Saturday, October 31, 2015

Union of Black Episcopalians begins vigil for Curry and the church

From ENS-

During hours between the Oct. 31 Vigil Celebration, hosted by the Union of Black Episcopalians, and the time when Diocese of North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry is formally installed as presiding bishop and primate on Nov. 1, he and The Episcopal Church are being held in a traditional African-American prayer watch.

The prayers began during UBE’s rollicking and moving three-hour Eucharist at the D.C. Armory and will be continued hourly by members of the National UBE Weekly Prayer Fellowship and volunteers from the Washington National Cathedral’s Prayer and Pilgrimage Center. They will be praying for the church, its mission and its lay and ordained leadership.

At midnight Nov. 1, Curry, 62, officially will become the first person of color to hold the position of presiding bishop and primate. He will be The Episcopal Church’s 27th presiding bishop and its primate.

More here-

Retired rector from Alexandria: church dysfunctional

From Virginia-

The church in America is in trouble.

That's the message of the Rev. Polk Culpepper, a 67-year-old native of Alexandria and retired Episcopal priest from North Carolina, in his new book, "Decline and Dysfunction in the American Church."

"The last 50 years have witnessed an unprecedented decline in membership, financial resources, respect, cultural influence and ministry," he writes.

Many charts and stories of trends in large U.S. church membership generally support his claim, although there are some exceptions. The Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's second-largest Christian body, along with most mainline Protestant denominations, reported declining membership in 2010, according to figures released by the National Council of Churches.

More here-

Sustainable sanctuary: Church breaks ground on earth-friendly building

From Kentucky-

The sound of bagpipes could be heard from the road as St. Andrews Episcopal Church concluded its groundbreaking ceremony Sunday to celebrate the start of construction on a new church building based on principles of sustainability.

Ed Hatchett, treasurer of St. Andrews, said the church had the ambition to build a new facility for its mission work for many years. He said the current building’s space is preventing the congregation from growing. The new building will be multipurpose, offering space for various community groups to meet.

More here-

Friday, October 30, 2015

Video: Jefferts Schori reflects on nine-year term as Presiding Bishop

From ENS- (with video)

In a 10-minute video interview with the Episcopal News Service, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori reflects on her nine-year term in office that began Nov. 1, 2006. She discusses her vision of the reign of God on earth, her hopes for The Episcopal Church, what it has been like to be the first woman to hold the office of presiding bishop and primate, how she has been inspired and where she has found solace.

More here-

Breaching seal of confession won’t stop abuse, says Forward in Faith

From The Church Times-

ANY attempt to allow priests to breach the confidentiality of sacramental confession would be wrong, and could lead to priests’ being imprisoned, the traditional Catholic organisation Forward in Faith (FiF) has warned.

FiF’s formal submission to a Church of England working party on the seal of the confessional urges the House of Bishops, the Archbishops’ Council, and the General Synod not to remove the ban on revealing what has been said in confession.

In the sacrament of reconciliation, or penance, a priest is obliged never to disclose what is confessed by a penitent. Canon 113 of the Code of 1603 expresses this, but, the FiF submission says: “The obligation was not created by Canon 113 . . . The Seal is intrinsic to the sacrament.”

More here-

Bishops respond to authorized lay ministry

From Canada-

When the House of Bishops met in Niagara Falls, Ont., in mid-October, one of the first items on the agenda was the policy of authorized lay ministry adopted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) during its National Convention this summer.

Sometimes called “lay presidency,” authorized lay ministry is a dispensation by which—in extraordinary circumstances—lay people can preside over services of the eucharist. While it can hardly be considered part of standard Lutheran practice, the convention voted in July to allow it in heavily circumscribed circumstances.

In an interview with the Anglican Journal, ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson said that the measures were brought in to meet a serious need.

More here-

Pope gets signed cricket bat after Anglican-Vatican rematch

From Boston-

Pope Francis has received an unusual gift aimed at boosting relations between the Catholic and Anglican churches: A cricket bat signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his team following their recent rematch with the Vatican's XI on Rome's Campanelle grounds.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, a former rugby player who nevertheless knows cricket, gave Francis the bat Thursday after the St. Peter's Cricket Club beat the Church of England's XI by 43 runs in a 20-over match this weekend.

More here

Thistle Farms founder is proving ‘love heals

From Columbus-

Anika Rogers had been arrested 87 times.  

Her life story was typical of other women in her shoes: She was sexually abused from ages 5 to 12, a runaway at 15, eventually homeless, and she carried a heavy load of drug, prostitution and related convictions.   

But after she walked out of jail and through the doors of Thistle Farms in Nashville, she learned that she was much more than just a statistic.  

She was a strong, vital part of a community. And she had a voice.

“They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself,” Rogers said. “And they were able to love on me when I couldn’t love myself.”

