Saturday, June 4, 2016

Ecumenism of the barstool? Drunken Anglican vicar claims Vatican immunity

From The "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department (RNS)-

The Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church have been on a long road to reconciliation in the centuries since Henry VIII broke with the pope.

But it’s unlikely that the latest faith-sharing move by a drunken Church of England vicar will do much to advance the cause of ecumenism.

Indeed, the Rev. Gareth Jones is only making headlines in England because authorities found him passed out in central London after a night-long binge and Jones — still wearing his collar — kicked, punched, bit and spat at them when they tried to rouse him.

Realizing he was too inebriated to have the desired physical effect, the vicar then took another tack, claiming he was with the Holy See’s embassy to Great Britain and therefore had diplomatic immunity.

More here-

Presiding Bishop making stop in Vicksburg

From Mississippi-

All four Episcopal Churches in Warren County are preparing for the visitor of a lifetime.

The Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will be in town next Sunday, June 12. He is scheduled to preach an 11 a.m. worship and Eucharist service at the Vicksburg Convention Center, 1600 Mulberry St. The service will commemorate the lives of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and the martyrs of Philadelphia.

“It’s all going to be designed for the celebration of those who gave their lives during the Civil Rights era in Mississippi,” the Rev. Margaret Ayers of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church said. “It’ll be a celebration in Mississippi by our first African-American presiding bishop.”

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Rochester's Episcopal Diocese Plans To Sell Its East Avenue Building

From Rochester-

Another area religious organization is selling an historic building. This time, it's the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester.

The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, Prince Singh has written to church members letting them know that the trustees and staff are looking to sell the stately mansion they use for administrative offices on East Avenue.

Singh says it's not because of declining interest in the church. In fact, he says a number of episcopal churches throughout their 8-county region have been growing.  The Bishop says this has more to do with the fact they really don't need such a large building for administrative staff, since they are only using a portion of it, and the church itself, has a more decentralized model.

More here-

Friday, June 3, 2016

Britain Is Losing Its Religion, or at Least Its Official One

From The New York Times-

In these times of flux and challenge, when Britain’s post-imperial place in a globalized world has rarely been so minutely scrutinized and the nation’s very identity can appear to be little more than a work in progress, pity the poor parish priest.

Ever since Henry VIII broke with papal authority in the 16th century, the Anglican Church has stood at the nation’s core. In towns and villages across the land, churches offered formal services and a deeper succor for those seeking life’s meaning or, perhaps, just companionship among the like-minded.

Still, at the highest levels — ecclesiastical as much as political — 26 Anglican bishops sit in the House of Lords, the upper house of Parliament, where they are known as the Lords Spiritual.

The titular head of the church is the monarch, and when royals wed or die or are crowned, these moments are solemnized in grand Anglican cathedrals.

More here-

'Anglican Bishop' Arrested For Defiling 24 Boys

From Nigeria-

Enyibichiri community in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State has been restless, since the police arrested a pastor who also claimed to be a Revered in An Anglican Church, Morah, for allegedly defiling over 24 young boys.

According to the reports by New Telegraph, his victims are said to be between the ages of 12 and 17 years.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, DSP George Okafor, said Morah, who hails from Orji River in Enugu State and claimed to be a reverend with Anglican Church, was on a pastoral mission in Ebonyi.

It was alleged that he used a diabolical handkerchief to lure some of the children, especially those who tried to resist him.

More here-

Allegations of sex assaults, misconduct at St. George's won't go to court

From Rhode Island-

An extensive seven-month investigation into alleged systemic sexual abuse at St. George's School found "no prosecutable criminal conduct," and has been closed, State Police Col. Steven G. O'Donnell and Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin said Thursday.

"Unfortunately for those who came forward, they will not be able to seek justice within the criminal justice system due to the applicable statutes defining conduct, and statute of limitations," their joint statement said.

