Thursday, December 31, 2015

Authorities to partiers: Resolve to behave well

From Kansas-

In McPherson, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church will continue its tradition of offering free “tipsy taxi” rides to New Year’s Eve celebrants in McPherson.

“It’s a lot of fun. We get a lot of, of course, interesting people in interesting conditions,” St. Anne’s Father Laird MacGregor said.

Volunteers drive, and there are always two volunteers in a “tipsy taxi.” The rides usually end around 1:30 or 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day, MacGregor said.

“I’m probably going to be driving or riding,” said MacGregor, who will be part of a taxi crew tonight.

More here-

Former church treasurer mulling plea offer

From Albany-

HUDSON FALLS - The former church treasurer who was arrested in August and charged with stealing nearly $11,000 from Zion Episcopal Church, is discussing a plea deal in the case.

Thomas Thompson, 59, of Moreau, was arrested Aug. 7 after an investigation by Hudson Falls Police and State Police into the theft of at least $10,888 from the Main Street church’s accounts. That inquiry began after the IRS fined the church for not filing federal tax paperwork that Thompson was supposed to have filed, resulting in several thousand dollars in penalties, according to Hudson Falls Police.

Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said his office has been discussing possible resolutions to the grand larceny case, with the amount of restitution that would be paid still at issue. A Washington County grand jury has not been asked to review the case yet, pending a possible plea agreement.

More here-

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Six controversies that rocked churches as men of the cloth got into trouble

From Standard Digital-

Another major episode was when Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) Archbishop Eliud Wabukala was taken to court by church members Joseph Chege, Elijah Waweru, Harrison Ndoro and Erastus Mwangi, over a succession row in the Mt Kenya region.

Wabukala was accused of failing to address protests by members over bullying during the selection of the region's bishop.

The four asked the court to block Wabukala from convening an electoral college to further probe three individuals selected for the regional seat, up until the case is heard and determined.

Cases of pastors involved in road fatalities also took centre stage in news covered.

This included Pastor James Ng'ang'a of Neno Evangelism Centre and Bishop Thomas Wahome Njuguna of Helicopter Ministries.

More here-

J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, The Great War and This Present Darkness

From Christian Week-

In the wake of the Paris and Beirut attacks, it is easy to feel a darkness descending. What hope is there when people are willing to do such terrible and heinous things to others?

If there is any comfort in history, it is in knowing that we are not the first to feel this way, or go through this experience.

Two men who experienced the worst that humans can do to each other were J.R.R. Tolkien, author of the Lord of the Rings, and C.S. Lewis, who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia.

Both men were soldiers in the British army on the western front in World War One. Tolkien participated in two attacks, in July and October, 1916, including one where he was in combat for 50 straight hours.

On November 8 of that year, he was sent to hospital with trench fever. He never returned to the front—which probably saved his life.

More here-

11 Arrested for Being Gay in Senegal—Is President Obama to Blame?

From The Daily Beast-

Reports from the West African nation of Senegal say that the government has arrested 11 people accused of homosexual acts. If convicted, those accused—who were rounded up at a “celebration of a gay marriage”—face up to five years in prison.

Incidents like this are rare, but not unprecedented, particularly in West Africa. Similar arrests have taken place in Nigeria, Gambia, and Cameroon. But it may be, in part, a backlash against American efforts.

In 2013, in what was seen across Africa as an overbearing attempt to influence policy, President Obama raised the issue of LGBT equality with Senegalese president Macky Sall. But President Sall doubled down, saying that Senegal would decide its own laws—and adding that it had banned the death penalty, thus putting it ahead of the United States on at least one human rights issue. In March, 2014, Senegal sentenced two men to six months each in prison, for the crime of homosexuality.

More here-

Holyoke Episcopal parish initiates mission outreach to Latino worshipers

From Western Mass.-

The Right Rev. Douglas J. Fisher, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, will visit a diocesan parish here in the process of forming a new mission for Latino worshipers.

Misión de Gracia (Mission of Grace) at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 485 Appleton St., is a joint Episcopal-Lutheran congregation funded in part by a $30,000 grant from the United Thank Offering of The Episcopal Church.

Funding for Mission of Grace is also being provided by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Fisher will preach and preside at the 10 a.m. Sunday service. Fisher, who visits all of the 57 congregations in the diocese once every two years, will be greeted by the Rev. Barbara Thrall, rector of St. Paul's.

