Saturday, March 19, 2016

Christianity isn’t dead – it has just become more diverse

From Independent UK-

Here in the UK we live in what is referred to as post-Christian Europe, a continent where church membership and attendance is going down. Many people still think of themselves as Christian but in Britain in particular, it’s clear that traditional church attendance is down and that a drift into secularisation is for most of us nothing new. You could argue that this in itself should not be a problem.

There are two issues with this: one, it’s not the only story in terms of church attendance; and secondly, the rest of the world hasn’t drifted into secularism and, as we now know, the rest of the world in some form or other is now living here, right now, across Europe and the UK. Migration to Britain from Africa in particular has brought versions of Christianity that are more assertive than the Christianity that most Britons have grown up with. The assertiveness of these different forms of Christianity are often at odds with more liberal beliefs around issues such as same-sex marriage and blasphemy.

More here-

African bishops to boycott Anglican conference over gay marriage

From TruNews-

An Anglican clerics meeting scheduled for next month in Zambia may be cancelled due to the church leader’s promotion of same same-sex marriage.

Bishops in Uganda, Kenya and Nigeria said they are boycotting the event until a “Godly order” is put back into the Church, according to All Africa.  They make up a large percentage of the congregation, representing 42 of the 57 million Anglicans on the continent.

“It will be unwise to deliberately walk into a well-prepared camp of recruitment, blackmail, indoctrination and toxic relationship,” said Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, primate of the Church of Nigeria.

The meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council will take place April 8-19 in Lusaka.


Episcopal Church’s First Black Leader, a Gay Marriage Backer, Focuses on Race

From The New York Times (Q and A with Michael Curry)

When Michael B. Curry was installed in November as the 27th presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, he spoke of racial reconciliation and finding new ways to spread the teachings of Jesus. His appointment as the first African-American leader of a predominantly white Protestant church that has long been associated with the American elite elevated the voice of a preacher who had focused his ministry on racial justice, an issue that is now playing out in the presidential campaign.

Bishop Curry’s nine-year tenure began just months after the Episcopal Church decided to bless same-sex marriages, and in January he defended that decision in a meeting with archbishops of the Anglican Communion, many of them from Africa, who vehemently oppose gay marriage.

More here-

Friday, March 18, 2016

How One Episcopal Priest and His Congregation Have Been Quietly Breathing New Life into a Traditional Church

From West Virginia-

 For decades, America’s mainline religious denominations have battled dramatic declines in membership, financial support, and just about every other standard measure of what makes a church successful. (After peaking in the 1950’s, mainline church denomination membership in the U.S. has declined by nearly 33% percent, to 21 million from 31 million.)

But don’t tell that to The Very Rev. Dr. Chip Graves, Rector of Huntington, WV-based Trinity Episcopal Church. He adores his congregation and  their love for Christ.

More here-

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Archbishop did not pass abuse claims to police, Goddard inquiry told

From The Guardian-

The former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey failed to pass on a specific allegation of sexual abuse to the police, which allowed a bishop to continue committing offences for another 20 years, a public inquiry has heard.

Carey was sent a detailed letter by an alleged victim of the bishop, Peter Ball, in 1992 outlining claims of sexual abuse, a preliminary hearing of the independent inquiry into child sex abuse (IICSA) was told.

The claim emerged at a preliminary hearing of a public inquiry that is examining child sexual abuse and cover-ups in the Anglican church in England and Wales.

Last year, Ball was sentenced to 32 months in prison for misconduct in public office and indecent assault after admitting abusing 18 young men between 1977 and 1992.

More here-

Angels attract Anglican devotees, skeptics

From The Anglican Journal-

Hannah Roberts Brockow is a therapeutic musician. She regularly visits two palliative care wards in her adopted hometown of Montreal—one for adults and one for children—to play her instrument, a harp, to the patients there. The music, she says, helps relieve people’s anxiety and ease their pain in their final days. 

Seeing her carrying her harp, she says, bystanders in the hospital will sometimes joke about angels. But Brockow doesn’t doubt the ward is visited by them. She believes that angels will often appear to patients as they approach death, to help them make sense of their lives, know that they are loved and ease the “transition” they are about to experience.

