Saturday, March 11, 2017

The new alarmism: How some Christians are stoking fear rather than hope

From The Washington Post-

When did Christians start stealing scripts from home security commercials?

We’re all familiar with the canned tropes of the alarm system advertisement: the female resident alone in a darkened house; the ominous threat lurking outside with a crowbar; the horror-flick music rising to a crescendo as the intruder approaches the door—but then repelled by the sight of the ADT sign in the window. Whew! Crisis averted. Cue bright sunshine and smiles and a three-course breakfast with the whole family around the table. Secure.

The home security industry trades on a combination of fear and idylls. In fact, they depend on swelling the idyllic in order to heighten the fear. The more you have to lose, the more you feel the threat.

A spate of recent books from Christian leaders and intellectuals seem to have stolen this script, swelling the jeremiad shelf. We might describe this as “the new alarmism.”

More here-

Supporters of gay cleric urge Church in Wales to 'overcome fear' and appoint him Bishop

From Wales-

Supporters of a distinguished openly gay cleric are telling Welsh Bishops to “overcome their fear” and elect him as the new Bishop of Llandaff.

Currently the Dean of St Albans, Very Rev Jeffrey John gained majority support for the vacant post in a Church in Wales vote.

But he was not elected because he failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority.

Now, in advance of a second-stage vote in which Wales’ other Bishops will decide who should have the role, campaigners in favour of Dr John remain hopeful that he will be appointed.

Six Labour MPs from south Wales – Madeleine Moon, Chris Elmore, Stephen Kinnock, Chris Bryant, Carolyn Harris and Stephen Doughty – have written to the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon, John Davies, asking whether Dr John failed to be elected because he is in a civil partnership with another Anglican priest, Grant Holmes.

More here-

Muslim community rallies to protest immigration, refugee policies

From Buffalo-

More than 100 people gathered in Lackawanna on Friday, holding American flags and signs protesting President Trump's immigration and refugee policies.

The event, which brought together a host of community, political and faith leaders, aimed to show support for those affected by the administration's revised travel ban.

Trump signed an executive order Monday that blocked citizens of six countries that are majority Muslim from entering the United States: Yemen, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Syria.

The changes have led to fear and anger for some in the Muslim community, including in this city of 18,000 -- where one-third of the population is composed of people who are first-, second- or third-generation in the United States from Yemen.

More here-

How the Pakistani government just helped an enslaved Christian community

From Fox News (Interesting map showing persecution of Christians world-wide)

Accused of not doing enough to protect the Christian minority, the Pakistani government has taken steps to improve the quality of life for a community of poor Christians living in squalor as bonded laborers in a rural area of Jaranwala in the Punjab Province.

According to the London-based charity British Pakistani Christian Association, the High Commission of Pakistan in London authorized the construction of 10 brick washroom facilities that will serve roughly 100 Christian families who live in mud homes and are too poor to afford their own toilets, plumbing and clean drinking water.

Prior to the existence of washroom facilities, which were completed in February, the impoverished people in the community were forced to use open fields as toilets and even get their drinking water from unsanitary sources, such as puddles.

More here-

Why The Future Of The Church Of England Is In The Balance After The Sheffield Debacle

From Christian Today-

I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. A feeling of sadness and dread passed over me as I realised the full implications of the decision. It's five years later now and the Church of England's rejection of women bishops seems a lifetime ago.

The skill of Archbishop Justin Welby, and many others, in negotiation and building bridges meant that only two years later, in 2014, the General Synod voted in favour of female bishops.

It was a momentous decision. Not long afterwards Libby Lane became the first ever female bishop of the Church of England. Then Rachel Treweek became the first ever diocesan (senior) bishop. The number of women who've been consecrated is now in double figures and the Church is looking forward to many more bringing their gifts into leadership in the coming decades.

More here-

2017 Spring House of Bishops, Day 1

From Bishop Martins-

It's an odd-numbered year, and I'm at the spring HOB meeting, so I must be at Kanuga, a conference center about a 30 minute drive from the Asheville, NC airport. (On the even-numbered years, we're at Camp Allen, about 60 miles WNW of Houston.)

