Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bishops back Church of England breakaway congregations

From The Telegraph-

Bishops and archbishops claiming to represent 40 million Anglicans around the world have publicly endorsed a new breakaway network of churches set up outside the Church of England amid disputes over issues such as homosexuality.

Leaders from some of the largest branches in the Anglican Communion in Africa and the Americas hailed the emerging new evangelical grouping in England as they condemned what they called a “drift” from “the Biblical faith” within the Church of England.

They likened the emergence of the new grouping to the ministry of John Wesley in the 18th Century which led to the creation of a separate Methodist Church.

They also condemned the recent use of a Church of England church in London for a Muslim prayer service as a betrayal of Christianity and a blow to Christians experiencing persecution in many parts of the world.

More here-

GAFCON plans to touch more Anglican lives

From The Church Times-

GAFCON is receiving increasing calls for affiliation from Anglicans who feel they are regarded as "pariahs" and want to "know we are not alone", one of its leading figures said on Friday.

The Revd Dr Peter Jensen, a former Archbishop of Sydney, was speaking at the end of a five-day GAFCON conference in London. A communiqué  issued by seven Primates at the conclusion of the meeting was energetic in tone: a conference is planned for 2018 and a fellowship in Australia has been launched.

"We have planned for the expansion of our movement in order to touch the lives of many more Anglicans with gospel fellowship," it says. "As part of this we have identified a clear need for theological education and the training of leaders, especially bishops, and we have started work on both of these priorities."

More here-

20 years after Oklahoma bombing, bishop calls for prayer, remembrance

From ENS-

 Oklahoma Bishop Edward J. Konieczny wrote to the diocese April 15 to call Episcopalians to “hope, love, and community” as they approach the 20th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma City building on April 19, 1995 (it was Wednesday of Holy Week) in an act of domestic terrorism that killed 168 people and injured 600 others.

Konieczny’s letter follows.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This Sunday marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City. This attack resulted in the deaths of 168 people and forever changed our capital city, our nation, and ourselves.

More here-

Friday, April 17, 2015

Conservative Anglicans Discuss Breaking Apart From Church of England Over Gay Marriage, Women Bishops

From Christian Today-

A group of conservative Anglican leaders are reportedly meeting in London to discuss forming a "parallel" church that they feel would be more true to Anglican principles on positions like women bishops and gay marriage.

The Independent reported that The Church of England is "at risk of an unprecedented schism" in light of the proposal by the Global Anglican Futures Conference, which seeks to counter what conservatives find is a liberal approach to social issues by the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury.


Presbyterian Church: Evangelicals suddenly on the wrong side in gay marriage debate

From Central Pennsylvania-

Across Christian denominations, the debate over gay marriage has fundamentally pitted the views of socially progressive - if not radical - congregants and church leaders who are in favor of gay marriage against that of the conservative, evangelical sector that subscribes to a traditional and biblical definition of marriage.

For the most part, proponents of gay marriage have been on the outs - at times waging tough battles that tear churches apart and put their ordination on the line.

In the Presbyterian Church (USA), the tables seemed to have turned. Increasingly, the conservative, evangelical members of the 1.8-million-member mainline Protestant denomination are finding themselves at odds with socially progressive congregations and leadership that seem to have moved in line with the secular world.

Across the country, conservative, evangelical pastors who over the past year have taken a stand against the Presbyterian Church's ratification of gay marriage are finding themselves forced out the door.

More here-

Rachel Held Evans Returns to Church

From Christianity Today-

Four years ago, Rachel Held Evans spent Easter in the apartment of a funeral home. But there would be no candles lit, no feast after the service. Instead, the group of about 10 had gathered to mourn the death of their church.

