Saturday, February 4, 2017

Episcopal bishop calls for uniting of a house divided

From Pittsburgh-

The sparse, pillared sanctuary reverberated with gospel music, then with the somber declarations of a searing confession of sin dating to 17th century Scotland — all to confront 21st century divisions of race, creed, gender and class.

Hundreds gathered at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for a Friday night service aimed at starting to heal those divisions, bringing together a racially diverse mix of local bishops and other leaders of area Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches.

The event was held in conjunction with the start of a three-day visit by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church — elected in 2015 as the first African-American to lead the national denomination.

More than 200 gathered at Hicks Memorial Chapel at the Highland Park campus, with church leaders sitting in a circle around a table symbolically set with a communion cup and plate.

More here-

The Anglican Imagination of Austin Farrer

From The Weekly Standard-

You might imagine, consulting some eminent minds, that the whole point of imagination is happiness. "Imagination cannot make fools wise," wrote Pascal, "but she can make them happy, to the envy of reason, who can only make her friends miserable." Samuel Johnson took the point but drew a different moral: "Were it not for imagination, sir, a man would be as happy in the arms of a chambermaid as of a duchess."

Then there's what might be termed the higher imagination, whose role, through revealing truth, is not so much to make us happy as to make us free. This species of imagination—along with its fickle sidekick, inspiration—is what is at work in genuine artistic creation. Where it comes from and how to get your fair share are the stuff of countless books and blogs, with answers ranging from reductionist left-brain/right-brain formulations to daffy quasi-mystical murk. Another view, perennial, is that imagination is a gift, divine at that: In the words of the Anglican theologian-philosopher Austin Farrer, "noble inspiration .  .  . belongs to what is most godlike in the natural man."

More here-!

Utah’s Episcopal bishop calls for unity in these divisive, Trump era times

From Utah-

Utah Episcopal Bishop Scott Hayashi is urging his flock to slow down and take a breath amid rising agitation over the election of President Donald Trump and the signing of his controversial executive orders during the past two weeks.

Political divisions within families and with co-workers have resulted in "the breaking of familial bonds and friendships," Hayashi said in a pastoral letter to be read Sunday at Episcopal churches across the state. "This is deeply troubling and heartbreaking to me."

The Utah church as well as the national Episcopal Church unswervingly support gender equality, efforts against gender violence, and the protection of the environment, the letter said, and works to address systemic racial injustice as well as many other social-justice concerns.

More here-

Friday, February 3, 2017

No change on marriage after the Shared Conversations

From The Church Times-

CHURCH doctrine on marriage will not be changed to accommodate same-sex relationships, but more detailed teachings should be issued to the clergy offering “fresh thought”, and understanding of the Church’s gay and lesbian members, in the context of “changed” social attitudes towards sexuality, a report from the House of Bishops has concluded.

Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations was finalised by the House on Monday, and published with the remainder of the General Synod agenda, on Friday of last week. It is to be presented by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, on Wednesday 15 February.

“Society was in a very different space only 25 years ago,” Bishop James told a press briefing last Friday. “The Church has got to sustain some fidelity to its historic teaching, while also recognising that it seeks to affirm all its lesbian and gay members. That is the tension.”

More here-

Anglican Church warns domestic abuse a “significant’’ problem in its ranks

From Australia-

THE Sydney Anglican Church has warned that domestic abuse remains a significant social problem within its ranks and has vowed to stamp it out.

At the church’s recent synod, a motion was passed ­acknowledging that domestic abuse was a major problem within the church, and called on victims of clergy and church workers to report perpetrators to the church’s Professional Standards Unit.

But some clergy, including Reverend Andrew Sempell, the rector of the prominent St James Church in the CBD’s legal precinct, said it could be the diocese’s own teaching that was part of the problem.

Sydney’s literalist interpretation of the Bible, in which St Paul calls for wives to submit to their husbands and forbids any woman to have authority over a man, was playing into the hands of inadequate, controlling men, he said.

More here-

Has The Episcopal Church Been Penalised For Its Support Of Gay Marriage – Or Not?

From Christian Today-

Senior members of The Episcopal Church of the United States have said they are "dismayed" by an Anglican Communion report that they did not vote on "doctrine" at a recent meeting

The Episcopal Church, which endorses gay equality, consecrates gay bishops and clergy and allows same-sex marriage.

