Saturday, November 19, 2016

England's cathedrals take on ecumenical, interfaith role

From National Catholic Reporter-

On a wide promontory above the River Wear, which cuts through this bustling university town, a vast cathedral, ringed by medieval battlements, rises into the cloudy sky.
When the cathedral was founded in 1093 as part of Durham's Benedictine monastery, its prince-bishops wielded absolute power, and helped repel Scottish and Danish marauders at the behest of England's Norman rulers. A millennium later, it's still serving as a bastion of the Christian faith and a magnet for local life and culture.

"Whatever might be said, Britain is still a Christian country, and cathedrals like ours, which survived the Reformation, are still a focus for vibrant communities," explained cathedral librarian the Rev. Rosalind Brown, who chairs Durham's World Heritage Site committee. "They're a part of the church which is growing today rather than diminishing — proof that the Christian faith can still flourish and increase if properly encouraged."

Durham Cathedral is just one of England's great cathedrals. But it’s larger than St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, contains an ancient bishop's throne higher than the pope's, and was once England's greatest pilgrim destination. 

More here-

Vermont clergy call for end to hate-filled speech, actions

From Vermont-

Religious leaders across Vermont on Friday called for a stop to hate-filled speech and actions around the country and in the state since the presidential election and urged unity and a greater commitment to fighting oppression and injustice.

There have been reports of racist threats and anti-Semitic speech and actions around Vermont, said Earl Kooperkamp, rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Barre. A Jewish community organization in Middlebury, Vermont, said someone drew two swastikas on its door this week.
"Our faith calls each one of us here today," Kooperkamp said at a press conference on the Statehouse steps held by Vermont Interfaith Action, a coalition of 42 congregations throughout the state. "Our religious traditions teach us to respect, respect the dignity of every human being. And we deplore racist ... anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, Islamophobia and anti-immigrant actions and speech that has been on the rise throughout our country. We urge all Vermonters to open their hearts and to find in our true, fundamental unity," Kooperkamp said.

More here-

Spokane’s new Episcopal bishop brings varied experiences to her role in the church

From Spokane-

After 16 years leading the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, this spring Bishop James Waggoner will pass the crozier to the Rev. Gretchen Rehberg.

Rehberg, 52, will be the first female bishop in the diocese’s 52-year history, although she says her gender is irrelevant. She’s simply been elected as the ninth bishop of the diocese she grew up in, she said.

“My family all lives here, this is where I’m called to be,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to getting to know the community better and the people better.”

She grew up on a small farm in Pullman, where her mother still lives, and has family scattered throughout Eastern Washington.

More here-

Friday, November 18, 2016

US Episcopalians pledge resistance to hate crimes

From the Church Times-

RESISTANCE, not reconciliation, may be God’s calling to the Church, in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, a senior figure in the Episcopal Church in the United States said this week.

Amid calls from bishops for unity and healing, the President of the House of Deputies in the Episcopal Church, the Revd Gay Clark Jennings, suggested that it may be “pastorally inappropriate for the Church even to suggest it [reconciliation] to people who now have legitimate reasons to be afraid”.

“Too often the Church preaches reconciliation when what we really want is to avoid unpleasantness, or get approval from worldly powers and principalities,” she wrote in a comment for the Religion News Service, an independent website.

More here-

New pastor ‘moves and shakes’ for the Lord

From Darien CT-

It is fitting that the celebration for Rev. Canon George Kovoor began with an Argentinian hymn sung in Spanish. The new rector of St. Paul’s Church in Darien was instituted on Nov. 2 in a celebratory mass featuring hymns in different languages and guests from around the globe, representative of Kavoor’s color and diversity and what he will bring to his new community.

“My primary focus is connecting with the immediate community and serving them,” Kovoor said. “This is clearly a privileged community, but are people happy? Are they at peace?”

Kovoor, 59, was born and raised in India and studied at the University of Delhi before being ordained as a minister with the Church of India. He served as a minister in his native country for a decade. After leaving India, he spent 30 years in the United Kingdom, working as a pastor and academic and became a chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II. Three years ago, Kovoor came to the United States with his family to work as a fellow and a rector at Yale University. He has traveled to over 96 different countries as an “ambassador for Christ” and learned several languages — and these are only a few of his many achievements since being ordained at age 23.

More here-

Vandalized church leaves graffiti on its walls

From Indiana-

An Episcopal church stands quiet on the corner of Gatesville Road and State Road 135, but the words on the sides of the church speak.

