Saturday, August 22, 2015

Former Nigerian Maximum Ruler, Abacha, Handed Millions To Anglican Church Leaders, Exclusive Documents Reveal

From Nigeria-

Documents exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters reveals that former military ruler,  Sani Abacha, gave millions of dollars in public funds to leaders of the Anglican Church of Nigeria during his brutal reign.

Mr. Abacha's regime was marked by draconian decrees, the incarceration or hanging of dissidents, most famously Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Ogoni 8, as well as massive corruption.

Before his death in November 1998, Mr. Abacha had squandered hundreds of millions of dollars to buy political support for his plan to succeed himself as a civilian president.

The documents obtained by SaharaReporters reveal that Sani Abacha approved $5 million to fund the leaders of the Anglican Church of Nigeria on a trip to the 1998 Lambeth Conference in London. The Lambeth Conference is a gathering of Anglican leaders from around the world that takes place every ten years.

The documents reveal that more than  $1 million of the fund was delivered specifically to Peter Akinola, the then Anglican Archbishop of Abuja.

More here-

Elite New Hampshire prep school probes campus ‘hookup’ culture amid rape case involving teen students

From The NY Daily News-

A New Hampshire prep school that has educated some of the nation's elite for more than a century and a half is confronting a campus practice of sexual conquest after a senior was charged with raping a 15-year-old freshman girl.

In a series of letters over the past year to students, parents and alumni, St. Paul's School Rector Michael Hirschfeld candidly acknowledged the sexual assault charges and vowed to re-examine campus culture to see how a practice known as "Senior Salute" had been allowed to develop.

"While the allegation and the people it involves will not be a topic of conversation at the school, the broader issues it raises — the use of social media to perpetuate unhealthy relationships, the 'hookup' culture and unsanctioned student 'traditions' — will be," Hirschfeld wrote on Aug. 7, 2014, a month after Owen Labrie was charged with rape and other felonies.

More here-

also here-

The Ancient Spanish Monastery Is A North Miami Beach Gem That You Have To Visit

From Miami-

Secluded within the groves surrounding West Dixie Highway lies a Florida Heritage site you may not have heard of – the Ancient Spanish Monastery.

A North Miami Beach relic, it boasts historic structures containing Romanesque and pre-Gothic architecture. Stretching from as far back as the 12th century, conserved artifacts take visitors into the life of medieval monks in northern Spain. But how this wonder ended up in Miami is a long story

Here’s the condensed version:

–   From 1133 to 1141 AD, the monastery and cloisters were constructed in Sacramenia, a city in the province of Segovia, Spain. Originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it was renamed to recognize its renowned abbot Bernard of Clairvaux after his canonization.

More here-

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church closes

From Michigan-

The name is off the building at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 3201 Gratiot Ave., Port Huron.

The last Episcopalian service at the church was Aug. 9.

“We are closed,” said the Rev. Bob Diehl. He and the Rev. Shirley Seely were the two priests at St. Paul’s. “Our ecclesiastical corporation will be dissolved Aug. 9, which was the day of our last service there.”

The building, however, won’t remain empty. It was sold to Restoration Christian Community Church, which had been at 2625 Moak St., Port Huron.

“The sale of the building was finalized on July 16,” Diehl said. “They’ve had the building legally, but they have been helpful with us in terms of moving out.”

More here-

Friday, August 21, 2015

Onward Christian soldiers

From The Tablet-

Seventy years on, it may be hard to imagine the Second World War as a religious conflict. Yet at the time it was defined as the ultimate struggle for the Church’s survival
Wednesday 2 September will mark the seventieth anniversary of the formal surrender of Japan, and with it the end of the most destructive war in history. The Second World War resulted in the deaths of more than 55 million people, most of them civilians; it triggered the Holocaust, laid waste vast swathes of Europe and Asia, and saw the advent of nuclear weapons.

But for all its significance it remains poorly understood, not least in Great Britain. Here, perceptions of the conflict are largely governed by a complacent national mythology that still has an unsettling resonance among English football fans (“Where were you in World War Two?”, as Chelsea fans chanted on the Paris Metro last February).

More here-

Churches Have Lost the Way

From Namibia-

The old Evangelical, Catholic and Anglican churches have not only been losing ardent followers in Namibia, where they have dominated for more than a century, but they are also failing to take the lead on moral guidance as they did almost unchallenged for decades. They have only themselves to blame.

Consider the latest reports emanating from Okaku, a village west of Ondangwa, where a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (Elcin) is accused of locking a cemetery in order to block the funeral of a 115-year-old man, because he belonged to the Roman Catholic faith.

Pastor Nehemia Sheefeni argued that he forbade the burial in a grave that had already been dug for Benediktus Shikwamanga, because his family failed to wait for the reverend to give explicit approval since non-Lutherans must follow a more long-winded procedure.

