Saturday, December 12, 2015

As Union Theological Seminary Plans to Sell Air Rights, Some See a Moral Quandary

From The New York Times-

For nearly two centuries, Union Theological Seminary has brought together scholarship and faith on behalf of social justice. But recently the religious institution has found itself pursuing a more earthly occupation: trying to navigate New York City’s brutal real estate market without doing damage to its soul.

This summer, faced with the prospect of major renovations, the seminary on the edge of western Harlem announced that it would sell its air rights and bring in a developer to build a tower of luxury condominiums on its campus, a two-block-long complex built around a grassy quadrangle in the early 1900s. While the profits from the tower will underwrite the enormous cost of refurbishing a host of aging buildings, the project has provoked impassioned condemnation from both faculty members and students who worry that the school will betray its mission by exacerbating the already profound effects of local gentrification.

More here-

Friday, December 11, 2015

Sr. Staff at The Episcopal Church Center Placed on Administrative Leave

From Michael Curry-

December 11, 2015 

Dear Friends, 

I need to inform you that on Wednesday I placed on administrative leave Bishop Stacy Sauls, Chief Operating Officer, Samuel McDonald, Deputy Chief Operating Officer and Director of Mission, and Alex Baumgarten, Director of Public Engagement. This is a result of concerns that have been raised about possible misconduct in carrying out their duties as members of senior management of the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society. 

I want to be clear. My decision should not be confused with a finding of fault, but is necessary to allow us to find clarity. We are taking these allegations seriously and there will be a full and fair examination of the concerns that have been raised to be conducted expeditiously by an independent investigator. To protect the integrity of that process, we will not be able to say more about the concerns at this time. 

I ask that you pray for all who are involved and who are impacted by this situation. 

More here- 

Uganda: Bishop Distances Self From Sectarian Document

From AllAfrica-

North Kigezi Diocese bishop Patrick Tugume has distanced himself and other church leaders from a document that is being circulated in Rukungiri District propagating sectarian messages.

The August 2, document titled 'orukiiko rwo'kwehereera no'kucuma enaama ye'kanisa' loosely translated as 'the clandestine meeting and to plot the church secret' is being circulated in Rukungiri by some unidentified people.

The document that Daily Monitor has seen purpotedly quotes big politicians in the district and Anglican Church leaders, urging their flock not to vote for politicians from the Catholic Church.

The document names several Anglican leaders and is "signed" by bishop Tugume and the Rev John Muhumuza, said to be diocesan secretary.

Speaking to Daily Monitor at North Kigezi Diocese offices on Tuesday, the bishop said whoever authored the letter wants to divide God's people.

More here-

The Church of England urgently needs a better PR team

From The Spectator-

The new report by the Woolf Institute on religion in British public life is predictable stuff. It says that some reforms are needed, so that Britain’s pluralistic, largely secular character is better expressed in law. It recommends that the law that demands religious worship in school assemblies should be scrapped, that faith schools should move away from selecting on the basis of religion, that the bishops in the House of Lords should be fewer and joined by other faith leaders, that the next coronation should reflect the religious, and non-religious, character of the nation. It reminds us that Anglican, and Christian, allegiance has fallen significantly (since 1983, the number of people calling themselves Anglican has fallen from 40 per cent to under 20, and those saying they are of no religion has risen to about 50 per cent).

The Church of England obviously needs to take such a report very seriously. Instead, its response has been predictably chippy. According to the Church Times, two spokespeople have complained that the report is unfair about church schools, whose high standards have nothing whatsoever to do with their ability to filter in a disproportionate amount of middle-class families. According to the Telegraph, the C of E complained the report had been ‘hijacked by humanists’, and had ‘fallen captive to liberal rationalism.’

More here-

‘He is a martyr, and I honour him’

From The Church Times-

EVERY morning and evening, the bells ring out from the seventh-century desert monastery of St James the Mutilated at Qara, 60 miles north of Damascus, in Syria, as the community of Carmelite monks and nuns follow their ancient liturgy in Arabic and French.

The lines of Islamic State (IS), or Daesh, are only 8km to the west, and 23km to the east. It was here that we spent three nights at the end of November, as part of a six-day visit by an international delegation, led by the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire.

The purpose of our visit was to meet and listen to people on the ground, and see the situation for ourselves. The invitation was from the Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III; and the Church acted as our hosts. The government provided a security detail to protect us, and we were free to travel at will — though at our own risk.