On Nov. 13, church members arriving for services were greeted by a spray-painted swastika, a gay slur and the phrase “Heil Trump” on the sides of the church.

The church has decided to let the symbols remain on the side of the church until Nov. 30.

The priest, Rev. Kelsey Hutto, at St. David’s Episcopal Church sifted through letters of support she had just received in the mail.

“These are the first letters I have gotten. Calls and emails have been incredible,” Hutto said, tearing the seal off of another letter. “We have been getting an amazing amount of support from the community.”

Hutto received a call Sunday morning from the church organist, usually the first to arrive on Sundays to practice, saying the church had been vandalized. Hutto lives 10 minutes away from the church and drove over as quickly as she could.

More here-

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Bishop gone bad?

From World Magazine-

Most people have never heard of J. Jon Bruno, but his saga shows what is tearing apart what once was America’s most influential denomination—The Episcopal Church (TEC)—and creating such bitterness among former and some current members. It’s also a classic man-bites-dog story: Why would a bishop destroy a church and sell its building to a developer who plans to tear it down and build two dozen luxury town homes on the spot?

Bruno is the sixth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. Some call him a compassionate champion of social justice. Others see him as a cunning bully. Many Episcopal hierarchs around the United States have similarly bifurcated reputations now that about 400 churches have broken from the theologically liberal denomination and affiliated with the theologically conservative American Anglican Council. But former Bruno supporters wonder how they could have been so blinded by the gleam of the bishop’s golden chasuble on that day in 2013 when he blessed a newborn flock that he would soon abandon.

More here-

It has risen: Is this the key to growing Protestant churches?

From Canada-

It is a little strange the first time around, allows an amused Rev. Canon Barry Parker, head pastor of St. Paul’s Anglican Church in downtown Toronto, “to see people holding up their smartphones and singing along with the hymns from the service bulletin we uploaded.” But Parker says it’s only to be expected in a church that also keeps a close eye “on our social media, and how well our summer barbecue is connecting to the community.”

In tiny Leaskdale (pop. 400), 80 km north of Toronto, where Lucy Maud Montgomery’s husband once occupied the pulpit in St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, current pastor Andrew Allison nods along: “We aim to speak in the language of the listeners, not to make them learn the language of the messenger.” At St. Paul’s, the hymn lyrics appear on a big screen at the front of the church. Changing times naturally require changing means of spreading the good news of the Gospel, agrees Joel Sherbina, pastor of Paris Presbyterian Church in southwestern Ontario and an enthusiastic participant (along with the odd atheist) in the pub-based Beer, Books and Banter church group.

More here-

(Anglican) Church Responds as Millions Face Starvation in Southern Africa

From Charisma-

The Anglican mission agency USPG has launched an emergency appeal to support Anglican churches in southern Africa as they reach out to communities facing famine and loss of life.

Erratic weather, drought and crop failures have resulted in chronic food shortages in Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe, with hundreds of lives lost due to malnutrition.

In Madagascar, The Ret. Rev. Dr Todd McGregor, bishop of Toliara, reported that during a confirmation service, a young person collapsed in his arms due to dehydration.

And the diocese of Toliara's development co-ordinator, Gasthé Alphonse, told USPG: "People are weak and listless and sleeping every day without eating. Children have started to drop out of school through weakness or because they've got to walk further to collect water.

More here-

In Paris, Bishop Whalon welcomes Shiite delegation to cathedral

From ENS-

Bishop Pierre Whalon of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe on Nov. 11 welcomed Sayyed Jawad al-Shahrastani, official representative of His Eminence Al-Sayyid Ali Al- Husseini Al-Sistani, leader of Shi’a Muslims throughout the world, to the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Paris.

Sayyed Shahrastani was in France on a tour arranged by the Paris branch of the Al-Khoei Foundation, founded in honor of one of Ayatollah Sistani’s most revered predecessors. The Al-Khoei Foundation promotes an Islam of peace and tolerance, as does Ayatollah Sistani.

Whalon also invited Bishop Michel Dubost, interreligious officer for the [Roman Catholic] Bishops’ Conference of France, and Pastor François Clavairoly, president of the Protestant Federation of France. The new Ambassador of Iraq, His Excellency Haidar Nasir, was also in attendance, as well as a delegation from the Al-Khoei Foundation.