As a result, the Church had "consequences" imposed on it by Anglican leaders at last January's primates' meeting in Canterbury.

These consequences, which the primates insisted were not "sanctions", included not permitting members of The Episcopal Church to vote on matters of doctrine at Anglican Communion meetings of policy bodies such as the Anglican Consultative Council.

Rosalie Simmonds Ballentine, Ian Douglas and Gay Clark Jennings, who attended the 16th Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia last April on behalf of The Episcopal Church, say in a post on the Episcopal Digital Network that they were dismayed to read on the Anglican Communion News Service "an article that claims we did not vote on matters of doctrine or polity at the most recent meeting of the ACC."

More here-

Episcopal leader here for revival

From Pittsburgh-

Episcopal revival — those are two words that historically have occupied different precincts of the church-news page.

But the top leader of the Episcopal Church plans to bring them together during a packed weekend of activities in Pittsburgh.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, who was elected in 2015 to lead the national church, plans a weekend aimed at working to heal racial and denominational divisions while also stoking an enthusiasm for evangelism. All this is aimed at an audience better known for formal liturgy within its Gothic walls and a reluctance to talk too loudly about it outside of them.

The diocese had originally contacted Bishop Curry in 2015, when he was leader of the Diocese of North Carolina, to speak here in 2016 at the annual Absalom Jones Day Celebration, which marks the ordination of the first African-American priest in the Episcopal Church in 1804.

But later in 2015, Bishop Curry was elected to lead the national church, the first African-American to become presiding bishop. His calendar suddenly crowded with other obligations, he postponed the visit a year while adding several other weekend events to it.

More here-

Turning away refugees violates Christian principles: Bishop Sean Rowe

From Erie-

One of my favorite Bible verses comes from the first chapter of the Gospel of John: "A light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it." I have been thinking about that verse lately as darkness began to fall over our country and light struggled to reassert itself.

The executive order closing our borders to Syrian refugees and suspending refugee resettlement and immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries is a profound betrayal of Christian principles and American ideals. If we, as a nation, are to be that indomitable light the Scripture speaks of, we must resist the efforts to close our border to those who are in desperate need of our help.

More here-

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Civil War prayer books tell a story of commonality in a time of conflict, says pastor who collects them

From North Carolina-

The little Episcopalian prayer book did not have the easiest journey to the Rev. Robert Alves' private collection.

"This one has actually been in the ocean," says, Alves, holding up a leather-bound copy of the Confederate Book of Common Prayer.

In 1863, the book was part of a shipment of devotionals headed to Confederates in the battlefield. But Union ships were in hot pursuit of a Rebel blockade runner carrying the devotionals and other supplies off the coast of Beaufort. The Confederate sailors, before eventually running aground, dumped cargo to lighten the load, including the books.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury sets out vision for 2017 Primates Meeting

From ACNS-

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to every primate in the Anglican Communion to set out his hopes for the next Primates’ Meeting, which will take place in Canterbury in October.  He also gave details of last week’s report by the Church of England’s House of Bishops on human sexuality. In the letter, Archbishop Justin sets out his vision for the meeting in Canterbury as an opportunity for relaxed fellowship and mutual consultation. He invites the primates to submit items for the agenda and says he’s aware of the pressures under which many of them live.

“I certainly feel the need to be with you, to share our experience and in prayer and fellowship, to support one another and seek how best we can serve the call to preach the gospel, serve the poor and proclaim the Kingdom of God,” he says.

More here-

Neil Gorsuch belongs to a notably liberal church — and would be the first Protestant on the Court in years

From The Washington Post-

The day after Donald Trump was elected president, the Rev. Susan Springer wrote to her congregation that they should strive to behave as Godly people who spread hope even though “the world is clasping its head in its hands and crying out in fear.”

That Sunday, one of the ushers at Springer’s church was Neil Gorsuch — soon to become President Trump’s nominee for the open spot on the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch has staked his own conservative positions on numerous issues, including topics of religious concern: In cases involving the art supply chain Hobby Lobby and the Catholic order Little Sisters of the Poor, both of which eventually reached the Supreme Court, Gorsuch ruled in favor of religious conservatives who said the Affordable Care Act infringed on their religious freedom to not pay for contraception.

