Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bishops take stock after Ireland’s gay-marriage landslide

From The Church Times-

SAME-SEX couples are likely to be able to marry in the Irish Republic as soon as the autumn, after the government pledged to fast-track the enabling legislation after last weekend's landslide vote in favour of the measure.

On Saturday, the Republic became the first nation in the world to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. Voter turnout, at 60.5 per cent, was among the highest ever in a referendum since the founding of the State, much of it attributed to young people, who travelled from as far away as Thailand, Australia, Africa, and the US to exercise their franchise. Social media is thought to have played a key part in getting out the vote.

All but one of the Republic's 43 constituencies voted strongly in favour of inserting into the Constitution the clause: "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex."

More here-

What happened to online churches?

From Christian Today (Not sure if this is a parody or not)-

I'm outside the cathedral having a few problems with my body. Currently it's a white cloud, which is far from optimum when it comes to meeting new people. To be fair, the wistful freedom of this stratocumulus form has its charms and I do feel a strong desire to float high o'er a few hills and vales, but interviewing people when you can't keep eye contact – due to having no discernible appendages – lacks professionalism.

The reason for my corporeal difficulties turns out to be age-related. It's been several years since I last set foot on Epiphany Island, an online virtual world which is home to the Anglican Cathedral of Second Life, and in that time the template for my previous incarnation has been deleted and replaced with shinier, new upgrades. If having a mid-life crisis in real life wasn't bad enough, now fictional versions of myself are deemed substandard. This wasn't the welcome I'd hoped for. Thankfully the contact I'm meeting is used to these kind of problems.

"There's one person who attends the Cathedral who I've only seen as a non-cloud once," says Helene Milena, Lay Pastor at the Cathedral. In fact this isn't even the most unusual avatar likely to be here today. "We used to have a hippo that worshipped with us quite a lot," says Helene, "the church warden's a mermaid...and another regular's favourite avatar is a parrot. There's a perch over there, that's for him."

More here-

Canadian churches still overcoming guilt about residential schools

From Canada-

Downtown Vancouver’s churches are coming together for a rare joint service and other special observances on Sunday to show their commitment to reconciling with Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples.

Clergy from the United, Anglican, Catholic, Baptist and Presbyterian churches are co-operating in the daylong event, which includes a combined service at St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, a sacred fire, a street fair in the Sheraton Wall Centre courtyard, ecumenical prayers at First Baptist Church and other public rituals.

The Christian event is timed to coincide with the release on Tuesday of the final report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission, or TRC, has spent six years researching what happened to about 150,000 aboriginals who were required to attend church-run residential schools until nearly all the institutions were closed by the early 1970s.

More here-

A Providence Slavery Center in Old Episcopal Cathedral

From Rhode Island Public Radio-

Rhode Island’s Episcopal Church is about to unveil plans for a museum and teaching center dedicated to the slave trade. The state has a long and difficult history of involvement  in slavery.  RIPR political analyst Scott MacKay discussed the proposal with Episcopal Bishop Nicholas Knisely, whose wife happens to work for Rhode Island Public Radio.

St. John’s Cathedral, once the nation’s oldest cathedral parish, sits empty today in a forlorn reminder of onetime greatness.

The Gothic and classical  building on North Main Street  with a leaking roof and structural damage, was closed for lack of money for repairs three years ago. A storied history doesn’t always pay the bills.

Now, Bishop Nicholas Knisely, leader of Rhode Island’s Episcopalians, wants to reopen the building as a "Center for Reconciliation," a museum, worship center and classroom of sorts for the study of Rhode Island’s role in the era of slavery.

More here-

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Truth of the Gospel, the Gospel of 'Truthiness' and the Future of the Anglican Communion

From Australia-

The Anglican video journalist Kevin Kallsen, together with George Congar (an Episcopal priest from Florida) post a weekly video-blog called Anglicans Unscripted. The programme focuses on specific issues emerging in the Episcopal Church or elsewhere in the Anglican Communion, about which Kallsen and Congar offer their opinions. On occasion, however, they display a tendency to cross the line, not only between journalism and advocacy, but also between truth and truthiness.

