Saturday, July 12, 2014

Trial over Episcopal split focuses on rights to millions in church property

From South Carolina-

During opening days of a trial over the local Episcopal schism, leaders from more than a dozen area parishes testified that The Episcopal Church lacks legal interest in their properties worth millions of dollars.

Parish leaders aligned with Bishop Mark Lawrence, who left the national church in 2012, also testified that they had removed references to The Episcopal Church from their bylaws.

Various witnesses contended that their parishes are registered South Carolina nonprofit corporations, including some chartered in the mid-1800s, whose fates should be decided by state law rather than church law.

The trial, which began Tuesday and is expected to last two weeks, is being argued before Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein.

More here-

Will Jane Hedges be the C of E’s first woman bishop?

From The Telegraph-

Jane Hedges was just 17 when she first felt called by God to be a priest. “I know it sounds odd to say it now,” she recalls, “but it never occurred to me as a girl that I couldn’t be ordained. I’d grown up in the Seventies in an Anglican parish in Portsmouth. I’d been in the choir, I’d been an altar server, and we had a woman deaconess, so it seemed perfectly natural.”

But not, of course, to the rest of the Church of England, which didn’t agree to female ordination until 1993, by which time Hedges had worked in a bank, got a degree, married and started a family. And it has now spent another 20 years debating whether women can be bishops – with a definitive vote, expected at the General Synod in York on Monday, said to be on a knife-edge.

More here-

Former archbishop lends his support to campaign to legalise right to die

From The Guardian-

The cross-party campaign to legalise the right to die took a significant step forward last night when the former archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, announced his support for the proposal as a way of preventing "needless suffering".

As peers prepare to debate a bill next Friday to legalise assisted dying, the former head of the worldwide Anglican church said it would not be "anti-Christian" to ensure that terminally ill patients avoid "unbearable" pain.

The intervention by Lord Carey of Clifton, 78, who served as archbishop of Canterbury between 1991-2002, could change the terms of the debate over the bill tabled by the former Labour lord chancellor Lord Falconer of Thoroton.

The assisted dying bill, due to be debated next Friday at second reading in the House of Lords, would legalise assisted dying for the terminally ill in England and Wales.

More here-

Historic Episcopal Church in Ft. Hamilton prepares to close

From Brooklyn-

A historic church in Bay Ridge where two Confederate Generals once worshiped has made the hard decision to close its doors and merge with a nearby Episcopal parish.

St. John’s Church in Fort Hamilton will close after 180 years of public ministry. The Rev. David Sibley, Priest-in-Charge of St. John’s Church, and the Bishop’s Committee made the announcement last week.

Because St. John’s Church is of great interest to the Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton community, as well as to Brooklyn history buffs, the parish published a Q&A about the pending closure on its website.

More here-

Friday, July 11, 2014

Church of England female bishops would be ‘seismic’, says contender

From Nigeria (Regarding CofE)-

The Church of England could be set to allow its first female bishops — and not before time, says one of those tipped for the job, adding the days of women being left to arrange the flowers are gone.

Rose Hudson-Wilkin thinks it would be “seismic” if the Church votes on Monday to allow Anglican women to take the top jobs after decades of debate on their role.

As a chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II and the Speaker of the House of Commons, Jamaican-born Hudson-Wilkin is already one of the most prominent women in the Church of England.

More here-

Pope Francis to visit Pentecostal church in Italy

From Catholic Herald-

Pope Francis will pay a brief “private visit” to the Italian church of a Pentecostal pastor he knew from Argentina, a Vatican spokesman has said.

The visit to the Evangelical Church of Reconciliation in Caserta, about 130 miles south of Rome, “is under study and likely would take place July 26″, said Fr Federico Lombardi.

Fr Lombardi said the Pope knew the church’s pastor, Giovanni Traettino, from Buenos Aires, where the Pentecostal pastor participated in ecumenical events with Catholics, especially Catholics belonging to the charismatic renewal movement. The then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, along with Traettino and Capuchin Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, headlined a large ecumenical charismatic gathering in Buenos Aires in 2006.

More here-

Methodists may bless but not marry same-sex couples

From The Church Times (England)

METHODIST ministers who marry a person of the same sex will not risk disciplinary proceedings, after the Methodist Conference agreed to extend the existing policy on civil partnerships to include same-sex marriages.

In addition, churches will be free to offer public blessings for same-sex marriages.

But, in a series of motions, the Conference confirmed that it was not changing its teaching or definition on marriage, and would not seek authorisation to conduct same-sex marriages.

Instead, the Conference set up a working party to oversee a process of "deep reflection and discernment" before reporting back to the Conference in 2016 with recommendations about whether the definition should be revised.

More here-

Church lawsuit begins in St. George

From South Carolina-

Shock and disbelief were the two immediate reactions Rev. Jim Lewis told the court he felt upon receiving an email in November 2012, under the name and seal of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, calling for a convocation of Episcopal Clergy in Charleston.

