Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hamblin & Peterson: 'Wars of religion,' then and now

From Salt Lake-

When casual observers, or even trained experts, gaze upon the anarchy in the Middle East, they're tempted to despair. The bewildering range of ethnic groups, tribes, political factions, religions and sects — all with widely divergent and irreconcilable interests — seems overwhelming. And, despite what politicians sometimes suggest, there’s no clear — let alone easy — resolution for this complex and chaotic situation. Indeed, it’s doubtful that any policy proposed by outsiders can be ultimately successful.

Paradoxically, among the closest historical parallels to the contemporary religious and political turmoil in the Middle East are western Europe’s Catholic-Protestant wars of religion in the aftermath of the Reformation. Beginning in the 1560s, a series of wars between rival European kings and states engulfed Holland, France, Germany and England. These wars weren’t fully resolved until 1648 on the continent and 1651 in the British Isles. The most horrific was the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) in Germany that killed an estimated one-third of Germany’s population through war, famine and disease. Overall, these internecine Christian wars of religion endured nearly a century. Unfortunately, final resolution of the social, ethnic, political, economic, military and religious conflicts now ongoing in the Middle East will probably require generations as well.

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Civil Rights Hero Memorialized At Washington National Cathedral

From Huffington-

A Massachusetts seminary student who sacrificed his life for a fellow civil rights worker 50 years ago is being memorialized in limestone near the entrance of the Washington National Cathedral.

Jonathan Myrick Daniels, a lesser-known martyr in the civil rights movement, was 26 when he stepped in front of a shotgun blast meant for 17-year-old Ruby Sales in Hayneville, Ala. That selfless act, and Daniels’ brief summer of activism in Alabama, led the Episcopal Church to recognize him as a saint in 1991. An annual pilgrimage to Lowndes County is held in his honor.

Soon, an eight-inch-high likeness of Daniels will be ready for viewing by the 300,000 people from around the world who tour the National Cathedral each year. The carving, located about 11 feet off the ground at the base of an archway molding, will be part of the cathedral’s Human Rights Porch, putting Daniels in the same company as Mother Teresa and Rosa Parks.

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Episcopal bishop's opposition to same-sex marriage creates rift

From Albany-

Episcopal Bishop William Love's opposition to same-sex marriage in defiance of the recent 78th general convention of the Episcopal Church that affirmed marriage equality has roiled the Albany diocese and caused parishioners to quit the Cathedral of All Saints in protest.

In a July 18 pastoral letter in response to last month's convention and June's historic Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing nationwide rights for same-sex marriage, Love cited a Book of Common Prayer definition of marriage as a "solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman."

Love was among just seven out of more than 100 bishops across the United States who flouted the convention's stance and publicly opposed same-sex marriage.

More here-

Friday, August 7, 2015

OPINION: When Christians fear for their lives, it’s time for Jews to show solidarity

From Jewish News-

It was quite by chance that a few months ago on the eve of Yom Hashoah, I finally grabbed a moment to catch up with TV viewing and sat down to watch the BBC Panorama programme ‘Kill the Christians’.

The parallels between the persecution and wanton violence against Christians, and complete annihilation of entire historic communities at the hands of ISIS in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and the Jewish experience of persecution were obvious. Thousands of Christians are being singled out by violent extremists, simply because they are Christians.

The Pope has described the situation as “a form of genocide” and the Prince of Wales has referred to it as “an indescribable tragedy”.

In fact, Christians are the most widely persecuted minority in the world and Christians face the worst persecution in the Middle East for over 1,000 years, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Centre.

More here-

Meet the man who's in charge of leading 85 million Christians

From Christian Today-

Moments before our interview, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon missed a call from Sa'adu Abubakar, the 20th Sultan of Sokoto and spiritual leader of Nigeria's 70 million Muslims. As the new Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, a body of churches spread across more than 165 countries, the Archbishop is second-in-command only to Justin Welby, the Primate of the Communion, and is tasked with holding together an estimated 85 million Christians in unity. It's no mean task.