Consider, for example, their coverage of the Archbishop of Canterbury's visit to the second Global Anglican Future's Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, in October 2103. Archbishop Justin Welby had been in his post for less than a year, and it was clear that his visit to this conference hosted by the leaders of the Anglican churches of the Global South would be complicated, possibly even contentious.

More here-

Anglican Church launches Namugongo water bottling plant

From Uganda-

The Anglican Church has commissioned the construction of the Namugongo water bottling plant worth sh 500m. The Bishop of Namirembe Diocese, Wilberforce Kityo, presided over the function at the Anglican Martyrs’ Shrine in Namugongo.He was accompanied by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Joseph Muchai from Nakuru Archdiocese in Kenya.

As part of the activities to commemorate the Uganda Martyrs’ Day due next week Wednesday, the Church leaders, accompanied by several staff on the project’s building committee, also paid homage to the Martyrs’ Museum under construction at the same Shrine.Wilberforce Kityo explained that the (Anglican) Church had decided to start bottling safe drinking water from the “various springs” at the shrine to promote business tourism in the country.He called on the contractors (of the bottling plant) to be diligent and steadfast, with the first bottle of water from the plant expected to be unveiled during the June 3 Martyrs’ Day celebrations in Namugongo.  

More here-

Presiding Bishop moderates WCC panel on peace, security in the Congo

From ENS-

 The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is ranked among the world’s poorest countries, and since the former Belgian colony fell into the hands of corrupt and power-hungry leaders following its independence in 1960, the Congolese have rarely experienced life without conflict.

A May 27-29 World Council of Churches’ conference in Geneva, Switzerland, includes religious leaders, victims of war, former child soldiers, United Nations representatives, members of relief agencies, and post-conflict practitioners, all seeking solutions for peace and security in the war-weary nation. Participants at the event are addressing violent conflict, electoral integrity, environmental protection and human rights.

Quoting from Isaiah 58, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said: “The peacemaking work that we are all about is repairing [the] breach, that gap in abundant life that Jesus believes is the birthright of all human beings. Repairing that breach is what we are about and why we are here.”

More here-

Our Episopal Default Future is a Racket We Should Divest

From The Bishop of Texas-

So lets go back and think a bit about our Episcopal Church (or any denomination thinking about how to structure itself, judicatory, or congregation for that matter). This summer our Episcopal Church will meet in convention and ponder how to structure itself for mission.  It will ask the same questions it has been asking for two decades, and they are similar to all denominational churches in our time. In particular our church structure has spent enormous amounts of time and energy pondering what the future looks like - TREC. Now that TREC has returned with their version what structure could be the population of general convention is thinking - "no". There are other groups offering similar ideas as TREC. There are groups trying to amplify the work of all these people to convince the general-convention-going deputies that they need to vote positively to restructure the church.

But the deputies have not spent a lot of time on this. They have not spent three years reading and studying things, listening to consultants, dreaming about mission, and then attempting to build consensus in a wildly diverse group of people around common future scenarios of a mission church. This isn't to place a value on the lack of this work, but it is to point out that the deputy will vote based upon how the church occurs to them. And here is the rub.

More here-

An Appreciation of a Memorial to the Church

From The Episcopal Herald-

In 2012, a group of General Convention Convention deputies, bishops, and others, gathered to reflect on the time in which the Episcopal Church finds itself and to advocate for an unsentimental, forward-looking approach to restructuring the church for mission in the 21st century. This group proclaimed that the Episcopal Church now finds itself in an “Acts 8 Moment”, a moment filled with both potential for renewal and urgency. Since 2012, it has continued to foster a broader conversation about the mission and future of the Church at and the blogs of its organizers.

