Saturday, February 27, 2016

Advice on Madonna concert not an imposition of values on non-believers: Anglican Bishop

From Singapore-

The Anglican Bishop of Singapore has weighed in on American singer Madonna's concert scheduled for Sunday, saying that the Church is not forcing its views on non-believers in asking Christians not to attend the concert.

He said the Church is only calling on Christians to make choices that "decisively show" their love for God.

"In taking a position on the Madonna concert, the Church can be cast as being moralistic or arrogantly prescriptive for everybody else. That is not our intention or motivation," said Rev Rennis Ponniah in a pastoral letter put on the Diocese of Singapore's website on Friday.

More here-

Reclaiming Christianity from the Grasp of Franklin Graham

From Huffington (Hawaii)

One sign said "All are Abraham's children." Another said "The Aloha State Does Not Hate." And yet another invoked Leviticus 19:34 "You shall love the alien as yourself." Pastors of several churches on Oahu who were protesting Rev. Franklin Graham's rally on the grounds of the Hawaii State Capitol on Wednesday Feb 24, were joined by passers-by who were stopped in their tracks by the sights and sounds of the "Decision America" event.

Graham invoked his father, but it was hard to imagine Billy Graham endorsing the scare-mongering and demonizing of others that his son encourages in those who come to hear him. Franklin Graham looked out on the diverse crowd sitting on the lawn under blue skies in beautiful Hawaii and pronounced America "broken, spiritually, racially, economically." The "only hope for the United States is Almighty God. The most we can do is pray," he said. Under that apparently innocuous call to prayer, lies a record of very un-Christian exhortations.


Rev. David Gierlach, Rector of St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church, who initiated the protest in concert with his fellow pastors, emphasized that the public rejection of Graham's version of Christianity was needed. "We cannot be silent when we hear Christian teaching being distorted and dispensed to good people who deserve to hear the Gospel message of love. Rev. Franklin Graham's stirring up of hate and discrimination towards Muslims, and his efforts to use religion as a political tool need to be publicly rejected. That is why we stood in protest."

More here-

Episcopalians urged to take ‘gospel high ground’ after primates’ action

From ENS-

The Episcopal Church is still part of the Anglican Communion, despite actions taken by the primates in January, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry said Feb. 26, adding he hopes the church “will be able to bear witness” to the entire communion.

Curry’s comments came during his opening remarks to the Executive Council at the beginning of its Feb. 26-28 meeting at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center here.

“At this point in time, we’re part of the Anglican Communion and my prayer is that we will always be a house of prayer for all people and that we will be able to bear witness to what Jesus taught us about that in the Anglican Communion,” the presiding bishop said. “And that we’ll do so with love and charity, and we will show the same love and charity and honor that we do for all of our people – gay and lesbian and bisexual and transgender – that same love and honor and respect to our brothers and sisters who are part of the communion.”

If the church can take “that gospel high ground,” the Episcopal Church in time may be an example for the rest of the communion, he said.

More here-

And on the PB's health-

Friday, February 26, 2016

Way Forward report goes public

From New Zealand-

The long-awaited report of the Way Forward Working Group[1]  has been released.

Today’s publication comes almost 18 months since the 13-member group[2]  began its work – and it proposes two new liturgies to be considered by May’s General Synod.

These liturgies have been designed to allow for the blessing of couples who have been married in a civil ceremony – according either to New Zealand law, or to the law in the Pacific Island nations which form part of this church. These liturgies also create a pathway for the people in such relationships to become ordained.

Civil marriages between a man and a woman have long been recognised in law in both New Zealand and in those Pacific Island nations. In New Zealand’s case, of course, an amendment to marriage law came into effect in August 2013 – which allows same-sex couples to legally marry.

“A crucial matter for debate” 

The Way Forward Working Group (WFWG) report makes a precept-upon-precept case for how such civil marriages could be blessed by the church.

