Saturday, September 13, 2014

Murdered nuns laid to rest in the Congo as crime investigation continues

From Religon News Service-

Three elderly Italian nuns murdered in Burundi were laid to rest Thursday (Sept. 11) in a Xaverian cemetery in the Democratic Republic of Congo amid heightened calls for action about their death.

Sister Lucia Pulici, 75, Sister Olga Raschietti, 82, and Sister Bernadetta Boggian, 79, of the Xaverian Missionary Sisters of Mary were gruesomely murdered Sunday in their convent in the Kamenge area of Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura.

More here-

More churches report man used death scam to get their money

From New Hampshire-

The Rev. David Robinson didn't think much of it when a man who said his name was Joseph Grieco and appeared to be mourning the death of his brother stopped in to the Trinity Episcopal Church in Hampton last month.

"He genuinely seemed saddened by his brother's death. He seemed like a grieving brother," Robinson said Friday.

Robinson was shocked when he saw Grieco's booking photo in the newspaper Friday morning after he was arrested and accused of using a phony death scam to swindle money from the Kensington Congregational Church.

"He got us, too," Robinson said.

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New bishop assumes leadership of Mass. Episcopalians on Saturday

From The Boston Globe-

A former linguist, the Rev. Alan M. Gates looks to etymology to describe his theological understanding of the role of the church. At its root, the word religion does not just describe a system of beliefs and practices, he said, but also the ties that bind us all.

On Saturday, Gates will assume responsibility for fostering such connections among area Episcopalians, as he is consecrated as the new bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

He succeeds Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, the longtime leader of the diocese.

More here-

Ordinariate Community Has a Spiritual Home in Washington, D.C.

From National Catholic Register-

A formerly Episcopal community that entered the Catholic Church in 2011 marked a historic moment in their journey to Rome when they gathered on Sept. 7 in downtown Washington for their first regularly scheduled Sunday Mass in the nation’s capital.

St. Luke’s at Immaculate Conception — as the community will now be known — offered its first Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in downtown Washington after its move from its former home in a small, rented church in Bladensburg, Md.

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Yale Chaplain Explains Resignation After Oped About Israel and Anti-Semitism

From Time-

Within hours of the letter’s publication, Shipman says, people on and off campus began calling for his ouster. Two weeks later, he resigned. Why this happened—and what’s at stake—depends on who you ask.

Shipman has a long history of sympathy for the plight of Palestinians. As a teenager, he lived in Egypt while his father worked for World Health Organization and was there when Israel invaded during the 1956 Suez War. “Among my friends were Palestinian refugees and their children who were my age, so I heard their stories of dispossession and loss, people who had lost their homes and their farms and cut off from their land living in Jaffa and in the area which is now known as Israel,” he says.

More here-

Friday, September 12, 2014

Further responses to the letter from TREC: one pro-ish, one con

From The Cafe-

The Rev. Keith Voets, who blogs at The Young Curmudgeon Priest has read the recent open letter from the Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church and is hopeful about TREC's direction:

The task force imagines a Church built on networks and areas of practice, a stream-lined General Convention, the elimination of Standing Commissions and clarification around the roles of the Presiding Bishop, President of the House of Deputies and Executive Council. TREC did not help its cause by releasing such a confusing letter and I hope that future communications will be a bit more clear, however I believe what they are proposing is worth a try.
I don't mind a Presiding Bishop with authority. Someone has to mind the shop. While the DMFS should not be in the business of micromanaging the work of dioceses and parishes, there are certain functions of a central office that needs to be managed and the PB is the logical one to be doing this work. I would say however, that we will need to revisit the election process of the PB if that office is to take on extra responsibility. ….

More here-

Why Anglicanism? Catholic Evangelism and Evangelical Catholicism

From Robert Hendrickson-

There have been a number of blog posts floating around under the heading, “Why Anglicanism?” I started to write a piece on the same topic and then realized that I was essentially rewriting a piece I had done before.  So I reproduce that piece below with one addition.

That addition is this – the comprehensiveness I mention below in various ways is not a grab bag or buffet in which we pick one thing we like from part of the tradition and another piece we like from another.  Evangelical and Catholic strains of the faith are strongest when interwoven and viewed not as opposites on a continuum but as constituent parts of a whole way of being faithful.  A commenter on my original post noted that “churchmanship” battles are at an all time low.  I actually agree with that to a point – however I have a huge number of people here at the Cathedral who are former Roman Catholics or former Evangelicals who are primed to distrust Catholicity or Evangelicalism either because it is the tradition out of which they came or because it is a tradition they have been actively warned against in their faith journey.

