Friday, June 10, 2016

Kenya Anglicans elect new archbishop to succeed former GAFCON chair

From Christian Century-

Jackson Nasoore Ole Sapit, a traditionalist Anglican bishop who nonetheless steered clear of sexuality issues, has been elected the new archbishop of Kenya and is being installed on July 3.

Ole Sapit, 52, who headed Kericho Diocese in western Kenya, will replace outgoing archbishop Eliud Wabukala and also serve as bishop of All Saints Cathedral, the national seat of the Anglican Church. Wabukala’s official retirement date was June 26.

Ole Sapit said a priority would be playing a role in restoring stability in his multiethnic country with its recent history of election violence and ethnic conflict, as well as terrorist attacks by the Somali al-Shabaab militant group.

“The church has spoken and this is the voice of God,” he said. “The first task is to unite ourselves, so that we can unite the country.”

Ole Sapit comes from the Maasai, a seminomadic people who worship their own deity, though a number have adopted Christianity.

Many expect Ole Sapit to follow in the footsteps of Wabukala, a strong opponent of same-sex unions and the ordination of LGBT people in the Anglican Communion.

More here-

Another Staten Island Church Targeted in Fire-Bombing Attempt

From Staten Island-

A flaming bottle was thrown into a Staten Island church early Thursday morning in an apparent attempt to set the building on fire, police say, the second time in a week that a church in the Stapleton neighborhood has been targeted.

Minister Dale Smith at the First Central Baptist Church says someone threw a Molotov cocktail from outside the church, and he believes the person intended to smash through a side window and set the building on fire.

But it appeared the flaming bottle bounced off the window and landed on an awning a few feet away, incinerating it.

"This could have been a lot worse," said Smith. "We are very, very blessed that it was not."

More here-

See previous post-

Scottish Episcopal Church takes gay marriage step

From The BBC-

The Scottish Episcopal Church's General Synod has made the first steps of any Anglican Church in the UK towards allowing gay marriage in church.

The synod voted that a change to its Canon law governing marriage should be sent for discussion to the church's seven dioceses.

A further vote will happen at next year's synod.

The proposal would remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman.

There would be a "conscience clause" for those who would not want to conduct a same-sex marriage.

More here-

Episcopal Bishop: Priests Can Wed Gay Couples Without My OK

From Mississippi-

Episcopal priests in Mississippi no longer need to seek the bishop's permission to perform weddings for same-sex couples.

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi, Rt. Rev. Brian Seage, announced what he called the "significant" change in a June 3 letter to churches.

Seage said clergy members still have "the discretion to marry, or not marry, any specific couple for any reason."

He said he respects priests who are unable to perform same-sex weddings because of their own conscience or because they believe it would cause irreparable harm to their congregation's unity.

"My only request is that you refer, to me, any same sex couple seeking marriage, so arrangements can be made to offer these services of the church," Seage wrote.

Delegates to the Episcopal General Convention voted overwhelmingly last year to change church law to allow same-sex marriages throughout the denomination. Since then, Episcopal bishops in other some places had already said priests don't need to seek their permission to wed same-sex couples.
More here-

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pastor offers 'gentle rebuke' for Baptist editor who wrote religious liberty is not for Muslims

From Christian Examiner-

A Southern Baptist pastor and seminary trustee is asking the editor of America's oldest religious newspaper to retract an editorial in which he claimed Muslims are not deserving of the same religious liberty afforded to others under the U.S. Constitution.

Gerald Harris, editor of Georgia's Christian Index, wrote in his editorial June 6 of the various Islamist movements in Iran, Palestine and Iraq, and claimed Islam "may be more of a geo-political movement than a religion."

"So, do Southern Baptists entities need to come to the defense of a geo-political movement that has basically set itself against Western Civilization? Even if Islam is a religion must we commit ourselves to fight for the religious freedom of a movement that aggressively militates against other religions?"

