Saturday, November 5, 2016

Historic center of Christianity in Middle East under threat as never before says Justin Welby

From Ecumenical News-

"It would not be over-stating matters to say that Christianity is both the numerically largest faith and the most persecuted," said Welby speaking in Abu Dhabi before a Muslim body debating integration and religious freedom.

"The historic center of the Christian Church in the Middle East has never felt so threatened, but is also under attack in countries as diverse as North Korea and Eritrea, where Christians are harassed, imprisoned, persecuted and killed."

Welby, who is the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the spiritual leader of the Church of England was addressing a senior Islamic group from the Muslim Council of Elders known as the "Council of the Wise."

More here-

The most and least educated U.S. religious groups

From Pew-

Attainment of a four-year college degree in the United States, often regarded as a key asset for economic success, varies by race and gender. But the share of people completing a college education also differs by religion, with members of some faith groups much more educated, on average, than others.

By far, Hindus and Unitarian Universalists have among the largest share of those with a college degree – 77% and 67% respectively. Roughly six-in-ten Jews (59%) have college degrees, as do similar shares in both the Anglican church (59%) and the Episcopal Church (56%).

These groups are among the top of a list of 30 U.S. religious groups ranked by educational attainment based on data from our 2014 Religious Landscape Study. 

More here-

Jackson preacher arrested after leaving vulgar voicemail for judge

From Mississippi- (with video)

Rev. Seth Walley of St. James Episcopal Church in Jackson was angry at Judge Jeff Weill over a case with public defenders and left several voicemails filled with foul language on the judge’s phone.

Below are some direct quotes taken from the calls sent by the Jackson Jambalaya who obtained the voicemails and police report.

"Hey Judge Weill this is a Christian minister. I just want to ask you how it feels to be a total (expletive)."

"Sir, let me tell you, first of all you are out of your Christian principles and second of all you need to abdicate the bench because judge, well, let me tell you that you are far beyond any sense of Christian justice. Sir step down because the rest of us are tired of you on the goddamn bench.”

More here-

Forum Sunday set to address poverty, racism and violence

From Rochester-

The question of how to address racism, poverty and violence will be the focus of discussion at a community event Sunday that will include a keynote address by the top official of the Episcopal Church.

"From Nightmare to Dream: Overcoming the Unholy Trinity of Poverty, Racism & Violence," will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday at the Integrated Arts and Technology School, 950 Norton Street, in Rochester. Sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, the event is free and open to the public.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Bruce Curry will give the keynote address.  Curry is the first African-American head of the Episcopal Church's three million adherents in the United Stares. He is a native of Buffalo and graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren will join a panel discussion that will include Curry, other civic and religious leaders as well as youths from Teen Empowerment.

More here-

Friday, November 4, 2016

Trump And Clinton Are Both Ignoring Standing Rock, And It’s Unacceptable

From Huffington-

The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota has been thrust into the national spotlight since the protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) have increased tensions in the region. The DAPL is a proposed 1,100+ mile pipeline that is set run from North Dakota down into Illinois. If constructed, it will transport crude oil through four states.

Environmental activists and members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been strictly opposed to the particular route the pipeline is set to take, as it runs the risk of poisoning the drinking water for millions of people (it would pass under Lake Oahe and the Missouri River) if a leak occurs, and it would traverse through and destroy sacred ground.

More here-

Why The Growing Church Is A Messy Church

From Christian Today-

The Messy Church movement has celebrated its 3500th church registration today in a milestone for the organisation.

Messy Church is designed as a way for families who would normally not attend church to come together and explore Christianity. It is part of the Bible Reading Fellowship (BRF), an Anglican initiative formed in 1922, aimed at transforming lives and communities through the Christian faith.

Founder Lucy Moore said: "We're delighted with this milestone in the development of Messy Church around the world. The more Messy Churches there are, the more families there are getting to enjoy the good news of Jesus."

Messy Church was first created by a team at St Wilfrid's Church, Portsmouth in 2004. It took the form of more informal, alternative meetings which combined arts and crafts, worship and sharing a meal, woven together with a biblical theme.

More here-

First female elected as bishop for Anglican diocese of Algoma

From Canada-

Members of the Anglican Diocese of Algoma have for the first time elected a female as their new bishop.

“Yes, the new bishop, Anne Germond, is the first female bishop selected for this diocese,” stated Reverend Aidan Armstrong, incumbent of the Manitoulin Island parishes. Bishop Germond, “will officially become the Bishop for the Anglican Diocese of Algoma as of next February with consecration to take place in Sault Ste. Marie.