On Ascension Day, this group published a Memorial, a letter to the Church, and a package of resolutions that share the same spirit of the TREC proposals, but go far beyond TREC’s proposed resolutions. One can find both the Memorial to the Church and the proposed resolutions at

More here-

Thursday, May 28, 2015

St. James congregation begins search for new home

From Los Angeles-

When Bill Kroener relocated with his wife from the East Coast to Newport Beach in 2006 he had no desire to join the Anglican parish housed in a church named St. James.

As an Episcopalian, he wasn't particularly interested in the Anglican denomination, he said. However, when the church transitioned back to its Episcopal roots in 2014, he and his wife, along with their children and grandchildren, were inspired to attend services at the house of worship on Via Lido.

"It's become a very important part of our lives," he said.

Now, after spending a year at St. James the Great Episcopal Church, Kroener, along with three other parishioners, have been tasked with finding a new location for their congregation to worship.

Bishop J. Jon Bruno, of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, announced during a service earlier this month that the church is being sold to a developer. The church, at 3209 Via Lido, is in escrow to be sold to Legacy Partners for about $15 million — double the assessed value of the site, the diocese confirmed.

More here-,0,398967.story

Bishop Of Episcopal Diocese of Western Mass Completes Pilgrimage

From Western Mass-

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts is expected to cross the finish line of his 170-mile pilgrimage across his territory this afternoon.

Cars whiz by Bishop Douglas Fisher along Route 7 in southern Berkshire County on his way to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Stockbridge. Starting Sunday in North Adams, Fisher, staff in hand, will have walked 50 miles in four days when he reaches Sheffield Wednesday afternoon.

More here-

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

10 Reasons Even Committed Church Attenders Are Attending Church Less Often

From Carey Nieuwhof-

It comes up in a surprising number of conversations these days. And no one’s quite sure how to respond to it.

The issue? Even committed church attenders are attending church less often.

Sure, the trend has been happening for years (gone are the days when people attended 50 out of 52 Sundays), but the issue is reaching a tipping point in the church today.

I first wrote about this two years ago in a post called 7 Ways to Respond as People Attend Church Less Often. In the last 24 months, the conversation has come up far more often and, to many leaders, feels much more urgent.

More here-

What difference will women bishops make? Quite a lot, it seems...

From Christian Today--

A leading witch and herbalist shared a Church of England platform last night with other women religious leaders including the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church and Gogglebox tv vicar Rev Kate Bottley.

Helene Mobius, who heads the prison chaplain ministry of the Pagan Federation, challenged stereotypes of women at the event, the latest in the Westminster Faith Debates series at London's liberal flagship church, St James's Piccadilly.

The Pagan Federation and the Druid Network have recently become fully-fledged members of Britain's religious establishment, having been voted into the Inter Faith Network UK as a body representative of its community.

More here-

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Md. Episcopal Diocese Chooses Replacement For Defrocked Bishop

From NPR-


A trial is set to begin next week for a defrocked Episcopal bishop. Heather Cook faces more than a dozen charges, including manslaughter for the hit-and-run death last year of a bicyclist in Baltimore. Prosecutors say she had a blood alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit and that she was sending text messages at the time of the crash.


After the accident, it was revealed that leaders from the Diocese of Maryland knew Cook had been arrested for a previous DUI before she was hired as the assistant bishop. They failed to pass that information on to the committee that appointed her.

MONTAGNE: Now, the diocese has appointed a new assistant bishop, who is a recovering alcoholic. Chilton Knudsen has made addiction counseling a key part of her ministry. She took a break from a conference on clergy addiction to talk to us and said her selection was no accident.

More here-

Orthodox Church of Antioch: the West feigns empathy for a problem of its own making

From Levant Report-

There’s been renewed American media coverage and di
scussion of the Middle East’s Christian population as a result of Islamic State’s (ISIS) purging of Christians in Mosul. While this attention is good, the entire presentation and discussion of current threats to the region’s Christians continues to be driven by distorted assumptions, contributing to a false and dangerous narrative that will only exacerbate and prolong the persecution. This false narrative tends to assume that western countries are benevolent players in the region, standing up for the rights of native Christians and against Islamic extremism.