More here-

Nigeria severs Link with Liverpool Over same-sex marriage.

From Christian Concern-

The Nigerian Archbishop has spoken out against the Church of England, after an American Episcopalian bishop, who supports blessing same-sex unions, has been appointed in the Diocese of Liverpool.

The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, who is also the new chair of the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) said that a "line had been crossed" after the appointment of Bishop Susan Goff of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, as an assisting Bishop of Liverpool. In February, the Episcopalian Church was disciplined by the Church of England for its approval of same-sex 'marriage'.

Twinned with the Liverpool diocese, the Akure diocese has now formally severed its links.

More here-

Tutu's daughter 'sad' to leave priesthood after gay marriage

From The BBC (video)-

The daughter of Archbishop Desmond Tutu has said she felt part of her had been "stripped away" when she had to relinquish the Anglican priesthood after marrying her female partner in December.

Mpho Tutu van Furth has been speaking to the BBC's Nomsa Maseko about falling in love, and the pain of leaving the church.

More here-

Washington National Cathedral to remove Confederate battle flags from its windows

From The Washington Post-

Washington National Cathedral, one of the country’s most visible houses of worship, announced Wednesday that it would remove Confederate battle flags that are part of two large stained-glass windows honoring Confederate generals Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Cathedral leaders said they would leave up the rest of the windows — for now — and use them as a centerpiece for a national conversation about racism in the white church.

The announcement comes a year after the cathedral’s then-dean, the Rev. Gary Hall, said the 8-by-4-foot windows have no place in the soaring church as the country faces intense racial tensions and violence, even though they were intended as a healing gesture when they were installed.

More here-

Times need Christian witness of Episcopal Church, Curry tells council

From ENS-

There’s energy, life and vitality in the Episcopal Church, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry told the Executive Council as it opened its June 8-10 meeting here.

“I really believe that we’re on the right track,” Curry said in his opening remarks.

He told council that his repeated call for the Episcopal Church to embody the Jesus Movement is not “a 21st century invention or a Michael Curry rhetorical concoction.” The presiding bishop said instead that New Testament scholars refer to the beginnings of Christianity as the Jesus Movement.

“When we use the phrase Jesus Movement we’re actually pointing back to the earliest days of Jesus’ teaching and his followers following in his way and footsteps in the power of the spirit. That’s what we’re really talking about,” he said. “And we’re really talking about reclaiming the heritage of the acts of the apostles, the heritage of the movement of people who were profoundly convicted by Jesus of Nazareth that this dude really did have something to say and really did help folks get closer to God and each other – that this Jesus of Nazareth really mattered.”

More here-

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Myanmar Buddhist Monk May Have Plans to Build Monastery Near Anglican Church

From Radio Free Asia-

An influential Buddhist monk who has been erecting Buddhist pagodas on the grounds of churches and mosques in eastern Myanmar’s Karen State may begin building a monastery near an Anglican church, said the bishop who oversees Anglicanism in the state and neighboring regions on Tuesday.

Monk Myaing Kyee Ngu, also known as U Thuzana, has been building pagodas—also called stupas—near Christian churches and mosques in an act of defiance to supposedly reclaim ancient Buddhist lands.

Anglican Bishop Saw Stylo told RFA’s Myanmar Service that the monk and his supporters arrived near St. Mark Anglican church in Kondawgyi village of Hlaingbwe township on Monday with eight trucks of bricks.

Another truck arrived near the church on Tuesday morning, although church officials do not know if workers intend to build a monastery or make a fence dividing the two properties, he told RFA’s Myanmar Service.

“We called the state religious officer this morning [to inform him],” Saw Stylo said. “We will send an official letter to the state government tomorrow.”

More here-

Head of strife-torn St. George’s to step down next year

From Boston-

The headmaster of St. George’s School, which has been embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal, has informed trustees that he won’t seek to renew his contract, which expires June 30, 2017.

