Saturday, May 14, 2016

Female deacons could lead to female priests – and the Vatican knows it

From The Guardian-

Pope Francis has made many friends outside the Catholic church and many enemies inside it. His latest, throwaway suggestion that women might be ordained deacons will make him thousands of new friends – and even more embittered enemies. For it touches directly on the most neuralgic question in contemporary Catholicism: the constitution of the priesthood.

Deacons aren’t priests, of course. They don’t, in Catholic doctrine, have the thaumaturgic powers of absolution and consecration; they can’t represent Christ in the ways that only priests can. But they do represent the church; they are in holy orders. And, at the moment, they have to be male, as do priests and bishops. On the other hand, they can be married, which very few Catholic priests can be.

The difficulty for traditionalists is that there were very clearly women called “deacons” in the New Testament. The arguments against ordaining women priests come down ultimately to the fact that Jesus didn’t do it, and neither did the early church. This is extended backwards into a belief that the whole of creation is gendered, so that being male or female has a cosmic, metaphysical significance. And that imaginative picture in turn forms the background to all Catholic teaching about sexuality.

More here-

President of Nigeria visits Lambeth Palace

From ENS-

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby welcomed the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to Lambeth Palace on May 13.

Buhari was greeted on arrival by Welby and his wife Caroline, along with the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Office, Bishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, and Bishop of Guildford Andrew Watson, whose diocese is linked in partnership with the Church of Nigeria.

Buhari was applauded by Lambeth Palace staff as he entered, before signing the visitor’s book. The president and the archbishop then met privately for about an hour.

Welby said it was “a great honor” to welcome Buhari to Lambeth Palace, “the leader of the largest country in Africa” with “the very large Anglican Church in Nigeria.” It was the first time Buhari had visited Lambeth Palace since his election as president last year.

More here-

Things Episcopalians say (3): ‘Jesus Movement’

From The Living Church-

From the very beginning of his service as Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry has donated vocabulary to us that, although not new, is likely to become more and more common among us. He reminded us that “This is the Jesus Movement, and we are the Episcopal Church, the Episcopal branch of Jesus’ movement in this world.” While there are signs of the nomenclature catching on, many of my friends — smart, wary, “fool me once” kind of people — don’t much care for the hype or are even worried by it.

I get it. “Jesus Movement” reeks of the worst kind of trendiness, a transparent attempt to be au courant while simultaneously failing to latch on to any trends. (I am reminded of a friend who eschewed the title of “Senior Pastor” in favor of “Ethos Sculptor.”)

More here-

A Confession of Liberal Intolerance

From The New York Times-

WE progressives believe in diversity, and we want women, blacks, Latinos, gays and Muslims at the table — er, so long as they aren’t conservatives.

Universities are the bedrock of progressive values, but the one kind of diversity that universities disregard is ideological and religious. We’re fine with people who don’t look like us, as long as they think like us.

O.K., that’s a little harsh. But consider George Yancey, a sociologist who is black and evangelical.

“Outside of academia I faced more problems as a black,” he told me. “But inside academia I face more problems as a Christian, and it is not even close.”

I’ve been thinking about this because on Facebook recently I wondered aloud whether universities stigmatize conservatives and undermine intellectual diversity. The scornful reaction from my fellow liberals proved the point.

More here-

Friday, May 13, 2016

Anglican church wants to train new clergy with apprenticeship fund

From The Guardian-

The Church of England is hoping to use funds raised by the government’s apprenticeship levy to help pay for the training of 6,000 new clergy to replace those approaching retirement.

“The church would very much like to see the levy being used to train more ordinands,” MP Caroline Spelman told colleagues in her capacity as second church estates commissioner, who coordinates between the church and parliament.

Spelman said she hoped the government would support “the church’s quest to use some of the moneys from the apprenticeship levy to meet its shortfall” of clergy.

The church has raised the possibility with the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis), though it stressed that talks were at an early stage. It is also expecting to pay into the apprenticeship levy, under which large employers will contribute towards funding the government’s target of 3 million apprentices.

More here-

Of Polarization, Patriarchy and the United Methodist Church

From Huffington-

The RNS headline reads “The Methodists Gather to Argue About Gay People Again.” Written by noted Christian Ethicist David Gushee, the opinion piece goes on to say:

It’s a titanic clash, epic, truly tragic, unresolvable, filled with conflict and pain. To me, by now, the arguments are stale and circular. What I mainly hear is the howl of pain of a small minority of Christians (and many traumatized ex-Christians) crushed under the wheel of a 2000-year-old religious tradition that cannot quite figure out how to account for their existence. It’s all so very, very sad.

