Saturday, September 24, 2016

Anglican 'Church' For Conservative Christians Launches Mission In England

From Christian Today-

An Anglican mission to rival the Church of England has set out plans to evangelise the UK.

The mission is already reaching out to evangelical Christians in dioceses that are "closed to conservative evangelicals".

The plan is to plant hundreds of new evangelical Anglican churches.

The influential Archbishop and Primate of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh, is backing the plan.

It involves new Anglican churches being independent from the country's "official" established church.

More here-

Pints with a priest spur biblical talks

From Texas-

That Roman Catholic clergyman-turned-reformer Martin Luther distilled his religious conviction as he steeped in his favorite beverage: “Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven. Thus, let us drink beer!”

Graydon and K.D. Hill are purveyors of brew and biblical discussions. The couple is also the proprietors of Barrow Brewing, host site for the Priest’s Pint, a monthly confab with clergy and anyone who thirsts for discussions about faith.

There’s beer, too.

More here-

Part-time clergy make room for lay ministries

From New Hampshire-

One of the biggest trends in church life is one that denominations actively discourage: the growing use of part-time clergy to lead congregations. No longer able to afford full-time pastors, churches are defying warnings and signing up part-timers, who often have other jobs and limit their church work to 10 or 20 hours a week

Congregations braving these waters have plenty of company. Five years ago, 55 percent of United Methodist congregations in New England had a part-time pastor. Today, it’s 70 percent. The percentage is nearly as high (about 66 percent) for both the United Church of Christ in Maine and the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. Having a part-time leader is no longer an oddity. It’s the norm.

More here-

Washington National Cathedral to install new dean

From Christian Century-

Growing up in Alexandria, Virginia, Randolph Marshall Hollerith recalls visiting the Washington National Cathedral as it was being built, especially watching the stone carvers work. Now he is the cathedral’s dean.

“I have powerful memories of that sacred space as a child,” Hollerith said. “It was my first experience I had of the numinous, in the nave of the cathedral.”

With his installation service planned for October 23, Hollerith begins his work as he would in any size of parish, he said.

“I’m very much in a listen-and-learn mode,” he said. “I’m not someone who comes in with a preordained sense of vision. . . . You have to lead from the heart of the community.”

More here-

Why most people leave religion? They just ‘stop believing’

From Salt Lake-

It's bad news for organized religion: A majority of the religiously unaffiliated — the so-called "nones" — say they fell away from faith not because of any negative experience, but because they "stopped believing," usually before age 30.

Gloomier still for religion is this: Nones make up 25 percent of the American population, making them the single largest "faith group" in the U.S., ahead of Catholics (21 percent) and white evangelicals (16 percent).

And only a fraction — 7 percent — say they are looking for a religion to belong to at all.

Those are among the more salient findings of a new study of the religiously unaffiliated conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute.

More here-

Friday, September 23, 2016

Victorian family values are a myth, Archbishop tells Mothers' Union

From The Telegraph-

The idea of a Victorian golden age of traditional family values is a “myth”, the Archbishop of Canterbury has insisted as he urged Christians to face up to the reality of divorce, cohabitation and gay marriage in the 21st century.

The Most Rev Justin Welby, who argued in the House of Lords against the legislation extending marriage to same-sex couples, said new family structures  including same-sex unions are now a reality “whether we agree or not”.

His remarks came in a sermon to representatives of the Mothers’ Union (MU) from around the world at a special service in Winchester Cathedral to celebrate the organisation’s 140th anniversary. 

More here-

Namibian churches battle with LGBT issues

From Namibia-

Namibian Christendom is for the first time confronted by a topic that, until now, as far as the Namibian church establishment is concerned, has always been a straightforward matter: the Namibian Constitution does not guarantee marriage for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. Previously the men and women of the cloth in Namibia were not worried about such a then ‘trivial topic’.

It was an issue relegated to South African churches where LGBT marriages are allowed, but the churches must now figure out whether or not to conduct such marriages for their members.

It took a threat of a legal battle by members of the Dutch Reformed Church to wake up the Namibian Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church, and a motion submission by the Anglican Diocese of Saldanha Bay in South Africa to wake up the Anglican Diocese of Namibia. Now the Council of Churches in Namibia says it is planning to have an awareness workshop on LGBT issues in the near future.