Eric F. Peterson, whose resignation had been sought by many alumni, did not mention the scandal in his letter to trustees but referred to recent months as challenging. The controversy at the school became public in December, after Anne Scott and two other alumnae told of being molested or raped by athletic trainer Al Gibbs in the late 1970s.

In a letter sent Tuesday to the St. George’s community announcing Peterson’s departure, board of trustees chair Leslie Heaney referred briefly to the scandal: “Throughout this transition, the school’s commitment to addressing past instances of sexual abuse and to supporting our survivor community will remain steadfast.”

More here-

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Everything I Know About Prayer I Learned from George Carlin

From Huffington-

Everything I know about prayer, I learned from the late comedian and atheist George Carlin.

Well, maybe not everything. Long before I was old enough to listen to Carlin’s albums, I had learned the simple prayers we all learn as children: “God is great, God is good ...”; Now I lay me down to sleep...”; and a common one in my house when I was growing up in New Orleans, “Please let Tulane to beat LSU this year” (that last one taught me a lot about patience, and that God doesn’t always give us what we want).

But back to George Carlin, who made fun of how we think of prayer as a way to make God bend to our will - praying to win football games; praying a certain person who doesn’t know we exist will ask us on a date; praying that our annoying neighbor with the noisy dog will move away.

More here-

Cracks in deal to avert Anglican schism over homosexuality

From The Telegraph-

A deal to avert the break-up of the worldwide Anglican Communion risks collapse amid signals that African churches are reassessing ties with the Church of England over the issue of same-sex marriage.

The new leader of a powerful bloc of traditionalist bishops and archbishops - seen as representing the majority of the world’s estimated 80 million Anglicans - said the Church of England had recently crossed a “line” with a series of decisions seen as endorsing a more liberal stance on homosexuality.

The Most Rev Nicholas Okoh, the Archbishop of Nigeria, said many traditionalists now view the British branches of Anglicanism in a similar light to The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the US which has been accused of “heresy” for ordaining openly gay bishops and endorsing same-sex marriage.

Archbishop Okoh – recently elected as chairman of the influential “Gafcon” (Global Anglican Future Conference) group of clerics –   also pointedly gave his backing to a new breakaway network of churches in England, set up outside the control of the Church of England.

His intervention is the clearest sign yet of a renewed threat of schism within Anglicanism.

More here-


From Staten Island-

Arson investigators and NYPD Hate Crimes Unit detectives are probing a weekend fire inside a Staten Island church.

Authorities say a glass bottle containing flammable liquid was thrown through an open front window of St. Paul's Memorial Episcopal Church in the Stapleton section sometime between noon Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday.

"Sunday morning during the Mass, someone came down the side aisle and saw that there were burned rags, broken glass in the aisle," the Reverend Frederick Schraplau said. "We recognized it as a Molotov cocktail."

The church was closed the entire time, and the fire caused minor damage to the floor.

"We don't have air conditioning, so we leave the windows open to cool it off overnight," Rev. Shraplau said. "So somebody obviously tossed it in. We were lucky the window doesn't open all the way. This way, it was just sort of lobbed in as opposed to deep within the church. If it had landed on the pews or the wooden floor, we really would've had a massive fire."

More here-

Colombian-born brothers, Catholics-turned-Episcopalians, aid campaign to attract Hispanic worshippers

From Houston-

MIDNIGHT had passed, and Uriel Lopez slumped on a stack of beer cases after a night of serving suds at the Catholic fundraiser. Then, Padre Antonio, priest in the teen's small Colombian hometown, stepped from the darkness to drop the bombshell. "Uriel," he said, "have you ever considered joining the priesthood?"

Lopez snapped to attention. "Father," he sputtered, struggling for a reply. "I really love women." Discussion ended.

Still, for Lopez and his older brother, Pedro, the youngest boys in a devout farm family of 14 children, the priesthood's call was potent.

