Saturday, November 26, 2016

Travelling to Pakistan, fighting face-blindness and getting cross with myself The Archbishop of Canterbury writes The Diary.

From The New Statesman-

It has been a week of big contrasts. On 14 November we marked and reflected upon the 76th anniversary of the bombing of Coventry during World War Two and the destruction of the old cathedral.

I began with an early phone call to the ­Archbishop of Hong Kong. We ran through the various problems: war and suffering. Then straight to a meeting of 80 rabbis and priests, launched by the Chief Rabbi and me at Lambeth Palace. The agenda for the day included some areas of tension, such as historic anti-Semitism in the Church and Israeli settlements. It was good to discuss the reality of tough issues for a change.

Later on, I had a visit from leaders of L’Arche. This is a Catholic group of about 150 religious communities, where people with severe learning difficulties live alongside those without such challenges, and pray and share together. The weak teach the strong. They brought a sense of peace, and we prayed in the chapel briefly.

More here-

Anglicans like to think of themselves as a bit better than everyone else.

From The Daily Telegraph (Australia)-

I should know. I’m an Anglican.

I went to an Anglican school. I’m well-used to the casual sectarian snobbery of many people who consider themselves Church of England, and I’ve spent a lifetime observing the way many Anglicans carry themselves in the firm belief that they are better, smarter and more sophisticated than others.

Actually, only Catholics. That’s all the Anglicans really care about. The other strands of Protestantism are regarded as uninteresting but essentially harmless. Who really cares if the odd little people down at the Uniting Church want to sit in a circle with a guitar? And the Seventh Day Adventists? They’re harmless, really.

But the Catholics. Ooh, the Catholics. Well, there’s far too many of them, for a start. All those children. And the carry-on about Mary. Really. Rosaries. Incense. All that carry-on.

If you’ve ever shaken your head in confusion about the obscure interpretational disputes that tear apart the Muslim world, check out Anglicans v Catholics in a diocese near you.

They can’t stand each other — still. It’s not so long ago that Catholics couldn’t get into law school or preselected for the Liberal Party — but they’re not that far behind us. Even, as in many families, when there are both Catholics and Anglicans, the Protestants quietly consider themselves more sophisticated.

More here-

Ten Commandments mean more when examined in context

From Texas-

A judge in Alabama fights to have the Ten Commandments on the wall of his courtroom in order to say that the law enacted in his court is based on God's law.

This idea seems good in principle, but something is missing. The Ten Commandments are not general guidelines for humanity at large. They should be read and lived within the biblical context of a saving God who chooses a people to worship him in a certain way.

This article will attempt to highlight the relationship between our ethics and our theology. We behave in a certain way because we believe and worship in a certain way.

One of the distinctive notes of Old Testament law, particularly the Ten Commandments, is its enclosure in narrative. This is not true of the Code of Hammurabi, the Babylonian legal system of the 18th century B.C. The Old Testament integration of law and story is unique in the cultures of the ancient Near East. Therefore, if we rip the Ten Commandments our of the context of the narrative, we overlook the lively, pulsating relationship God and the people he has called had formed.

More here-

Trump’s election a ‘betrayal’ of Christian values, says TEC representative

 From Anglican Journal (Canada)-

The election of Donald Trump has caused pain and uncertainty in The Episcopal Church (TEC), says Canon (lay) Noreen Duncan, TEC’s representative to Council of General Synod (CoGS).

Addressing CoGS on November 19, Duncan spoke of the sense of “betrayal” she feels as someone who immigrated to the United States and now sees the values she had always associated with her new home “slipping out from under us.”

In nearly a year of campaigning, Trump was frequently criticized for stirring up animosity toward immigrants, Muslims, and religious and ethnic minorities, as well as for his derogatory comments toward women.

Duncan said Trump’s victory was made more difficult for her by the fact that so many of his supporters identified as Christians. According to the Pew Research Centre, 58% of Protestants, 60% of white Catholics and 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump.

More here-

Friday, November 25, 2016

Secretary general William Nye rebukes GAFCON for ‘misleading’ briefing on sexuality

From The Church Times-

A BRIEFING paper by the conservative Anglican group GAFCON that listed people in the C of E said to have violated a Lambeth Conference resolution on sexuality (News, 18 November) is “significantly misleading”, the secretary general of the Archbishops’ Council, William Nye, has said.

In a letter to the chairman of GAFCON UK Task Force, Canon Andrew Lines, sent on Tuesday, and published online, Mr Nye seeks to “correct some of the erroneous assertions” in the GAFCON briefing paper.