Pastor Sheefeni put two padlocks on the gate just to make sure the deceased would not be laid to rest in what he insists is a Lutheran cemetery.

More here-

Bishops hang on to hope in ‘shameful’ South Sudan

From The Church Times-

THE Bishop of Maridi, South Sudan, the Rt Revd Justin Badi, has no doubt about the cause of the "hopeless and shameful" situation in which his countrymen find themselves.

"All the bad things are the products of the devil, whose aim is always to divide, destroy, and uplift self-will," he says.

Reading the accounts of the horror that stalks Unity state, it is hard not to conclude that something hellish has taken hold. Fighting flared up in the state in April when government forces (the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, SPLA), aided by militias, attacked villages from three fronts.

Aid workers from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) managed to interview 115 victims and witnesses.

More here-

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Why The Pope Matters

From Huffington-

An estimated 1.5 million people are expected to join Pope Francis on September 27 for a celebration of the Mass at the culmination of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. The massive gathering, plus the pope’s participation in the Festival of Families the day before, which is expected to draw close to 750,000 people, has led to the coining of the term “Popeapocalypse”.

Universities are closing, pilgrims are staking sleeping plots in the Philadelphia Zoo, the mass transit system is holding a lottery for train tickets and women expecting to give birth in the area are looking at traveling to other cities -- all in anticipation of Pope Francis's visit.

There is no other religious, entertainment or political leader alive today who could garner anywhere near the kind of response inspired by the pope -- a fact that leaves some people scratching their heads and wondering: why? 

More here-

Episcopal Cathedral in Erie raising money for Homeless Jesus

From Erie-

The Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul in Erie is trying to raise $50,000 to pay for and install a Homeless Jesus statue near the church.

The Rev. John Downey, the cathedral's dean, tells the Erie Times-News ( ) that the statue combines issues of faith and social concerns.
The statue by Ontario sculptor Timothy Schmalz shows Jesus under a blanket on a park bench. The bench has room enough at the end for one person to sit.

Chris Tombaugh, who chairs the Home Team for Erie County, says she thinks the statue is "awesome" and will help call attention to homelessness in Erie County. The group is a coalition of agencies that fight homelessness.

More here-

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Alleged NH Prep School Rape Victim Takes the Stand

From ABC (with video)-

The alleged victim took the stand this afternoon after opening arguments in the rape case involving an elite New Hampshire prep school that has raised questions about the campus culture.

The teen, who is not being named because of her age and the nature of the alleged crime, told the court that she and defendant Owen Labrie were not friends and that she was 15 at the time of the incident last year, The Associated Press reported.

Labrie, 19, of Tunbridge, Vermont, is a graduate of St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire. He is accused of raping the girl on campus on May 30, 2014, days before he graduated.

More here-

Near bustling Harvard Square, monks provide silent sanctuary

From Boston (via San Francisco)-

Just blocks away from the bustling heart of this city, a community of monks offers a silent escape from it.

The Society of Saint John the Evangelist, an order of Episcopal brothers, has kept a guesthouse at its monastery for decades to give outsiders a place to unplug and relax in a place of deep, serene quiet.

Behind the stone walls, idle chatter is taboo. Cellphone calls are to be taken outside, or not at all. Signs posted throughout the house ask guests to respect the quiet.

It all acts as a counterweight to the hurry-scurry of Harvard Square around the corner, where crowds of tourists jostle with Ivy League academics amid the clamor of street performers, vendors and the thrum of traffic.

More here-

Leader at Washington National Cathedral Steps Down

From The New York Times-

 The Very Rev. Gary Hall, the dean of Washington National Cathedral, announced on Tuesday that he would step down at year’s end to make way for a younger leader who can help guide the century-old Episcopal church as it tries to overcome financial and demographic challenges.

Mr. Hall, 66, said that given the mandatory retirement age of 72 in the Episcopal Church, he had come to realize that he would not be able to guide the cathedral through what he and others expect to be a long and difficult quest for sustainability.

The news came as cathedral leaders were preparing to begin a capital campaign in the coming years that they hope will raise around $200 million. The leaders want to complete repairs of damage caused by a 2011 earthquake and stabilize the cathedral’s finances as it tries to appeal to a younger, broader base of potential congregants.

More here-

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Did Secret Agent Priest Infiltrate Jamestown Colony?

From VOA-

Skeletal remains unearthed at Jamestown suggest the first permanent English settlement in the Americas might have been infiltrated by an undercover priest working to undermine the English on behalf of Spain.

The remains of explorer Captain Gabriel Archer, 34, were found along with those of three other men; all four are thought to have been prominent leaders in the early colony.

