Saturday, October 25, 2014

Poverty and class: the latest themes to enter the US banned-books debate

From The Guardian-

Late last month, for the 32nd year in a row, Banned Books Week was marked across the US. Spearheaded by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, the annual salute to the freedom to read has become a fixture. It aims to counterbalance perennial challenges to the content of books and efforts to get them banned, usually from schools and libraries.

The ALA collects information on which books are objected to and reports on prominent recurring themes that tend to generate moral or ideological indignation. Subjects such as religion, race, gender, sexuality and allegations of sexually explicit content or offensive language frequently top the list.

More here-
From The House of Deputies-

Good afternoon.

I thought a lot about church structure this past summer. Probably not as much as I’ll think about it next summer, but it was a good warm up.

I also thought a lot this summer, particularly as I watched the news from Ferguson, about our promise to strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.

In July, I spoke to the annual meeting of the Union of Black Episcopalians. We met in Atlantic City, surrounded by a cloud of witnesses from Freedom Summer and the 1964 Democratic National Convention. Let me tell you, it’s a humbling experience to give a speech with the voice of Fannie Lou Hamer echoing in your ears.

We were gathered just before the fortieth anniversary of the ordination of the Philadelphia Eleven. On July 29, 1974, eleven women who had been called by God were ordained Episcopal priests by three bishops who were willing to risk ecclesiastical discipline and the derision of their colleagues in the cause of justice.

Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding minister to preach in Williamsburg this weekend

From Williamsburg-

If there had to be just one indication of the very public nature of the Bishop of London's job, perhaps it would be a note received by the Right Reverend and Right Honorable Richard Chartres in the spring of 2011.

It was just a few days after he had spoken at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine, the newly designated Duchess of Cambridge – an event witnessed by a worldwide audience of between 300 million or 2 billion, depending on which estimates you choose to believe.

"I received a message from someone in the States, in Los Angeles," Chartres said, "telling me that they had downloaded my sermon onto their device – and they were exercising to it." He paused for a moment, and then added: "I found that to be quite extraordinary."

More here-,0,2401758.story

Do people in your church believe in God? Two graphs of America’s 43 largest faiths

From Religion News Service-

Nine out of ten Americans say they believe in God. But push a little bit and you’ll find there is quite a range of belief across the major churches and religions in America. Let’s look at two ways belief in God differs across religious groups: their certainty that God exists and whether God is a person.

Pew’s Religious Landscape survey asked people if they believed in God. Almost everyone who was in a theistic religion did, of course. But the survey followed with a question about this belief: “Are you absolutely certain, fairly certain, not too certain, or not at all certain?” Evangelicals, black Protestants, Mormons, and other theologically conservative groups had high levels of ccertainty– albeit less than their leaders probably expect from their members. Substantial minorities of Mainline denominations expressed less certain beliefs about God. 

- See more at:

Anglicanism keeps muddling on — thank God

From The Spectator (UK)-

Its findings are reassuringly unsurprising. For example, almost one-third of the clergy identify as evangelical; exactly one-third as Catholic; and just over one-third as something in the middle. In a different question, a quarter identify as conservative. Just over half want to keep the established Church in its current form; the rest want some sort of reform. Most call for the Anglican Communion to be more accepting of diversity, rather than seek stricter uniformity. Same in relation to the national Church. Sensible middle-way muddling-through remains the dominant approach: half the clergy think that Christians are discriminated against in some way by our secular society; half oppose same-sex marriage. (39 per cent are in favour of it, which I suppose is a strong body of dissent from Church teaching, but hardly surprising.)

More here-

Episcopal bishop to make 60-mile diocese tour through Worcester County — on foot

From Western Massachusetts-

Bishop Douglas J. Fisher IX, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, will undertake a 60-mile, four-day pilgrimage through Worcester County to meet, greet, fellowship and pray with residents.

The trek will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday with a morning prayer at Trinity Episcopal Church in Milford, and end Oct. 31 at Christ Church in Fitchburg, with numerous stops along the way.

He will be in Worcester on Wednesday. 

