Saturday, June 20, 2015

How Pope Francis Is Reclaiming the Meaning of ‘Pro-Life’

From New York Magazine-

Over the last week, news writers have been calling Pope Francis’s new encyclical on the environment a "pro-life" document because the pope himself equates lack of concern for the future of the Earth with a disregard for “the unborn.” If you say you care about life, he’s saying, you have to care about all life — including both the most microscopic of fetuses and the world in which they may one day live. “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion,” he writes.

This argument may excite some liberals (seeing the same rhetorical tool with which you’ve been bludgeoned turned against your opponents) and confuse others: What, really, does the term “pro-life,” even mean? Where did it come from and what values does it reflect?

More here-

Camp McDowell dedicates $10.5 milllion expansion

From Alabama-

The Episcopal Church dedicates the new Bethany Village at Camp McDowell on Saturday: a $10.5 million eco-friendly, handicapped accessible expansion of the Diocese of Alabama's camp and conference center.

The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will help lead a special service of dedication and blessing beginning at 10 a.m., June 20.

The 1,140-acre Camp McDowell in Winston County is at the southern edge of the Bankhead National Forest between Double Springs and Jasper on Highway 195.

While many church camps around the country are struggling, McDowell has for years been bursting at the seams.  Its facilities have been operating at capacity, with waiting lists. "The expansion will enable us to better serve Alabamians and their neighbors regardless of their religious affiliation," said Bishop Kee Sloan, head of the Diocese of Alabama.

More here-

Friday, June 19, 2015

South Africa: Anglican Environmental Network Chair Welcomes Papal Climate Encyclical

From All Africa-

People of faith need to focus on the moral and spiritual elements of the crisis brought about by rapid climate change, Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba, chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said today in response to Pope Francis's encyclical on the issue.

In a statement issued from Cape Town, the Archbishop said:

"I would like to thank Pope Francis for this historic, ground-breaking letter. I look forward to studying it in more detail.

"Across Africa and in other developing countries, we are already suffering the impacts of climate change, and the people hit hardest by severe droughts or storms are in our most vulnerable communities.

More here-
From Utah (Since when is the House of Deputies the "lower house"?)

As Episcopal Church leaders prepare to elect a new presiding bishop and vote on a "special liturgy" for same-sex marriage ceremonies and organizational changes to the 1.8 million-member denomination, not all are in agreement over the health and future of one of the nation's oldest Christian faiths.

Some understandable soul-searching has taken place in the wake of the church losing half its membership since 1966, 12 percent in the past nine years alone. The denomination's progressive stances are blamed for much of the exodus by conservatives, while other clergy say the church is going through needed "pruning" as it becomes more inclusive to reflect today's society.

The Rev. W. Frank Allen of Radnor, Pennsylvania, is one of 800 lower-house delegates coming to Salt Lake City for the movement's triennial General Convention beginning Monday. He is pleased the denomination accommodates a diverse following of worshippers.

More here-

Episcopal Church's General Convention to elect new US Primate

From The Church Times (England)

THE Episcopal Church's triennial General Convention will gather in Salt Lake City next week; and among their business will be the election of a new Presiding Bishop to succeed Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female Primate in the Anglican Communion. Her nine-year term of office concludes on 31 October.

The four nominees to be considered by the Convention are: the Bishop of Southern Ohio, the Rt Revd Thomas Breidenthal; the Bishop of North Carolina, the Rt Revd Michael Curry; the Bishop of Connecticut, Dr Ian Douglas; and the Bishop of Southwest Florida, the Rt Revd Dabney Smith.

The four candidates will be presented to the General Convention next week, on Wednesday afternoon, and the vote itself will take place on 27 June, by the House of Bishops, at St Mark's Cathedral in Salt Lake City, before being confirmed by the House of Deputies.

More here-

Episcopal bishops to lead anti-gun violence march in Salt Lake City

From Utah-

The effort started with four Episcopal bishops who wanted to focus the attention of their church and the broader public on the issue of gun violence.

A short time later, 20-year-old Adam Lanza opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut on Dec. 14, 2012, killing 20 schoolchildren and six staff members, along with his mother and himself.

"Within two weeks, we had 25 to 30 bishops who wanted be a part of this, this was in 2013. Since then, we've grown to 60 bishops," said the Rt. Rev. Mark Beckwith, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, N.J., a founder of Bishops United Against Gun Violence.

