Friday, November 13, 2015

Anglican membership figures could be out by millions

From Christian Today-

Regarding Nigeria, often cited as a fast-growing province claiming 18 million members, he reports there could in fact be fewer than two million active Anglicans. In England, which lays claim 26 million supposed Anglicans among the 80 million figure, there are in fact about 1.7 million active Anglicans, he says. Australia claims nearly five million Anglicans but in fact just one tenth of these are active.

His analysis shows that of the nearly 80 million people claimed to be Anglican, the actual number of active Anglicans worldwide could be below nine million.

More here-

Troubled Murang’a ACK diocese placed under rep

From Kenya-

Mt Kenya Central ACK Diocese is the second in the country to be placed under the watch of the Anglican Church headquarters after wrangles frustrated the election of a new bishop.

The diocese was placed under a commissary bishop on Saturday after the election aborted due to complaints from 11 candidates that the process was flawed. Archbishop Eliud Wabukala appointed diocesan assistant bishop Allan Waithaka as the commissary to run the affairs of the diocese until fresh elections are held. Mt Kenya Central ACK Diocese, which covers Murang'a region, is the second in Kenya to be placed under a commissary bishop after Marsabit headed by Rev Martin Robert. 

Read more at:

Catholic music director fired after same-sex wedding files complaint

From Chicago-

When Frank Hattula met Sandor Demkovich — a devout Catholic who loved music — his heart went pitter-patter.

Last year, after 15 years together, they were married in Chicago. But along with the joys of marriage came a painful split from a lifelong relationship with the Catholic church.

Demkovich, a music director at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Calumet City, claims he was asked to resign in September 2014 because his marriage was against the church’s “policies and teachings.”

More here-

Baltimore Episcopal, Lutheran churches merge amid declining attendance

From Baltimore (interesting statistics in this one)-

North Baltimore's Episcopal Church of Nativity and Lutheran Church of the Holy Comforter merged because neither congregation could sustain operations on their own due to declining attendance.

"We're still adjusting to the changes in our culture, and so the church is not what it used to be, and culture is not what it used to be," said the Rev. Stewart Lucas, rector at Churches of Nativity and Holy Comforter.

More here-

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Compass Rose to Raise $10M

From The Living Church-

The Compass Rose Society will soon launch a campaign to raise a $10 million endowment to fund its annual commitment to the work of the Anglican Consultative Council. The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop of Texas and president of the society, announced the plan during the group’s annual meeting on Oct. 27-28 in London.

“This Communion is alive,” said the Most Rev. Josiah Idowu-Fearon, recently appointed secretary general of the Anglican Communion. Idowu-Fearon said he was encouraged by his early explorations of the Communion, especially the prospect of adding several new provinces and the favorable response to Archbishop Justin Welby’s call for a Primates’ Meeting in January.

Michael Hart, a financial consultant and vice chairman of the Communion’s finance and administration committee, said that Compass Rose Society donations provided 13 percent of the charity’s unrestricted income in 2014.

More here-

Death Announced of South Africa's First Woman Priest

From All Africa-

The first woman to be ordained a priest in South Africa has died, it has been announced. The Revd Canon Nancy Charton served at Grahamstown Cathedral as a lay minister and Sunday School teacher before being ordained there first as a deacon and then, in 1992, she was one of three women ordained priest by the late Bishop David Russell.

She died on Wednesday Morning in Graaff Reinet, in South Africa's Eastern Cape, at the age of 95.

"We give thanks for her long life of devotion to her Lord and his church and people and pray for the family," a spokesman for the Cathedral said.

More here-

This Veterans Day, Meet the Soldiers of Church History

From Christianity Today-

When we think about Christian soldiers, we can be tempted (based on our views on war in general) to either venerate or vilify those who have participated in military service or combat. The battlefield certainly has its share of both beauty and tragedy, and that complexity can be confusing. To some, Christian soldiers—ready to stand up and sacrifice for a larger cause—are heroes, for “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13). To others, the violence of combat seems overwhelming in its scope and severity. They take Jesus’ words, “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matt. 26:52), to mean that soldiers’ close proximity to killing fundamentally compromises their morals.