More here-

Writing my first sermon for the age of Trump.

From Slate-

Every week of national turmoil is followed by a Sunday when preachers have a job to do. This week, as I prepare for my first sermon of the Trump presidency, I’m thinking of Ralph.

Ralph is a parishioner of mine who died last year. Besides being a faithful, gracious, generous, and supportive man, he was one of the more conservative folks at St. Andrew’s, our progressive-leaning Greensboro, North Carolina, church.

We never spoke of politics. I simply knew from a comment here and grumble there that he wasn’t wild about the church’s overall direction. I loved and respected him for that. He wasn’t alone, but he wasn’t in the majority either. It was not my job to convert him but to be aware of his perspective and to listen to him.

Knowing that Ralph would be in church every Sunday (eighth pew on the pulpit side, beside a window) influenced how I preached. That’s not to say that I watered down my homilies because of him. I think instead that Ralph’s attendance imposed a certain discipline on me. If I was casting a vision of God’s justice that hinted that true faith was decided along liberal or conservative lines, then I risked cutting people off.

More here-

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Epsicopal Church and Refugees "Roundup"

From Lexington-

So many people turned out Tuesday night to show support for refugees in Lexington that event organizers feared that fire codes would be violated at Christ Church Cathedral on Market Street.

Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM), the refugee settlement agency of The Episcopal Church, Kentucky Refugee Ministries, EMM’s local affiliate partner, and how to #SupportRefugees organized the event that was designed to educate people about the work that’s done daily in central Kentucky.

Organizers say it was not a rally or protest against President Donald Trump’s executive order that requires a 90-day waiting period for people from certain countries from entering the United States.

More here-

and Boston-

and New York-

and New Hampshire-

and Spokane-

Boston (again)-

and Missouri-

And Washington DC-

Trump's Supreme Court Pick: Religious Freedom Defender Neil Gorsuch

From Christianity Today-

President Donald Trump named Neil Gorsuch, a conservative, Ivy League-educated federal judge known for his way with words and defenses of religious freedom, as his Supreme Court nominee during a live broadcast Tuesday night.

A favorite pick among Christian conservatives, Gorsuch fulfills Trump’s promise to select a judge that “evangelicals, Christians will love” and who also stands a solid chance of scoring Senate approval. (Gorsuch’s federal appointment by President George W. Bush in 2006 was uncontroversial.)

“Judge Gorsuch’s combination of intellectual horsepower and work ethic has enabled him to excel academically at the world’s best universities, become a first-rate lawyer and judge, and develop remarkable verbal abilities,” said Robert Pushaw, a constitutional law expert and professor at Pepperdine University School of Law.

More here-

5 faith facts on Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch

From RNS-

President Donald Trump has announced Neil Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as his Supreme Court nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last February.

Here are five faith facts about Gorsuch:
1. Gorsuch, 49, now attends an Episcopal church, but he attended Catholic schools.

He studied at the Jesuit-run Georgetown Preparatory School in Bethesda, Md., while his mother, Anne Gorsuch, served as President Ronald Reagan’s administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. After college and law school at Columbia and Harvard respectively, Gorsuch clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is Catholic. Gorsuch, his wife and two daughters attend St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colo.

More here-

In the bleak midwinter, Standing Rock Episcopal ministry is changing

From ENS-

Episcopalians in and around the Standing Rock Sioux Nation Reservation are seeing their ministry change as the camps formed by water protectors along the Missouri River protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline are slowly closing.

The temperature in the area may have climbed to 40 degrees on Jan. 30 but it is still the bleak midwinter in North Dakota and March can be the state’s snowiest month, according to the National Weather Service. Tribal officials have said that the harshness of the winter is making the camps unsafe and they are worried about the protectors’ safety when spring melts the snow and the Missouri runs high.

The effort to close the camps began before Jan. 24 when Donald Trump called for the rapid approval of the pipeline’s final phase. The Cannon Ball tribal district Jan. 19 asked the protectors to leave and the entire tribal council supported that move the next day. However, tribal leaders also point to the president’s efforts in urging their supporters to redirect their advocacy.