More here-

We have right to be safe, but as a nation we are failing to make it happen

From Maine-

The recent shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and the mass murder in San Bernardino are frightening reminders of the unprecedented level of gun violence now assaulting our country. In each of the last few years, more than 30,000 of us have become victims of gun violence, often at the hands of a friend or family member, or at our own hands.

Headlines about terrorism and mass shootings blind us to the fact that there are daily shootings of dozens of people across the country — more than 80 a day. In Maine, there were 158 firearm deaths in 2013, the last year for which there are published statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. That’s nearly double the number in 2003 (82).

More here-

St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Morgantown, celebrates 275th Anniversary

From Bethlehem-

St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Morgantown, celebrated its 275th Anniversary with a special service.

On Sunday, Dec. 6 the faithful gathered as they have for centuries to the call of God in the village of Morgantown at 6251 Morgantown Road. It was a reverent and joyous day as congregation and friends gathered to celebrate the 275th Anniversary of St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

The Church was aglow with candles on this the 2nd Sunday of the Advent Season, their light reflecting in the stained glass windows that line the church. An Advent wreath of greens with three purple and the one lone pink candle was suspended from the ceiling in the front of the church. The greens cast a shadow amidst the purple and gold of the Advent Vestments.

More here-

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Dial back Christianity in British official life, make room for secularism, says new report

From The National Catholic Reporter-

Almost 1,500 years after St. Augustine of Canterbury founded England’s first Christian church in 597 A.D., the British people have been told in no uncertain terms that they’re no longer living in a Christian country.

A sensational report released this week by the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life challenges this country’s time-tested moral and public values system. In language that raises eyebrows -- and tempers -- the report says the United Kingdom should cut back the Christian tone of major state occasions and shift toward a “pluralist character.”

Events such as coronations should be changed to be more inclusive, it says, while the number of bishops in the House of Lords should be cut to make way for leaders of other religions.

The recommendations from the commission, chaired by the former High Court judge Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, highlight major changes in British society, such as the decline in people who say they are Anglicans, down from 40 percent in 1983 to less than 20 percent in 2013. 

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury: I would attend my children's same-sex marriage if they were gay

From The Telegraph-

The Archbishop of Canterbury says that if his children were gay he would attend their same-sex marriage and "always love them" in comments that threaten to reignite divides in Church over issue.

The Church of England was formally opposed to legislation but the Most Rev Justin Welby appeared to reject suggestions that gay relationships are "sinful and inappropriate".

In an interview with Michael Gove, the Justice Secretary, in the Spectator magazine the Most Rev Welby said: "Would I pray for them together? You bet I would, absolutely.

More here-

The Nigerian Pastor With a Boko Haram Bounty on His Head

From Newsweek-

During its six-year insurgency in northeastern Nigeria, Boko Haram has killed thousands of people and displaced millions in its bid to realize its fundamentalist vision of an Islamic caliphate. In that quest, it has persecuted Nigeria’s Christian population and sought to exterminate Christian clerics, including Hassan John, an Anglican pastor from Jos, central Nigeria.

John, 52, is used to living with the perpetual threat of Boko Haram. “Every Christian cleric anywhere has the same bounty on his head,” says John, who is currently studying at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics in the U.K. “If you are a pastor or a priest, from Jos all the way to Maiduguri, you do have a bounty on your head.” The price of John’s life, according to the militant group, is 150,000 naira ($754)—slightly more than the going rate for an iPhone 6s in Nigeria. The bounty, however, has not stopped him from reaching out to Nigeria’s Muslim community in order to build bridges burned down by Boko Haram’s violent actions.

More here-

One killed, two injured in gun attack on Burundi church

From ENS (ACNS)-

A young boy has been killed and two people injured after an armed gang attacked a church in the Burundian capital Bujumbura. No motive for the attack on St. Mark’s Church, Ngagara, is known; but it is believed to be part of ongoing violence that has left more than 240 people dead since President Pierre Nkurunziza announced in April that he would seek re-election for an unprecedented third term. Nkurunziza won July’s election and survived an attempted coup.

“This kind of attack is common in the capital here,” a spokesman for the Anglican Church of Burundi told ACNS, “but it is the first time that a church has been attacked. Ngagara is one of the places that is often attacked. Often there is gunfire and shootings in the place.