More here-

Welby: don’t count God’s wealth in Monopoly money

From The Church Times-

THE spirit of St Francis was present in Assisi this week, as Anglican and Orthodox church leaders joined Pope Francis and representatives from other faiths at the small Italian town to pray for peace.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, invited to address participants, spoke of the illusion of wealth. “Our money and wealth is like the toy money in a children’s game: it may buy goods in our human economies that seem so powerful, but in the economy of God it is worthless.”

Instead, he said, God speaks to us through those who have nothing, the most helpless, and the poorest. “We need to be reminded daily of our poverty in spirit, to thirst for the riches of God’s mercy.”

Archbishop Welby was joined by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb, the leading religious authority in Sunni Islam. All took part in a conference, “Thirst for Peace: Religions and cultures in dialogue”, organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio and the diocese of Assisi.

More here-

Relentless Decline Of The US Episcopal Church Continues

From Christian Today-

The US Episcopal Church has lost nearly ten per cent of its members in just five years, latest figures show.

Large falls in church membership began at the start of this millennium. Statistics from 2015 show a drop-off of more than 37,000 baptised members, a fall of 2.1 per cent.

This takes the total Episcopal Church membership to a new low of fewer than 1.8 million. Just four years earlier, in 2011, there were more than 1.9 million.

While nearly a quarter of churches grew by more than 10 per cent from 2011 to 2014, this was offset by the larger number - four in ten - that lost 10 per cent or more of their members over the same period. 

More here-

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tutu discharged from hospital

From South Africa-

 Retired cleric and anti-apartheid campaigner Archbishop Desmond Tutu was discharged from hospital on Wednesday, after he was re-admitted on Saturday to treat an infection, his family said.

The 84-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has been living with prostate cancer for nearly 20 years, was re-admitted to hospital to treat an infection following surgery this month.

More here-

This Group Celebrates Kenya’s Religious Diversity by Painting Religious Centers Yellow

From Smithsonian-

Over the last few months, temples, churches and mosques in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi have turned a bright shade of yellow. While this isn’t the result of a divine touch, the bright colors are meant to celebrate Kenya’s long-held traditions of religious and cultural tolerance at a time of great tension.

In recent years, Kenya has not exactly had a glowing reputation when it comes to religious openness. Even before the religious terrorist group al-Shabaab began its campaign of brutal violence and kidnapping, the relationship between Kenya’s Christian and Muslim populations wasn’t exactly rosy, Antonia Blumberg reports for the Huffington Post. However, by visually binding the country’s houses of worship together, a project called “Colour in Faith” hopes to help bring these communities together in spite of attempts to sow discord.

“Kenya has had a long established culture of religious acceptance, tolerance, accommodation and exchange,” organizer Yazmany Arboleda tells Claire Voon for Hyperallergic. “These cultures are being undermined by an infusion of hardline interpretations of faith and the deepening of a global identity based on media stories about division, terrorist attacks, and insecurity. The risk is a cultural confusion that would have agents of insecurity succeed in dividing these societies.”

Read more:

Drama as Anglican Church Bishops flee Anambra over IPOB’s sit-at-home threat

From Nigeria-

A five-day meeting of the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, in Awka, Anambra State was hurriedly called off on Wednesday, as the clergymen hurriedly left the state following the threat issued by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.

IPOB had on Sunday warned residents in the South-East to stay in doors on September 23 as a mark of solidarity as it carries out a worldwide rally to protest the continuous incarceration  of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

The pro-Biafra group had threatened that markets, banks and other institutions should be shut down, while movement restricted.

More here-

The ‘nones’ are more numerous than you think, but many won’t show up on Election Day

From Religion News-

A quarter of U.S. adults do not affiliate with any religion, a new study shows — an all-time high in a nation where large swaths of Americans are losing faith.

But while these so-called “nones” outnumber any religious denomination, they are not voting as a bloc, and may have little collective influence on the upcoming presidential election.

The rapid growth of the religiously unaffiliated, charted in a survey released by the Public Religion Research Institute Thursday (Sept. 22), is raising eyebrows even among those who follow trends in American religiosity.