It's now six years since I chronicled my first HOB meeting on this very site. It was a mercilessly jam-packed schedule, and I did not have a good time. Over the years, the pace slackened quite a bit, with copious free time, particularly leading up to and into Sunday. There was an intentional retreat-like atmosphere built into the experience, with relatively modest amounts of "program."

Well, for various reasons, things have apparently come full-circle, as this meeting is crammed full, with Sunday being no exception. One of Presiding Bishop Curry's passions, and therefore one of his major leadership initiatives, is racial reconciliation. That's the theme of this meeting. We are in the hands of a team of consultants who are leading us through what is essentially a course of anti-racism training.

More here-

Lambeth Design Group puts down foundations for Lambeth 2020 planning

From Anglican News Service-

The Lambeth Design Group has been meeting this week at the Anglican Communion Office in London, to plan for Lambeth 2020. The group, coming together for the first time, has been chaired by the Archbishop of Capetown, Thabo Makgoba, who described the initial sessions as “very encouraging.” An early decision was to fix the venue for Canterbury, starting in the last week of July, 2020.

Among those taking part was the Bishop of Nairobi, Joel Waweru Mwangi, the Bishop of Sabah, Melter Jiki Tais, the Bishop of Dallas, Dr George Sumner, the Moderator of the Church of North India and Bishop of Amritsar, Pradeep Samantaroy, the Revd Dr Robert Heaney of Virginia Theological Seminary, Mrs Josephine Mujawiyera from Rwanda and Ms Cathrine Ngangira, a member of the Community of St Anselm at Lambeth Palace.

More here-

Friday, March 10, 2017

What happened when a 'holy experiment' was tried

From World Net Daily-

Admiral Sir William Penn of Britain fought the Dutch navy in the First Anglo-Dutch War, 1652-54. He captured Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. He helped restore Charles II to the British throne.

Admiral Penn helped defeat the Dutch navy in the Second Anglo-Dutch War, 1665-67, resulting in Britain capturing New Amsterdam and renaming it New York.

When the restored British government began enforcing religious conformity at Oxford, Admiral Penn’s son, William Penn, was expelled for praying in his dorm room rather than attending mandatory daily Anglican chapel.

Admiral Penn had high hopes for his son, William Penn, who functioned as an emissary between himself and the King. When young Penn embraced Quaker beliefs, it so dishonored the admiral that he beat him with a cane, drove him out of the house, and had him live in France for several years.

William Penn associated with George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. In 1668, when the government tried to force William Penn to abandon his conscience and religious convictions, he refused and was imprisoned in the Tower of London for eight months. Upon being freed, Penn argued on behalf of the thousands of persecuted and jailed Quakers.


VIDEO: The Archbishop of Canterbury helping Christians to share their faith

From ACNS-

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to launch a new training session aimed at helping Christians to share their faith.

The video, which will be available for download and use in churches from 20 March 2017, is part of Thy Kingdom Come – the global wave of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost.

In this trailer, the Archbishop is featured in conversation with the Ven Liz Adekunle, the Archdeacon of Hackney; Rachel Gardner, youth worker and founder of Romance Academy; and the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford.

More here-

Amherst sanctuary supporters hear from immigrants, plot strategy

From Massachusetts-

Eduardo Samaniego was student body president of his high school in Georgia and graduated with honors. His next step was college.

But his visa was expired and as an undocumented immigrant, Samaniego said, he could not gain admission into any college in Georgia.

A scholarship at Hampshire College for undocumented students accepted into the school brought Samaniego to Massachusetts.

On Saturday, Samaniego told his story to a crowd of nearly 300 people, filling the Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, where the Amherst Sanctuary Committee held a community-wide meeting.

More here-

The clergy who were told to step off the ladder

From The Church Times-

IN 1983, Tony, a candidate for ordination from the diocese of Bradford, was told by the diocesan director of ordinands (DDO) that, if he wanted to train for the priesthood, he would first have to sell his house.

The money raised from the sale would be needed to look after his family and cover his costs while training, Tony was told. “Like an idiot, I did it,” he said last month.

The house was sold for £8000; £2000 went to pay off the rest of the mortgage, leaving just £6000 to fund the family during his time in theological college. Before the end of his first year of study, the money raised from selling his house had run out, forcing him to ask his bishop for an emergency handout to stay on at college.