More here-

Influential Episcopal Seminary No Longer Offering Degrees Amid Report of $7.9 Million Loss in Net Assets

From Christian Post-

An influential seminary affiliated with The Episcopal Church has announced that it will no longer issue degrees starting next year, and is reporting a net loss of $7.9 million in assets since last year.

The Episcopal Divinity School of Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced in July that they will stop granting degrees at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year.

Last week, the divinity school sent out an update to supporters and members of its campus community wherein they noted that the net assets of the seminary had declined rapidly over the past couple of years.

"At our meeting, we also accepted the 2016 audit report which contained the sobering news that EDS's net assets decreased by $7.9 million (11 percent) in the last fiscal year. This follows a decrease of nearly $6.5 million (8.5 percent) in 2015," noted the announcement.

More here-

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline remains on hold

From ENS-

On Nov. 15, protesters took to the streets to call on President Obama to stop construction on the controversial North Dakota Access pipeline. On the same day, Energy Transfer Partners filed a lawsuit asking for federal court intervention to finish the pipeline project.

The #NoDAPL Day of Action came one day after the federal government said final approval for a federal permit that would allow construction to continue on the Dakota Access Pipeline remains on hold pending further analysis and conversations concerning the project’s potential impact on water quality and damage to sacred tribal sites near the Standing Rock Sioux Nation’s reservation in North Dakota.

In a statement posted Nov. 14 on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website, the Army said it had completed the review it launched on Sept. 9, when it requested construction stop on the 1,172-mile 30-inch diameter pipeline poised to carry 570,000 gallons of oil a day from the Bakken oil field in northwestern North Dakota – through South Dakota and Iowa – to Illinois where it will be shipped to refineries.

More here-

'It was not lost – it has been reborn': Salvaged pipe organ finds a new home

From Johnstown-

Today, the church building at Vine and Levergood streets in downtown Johnstown is little more than an empty shell.
Most of its stained-glass windows have been removed and boarded up, and one of the few that remains has been shattered. Its garden is overgrown and tangled with weeds.

Still, at least one remnant of the former home of Johnstown's First Christian Church has been saved from destruction. The leaders of St. Mark's Episcopal Church in downtown Johnstown salvaged the church's pipe organ earlier this summer, planning to install it in their own church building.

The Rev. Nancy Threadgill of St. Mark's said Tuesday that the organ will soon sound for the first time in its new home.

More here-

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Rt. Rev. Sean W. Rowe: Reconciliation after Trump's election still allows for dissent

From Bethlehem (Allentown)-

In the days after a presidential election, the news is full of public figures talking about reconciliation. Leaders of all kinds are pledging to put a divisive campaign behind them and work together for the common good. Church leaders like myself are particularly given to these sort of sentiments. They appeal to our pastoral instincts and allow us to imagine that we are what the prophet Isaiah called "repairers of the breach."

It is difficult to oppose reconciliation. Jesus said peacemakers were blessed, and as a Christian, I certainly want to be on his good side, but before we strike up a rousing chorus of "Kumbaya," I hope we will pause to make sure we understand that real reconciliation requires deep self-examination, an ability to acknowledge both when one has been wronged and when one has done wrong, and the willingness to behave and communicate in new ways. Reconciliation is not a synonym for the silencing of dissent.

More here-

Silver Spring High School Students Take to Streets in Trump Protest

From Patch-

Two days after a Silver Spring church with a diverse ethnic congregation was vandalized with pro-Donald Trump and white power graffiti, some students at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring walked out of class Monday in protest.

And Montgomery County Council members and the executive will take up a

After walking to Westfield Wheaton Mall, 11160 Veirs Mill Road, students rallied and chanted against the president-elect's positions and racial unrest, Montgomery County Police said. Video from the scene shared on the Periscope app showed teens chanting, "No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here." Other chants were "Black lives matter" and "My body, my choice."

More here-

Following the way of Jesus: Statement from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

From ENS-

Last week I shared what I pray was a reconciling post-election message to our church, reminding us that ‘we will all live together as fellow Americans, as citizens.’ Today I want to remind us that during moments of transition, during moments of tension, it is important to affirm our core identity and values as followers of Jesus in the Episcopal Anglican way.

Jesus once declared, in the language of the Hebrew prophets, that God’s “house shall be a house of prayer for all nations” (Mk 11:17). He invited and welcomed all who would follow saying, “come to me all who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens” (Mt. 11:28).