France’s recent declaration of amnesty and resettlement assistance for Iraqi Christians was met, in various Christian and conservative corners, with celebration and adulation. Why can’t the U.S. issue the same appeal as France? “Why not us?” …some commentators are asking. Yet this completely ignores the root of the real threat to the Middle East’s Christians. This week’s official statement by the Orthodox Church of Antioch speaks to the heart of the problem, and cuts through the false narrative:

More here-

Responses to Ireland’s Vote

From The Living Church-

An overwhelming vote for same-sex marriage in the Republic of Ireland has drawn a careful response from Church of Ireland bishops. The vote announced at Dublin Castle found 1,201,607 with 734,300 against. Voter turnout in the majority-Catholic nation was 61 percent.

The people of the republic “have of course acted fully within their rights,” said a statement from the Church of Ireland’s archbishops and bishops. “The Church of Ireland, however, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and the result of this referendum does not alter this.”

The bishops added: “The church has often existed, in history, with different views from those adopted by the state, and has sought to live with both conviction and good relationships with the civil authorities and communities in which it is set. Marriage services taking place in a Church of Ireland church, or conducted by a minister of the Church of Ireland may — in compliance with church teaching, liturgy and canon law — continue to celebrate only marriage between a man and a woman.”

More here-

How ArchBishop Chukwuma, armed thugs attacked us – MD Enugu Housing Corporation

From Nigeria-

The Managing Director of the Enugu State Housing Development Corporation, Mr. Emeka Onah, on Monday alleged that the ArchBishop of the Enugu Province, Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma led armed church members to unleash terror on government officials last Friday. DAILY POST recalls that an attempt by the Housing Corporation to clear 9 hectres of land located at the Christ Church Uwani, was met with stiff resistance by angry priests and some members of the Anglican communion. The church later accused the government officials of attacking and wounding four priests in the process. However, briefing journalists in his office, Onah said the assault was the other way round as the ArchBishop allegedly kicked off the attack by personally beating the Corporation’s Director of works, Mr. Pius Chukwunta.

More here-

Is Christianity dying out?

From Alabama-

The finding that fewer Americans are identifying as Christian raises several questions, among them, Why, and also, Does it matter?
The Pew Research Center, which did the survey that produced the findings, addresses the first question. I invite you to consider the second.

First, note that the majority of Americans still consider themselves Christian: 70.6 percent. For comparison, Canada was 66 percent in 2011, according to Pew. The 2011 census for England and Wales (I don't know why just those two) put Christian affiliation at 59 percent.

More here-

Monday, May 25, 2015

Lost boy of South Sudan to bishop: religious leader returns to refugee camps

From Australia-

He was about 11 years old when bloody war arrived on his doorstep.

Militias murdered his father and burnt down their village.

Fleeing, he was separated from his mother and siblings and then spent the next 15 days walking across the border without any food.

"I survived but a lot of people died because of hunger, a lot of people died because of wild animals," he said.

Having converted to Christianity at a young age, he spent his years in refugee camps focussing on his religion before eventually being consecrated as a bishop.

More here-

Is the UK still a Christian country?

From The BBC-

Are we losing our religion? The answer for the UK seems to be "Yes", while the answer for the developing world is a resounding "No".

That was the conclusion of a recent analysis by the Pew Research Center in the US.

It suggests that in the UK, if current trends continue, the proportion of the population identifying themselves as Christians will fall from 64% in 2010 to 45% by 2050, while the proportion of Muslims will rise from 5% to 11%.

The proportion of the population claiming no religion in the UK - the "unaffiliated" - will also rise significantly, from 28% to 39%.

Pew's research also suggests there are likely to be more Muslims than Christians in the world by 2070, with Islam's share of global population equalling that of Christianity at just above 30% each by 2050.

