Saturday, April 11, 2015

Ordinariate needs to integrate into the Church

From The Tablet-

This week The Tablet reports that the ordinariate for former Anglicans has reinstated one of its priests, Fr Donald Minchew, who had been suspended for entering a civil partnership to help an immigrant remain in the UK. Such scandals should not be the group’s chief concern – integration should be, says a senior priest who has made the transition from Anglican to Catholic.

It is more than 20 years since a significant number of Anglican clergy and laypeople became Catholics at roughly the same time; it is also over four years since Pope Benedict XVI established the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. I was in the former category.

I recall vividly from the mid-1990s the warmth of the welcome we received in the Catholic Church. One group who might have found it hard to be positive towards people like me who were married and destined to be priests were men who had left active ministry and got married, but we found nothing but kindness.

More here-

The importance of church

From Lancaster PA-

Churches make mistakes.

“Church is hard and screws things up a lot,” Rachel Held Evans said in a recent phone interview. “But it’s still worth it, and it’s still important.”

Evans, 33, of Dayton, Tennessee, writes about the church — flaws and all — in her latest book, “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church,” which will be released next week.

“The questions Rachel is asking are very similar to the questions we hear from many of the congregations we work with,” Kate Good, executive director of Parish Resource Center, wrote in a press release.

“Some congregations are aging, and they are struggling to connect to young people, as well as families and even long-time congregants,” Good added. “Other churches are lively and attracting new members but don’t want to take their church life for granted.”

More here-

Ohio ministers’ sermons to support same-sex marriage

From Ohio-

In her 12 years as an ordained minister, the Rev. Sarah Reed has concentrated on a core message, one that she preaches 50 different ways a year.

She said that message — about God’s love and inclusiveness — won’t change when she takes the pulpit next weekend to participate in Sermon Sunday sponsored by Why Marriage Matters Ohio.

Reed will preach at the Downtown First Congregational Church United Church of Christ, joining more than 200 other clergy members around the state who are expected to speak to congregations in support of same-sex marriage.

More here-

Friday, April 10, 2015

Britain ‘has become less Christian’

From The Church Times-

THREE in four people believe that the UK has become less of a Christian country over the past five years, a new poll has suggested.

Seventy-three per cent of those questioned said that they agreed that Britain had lost some part of its Christian heritage and culture since 2010. Just 15 per cent disagreed.

The poll was commissioned by Christian Concern at the end of March. It found that people were more split on whether Britain's Christian heritage still mattered.

Forty-seven per cent said that it continued to bring benefits to the country; 32 per cent (including one fifth of those who identified as Christians) said that the UK's Christian heritage was "largely outdated".

More here-

Justin Welby to persecuted Christians: 'God feels our suffering, our horror, our sadness'

From Christian Today-

Christians must stand with those being persecuted by Islamic State in the Middle East, and remember that God weeps alongside those who are suffering, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In an interview with SAT-7's Imed Dabbour, Justin Welby described the situation in Iraq and Syria as "the worst...that has been faced for centuries". He referenced Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, who said last year that Christians were facing the worst treatment since the invasion of Genghis Khan.

"It is essential to say there are no easy solutions; what we're seeing today is the build-up of a situation that has been preparing itself for a very, very long time," Welby said. "But we must start as Christians by saying we must look for ways of standing with our sisters and brothers in the Middle East.

More here-

Church of England should be made to allow gay clergy to marry - bishop

From The Telegraph-

The Church of England should be forced to drop its ban on gay clergy marrying their partners, a bishop has said.

The Rt Rev Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham, urged politicians to intervene to end what he said was a “manifest injustice” against clerics who he said had suffered “harassment and victimisation”.

He raised the issue with the Nick Clegg during a question and answer session with the website PinkNews.

The Deputy Prime Minister said it was not for him to “tell the Church what they can or cannot do” but added that he hoped “tolerance will eventually win the day”.

More here-

Anglicans almost twice as likely to vote Conservative

From The Telegraph-

The traditional image of the Church of England as the “Tory party at prayer” still holds true despite a series of high profile rows between bishops and Conservative politicians over issues such as poverty, polling shows.

Analysis by YouGov for the Church Times found that people who identify themselves as Anglicans are almost twice as likely to vote Conservative as Labour.

It suggest a major divide between the leadership of the church, which has been perceived as leaning to the left on issues such as welfare, and those in the pews.

In marked contrast, Roman Catholics in mainland Britain emerge as more than a third more likely to vote Labour.

More here-

"They’re living, not dying": Episcopalians become refugee advocates

From ACNS-

The Episcopal Church has been resettling refugees for 75 years, working with local congregations and resettlement agencies across the United States to welcome some of the most vulnerable people in the world who’ve fled violence, war, political, ethnic and cultural oppression.

In early March, eight Episcopalians travelled to Kenya and Rwanda to learn about refugee resettlement today through the lens of Congolese refugees on a #ShareTheJourney pilgrimage organized by Episcopal Migration Ministries, the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society’s refugee resettlement service.

The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society is the legal and canonical name under which The Episcopal Church is incorporated, conducts business and carries out mission.

