Saturday, March 18, 2017

As Catholics and Anglicans come together, the Church of England pulls apart

From Crux-

There was a kind of ecumenical triumph for the Anglicans in Rome last weekend. For the first time ever, the beautiful service of Choral Evensong was sung in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Anglican Archbishop David Moxon, director of the Anglican center in Rome, presided, the Choir of Merton College, Oxford sang, and English Archbishop Arthur Roche, Vatican Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, preached.

It was the sort of event both Anglicans and Catholics could not have imagined just sixty years ago. Furthermore, the little triumph of church unity comes just five months after Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby celebrated Vespers together at the Basilica of San Gregorio al Celio in Rome.

More here-

Gavin Ashenden: 'The Church of England is a coach driving over a cliff'

From Premier UK-

As well as being known as a former chaplain to Her Majesty and a BBC radio presenter, Gavin Ashenden is also known for publicly condemning the Scottish Episcopal Church - linked to the Church of England - for allowing a verse from the Quran to be read out in Arabic during an Epiphany Service earlier this year.

It turned out that part of the passage denied Jesus was God.

The Scottish Episcopal Church expressed regret for any upset caused by the decision, but did not apologise for allowing the reading to be delivered. Some defended the decision, saying it would help foster relations between Christians and Muslims.

Ashenden and others argued a line had to be drawn between building friendships and acknowledging, and where necessary opposing, differences in theology.

Speaking to Premier, he revealed that while his decision to leave the Church of England had been coming for some time, conversations he'd had with a former bishop he served under accelerated the process.

More here-

Becca Stevens: Love heals

From Alabama-

Have you ever encountered someone who immediately sold you on their message without even trying? That’s Becca Stevens in a nutshell.

Stevens, an Episcopal priest for 25 years, speaks and acts from her heart. Her honesty, sincerity and passion are contagious. Her message, “love heals,” is simple but powerful.

Not only is Stevens a priest, she’s an author, public speaker and social entrepreneur. She is also the founder and president of Thistle Farms, the largest social enterprise in the United States ran by survivors.

Thistle Farms is a sanctuary for healing started as an outgrowth of Stevens’ ministry, the Magdalene project. Thistle Farms’ residential program provides housing for 32 women survivors of abuse, addiction, trafficking and prostitution. The farm provides housing, medical care, therapy, education and job training for two years free of charge.

More here-

Saints, American Christianity face off in religious March Madness alternatives

From Utah-

Many approach filling out March Madness brackets with something like religious fervor.

But two sports fans have taken things a step further with long-running online competitions that put religion instead of hoops in the bracket.

Both Lent Madness, a matchup of saints, and American Jesus Madness, a matchup of people and issues lifted from headlines and Christian culture, make sure the faithful don’t end up sitting on the sidelines during the monthlong NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

Lent Madness

Lent Madness got its start in 2010 on the blog of the Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Mass.

“I’m a big sports fan and obviously a big saint fan, and I thought, ‘OK, here we are during the season of Lent, and basketball fans are having all the fun. We Christians who are participating in the season of Lent are kind of doomed to give stuff up and rub dirt in our faces and do acts of penitence,'” Schenck said.

More here-

Sanctuary in the age of Trump? It's tricky and risky

From Los Angeles-

Rev. Francisco Garcia, Jr. knows how difficult it can be for an immigrant to endure church-offered sanctuary.

A decade ago, as a lay person, Garcia supported an undocumented man living in sanctuary at a Lutheran church in North Hollywood. The Guatemalan gardener, who was subject to a deportation order, spent a year confined inside the church, mostly isolated from his family. Eventually, he couldn’t live that way and returned to his life in the outside world.

"That was incredibly hard... for everybody,” said Garcia, who today leads the Holy Faith Episcopal Church in Inglewood and is co-chair of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles’ Sanctuary Task Force.

Sanctuary, Garcia added, needs to be “a temporary” thing. “If it's not a (deportation) case that's likely to get overturned, (offering sanctuary) doesn't make sense...for the family and for the movement."

Still, with the recent resurgence of the Sanctuary Movement, such living arrangements soon might be more common.