Rev. Armstrong explained, “she is presently with the Church of the Ascension in Sudbury and right now is the Arch Deacon of the Sudbury-Manitoulin Diocese, which is how the people of Manitoulin Island know of her.”

“I love all the churches and the people I’ve met on Manitoulin Island,” Rev. Germond told the Recorder on Tuesday. “Presently I am the Archdeacon so I have some responsibility for the church and people of our church on Manitoulin Island.”

More here-

Welby: democracy fails if it does not value individuals

From The Church Times-

CHAMPIONING human rights must be at the forefront of efforts to end to the persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

“If we cherish our own rights, then we must have regard for the rights and sensitivities of others. We have a collective responsibility to each other,” he said.

Archbishop Welby was giving the opening address at a dialogue on integration and religious freedom, organised by the Muslim Council of Elders, in partnership with the Anglican Communion, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday.

He was fulsome in his praise of the freedom enjoyed by religious minorities in the country, but he contrasted it with “the increasing marginalisation of and outright hostility to Christian communities within many parts of the world, not least in significant parts of the Middle East”.

More here-

500 clergy join pipeline protest, some arrested

From North Dakota-

Hundreds of clergy of many faiths joined protests Thursday against the Dakota Access oil pipeline in southern North Dakota, singing hymns, marching and ceremonially burning a copy of a 600-year-old document.

The interfaith event was organized to draw attention to the concerns of the Standing Rock Sioux and push elected officials to call for a halt to construction of the $3.8 billion pipeline that's to carry North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a shipping point in Illinois. The tribe believes the pipeline that will skirt its reservation threatens its drinking water and cultural sites.

Designed to transport about 490,000 barrels of crude oil per day, the pipeline would be able to move about half of North Dakota's current crude oil production out of the state into Illinois.

More here-

Episcopal priest stirs interest in faith in Starbucks sessions

From Indiana-

Sometimes they vent. Sometimes they cry.

Almost always, they wonder: What’s up with a black-shirted, white-collared Episcopal priest hosting simple, weekly listening sessions at a local Starbucks?

The Rev. Marc Vance, pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, acknowledged that the grande idea was hardly his own. Christian ministers have been stirring faith over coffee at shops nationwide for a few years.

“What I wanted was a high-traffic area,” Vance said, sitting at the Starbucks on National Road in Columbus recently. “I told the manager specifically I would not bring any kind of pamphlets from my church, and I certainly would not harass people or ever make them feel uncomfortable. I’m just here to listen to people.”

More here-

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Religious leaders call for peaceful, integrated world

From Abu Dhabi-

 Religious leaders from the Muslim Council of Elders — an independent international body that aims to promote peace in Muslim societies — and the Anglican Church yesterday (Wednesday) called for setting up a peaceful and integrated world.

Dr Ahmad Al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Egypt’s highest religious authority, called on Wednesday for peace and understanding between Islam and Christianity, saying “as the very survival of the world itself is perhaps at stake we Muslims and Christians should let the unpleasantness between us become a thing of the past”.

Stressing that if Muslims and Christians are not at peace, the world will not be at peace, the Grand Imam quoted the Swiss Catholic theologian Hans Kung as saying: “No peace among the nations without peace among the religions.”

More here-

Church in Wales appoints first female bishop

From ACNS-

The Church in Wales has elected its first female bishop, a little over three years since the Province passed legislation opening the episcopacy to women. The Revd Canon Joanna Penberthy, currently the Rector of Glan Ithon in Llandrindod Wells, in the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon, was elected as the next Bishop of St Davids on the second day of an Electoral College that was locked inside the diocese’s historic cathedral. Wales joins a growing list of Anglican provinces to have appointed female clergy to the Episcopate.

The Diocese of St Davids covers the areas of Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire, and Pembrokeshire in the western-most part of Wales. The cathedral is on the site of a 6th century monastery founded by Saint David – Dewi Sant – the patron saint of Wales. The cathedral city is the smallest in Britain – with a population of just over 1,841.

More here-

Episcopal leader coming to Geneva

From Central New York-

The city and Hobart and William Smith Colleges play a major role in a visit this weekend by the leader of the American Episcopal Church.

Michael Curry, the first African-American to lead the American Episcopal Church and a graduate of Hobart, will take part in a number of Geneva events during his visit to the Rochester-Finger Lakes region later this week.