The Mission had launched in 2010 at the urging of Brian Ward, Evans’s former youth pastor in Dayton, Tennessee, 45 minutes north of Chattanooga. Like other emergent/missional/ancient-future “experiments,” the house church had a piecemeal, earnest feel to it. Evans was quickly named worship pastor and wrote liturgy for group drawn from the Anglican prayer book. Ward baptized a local guitar player in the Tennessee River. Members volunteered at Dayton’s free health clinic. Evans and her husband, Dan, helped to pay the lawyer’s fee to register the Mission as a nonprofit, a decision that “felt as momentous as a down payment on a house,” Evans writes in a new book, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church (Thomas Nelson).

More here

South Carolina Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal

From ENS-

 The South Carolina Supreme Court April 15 granted The Episcopal Church in South Carolina’s motion and will hear the appeal of a circuit court decision giving the name and property of the local Episcopal Church diocese to a breakaway group.

The court also denied a motion from the breakaway group for a greatly expedited schedule in the case, and set September 23 as the date for oral arguments in the case, saying that no extensions would be granted. The Episcopal Church in South Carolina had asked the court to take the case, bypassing the state Court of Appeals, in an effort to avoid expense and delay for all parties.

The diocese now has 30 days in which to file briefs in the appeal, according to Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., chancellor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

More here-

Thursday, April 16, 2015

S.C. Supreme Court agrees to hear multimillion dollar Episcopal lawsuit

From South Carolina-

The S.C. Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to hear a lawsuit over a local Episcopal Church schism involving more than $500 million in church properties, bypassing the state appellate court in the complex case.

The justices set a Sept. 23 date to hear oral arguments.

“We are pleased that the court has agreed to hear the case, and we look forward to presenting our positions on these important issues before the Supreme Court,” said Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr., chancellor of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which comprises about 30 parishes that remain with the national church after the split.

More here-

Jimmy Carter's message: the fight continues against male-sanctioned female submission

From Australia-

What do Southern Baptists in the United States have in common with the Anglican Diocese of Sydney? They both require women to submit to their husbands.

What is going on?

Six years ago, former US president and noted evangelical Christian Jimmy Carter wrote about his difficult decision to withdraw from membership of the conservative Southern Baptist Convention over its rejection of women in leadership. He could no longer stomach his church's view that women were inferior to men by edict of God.

This newspaper published his piece in July 2009. At Easter this year it suddenly went viral, and is still going strong. Last time I looked it had 362,000 Facebook shares and 651 tweets.

Surprising? Perhaps not. In 2015, reactionary Christians are not only still preaching female submission but have hardened their stance in recent times.

More here-

Episcopal group urges divestment in protest over Israeli occupation

From Aljazeera-

A committee of Episcopal leaders on Wednesday announced plans to lobby their church to divest from companies that profit from Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories, arguing that Israel has abandoned efforts to forge peace and that Christians have a moral obligation to intercede on behalf of Palestinians.

If the committee succeeds in convincing the church to divest at its general convention in June in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Episcopal Church, one of America’s largest protestant denominations, will join a number of other Christian groups, including Presbyterian Church USA and The United Methodist Church, that have made similar divestments.

The action is part of a growing international movement to pressure Israel through economic tools — including boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS). Since 2005, when Palestinian civil society first appealed to international groups to employ BDS tactics, the movement has gained ground in universities, unions and religious communities.

More here-

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Anglican Communion’s new secretary general draws praise, condemnation

From Christian Century-

Many African Anglicans welcomed the appointment of a Nigerian bishop as the next secretary general of the 85-million-member Anglican Communion, even as others criticized the appointment because of his anti-gay comments.

Bishop Josiah Atkins Idowu-Fearon rose above other applicants from Oceania, Asia, Europe, and the Americas and will assume the mostly ambassador-type post at a time when the worldwide communion remains estranged over homosexuality and same-sex marriages, especially in some African countries.

“His position on traditional Anglicanism is very firm,” said Bishop Julius Kalu of the Mombasa, Kenya, diocese. “This is good for us.”

Kalu said the appointment had come at the right time, when African Anglicans needed a bigger voice within the communion.

