Friday, August 12, 2016

St. Paul's School Grad Accuses Former Chaplain of Sexual Abuse

From New Hampshire-

A former St. Paul’s School student has come forward with an allegation of sexual abuse by a former chaplain after the New Hampshire prep school began an investigation of the man upon learning of a similar allegation at a Rhode Island prep school where he also once worked, a St. Paul’s spokeswoman said Wednesday.

St. Paul’s contacted Concord police, alumni and students about the allegation involving the Rev. Howard “Howdy” White when he was a chaplain and teacher from 1967-1971, spokeswoman Tenley Rooney said in confirming reports that the school was investigating White.

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Anglican church tried to change rules to keep child sex abuse findings quiet – inquiry

From The Guardian-

Attempts were made to change Anglican church rules so that findings of child sex abuse against priests were kept private, a whistleblower has told the royal commission.

Michael Elliott, a former policeman, has been the professional standards director in the diocese of Newcastle, New South Wales, since 2009.

On Thursday he told the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse that there was a move within the diocese to undermine the professional standards body as soon as it began investigating allegations against the former dean of Newcastle cathedral, Graeme Lawrence, and four others.

Elliott told the commission he was head of professional standards when a man, referred to in the commission as CKH, reported he had been groomed by a priest, Andrew Duncan, in 1980, when CKH was 14. CKH told the commission he subsequently had sex with Lawrence and a priest, Bruce Hoare, the commission has heard.

More here-

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Evangelicals form new group within United Methodist Church over homosexuality

From Christian Today-

A new evangelical grouping is set to form within the United Methodist Church. The group – the Wesleyan Covenant Association – is being formed in response to the ongoing debate within the denomination about sexuality.

The UMC is one of the biggest mainline denominations in America, with around 7 million members, and 4 million more worldwide. A special commission of the UMC is working on the issue of homosexuality at the moment. It is expected to report back soon and may recommend some changes to church rules on same sex marriage and gay clergy.

The Wesleyan Covenant Association says that it is forming at a time of "great uncertainty about the future of The United Methodist Church, the Wesleyan Covenant Association stands together as an alliance to advance vibrant, scriptural Christianity within Methodism."

The group's website answers reports which have claimed that it is looking to found a new denomination – especially in response to the appointment of a lesbian Bishop. It says, "That is not the association's intent. The WCA hopes the UM Church can remain united. We pray we can all find ways to live as Jesus' joyful and obedient disciples in covenant with one another."

More here-

Malcolm Gladwell Profiles Minister Who Defied Church for Gay Son

From The Advocate-

Chester Wenger, a Mennonite pastor who sacrificed his ministry by officiating his son’s same-sex marriage, is an examplar of “generous orthodoxy” — showing “respect for the body he is trying to heal,” says journalist and commentator Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell, famed for explaining cultural trends in his book The Tipping Point, profiles Wenger on Thursday’s episode of his Revisionist History podcast.

Wenger, now 98, says he had little knowledge about homosexuality for much of his life, and whe

Some years later, Phil joined the more accepting Episcopal Church after Gene Robinson became its first openly gay bishop, making his father weep with joy that he had renewed his faith.

n his son Phil came out as gay, the minister thought it was a phase Phil would get over. Eventually it became clear it was not a phase, and Phil was expelled from the Mennonite Church (by another clergy member, not his father). Wenger and his wife urged Phil to maintain his faith in Jesus Christ nonetheless.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

EDS Chairs Issue an Update

From The Living Church-

In late July, the EDS board of trustees voted to end degree programs in June 2017 in order to conserve the seminary’s resources for its future mission. We’re writing today, as we hope to write periodically in the coming months, to update you on our progress.

Since the meeting on July 21, we have formed two committees. One, the New Directions Committee, will spend the next year considering options for EDS’s future. We are delighted to announce that the Rev. Anne Sutherland Howard ’85 has agreed to chair this committee. Anne, the former executive director of the Beatitudes Society, has been a trustee of EDS since 2015. Anne brings great personal and professional skills to this work. She served as canon to the ordinary in Los Angeles for Bishop Fred Borsch, and continues as preacher-in-residence at Trinity Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara, California. She is adept at working with groups to bring both leadership and consensus to achieving a visionary goal.

More here-

Bishop cried at prospect of defrocking senior cleric over abuse, inquiry told

From The Guardian-

An Anglican bishop balked at having to defrock an influential senior cleric for sexual misconduct even though a church hearing had recommended he do so, a royal commission has been told.

The commission has been hearing complex and startling evidence on how the Anglican diocese of Newcastle allegedly took a “do nothing” approach for decades to allegations of widespread child sex abuse by its clergy.