On Friday at 7 p.m. at the Vandervort Room in the Scandling Campus Center at HWS, he will deliver a lecture during the President’s Forum Series. The event is free and open to the public.

More here

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

For all the saints who from their labors rest (w/ video)

From Patheos-

As Anglican theologian N.T. Wright and many others have helpfully pointed out in recent times, this hymn more accurately reflects the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body than a lot of Romantic, Victorian, and modern hymns that conceive of the afterlife as sweet by-and-by (see Wright’s Surprised by Hope, esp. pp. 20-23).

The hymn as written has 11 stanzas. In this country, Episcopalians usually sing 8 verses (as in President Gerald Ford’s funeral at the Washington National Cathedral), other mainline Protestant denominations usually sing 6, and Catholics sing as few as two.

“For All the Saints” is a very beautiful hymn. I say that not as an opinion, but as an objective fact! Some art embodies transcendence and expresses human longing in objectively more beautiful ways than others. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. You should! I only hope the images I chose did it partial justice.

More here-


From Religion Dispatches-

On Monday, October 31st, Antje Jackelen, the Lutheran Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden, read the gospel at an ecumenical service to mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Pope Francis embraced Jackelen at the passing of the peace.

This morning, when he boarded a plane back to Rome, Kristina Kappelin of Swedish TV asked the pope if the Catholic ban on female priests was “forever.”

“On the ordination of women in the Catholic church,” the pope replied, “the last word is clear.” Referring to John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter banning women from ordination, Francis told Kappelin that if the letter is “carefully read, it goes in that direction”: meaning, women will never be ordained.

One has to wonder what Archbishop Jackelen thought of this. Women have been ordained in the Church of Sweden since 1960. Furthermore, since the mid 90s, men are barred from ordination if they oppose female priests. Eva Brunne, the Archbishop of Stockholm, was the first openly lesbian bishop in a mainstream Christian church, and her partner Gunilla Landen is also ordained.

More here-

Bishops urge Pope to visit to war-torn South Sudan to foster peace

From Relief Web-

Church leaders from South Sudan are urging Pope Francis to visit their troubled country in support of their efforts to bring peace between warring factions.

At a meeting with the Pope in Rome, Catholic, Anglican and Presbyterian leaders gave him an update on the deteriorating situation across South Sudan. The Catholic Archbishop of Juba, Paulino Lukudu Loro, told him: "There is war, there are killings, there's death, there are refugees, and there are people in camps across the country.” Pope Francis was “ready to visit”, said Archbishop Loro. 

If His Holiness and other Christian leaders came to the world’s youngest nation, it would raise awareness of the critical humanitarian and security situation. “The Holy Father can help us talk to the international community, to the regional community, and to our government.” Francis Flood, CAFOD and Trocaire’s Country Representative in South Sudan, said Pope Francis would receive a “warm welcome”, adding: “We are working tirelessly with our local Church partners to get emergency aid to communities affected by the conflict, under very challenging conditions.

More here-

Are Anglicans Really Protestants? Complex Row Between Christians In Egypt Reignites Old Argument

From Christian Today-

An organisation of evangelical Protestant churches in Egypt has defended its behaviour towards Anglicans and has denied it is trying to appropriate their churches.

The Anglicans fear a recent court decision could see them subsumed into the Central Office of Protestant Churches (COPC) in Egypt and lose their identity as a separate legal entity.

Archbishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Mouneer Anis, told ACNS: "They further claimed that they can take possession of all of the Episcopal/Anglican Church properties as their own. They are now forcing us to take their approval before we notarise any document in the government." He also complained that he needed to  get approval from COPC to obtain or renew visas for Anglican church workers. "This is causing us a great deal of trouble."

COPC spoke out after a judge ruled that the Anglican Church in Egypt is in effect part of their organisation, and Archbishop Mouneer issued a letter criticising the decision.

More here-

She wanted to be a priest in a Texas town where women couldn't; now she's a bishop

From Syracuse-

When DeDe Duncan-Probe finished college, she knew she wanted to bring God to people. She also knew that there were no female priests -- at least not in Texas in 1985.

She followed her dream, anyway.