We therefore assert and we believe that “the Episcopal Church welcomes you” – all of you, not as merely a church slogan, but as a reflection of what we believe Jesus teaches us and at the core of the movement he began in the first century. The Episcopal Church welcomes all. All of us!

More here-

Indiana church vandalized with slurs

From Indiana-

St. David's Episcopal Church in Bean Blossom was vandalized sometime Saturday night.

Vandals painted tags on the walls, depicting a swastika, an anti-gay slur and "Heil Trump."

The Rev. Kelsey Hutto, priest in charge at St. David's Episcopal Church, said she was disheartened after finding the graffiti on the walls of the church Sunday morning. But her next thought was more positive.

"Well, we must be doing something right," Hutto said she thought. "We stated one time that doing the right thing was not always the popular thing. We were targeted for a reason, and in our mind it was for a good reason."

More here-

Monday, November 14, 2016

Kansas Bishop Dean E. Wolfe announces call to become rector of St. Bart’s, New York City

From ENS-

Bishop Dean E. Wolfe announced on Nov. 13 that he has accepted a call to become rector of St. Bart’s in New York City, beginning on Feb. 5, 2017, and will step down as the ninth bishop of Kansas.

Wolfe sent his message by email to clergy and lay leaders on Sunday morning to coincide with the announcement of his selection to the congregation of St. Bart’s. The news also was shared with worshippers at Sunday services across the 44 churches of the diocese. The full text of his message is available here.

More here-

Many in Washington region turn to church for answers, hope with Trump administration

From The Washington Post-

Nearly a week after the end of a bitter and divisive presidential campaign, leaders of many Washington-area churches used services Sunday for reflection, healing and to calm the fears of members concerned about what a Trump administration could mean for their futures.

“Today we stand in wonderment, bewilderment, amazement and ask: What happened?” said the Rev. Dr. Marie Phillips Braxton, who offered the guest sermon at the historic Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in the District.

The nearly 180-year-old church, just blocks from the White House, with roots in the anti-slavery movement, has hosted multiple sitting presidents, including President Obama and Bill Clinton. But many said they did not know how to come to terms with Donald Trump as president.

More here-

Silver Spring church vandalized with pro-Trump racist message

From Silver Spring-

Diocesan officials say an Episcopal church in a heavily Latino suburb of Washington has been vandalized with a racist message that mentions President-elect Donald Trump.

Jim Naughton, a spokesman for Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, said the vandalism occurred Saturday night at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Silver Spring, Maryland. He said a banner advertising the church’s Spanish-language service was slashed, and the words “Trump nation. Whites only” were written on the back.

Naughton said the same phrase was written on a brick wall in the memorial garden of the parish.
The bishop visited the parish Sunday afternoon to stand in solidarity with the rector of the church, parishioners, lay leaders and interfaith supporters.

In a statement following worship services at the church, Budde condemned the vandalism as hate speech and an act of violence.

More here-

Sunday, November 13, 2016

St. James's invests in tortillas and economic independence

From Richmond-

 A group of women in a hillside village on the edge of one of the world’s most dangerous cities is finding economic independence one tortilla at a time, thanks in large part to a grant from a church in Virginia.

The four women are working, some for the first time, in a new tortillaria started by an Episcopal church that serves the community.

“It’s a way to give opportunities to people who need them and to serve the community,” said the Rev. Marco Varela, rector of San Jose de la Montoya Episcopal Church.

He came up with the idea, and he found funding from a Richmond church that has worked in the village for nearly a decade.

St. James’s Episcopal Church, in Richmond, made an $1,800 grant to cover the cost of construction of the wood-burning, brick-and-mortar stove and to help set up the operation.

More here-

Among religious leaders, presidential election prompted fears and hope

From The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-

The text arrived soon after the election results were called. “Dad, I’m terrified.”

The Rev. Douglas Patterson said his daughter, who had recently given birth, was afraid for her child’s future in an America that had elected Republican Donald Trump as its new president.

At a regular noontime service on Wednesday at Smithfield United Church of Christ in Downtown, which has long promoted acceptance for people of diverse races and sexual orientations, Rev. Patterson struggled even to find the words to articulate such fears, alluding to Mr. Trump’s various comments about deportations of immigrants without legal status and blocking Muslims from entering the United States and the Republican platform’s denunciation of same-sex marriage.

“In these deeply divided times, healing has to be done,” he said. “We’re so deeply divided, the division is hard to grasp.”

That’s one thing leaders in various religious communities are voicing, and that clergy are voicing in sermons this weekend.

More here-