Saturday, March 25, 2017

Anglican leader who defrocked, reconciled with gay priest dies

From Toronto-

Rev. Terence Edward Finlay was a long-serving Toronto Anglican Church leader who championed reconciliation efforts with indigenous communities. He also made headlines for defrocking a gay priest in 1992 but later became an advocate for the LGBTQ community.

Finlay died Monday in Toronto. He was 79.

“One of the things I remember most about him was his smile and laughter,” said current Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson in a statement posted to the diocese of Toronto’s website.

“Essentially, right at the heart of things, he was a joyful, hopeful, happy person, and deeply faithful . . . He loved people and met them from all walks of life.”

Born in London, Ont., on May 19, 1937, Finlay was ordained a deacon in 1961 and then a priest a year later. He served at the diocese of Huron before leaving for the diocese of Toronto in 1982, where he was elected a suffragan bishop in 1986, coadjutor bishop in 1987 and installed as the 10th Bishop of Toronto in 1989.

More here-

Episcopal Church leader hosting First Baptist Church sermon

From Williamsburg-

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, will lead a sermon at Williamsburg's First Baptist Church Sunday morning.

"It's very, very rare for an Episcopal bishop to come to a Baptist church." First Baptist Pastor Reginald Davis said.

Bishop Curry was scheduled to ring the church's Freedom Bell during Black History Month last year, but an unexpected illness prevented his appearance.

Davis visited the bishop while in the emergency room, and his prayers and concern convinced the bishop to make a return trip.

Davis said he thought it would be wonderful to host the first African-American leader of the Episcopal Church to speak before his parish. He anticipated a message of inclusiveness that reaches across denominations.

Archbishop of Canterbury: 'Christ's love and self-sacrifice will triumph over evil and despair'

From Christian Today-

The Archbishop of Canterbury spoke powerfully today of how Christ's victory on the Cross overcame evil.

He called for a memorial for those killed in the London terror attack, in particular to PC Keith Palmer.

Archbishop Justin Welby said the best memorial would be a country that could live together in peace and harmony.

But there also needed to be a physical memorial to those murdered.

'There needs to be a memorial because remembering helps us not repeat. But the best memorial we can build is a country at peace with each other and at peace with itself,' he said at a prayer vigil at Westminster Abbey with leaders representing Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

The continuing journalism saga of, 'Will someone please explain Christianity to ...'

From Get Religion-

Welcome of episode three (yes, the podcast) of the ongoing saga of mainstream journalists wrestling with the picky details of Christian tradition and doctrine (that whole Bible thing, you know) about the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

To catch up on this drama, you may want to glace at "Here we go again: Will someone please explain Christianity to the Associated Press?" and then "Seeking correction No. 2: Will some please explain Christianity to the AP photo desk?"

Concerning that second item, I must report – sadly – that, as of this morning -- the Associated Press website still contains the inaccurate photo tag line that reads:

The renovated Edicule is seen in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, traditionally believed to be the site of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, in Jerusalem's old city Monday, Mar. 20, 2017. A Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was buried and rose to heaven.

More here-

Friday, March 24, 2017

MPs join row over Llandaff election

From The Church Times-

WELSH MPs have joined a growing campaign to challenge the method of appointing the next Bishop of Llandaff, in the wake of the rejection of the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, despite unanimous support from Llandaff representatives in the electoral college.

An open letter from the MPs to the Church in Wales College of Bishops was co-ordinated by Madeleine Moon, MP for Bridgend. The letter, signed by nine MPs, suggests that the process has been “flawed” and has produced “con­­siderable disharmony, anger, and confusion”. It refers to allegations of homophobic com­ments made at the electoral college, and recom­mends a pause in the process and a new elec­tion, “open to past and new can­­didates”, to produce an “open and transparent decision”.

The Bishops produced a shortlist of candidates at a meeting last week, which does not include any of those discussed by the electoral college in February, thus excluding Dr John, who received the unanimous support of the 12 Llandaff representatives. At the weekend, Dr John accused the Bishops of “anti-gay discrimination”.

More here-

Former Liverpool vicar given suspended jail term over £100,000 diocese thefts

From Liverpool (BBC)-

A former Anglican vicar who stole more than £100,000 from his diocese has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Michael John Fry, 57, of Aigburth Vale, Liverpool pleaded guilty to committing eight offences over an eight-year period ending 1 January 2014.

What began as an administrative failing became "dishonesty" and "an enormous breach of trust", Judge Elizabeth Nicholls told Liverpool Crown Court.

Fry was sentenced to 20 months in jail, suspended for two years.

Fry misled Liverpool diocese about the number of funerals which he had conducted and illegally kept fees from 1,250 parochial funerals.

He spent the money on alcohol, books, and travel, the court heard.

Passing sentence, the judge said "the good you have done in the community outweighs the harm".