On Dec. 3, Duncan-Probe will become the first female Episcopal Bishop of the Central New York Diocese, which has 81 congregations and 13,000 members. She had been the rector of the St. Peter in Woods Episcopal Church in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

More here-

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Amy Grant’s new Christmas album reignites the old ‘What’s Christian enough?’ question

From The Washington Post-

I moved to Nashville in 1989 to begin my career in Christian music. I was immediately struck by the depth of thought and the vast number of immensely talented artists and writers I had never heard on Christian radio. I soon came to understand the word “gatekeepers” — those in Christian radio and retail who decide what to play, promote and sell.

There is an odd question and reality in the Christian music business: What is a “Christian enough” song or project recorded by someone who is “Christian enough” that deems it worthy of exposure and commercial viability via Christian radio and Christian retail?

Rich Mullins was one of the first artists who wowed me with the depth of his artistic soul and his ability to paint a word picture that pierced my heart. Yet I remember sitting in marketing meetings hearing discussions that some of his songs were too focused on the human condition and not focused enough on Jesus as the answer.
More here-

Tell the King That I Die for Uganda

From Patheos-

This past Saturday, October 29, was the 131st anniversary of the martyrdom of James Hannington, 38, Anglican missionary bishop to East Equatorial Africa.

Bishop Hannington was a great and godly man whose life and death make me proud to be an Anglican. His legacy, and that of others — such as the Ugandan Christians executed shortly thereafter by Mwanga, the Kabaka (king) of Buganda — is in the fires of revival that transformed East Africa.

I first learned Hannington’s story when I was doing research for my and Grace Akallo’s book, Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children. (Chosen Books 2007) Girl Soldier is about the plight of children in Northern Uganda, abducted and used as killing machines by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), but it is also traces the hand of God on the nation of Uganda in the midst of suffering, persecution, and death.

More here-

Election Day communion service open to all denominations

From Missouri-

Most likely would agree that this year's presidential campaign process has been rather nasty, with bountiful mudslinging from both parties.

"We know this has been a particularly stressful and contentious election season," said the Rev. Dawn-Victoria Mitchell of Trinity St. Paul's Episcopal Church. "So we think it is important to come together in a show of unity."

Trinity St. Paul's is hosting a special Election Day communion service at 6 p.m. Nov. 8. Trinity St. Paul's, one of the city's oldest churches, dates to 1860 and is located at 213 N. Fourth. The church seats about 100.

"No matter where we stand on issues or candidates, we are all a member of the body of Christ," Mitchell said. "There is more that unites us than separates us."

The communion is open to all baptized members of any denomination, Mitchell said.

More here-

Archbishop Of Nigeria Battles For 'Faithful Church' Against Pressure To Compromise On Gays

From Christian Today-

The evangelical Archbishop who heads the Anglican church's most conservative wing has condemned the inclusion of one of the most liberal bishops in a delegation to meet the Pope.

He has also spoken of the growing pressure to "compromise" on the gay issue, which he describes as most intense in the Church of England.

Archbishop of Nigeria Nicholas Okoh, chairman of the conservative Global South grouping GAFCON, says in his latest newsletter that he was "deeply disturbed" that the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church (TEC) had gone with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to Rome.

Earlier this year, TEC was penalised by Anglican primates for its liberal stance over same-sex marriage and gay clergy.

More here-

Unsealing of Christ's Reputed Tomb Turns Up New Revelations

From National Geographic-

Researchers have continued their investigation into the site where the body of Jesus Christ is traditionally believed to have been buried, and their preliminary findings appear to confirm that portions of the tomb are still present today, having survived centuries of damage, destruction, and reconstruction of the surrounding Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City.

The most venerated site in the Christian world, the tomb today consists of a limestone shelf or burial bed that was hewn from the wall of a cave. Since at least 1555, and most likely centuries earlier, the burial bed has been covered in marble cladding, allegedly to prevent eager pilgrims from removing bits of the original rock as souvenirs.

When the marble cladding was first removed on the night of October 26, an initial inspection by the conservation team from the National Technical University of Athens showed only a layer of fill material underneath. However, as researchers continued their nonstop work over the course of 60 hours, another marble slab with a cross carved into its surface was exposed. By the night of October 28, just hours before the tomb was to be resealed, the original limestone burial bed was revealed intact.

More here-

Monday, October 31, 2016

Panel Denies Two Motions

From The Living Church-

Adapted from The Episcopal News Update, a newsletter of the Diocese of Los Angeles:

In the Episcopal Church Title IV case involving Bishop J. Jon Bruno, the Hearing Panel has denied two motions, one from the bishop seeking that it dismiss or stay complaints centered on Corporation Sole’s action to sell real property in Newport Beach, and another through which the complainants sought an interim order to obtain occupancy of the church campus.

