Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why is the Catholic Church cannibalising the Book of Common Prayer?

From The Telegraph-

I’ve always felt sympathetic to foreigners on holiday in England who come across a church advertising Mass and displaying crucifixes and statues inside. When they discover later that they have been at a service of the Church of England, not of the Roman Catholic Church, they are puzzled and confused.

So what would you think if you went into a church and heard the clergyman begin: “God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit…”?

If you said it was an early part of the Anglican service of Holy Communion, you’d be right. But I’ve just been looking at a new service booklet with the Order of Mass according to the Use of the Ordinariate. It begins with that prayer, yet it is a Roman Catholic liturgy. Instead of bells-and-smells Anglicans stealing the Catholics’ clothes, as it were, we have Catholics (Roman Catholics) cannibalising the Book of Common Prayer.

More here-

Hundreds sign worker justice petition to Episcopal Presiding Bishop

From Ekklesia-

Within a few hours over 550 people have already signed a petition to the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, calling for reinstatement of eight fired seminary professors.

The move follows the intransigence of the Board of Trustees of General Theological Seminary in New York, a flagship Episcopal institution, over their sacking of most of the GTS faculty for a protest and work stoppage concerning allegations of abuse and a hostile work environment against the Dean and President.

The Board has dismissed the allegations against the Dean through a private investigation involving an outside lawyer, but have ignored or bypassed due process and the procedures set out in the Seminary's own handbook, say supporters of the dismissed professors.

More here-

General Seminary trustees issue statement

From ENS-

 On October 17, 2014, The General Theological Seminary issues this statement:

“Shaping the future leaders of our Church is a responsibility we take very seriously; to that end, the concerns raised by eight members of the Faculty were given full consideration by both the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee. Our chief goal is a fruitful and fulfilling school year for our students.

“We are above all an institution of the Church, and we – both as individuals and as officials of the Seminary – strive to conduct ourselves in a manner befitting our guiding Christian principles. In this spirit, the Board has reviewed the findings of an independent investigation and reached three resolutions.

More here-

Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, former Episcopal leader, dies at 69

From The Boston Globe-

Soft-spoken and clad in a subdued black robe of his monastic order, the Right Rev. M. Thomas Shaw seemed an unlikely choice in 1994 to lead one of the largest Episcopal dioceses in the nation. Yet his unswerving devotion to spirituality and his unwillingness to avoid political controversy turned him into one of the most visible and vocal religious leaders of his time.

“Ever since I was a little boy I wanted to do the will of God,” Bishop Shaw told the Globe two years into his 20-year tenure as head of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

More here-

Friday, October 17, 2014

Pray for us, say Bermuda Anglicans

From Bermuda-

Anglicans around the world have been asked to pray for Bermuda as it braces for Hurricane Gonzalo.

The call went out today from Bermuda’s Anglicans while the Island still deals with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Fay.

Fay’s 100mph winds caused flooding from sea swell in coastal areas. They also left many roads impassable because of fallen trees, and left most people without electricity, cellphone coverage or access to the Internet.

The storm caused no fatalities, although there were numerous injuries as windows and doors blew out under the pressure of the wind. However, Bermuda is now facing a much bigger potential danger in Gonzalo, which has become a Category 4 hurricane and is predicted to make a direct hit on Bermuda on Friday morning with wind speeds in excess of 130mph.

More here-

Bishops call for Ebola focus to be on overseas care

From The Church Times-

THE scale of the suffering in West Africa should be in the forefront of people's minds when considering the Ebola virus, not the fear of a small outbreak in the UK, two C of E bishops have said.

Their words came as the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that the number of dead had reached 4447. Anthony Banbury, Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, told a special session of the UN Security Council on Tuesday that, unless more concerted action was taken against the disease, the world would "face an entirely unprecedented situation for which we do not have a plan".

The Government this week introduced a much criticised system for screening passengers returning to the UK from West Africa, at a cost of £9 million.

More here-

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Justin Welby: what should we do about ISIS?

From Prospect Magazine-

One hundred years ago, the first casualty reports from the Battle of Mons were received. Although the war had been declared on 4th August, the first British casualty was on the 21st. He is buried opposite the last one, who fell in the same area four years and millions of dead later.