When Tony checked online recently, the same house changed hands recently for more than £300,000 — an increase in value of 3650 per cent in 30 years.

After a string of setbacks, and a breakdown, he chose early retirement in 2005. Four years later, his wife, Susan, who is also a priest, joined him in retirement because of ill health, meaning that the couple needed to find their own home for the first time since 1983.

More here-

U.S. to Question India About Ban on Christian Charity

From The New York Times-

The United States and India were at loggerheads on Thursday over Compassion International, a Colorado-based Christian charity that was forced to shut its Indian operations after 48 years over accusations that it had converted Indians to Christianity.

Leaders of the charity complained this week that they were being forced out of India without an opportunity to review the evidence or respond to the accusations.

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department, said that Washington would raise the issue with India, and he urged New Delhi to “work transparently and cooperatively” in enforcing laws regulating foreign aid.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen over the past couple of years a number of foreign-funded NGOs in India that have encountered significant challenges in continuing their operations,” he said.

More here-

Rabbit hole in farmer's field leads to 'mystery caves' (Knights Templar)

From The BBC (Off topic (as if we have one) but fascinating)

An apparently ordinary rabbit's hole in a farmer's field leads to an underground sanctuary said to have been used by devotees of a medieval religious order - but is everything what it seems?

According to local legend, the Caynton Caves, near Shifnal, in Shropshire, were used by followers of the Knights Templar in the 17th Century.

Located less than a metre underground, they appear to be untouched structurally.

Their original purpose is shrouded in mystery, but Historic England, which describes the caves as a "grotto", believes they were probably built in the late 18th or early 19th Century - hundreds of years after the Templar order was dissolved.

More here-

Statement from the Bishop of Burnley, The Rt Revd Philip North

From The Church of England-

It is with regret and sadness that I have decided that I am unable to take up the nomination as Bishop of Sheffield.

The news of my nomination has elicited a strong reaction within the diocese and some areas of the wider Church. It is clear that the level of feeling is such that my arrival would be counter-productive in terms of the mission of the Church in South Yorkshire and that my leadership would not be acceptable to many.

I am grateful for the love, prayers and care that have been shown me over recent weeks by numerous people, especially the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Blackburn and the clergy of the Blackburn Diocese. In particular I would like to thank the Bishop of Doncaster and the diocesan team in Sheffield for their support.

More here-,-the-rt-revd-philip-north.aspx

Archbishop of York's statement here- 

Guardian story here-

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pope Francis Expresses Openness to Ordaining Married Men in Some Cases

From National Catholic Register-

In his first ever interview with a German newspaper, Pope Francis has said the issue of ordaining some married men as priests needs to be considered, but stressed that “voluntary celibacy” is not the solution to the vocations crisis that exists in many parts of the world.

Speaking in the interview to be published tomorrow (March 9) in Die Zeit, Germany’s leading left-leaning newspaper, the Holy Father said the shortage of priests around the world is an “enormous problem” that must be resolved, but added that “voluntary celibacy is not the answer.”

However, he said the issue of viri probati, married men proven in faith and virtue who could be ordained to the priesthood, is a “possibility” that “we have to think about.”

“We must also determine which tasks they can undertake, for example in remote communities,” the Pope said. 

More here-

The Bishop of Gloucester raises issue of gender equality at House of Lords

From Anglican News-

The Church of England's first female diocesan Bishop, the Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, has marked International Women’s Day with an event to promote gender equality.  The gathering, at Britain’s Upper Chamber of parliament, the House of Lords, was hosted by Bishop Rachel in partnership with Christian Aid and Restored - an international Christian alliance working to transform relationships and end violence against women.

The event gave guests and parliamentarians a deeper insight into faith leaders’ commitment to secure a more gender inclusive world and aimed to inspire each person to engage actively with this issue.

Bishop Rachel said, “I hope that every person who attended our event was challenged to take action in ways that will help transform the lives of women around the world. For me as a follower of Jesus Christ, my motivation to do this is to see every woman flourish and become the person that God has created them to be.”

More here-

'Neo-Pagan Sexual Morality' Spreading Throughout Church, Warns Conservative Archbishop

From Christian Today-

An influential conservative archbishop is warning 'neo-pagan sexual morality' in the Church of England is at risk of spreading throughout the global Anglican Communion.

