Saturday, September 27, 2014

Why I've Left The Christian Left

From Fr. Keith Voets-

So - goodbye Christian Left, you've forced me out.  You make fun of me for believing in the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ, you call me names for insisting that the Church be about salvation and not a social work agency, you have yelled at me for believing that the Incarnation is a real thing, and you have called me sexist because I don't have a problem being called "Father Keith."  You may believe you are different than those right-wing fundamentalists you claim to despise, but actually the similarities are striking.  You can now find me in Broad-Churchville on Anglo-Catholic Tendency Street.  I wish you the best on your spiritual journey, I hope you can do the same for me.

More here-

More accountability, less greed, wealthier Uganda - Ntagali

From Uganda-

The archbishop of the Church of Uganda Stanley Ntagali has said Uganda will transform into one of the richest countries on the continent if local leaders become more accountable and more transparent.

He said the east African nation will become wealthier if leaders do away with greed.

The religious leader made these remarks in front of several local leaders and civil servants of Kiboga and Kyankwanzi districts at a meeting held at Kiboga headquarters mid-this week.

“I want to appeal to you to be accountable to God and to the people of Uganda. I dismiss corruption as a child of greed and self-centeredness. When you are put in a political office, you become a civil servant, and so you need to implement programs.”

More here-

New UN document means churches can do more on indigenous rights

From Anglican News-

Scattered throughout the recent history of Indigenous Peoples are national treaties, declarations and laws that languish in obscurity or are brushed aside and ignored.

Adding insult to injury, when many national and local churches attempt to speak out about the denial of rights of Indigenous Peoples they are told by governments that the church has no place in politics, effectively being seen but not heard.

Yet a new "outcome document" of the United Nations World Conference on Indigenous Peoples is about to turn that perspective on its head. The world’s governments are now inviting churches and other civil society groups to be seen and heard when it comes to advocating for Indigenous Peoples’ human rights.

More here-

Oldham church aims to end domestic violence

From Kentucky-

If he had to guess, St. James' Episcopal Church Rector Jim Trimble would say his congregation has never formally addressed the issue of sexual assault and domestic violence in the church's 156-year history.

"It's one of those that people don't like to talk about," he said, adding "Oldham County … isn't one that you would think about as having an issue with domestic violence."

But, he said, the violence happens everywhere, and the Pewee Valley church is moving toward forming a ministry designated to preventing or aiding victims of domestic violence.

Right now, the church is participating in a sermon series on the topic. A public forum, Trimble hopes, will encourage conversation, and the church has formed a partnership with The Center For Women and Families.

More here-

Friday, September 26, 2014

‘Suffering of Iraqi Christians is beyond description’

From The Church of England Newspaper-

THE SUFFERING of Iraqi Christian refugees fleeing the depredations of the Islamic State (ISIS) are beyond description, the vicar-general of the Diocese of Zanzibar reports following a visit to Kurdistan last week. The Rev Jerry Kramer writes: “Right now we’re processing all that we saw and experienced firsthand. Honestly, we don’t have the words at the moment. The suffering is so immense. The magnitude of the disaster is beyond comprehension.” Fr Kramer, who served as the rector of an Episcopal congregation in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and was one of the leaders in the grassroots campaign to rebuild the city, but currently is a missionary in Tanzania with Love for the Least ministries stated: “Christians were given 48 hours to leave their homes. “Some paid to stay or converted to Islam.

More here-

See video of Huntsville atheist opening City Council meeting with invocation extolling American virtues

From Alabama (with video)

Here's what happens when an atheist offered Alabama's first non-theist invocation to open a public meeting: 90 seconds of thoughtful statements that began with "Dearly Beloved" and ended with "Let it be so," and no reaction from a packed City Council chamber. As the invocation ended, everyone swung automatically to face the flag to repeat the Pledge of Allegiance, with the atheists who had come going silent on the "under God" phrase.
More here-

100 Best Christian Books How we took our pick

From The Church Times-

We begin our three-part countdown of the top 100 Christian books. Go to for books 100-51, together with an explanation of our methodology and original CT reviews, where they exist.

HUMAN progress involves assimilating the wisdom of past generations, and building on it. The most valuable lessons are still conveyed by word of mouth, but these can be very basic instructions - and, besides, you have to be within earshot.

More here-

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Doubt as a Sign of Faith

From The New York Times-

Certainty is so often overrated.

This is especially the case when it comes to faith, or other imponderables.

When the Most Rev. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, said recently that at times he questioned if God was really there, much of the reaction was predictably juvenile: Even God’s earthly emissary isn’t sure if the whole thing is made up!

