Saturday, November 21, 2015

Message after Paris attacks: ‘Do not harden your hearts’

From The Church Times-

THE world is engaged in a “global and generational struggle against an evil cult that chooses death and fear”, the Archbishop of Canterbury warned on Saturday, after attacks by Islamist extremists in Paris last Friday left 129 people dead and more than 400 wounded.

“We choose life and hope, to overcome their hate with the power of God’s love,” he said. “In solidarity across all faiths and none, and with all human beings, rather than in the victimisation of any, we will find the way to defeat the demonic curse of terrorism.”

The attacks were the deadliest act of violence in France since the Second World War. The terrorists targeted six locations, including the Stade de France, restaurants, and the Bataclan concert hall. Survivors have spoken of gunmen picking off people one by one, including those in wheelchairs.

More here-

From Paris, a call for us to be beacon

From Lexington-

By last Sunday, a letter from Paris was read in our Lexington church and the focus of a sermon that made much more sense to me than the political pandering of some 30 or more American governors who say they will resist the resettlement of Syrian nationals in our county.

The letter, addressed to U.S. Episcopalians from a woman priest with many friends in Kentucky, asked for prayers for victims of the horrific slaughter in Paris and for the terrorists “whose anger, fear and hatred lead them to commit such acts.”

The writer was Lucinda Laird, dean of the American Cathedral in Paris, the famed mother church of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe.

Laird became the dean after 15 years as rector of St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Louisville. In Kentucky, she served on the board of Berea College and was the priest for my Louisville family and for the late Phillip Ardery, the war hero who led 200 pilots in the skies over Normandy in D-Day in 1944.

Read more here:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Rachel Held Evans: You don’t have to give away iPads at church to reach millennials

From North Carolina-

Christian author-blogger Rachel Held Evans has what most churches long for these days: A big following among millennials.

At last count, Evans, 34 and due to become a mom in February, has about 82,000 Twitter followers and about 64,000 fans on Facebook. And her books are popular. Her latest is “Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church.”

On Sunday (Nov. 22), Evans will be at Charlotte’s Christ Episcopal Church for a public conversation with the Rev. Chip Edens, the church’s rector. Evans grew up evangelical in Tennessee, but now attends an Episcopal church in Cleveland, Tenn.

The Observer spoke with her recently about why she left evangelicalism, what she likes about being Episcopalian, how churches can attract more young people and how her soon-to-arrive son is coloring her faith. Here’s the edited interview.

Read more here:

On Syrian refugees, Episcopal bishop asks Michigan to be a 'good neighbor

From Eastern Michigan-

A Michigan Episcopal bishop is urging others to join him in a call for the state to act as "a good neighbor" to Syrian refugees.

Bishop Todd Ousley of the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan released a statement in support of welcoming Syrian refugees, days after Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said he would pause efforts to attract refugees from the Middle Eastern country.

"Not only is (Snyder's) attempt to block acceptance of refugees beyond the authority of his office, it is a fear-based reaction to a very complex set of political and humanitarian concerns," Ousley said. "As Christians in the Episcopal tradition, our love of God compels us to love our neighbor and Jesus teaches us that acts of mercy demonstrate our own neighborliness."

More here-

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Council Debates its Duties

From The Living Church-

Orientation for new members of the Episcopal Church’s governing board proceeded smoothly Tuesday until members heard that Executive Council has not been keeping up with some key responsibilities.

The news came via Sally Johnson, chancellor to House of Deputies President Gay Jennings. In a plenary session of Executive Council, she read aloud what canons say in two places about functions of the Council. The council is to “establish positions responsible to the Presiding Bishop” and “set salaries of all officers, agents and employees of the Council and [the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society].”

More here-

Holy Cross Church in Pawleys Island hosts Episcopal Convention

From South Carolina-

The church hosted the 225th annual Convention of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina to worship, celebrate and conduct the business of the diocese.

The Rev. Wil Keith, pastor of Holy Cross, said he was excited to host the event.