More here-

Friday, October 24, 2014

Executive Council moves toward proposed draft budget

From ENS- (Where I am)

The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council opened its four-day meeting here considering its proposed draft 2016-2019 budget as well as reviewing in committees resolutions that are due for council action on the last meeting day.

The Rev. Susan Snook, a member of council’s Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission (FFM), gave her colleagues an update on the committee’s work on the budget thus far. Because that work is not complete, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori advised council members and observers not to report the details of the work Snook presented. The committee will return to council on Oct. 27 with a preliminary draft.

Former Churches Blessed With New Lives in Pittsburgh

From The New York Times-

Like most American Rust Belt towns settled by European immigrant laborers, Pittsburgh in the early 20th century was a deeply religious place, where ornate Romanesque and Gothic chapels, churches and cathedrals rose in nearly every corner of the city. But partly as a result of the steel industry’s collapse, Pittsburgh’s population (now just over 300,000) has been in decline for decades, and congregations have been abandoning their grand old churches in search of smaller, more affordable spaces. Along the way, some of the Steel City’s savviest entrepreneurs have been purchasing many of Pittsburgh’s disused churches and adapting them into clubs, restaurants, theaters and concert venues.

More here-

Primate says 2018 Lambeth unlikely

From The Anglican Journal-

Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, said he hasn’t heard directly from the Archbishop of Canterbury whether the next Lambeth Conference will be postponed, but “it’s pretty obvious that in all likelihood it would not be in 2018 because it takes three, four, years to plan.”

Hiltz responded in an interview with the Anglican Journal to media reports that the next Lambeth Conference, for which bishops from across the Anglican Communion usually gather every 10 years and which was expected to be in 2013, would may be delayed, perhaps until 2019 or 2020.

- See more at:

Ebola victims feel ‘forsaken’ says Liberian bishop

From The Church Times-

SUFFERERS from of the Ebola virus in West Africa believe that "God has forsaken them", a Liberian Roman Catholic bishop, the Rt Revd Anthony Fallah Borwah, has said.

Bishop Borwah was prevented from attending Pope Francis's recent synod on the family because of the travel ban on countries affected by the virus.

He urged his fellow bishops, and the Church, to remember that it was the poor who are their priority, and said that whole families were being "decimated".

Speaking to the US Catholic News Service, he said: "We are losing our humanity in the face of Ebola. . . This disease makes impossible ordinary human kindnesses, such as putting your arm around someone who is crying."

More here-‘forsaken’-says-liberian-bishop

Top Anglican calls for breaking confidentiality in confessions involving child abuse

From RNS-

Anglican priests should no longer be bound by the centuries-old principle of confidentiality in confessions when they are told of sexual crimes committed against children, the Church of England’s No. 2 official said.

Speaking at the end of an internal inquiry on whether senior church officials ignored abuse allegations involving children, Archbishop of York John Sentamu said that “what happened was shameful, terrible, bad, bad, bad.”

He said that the Church of England must break the confidentiality of confession in cases where people disclosed the abuse of children. “If someone tells you a child has been abused, the confession doesn’t seem to me a cloak for hiding that business. How can you hear a confession about somebody abusing a child and the matter must be sealed up and you mustn’t talk about it?”


Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Call to Prayer Amidst Violence

From The Anglican Church of Canada-

With all Canadians my heart is very heavy with the news of the killing of a Canadian soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, while on honour guard duty at the National War Memorial in Ottawa today.

This follows all too soon on the killing of another member of the Canadian Armed Forces in Quebec, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, just days ago.

I ask your prayers for these men, for their loved ones stricken with grief, and for the Canadian Armed Forces chaplains who are ministering to them.

Pray also for the perpetrators of these awful attacks and for their families as well.

More here-

Diocese holds service of repentance and reconciliation for racism

From Atlanta-

Episcopal Bishop Rob Wright is asking Episcopalians in Middle and North Georgia to attend a worship service of “repentance and reconciliation” in response to the sin of racism.

Wright is the first African American Episcopal bishop in Georgia. The service will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road N.W.