The investigation focused on allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct "by seven former faculty members;one current employee; and three former students upon students" at the elite private Episcopal boarding school in Middletown.

More here-

Unique program helps women escape streets, transform lives

From CNN (Nashville)

Many cities have one: an ugly stretch of road lined with cheap motels, dollar stores and liquor marts.

Often, women and girls are also part of the landscape, selling their bodies at strip clubs or on the streets.

In Nashville, one such area exists on Dickerson Pike. It's a tough environment, where even the weeds pushing up through the concrete -- thistles -- have thorns.

Many of the women who have walked this road are hardened by a life of abuse and addiction.
Caught in a struggle for survival, they can't see a way out.

That's where Becca Stevens steps in. For nearly 20 years, Stevens has dedicated her life to helping women escape prostitution, addiction and trafficking -- and providing a place for them to heal.

"Those scars are deep, but it doesn't have to be the end of the story," said Stevens, an Episcopal priest.

More here-

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

9 Sacred Spaces That Transformed Into Stunning Secular Buildings

From Huffington-

What happens to a sacred place when people no longer gather there to seek the divine?

A lot of things, actually.

As more people find spirituality outside of traditional church settings, some of the big, beautiful cathedrals, churches and synagogues that were once centers of community life are being repurposed into secular spaces. Their transformations are a reflection of the changes that have happened with religions in Western society.

Mainline Protestant Christian denominations, like the Anglican and Lutheran churches, once dominated the religious landscapes of both the United States and Northern Europe. But this tradition’s share of the population has been declining sharply in recent decades. The Roman Catholic Church and Jewish synagogues have suffered losses as well, with attendance at religious services steadily declining. 

More here-

World's oldest Catholic prelate celebrates 50 years as a bishop

From New Jersey-

Archbishop Peter Leo Gerety, the world's oldest Catholic prelate, will mark 104 years of life July 19. But first he will celebrate 50 years as a bishop June 1 and 77 years as a priest June 29.
That's a lot of numbers for an old man to remember and the Newark archbishop emeritus is not getting worked up about any of them. "How many are coming?" he asks his assistant, Paula Flynn, who visits him four or five days a week at St. Joseph's Home for the Elderly here.

The nursing home, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, will be the venue for a Mass, commemorating his half century of episcopal ordination June 1, and a luncheon. Gerety has been at St. Joseph's three years after living many years at the Newark archdiocese's home for retired priests in Rutherford, N.J.

"How many did you say are coming?" Gerety asks again. "About 25 of your closest priest friends," she tells him.

More here-

The Rev. James C. Blackburn, Episcopal priest and activist, dies

From Baltimore-

The Rev. James C. Blackburn, a retired Episcopal priest who championed civil rights, peace, and social justice, died Saturday from complications of lymphoma and pneumonia at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

The longtime Homeland resident was 82.

"He loved the Episcopal Church, even in difficult times of conflict," wrote a son, David W. Blackburn of Montclair, N.J., in an email. "Echoing the late Bishop James Pike, he liked to describe the attraction of the Episcopal Church in the words of the Psalm: 'Lord, I thank thee that thou hast set my feet in a large room.'"

The son of Paul V. Blackburn, an industrial manager, and Sylvia Wheeler Blackburn, James Clark Blackburn was born in Cleveland. After his father's death in 1939, he moved with his family to Harrisburg, Pa.

More here-

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Uganda: Martyrs Day - Preparations Complete

From Uganda-

With barely three days to this years' Uganda Matyrs' day, officials at both Namugongo Catholic and Anglican shrines where the main celebrations are held have said they are ready for the day.

The June 3 celebration themed: "The truth will make you free", will be led by the Diocese of Kiyinda-Mityana on behalf of Kampala Ecclesiastical Province at the Catholic shrine while celebrations at the Anglican shrine will be led by Namirembe Anglican.