The announcement came October 28, two days after the Hearing Panel’s meeting in Chicago, where Bishop Bruno was represented by Canon Richard Zevnik, chancellor of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

More here-

Vatican, China Consider Deal on Selection of Bishops After Decades of Division

From The Wall Street Journal-

Negotiators for the Vatican and Beijing reached a compromise on who selects Catholic bishops in China, said people familiar with the matter, potentially marking a major step toward ending six decades of estrangement.

If Pope Francis and Chinese leaders sign off on the proposed deal, the pope would accept eight bishops ordained by the Chinese government without the Vatican’s permission. But the deal would leave many other issues unresolved, including the role of China’s state-run Catholic institutions.

Negotiators are waiting for the pope’s decision; if he agrees, the final decision will be up to Beijing. It would be a diplomatic breakthrough for the pope, who has eagerly pursued an opening to China that eluded his predecessors, though re-establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican—which Beijing severed in 1951—would remain a distant goal.

More here-

New Episcopal bishop looks to future of church in a fractured society

From Central New York-

For the first time, a woman will be installed as the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York. The Very Rev. DeDe Duncan-Probe will look for ways to bring a geographically sprawling diocese together in an increasingly secular and divided world.

In December, Duncan-Probe becomes bishop of a diocese that stretches from the Canadian border to Pennsylvania and includes the cities of Syracuse, Utica, Binghamton, Watertown, Elmira and Ithaca. Membership of the far flung churches total 13,000, with numbers in individual parishes either dropping or holding steady. That brings Duncan-Probe to central New York at a critical time.

"Like most major religions, we’re at a turning point, where I think the idea we’ll continue to have ministry in the same way we’ve always had ministry, is changing,” said Duncan-Probe.

More here-

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Christian right is split, but far from finished

From The Pittsburgh Poat-Gazette-

Continued strong support for Donald Trump among many conservative evangelical leaders and activists has led a number of commentators to declare the death of the religious right movement. Yet the history of the movement suggests that it is too resilient to be destroyed by a single electoral defeat.

The argument for the end of the religious right hinges on the following: (1) the likely defeat of the candidate supported by the movement, Donald Trump; (2) the likely election of the person considered the arch-enemy of the movement, Hillary Clinton; and (3) most important, the movement stands exposed to all as hypocritical — willing to support for president a deeply flawed character who appears to be everything the religious right claims to be against.

On the surface, these conclusions seem credible. The movement put its heft behind the likely loser, and with massive GOP defections from the party’s presidential nominee, the religious conservatives now look to be odd outliers in their steadfast continued support of Mr. Trump.

More here-

Giving and gaining through charity

From Colorado-

On Tuesday, I woke and checked my iPhone and read my daily Bible verse: “Jesus replied, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” (John 6:35)

With the Bread of Life, we are nourished spiritually. Then we are called to share this sustaining love with others, sometimes by sharing actual bread.

With a smile, I remembered that evening would begin my second season on Maggie’s team. I jumped out of bed and headed to the kitchen to make a large pan of spicy cornbread to go with the double batch of beef chili I’d finished the day before. We will cook and serve the community dinner at St. John’s Episcopal Church each fourth Tuesday for the next six months.

More here-

Church Planting and Mission Enterprise Zones grants awarded

From ENS-

At the October meeting, the Episcopal Church Executive Council approved grants totaling $1,797,000 for church planting and Mission Enterprise Zones.

Resolution D005 and Resolution A012, approved by General Convention in July 2015, authorized new and continued funding for church plants and Mission Enterprise Zones throughout the Episcopal Church. Newly created grants have been and will be awarded to dioceses and already-established ministries exploring possibilities for new initiatives or expansion. The funding also calls for the creation of a community of practice for equipping the church with resources for assessment, coaching, networking, and the sharing of best practices.

Executive Council member the Rev. Susan Brown Snook of the Diocese of Arizona and chair of Local Ministry and Mission Committee said that the work of church planting “is some of the most exciting work we see happening in our church today in the mission priority area of evangelism. Just a few years ago, we saw very few new church initiatives in the Episcopal Church. Now, we see an inspiring variety of new ideas, energy, and enthusiasm for reaching new people with the good news of Christ through new and creative initiatives to plant new congregations, in both traditional and non-traditional ways.”

More here-