“The enterprise of dismantling racism as agents of racial reconciliation is the work of all the baptized in every age,” Wright said in the letter to the Diocese’s 110 worshiping communities.

Racism is a “sin (that) is founded on a lie and therefore an affront to God, an abuse of power and a demonic spirit…,” Wright wrote to the Diocese’s more than 56,000 members. “What scripture calls ‘the more excellent way’ forward for us is not to be consumed by blame or guilt but to take inventory of our hearts and amend our lives…” he continued. “Though we may be culpable, we are not condemned.”

More here-

Striking Professors At General Theological Seminary Respond Positively To School's Offer

From Huffington-

The eight General Theological Seminary professors who have been on strike over working conditions at the New York City school have tentatively agreed to return.

The so-called "GTS Eight" have responded positively to the seminary's offer of "provisional employment for the remainder of the academic year."

The professors are currently in negotiations with the board of trustees, Rev. Dr. Amy Bentley Lamborn confirmed to The Huffington Post. She declined to offer further details.

More here-

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ebola In Church: A Reverend's Quarantine Spreads The Word

From NPR-

Night clubs have shut their doors. Soccer leagues have been suspended. And a strict curfew is keeping the streets empty at night.

But there's one place in Monrovia where people continue to gather despite the threat of Ebola: Sunday church service.

Since Ebola broke out in Liberia's capital city, more people have started coming to Sunday service at Trinity Cathedral, says the Very Rev. Herman Browne. And like many priests across Monrovia, Browne has been spreading the word about Ebola prevention through his sermons.

More here-

Head of Anglican Church to visit Ghana

From Ghana-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby Head of the Anglican Communion and his spouse Mrs Welby, would pay a three- day visit to Ghana, spanning Wednesday, October 29 to Friday, October 31.

The visit would be his first to West Africa, since his enthronement as head of the church in 2012.

Archbishop Welby and his entourage would be met at Kotoka International Airport by Right Reverend Dr Daniel Sylvanus Mensah Torto, Anglican Bishop of Accra and Mr Jon Benjamin, British High Commissioner.

More here-

Episcopal bishop of Kansas joins in friendly World Series wager

From Kansas-

When it comes to the Kansas City Royals and charity, the Right Rev. Dean E. Wolfe, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas, is a betting man.

Wolfe, whose diocese is headquartered in Topeka, has joined the bishop of the Diocese of West Missouri to challenge the bishop of the Diocese of California in a friendly World Series wager designed to raise money for local diocesan charities and share the cultural wealth of their areas with one another.

More here-

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What is marriage now?

From The Christian Century-

Amid endless debates concerning same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage, one biblical passage is often curiously absent. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul reflects on the merits of married and single life. If unmarried persons struggle with sexual self-control, he says, they should marry, “for it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.”

The King James Version translates Paul’s sentiment more bluntly: “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Wide embarrassment on all sides no doubt accounts for neglect of this passage—but also makes it an unexpected resource. If no side owns it, the passage may offer a rare place to meet for fresh discernment. If no one likes the passage, its very neglect might offer an unexpected way out of our impasse.

More here-

Anglican Bishop Preaches Detribalised Nigeria

From Nigeria-

The Bishop of Abuja, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, has called for a united and detribalised Nigeria for the nation to grow and developed to its desired height in the face of the challenges confronting it.

Okoh, the Archbishop of Abuja and Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), made this call during the official flag-off of the 25th anniversary celebration of the church.

He said that the challenges affecting the nation, which is currently affecting the church is the issue of tribalism and the absence of unity.

More here-

7 lessons from the Vatican’s wild and crazy Synod on the Family

From RNS via Salt Lake-

Pope Francis and senior Catholic leaders wrapped up their two-week Vatican summit on the challenges of modern family life Sunday without reaching a consensus on a number of hot-button topics. So where does that leave Francis’ papacy? And the church?