It is indeed very, very sad. It is also sadly representative of the concerted effort to marginalize that same minority of Americans - LGBT Americans - in order to polarize our political process. In the case of the Methodists, it is an effort fed, watered and fertilized by the Institute for Religion and Democracy (IRD) ... an organization committed to “returning mainline churches to biblical orthodoxy“ [their words] or destroying them in the process [mine]. They took their best shot at the Episcopal Church - ultimately failing yet inflicting significant collateral damage along the way. And now they’re driving the schism threat in the UMC.

More here-

Presiding bishop of Episcopal Church preaching in Lexington Sunday

From Lexington-

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, will preach at Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington on Sunday, as Christ Church celebrates its 220th anniversary.

“It’s going to be a great day of celebration,” said the Very Rev. Carol Wade, dean and rector of Christ Church Cathedral.

Curry will preach at the 8:45 and 11 a.m. services. A brunch will be served between services, and a reception will follow the second service.

In a written statement, Curry said, “I am looking forward to meeting and greeting and praying with the people in the Diocese of Lexington during their convention on Saturday and at the cathedral on Sunday. This weekend will mark my first visit to the Diocese of Lexington as Presiding Bishop, but not my first visit with the good people there. So it is great to return.”

Read more here:

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Anglican Synod fails to approve gay marriages

From New Zealand-

Gay Anglicans are reacting with a mix of fury and resignation after the Anglican Synod today failed to approve the blessing of gay marriages.

Wellington Anglican Paul Day posted on Facebook that he was leaving the Church for a second time "over the ongoing hatred they show for people like me".

"I know you must be writing this with the collective fury we all feel right now," he said on the page of the liberal church St-Matthew-in-the-City.

St Matthew's vicar Rev Helen Jacobi, who was an observer at the General Synod in Napier, said: "Today I hang my head in shame."

Massey University social work professor Mark Henrickson, who led a research project on New Zealand's gay community, said he was a lifelong Anglican but withdrew from the Church two years ago when it set up a working party on how to "bless" gay unions without actually marrying them in church.

More here-

Thomas Merton Thought Dan Berrigan was Too Theatrical

From Huffington-

Long before the Occupy movement and the ascendancy of Bernie Sanders, there was Fr. Daniel Berrigan, the fiery Jesuit who rocked the then complacent American Catholic world with its ties to government power elites. Catholics in the 1960s and ‘70s knew priests as ‘Bells of Saint Mary’s’ stereotypes, men who would no sooner join a picket line or a war protest than raise a fist against their superiors.

Few young people alive today have any sense of how difficult life was for young men during the Vietnam War. That war split families apart much the same way that the Civil War set brother against brother. Draft age men who opposed the war and the draft, escaped to Canada or registered as conscientious objectors were often disowned by their families. Conversely, antiwar men and women, called ‘peaceniks’ by their detractors, sometimes returned the favor by disowning their war hawk parents or their military enlisted siblings. By the war’s end in 1975, U.S. military personnel casualties numbered 58, 220 with 1.3 million deaths overall. This was not the era of the carefree collegiate spring break in Cancun. Life for the average young male was consumed by worry about being drafted and killed.

More here-

Edgewood pastor gains a promotion

From Rio Grande-

Canon Rev. Raymond Raney of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Edgewood was recently named Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. He has served at Holy Cross since February 2007.

Raney is set to replace The Rev. Canon Daniel G. P. Gutierrez as CATO. Gutierrez was recently named Bishop-Elect of Pennsylvania.

“Nobody can replace Daniel. He has a skill set that nobody else has,” Raney said.

More here-

Bishop Palmer pulls no punches in the Episcopal address

From The United Methodist Reporter- (General Conference opening)

“We are here not for a pity party or to lick our wounds,” he said, “but to discern the next faithful steps in the mission and ministry of The United Methodist Church.”

Palmer described the people of the UMC as prisoners of hope, and highlighted several ministries of the church, including a successful campaign to help eliminate malaria in much of the world.
“I refuse to see discouragement and despair as the new normal,” the bishop said.

Nonetheless, he said that the church suffers from fightings within and fears without. He suggested that our relationships with one another are so superficial that we won’t risk saying the truths that later we might have to apologize for.