Mr Nye begins by asserting that the subject of the briefing, Resolution 1.10, is “not legally binding”. The teaching of the Church of England on same-sex relationships remains as set out by the House of Bishops in Issues in Human Sexuality, published in 1991, he says, and the “great majority” of clergy and laity have adhered to it. While noting the Shared Conversations on sexuality, he says that “no change has been made to teaching, nor has there been any formal proposal to do so”.

More here-

Former Chatham man part of study into Canada’s mainline churches

From Canada-

Church attendance is in decline and that trend is especially true for congregations from Canada's mainline Protestant denominations. Since the 1960s, membership in those churches has been halved, even as Canada’s population has more than doubled.

But not so fast. There is a new surge of vitality among many Anglican, United, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches – the big four of Canadian mainline Protestantism. Some are attracting growing memberships and a younger demographic, while many are attracting congregants willing to drive long distances to worship.

A Chatham native who is an associate professor at Wilfrid Laurier University is co-author of a study that’s found that not only are some mainline Protestant denominations growing, but they know why: Growing churches promote traditional conservative theological beliefs with an unshakeable emphasis on the reality of the New Testament message.

More here-

Faith-based community plays critical role in helping feed our valley

From Ohio-

Only 13 of the 148 food pantries it is affiliated with the Second Harvest Food Bank in Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana counties are not located at a church.

At Christ Episcopal Church in Warren, about 40 members of the church give their time to pack bags of food so kids at Warren's three inner city elementary schools won't go hungry.

In the past 8 years the Episcopal Diocese has given $10,000 in grants to pay for that food. Volunteers raised more in donations through fundraiser "Taste of the Valley" to help fund this effort.

Volunteers at the church rotate one week out of every five weeks. They drive to the church to pack the food for the elementary school students no matter how bad the weather gets.

"We've been here when it's been blizzard conditions outside,"said volunteer Anne Martin. "You just can't let the kids go hungry."

"We receive our order of food from Second Harvest Food Bank and we pack it in bags on Thursdays," explains Lindsay Day. "The schools pick up the bags of food on Fridays, and the kids take it home at the end of the day for the weekend."

More here-

Historic church begins new life

From East Carolina-

A small, historical church in Bertie county held its first regular service in nearly 25 years last week as it began a new life under a special designation of the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina.

St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Roxobel, which traces its roots to 1883, held evening prayer service Saturday attended by 26 people. The event officially began the church's designation as a mission by the East Carolina diocese.

"As a mission, we plan to do things differently and try to reach the community at different times and with different events," said St. Mark Senior Warden Johnna Browne Lewis. "Our services will be held on Saturday evenings, and we welcome everyone."

Restoring the church was a family affair with Lewis working directly with her brother, Joseph M. Browne III, who is Canon for Diocesan Life in the diocese.

More here-

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Commentary: Five myths about Puritans

From Chicago-

On Thanksgiving Day, Americans often look back on the first English settlers in what is now New England. Since these Puritans fill the earliest chapters of the American story, they make plenty of appearances in our shared imagination. But debates over who the Puritans were, what they stood for and how they contributed to our sense of national identity are shrouded in misunderstandings. Here are a few myths:

More here-

'Anglican house is burning,' bishop tells abuse inquiry

From Australia-

An Anglican bishop says he has received warnings from parishioners that he is not safe in his own diocese after he revealed claims of his abuse as a young man by senior church clerics.

Newcastle bishop Greg Thompson said cathedral parishioners had turned their backs on him, and screws had been placed in his staff members’ tyres.

He said the message was that he would face public harassment and public shame if he did not “follow what they want me to do,” he told the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse on Thursday.

As bishop of a community plagued by systemic child sexual abuse over decades, he says a national church response is needed as the Anglican “house is burning”.

More here-

Pagans Support Christian Church Violated by Hate Crime

From Silver Spring-

In the wake of one of the most contentious U.S. presidential elections in history, a rising number of hate crimes are now being reported against people of color. When an extremely multicultural Episcopalian church near the nation’s capital was targeted, nearly 30 local Pagans showed up at the following Sunday service to make it clear that the victims do not stand alone.

According to reports, a banner advertising Spanish-language services at the Episcopal Church of Our Savior was slashed, and on the back was written the message: “Trump Nation. Whites Only.” That message was also scrawled on a wall, and a “Black Lives Matter” sign was painted over.
An article published by the Episcopal News Network includes pictures of the vandalism.