That’s because as Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of South Carolina, he knew the Diocese did not send it, he said.

After receiving another email under the same name and seal changing the venue, Lewis said he decided to attend the meeting.

“I decided to attend the meeting as an observer,” Lewis said. “Given the prior use of our seal, I felt there was reason to believe there would be further attempts by this group to assert itself as the Diocese of South Carolina.”

What he found out, Lewis said, was that the convocation had been called by the group that had chosen to stay affiliated with the Episcopal Church of the United States of America, the national body from which his organization, the Diocese of South Carolina, had voted to leave in October 2012.

More here-

Presiding Bishop of Episcopal Chruch to visit Savannah

From Savannah-

Savannahians will soon have the opportunity to meet and listen to one of the highest ranking religious leaders in the United States.

The Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop and chief primate of the Episcopal Church, will serve as preacher at the 10:30 a.m. service July 20 at Christ Church on Johnson Square.

A reception to allow churchgoers to greet the bishop will follow the service.

Jefferts Schori has visited Georgia before during her tenure as leader of the Episcopal Church, but Savannah will be her only stop this time.

More here-

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Make Me A Mystic: The Profound Honesty Of Flannery O’Connor

From On Being-

There’s a common emotional vocabulary in the writings of Catholic women, a fierce devotion strangely coupled with a startling humility. This is ever-so-present in Flannery O'Connor's A Prayer Journal, recently published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

It's a wonderful book: unflinchingly honest, unfailingly wise, and immensely funny:

"What I am asking for is really very ridiculous. Oh Lord, I am saying, at present I am a cheese, make me a mystic, immediately. But then God can do that — make mystics out of cheeses."

Ms. O'Connor wrote this collection of prayers — letters really — to God as a student attending the Iowa Writers' Workshop in her twenties, around the time that her first short story was published in Accent magazine. She struggles with doubt and uncertainty, afraid that she will not produce another work worthy of publication, and asks God: "Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted."

More here-

Pope puts another British woman on road to sainthood

From The Daily Mail-

Pope Francis yesterday moved a British woman closer to sainthood for the second time in less than a month.

He formally declared that Mother Mary Veronica of the Passion, a little-known Carmelite nun, had lived a life of ‘heroic virtue’.

His decree opens the way for the search for two miracles first to declare her ‘Blessed’ and finally to canonise her as a saint.

Born Sophie Leeves, Mother Mary Veronica founded the Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel, a religious congregation of Carmelite nuns based in India.

She was born in 1823 in Constantinople to the Rev. Henry Daniel Leeves, an Anglican chaplain to the British Embassy there, and Marina Haultain, the daughter of a Colonel in British Army.

More here-

West Africa: Liberia Bishop Jonathan Hart Heads West Africa's Internal Province

From All Africa-

Bishop Jonathan Hart of the Episcopal Church of Liberia has been enthroned as archbishop of the Internal Province of West Africa (IpWA) in the Church of the Province of West Africa (CPWA).

Hart succeeds Bishop Solomon Tilewa Johnson of The Gambia who died in office on Jan. 21, 2014.

Hart was elected on May 1, 2014 by the Electoral College of the IpWA in the St. Augustine Anglican Church in Freetown, Sierra Leone. He is also the dean of the CPWA. Hart now assumes the role of having oversight of the Anglican Communion bishops from Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Cameroon and Liberia.

Hart was consecrated as bishop of the Episcopal Church of Liberia on March 2, 2008.

More here-

Five Questions with Episcopal priest, fighter of human trafficking

From Tampa Bay-

It was just a few days before terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and Washington, D.C., targets in 2001 that Father Ray Bonoan took over as the rector at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit in Safety Harbor. "On 9/11, I was still moving in. We decided to leave the church open. So many came and just sat. … All our hearts were broken. I will say it was difficult. As a priest, sometimes you need to be a healer when you are wounded, too.''

Born in the Philippines, Bonoan received his bachelor's in theology and his master's in divinity at St. Andrew's Theological Seminary in Quezon City. He came to the United States in 1983 and eventually settled in Hillsborough County, where he served at St. Luke's in Land O'Lakes and at St. Andrew's in Tampa.

Bonoan serves as the canon missioner for Asian ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida and is the founding director of the Diocesan Church Against Human Trafficking office, which has headquarters at Church of the Holy Spirit. In 2009, he received the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking's Freedom Award.

More here-

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

South Sudan bishop warns leaders to ‘repent’, admit mistakes

From South Sudan-

Bishop Enock Tombe of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan says that political leaders have messed up the country and want to run away from justice, warning that politicians of whatever allegiance will face opposition from the church if they continue to wage war.

“We in the church will work against those who killed people, took away the people’s prosperity and have not repented,” he said.