More here-

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Failure of ecumenism would imprison mercy, Anglican archbishop says

From Catholic News Service-

Churches that are not reconciled with one another weaken the experience of mercy that unites believers to God and with each other, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury said.
By not reconciling with one other, "our worship is diminished and our capacity to grow close together with God is reduced," he said Sept. 20 in Assisi during a discussion on ecumenism.

"The failure of ecumenism imprisons mercy and prevents its liberation and its power with one another," he said.

Speaking before Pope Francis arrived in Assisi for an interreligious peace meeting, Archbishop Welby joined other Christian leaders exploring how love, charity and mercy help foster peace and unity among Christian denominations.

More here-

Diocese of Toronto elects first openly gay bishop

From Anglican Journal-

A gay man living with a male partner is among three priests to have been elected suffragan bishops in the diocese of Toronto this weekend.

On Saturday, September 17, members of an electoral synod elected the Rev. Riscylla Walsh Shaw, Canon Kevin Robertson and Canon Jenny Andison as suffragan, or assistant, bishops. Each will be responsible for one of the diocese’s four episcopal areas: York-Scarborough, York-Credit Valley, Trent-Durham and York-Simcoe. Archbishop Colin Johnson, diocesan bishop, will decide which bishop will serve in each area. Bishop Peter Fenty is currently the bishop responsible for York-Simcoe.

Canon Kevin Robertson, incumbent at Christ Church, Deer Park in Toronto, was elected on the fourth ballot of the second election. According to an article on the diocese of Toronto website, Robertson, who lives with his male partner, said it was a “historic day.” He said he believed he was the first openly gay and partnered bishop-elect in the diocese and perhaps even in the entire Anglican Church of Canada.

More here-

Episcopal bishops issue ‘A Word to the Church for the World’

From ENS- (video)

A Word to the Church for the World

Greetings from Detroit, a city determined to be revived.  Greetings also from the city of Flint, where we are reminded that the gift of water has for many of our brothers and sisters become contaminated.
Here we have been exhorted to set our sights beyond ourselves and to minister to the several nations where we serve and the wider world.

We lament the stark joylessness that marks our present time.  We decry angry political rhetoric which rages while fissures widen within society along racial, economic, educational, religious, cultural and generational lines.  We refuse to look away as poverty, cruelty and war force families to become migrants enduring statelessness and demonization.  We renounce the gun violence and drug addiction that steal lives and crush souls while others succumb to fear and cynicism, abandoning any sense of neighborliness.

More here-

A Statement from the Bishop of New Jersey Regarding this Weekend's Incidents

From New Jersey-

I commend the outstanding work of the first responders and police of Seaside, Elizabeth, and Union County in their handling of the incidents this past weekend involving explosive devices. I also commend the work of New York City's responders and law enforcement in their response to the bombing in New York's Chelsea neighborhood. I ask that we keep those injured in our prayers, including the 29 wounded in the New York attack and the two officers injured in Linden this morning during the apprehension of a suspect.  

More here-

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Staying Sane, Involved, Prayerful, and Kind in an Election Year

From Central Florida-

In this election season, isn’t it tempting to get caught up in the frenzy? Everyone we encounter seems to want to polarize and divide us. “Whose side are you on?” “If you vote for him/her you are voting to dismantle our democracy!” “If you don’t vote at all, you’re just giving a vote to him/her.” “How can you call yourself a Christian and vote for him/her?”

Yes, the upcoming election is very important, but losing our kindness and generosity in the process can be worse than voting for any particular candidate.

All of this touches me, too. It’s easy to get frustrated when other people don’t see it your way, right? But I know that if I find myself demonizing people on the other side, I’m on spiritually dangerous ground. The world may act that way, but such behavior has no place in the body of Christ.

More here-

Why are Catholics so notoriously bad at fellowship?

From Aleteia-

Recently I was asked to speak at a local Catholic women’s group. It had been awhile since I’d put on my speaking shoes, and I was genuinely excited. That is, until I was given my topic. Fellowship, they said.  Fellowship? I couldn’t help but wince. Not suffering? Prayer? Family discord? Keeping the faith during crisis?? Nope, fellowship.