Local Pagan Sunny Simmons, who has worked in the church office for more than three years, coordinated the efforts to get a Pagan presence at the Sunday service following the incident. It was a gesture that was welcomed by church rector Rev. Dr. Robert Harvey, who knew that Simmons identified as Pagan from the day they met.

More here-

Episcopal church members in St. Louis sue to stop merger; allege mishandling of $360,000

From St. Louis-

Members of an Episcopal church in St. Louis have filed suit claiming its leaders have locked them out and absconded with more than $360,000 in church funds as part of a pending merger.

Four longtime members of the All Saints Episcopal Church filed suit late Tuesday night asking a judge to stop the merger, return $360,000 from the church’s endowment and keep the doors open “to allow parishioners the free will [to] worship God in their home church.

The church at 2831 North Kingshighway Boulevard describes itself as the first and oldest predominantly African-American Episcopal church in Missouri, founded in 1874.

“Plaintiffs are currently barred from the church, the locks have been changed and the plaintiffs lack unfettered access to information, records and documentation due to the administrative office being removed,” the suit says.

More here-

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Is The Church Of England Finally About To Make A Decision On Gay Marriage?

From Christian Today-

It comes amid a long and drawn out process and will certainly not be the last key moment.

Arguments have raged for decades over the Church's teaching and practice on gay relationships. Things reached a head when several conservative Anglican leaders formed a splinter group ahead of the 2008 Lambeth Conference of senior bishops from across the world. Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) was set up in protest that the US Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in Canada had been welcomed despite promoting a "false gospel" over same-sex relationships.

In light of this increasing division the Pilling Report was commissioned in 2011 to make recommendations to the CofE over the issue. When published it recommended that priests should be free "to offer appropriate services to mark a faithful same sex relationship". It did not propose a change in teaching or a new official liturgy but suggested some form of "pastoral accommodation".

More here-

Child abuse royal commission: defrocked Anglican dean denies leading group of paedophile priests

From Australia-

A defrocked Anglican dean has vehemently denied at a royal commission hearing that he was the leader of a group of child abusers, but admitted he failed to act when he "suspected" a priest in his charge was having sex with a teenage boy.

The ex-dean of Newcastle, Graeme Lawrence, has returned to the witness box in Sydney after beginning his evidence last week when he was questioned intensely about the events leading up to his defrocking in 2012.

Mr Lawrence has been labelled one of the most influential priests in Newcastle's history, with a strong sphere of supporters that rallied behind him during his time as dean of the city from 1984 until 2008.

More here-

Rwanda: Kigali Catholic Churches Yet to Fully Communicate Genocide Apology

From All Africa-

The apology letter penned by the nine bishops constituting the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Rwanda - the Church's supreme organ in the country - over the role of some of the Church's clergymen and faithful in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi is yet to be read out in some of the churches as directed, The New Times can report.

The joint statement, signed by the nine bishops representing nine Catholic Church dioceses across the country, was released last week, with a directive that it be read out during mass last Sunday.

But some Christians who attended mass last Sunday have since told this newspaper the apology was not read out as expected, with many admitting they only heard about it in the media.

More here-

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Plymouth Hero You Should Really Be Thankful for This Thanksgiving

From Smithsonian-

Almost everything we know about the first Thanksgiving in 1621 is based on a few lines from a letter.

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

–Edward Winslow, December, 1621

Not surprisingly, the sparse details of the harvest festival Winslow describes bears little resemblance to the turkey-and-pigskin-imbued holiday most Americans celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November.

More here-

Amazon ad features Muslim cleric

From Religion News (If you haven't seen this video you should)-

The most surprising thing about Amazon’s latest ad for its Prime service is that it appears to be the first time a Muslim cleric has been featured in a television ad shown in the United States.

“I can’t think of one. There are plenty of religious figures in televisions, especially sitcoms and police procedurals. But no ads with imams,” said Tobe Berkovitz, a professor of advertising at Boston University.

Amazon has done several wordless ads for Prime featuring people buying what it terms charming solutions for everyday problems. They include a father buying a lion’s mane for the family dog so the new baby isn’t scared of it, a dog with a broken leg getting a lift in a baby carrier and a grandfather using a leaf blower to power his granddaughter’s swing.