The Rev. Becca Stevens, founder of Thistle Farms, will visit Columbus next week to share the story of Rogers and other remarkable survivors.

More here-

Former Episcopal bishop Heather Cook is off to prison, but who took the financial fall?

From Get Religion-

It certainly appears, at this point, that the sad drama of former Maryland Episcopal bishop Heather Cook is over, at least the public part of this tragedy. She has been sentenced to seven years in prison for killing cyclist Thomas Palermo in a crash in which she was driving while drunk and distracted by the act of texting on her smartphone.

The Baltimore Sun report on the sentencing opens with gripping personal material about Cook and the Palermo family, and it's hard to fault the newspaper's staff for doing that.

Mores here-

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The real secrets of successful pastors

From The Living Church-

There is perhaps no job that more fully defies the American dream than that of pastor. The idea lives deep within us that if we just work hard good things will come to us, but that is not always the case. A priest could do nothing at all and see his parish grow. He could work like a dog, putting in seventy or eighty hours a week, and watch his congregation dwindle. We often assume that if a parish is filled to the brim and hopping with activity, that pastor must be good at what he does, whereas if the parish is five minutes away from boarding up the windows, that pastor must be a disaster. In fact though, it is possible for the opposite to be true. The pastor of the small church may be slowly building a loving, sustainable, Christ centered community, while the pastor of the large church may be whipping up a cult of personality that will evaporate as soon as he moves on.

More here-

From the Fury of Liberal Theologians, Good Lord Deliver Us

From The National Catholic Register-

One of the things in which I rejoice is that the Catholic Church’s direction is determined by the successors of the apostles and not the successors of Rudolph Bultmann.

For those of you not in the know Rudolph Bultmann is the grandfather of all liberal theologians. The Lutheran revisionist, modernist Biblical scholar was famous for attempting to de-mythologize the New Testament and said that he believed practically nothing could be known about the historical Jesus.

If you want to have a career in theology or Biblical studies today you still (for the most part) have to bow down at the altar of St Rudolf Bultmann. That is why the sniffy letter to the New York Times from a cadre of Catholic theologians about journalist Ross Douthat has about as much gravitas as cotton candy has nutritional value.

More here-

The man who died upright on a Rittenhouse Square bench

From Philadelphia-

Phil Schultz died sitting upright on a Rittenhouse Square bench that faced multimillion-dollar homes in the city he had roamed for more than a decade.

A woman found him there about 9:30 a.m. Oct. 14. Three people from St. Mark's Episcopal Church, including the Rev. Sean Mullen, hurried two blocks up Locust Street after a parishioner recognized Phil's distinctive white, bushy beard.

By the time they arrived, police had drawn a sheet over his body. One of his sneakers poked out from underneath. That looked familiar.

So they prayed.

More here-

Bishop Who Killed Cyclist While Driving Drunk Will Serve Seven Years

From Time-

Heather Cook was a top bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

A former high-ranking Maryland bishop who fatally struck a cyclist while driving under the influence of alcohol last December will go to prison for seven years, a judge in Baltimore ruled on Tuesday.

On the afternoon of Dec. 27, Heather E. Cook, at the time the second-highest ranking bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, got into her Subaru Forrester and began driving through the affluent Baltimore neighborhood of Roland Park. Police would later measure her blood alcohol level at 0.22, nearly three times the legal limit.

More here-

Pope Francis embodies vulnerability

From Richmond-

Pope Francis is a rock star. Since his trip to the United States, I hear people talking about him nearly every place I go — from my visits to Episcopal congregations, to my monthly worship service with women at the Richmond City Jail, to lines in the supermarket. People from all walks of life and across all lines of faith seem captivated by this pope. When I met him in mid-October, I saw firsthand something of the surprising source of his magnetism and strength.

Our group of 10 bishops of the Episcopal Church traveled to Rome at the invitation of the bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe to learn about the ministry of the church there. One Wednesday morning, we headed across town to St. Peter’s Square for a public audience and brief individual meetings with Pope Francis.

More here-

Bishop Michael Curry’s vision: A world transformed by the love of God

From RNS-

Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry, the son of an Episcopal priest and grandson of a Baptist preacher, will be installed as presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church on Sunday (Nov. 1) at Washington National Cathedral. Curry, 62, has been the leader of the Diocese of North Carolina for 15 years. He spoke with Religion News Service about being the first African-American to lead the denomination and his plans to focus on evangelism and inclusion.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: Members of the Union of Black Episcopalians are calling your election their “Obama moment” and others have compared you to Pope Francis. How are you dealing with those comparisons?

More here-

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Evangelism - Bishop Scott Benhase

From Georgia- Video

Bishop Benhase talks about evangelism in preparation for the November 12-14 194th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia which will work on how we can Spread the Good News of Jesus with our neighbors.

New Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

From Religion and Ethics Weekly- (video)

The work of the Episcopal Church, says its new presiding bishop, is “to find ways to be a bridge community that brings differing people together under the rubric of love.” (Curry is being installed as the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church at a service on Sunday, November 1, at Washington National Cathedral.)

More here-

Let there be light: Handwritten draft of King James Bible reveals the secrets of its creation

From Salon-

The King James Bible may well be the greatest work of literature ever written by committee—and now we know a bit more about the collaboration that produced it.

Jeffrey Allen Miller, an English professor at Montclair State University conducting research at Cambridge announced a remarkable discovery last week: “in the archives of Sidney Sussex College there survives now the earliest known draft of any part of the King James Bible, unmistakably in the hand of one of the King James translators.”

More here-

How This Introverted Priest Found Her Calling

From Huffington-

I grew up in a very Catholic family. We observed all the holy days and ate fish on Fridays, and I attended an all-girls’ Catholic high school. Being Catholic was part of my family’s culture.

So when as an adult, for various reasons, I began attending an Episcopal church—a church whose weekly services are very similar to the Catholic mass—I was a bit startled by a few of the differences. For one, priests are allowed to marry. For another, they’re allowed to be women.

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to attend the ordination of a woman priest. As I sat in the pews, watching the ceremony, I couldn’t help but get a bit emotional: here was this woman—married and pregnant—about to be welcomed to the priesthood. The feminist in me was thrilled, and I said as much to the newly ordained priest after the ceremony was over. She grinned conspiratorially, thanked me, and said, “I think it’s pretty cool too!”

More here-

Heather Cook Sentencing Roundup

Here's a list of major articles on the latest development-

Baltimore Brew-

Baltimore Sun

Wall Street Journal-

Washington Post-

Washington Times-

Daily Mail (UK)-

Christian Today-

News OK (Oklahoma)-

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Bishop Heather Cook Gets 7 Years In Drunk-Driving Death Of Cyclist

From Baltimore-

Former Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook is heading to jail. The former top religious leader in Baltimore is sentenced to seven years for killing a cyclist in Roland Park while texting and driving drunk.

Investigator Mike Hellgren has the emotional statement from the victim’s family.

This was an emotional sentencing hearing. The family had pushed for a harsher sentence; they wanted 10 years, which is what the prosecution requested. In the end, Cook was sentenced to five years for the death of Thomas Palermo and two years for leaving the scene.

More here-

The Selfishness of Skipping Church


The overwhelming consumerist mentality in our nation has spilled over and saturated the thinking of Christians throughout the Church in the United States.  More and more believers in America approach the concept of finding and remaining in a church the same way they would handle buying a car, shopping for the latest technological advancement, or choosing a movie to watch.  An institution whose founder came not to be served, but to serve, has been tainted by a ceaseless drum beat of “what can you do for me?”  The worship environment, the style of music, the dress code, the church programming, and the overall focus of the church, is no longer about the Lord and His agenda, but about the personal preferences of individual church shoppers.

More here-

First woman bishop in Lords hopeful stained glass ceiling will be broken

From The UK-

The first female bishop to take a seat in the House of Lords has said she would like a woman to be archbishop of Canterbury.

The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Rev Rachel Treweek, said "ideally" she would like a female to lead the world's Anglicans in the future.

Peers cheered and applauded as the Bishop took her seat in the House of Lords in a landmark moment for the Upper Chamber and the Church.

She was supported by the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, along with the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres as she swore the oath of allegiance to the Queen.

More here-

Mission Theologian in the Anglican Communion Lecture Explores African Christianity

From All Africa-

Christianity in Africa has benefited from sustained exponential growth, with numbers growing from about 10 million in 1900 to just over half a billion in 2015; but the diversity of the different forms of Christian practices and teachings on the continent means that it may be more accurate to see it as Christianities rather than Christianity - that was the message from Canon Professor Joseph Galgalo as he delivered the inaugural Mission Theology Seminar at Lambeth Palace last week.

The lecture by Prof Galgalo, vice-chancellor of St Paul's University in Limuru, Kenya, was the first in a new series of seminars organised by the Mission Theology in the Anglican Communion project.

More here-

'I'm both a bishop, but also a survivor': Anglican church leader reveals he was groomed and sexually abused by senior clergymen as a teenager

From The Daily Mail-

An Anglican bishop has revealed he was victim of sexual abuse at the hands of members of his own church denomination.

The revelations of Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson come after a diocese apology for the way the church had treated abuse victims.

Bishop Thompson said as a 19-year-old he was targetted by an Anglican bishop and senior clergyman in the 1970s and later sexually abused, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

More here-

Catholic Church Leaders Issue Appeal on Climate Change

From The New York Times-

Roman Catholic cardinals, patriarchs and bishops from around the world on Monday appealed to climate-change negotiators to approve a “fair, legally binding and truly transformational climate agreement” when they meet at a widely anticipated United Nations conference in Paris next month.