“The church is growing fastest here,” Kalu said. “We also have the largest membership.”

More here-

How much should a preacher be paid? Put in your 2 cents' worth

From Alabama-

Tax-time always means thinking about how much people get paid and should be paid for their work. And that brings up the perennial question for church board sessions every year: What should ministers make for their work of sermonizing, serving, leading and bedside praying? Should they, in fact, even be paid at all? Should they simply trust that - like the lily of the field and the care-free sparrow - that God will supply their needs?

No they shouldn't, says the Rev. Dr. Tammy Gregory Brown, who, as executive presbyter of the Presbytery of North Alabama is sometimes called upon to help congregations decide what to pay a minister. Ministers should trust that God will supply their needs, of course, but God will supply those needs through the orderly generosity of the congregation and a fair salary package.

More here-

Wal-Mart Wins Gun Case With Third Circuit Reversal

From Legal Intelligencer-

Wal-Mart won back control of its policy for the sale of guns with high-capacity magazines with a short order from the Third Circuit on Tuesday.

The appeals court reversed a December decision from the District of Delaware that had ruled Wal-Mart would have to include in its annual report to shareholders, called a proxy statement, a proposal from one of its shareholders, an Episcopal church in New York that filed under the name Trinity Wall Street, that would ask them to vote on putting the oversight of policies concerning the sale of certain merchandise, including guns with high-capacity magazines, in the hands of the board.
The company has to go to the printer with its proxy statement by Thursday, so the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued its decision in less than a week. It heard arguments last Wednesday and gave its two-page order Tuesday afternoon. It will issue a full opinion with its reasoning at a later date, according to the order, signed by Judge Thomas L. Ambro.

Read more:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Churches shouldn’t be stuck in past, author says

From Columbus-

The media struggle to label Rachel Held Evans.

She is either an evangelical Christian or an evangelical-turned-progressive Christian, or, as one newspaper put it, “a feisty biblical feminist.”

“All of the above,” she replied when I ran those descriptions by her.

“These days, everybody wants to assign you a label to know if you’re in their group or not, so they’ll know whether to love you or hate you.”

Evans, a 33-year-old author who will speak on Friday in Columbus, grew up evangelical but breaks with the tradition on many social issues and goes to an Episcopal church.

More here-

Fort Worth: Scott Mayer announced as nominee for provisional bishop

From ENS-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, a group of elected clergy and lay leaders, announced on April 10 that the Rt. Rev. J. Scott Mayer, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwest Texas, is the nominee for the next provisional bishop of Fort Worth. The Rt. Rev. Rayford B. High, Jr., provisional bishop of Fort Worth, has called a special meeting of the convention on May 16 at which the diocese’s clergy and lay representatives will vote on Mayer’s nomination.

The Standing Committee selected Mayer in consultation with Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and in accordance with Canon III.13.1 of The Episcopal Church.

More here-

Possible 'parallel Anglican church' set to highlight divisions

From Christianity Today-

Conservative evangelical archbishops, bishops and other church leaders from around the world are meeting in the UK this week to discuss whether to back a parallel Anglican church in this country.

The meeting is expected to highlight continuing divisions in the worldwide communion over women's ordination and homosexuality. It comes as a Nigerian bishop who believes homosexuality should remain illegal in his country has been appointed to the key post of secretary general of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Bishop of Kaduna Josiah Idowu-Fearon is known for his skilled dialogue with Muslims in Nigeria.

Any parallel structure would exist to support Anglican clergy and congregations that are opposed to women's ordination on the basis of St Paul's assertion that the man is the head of the woman. The alternative Anglican church would also take a conservative stance on the gay issue and oppose gay marriage.

More here-

Monday, April 13, 2015

Amman: Where A Good Church Is Easy to Find

From Patheos-

Finding a Christian church in Amman is the easiest thing in the world – provided you’re not too picky which church.