This dichotomy highlights our need to find a new way of thinking about Christian soldiers. And one avenue for doing so takes us back in time, as we remember the saints of Christian history who served in war.

More here-

Episcopal Relief & Development celebrates 75th anniversary

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry began his sermon commemorating Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75th anniversary by quoting gospel singer Mahalia Jackson who sang, “‘If I can help somebody along the way … my living shall not be in vain.’”

It was in this spirit and a joy and privilege to gather to give God thanks for “the miracle that God has done through the ministry, the work and the witness to the way of Jesus through Episcopal Relief & Development, the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief and the movement that gave birth to it all,” Curry said.

Some two hundred people gathered at St. James’ Church on Madison Avenue in New York Dec. 11 where Curry preached at a special Eucharist, the start of a daylong international symposium, a capstone event of Episcopal Relief & Development’s yearlong 75th anniversary celebration. Diocese of New York Bishop Andrew Dietsche presided at the Eucharist.

More here-

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Priests Sacked Over Gay Claims Sue Bishop for Defamation

From All Africa (Kenya)-

Three Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) priests sacked after being of accused of practicing homosexuality have sued Mt Kenya West Diocese Bishop Joseph Kagunda for defamation.

This is the second suit they have filed, having challenged their sacking at the Employment and Labour Relations Court.

Reverends John Njogu Gachau, James Maina and Paul Mwangi Warui have each filed a civil case accusing the bishop of tarnishing their names and destroying their reputation.

Through Wonge Maina and Onsare Advocates, the priests accuse Bishop Kagunda of maliciously and spitefully executing and authoring defamatory statements in church, which were repeatedly published in national newspapers, knowing well his allegations were not true.

More here-

Bishop Wants Examination Of Gambling

From The Bahamas-

ANGLICAN Diocesan Bishop Laish Boyd said the gaming sector “does not add value to our economy” and called on the government to “lead a fuller inquiry into the social and moral side effects” of gambling.

#In his Charge to the 114th session of the Synod, Bishop Boyd said gambling “gouges out a chunk of flesh from the torso of this nation and creates syndrome of ill effects that will call for a lot of repair and healing”.

#Bishop Boyd postponed the Synod last month in the aftermath of Hurricane Joaquin “in light of the devastation, disruption, dislocation, and hardship suffered” in the islands battered by the storm, but in the intended annual address he touched on a number of social issues affecting the country.

More here-

Bexley Seabury seminary to operate from one site in Chicago

From ENS-

The Board of Directors of Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation (BSSF) has announced that beginning with the Fall 2016 term, the seminary will operate all programs — Anglican Studies, Master of Divinity, Doctor of Ministry, and Lifelong Learning — from one site, in Chicago. The change, recommended to the board by its Beyond Walls Task Force, was adopted by unanimous vote.

The move will bring to Chicago Bexley Seabury’s Master of Divinity program. Since 2004, the M.Div. degree has been offered in partnership with Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio through a collaboration that began in 1999. The current agreement with Trinity runs through Spring Term 2016. Transition planning is underway in consultation with current M.Div. students, so that they can complete their studies on schedule.

More here-

White Scholar Insists Churches Should Talk About Reparations For Descendants Of Slaves

From Huffington (RNS)-

A white scholar touring churches across the nation is trying to convince Christians that racial reconciliation is not enough — it’s time to start talking about reparations for descendants of slaves.

And among mostly white, mainline Protestants this controversial — some would say unrealistic — notion is getting a hearing.

What divides the races in America, says Drake University ethicist Jennifer Harvey, is not the failure to embrace differences but the failure of white Americans to repent and repair the sins of the past.

“Our differences are not only skin deep,” the 44-year-old scholar told a lecture hall packed with Duke Divinity School students recently. “Our differences are the deepest and most complex manifestations of genealogies of harm done to some and perpetrated by others.”

More here-

Why Catholic Women Priests?