He posed a question: “Do our relationships lack depth that engender great growth and transformation?”

More here-

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Let us pray that vicars stop telling jokes in sermons

From The Guardian-

Arecent poll has found that churchgoers hate the vicar’s jokes. Well, let’s hope the message gets through. Because there is nothing more excruciating than the lame stories that clergy tell, mostly as warm-ups at the beginning of their sermons. I would end up fleeing down the road to the local mosque if Dawn French became my vicar. No, I wouldn’t agree with them theologically, but at least they would adopt an appropriate seriousness of mood that would allow me properly to think and pray. And please don’t get me started on vicars using puppets in the pulpit. I’d bring back the inquisition for that. The Venerable Jorge had the right idea in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose: some comedy just doesn’t work in church. Church is a serious house on serious Earth. And, ultimately, people go for serious purposes.

It is not that all humour fails. Take Dr Paisley, for instance, a master of pulpit wit. Now, in order to get this one you have to hear it in his strong Northern Irish accent. One Sunday, Dr Paisley was preaching about death and damnation, one of his favorite subjects. “There will be weeping,” he thundered, “and wailing and gnashing of teeth.” An elderly lady on the front row stuck up her hand and objected that she didn’t actually have any teeth. Dr Paisley fixed her with a withering gaze: “Madam,” he said slowly, “teeth will be provided.” I love the idea of the Almighty handing out replacement dentures to those not able to gnash.

More here-

6 things to watch at the Methodist General Conference — from LGBT issues to guns

From Salt Lake City-

The United Methodist Church General Conference convenes once every four years to make policy decisions and set the direction for the denomination.

Beginning Tuesday, 864 delegates, half of them clergy, will converge on the Oregon Convention Center in Portland for 11 days for the General Conference. More than 40 percent of those delegates will come from outside the U.S.

They'll consider 1,043 proposals listed in the conference's legislation tracking system.

Here are six of the most talked-about issues:

1. LGBT inclusion

The United Methodist News Service tallied up more than 100 petitions alone on sexuality.

Several plans have been proposed to streamline all that legislation, including "The Simple Plan" supported by the Reconciling Ministries Network. That plan would change six paragraphs in the denomination's Book of Discipline that forbid clergy from marrying same-sex couples and regional conferences from ordaining LGBT clergy. The denomination's Book of Discipline calls the practice of homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching."

More here-

The 'war ain't over' on court's church ruling

From Los Angeles-

An Orange County Superior Court judge said Friday that a prior deed restriction on the St. James the Great Episcopal Church property in Newport Beach doesn't bar the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles from selling the property for another use because the restriction was not renewed.

In the meantime, a developer that planned to buy the church site says it can't proceed with the purchase because its investment partner has dropped out.

Ownership rights to the church property at 3209 Via Lido were transferred from the Griffith Co. to the diocese in 1945 with the restriction that the site remain a church. The Griffith Co. developed much of Lido Isle, beginning in the 1920s.

Lawyers for the diocese argued in court documents that the use restriction expired when the Griffith Co. failed to file a notice of renewal within a time frame outlined in state law.

The diocese said the church in 1984 negotiated removal of the use restriction from the deed, granting the diocese the right to sell the property for other purposes. Court documents indicate the restriction was lifted from several lots on the property. But one — a courtyard that sits amid the church buildings — was not listed in the 1984 agreement.

More here-

Episcopal Digital Network launches new service for authors, publishers

From ENS-

Authors and publishers are invited to share news about their religious and theological books and publications in the newest section to be launched on the Episcopal Digital Network, the Featured Books section.

The Episcopal Digital Network is an ad-supported media network that delivers news, information and resources to church leaders, members and general audiences through the Episcopal News Service, Sermons That Work and Lesson Plans That Work websites.

The Featured Books section offers a free space to promote new books and publications, with the option of purchasing a featured listing on the homepages of the network websites and in the newsletters of the Episcopal News Service and Sermons That Work. The price of a one month featured listing is $199.

More here-

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Defying church ban, dozens of Methodist clergy come out as gay and lesbian

From CNN-

Dozens of United Methodist clergy members came out as lesbian, gay or bisexual on Monday, defying their church's ban on "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" serving in ministry and essentially daring their supervisors to discipline them.