Most Rev Nicholas Okoh, head of the traditionalist GAFCON grouping, describes increasing calls for the Church to soften its stance against gay relationships as 'distressing'. He says the 'confusion' over the issue is 'now at greater risk of being spread' throughout the global Anglican Communion.

An influential conservative archbishop is warning 'neo-pagan sexual morality' in the Church of England is at risk of spreading throughout the global Anglican Communion.

Most Rev Nicholas Okoh, head of the traditionalist GAFCON grouping, describes increasing calls for the Church to soften its stance against gay relationships as 'distressing'. He says the 'confusion' over the issue is 'now at greater risk of being spread' throughout the global Anglican Communion.

More here-

Anglican bishop urges Christians to stick with Church despite 'false teaching' on gay marriage

From Christian Times-

An Anglican bishop has urged conservative Christians to stay within the Church of England despite its changing attitudes about gay marriage.

Rod Thomas, The Bishop of Maidstone, has noted that several bishops are calling on the Church to be more affirming of same-sex relationships. But he said that conservative parishes should not abandon the Church despite the "false teaching."

"In the face of false teaching, the Apostle Paul tells Timothy both to keep his distance from it but also to continue in patient teaching," Thomas wrote in his blog. "He recognises that this may involve suffering," he added.

He pointed out that when the Apostle Paul warned against false teachers, he did not tell the Ephesians to run away, but he told them to "guard the flock" instead.

More here-

Downtown church wall in danger of collapse, officials say

From Michigan-

A section of West Ottawa Street in downtown Lansing is closed because a wall of a century-old church could collapse from strong winds.

Structural engineers were brought in to examine an exterior wall at St. Paul's Episcopal Church after the Rev. Karen Lewis, rector of the church, noticed the wall separating from the ceiling. West Ottawa is closed just west of Capitol Avenue as a precaution.

Lewis said she noticed the problem about 11:30 a.m. Engineers said they believe the wall eventually will collapse, she said. The worship space is closed.

"I saw a lot of insulation on the floor, and if you stood in a certain place, you could see the wall literally moving away from the ceiling," she said. "The worship space is closed until further notice. If that wall collapsed, I have no idea – and no one knows – what else is going to go, how it will impact the roof or the boiler system, which is as old as the church," Lewis said.

More here-

Local Rector Favors Sanctuary Resolution Adopted by Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey

From New Jersey-

The Episcopal Church of the Diocese of New Jersey voted on March 4 to become a sanctuary diocese, extending refuge, healing, material and pastoral support to those targeted for deportation due to immigration status. At least one local religious leader approves.

The Rev. Frank Crumbaugh of Holy Innocents’ Church in Beach Haven said he supports the resolution, but it is probably a divisive question for many congregations.

“It’s emblematic of the larger issues, part of the public discourse we are having lately,” Crumbaugh said. “I think many people are still trying to figure out how they think about many things.”

“Refuge is an ancient premise, to permit someone to find a safe place from being apprehended for something,” he went on. “There is a lovely painting that illustrates the idea of sanctuary, of King Edward IV stopped at the doorway of an abbey after someone has run into the church and the abbot has blocked the king.”

More here-

Farewell, Jesus Junk? Christian Retail Finds a Deeper Purpose

From Christianity Today

At the start of this year, author Jared C. Wilson tweeted a list of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association’s 100 best-selling books of 2016. Among the titles in the top 20: three versions of Sarah Young’s controversial Jesus Calling, two kids joke books, two adult coloring books, titles by HGTV stars and athletes, and, of course, the latest from Joel Osteen.

Wilson called the rankings “proof American evangelicalism traffics mainly in superficiality, sentimentalism, and superstition.” Hundreds of fellow evangelicals chimed in to speculate about the list and point fingers at the church, the shoppers, and the stores selling these titles—as well as offer suggestions for better books out there.

When America’s biggest Christian chain, Family Christian Stores, announced last month that it would be shutting its doors, a small number of Christian bookstore cynics brought up similar critiques over the shallower content its stores promoted alongside Bibles and Christian classics. The speculated silver lining: Did Family Christian’s closure mean consumers were turning away from the celebrity books, inspirational titles, and “Jesus junk”?

