Saturday, December 31, 2016

Facebook puts a freeze on North Pole Santa Claus' page for Christmas

From Alaska-

Prominent North Pole resident Santa Claus says Facebook temporarily locked him out of his account Christmas Day.

On his Facebook page, Claus — also a monk in Anam Cara, a Celtic Anglican order, since the early 2000s — routinely posts a mix of Alaska photography and inspirational quotes to his nearly 300,000 followers.

That routine was interrupted Sunday morning, however, when Claus couldn't log in.

"They initially sent me messages via Facebook saying it looked like someone had gotten into my account via phishing — which I don't believe at all," Claus said. "I have extraordinarily strong passwords on my account and email."

More here-

Churchgoers' efforts aimed at 'stumping' pastor 'a riot'

From Florida-

When Debbie Wieland enters the sanctuary of Epiphany Celebration Anglican Church on New Year's Day, she hopes an item she places on a table by the altar will finally leave her pastor speechless.

If hers doesn't work, the charter member of the Eustis church hopes the 15 to 20 other things placed around it baffle and befuddle the Rev. Dr. Woody Volland into stunned silence.

Welcome to Epiphany's entertaining and adored annual "Stump the Pastor" service during which members bring in an eclectic cache of their Christmas gifts, which Volland must then use to make up an impromptu sermon.

"It's always the Sunday after Christmas and it is always a riot to watch," said Wieland, a pharmaceutical buyer who serves as worship assistant to Volland. "Everyone tries to bring in something that will stump him, but he always manages to pull it off somehow."

More here-

Will Liberal Church Attendance Spike Because of Trump?

From Christian Post-

While the debate continues over the exact fallout that will come from the election of Donald Trump, one group may reap an unexpected benefit: progressive Christians.

At a mid-August campaign stop in Florida, Trump told a group of conservative pastors that they would see higher church attendance if he is elected president. It may be liberal churches, however, that see a boost in attendance.

United Methodist Church attendance was about twice the average the Sunday after the election, Emma Green reported Dec. 11 for The Atlantic.

"Anecdotal evidence suggests other liberal churches from a variety of denominations have been experiencing a similar spike over the past month, with their higher-than-usual levels of attendance staying relatively constant for several weeks," Green wrote.


Voice of God steers growth of human beings

From Texas-

Human beings are not created to live their lives in monologue, speaking only to themselves, obeying only some vague little voice within themselves. We are meant to be addressed, to listened for the address of God summoning us, calling us.

Karl  Barth said that all human history begins in being addressed. "Adam, where are you?" That was God's first question to humankind.

We sometimes enjoy depicting ourselves among the sophisticates who question God. "Do you exist?" "Why do you allow suffering in the world? But it's really the other way around. Our questions are not merely as interesting as God's questions to us. "Adam, where are you?"

Listening for the voice of God so that our hearts may determine his will challenges the reigning ideology of our culture that claims autonomy and freedom from accountability. Life is what we want, what we say. No wonder that loneliness is a major modern affliction.

More here-

Theology on Tap: Locals grab beers and Bibles and join intense theological discussion

From Virginia-

A frothy mug of dark-colored craft beer rested across a table from a like-filled mug of suds. Just down the table, several similarly laden containers awaited consumption.

Meanwhile, and upon the lips of a handful of participants, a discussion of the Bible, God and Christianity poured forth as readily as the brew in their mugs.

Welcome to Theology on Tap. Upon the last Tuesday of every month a group of people gather at The Wood Booger Grill in Norton, Virginia, to discuss wide-ranging topics related to the Bible. The next meeting is slated for Jan. 31. Anyone may attend.

“We want to examine what we are professing,” said William Yearout, 22, a senior at University of Virginia at Wise — and a frequent participant of Theology on Tap. “Theology on Tap is casual, typically featuring all walks of people from all different backgrounds who have come together to talk about life, Christianity, God, heaven, hell.”

More here-

Friday, December 30, 2016

Harris agrees with priest on Holy Innocents toy ban

From Trinidad-

ARCHBISHOP of Port-of- Spain, Joseph Harris, is supporting a decision of one of his priests who said he was no longer blessing toys for the Feast of the Holy Innocents and instead focus on blessing the children.

Asked to comment on the stance taken by Fr Martin Sirju on Thursday, Harris said the Feast of the Holy Innocents calls for a more “dignified” ceremony than one which is focused on toys.

“The Feast of the Holy Innocents is not about toys,” said Harris in a telephone interview with Newsday. “The innocents were killed by Herod because he hated Jesus Christ. He had heard that a new King was born and therefore he wanted to get rid of that King or anybody else who could be a threat to his throne. So Herod went out and killed these children of two years old and under. He killed all who were a threat to his throne.” Harris continued, “In Trinidad and Tobago, the kids who have been killed are no threat to anybody. They are innocent, so that for me, Holy Innocents is about innocent lives that are lost.” For many years, some Roman Catholic and Anglican priests have marked the occasion with the blessing of toys that children received as Christmas presents. Harris said he has only ever seen the tradition practised in Trinidad and Tobago and he does not know when it originated.