Both moved to Chicago, where they were ordained Catholic priests. Both worked at a succession of parishes until overwork and frustration with the priesthood's strictures brought them to physical and emotional dead ends. Both left the church.

More here-

Monday, June 6, 2016

‘Blessed Ramadan’ signs springing up in Minnesota

From The Twin Cities-

“Blessed Ramadan” signs have been popping up in Minnesota yards this week, a welcoming gesture to area Muslims led by the Minnesota Council of Churches.

This past weekend, members of 17 area churches — including several Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist congregations — were given the signs to put up in their yards. About 1,800 were distributed in the Twin Cities and Duluth, said the Rev. Canon Peg Chemberlin, chief executive officer of the Minnesota Council of Churches.

The yard signs, which read “To Our Blessed Neighbors BLESSED RAMADAN” are meant as a show of support for Muslims, who have been the recent target of “significant negativity,” she said.

More here-

Lesbian Episcopal Priest Condemned for Saying LGBT Mov't Is Central to Christianity

From Christian Post-

A lesbian Episcopal priest who believes queerness is central to the Christian tradition and has published a book that claims "queer and trans experience has vast potential to help the church be the church," is being condemned by a theologian for turning "the sin of Satan into a virtue."

"We queers exist, and many of us have lives and sensibilities that don't fit neatly into heteronormative constructs. And honestly, that's a good thing. Our perceptions of our relationships and ethical obligations are at times of a different hue from the perceptions informed by heteronormative Christian ethics. Far from an ethical deficit, that difference is often shot through with valuable insight," argues Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman's in an excerpt fom her book, Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity that was published in part as an essay by the website Salonon Saturday.

More here-

Response here-

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Ministry Statistics report clergy are older, and fewer are stipendiary

From The Church Times-

FALLING numbers of stipendiary clergy in the Church of England, reported in the latest statistics, show the urgent need for more ordina­tions, the Director of Ministry for the Archbishops’ Council, the Ven. Julian Hubbard, has said.

The statistics, released yesterday, reveal that, while the total number of ordained ministers has remained at around 20,500 from 2012 to the end of last year, the number of stipendiary bishops, priests, and deacons fell from 8006 in 2012 to 7661.

The number of stipendiary women clergy has risen slightly every year, but has not offset the decline in numbers of men.

Archdeacon Hubbard said: "The overall picture confirms what is widely known about the challenges we face. While the number of stipen­diary ordinations showed a welcome increase between 2012 and 2015, this is not sufficient to redress the gathering effect of clergy retirements predicted over the next ten years."

More here-

Hundreds repent as church remembers Uganda Martyrs

From Uganda-

Hundreds of Christians repented and got born again as the Anglican Church commemorated the Uganda martyrs who were killed 130 years ago for refusing to denounce Christianity.

The message of repentance and holiness dominated the sermon of the guest preacher from Nigeria Bishop Dr. Samuel Chukwudi Ezeofor at the Anglican martyrs' commemoration service at Nakiyanja at Namugongo in Wakiso district.

In line with Mathew 5:10, the service was organized by Namirembe diocese under the theme of "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

More here-

Pope Francis Sets Guidelines for Removing Bishops Who Mishandle Sex Abuse Cases

From The New York Times-

A year after approving the creation of a new tribunal to discipline bishops who covered up child sex abuse by priests, Pope Francis scrapped that plan on Saturday and issued new guidelines to oust those who have been “negligent” in handling such cases.

Under the new guidelines, issued in an apostolic letter, Roman Catholic bishops who have failed to properly handle sex abuse cases will be investigated by four Vatican offices. If the bishops are found to have betrayed their mission, they will be removed “to protect those who are the weakest among the persons entrusted to them.”

Canon law already provides for the removal of bishops “for serious causes,” the pope acknowledged, but he said his letter was meant to “clarify that the serious causes include the negligence of bishops in the exercise of their office,” in particular in the case of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

More here-