More here-

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Converts to “religion of freedom” are boosting church attendance in Europe

From Patheos-

The Muslim immigrants converting to Christianity are having a noticeable affect on church growth and church attendance in Europe.  (See this, this, and this.)

For the last few decades, churches have been almost empty on Sunday mornings. But congregations that have evangelized Muslims are coming back to life.  For example, theTrinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, which we have blogged about, used to have 150 parishioners.  Now they have 700.

The phenomenon has spread to England.  One Anglican bishop says that one out of four of the confirmations he performs are for Muslims converting to Christianity.

Two stories from British sources after the jump.  They give some inspiring testimonies about how some of these immigrants came to Christ.  A common theme:  the realization that Christianity is “the religion of freedom.”

More here-


From The Living Church-

While sorting book donations to our theological library at the Community of St. Mary, I came across a recently published book with a strange title: A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness. I read a lot of strategic leadership books in my MBA days, so I wanted to see what the pop psychologists are saying.[1] Dr. Nassir Ghaemi would have us reevaluate what he considers our provincial thinking about mental illness and health. His motivation for suggesting this is to avoid the stigmatization of the mentally ill, just as we should with terms of racism, sexism, tribalism, etc. He contends that “we stigmatize those who differ from us.”[2]

The question arises, though: Is that a valid comparison? Is defining “mental illness” simply a matter of mental perspective and imagination?

More here-

Wantagh Episcopal church founds outreach center in Seaford

From Long Island-

Barbara Rice Thompson, a 56-year-old North Wantagh resident, was the editor of Penthouse magazine for more than 25 years before she was laid off in January. But months earlier, she had spoken with the Rev. Christopher Hofer, the rector of the Church of St. Jude, about how she wanted to “give back on a more real level — other than providing porn,” she said with a laugh.

When she learned that her church was working on opening a mission center at St. Michael and All Angels in Seaford, Rice Thompson said that she felt as if her prayers had been answered. One program — the Mother and Child Ministry — touched her, she said.

“My father was an aerospace engineer at the Grumman factory, and when I was about 10, he lost his job,” she recalled. “He was delivering newspapers on Sunday mornings and pumping gas on Saturday afternoons because he had five kids, and that’s what he had to do ... we were the family in church who was getting the Christmas basket.”

More here-,88975

Major Christian Charity Is Closing India Operations Amid a Crackdown

From The New York Times-

 India’s crackdown on foreign aid will claim its most prominent casualty this month, as a Colorado-based Christian charity that is one of India’s biggest donors closes its operations here after 48 years, informing tens of thousands of children that they will no longer receive meals, medical care or tuition payments.

The shutdown of the charity, Compassion International, on suspicion of engaging in religious conversion, comes as India, a rising economic power with a swelling spirit of nationalism, curtails the flow of foreign money to activities it deems “detrimental to the national interest.”

More than 11,000 nongovernmental organizations have lost their licenses to accept foreign funds since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014. Major Western funders — among them George Soros’s Open Society Foundations and the National Endowment for Democracy — have been barred from transferring funds without permission from Indian security officials.

More here-

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

'Vicar of Baghdad' Andrew White Explains Why He Likes Donald Trump

From Christian Post-

In a new video posted to YouTube, a prominent Anglican priest who is known as the "Vicar of Baghdad" explains why he likes U.S. President Donald Trump in relation to his dealings with the Middle East and persecuted Christians.

The world needs to realize the fact that "there is a new president, and actually there is hope with this president," says the Rev. Canon Andrew White, the founder of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, in the video which he shot in London.

"There is very much hope for the persecuted Christians in the (Middle East) region," he adds.

"It's very interesting that even though President Trump had said no Iraqis were allowed into America, it now looks he's gone back on that original issue, and he's allowing the Iraqis in because he acknowledges how much the Iraqis did in the combat of 2003 and held close the Americans and the Iraqis who were working together. So there are positive things there."

While wearing a Wheaton College sweatshirt, the 53-year-old British clergyman mentioned several places he plans to visit during an upcoming trip to the United States, including Patrick Henry College, a Christian school in Northern Virginia, and some members of the Trump administration.


San Joaquin overwhelmingly elects David Cappel Rice diocesan bishop

From ENS-

Delegates to a special convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin overwhelmingly voted March 4 to elect Provisional Bishop David Cappel Rice as their diocesan bishop.