Estimates of the numbers of Christians in Jordan range from a high of 390,000, or 6%, to a modest 186,000, or 2.8 %. Beyond dispute, however, is their variety. Jordanian Christians come in all flavors, including Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Melkite Greek Catholic, Syrian Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Maronite Catholic, Latin-Rite Catholic, and Anglican. The churches have synchronized their liturgical calendars in agreement with Orthodox conventions; today they celebrate Easter across the board. Whatever advantages this offers believers themselves, it makes them harder than ever for outsiders to tell apart.

Read more:

What War? Which Darwinism?

From The Living Church-

In the pages of the popular press, fever swamps both left and right, and those high priestly temples of modern America, courts and school boards, are ever-roiled by the fatuous and enervating “war of science and religion.” Front and center of this spectacle is that reliably malleable word, Darwinism, which at one moment refers to a particular and modest description of organistic development and at another to a purported Grand Explanation of All Reality. The uncertainties attending the term make it a useful foil for some fideisms and a potent cudgel to wield on behalf of others.

In his sprawling and iridescent tour de force, Darwin’s Pious Idea, Conor Cunningham of the University of Nottingham’s Center of Theology and Philosophy seeks to disarm at least two sets of extreme enemies of science: literalist Christians and materialist atheists. Since the latter have been more popular in academic circles, and successfully present themselves as defenders of science in the popular mind, Cunningham reserves the lion’s share of his book for their critique.

More here-

Anglicans, Episcopalians standing in solidarity with persecuted minorities

From ACNS-

Church bombings, brutal beheadings, forced conversions and mass migration have become the shocking trademarks of extremist factions in the Middle East and Africa, persecuting religious minorities and wiping out Christian populations that in some places – such as Iraq, Syria and Egypt – date back to the first century.

For many in the West who see them only through the gaze of the media, these oppressed communities may seem a million miles away. For others, including many Episcopal and Anglican leaders, they are global neighbours, fellow Christians or interfaith partners, and people in urgent need of a lifeline.

More here-,-episcopalians-standing-in-solidarity-with-persecuted-minorities.aspx

Sunday, April 12, 2015

St. Thomas, the doubting disciple

From Central PA-

I’m sure I can speak for my ecumenical colleagues when I say that this has been a quieter week. These seven days after Easter are — for clergy — a chance for rest, retreat and respite — in theory at least. After a busy week of waving palms, washing feet, gazing at crucifixes and proclaiming Christ’s resurrection with fire and water, it’s time to stop and breathe.

For this priest, it has been business as usual. The ministry of the church never pauses, let alone stops, whatever the season or occasion. Yet life “on the other side” of Lent is different. Bad habits (perhaps) resume, and the air feels light and easy. Easter has been celebrated once again — Jesus Christ is risen from the dead — and the church proclaims the Gospel of joy and new life.

But while it feels time to take a break, this is, in fact, where our real work begins — sharing the news of Christ’s resurrection. And this means proclaiming peace to the broken-hearted, liberation to those in bondage and forgiveness to all crippled by their sins.

Read more here:

Muslims charted to surpass Christians by 2100

From Arkansas-

Christianity has long been the world's largest religion by far, but the population of Muslims is growing so fast that they will match Christians by the year 2070 and outnumber them by the end of the century, according to a report released last week that projects the global religious future.

The report, from the Pew Research Center, projects a vibrantly religious planet, not the withering away of religion predicted by some futurists. The reason is not that religious groups will win significantly more converts, but simply that religious adherents are younger and have more children than secular people.

Those demographic factors will drive the growth of Islam, because Muslims are the youngest and have the highest fertility rates of any religious group, the report says.

In the United States, the spread of secularism will probably continue: Those who claim no religion will make up about a quarter of the population by 2050 -- an increase from 16 percent in 2010. Christianity will have the biggest losses, with its share of the American population declining to 66 percent in 2050 from 78 percent in 2010, according to the projections in the report.

More here-