More here-

Namugongo to be turned into World heritage site

From Uganada-

GOVERNMENT has set up a ten-man committee for the rehabilitation of the two Namugongo Martyrs’ shrines, which will include tarmacking the access road infrastructure.

Information and National Guidance Minister Rosemary Namayanja told the press at the media centre yesterday that Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting endorsed the committee to be chaired by General duties minister in the Office of Prime Minister Tarsis Kabwegyere.

It will include Tourism, Wild life and Antiquities minister Maria Mutagamba, Internal affairs minister Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, Works and transport Minister Abraham Byandaala, Water and environment minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu.

Other members are Lands, Housing and urban development minister Daudi Migereko, Energy and mineral development minister Irene Muloni,  and that of Health Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

More here-

Religious Acceptance Of Gays Is On The Rise, Duke Study

From Huffington-

Religious congregations are warming up to LGBT issues more and more, according to the results of a recent study out of Duke University.

Conducted by Duke sociology professor Mark Chaves, the National Congregations Study investigated the shift in acceptance of gay and lesbian congregants from 2006 to 2012 -- which rose from 37.4 percent to 48 percent in that time frame.

More here-

Mushing movie magic: Filmmakers make plans for northern Alaska

From Alaska-

Two filmmakers have been dreaming alike about a long-distance dog mushing expedition to Kotzebue lately.

Completely independent of each other, a remote Brook Range guide and a Two Rivers recreational musher have been making plans to travel more than 1,000 miles through northern Alaska to make films. Either project could get a big boost this month from a competition for a $50,000 prize in a National Geographic competition called Expedition Granted.

Although both projects would half halfway stops in Kotzebue, the two proposed sled dog expeditions follow different routes and have different objectives. John Gaedeke, of Iniakuk Lake, wants to make a documentary about the state’s proposed mining road to Ambler. Two Rivers musher Thomas Swan want to make a historical documentary, recreating the 1905 dog sled trip made by Episcopal missionary Hudson Stuck from Fairbanks to Kotzebue.

More here-

Liberia: Ebola Not God's Punishment - Lutheran Bishop

From All Africa-

The Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia (LCL) D. Jensen Seyenkulo, has disagreed with those Liberians who hold the view that the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in the country is a punishment from God. Bishop Seyenkulo said, he disagrees with those, who in the wake of the deadly Ebola outbreak, have characterized God in ways that are contradicting the Biblical revelation of God through Jesus Christ.

The Lutheran Bishop said the God that Christians serve, is not a God that kills because of sin. The incarnation is a clear manifestation of God's gracious character. Speaking recently in Monrovia, he said, sickness and death are part of the normal course of life since mankind fell through Adam and Eve, and there is no scriptural basis proving that people who fear and love God will not suffer.

More here-

The Elements of Sermonizing Style

From The Wall Street Journal-

'Good sermon," is the worst possible praise a preacher can receive. Perfunctory at best, "good sermon" means what you said probably wasn't heard or understood or relevant.

"Your sermon touched me or troubled me." "You were talking to me." These are the compliments that we preachers want to hear. Even an argument with a sermon's content can be welcome—at least it shows somebody was listening.

Preaching is really hard, and many churchgoing people have no idea what goes into preparing a sermon. Perhaps they shouldn't care, but preachers are disappointed to find that many folks think we just preach on Sundays and do little else. There are preachers who wait until Saturday night to get their sermons ready; they are either extremely gifted or stupid and lazy.

More here-

Openly partnered priest is new rector at FW Episcopal Church

From Ft. Worth-

The Rev. Karen Calafat is the new rector of St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. She begins Oct. 5.

Patti Callahan, a senior warden for the church, wrote in a statement that the church has been without a rector for the past nine months. “We are eager for Mother Karen to begin her part-time parish ministry here.”

Calafat has served in a variety of ministerial roles, including as a hospice chaplain, for two parishes in Southern California and a supply priest in the Diocese of Fort Worth for the past six years. She will continue her role as a chaplain with the Visiting Nurses Association.

More here-

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Osteen Predicament — Mere Happiness Cannot Bear the Weight of the Gospel

From Albert Mohler-

The evangelical world, joined by no shortage of secular observers, has been abuzz about the latest soundbite of note from the Pastors Osteen — this time offered by Victoria Osteen as her husband Joel beamed in the background. It is a hard video to watch.

In her message, Victoria Osteen tells their massive congregation to realize that their devotion to God is not really about God, but about themselves. “I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God–I mean, that’s one way to look at it–we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we are happy. . . . That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. . . .”

