Saturday, May 9, 2015

Interim pastors serve a vital role for congregations in transition

From Alabama-

They are the gatekeepers guarding against a mass exodus. They are buffers between what was and what will be. They are temporary, short-term solutions. They have little administrative power, yet can be a saving grace for a congregation in turmoil.

They are interim pastors.

When one pastor leaves and before another is found, it’s the interim pastor who holds a congregation together during the transition.

"Interim means provisional or temporary or keep your fingers crossed," said Bob McClain, who served as an interim pastor when he was 17 years old before becoming the full-time pastor at Living by Faith Ministry in Oxford. "We use the term ‘interim pastor’ today because most churches vote their pastors in and out of office, and the deacons and elders know they need a leader until they can bring men in and try them out."

More here-

We Are All the Ages We Have Ever Been: An Interview with Rachel Held Evans

From Patheos-

"I attend an Episcopal church, but I still carry with me attitudes and convictions from my evangelical upbringing. Evangelicalism is like my religious mother tongue. I could no more 'walk away' from evangelicalism than I could 'walk away' from my parents."

Although it may get talked about in the local grocery store, not many of us make the national news when we switch churches. However, most of us are not Rachel Held Evans, "the most polarizing woman in evangelical Christianity," according to the Washington Post. Rachel, a New York Times bestselling author who has chronicled her search for a thoughtful and authentic faith in books, blog posts, and through social media, has just published a new bestseller, Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church.

The book has become a sensation, largely because of the primary storyline being condensed from the book's subtitle: that Rachel, one of America's best-known evangelicals, has left that tradition for the Episcopal Church. However, as she notes in this exclusive interview for Patheos with another evangelical turned Episcopalian, Greg Garrett, you can leave home, but home doesn't leave you, and the story everyone is telling doesn't do justice to the truth.

More here-

More Help for Homeless Men

From Milawaukee-

Homeless men in Milwaukee, until recently, needed to navigate a complicated network of homeless shelters with different schedules and requirements to get a bed each night.

“If you have not been through it, you’re going to catch hell because you really don’t know where to go for help,” said Benny Barnes, a 64-year-old homeless man, as he mingled with friends outside of The Gathering, a daily meal program held at St. James Episcopal Church, 833 W. Wisconsin Ave.

“You had to know when to get there for the night. If you weren’t on time, you were just out of luck.”

The process of getting a place to stay and much-needed services was streamlined recently when IMPACT 211, the area’s crisis hotline, expanded to include single homeless men and the shelters that serve them, such as Hope House, Guest House and the Salvation Army Emergency Lodge.

More here-
From Central Florida-

Episcopal Bishop Greg Brewer said today that Jack, an infant whose parents are gay parishioners of Cathedral Church of St. Luke, will be baptized at the church after all.

Brewer made the decision to baptize Jack after meeting with parents Rich and Eric McCaffrey on Thursday night.

"It was a very good meeting," Brewer said.

Neither Rich nor Eric McCaffrey could be reached for comment. But Rich McCaffrey later posted a statement on his Facebook page that Brewer was supportive of Jack being baptized at the cathedral.

 More here-

Episcopal Bishop Leopold Frade will leave behind a legacy of social activism

From Miami-

It’s just past 3 p.m. and Bishop Leo Frade is settling into his office next to Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

He’s handed a cafecito.

“This is my 3:05 coffee,” he says, as he sips the Cuban coffee.

Frade’s office is full of momentos from his 38-year career as an Episcopal priest. Behind his desk, a black and white photo of God’s Mercy, a converted World War II submarine chaser he used to bring 437 Cubans to the United States during the Mariel Boatlift. On a side table, the Order of Francisco Morazan medallion, one of the highest honors granted by the Honduran government, which Frade received for his humanitarian efforts following Hurricane Mitch. Above his desk, a plastic crown, a gag gift from a friend after he was consecrated as bishop.

Soon these memories will be packed away, as Frade – pronounced Friday – will turn 72 on Oct. 10, the mandatory retirement age in the Episcopal Church.

Read more here:

Friday, May 8, 2015

Welby: let’s stop pretending all religions agree

From The Telegraph-

Religious leaders risk fuelling extremism by pretending that all faiths are basically the same, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said faith leaders seemed desperate to hide behind “bland” and “anaemic” statements about what they have in common rather than facing up to the “profound differences” between them.

But he warned that the pretence that mainstream religions agree on everything is simply “dishonest” and risks leaving them impotent to halt the spread of extremism.