More here-

They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Drinks

From Christianity Today-

The deadliest incident faced by the persecuted church last Christmas wasn’t radical Islamists. It was alcohol.

Liquor mixed with aftershave killed about 50 people at Christmas parties in a Pakistani village, and sickened about 100 more.

In Pakistan, as in many Muslim-majority nations where Shari‘ah law forbids drinking, alcohol is closely identified with Christianity. The nation’s primary alcohol producer, for example, riffs on the Bible in advertisements. Founded in 1860 by the British, Murree Brewery’s slogan, “Eat, drink, and be Murree,” echoes the repeated biblical idiom for short-term pleasures.

Perhaps as surprising as the existence of a Pakistani brewery is the fact that 12 Muslims were among the victims of the fatal Christmas parties. But in 2007, then–Murree CEO Minnoo Bhandara told The Telegraph that 99 percent of his customers are Muslims. And in the Middle East, alcohol sales increased 72 percent from 2001 to 2011, according to market research.

More here-

How a Christian movement is growing rapidly in the midst of religious decline

From RNS-

INC Christianity is led by a network of popular independent religious entrepreneurs, often referred to as “apostles.” They have close ties, we found, to conservative U.S. politicians, including Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and, more recently, President Donald Trump.

Charismatic Christians emphasize supernatural miracles and divine interventions, but INC Christianity is different from other charismatics – and other Christian denominations in general – in the following ways:

It is not focused primarily on building congregations but rather on spreading beliefs and practices through media, conferences and ministry schools.

It is not so much about proselytizing to unbelievers as it is about transforming society through placing Christian believers in powerful positions in all sectors of society.

More here-

Friday, March 17, 2017

Australia's Anglican church gets 1,115 child abuse complaints

From The BBC-

More than 1,100 complaints of child sexual abuse have been made against the Anglican Church of Australia, a royal commission inquiry has heard.

The allegations, dating from 1980 to 2015, have been made against 569 church figures, including 247 ordained clergy.

The Anglican Church has admitted trying to keep victims quiet to protect its reputation.

Archbishop of Melbourne Philip Freier said he was "deeply ashamed" of the church's response.
"I wish to express my personal sense of shame and sorrow at the way survivors' voices were often silenced and the apparent interests of the church put first," he said.

More here-

And here -

and here-

and here-

The Great St. Patrick Was Once an Atheist

From The National Catholic Register-

I can hear the howls of outrage. But before you grab torches and pitchforks and head over to my house, give me a moment. Obviously, Patrick was not an atheist when he began his world-changing missionary work. Yet by his own admission, there was a time in his life when his likelihood of ever being venerated as a saint was nil.

In 401, the great St. Augustine of Hippo wrote the Western world’s first autobiography, his Confessions. A few decades later St. Patrick followed suit, although, sadly, Patrick’s Confession is not nearly as detailed as Augustine’s. Nonetheless, it is full of interesting information about Patrick’s family, his youth, and a near-apostolate-destroying scandal that turned his fellow bishops against him.

Patrick tells us he was born in a Roman settlement called Bannavern Taburniae on the British side of the Irish Sea. More than that we do not know—archaeologists have never found the site. Patrick’s mother, Concessa, and his father, Calpornius, were devout Christians who brought their son up in the faith and taught him the Scriptures. Calpornius was a deacon; his father, Potitus, had been a priest. In spite of his parents’ best efforts, Christianity made no discernible impact on Patrick. Late in life when he wrote his Confession he recalled his youth and admitted candidly, “I did not believe in the living God.”

More here-

Pre-approved Bishops: A Nursery for Ambition

From Patheos-

In a report from the meeting at the House of Bishops for The Episcopal Church, Bishop Daniel Martins notes that the bishops are considering creating a pool of prospective candidates for the episcopacy.

As Martins describes it, this pool of would-be bishops would be a list of prospects who are vetted ahead of time, and dioceses electing a new bishop would be encouraged to use that list. Martins also infers that dioceses choosing to look beyond the list provided them would run the risk of failing to receive approval for their bishop-elect.

As a priest and a theologian, I view this development with a considerable amount of dismay and I

hope that – after further reflection – the House will abandon their plans to create a pool of candidates in this fashion.

