Saturday, February 14, 2015

Day of Love – the Complex Origins of Valentine’s Day

From Ancient Origins-

On February 14, couples from around the world recognize Valentine’s Day. For most, Valentine’s Day is a day of love, a day to shower your beloved with gifts and tokens of appreciation, to enjoy a nice meal with them, and to have moments of romance.

Many consider it to be a “Hallmark” greeting-card holiday, created by the retail business in order to get people to spend money on flowers, chocolates, stuffed animals, jewelry, travel, meals, and other luxuries. However, Valentine’s Day is not a modern creation. Rather, it is a day with ancient roots, both cultural and religious. With many legends and tales surrounding Valentine’s Day, the supposed day of love, it can be difficult to ascertain exactly where and how Valentine’s Day originated.

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Episcopal missionaries nurture global partnerships, deepen Communion

From Anglican News-

 The purpose of World Mission Sunday is to focus on the global impact of the Baptismal Covenant’s call to “seek and serve Christ in all persons” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 305), and to raise awareness of the many ways in which The Episcopal Church participates in God’s mission around the world. The recently released Report to the Church details the work of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society in coordinating and supporting Episcopal Church missionaries serving throughout the world.

Several years of serving as an Episcopal Church missionary taught Natalie Finstad that healing and change only really happen in the context of community and that “we cannot begin to recognize who we are in God without the presence of community.”

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Episcopal Church asks judge to reverse recent ruling, challenges key points

From South Carolina-

The Episcopal Church and its local parishes filed a motion Friday asking a circuit judge to reverse her order allowing parishes that left the national church in 2012 to keep the Diocese of South Carolina’s name and more than $500 million in physical properties.

The 180-page motion takes repeated legal hits at Circuit Court Judge Diane Goodstein’s Feb. 3 ruling, challenging her findings and conclusions and arguing her ruling makes incorrect statements, fails to consider relevant points of law and doesn’t fully address evidence. The motion must be filed before an appeal can move forward.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Is it any wonder religion is on the wane?

From The Guardian-

Every non-believer comes to atheism or agnosticism in their own way. For people of my generation, this has been against a backdrop of religious wars, which have been fought for most of our lives. This has contributed to a deep hostility towards religion in society generally – more than half of Britons think religion does more harm than good. A lack of religion is a common feature of advanced societies, and a new poll is the latest in a long line that show a marked decline in religiosity, particularly among young people.

Religion often seems to offer an explanation for fundamental questions, the type of question everyone considers at some point. How did the world come to be, for example. But cosmology and evolutionary biology can speak to this question, even if they are now operating at such a level of specialism and complexity that the answers can seem unsatisfying to the layperson.

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Welby is shocked by a rise in anti-Semitism

From The Church Times-

"A PECULIAR and remarkable obscenity" - that is the verdict of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the need for increased police patrols in Jewish neighbourhoods during the commemorations of the liberation of Auschwitz, after the Paris terrorist attacks.

Speaking at the launch of a parliamentary report on anti-Semitism at Lambeth Palace on Monday, Archbishop Welby said that the report was both shocking and timely, as it lifted the lid on the reality of rising anti-Semitism".

The MPs and peers from the All Party Parliamentary Group into Antisemitism could have had no idea that their report would be so "appropriate in the midst of such a difficult time", Archbishop Welby said. "It goes to the heart of the belief that all humanity has been made in the image of God. The blasphemy of anti-Semitism is it seeks to . . . destroy that divine gift."

The report found that there was a 221-per-cent increase in hate crimes directed at Jews during the war between Israel and Gaza last summer, when compared with the same period in 2013.

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Episcopal Church looking at whether Cook lied during search process

From The Baltimore Sun-

Episcopal Church officials are considering whether the Rev. Heather Elizabeth Cook — now facing criminal charges in connection with a drunken driving accident that killed a bicyclist in December — may have lied about her struggles with alcohol to smooth her path to election as the No. 2 bishop in the Diocese of Maryland last year.

In a written notice to Cook made public this week, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said church investigators have received information about "misrepresentations" regarding her "experience with alcohol" that she allegedly made in connection with her candidacy for bishop suffragan.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Episcopal bishops support ban on anti-gay bias

From Pittsburgh-

Bishops representing the five Pennsylvania dioceses of the Episcopal Church have signed a joint statement supporting legislation that would ban discrimination in housing, employment and accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The signers included Bishop Dorsey McConnell of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The statement notes that the bill also upholds the right of religious organizations to decide whom to hire and which rituals to perform.