More here-,237846.html

Like other old institutions, England’s state religion uses artful adaptation

From The Economist-

THE TIMING may have been a little provocative but some of the proposals are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Britain's National Secular Society, a lobby group whose declared aim is to end religious privilege, chose the Christmas season to issue a wide-ranging report on the public role of faith. It comes with a long list of suggestions for curbing what it regards as the unfair advantages now enjoyed by organisations and office-holders devoted to religion.

The need to affirm secular values is "particularly urgent" today, the report argues, because growing faiths, including Islam, are likely to claim privileges similar to those already enjoyed by the historically powerful, but numerically declining, Church of England. In education, for example, demands for new faith schools are given legitimacy by the fact that the Anglican church is already involved in the teaching of more than 1m English children. 

More here-

The Queen: ‘I follow Christ’s example’

From The Church Times-

THE Queen has spoken of the hope inspired by the acts of goodness of “unsung heroes”.

And she ended her televised message on Christmas Day with an explicitly Christian message, shared by many on social media: “Jesus Christ lived obscurely for most of his life, and never travelled far. He was maligned and rejected by many, though he had done no wrong. And yet, billions of people now follow his teaching, and find in him the guiding light for their lives.

“I am one of them, because Christ’s example helps me see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them, and whatever they themselves believe.”

Prescriptions for fear and uncertainty were offered in other Christmas messages from various bishops. As 2016 drew to a close, people “might be tempted to say ‘Good riddance!’” the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, suggested.

More here-

Why we need the politics of Christmas

From Massachusetts-

After a bruising election season-and an even more bruising post-election reality for those who happen to be undocumented, Muslim, LGBTQ or other minority-it feels like the last thing you'd want to find in Christmas is politics. We could all be forgiven for just wanting the joyful shepherds and wise magi, the darling baby and the holy night. Give me my 12 days of bury-my-head-in-the-snow sweet rest, and only that.

This is why we need the politics of Christmas more than ever.

In the Magnificat in the Gospel of Luke, a young woman named Mary sings God's praises that she will bear the beloved child of God. In the life of this child, she says, God fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty. God lifts up the lowly and casts the powerful off of their thrones. God does this, Mary says, as God sends Jesus to be with us in this world. She says "yes" to being part of it and glories in the wonder of a God who has chosen her.

More here-

St. Mark's Cathedral: 'We will name racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia as sins'

From Seattle-

Saint Mark's Cathedral is ringing in the new year with a ringing defense of diversity in American life, with a definition of "religious liberty" worlds apart from right-wing evangelists calling for the freedom of believers to discriminate.

The governing vestry of Seattle's Episcopal cathedral adopted a "Statement of Commitment and Action" just before Christmas, laying on the line its definition of what it means to "live the words of Jesus".  And it bluntly identifies what is sin:

"We will reject White Nationalism," says the statement.  "We will name racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia as sins. We believe all people are made in God's image, and we affirm diversity as a gift, blessing and opportunity for our nation."

The statement goes further, saying St. Mark's will put its values on the line in the era of Donald Trump.

More here-

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Robbers attack Anglican Bishop in Delta

From Nigeria-

GUNMEN, Tuesday, stormed the official residence of the Anglican Bishop of the Oleh Diocese, Delta State, Rt. Rev. John Aruakpor, making away with an undisclosed sum of money and valuables.

It was gathered that the hoodlums, numbering five, scaled the fence of Aruakpor’s Bishop’s Court at Oleh, Isoko South Local Government Area of the state at about 1p.m. and forced their way into his apartment. 

Sources said the robbers held the cleric at gunpoint as he was preparing for afternoon prayers, dispossessing him of money, phones, laptops, and iPads. Speaking with news-men on the incident, the cleric thanked God that no life was lost during the operation.

Read more at:

DENIM SPIRIT: The commercialization of immaturity

From Central New York-

Can you feel the dis-ease?

No, not an illness but a dis-ease among us that is an unsettling lull beneath the surface, between waves pushing the storm toward a moment of breaking. Feel it?

One of the marks of maturity, emotional and spiritual, is the ability to hold two opposing perspectives or truths at one and the same time. Conversely, a blanket of categorical thinking, when nearly every decision or circumstance is evaluated as an either-or proposition, reveals an immaturity of mind and spirit. Think about that in regard to our current culture and politics.

All sides across the political spectrum pick on the news media. It is low hanging fruit for social critics. But it is also true in our current commercial culture, the sharper and more intense the divisions among us, the more profitable news becomes. In addition to reporting what is happening, the news media often heightens and enflames our divisions in a way that sells more news. But this nascent immaturity within and among us, while exacerbated and exploited by the commercialization of the news, is not caused by it.