"About 20,000 pilgrims from Uganda have so far arrived at the Anglican shrine largely from Kabale, Mbarara and Hoima," the Rev Joseph Mukasa Muwonge, a priest at Namugongo Martyrs' shrine told Daily Monitor yesterday.

According to the Rev Muwonge, apart from a few cases of pick pockets, pilgrims already at the shrine have not had serious challenges and "we have all been sent out from the premises for security check-ups".

More here-

Liberia: Come Let Us Rebuild Christ Church

From Liberia-

The Priest-in-Charge of Christ Episcopal Church, the Rev. Fr. Harris W. Woart, has challenged Episcopalians from Crozierville to return and rebuild the church in the same way the Prophet Nehemiah, in exile following the Babylonian captivity, returned home to rebuild Jerusalem.

Preaching on the occasion of homecoming of Christ Church members yesterday, Fr. Woart told the parishioners that they are to rebuild their church socially, spiritually and physically. "We must rebuild this very edifice we currently occupy by repairing the roof and ceiling and finding locks for the windows and doors." The church has fallen into serious disrepair over the years with major leaks and a generally crumbling, decaying structure.

On the challenge of rebuilding Christ Church, there is a far bigger challenge. The current edifice will soon be torn down by a new road construction project passing through Crozierville.

Episcopal Bishop Jonathan B.B. Hart (pictured), a born member of Christ Church, and other parishioners have identified a 25-acre plot of land immediately behind the current edifice where the new church is to be built. An architect has already been recruited to design the new church, and its members at home and in the Diaspora must now begin raising the funds to build the new edifice before it is demolished by the approaching road construction project through the settlement.

More here-

Cairo conference: Contextual mission in Egypt

From The Living Church-

In April I flew to Cairo via Addis Ababa from the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Zambia, which was the subject of my most recent Interweavings article. Just before travelling to the airport, I enjoyed playing football in the grounds of Lusaka Cathedral with Andy Bowerman, co-director of the Anglican Alliance.

Coincidentally, on the flight from Addis Ababa to Cairo, I found myself surrounded by the entire Egyptian women’s football team. They were returning from the Ivory Coast, having just qualified for the Africa Women’s Cup. Discussions during the flight included the relative merits of Arsenal and Manchester United, the “Arab Spring,” relations between Muslims and Christians, and how we prayed. Ethiopian Airlines generously provided a celebratory chocolate cake, which the team kindly shared. So there was football at the beginning and the end of the journey.

More here-

How Benedict XVI's resignation changed the papacy

From Angel US-

When Pope emeritus Benedict XVI resigned as pontiff three years ago, he added a new dimension to the papacy, said his personal secretary Archbishop Georg Ganswein.

Archbishop Ganswein remains prefect of the Pontifical Household. He works closely with both Benedict and Pope Francis.

The archbishop spoke about Benedict’s pontificate and its wake at a May 20 book presentation of “Oltre la crisi della Chiesa” (Beyond the Church’s Crisis) by Father Roberto Regoli, an historian and professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University. The book aims to be the first history-based evaluation of Benedict XVI’s pontificate.

Archbishop Ganswein stressed that there is only one legitimate Pope – Francis. However, for the last three years, Catholics have lived “with two living successors of Peter among us.” He said Benedict and Francis “are not in competition with each other, though they have an extraordinary presence.”

More here-


From Collective Evolution-

Below is a video of Jon Shelby Sponge, a retired American bishop of the Episcopal Church, discussing these problems. He argues that religion is a business and it is used as a control mechanism (and he’s not the first insider to do so). We can see this happening most clearly in the rise of Islamophobia. Islam has been turned into a scapegoat, a target at which we can direct all our fears and anger, and an excuse to invade other countries and create a more intense global national security state. But the truth is, Islam has nothing to do with violence or terrorism. These manufactured fears are all part and parcel of ‘false flag’ terrorism, which you can read more about here if you are unfamiliar with the concept.