Rice was the only nominee.  He was elected on the first ballot by a vote of 21 to 1 in the clergy order and 41 to 2 in the lay order. The election required a two-thirds majority in both orders. The somewhat unusual election was both joyous and powerful, he said.

“I believe the people of the Diocese of San Joaquin know ever increasingly that they are on a hikoi (intentional movement with a purpose [a word from Maori, the indigenous language of New Zealand]) and they have come to realize and celebrate my willingness, better said, call to walk, run, cycle, move with them,” Rice said in an email to the Episcopal News Service following the election.
“As for my own feeling and response, I couldn’t imagine a group of people with whom I’d rather share this hikoi of faith.”

More here-

How clergy became scapegoats of the sex abuse crisis in the Anglican Church

From Australia-

As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearings have made abundantly clear, Christian churches in this country scapegoated the victims of clergy abuse for decades in an attempt to protect their reputation. That was at best deluded, and at worst evil.

Some parts of the Anglican Church of Australia were complicit in this appalling behaviour until the levels of abuse came to light in the late 1990s. Since then, the Anglican Church has directed enormous energy into establishing procedures to ensure that abuse was a thing of the past, and that churches would be safe places for all children and vulnerable people.

In the process, however, in a frantic effort to restore the church’s damaged reputation by demonstrating it is “tough on (sexual) crime”, it has created another group of scapegoats – its own clergy.

More here-

Local religious groups joining together to oppose travel ban, fight Islamophobia

From Southern Ohio-

The Trump Administration said the immigration ban was needed to fight terrorism.

"We live in a world where somehow Islam is defined by ISIS and their likes," Nooh said. "We are trying to reclaim our narrative from the people who tainted our faith."

The first travel ban led to widespread protests and demonstrations across the country, including Columbus.

Rev. Dan Clark with the group Faith in Public Life has planned a prayer rally at Trinity Episcopal Church in Downtown Columbus Tuesday afternoon. He said he's opposed to the ban for the same reasons he was against the first one.

More here-

Exhibit will look at the changing view of Mary

From Massachusetts-

The Museum of Russian Icons will open a new exhibit, "Pondering Mary: Her Story Through Icons," on Saturday, March 18. A symposium, presented by three local scholars, will precede the opening reception.

The exhibit, curated by the Rev. Chris Visminas, features 38 Russian icons (sacred art used for veneration by the Orthodox Church), some of which date back to the 1500s. The exhibit tells the story of Mary, the Mother of God, as portrayed in icons and how views of her differ distinctly in different cultures.

Visminas is an ordained Episcopal minister. She holds a bachelor's in theology from Duquesne University, and a master's in theology from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

"Over the centuries, as Western devotion to her grew, Mary was depicted as a slim young woman with flowing hair, who was both sweet and compassionate with demure humility," Visminas said. "In the East, however, she was portrayed as one who is in full possession of her powers. She is a woman who has born life and death, seen joy and grief and has 'pondered all these things in her heart.' "

More here-

Bishop Michael Curry says Hong Kong represents the Anglican way of being in partnership

From Anglican News-

 Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, of the US based Episcopal Church, has paid tribute to a “growing” Anglican church in Hong Kong, during his first official visit to the Anglican Province of Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui.

Bishop Curry said the strength of the Anglican church in Hong Kong and in the rest of Asia, reinforced his belief that relationships centered in the gospel are essential to missional partnerships:

“Christianity is growing here, Anglicanism is growing here in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a critical relationship in being in real relationship with Asia, and it’s clearly a relationship of equals and that becomes a model or a template for other relationships as well,” said Bishop Curry.

“The archbishop [Paul Kwong] is a leader in the Anglican Communion,  a real statesmen, both in Asia and around the Communion,” said Bishop Curry. “Hong Kong represents, in many respects, the Anglican way of being in relationship and partnership having agreement on essentials, but creating space for disagreement on matters that are nonessential to the gospel itself.”

More here-

Will Islam become the world’s largest religion?

From Patheos-

A new study says that Islam will pass Christianity as the world’s largest religion by 2070.

The report says that in 2050, Muslims will make up 10% of the European population.  But they will number only 2.1% in the United States.

