Saturday, November 29, 2014

Churches can reverse declining attendance

From London-

We’ve all heard statistics on declining church attendance. Evidence of this decline abounds in our region in the number of churches lost or converted for other uses, plus the amalgamation of congregations.

I believe this trend will reverse itself with two factors driving it.

First, the happiness chasers will continue to experience an emptiness after each new toy has been acquired. Eventually many will realize the void they’re trying to fill is spiritual.

The second factor involves the church. We must continue to reach out to our communities to deal with both the physical and spiritual issues that arise daily.

More here-

Parking Lot Rage Is On The Rise

From CBS Pittsburgh-

What makes some really angry at parking lots are the rude and inconsiderate people who don’t know how to park their cars.

But the key is controlling that anger.

Appearing on the Sunday Business Page, Episcopal Bishop Dorsey McConnell says it helps to imagine the stress the offending person is under, too.

“And then when I start looking at others, then I maybe see them not as the guy who is in my way, or who just took the parking place I wanted, but rather someone who’s got their own struggles, their own stresses, and their own tough realities,” said the Bishop.

That helps — and so does realizing it’s only a parking spot.

More here-

Illinois Supreme Court rejects Episcopal church appeal

From Illinois- (Quincy)

Local Anglican priests gave parishioners an extra helping of good news during Thanksgiving Day services.

The Illinois Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a petition by the Episcopal Church to review a lower court ruling that decided contested money and property tied to a 2008 split rightfully belonged to the Quincy Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America, the Rev. Thomas Janikowski, public relations director, said Friday.

More here-

Friday, November 28, 2014

This Atheist is Thankful for the Clergy

From Patheos-

Clerical privilege frequently hands the worst ideas the biggest megaphone, putting the values and beliefs of a far-gone age on a pedestal, while shielding those who abuse their position from the consequences of their actions. The fact that when I’m fully-trained as an Ethical Culture Leader I will formally be a clergy person myself is the source of some discomfort, as if I’m being offered a fancy uniform I’m not certain I want to wear. The work of an Ethical Culture Leader I love and want to continue – the position as clergy makes me nervous.

And yet.

In the past few months I have spent many hours with clergy in the St. Louis area, as we have planned and worked together in response to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. In that time I have seen, over and over again, enormous moral courage and principled leadership from the clergy. Professional representatives of a wide range of faiths have consistently been some of the first to respond to calls to action, and have been pivotal in organizing actions across the city.

Read more:

Ebola attacks what makes us human, says Archbishop of Canterbury

From Anglican News (with video)-

In a video recorded for a World Council of Churches (WCC) consultation on the Ebola response being held today in Geneva, the Archbishop also stressed the “absolutely crucial” contribution of churches and other faith communities in responding to the crisis.

The WCC meeting brings together representatives of Christian health, development and aid organizations and UN agencies to learn from each other and seek ways of collaboration to escalate their efforts.

In the video Archbishop Justin spoke of the "deep sorrow" he encountered on a visit to West Africa last month, where he met with the Chief of Staff of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) in Accra, Ghana.

More here-,-says-archbishop-of-canterbury.aspx

Why the St. Andrews Episcopal Church supports Ann Arbor's homeless community

From Michigan-

In November of 1982, the current rector of St. Andrews Episcopal Church, the Rev. Earl James Lewis, Jr., proposed setting up some sort of arrangement to shelter the homeless he saw in Ann Arbor through the winter months.

In January of 1983, with the support of the Church Vestry and with funds provided both by the Vestry and the state of Michigan, a home across the street from St Andrews was opened. It could provide shelter for up to seven people and was staffed by volunteers from the St. Andrews. This arrangement only lasted for a few years. However, the need and the desire to help with homelessness continued, leading in 1989 to the opening of the present Delonis Shelter under the direction of a former member of St Andrews.

More here-

Shuttered US cathedral may become slave trade museum as Episcopal Church seeks to unbury past

From Rhode Island-

A plan to open what would be the nation's only museum centered on the trans-Atlantic slave trade would focus on the Episcopal Church's role in its history and the sometimes-buried legacy of slavery in northern states like Rhode Island.

The museum at the shuttered Cathedral of St. John, a church where slaves once worshipped, would explore how the church benefited from the trade and helped bring it to an end, said Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Diocese of Rhode Island.

"Our story's mixed," he said. "We haven't talked in the country about the role of religion and religious voices in abolition and the slave trade."

To make it happen, the diocese is working with the Tracing Center, a group set up by descendants of what was once the nation's most prolific slave-trading family, and Brown University, which in recent years has worked to come to grips with its own connection to slavery.

More here-

Thursday, November 27, 2014


From Breitbart-

The Church of England may split despite the Archbishop of Canterbury’s best efforts to hold it together, as the views of evangelical men and the rest of the Anglican Communion are drifting further apart over issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

In his address to the General Synod last week, Archbishop Welby told members that he had made 14 trips over the last 18 months to visit Primates in all parts of the world. What he found is that the worldwide Anglican Communion is “a flourishing Communion but also a divided Communion.”