More here-

Redefined by Fiat

From The Living Church-

The Rev. Ephraim Radner, writing for Anglican Communion Institute, describes the report of the Task Force for the Study of Marriage as presenting a Balkan Solution, and elaborates:

The erasure of alternative views, and the proposal for a canonical change that will demand church-wide acceptance in dioceses, is one of enforced unity.

To be sure, the Taskforce does not speak explicitly to any of this. But the change of canon — the only concrete element in the Report — seeks to define (rather arbitrarily and counter-intuitively, in my view) the meaning of specific words in the Book of Common Prayer (and hence of Scripture itself, which the Prayer Book cites). The words “man and woman” and “husband and wife,” which will remain in both Scripture and Prayer Book, will now signify to Episcopalians “two people” or “two persons.”

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Church Should be Uncomfortable

From Still Searching-

I grew up attending Baptist churches in the Midwest–the kind where men’s quartets sing gospel songs as “special music” but no one dares raise their hands during a worship song. For most of my 20s I attended a Presbyterian church where things like Maundy Thursday and Advent candles were a big deal. These days I consider myself Reformed and read books about Thomas Cranmer for fun. My ideal church service would involve the Book of Common Prayer, an organ, eucharist and a sermon out of a Pauline epistle that referenced everyone from Augustine and Spurgeon to Marilynne Robinson and N.T. Wright. In my dream church the “peace” would be exchanged every Sunday, ashes imposed every Ash Wednesday, and G.K. Chesterton discussed in the high school youth group.

The picture I’ve just painted of my “dream church” looks nothing like the church where I am now a member. The local church where I now serve is non denominational, meets in a renovated warehouse and has no liturgical bent. The music is loud and contemporary. It’s Reformed-ish but Holy Spirit focused, with impromptu “words” from the congregation and quiet prayer in tongues a not-uncommon occasion. To be honest the worship services often make me a bit uncomfortable.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Personal chauffeurs and episcopal mansions – life for Church of England’s good shepherds

From The Telegraph-

Jesus, according to the Bible, rode a donkey into Jerusalem, sailed in a fishing boat and even walked on water.

But when it comes to many of the Church of England’s most senior clerics, the favoured means of getting around is still the chauffeur-driven car.

According to details of spending disclosed at the Church’s ruling General Synod, one in four diocesan bishops still retains a personal driver.

It comes 14 years after an official Church of England review urged members of the episcopate to give up their chauffeurs in an effort to end the centuries-old image of the high-living “prince bishops” in palaces.

The Church also appears to be taking Jesus’s words that “in my fathers house are many mansions” rather literally.

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Manslaughter charge prompts church to examine relationship with alcohol

From The Washington Post-

With a history of sherries at church coffee hour and wine during Holy Communion, Episcopalians have long endured — and shared — jokes about their drinking (for example: “wherever two or three are gathered, there’s a fifth.”) Yet the relationship is complicated.

The denomination stood out a century ago for saying alcoholism wasn’t an evil. And Episcopal clergy played a significant role in the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Which is why, in a way, it seemed surprising this week when a top church leader said the case of Heather Cook — the Maryland bishop now accused of killing a biker while driving drunk — revealed Episcopalians’ “systemic denial about alcohol and other drug abuse.” Leaders will review church policies on drug and alcohol abuse for the first time in 30 years when they have their once-every-three-years meeting this summer.

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National Episcopal Church restricts Cook's ministry

From The Baltimore Sun-

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook, who is charged with killing a bicyclist with her car while drunken driving in December, was formally restricted by the national church on Tuesday from acting as a member of its clergy

The order from Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who oversees all the church's bishops, came after the Maryland Episcopal Diocese wrote Cook a letter requesting her resignation.

"You shall not exercise or engage in the ordained ministry of this Church in any respect, shall not participate in any functions of the House of Bishops, and shall not hold yourself out as an ordained person of this Church in good standing, until such time as all matters relating to you that are pending before a panel of the Disciplinary Board of Bishops shall have been finally resolved," Schori's restriction said.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Military action needed in Iraq to help Christians, archbishop says

From The BBC-

Christians in Iraq "do not have much time left" without direct military action on the ground, the Archbishop of Irbil has told UK peers and MPs.