More here-

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Uganda Pastor Killed Amid Ongoing Islamic Attacks

From Uganda-

Evangelical church members in eastern Uganda are mourning a pastor who was killed  amid ongoing Islamic attacks against Christian converts in the region.

Pastor Bongo Martin was hacked to death when he and other church members resisted an effort by Muslims to take over their land, local Christians said.

The Christians arrived when Muslims reportedly placed a boundary fence with poles and barbed wire around land of the Pentecostal Church Ministry congregation in Nansololo village near Mazuba, in Namudumba District.

More here-

I’m an evangelical preacher. You can’t be pro-life and pro-gun.

From The Washington Post-

In the United States, evangelicals are among the biggest supporters of gun rights. They are the major religious group least likely to support stricter laws. Evangelical Larry Pratt, who directs Gun Owners of America, even argues that all Christians should be armed.

For most of my adult life, I agreed. I believed that we had a God-given right to defend ourselves. I also believed that the Second Amendment guarantees a right to bear arms, and that anyone should be able to obtain a gun.

Then, I saw the after-effects of gun violence firsthand. In Pennsylvania, I visited the families of five murdered Amish schoolgirls, as well as the family of the shooter. And I watched as a mass shooting unfolded at the Washington Navy Yard, across from where I lived at the time. These experiences, followed by careful theological and moral reflection, left me convinced that my family of faith is wrong on guns.

More here-

Monday, December 28, 2015

Welby: “Christians face Middle East elimination”

From Evangelical Focus-

Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury Cathedral in Kent compared the Daesh to the Biblical King Herod who ordered the massacre of the innocents in an attempt to kill the Christ child, during his Christmas sermon. 

"Today, across the Middle East, close to the area in which the angels announced God's apocalypse, Isis and others claim that this is the time of an apocalypse, an unveiling created of their own terrible ideas, one which is igniting a trail of fear, violence, hatred and determined oppression", he said. 

Welby affirmed that because Islamic terrorists are "Confident that these are the last days, using force and indescribable cruelty, they seem to welcome all opposition, certain that the warfare unleashed confirm that these are indeed the end times."

More here-

Spong applauds removal of Confederate flags from St. Paul's on 60th anniversary of ministry

From Richmond-

That the leadership of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church elected recently to remove Confederate images from its walls delights John Shelby Spong, who oversaw the church during a watershed moment in state and local history.

The move took courage, his daughter said Sunday, as did Spong’s decision in the 1970s to support a federal judge’s decision to order and then expand a school busing program aimed at eliminating racial disparities in education.

“Courage is the hallmark of St. Paul’s and of those like my father who have led and lead this remarkable church,“ Ellen Spong said at a service marking the 60th anniversary of her father’s ordination.

More here-

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Anglican Priest Smears the Virgin Mary

From Patheos-

Just when you thought the Anglicans couldn’t stoop much lower, in a disgusting article published, predictably, on Christmas Eve, Anglican priest-journalist Giles Fraser not only publicly denies the Virgin Birth, but he ridicules the idea, proposes that the Blessed Virgin Mary was just another teen fornicator and that it’s probably a good thing that Jesus was a bastard conceived when Mary had a romp with a Roman soldier.

I’m surprised that he didn’t title his article, “That’s Why Our Lady is a Tramp”

The crass arrogance of Fraser’s article in London’s  The Guardian is only superseded by its ignorance. Fraser writes,

More here-

Mansion built for Jesus’ return is on the market for $10M

From The New York Post-

Even Jesus has been priced out of Manhattan.

In Riverdale, The Bronx, on the second highest peak in all five boroughs, sits a mansion fit for a king — and we don’t mean LeBron James.

The house, variously known as Chapel Farm, Fair Hill or Chapel Hill, was built in the 1920s for one special resident to live in: Jesus Christ.

The idea was, when Jesus returned to earth (via the 1 train, presumably), he would decamp to The Bronx and rule from this opulent, 17-room dwelling. It’s a promising sign for those living in the northernmost borough, which will apparently survive the wars, famine, disease, earthquakes and anarchy the Bible predicts to signal the end of days.

And soon, all this could be yours. It’s set to hit the market in February for $10 million.