On Tuesday, an abuse survivor, CKH, told how Bishop Brian Farran met him in 2012 and cried over the difficult decision he faced: whether to defrock the former dean of Newcastle cathedral, Graeme Lawrence.

More here-

Inquiry hears of priests' 'sickening' porn

From Australia-

A removal man told his company he found sickening child porn at an Anglican rector's house.

The company's lawyers told the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle in NSW it was legal adult gay porn.

However, then-bishop Roger Herft and diocesan registrar Peter Mitchell were uncertain especially when accused priest Peter Rushton refused to show an assistant bishop his full porn collection.

To clear the matter up the bishop and his adviser let a friend of Rushton's investigate.

On Wednesday, the chair of the child sex abuse royal commission Peter McClellan described the diocese's approach to the 1998 incident as "extraordinary".

More here-

The Rev. Howard White, ex-St. George's assistant chaplain, accused of sex abuse at N.H. prep school

From Rhode Island-

An alumnus of St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire, has accused the Rev. Howard W. "Howdy" White Jr. of sexually abusing him during White's time there between 1967 through 1971, the school confirmed Tuesday. White served as a chaplain and teacher at the prestigious Episcopal boarding institution.

White, who subsequently became assistant chaplain at St. George’s School in Middletown, is one of a half-dozen former staff members who figured in a sex-abuse scandal at St. George's. A Rhode Island State Police investigation, concluded in June, found no prosecutable criminal misconduct against any of the alleged perpetrators, or the school, in part due to statutes of limitations.

St. George’s announced a confidential settlement last week between the elite Episcopal prep school and up to 30 alumni whose abuse claims reach back to the 1970s. Those sex-abuse claims include allegations against White, whom the school fired in 1974 for admitted sexual misconduct but never reported to authorities.

In Concord, St. Paul's rector Michael G. Hirschfeld wrote to alumni Aug. 5 of the recent allegation against White. Hirschfeld said the school had hired former Massachusetts attorney general Scott Harshbarger "to lead our investigative efforts and pursue any complaints" following the St. George's allegations.

More here-

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

No immediate fix to Nigeria’s woes – Anglican Primate

From Nigeria-

Okoh, who was speaking in an interview at the Conference of Registrars, Chancellors and Legal Officers of the church, in Abuja, called on judiciary to refuse to be used by disgruntled politicians to scatter the country.

Primate noted that although Nigeria is a process of being revived but needed more patience and sacrifice to bounce back.

According to him, “we have been assured by the Present administration, it will take quiet sometime to fixed Nigeria.

“There is no immediate fixed to Nigeria problem, to fix Nigeria of today requires a lot of patient and sacrifice.

“Nigeria is a way already been revived if you watch the trend from the budget was passed notwithstanding, with the difficulty still associate with the budget I am referring to the issue of padding step by step as money is being released by government people will begin to find something to do.

More here-

Anglican Church response to abuse: ‘we’ll sue’

From Australia-

The Anglican Archbishop of Perth warned two youth leaders they would face legal action if they continued to complain about ­alleged child abuse committed by a senior priest, a royal commission has heard.

Archbishop Roger Herft “was more interested in standing up for (the alleged abuser) than listening to the issue,” one of the youth leaders said in a witness statement tendered to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Robert Wall told the commission he met Archbishop Herft in about 1994-95, when he was the bishop of Newcastle, in NSW, to report the allegations against Graeme Lawrence, the dean of the city’s cathedral.

Mr Lawrence, who was ­defrocked in 2012 after having group sex with a teenager, has been identified in evidence to the commission as part of a “Gang of Three” church officials who protected serial paedophile priest Peter Rushton.

More here-

Priest finds ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ at Burning Man

From Sacramento-

The Very Rev. Brian Baker of Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Sacramento, Calif., has always traveled outside the box, promoting interfaith conversations with the Dalai Lama, motorcycling through Indian reservations and leading the fight for marriage equality.

Last summer, his daughter, Laura, offered him a fresh test of faith: She invited him to spend a week in the broiling Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada, enduring five-hour dust storms to join the 70,000 people who had left behind cellphones, capitalism and judgments for Burning Man, the festival of “radical self-expression” that will be held this year from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5.

“When my amazing hippie, dreadlocked, tattooed, ‘I’m more of a Buddhist,’ 22-year-old daughter asked me,” Baker said, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse – especially since the 53-year-old Episcopal priest had always wanted to experience what’s been described as a slice of utopia.

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Decline of religion in Britain ‘comes to a halt’ – major study suggests

From The Telegraph-

It is more than 130 years since Nietzsche declared that “God is dead”, and forecasts of the demise of organised religion in the UK and elsewhere have been a regular fixture ever since.

But new figures from Britain’s longest-running and most important barometer of general public opinion suggest that reports of the imminent death of Christianity at least may have been greatly exaggerated.