The Bishop of Rejaf Diocese warned the warring parties to the conflict in South Sudan to observe the peace agreement signed in May, stressing that the leaders are being closely watched.

“Our message as the church is very clear: The war must first stop,” said the bishop.

Enock Tombe, who participated in the Addis Ababa peace talks as a member of the delegation of religious leaders, told Radio Tamazuj in an interview on Wednesday that ‘truth-telling’ and ‘justice’ must come after the guns fall silent.

More here-‘repent’-admit-mistakes

Episcopalians battle for name, property in court

From South Carolina-

About 50 conservative Episcopal churches in South Carolina are in court this week, trying to keep their name, seal and $500 million in land and buildings after they broke away from the national denomination in a wide-ranging theological dispute.

The breakaway group, the Diocese of South Carolina, said it had to leave the national church not just because of the ordination of gays, but a series of decisions it says show national Episcopalians have lost their way in the teachings of Jesus and salvation.

The national church argues the split wasn’t properly made, and it is fighting for the 20 or so churches in South Carolina staying under its umbrella.

Property disputes in the Episcopal Church and other Protestant churches have been going on for decades and end with varying results.

More here-

Episcopal Bishop grants permission for blessings of same-sex relationships

From South Carolina-

A bishop granted permission Tuesday for priests to bless committed relationships of same-sex couples in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a spokesperson said.

The Right Rev. Charles G. vonRosenburg authorized the use of "The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," giving permission to priests to respond to couples who are in committed relationships, including those who have been married in states where same-sex marriage is allowed, according to Holly Behre, Director of Communications for the Episcopal Church of South Carolina.

South Carolina does not permit same-sex marriage, and any such blessing offered by an Episcopal priest will not constitute a "marriage," Behre said.

No priest is required to offer the blessing, vonRosenburg said in a letter to clergy.

"I do want to be clear that the permission does not define an expectation for clergy," the letter states. "In your own life of prayer and within community, you will decide how to respond to this statement of permission."

More here-

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

School assemblies offer a chance for children to learn that the British values of which we hear so much have their root in the teachings of the Bible

From The Telegraph-

There can be few things in life less harmful than the gentle Christian values learnt by children during school assemblies. It is remarkable, therefore, to hear an Anglican bishop arguing that the collective worship in them should be watered down. The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, is the Church of England’s head of education, yet he argues that the traditional assembly should be replaced with non-denominational “spiritual reflection” or silence, which he thinks would better suit the secular age. His explanation that “we would be on much safer ground” if that were the case is likely to make hearts sink all over the land.

Before making such a fundamental change, it is worth asking: is there something wrong which needs to be fixed? For example, are parents unhappy that their children are being exposed in the assembly room to Christian themes such as loving your neighbour and forgiveness? Do they object to regular collective worship “mainly of a broadly Christian character”, which is a legal requirement following the 1944 Education Act?

More here-

Multimillion-dollar S.C. Episcopal split heads to trial Tuesday

From South Carolina-

Like many divorces, this one began with small tiffs that escalated.

After years of arguing over theology and administrative control, disputes among Episcopalians boiled over in 2012 when the local bishop and a majority of parishes left the national church.

The aftermath flows Tuesday into the courtroom of a circuit judge in St. George who will decide the future of more than $500 million in church property - although her ruling is likely to be appealed.

As the much-anticipated trial begins, two men will be in court, each in Anglican bishop purple, each claiming to be the rightful leader of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein will decide which group is the real Diocese of South Carolina: the one that remains part of the national Episcopal Church, or the one that existed before the national church and now wants to be independent from it?

More here-

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Pope Francis begs forgiveness of sex abuse victims

From The LA Times-

Pope Francis met for the first time with victims of clerical sexual abuse on Monday and pledged that bishops who covered up such abuse of minors would be held accountable.

Likening the abuse to a “sacrilegious cult” that drove its victims to drug addiction and suicide, Francis told six victims that the church should “weep” and “make reparation” for their suffering.

“Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you, and I humbly ask forgiveness,” he said during a homily at a Mass that the victims attended at his Vatican residence.

More here-

Monday, July 7, 2014

Our unrealistic views of death, through a doctor’s eyes

From The Washington Post -

I know where this phone call is going. I’m on the hospital wards, and a physician in the emergency room downstairs is talking to me about an elderly patient who needs to be admitted to the hospital. The patient is new to me, but the story is familiar: He has several chronic conditions — heart failure, weak kidneys, anemia, Parkinson’s and mild dementia — all tentatively held in check by a fistful of medications. He has been falling more frequently, and his appetite has fallen off, too. Now a stroke threatens to topple this house of cards.