More here-’re-living,-not-dying-episcopalians-become-refugee-advocates.aspx

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Easy English Bible is completed

From Church Times-

A BIBLE that uses just 1200 different English words to tell the story from Genesis to Revelation has been released online for the first time - it is the culmination of 20 years' work by a group of volunteers.

The EasyEnglish Bible, which includes a set of Bible commentaries, is available, free of charge, online. It has been designed for use by readers learning English as a second language, those with literacy problems or learning disabilities, and multi-lingual communities.

The task required a new subset of English, which follows forms of grammar to help express complex ideas in simpler words. The rules followed included the use of one topic per paragraph, and no passive verbs, split infinitives, idioms, or ambiguous pronouns.

More here-

Church of Pakistan supports those affected by bombings

From Anglican News Service-

Prayer, trauma counselling and security are top priorities for the Church in Pakistan (United) in the aftermath of the bombings of Christ Church and St John's Catholic Church in Youhanabad, Lahore, during Sunday services on 15 March, Bishop Irfan Jamil told the Anglican Alliance in a recent conference call.

The Bishop of Lahore Diocese reported that he and his team had been visiting those who had lost loved ones or had been injured in the attacks, which killed at least 14 people and injured more than 70.

The church would continue to respond to those affected by the attacks, said Bishop Jamil.

A first priority would be to build capacity and gain official support in the area of security in order to ensure better protection for the people, he said, and a second priority would be to provide culturally-appropriate trauma counselling for those most affected.

More here-

4 notable remarks from President Obama’s Easter Prayer Breakfast

From Christian Century-

4 notable remarks from President Obama’s Easter Prayer Breakfast

WASHINGTON (RNS) President Obama turned both personal and preachy Tuesday during his annual Easter Prayer Breakfast, which he has hosted at the White House six times since he was elected.

The long list of Christian leaders attending included National Association of Evangelicals president Leith Anderson, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, retired Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson, civil rights veteran C.T. Vivian, and African Methodist Episcopal bishop Vashti McKenzie. Amy Butler of New York’s Riverside Church gave the opening prayer.

Here are four memorable statements from the event:

More here-

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

'Homeless Jesus' continues to inspire

From Christian Today-

Timothy Schmalz's "Homeless Jesus" statue is in the spotlight once again after a Detroit pastor offered to place the artwork in front of his church.

Schmalz hopes to have a Homeless Jesus in every city, and sees it as a powerful inspiration.

"It's putting it really within the grasp of everyone," he told the Detroit Free Press on Sunday. "Most representations of Jesus are unattainable. But it's a sculpture you can merge with, something you can experience."

The 7-foot-long bronze statue features a man sleeping on a bench - his face covered with a blanket. The figure is identifiable as Jesus because of the wounds on his feet.

More here-

What Can Be Done about Segregation in Churches?

From Religion and Politics-

In the wake of police violence that led to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and the protests that followed, religious leaders are again confronting the challenges racism continues to pose for them and their communities. This is nothing new for African American clergy, who have long been active in combating racism. But there is also growing evidence that white Christian leaders are taking these issues more seriously. A December 2014 poll by Lifeway Research found that “9 in 10 (91 percent) white pastors say racial reconciliation is mandated by the Gospel.”

Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), was especially unequivocal: “A government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice.” In late March, the SBC hosted “The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation Summit” in Nashville, to discuss and plan for greater interracial unity in its churches. “There is a biblical command and a national command that we hold all people equal,” said John M. Perkins, a veteran of the Civil Rights movement in Mississippi. He added that the best way to overcome racism “is to develop multi-cultural churches.”

More here-

‘Vicar of Baghdad’ to visit Ulster churches

From Ireland-

He’s known as the Vicar of Baghdad, but Anglican minister Canon Andrew White had to leave the city, the second largest in the Arab world, as Christians in Iraq came under increasing threat.

The minister was directly ordered to leave the Iraqi capital by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Now Canon White, a father-of-two, who is also coping with multiple sclerosis, is on a worldwide fund-raising mission, which brings him to the Province next week.

Rev Keith Marshall, curate at St Mark’s Portadown, said that he was delighted that his church would be “hosting this wonderful man” next Friday.

More here-

Anglican Primate Calls for Unity to Defeat Terrorist Threat

From Kenya-

The Most Revd Dr Eliud Wabukala, Primate of the Anglican Church of Kenya, issued the following pastoral letter for Good Friday following the al-Shabaab attack at Garrissa University, Kenya, that killed 148 people, mostly Christians.

My dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this Good Friday we gather in our churches across Kenya in the shadow of a great and terrible evil. People who deal in death have slaughtered 148 people in Garissa, most of them students, and brought wrenching anguish to their families and a deep sadness to our nation.

These young people died because they were Kenyans and they were Christians. This attack was a calculated manifestation of evil designed to destroy our nation and our faith, but on this Good Friday we are reminded that the very worst evil can do is not the last word.

More here-

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Pope urges action on anti-Christian violence

From Crux-

 In what has become a common thread for his Holy Week comments this year, Pope Francis on Monday asked for the world not to remain on the sidelines, “mute and inert,” as Christians are persecuted and killed around the world.