It might seem an odd friendship – Archbishop Josiah smiles widely as he recalls jokes shared with Abubakar and says the two "get on very well" – but will come as no surprise to those familiar with his background. Having grown up in Muslim-majority northern Nigeria with a priest for a father, Josiah became a Christian aged 14 but remained fascinated by the faith of his community. He spent a year studying Islamic civilisation at Durham University in 1976, which he says "opened my eyes to the richness in the Arab culture" and signalled the beginning of a lifelong commitment to the Muslim world.

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Liturgy and Reconciliation

From The Living Church-

Some of the church gestures and documents aimed at reconciliation after past wrongs – like those associated with Canada’s residential schools — already have the characteristics of liturgy, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, told an international gathering of specialists on liturgy on 4 August.

Hiltz suggested the church take another step and make liturgy out of them.

For example, he said, a timeline poster almost seven feet long available from the national church and detailing the evolving history of relations between the Anglican church and Indigenous peoples between 1452 and 2014 does not just tell a story.

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South Sudanese pastors freed from Khartoum prison

From The Church Times-

TWO South Sudanese priests who had been under threat of the death penalty were released from prison in Khartoum on Wednesday.

Yat Michael and Peter Reith, both from the South Sudanese Evan­gelical Presbyterian Church, faced at least six charges, including under­mining the constitutional sys­tem, espionage, promoting hatred among sects, breach of public peace, and crimes relating to insulting religious beliefs (News, 29 May). The first two offences carry the death penalty or life imprison­ment.

At a court hearing on Wednes­day, Mr Michael was convicted of inciting hatred, and Mr Reith of breaching public peace. Both were released on the basis of time already served. 

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Anglican Diocese of Melbourne launches reconciliation action plan

From Australia-

The Most Revd Dr Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne and Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, has officially launched the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

The RAP, developed in conjunction with Reconciliation Australia, is being implemented so that the diocese, along with its parishes and sector ministries, is able to coordinate key programs and initiatives aimed at changing the culture of the diocese to better embrace reconciliation. This will include advocacy and promotion of the key issues surrounding reconciliation, as well as providing practical advice and liturgical resources for parish and other ministry events.

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Attorneys hope for quick resolution in Chauncey case

From Iowa-

Attorneys involved in the case between Trinity Episcopal Church and the Iowa City Council over the site of the planned Chauncey tower say they hope the case will be resolved quickly.

On June 29, the church, located at 320 E. College St., filed a petition for writ of certiorari and asked the Sixth District Court for judicial review of the city’s June 8 vote to rezone the site at the northeast corner of College and Gilbert streets to CB-10. Local attorney Christopher Warnock, who represents the church, said a hearing scheduled for Aug. 12 is intended to set a timeline for the case, including a briefing schedule and a final hearing date.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Newcastle Anglican diocese committed to changing 'culture of fear'

From Australia-

Newcastle's Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson says he is preparing for the harsh realities that a royal commission probe into the diocese may bring.

In June this year Bishop Thompson apologised for the church's handling of abuse, noting there had been a culture of intimidation and fear.

Bishop Thompson also confirmed that the church has paid more than $4 million to abuse survivors so far.

A police strike force is currently investigating the diocese and Bishop Thompson said the royal commission is due to hold hearings in 2016.

More here-

What an Episcopal priest learned from singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

From Salt Lake City-

It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon in Boston when I stepped into the Citi Performing Arts Center to rehearse with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Because I had expressed interest in writing a piece about the famous choir, I was invited to be a “singing guest,” which meant I participated in a two-hour sound check, or a pre-performance rehearsal, to see how a choir sounds in a new space. I was given a reserved seat in the soprano section. Upon arrival, choir members helped me arrange a black folder brimful with sheet music into the correct order.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Church Of England Apologizes For Betraying Bishop Ajayi Crowther……

From Nigeria-

The Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Church of England, Justin Welby has apologised for the church’s mistreatment of Africa’s first bishop, Samuel Ajayi Crowther.

