Saturday, August 2, 2014

Churches putting faith in social media

From The Pittsburgh Tribune-

“Old time” religion is getting a modern assist as churches and other houses of worship embrace social media in creative ways.

Across the country, printed bulletins — and, in some cases, prayer books — are giving way to smartphone apps with sermon notes, prayers and details of congregational activities. In addition to saving print costs, the apps have the added benefit of being “green.”

Members are accessing their congregations' Facebook and Instagram pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube channels — even making their donations via secure Web pages.

“Social media is the language people are using today, and, as a church body, we would be remiss to not speak that language,” says Dawn Check, communications director of the Cranberry-based United Methodist Conference of Western Pennsylvania, which represents 830 churches and 171,342 members.

Read more:

Keeping Quiet at the Monastery

From The Wall Street Journal-

The room I booked for my Hudson Valley getaway last week had its share of peculiarities. It was tiny, cooled by a plastic fan and decorated with a portrait of Jesus. I had to change my own sheets and share a bathroom. And I wasn't allowed to talk.

But all that was to be expected. This wasn't a $300-a-night room at some swanky Rhinebeck inn. This was a $70-a-night room at an upstate monastery.

It isn't for everyone, but one of the best—and cheapest—ways to enjoy a relaxing, bucolic retreat from the city is to book a stay at one of the many area monasteries that welcome guests.

You don't need to be a believer; these places accept devotees and heathens alike. I've stayed with Zen monastics in the Catskills, New Jersey nuns and Staten Island Jesuits. I've seldom paid more than $80 a night, meals included, and always leave feeling a bit less crazy.

More here-

Friday, August 1, 2014

Prince Charles 'planning to meet Anglican vicar of Baghdad' to highlight suffering of Iraqi Christians

From The Tablet-

The office of the Prince of Wales has been in touch with Vicar of Baghdad Canon Andrew White with a view to giving wider publicity to the sufferings of Christians in Iraq.

In interviews and sermons during a brief visit to Britain last weekend, Canon White described the suffering of his community, many of whom have now fled, and warned that Christianity in Iraq could be close to extinction.

Numbers in his own church, St George's Baghdad have fallen from 6,500 to 1,000. Of these, 1,276 have died. Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Canon White said: "Things are so desperate, our people are disappearing. We have had people massacred, their heads chopped off. Are we seeing the end of Christianity? We are committed come what may, we will keep going to the end, but it looks as though the end could be very near."

More here-

Is God Green?

From National Review-

When, in 2012, EPA official Al Almendariz likened his enforcement strategy for federal drilling policies to Romans’ peacekeeping tactics in the Mediterranean — “Crucify them,” he quipped — he was only exhibiting what many already knew: that the Environmental Protection Agency performs its work with an almost religious zeal. But the agency’s latest effort — a massive clampdown on the nation’s coal industry — is receiving actual religious imprimatur. This week 28 religious leaders, representing not only a number of Christian denominations (Presbyterian, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Quaker, Baptist, and more) but other faiths (Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Bahāʾī), testified in support of proposed regulations on coal power-plant emissions.

David Kepley, elder and deacon at Providence Presbyterian Church, read from Leviticus: “God said, ‘The land is mine; with me you are but aliens and tenants. Throughout the land that you hold, you shall provide for the redemption of the land.’”

More here-

Episcopal fight over half-billion worth of property now in judge’s hands

From South Carolina-

A divide among Episcopal congregations in South Carolina is now in the hands of a circuit court judge in Dorchester County. At stake is more than half a billion dollars in real estate and ownership of Episcopal seals, logos and names.

More than 50 attorneys on both sides of a crowded courtroom in St. George rested their cases on Friday and are now preparing final documents for Judge Diane Schafer Goodstein to use as she makes a decision. She expects it will take at least 90 days.

The action was initially filed in January 2013 by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina, which is a group of nearly 40 parishes and 12 missions that broke away from the national Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina in October 2012.

More here-

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Millennials warn churches against catering to their generation

From American Baptist-

Many American congregations are modernizing worship in an effort to lure Millennials and other young people either into church or back to church.