More here-

Shared Conversations: praise for three days in hotel talking of sexuality

From The Church Times-

THE first sessions of "shared conversations" on sexuality have been hailed a success by participants from the five south-western dioceses that took part.

About 50 people from the dioceses of Gloucester, Bristol, Bath & Wells, Exeter, and Truro spent three days in a hotel last week in the first round of facilitated discussions.

Erika Baker, from the diocese of Bath & Wells, said that she went along, as someone in a same-sex marriage, with a lot of trepidation, but found her fears were not realised.

"I was very surprised. To see how it actually was was quite amazing," she said on Tuesday. The group included everyone from straight people who believed same-sex relationships should be welcomed, to gay people holding traditional theology, she said.

More here-

Does prayer have the power to heal?

From USA Today-

Ruth Link, 92, lies in a hospital bed clutching the hand of longtime chaplain Jim Ivey as he kneels beside her in prayer.

Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus, Ivey prays that Link, who has been plagued with swelling from a kidney problem, will be able to go home as quickly as possible.

"I love praying for people because I believe that prayer works," said Ivey, who has been ministering to Link for more than a week. "Any time I can spend praying or talking or just comforting, that's a wonderful thing."

More than 60 years after the establishment of an annual National Day of Prayer in the United States, prayer remains an important source of solace and strength for some people who are going through crises, such as sickness.

More here-

Indianapolis Bishop Waynick announces retirement plan

From ENS-

Bishop Catherine M. Waynick of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis has announced that she plans to retire two years from now and has called for the election of her successor.

Waynick expects to retire as a new bishop is ordained and consecrated on April  22, 2017. Waynick’s successor will be elected at the diocesan convention in October 2016.

Waynick has served the Indianapolis diocese as its 10th bishop since 1997. By the time of her retirement, Waynick will be 69. The Episcopal Church requires all clergy and bishops to retire, technically to resign, when they reach the age of 72.

More here-

Also here-

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Church of England: Plans to create 'bishop for church plants' get the go ahead

From Christian Today-

Plans to create a new "Bishop for Church Plants" are to go ahead following approval of the revival of the See of Islington.

The Dioceses Commission has told the London diocese that it can revive the century-old Islington see to allow the Bishop, Dr Richard Chartres, to appoint an episcopal leader for church planting.

The London diocese, home to evangelical flagship churches such as Holy Trinity Brompton and St Helen's Bishopsgate, has led the world in modelling church planting, and seen consistent growth in congregations as a result.

More here-

First female Bishop resigns following DUI hit-and-run charge

From Maryland-

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland announced on May 1 that Bishop Heather Cook, 58, would be resigning from her position in the clergy, following a high-profile DUI incident back in December 2014 that resulted in the death of bicyclist Thomas Palermo.

WBAL 11 reports that the Diocese of Maryland sought Cook's resignation in January when she was officially charged with driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, texting while driving, and causing the fatal injuries of Palermo, a 41-year-old Baltimore father of two.

Officials state that Cook initially left the scene of the December 27 accident when she lost control of her Subaru while texting, fatally striking Palermo. She returned to the scene about 30 minutes later, when police officers issued a breathalyzer test.

More here-

Son Of Gay Dads Denied Baptism In Florida Episcopal Church

From Huffington-

Baptism is usually a time to celebrate new life and spiritual community. But for Rich McCaffrey, a new father in central Florida, the ritual took on a hurtful note when he had to cancel his son's baptism -- because McCaffrey and his husband are gay.

McCaffrey and his husband, Eric, began attending the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando, Florida shortly after adopting their son, Jack. They hoped to become part of a spiritual community in which they could baptize their son, McCaffrey explained in a May 2 Facebook post.

The church’s dean, Anthony Clark, initially agreed to the baptism and encouraged the family to schedule it for the 6 p.m. Sunday service, “since those who worship at that time tend to be the most 'open,'" according to McCaffrey. The parents chose April 19.

Things turned sour on April 16, when, three days before the planned baptism, Clark told them that “there were members of the congregation who opposed Jack’s baptism” and the service would have to be temporarily cancelled.

Also here-

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Gay row could ‘cause Church of Ireland schism’

From Ireland-

The top churchman warned fellow believers that the Church of Ireland is too small to withstand a schism over the issue, and said he hopes such a split will be avoided.

He was speaking as it emerged dozens of church figures have written joint open letters highly critical of the liberal stances taken by the bishops of Cork and Cashel.