More here-

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


From The Living Church-

This has been a brutal year for children. Exhibit A: Columnist Rick Gladstone’s September article in The New York Times, “Why So Many Children Are Being Killed In Aleppo.” He asserted the following:

Though the world is jolted periodically by the suffering of children in the Syria conflict — the photographs of Alan Kurdi’s drowned body and Omran Daqneesh’s bloodied face are prime examples — dead and traumatized children are increasingly common.

When the article was written in September of this year only 250,000 people were left in Aleppo — 100,000 of whom were children. God only knows how many are left now, especially after the bombing of a children’s hospital in November forced medical care for such children underground. These events wax and wane, but as an African proverb states, “When the elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”

Roughly two millennia ago, the birth of one child led to the death of many others, and that which would bruise the heel of God broke the hearts of many mothers, including God’s own. Surely she knew some who died (how could she not?), and thereby experienced a type and foretaste of her own loss. The Church remembers this day as the Feast of the Holy Innocents, another day the grass suffered.

More here-

Houses of Worship Poised to Serve as Trump-Era Immigrant Sanctuaries

From The New York Times-

Tucked one floor below the majestic Gothic sanctuary of Arch Street United Methodist Church, Javier Flores Garcia sleeps on a cot in a basement Sunday-school classroom that church members have outfitted with a microwave, a compact refrigerator and a television.

Mr. Flores, an arborist, longs for the open air, but does not dare set foot outside. He was supposed to report to the immigration authorities last month to be deported to his homeland, Mexico, but one day before his report date, he took refuge in the church.

His family is why he is fighting to remain, and when they visited him in the church recently, his 5-year-old son, Javier Jr., parked on his lap. The boy often refuses to leave his father’s side, and has ended up staying for days with him in the church. On Christmas Day, Mr. Flores had been there six weeks.

More here-

Photos of Trump at church: Crossing boundary or capturing history?

From Palm Beach-

As President-elect Donald Trump rose for communion Saturday night at the Christmas Eve service at The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, a woman rose with him. Not to take communion — but to take a photo of the part-time Palm Beach resident.
To the chagrin of some other parishioners, she held her cellphone at arm’s length, snapping away. Around her in the packed church, perhaps two dozen people joined in, standing quickly during the communion offering to take cellphone photos of Trump and his wife, Melania.

Images of the Trumps attending the service were circulated widely on social media since this past weekend’s Christmas holiday. One video went viral, showing many in the church’s audience giving Trump a standing ovation as he walked to his seat in the third-row pew and waved quickly to the crowd before sitting next to his wife.

More here-

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Obamas play Christmas Eve escape game; Trumps attend late night mass

From Daily Nation-

President Barack Obama and his daughters spent part of the Christmas weekend playing an "escape room" game, while White House successor Donald Trump ushered in the holiday overnight with a visit to church.

According to pool reports, Obama, daughters Sasha and Malia and some friends spent part of Saturday evening playing "Breakout Waikiki" — a live-action game where players are locked in a room with one hour to figure out a series of clues and riddles to escape.

The Obamas are spending the holidays in Hawaii.

Escape room games are all the rage in the United States, after years of popularity in Asia and elsewhere.

More here-

Monday, December 26, 2016


From First Things-

This piece was originally published at the Credenda/Agenda web site in 2009. Being in a Grinchy mood and of a generally Grinchy disposition, I thought it worth re-presenting.

Several years ago, when The Passion of the Christ was making headlines, I realized that N. T. Wright has spoiled every Jesus film. Once you’ve read Wright, you realize that none of the movies get Jesus right. Pharisees and scribes are reduced stock villains with caricatured Jewish features. Pilate has to make an appearance, and Herod, but we are given no sense that first-century Israel was the powder keg that it actually was.

No film ever gives us what Wright says we should be looking for: a “crucifiable” Jesus, a Jesus who does something so provocative to make the Jews murderously hostile. In the movies, Jesus is a hippy peace-child, a delicate flower of a man, a dew-eyed first-century Jewish Gandhi. Why would anyone want to hurt Him? Maybe because He’s so annoyingly precious; but that’s not the story of the gospels.

More here-

Was there really a star of Bethlehem? Yes

From The Idler-

It’s the time of year when newspapers ask whether there really was a star of Bethlehem. “We have seen his star in the East”, the wise men report in the Bible. So is the event historically accurate? The wise men were astrologers, which makes the incident a double target for the debunkers of today. 

Indeed, some quickly consign the story to the rubbish bin of legend. Astronomy tells us that stars do not suddenly appear in the cosmos, they say, but are fixed and unchanging compared to shifts human individuals can detect. Case closed. 

Others go the opposite way. They muster fideistic convictions and insist the star was a miracle. What happened to the wise men is comparable to the incident in the book of Joshua, when the sun stood still in the middle of the sky and did not go down for a whole day. God did it because God can. 

Then, there are those who search for recorded celestial events that might explain away the story. Perhaps the sight refers to Venus rising as the morning star just before sunrise, which might have had significance for astrologers. Or maybe it was a supernova or comet or atmospheric apparition. 