The front line was back where it had started. I saw their graves at the service in August to remember the outbreak of the war at the St Symphorien cemetery in Belgium. Seventeen-year-old John Parr lay near 40-year-old George Elison, who had also fought at Mons in 1914, served in all the major battles of the war and was killed a few minutes before the armistice. Laid to rest together by chance, their graves seemed to cry out against the miscalculations and stupidities that led to more than 10m deaths in those years.

More here-

Hong Kong Anglican Archbishop Calls for 'Dialogue' to Resolve Political Crisis

From Christian Post-

The leader of the Anglican Church of Hong Kong has issued a statement calling for "dialogue" between pro-democracy protestors and government officials.

Archbishop Paul Kwong issued the statement Tuesday where he said that he was "saddened and distressed by the increasing social conflict."

"In order to engage in real dialogue, we need to develop greater trust in one another. However this is not yet happening," stated Kwong.

"Our clergy and laity, and all people in Hong Kong share the gravity of the situation, and acknowledge the present ordeal as an extraordinarily difficult time of trial. We will face a situation of deep internal conflict and division for a long time to come."

More here-ñ

Local churches monitoring Ebola situation

From Philadelphia-

Catholics consider the bread and wine to be turned into the body and blood of Christ during Mass. While some parishes allow communicants to sip from the chalice, parishioners at Mount Carmel who want to receive Holy communion in the form of wine as well as bread take it by intinction, where the bread is dipped into the wine.

“We don’t do it from the cup, we feel there is too much possibility of the communication of disease,” Hagan said.

Bishop Clifton Daniel of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania issued this statement about the Ebola situation: “The Episcopal Church is committed to the well-being of all people. The Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania does not perceive an immediate threat to our community at this time. Because of this we will continue to celebrate the Eucharist and worship as we normally do and invite people to join us. We continue to pray for those affected by the outbreak of Ebola and lift them up in our hearts and prayers.

More here-

Churches host national conference on healing in Titusville

From Florida-

Father Rob Goodridge has seen the flow of pain from sickness up close, from the bodies wracked with cancer to once limber men reduced to wheelchairs because of back pain. And in each case the spiritual leader of St. Gabriel's Episcopal Church in Titusville has turned to an ancient formula of laying on of hands and anointing with oil as symbolic gestures of the soul-healing power of faith.

"It's healing of the body, mind and spirit," Goodridge says. "But what is greater is that people come to know Jesus, often in a new way. What you find is that people don't need him when things are going great but then, when things are broken, that's when we cry out."

More here-

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

City subpoenas pastors' sermons in equal rights ordinance case

From Houston-

Houston's embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists that have sued the city.

Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. City attorneys issued subpoenas last month during the case's discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, "all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession."

More here-

Welby praises 'long overdue' move as House of Lords approves women bishops

From Christian Today-

The House of Lords yesterday approved plans to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England.

The proposal was passed by the General Synod in July but required the consent of Parliament. It is expected to be agreed in the House of Commons next week.

In his speech before peers, Archbishop Justin Welby commended the proposal as "a change of historical significance".

More here-

Thousands back call for reinstatement of 'GTS Eight'

From Ekklesia-(with link to the petition)

A petition calling for the reinstatement of eight sacked faculty members at General Theological Seminary in New York is receiving huge support.

Over a thousand people have signed the petition in just 48 hours.

Supporters have urged as many signatories as possible before a meeting between the seminary board of trustees and the professors scheduled for Thursday 16 October. Former Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold will facilitate the meeting, it has been announced.

In addition, some 1,200 academics have now pledged not to work with GTS until the situation is resolved (, over 1,000 people are involved with an online-support group and several hundred are involved with the reinstatement campaign through Twitter (@safeseminary and @Reinst8GTS8)

More here-

On the Clock: General Theological Seminary and the Fate of Protestantism

From Patheos-

In conversations with my students at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, I’ve been asked, “Why does the crisis at The General Theological Seminary matter?  Doesn’t The Episcopal Church have too many seminaries anyway?”  The answer, of course, is, “Yes, it does.”

Even if the in-coming class of seminary freshmen in The Episcopal Church was divided by the number of seminaries that the church has and those students were then assigned in equal numbers to the church’s schools, that strategy could not possibly guarantee the future of theological education at each of those locations.  And even though no institution of higher education can be sustained by tuition alone, none of our seminaries have the kind of endowment that would make the math work.