Here are seven takeaways:

More here-

Hope For General Theological Seminary As Board Will Consider Rehiring Faculty

From Huffington-

The embattled General Theological Seminary will keep its controversial dean and has offered to negotiate employment possibilities with the majority of its faculty who quit teaching classes and were subsequently fired. One trustee has resigned over the board’s decision.

Last month, eight full-time professors quit teaching classes and attending official seminary meetings or chapel services until they could sit down with the seminary board to discuss concerns about the seminary’s dean, the Very Rev. Kurt Dunkle.

The seminary board accepted the resignations of the faculty, which the professors said they had never offered. The dispute left the flagship Episcopal seminary scrambling to find teachers for its classes.

More here-

Thieves steal pews, altar from two Chesterfield churches

From Virginia-

An altar, several pews, a bishop's char and a candle holder were all stolen from two Chesterfield churches in the past month. Police say the crimes amount to about $6,000 in stolen items.

Police are searching for the thieves and trying to determine whether the two cases are related.

Thieves hit St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Iron Bridge Road on September 28 and stole several items, including the bishop's chair and several church pews, according to Chesterfield Police.

 "It was the sense of violation that you know, is so difficult," Father Ray Nelson of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church said of the crime, also pointing out it had to be more than one person, because the items were so heavy.

More here-

Monday, October 20, 2014

Baghdad pastor visits Tacoma, faults US policy and implores church to help Iraq’s Christians

From Olympia-

A summer of bloody persecution has left Iraq’s diminished Christian community “a million times worse” than it was under ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, said a minister known as the vicar of Baghdad during a visit to Tacoma on Sunday.

“I think it could be one of the worst persecutions of Christians in history,” Canon Andrew White said at Tacoma’s Life Center church.

Read more here:

Pope Francis starts Pope Paul VI on path to sainthood

From The Week-

Pope Francis marked the end of a spirited gathering of Catholic bishops in Rome by beatifying the pope who started the Synod of Bishops, Paul VI. Pope Paul VI, elected in 1963, presided over the last part of the Vatican II council and over his 15-year reign implemented many of its momentous reforms to the Catholic Church. He is not as popular as either Pope John XXIII, who launched Vatican II, or Pope John Paul II, both of whom Francis canonized earlier this year.

You need one miracle for beatification — the first step toward possible sainthood — and the one attributed to Paul VI was the survival of a California boy (now a healthy teenager) who was supposed to have been born with serious birth defects.

More here-

Episcopal leader takes time for tiny congregation

From Western Kansas-

Sunlight washed across the living room of the A-frame house Sunday morning.

The savory aroma of a simmering pork roast added to the festive atmosphere as a small group sang and prayed together. Some sat on folding chairs; others sat shoulder-to-shoulder on a sofa.

On this sleepy morning a passerby on Kingman Avenue would have no idea worshiping inside the home was the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Katharine Jefferts Schori.

More here-

Bp Dietsche of NY issues statement on GTS, calls for reinstatement of faculty

From The Cafe-

This statement was sent as an email to the Diocese this morning

Sunday, October 19, 2014
My brothers and sisters,

I write to you following the resolutions of the Board of Trustees of General Seminary on Friday regarding the continuing conflict involving the seminary dean and the majority of the faculty. I believe that you have a right to know my thoughts and convictions on this matter.

More here-

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Church Vanishes

From Patheos- Philip Jenkins-

I’m doing a little math, and the consequences are troubling.

My own Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) just released its annual statistics, showing a rate of decline that would be truly amazing if it were at all unexpected. Between 2012 and 2013, the denomination’s membership fell by 1.4 percent, to 1.87 million, while Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) fell by 2.6 percent. Those percentages may not sound like much, until you realize that these are figures for a single year, and they closely echo the percentage drops for several preceding years. (I discussed these broader trends at this site back in 2012). The report received a “nothing special” headline at Episcopal Cafe, “Rate of decline in Sunday attendance little changed from recent years.”

But here’s my mathematical point. Obviously, those rates are not going to carry on year after year, precisely as in the past decade or so. Sometimes they will be lower than that, sometimes higher. But for the sake of argument, assume that the rates for recent years do continue more or less unchecked.

Read more: