Saturday, January 10, 2015

Majority of South America dioceses may soon have women priests

From ACNS-

A majority of dioceses in the Anglican Church of South America could soon have women priests.

This change comes after new Canons which included an allowance for a "local option" regarding ordaining women to the priesthood were approved by all but one of the dioceses.

Following last year's Provincial meeting all dioceses were invited to approve or reject the new Canons by December, 2014.

A spokesperson for the Province told ACNS that "Six [Paraguay, Uruguay, North Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia] out of the seven dioceses voted in favour of the new Canons. Argentina voted against it.

"What is now needed for the local option Canon to become effective in a given diocese is that the diocese has to have a secret ballot, divided by House, with a 2/3 majority in each House. On gaining this level of approval, said diocese can then proceed with the ordination of women to the priesthood."

More here-

Md. Episcopal bishop faces manslaughter, DUI charges in death of bicyclist

From The Washington Post-

A top Episcopal bishop turned herself in to Baltimore police Friday after being charged in the death of a bicyclist with manslaughter, leaving the scene, driving under the influence of alcohol and texting while driving.

Heather Elizabeth Cook, 58, was driving her 2001 Subaru on Roland Avenue in Baltimore on the afternoon of Dec. 27 when she veered into the bike lane where Thomas Palermo, a father of two, was riding, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in a statement Friday.

More here-

Friday, January 9, 2015

Md. Bishop Charged In Death Of Cyclist Tom Palermo

From Baltimore-

Newly appointed Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby (pictured) said Bishop Heather Cook will be charged in the death of cyclist Tom Palermo at a press conference Friday.

Cook was charged with vehicular manslaughter, DUI, texting and leaving the scene of the Dec. 27 accident, which took the life of the 41-year-old father of two was hit and killed while riding his bike on Roland Avenue.

Mosby said Cook was drunk at the time of the accident at almost three times the legal limit.

More here-

Also Here-

Searching for Transparency

From The Living Church-

Questions are swirling about methods used for vetting bishop candidates in the wake of a fatal incident in Baltimore involving a newly consecrated bishop with a drunken-driving record.

But consultants who advise search committees remain confident in the processes that dioceses use to select top leaders. Risk-assessment protocols are robust, they said, and give committees the latitude they need to make wise, case-by-case judgments.

Online conversation boards lit up soon after reports spread that the Rt. Rev. Heather Cook, Bishop Suffragan of Maryland, had been driving a car that hit a bicyclist, who later died from injuries. She initially left the scene of the December 27 incident in Baltimore, according to the diocese, but then returned to accept responsibility. The Baltimore Sun reported on one bicyclist, Moncure Lyon, who followed Cook home to an apartment complex before she returned to the accident scene.

More here-

Scores feared killed by insurgents in Yobe, Borno

From Nigeria-

  Meanwhile, the Primate of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), The

Okoh gave the advice yesterday while addressing bishops and archbishops in Anglican Church during their annual retreat with the theme: “The 21st God’s Ambassadors in the Anglican Church” going on at the Ibru Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.

More here-

Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh has urged Nigerians to come together and relentlessly engage in efforts that would put an end to Boko Haram insurgency in the Northern part of the country.

Plans grow to put WiFi in every church

From The Church Times-

THE Church of England's Buildings Division has backed a plan to fit all of the C of E's 16,000 churches with WiFi internet access.

The director of the Cathedral and Churches Buildings Division, Janet Gough, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Church was ideally placed to build up a national network.

"We will be talking with those involved to explore how to build on the existing projects, such as the diocese of Norwich's WiSpire programme, and the provision of free WiFi for all visitors at individual cathedrals such as Chester, Canterbury, Ely, and Liverpool, to link up and expand WiFi coverage countrywide."

More here-

State's Attorney in Baltimore City Could Make Announcement on Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook's Grisly Hit-And-Run This Weekend

From Christian Post-

The Office of the State's Attorney for Baltimore City could make an announcement on the controversial hit-and-run case of embattled Episcopal Bishop of Maryland Heather Cook, 58, as early as this weekend and she could be facing potential vehicular manslaughter and a number of other charges.

"Information could possibly [be] coming out at the end of the week or early next week," said Tony Savage of the Office of the State's Attorney for Baltimore City in an email to The Christian Post Thursday.

More here-

Thursday, January 8, 2015


From The Gospel Coalition-

1. Since the arrival of Christianity in Britain in the 3rd century, British Christianity has had a distinct flavor and independence of spirit, and was frequently in tension with Roman Catholicism. The Britons were evangelized by Irish missionary monks, and it wasn’t until the 7th century that the Roman church established its authority over Christianity in the British Isles, at the Synod of Whitby. But tensions continued until the 16th century.

2. The break with Rome in the 16th century had political causes, but also saw the emergence of an evangelical theology. The Church of England was not just a church of protest against the pope’s authority and his interference in English affairs. It was also a church that adopted a distinctly evangelical theology. The English Reformation cannot be reduced to the marital strife of Henry VIII. 

More here-

Anglican Church Burning the Last Bridges to Unity

From The National Catholic Register-

In London last December, there was great jubilation as the name of Rev. Libby Lane was announced as the first female bishop in the Church of England. Lane’s appointment came quickly after July’s vote in the Church's general synod, which finally authorized the ordination of women as bishops, with the hearty approval of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Over the last four decades, Anglican-Catholic relations have become increasingly strained, as member churches of the Anglican Communion adopted an increasingly progressive agenda. In 1975, the Episcopal Church of the USA was the first to approve women priests; then, one by one, other member churches agreed first that women could be priests, and then bishops. The Church of England — the mother church of the Worldwide Anglican Communion — was among the last to agree to the innovations, with women’s ordination to the priesthood approved in 1992 and women bishops just last year.

Read more:

Why haven't charges been filed in fatal Roland Park bicycle accident?

From Baltimore- (with video)

Wilted flowers and snow covered candles now mark the spot where 41-year-old Tom Palermo lost his life back on Dec 27.

Baltimore City Police have not released many details about the investigation, only that it's complex.  The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland confirms Bishop Heather Cook was driving the car that hit and killed Palermo.  About 100 clergy members met in private Tuesday to discuss the tragedy, as many folks in the community are calling for answers and justice.

Criminal Defense Attorney Thomas Maronick Jr. says he is surprised charges haven't been filed yet.

More here-

Controversial Episcopal seminary dean Katherine Hancock Ragsdale to step down

From Christian Century-

The dean of a flagship Episcopal seminary will step down after a stormy tenure, conflicts with faculty, and larger debates over the future of theological education.

Katherine Hancock Ragsdale announced her decision not to continue as dean and president of Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when her contract expires at the end of June. Ragsdale is the second-ever female chief and the first lesbian to become leader of an Episcopal seminary.

Ragsdale said she had asked EDS trustees “if possible, to expedite the process of naming a successor so that I may explore new opportunities. Of course I will do everything I can to ensure a smooth transition.”

Ragsdale entered as dean in 2009 after the institution sold off $33 million in property to resolve some of its financial challenges, including outstanding debt.

More here-

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Cardinal Raymond Burke: ‘Feminized’ church and altar girls caused priest shortage

From RNS (and "The You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department")-

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a senior American churchman in Rome who has been one of the most outspoken critics of Pope Francis’ push for reform, is roiling the waters yet again, this time arguing that the Catholic Church has become too “feminized.”

Burke, who was recently demoted from the Vatican’s highest court to a ceremonial philanthropic post, also pointed to the introduction of altar girls for why fewer men are joining the priesthood.

“Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural,” Burke said in an interview published on Monday (Jan. 5). “I think that this has contributed to a loss of priestly vocations.

More here-

An Army Chaplain, First Tested By War, Finds His Faith Renewed

From Texas-

David Peters' life was supposed to be one continuous arc of piety and service.

But for the U.S. Army chaplain, it's ended up a more circuitous route. Peters lost the very faith he was supposed to embody for his soldiers — but has also found his way back.

Peters grew up in a fundamentalist evangelical church in Pennsylvania, served as youth minister and then went to war in Baghdad as a chaplain in the U.S. Army in 2005.

At the age of 30, he was serving as a chaplain for the 62nd Engineer Combat Battalion, a unit that built guard towers and repaired roads. "So they were operating all around Baghdad, at night, in the streets, in the neighborhoods — and it really exposed [them] to an incredible amount of danger," he says.

More here-

Church: Md. bishop who left scene of fatal crash was 'in shock'

From The Baltimore Sun-

The Episcopal bishop who left the scene of the crash that killed a well-known local bicyclist in Baltimore last month told a colleague a short time after the incident that she was "in shock," the church said Tuesday.

Bishop Suffragan Heather Elizabeth Cook, 58, the second-ranking official in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, called the Rev. Canon Scott Slater about 20 minutes after the crash Dec. 27 that killed Thomas Palermo in Roland Park.

"She said she thought she had hit a bicyclist and was in shock," according to statement released by the diocese.

The national Episcopal Church, meanwhile, said it had opened an investigation into the matter.

More here-

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bishop of Kurunegala resigns - Lambeth Palace statement

From Canterbury-

“The Anglican Church in Sri Lanka has had a long and honourable history as a force for unity throughout the whole period of civil disturbance on the Island. Successive bishops of both dioceses have used their influence to build relationships between the communities, maintaining the Church’s reconciling mission across the nation. That unifying mission has the full and unqualified support of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is wholly aligned with his own emphasis on reconciliation in every aspect of his own ministry, across the world.

"The visit by Bishop Shanta to Canterbury last week was to consider with him the various options for dealing with his position as a bishop who had voluntarily stood down following numerous complaints that he brought his Church and ministry into disrepute. A particular cause of concern was his involvement in unresolved criminal proceedings relating to misappropriated pension funds. Members of his own Diocesan Standing Committee had requested that he should resign, and he agreed to do so.

More here-

Pew: Christians Make Up 92 Percent of New Congress

From Pew-

More than 90 percent of the new Congress is Christian, a 2 percent increase from the previous Congress.

The Pew Research Center reports that 92 percent of the 114th Congress is made up of Christians, a figure dominated by Protestants at 57 percent. Thirty-one percent of those Christians are Catholic.

Pew claims those numbers are higher than the American average; 49 percent of American adults are Protestant, according to the data, while 22 percent are Catholic.

More here-

Kid who stole from church repays money on Christmas Eve - more than 40 years later

From Alabama-

A man who said he stole money from Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster as a youth decades ago repaid it back with interest on Christmas.

"On Christmas Eve, we had a check in the mail for $1,000," said Pastor Michael Brooks.

The man who sent the check called Brooks last month and told him that when he was a child in the church's Royal Ambassadors youth program, he and some other boys stole money out of a drink machine.

"His conscience kicked in," Brooks said. "He said he'd always felt badly about it."

The theft took place when the man was about 10 years old, more than 40 years ago, Brooks said.

More here-

Church begins disciplinary proceedings against bishop who fatally struck cyclist

From The Baltimore Sun-

The Episcopal Church has begun disciplinary proceedings against a Baltimore-based bishop who fatally struck a cyclist with her car, an official in the diocese where she worked said Monday.

National church leaders launched an investigation late last week after a complaint was filed with the church, said Sharon Tillman, spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. The decision to move forward with an investigation was made by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and other national church leaders, Tillman said.

The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether Bishop Heather Cook violated church law.

More here-

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bishop summons clergy to meeting after death of bicyclist in Baltimore

From Baltimore-

The Episcopal bishop of Maryland has summoned all the clergy of the Diocese of Maryland to a Tuesday morning meeting in Frederick County after a high-ranking church official was involved in a crash in Baltimore that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo, a married father of two.

Church spokeswoman Sharon Tillman confirmed Sunday that Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton has called church clergy to a meeting at the Claggett Center near Buckeystown. She said the meeting was closed to the public to "allow clergy time to process the tragic events of the past week that involved a colleague."

More here-

Archaeologists may have found the site of Jesus' trial in Jerusalem

From Australia-

It started 15 years ago with plans to expand the Tower of David Museum. But the story took a strange turn when archaeologists started peeling away layers under the floor in an old abandoned building adjacent to the museum in Jerusalem's Old City.

They knew it had been used as a prison when the Ottoman Turks and then the British ruled these parts. But, as they carefully dug down, they eventually uncovered something extraordinary: the suspected remains of the palace where one of the more famous scenes of the New Testament may have taken place - the trial of Jesus.

Now, after years of excavation and a further delay caused by wars and a lack of funds, the archaeologists' precious find is being shown to the public through tours organised by the museum.