More here-

Henry Louis Gates: If Clementa Pinckney Had Lived

From The New York Times-

I have no doubt that had the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney lived, he would have become known — and celebrated — across our country for his leadership, rather than sealed immortally in tragedy, one more black martyr in a line stretching back to the more than 800 slave voyages that ended at Charleston Harbor.

I know this because I filmed a long interview with Mr. Pinckney — who was killed in his church in Charleston, S.C., along with eight congregants on Wednesday evening — for a PBS documentary series three years ago. It was clear that there was a reason this young man had been called to preach at 13, to minister at 18, to serve in the State Legislature at 23, and to shepherd one of America’s most historic black churches at 26, reminding us of other prodigies — and martyrs — for whom the Good Book has served as a bedrock of public service. He was 41 when he died.

More here-

Decision 2015 and the work of the Church

From The Living Church-

This June a major decision will be made. Someone will be chosen to lead, and the effects of that choice will ripple outwards for years. This new leader will form disciples, teach a new generation of Christians, model charity and servanthood, strengthen relationships within the church, and open doors to those outside our walls. This new ministry will be challenging: the leader we chose will have to work with different constituencies, build consensus, teach and learn at the same time, and bathe daily tasks in prayer. In the end, we trust and hope that this chosen leader will bring a new season of vitality and growth.

More here-

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Where Christianity Ends

From The New York Times-

Last week I wrote a post on Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and American religion in which I channeled Harold Bloom (via Will Wilkinson) and talked a bit about the Americanization of Christianity: What it means, whether it’s irresistible, and at what point in the process we should stop talking about American faith in terms of Christian heresy (my preferred terminology) and start talking about a new religion altogether.

One of my frequent interlocutors on these issues, Damon Linker, took up the thread and suggested that I (along with other would-be “orthodox” Christians) are trying to impose a level of coherence, consistency and theological stability on Christianity that the faith’s history does not really support. Notwithstanding the best efforts of popes, theologians and ecumenical councils, he argues, Christian belief has proven the most protean of ideas, flourishing in all sorts of forms and contexts and cultures and constantly revising itself — institutionally, morally, theologically — as necessary to meet its new adherents’ needs. And then, too, he suggests, the subversive message of the gospels has a logic all its own, pointing inexorably toward a radical egalitarianism and individualism that no hierarchy, even one that’s trying to uphold the New Testament’s own moral prohibitions, can successfully resist. Combine those two points, and you have Linker’s concluding question: “What if the ‘Americanization of Christianity’ is no less legitimate — no less a plausible transformation of the gospel message — than the Romanization of Christianity that took place in the centuries immediately following Christ’s death, establishing the Catholic Church’s ecclesiastical authority in the first place?”

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury 'passed the buck over gay priest's wedding'

From The Guardian-

A bishop has been asked if the “hot potato” issue of a clergyman marrying his partner in a same-sex marriage was delegated by the archbishop of Canterbury, to avoid a Church of England split.

Former acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham Richard Inwood was asked if the Most Rev Justin Welby decided “to leave it (the issue) alone, politically,” in allowing individual bishops to handle such a breach of the church’s rule as they saw fit.

The bishop replied: “To paraphrase the TV programme [House of Cards], you may say that, but I couldn’t possibly comment.” Inwood was speaking at an employment tribunal for Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who has made a claim for discrimination against the bishop.

More here-

Convention challenged to expand global missionary opportunities

From ENS-

Crossing cultural boundaries, building partnerships, and engaging God’s mission locally and globally are at the very heart of The Episcopal Church’s missionary program.

The 78th General Convention, meeting June 25-July 3 in Salt Lake City, Utah, will be asked in two proposed resolutions to commit to its ongoing support and development of the Episcopal Church’s Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) and Episcopal Volunteers in Mission (EVIM) programs.

Through these programs, hundreds of Episcopal missionaries have chosen to embrace a life-changing experience of walking alongside a community often far removed – both geographically and culturally – from their own.

More here-

Parishes had right to leave Episcopal Church, state Supreme Court filing contends

From South Carolina-

Parishes that left The Episcopal Church in 2012 have filed written arguments with the state Supreme Court contending they have the right to depart and take their properties and the diocesan identity with them.

It marks the last major chance to sway the court in writing. The justices will hear arguments Sept. 23.

The protracted legal battle began when two-thirds of parishes in the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and Bishop Mark Lawrence left the national church in 2012 after years of dispute over doctrine and administrative powers.