They were writing after 43 members of the clergy last week penned a joint letter endorsing same-sex marriages, ahead of a referendum in the Republic on the issue.

The former top cleric – speaking to the News Letter under condition of anonymity – said: “The Church of Ireland membership and the church of Ireland clergy would need to move very carefully, because we are too small to split.

More here-

An open letter to the Supreme Court as you consider same-sex marriage

From RNS- (Gay Jennings)

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the court:

As you and the other justices of the Supreme Court consider whether to strike down marriage equality bans in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee and Kentucky, I want to speak to you as the parent of an adopted child and as a priest.

In his argument before your bench last week, John Bursch, the lawyer defending Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, argued that the state has an interest in denying the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage to same-sex couples because “when you change the definition of marriage to delink the idea that we’re binding children with their biological mom and dad, that has consequences.”

More here-

Is ecumenism between Catholics and Anglicans over?

From Crux-

Last week, the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) gathered in Rome for a further round of ecumenical discussion. Now that the Anglicans have female bishops, gay bishops, and are well along the path toward same-sex marriage, is there any point?

Cynics would argue that the ecumenical blabfest is mere window dressing. One critic likened it to those endless rounds of d├ętente during the Soviet era in which both sides shook hands and smiled for the cameras, but were really waiting to see which side would cave first.

Pope Francis thinks otherwise. While recognizing the “grave obstacles to unity” erected by the Anglicans, in his opening remarks he told the delegates not to give up hope.

More here-

OK, we will ask: Why isn't Baltmore Sun nailing local angles in DUI Episcopal bishop story?

From Get Religion-

The case of the DUI bishop is, in one sense, over – in that Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook is no longer a leader in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. In fact, she is no longer an Episcopal bishop at all, nor is she an Episcopal priest or deacon.

That shoe has dropped and has been covered pretty clearly in the newspaper that lands (for several more weeks) in my front yard near the Baltimore Beltway. But what about the rest of the story?

You see, the timeline that looms behind the story of the rise and tragic fall of Cook – charged with criminal negligent manslaughter, using a texting device while driving, leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in death and three charges of drunken driving – reveals that this is actually two or three stories unfolding at the same time. There is more to this than the dominoes that began falling in her career after her car struck bicyclist Thomas Palermo.

More here-

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Amid Nepal’s shattered shrines and temples, a religious fatalism sets in

From Christian Century-

When a 7.8-magnitude earthquake roared through this Himalayan nation on April 25, leaving an estimated 5,500 dead and more than 11,000 injured, shrines and temples crashed to the ground, many of them centuries old and irreplaceable cultural treasures.

According to the United Nations, 600,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged, and 2 million Nepalese will need tents, water, food, and medicine. Many here say they will also need God, regardless of what happened to the temples, shrines, and churches.

“This is going to further strengthen people’s faith in God, and they will be trusting the Almighty for bringing things back in order,” said Ankit Adhikari, a Kathmandu-based singer.

The fifth-century Pashupatinath Temple, situated on the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu, is one of the most sacred Hindu temples of Nepal. The temple, which is a UNESCO cultural heritage site and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, has been a scene of mass cremations since the earthquake.

More here-

Dean of Westminster defends inclusion of Muslim prayer in church service

From Nigeria-

The Dean of Westminster, John Hall, has defended the choice of a prayer in which the prophet Muhammad was described as 'The Chosen One' at the Abbey as "within orthodox Christian worship".

Dr Hall told Christian Today it was appropriate to offer hospitality to other faith traditions but this did not in any sense "compromise the form and orthodox character of our belief and proclamation."

The Abbey, which is a Royal Peculiar under the personal jurisdiction of the Queen and outside the Church of England's diocesan structures, was criticised by conservative Christians after a Turkish prayer was included in the annual Anzac Day service.

More here-

Baltimore turns to religious institutions for prayer and peace

From Crux-

In a pair of gestures Sunday that suggested that this riot-scarred city was staggering toward normalcy, the National Guard began to pull its troops, and the mayor lifted a curfew that, after several days of relative calm, had come under mounting criticism.

“Effectively immediately, I have rescinded my order instituting a citywide curfew,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement Sunday, after Baltimore had lived under a fifth consecutive night of restrictions that were imposed in the wake of violent unrest connected to the death of Freddie Gray, who died of injuries he suffered while in police custody. “My goal has always been to not have the curfew in place a single day longer than was necessary.”

Gov. Larry Hogan later said that he supported Rawlings-Blake’s decision, and he announced that the guard had started to reduce its force here.