More here-

Pope Francis Appoints New Cardinals From Wherever He Feels Like

From New York Magazine-

Everyone's favorite pontiff, Pope Francis, kept the party going today by naming 20 new cardinals, 15 of whom will be eligible to elect or become his successor after his term is up. (The five guys over 80 don't get any say.) The bishops and archbishops set to join the College of Cardinals hail from 18 countries, including Italy, France, Portugal, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Mexico, Myanmar, Thailand, Uruguay, Spain, Panama, Cape Verde, and Tonga. Vatican officials pointed out that nine of those places are developing countries, while three — Myanmar, Tonga, and Cape Verde — have never had a cardinal before. (The nations most heavily represented in the College of Cardinals are Italy and the United States.)

More here-

Jeopardy does religion: Name a small, but historically prominent Protestant denomination in American life

From Get Religion-

The accident in which a car driven by Episcopal Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook of the Diocese of Maryland hit and fatally injured a cyclist has continued to receive coverage in the back pages of some major newspapers. As I mentioned the other day, much of the discussion has focused on her previous DUI arrest. The big question now: Was she using a smartphone at the time of the accident, perhaps one owned by the diocese?

Meanwhile, the following passage in a Washington Post follow-up story raised eyebrows among religion-beat professionals for reasons that transcended the facts surrounding Cook's election, the importance of the fatal (some insist hit-and-run) accident and the ongoing investigative work being done by police:

More here-

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Episcopal misconduct?

From Christan Century-

Two days after Christmas, Heather Elizabeth Cook, suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, hit and killed a bicyclist with her car. The deceased, Thomas Palermo, left behind a wife and two small children, ages four and six. Cook left the scene of the accident, despite having a badly cracked windshield from the impact. According to one report, she only returned to the scene because another cyclist chased her down.

The police have released no details suggesting drugs or alcohol were involved. But Cook had a previous DUI incident in 2010, before she became a bishop. In that incident she was initially charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving, and possession of marijuana. She admitted to smoking pot while driving. One of her tires was shredded down to the rim.

More  here-

Florida Clerks Cancel All Courthouse Weddings to Avoid Performing Gay Ceremonies

From Slate-

On New Year’s Day, a federal judge ruled that all county clerks in Florida should begin to issue marriage licenses to gay couples starting Jan. 6. This order did not sit well with those clerks whose sincere religious principles require them to hate gay people. But since these clerks have no religious right to refuse same-sex couples marriage licenses, they’ve found a new way to express their antipathy toward gay Floridians. Traditionally, clerks have performed courthouse weddings for couples who request them. Now, rather than risk having to perform such ceremonies for gay couples, a group of Florida clerks have ended courthouse weddings for everyone.

Because these clerks still have a legal duty to grant marriage licenses to gay couples, this move won’t have any serious practical effects. Rather, it’s one final opportunity for anti-gay clerks to degrade same-sex couples—on what should be the happiest day of their lives. Duval County Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell, who championed canceling courthouse weddings, told the Florida Times-Union that he believes gay people should be legally forbidden from getting married and that performing a same-sex wedding ceremony “would go against my beliefs.” Accordingly, he decided to end all courthouse weddings for all couples, “so that there wouldn’t be any discrimination.”

More here-

How Ebola Took A Toll On One American Church

From NPR- (with audio link)

On a typical Sunday, the pews in Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. are almost full. But a few months ago, the large stone church with stained glass windows in northwest Washington, D.C. began looking rather empty. Roughly a quarter of the congregation — 50 people — had stopped showing up.

At first, Rev. John Harmon, the head of the church, wasn't sure what was going on. Then he started getting phone calls from parishioners. "Some folks called to say, I'm not coming to church because I don't know who's traveling [to West Africa]," Harmon says.

More here-

'How Jesus Became God': Skeptic scholar asks why it matters

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

For believing Christians, the identity of Jesus was announced at the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451): Jesus was always divine and human simultaneously. How did this work? Very simply, “it’s a mystery.”

But a fuller explanation of how a peasant became God is the subject of Bart Ehrman’s latest book, “How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee,” and the subject of contentious debate among scholars. Several colleagues published a response titled “How God Became Jesus.”

Mr. Ehrman, a professor at the University of North Carolina, is a popular speaker on the evolution of Christian theology (“Misquoting Jesus,” “Lost Scriptures: Books That Didn’t Make It Into the Bible”).

More here-