Representatives of the church from five continents signed the appeal in Vatican City. They said it was inspired by Pope Francis’ sweeping encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si,” issued in June, which forcefully calls for action to stem environmental destruction and climate change.

More here-

Monday, October 26, 2015

Churches need incense

From The Living Church-

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among all nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. — Malachi 1:11

Since the Reformation, using incense in church has become a true badge of Catholicism in the West, even though its use is not discussed widely by the Reformers. Eastern Orthodox Christians simply take it for granted. John Calvin lumped it in with all kinds of other vain ceremonial trappings including “holy garments” and even “an altar” in his commentary on the Gospel of John. To Calvin, the worship “in spirit and in truth” that Jesus describes to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:23 has been completely obscured by popery, whose “shadows are not less thick than they formerly were under the Jewish religion.” To Calvin, religion is not about stuff.

More here

Stop the talking. It is decision time for the Anglican Communion, says Archbishop

From Christian Today-

The time for talking is over and hard decisions must now be made about the future of the Anglican Communion, a senior Anglican Archbishop has warned.

In his latest pastoral letter, the head of the Global Anglican Futures Conference, or Gafcon, said: "There is now a shared realisation that the time for dialogue is over and there must be a decision that will settle the future direction of the Communion and free us from being dragged down by controversy and confusion."

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, who is also Primate of Kenya, was commenting on the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision to summon a meeting of Anglican Primates from around the world to discuss changing the structure of the Communion in an attempt to avert schism. 

More here-

I was abused by clergy: Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson tells of abuse as 19-year-old

From Australia-

Anglican bishop Greg Thompson has spoken about being groomed by an Anglican bishop and senior clergyman in the 1970s and later sexually abused, after an historic diocese apology on Sunday for the "shameful" treatment of abuse survivors in the past.

The Newcastle bishop said he was an impressionable 19-year-old when the two men singled him out, made him feel special and used his strong faith and their shared religion as the cover to sexually abuse him.

His allegations against the two men, now dead, were revealed to NSW Police and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse earlier this year.

Bishop Thompson said he did not reveal the information before the diocese synod at the weekend because he wanted the vote on an historic apology to be a genuine response from clergy and senior diocese parishioners, and not a response to him personally.

More here-

7 Churches Burned in St. Louis: 'Racism is Alive,' Pastor Says

From St. Louis-

Several St. Louis, Missouri religious leaders believe that racism is the motive for seven church burnings throughout the area since the beginning of October.

According to the Christian Post, police believe that a person or group of people have targeted the churches, which, vary in denomination. Authorities have yet to declare the burnings a hate crime.

"Holy God … if we ever needed a wake-up call to believe that racism is alive in St. Louis — if this is not it, I don't know what it could be," Rev. Mike Kinman, an Episcopal priest at St. Louis' Christ Church Cathedral, told the Post.

Since Oct. 8, seven churches have been torched, the latest of which, occurred Oct. 17 and have noticed similarities in the burnings.

More here-

Sunday, October 25, 2015

‘God is not a he or a she’, says first female bishop to sit in House of Lords

From The Guardian-

God should not necessarily be seen as a masculine figure, according to the UK’s first female bishop to sit in the House of Lords on Monday. “God is not to be seen as male. God is God,” said Rachel Treweek, bishop of Gloucester, who is to be inaugurated in parliament.

While acknowledging that many Anglicans would profoundly disagree, Treweek said the Church of England should use both male and female pronouns when referring to God. She personally prefers to say neither “he” nor “she”, but “God”. “Sometimes I lapse, but I try not to,” the bishop told the Observer.

“In the creation narratives, we’re told that God created human beings in God’s likeness, and then it goes on to talk about male and female. If I am made in the image of God, then God is not to be seen as male. God is God.”

More here-

Nakiyanja-Namugongo wakes up

From Uganda-

Like his predecessors, Pope Francis will pay a visit to the Anglican Martyrs Shrine at Nakiyanja-Namugongo on November 28, at 8:30am before he returns to the Catholic Martyrs Shrine to celebrate the jubilee year of the Uganda Martyrs. Juliet Lukwago profiles the place where most of the martyrs were burnt alive.

Nakiyanja is a few kilometres away from the Catholic Martyrs Shrine in Namugongo. It is the exact place where most of the martyrs were killed on the orders of Kabaka Mwanga.

Twenty-six young men, 3 Catholics and 13 Anglicans, were burnt together to death here on June 3, 1886 after they refused to renounce Christianity.

The Anglican community honours 25 martyrs according to the brochure of Uganda Martyrs by the Church of Uganda.

More here-