More here-

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Anglican church weddings reach record low

From Premier-

The number of couples choosing to get married in an Anglican church in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest level ever.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics show they hosted 49,717 ceremonies in 2014, a reduction compared to 50,226 in 2013.

Venerable John Barton, who worked on producing a series of wedding guidelines at the Church of England, told Premier he was disappointed by the figures.

He said: "I'm disappointed for the couples because I think they don't know what they're missing.

"You're in a house of God and you're asking God's blessing on what you're doing. That is prohibited if a civil registrar conducts a wedding."

More here-

Newcastle Anglican bishop Greg Thompson quits after working hard to deal with abuse issues

From Australia-

Anglican Bishop of Newcastle Greg Thompson has resigned after three years of dealing with issues related to clerical abuse and cover ups.

An emotional Bishop Thompson last year told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse his efforts to expose a decades-old culture of abuse and cover-ups had led to a concerted push to get rid of him.

The bishop is himself an abuse survivor and said he was resigning to put his health and family first.

"The impact of leading the diocese at various levels and addressing that culture has had a personal impact on my health, and I think has been something that got me thinking about how long I could have done it for," Bishop Thompson said.

More here-

also here-

and here-

Highway near pipeline remains closed; judge denies emergency injunction

From North Dakota-

Local community leaders have been pushing for the highway to reopen, citing the closure’s impact to the economy and access to medical services.

In a letter to Gov. Doug Burgum, the Rev. John Floberg of St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball wrote that the closure is harming Prairie Knights Casino, an “economic engine” for the reservation that funds programs for children.

“This is economic retaliation against some of the state’s poorest residents,” Floberg wrote to Burgum, calling on him to open the highway immediately.

A contractor has completed cleaning the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camps on land managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Morton County spokeswoman Maxine Herr said crews were continuing Tuesday to scrape snow and mud off Highway 1806 and collecting debris from ditches, with most of the work occurring south of the bridge near the former protest camps.

More here-

Why so many conservative Christians feel like a persecuted minority

From The Week-

Is America a post-Christian nation? For many true believers, it certainly feels that way.

This is largely the topic of Rod Dreher's The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, which may be the most important statement of its kind since Richard John Neuhaus' The Naked Public Square, the 1984 book that Dreher's implicitly seeks to supplant. Like Neuhaus, Dreher provides devout Christians with a gripping metaphor that both describes the present moment and sets out a course of action in response to it.

Written in the wake of Ronald Reagan's first successful presidential campaign, in which evangelical Protestants played a decisive role for the first time, The Naked Public Square aimed to lend theological heft to an ascendant religious right. Jerry Falwell was correct: Devout Christians did constitute a "moral majority." But if they hoped to truly gain, hold, and wield political power, they needed to make their case in more sophisticated and civically appealing terms.

More here-

Christians in the Hands of Donald Trump

From The New York Times-

On Monday morning of this week a rumor rippled through the world of religious conservatism: It was said that Russell Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm, might be about to lose his job.

For several years now, Moore has been the energetic and winsome spokesman for a next-generation religious right — one that no longer regards itself as a moral majority, that recognizes that traditional religion in all its forms has become a counterculture in the West and that urges believers to essentially lean into this new dispensation, embracing what Moore has called the “freakishness” of biblical faith in an increasingly post-Christian United States.

In certain ways the progress of Donald Trump, sybarite and heathen, to the Republican nomination seemed to throw Moore’s diagnosis into sharp relief. But it threw the divisions among religious conservatives into relief as well. Moore (and many others) spent the campaign warning that a countercultural Christianity would risk its credibility by supporting a figure like Trump for the presidency. But other leaders, mostly in the movement’s older guard, found ways to cast Trump as a heaven-sent figure, whose flaws and failings were no worse than those of a King David or a Constantine. And when Trump won, shockingly — with strong support from conservative churchgoers, however conflicted they might have been — the Trumpist faction claimed vindication, and among some Baptist pastors the knives came out for Moore.