As-yet unpublished findings from this year’s British Social Attitudes Survey (BSA), seen by the Sunday Telegraph, show decades of decline in religious affiliation appearing to level off.

The overall proportion of Britons who described themselves as Christian actually rose one percentage point in the last year from 42 per cent to 43 per cent.

More here-

EDS Graduates Protest

From The Living Church-

The 14 members of Episcopal Divinity School’s Alumni/ae Executive Committee are distressed about the school’s plans to stop granting degrees next year.

The letter is dated July 22, one day after EDS trustees voted to grant the school’s last degrees at the end of the 2016-17 academic year.

The group, ranging from the class of 1977 to the class of 2014, includes one bishop: the Rt. Rev. Carol Gallagher, Bishop for Native American Ministries and Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Montana since 2014. The EDS Alumni/ae Association elected Bishop Gallagher as its representative on the board of trustees. Her term expires in 2019.

More here-

'Spiritual but not religious': What the census won't say about Australians' beliefs

From Australia-

Over the last few decades, the number of people who answer the census question about religion with 'no religion' or 'not specified' has been on the rise. But just because someone doesn't subscribe to organised religion doesn't mean they're not spiritual.

Unlike in France and the United States, the Australian census contains a question about religion. This year, for the first time, 'no religion' will be the first option.

This is because the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) thinks no religion will receive the largest response—the boxes are organised in descending order from the largest to smallest group.

A century ago, Anglicans were the largest group at over 40 per cent of the population. By 2011 they'd declined to 17 per cent, while Catholics were about 25 per cent and the Uniting Church on 5 per cent. Muslims were 2.2 per cent, Buddhists 2.5 per cent, Greek Orthodox 1.8 per cent, and Hindus 1.3 per cent. Christians altogether were 61 per cent.

More here-

Anglican priests in group sex allegation

From Australia-

A child sex abuse survivor will tell a royal commission two Anglican priests had group sex with him while another priest watched and stroked a 17-year-old boy who was so drunk he passed out.

The evidence on Monday from a man given the pseudonym CKH follows shocking revelations last week about a network of pedophiles in the Anglican diocese of Newcastle who targeted children in a church-run boys home.

CKH is expected to say he was 14 years old when priest Andrew Duncan had oral sex with him and the sexual abuse continued for years. During his involvement with Duncan, CKH alleges he was groomed to have sexual encounters with three other priests, Graeme Lawrence, Bruce Hoare and Graeme Sturt.

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Police at the pulpit: Scott, Hinson address concerns about race

From North Carolina-

The priest at St. Francis Episcopal Church on Sunday ceded his sermon time and the chairs in the pulpit to two people who had a sermon of their own: Police Chief Wayne Scott and Deputy Chief James Hinson Jr.

Two cops at a church service on a Sunday morning. At one time, that would've been unique. Not so much anymore.

As they have lately in synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship, the chiefs are addressing concerns about race and policing across the country while answering questions of about what's being done locally to prevent Greensboro from becoming another flashpoint for controversy.

More here-

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Riot breaks at Nigerian Anglican synod, four women and one youth injured

From Christian Times-

Protesters demanding for the dismissal of an allegedly corrupt Anglican bishop interrupted the Anglican Church from convening its synod. The said protesters also clashed with authorities which resulted with five people injured.

According to the Anglican's official website, protesters surrounded St. John's Anglican Church in Amukpe on July 28 and blocked the clergy and delegates from entering the church to participate in the scheduled synod. The protesters held placards and demanded the resignation of Rt. Rev. Blessing Erife­ta, the bishop of Sapele.

The vicar of St. John then reportedly called the who were soldiers positioned to protect an oil pipeline nearby and requested them to clear the church building of the demonstrators. The clergy prayed at a school nearby as the authorities and protestors clashed. The incident resulted in injuries among four women and a youth.

More here-

The Christian Right is on the ropes

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

Since the 1980s, the bulwark of the Republican Party has been its reliable support from conservative evangelical and born-again Christians, as well as conservative white Catholics. These groups compose the core of what is called the Christian Right, and it is unimaginable that the GOP can win the presidency without strong support from these voters.

During this same period, the GOP has nominated for president candidates who either had a very strong affinity with the Christian Right and its agenda (Mitt Romney, George W. Bush) or were authentic conservatives who pledged support for the movement’s positions on social issues (Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, John McCain). Never in this time has the movement seriously been confronted with the dilemma of whether to support the Republican nominee, sit out the election or vote for the Democrat or a third-party candidate.

Election data show that all of these previous GOP nominees commanded huge majorities of votes from the Christian Right. In the era of Donald Trump, the solid support of its constituencies for the GOP nominee now seems in doubt.

More here-