He warned “Our divisions may be too much to manage. In many parts of the Communion, including here, there is a belief that opponents are either faithless to the tradition, or by contrast that they are cruel, judgemental, inhuman. I have to say that we are in a state so delicate that without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.”

More here-

Women's conference gathers Episcopalians from Brazil, Uruguay

From Anglican News-

Some of the women began saving money more than six months in advance and some traveled 12 hours by bus across the border to attend a bi-national conference, which has united for more than eight years Brazilian and Uruguayan women through stories of challenge, courage, strength and love.

Their world is changing, and a few women are moving into leadership roles. Yet much needs to be done to carry out the pioneering Convention of BelĂ©m, which required countries who signed it 20 years ago to educate their people about women’s rights, to fight machismo and pass laws to protect women from violence.

More here-,-uruguay.aspx

Not your children's Thanksgiving tale

From Massachusetts

Perhaps it is not surprising that a woman started America’s great celebration of family, abundance and unity. The Pilgrims? Forget about ’em. She brought them to the table. We can thank Sarah Josepha Buell Hale for Thanksgiving. The story of her founding this national holiday is better than the one we learned in elementary school.

Born in 1788, home-schooled by her mother and brother, Sarah taught school in Newport, New Hampshire, until she married David Hale, a young lawyer, who died just before the birth of their fifth child. Widowed in her early 30s, she turned to one of the few ways a woman could earn a living – writing. She published “Northwood: Life North and South,” one of the first American novels to address slavery. One chapter described in elaborate detail a New England Thanksgiving, championing a nationwide celebration to help unify an increasingly divided country.

The 1827 book caught the attention of John Blake, an Episcopal minister, who invited Hale to become America’s first woman magazine editor. Eight years later, Louis Godey folded that foundering magazine into Lady’s Book, which the two turned into the dominant monthly of the day and a national platform for Sarah Hale.

Read more here:

Parish of 32 feeds thousands each month

From New Jersey-

It was still another 20 minutes before lunch was served, but the dining room was already filling in the small building that sits adjacent to St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

About 25 people sat around long tables in the Center for Community Renewal, the church's feeding ministry. Some drank coffee and chatted with friends while others sat silently.

All in all, the crowd at lunch last week numbered nearly as many as the church's members who fill the pews each Sunday.

Tiny in size and just as meager in riches, this parish of 32 people somehow manages to feed breakfast and lunch each day, in all plating up more than 6,000 meals each month. It's a feat that sometimes even its director Tammy Young has a hard time explaining.

More here-

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Church of England to Allow Female Bishops as Soon as December

From Christian Post-

A dozen words will reverberate across the Christian world causing tears of joy or anguish depending on how you feel about women holding senior offices in church. Last week, Canon 33 of the General Synod, the governing organ of the Church of England, reads "A man or woman may be consecrated to the office of bishop." The decision came after a vote by the General Synod in London over an issue that the church has debated for almost 40 years. The new bishops may be appointed as early as this Christmas.

Bishop of Shrewsbury, the Right Reverend Mark Rylands, told Shropshire Star that changing the law was "good news" and the church stood to gain from the expanded pool of leaders.

More here-

For some, the blues can color holiday celebrations

From Pittsburgh-

“In my Christmas sermon, I always acknowledge the fact that for some, this isn’t ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’” said the Rev. Louis Hays, rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon.

“I offer words of comfort and hope and reassure those who are grieving or are alone that it’s OK not to be in the holiday spirit,” he said.

Rev. Hays said the church encourages families to seek professional help if they are having difficulty dealing with grief. because most clergy are not trained as counselors.

He said the best thing to do as clergy is to “provide the ministry of presence.”

More here-

Ferguson pastors urge peace after grand jury doesn’t indict

From The United Methodist Reporter-

As the grand jury announcement approached Monday night, worshippers at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral downtown sat quietly. There was no broadcast of the press conference. Those listening on their smartphones were asked to use headphones.

When the Rev. Mike Kinman announced the decision, one person at the back of the cathedral shouted a mournful cry and was escorted out by friends. Others in the congregation, including social worker therapist Celeste Smith, covered their faces as if in grief. Smith, who is white, listened to the announcement with Claudine Allen, also a counselor, who is black.

More here-

Presiding Bishop’s statement on the way forward from Ferguson

From ENS-

 Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has issued the following statement on the way forward from Ferguson:

The Episcopal Church joins many others in deep lament over the tragic reality that continues to be revealed in Ferguson, Missouri. The racism in this nation is part of our foundation, and is not unique to one city or state or part of the country. All Americans live with the consequences of centuries of slavery, exploitation, and prejudice. That legacy continues to lead individuals to perceive threat from those who are seen as “other.” The color of one’s skin is often the most visible representation of what divides God’s children one from another.