More here-

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Sorry Giles, the virgin birth is central to Christmas

From Premier Christianity-

After Giles Fraser questioned the virgin birth on his Guardian blog, Ian Paul responds on why we abandon this central Christian truth at our peril.

I really don’t know what goes through the mind of people who argue that they know much better than the gospel writers what Christianity is all about. Do they think the evangelists were stupid, ignorant, or just a little bit slow on the uptake? And how did Christian tradition make such egregious errors until this enlightened modern mind came along to set us all straight?

Such were my thoughts when reading Giles Fraser’s latest piece, pointing out how the virgin birth doesn’t really fit with Christian belief:

The idea that Jesus was born of “pure virgin” could well have been a reaction to insults [that Jesus was illegitimate]. That Mary’s womb was “spotless” was perhaps a cover story designed by Jesus’s supporters to explain a more God-like nature for his arrival.

More here-

Pushed out of church, parishioners mark Christmas Eve under the stars

From Los Angeles-

After days of wet weather leading up to Christmas Eve, parishioners of St. James the Great Episcopal Church were relieved with a forecast of drier conditions Thursday.

For the first time, the congregation celebrated Christmas Eve under the night sky at Lido Park, across from the closed church building in Newport Beach.

"At first, we were so sad that we would not be able to worship in our church, but then we looked at what we will have, an opportunity to demonstrate how much we love being in our Lido community on this very special night," said the Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees, pastor of St. James the Great.

The celebration marked the end of a challenging year for St. James.

More here-

Episcopal priest from Bethlehem accused of filming woman in dressing room

From Albany-

An Episcopal priest from Bethlehem was arrested and jailed without bail for allegedly videotaping a woman who was getting dressed in the Salvation Army on Troy-Schenectady Road, according to police.

Adam Egan, 35, was charged with unlawful surveillance and tampering with evidence, both felonies, following the incident at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, according to Colonie Detective Sgt. Michael Franze.

More here-

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christ Church Cathedral: why all the fuss?

From New Zealand-

A major announcement was made in Christchurch today about the future of the Christ Church Cathedral.  What is all the fuss about?

Why is this cathedral significant?

The Anglican Christ Church Cathedral is a category 1 heritage building in the centre of Christchurch's Cathedral Square. The city is named after it, its image has been widely used to promote the city to tourists, and ratepayers have for many years contributed towards its upkeep. The cathedral was regularly used for community events including Christmas carols, a floral festival and annual pet ceremonies.

More here-

One key word missing in Detroit News sermon on behalf of gay Catholic couple

From Get Religion-

You pretty much know, when you read a headline that says "How a married gay Catholic couple lives their faith," that the story under that statement is going to be a sermon on behalf of progressive Catholics who want to modernize the teachings of their ancient church.

So the contents of this Detroit Free Press story didn't surprise me, especially since the Religion News Service picked it up, as well. So bah, humbug, to all of you pro-Catechism Catholics out there.

More here-

As Muslim women, we actually ask you not to wear the hijab in the name of solidarity

From Newsday-

Last week, three female religious leaders — a Jewish rabbi, an Episcopal vicar and a Unitarian reverend — and a male imam, or Muslim prayer leader, walked into the sacred space in front of the ornately-tiled minbar, or pulpit, at the Khadeeja Islamic Center in West Valley City, Utah. The women were smiling widely, their hair covered with swaths of bright scarves, to support “Wear a Hijab” day.

The Salt Lake Tribune published a photo of fresh-faced teenage girls, who were not Muslim, in the audience at the mosque, their hair covered with long scarves. KSL TV later reported: “The hijab — or headscarf — is a symbol of modesty and dignity. When Muslim women wear headscarves, they are readily identified as followers of Islam.”

More here-

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Image of a cross found in pine tree trunk at Modesto church

From California-

A drought-stricken pine tree has left this world but continues to give a spiritual lift through a message at its literal core.

A gracefully flowing cross shows plainly on the trunk of a tree cut down beside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Modesto. The cross-section discovered two weeks ago was shellacked and stationed temporarily in the church foyer last week.

“It's beautiful. We put it on display because it was just so cool!” said Allison Cox, church office manager.

The tree, which a ring count puts at 39 years old, soared beside the church on Oakdale Road until branches endangered the flat roof of the structure and it was determined several trees by the church were dying.