More here-

Anglican Archbishop begs Amaechi, Wike to resolve their differences

From Nigeria-

Archbishop of the Anglican Diocese of Niger-Delta North, Most Rev’d. Ignatius Kattey, yesterday urged the outgoing Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, and his successor, Nyesom Wike, to reconcile by settling their differences.

He stated this while delivering his sermon during a thanksgiving service to mark the beginning of the inauguration programme of the governor-elect and his deputy, Dr. Ipalibo Banigo, at St Paul’s Anglican Church, Port Harcourt.

Kattey decried the partisan position taken by some traditional rulers and clerics during the general elections, and encouraged the two leaders to begin seeing each other as brothers, stressing that, “Pastors, men of God and traditional rulers should be non-partisan. They should not take sides in politics. Amaechi and Wike are both Rivers’ persons”.

More here-

What I learnt from 46 consecutive days in church

From The BBC-

For the Lent just gone by, I resolved to go to church every day. I'm a Catholic, so it would be Mass every day for more than a month. It felt like it would be a real struggle - a penance. It turned out to be anything but. It was a rich and enriching experience - spiritually, obviously, but I was also enraptured by the churches themselves, the communities they serve, and the people with whom I shared all those Masses.

I made it extra hard for myself by undertaking to go to a different church every day, so by Easter Sunday I'd been before 46 different priests in 46 different churches in 46 days. Someone pointed out to me at around the 35-priest mark that even the Pope probably hadn't heard Mass said by so many different priests in so many different churches in such a short space of time.

More here-

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Britain still deeply divided because of Henry VIII reformation, says Cambridge prof

From The Telegraph-

Britain will never be a united nation because rifts created during the reformation, in the time of Henry VIII, are still shaping culture and politics, a Cambridge academic has claimed.

Professor Robert Tombs said that the UK was still deeply divided into left and right, which emerged from the ‘anti-establishment’ breakaway protestant groups in the North and traditional Anglican and Catholic communities in the South.

“British characteristics that we still see, which marks us quite deeply, is the division which really began with Henry VIII and the beginning of the religious divide in England,” Professor Tombs told the Hay Festival.

“It left a division which has never healed and which still marks our deep attitudes.

More here-

Gay marriage will split the Catholic Church

From The Spectator UK-

Ireland, for so long the most overtly Catholic state in Western Europe, has voted for gay marriage by a stupendous margin – 62 per cent. Never before has a country legalised the practice by popular vote.

It would be naive to ask: how could this happen? Hatred of the Church is one of the central features of modern Ireland, thanks not only to the paedophile scandals but also to the joyless quasi-Jansenist character of the Irish Church, which was handed complete control of education in the Free State after partition in 1922. (Many of its priests were outstandingly holy and charitable, but you’ll get your head bitten off if you suggest that in today’s anti-clerical republic.)

Anyway, I don’t want to focus on Ireland. Homosexuality as an issue is a greater threat to the Catholic Church worldwide than the sex abuse scandals. Here’s why:

More here-

Column: Is Christianity Moribund?

 From New Hampshire-

Several days from now, at the invitation of the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, I will head to Washington to participate in discussions about intercommunion between Episcopalians and United Methodists. Although I am new to the conversation, these two Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church and the United Methodist Church, have been engaged in these ecumenical negotiations for many years now. In light of a recent survey, however, it is difficult to escape the impression that these two once-powerful religious entities are managing decline, especially in the Twin State area.

The headlines of the Religious Landscape Study, conducted by the Pew Research Center, are striking and, for people of faith, disturbing. The percentage of Americans who identify themselves as Christians has dropped from 78.4 percent to 70.6 over the past seven years. During the same period, those who identify as atheists, agnostics or “nothing in particular” has risen from 16.1 percent to 22.8 percent. Nearly one in five Americans, 18 percent, were reared Christian but now count themselves either as “nones” or members of another religious tradition.

More here-