More here-

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Songs, but what have they done with the Praise?

From The Daily Mail-

Broadcasting services from parishes and cathedrals across the country, for more than 50 years Songs of Praise has been much loved as the BBC’s flagship religious programme.

But after a relaunch as a magazine-style programme earlier this month in a move to attract a wider audience, loyal viewers have been left feeling it is becoming little more than ‘the One Show with added hymns’.

And even the clergy has hit out at the new format, with the Reverend Sally Hitchiner leading calls to bring ‘actual worship’ back into the programme, claiming it no longer felt ‘authentic’ and that spirituality seemed to be taking a backseat.

Read more:

Episcopal schools celebrate 50 years of education as mission

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop, Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson among featured speakers

The charisms of Episcopal schools – a “generous comprehensiveness, patience with ambiguity, and a search for wisdom grounded in a deep and abiding belief in the goodness and creativity of the world” – make them particularly suited to forming leaders for an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told a gathering Nov. 21 in Anaheim, California.

More than 650 teachers, heads of schools, bishops, parish rectors, administrators, chaplains and others from across the world gathered Nov. 20-22 to celebrate Episcopal education and the 50th anniversary of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES).

More here-

Monday, November 24, 2014

We Must Not Allow Religious Intolerance to Thrive

From Kenya-

Anyone who has ever been to my office has seen a picture of an old man hanging on the wall. This old man is Mr Jeremiah Ngunjiri; my 'guka' (grandfather) and the man I am named after in line with the Kikuyu tradition. My grandfather became a Christian at a very early age and ended up as a religious leader in the Anglican Church.

The convictions of his faith were apparent to anyone who interacted with him. The way he engaged you, the humility, mutual respect and openness of everything he did, spoke about his religious convictions. He lived his faith, genuinely, throughout his life. In a great testimony to this religious honesty amongst his children and grandchildren number tens of pastors and reverends in various Christian denominations; including my father who is a reverend in the Anglican Church. Christianity is real to us because of how he lived it.

More here-

Ocean City church endures year of hurt and healing

From Easton-

Brenda Dingwall still hurts.

A year ago, a man doused himself in gasoline, lit himself on fire and walked into her Episcopal church, St. Paul’s by-the-Sea, in Ocean City, Maryland.

Brenda’s husband and the church’s leader, the Rev. David Dingwall, ran into the building toward screams of people trapped in the food pantry by the man, who was engulfed in flames. Rev. Dingwall opened a door to free the people, but was overcome by smoke and died later that night.

More here-

Jack Alvey settles in at one of Alabama’s most historic Episcopal churches

From Selma-

As the son of a successful investment banker, Jack Alvey could have opted for a similar career, but something pulled him away from it and golf, his first love.

Investments and sub-par rounds eventually were put aside as he focused on the ministry—a decision he’s never regretted, as he settles in as the new rector at one of Alabama’s most historic Episcopal churches.

At the age of 30, he is believed to be the youngest religious leader of a church founded in 1838 and rebuilt after it was burned to the ground by Yankee troops, who invaded Selma during the Civil War.

More here-

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Women bishops: ‘The hate mail was always from other Christians’

From The Telegraph-

There has been no popping of champagne corks for the Rev Canon Dr Alison Joyce to celebrate the Church of England giving its final approval for women bishops.

The newly installed Rector of St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street, London, may have been in the vanguard of campaigning for equal rights at the altar for 30 years – as one of the first women deacons in 1988, the first woman priest in Birmingham diocese in 1994 (when she was seven months pregnant) and, lately, the first female incumbent in her high-profile role at what is known as the “journalists’ church” – but there is an unmistakable war-weariness about her.

More here-

GTS Posts Mediation Update

From The Living Church-

A further step in the Organizational Mediation Process by the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center at the General Theological Seminary took place on Thursday, November 20, with the first meeting of the Logistics Committee via conference call facilitated by Bill Blank, the LMPC Associate Director.

The 14 members of the Logistics Committee represent all stakeholders in the GTS community: current students, staff, faculty, Board of Trustees members, spouses and partners, and alumni. Each member of the committee was appointed by their respective group.

More here-

Man hopes class will give him tools to escape poverty

From Knoxville- (with video)

This time last year, Steven Mull had lost his apartment, gotten kicked out of a friend’s apartment where he’d been staying, and was sleeping in his car, renting a motel room on weekends for visits from his two children.

He’d lost an expensive house after he couldn’t make the balloon mortgage payments, even while working multiple jobs. He’d lost his credit rating after declaring bankruptcy, unable to catch up on credit-card and other debt. He and his wife had separated, reconciled, then separated again and engaged in a lengthy court battle.

A couple of times, he’d even lost the will to live.

More here-