Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vicar of Dibley: I rather fancy becoming Archbishop

From The Telegraph-

So there we are, finally. The stained-glass ceiling has been shattered. You, Lord, must also have seen that front-page photograph of the woman in tears at the Synod’s vote this week, as it at last made way for the consecration of women as bishops in the Church of England. I got a little teary, too, once I’d dismissed unworthy concerns about water-proof mascara. It’s been like bishops in chess, hasn’t it? Two steps forward, one step sideways… But we’ve made it. It’s Geraldine here, Lord. Your long-serving and much-loved Vicar of Dibley.

And thank you, Father, for sending us the boy-Archbishop Welby to shake some sense into them all. It needed someone from outside the firm, a deal-making City-lad unstifled by the dead weight of tradition, to bang their heads together. How illogical was the situation, after all? Women priests have been around for a generation, more Synod against than sinning. One third of the clergy we now number, and we’re making, might I say, a jolly good fist of it.

More here-

Christians welcome Anglican vote for women bishops

From Swaziland-

News of the passing of a vote to recognise women bishops in the Church of England, which is Anglican, has been received with joy by the local church.

Chairman of the Council of Swaziland Churches Bishop Absalom Mnisi of the Lutheran Church said Swaziland had already paved the way with the recognition of woman Anglican Bishop Ellenah Wamukoya.

He noted that Swaziland had already taken the lead in recognising female preachers in the church and that several denominations had women pastors and that it had been the Anglican church that had issues on this subject but that had passed.

 The Anglican church itself had other women preachers before the appointment of Wamukoya. 

More here-

Religious leaders react to appellate court's ruling regarding same-sex marriage in Oklahoma

From Oklahoma-

A federal appeals court officially declared Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional Friday but temporarily delayed the ruling to allow time for a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 2-1 decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reinforced the court’s ruling last month in a similar case from Utah, effectively making same-sex marriage legal in all six states that are part of the circuit: Oklahoma, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming and New Mexico.

Here's what local religious leaders had to say about the ruling.

The Rev. Nick Garland, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow and president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma: “This ruling, which was stayed and has no immediate effect, still represents a disturbing move away from God’s plan of marriage for men and women. We are prayerful this will not stand, but we will work to promote and uphold the true meaning of marriage no matter what court rulings happen.”

The Rev. Justin Lindstrom, dean of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral: “The ruling today is just wonderful news for me and I think the people of St. Paul’s will feel that way as well. It’s an issue of civil rights and allowing all people access to the benefits of marriage.”

More here-

Bishop: Episcopal Church has no specific law against breakaway dioceses

From South Carolina-

A past president of southeastern Episcopal bishops testified Friday in an ongoing civil trial that he wasn't aware of church law that says an individual diocese cannot leave the national Episcopal Church.

The statement drew excitement from local parishes who left The Episcopal Church in 2012 and then sued it to retain more than $500 million in church property along with the names and marks of the local diocese.

Led by Bishop Mark Lawrence, the breakaway group contends the formally called Protestant Episcopal Diocese in South Carolina existed befor
e the national church and has the right to leave and remain an independent body as it chooses.

More here-

Friday, July 18, 2014

Archbishop writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops

From ENS-

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to ecumenical partners about the General Synod’s decision to allow women to become bishops, emphasizing that churches “need each other.”

An ENS article about the Church of England’s decision to enable women to serve as bishops is available here.

The text of Welby’s letter, which is being posted to partner churches, follows.

More here-

Synod seeks to amend robes canon

From The church Times (Really? Robe canons?)

WEARING robes could become optional for those officiating at some services, after the General Synod passed a motion calling for draft legislation to relax the current rules.

After a debate on Saturday at the University of York, the Synod passed a private member's motion by the Revd Christopher Hobbs, from the diocese of London, which called for robing to become optional in some circumstances.

"For holy communion there is no flexibility," Mr Hobbs said. "It makes no difference if it is café-style in a pub, outside in a field, in a hotel lounge or lobby. Surplice and alb is required, with scarf or stole."

Many members of the Synod agreed, arguing that, in some contexts, the wearing of robes was inappropriate or unhelpful for mission. Sam Follett, the youngest member of the Synod, said that, for Fresh Expressions, robes would often get in the way of reaching the unchurched.