The International Business Times called it “the doubt of the century.” Archbishop Welby’s admission had not just “raised a few eyebrows,” it declared, but “sparked concerns if the leader of the Church of England would one day renounce Christianity or spirituality as a whole.” Another journalist wrote excitedly, “Atheism is on the rise and it appears as though even those at the top of the church are beginning to have doubts.”

More here-

Religion does not poison everything - everything poisons religion

From Spectator UK-

Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence - Karen Armstrong
Bodley Head, pp.499, £25, ISBN: 9781847921864

It slips so easily off the tongue. In fact, it’s a modern mantra. ‘Religion causes all the wars.’ Karen Armstrong claims to have heard it tossed off by American psychiatrists, London taxi-drivers and pretty much everyone else. Yet it’s an odd thing to say. For a start, which wars are we talking about? Among the many causes advanced for the Great War, ranging from the train timetables on the continent to the Kaiser’s withered left arm, I have never heard religion mentioned. Same with the second

world war. The worst genocides of the last century — Hitler’s murder of the Jews and Atatürk’s massacre of the Armenians (not to mention his expulsion and massacre of the Greeks in Asia Minor too) — were perpetrated by secular nationalists who hated the religion they were born into. The long British wars of the 18th and 19th centuries — the Napoleonic wars and the Seven Years’ War — were cheerfully fought by what Wellington called ‘the scum of the earth’ for land and empire, not for the faiths to which they only nominally belonged.

More here-

What Makes A Church Beautiful?

From William Newton-

When I saw the plans released yesterday for the new Christ Cathedral in Orange County, California, I was put in mind of the so-called “graduation ceremony” in “Star Wars”.  You’ll recall that’s when Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca received medals from Princess Leia for their services to the Rebel Alliance, inside a grand, but colorless ceremonial hall, like the one about to be foisted upon the good people of the Diocese of Orange County.  While seeing this animation of the completed building might make Seymour Skinner give out an award for best diorama, when it comes to ecclesiastical architecture, such an association is not an enviable one.  For it seems that, once again, the Church is not practicing what it preaches, when it comes to encouraging the beautiful in our contemporary society.

More here-

Reclusive Deity Hasn’t Written A New Book In 2,000 Years

From Onion-

Leading writers, scholars, and publishers gathered this week at Fordham University for a literary conference and panel discussion on God, the widely praised but reclusive deity who has not published a book since His landmark debut 2,000 years ago.

Hailed by critics as one of the most important authors in recent millennia, the eccentric divinity is said to have long ago retreated from the public eye, eschewing a life of celebrity for one of solitude and quiet. To this day, experts confirmed, His artistic reputation rests exclusively upon His bestselling and highly acclaimed first work, the Bible.

More here-,36936/

Kirsten Powers: We broke Iraq

From Indy Star-

Colin Powell famously told President George W. Bush before the Iraq invasion, “If you break it, you own it.” Well, it’s safe to say we broke Iraq.

That’s the story I heard last week from two people who live there. I met with the Rev. Canon Andrew White — “The Vicar of Baghdad” — who serves as the chaplain to St. George’s Anglican Church in the heart of Baghdad. We were joined by Sarah Ahmed, a director at White’s Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Ahmed was born and raised in Iraq. White has lived there for 15 years.

“I was in favor of the U.S. invasion,” White told me. “But we are literally 5,000 times worse than before. If you look at it, you can see it was wrong. We have gained nothing. Literally nothing. We may have had an evil dictator, but now we have total terrorism. We used to have one Saddam. Now we have thousands.”

More here-

Is Bishop Cupich A Closet Anglican?

From Patheos-

John Allen here with his usual common sense analysis. He acknowledges Archbishop of Chicago designate
Cupich as a “moderate left leaning” character, and mentions the snide comments that Cupich is leading the “Anglicanization” of the Catholic  Church.

In other words, in the opinion of some Cupich is just another wishy washy peace and justice liberal and so is Pope Francis and that crowd is leading the whole Catholic Church down the plug hole and into an Anglican style left wing feminist Marxist cult… what next, will retiring Episcopal Jefferts Schori become a Catholic cardinal?

Read more:

Gay Montana couple responds to excommunication

From Montana-

More than a month after being told they would no longer be able to participate in communion, Lewistown residents Paul Huff and Tom Wojtowick continue to sort through the events of the past several weeks, to try and make sense of the decision that was applied to them, and to ponder their future relationship with the Catholic Church.