Archbishop Welby preaching at a ‘thanksgiving and repentance’ service marking the 150th anniversary of Bishop Crowther’s ordination, said: “This is a service of thanksgiving and repentance. Thanksgiving for the extraordinary life, which we commemorate [and] repentance, shame and sorrow for Anglicans who are reminded of the sin of many of their ancestors.”

“We in the Church of England need to say sorry that someone was properly and rightly consecrated Bishop and then betrayed and let down and undermined. It was wrong.”

More here-

Euphoria Is the Word - Archaeologists weren’t sure people would care about four bodies unearthed at Jamestown.

From Slate-

They had four bodies and several dozen possible names. For archaeologist Bill Kelso and historian James Horn, it felt like a high-stakes game of Clue. The mystery was set in Jamestown, Virginia, on the grounds of the first permanent English colony in America.

Jamestown is a strange place to be an archaeologist. It’s a popular tourist attraction, so vacationers stroll the grounds while researchers work. Any newfound relic, building site, or body has to be kept quiet by everyone who knows about it until researchers complete their work, and in this case, 2,000 people were in on the secret. (I was one of them.) Archaeologists there are constantly making important discoveries about American history—but the public is mostly interested in cannibalism and Pocahontas. Last week came the moment of truth: Would people care about these four mysterious bodies as much as the two men in charge of the hush-hush project wanted them to?

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Anglican Diocese of Christchurch cleared over cathedral funding breach

From New Zealand-

Christchurch's Anglican Diocese has avoided censure for incorrectly using funds from an insurance payout to help pay for the transitional cathedral.

A High Court judgment released on Wednesday said it was sufficient for the Church Property Trustees (CPT), which holds property on various trusts for the diocese, to repay the $4 million it used from the quake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral insurance payout to construct the new building near Latimer Square.

The CPT repaid the money with funds diverted from a trust account after an interim High Court judgment in 2012 said the $39m payout for the Christ Church Cathedral could only be utilised for work on the existing structure or its successor in the Square.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu Discharged From Hospital

From Bloomberg-

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu was discharged from a hospital in Cape Town Tuesday after undergoing treatment for a persistent infection, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said.

The infection was a consequence of treatment for prostate cancer that Tutu has received over the past 18 years, the foundation said in an e-mailed statement. The cancer itself was well under control, his daughter, Mpho, was cited as saying in the statement.

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Can churches lead on racial harmony?

From The Christian Century-

A low hum sweeps across the sanctuary, drifting above the bowed heads of huddled prayer groups, beyond the joined hands of black and white worshipers. Earnest whispers carry words like harmony, unity, forgiveness, and peace. Outside, a police car idles as day fades to dusk at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Less than a week earlier, nine people had been fatally shot during a Bible study class at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. But the service here on a June day was not a vigil. It is the product of a bond established months before—between mostly white Oak Mountain and the predominantly black congregation of Urban Hope Community Church.

In the aftermath of the Charleston shootings, the grace of the members of Emanuel AME showed the power of faith in promoting racial harmony under the most trying conditions. The leaders of Oak Mountain and Urban Hope Community are persuaded that, going forward, churches have a crucial role in bringing that progress to America as a whole.

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Church named after Confederate leader may change its name

From Virginia-

 Named after one of its most iconic members, R.E. Lee Memorial Church has been known under that name for 112 years. But that could soon change.

Sitting just across the street from Washington and Lee University, the 172-year-old church was named R.E. Lee Memorial Church in 1903.Robert E. Lee who was the president of then Washington College spent his Sundays worshiping as a devout episcopal member. The episcopal church however is not affiliated with the university.

More than a century later the church has hundreds of baptized members.

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Anniston Episcopal churches face decisions on same-sex marriage

From Alabama-

One night last month, 28 people circled in a room at Anniston’s Grace Episcopal Church, sharing what the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 decision to legalize same-sex marriage meant to them.

They represented the local chapter of PFLAG, the national LGBT support group. For more than 10 years, Grace Episcopal has opened its doors to the chapter. And at its monthly meeting in July, many of those gathered cried and described a feeling of validation.

Further extending that validation within Grace Episcopal, as well as other Episcopal churches across Alabama, remains an uncertain proposition.

