Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Pastor Fights Against Government Restrictions on Political Sermons

From The Daily Signal-

In a matter that deals more directly with what pastors oppose, the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, faced a near two-year investigation from the IRS after a 2004 sermon opposing the war in Iraq. The IRS dropped its investigation, but the church reportedly spent $200,000 in legal bills.

Tax-exempt status should not be conditioned on what a pastor says from the pulpit, contends Christiana Holcomb, ADF legal counsel, calling the law an unconstitutional infringement on free speech and the Establishment Clause.

“We have welcomed the IRS to really enforce this so we can make a challenge to the law, and make the public aware that any regulation of a pastor’s sermon is a clear violation of the Constitution,” Holcomb told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “But even without going to court, the IRS has used intimidation, bullying, and harassment tactics.”

More here-

Anglican churches provide aid to thousands of victims of South Sudan's civil war

From The Christian Times-

The Anglican community extended assistance for thousands of those who are affected in the devastated Juba region of South Sudan that recently escalated in its state of unrest.

According to the Anglican Communion News Service, Sudra (the Sudanese Development and Relief Agency) announced Tuesday that it planned to extend its food assistance to around 14,400 internally displaced people from the affected areas of Juba, Kajo Keji, Yei, Lainya, and Rajaf.

More here-

St. John's curate placed on leave

From Massachusetts-

The curate of St. John's Episcopal Church is on administrative leave following "alleged violations of clergy 'standards of conduct,'" according to church officials.

The Rev. Stephen Scarff allegedly drank alcoholic beverages before transporting young church members during a mission trip, according to a letter to the church community dated July 12 and signed by the Rev. Stephanie Bradbury, rector elect; Senior Warden Steve MacKinnon; and Junior Warden Jeannie McIntyre.

The letter follows a complaint the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts received July 10, according to a prepared statement from the diocese.

"In keeping with the Episcopal Church’s clergy disciplinary process, Bishop Alan Gates placed the Rev. Mr. Scarff on immediate administrative leave, a standard precautionary response, while the facts of the situation are being determined," the statement said.

More here-

Friday, July 22, 2016

Former government worker now Episcopal bishop in Pennsylvania

From New Mexico-

People who knew Daniel Gutierrez during his years of government service in Bernalillo County say they expected the Albuquerque native to run for elected office one day.

Nobody, including Gutierrez himself, expected that he would be elected bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

“It’s funny, because the bishop is elected by the clergy and the laity of the Episcopal Church,” Gutierrez said in a phone interview from Philadelphia, where he was consecrated Saturday as bishop.

More here-

Cambridge’s Episcopal Divinity School to stop awarding degrees

From The Boston Globe-

Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, facing ongoing budget deficits, said Thursday that it will no longer award degrees after June 2017, and will spend the next academic year exploring options for its future.

The decision was approved by an 11-4 vote of the school’s trustees on Thursday. Following the vote, the Rev. Frank Fornaro, the interim dean and president, announced his resignation, effective in November, the school said in a statement.

“I totally disagree with this resolution,” Fornaro said in the statement.

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, the trustees’ chairman, said mounting financial pressures required the board to “act quickly, while the seminary still has sufficient assets to bring to bear in the next phase of its life.”

More here-

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Episcopal Divinity School to stop granting degrees in June 2017

From ENS-

Episcopal Divinity School will cease to grant degrees at the end of the upcoming academic year, the seminary’s board of trustees decided July 21 on a 11-4 vote. During the next year, the board will explore options for EDS’s future, some of which were suggested by a specially convened Futures Task Force to make plans for EDS’s future.

“A school that has taken on racism, sexism, heterosexism, and multiple interlocking oppressions is now called to rethink its delivery of theological education in a new and changing world,” said the Very Rev. Gary Hall ’76, chairman of the board, in introducing the resolution. “Ending unsustainable spending is a matter of social justice.”

The options suggested to the task force include merging with another theological seminary, establishing a center for Abrahamic studies, becoming a center for continuing education, fostering lay ministry, and using the seminary’s assets to fund scholarships for seminarians devoted to working on issues of peace and justice.

More here-

Anglican Archbishop of Perth Roger Herft allegedly failed to report paedophile Peter Rushton to police

From Australia-

One of the nation's most senior Anglicans, the Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft, received complaints about a priest involved in a paedophile ring but allegedly failed to formally report him to police, according to an Anglican Church insider.