It was hard not to think about potlucks with slow cookers full of unrecognizable cuisine, or coffee and donut functions where one lucky greeter uncomfortably stands at the entrance of the parish hall while the attendees dine and dash. Or when a really progressive church asks the congregation to greet one another before Mass (gasp!) and people awkwardly start digging through their purses or suddenly find themselves absorbed in the missalette.

- See more at:

Archbishop tells UN: You have to fix refugee crisis

From Christian Today-

Refugees and migrants are "treasured human beings made in the image of God" who deserve "safety, freedom and the opportunity to flourish", according to the Archbishop of Central Africa.

Most Rev Albert Chama wrote to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the request of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Ban is hosting the Global Summit Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants this week at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Reflecting on the global reaction to the crisis, Chama called for a "much more intentional and robust collective response in which the churches and other faith communities are more than ready to take their place".

More here-

AB Welby on Bartholomew's legacy of dialogue, reconciliation

From Vatican Radio (with audio)-

Among the world’s religious leaders gathered in Assisi on Tuesday for the World Day of Prayer for Peace is the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, Justin Welby.

The Anglican leader was moderating one of the many panel discussions organised by the St Edigio community as part of a three day international meeting focused on the theme ‘Thirst for peace – religions and cultures in dialogue’. Since the first Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, called for by Pope John Paul II exactly 30 years ago, St Egidio has  organised an annual interfaith encounter to highlight the vital role of dialogue among all people of faith in promoting peace in the world.

More here-,_reconciliation/1259367

UN hears of Anglicans’ refugee and migrant experience

From ACN-

The Archbishop of Central Africa has told the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, that “hospitality, reconciliation and love are our most formidable weapons against hatred and extremism.” The comment was made by Archbishop Albert Chama, chairman of the Anglican Alliance, in a letter ahead of today’s UN General Assembly summit on Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants. The letter, which was written at the request of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, sets out some of the experiences of Anglicans around the world who are working to support refugees.

“The global tragedy of the forced displacement of millions of people is now a crisis that calls us to work together in new and creative ways in response to such suffering and disruption,” Archbishop Chama said. “The trauma experienced by the world’s 60 million refuges speaks to our common humanity, and pleads with us to take action as we reach out to respond to their suffering.

More here-

Pope Francis to new bishops: Dispense mercy, don't be 'charming liars'

From NCR-

Pope Francis told a group of recently appointed bishops that the world "is tired of charming liars" and that they should embody mercy in their dioceses and not be whiners who promote their own "vain crusades."

The pontiff also told them to be wary of seminarians "who take refuge in rigidity" of practices. "There's always something ugly behind it," he said.

Francis made his remarks Friday in a speech to newly appointed bishops who have been taking part in an annual Vatican orientation course on their new job.

In his address, the pope focused mostly on the approach they should take as pastors, saying in effect that attitude would do more to build up the diocese than any special management techniques.

More here-

One nominee added to Indianapolis bishop slate

From ENS-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis has announced the addition of the Rev. Canon Bruce Gray to the slate of nominees standing for election as the 11th bishop of the diocese.

Gray was presented and vetted for addition to the slate during a petition process.

The other four nominees, announced in July, are:

The Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, director of networking, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago;
The Rev. Grace Burton-Edwards, rector, St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Columbus, Georgia;
The Rev. Canon Patrick Lance Ousley, priest in charge and headmaster, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Parish & Preschool, Kirkland, Washington; canon for stewardship & development, Diocese of Olympia; and
The Rev. Dina van Klaveren, rector, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Glenwood. Maryland.

Further information about the bishop search and the nominees is available here.
All candidates will be presented to the diocese Oct. 13-15.

More here-

Monday, September 19, 2016

I lost my faith in God. Then I found it. Now it’s complicated.

From The Washington Post-

For some people, losing belief in God is as easy as taking off a sweater that’s grown too tight. There’s a sense of relief and freedom. But when I became an atheist, that’s not how I felt at all. Losing God was like watching my best friend die.

When I was a kid, Jesus was my best friend. That sounds hokey — the kind of phrase someone might drop while giving you a sales pitch on being “born again” — but I mean it literally. I was a fat kid with a bowl cut who almost exclusively wore Hawaiian shirts and loved computer programing. That wasn’t exactly a recipe for popularity in the 1980s, so I spent a lot of time during recess hiding from bullies at the edge of the playground. There beneath the trees, I would pray to Jesus about feeling slow, fat and stupid. He always listened, and He never made fun of me.