More here-

Out of the basement, Franktuary's has kept the playful puns for its tasty treats

From Pittsburgh-

For 10 years, Franktuary was found in the basement of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

With witty puns, a la “Franks be to God,” Franktuary taught 'Burghers to expect more from simple fare. Hot dogs were no longer a poor man's meal, a means to an end. They were ground from grass-fed, organic beef. They were topped with fresh vegetables, cheeses and homemade sauces. And they were served and devoured with utter esteem.

Franktuary paved the way and reinvigorated Pittsburghers' love for the modest meal.

Read more:

Episcopalians seek to erase stigma of suicide, inspire church advocacy

From ENS-

Walking Philadelphia streets until the evening darkness dissolved into dawn meant raising nearly $6,000 to aid in suicide prevention and “bringing the whole subject of mental illness and depression into the light where people aren’t afraid of it anymore” for the Rev. Elaine Ellis Thomas.

“Fear is one of the biggest barriers” to helping those affected by suicide, according to Thomas, a curate at St. Edward’s Episcopal Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She participated in the 16-mile American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) “Out of Darkness” walk in late June in memory of her son, Seth Alan Peterson, who was 24 when he ended his life five years ago.

More here-

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pope Francis blesses Vatican cricket XI ahead of Anglican showdown

From The Telegraph-

The Vatican's "underdog" cricket team was given an official blessing by Pope Francis on Tuesday as it prepares to travel to Britain to take on a formidable Anglican XI as well as a team fielded by the Queen at Windsor Castle.

The Latin American Pope, who is a passionate football fan but knows little about cricket, signed a bat that the team will take with them during their five-match tour of England, which begins on Friday.

After the tour the bat will be auctioned online on eBay or "possibly something more dignified" in order to raise money for a joint Catholic and Anglican campaign against modern-day slavery and indentured labour, the Global Freedom Network, said a Vatican official.

More here-

Bishop of London coming to St. Michael’s

From Massachusetts-

The Right Reverend and Right Honourable Richard Chartres, the 132nd bishop of London and successor to the 18th-century prelates who commissioned Anglican missionaries to staff St. Michael’s Church in Marblehead prior to the American Revolution, will preside over special 300th-anniversary services at the historic North Shore house of worship Saturday, Sept. 27 and Sunday, Sept. 28.

Chartres will participate in an Evensong Service at 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27 and be the primary celebrant at a 10 a.m. service Sunday, Sept. 28, the Episcopal Church’s feast of St. Michael and All Angels. Both services, held in St. Michael’s Church, 26 Pleasant St., are free and open to the public.

More here-

Denominational restructuring won’t work; local churches must innovate

From Religion News Service-

After 50 years of decline, mainline denominations are reinventing themselves, or at least “re-imagining” what the church might look like, as an Episcopal Church task force calls it.

What can the “central office” do to stem the ebbing tide? What can national conventions and agencies do?

The answer is: precious little.

In an earnest 3,000-word letter to the church, the Episcopal task force acknowledged that “innovation and adaptation” are already under way at local levels, where the church’s fortunes actually are shaped. “With or without” action by churchwide bodies, the new is breaking in.

The report is well-written, cogently argued, filled with fresh language and insights formed in wide-open discussion. This isn’t an old guard restating its longtime purpose.

More here-

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Canon Kenneth Kearon elected as bishop of Limerick and Killaloe

From ENS-

The Episcopal Electoral College for Limerick & Killaloe, meeting in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, has elected the Rev. Canon Kenneth Kearon as the new bishop of Limerick and Killaloe. He succeeds the Rt. Rev. Trevor Williams who retired at the end of July this year.

Kearon is secretary general of the Anglican Communion, a position he has held since 2005. Born in 1953, Kearon is a native of Dublin. Educated at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), he served his curacy in All Saints Raheny and St John’s Coolock, before becoming dean of residence at TCD in 1984, a position he held until 1990. He was rector of the Parish of Tullow (Dublin) from 1991 to 1999 after which he became director of the Irish School of Ecumenics (1999-2005). Kearon is a canon of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin and an honorary provincial canon of Canterbury Cathedral, St. Paul’s Cathedral London and St. George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem.

More here-

How to Snap Pastors Like Breadsticks

From Huffington-

Crunching the numbers speaks for itself: A 2007 Duke University study found that 85 percent of seminary graduates leave the ministry within five years and 90 percent flee before retirement. The attrition rate in North Georgia, the Bible Belt's leather buckle, "ran as high as 90% for those having served 20 years or more." Alban Institute and Fuller Seminary research showed that "50% of ministers drop out of ministry within the first five years and many never go back to church again."