More here-

County's largest church welcomes (retired Bishop John) Howe as new pastor

From Virginia-

Dr. John W. Howe, who became senior pastor at The Lake of the Woods Church on Jan. 1, is not entirely new to the pulpit of the 800-member multidenominational church in Locust Grove.

Howe was occasionally a guest preacher there from 1977 to 1988, when he and his family enjoyed vacations at a getaway home in LOW. He was pastor of the 3,700-member Truro Anglican Church in Fairfax at the time, and LOW Church was a fledgling congregation of believers who met in the community clubhouse.

Subsequent decades saw the church grow into Orange County’s largest, while Howe was elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida, the spiritual and administration leader of 38,000 members in 88 parishes centered in Orlando and stretching from Ocala to Okeechobee.

More here-

Australian Church too divided, says bishop

From The Church Times-

THE Bishop of Newcastle, in New South Wales, the Rt Revd Greg Thompson, has refused to attend the forthcoming annual Australian bishops’ conference over the issue of homosexuality.

The Newcastle Herald reports that Bishop Thompson has written to the Primate, Dr Philip Freier, the Archbishop of Melbourne, declining the invitation to the conference, which is due to begin on 6 March, because “it would give the impression of a united Church that conflicted with reality”.

The report says that Bishop Thompson has accused the diocese of Sydney of demanding that the bishops sign up to a protocol on homosexual clergy; or the Sydney bishops would not attend any further bishops’ conferences.

More here-

Southern African Anglicans to LGBT people: Welcome

Regarding Southern Africa-

In sharp contrast to the Anglican churches of Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa is moving to welcome LGBT people as full members of the church.

The Anglican Church of Southern Africa represents about 3 to 4 million people in South Africa and nearby countries. Most of those countries — South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho and the British overseas territory of Saint Helena — have repealed or never had laws against LGBT sexual activity.

More here-

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issues update on investigation

From ENS-

I am writing to bring you up to date on the investigation of our three colleagues who
have been placed on administrative leave.

I anticipate the investigators will complete their interviews in the next 3-4 weeks.
Following that, they will share their findings and conclusions with me. I will then consult with the officers of the DFMS and legal counsel regarding appropriate steps forward.

Once the course of action is clear and it has been properly shared with those on
administrative leave, I will share with you with as much transparency as is appropriate,
protecting confidentiality, and the ways we will move forward from that point.

More here-

Archbishop of Uganda condemns 'deep betrayal' of biblical standards in Anglican Communion

From Christian Today-

The Archbishop of Canterbury's attempt to heal divisions over homosexuality in the Anglican Communion is on the brink of failure after the Church of Uganda disclosed it is to boycott the next meeting of the communion's central body.

Archbishop of Uganda Stanley Ntagali, who in common with most of his fellow Global South primates is strongly conservative, has openly condemned the "spirit of defiance against Biblical faith and order" that he says "has infected the structures and leadership" of the Anglican Communion.

In a passionate letter that makes clear his disappointment and hurt, he says he feels "betrayed" by Anglican leaders. Accusing the leadership of lacking the will to follow through on discipline, he describes it again as "another deep betrayal".

More here-

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

This Pastor Is Sleeping Outside Until His Church Accepts LGBT People

From Michigan-

A Methodist minister has cast himself out into the cold to show his support LGBT people, vowing to sleep in a tent outside his Michigan home for 175 days to protest his church’s opposition to same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBT members.

Rev. Michael Tupper, pastor of Parchment United Methodist Church in Parchment, Michigan, first engaged with LGBT issues six years ago when his daughter Sarah came out to him as a lesbian. But his entry into outright pro-LGBT activism began last year, when Sarah asked him to officiate her wedding to another woman she met while attending Wheaton College, a hardline conservative evangelical Christian school.

Pastors are prohibited from officiating same-sex weddings in Tupper’s denomination, the United Methodist Church (UMC), and those that do are often put on trial within the church. But Tupper did it anyway, explaining to ThinkProgress that he simply couldn’t tell his daughter no.