From Huffington-

Why in the world would any Catholic woman want to become a priest?

When Anglican/Episcopalian women became priests in the 1970s amid much wailing and gnashing of teeth, but also with the blessing of the institutional church, I was happy for them and proud of them. They took on the system and they prevailed. It wasn't easy, but they knew they had a fighting chance. Why? Because they knew that long ago, the Anglican Church recognized the need for a Via Media, a way to get beyond the canons and the controls to be with and of the people. Other denominations had already desexualized the altar rail before them, but they were pioneers within the liturgical high churches.

I rejoiced and cried when I participated in the first masses or services of my friends Jane, Mary, Kathy, and Judy. I don't know why I cried - I guess the anger against the church of my birth was stronger than I thought. I guess it meant more to me than I knew to have a woman presiding at the liturgy. That's a big part of why I eventually became an Episcopalian.

More here-

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

UK faith leaders unite to challenge welfare penalties on larger families

From The Guardian-

Christian and Jewish leaders have joined forces to challenge the UK government’s welfare reform proposals, calling on members of the House of Lords to throw out clauses that penalise larger families.

An alliance of faith organisations has issued a briefing paper for peers that labels the proposals as “fundamentally anti-family”. “Anything which sends the implicit message that a child is unwanted, unvalued or superfluous should be strongly resisted,” the briefing says.

The Church of England, Church of Scotland, the Catholic Caritas Social Network, Methodists, Baptists, Quakers, the United Reform Church, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the orthodox Jewish Interlink Foundation are behind the effort to amend legislation going through parliament.

More here-


From Religion Dispatches-

The black social gospel had numerous proponents in its early years, notably Episcopal cleric Alexander Crummell, Methodist clerics Reverdy Ransom, Alexander Walters, and Richard R. Wright, Jr., Methodist anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Baptist clerics William J. Simmons, George W. Woodbey, and Adam Clayton Powell, Sr.

They belonged to embattled minorities in their denominations, because the social gospel was divisive and it threatened to get people in trouble. The founders and their successors fought hard for the right to advocate progressive theology and social justice politics. Washington versus Du Bois was at the center of the argument, until the Du Bois faction prevailed.

More here-

Does Starbucks really need to be the center of this year's war on Christmas?

From Las Vegas-

With Halloween gone and Thanksgiving on its way, the first salvo in what some claim to be America's annual war on Christmas is coming from an unexpected direction.

The Pacific Northwest, actually, where Starbucks is making some Christmas lovers wonder not only WWJD (what would Jesus drink?) but, more importantly, from what sort of cup would he drink it?

The flashpoint: The coffee retailer's replacement of its usual holiday-themed cups with this year's model, which is totally bereft of snowflakes and other Christmastime iconography and represents the season via nothing more than the company's green logo set against a deep red field. (See a review of the past several years' worth of Starbucks cups here.

Already, some Christians are calling the stark, unicolored cups an example of political correctness run amok and part of what they consider to be a continuing war on Christmas (which, like Christmas shopping season, seems to be arriving earlier and earlier each year).

More here-

Old North Church reclaims Colonial-era chandelier

From Massachusetts-

The spare but beautiful interior of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is empty and shuttered now, the victim of declining attendance in a sparsely populated dot of Western Massachusetts.

But above its worn pews Monday morning hung a five-candle chandelier that Paul Revere would have seen when he walked into the Old North Church, a chandelier that would have been suspended there on the night of his famous ride to Lexington.

On Monday, the chandelier was packed up and shipped home, nearly three centuries since a Boston privateer, a pillar of the Old North congregation, seized it from a French ship bound for Quebec and presented it to his church.