Francis pleaded for “intense prayers” and “concrete and tangible help” in defense and protection “of our brothers and sisters, [who are] persecuted, exiled, killed, beheaded, for the mere fact of being Christians.”

The pope called those victims modern-day martyrs, greater in number than those of the first centuries.

More here-

Video: Presiding Bishop’s Easter Day sermon at Salisbury Cathedral

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached at Salisbury Cathedral in England during the Easter Day Eucharist service. She preached and led services at various times at Salisbury Cathedral during Holy Week 2015 at the invitation of the Very Rev. June Osborne, dean.

The full text of her Easter Day sermon follows.

Easter Day
5 April 2015

Salisbury Cathedral, 10:30 am

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Alleuia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed. Alleluia!

Jesus Christ is risen today – the beloved son, in whom God is indeed well pleased. Christ is risen among us. The grain of wheat has been threshed and exposed, then laid in the ground to die. In the winter of death that life giving seed went far below, into the fires of hell, to comb the ashes for other lives long laid in darkness. God’s life-giving power will not be denied. Jesus’ search of hell brings forth life, damps the heat for lively use, to raise this bread. Smell the sweet savor of yeasty risen life in this place, in this beloved community wedded together in God’s love, Jesus’ life given for the world.

More here-

It’s time to cross homosexuality off the list of sins

From Columbus-

The drama in Indiana last week and the larger debate over so-called religious-freedom laws in other states portray homosexuality and devout Christianity as forces in fierce collision.

They’re not — at least not in several prominent denominations, which have come to a new understanding of what the Bible does and doesn’t decree.

That many Christians regard them as incompatible is understandable, an example not so much of hatred’s pull as of tradition’s sway.

But the view of gays, lesbians and bisexuals as sinners is a choice. It prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since — as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing.

More here-

Monday, April 6, 2015

Rwanda: Christians Pray for Peace, Genocide Commemoration

From All Africa-

Clerics in various parts of the City of Kigali extended sympathy to the people of Kenya in their Easter Sunday messages yesterday.

At St Etienne Cathedral Kigali, the Anglican Bishop of Kigali Diocese, Louis Muvunyi, prayed for peace in Kenya and Burundi and encouraged Christians to keep praying for the two countries.

In Kenya, some 147 people, mainly students, were killed when Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab terrorists attacked Garissa University last Thursday.

Kenya is holding three days of national mourning for the victims of the attack, with Easter masses dedicated to the memory of the victims.

Tensions are rising in Burundi ahead of the upcoming general elections, due May, with some civilians fleeing into Rwanda last week.

More here-

At Easter, cleric charges politicians, others on forgiveness

From Nigeria-

ARCHBISHOP of Anglican Communion, Kaduna Diocese, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon has urged politicians and members of the public alike to embrace the spirit of forgiveness, embodied by Jesus Christ at this period of Easter when He died for the sins of the world.

Speaking with journalists shortly after the Easter sermon at Saint Michael Cathedral, Bishop Idowu-Fearon maintained, “There should be justice after forgiveness. In Christian point of view, if Jesus had not died on the cross, there wouldn’t have been forgiveness. So, I am appealing to President Goodluck Jonathan, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and any other aggrieved persons to forgive. But, there must be justice.”

More here-

Obama Family Attends Prominent African-American Megachurch for Easter; Pastor Touches on Questions of Same-Sex Marriage, Healthcare, Resurrection of Christ

From Christian Post-

President Barack Obama and his family attended the prominent Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, on Easter Sunday. The pastor, Rev. Howard-John Wesley, touched on a number of social issues in his sermon, including same-sex marriage, healthcare, and the resurrection of Christ.

"Today in our political landscape, a line in the sand is drawn forcing you to make a decision on where you stand," Wesley told the congregation at the 212 year old church, according to The Washington Post.

"Where do you stand with rights for same-sex couples … where do you stand on gun reform, where do you stand with police body cameras?" he asked. "Where do you stand on affordable health care? Life has a way of making you make a decision. Where you stand on the resurrection of Jesus Christ: You either believe it or you reject it."

More here-

Churches of northern Nevada town vandalized on Easter Sunday

From Nevada-

Vandals chose Easter to deface most — if not all — of the six churches in Incline Village, church leaders of the Northern Nevada town said Sunday.

Attendees of Incline Village Foursqure Church arrived for services to see “Jesus is a lie” and upside-down crosses spray-painted on the building’s walls, said John and Ruby Cole, co-pastors of the congregation.

“I believe it was every church,” said a representative of Cornerstone Community Church.

Before being called, police showed up at Foursquare Church about 10:15 a.m., John Cole, 68, said. It was the fourth church the officer had been to, and he said the other three also had been vandalized.

While John Cole was filing a report outside, the church’s worship leader asked the congregation to pray and ask that “God would bless these people and forgive them for what they have done,” Ruby Cole said, adding that they also hoped the vandals would have a “change of heart.”

More here-

Sunday, April 5, 2015

He is Risen Indeed!