“For some, the instinct is to radically alter the old model: out with the organ, in with the Fender [guitar],” Christian writer Andrea Palpant Dilley wrote recently for

But that could be a big mistake, Dilley said, because not all Millennials want the same thing when it comes to worship. It’s also risky because Millennials, like anyone else, often change their minds.

Dilley was raised Presbyterian but traded its rituals for hipper, nondenominational churches before returning to more liturgical, traditional sanctuaries.

More here-

What's behind the pope's friendship with evangelicals?

From UCA-

Earlier this year, Pope Francis met with an old acquaintance named Tony Palmer. Palmer, who died tragically in a motorcycle accident last week, was a South African who lived in England. Married to a Catholic Italian, Palmer met the pope when he was a missionary in Argentina.   Palmer claimed the title “Anglican Bishop” but he was not a bishop in the established Church of England. 

Instead it is more accurate to say that he was a bishop in the “Anglican tradition.” Part of a new evangelical church movement which treasures tradition as well as charismatic worship and Evangelical zeal, Palmer was a good representative of a Christian movement that is sometimes called “convergence church.”
Read more at:

Married ex-Catholic Miami priest calls fatherhood an 'incredible experience'

From The New York Daily News-

He’s a holy father!

The priest who sparked a scandal in Miami’s Catholic community after getting caught kissing a woman is now dishing about his life as a different kind of “Father” figure.

Rev. Alberto Cutié was defrocked after paparazzi snapped photos of him cuddling with his bikini-clad girlfriend on a Miami beach in May 2009. More than five years later, he’s happily married to that woman and is the proud dad of two young children — 2-year-old Albert and 3-year-old Camilla.

The dad also has a 19-year-old stepson, Christian, from his wife’s first marriage.
In a recent in interview with Oprah TV’s “Where Are They Now?" Cutié said that married life has been a “blessing.”

Read more:

Celebrating 40 years of Episcopal women priests

From Philadelphia-

On a recent Saturday at North Philadelphia, Pa.’s, landmark Episcopal Church of the Advocate, worshipper gathered in a jubilant, crowded service to mark the 40th anniversary of the ordination of women as priests. It is not too fanciful to imagine that the dead were gently jostling the living.

Some of the chief actors in that act of ecclesiastical defiance against a tradition-loving church are gone, though many of those still alive participated in the day of talk, fellowship, and worship celebrating the ordination of 11 women.

More here-

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Joint Nominating Committee presents last of three essays

From The Joint Nominating 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 third of three essays designed to begin a discussion about the election which will take place in the summer of 2015. 

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

More here-


Statement from Archbishop Justin on Gaza

From Canterbury-

Archbishop of Canterbury calls on leaders in Israel and Gaza to immediately end the violence, and urges Anglican churches both to pray and offer support to all victims of the conflict.

Following a recent update from staff at the Al Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the Archbishop of Canterbury has spoken publicly (after many private contacts) of his concern for the deteriorating situation in Gaza.

Archbishop Justin Welby said today:

More here-

You Might Want to Fact-Check Your Pastor’s Sermon

From Faith Street-

A few weeks ago, my teenage daughter laid down the law.

No more Tweeting in church, she told me. No surfing the web or sneaking a peak at a Facebook game on my phone. And most important of all — no more fact-checking the pastor’s sermon.

One of the dangers of being a reporter is that you don’t trust anyone. We live by a rule made famous at the now-shuttered City News Bureau in Chicago: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
Reporters know that just because someone — even a pastor — says something is true doesn’t make it so. That can be a problem in church. Not so much when it comes to matters of faith — there’s no fact-checking those. The trouble comes with more mundane things, the anecdotes and factoids that pastors like to sprinkle into their messages.

Take this lovely story I heard in a sermon recently:

Alberto Cutié, Priest Who Broke His Celibacy Vow, Gives Update On His Life Today

From Huffington- (With Video)

Five years ago, Rev. Alberto Cutié was one of the country's popular Roman Catholic priests. He hosted Spanish-language television and radio talk shows, was highly respected among parishioners in his community, and had even earned the nickname "Father Oprah." Then, a few photographs changed everything.