More here-

Episcopal bishops condemning “violent forces” in 2016 political rhetoric

From Western Massachusetts-

Violent political rhetoric is causing Americans to worship a “modern false idol” of power and privilege, say bishops of the Episcopal Church. Gathering for their annual Lenten retreat in Texas, the church’s House of Bishops released a statement Tuesday condemning what they see as a political conversation that turns Americans against one another, and particularly against those who are in need.

Bishop Doug Fisher of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, was one of the authors of the “Word for the Church” statement. In a news release sent to 22News, he said that it is important for religious leaders to try to stop what they see as damaging developments in our political system.

More here-

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How Kasich’s Religion Is Hurting Him With Conservatives

From Politico-

If the role of religion in Kasich’s life isn’t well-understood, that’s in part because his complex faith journey led him to a denomination that most Americans have never heard of. He was raised Catholic with ambitions to be the best altar boy in his parish, earning him the nickname “Pope” among his friends. But around the time he left for college at Ohio State, Kasich’s belief began to wane. He “drifted away from religion as a young adult,” he wrote in his book. It wasn’t until a drunk driver killed his parents in 1987 that Kasich returned to church. But this time, he entered the Episcopal Church, which his parents had joined later in life.

This is where things get a little tricky: He stayed with his church as it broke off with the mainstream Episcopal Church in the United States in protest over the denomination’s embrace of openly gay priests and bishops. In 2011, Kasich’s home church, Saint Augustine’s Anglican Church in Westerville, Ohio, is one of those that split off under a new, more conservative denomination called the Anglican Church in North America. In departure from mainstream Episcopalians, the ACNA gives local churches the autonomy to decide whether to ordain women, and it politically opposes abortion and euthanasia, while the Episcopal church acknowledges “there may be cases that stand beyond judgment.”

More here-

Episcopal Bishops Issue A Word to the Church

From The House of Bishops-

In a country still living under the shadow of the lynching tree, we are troubled by the violent forces being released by this season’s political rhetoric. Americans are turning against their neighbors, particularly those on the margins of society. They seek to secure their own safety and security at the expense of others. There is legitimate reason to fear where this rhetoric and the actions arising from it might take us.

In this moment, we resemble God’s children wandering in the wilderness. We, like they, are struggling to find our way. They turned from following God and worshiped a golden calf constructed from their own wealth. The current rhetoric is leading us to construct a modern false idol out of power and privilege. We reject the idolatrous notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others. No matter where we fall on the political spectrum, we must respect the dignity of every human being and we must seek the common good above all else.

More here-

Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on Judas, says an Anglican bishop who feels ‘a bit sorry’ for him

From National Post-(Canada)

He may be one of the hardest of all historical figures to present in a good light, but despite his reputation as a villain of truly Biblical proportions, prominent clerics have lent their voices to calls for a reappraisal of Judas Iscariot.

Although the attempted rehabilitation would put recent efforts to restore Richard III’s good name in the shade, one Church of England bishop suggested that he feels “a bit sorry” for Judas.

The Rt Rev Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds, said that the apostle who betrayed Jesus with a kiss has had a “lousy press.” While Judas had long been reviled as “the ultimate traitor,” the truth behind his decision to hand Jesus over to the religious authorities may, he argued, have been more complicated.

More here-

African Archbishop Decries ‘Blackmail, Coercion’ of Anglican Church Over Homosexuality

From Breibart-

The loose confederation of churches affiliated with the worldwide Anglican communion is experiencing growing tensions over the issue of homosexuality, with the U.S. Episcopalian church tugging toward the liberal embrace of all things LGBT and the African churches struggling to maintain a more Biblically based sexual morality.

The Anglican Church of Nigeria has announced it will boycott the next international meeting of Church leaders over the matter, and is now requesting “special status” in the worldwide church to allow it to faithfully preserve its position on homosexuality.

In a forceful statement, the Nigerian Anglican primate, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, said that the Anglican communion seems to be tilting toward a non-biblical understanding of homosexuality, marginalizing those with an orthodox, biblical view of human sexuality.

More here-

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Daniel Gutierrez elected to be next bishop of Diocese of Pennsylvania

From PA-

The Rev. Canon Daniel G. P. Gutierrez, canon to the ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, was elected March 12 to be the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

Gutierrez was elected on the fourth ballot, receiving 100 votes in the lay order and 133 in the clergy order. On that ballot, 84 lay votes and 130 clergy votes were need for an election. The electing convention met at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral.