Interestingly, the study also says that the number of atheists and non-religious affiliated will decline globally.

This may very well be, but, like many statistical studies, it is mainly just an extrapolation of current numbers over time.  Muslims have a higher birth rate than Christians do, so if we graph that out, their numbers will be higher by 2070.

More here-

Would Jesus be a gentrifier? How Christianity is embracing urban renewal

From The Guardian-

In the 1990s, the Bristol neighbourhood of Stokes Croft was a hub of unchecked creativity. The vast Victorian fa├žades, many of which had been abandoned to the elements, were a ready-made canvas for street artists such as Banksy and Robert Del Naja (also known as 3D), who became household names. Sound systems piled into squats while the police turned a blind eye, fostering global stars such as Tricky and Massive Attack.

Two decades on, and Stokes Croft is increasingly home to artisan coffee shops, burger bars and craft ale pubs that signify urban modernity. The graffiti, once a marker of lawlessness, is now consigned to council-sanctioned tourist sites.

More here-

Monday, March 6, 2017

Presiding Bishop Curry Offers Theological Reflection on Transgender Rights

From The Diocese of Olympia-

I offer this brief theological reflection to share some of my thoughts and convictions which informed my decision to join with the President of the House of Deputies as signatories to the amicus brief in the case of Gloucester County School Board v. G.G, which concerns Gavin Grimm, a transgender youth who seeks equal access according to his gender identity, to bathroom facilities in his public school.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.’

More here-

Tens of thousands of people have been involved in a mission in the Diocese of Durham

From Anglican News-

Twenty five Bishops and their teams from the northern half of The Church of England led by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, have taken part in four days of mission and celebration called ‘Talking Jesus.’  The Bishops and their teams went out into communities in all corners of the Diocese – talking about Jesus at more than 450 community events.

The mission came to a close at a service of celebration at Durham Cathedral on Sunday. The Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, told a packed Cathedral that it had been a resounding success. He said: “We can’t be sure quite how many people we have come into contact with across four days, 450 events, numerous conversations and through social media interactions - but it is many tens of thousands.”

More here-

Shyira Diocese gets new bishop

From Rwanda-

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them,” reads John 10:11-12.

Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi invoked this scripture to call upon the newly-consecrated bishop of Shyira Diocese, The Rev. Samuel Mugisha Mugiraneza, to be a real shepherd and always take care of the congregation to purposefully serve God.

During the consecration of the bishop in Musanze District yesterday, the premier said Rwanda has had a lot of blessings and there is hope for more achievements.

More here-

'Beauty and Beast' gay character sparks Christian boycott calls

From Reuters-

An evangelist preacher is calling for a boycott of the upcoming Walt Disney film "Beauty and the Beast" because it features a gay character, saying that the company is trying to promote an LGBT agenda to children.

Franklin Graham, the North Carolina-based son of evangelist preacher Billy Graham and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, called for the boycott in a Facebook post on Thursday. By Friday the post had been shared more than 88,000 times, and a movie theater in Alabama said it will not screen the film.

"They’re trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children - watch out!," Graham wrote.

Graham said Disney was making an attempt to "normalize this (gay) lifestyle."

More here-

Christians Turn To Podcasts To Say Things They Can't Say In Church

From NPR-

Toby Morrell curses and talks about sex on his podcast. Mike McHargue talks about evolution and LGBTQ issues on his. These things would be typical on most podcasts — but McHargue and Morrell's audiences are almost entirely Christian.

A study by the Pew Research Center, released in 2015, shows that millennials have been leaving Catholic and mainline Protestant churches in droves from at least 2007 but they don't necessarily lose their belief in God. In fact, more than half say they're still religious or spiritual.

That's the type of audience that's tuning in to McHargue's podcast The Liturgists and Morrell's podcast Bad Christian.The Liturgists has about 1 million downloads a month for some episodes and according to its Website, 250,000 subscribers.

Bad Christian is sponsored by a few corporations not generally known for their religious affiliations. Among them are Lyft, Casper,

More here-

Money, democracy and religion: Why some countries disapprove of homosexuality

From Salon-

With Trump’s removal of federal protections for transgender students, debate over LGBTQ rights rage again across the U.S. The Conversation

Despite these disagreements, Americans are relatively liberal compared to countries across the world, where the consequences for gay or transgender citizens are far more dire.