More here-

How a bishop moved Lincoln, and saved 265 Dakota Indians

From The LA Times-

The Founding Fathers had good reasons for explicitly barring government from inserting itself into matters of religion. But nothing in the Constitution forbids a president from consulting with clerics, and meetings between presidents and religious figures have, on occasion, helped shape history.

One such time came when an Episcopal Church bishop traveled to Washington from Minnesota to try to persuade Abraham Lincoln to make wholesale changes in the corrupt and brutal ways the federal government treated Native Americans. The entreaty may well have saved hundreds of Dakota Indians from execution — and the nation from a huge injustice.

Whipple ... gave Lincoln a lens through which to evaluate the Dakota War.

Bishop Henry B. Whipple, a native of upstate New York, was an unlikely advocate for Native Americans. A missionary priest in Chicago until he was elected Minnesota's first Episcopal bishop in 1859, he didn't even know a Native American until he was 37 years old.

More here-

Episcopal trial ends eighth day with trademark testimony

From South Carolina-

A lawsuit over rights to more than $500 million in church property and identifying marks of the Diocese of South Carolina marched through an eighth day of testimony Thursday with experts debating the nuances of trademark law.

Bishops on both sides of the schism joked about the tedious nature of the civil court proceedings over issues surrounding trademarks, property rights and state corporate law.

Bishop Mark Lawrence and most parishes in the formally called Protestant Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, which spans the coastal half of the state, left The Episcopal Church in 2012 after years of dissension over theology and administrative powers. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. province of the global Anglican Communion.

More here-

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Joint Nominating Committee presents second of three essays

From The PB Search Committee-

The Episcopal Church Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) has issued the following information.

The Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop (JNCPB) continues its work to prepare The Episcopal Church for the election of the 27th Presiding Bishop at General Convention next summer.  The Committee publishes the second of three essays designed to begin a discussion about the election which will take place in the summer of 2015.

The second essay outlines the current roles, functions, and responsibilities of the Presiding Bishop.  This first essay described the basic time-line and steps of the nominating and election process.  The third essay will discuss how the constitutional/canonical role of the office has changed and evolved from being the senior bishop by consecration who presiding over meetings of the House of Bishops to the complex multifaceted position it is today.

More here-

Anglican leadership accused of "scaremongering" over assisted dying

From The Telegraph-

A prominent Church of England cleric has accused her own leaders of “scaremongering” over Lord Falconer’s assisted dying Bill, as David Cameron said he feared it might lead to people being “pushed” into euthanasia.

Canon Rosie Harper said the use of “emotive” language was preventing rational debate on the subject and served to mask the reality that many believers actually support such a measure.

She spoke out after leaders of Britain’s major faiths issued an unprecedented joint attack on Lord Falconer’s Bill, describing it in a letter to Parliament as a “grave error” which would be “disastrous” and result in people “colluding” in the notion that someone seeking an assisted death is of “no further value”.

More here-

Russian Church chagrined by Church of England vote allowing women to be bishops

From Interfax-

A senior Russian Orthodox bishop slammed Monday's vote at the Church of England General Synod that allowed women to become bishops.

"The Orthodox Church takes a negative stance on so-called female priesthood and female episcopacy. We see this process as representing the diversion of the Anglican Church and a whole range of Protestant denominations from the initial church order and as following modern liberal trends. We regret that such decisions have been made," Metroplitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion.

Moves like this do not bring various Christian communities closer to unity "that is still proclaimed at inter-Christian meetings as the aim of such meetings," he said. "The space for dialogue is narrowing down at the fault of our partners, and it is with great regret that we have to state this."

More here-

Oak Harbor church settles property dispute

From Olympia-

Members of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Oak Harbor celebrated a new beginning earlier this month.

Ownership of the church property was finally settled after a schism in the congregation brought about a decade of uncertainty.

The majority of the St. Stephen’s congregation, like many in other churches across the nation, voted to disassociate from the Episcopal Church 10 years ago over differences in interpretation of the Bible; the tipping point for many was in 2003 when Eugene Robinson became the first openly gay, non-celibate bishop.

Such actions led to lawsuits across the nation over the ownership of church properties.

In Oak Harbor, however, a property dispute was settled amicably this month without litigation.

More here-

Bethesda Episcopal Church to sell properties for new parish hall

From Saratoga Springs-

After years of deliberations and a survey among church members, Bethesda Episcopal Church is undergoing a transformation.

The church is selling off three properties to pay for a new parish hall next to its sanctuary, which church officials say will be used to benefit the church and also the wider community.