More here-

What Does Your Church Coffee Say About Your Hospitality?

From England-

I’m convinced that one very accurate measure of our generosity and hospitality is how we operate our church coffee. I’m talking here about the post-service get together over coffee. And it boils down to this: is the coffee a gift – an act of welcome, hospitality and shared fellowship – or do you put out a begging bowl?

Let me try and paint the picture for you. I had sat through a less-than-inspiring but incredibly well-meaning URC morning service as a visitor. I was looking forward to meeting and chatting to people over a cup of coffee. I arrived at the head of the queue where I was welcomed by a smiling church member who asked me whether I wanted tea or coffee. I asked for coffee, and watched while she carefully measured out a small teaspoon of coffee, skilfully ensuring that the grains covered the bottom of the spoon (but no more) and shaking the excess back into the tin.

More here-


From The Living Church-

My family and I spent a week this summer in the woods, amid the spruce and fir, fresh smelling, surrounding Faraday Lake. While my son was napping, I was able to spend some long hours shut up in our cabin, or out on the porch, thinking and praying. A couple of months or so after General Synod, my mind is still buzzing; I’m continually asking myself about the future of the Anglican Communion, the Anglican Church of Canada, and what role I might play in all of this.

My natural inclination is to reach for some arguments about what it might mean to “stay” or to “leave.” But I’m tired of arguments, not because I don’t find them compelling, or their logic inexorably convincing. I suspect other people are also tired of persuasion and unconvinced by impersonal arguments.

More here-

'Radicalised Christianity': Outspoken priest Father Rod Bower slams Pauline Hanson

From Australia-

The Anglican priest whose provocative signs have become an internet sensation has torn strips off Pauline Hanson at a speech in Melbourne, accusing the One Nation leader of representing a "radicalised  Christianity" that has no place in Australia.

Father Rod Bower, from the Gosford Anglican Church on the NSW central coast, has thousands of social followers thanks to his outspoken billboards chastising politicians over everything from asylum seekers to Australia's racial discrimination laws.

More here-

Church liberals’ anger over ‘traditionalist dominated’ bishops’ gay marriage panel

From The Telegraph-

Supporters of a change in the Church of England’s stance on sexuality have voiced dismay after a new panel of bishops to help “discern” its future course on issues such as same-sex marriage was chosen seemingly dominated traditionalists.

The 10-strong “Bishop’s Reflection Group” appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York includes a string of prominent evangelicals and some seen as staunch conservatives but no-one who has openly advocated a change in teaching or practice on the issue.

Liberals voiced anger while opponents of any change also privately hailed the make-up of the group, set up after a four-day gathering of all the bishops last week, as better than they expected from their point of view. 

More here-

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Crystal Cathedral enters a new era as it transforms into Christ Cathedral

From The LA Times-

The Crystal Cathedral was for decades a powerful symbol of a certain kind of church.

The landmark church was built by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, the famed pastor who brought the drive-in church to Orange County during the beginning of the postwar suburban boom and preached an upbeat, modern vision of Christianity.

The Philip Johnson-designed structure made of steel and 10,000 panes of glass became world famous and was a forerunner to other so-called mega churches.

But more that a year after Schuller’s death, the Crystal Cathedral is undergoing a major transformation in both design and ownership.

More here-

Punishing road to redemption for St. George's School sex-abuse victim

From Rhode Island-

The investigator's report hit Anne Scott "like a freight train."

It brought her back nearly 40 years to a locked room at St. George's School where athletic trainer "Doc Gibbs" raped and sexually molested her time and again until her mind nearly fractured. She was 15, a sophomore at the elite Episcopal boarding school in Middletown. The abuse lasted a year and a half.

In subsequent years, Scott cycled through one psychiatric hospitalization after another. She starved herself. She binged and vomited. She dwindled to 98 pounds on a 5-foot-8 frame. She buried memories of the abuse by Al Gibbs, who molested her while she lay on a table, being "treated" for field hockey injuries. She shut down, cocooned with her parents, unable to work. It took decades to find her footing — and her voice.

More here-