Read more here:

Zero news coverage? Episcopal Church's new leader cleans house (including a possible spy)

From Get Religion-

Let's play a journalism game for a minute, one that we have played before here at GetReligion (for an example, click here). We call it the mirror-image game.

Let's assume, for a second, that the Southern Baptist Convention elected a new president. Then, shortly thereafter, three of the convention's top leaders were purged – perhaps the phrase would be "placed on administrative leave" – because of accusations of misconduct while on the job.

Oh, and there were some really strange and shady things in the recent past, like reports of top Southern Baptist leaders spying on each other – literally.

More here-

Episcopal Church Launches Investigation Amid Suspension of 3 Officials

From Christian Today-

The Episcopal Church has announced that there will be an independent investigation conducted of the denomination following the suspension of three senior management officials.

Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry released a statement Friday noting that a firm was selected to conduct the investigation.

"I have today engaged a law firm to conduct an independent investigation of the concerns that led me to place three members of senior management on administrative leave last week," Curry said.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Beer & Hymns? Really? Really.

From South Carolina-

When guitarist Tom Hanlon, of the Paul Grimshaw Band (shameless plug) first told me that his pastor, Jason Lee of the St. Phillip Lutheran Church, was organizing Beer & Hymns, a sing-a-long of hymns and carols, accompanied by beer, to be held at Liberty Brewery & Grill, I was intrigued. Though unable to personally attend the inaugural Beer & Hymns event, reports were that the occasion was an unmitigated success – some 80 in attendance. Beer & Hymns? Really? Really.

“For generations the church has been saying, ‘Here we are, come to us,’” said Pastor Lee, 34. “Now we’re going out into the public every few weeks and inviting everybody, all ages and creeds to join us for beer & hymns. No agenda, no preaching, we take up an offering to tip the musicians, but there’s no bait & switch, the only agenda is beer and hymns.” Lee is a native South Carolinian, and has been pastoring St. Phillip in Myrtle Beach for about two years.

Read more here:

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Urban parishes in Diocese of Pittsburgh struggle to make ends meet

From The Greensburg Tribune-

Almost half of 200 parishes in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh are losing money, even as some churches in suburban and gentrified urban areas grow so rapidly that they struggle to accommodate members amid a shortage of priests.

Old ethnic churches and cash-strapped parishes in economically depressed areas such as the Monongahela Valley's once-thriving mill towns are in the most dire financial straits.

“We've got to take a look at, realistically, what has to happen in those areas,” Bishop David Zubik told the Tribune-Review. “There's a lot of studying to be done.”

Read more:

U.S. Support of Gay Rights in Africa May Have Done More Harm Than Good

From The New York Times-

Suspicious neighbors and landlords pry into their private lives. Blackmailers hunt for victims on the social media sites they use to meet other men. Police officers routinely stop them to search for incriminating images and chats on their cellphones.

After an anti-gay law went into effect last year, many gay Nigerians say they have been subjected to new levels of harassment, even violence.

They blame the law, the authorities and broad social intolerance for their troubles. But they also blame an unwavering supporter whose commitment to their cause has been unquestioned and overt across Africa: the United States government.

“The U.S. support is making matters worse,” said Mike, 24, a university student studying biology in Minna, a town in central Nigeria who asked that his full name not be used for safety reasons. “There’s more resistance now. It’s triggered people’s defense mechanism.”

More here-

Lifelong journey leads woman of privilege back to Memphis, priesthood and the poor

From Memphis-

The South American nation of Uruguay ordained its first female priest last month.

Christmas morning, she will preach at Calvary Episcopal Church here in her hometown.

"It's a long story," said Rev. Audrey Taylor Gonzalez, 76.

I'll shorten it for you.

Audrey Taylor grew up in the cotton-insulated, culturally isolated world of Old Memphis.

More here-

Religion is good for families and kids

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

It’s a message we hear more and more: Religion is bad.

And certainly recent headlines — from terrorist attacks perpetrated by radical Islamists in Paris and San Bernardino to the strange brew of warped Christian fundamentalism that appeared to motivate alleged shooter Robert Dear at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs — feeds the idea that religion is a force for ill in the world.

But in “The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason,” renowned atheist Sam Harris not only asserts that the “greatest problem confronting civilization” is religious extremism, he further waxes that it’s also “the larger set of cultural and intellectual accommodations we have made to faith itself.”