In May of 2009, Cutié found himself in the center of a frenzy when tabloids published photos of him kissing and embracing a woman at a Miami beach. The pictures sent shockwaves through Miami's Catholic community and Cutié, having broken his vow of celibacy, was quickly removed from his South Beach parish. He asked the Archdiocese of Miami for some time to think about his future in the priesthood.

More here-

Pastors react to appeals court ruling that would affect N.C.'s Amendment One

From North Carolina-

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision Monday to strike down Virginia's same-sex marriage ban will also affect North Carolina's Amendment One. To what degree and when, we're still waiting to find out.

Monday's 2-1 ruling applies throughout the circuit that also includes West Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas and adds to the growing list of decrees on a hot-button issue that will likely end up being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Two years ago on May 8, 2012, the controversial Amendment One passed in North Carolina with about 61 percent of the vote, defining marriage between one man and one woman as the only legal domestic partnership recognized in the state. And in Cleveland County, 80 percent of the people who voted that day voted for the amendment and to specify that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

More here-

Houston religious leaders call for "welcoming" unaccompanied Central American children

From Texas-

Saying unaccompanied minors who have fled to the United States from violence-racked Central America should be welcomed and nurtured, an ecumenical group of Houston religious leaders Tuesday joined colleagues from around the nation in calling on the president and Congress to step away from plans for the children's speedy deportation.

The clergymen, organized locally by The Metropolitan Organization, signed a joint letter calling on the nation's leaders to observe provisions of a 2008 trafficking victims act ensuring hearings for such immigrants. They called for guaranteeing legal representation for the minors and for allowing religious and human rights workers to visit facilities at which the children are held.

More here-

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Anglicans could receive Roman Catholic communion, Archbishop suggests

From The Telegraph-

The Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Rev Bernard Longley, signalled that restrictions, which can be traced back to the Reformation, might be “reconsidered” as a result of “deeper sharing” between the two churches.

Although he insisted that he was expressing a “personal view”, the Archbishop’s comments will be closely watched as he is the senior Catholic cleric responsible for dialogue with the Anglican churches.

His remarks were warmly welcomed by leading figures in the Church of England who said it was time for closer ties.

For centuries, the issue of communion was a source of some of the deepest and most bitter division between protestants and Catholics.

More here-

France offers Iraq Christians asylum after Mosul threat

From The BBC-

The French government says it is ready to offer asylum to Iraqi Christians forced to flee by Islamist militants in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

Many fled Mosul after the Islamic State (IS) group which seized much of northern Iraq told them to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death.

Iraq is home to one of the world's most ancient Christian communities.

Two top ministers said, "We are ready, if they so desire, to help facilitate asylum on our territory."

More here-

Celebrations in Sudan As New Internal Provincial Archbishop Enthroned

From All Africa-

The first Archbishop of the new internal province of Sudan has been enthroned during a major celebration service in Khartoum's All Saints Cathedral. Up to 10,000 worshippers saw the Most Revd Ezekiel Kumir Kondo, Bishop of Khartoum, take on the new role.

In 2013, the Province of the Episcopal Church of Sudan decided it wanted to remain as one church despite the independence of South Sunday in 2011. It renamed itself the Episcopal Church of Sudan and South Sudan; and created an internal province for the dioceses in Sudan.

The original province has grown from four dioceses in 1976, when it first became an independent province of the Anglican Communion, to 31 dioceses today.

More here-

Appeals Court Rules in Favor of Breakaway Illinois Diocese over Episcopal Church in Property Suit

From Illinois-

An appeals court has ruled in favor of a small diocese in Illinois that broke away from The Episcopal Church over theological differences, including the denomination's appointment of openly gay Gene Robinson as bishop.

In a ruling handed down Thursday, the Illinois Fourth District Appellate Court sided with the Anglican Diocese of Quincy over the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago.

The ruling upheld a lower court decision that ruled the Quincy Diocese's property and funds to be the possession of the Anglican Church North America, the more theologically conservative group that the diocese presently affiliates with.

A spokesperson for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago directed The Christian Post to an online statement by Bishop Rev. Jeffrey D. Lee.

"We will respond to this decision in the appropriate legal manner," said Lee, adding that as the "process unfolds, our primary mission will continue to be fulfilling God's vision for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and its newest deanery in Peoria."