More here-

Texas Anglican-use parish adopted into Anglican ordinariate

From Texas-

A vigorous Catholic parish in Texas, led by a former Anglican priest, has been incorporated into the Anglican Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, ending a battle for control.

The Anglican ordinariate—which is responsible for the Anglican communities in America coming into the Catholic Church under the provisions of 2009 papal document Anglicanorum Coetibus—announced that the parish of Our Lady of Atonement had been transferred to the jurisdiction of the ordinariate. The parish, along with its school, had previously been a part of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Father Christopher Phillips, a married Anglican priest, had originally entered the Catholic Church and been ordained to the Catholic priesthood under the “pastoral provision” for Anglicans set up by Pope John Paul II. He brought many Anglican lay people with him, and attracted others to the community, making Our Lady of Atonement a flourishing parish community.

More here-

Spokane's New Episcopal Bishop Talks with Inland Journal

From Spokane-

Last Saturday, Spokane’s Episcopal Diocese installed its first female bishop. Gretchen Rehberg is a Pullman native who went back east to go to college. She earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and taught at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania.

Eventually the call to a religious vocation took her away from academia. She went to New York City and studied to be a priest. She was ordained and served her first parish in York, Pennsylvania.

In 2005, she heeded another call, this time to come back to the Northwest, closer to family. She went to work at the Episcopal church in Lewiston, Idaho. Last fall, she heard that Spokane’s Episcopal bishop, James Waggoner, was going to retire, and so she applied.

Doug Nadvornick with Gretchen Rehberg    5:22    “So what’s the process…we just stay in debate.”

Gretchen Rehberg is the new bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane. She is the spiritual leader for 36 churches in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. You can hear Doug's story from her ordination ceremony at the SPR website. Click on the regional news tab.

More here-

Episcopal church presiding bishop to visit Springfield

From Western Massachusetts

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, who is the first African American Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, will celebrate morning liturgy and evensong Oct. 15 at Christ Church Cathedral as part of the church's 200th anniversary.

He will also attend a luncheon reception following the liturgy at what is the cathedral seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts at 35 Chestnut St. 

Curry was installed during services Nov. 1, 2015 at Washington (D.C.) National Cathedral, succeeding Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman leader of the church.

A graduate of Yale Divinity School and formerly bishop of North Carolina, he was elected presiding bishop by a landslide vote at the denomination's national assembly in June 2105 in Salt Lake City, Utah, that was attended by the Right Rev. Douglas Fisher, ninth diocesan bishop here.

More here-


From First Things-

The Anglican pastor and poet George Herbert died of tuberculosis on March 1, 1633, just one month shy of his fortieth birthday. Like his famous contemporary and friend John Donne and his nineteenth-century American echo Emily Dickinson, Herbert did not publish his poems during his lifetime. From his deathbed he entrusted them to his friend Nicholas Ferrar, granting him permission to either destroy or preserve them. The poems, he said, contained “a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul.” Later that year they were published in Cambridge as The Temple, and they have never been out of print since then.

Izaak Walton’s hagiographical account of Herbert’s life, published in 1670, helped to shape the iconic image of him as “the poet of a placid and comfortable easy piety” (T. S. Eliot)—not to say the quintessential Anglican perched midway between the rigors of Geneva and the extravagance of Rome. This image of Herbert and his place in the history of English spirituality prevailed in a 1907 collection of his poems which the editor introduced in this way:

More here-

Prayer is not wishful nonsense. It helps us to shut up and think

From The Guardian-

Yesterday, a minute or so before 3pm, with a policeman struggling for his life outside, and with details of what had gone on still sketchy and confused, the work of parliament was suspended. David Lidington, leader of the House of Commons, rose to explain why the lockdown was necessary. And his Labour opposite number, Valerie Vaz, replied that “Our thoughts and prayers are with the police officer”, a sentiment with which Lidington concurred and with which the house murmured its agreement.

I wandered over and unlocked the church, putting up a board to invite passersby to come in and light a candle or say a prayer. You can see Big Ben from some parts of my parish and the church was filled with the sound of helicopters overhead and police sirens whizzing past. A handful of people dropped by over the couple of hours I sat there. Not many, I know, but it was still worth opening up. It was my way of showing respect. Of expressing solidarity. Of managing my own anxiety. This church was bombed by the Nazis on the first day of the blitz. It has seen great violence. And it has been calmly rebuilt. It symbolises the defiance of Londoners in the face of terror. This felt the right place to be. And as I sat quietly, I kept up with unfolding events via Twitter. And that was my mistake.

More here-

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Archbishop of Canterbury to make 12-day visit to Holy Land

From The Guardian-

The archbishop of Canterbury is to make a high-level 12-day visit to the Holy Land in May, focusing on religious freedom and the challenges facing Christians in the Middle East.