More here-

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Executive Council awards grants to fund the start of 20 new ministries

From The Epsicopal Church-

At its February meeting, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church awarded $821,000 in grants for church planting and Mission Enterprise Zones, to fund the start of 20 new ministries throughout the Church.

The grants for church planting and Mission Enterprise Zones, which are evangelistic ministries with populations that are under-represented in the church, are funded through General Convention 2015 Resolution D005, approved as part of the Jesus Movement priority to build a capacity for church planting in the Episcopal Church.

The Genesis Group - the Advisory Group of Executive Council’s Joint Standing Committee on Local Ministry and Mission - received and reviewed 35 grant requests. Executive Council approved $821,000 in matching grants to the following ministry applications.

• $510,000: six new church starts    
• $85,000: one renewing ministry (started in the last triennium)
• $100,000: two Hybrid/Mission Enterprise Zone grants
• $100,000: five new Mission Enterprise Zones
• $26,000: six discernment grants

More here-

2017 Spring House of Bishops, Day 5

From Bishop Martins (pretty interesting report)-

We began with another table discussion of generous length (about 30 minutes, as I recall). Each table was given a sheet amalgamating all the feedback that had been turned in on sticky notes yesterday concerning how we think we're meeting the personal and institutional challenges of dealing with the way we tend to systematically marginalize individuals and groups based on criteria over which they have no control ("Who I am" rather than "What I do").

This went well enough, and then the plenary floor was open to sharing from the table discussions. All was going according to plan. Then one bishop (whom I will not name, though he probably wouldn't mind) got up and said, in effect, "There's an elephant in the room, and we're ignoring it in favor of a bunch of navel gazing." That's when everything went off the rails. A handful of others got up and said, "Yeah. There's an elephant in the room, and we need to talk about it!" Except ... nobody actually named the elephant. And I was getting the feeling that those who were giving their Amens to the original comment were all talking about different elephants, but I didn't know for sure. Was I the only one who was clueless? So I went to the microphone myself and said, "We have a set of Core Values in this House, one of which is to speak directly. But here I am listening to a bunch of us saying that there's something we desperately need to talk about, and I have no idea what it is."

More here-


From The Living Church- (The writer identifies himself as African American late in the article)

At the heart of this command is memory. Israel is called not to forget its years of oppression in Egypt, but to remember it. By remembering their oppression, Israelites are being called to live lives that honor and respect the dignity of others, refusing to perpetuate the evils of oppression that were done against themselves. If you do not know where you have been, how do you know where you are going? The direction to which Israel is to go, God makes very clear. “He has told you, O man, what is good … to do justice … love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8).

Since the killing of nine innocent people by an avowed racist inside Charleston’s historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, 2015, there has been a movement in many Christian churches and institutions in the American South to erase any and all remaining vestiges within them associated with the former Confederacy. The reason for wanting to do so is quite understandable: the shooter looked to such images as encouragement for his motives; so churches and institutions with Confederate memorials and images wish to remove them in order to signify that they have come to a different, more positive place regarding race; they do not want to be identified with any form of hatred and bigotry.

More here-


From The Tablet-

Earlier in the day there had been a cool breeze, but by mid-afternoon Rome was basking in spring sunshine allowing a brilliant white light to stream through Bernini’s window of the Holy Spirit in St Peter’s Basilica.

As the spirit-dappled rays shone down, the choir of Merton College, Oxford began singing the introit to evensong. Soon after, Catholic and Church of England clergy processed in together to the hymn “O Praise ye the Lord” before taking their seats on the altar beneath the chair of St Peter, the throne used by the first Bishop of Rome.

This was history in the making. For the first time, an Anglican liturgy was being celebrated at the heart of the Catholic Church, a symbolic moment showing that Christians really do have more that unites them than that which divides.

In his sermon Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Vatican’s liturgy department, said the outpouring of the holy spirit symbolised in the window above breaks down barriers so that “the unthinkable can be made possible.”

A few years ago it would have been unthinkable to celebrate a liturgy written by the English reformation’s hero Thomas Cranmer in the bosom of the Roman Church. Yet on Monday a 300-strong congregation made up of Anglican ex-pats, Catholic seminarians and diplomats stood next the tombs of Popes singing “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” and reciting prayers from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer asking God to “create and make in us new and contrite hearts.” 