The remains were discovered among the ruins of a structure thought to be the first Protestant church built in the New World. In unearthing the remains, Jamestown researchers also uncovered evidence there might have been more to the expeditionary leader than previously thought.

More here-

South Africa's Tutu in hospital to treat inflammation

From South Africa-

South African anti-apartheid campaigner and veteran cleric Desmond Tutu has been admitted to hospital due to "inflammation", his daughter said on Tuesday, the second time in a month the 83-year-old has needed medical treatment.

Tutu was released from hospital earlier this month after being treated for a recurring infection related to the prostate cancer he has been fighting for 18 years.

More here-

Sordid sexual tradition alleged at elite prep school

From CBS-

St. Paul's School boasts a glittering roster of alumni that includes senators, congressmen, a Nobel laureate and the current secretary of state. The elite prep school also allegedly has a sordid tradition of sexual conquest in which boys about to graduate attempt to "score" with younger female students.

Details of a practice authorities say was called the "Senior Salute" were spelled out in stark terms by a former prefect at the New Hampshire school who is charged with raping a 15-year-old girl on the roof of a campus building in May 2014.

More here-

Should churches change open-door policy for security's sake? Leaders express doubts

From Christian Today-

Two months after the deadly church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, that claimed the lives of nine members of the church, including its pastor, Christian churches in the US are considering whether to change their open-door policy for all.

The tradition is for all churches to welcome those who want to pray, join a Bible study or Sunday services as what has been practiced since the first African Methodical Episcopal church opened in 1787, according to a USA Today report.

More here-

Monday, August 17, 2015

Archbishop Welby praises 'ongoing project of reconciliation' on VJ Day

From Anglican News-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, sent a message to the service of friendship and reconciliation at Canterbury Cathedral [yesterday] marking the 70th anniversary of Victory in Japan Day.

Veterans were joined by many Japanese and British promoters of reconciliation for the dedicated Evensong service, which has been held annually since 2005.

The service, which alternates each year between Canterbury and Coventry cathedrals, is organised by the International Friendship and Reconciliation Trust, which was formed five years ago by veterans of the Burma Campaign.

More here-

As rape trial begins, elite St. Paul’s school in N.H. faces sordid ‘sexual scoring’ scrutiny

From The Washington Post-

He was a senior and she was 15 when he allegedly raped her on the roof of a school building last spring. At the elite St. Paul’s School in Concord, N.H., which boasts a century and a half of famous alumni and a vast, bucolic campus that would put many colleges to shame, this was a different, sordid kind of tradition.

It was called the “senior salute,” Owen Labrie told Concord police, according to the Associated Press. Before they graduate, senior men at St. Paul’s competed to sleep with as many younger students as possible. “Score” was kept in permanent marker on a wall behind the washing machines, then, after the school kept painting over it, in an online forum.

More here-

Keene's Episcopal youth make Alabama pilgrimage to honor civil rights martyr

Jonathan Daniels  50th roundup-

Last week, Right Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, bishop of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire, joined the St. James Episcopal Church of Keene’s youth group on a pilgrimage to Hayneville, Ala., where Keene civil rights activist Jonathan Daniels was killed 50 years ago.

Daniels is a martyr in the Episcopal Church. He was killed on Aug. 20, 1965, at the height of the civil rights movement.

Keene NH


Washington Post




Religious involvement good for 'sustained happiness,' study says

From The Washington Post (via Pittsburgh)

A study suggests that joining a religious group could do more for someone's “sustained happiness” than other forms of social participation, such as volunteering, playing sports or taking a class.

A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that the secret to sustained happiness lies in participation in religion.

“The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life,” Mauricio Avendano, an epidemiologist at LSE and an author of the study, said in a statement. “It is not clear to us how much this is about religion per se, or whether it may be about the sense of belonging and not being socially isolated.”

More here-

Sunday, August 16, 2015


From Inwardly Digest-

Last week an article circulated online entitled “10 things I wish everyone knew about the Episcopal Church.” You can read it here. The author had been asked to write an article explaining the Episcopal Church briefly to those from outside the tradition. While I don’t agree with everything in the article, I do think it serves to dispel some popular misperceptions about our church. Still, as I thought about the ten things listed, I began to wonder if we as clergy might be responsible for many of the misperceptions people have about our church (I think we are). So here is my alternate list of 10 things I wish every Episcopal priest knew about the Episcopal Church:

We don’t need to be ashamed of our English heritage.
It’s no secret I am a proud Anglo-phile. I loved Downton Abbey. I loved the Vicar of Dibley. But the British show that I loved most of all is Call the Midwife, specifically because Call the Midwife portrayed the true story of how a group of Anglican nuns ministered the gospel in one of London’s poorest neighborhoods.

 More here-