More here-

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Church sources fear Burundi genocide

From Church Times-

THE discovery of the corpses of young people on the streets and in rivers is fuelling terror and fear in the capital of Burundi, church sources in the country reported this week.

The sources, who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for their safety, fear a possible genocide. One source believes that the UN must send peacekeeping forces to the country "without delay".

Almost 90 people were killed in Bujumbura last Friday, after gunmen attacked three military sites in Bujumbura. The government said on Tuesday that security forces had "intervened with the greatest possible professionalism".

Residents reported finding dead bodies dumped in the streets on Saturday morning, with bound wrists and bullet wounds to the head. One source said on Tuesday that more than 100 people had been killed and buried on Sunday in common graves.

More here-

Detroit parish priest calls gay unions ‘sacred and sacramental’

From Detroit-

A Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit recently referred to a homosexual union between his nephew and another man as “sacred and sacramental,” one of several comments he made that conflict with Church teaching on homosexuality.

“They are two very holy guys,” said Father Ronald Victor. “I do see their union as being sacred and sacramental, in the sense that it reflects God’s love.”

Father Victor, pastor of St. Isidore Catholic Church in Macomb Township, Michigan, made the statements while at the two men’s “wedding” this past summer at a Detroit-area Episcopal church, according to the Detroit Free Press.

More here-

Christian Charity On $1 Billion Federal Gravy Train Leads Political Call to ‘Care Sacrificially for the Refugee

From Breitbart-

World Relief, one of five Christian charities among the top nine voluntary agencies (VOLAGs) receiving $1 billion a year in payments from the federal government as part of the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program, is leading a political charge calling on American taxpayers to “care sacrificially for the refugee.”

Two top executives at World Relief, Stephan Bauman, President & CEO of and Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy & Policy, were among a dozen members of a drafting coalition of the recently organized “Great Commandment and Great Commission Summit” that issued a statement titled “Christian Declaration on Caring for Refugees: An Evangelical Response” on Thursday.

More here-

Episcopal diocese elects new bishop

From Eastern Oregon-

The Rev. Patrick Bell was elected the seventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Oregon Dec. 12 at Church of the Redeemer in Pendleton.

Bell was one of three finalist from a pool of 16.

The new bishop is a seventh-generation Eastern Washingtonian and comes from a long farming tradition.

He was raised Episcopalian and attended Whitworth College, a Presbyterian school in Spokane. He received a master’s in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and served as a Pentecostal minister. In time, he returned to the Episcopal Church.

“I realized I wasn’t a fundamentalist,” Bell said.

More here-

Friday, December 18, 2015

Op-ed: Faith calls us to push for civil rights

From Indiana-

We represent a group of 150 clergy and religious leaders from across Indiana who have come together to express our support for upholding religious freedom while protecting the civil rights for all citizens of our state.

The religious liberty upon which our nation was founded has allowed our country’s diverse faith traditions to flourish. We cherish this religious freedom, which is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and believe it should be affirmed.

More here-

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Repent of how Church has treated gay people, top Oxford cleric tells Archbishop

From Christian Today-

A senior Church of England clergyman has called for the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to apologise for the way the Church has treated homosexuals worldwide.

In an essay for the liberal organisation Modern Church, the Dean of Christ Church Oxford, the Very Rev Martyn Percy, says the relatively small numbers of traditionalists and conservatives who reject same-sex unions and gay marriage in churches are "dictating" the menu for everyone else.

He warns: "The Church of England's stance on sexuality is deeply alienating and quite incomprehensible for most young people in the UK. It confirms their view of religion as being backward-looking and bigoted."

More here-

Botswana's First Locally Trained Ordinands Become Priests

From All Africa-

The first locally trained priests in the Diocese of Botswana have been ordained in what was the largest ordination service held in the 42-year history of the diocese, in the Anglican Province of Central Africa.

Thirteen priests and two deacons were ordained earlier this month at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Gaborone, by the Bishop of Botswana, the Rt Revd Metlhayotlhe Beleme.

"This was a truly exciting event in our national church history," the diocese's Susan Mogwera told ACNS. "This is the largest number of priests to be ordained in the 42 years' history of the Diocese of Botswana.

"Twelve priests were trained locally at St Augustine Theological School and they are the first class to graduate."