“It was an attack by a group of people. One person has been killed and two other persons have been injured. One is the wife of the assistance pastor of St Marks and [the other] his child.”

More here-


From Dallas-

Sorry, Dallas gay Episcopalians. You still can’t get married in your own church, even with the “enthronement” (Episcopal-speak for hiring) of a new bishop last month. As one of his first orders of business, Bishop-elect George R. Sumner announced he’s sticking with a prior rule that nobody gay gets married in an Episcopal church in this town.

Since last summer when the national church voted to allow same gender marriage except when an individual bishop disagrees, the Diocese of Dallas has disagreed. But according to a group of gay Episcopalians, Sumner has afforded them a concession which they are calling, derisively, his I-30 plan.

The new bishop says it’s OK if gay Episcopalians drive to Fort Worth, where the Episcopal diocese does allow same-sex marriage, and get married there, according to Daniel Robinson Donalson of Dallas Episcopalians for Unity. Donalson was one of the authors of a letter (copy below) sent recently to Sumner denouncing the I-30 plan as grudging, demeaning and un-Christian.

More here-

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry recovering from surgery

From RNS-

The new leader of the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, is recovering from surgery to remove blood that had pooled beneath his skull, and expects to return to work after a few days’ rest.

On Sunday (Dec. 6), about a month after his installation, Curry had trouble speaking while visiting a church in Williamsburg, Va. He was taken to a nearby hospital and found to have a subdural hematoma, a collection of blood between the skull and brain. Doctors operated on him Tuesday.

“According to the Presiding Bishop, his family, and his medical team, the surgery went well, as had been expected,” the church announced afterward on its website. “Bishop Curry is alert and awake, and a full recovery continues to be anticipated.”

More here-

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Top U.S. Episcopal official recovering in Richmond after suffering blood on brain

From Richmond-

The top official of the Episcopal Church in the United States is being treated in Richmond after blood built up on his brain, according to a message from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia to church members.

Presiding Bishop Michael Bruce Curry, 62, is expected to make a full recovery from his subdural hematoma, the message said. He was taken to a hospital after a visitation to Bruton Parish in Williamsburg on Sunday, then taken to another hospital in Richmond for treatment, the message said.

More here-

also here-

and here-

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Three Priests in Gay Scandal Sue Anglican Church of Kenya

From All Africa-

Three priests suspended over homosexuality accusations have sued the Anglican Church of Kenya trustees.

The reverends John Njogu Gachau, Paul Mwangi Warui and James Maina accused the trustees of not adhering to the church's constitution and the rules of natural justice when they took action against them.

They had earlier sued the church commissioners for defamation and wrongful termination of employment, but the suit was amended when the commissioners said they did not employ the clergy.

The pastors are represented by Wonge Maina and Onsare partners law firm.

They argued that the Mt Kenya West Diocese disciplinary committee did not follow the right procedure when suspending them.

More here-

Episcopalians remember Bataan hero priest

From New Mexico-

Episcopalians will gather at churches in New Mexico to remember the life of the Rev. Frederick B. “Ted” Howden Jr. at 11 a.m. on Friday.

Howden gave his life that the soldiers in his charge might live. The Right Reverend Michael L. Vono, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, invites all Bataan survivors, military personnel, veterans, their families and the public to join in this remembrance of Father Howden on the 73rd anniversary of his death on Dec. 11, 1942.

“We must remember and honor those who have given their lives and those who have served and continue to serve our country,” Bishop Vono said. “We dedicate this date to the memory of Father Howden, and we honor all those who offer themselves in the service of freedom.”

More here-

Jesus, Mel Gibson, and the alpha issue

From The Living Church-

I embraced the Anglican current in the Catholic stream of Christianity when I became an Episcopalian as a young adult in the mid-1970s, after having been raised in a free-church evangelical tradition. From the very beginning, endemic conflict has marked my experience as an Episcopalian. I can yearn for no golden age, no peaceful days of yore. There has always been a fight going on.