“This is a very historic place and most of our history is African-American and may not be widely known,” Keith said before the event. “We are excited to tell the story of the church, past, present and future.”

The Right Rev. Dr. Robert Gillies of Scotland was the preacher for the opening Convention Eucharist on Friday. Since 2007, he has served as Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney, one of the seven historic dioceses of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

More here-

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Executive Council members end four-day ‘joy-filled meeting’

From ENS (my first photo credits)-

During its Nov. 15-18 meeting here The Episcopal Church Executive Council laughed, cried, sang, took photos and videos, and worked with what Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry called a sense of being “joyful in Jesus Christ.”

“This was a good meeting,” Curry said in a news conference after the meeting adjourned. “It was a joy-filled meeting but, joy, unlike giddy happiness, is a deeper thing. It’s not just a response to being happy in the neighborhood. Joy has to do with our joy in being in Jesus Christ. So we could be joyful and serious about the work God has given us to do.”

Curry said council’s work was done “in the context of a real, deep commitment to following the way of Jesus; to take that more seriously and to go ever deeper in that and to commit evangelism in the best sense of that word, evangelism and racial reconciliation as the beginning of broader ways of human reconciliation.”

More here-

11th-Hour Detour Puts Family in Connecticut as Indiana Bars Syrian Refugees

From The New York Times-

Ms. Miller said having to find the family a new home was “one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in the eight years I’m here.”

“My role is to create a welcoming environment here in our state that gives a safe haven to refugees,” Ms. Miller added. “That we can’t be that because our state is not welcoming all is really painful.”

She turned to Episcopal Migration Ministries, which placed a call to Chris George, the executive director of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services in New Haven, which also coordinates resettlement operations there with Church World Service.

Mr. George said he was surprised by the request, which he accepted without hesitation because the family’s arrival was imminent.

More here

Has Pope Francis just opened a door for non-Catholics to receive communion?

From The Tablet-

In 1996 the late Cardinal Basil Hume wrote to Tony Blair, then an Anglican and on the verge of becoming Prime Minister, to refrain from taking communion when he attended Mass with his family.
Blair, married to a Catholic, reluctantly agreed but in his letter of reply to the cardinal wrote: “I wonder what Jesus would have made of it.”

He was highlighting the sadness that many Christians married to Catholics feel that, despite being joined in the sacrament of matrimony, they cannot share in the sacrament of the eucharist with their spouses (except in particular circumstances.)

On Sunday a Lutheran woman in this situation addressed a question to Pope Francis when he visited the Lutheran Church on Rome on Sunday. 

More here-

What’s the background of the Episcopal Church’s new leader?

From Patheos-


Can you tell us something more about the presiding bishop of our [Episcopal] Church? I’ve heard only upbeat things about him from people who have met and heard him. Will he be a Marco Rubio — a very effective speaker who can connect with people?


Perhaps so. Here’s some information about the personable Michael Bruce Curry, 62, who was installed this month as the new presiding bishop of America’s troubled Episcopal Church. Some U.S. denominations lack such a solo head while the Episcopalians grant their chief unusually centralized power and, moreover, his term runs till 2024.

More here-

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Mary Glasspool moving to New York

From ENS-

 Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop Suffragan Mary Glasspool will become an assistant bishop in the Diocese of New York next April.

The two dioceses announced the change Nov. 14.

Glasspool, 61, was elected bishop suffagran of Los Angeles on Dec. 4, 2009, and was consecrated on May 15, 2010, along with Bishop Suffragan Diane Jardine Bruce who was elected by the same convention that elected Glasspool.

Glasspool was at the time the 17th woman to be elected a bishop in The Episcopal Church, and the first openly lesbian woman to become a bishop in the Anglican Communion.

She was born on Staten Island when her father was the rector jointly of All Saints Church and St. Simon’s Church. She grew up in Goshen, New York, after her father became the rector of St. James Church.

More here-

Christian churches flourishing in United Arab Emirates

From Canada-

On Fridays one can practically walk over car rooftops in the Mushrif neighbourhood as the faithful park wherever they can before rushing to services.

Roman Catholics hurry to mass at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Metres away, a chorus of voices rises from inside St. Andrew’s as Anglicans begin a hymn. The sound mixes with the chatter of dozens of children waiting in the morning sun for bible lessons to start.

In the midst of the churches is the local mosque, where Muslim men wander up the steps of the pale stone building as they answer the call to prayer.

The Christians praying peacefully among their Muslim neighbours point to a unique phenomenon in the Middle East: in the United Arab Emirates, the number of churches is growing.

More here-

Oldest US graduate seminary in Newton to close campus

From Boston (RNS)-

America’s oldest graduate seminary is once again blazing a trail for other mainline Protestant institutions to follow. But this time it’s a path many would rather not travel. On Thursday (Nov. 12), Andover Newton Theological School announced plans to relocate and sell its 20-acre campus in Newton, Mass. The move will be part of “a bold new direction” for the 208-year-old school as it struggles with big deficits. “God is doing something new in this time,” said Andover Newton President Martin Copenhaver. “We have to figure out what it is and get with the program.” 

Whatever God is doing, it will be with a smaller faculty, lower overhead and new partnerships. On the table are two options: become embedded within a more stable institution such as Yale Divinity School, where discussions are ongoing, or shift to a lean cooperative learning model. The latter would strip away broad elective offerings, focus on core subjects and dispatch students to do much of their learning in local congregations. 

More here-

World religious leaders condemn Paris carnage

From RNS-

Pope Francis raised the specter of a World War III “in pieces,” Muslims issued statements of condemnation, while evangelical Christians in America debated whether to speak of a “war with Islam.”

These were some of the responses by religious leaders around the world on Saturday (Nov. 14) to the series of attacks overnight in Paris, which left more than 120 people dead.

“This is not human,” Francis said in a phone call to an Italian Catholic television station. Asked by the interviewer if it was part of a “Third World War in pieces,” he responded: “This is a piece. There is no justification for such things.”

In a close vote R.E. Lee Memorial Church retains its name

From Virginia-

Monday the church voted 9-6 to remove the name, falling one vote short of the super-majority of 10 it needed to make the change.

Here is the full release:

The lay governing body of Lexington, Va.’s historic Episcopal church voted 9-6 to remove the name R.E. Lee from the church’s name, falling one vote short of the super-majority of 10 it needed to make the change.

In concluding an emotional discussion that has animated the congregation for five months, the Vestry voted Monday by secret ballot while 33 parishioners silently observed. The 15-member Vestry had decided earlier that such a momentous decision needed the support of at least two-thirds of the Vestry.

More here-

Oklahoma Episcopal bishop calls for peace, prayer in wake of Paris attacks

From Oklahoma-

The leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, recently shared statements about the Paris terrorist attacks with Episcopalians around the state.

The Rt. Rev. Edward Konieczny, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, sent the following letter Saturday via email to Episcopal individuals and parishes around the state:

Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

By now you have heard of the horrendous terrorist attacks that took place in Paris yesterday. I ask you to join me in prayers for all the victims of these attacks, those killed and those injured; the families and friends of all victims; the first responders and all medical personnel; and all those affected by these senseless acts of violence. I ask all congregations to remember those affected by these tragic events during your services tomorrow.

More here-

Monday, November 16, 2015

1,500 Mormons leaving church to protest same-sex policy

From CNN-

About 1,500 Mormons are resigning from the Church of Latter-day Saints to protest a new policy that labels same-sex couples apostate and bans children of same-sex relationships from being baptized, a lawyer said Saturday.

Attorney Mark Naugle said church members who want to resign brought the letters to his office on Saturday.

"We had an incredible turnout," he said. "I was slammed for three hours. Some people stood in line for an hour and a half."

Naugle said he plans to deliver the letters on Monday.