More here-

Monday, July 28, 2014

Churchwide Meeting October 2

From The Living Church-

Following a resolution approved at General Convention in 2012, the Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church (TREC) will convene a churchwide meeting via webcast from Washington National Cathedral on October 2, beginning at 7:30 p.m. (Eastern time).

The purpose of the meeting is “to receive responses to the proposed recommendations to be brought forward to the 78th General Convention,” according to a release from the Episcopal Church’s Office of Public Affairs.

The task force is encouraging each diocese to have the following persons participate: a bishop, a lay deputy, a clerical deputy, and one person under the age of 35. The meeting is open to the entire church, however.

More here

Welby’s unity plea to Pope Francis over women bishops

From The Telegraph-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to Pope Francis in a plea to prevent the ordination of women bishops from derailing plans for the eventual reunification between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches.

The Most Rev Justin Welby acknowledged that the vote at the General Synod earlier this month would be a “further difficulty” on the tortuous road towards eventual unity between the two churches which formally separated in the 16th Century.

But in a letter to the Pope and other global church leaders including leading orthodox patriarchs, he asked for prayers for the Church of England, telling them: “We need each other.”

More here-

Volunteers from Austin church traveling to border to help undocumented immigrants

From Texas- (with video)

A local church is headed to the Texas/Mexico border to help care for the children and families that have crossed into America.

Volunteers at St. James' Episcopal Church left around 2 p.m. Sunday for their five day mission trip.

"Whatever it is, we will roll up our sleeves and do what is required or what is needed," said Renette Bledsoe who is one of the volunteers on the trip.

40 members of St James' Episcopal Church are traveling to South Texas to help undocumented immigrants who have nowhere to go.

"I would shake my head as many of us would and say, 'what in the world can I do in order to help?' And when this opportunity became available it was like that was the answer. 'This is what I can do. I can do this. I can help,'" said Bledsoe.

St. James' Episcopal Church started collecting items to take to the border weeks ago, and after news of their trip spread, donations started pouring in. 

More here-

Hebron church members vow to move forward, post fire

From Easton-

As fire ripped through St. Paul's Episcopal Church off Route 50 in Hebron, Ron Knapp sat against a nearby tree.

Knapp, the pastor of the church, tried to make sense of the 240-year-old church burning Tuesday, while sitting there. Then he saw his wife.

"My wife appeared with my pectoral cross, this wooden one, with this silver corpus that I had been given the day I was ordained 45 years ago," he said to his congregation Sunday, holding up the cross. "She told me that a firefighter had emerged from the remains with cross dangling from his hands. And I had been looking for this cross for weeks.

More here-

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Catholics get 'The Message' in new edition of Bible

From National Catholic Reporter-

While looking at the readings on the fifth Sunday of Lent as I prepared for our weekly Scripture discussion group, I started with the selection from Paul's Epistle to the Romans. Here's what I read: "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him ... "

Here we go again, I thought. We'll be trying to decipher what spirit and flesh really mean in this context, etc., etc. So I picked up The Message, a relatively new translation of the Bible I had received, and I read the same verses from Paul: "Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God and what he is doing. And God isn't pleased at being ignored ... "

Wham! It was so clear, as if Paul himself had rung the doorbell, come in, pinned me against the wall and said, "Time to get your act together, my brother in Christ." And he wasn't smiling. Our group listened to both versions of Romans at our meeting a few days later, and there was unanimous agreement that The Message carried Paul's message in a sensible, powerful, personal new way.

More here-

Remembering The 'Philadelphia 11': Where The First Female, Episcopal Priests Are 40 Years Later

From Huffington-

 On July 29, 1974, in Philadelphia, 11 women broke rank and were ordained as the first female priests in the Episcopal Church. They became known as the “Philadelphia Eleven.”

While there was no law explicitly prohibiting the ordination of women, there also was no law allowing it. After the Philadelphia protest at the Church of the Advocate, the 11 women were deemed “irregularly” ordained, and Episcopal bishops warned the church not to recognize the women as priests.

Two years later, the Episcopal Church’s General Convention — under pressure from the events in Philadelphia and elsewhere — affirmed and authorized the ordination of women to the priesthood. Today, the church is led by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to lead a national branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

More here-