At its General Convention at the beginning of July, the U.S. Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly to allow same-sex marriage in the church.

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Why I Am (Still) An Episcopalian

From Patheos-

I'm deeply committed to my faith, not because of what I imagine I can bring to it, but because of what it brings out in me. I am not Episcopalian because it seems to me be the only way to pursue a spiritual life, but because the Anglican tradition is the best way for a spiritual life to pursue me.

I'm not Episcopalian because I think I'm a smart person — although this tradition, which values intellectual exploration and the asking of questions makes use of my reason in ways other traditions did not. Great thinkers from Thomas Cranmer to Rowan Williams offer encouragement that I too can know God in some fashion through the use of my intellect.

I'm not Episcopalian because I'm an artistic person — although this tradition loves beauty, boasts such creators as C.S. Lewis, R.S. Thomas, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Barbara Brown Taylor, and P.D. James, and honors that side of me that creates as being a reflection of God's own creativity. I'm not seen as an anomaly in this tradition, but as someone in the mainstream of Christian imagination.

More here-

North Korea and Christianity - uneasy bedfellows

From The BBC-

There has been concern recently that Christian communities face destruction in parts of the Middle East. But there are other parts of the world where they also have extreme difficulty, with Christian groups often citing North Korea in particular.

You need to be wary of information coming out of North Korea - fellow travellers of the regime in Pyongyang see no evil.

On the other hand, some of those hostile to it have occasionally embellished tales of horror and reported rumour as fact.

So it is impossible to verify the assertion by one group of militant Christians who say that North Korean believers "aren't simply killed for their faith in Christ. They are pulverised with steamrollers, used to test biological weapons, shipped off to death camps or shot in front of children".

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Why the effort to make gay marriage sacramental won't work

From Catholic News Agency-

Dissenting Catholic groups have called for gay marriage to be recognized as a sacrament, but Catholic theology has a clear priority: marriage is God's creation – and not even the Church can change that.

Dr. John Grabowski, a professor of moral theology at Catholic University of America, said that the push for “sacramental equality” by groups such as Dignity USA shows “a lack of understanding of what the Church is and the nature of the Church and what the sacraments are.”

“'Marriage equality' made for a good slogan, but in the Church's understanding, marriage is not something that can be 'redefined'; if you will, by interest groups, by government, or even by the Church itself,” he told CNA July 29.

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Fallout from child protection law felt in Pa. churches, libraries, fields

From Western PA-

Soon after the Diocese of Greensburg started mandating that volunteers have criminal background checks and child abuse clearances, the number of people donating their time to be cooks, eucharistic ministers, even ushers, started to drop.

“What's really hard is when you lose your Sunday school teachers,” said Virginia Long, secretary at the partner parishes of St. Ambrose in Avonmore, St. Matthew in Saltsburg and St. Sylvester in Slickville, which lost a handful of volunteers and has the challenging task of trying to replace them.

Welcome to the reality of living in the post-Jerry Sandusky world.

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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Anglican Church deans from Australia and New Zealand meet in Adelaide for first ever conference

From Australia-

Anglican Church deans from across Australia and New Zealand have congregated in Adelaide for the first Australasian Deans Conference ever held in Australia.

Twenty-four dioceses are being represented at the conference, which focuses on sharing experiences and teachings from across the Anglican Church.

Dean of Adelaide, the Very Reverend Frank Nelson, said it was the first time deans from across Australasia had met in Australia.

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Episcopal panel reviewing bishop's actions in St. James church sale, closure

From Los Angeles-

A three-bishop panel with the national Episcopal Church will review Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno's actions related to his plan to sell St. James the Great Episcopal Church in Newport Beach.

Members of the St. James congregation sent a complaint, known as a presentment, to the national Episcopal Church in New York City in early July alleging that Bruno violated church doctrine in May after he put the St. James property, at 3209 Via Lido, up for sale to a developer and locked out the congregation.

The complaint alleges "violations of the vows of ordination," including dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, and that Bruno participated in "conduct unbecoming to a bishop," according to a news release from the congregation.

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