Archbishop Bashar Warda said air strikes were "not enough" to defeat Islamic State militants and "begged" for Western troops to be deployed.

He said Iraq's Christian population was declining and that he would speak to the UK government about further action.

The government has said efforts to defeat IS were "comprehensive".

During a visit to London, Archbishop Warda, of the Catholic Chaldean Church, told the Westminster gathering Iraq's Christian communities had fallen "dramatically" over the last decade - from 1.4 million during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians and Yazidis fled their homes in the summer of 2014 following warnings from IS militants to renounce their faith or face death.

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Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes new Anglican Communion bishops

From ACNS-

The Archbishop of Canterbury met with new bishops of the Anglican Communion at Lambeth Palace on Thursday (February 5).

The bishops came from all over the world, including Kenya, Nigeria and the Church of England. Two new female bishops from the Anglican Church of Southern Africa were also in attendance.

Their visit to Lambeth Palace to meet with Archbishop Justin Welby and his wife, Caroline, was part of the annual Canterbury Cathedral Course for new Anglican bishops.

The Archbishop spoke to the new bishops about the Anglican Communion and how he saw its future. He based his talk on his visits to the 37 Provinces of the Communion, and spoke of his hopes for the worldwide Church, which he said is primarily "a church of the poor for the poor".

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Son back in Houston to face charges in family's death

From Houston-

A 19-year-old man accused in the slaying of his parents and younger brother is expected in court next week after his Monday night return to Houston.

Isaac Tiharihondi is charged with capital murder in the deaths of his mother, Dorcus Ahimbisibwe, his father, Rev. Israel Ahimbisibwe, and 5-year-old brother Israel Ahimbisibwe, Jr.

He was arrested Feb. 4 in Mississippi, two days after the bodies of his parents and brother were found in a bathroom of the family's west Houston apartment.

After his arrest, Tiharihondi was held at the Hinds County jail near Jackson, Miss. He was extradited to Texas under the escort of Harris County sheriff's deputies.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Episcopal Church, breakaway diocese steer ahead into complex legal waters

From South Carolina-

In a pastoral letter sent out Friday, Bishop Mark Lawrence described his joy at last week’s court ruling that left his parishes clear victors over The Episcopal Church. But he also urged the flock to pray, be grateful — and read the 46-page ruling for themselves.

Because after so much legal wrangling, many still wonder: What does it all mean?

For one, the Diocese of South Carolina clearly can operate on its own with Lawrence, who led its departure from the national church, at the helm. Second, his diocese can keep the name and symbols, along with the parishes that left with it and the more than $500 million in church properties they inhabit, including historic colonial buildings.

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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Eastern Catholics rejoice in the restoration of married priests

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

On a January weeknight, Halyna Charron was finishing preparations of a dinner of spinach pie, pork and tabouli salad.

Her husband, the Rev. Jason Charron, and all but the youngest of their six daughters, who range from 2 to 13 years old, pitched in at various times, slicing vegetables and setting the table in their Carnegie home. In between, one daughter played piano in the living room, another a brief video game in the TV room.

When they gathered at the table, they stood for a dinner blessing and faced a display of icons as the parents led the children in chanting prayers in English and Ukrainian.

During the meal, the parents asked the daughters what they learned in school, and the girls talked of homework and upcoming tests.

More here-

‘‘If God can come down in human form, I can change from being a lawyer.’’

From Louisiana-

When Sharon A. Alexander was growing up in Edinburg, Texas, she played golf or tennis on Sundays. She never imagined she’d someday be an Episcopal priest.

An eighth generation Texan and the oldest daughter of a lawyer who didn’t attend church, Alexander wanted to be an astronaut. She never flew into space but did log more than a million miles flying from the Far East to Eastern Europe as a high-powered attorney working international bankruptcy cases.

“I was married to my job,” said Alexander, 55, who is single. “I know what the Apostle Paul meant when he said we put the wrong things at the center of our lives.”

Her life took a dramatic turn in 2003. She was flying back from a church mission trip to a Bolivian orphanage.

More here-