In looking back over the last four-plus decades, basically my entire adult life, I am struck, even as the details of the controverted issues have evolved, by how easy it has been all along to predict which side of the divide du jour any particular Episcopalian will land on. In the ’70s, most (not all, but most) of those who were exercised about the replacement of the 1928 Prayer Book were also opposed to the ordination of women. As the years progressed, most (again, not all, but most) of those opposed to the ordination of women were also deeply concerned about the gradual normalization of homosexual relationships (a movement that arguably reached its omega point only this year at the 78th General Convention). And those who remained troubled by the Church’s redefinition of marriage to include partners of the same sex will doubtless join the frontlines in the coming fray over liturgical language, arguing against the abandonment of masculine pronouns for God and loaded words like “Lord,” “Father,” and “Kingdom.” (This is not to say that others will not also oppose such abandonment.)

More here-

A Jewish menorah defies the Nazi swastika, 1931

From Rare Historical Photos-

It was the eighth night of Chanukah in Kiel, Germany, a small town with a Jewish population of 500. That year, 1931, the last night Chanukah fell on Friday evening, and Rabbi Akiva Boruch Posner, spiritual leader of the town was hurrying to light the Menorah before the Shabbat set in.

Directly across the Posner’s home stood the Nazi headquarters in Kiel, displaying the dreaded Nazi Party flag in the cold December night. With the eight lights of the Menorah glowing brightly in her window, Rabbi Posner’s wife, Rachel, snapped a photo of the Menorah and captured the Nazi building and flag in the background. She wrote a few lines in German on the back of the photo. “Chanukah, 5692. ‘Judea dies’, thus says the banner. ‘Judea will live forever’, thus respond the lights.”

More here-

Monday, December 7, 2015

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop hospitalised with subdural haematoma

From ACNS-

Prayers have been asked for the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Michael Curry, after he was hospitalised with a subdural haematoma.

Bishop Curry was visiting Bruton Parish Church in Colonial Williamsburg, in the State of Virginia, yesterday (Sunday) as part of celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of the church when a “medical incident” occurred.

He was taken to a local hospital and then transferred to a medical centre in Richmond, Virginia for treatment.

Medical staff treating Bishop Curry say that a subdural haematoma is “a small collection of blood between his brain and his skull. It comes from banging your head – from headbanging,” a nurse said, speaking at Bishop Curry’s request. “It is a simple thing to fix and we will be working on fixing it [today]. And he should be in great shape probably by the end of the week.”

Congregation seeks national recognition for St. Matthew's Episcopal Church

From Alaska-

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church established itself on the banks of the Chena River when the gold mining supply camp it served began calling itself Fairbanks at the turn of the century. Over the next hundred years it opened a hospital, library and served as a hub for Episcopal missionaries reaching out to rural Alaska.

In the 1960s it established an alcohol rehabilitation program for the community. Since then, the Episcopal church has gone through its own changes. The original log cabin-style building burned down in 1947 and was replaced with the log cabin church that sits there today.

There are still original pieces in the church, like the altar, lectern and communion rail, which were carved in 1905 by Isabel M. Emberley, a nurse at St. Matthew’s Hospital, from oak shipping crates.

More here-

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Lost Boy of Sudan ordained as deacon by Episcopal Diocese of Utah

From Salt Lake-

At an age most boys spend their days at play or in school, Gabriel Garang Atem was running for his life.

It was 1987 and civil war had forced him and thousands of other Sudanese children, mostly young boys, to flee Sudan on foot to Ethiopia to escape death or induction into the northern army.

After being orphaned or otherwise separated from their families, some 20,000 Sudanese boys endured unthinkable dangers — attacks from wild animals, drowning in rivers and rebel attacks. On top of that, they were malnourished, dehydrated and were constantly exposed to the elements. Thousands were killed or died.

More here-

Does Christ belong in Christmas?

From Pittsburgh-

Christmas bells hadn’t begun ringing this fall when the Christmas culture wars came to visit us again. Fighting back against a perceived “war on Christmas,” some Christians loudly insist that Christ be the center of Christmas as “the reason for the season.”

Many devout Christians who built the foundations of the Pittsburgh region we know today would have found the identification of the holiday with their faith baffling, even annoying. Presbyterians in early Western Pennsylvania steadfastly ignored Christmas because, to them, Christ was most certainly not the reason for a season of sinful indulgence.

Numerous Presbyterians arrived in the region during the early days of settlement toward the end of the 18th century. They organized Bethel Presbyterian Church in 1778, giving us Bethel Park. Their church on a hill, organized in 1784, became Churchill. The links between their world and ours are many.

More here-