In the video, Sponge affirms that “religion is always in the control business, and that’s something people don’t really understand. It’s in the guilt producing control business.”

More here-

8 Episcopal parishes in New Haven consider future as congregations shrink, costs grow

From CT-

 St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in New­hallville is confronting questions about its very existence, but it is not alone.

Eight Episcopal parishes in New Haven have been engaged in talks at the diocesan offices in Meriden about their future. Like all of the so-called mainline Protestant denominations, the Episcopal Church is dealing with the decline in churchgoers while many parishes are weighed down with expensive, if beautiful, churches.

“We have until Dec. 4 really to resolve several issues that we have to address,” said Lou Campbell, senior warden of St. Andrew’s. These include “a deficit that accumulated over many, many years … and also we don’t have a priest so we have to start moving toward getting a priest.”

More here-

Monday, May 30, 2016

What happens when the military chaplain is shaken by war

From The Washington Post-

The pre-war Pastor Matthew Williams had gone to seminary, was ordained and thought he understood why people suffer. “God allows suffering because this world is temporary,” is how he would have put it.

Then came two deployments as an Army chaplain, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Williams spent a year in an Afghanistan morgue unzipping body bags and “seeing your friends’ faces all blown apart.” He watched as most of the marriages he officiated for fellow soldiers fell apart. He felt the terror of being the only soldier who wasn’t armed when the mortars dropped and bullets flew.

This Memorial Day weekend, Williams is no longer an active-duty military chaplain nor a United Church of Christ minister. He is a guitar player on disability whose outlook on God, religion and suffering was transformed by post-traumatic stress.

More here-

Rwanda: Jesus, the Ancestors, or Both?

From Rwanda-

After she won re-election, she went to her cultural shrine to 'pay homage' to the ancestors. She felt obliged to thank them for guiding her through the hotly contested race for Speaker of Parliament in a country that neighbours our own; it was captured on a video clip that made the rounds and provoked all kinds of reactions that, on the balance of opinion, were downright hostile. It was worth a thought.

The Anglican Church felt cheated by the Speaker's belonging to it and to a 'rival' faith at once. The Archbishop voiced strong condemnation. The Speaker's actions, the bishop intoned, have created "confusion" and are likely to lead "others to stumble.

Moreover, the Speaker had betrayed and confused many Christians who had "rejoiced when the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ opened doors for her to serve [... ] again." He urged all bishops and clergy to "use this opportunity to proclaim the sufficiency of Christ" to their congregations.

More here-

Becket, the Man and the Myth

From The New York Times-

Sacred relics may not have the mystical power they had in a less secular past, but the return to Britain from Hungary of one of the few surviving fragments of bone from Thomas Becket, the murdered “meddlesome priest” of hagiography, literature, stage and screen, still commands considerable attention. As the Anglican bishop of London, Richard Chartres, noted at a service attended by Anglicans and Catholics, Britons and Hungarians, the 12th-century cleric “teaches us to consider what are the historic roots of European unity.”

That message was especially pertinent to the countries involved. Hungary, where the relic has been for 800 years, is now led by a prime minister, Viktor Orban, who promotes a blend of nationalism, populism and Euroskepticism that flies in the face of the values represented by the European Union. And Britain is nearing a referendum on whether to stay in the union.

More here-

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Hampton Roads communities wrestle with Confederate legacy, history

From Virginia-

At St. John's Episcopal Church in Hampton, almost 150 Confederate soldiers are buried in the church cemetery. A monument honoring them has stood amid the graves since 1902. Jim Tormey, a local historian who has written a book about the church, said he is not aware of any conflicts regarding the monument.

"There are people who inquire about specific individuals buried here," Tormey said. "But they are interested in the context of the lives more than anything else."

Tormey said the Confederate graves are marked with the symbol of the Maltese cross, while those that date to the Revolutionary War have different symbols. He said there is no formal tradition of placing flags or wreaths on any of the graves at St. John's.

More here-