It's a verified fact: Anyone signing up for the professional ministry is nuts. Don't waste time on those psychological tests. If they want the job, they're cracked.

More here-

Justin Welby – the greatest Foreign Secretary we will never have

From God and Politics UK- (with video)

This Wednesday saw a series of unprecedented meetings and events in London as The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby hosted leaders and representatives of the Churches of the Middle East and the wider Christian Church in Britain at Lambeth Palace. After discussions  regarding the plight of Christians and minority communities in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East, a statement was then agreed, expressing solidarity with, and advocating for, all those who continue to suffer gross violations of the fundamental right and freedom to practice their chosen faith.

Flanked by the other church leaders, the Archbishop read the statement to the gathered journalists:

More here-

Monday, September 8, 2014

Archbishop of Canterbury likely to lead funeral of Richard III

From The Telegraph-

The Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to lead mourners at the televised funeral of King Richard III, found buried under a Leicester car park.

The Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, confirmed The Most Reverend Justin Welby would attend Leicester Cathedral for the King’s funeral in March next year.

He will be joined by his equivalent figure in the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and representatives of other faiths to bury the Last Plantagenet King with “dignity and honour”, Bishop Tim said.

More here-

Why I'm Not Going to Taiwan

From Dan Martins-

Every March and every September, the bishops of the Episcopal Church (virtually all the active ones, and a few of the retired ones, at any rate) gather for a regular meeting of the House of Bishops. (The September meeting is dispensed with in General Convention years.) Later this month, the House will convene ... in Taiwan. I will not be there. It seems appropriate to offer an explanation. Indeed, my colleague bishops and the clergy and faithful of the Diocese of Springfield deserve an explanation.

More here-

Cardinal to preach at cathedral in front of remains of Richard III

From Catholic Herald-

Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster is to take part in services marking the reinterment of Richard III at Leicester’s Anglican cathedral in March next year.

The cardinal will preach at a service of compline on the day the king’s remains are received into the cathedral and will celebrate a Requiem Mass the next day at a nearby Catholic parish.

Dominican friars will also sing vespers at the cathedral in the run-up to the reinterment and Fr David Rocks OP, parish priest, will preach at a lunchtime Eucharist.

More here-

Christians facing more persecution

From ENS-

ISIS/ISIL in Iraq and Syria; Boko Haram in Nigeria; Kim Jong-un in North Korea; the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt — these are all players in a worsening world pattern of persecution targeting Christians as well as other religious and ethnic groups.

The calamitous plight of the uprooted faithful in the Middle East may currently be the most media-documented example of animosity against Christians, but practically anywhere on the planet, the followers of Jesus are the likeliest to be persecuted for their religion, according to the Washington-based Pew Center for Research. Christians face religious oppression in 151 countries.

More here-

Diaper banks meet an overlooked need

From the National Catholic Reporter-

A dirty diaper most always elicits a reaction. In one case, dirty diapers led to the creation of the National Diaper Bank Network, a system of nonprofit groups that helps to provide about 98 million diapers annually to needy families who can’t afford them.

About seven years ago, the Rev. Jim Swarthout, pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in McHenry, Ill., was helping a young mother and her infant daughter in the church’s food pantry. While holding the infant, Swarthout realized her diaper was full. He told the mother that the pantry had diapers; she then told Swarthout that she could only afford three diapers a day, and that government programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) don’t cover the purchase of diapers.

More here-

Three-sentence letter to the ‘NYT’ results in Yale chaplain’s resignation

From Yale-

We’ve covered the backlash against a Yale chaplain for his letter to the New York Times saying that Israel’s “carnage” in Gaza and its footdragging on the peace process were a factor in growing anti-Semitism in Europe. Well, that three-sentence letter to the Times has now produced the resignation of the chaplain, Father Bruce Shipman, from the Episcopal Church at Yale.

It happened three days ago. The statement from the Episcopal Church at Yale refers to “dynamics” between Shipman and his board of governors:

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Sunday, September 7, 2014

William M. Baxter, Episcopal priest who preached to a president, dies at 90

From The Washington Post-

Very late on the night of Friday, Nov. 22, 1963, maybe early in the morning of Nov. 23, the telephone rang in the Capitol Hill home of the Rev. William M. Baxter, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Southeast Washington.

The Secret Service was on the line. President Lyndon B. Johnson would be at St. Mark’s for the Sunday morning worship service that week, the caller said. Hours earlier, Johnson had taken the presidential oath of office aboard Air Force One in Dallas following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

More here-