Read more:

From church triumphant to ‘least of these’

From The Washington Post-

News articles about turmoil at General Theological Seminary had immediate impact on those of us who attended Episcopal seminaries.

But the news “went viral” far beyond that small coterie and for reasons beyond nostalgia.

For one thing, it’s a juicy soap opera. Faculty playing hardball, then finding themselves unemployed. A dean pushing back, then losing credibility as word about him spread. A board looking confused and high-handed. Students wondering if they, too, should go on strike.

More here-

Southeast Florida diocese announces 5 nominees for bishop coadjutor

From ENS-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida has announced its slate of nominees for bishop coadjutor of the diocese. The nominees were presented to the Standing Committee by the Bishop Coadjutor Search Committee, which was tasked with leading the process, which began seven months ago.

The nominees are:

The Rev. Michael J. Battle, vicar, St. Titus Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina;

The Very Rev. Dr. DeDe Duncan-Probe, rector, St. Peter’s in the Woods Episcopal Church, Fairfax Station, Virginia;

The Very Rev. Peter Eaton, dean, St. John’s Cathedral, Denver, Colorado;

The Rev. John C. N. Hall, rector, St. Boniface Episcopal Church, Sarasota, Florida; and

The Rev. Allen F. Robinson, rector, St. James Episcopal Church, Baltimore, Maryland.

Detailed information about each nominee can be found online here.

More here-

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A fictional forerunner of Pope Francis?

From Los Angeles Times-

The bishop declines to move into his official residence, which he considers “hopelessly antiquated.” He disdains “velvet and brocade and gilt cherubs with paint peeling off their backsides.” He inveighs against “formalism, feudalism, reaction, old men following old ways because the old ways seem safer and they are unprepared for the new.”

“I believe that the church in this country is in drastic need of reform,” he tells a fellow priest. “I think we have too many saints and not enough sanctity, too many cults and not enough catechism, too many medals and not enough medicine, too many churches and not enough schools .…. Our clergy are undereducated and insecure, yet we rail against anti-clericalism and communists. A tree is known by its fruits — and I believe that it is better to proclaim a new deal in social justice than a new attribute of the Blessed Virgin.”

More here-

Former Presiding Bishop Griswold to facilitate GTS Faculty/Trustees meeting

More from the Cafe-

Former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold will facilitate the Oct. 16 meeting between trustees of the General Theological Seminary and eight professors whose employment is at the core of the dispute involving complaints about the conduct of the school’s dean and president.

The General trustees agreed Oct. 13 during a teleconference to have the facilitated discussion with the aim of achieving greater clarity, understanding, and reconciliation, according to trustee Chair Bishop Mark Sisk (retired of New York).

A meeting between trustees and the professors was already scheduled for Oct. 16. The addition of a facilitator is a new development, one apparently suggested by the eight professors and agreed to by the board. The board asked Griswold to fill that role.

More here-

Rate of decline in Sunday attendance little changed from recent years

From The Cafe-

The 2013 statistical totals for the Episcopal Church are now posted at the Research and Statistics site and the General Convention site.

The table, Episcopal Domestic Fast Facts Trends: 2009-2013 shows a -2.6% change 2012-2013 in average Sunday attendance (ASA), little different from the -2.7% change 2011-2012.

Median ASA across all domestic congregation was 61 in 2013. In 2009 the median 66 and has fallen or held steady each year since. 60% of congregations in 2013 had an ASA of 200 or less. This percentage has varied very little over the last five years.

Though pledge and plate grew 0.8 percent 2012-2013, the U.S. inflation rate was 1.5 percent in 2013.

More here-

Anglican Church provides land for Ebola fight

From Sierra Leon-

Ola During Children’s Hospital in the East End of Freetown can now boast of a well-spacious Ebola Isolation Unit outside its hospital premise, following the gratis provision of a portion of land measuring 0.5 acres within Bishop’s Court at Fourah Bah Road, east of Freetown.

The Anglican Church provided the land for the construction of a temporary Holding Unit in the period of Ebola crisis, after which, from a Memorandum of Understanding signed, should be demolished and handed back to the church’s authority.