More here-


From The Living Church-

Ten years ago, I was ordained a deacon on June 3, the day the Church commemorates the Ugandan Martyrs, a group of Anglicans and Roman Catholics who were executed in the late 19th century for their faith. I asked the bishop if he would be willing to pray the collect for that day during my ordination. The dean of the cathedral strongly objected. She was disturbed by the collect’s proclamation, à la Tertullian, that “the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.” The bishop, however, agreed with me, and so a room full of well-dressed people squirmed a little in their seats as these words were read aloud.

Martyrdom is not usually among the first things we mention about Christianity to prospective converts. “Come and join us! If you do, there is a better than average chance you’ll be killed for it!” Of course, that is not always true, especially in America, where we can practice our Christianity quite comfortably, despite the protestations of some that we are all suffering mightily for not having store clerks wish us a Merry Christmas.

More here-


From Montana-

The music in the malls is always a sign that we’ve hit the holiday season, and people get started making their Christmas preparations. In addition to shopping for the perfect gift, some advance planners go through the process of checking when their neighborhood church is holding its annual Christmas service.

While they might not go regularly, for many those Christmas carols at church are a holiday tradition, so they want to squeeze it in. Sadly, if their neighborhood church is mainline Protestant, they may be surprised to find it’s closed.

Across the English-speaking world the numerical decline of mainline Protestantism is accelerating. The largest mainline Protestant denominations in the United States are the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Episcopal Church. Collectively, membership in these denominations decreases by about 1 million a year, resulting in hundreds of church closures annually.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury’s Christmas sermon

From ENS-

The normal processes of life do not stop because we are celebrating Christmas; today 360,000 babies will be born, 151,000 people will die. Life in all its rawness continues to happen to people both far away and close to us, even if news-gathering slackens. 

News does not stop but we choose to put aside those things which trouble us as much as possible. Sometimes we just look away, even from really important things; another series of pictures of barrel bombs in Aleppo, yet more information about killing in the South Sudan, the news from Berlin this week. And we look away. Especially when we want a peaceful and satisfying Christmas, unsullied by grim reality.

We all have a deep longing to be satisfied therefore intuitively we go for security, for the opportunity to focus inwards for a moment, and keep the world at bay. But satisfaction is not met by another gift or some more fine food, and it’s not met by another gathering or technological experience. For security we need true life, glorious life , the life of God welling up and overflowing in glory.

More here-

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2016


From The Living Church-

In the grand tradition of end-of-the-year blog posts, the temptation to reduce another revolution around the sun into an abiding theme, well, abides. To say that 2016 has been a year many would prefer to observe from the rear-view mirror flirts with understatement.

Perhaps the strongest statements about the year came at its beginning and end, with the release of David Bowie’s Blackstar and Leonard Cohen’s You Want it Darker bookending the year — two albums pondering mortality and the afterlife, released mere weeks before each artist’s demise. A reflection on the two albums may now seem morbid, but I believe they provided lenses through which we can make meaning of the detritus of 2016, and even come to understand better the condition of Western humanity in what may be the dusk of modernity.

Bowie’s album, arriving in the first week of 2016, preceded the artist’s succumbing to cancer by mere days. Before Bowie’s death, the album was heralded as an unconventional late gem of his career. It stood up on its own merits as an ethereal reflection upon mortality and legacy, along with Bowie’s more traditional subject matter of decadence, sex, and low culture. Following his death, the album’s genius as a prerecorded dispatch “from beyond” garnered greater consideration and praise.

More here-

St. Nicholas to Santa Claus: The birth of an icon

From New Mexico-

Here’s how the legend of St. Nicholas came to become the icon we know today.

The character of Santa Claus has come a long way over the years. We know him today as a jolly, magical elf who brings goodies and toys for good girls and boys across the world. But that’s only the 21st-century version of Santa here in the U.S.

Like Santa Claus, St. Nicholas himself is a bit of a mythical figure. Many of the stories we know about him may be lore. There are shockingly few historical documents to attest to much of St. Nicholas’ tenure as the Bishop of Myra. Almost everything we know about St. Nicholas lives on in legend.

St. Nicholas reportedly was born around 280 A.D. in the city of Patara, near Myra in what is now modern-day Turkey. As the legend goes, St. Nicholas was born into a very wealthy family. His parents died when he was young and he inherited a vast amount of wealth, which he gave away to those in need. He was lauded for his charity and selflessness and was named the Bishop of Myra.

More here-

The world is full of horror. So how can we hang on to hope?

From The Washington Post-

As a kid, the 24 hours leading up to Christmas were always the longest day of my life. Time fought to stand still, grudgingly giving way to the movement of the clock’s hands.

I wanted the day out of the way in time for the great vigil — an event I never stayed awake long enough to observe: the surreptitious delivery of presents by a visitor in the night.

Now, Advent, that four-week waiting period for Christmas, has assumed its rightful time and place in my adult life.

Advent comes with instructions that are often hard to follow: Slow down, be quiet and meditate on the real reason for the season; prepare for what’s to come.