In a public letter posted online, 111 pastors, deacons, elders and candidates for ministry said church rules require "that we not bring our full selves to ministry, that we hide from view our sexual orientations and gender identities."

"While some of us have been lucky to serve in places where we could serve honestly and openly, there are others in places far more hostile, who continue to serve faithfully even at tremendous cost to themselves, their families, and yes, even the communities they serve, who do not receive the fullness of their pastor's gifts because a core part must remain hidden," the letter continues.

More here-

Group of ACC members, secretary general dispute meaning of resolution

From ENS-

Two Anglican Communion leaders and some outgoing members of the Anglican Consultative Council are at odds about what exactly happened on the last full day of last month’s ACC-16 meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has said that the council passed a resolution accepting the so-called “consequences” called for in January by a majority of the primates – leaders of the Anglican Communion’s 38 provinces – for the Episcopal Church’s decision to allow same-sex marriage. However, some ACC members dispute that interpretation.

The latest two chapters in the continuing disagreement opened May 6 when six outgoing ACC and Standing Committee members released a statement saying the council did not accept or endorse those consequences.  The statement also said that the ACC imposed no additional consequences.

More here-

Monday, May 9, 2016

Caring for the earth is our responsibility

From Wyoming-

We used to call it “conservation.”

Christians call it “stewardship.”

Some call it the “E” word.

There are red-flag words that when said, often keep people from paying attention to what else might be said, so I will not mention the “E” word in this article. There appears to be a political (which usually means, financial) debate going on about the “E” word and about the “GW” words. Regardless of political stances in these issues, the Bible does address it.

Let me first say that I am neither an environmentalist (OK, I used the “E” word after all) nor an industrialist, though I benefit greatly from both, especially when I buy gas for the vehicle I drive to get to the wilderness areas set aside for future generations. Here in Casper, our economy and many of our jobs depend upon energy production. (I doubt I would be paid except for the fruits of our energy economy here.) Actually I guess that makes me both an environmentalist and an industrialist, not to mention a “figitalist,” for I could not find the wilderness without my cell phone.

More here-

Anglican chief counters accusations of 'Lusaka six'

From Christian Today-

Further Anglican divisions have emerged after six delegates to a recent influential meeting last month of church leaders denied that they had either endorsed or affirmed the actions of the Anglican Communion primates in January.

Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon, secretary general of the Anglican Communion, rejected criticism from six delegates to the Anglican Consultative Council's meeting in Lusaka, Zambia.

The six outgoing members of the council and its insisted their meeting had "neither endorsed nor affirmed" the consequences contained in the primates' communiqué from their meeting at Canterbury cathedral.

Christian Today was among the news outlets that reported the Anglican Consultative Council had unanimously backed the primates in outlining "consequences" to the decision by The Episcopal Church to back gay marriage. The primates had voted to limit participation of The Episcopal Church for three years.

More here-

Episcopal Church Hosts Parishioners who Lost Cathedral to Fire

From New York- (with video)

Parishioners of St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church filed into the neighboring Calvary Episcopal Church on Sunday to celebrate Mass.

The cathedral where they had joyfully participated in Easter services a week earlier is gone, gutted by a raging fire.

Escaped Killer Spotted Near NJ Highway Rest Area

Calvary Episcopal opened its doors to the Serbian Orthodox community and invited them to share their house of worship for the weeks to come.

"I'm happy that we can hold our services here and I think it's something we have to continue every week," said parishioner Bojan Vanovan. "We have to have a Mass. People are still coming. We have to be together as a community."

More here-

Also The New York Times-

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Methodist moment: Denomination wrestles with division, decline

From Pittsburgh-

The Monday evening light was fading behind the stained-glass depictions of Bible stories in the simple sanctuary of Unionville United Methodist Church. About a hundred people sang guitar-led praise songs in a regional Methodist gathering at the small congregation in Rochester, Beaver County, which has worked to revitalize itself through everything from a children’s program to a food pantry.

Small-town congregants, simple worship, earnest social service — are all common images of the United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant body in the nation and the region.

But the denomination, which is headed for a high-stakes 10-day legislative gathering starting Tuesday in Portland, Ore., is far more diverse  — and divided — than its traditional Main Street image.

That diversity can be seen in a vast, unadorned North Fayette sanctuary, where a high-octane praise song brings hundreds of worshipers to their feet at one of numerous weekend worship services hosted by Crossroads United Methodist Church.

More here-