More here-

Background link-

A 'fresh new start' for St. Paul's by-the-sea

From Delmarva-

St. Paul's by-the-sea Episcopal Church is one step closer to becoming whole again.

The Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission recently approved the church's construction plans, town Communications Manager Jessica Waters confirmed this week. The approval was for a 3,000-square-foot addition.

This reconstruction is a chance to move forward after a deep, gruesome scar in St. Paul's by-the-sea's past.

November 2013 brought tragedy to the church on North Baltimore Avenue in Ocean City.

More here-

St. Paul Church for sale with restrictions

From Minnesota-

There is a piece of property for sale on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, but it is not just any property.  It is the historic St. Paul’s Church on the Hill.

The 103-year-old worship facility closed in 2015, suffering from a dwindling parish population. The decision to sell it was difficult, in the opinion of Episcopal Church officials, but necessary.

“This is one of those faith communities that came to the end of its life,” said the Rev. Michael Pipkin, Missioner for Missional Management of the Episcopal Church of St. Paul. “What we are really hoping is that this asset for the church, this building, can be used to somehow engage the neighborhood, that something can happen here that will benefit not just the neighbors nearby but throughout the whole community of St. Paul.”

More here-

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

God Is Laughing at You

From Pacific Standard-

Of all the things you'd expect to fall out a window, a foreskin might not immediately come to mind. Yet there it was, young Tristram Shandy's unceremonious circumcision landing with a slap against the cold ground outside his family's house. Young Tristram had only been trying to relieve himself in the absence of a chamber pot, but when the window fell it did the job that no doctor had done before.

It might surprise you to know that this scene, which comes from the book named for its protagonist, was written by an Anglican clergyman, Laurence Sterne. Then again, it might not—it's quite a famous book, and it wouldn't be the first time a religious leader had allowed himself to make bawdy jokes. But the joke of Tristram Shandy goes beyond accidental bodily separations and coalesces into a broader, more thorough satire that seeks to ridicule the solemn and the self-important—to puncture basic notions of human dignity. Ridicule of the sort that brings us Shandy's foreskin isn't just meant to bring levity to the story—it is the story itself.

More here-

Anglican bishops declare gay‚ lesbian couples 'full members' of the church

From The Times (South Africa)

Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba said new guidelines from bishops which oppose gay congregants being stigmatised are "an important first step" towards acceptance of the lesbian‚ gay and transsexual community in Southern Africa.

This comes as Anglican bishops from across southern Africa have resolved that gay and lesbian partners who enter same-sex civil unions under South African law should be welcomed into congregations as full members of the church. However‚ they stopped short of agreeing to conduct same-sex weddings in church.

In a pastoral letter issued to Anglicans today‚ Archbishop Makgoba said a document outlining guidelines on members living in same-sex unions would be sent to the church's Provincial Synod‚ its ruling body‚ which meets later this year.

More here-‚-lesbian-couples-full-members-of-the-church

also here-

Haiti Episcopal college prepares students for agriculture, agribusiness

From ENS-

On a recent February morning a young Haitian man riding high on a John Deere tractor tilled the fields, readying them for the first planting of the year at the St. Barnabas Center for Agriculture, an Episcopal college located on 475 acres of fertile coastal plain in northern Haiti.

As the tractor turned over the dark, clay soil, preparing it for planting, two young men worked to patch a crack in a cement water tank, two others pulled weeds from a carrot patch, and another two used blue and green plastic watering cans to hand-water beets, carrots and leafy greens growing in test plots and the seedlings coming to life in the greenhouse. Another young man drove cattle across the back of the property, while others continued to clear more land for the tractor and future planting.

More here-

Monday, February 22, 2016

Transcript: Rev. Paul Scalia's eulogy for his father, Justice Antonin Scalia

USA Today-

The following is a transcript of the homily by Rev. Paul Scalia, the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, at the funeral Mass for his father at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Your Eminence Cardinal Wuerl, Your Excellencies, Archbishop ViganĂ², Bishop Loverde, Bishop Higgins, my brother priests, deacons, distinguished guests, dear friends and faithful gathered:

On behalf of our mother and the entire Scalia family, I want to thank you for your presence here, for your many words of consolation, and even more for the many prayers and Masses you have offered at the death of our father, Antonin Scalia.