More here-

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sudbury woman to become Anglican bishop

From Canada-

When Anne Germond graduated from high school, a card of congratulations from a Catholic nun mentioned a bed was waiting for her at a convent.

Even at a young age, religion was important to the South African native.

Germond ,57, respected the work nuns did, but she knew she didn't want to be come a sister. Marriage and children were important priorities in her life.

Fast forward some 40 years and Germond, now a married mother of two, is set to become the first female bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Algoma. The diocese was founded in 1873.

It's a milestone Germond acknowledges is "pretty cool."

She also notes the responsibility of overseeing 95 parishes is a heavy one.

"Suddenly, your world increases," the former elementary teacher said. "You're looking at things on a much different level. You consider what's best for the diocese. That's a whole different ball game."

More here-

‘Refugees are welcome here:’ Louisville rallies to support immigrants

From Kentucky-

The Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky issued a news release Friday noting that the Episcopal Church as a whole welcomes refugees and helps resettle 5,000 refugees each year.

“Refugee resettlement is a form of ministry, and one that we, and many other churches and faith-based organizations, cherish. The work of Episcopal Migration Ministries is God’s work, and we show the face of God through the care and compassion in that work,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church said in a statement. “I ask President Trump to continue the powerful work of our refugee resettlement program without interruption, recognizing the long wait and screening process that means refugees wait months and sometimes years to enter the country.”

In a statement on its website, Catholic Charities of Louisville, which also helps resettle refugees, said it was disappointed by the news.

More here-

Clergy recoil from Trump’s order

From Connecticut-

Local religious leaders took issue this weekend with President Trump’s recent executive order banning refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Rev. Jack Gilpin of St. John’s Episcopal Church in New Milford said he alluded to the order during his Sunday morning sermon on the Beatitudes, the nine blessings in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
“Jesus affirmed...the responsibility of each of us to take care of those who can’t help themselves, who for one reason or another, because of the way the world works, have been hurt or lame or downtrodden,’ Gilpin said. That is where God is to be found, with them.”

More here-

Hope turns to heartache for Texas volunteers looking to help refugees

From Texas-

The parishioners of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church were armed with bed sheets, stuffed animals and hope.

Preparing to welcome a Syrian refugee family of six, they still had to make up beds, hang shower curtains and stock up the pantry at the Austin apartment that had been rented out for the family — all part of their plan to prepare a house for strangers who would soon call it home.

The Rev. Sherry Vaughan Williams, among those leading the west Austin church's volunteer efforts, was still concerned about finding a vehicle large enough to get the family from the airport — where a group of church volunteers would receive them — to the apartment without splitting them up. “Six people in one car is daunting,” she said Sunday evening.

But by Monday morning, their hope had turned to heartache. The family’s flight, like those of several other families headed to Texas, was canceled after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned the entry of individuals from seven predominantly Muslim countries, halted the resettlement of refugees fleeing war-torn Syria and halted refugee admissions for 120 days. 

More here-

Broward church volunteer admits he tried to recruit 14-year-old parishioner for sex

From SE Florida-

71-year-old Broward County church volunteer who promised a 14-year-old parishioner his BMW and inheritance if she would have sex with him pleaded guilty Monday to a federal sex charge.

Timothy Taffe, of Fort Lauderdale, admitted he aggressively pursued the minor after meeting her at game night at St. Benedict's Episcopal Church in Plantation in July. He pleaded guilty to attempting to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.

Prosecutors said they will recommend that Taffe, who has been jailed since he was arrested in October after showing up for what he thought was a sex date with the girl, should serve 10 years in federal prison. Taffe also will have to register as a sex offender.

More here-

Monday, January 30, 2017

A modest bequest blossomed into an enduring tradition

From Eastern North Carolina-

When Kill Devil Hills resident Ruthie Rigor died nine years ago, she left a few thousand dollars in her will to St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church.

The small lump of money didn’t last long, but it didn’t have to. From it an idea was born among parishioners that has blossomed into a community-wide effort to feed the hungry and foster fellowship every week of the year.

And it’s stood the test of time, thanks to the kindness and compassion of a community that cares.

Ruthie’s Community Kitchen served its first meal in October of 2009 at His Dream Center in Nags Head. More than seven years later, county residents still gather around the table every Tuesday night for a warm meal and connection.

