear family friend—a Methodist elder and northern Wisconsin politician—preparing to preside at my cousin’s wedding prompted an early hint at a vocation. Stiff with diabetes, he braced himself against the hallway wall while his wife helped him into his alb. Together they composed a picture of stubborn dedication.

More here-

Pastoral Care in Death’s Path

From The Living Church-

The first time the Rev. John W. Price encountered someone who described having a near-death experience was in 1970, just five years after his ordination as a priest. The account, given by a respected woman in his congregation, left him confused and upset, and he felt unable to provide pastoral care.

“Nothing prepared me for the person telling me about a near-death experience,” he said. More than 200 interviews later, Price has written Revealing Heaven: The Christian Case for Near-Death Experiences (2013).

“There are really only two religions: fear and love,” Price said. “God is loving and forgiving. Jesus is love incarnate. What counts for getting into heaven is being a loving person.”

More here-

Pope, archbishop of Canterbury battle trafficking

From The Boston Herald-

Pope Francis and the archbishop of Canterbury denounced human trafficking as a crime against human dignity Monday and pledged to combat it jointly — finding common ground on a social issue amid deep theological divisions over the Anglicans' ordination of women bishops.

Francis and Archbishop Justin Welby, spiritual leader of the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion, met in private and then prayed together in a Vatican chapel, their second such meeting since both were elected within days of one another last year.

Francis has made the fight against modern-day slavery a priority of his pontificate: The Vatican has hosted two conferences, Francis has met with women who were trafficked and the Vatican has teamed up with the Anglican church and Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the world's foremost seat of Sunni learning, to launch a global initiative to fight human slavery.

More here-

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Meet the ‘evangelical’ Catholics who are remaking the GOP

From The Washington Post-

How many voters know that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is a Roman Catholic? Or that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is a Southern Baptist, not a Latino Catholic? Or that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio worships at both a Catholic parish and an evangelical church?

More importantly, does it matter?

Actually, it does in today’s Republican Party, where a number of factors have forged a new religious identity that supersedes familiar old categories.

These prominent Republicans are emblematic of the new religious amalgam that, in many instances, has helped refashion denominational differences that were once almost insurmountable. Look no further than the stunning Virginia primary victory of Dave Brat, a Catholic with degrees from a Reformed Protestant college in Michigan and Princeton Theological Seminary, who took down House Majority Leader Eric Cantor last week.

More here-

While Pope Francis rages over inequality, a cardinal builds a Vatican penthouse

From The Washington Post-

While condemning rapacious global businessmen who have done the world’s economy wrong, he is doing the same thing among the clergy. First, he accepted the resignation of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst – the Bishop of Bling — who plowed an astonishing $43 million into his posh pad in Limburg, Germany. Then he replaced the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank’s supervisory body with fresh faces. And now, the clash between what Francis describes as “a poor church for the poor” and church extravagance has shifted to a controversial cardinal named Tarcisio Bertone.

The drama, like that which consumed the Bishop of Bling, involves accommodations.

This is where the pope lives: inside a one-bedroom suite in the Casa Santa Marta. This is where Bertone will live: inside an “opulent” apartment between five and 10 times the size of Francis’s home. (Early reports alleged Bertone would move into a 2,300 square-foot flat, but he later denied those claims, saying it was a modest 1150-square foot flat.)

More here-

Brooklyn's Historic Churches Disappear to Make Way for Condos

From Brooklyn-

The borough of churches is having a second coming as the borough of condos.

In Brooklyn’s “brownstone belt," which stretches from Bedford-Stuyvesant to Carroll Gardens, more than 20 historic churches and church buildings have been converted for residential use in the past two decades.

Some preservationists and historians say the loss of churches is changing the face of some of borough's most historic neighborhoods.

"I think it’s a tragedy that we are losing these unique and amazing structures," said Sharon Barnes, a member of the Society for Clinton Hill. "They are part of the fabric of our streets and to lose so many is heartbreaking."

More here-

Monday, June 16, 2014

Good lord, a Sportsbet balloon floats to the heavens and has faith in Socceroos

From Australia-

Jesus can not only walk on water, he can float thousands of metres above the Earth and he barracks for the Socceroos, if you accept the gospel of online bookmaker Sportsbet.