More here-

Judge denies emergency injunction before oil is expected to flow through Dakota Access Pipeline next week

From North Dakota-

In a letter to Gov. Doug Burgum, the Rev. John Floberg of St. James Episcopal Church in Cannon Ball wrote that the closure is harming Prairie Knights Casino, an “economic engine” for the reservation that funds programs for children.

“This is economic retaliation against some of the state’s poorest residents,” Floberg wrote to Burgum, calling on him to open the highway immediately.

A contractor has completed cleaning the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camps on land managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Morton County spokeswoman Maxine Herr said crews were continuing Tuesday to scrape snow and mud off Highway 1806 and collecting debris from ditches, with most of the work occurring south of the bridge near the former protest camps.

More here-

Anglicans' hopes high as UN conference on economic empowerment of women opens

From ACNS-

Optimism, enthusiasm and expectation filled the air as Anglican, Episcopal and Mothers' Union delegates from more than 20 countries around the world gathered for the opening day of the 61st session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in New York on Monday.

This year’s theme, “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work”, will look at issues such as how to promote equality and how to give women better access to education. Thousands of people are attending the two-week event – many representing faith groups, NGOs and various UN groups. Hundreds of other events will be taking place in parallel.

The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, told the opening plenary that campaigners were an inspiration as they championed equality. Empowerment for women had to be a key priority - and he promised that he and the UN would support them every step of the way.

More here-

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Episcopal Migration Ministries launches fundraising campaign

From ENS-

 Episcopal Migration Ministries, the refugee resettlement agency of the Episcopal Church, invites participation in supporting its life-saving work through Stand To Support Refugees, a fundraising campaign to maintain a strong, viable ministry network to welcome those fleeing war, violence and persecution. Donations to Stand To Support Refugees will help strengthen important ministry to some of the most vulnerable throughout the world.

On March 6, President Donald Trump signed a revised executive order with elements that include: suspending refugee resettlement for 120 days; cutting the previously determined number of refugees to be resettled in the United States for the current year from 110,000 to 50,000; and prohibiting entry for most nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for at least 90 days.

More here-

A New Kind of Christian Politics

From The National Review-

Like the people of other Western democracies, Americans are living through a political earthquake shaking the foundations of the postwar order. The old, familiar categories that framed political thought and discourse are dead or dying. Where do orthodox Christians fit into this emerging reality? Which side should we be on? Or do we have a side at all? The answer will not satisfy conservative Christians who understand the church as the Republican party at prayer, or who go into the voting booth with more conviction than they show at Sunday worship. Though there remain a few possibilities for progress in traditional politics, growing hostility toward Christians, as well as the corruption of values voters, should inspire us to imagine a better way forward. The Benedict Option calls for a radical new way of doing politics, a hands-on localism based on pioneering work by Eastern-bloc dissidents who defied Communism during the Cold War. A Westernized form of “antipolitical politics,” to use the term coined by Czech political prisoner Václav Havel, is the best way forward for orthodox Christians seeking practical and effective engagement in public life without losing our integrity, and indeed our humanity.
Read more at:

Pope Francis: is he a saint or a sinner?

From Christian Today-

Pope Francis was elected as the successor to Pope Benedict XVI on March 13, 2013. Some might see the date as auspicious. Christians should resist superstitious tendencies to fear otherwise, although subsequent events have shown he certainly has his opponents. So is Pope Francis a Saint or a Sinner? We list 20 things he has done – and things he has left undone that he ought to have done – on both sides of the argument. 

Pope Francis – Saint

1. He has put a modern face to the papacy and tried to move it on from obsessions with contraception, abortion and gay marriage.

2. He has stood up for the family under pressure in modern life, controversially indicating in his document Amoris Laetitia that a more mercifull approach to divorced and remarried Catholics was needed when it came to admission to Holy Communion.

3. He has often spoken out for financial probity both inside and outside the Church, instituting a series of reforms in the Vatican organisation itself in an attempt to bring everything into line. 