Try doing that this tumultuous year.

Advent, which ends today, got started on Nov. 27 at my St. Mary’s Episcopal Church with a ceremonial lighting of “Hope,” the first of four candles on the Advent wreath.

More here-

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Ecumenical Christmas Letter

From Anglican News-

Greetings in the name of Jesus, the Word made flesh who by the action of God and the obedience of His blessed Mother, the God bearer, came to dwell among us, Emmanuel.

In November, I visited Pakistan to express solidarity with Christian communities across the country, which have suffered much over recent years. We remember the slaughter of innocent worshippers on Easter Sunday 2016 in Lahore, and before that the attack on worshippers in Peshawar at Christmas 2013 and many other incidents. Such attacks are not only designed to inflict appalling suffering but also to sow fear in the heart of Christian, and other minority communities. During the visit I spoke with some of the survivors of these attacks, and I was deeply moved and humbled by their extraordinary courage in continuing to be faithful witnesses of Jesus. They spoke of knowing now more than ever that Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

More here-

Anglican church bans women from vicar's job on 'biblical' grounds

From The Telegraph-

An Anglican church has banned women from applying to its vacant post of vicar on ‘biblical’ grounds.

Holy Trinity Church in Wallington in south west London will now issue a job advert that specifically excludes female clerics from seeking the job.

The Church of England said such a move was rare but not unique. A spokesman said that because vicars and priests are ‘postholders’ rather than employees, the church does not fall foul of equal opportunities laws.

More here-

Couple wed in nativity play’s coup de théâtre

From The Church Times-

NOT content with a Virgin birth and angelic visitations, Mary and Joseph sprang an additional surprise on those gathered around the manger on Sunday: a wedding.

Chrissie Armstrong and David Blamire, playing Mary and Joseph at St James’s, Whitehaven, decided that they wanted to get married during the nativity service. Their daughter, Daisy, born seven months ago, was also baptised, after playing the baby Jesus in the tableau.

“It was the obvious thing to do,” Mrs Armstrong said. “We’ve both been married before; so we didn’t want to make a big fuss in all the preparation. . . It’s amazing that we managed to keep it all such a secret. David’s dad had an inkling that Daisy might be baby Jesus, but the wedding came out of the blue for everyone else.”

In on the act was the Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Robert Jackson, who arranged for the couple to be married under licence, so that banns did not have to be read. He hid the wedding dress in the vestry.

More here-éâtre

With Obama's Signature, U.S. Religious Freedom Law Protects Atheists

From NBC-

When President Barack Obama signed an update to U.S. law protecting religious freedom late last week, one provision drew special attention: U.S. law now recognizes non-believers as, in essence, a religious group.

Obama's signing of amendments to the International Religious Freedom Act on Friday wasn't widely noticed — except among the community of atheists, agnostics and others who categorize themselves as "humanists."

For the first time, the law — which was originally passed in 1998 — specifies that "the freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs and the right not to profess or practice any religion."

Among other things, the main amendments to the law promoting religious liberty around the world:

More here-


From The Catholic Telegraph-

Fans of EWTN’s The Journey Home program saw a familiar face Monday: Father Tom Wray, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Director of Evangelization and Discipleship.

Once an Episcopal pastor, Father Wray converted to Catholicism and, after several years of work as a layman, was ordained a Catholic priest under what’s called the “pastoral provision.’ Established in 1980 by Pope St. John Paul II, it’s a process that allows American bishops to ordain some former Anglican and Lutheran pastors as Catholic priests, and to dispense them from a vow of celibacy if , like Father Wray, they are married and have children.

The journey has been a difficult leap of faith for Father Wray, who declined the offer to appear on the weekly interview program two years ago. Leaving the Episcopal church caused rifts in his extended family, unhappiness and anger in his former (Episcopal) parish, and astonished disbelief from old friends. It meant the end of a career and of seemingly settled plans for the future – all without any guarantee that ordination as a Catholic priest would ever be possible.

More here-

Thursday, December 22, 2016

No fairer sex please, we’re Anglican: Wallington church cites ‘biblical reasons’ for male-only advert

From The UK-

Wallington’s Holy Trinity Church explained it will only seek men to fill a vacancy after a church council decided the next leader should be male for ‘biblical reasons’ in a newsletter given out to church-goers.

The newsletter handed out to the congregation, on Sunday, November 20, outlines the church’s reasons to appoint a man to the position of vicar in its ‘leadership and gender roles in Christ’s church’ section of information and events page.

It reads: “At our recent open evening we explained the parish church council’s view that the position of the overall leader (vicar) should be male for biblical reasons. Thank you to all those who shared their questions, views and points.

“We have now produced a summary sheet setting out the principle reasons from scripture for maintaining the historic position of this church on this matter.”

The same newsletter also asked its members to “pray for an urgent visit by a boiler specialist”.

More here-

Atheist vow to challenge Wabukala’s nomination to head anti-graft body

From Kenya-

Atheists in Kenya (AIK) have faulted the recent nomination of retired Anglican Archbishop Eliud Wabukala to be the new chairperson of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), saying “he will forgive the corrupt” due to his Christian values.