A giant hot-air balloon resembling Brazil's Christ the Redeemer statue was launched last week as the face of the the bookie's World Cup marketing campaign, triggering complaints by religious groups and a rush of free PR for Sportsbet.

It is not the first time the online bookmaking company has courted controversy and scored publicity. It painted a giant image of a kangaroo forcing sex on a lion in a paddock near Melbourne airport last year, in the lead-up to the international rugby union series.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury meets Pope's cricket team

From The Telegraph-

It was his first encounter with the Vatican XI that plans to take on the Church of England at cricket in September - and the bravado of the Pope's top players was not enough to rattle the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Most Rev. Justin Welby professed himself unperturbed to learn that the Vatican had recruited an Indian batsmen and a Sri Lankan bowler to its team.

The Anglicans would still have God on their side when the Church of England's first XI faced their adversaries in their first match in Canterbury in September, he joked.

" This is the first cricket match between the two since the Reformation,” Archbishop Welby said with a grin. "There will be no intervention on the other side," he added as he tossed a cricket ball in the air in the Vatican gardens. "We all know God is English."

More here-

Christians take flight from Mosul

From The Church Times-

HUNDREDS of Christian families are among the estimated half-a-million Iraqis who have fled from the northern city of Mosul this week, after its takeover by Islamist fighters.

At least one church was seen on fire as elements of the al-Qaeda offshoot the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (the Levant) (ISIS) occupied and raised black flags over key institutions. Iraqi security forces put up scant resistance before fleeing for their lives.

The loss of government control over Mosul represents a body-blow to the Christian community in Iraq. The city, which has been relatively quiet over recent months, is regarded as one of the most secure in Iraq. It is home to a wide range of religious and ethnic groups, who have generally lived side by side without problems.

More here-

We stand together as disciples sent to heal a wounded world, Pope tells Welby

From The Tablet-

Pope Francis has said he and the Archbishop of Canterbury must focus their joint witness on “prayer, peace and poverty”.

In an audience with Archbishop Justin Welby this morning, the Pope departed from his official text and spoke in English.

“Don’t forget the ‘three Ps’,” he said. “Prayer, peace and poverty. We must walk together.”
Earlier in his address Francis had said he and the archbishop must “stand together” in combating human trafficking – while divisions between Christians remained a scandal.

The Pope praised the leader of the Anglican Communion for his leadership on seeking to overcome trafficking and slavery.

More here-

Sunday, June 15, 2014

'Alice' gets standing ovation at funeral

From San Antonio-

Ann B. Davis won over generations of TV viewers as Alice Nelson, the fun-loving, quick-witted housekeeper in the hit 1970s-era comedy "The Brady Bunch."

Her spunky personality and Hollywood success laced eulogies at her private funeral Friday morning at her home parish, St. Helena's Episcopal Church in Boerne, Texas.

Yet, the gathering focused memories on what the speakers called Davis' exemplary devotion to her faith, especially her decision in mid-career to leave Tinseltown and join an Episcopal community in Denver.

Davis, who died June 1 after suffering a fall at her home in San Antonio, was 88.

"The media had a field day" recalling her acting career, said William Frey, 84, a close friend and retired Episcopal bishop, during the homily. "But most of them have missed out on the one thing that has driven her for the last 40 years, and that is her faith."

More here-,0,5793706.story

Advocates pitch their causes to Presbyterians

From Pittsburgh-

Even in its diminished size, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) still matters to a host of advocates hoping to enlist the church in causes ranging from marriage to the Middle East to global warming as its representatives gather for their biennial legislative General Assembly in Detroit this week.

Some advocates are hoping the church becomes the largest U.S. religious denomination to recognize gay marriage, or to pull all its investments from the fossil fuel industry, or to target Israel by pulling investments in military contractors supplying that nation's occupying forces in the West Bank.

Each of those proposals, though, is facing opposition. Some want the church to retain its traditional definition of marriage as a man-woman covenant, citing the exodus of hundreds of conservative congregations in recent years as the denomination moved left on such issues as its 2011 approval of the ordination of gays and lesbians.

Read more: