Saturday, December 5, 2015

Stanley Hauerwas tells Wycliffe College how to write a good sentence

From Anglican Journal-

“I want to write about how to write theology,” the celebrated American theologian Stanley Hauerwas said to a standing-room-only crowd at Wycliffe College in Toronto on November 30. “I want to write about how to write theology, because I think we have not thought hard enough about why it’s hard to write theologically, and by ‘we’ I mean those of us who self-identify as theologians.” 

Stanley Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe professor of theological ethics at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina and author of dozens of books on Christian theology, ethics, and the church. He is known as much for his principled stands on pacifism and the relationship of the church to the state as for the often acerbic style in which he delivers them—after Time Magazine named him “America’s Best Theologian in 2001, for example, he replied by saying that “best is not a theological category.” - 

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Bexley Seabury Seeks Partner

From The Living Church-

Wanted: partner in Chicago for Episcopal seminary with local roots and high hopes for a future in the Windy City. Must be ecumenically minded and open to long-distance relationships.

That’s the courting call of Bexley Seabury Western Theological Federation as the two-campus school moves to consolidate in Chicago in 2016. Having operated on campuses in Chicago and Columbus since a merger in 2013, Bexley Seabury is now making Chicago its hub for serving students, including those who might be in town for only a few days.

“We’re in discussions with partners that will help us continue to live into our commitment to collaborate ecumenically,” said the Rev. Roger Ferlo, Bexley Seabury president, via email, “and to offer a program that is innovative, flexible, and prioritizes accessibility to theological education for people for whom the three-year residential model may not be possible.”

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Western Mass among signers of letter to Obama on climate change

From Western Massachusetts-

The Social Justice Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts was among the signers to Dec. 1 letter delivered to President Barack Obama during his attendance at the current Climate Summit in Paris, according to a diocesan release.

Signed by more than 150 signatories, the letter praised Obama for his administration's rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline and for protecting lands in the Arctic, and asks that the U.S. continue on this path.

"The actions taken in the next decade will either avert the worst harms from climate disruption by limiting warming to below 1.5° Celsius or commit the world to unacceptable harms for billions of people," it states.

More here-

Friday, December 4, 2015

The megachurch boom rolls on, but big concerns are rising too

From RNS-

Change is coming to American megachurches — those behemoths for believers that now dot the religious landscape.

There are more participants in megachurch worship than ever.

“Last weekend 1 in 10 adults and children who went to a Protestant church went to a megachurch — about 5 million people,” said Warren Bird, director of research for Leadership Network and co-author of a megachurch study released Wednesday (Dec. 2).

But individual attendance is down to once or twice a month — or less.

“They think ‘regular attendance’ is ‘I get there when I can,’” said the second co-author, sociologist Scott Thumma, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research. The study examines megachurches (2,000 people in weekend attendance is the basic qualifier) in comparison with other, smaller congregations.

More here-

Not even the Catholic press will talk about these Ugandan martyrs

From Catholic Citizens-

What our readers have been telling me they like about LifeSite is that nobody else is reporting what we report.

A great example was this week’s true story of the Ugandan martyrs, which came up when Pope Francis visited Uganda but which the Pope barely touched on. The true story is that the King Mwanga II of Buganda – what is today southern Uganda – killed 45 or 47 of the country’s first Christian converts (roughly half were Catholic and half Anglican) in his royal court because they rejected his homosexual advances.

Pope Francis isn’t the only one who left out this obvious but inconvenient truth. So did news organizations both liberal and conservative. The very liberal National Catholic Reporter glossed over the homosexual aspect, saying the martyrs were “burned alive for their faith under a persecution by a local king.” The National Catholic Register and the Catholic Herald in Britain, both conservative, also left out the homosexual aspect., which reports on the mainstream news media’s coverage of religious issues, found one secular news organization that  got it right: CBS-AP. Get Religion faulted two of the most reputable for leaving out the homosexual angle: the New York Times and the BBC.

More here-

Evangelical Leaders Say America Must Welcome Syrian Refugees: 'Jesus Himself Was a Refugee'

From Christian Post-

A group of American Evangelical leaders have written a letter to Congress urging compassion for Syrian refugees, declaring their opposition to limiting the number being resettled in the United States, and arguing that compassion does not conflict with national security.

"Our faith inspires us to respond with compassion and hospitality to those fleeing violence and persecution," the letter sent to Congress earlier this week reads. "Jesus Himself was a refugee, and He teaches us to do unto others as we would have them do to us. Compassion is not in conflict with national security.

Read more at -

Support ‘growing’ for transgender Christians

From The Church Times-

A MOVEMENT to allow transgender Christians to be ordained and married is under way in the world’s churches, and is “highly likely to continue”, a new paper published this week suggested.

While a “growing number of Liberal Protestant denominations” are changing their policies, the advocacy of transgender groups and the reassessment of medical evidence may also produce a shift in conservative circles, the report’s author, the Dean of St John’s College, Cambridge, the Revd Duncan Dormor, writes.

More here-

Girl Chorister makes history as Bishop

From Salisbury Cathedral-

On 6 December, the feast day of St. Nicholas, the Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, steps down during Evensong and a 12 year Maddie Lyles takes his place in a ceremony that dates back to the Middle Ages.

Maddie Lyles is the first girl to be made Chorister Bishop – or Boy Bishop as it was known until last year - in the Cathedral’s lifetime. As the most senior Girl Chorister or Dean’s Chorister she leads the 40 strong team of singers ranging in age from eight years old to thirteen, along with Jake Lacey, the most Senior Boy Chorister or Bishop’s Chorister. Between them they must demonstrate superlative singing skills and demonstrate mature leadership. The choristers are the public face of the Cathedral, a responsibility Maddie doesn’t take lightly.

 More here-

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Solace for the soul

From Anglican Journal-

Religion, say some mental health experts, has at times been a mixed blessing for people of faith struggling with mental illness—but the picture is changing, bringing new hope for the afflicted.

Sr. Dorothy Heiderscheit, chief executive officer of The Southdown Institute, a psychological treatment facility for clergy outside Toronto, says that priests struggling with mental health problems have often faced a barrier to getting help, based on the notion that their faith should be sufficient and that they, therefore, needn’t turn to psychology.

However, Heiderscheit says, a growing awareness in recent decades of what mental illness is, and of the complex relationship between faith and psychology, has considerably dismantled this block to seeking help. One result of this has been a change in the mindset of clerics coming to Southdown. “Their attitude is different from the days of just being ordered to come,” she says. “They come knowing that they’ve got something to look at, and grateful that they’ve got a safe environment to do it.”

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Cardinal Sarah, Bishop Schneider Respond to Pope’s Comment on Intercommunion

From Catholic Citizen-

Earlier this month, Pope Francis stirred controversy when he expressed  comments about intercommunion while addressing a gathering of Lutherans in Rome.

Responding to a question from a non-Italian Lutheran woman who voiced her regret that she couldn’t receive Holy Communion with her Catholic husband, the pope said that while he would never dare give permission for her to receive the Eucharist because it’s not his competence or jurisdiction, he said she should “talk to the Lord and then go forward.”

Owing to confusion over the pope’s words, we asked Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan, for their opinion on the matter.

More here-

Recollections of the first Anglican-Catholic encounter in the Vatican

From Vatican Radio-

On December 2nd, 55 years ago, Pope John XXIII had a private audience with the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher, the first time that Anglican and Catholic leaders had met together since the Reformation.

Following their historic encounter, the archbishop met with Cardinal Augustin Bea, head of the newly established Secretariat for Christian Unity, leading to the invitation of Anglican observers to the Second Vatican Council. The meeting also paved the way for the first official encounter between their successors, Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey in March 1966 and the establishment of an Anglican Centre here in Rome.

More here-

'We've had enough!' — pastors say Jersey City is 'in a crisis' over violence

From New Jersey-


That was the message a group of nearly three dozen religious and community leaders sent today about the violence that has plagued Jersey City's southern neighborhoods in the last two months.

Standing outside a deli at the corner of Old Bergen Road and Neptune Avenue — where Markice Hatten, 33, was fatally shot on Nov. 23 in the city's most recent homicide — the pastors led a prayer service and demanded city police officials meet with them to discuss the violence.

"The police don't seem to have the sense of urgency that we share," the Rev. Mona Fitch-Elliot, of St. John's Lutheran Church, said today. 

More here-

Time to take a stand against gun violence

From Iowa (the writer is an Episcopal priest)-

“How Long, O Lord ...” Psalm 94

Gun versus gun, gun versus gun, gun versus gun... on and on and on from city to state to country. Countries under siege by militias both Christian and Muslim, Palestinian and Jew. Americans brought to their knees literally, either at the point of a gunman holding hostages or police holding citizens; shots ring out in the name of justice, or even of God. All brought to our collective knees asking our Higher Power to wring some truth and peace out of such tragedy, after tragedy, after tragedy...

The horrendous carnage of death and mutilation that is rendered by a single person or small group with these incredibly high-powered guns, trying to make political, religious, moral, or “lawful” points; when a person is too cowardly to use their words or even their fists in a fair fight. 

But no, at a great distance people who have been influenced by hate-speech or other contamination of the soul, can become an instant hero to some of their equally cowardly friends; shooting unarmed people in the name of their obscure “cause”, passionately held, selfishly and terminally imposed.

More here-

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Privately sponsored refugees fare better in the short term, research says

From Canada-

Internal Citizenship and Immigration data suggest privately sponsored refugees have a leg up.

Refugees under the government program are referred to Canada for resettlement by the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), which prioritizes them on the basis of need. They are typically the most vulnerable, having come from the most desperate situations.

Privately sponsored refugees are most often brought over by Sponsorship Agreement Holders (SAH) such as a humanitarian group or a church. The St. Peter’s Church, which sponsored the Debro family, is part of the Anglican Diocese of B.C., which is a SAH. Refugees can also be sponsored by a constituent group – a group of five or more Canadian citizens or permanent residents, or a community sponsor.

Privately sponsored refugees often have family links in the country of resettlement.

More here-

First female priests ordained in Uruguay

From Anglican Journal-

History was made in Uruguay on November 22 with the first-ever ordination of women to the Anglican priesthood in the country.

The Rev. Audrey Taylor Gonzalez, the Rev. Cynthia Myers Dickin and the Rev. Susana Lopez Lerena were ordained priests on the Feast of the Reign of Christ at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Montevideo. All three had been deacons since the late ’90s, according to an email sent to the Anglican Journal by the bishop of the diocese of Uruguay, Michael Pollesel.

¨It has been 18 years since my ordination to the diaconate, and as the Almir Sater song I chose for my presentation says, ‘I know little,’ ” commented Lerena, alluding to a song by a Brazilian singer-songwriter. “But faith and blessings have been stronger than disappointments. Different people have contributed to the realization of this new stage.”

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Faith-based groups earn millions on refugee loan commissions

From Colorado Springs (RNS)-

Faith-based agencies that resettle refugees in America stand to gain more than a clear conscience if the United States — after what is expected to be a fierce debate in Congress — accepts a proposed 10,000 Syrian refugees next year.

More refugees also means more revenue for the agencies’ little-known debt collection operations, which bring in upwards of $5 million a year in commissions as resettled refugees repay loans for their travel costs. All nine resettlement agencies charge the same going rate as private-sector debt collectors: 25 percent of all they recoup for the government.

More here-

Episcopal church reopening Sunday

From Vermont-

The historic Christ Episcopal Church on State Street plans to open its doors for the first time since a crane collapsed on its roof June 8.

“It’s been a long haul,” said the Rev. Paul Habersang. He said the church has been under construction and undergoing repairs since the accident.