The church’s parish hall, to the west of the Universal Preservation Hall on Washington Street, sold in the spring for $1.15 million, and the sale of the church rectory, also on Washington Street, is pending at $1.05 million. Both buildings were bought by the owners of the Adelphi Hotel on Broadway.

More here-

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Call to Special Convention

From Easton-

Last Thursday evening on May 8, the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Easton presented its candidate for the position of Bishop Provisional for our diocese. The Diocesan Council unanimously approved the nomination of the Right Reverend Henry Nutt Parsley, Jr., resigned diocesan Bishop of Alabama, as the Bishop Provisional of the Diocese of Easton. The election of Bishop Parsley will be held on Wednesday evening, July 16 at 6:30 pm in Trinity Cathedral, Easton.

More here-

"It's the toughest job since St Paul's" - incoming Bishop in Europe

From Anglican News-

The incoming Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe said he is looking forward to visiting his diocese which stretches many thousands of miles from Iceland to Mongolia.

Canon Dr Robert Innes, who is being consecrated on Sunday at Canterbury Cathedral, joked his new role was “the toughest job since St Paul's”.

Certainly in terms of travel, the new bishop is facing a diocese covering some one-sixth of the Earth's landmass, including Morocco, Europe (excluding the British Isles), Turkey and the territory of the former Soviet Union.

More here-

Women bishops? How American Episcopalians view Church of England vote

From Yahoo-

When the Church of England voted Monday to allow women to become ordained as bishops, it broke another “stained glass ceiling.”

Indeed, the Church of England, the mostly-symbolic mother church for an 80-million-member global Anglican community that includes 2.1 million American Episcopalians, is one of the oldest and most conservative of Christian traditions to officially break in full from the long-held requirement of an all-male clergy.

More here-

Landmark status for St. John’s Episcopal Church?

From Brooklyn-

With shock over the news that Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Bay Ridge is closing due to declining congregation numbers still settling in for community residents, speculation has begun over that will happen to the church building after the last service is held there in September.

Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-parts of Bensonhurst) told the Brooklyn Eagle in an email that he will explore the possibility of having the church building designated as a city landmark to protect it from developers who might be looking at the property as a site for luxury condos.

“I intend to work with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island to do whatever we can to protect and preserve this unique landmark – one with a tremendous history not only locally but woven into the fabric of our nation,” Gentile wrote in the email.

More here-’s-episcopal-church-2014-07-15-191100

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why I agitated for confessions to no longer be bound by confidentiality

From Australia-

While a court in the US has ordered a priest to reveal what a young girl told him in the confessional amid fears she may have told him she was being abused by a parishioner – which his diocese has stated he will not do – an Australian Anglican explains why he lobbied for his Church to make exceptions

Anglican clergy in Australia are no longer compelled to keep confessions of serious crimes confidential, following a decision made by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia last week.

Since 1989 clergy have been required by canon law to keep confessions confidential, except where the penitent consented to its disclosure. It is most commonly it is clergy in the Catholic tradition who hear private confessions.

More here-

Rowan Williams’ four essentials for being ‘Christian’

From Religion News-

Rowan Williams always seemed to attract controversy when he led the worldwide Anglican communion as Archbishop of Canterbury. He spoke out against his own government twice. He tried to hold together a church splintering over teachings on homosexuality while his personal views seem more aligned with the minority. He even got the infamous atheist Richard Dawkins to admit he was only “6.9 percent out of seven” certain God doesn’t exist.

After his retirement in 2012, Williams sought out a less controversial existence. His newest book, “Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer,” attempts to avoid scandal by simply discussing what Williams believes are the four essentials to following Jesus. Here we discuss baptist, the Bible, gay marriage, and whether he is creating another standard for judging who is and isn’t a Christian.

More here-

‘Marked for Mission’ EYE14 is sent out to heal the world with love

From ENS-

 After four days of worship, workshops, prayer, long walks across the Villanova University campus, late-night conversations and contemplation of Scripture and the Five Marks of Mission, EYE14 all came down to the call to go out into the world and love it.

“Whenever God is about to change the world, God tells somebody to ‘Go’” and that is what is happening now, Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry said during this sermon at the Episcopal Youth Event 14 closing Eucharist July 12.

God, Curry said, is the “very essence” and source of love, and “our mission is to love this world and ourselves into the very dream of God and when you do that, you’ll have the strength you need to bear any hardship and carry any cross because you’ll find power.”