More here-

Dozens arrested in Ferguson protests

From BBC- (with video)

Outside the police station, the chalk outline of a man was drawn on the ground, which organisers said was "a memorial for the body of Michael Brown".

Bishop Wayne Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri told US media his faith compelled him to be there.

"I want to show solidarity, and call attention to the structural racism of St. Louis," he added.

Ferguson Police said 42 people were arrested at the police station and another six were arrested for blocking a street elsewhere.

More here-

Vatican proposes 'stunning' shift on gays, lesbians

From CNN- (with video)

Using strikingly open language, a new Vatican report says the church should welcome and appreciate gays, and offers a solution for divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion.

At a press conference on Monday to present the report, Cardinal Louis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines said Catholic clergy meeting here have largely focused on the impact of poverty, war and immigration on families.

But the newly proposed language on gays and civil marriages represents a  “pastoral earthquake,” said one veteran Vatican journalist.

“Regarding homosexuals, it went so far as to pose the question whether the church could accept and value their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine,” said John Thavis, a former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service.

More here-

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vicar of Baghdad says he's barred from returning

From Washington DC-

Canon Andrew White, the vicar of St. George's Anglican Church in Baghdad, has told thousands of Christians in Jerusalem that he isn't being allowed to return to Iraq.

White spoke Sunday at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem's celebration of Sukkot (soo-KOHT'), the biblical Feast of Tabernacles.

White says church officials and the British Foreign Office have told him that his love for Israel and the Islamic State group's pressure on Baghdad make it too dangerous for him to resume pastoring the church for now. He says they believe he would be killed if he returns to Iraq.

More here-

Synod Talk on Making Annulments Easier

From Aleteia-

The current Extraordinary Synod on the Family is looking at proposals to make annulments easier to obtain. One proposal – floated by Cardinal Walter Kasper in his February 2014 presentation to the Extraordinary Consistory of Cardinals – suggested a novel alternative path to streamline the process, whereby a bishop would entrust the nullity process to a priest with spiritual and pastoral experience as a penitentiary or episcopal vicar.

Other Cardinals and experts among clergy, however, have raised serious concerns over this and other proposals to streamline the annulment process, as well as over Cardinal Kasper’s view that divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive the Eucharist, perhaps after some undefined period of penance. “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion” is one such critique.

More here-

Sunday, October 12, 2014

General Theological Seminary and Progressive Christianity

From Patheos-

The crisis at General Theological Seminary probably hasn’t been felt very far beyond the walls of The Episcopal Church. That’s not surprising. General is hardly a large seminary and, like most of our denomination’s seminaries, its faculty and student body is comparatively homogeneous, denominationally speaking. But the crisis has certainly rocked our little corner of the church-world. In part, because the dispute between General’s faculty and its President-Dean became the instant subject of conversation in the social media; in part, because the out-sized board represents such a large slice of the church’s life; and, in part, because the unique history of General’s founding makes it a creature of the national Church, its General Convention, the House of Bishops, and – by inference – the concern of the church’s Presiding Bishop.

Read more:

At forlorn urban churches, Mass gets crowded quickly

From Cleveland-

 The glory days of Holy Ghost Church were years ago, when Catholics packed into the wooden pews, beneath a starry barrel-vaulted ceiling, listening to bells and kissing icons as priests in colorful robes intoned in ancient tongues the liturgies of a faraway land.

The congregation dwindled so much that in 2009 the church was closed, but on a bright Sunday this summer, Holy Ghost was alive again. Mary Matei, visiting from Knoxville, Tenn., snapped pictures on her iPhone as priests sang Mass, while Ann Cogar and Sue Koch, sisters from suburban Cleveland, admired stained glass windows and statuary.

More here-

At 100, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks on upswing

From Pittsburgh-

It’s an ancient faith of icons, incense and a capella music, that nonetheless has its own Facebook pages, podcasts and streaming radio.

There are dozens of Orthodox churches in and around Pittsburgh, in varying states of health. But St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in McKees Rocks — under the leadership of a priest with a background in corporate management training and a knack for social media — has seen its parish grow larger and younger even as the community around it declines in numbers. This weekend, the church has been celebrating its 100th anniversary.

More here-