It will be Justin Welby’s first official visit to the Holy Land since becoming archbishop four years ago, although he made a private visit in 2013 during which he was criticised for not visiting Bethlehem.

In May, he will cross the imposing separation barrier that Israel has erected to visit the birthplace of Jesus. He plans to meet the Christian mayor of Bethlehem, Vera Baboun, and Palestinian Christians whose homes, land and livelihoods have been affected by the wall that almost encircles Bethlehem and adjacent villages.

Lambeth Palace said Welby’s central priority on the trip was to affirm the Christian community in the Holy Land, to support and encourage the work of the Anglican St George’s Cathedral in East Jerusalem and to identify challenges regarding religious freedom in the region.

More here-

Beyond spring cleaning: New York cathedral’s tapestries get 16 years of grooming

From The AP-

Think your home furnishings are a dust magnet? New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine just spent 16 years cleaning and conserving its rare, supersize wall hangings.

Now the historic house of worship is inviting the public to enjoy the fruits of its labor — “The Barberini Tapestries, Scenes from the Life of Christ,” which once graced the Vatican and European palaces. They were designed by baroque master Giovanni Francesco Romanelli; created by weavers for Francesco Barberini, the nephew of Pope Urban VIII, from 1644 to 1656; and donated to the cathedral in 1891, a year before its cornerstone was laid.

Centuries ago, tapestries were appreciated not only for their beauty but also for being a warm buffer against chilly palace walls.

More here-

Morning Laugh

As Members Move Away, East Austin Churches Try To Hold Onto Their Roots

From Texas-

Another church a couple miles east has already moved.  St. James Episcopal Church left its old home on MLK a few years ago and moved to a spacious new facility on Webberville Road. Renette Bledsoe, senior warden at the church, says they deliberately stayed in East Austin.

“That’s just simply the historical foundation of this church, and sure, the church could have moved someplace else, but that is not what the people wanted,” she says.

Bledsoe says the church follows a philosophy of “radical hospitality,” making a point to include people of all ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations. St. James was originally founded in 1941 as a space for African-Americans who, at the time, weren’t welcome at Austin’s white Episcopal churches. Bledsoe said the church’s 16 original founders actively recruited a more diverse congregation.

“People made an effort to go out and invite others to come and to worship, people that may not have looked like them, to invite them to come in and to worship,” she says, “and then more people invited people to come in.”

More here-

Historic restoration of Jesus’ tomb completed

From Crux-

The tomb of Jesus has been resurrected to its former glory.

Just in time for Easter, a Greek restoration team has completed a historic renovation of the Edicule, the shrine that tradition says houses the cave where Jesus was entombed and resurrected.
Gone is the unsightly iron cage built around the shrine by British authorities in 1947 to shore up the walls. Gone is the black soot on the shrine’s stone fa├žade from decades of pilgrims lighting candles. And gone are fears about the stability of the old shrine, which hadn’t been restored in more than 200 years.

“If this intervention hadn’t happened now, there is a very great risk that there could have been a collapse,” Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund said Monday. “This is a complete transformation of the monument.”

More here-

Princeton Theological Seminary reverses decision to honor Redeemer’s Tim Keller

From RNS-

Faced with mounting criticism for its decision to give a major award to the Rev. Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and one of the country’s best-known conservative Christian thinkers, Princeton Theological Seminary has reversed course and said Keller will not receive the honor.

In an email to faculty and students on Wednesday morning (March 22), the president of the venerable mainline Protestant seminary, the Rev. Craig Barnes, said he remains committed to academic freedom and “the critical inquiry and theological diversity of our community.”

But he said that giving Keller the annual Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness – named after a famous Dutch neo-Calvinist theologian – might “imply an endorsement” of Keller’s views against the ordination of women and LGBTQ people.

More here-


From The Living Church-

I do not know why my cats seem attracted by prayer, but they are. Perhaps it’s because my lap will remain in a fixed position for 20 minutes. Maybe it’s because they like my fuzzy robe. Maybe there really is an air, an attitude, a spirit of peace and serenity that gathers around those who pray: that feeling you have when you step inside an ancient sanctuary and instantly recognize an odor of holiness, a space sanctified by decades of prayer, the hopes and dreams and anguished breaths clinging to its walls like lingering incense smoke.

I do not know.

But what I do know is that, settling onto the couch for Morning Prayer, coffee cup in one hand, tablet in the other, I inevitably find one or both fuzzy lumps snuggled next to me, purring in my ear from the couch’s back, or plopped in my lap.

As a layman in the Episcopal Church, this is my primary point of contact with the Book of Common Prayer and the spirituality that flows from it. Liturgical scholars, who are almost inevitably priests, focus on the sacraments, argue about Baptism and Eucharist, and mess with and shake up the words of Sunday services in the belief that tweaks here or there (or full-on overhauls) will save the church.