More here-

Church of England votes to allow female bishops

From USA Today- (additional links follow)-

The Church of England voted Monday to admit female bishops for the first time in its history.

A move by clergy in 2012 to approve similar legislation to allow women to become bishops was backed by many in the church but blocked by traditionalists.

The church first ordained female priests in 1994.

"Today is the completion of what was begun over 20 years with the ordination of women as priests. I am delighted with today's result," Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a statement.

More here-

From Salon

Washington Post- 



Wall Street Journal

Monday, July 14, 2014

Women Bishops Approved By Church Of England... Finally

From Huffington- (other links below)

The General Synod of the Church of England voted today that women can be consecrated as bishops, 18 months after a similar measure was controversially voted down.

The vote required passage by a two-thirds majority in the synod's three houses of bishops, clergy and laity. The House of Bishops approved of women bishops 37 to 2 with one abstention, the House of Clergy approved 162 to 25 with four abstentions, and the House of Laity approved 152 to 45 with five abstentions.

In an interview with BBC prior to the vote, Archbishop of Canterbury Rev. Justin Welby, who supported consecrating women bishops, said there's a "good chance of the first woman bishop being announced very early in 2015, possibly been chosen before that."

More here-

The Telegraph 


The women who helped shape Christianity

From The Telegraph-

As the Church of England votes on whether to allow female bishops here are 11 female role models—from the Virgin Mary to a female Pope—in Church history

1 and 2: The Holy Marys

Christianity is very fond of its role models, and in the Virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother, and Mary Magdalene, the repentant sinner, it offers two from either end of the spectrum. The first is blameless, pure, accepting, never complaining (save in Colm Toibin’s recent Booker short-listed novel, The Testament of Mary) and, throughout the gospel, happy to leave the chaps to get on with it. The second is said to be a fallen woman (though the gospels are vague on this, describing her as having been possessed by seven demons) and has come, in Christian imagery, to represent both the wickedness of sexual desire and how that can ache be conquered by faith. And it is she, not the men, who in John’s gospel first sees the risen Lord, making her arguably the first Christian.


Anglicans to vote on female bishops

From iafrica-

The Church of England could vote to allow female bishops for the first time in its history on Monday, ending half a century of bitter divisions over the role of women.

A yes vote by its governing body, the General Synod, could see the first women appointed to the Anglican Church's top jobs by the end of this year.

Although the idea of female bishops was rejected in 2012, senior church figures are hopeful it will pass this time after a careful reconciliation process involving figures who previously worked to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

"I am hopeful that we will pass, the votes I think are there," Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby told BBC television.

More here-

Tutu latest Anglican to support assisted suicide

From International News-

South Africa’s Anglican archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu on Sunday said he supported assisted dying for the terminally-ill, the day after the Church’s former leader backed a bill to legalise it in Britain.

But the Church remains officially opposed to the legislation and has called for a public inquiry into the issue.

Writing in Britain’s Observer newspaper, Tutu explained that he had been convinced by the case of Craig Schonegevel, a 28-year-old South African who suffered from neurofibromatosis and ended up killing himself because doctors were unable to end his life.

“Some people opine that with good palliative care there is no need for assisted dying, no need for people to request to be legally given a lethal dose of medication,” said the Nobel Peace laureate. “That was not the case for Craig Schonegevel. Others assert their right to autonomy and consciousness - why exit in the fog of sedation when there’s the alternative of being alert and truly present with loved ones?”

More here-

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Stewards of the Earth: Local churches going green as part of their faith

From Tennessee-

It started with an outdoor garden to attract wildlife. Then came a new lighting system to reduce energy use. A recycling program followed that.

And now the Unitarian Universalist Church in Chattanooga has completed the installation of several solar panels — the first ones on a church in the Chattanooga area.

“We have been working on this for three years. We did our research. We raised the money within our congregation to pay for the project,” says church member and environmentalist Sandy Kurtz, who spearheaded the earth-friendly project.

After jumping through a “bunch of hoops” to get permits from TVA and EPB, the church is now officially “on the grid,” Kurtz says.

 The Episcopal Church USA has a national program to help its churches in “preserving the sanctity of creation,” while the National Black Church Initiative has started an effort in its churches “to draw attention to the problem of global warming, the concept of which the black church has accepted for over 20 years,” according to NBCI’s website.

More here-