7.30 has obtained a confidential note showing Archbishop Herft received a complaint about Father Peter Rushton's abuse when they both worked in the Hunter region of New South Wales in 2002.

Archbishop Herft wrote that the complaint "left me in an unenviable position" because "Father Peter had my licence [to be a priest] and if he reoffended I would be held liable as I now had prior knowledge of his alleged behaviour".

More here-'kingpin'/7649154

NH Supreme Court to hear Durham church's tax appeal

From New Hampshire-

The New Hampshire Supreme Court is set to hear a Durham church's appeal regarding taxes paid for the leasing of parking spaces to University of New Hampshire students.

Foster's Daily Democrat reports St. George's Episcopal Church appealed to the high court after a Strafford County judge ruled that the church was obligated to pay a property tax to the town.

Church officials say they've been leasing parking spaces to UNH students since 1998 and the town had never levied a tax on the church before. But in 2013, Durham Tax Assessor Jim Rice issued a property tax bill to the church.

More here-

Episcopal Church weighs in on NEK counselor accused of sex assault

From Vermont-

A family therapist is accused of preying on kids he was supposed to help. The Northeast Kingdom counselor says the accusations of sex assault are untrue, but as investigative reporter Jennifer Costa found out, he's been accused before.

During his 20-year career, Armand Henault has counseled countless kids, many from broken homes. In June, police arrested him. They say some of his behavior is criminal and some unethical. Henault says it's a witch hunt. Now, the Episcopal Church is weighing in.

"It's totally devastating and sad for us," said Bishop Thomas Ely, Episcopal Diocese of Vermont.

Ely is not hiding from a harsh reality. One of his own is accused of sexually assaulting a child. He says the allegations against Henault are a blow to the Episcopal Church, but not entirely surprising.

"So, many others whose trust in Mr. Henault must be understandably shaken by the allegations, including me," said Ely. 

More here-

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Norwich police say treasurer took church funds for food, golf, liquor

From CT-

The former treasurer of the Grace Episcopal Church was arrested on a first-degree larceny charge Monday after allegedly admitting making repeated withdrawals of church funds for “pretty much anything he needed,” including rounds of golf at the Norwich Golf Course.

Andrew Rushford, 58, of 4 Chapel Hill Road — near the church, also on Chapel Hill Road — was charged with one count of first-degree larceny.

He initially was held on a $50,000 bond, but was released on a promise to appear after his arraignment in Norwich Superior Court on Tuesday.

He was released on a condition that he cooperate with a veterans' program, according to the court record.

More here-

For some Christians talking about race is tough, and long overdue they say

From The Washington Post-

At Washington National Cathedral on Sunday, an interracial group of clergy gathered to discuss the role of the white church in perpetuating racism. And what the church might do to heal the wounds. A tough subject, but dealt with unflinchingly.

They began with church complicity in the nation’s original sins — genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans.

“We Christians — British and Americans — said we can’t do those things to people we believe are made in the image of God,” said the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners, a D.C.-based social justice organization. “So we will throw away Imago Dei. And that’s what we did. We threw away the image of God and said that these indigenous and African peoples are less than human.”

More here-

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church & Property Up for Sale in Augusta

From Maine-

“We’d love to see it continue as a church, obviously as you look around with the windows and everything, it’s beautiful,” said Reverend Rebecca Grant, with the St. Mark’s Church.

Since 1885, the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church has been worshipping with, and caring for, the Augusta community.

For 150 years, the St. Mark’s home next door has housed elderly, indigent women. But the building has been closed since December of 2014, and now the entire property, including the church, a historic rectory, and a parish hall, is now up for sale.

“Because we simply can’t afford it any longer. We have a small congregation and these buildings cost tremendous amounts of money to heat, to maintain. If you look around this one, you’ll see early signs of deterioration and we just don’t want that to happen to it,” said Grant.

More here-

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Anglican church 'erred grievously' in gay marriage vote, say Northern bishops

From The CBC-

A group of bishops, including two from the Diocese of the Arctic, are "publicly dissenting" the dramatic results of a vote to allow members of the Anglican Church of Canada to perform same-sex marriages.

Last week, initial results showed the resolution failed by a single vote, but a subsequent recount showed a dramatic reversal.

Seven bishops from Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario say they are concerned the result is "a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of the Anglican communion."

"We believe that our General Synod has erred grievously," the bishops wrote in a statement.

More here-

Married Lesbian Ordained as Methodist Bishop, 'Led by the Holy Spirit'

From Charisma News-

The Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church consecrated a married lesbian bishop in a move that could split the denomination. 