In particular I thank Cardinal Wuerl, first for reaching out so quickly and so graciously to console our mother. It was a consolation to her and therefore to us as well. Thank you also for allowing us to have this parish funeral Mass here in this basilica dedicated to Our Lady. What a great privilege and consolation that we were able to bring our father through the holy doors and for him gain the indulgence promised to those who enter in faith.

More here-

Churches’ declining numbers inspire creative approach

From Olympia-

Conversations about Christlike love overlap with sounds of scraping silverware and a waitress asking “Who’s number 45?” “Who ordered the burrito?”

Members of First Presbyterian Church in Vancouver gather every other Thursday for “theopub,” a time of informal fellowship and book discussion. It’s not a Bible study group, at least not directly. On a recent Thursday, its members were discussing “Searching for Sunday” by Rachel Held Evans, and her story of leaving the church like many of her millennial peers and returning years later.

“We get to eat, drink beer and talk theology. You can’t beat that,” said Gary Cotton, who’s been going to First Presbyterian for three years.

Theopubs aren’t new. St. Anne’s Episcopal Church has theopubs at Amnesia Brewing in Washougal on the third Thursday of every month. For First Presbyterian Rev. Josh Rowley, it’s a chance to get the church out of its building and into the community — and possibly attract new members.

More here-

'My Brother's Table' feeds dozens of people every Sunday

From Idaho-

Dozens of people every Sunday gather at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Pocatello for a free lunch and this Sunday was no exception.

KPVI News that Works for You was there and talked to volunteers to find out what it takes to feed so many people as well as the people that tell KPVI what the free lunch means to them.

“It helps us out a lot, especially when you don’t have food or nothing to eat.  We come here and eat and so it helps out a lot,” says Ann Eberhard, Attended ‘My Brother’s Table’ lunch.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese Announces Ground Breaking of New $3 Million Program Center

From Southwest FL-

The Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, March 1, at 2 pm., for a new, $3 million Program Center at DaySpring Episcopal Center, the diocese's 97-acre religious and conference center.

Designed by Fawley Bryant Architects and constructed by Willis Smith Construction, the 12,500-square-foot center will serve as DaySpring's primary facility for youth and adult programs, art and music recreation activities, retreats, teaching and worship.

The Rt. Rev. Dabney Tyler Smith, Bishop of the diocese, will preside over the groundbreaking ceremony, which will include representatives from the architectural and construction project team. Over 100 Episcopal priests from around the diocese will be in attendance, as well as Episcopalians from all corners of the diocese.

More here-

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Obituary: Rev. W. Lee Hecks / Champion of Christian unity who founded ecumenical group

From Pittsburgh-

The potential was in the air in the late 1960s for an unprecedented expression of unity among local Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christian churches. But somebody had to put a foundation under it, and that person was the Rev. W. Lee Hicks.

Rev. Hicks, of Regent Square, who died Feb. 13 at age 82, is being remembered as a pioneering champion of Christian unity. He was the founding executive director of Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, long recognized nationwide as a leading regional ecumenical organization.

More here-

5 years after quake, New Zealand city's heart still missing

From Fox-

Five years after an earthquake in Christchurch killed 185 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings, some residents have taken to calling it the "Donut City." The ravaged city center is still largely an empty core, and it's unclear how long it will remain that way.

Bickering and uncertainty have stalled rebuilding efforts, which some property owners now view as a lost cause. Grass pokes up from fenced-off walkways. Damaged buildings sit abandoned and tagged with graffiti. Christchurch's iconic Anglican cathedral is a crumbling ruin with an uncertain fate.

Since the magnitude-6.1 quake struck on Feb. 22, 2011, thousands of residential homes have been repaired and most of the city's infrastructure has been fixed. Many suburbs are thriving.

More here-