In a press statement signed by the President of AIK, Harrison Mumia, the atheists vowed to challenge his nomination in parliament during his vetting.

Mr Mumia said that with Wabukala’s strong Christian foundation where forgiveness is a virtue, it would be difficult for him to recommend punishment for corrupt people who are ‘wrongdoers’.

More here-

Anglican Church names Nigerian bishop, the first African in 2 decades

From Africa News-

The Church of England has appointed its first black bishop in over two decades. Nigerian Woyin Karowi Dorgu is set to be the 13th bishop of Woolwich.

The move by the Church is as part of efforts to significantly increase its handful of minority ethnic clergy in senior leadership roles.

Dorgu joins Ugandan John Sentamu, currently the archbishop of York, who is the only other black bishop. He is the second most powerful leader of the church and was consecrated as bishop of Stephney 20 years ago.

More here-

Richmond church memorializes homeless people who died

From Richmond-

On the first day of winter and just hours before the longest night of the year, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Richmond held a service Wednesday to memorialize homeless people who have died this year.

It’s an annual service that the church has held for several years. The church’s rector said it recognizes “the dignity of every human being.”

“Every human being has dignity, and we have a responsibility to look out for one another,” said the Rev. Wallace Adams-Riley. “That’s especially true for those most vulnerable.”

Thirty people in the region who have dealt with homelessness and had passed away within the past year were recognized during the candlelight service held on National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, a day in which national organizations encourage communities to recognize people who have died homeless.

More here-


From Montana-

Donald Trump's Inaugural weekend will include an interfaith prayer service at Washington's National Cathedral, a customary event but complicated this year by anger over the president-elect's rhetoric on Muslims, immigrants and others.

The service was announced Wednesday by the presidential inaugural committee, which provided no details on the ceremony or participants. A similar 2013 event for President Barack Obama's second-term Inaugural included about two dozen religious leaders, including three Muslims, along with representatives of Judaism, evangelical Christianity, mainline Protestantism, Orthodox Christianity and Sikhism.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Washington, has been helping plan the Jan. 21 service and will participate, said his spokeswoman, Chieko Noguchi. She said the organizing "is still in its early stages."

Refugees’ WV resettlement OK’d by State Dept.

From West Virginia-

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson, director at Episcopal Migration Ministries, announced that the West Virginia Interfaith Refugee Ministry had been approved to join its network of 30 refugee resettlement sites throughout the country.

“It is particularly heart-warming to me that this important step in the process of welcoming refugees comes as it does on the cusp of the commemoration and celebration of the birth of Jesus,” he said, “for, as Scripture tells us, it was not long afterwards that he himself became a refugee.”

Episcopal Migration Ministries, one of nine national refugee resettlement agencies that work with the federal government and local groups to place refugees, and local volunteers have been working together in hopes of establishing a resettlement community in Charleston, making the city a safe haven for people who have had to flee their homes because of war, persecution or other violence.

In the ministry’s “resettlement communities,” local organizers assist refugees with finding health care and work, translation and other services.

- See more at:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Archbishops George Carey And Desmond Tutu Removed From King's College London Display In 'Gaystapo' Row

From Christian Today-

Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey was "fully supportive" of the decision to remove his portrait from the front of King's College, London.

The college, one of the top academic institutions in the world and part of the University of London, was accused of giving in to a "gay-stapo" because Lord Carey is known to take a conservative Christian line on the subject of gay marriage.

The portrait of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who supports gay marriage and whose own daughter relinquished her job as a vicar to marry her female partner, has also been removed, as has that of Sir Michael Howard, former leader of the Conservatives, who led the party's decision to support civil partnerships.

The picture of Lord Carey of Clifton was removed after a five-year campaign by students who opposed his views on gay marriage led by Ben Hunt, student union president who took part in the review of the static portraits last year.

 In an article on Conservative Woman website, King's College lecturer Niall McCrea and Rev Jules Gomes, pastor of St Augustine's Church, Douglas, on the Isle of Man, say: "For a prestigious

institution of Christian heritage to allow this campaign to claim victory is worrying.

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Ethnic minorities 'visible yet invisible' within Church of England

From The UK-

A senior Anglican has suggested the Church of England is institutionally racist and does not respect its ethnic minority membership.

The Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, chaplain to Commons Speaker John Bercow, said ethnic minorities are "visible yet invisible" within the Church.

Mrs Hudson-Wilkin, who is originally from Jamaica, said the Church of England could learn from Pentecostalism, which is thriving and has prominent black leadership.

Her comments came after the Rev Prebendary Dr Woyin Karowei Dorgu, who was born and raised in Nigeria, was appointed as the next Bishop of Woolwich - the first black man to be made a bishop in 20 years.

"We are visible yet invisible," Mrs Hudson-Wilkin told the BBC. "I do not believe that the Church recognises that we are there.