More here-


From The Living Church-

In the halls of Wycliffe College, professors have often been heard exclaiming their bewilderment at the fact that, despite all the turmoil and treachery that has beset North American Anglicanism, young students from all sorts of Christian denominations continue to make their way to the college as pilgrims on the Canterbury Trail. Despite their enthusiasm for Anglicanism, these young Canterbury Trail Anglicans tend to share the conviction that things must be done differently. They repudiate the apostasies, hostilities, and lawsuits of previous generations. Yet there is this basic question: Upon what foundation will we build the new edifice? The most convenient solution would seem to involve embracing a preferred local expression of Anglicanism as the ideal that will restore proper order and worship. This approach, however, sets the stage for history to repeat itself. Those that confront the diversity of Anglicanism through the lens of a favored ideal come to the table as ideologues and enthusiasts. When push comes to shove — when occasion permits — young Anglicans are enfolded into the larger ecclesial culture and find themselves using the words of their predecessors: “My ideal of Anglicanism is authentic Anglicanism, and you will, whether you like it or not, fall in line.”

More here-

Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 Spring House of Bishops, Day 3

From Bishop Martins-

We woke up this morning to about three inches of fresh snow. Here's the view from my room. It was lovely, not only for the way it looked, but because all but a trace in isolated shady patches was gone by midday. That's the best kind of snow, in my opinion.

The day's schedule was ... more of the same. More than a handful of bishops were considering stabbing themselves in the eye with a pencil, including YFNB, but we all resisted the temptation, I'm relieved to report. Yet, even in the midst of that procedural drudgery, there were some treasures to be mined. To be reminded of the distinction between feedback that is conditional, related to behavior, and feedback that is unconditional, related to a person's being, I found helpful. Both kinds can be either positive or negative. The goal, of course, is to avoid giving feedback that is both negative and unconditional.

More here-

South Sudan: the role of the Church and its Action Plan for Peace

From Vatican Radio-

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir called for a National Day of Prayer for peace and forgiveness on 10 March and urged citizens to turn out in high numbers.

Renewed political tensions and violent clashes between government forces and the opposition have resulted in tens of thousands of vulnerable people fleeing their homes and their lands. A famine was recently declared in some states, and an estimated 7.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. 

Meanwhile Pope Francis has said he is studying the possibility of an ecumenical visit to war-torn South Sudan together with the leader of the Anglican Church, Archbishop Justin Welby.

More here-

Disney film prompts advisory from Anglican bishop

From Singapore-

In the live-action remake of Disney's classic Beauty And The Beast, LeFou shows more than just friendly feelings for the handsome antagonist Gaston.

This prompted Anglican Bishop Rennis Ponniah to issue an advisory before the film premieres here on Thursday.

In a statement released on the St Andrew's Cathedral website, Bishop Rennis Ponniah urged the clergy and deaconesses to alert their congregation about the homosexual content in the film.

He wrote: "Disney films for children's entertainment are usually associated with wholesome and mainstream values. But times are changing at a foundational level... LeFou is portrayed as gay and a 'gay moment' is included in the movie by way of a subplot.

"Parents are advised to provide guidance to their children about (the film), and indeed to their children's entertainment choices in a rapidly changing age."

More here-

Preaching and discipleship

From Seven Whole Days-

Last week, I was honored to serve as moderator for an Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) webinar on preaching and leadership. Basically, I hosted a conversation among three preachers and fed them some questions of my devising and some from our audience. The panelists were the Rev. Ronald Byrd, rector of St. Katherine’s in Williamston, MI; the Rev. Brenda Husson, rector of St. James, Madison Avenue in NYC; and Mr. Brendan O’Sullivan-Hale, layperson from All Saints’, Indianapolis, IN.

I’d encourage you to watch the webinar, which will be an hour well spent if you’re at all interested in preaching. Much of the focus is on sermon preparation and delivery, but there is also some valuable advice for those who listen to sermons. I know I’ll listen to preachers differently because of this conversation.

My hope is that you’ll find Ron, Brenda, and Brendan as helpful as I did. Because I was moderating, I didn’t say much in the conversation on preaching, so I wanted to share a few thoughts of my own for preachers. I say this not imagining that I’m a great preacher, but hoping I can at least claim to be competent on a good day. Your homiletical mileage may vary.