The ER physician and I talk briefly about what can be done. The stroke has driven the patient’s blood pressure through the roof, aggravating his heart failure, which in turn is threatening his fragile kidneys. The stroke is bad enough that, given his disabilities related to his Parkinson’s, he will probably never walk again. In elderly patients with a web of medical conditions, the potential complications of any therapy are often large and the benefits small. It’s a medical checkmate; all moves end in abdication.

More here-

Younger Christians may be ditching doctrines of fire and brimstone – but will Christianity ever get rid of hell entirely?

From Aeon-

In December 2013, a hoax began circulating on the internet claiming that Pope Francis had called a Third Vatican Council that, among other things, purged a literal hell from Catholic doctrine. ‘This doctrine is incompatible with the infinite love of God,’ Francis purportedly said. ‘God seeks not to condemn but only to embrace… Hell is merely a metaphor for the isolated soul, which like all souls ultimately will be united in love with God.’ The piece quickly went viral on Facebook and other social media platforms – minus the element of parody. The remarks did not seem too out of line with the new Pope’s own attitude of embrace over condemnation.

This January, an article in the US online magazine Religion Dispatches offered some clues as to why the story took off so dramatically. ‘Millennials Invent New Religion: No Hell, No Priests, No Punishment’ went the title. The author, the Rev Candace Chellew-Hodge, described how her students at a community college in Columbia, South Carolina, when tasked with inventing a new religion, uniformly avoided ‘a concept of hell, or any form of punishment for not following the prescriptions of the religion’. When asked why they had avoided hell, one student replied that ‘Religion today is so ... judgmental.’ Chellew-Hodge took this to mean that her students lacked a ‘full-featured understanding of religion’, and so overlooked ‘the core ideas of human suffering, the concept of discipline, and the very real threat of punishment’.

More here-

Archbishop Welby visits the Province of the Indian Ocean

From Anglican News-

On the final leg of his visit to Primates in Southern and Central Africa, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and his wife, Caroline, travelled from South Africa to Mauritius.

Bishop of Mauritius is the Most Revd Ian Ernest, Archbishop and Primate of the Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean.

The Province, covering Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles, was founded in 1973. It comprises the dioceses of Antananarivo, Antsiranana, Fianarantsoa, Mahajanga, Mauritius, Seychelles, Toamasina and Toliara.

Prayer, reconciliation, witness

On Saturday morning, Archbishop Welby addressed a gathering of the clergy and their spouses at the Bishop’s house. He based his reflections on the theme of ‘fear’ using as his text Psalm 18 composed by King David who gave thanks and praise to God for delivering him from his enemies.

More here-

Episcopal board backs same-sex blessings; bishop has concerns

From Milwaukee-

Two years after the Episcopal Church opened the door to same-sex blessings, a local advisory board is urging Bishop Steven A. Miller to allow their use in the Diocese of Milwaukee, saying a majority of area parishes favor allowing them.

Miller said last week that he is reviewing the recommendation of his Standing Committee and will respond later this summer. But he reiterated his reservations, saying the blessing falls short of a marriage rite and as such treats same-sex couples inequitably in the eyes of the church.

"My concern about the rite is that it looks like marriage but says it's not," said Miller, who has voiced support for same-sex civil marriages.

"A blessing still keeps gay and lesbian people in a second-tier status," Miller said.

More here-

Sunday, July 6, 2014


From Nigeria-

The Primate of All Nigeria, Anglican Communion, the Most Revd Nicholas Okoh, weekend, warned Christian faithful to beware of false doctrine that can push them against God, noting that there is problem in Christendom.

Primate while condemning the action of the Church of England to rewrite christening rite said it is unfortunate that, the world because of knowledge are now trying to replace God with science.

The Church of England is trying out a new baptism service which drops all mention of the devil and sin from their Book of Common Prayer.

Instead of asking parents and godparents to ‘reject the devil and all rebellion against God’, it asks them to make a single broad pledge to ‘reject evil’.

Among other phrases abandoned in the experimental new christening rite are those referring to ‘the deceit and corruption of evil’, ‘the sins that separate us from God and neighbour’, and a promise to ‘fight valiantly as a disciple of Christ against sin, the world and the devil.’

More here-

These Are America’s First Churches — and They’re Still Worshipping

From On Faith via the Cafe-

"I do not know whether all Americans have a sincere faith in their religion — for who can search the human heart? But I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican institutions.”

This observation from nineteenth-century French statesman Alexis de Tocqueville mimics the convictions held by most of the Americans tasked with shaping national and state governments in the newly established United States of 1776. After all, when European settlers first came to America in the seventeenth century, many were seeking a new home where they would be able to worship God as they saw fit.

Now, it’d be difficult to drive through any town in America without passing at least one church marquee boasting its congregation as the first — First Baptist, First Presbyterian, First . . . Church. But the following churches are the first of the first. Below is a list of the oldest still-worshipping congregations in each of the original 13 colonies, all of which have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

More here-