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Come to Church! There’s Beer

From The Wall Street Journal-

“A half a Revelation, please.” The Rev. Stuart Cradduck allowed the theological implications of the request to hang in the air for a moment.

“Why settle for half when you could have a full revelation?” Mr. Cradduck answered.

Then he turned to the bank of wooden kegs under the stained-glass windows to fill the beer-lover’s order.

It was the last Saturday in November and Mr. Cradduck, the rector of St. Wulfram’s Church in this Midlands town, was serving behind an improvised bar in the church, dressed in a black cassock and clerical collar. With events like the “Land of Hops and Glory” beer festival, Mr. Cradduck and other Anglican modernizers are trying to make their churches hubs of increasingly secular communities.

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Feeling Grinchy? Remember Seuss’ message

From Georgia-

Anyone willing to risk falling into the trap of overanalyzing his books might begin by noting that they have been used to teach Christian doctrine, even though he did not consider himself a highly religious person. Still, he was steeped in Christianity.

Geisel not only attended his mother’s Episcopal church but his father’s Lutheran congregation. Later, at Dartmouth and Oxford, he participated in chapel services.

He was drawn to church in part by hymns and their use of rhyme and repetition. One particular hymn seems significant. He memorized “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” including the final lines, “God in Three Persons, blessed Trinity.” Perhaps Geisel recalled the song’s numerical reference when he depicted the Grinch’s conversion in the book:

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Suicide among Priests?

From RNS-

“Suicide is on the rise among Irish priests” is the kind of report which causes or should cause concern and a sense of crisis among Irish and non-Irish, priests and non-priests, Catholics and non-Catholics—anyone with humane instincts, empathic concerns, and an interest in the future of faith communities. Sighting it prompted this a-seasonal commentary, which overlooks natural topics for the season: elections and holidays.

This line appeared in Sarah Mac Donald’s story in the pre-Christmas issue of The National Catholic Reporter (Dec. 16-29). She quoted a leader of Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests. Elaboration: “the vast majority of Irish priests [are] now age 70 or over,” who live “increasingly isolated and lonely lives” and deduce “that we no longer really matter.” Another said, “we’ve done our best to carry the good news,” but now are “ritually presented as bad news people, controlling, oppressing, limiting, obsessing.” Also, they are not being replaced; there are almost no seminarians in line. Temporary if partly illusory relief comes through the importation of priests from Africa, Asia, and the other places where there is—yes!—an oversupply of priests.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Deacon to Be Church’s New COO

From The Living Church-

The Rev. Deacon Geoffrey T. Smith has been named the Episcopal Church’s Chief Operating Officer, a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff. The church’s Executive Council made the appointment following a joint nomination by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies.

“I’m thrilled to be joining in the work of the Episcopal Church Center,” Smith said. “As a deacon, part of my ordination charge is to ‘assist the bishop in the ministration of God’s Word,’ and I can think of no more exciting opportunity to do just that than in supporting Presiding Bishop Curry’s vision and ministry amongst us.”

“We are working to deepen our culture as a staff to really live out the loving, liberating, and life-giving way of Jesus,” Bishop Curry said. “Geof is a natural fit for where we are on this journey. He combines in his person highly skilled managerial competency and the experience of a seasoned corporate executive, with a genuinely Christ-centered spirit and the heart of a servant.”

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A birth worthy of worldwide celebration

From Kansas-

In five days it will be here. Next Sunday, Christmas will dawn and the world will pause, even if only for a short time, to celebrate the birth some 2,000 years ago of a man-child to two refugee immigrants, sheltered in a cave-like barn, for there was no room for them in the local inn.

Since that birth, the world has never been the same. That’s truly amazing! But why? What makes this birth worthy of worldwide celebration? Why have we been so engulfed in the frenzy of the past days getting ready to celebrate the birth of this ignoble child?

As a retired Episcopal priest, I’ve led glorious celebrations of that birth for some 45 years. I should know why we do this frenzied spending every year, yet, to be honest, I’ll admit I’m still baffled by much of it. There is so much about this event that I still don’t understand. For instance, why did the creator of all the cosmos choose to personally visit this tiny rock?

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The Christmas story unfolds gradually at a church in Fauquier

From The Washington Post-

Except for a lone cow, the stable stands empty in the Nativity scene at Grace Episcopal Church in the Fauquier County town of The Plains.

The creche is unlike those commonly seen in churches and front yards beginning the month before Christmas, typically featuring figures of Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus in the stable, often joined by shepherds, angels, wise men and animals.

Instead, the scene is an imaginative, highly detailed, miniature representation of life in the city of Bethlehem. Townspeople are seen going about their daily business of baking bread, weaving fabric and even taking a nap. As the holiday approaches, more figures will be added to the scene to illustrate the Christmas story.

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US-based Episcopal Church plan Revival events to “stir and renew hearts for Jesus”

From ACNS-

The first event will take place between 3 – 5 February in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It will be themed around a celebration of Absalom Jones – born into slavery in November 1746, he became the first African-American to be ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church. He is remembered in the province’s calendar of saints on the anniversary of his death: 13 February 1818.