This isn’t exhaustive, by any means. These are thoughts I’m having on a Saturday night when I don’t have to get up the next morning and preach. I wanted to post this tonight, so it doesn’t seem like a rant based on the sermon I’ll hear tomorrow!

More here-

A Pastoral Letter from the Bishop

From Western North Carolina-

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, 

In the past five months as your bishop, I have traveled extensively throughout Western North Carolina, visiting parishes and exploring the various communities that encompass our diocese. I am continually blessed by the opportunity to learn and know your congregation's story as well as the unique, personal narratives from many of our lay leaders. These stories have deepened my appreciation for the grace that flows through this wonderful diocese.

I also hope that through our conversations and prayers, you have heard my story and witnessed the grace of God that flows through my life. I hope you have come to know that it is not my custom to officially address every issue discussed in the public square. As your bishop, I value "the middle way," recognizing that our church is a community that welcomes all people, in the diversity of their convictions, to join together at the Lord's Table and share in the one bread and the one cup.

Nevertheless, I must speak out and stand firm in solidarity with the immigrants among us and the refugees seeking a safe harbor for their families.

More here-

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Diocese of South Carolina joins ACNA

From South Carolina-

Delegates for The Diocese of South Carolina, a conservative Anglican group that separated from The Episcopal Church in 2012, chose on Saturday to join the Anglican Church in North America. The unanimous vote was cast at the Diocese's convention held at St. Paul’s Church in Summerville.

Led by Bishop Mark Lawrence, the Diocese has 22,000 members from 52 congregations across the eastern part of the state. It will remain its own entity, adding to ACNA's current constituency of 112,000 members from 966 churches.

"I believe God has called us to this and I believe we will find a deeper richness in our vocation; fuller fellowship in the Spirit; a more zealous thrust in mission," said Lawrence in a statement. "But most of all, I believe a door will be opened, the fresh winds of the Spirit will blow, and a caged eagle will soar."

More here-

2017 Spring House of Bishops, Day 2

From Bishop Martins-

Our diversity/anti-racism training regimen continued today. After breakfast, we began at our tables with the usual brief announcements from the appointed "MC" for the day, followed by Morning Prayer led by our chaplains. Then it was back to the team from Visions, Inc. for more of what we began yesterday.

To their credit, the team realizes that, regardless of the quality of the material they present, the real work gets done as it is processed by those who are on the receiving end. So they are giving us lots of time for table discussion--more, in fact, than has ever been my experience at a meeting of the House, whatever the topic. This allows for trust to gradually develop between the bishops at a particular table, which facilitates greater candor and self-disclosure. I have been frustrated over the years at how sensitive and important subjects get very superficial treatment on these occasions. So, while I find some of the material we are being asked to engage questionable on multiple levels, and might even question whether the topic itself is the highest and best use of our time together, I am grateful that we are being given the opportunity to "go deep" with it.

More here-

Mourning our infidelity

From Fulcrum-

The passing of the measure to enable women to become bishops in the Church of England was not a victory for liberal revisionists in the church. It was the overwhelming sense amongst evangelicals, Catholics, charismatics and liberals that this was now where God was leading our church. The Women Bishops measure would not have gone through the General Synod without the co-operation of many traditionalists. I say co-operation, rather than agreement, because that is what it was.  Opposition remained. For conservative evangelicals it was on biblical and ethical grounds – they felt that scriptural exegesis meant women should not become bishops. For Anglo-Catholics it was on identity and sacramental grounds – they felt that women could not become bishops. But as we went into Synod for the final debate, several Anglo-Catholic friends came to me, separately, to extend a hand of friendship across our theological divide and tell me they were now going to abstain.  I found this gesture of respect and reconciliation very moving. Amongst many key speeches, Adrian Vincent, a member of the Catholic party, shared his struggle with conscience and scripture, as he made the difficult decision neither to vote against, nor abstain, but to vote the measure through in faithfulness to those who elected him. His one caveat was that there should be ‘enough provision for traditionalists to enable them to remain in the Church of England with theological integrity.’

More here-