More here-

“Did I do what I should have done?”: white clergy in 1960s Mississippi

From Oxford University Press-

In his 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail,”  Martin Luther King Jr. expressed keen disappointment in white church leaders, whom he had hoped “would be among our strongest allies” and “would serve as the channel through which our just grievances could reach the power structure.” Southern white clergy members in the civil rights era are stereotypically portrayed as outspoken opponents of change, or as chaplains of the segregated system who claimed a purely “spiritual” (i.e., not “political”) role for the church, or as somewhat sympathetic supporters of the black freedom struggle who remained in tormented silence, afraid to stir things up and hurt the church and their own careers.

 Looking back on that time, many white pastors who led churches in the 1960s have asked themselves, “Did I do what I should have done?”
In Mississippi, the state known as “the toughest nut to crack” by movement leaders, a few white church pastors tried to do the right thing. In response to the 30 September 1962 riot at Ole Miss on the eve of James Meredith’s registration as the school’s first African American student, a small ecumenical group of white clergy in Oxford, including Episcopal priest Duncan M. Gray Jr., issued a call for repentance “for our collective and individual guilt in the formation of the atmosphere which produced the strife at the University of Mississippi.” Most white Mississippians aware of this appeal either ignored or rejected it.

- See more at:

Executive Council looks ahead to new triennium of work

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church Executive Council Nov. 15 began its ministry of leadership for the 2016-2018 triennium being called to lead the Jesus Movement and help the church to stretch and change to meet the challenges it faces.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry recalled for the council the feeling of accomplishment and direction when General Convention ended in Salt Lake City on July 3. “There was a sense coming out of the convention that we just did something that mattered,” he said in his opening remarks. “I think there was common vision, common sense of mission.”

He called it a clarion call and “we all heard it and we heard it together.”

Evangelism, racial reconciliation and the Jesus Movement are names that have been given to that call, Curry said. And it is a call that “gives us just an enormous opportunity as the Executive Council of the church, as its board if you will, to join together in providing some leadership and shared leadership in following Jesus.

More here-

In Paris, do we have to love our enemies? Bishop Whalon statement

From ENS-

How can we pray this prayer of all prayers, here in Paris, the day after?

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer, p. 818.)

Yes, Jesus did command us: “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” “Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you.” (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27). Really? Yesterday several terrorists killed at least 128 people in 6 separate but coordinated attacks here in Paris. According to the Islamic State group, Da’ech, this was planned in advance and ordered from their base in Syria, in retaliation for the French involvement there.

The French president, Fran├žois Hollande, has promised to reply in kind: “We will be merciless.” Meanwhile, hundreds of families are mourning their dead and wounded, attacked simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Charlie Hebdo and Hypercacher attacks in January were targeted specifically; these six attacks were against “targets of opportunity,” as the military says.

More here-

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Episcopal Diocese of Dallas consecrates new bishop

From Dallas-

The Episcopal Diocese of Dallas heralded a new era Saturday with the consecration of Bishop George R. Sumner.

Clergy and parishioners packed the pews at First United Methodist Church downtown — which agreed to host the ceremony to accommodate the large crowd — and watched as the Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, and six other North American bishops formally installed Sumner.

“It really is as that old gospel song says: ‘Oh, happy day,’” Curry said. “‘Oh, happy day.’”

Sumner is the seventh bishop in the diocese’s history and replaces retired Bishop James M. Stanton. He was elected during a special convention in May, coming to Dallas after leading Wycliffe College in Toronto.

More here-

Those Jesus haters at Starbucks

From Pittsburgh-

Like everything connected to Christmas, this year’s “War on Christmas” freakout has arrived early. And it has taken the form of a red Starbucks cup.

Never mind that stores across America are already playing Christmas carols.

Forget that Wal-Mart started its holiday layaway plan in August, and Target rolled out the Christmas trees alongside Halloween decorations in September.

And let’s pretend that radio stations across the country aren’t getting angry calls about Mariah Carey’s Christmas list hitting the airwaves the first week of October.

Nope. The Christmas crusaders are certain that the War on Christmas is on yet again.

More here-