Subsequent events will take place in May 2017 (West Missouri), September 2017 (Georgia), November 2017 (San Joaquin) and April 2018 (Honduras) before a joint evangelism mission with the Church of England in July 2018. The Episcopal Church is planning to hold further such events in the years ahead.

The Pittsburgh Revival – the Presiding Bishop’s Pilgrimage for Reconciliation, Healing and Evangelism in Southwestern Pennsylvania – will feature a worship service and other gatherings “that invite people across boundaries and into reconciling relationship with each other and with God,” the Episcopal Church said.

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Aleppo presents a moral dilemma for Christian leaders

From The Economist-

THE travails of Aleppo, it is generally agreed, pose one of the great moral crises of our time. The city is also the location of some venerable Christian churches, going back to the faith's earliest years, so you might expect that the world's Christian leaders would have a lot to say about events in that unhappy place, and in Syria generally.

In fact, the reaction of global Christianity to the unfolding drama in northern Syria has been muffled and contradictory. There are good reasons for that. The leaders of Syria's local churches have generally looked to President Bashar al-Assad as their protector; and their feeling that only Mr Assad guarantees their lives has deepened as the conflict has polarised, with fundamentalist Sunni fighters, murderously hostile to all other faiths, on one side and government forces backed by Shia militias and Russian air power on the other. In this state of affairs, only the latter coalition seems to offer Christian churches any chance of prolonging their precarious existence. Many would say Mr Assad is to blame for bringing about that polarisation; but to a bishop on Syria's front-line, survival probably matters more than political analysis.

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Postmodernity and the "Ideal" Jesus

From Catholic World Reporter-

“God made us in his image—and we returned the favor.” I was reminded of this old joke reading the latest tome from John Shelby Spong, for he employs what he thinks he knows of biblical studies and theology to sever Jesus both from history and his Jewish matrix to generate an ideal Jesus who affirms the progressive project entire, a Jesus who looks like Spong.

For those not familiar with Spong, he has long reigned as the maddest of clerical madmen, an energetic Episcopalian bishop of the sort with views and hubris only the American Episcopal Church could produce. Denying every article of creedal Christianity from Virgin Birth to Resurrection and promoting every progressive cause célèbre from abortion to transgenderism, Spong has written books such as Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile (“a rousing call for a Christianity based on critical thought rather than blind faith, on love rather than judgment, and that focuses on life more than religion”) and his autobiography, modestly entitled Here I Stand: My Struggle for Integrity, Love, and Equality. “Modestly,” I write, because many will recognize Here I Stand as the title of Roland Bainton’s classic biography of Martin Luther. Spong thus sees himself as a revolutionary just as he sees Luther, a man standing at a historical apex crushing the Church’s hidebound traditional beliefs and pushing her forward into a brave new age. Although it is probably not a fair description of Luther, it is certainly Spong’s agenda: insisting Christianity keep up with the science and mores of the times.

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Two of the Fairbanks Four talk about life after prison

From Alaska-

It’s been a year of beauty and sorrow for two members of the Fairbanks Four, who spoke Sunday at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church during a “Service of Thanksgiving” marking the one-year anniversary of their release from prison.

“So many beautiful things have happened,” George Frese said before about 45 people in the church sanctuary. “Oprah Winfrey says they are whispers from God, right?”

Frese and fellow speaker Eugene Vent spent most of their adult lives behind bars after juries convicted them — along with Marvin Roberts and Kevin Pease — of the murder of John Hartman, a teenage boy who was brutally beaten, sexually assaulted and left to die on a Fairbanks city street Oct. 11, 1997. 

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First newly-ordained Episcopal priest in years wishes for interfaith unity

From Utah-

When one thinks of religion in downtown Provo, the thought unsurprisingly turns to the LDS Provo City Center Temple. But just a few blocks away at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, a congregation of Christians meets each week to worship and sing praises in their own way.

On Saturday, the Episcopal Church was the site of a rare occasion. The Rev. Timothy Yanni was ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church in a service rich with worship, praise and rites sacred to the church. In general, only a few priest ordinations occur each year, but in Provo, this was the first priest ordination in several years.

“I feel calm, I feel very serene,” Yanni said shortly after his ordination service. “I don’t feel nearly as anxious as I was this morning.”

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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Historic sanctuaries' future in the balance

From Pittsburgh-

Julie Bubanovich worships in the same Roman Catholic church, St. Nicholas in Millvale, as her parents and her immigrant grandparents, and she’s taken a lead role in helping preserve its renowned murals.

Virginia Fisfis also worships where her grandparents once did, St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church, whose brick facade and golden cupolas rise over an open area near the Strip District’s historic Produce Terminal.

Like many other Catholic parishioners, they are anxiously awaiting the results of a major downsizing planned by the Diocese of Pittsburgh in Allegheny and five neighboring counties in response to declines in worshipers, priests and funds.

More here-