More here-

Diocese of North Carolina announces bishop slate

From ENS-

The Standing Committee and Nominating Committee of the Diocese of North Carolina Nov. 21 announced the slate of nominees for the XII Bishop Diocesan of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

The nominees are:

The Rev. Charles T. Dupree – Trinity Episcopal Church, Bloomington, Indiana
The Rev. Samuel S. Rodman, III – Diocese of Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts
The Rev. Milind Sojwal – All Angels’ Episcopal Church, New York, New York

The Rev. Jane Wilson, president of the Standing Committee, said, “The Standing Committee is thrilled by the dedicated, careful and Spirit-filled work of the Nominating Committee. They took the charge to listen to our diocese and find the best candidates to match the search profile, seeking those who were most highly qualified to match what we were seeking as authentic pastors, inspirational leaders and strategic administrators. “

More here-

Monday, November 21, 2016

Christians turn Black Friday to 'Bless Friday'

From News Now-

In an ongoing attempt to make the day after Thanksgiving also recognized as Bless Friday instead of Black Friday – the biggest shopping day of the year – churches are setting aside November 25th to honor Jesus Christ through service projects that will bless both the givers and receivers … far more than any bargain gift from a retailer can do.

Bless Friday, which began back in 2010, is being observed this year by churches in Texas and Washington state, where families and individuals are encouraged to come together and celebrate Bless Friday as an alternative to Black Friday. It is geared to put the focus of Americans’ giving back on Jesus’ love – rather than tangible store-bought gifts.

More here-

The Catholic Church has apologized for its role in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide

From Quartz Africa-

In the spring of 1994, violence erupted in Rwanda after a plane carrying then president Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down. Thousands of ethnic Tutsis, a minority group who became a target after Habyarimana’s death, sought refuge in the country’s Catholic and Protestant churches.

Hutu militia surrounded the churches, shooting into the crowd, throwing grenades into the building, and killing those inside with machetes. According to witness accounts, many died at the hands of priests, nuns, and clergymen. “More Rwandese citizens died in churches and parishes than anywhere else,” the group African Rights, wrote in an account of the violence in 1995.

More than two decades later and several calls for an apology, the Catholic Church in Rwanda has apologized for its role in the genocide that claimed the lives of more than 800,000 lives, one tenth of Rwanda’s population, local representatives from the Church have apologized.

More here-

Rally seeks to calm post-election anxieties in Montgomery

From The Washington Post-

Earlier Sunday, people from across the county joined the congregation at the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour for morning worship services, which drew worldwide attention after an incident last week.

Church leaders had arrived for services at the Silver Spring church on Nov. 13 to discover “Trump Nation” and “Whites Only” painted on the back of a church sign. The same messages was scrawled on a brick wall in an alcove outside. No arrests have been made in connection with the incident.

The Rev. Robert W. Harvey of the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour said he was overwhelmed by the messages of support that had flooded in following the incident. He said he had done interviews with news media from Japan, the Czech Republic, Spain and Brazil.

More here-

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Bishop David A. Zubik- A license to love

From Pittsburgh-

My hope (and I suspect yours, too) was that, once the general election was over, the political commercials ended and government officials elected, we could all return to a state of peaceful coexistence. How naive I was.

For, over the course of these days, I have heard protests shouting “Trump’s not my president!” Or, “So glad Hillary wasn’t elected!”

While either of those epithets is bad enough, what you and I are catching on the evening news or reading in the morning newspaper or monitoring in our Twitter feeds or hearing on the bus is most disturbing. Anger, intolerance and hatred appear to have free reign.

Are the results of the recent election to blame? I doubt it. And, if it’s not a residual of our electoral process, then whence comes all this ugliness?

More here-

St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral ordered closed, trusses rotting

From London ON-

For now, all prayers have stopped inside the main part of St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral.

On Saturday, church officials ordered the nave of Huron Diocese's central church and 170-year old London landmark be closed after “some alarming results” were found by engineers during recent $1-million renovations.

At the west end of the church, near the main doors, more rot was found in the wooden trusses than expected, causing them to crack and split. That's put extra pressure on the structure and the wall supports.

“One of the trusses was far more rotten than they had anticipated and so the end result is that the cathedral itself, the nave of the church, is unsafe,” said Barry Clarke, bishop-in-charge of St. Paul's.

“We cannot worship in there at this time.”

It's a setback during the emergency repairs to save the roof and walls of the church that began in August and dubbed Project Jericho.

Sacred Synod to confirm election of new Bishop of St Davids

From Wales-

THE BISHOPS of the Church in Wales will meet in “Sacred Synod” at the end of this month to confirm the election of the new Bishop of St Davids.

Canon Joanna Penberthy, currently Rector of Glan Ithon (based in Llandrindod Wells) was elected by the Church’s electoral college on November 2.

Her election will be confirmed at the Sacred Synod which will take place during an Evensong service at Llandaff Cathedral on November 30 at 6pm.

The Sacred Synod is made up of the other five Welsh diocesan bishops.

More here-