More here-

Wheaton College says view of Islam, not hijab, got Christian teacher suspended

From The Chicago Tribune-

If Wheaton College professor Larycia Hawkins had simply donned a headscarf to support her Muslim neighbors without explaining herself, she still might be administering final exams this week.

Instead, Hawkins, a tenured political science professor at the private evangelical Christian college, proclaimed on social media that Christians and Muslims share the same God and was suspended by the college.

"I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book," she posted Dec. 10 on Facebook. "And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God."

That explanation rankled some evangelical Christians, who read her statement as a conflation of Christian and Muslim theology, even if they supported her symbolic gesture.

More here-

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Faith leaders show support for Muslims in RI

From Rhode Island- (with video)

“Once you turn on the television or turn on the radio and you hear the anti-Islam rhetoric,” said Wendy Ibrahim. “It creates a form of fear, like do I hide my family, do I need to hide my children?”

The Warwick native is one of many Muslim Americans who are worried about being targeted over their faith. She said she refuses to hide or be silent, which was a similar sentiment brought forth by leaders of other faiths.

“I bring support as a Christian, I bring support as an American citizen,” said Rev. Nicholas Knisley of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island. “Our nation was founded on an ideal that all people’s faith will be respected.”

More here-

Stop being jerks about Christmas

From The Living Church-

Let me state this as plainly as I can: Traditional Christians are losing Christmas because we’re being jerks about it.

I confess to God, to Mary Ever Virgin, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I was just such a jerk for a long time. I was the proverbial Grinch. I didn’t start out that way. I loved Christmas as a kid. And yes, the Christmas that I loved had a lot to do with the culture. I loved getting presents. I loved watching Mickey’s Christmas Carol on repeat from about Halloween onward on an old VHS tape. I loved seeing the lights go up in the neighborhood and the Christmas train garden that my mother would set up around the Christmas tree.

And cookies. I really liked Christmas cookies.

More here-

Nothing Says "Desperation" Like Star Wars Church at Christmas!!

From Pirate Christian Media- (Its mostly pictures so click the link)

This pastor (who dressed up as Han Solo to preach on Sunday morning) has jumped whatever remains of the shark. Welcome to Christmas in the land of Evangelical Embarrassment. After church you can get your picture taken with the Storm Trooper "Magi:"

More here-

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Kunonga fires former ally Jakazi for misconduct

From Central Africa-

EX-COMMUNICATED Anglican Church leader Nolbert Kunonga has fired his former ally Bishop Elson Jakazi for alleged misconduct.

Jakazi became a Bishop in Kunonga’s Evangelical Anglican Church International (EACI)’s Mutare Diocese after they were both fired from the Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) in 2012, following a protracted five-year legal battle over control of church properties.

Last month, he was suspended from Kunonga’s EACI for committing various acts of misconduct, before the church’s national court defrocked him.

Some of the charges include contravening the church’s constitution, general neglect of duties after admonition by a legally constituted body and exercising veto powers on resolutions of the national council.

More here-

Kenya speaks out on split from US church over homosexuality

From Christian Today-

The Anglican Church of Kenya remains in a state of "impaired communion" with The Episcopal Church of the United States. Kenya's Anglicans believe this is the way they must continue for the sake of mission, and are calling for the US province to be disciplined by "exclusion" from all activities in the Anglican Communion.

The synod of the Kenya province, one of the most conservative of the 38 provinces worldwide, passed the resolution as part of the continuing row over same-sex ordination and relationships that has brought the communion close to schism. The Kenyans said they remain disappointed with the decision by the June 2015 meeting of The Episcopal Church's General Convention to authorise rites for the blessing of same sex marriages.

More here-

How a married gay Catholic couple live their faith

From Detroit-

Because their Catholic faith is against same-sex marriage, Bryan Victor and Thomas Molina-Duarte made their wedding vows this summer before a Protestant minister in a Detroit Episcopal church.

Those in attendance included many family members, including Victor’s uncle, who is a Catholic priest and Macomb County pastor. The Rev. Ronald Victor did not officiate but was there because, he told his nephew, the Catholic Church “needs more examples of gay holiness.”

When Victor and Molina-Duarte attend mass every Sunday, the couple go to an east side Detroit Catholic church, where Bryan Victor’s mom and dad join them in the pew. In their shared Catholic faith,  Victor and Molina-Duarte find spiritual sustenance. And at their parish, they’ve also found acceptance.