In June, workers were in the process of setting up a crane assembly to remove granite blocks from the church’s roof, when something in the equipment failed. The crane’s boom landed on the church roof and on the crane truck’s cab itself, crushing the windshield and coming to rest suspended between the two. It damaged the church’s roof and the inside of the church.

More here-

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Anxious white Protestants

From Christian Century- (Gay Clark Jennings)

Religious people have been their own worst enemies in recent weeks.

First came a study from the journal Current Biology showing that children from religious families are less generous and more punitive than their peers, and that the more exposure to religion they received, the worse they behaved. 

It gets worse, especially for white Protestants, of which I am one. Two weeks ago, the Public Religion Research Institute released its 2015 American Values Survey, “Anxiety, Nostalgia, and Mistrust.” In it, we learn that more than half of white Protestants agree that “America’s best days are behind us,” while more than half of black Protestants, Catholics, people who aren’t Christian, and people who aren’t religious think that America’s best days are head of us.

What’s more, a whopping 73 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 63 percent of white mainline Protestants believe that the values of Islam “are at odds with American values and way of life,” and more than seven in ten white Protestants believe that the “killings of African American men by police are isolated incidents.”

More here-

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’: Midstate woman recalls role in iconic special

From California-

The first time Shively watched it was in December 1965. That was the first time the special came on the air.

“We didn’t know what to expect, so my brother and my mom and dad sat there glued,” she remembered.

She had a good reason; one of the voices in the children’s choir that begins and ends the 25-minute show is hers.

Shively was a 12-year-old in the choir at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in San Rafael, outside San Francisco.

More here-

Anglican ordinariates: Crux explains it well; the Houston Chronicle, not so much

From Get Religion-

For those of us who follow the ins and outs of Episcopalians, Anglicans and Catholics, there was an interesting development recently when the Vatican appointed a bishop to oversee 42 Anglican-rite North American churches. They had converted as congregations to Catholicism but retained some of their Anglican liturgies and customs, such as married clergy.

This group of Anglican churches is called an ordinariate and a system of bringing them into the Catholic fold was created in 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI. The priest he originally tapped to head it up was the Rev. Jeffrey Steenson, the former Episcopal bishop of the Albuquerque-based Rio Grande diocese (which is New Mexico and a corner of far west Texas).

Steenson was elected bishop in October 2004 and consecrated in January 2005. Then less then two years later in September 2007, he shocked his diocese by announcing he was turning Catholic and resigning his position. 

More here-

Members of tiny Episcopal church in Otis rebel at sale

From The Boston Globe (Western Mass.)-

The small Episcopal church served a faithful few for nearly two centuries, spreading the Gospel in the southern Berkshires even as its congregation dwindled to about a dozen regular worshippers.

The inevitable came earlier this year, before summer-only services could begin, when the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts locked the church’s doors, seized its meager assets, and put the shimmering white building on the market. And if anyone needed a reminder that times had changed, the Old North Church in Boston last month took back a Colonial chandelier it had donated to St. Paul’s upon its founding.

Now, locked doors and for-sale signs have spurred part of the congregation to turn their angst into action. They have formed a nonprofit, hired an attorney, and are raising money to buy back St. Paul’s and begin anew.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese Reckons With Rhode Island's Slaving Past

From Rhode Island-

From the “Welcome to Bristol” sign at the town line, and along Hope Street’s red-white-and-blue stripe to the postcard-perfect Federal-style homes at its center, Bristol wears its Colonial past proudly. But one September evening, about forty Bristolians gathered in St. Michael’s Episcopal Church to talk about a past the town is not so eager to tell — the great crime that built Bristol: slavery.

Slavery was the economic lifeblood of the entire state for eighty years. Rhode Island passed its first law forbidding enslavement in 1652, but the law changed and the practice flourished apace with its profitability. From before the American Revolution to the Industrial Revolution, the slave trade powered Rhode Island’s rum distilleries and the textile mills, spinning cotton picked by Southern slaves into cheap “negro cloth” that was sold back to the South. Slavery employed the carpenters, the clerks, the bankers and the blacksmiths. Everyone made money from the slave trade, but few made more than the DeWolf family of Bristol.

More here

West Palm Beach to settle suit with church for $65,000

From Florida-

A man-made trinity of mangrove islands off Flagler Drive has come with a terrestrial cost not envisioned when the environmental project won approval.

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church of West Palm Beach is scheduled to win city approval for a $65,000 settlement Dec. 7. The payment would end a 2013 lawsuit in which the church asserted the project would block its waterfront views and deny its right to build a 40-slip dock. The settlement follows a $160,000 payment to which the county agreed in October.

Under the settlement, the city and county affirm the property owner’s right to seek permits for a dock, should the church site be sold to a condo developer, for example. The church’s attorney, Robert Yerkes, has said previously, however, that no such sale is in the works.

More here-

Primatial option for the Covenant

From The Living Church-

Looking to the January meeting of the primates of the Anglican Communion, the first that all expect to attend since 2009’s meeting in Egypt, we should pray for ressourcement of a Virginia Report and Windsor Report variety, relying on their rich ecclesiological catechesis. Archbishop Justin Welby’s reference to Lambeth 1998 and subsequent primates’ meetings in his invitation rather evokes this field, but sustained theological engagement of communion is needed.

Something very much like the Covenant remains, in Oliver O’Donovan’s memorable phrase, “the only game in town” (originally said of The Windsor Report), for the simple reason that it delivers a synthesis of Anglican thinking about the Church wrought as a vision for the future. The alternatives to the Covenant school are amnesia at best, innovation at worst — of an invisibilist or otherwise weakened sort that perceives the Church as simply affective gathering in mission across difference. In ecumenical terms, the pressure to opt for mere “Life and Work” would have us surrender the upward call to a common “Faith and Order,” as if the two are separable.

More here-

Monday, November 30, 2015

Unholy Alliance: Christian Charities Profit from $1 Billion Fed Program to Resettle Refugees

From Breitbart-

Though they are officially “non-profit” organizations, Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, and several other Christian organizations are profiting from lucrative contracts with the federal government to resettle refugees in the United States.

Of the 100,000 refugees resettled in the United States in 2014 under the Refugee Resettlement program, an estimated 40 percent were Muslims.

In FY 2015, the State Department, through the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration and the Office of Refugee Resettlement, spent more than $1 billion on these programs, which settled international refugees “vetted” by the United Nations High Commission on International Refugees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The federal government spent hundreds of millions of dollars more than that on refugees, however. The Department of Health and Human Services also provided a number of “entitlements” to these refugees.

More here-

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

From Get Religion-


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-

Episcopal Church plans to 'break away' from N.D. Bishop's stance on same sex marriage

From North Dakota-

In July, the U.S. Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly to allow same-sex marriages in the church.

However, the Episcopalian leader, Bishop Michael G. Smith says he is resisting that policy that went into effect today.

Darcy Corbitt-Hall recently moved here from Alabama
"Coming to North Dakota and then suddenly realizing I don't have that ability in my church is very upsetting,” Hall says. “I can't align myself with organizations that don't treat everyone the same and don't work for full inclusion."

Along with Darcy, other congregants that attend Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church, share the same beliefs.

More here-

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Rev. Scott Fisher recalls life of service to church, Alaska

From Alaska-

In October 1970, a young man landed in Fairbanks on a 24-hour layover between his old life and a life that would come to touch countless people throughout Alaska.

That man was Scott Fisher, known to most now as “Father Scott” of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, the century-old log church on the banks of the Chena River in downtown Fairbanks.

Fisher, who is now retiring, arrived as a volunteer layworker at the encouragement of the Episcopal Church’s “Flying Bishop,” Bishop William Gordon Jr., after graduating from Kenyon College in Ohio with a major in English and a minor in religious studies. Bishop Gordon met Fisher at a summer camp, and Fisher was struck by how un-fatherly Gordon appeared sitting on a porch wearing shorts.

more here-