“I’ll be 73 on Oct. 1, and I’ve been a Catholic since I was 2 weeks old,” Huff said. “I still have the same God that I believe in, and I don’t need this in my life.”

Wojtowick and Huff are both lifelong Catholics. They are also both gay men who have been a committed relationship for more than 30 years. They were married in a civil ceremony in Seattle on May 31, 2013.

More here-

Also from the New York Times-

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What Happens to Christianity When People Stop Believing in Hell?

From Truth Out-

Three years ago, my sister, who had long struggled with mental illness, hit her limit and jumped off a freeway bridge. She lived.

She was rushed to the county trauma center, and by the time I arrived from Seattle she was hooked up to an array of life support technologies and monitors. Brain trauma made it hard to know how much she understood of her situation or our conversations, and to know whether she would live.

One night, while she was in this state, I said to her, "Katha, I don't know if you can hear me, but I want you to know that we all want for you whatever you want for yourself. If you want to fight this thing and try again, we want that. If you are sick of fighting and ready to be done, that's ok too." While I spoke to her, a nurse was doing record keeping at a computer terminal near the foot of her bed. Some time later when I got up to leave, he approached me and said, "You know, if your sister dies right now she will go to hell."

More here-

Central Africa: "Anglican Church Has the Power, Influence to Eradicate Malaria in Central Africa"

From All Africa-

An Anglican anti-malaria activist from Central Africa has said that the Anglican Church in the region has the power and influence to combat malaria in the region due to its consistent presence across national borders.

In an interview with ACNS, the Regional Co-ordinator for the Isdell: Flowers Cross Border Malaria Initiative, which works in partnership with the Anglican Church and other key, local stakeholders, Mrs Constance Njovu said, "the church should utilise its unique position by continuing to educate people on the dangers of malaria."

More here-

Episcopal Church’s Katharine Jefferts Schori will not seek re-election

From RNS-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman elected to head a national branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, announced Tuesday (Sept. 23) that she will not seek a second nine-year term in office.

Her departure will likely set off debates over her legacy and the future of the 2 million-member denomination.

More here-

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Presiding Bishop announces she will not stand for reelection

From ENS-

The following message is from Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:
To all the people of God in The Episcopal Church:

It is a great joy and privilege to serve as your Presiding Bishop.  I have been blessed to be able to meet and build relationships with people around the globe – in every diocese in this Church, most of the provinces of the Anglican Communion, our full communion partners (ELCA, Moravian Church, Old Catholics of the Union of Utrecht), as well as civic leaders and leaders of other denominations and faith traditions.  That relational work is fundamental to the reconciliation we seek in Christ.  As bridges are built, more and more people can begin to cross the divides between us, and God’s dream begins to take flesh in a more just and peaceful world.

More here-

Top priests of two faiths to honour King Richard III

From England-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, who is the most senior minister in the the Church of England, along with the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the most senior priest in the Roman Catholic Church in this country, will both be involved.

The two most senior clergymen in the country are to take part in services at Leicester Cathedral during the week that the remains of King Richard III are formally re-interred.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, who is the most senior minister in the the Church of England, along with the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the most senior priest in the Roman Catholic Church in this country, will both be involved in services designed to honour the last Plantagenet king of England.

More here-

House of Bishops leaving Taiwan with ‘hearts and minds expanded’

From ENS-

Members of the House of Bishops are leaving their meeting here with an expanded view of ministry of the Episcopal and Anglican churches in Asia.

“This meeting has offered abundant opportunities to expand our vision of what is possible as we engage God’s mission,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in a written statement released at the conclusion of the Sept. 17-23 meeting, the first gathering of the house in Asia.

“We have built new relationships with our partners in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and with our brother and sisters in Taiwan,” she said. “We’ve discovered new readings of the old, old stories and new theological perspectives rooted in different parts of God’s creation. With hearts and minds expanded, we know ourselves part of a body larger and with deeper bonds than we imagined.”

More here-

Survey: Americans fear religion is losing influence

From Detroit-

Six years into a Democratic administration widely seen as pushing a secular agenda, nearly three-quarters of Americans say religion is losing influence in American life and about half say churches and other religious institutions should express their views on political issues.

The findings, from a new Pew survey, underscore a persistent pattern in American politics: During conservative administrations, the public tends to become more liberal and during liberal ones, more conservative.

In this case, only about 3 in 10 Americans see the Obama administration as "friendly to religion." About 4 in 10 rate the administration as neutral and another 3 in 10 call it unfriendly.

More here-

House of Bishops Fall 2014 meeting statements

From ENS-

The House of Bishops of The Episcopal Church met in the Diocese of Taiwan from September 17 to September 23. The following are statements concerning the meeting.