Gutierrez is the first U.S.-born Latino to be elected as a bishop diocesan in the Episcopal Church.
Pending the canonically required confirmation by a majority of the church’s House of Bishops and by a majority of the Diocesan Standing Committees in the church, Gutierrez will be ordained and consecrated July 16 at New Covenant Church in the Germantown area of Philadelphia.

More here-

Anglican, Episcopal women gather to open the 60th annual UNCSW

From ENS-

Examples of women’s strength, courage and “sisterhood of the suffering” can be found throughout the Bible, including in the two lectionary readings coinciding with the opening of the 60th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

The March 14 readings, 2 Kings 4:18-37, where Elisha raises the Shunnamite’s son, the Gospel, John 11:18-44, in which Jesus raises Lazarus to life, are each an invitation “to claim the witness and power” of women in biblical texts, said the Rev. Margaret Rose, the Episcopal Church’s deputy for ecumenical and interfaith collaboration, in a sermon given during the opening midday Eucharist at the Chapel of Christ the Lord in the Episcopal Church Center a block from the United Nations headquarters.

More here-

Monday, March 14, 2016

Bruton Parish Continues 300th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign, Commissions New Organ

From Virginia-

Bruton Parish Church recently announced the commission of a new pipe organ, which will be just the fifth one in the church building’s 300-year history.

The purchase of a new organ is part of a major fundraising campaign launched in recognition of the church building’s 300-year anniversary in September. The church itself was established in 1674.

The organ has been commissioned from Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd., a Lake City, Iowa-based company founded in 1974.

The new organ will be centered over the altar in east gallery of the church and will feature a painted poplar case with gilded fa├žade pipes and a three-manual console in the chancel, according to a recent news release from the church.

More here-

The Huge Cultural Shift That’s Helping Trump Win Evangelicals

From Politico-

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. Donald Trump curses like a bond trader. He mocks the disabled. He expresses no need for God’s forgiveness. He seems about as familiar with the Bible (“Two Corinthians”) as ordinary Americans are with the loopholes of the IRS tax code that Trump delights in threading. “The Art of the Deal,” his campaign biography by default, is a human billboard for pride and lust. “I’m a greedy person,” he told an Iowa audience, “I’ve always been greedy.” He’s wrong for evangelicals on the issues, on theology, on piety, and most of all on “values,” the buzzword of the culture wars over the past half-century.

Trump’s opponents, meanwhile, have devoted their careers to tailoring their resumes for values voters. Cruz is the pious son of a traveling evangelist; Rubio, a staunch Catholic who won’t cotton to abortion even in cases of rape and incest; and Kasich, a member of an ultra-conservative Anglican denomination that went its own way after the Episcopal Church consecrated a gay bishop.
More here-

Sunday, March 13, 2016

IN GOOD FAITH: Salty language

From Plymouth Mass-

Many years ago I knew a grizzled priest who had been an infantryman during the Korean War. He was a faithful pastor and one of those guys who would literally give someone the shirt off his back if he met someone in need. You could always tell when he was around though, because he used to, well, curse a blue streak. When asked about his salty use of language, he used to say, “Jesus converted every part of me, except my tongue.”

I personally don’t curse much but I’m not really bothered by it — save for places like the local playground or in the middle of worship. I prefer to use old-timey oaths like “criminy!” and “egad!” Partly because they’re more socially acceptable but mostly because they’re a source of embarrassment when my teenagers overhear me.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina convention held in Bluffton

From South Carolina-

About 400 delegates and clergy members from across the eastern and coastal portions of the state flocked to Bluffton this weekend for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina’s 225th convention.

The two-day annual gathering, held Friday and Saturday at the historic Church of the Cross in Old Town and Cross Schools on Buckwalter Parkway, was highlighted by a committee’s recommendation for the diocese to join the Anglican Church in North America.

Founded in 1785, the Diocese of South Carolina is one of the nine original dioceses of the national Episcopal Church and has been geographically split into two groups since 1922, with the other group known as the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. The original diocese now covers 24 counties, represents 53 congregations and roughly 23,000 members and is headquartered in Charleston.

More here-