“We remain in the church rather than leaving,” said Bryan Victor, 30, a Wayne State University doctoral student in social work. “The reason is that it’s my faith. It’s one of my guides. It’s how I treat people. It gives me a deep sense of community.”

More here-

Monday, December 14, 2015

UPDF officers in mass wedding at end-of-year party

From New Vision (Africa)-

This was perhaps what God intended from the very beginning — a moment when all his children, Anglicans, Muslims, Catholics, and Pentecostals, regardless of their very different backgrounds, came together as one family to do something pleasant in his name.

He perhaps didn’t intend for there to be divisions, rejection, and discrimination along faith lines, after all, we are all his children — though different.

And that is what was on display Saturday at the army armoured brigade barracks in Masaka, when 15 UPDF officers, from Anglican, Catholic, Islam and Pentecostal faiths, said “I do” at a grand ceremony organized for the uniformed officers to “beautify their marriage unions before God”.

It did not matter here that the uniformed officers belonged to different faiths. They were joined in Holy Matrimony (for the Christians) and Holy Nikkah (for the Muslims) at one function, at the same gardens, and the same UPDF brass band saluted them after they exchanged their vows.

More here-

Communiqué from the Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity Faith and Order

From ACNS-

The Inter-Anglican Standing Commission on Unity, Faith and Order met at Elmina, Ghana, from 2 to 9 December 2015.

The Commission was generously hosted by the Church of the Province of West Africa and its Diocese of the Cape Coast. The Primate, the Most Revd Daniel Sarfo, and the Bishop of the Cape Coast, the Rt Revd Dr Victor Atta-Baffoe met with the Commission, and the Bishop subsequently welcomed the Members to a special ecumenical Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral, Cape Coast. Commission Members also participated in the Cathedral’s Sunday morning celebration of the Holy Eucharist, at which Bishop Victoria Matthews was invited to preside and Bishop Howard Gregory to preach. The Commission was delighted to spend a morning engaging with students and faculty at the St Nicholas Seminary.

More here-é-from-the-9-december-2015-meeting-of-the-inter-anglican-standing-commission-on-unity-faith-and-order-(iascufo).aspx

Monument installed to honor early African-American church members

From Western NC-

Overgrown until recently with ivy, an area reserved for mid-19th century African-American parishioners in the historic cemetery at St. John in the Wilderness Episcopal Church is now graced with a 9-foot-high monument.

On Thursday afternoon, a crane lifted a 6-foot-tal,l rough-hewn granite cross onto a granite pedestal at the front of the historic cemetery as clergy and members of the churchyard committee looked on.

About 100 graves are estimated to be in the burial ground, wherein the remains of those who were enslaved to white church members as well as freedmen are interred. The main fact is that all were parishioners at the church, said the Rev. John A. Morton, rector of St. John.

For Lost Boy of Sudan, faith carried him from civil war to path to Episcopal priesthood

From AP-

A man who was one of thousands of children in Sudan forced to flee or be inducted into the army during the country's civil war was ordained recently as a deacon by the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

For Gabriel Garang Atem, 36, the achievement marked another step on a long road where his faith has sustained him as he navigated the dangers of a war in Sudan, famine and life in refugee camps.

As an orphan in 1987, he and thousands of other young children were forced to flee Sudan on foot to Ethiopia.

Thousands of the children, mostly boys, lost their lives as they faced attacks from rebels and wild animals, drowned in rivers, or succumbed to malnourishment, dehydration and exposure to the elements.

More here-

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Millennials and religion: The great disconnect

From Pittsburgh-

Olivia Burk, 22, has attended church fewer than 10 times.

“I stood there not taking much from the sermons, and people would sing and shake my hand and I felt very uncomfortable and out of place,” Ms. Burk said.

Ms. Burk, who lives in Pittsburgh and is an instructional aide to children with autism, doesn’t identify as atheist but does not believe in God or practice religion.

She says it stems from the fact that she was raised in a family with one Christian parent and one religiously unaffiliated. To avoid conflict, the family treated religion “just as if it wasn’t ever a thing,” Ms. Burk said. “I grew up without any religion in my household my whole life.”

She’s among a growing group of millennials, the generation ages 18 to 34, who identify as nonreligious.