More here-

Pope Francis: You can’t defend Christianity by being ‘against refugees and other religions’

From The Catholic Herald-

Meeting a pilgrimage of Catholics and Lutherans from Germany, Pope Francis said he does not like “the contradiction of those who want to defend Christianity in the West, and, on the other hand, are against refugees and other religions.”

“This is not something I’ve read in books, but I see in the newspapers and on television every day,” Pope Francis said.

Answering questions from young people in the group this morning, the pope said, “the sickness or, you can say the sin, that Jesus condemns most is hypocrisy,” which is precisely what is happening when someone claims to be a Christian but does not live according to the teaching of Christ.

More here-

Removal of pastor feeds perceptions of draconian authority

From Crux-

News came through last week of an astonishing overreach by the Archbishop of San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia-Siller. In a letter to parishioners he explained that he was removing their pastor, Father Christopher Phillips “to dedicate some time to reflect on certain specific concerns that I have shared with him.”

Phillips’ fascinating story as a convert from the Anglican tradition was highlighted in an article at Crux a few months ago. In 1982, as an Episcopal priest with a young family, Phillips traveled from his native Rhode Island and was ordained under the rules of the Pastoral Provision by Archbishop Patrick Flores.

For the last thirty five years Phillips has worked with his people to build a thriving parish and school in San Antonio. The parish faithfully maintains the Anglican patrimony within full communion of the Catholic Church.

More here-

Religious groups join outpouring against Trump refugee order

From AP-

Rabbi Joel Mosbacher had just finished the morning’s Shabbat service when he got an urgent message: Rabbis were needed at New York’s Kennedy Airport. People had being detained under President Donald Trump’s sharp travel restrictions on refugees. Would he come pray?

By sundown, Mosbacher was part a group of rabbis at the airport, playing guitar and conducting a Havdalah service marking the end of the Sabbath. About 2,000 people gathered to rally against the new policy.

“We know what it’s like to be the stranger,” said Mosbacher, a Reform rabbi at Temple Shaary Tefila, noting that Jewish refugees were at times turned away from the U.S. “As a person of faith, it was so important to be there.”

From pulpits to sidewalk vigils, clergy have been part of a religious outpouring against Trump’s plan to suspend refugee entry from seven majority Muslim countries. Faith leaders who support the president’s executive order as a way to fight terrorism have been far less vocal, ceding the religious discussion to those overwhelmingly opposed to the president’s sweeping immigration order, which suspends refugee admissions for four months and indefinitely bars refugees from Syria.

More here-

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A trinity of partners: Trinity School for Ministry blends several traditions

From Pittsburgh-

Once formed as a renewal movement within the Episcopal Church, it still has Episcopalian students, but its students and faculty increasingly represent the new Anglican Church in North America, also headquartered in Ambridge, which split from the Episcopal Church in 2009 over liberalizing trends in the latter, including the ordination of gay bishops.

Trinity also is home now to similar groups of conservative Lutherans and Presbyterians who also broke from their larger denominations over similar issues.

“It’s for missional reasons that we’re collaborating, not economic,” said Rev. Thompson referring to other seminaries that merge to cope with declining enrollment and funds. “We have our theological discussions and dust-ups, but we’re learning from each other and that’s been rewarding.”

Rev. Thompson, a former pastor who has been on the Trinity faculty since 1997 after nearly two decades in parish ministry, succeeded the Very Rev. Dr. Justyn Terry in May 2016 as interim president and was named permanently to the post in December.

More here-

Episcopal bishop closing book on 13 years leading Kansas diocese

From Kansas-

After 13 years, the Topeka-based Episcopal Diocese of Kansas will soon have a new bishop, with the departure after this weekend of the Rt. Rev. Dean E. Wolfe, who is moving to a parish in New York City.

When he became the ninth bishop in the 157-year history of the Episcopal Diocese of Kansas on Jan. 1, 2004, upon the retirement of his predecessor, the Rt. Rev. William E. Smalley, Wolfe seemed to have a firm grasp of many of the challenges that awaited him.

At that time, the denomination was facing controversies and disagreements — notably, consecration of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire.

The controversies caused divisions within the denomination, including in Kansas, where the largest Episcopal church in Overland Park broke ranks.

More here-