More here-

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Bishop’s rant on summer church slobs: ‘Sacred space or airport terminal?’

From RNS-

So are you by chance a hairy, manspreading slob? Or a woman who dresses way too young for her actual age? Or one of those “hyperactive gum-chewing kids with messy hair and dirty hands, checking their iPhones and annoying everyone within earshot or eyesight”?

Then you may want to reconsider your summertime churchgoing shtick.

Or at least check to see who is celebrating Mass if you are heading to a parish in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.

In an instantly quotable column published last week, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island took on one of the clergy’s long-standing laments and launched an impressive broadside against “the sloppy and even offensive way people dress while attending Mass” in the summertime.

More here-

Greener than thou! Welby trumps Pope in climate crusade by releasing statement on issue saying it has hurt the poor of the world

From The Daily Mail-

The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday launched a crusade against climate change – two days before the Pope.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby issued a green declaration signed by British faith leaders, which asserted that climate change has hurt the poor of the world.

The Anglican statement called on people of all faiths to ‘recognise the urgency of the tasks involved in making the transition to the low carbon economy’ and demanded that national leaders make laws to ‘limit the global rise in average temperatures to a maximum of two degrees celsius’.

Pope Francis’s teaching document is due to be officially released tomorrow, but it has already been widely discussed.

More here-

Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson apologises for church's handling of child abuse

From Australia-

Newcastle's Anglican Bishop has fought back tears while apologising for past church cover-ups and the poor handling of complaints about child sexual abuse.

Greg Thompson marked 500 days in the position by saying sorry for "the terrible harm done [by] a culture of not listening".

"If you are a victim or a survivor of abuse I want to encourage you to come forward," he said.

"I want to assure you that when you do share your story the church will believe you and you will be supported in that process.

"I know that as a diocese in the past we failed some victims and survivors of sexual abuse.

More here-

Pope latest to frame climate change as moral issue; religious leaders see urgency

From New Jersey-

Growing numbers of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists in New Jersey are concluding that climate change is a moral issue and that their faiths require them to take action to stem the impact of droughts, floods and sea-level rise.

They are trying to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, getting rid of investments in companies that pollute, and doing whatever they can in both their houses of worship and in their homes to be better caretakers of the earth.

Religious leaders say they have been spurred by an upcoming United Nations conference on the issue in Paris, and Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, which the Vatican will release Thursday.

More here-

Egypt: Participants Affirm Dialogue Between Al-Azhar and the Episcopal Church

From All Africa (Egypt)

Dialogue sessions between Al-Azhar and the Episcopal Church, began last Wednesday in Lambeth Palace in London and were attended by Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar al Sharif at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury in the United Kingdom.

Sheikh Mohii El Din Afifi, Ambassador Abd El Rahman Musa and Dr. Nasir Abdel Dayem participated in the meetings and the Most Revd Dr Mouneer Hanna Anis, Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, and the Revd Mark Poulsen represented the Episcopal Church.

Participants affirmed that the dialogue between Al Azhar and the Episcopal Church has become an urgent need, especially in light of the violence, conflicts and terrorist events happening in the name of religion. The Grand Imam stated that it is unacceptable to judge religions by the terrorist and criminal acts carried out by some of the followers of these religions.

More here-

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Episcopal Church makes settlement offer to let parishes take $500 million in property

From South Carolina (several links)-

The Episcopal Church and its local diocese have pitched a settlement offer that would allow 35 parishes that defected in 2012 to take roughly $500 million in church properties with them in a bid to end the long-running ecclesiastical split that has reached the state Supreme Court.

The parishes haven’t formally responded, but a high-ranking cleric said the olive branch will not be accepted. “It was unanimously rejected by all the parties to the litigation,” the Rev. Jim Lewis said.

The offer to end a protracted legal battle would include some of Charleston’s most historic colonial parishes: St. Philip’s and St. Michael’s churches in downtown Charleston, Old St. Andrew’s in West Ashley and Christ Church in Mount Pleasant.

More here-

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Archbishop of Canterbury marks 800th anniversary of Magna Carta

From Anglican News-

 The Archbishop of Canterbury today [15 June] attended the Magna Carta 800th anniversary celebration at Runnymede in Berkshire.

Speaking at the celebrations, which were led by The Queen and attended by senior members of the Royal family, and parliamentarians led by prime minister David Cameron, the Archbishop said:

"Archbishop Stephen Langton was mediator between the King and his barons, counsellor to both, and an advocate of civil harmony, cohesion and goodwill. His great legacy was this remarkable document, the spring from which so much of the human quest for political liberty has drawn, here and abroad, especially in the United States of America.