In Europe and here in the Americas, only a minority of people believe that homosexuality is never justified. The percentage increases in places like Russia, India and China. In Africa, the Middle East and parts of Southeast Asia, attitudes become even more conservative.

More here-

Religious leaders encourage acceptance of immigrants

From Chicago-

Various religions, traditions, ethnic backgrounds and ages were represented in the nearly 200 people mingling Sunday in a packed room at St. Simon's Episcopal Church in Arlington Heights.

They brainstormed ways to actively build solidarity in their communities. They discussed the importance of respecting those who have beliefs different from their own. And through speeches given by local religious leaders, they learned the basic tenets of Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Christianity regarding the treatment of immigrants.

"This is beautiful. This is America," said Rev. Corey Brost, co-founder of the Children of Abraham Coalition. "This is what we stand for in this country."

The Interfaith Immigration Forum, organized by the coalition, aimed to inspire its attendees to take action in light of new and more aggressive national immigration enforcement guidelines. Though President Donald Trump's orders call for widening the pool of undocumented immigrants targeted for deportation and hiring more enforcement agents, Brost said most religions believe refugees and vulnerable immigrants should be welcomed and protected.

More here-

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Scientist Robin Dunbar to test new theory that religion is key to humans' social evolution

From The Washington Post (via Houston)-

In humans' mysterious journey to become intelligent, socializing creatures like no other in the animal world, one innovation played an essential role: religion.

That's the theory that a preeminent evolutionary scientist is setting out to prove.

"You need something quite literally to stop everybody from killing everybody else out of just crossness," Robin Dunbar said. "Somehow it's clear that religions, all these doctrinal religions, create the sense that we're all one family."

Dunbar, an evolutionary psychology professor at Oxford University, gained some measure of fame more than 20 years ago for his research on the size of animals' social networks. Each species of primate, he found, can manage to keep up a social bond with a certain number of other members of its own species. That number goes up as primates' brain size increases, from monkeys to apes.

Humans, Dunbar found, are capable of maintaining significantly more social ties than the size of our brains alone could explain. He proved that each human is surprisingly consistent in the number of social ties we can maintain: About five with intimate friends, 50 with good friends, 150 with friends and 1,500 with people we could recognize by name. That discovery came to be known as "Dunbar's


More here-

Oklahoma Episcopal diocese launches new mobile app

From Oklahoma-

In the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, mission and ministry appear in many forms.

This includes the Teacher's Toolbox at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Miami, OK, which provides a school supplies bank to support local teachers, and a disaster response team at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church in Midwest City, which serves those affected by disasters with its on-the-go-trailer.

All Saints' Episcopal Church in Duncan's Food for the Poor program, which collects and donates supplies to help support their neighbors who have fallen on challenging times, is another example of the helpful ministries happening every day in Oklahoma.

More here-

Massachusetts reverend elected Episcopal bishop of North Carolina

From The Boston Globe-

A Massachusetts reverend was elected Saturday as the next bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina.

Rev. Samuel Rodman, who currently serves as the special projects officer on the Massachusetts diocesan staff, was elected XII Bishop Diocesan on the third ballot during a Special Electing Convention in Phillips Chapel at Canterbury School in Greensboro, the Diocese of North Carolina said in a press release.

Ordained in 1988, Rodman is a graduate of Bates College and Virginia Theological Seminary. He previously spent 16 years as the rector of St. Michael’s in Milton.

The Rt. Rev. Alan M. Gates, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, said in a statement that Rodman would be missed greatly in Eastern Massachusetts.

More here-

Buffalo-born bishop now leads U.S. Episcopal Church

From Buffalo-

The Episcopal Church has survived the storms that swept the denomination in the past 15 years and is moving forward, Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry said Saturday in Buffalo.

"That's the testimony of an ancient faith, that it's durable. It lasts," Bishop Curry said in an interview at the Diocesan Ministry Center in the Town of Tonawanda. "We'll weather it. We've already weathered it."

Bishop Curry grew up in Buffalo and graduated from Hutchinson Central Technical High School. He returned this weekend to help mark the 200th anniversary of St. Paul's Cathedral, the mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York.

More here-