The theme for the fall meeting of the Episcopal Church House of Bishops is Expanding the Apostolic Imagination.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori:

This meeting has offered abundant opportunities to expand our vision of what is possible as we engage God’s mission.  Our chaplain the Rev. Simón Bautista reminded us this morning that we are all bound for home, that we’re meant to travel light – and that “home” is the Reign of God.  Our chaplain the Rev. Stephanie Spellers challenged us yesterday to take the journey to unexpected places and communities.

More here-

Monday, September 22, 2014

Why the Episcopal Church? Because it broke my heart

From Joy In The Journey-

Why the Episcopal Church?  The Episcopal Church exists for people like me, and people quite different from me, of course.  People who differ in race, ethnicity, background, social status, occupation, theology, and preferences of pizza toppings, but people who are similar in their commitment to the saving grace of God in Christ.  I tried to compose a list, or an essay extolling the virtues of the Episcopal Church.  However, I guess I am becoming a true Episcopalian, because all I could come up with was a story of when the church broke open my heart.

Three years ago, I was a fledgeling Christian searching for a new spiritual home.  I was all atwitter with thoughts.  The mystery of Christ entranced me, the mystery of a God who so loved the world--this crazy, messed-up, petty, polluted world and all of us crazy people in it--that he gave up his own son--a part of himself--to save it. Once I bought into this incredible story, then I wanted to experience it.  I wanted to be knocked down by it, made quiet by it, brought to tears by it.  I wanted the whole extravaganza.  But, I was nervous.

More here-

Fire destroys Anglican church in Edmundston

From New Brunswick-

Fire destroyed an historic Anglican church over the weekend. Built in 1926, the combined St. John's Anglican and St. Paul's United Church on Rue de l’Eglise was listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

The fire was called in to the Edmundston Fire Department at approximately 3:45 a.m. EST Saturday, Sept. 20, according to Edmundston North Fire Station Chief Rino Francoeur.

Approximately 35 firefighters responded, according to Francoeur. By Saturday afternoon, the fire was extinguished; however, the building was already a complete loss upon arrival of the fire department, according to the chief.

More here-

Bishops explore ministry challenges in Asia

From Anglican News-

Taipei, Taiwan] Members of the House of Bishops have begun learning about the theological context and mission challenges faced by Episcopal and Anglican churches in Asia.

Their exploration had already begun with a deep experience of what Diocese of Kansas Bishop Dean Wolfe described as “such hospitality, such graciousness, such joy in the spirit” on the part of Taiwanese Episcopalians who are hosting the Sept. 17-23 meeting here.

“I will take that back to my Diocese of Kansas and remind my people of the connection we have with the Diocese of Taiwan,” said Wolfe, who is vice president of the house and served as emcee for the Sept. 19 sessions.

More Here-

Historic Baltimore Church Celebrates 190th Anniversary

From Baltimore-

One of Baltimore’s very own holds a unique honor of being the oldest African-American church below the Mason-Dixon Line.

Marcus Washington reports St. James’ Episcopal Church continues to thrive as many celebrate its 190th anniversary.

This Sunday, service at St. James’ Episcopal Church is about more than worship–it’s also a historic celebration.

“Today is special because for 190 years this church has been a beacon of hope and of God’s grace and love in the city of Baltimore,” said Reverend Dr. Allen F. Robinson.

More here-

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Anglican Church Decries Marginalisation

From Nigeria-

THE Diocesan Bishop on the Niger, Rt. Rev. (Dr.) Owen Nwokolo, has alleged that a church in his diocese, Ebenezer Anglican Church at Oyolu-Ozeh Hilltop Primary School in Nkwelle Ezunaka, is under threat by a group of individuals that masterminded its initial demolition on August 11, 2014.

   Calling for dialogue between the church and state government over the demolition, the Bishop said: “The same people who destroyed the church building are still threatening to send hoodlums to even destroy the place, where we are presently worshipping. That is why we are concerned and calling on government to prevail on the people and prevent them from carrying out their evil intention.”   

More here-

Pope Francis Visits Albania

From VOA-

Pope Francis is in Albania for his first visit to a European country outside of Italy.

The leader of the world's one billion Roman Catholics will celebrate Mass in Mother Teresa square in Tirana, the capital, during his day-long trip Sunday.  He will also meet with Albanian President Bujar Nishani and is scheduled to visit orphans.

Francis said on the plane to Albania that the tiny nation has "succeeded in finding peace" between different religions.

More here-

From The Telegraph-