Greater Northwest Episcopal Area Bishop Grant Hagiya claims the Holy Spirit led the move that the church bylaws expressly forbid. 

"We understand there may be some political implications, but in our mind this was the best person. It was not a question of (sexual) orientation, it was a question of who was the best spiritual leader. The body spoke and said 'Yes, this is the one.' " Hagiya said.

Yet the denomination's Book of Discipline cites "self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church." 

More here-

Pastor posts photos of shooting victims in sanctuary

From Michigan-

Death is draped on the walls of St. Thomas Episcopal Church.

From the front door of the sanctuary, around the back wall and up across the pulpit are photographs of dead people. Each week the Rev. Brian Coleman tapes photos of those who have died in mass shootings to the sanctuary walls. He said the church will continue to do so through the end of the year. To the pastor, it’s a form of accountability as the national debate on gun violence heightens.

“I’m sure there are people in the congregation who wish I hadn’t started this,” Coleman said. “Sometimes when I put new pictures up, I hear people in the congregation saying ‘Oh my, more dead people.’”

At first, not all of the church members agreed it was the right thing to do. But after more mass shootings and listening to Coleman preach about why he felt it was an important issue, more have started to agree with his methods, he said.

More here-

Monday, July 18, 2016

Orthodox Anglican bishops oppose same-same marriage decision

From Canada-

Seven Canadian Anglican bishops are speaking out against a recent decision to allow clergy to officiate at same-sex marriage ceremonies.

In an open letter released late last week, the bishops took issue with the way the July 13 vote was handled at the faith's General Synod. After a vote recording error was corrected, the Synod narrowly approved the resolution.

That didn't sit well with the seven bishops, who represent Anglicans in Algoma, two in the Arctic, Athabasca, Caledonia, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.

More here-

Founded by freed slaves, St. Matthias marks 150 years

From Western North Carolina-

 Founded as the Freedmen's Church after the Civil War and built by a former slave, St. Matthias Episcopal Church marks its 150th anniversary as a congregation where whites and African-Americans can come together in worship.

In celebration, St. Matthias will open its doors to all of Asheville for a special service at 3 p.m. July 23 at 1 Dundee St., across from the city of Asheville Public Works Building on Charlotte Street.

At the close of the Civil war in 1865, Capt. Thomas Patton and General James Martin, who had served in the defeated Confederate Army, wanted to provide worship opportunities for their former slaves. Black congregants began to worship at Trinity.

More here-

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, properties for sale in Augusta

From Maine-

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and related church-owned properties are for sale, a move that could displace the city’s food bank, a warming shelter and a pantry that provides soap and toiletries to the needy.

Also for sale is a historic home the church used as a rectory.

And the adjacent St. Mark’s Home, which provided housing for decades after it was donated to the church in 1871 to serve as a home for poor and indigent women, will be given away by church officials, along with a roughly $340,000 endowment. That’s if an organization comes forward with a solid plan to take over the facility and continue its mission of helping people in need.

More here-

Sunday, July 17, 2016

‘God break racism!’ Evangelicals on D.C. Mall pray for hope and reconciliation

From The Washington Post-

Rappers and pastors, spoken word poets and authors appealed Saturday to thousands of evangelicals gathered around the Washington Monument in baking heat to recommit to prayer and hope at a time of intense racial and political polarization and growing secularism.

People streamed into prayer tents, asking volunteers for prayers to “reset” their lives, their families, their country. They got on their knees by the thousands, appealing to God to “break racism” at the call of charismatic evangelist Lou Engle, one of dozens of preachers in the hours-long lineup. They told personal stories of division in their lives that brought them to America’s capital for what aimed to be one of the bigger faith outreach events in the United States in years. Possibly an entire Bible’s worth of verses was written on the t-shirts in the crowd.

More here-

United Methodist Church Elects First Openly Gay Bishop, In Defiance Of Church Rules

From NPR-

Representatives of the United Methodist Church have elected their first openly gay bishop, in defiance of church prohibitions on homosexuality.

Rev. Karen Oliveto, senior pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, was elected bishop of the church's Western Division at a conference Friday night in Scottsdale, Arizona.

"I think at this moment I have a glimpse of the realm of God," 58-year-old Oliveto said after her election, according to a news story from the church. "Today we took a step closer to embody beloved community and while we may be moving there, we are not there yet. We are moving on to perfection."

More here-