More here-

Saturday, December 12, 2015

As Union Theological Seminary Plans to Sell Air Rights, Some See a Moral Quandary

From The New York Times-

For nearly two centuries, Union Theological Seminary has brought together scholarship and faith on behalf of social justice. But recently the religious institution has found itself pursuing a more earthly occupation: trying to navigate New York City’s brutal real estate market without doing damage to its soul.

This summer, faced with the prospect of major renovations, the seminary on the edge of western Harlem announced that it would sell its air rights and bring in a developer to build a tower of luxury condominiums on its campus, a two-block-long complex built around a grassy quadrangle in the early 1900s. While the profits from the tower will underwrite the enormous cost of refurbishing a host of aging buildings, the project has provoked impassioned condemnation from both faculty members and students who worry that the school will betray its mission by exacerbating the already profound effects of local gentrification.

More here-

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sr. Staff at The Episcopal Church Center Placed on Administrative Leave

From Michael Curry-

December 11, 2015 

Dear Friends, 

I need to inform you that on Wednesday I placed on administrative leave Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer, Samuel McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission, and Alex Baumgarten, Director of Public Engagement. This is a result of concerns that have been raised about possible misconduct in carrying out their duties as members of senior management of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. 

I want to be clear. My decision should not be confused with a finding of fault, but is necessary to allow us to find clarity. We are taking these allegations seriously and there will be a full and fair examination of the concerns that have been raised to be conducted expeditiously by an independent investigator. To protect the integrity of that process, we will not be able to say more about the concerns at this time. 

I ask that you pray for all who are involved and who are impacted by this situation. 

More here- 

Uganda: Bishop Distances Self From Sectarian Document

From AllAfrica-

North Kigezi Diocese bishop Patrick Tugume has distanced himself and other church leaders from a document that is being circulated in Rukungiri District propagating sectarian messages.

The August 2, document titled 'orukiiko rwo'kwehereera no'kucuma enaama ye'kanisa' loosely translated as 'the clandestine meeting and to plot the church secret' is being circulated in Rukungiri by some unidentified people.

The document that Daily Monitor has seen purpotedly quotes big politicians in the district and Anglican Church leaders, urging their flock not to vote for politicians from the Catholic Church.

The document names several Anglican leaders and is "signed" by bishop Tugume and the Rev John Muhumuza, said to be diocesan secretary.

Speaking to Daily Monitor at North Kigezi Diocese offices on Tuesday, the bishop said whoever authored the letter wants to divide God's people.

More here-

The Church of England urgently needs a better PR team

From The Spectator-

The new report by the Woolf Institute on religion in British public life is predictable stuff. It says that some reforms are needed, so that Britain’s pluralistic, largely secular character is better expressed in law. It recommends that the law that demands religious worship in school assemblies should be scrapped, that faith schools should move away from selecting on the basis of religion, that the bishops in the House of Lords should be fewer and joined by other faith leaders, that the next coronation should reflect the religious, and non-religious, character of the nation. It reminds us that Anglican, and Christian, allegiance has fallen significantly (since 1983, the number of people calling themselves Anglican has fallen from 40 per cent to under 20, and those saying they are of no religion has risen to about 50 per cent).

The Church of England obviously needs to take such a report very seriously. Instead, its response has been predictably chippy. According to the Church Times, two spokespeople have complained that the report is unfair about church schools, whose high standards have nothing whatsoever to do with their ability to filter in a disproportionate amount of middle-class families. According to the Telegraph, the C of E complained the report had been ‘hijacked by humanists’, and had ‘fallen captive to liberal rationalism.’

More here-

‘He is a martyr, and I honour him’

From The Church Times-

EVERY morning and evening, the bells ring out from the seventh-century desert monastery of St James the Mutilated at Qara, 60 miles north of Damascus, in Syria, as the community of Carmelite monks and nuns follow their ancient liturgy in Arabic and French.

The lines of Islamic State (IS), or Daesh, are only 8km to the west, and 23km to the east. It was here that we spent three nights at the end of November, as part of a six-day visit by an international delegation, led by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire.

The purpose of our visit was to meet and listen to people on the ground, and see the situation for ourselves. The invitation was from the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III; and the Church acted as our hosts. The government provided a security detail to protect us, and we were free to travel at will — though at our own risk.

More here-