More here-

Monday, November 9, 2015

Enriching Our Worship: a reading of its Trinitarian theology

From The Living Church-

A conversation about Prayer Book revision is now on the table in the Episcopal Church. General Convention 2015 passed Resolution A169 directing “the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) to prepare a plan for the comprehensive revision of the current Book of Common Prayer and present that plan to the 79th General Convention.” Jordan Hylden and Keith Voets voiced their profound concerns about Prayer Book revision on this blog in the final post of their three-part series “A Way Forward Together” (I strongly encourage readers to read that short article first). And then on October 8, 2015 Dr. Ruth Meyers of Church Divinity School of the Pacific and outgoing chair of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music for the Episcopal Church offered a web forum with her personal thoughts on Prayer Book revision in light of the resolution (see The Living Church’s story here and watch the entire presentation here).

More here-

Episcopalian’s first Black Bishop turns up heat

From Washington DC-

After knocking loudly three times on the door of the Washington National Cathedral, Bishop Michael Curry was installed as the new presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church Sunday, the first African American to lead the 2.5 million-member denomination.

Curry preached on how his father was moved to become an Episcopalian after watching a church welcome his then-fiancee to drink from the common Communion cup in the often-segregated 1940s.

“The Holy Spirit has done evangelism and racial reconciliation before in the Episcopal Church,” he told a congregation of almost 2,500. But he added: “God is not finished with this church. God has work for us to do. Jesus has shown us the way and we are the Jesus movement, so my brothers and sisters, walk together, children, don’t you get weary.”

More here-

Maryland Episcopal Diocese looks to new bishop for healing

From Maryland-

At her welcoming service Sunday as the new assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, the Rt. Rev. Chilton R. Knudsen urged clergy and lay people to let go of the emotional upheaval of the past year.

She never spoke Heather Cook's name, but Knudsen's Evensong sermon addressed a diocese still shaken by her predecessor's drunken crash that killed a Baltimore cyclist nearly a year ago. Cook, 59, was sentenced last month to seven years in prison in the death of 41-year-old Thomas Palermo.

"Evensong is a time to put to rest the business, the tragedies, the sadness, the disillusionments, as well as the joys, the celebrations and the victories of each day," Knudsen said. "In other words, Evensong represents the closing of a door and looks ahead to the opening of the door of the morning.

More here-

Sunday, November 8, 2015

'God is not finished' with Episcopal Church, new bishop says

From Tree Angle-

The service that installed Michael Bruce Curry as presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church on Sunday would have been unrecognizable to Episcopalians of the past century. And congregants say that’s a good thing.

The church’s first African-American presiding bishop was instated in a ceremony led by female bishops, openly gay priests and even a rabbi. After a spirited opening by a gospel choir, Episcopal leaders filed into the National Cathedral in Washington to the sound of guitars guiding a Spanish hymn and a Native American drumming prelude.

“Don’t worry. Be happy! God has not given up on the world, and God is not finished with the Episcopal Church yet,” Curry said.

More here-

Why read the Puritans?

From Evangelical Focus-

This week marks the 400th birthday of one of the Evangelical world’s most beloved pastors, namely, Richard Baxter, who was born on 12th November 1615. Baxter forms part of a movement within Protestantism known as Puritanism. It lasted between 1550 and 1700 with the goal of reforming the Church of England –known as the Anglican Church- in the light of Scripture. The Puritans were convinced that the principles of the Protestant Reformation had to transform both Anglican doctrine and practice. 

I came across the Puritans about ten years ago thanks to a wonderful book penned by the leading Evangelical scholar Dr. J.I. Packer named Among God’s Giants. I read it whilst I studied it at Queen’s University (Belfast) and Packer’s passion for the Puritans birthed a similar zeal within me. I started to read them for myself and I still recall how their books edified my soul throughout the remainder of my time at university.

More here-

Bishop Duncan retiring from Anglican pos

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Bishop Robert Duncan on Saturday announced he will retire next year as head of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh, seven years after leading conservative churches locally and throughout North America in a historic and stormy break with the liberal Episcopal Church and its Canadian counterpart.

Bishop Duncan last year already ended his denomination-wide leadership of the wider Anglican Church in North America, which formed in the wake of the split. He told local Anglicans that at age 67, he is now also ready to let go of his duties in Pittsburgh. His retirement will be effective June 30.

More here-