More here-

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook Resigns Amid Homicide Charges for Fatal Hit-And-Run While Drunk

From Christian Post-

An Episcopal bishop charged with committing the felony crime of a fatal hit-and-run while intoxicated has resigned from her ecclesiastical position.

Church officials announced Friday that Heather E. Cook resigned as bishop suffragan for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

"The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton and the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland today announced the acceptance of the resignation of Heather E. Cook as bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland," read the statement.


Monday, May 4, 2015

Leaders from the Diocese of South Carolina and Anglican Church in North America Meet at St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center

From South Carolina-

Leaders from the Diocese of South Carolina and the Anglican Church in North America, led by Bishop Mark Lawrence and Archbishop Foley Beach, came together at St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, South Carolina on April 28-29, 2015 for prayer, fellowship, and conversation.

The Diocese of South Carolina was represented by Bishop Mark Lawrence, Mr. Wade Logan, Mr. Alan Runyan, The Rev. Craige Borrett, The Rev. Kendall Harmon, The Rev. Jeffrey Miller, Mrs. Boo Pennewill, and The Rev. Jim Lewis.

The Anglican Church in North America was represented by Archbishop Foley Beach, Bishop Ray Sutton, Bishop John Guernsey, Bishop Bill Atwood, Bishop Terrell Glenn, The Rev. Phil Ashey, The Rev. Jack Lumanog, Mr. Scott Ward, and Mr. Tad Brenner.

Our conversations reflected the mutual respect and sincere affection that we share as fellow Anglicans, and we appreciated the opportunity to speak candidly together about topics that affect our common life.

More here-

Catholic women priests fight for inclusion -- for all

From New Jersey-

The call to religious vocation came at different times in different ways. For some, it was a thunderclap, a great moment of clarity. For others, it was a building crescendo after a lifetime of being in harmony with their faith.

But the seven women ordained as Catholic priests last weekend in Morristown all agree on this: Their call to a religious pastoral life was genuinely sent by God and is as pure as any man's.

"For me, it was when I received my first Holy Communion," said Susan Schessler. "In that instant, I felt a very personal bond with Christ that was not breakable. Christ was there to me, and I was there to Christ. Like any relationship, we've had our ups and downs."

More here-

The last Princess of Cambridge: the 19th century People's Princess known as 'Fat Mary'

From The Telegraph-

She has been in the world for just two short days, but the infant Princess of Cambridge has a rather impressive legacy to follow if her 19th century namesake is anything to go by.

The last Princess of Cambridge, born more than 180 years ago, led a life to be reckoned with, known for her ready good humour, devotion to charity and a nickname of the original “People’s Princess”.

Praised as setting the tone for the modern Royal family with her "common touch", she is celebrated as providing the link to bring the middle classes and the Crown into alliance, and reaffirming the importance of the monarchy at a critical moment.

She also, however, has one less fortunate enduring legacy: the nickname Fat Mary.

More here-

Church of England Announces Divestment from Coal and Tar Sands

From Triple Pundit-

If you thought the church was becoming less relevant in the West, or worldwide for that matter, think again. Something is brewing within our religious institutions, and we are not talking about the time-worn battles over birth control, human sexuality and, of course, sectarian differences.

Pope Francis has spoken out on climate change in a way none of his predecessors dared, to the annoyance of climate skeptic organizations such as the Heartland Institute. This summer he will issue a high-level papal encyclical (policy paper) on the environment, and based on Francis’ track record so far, this will be no papal bull.

Meanwhile, the powerful Church of England is putting its pounds and pence where its mouth is: The body that administers the worldwide Anglican Communion last week announced it is divesting from thermal coal and tar sands.

More here-

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Chicago professor calls out the 'culture of white superiority'

From Pittsburgh-

Near the end of her talk at the Heinz History Center Saturday, Chicago sociologist Jacqueline Battalora was asked why so many young black men are dying at the hands of American police, from Baltimore to Ferguson, Mo.

She said there are many factors, including too much time training police officers how to handle weapons and not enough in how to improve their emotional maturity. But the overriding reason, she said, is the culture of white superiority that saturates American society.

“It is impossible to be a product of U.S. culture and not have ideas about the supremacy of white people — not consciously perhaps — but to assume that white people are superior,” said Ms. Battalora, the speaker at a “Race & Freedom” event sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the African-American Program at the history center. “Think of how we all have been shaped by these messages. Think of how they’ve shaped who we want our children to play with, where we are comfortable living, and who seems to be legitimate material for marriage.

More here-