More here-

Anglican Church of Canada apologizes for keeping priest's sexual abuse quiet

From Canada-

The Anglican Church of Canada expressed regret on Monday for the "immoral sexual behaviour" of one of its priests and apologized for not publicly disclosing a confession made two decades ago by the B.C.-based priest, who admitted to sexually abusing parishioners.

Gordon Nakayama's case was never reported to the police, but his story was the inspiration for The Rain Ascends, a novel by well-known Canadian author Joy Kogawa who is also the priest's daughter.

The former priest ministered to the Japanese-Canadian community in B.C. and Alberta. During the Second World War, he followed his Japanese-Canadian parishioners from Vancouver to their internment camps.

More here-

Monday, June 15, 2015

Happy funerals: A celebration of life?

From The BBC-

It may be the only thing that's inevitable in life. But death is changing. Now it's a time to be joyful.

Instead of looking ahead to the afterlife, British funerals increasingly rejoice in memories of the deceased's triumphs, relationships and their favourite songs. There's a phrase for ceremonies like this - "a celebration of life".

The tone is happy rather than mournful, celebratory instead of sombre. Wearing black is commonly discouraged. You're more likely to hear Monty Python's Always Look On The Bright Side of Life - according to a 2014 survey, the most popular song played at UK funerals - than Verdi's Requiem.

More here-

Gympie Anglican church against same-sex boycott

From Australia-

GYMPIE'S Anglican church has distanced itself from a church official who backs potentially illegal boycotts of same sex marriages.

"He is not speaking on behalf of the Anglican Parish of Gympie," Reverend Andrew Cooper said.

Rev Cooper said there was great diversity of opinion within his congregations, and Christians needed to make a thoughtful conscience-based decision.

He was responding to a fellow minister's claim that the church should support even illegal boycotts by members who might refuse to provide services for same-sex marriages.

GYMPIE Rector Andrew Cooper yesterday said he would not support anyone telling Anglicans to break the law by refusing to serve gay clients.

Christian ethics activist and Melbourne minister Gordon Preece has called for the church to recognise the rights of people who may not wish to support or provide services to same-sex weddings.

More here-

Scottish Episcopal Church moves towards marrying same-sex couples

From Ekklesia-

The Scottish Episcopal Church has taken a major step towards letting same-sex couples marry in church. However the process of change will take at least two years. If and when final approval is given, priests will be allowed – but not required – to celebrate weddings between same-sex partners.

The General Synod voted to ask the Faith and Order Board to look at revising the church’s rules on marriage. An overwhelming majority backed the resolution.

“That would also allow our clergy to enter into same-sex marriages,” said David Chillingworth, the Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, and Primus (chief bishop) of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

In recent years, several denominations have taken on board the strength of the theological case for opening up marriage to same-sex couples. Several other members of the Anglican Communion, a worldwide family of churches, are already re-examining their teaching and practice. Some however are strongly opposed.

More here-

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Christianity struggles as nonbelievers grow

From Central NY-

The U.S. is in the midst of a religious transition, and Central New York is no exception to these changes.

The Pew Research Center recently released a report, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” that highlights the changes in religious populations across the nation.

The report’s main focus is that the Christian population is declining while those who are religiously unaffiliated are growing.

More than 35,000 U.S. adults were surveyed in 2014, and the results were compared to a similar Pew survey in 2007.

“(The report) doesn’t say anything new, nothing that we didn’t already know,” said Bishop Gladstone Adams of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, a mainline Protestant organization.


More here-

Camp gives children of incarcerated a chance to thrive

From Northern Indiana-

A childhood with one or both parents serving time behind bars is a life-altering experience at an early age.

When Charlotte Strowhorn, of Gary, first heard the idea of a summer camp providing not only escape, but also spiritual, educational and inspiration focus for children of parents in prison, she made it her own personal mission.

“This annual camp opportunity was something needed in Northwest Indiana,” Strowhorn said.

“I needed help and support, so I turned to my own faith and foundation in my church community to make this camp a reality.”

Strowhorn, a member of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Indiana, asked the Right Rev. Edward S. Little II, bishop for the 36 episcopal churches in Northern Indiana, for help and guidance, and in 2006, she founded Camp New Happenings.

More here-