More here-

NEWS FLASH! BREAKING EXCLUSIVE! Blue Book details revealed!

From Seven Whole Days-

As long-time readers will know, this blog has been the source of exclusive breaking news about the Episcopal Church’s General Convention Blue Book for the last three General Conventions. What is the Blue Book, you ask? It is the collection official reports from various church bodies made available to bishops and deputies ahead of each triennial gathering. You can read them from past years in this wonderful gallery of church geekery.

If you looked at that gallery of geekery, you will immediately notice that the Blue Book was, in many years, actually a so-called Blue Book. Only in 2015 did our church return to the Godly custom of making sure the Blue Book is actually blue. This is good, because Jesus said, “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; any time blue is not blue, it comes from the evil one.” Or something like that.

More here-

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This ‘Church Hunters’ Reality Show Parody Is the Perfect Send-up of Church Shopping

And on the lighter side-

John Crist and Aaron Chewning, the duo behind comedy videos including “Millennial International” and this takedown of the Christian music industry, has released a new video that is both the perfect parody of the show House Hunters as well as church shopping.

Enjoy, Church Hunters, part 1.

Gay clergyman turned down as Welsh bishop 'blocked twice before'

From The Guardian-

A gay Anglican clergyman who has been rejected as the next bishop of Llandaff was allegedly blocked from appointment as a bishop in Wales twice before on the grounds of his civil partnership.

Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans Cathedral, told the Guardian his name was put forward for election as bishop of Bangor in 2008 and mooted as bishop of St Asaph the following year.

On both occasions, he said, the then archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, told electors that people in civil partnerships were not eligible to be consecrated. “This was untrue, since an official statement of the Church in Wales in December 2005 had made it clear that civil partnership was open to all clergy and lay people alike,” said John.

Morgan had “no legal or canonical basis [for his declaration] that anyone who was civilly partnered was ineligible,” he added.

More here-

Prophets of Doom Should 'Shut Up' - Anglican Bishop

From Ghana-

Most Rev Daniel Yinkah Sarfo, Archbishop Primate of the Anglican Church of the Province of West Africa, has asked all prophets of doom in Ghana to shut up because God has done a lot of good for the country for which he deserves commendation.

According to him, the peace Ghanaians have enjoyed over the years following successive changes in government alone should be reason for Ghanaians, including prophets, to be thankful to God instead of always prophesying doom for the country.

His comments come at a time Prophet Reindorf Oduro Gyebi, founder of God's Crown Chapel in Daaban, a suburb of Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, claimed that he prophesied about the Kintampo Waterfall accident that has killed 18 students a week ago.

Prophet Gyebi, in a follow-up interview with Chief Jerry Forson, host of Ghana Yensom, on Accra100.5FM on Monday 20 March, indicated that there was going to be more of such calamities in the country.

More here-


From Church Militant-

In a victory for a Texas parish, the Holy See has approved the admission of Our Lady of Atonement Catholic Church into the Anglican Ordinariate, effective March 21.

Our Lady of the Atonement was the nation's first pastoral provision parish, established in 1983, after Pope John Paul II made special provisions for former Anglicans to found Catholic parishes where traditional Anglican liturgy is offered. The Vatican established the North American Ordinariate in 2012, and ordained its first bishop, Steven Lopes, in 2016.

The Holy See is now directing that all pastoral provision parishes in the United States and Canada be integrated into the Personal Ordiariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Our Lady of the Atonement will join 40 other Ordinariate parishes in North America.

More here-

Religious views of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch raise questions

From Lancaster-

As the confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch unfold in Washington, D.C.,  this question arises: If confirmed, would he be the first Protestant Justice to join the U.S. Supreme Court since 1990 when David Souter was appointed, or would he be the sixth Catholic  Justice on the high court?

Ever since he was nominated by President Donald Trump, Gorsuch’s religion has been a source of interest.
Gorsuch was raised Catholic but now worships with his wife and two daughters at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado.

What makes that interesting is that St. John’s Episcopal is considered to be a “progressive” church. A number of news outlets have reported that the church condemns anti-Muslim speech and is an open and affirming congregation, meaning that it welcomes gays and lesbians. It is one of a number of churches in the state that Pride Guide Colorado lists as a welcoming congregation. The Rev. Susan Springer, the church’s rector,  said the church includes liberals, conservatives and people in between.

More here-

Former Episcopal Priest Eyed for Catholic Sainthood

From Newsmax-

An Episcopal priest who founded the Franciscan Society of the Atonement in upstate New York and later converted to Catholicism is being considered for sainthood.

Father Paul Wattson, who died in 1940 at the age of 77, "started a small week of prayer on the top of a mountain in Garrison, and now it's a worldwide movement," Father Brian Terry of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement told Catholic New York.

The order began as an Episcopal movement but changed to congregation in the Latin Rite branch of the Catholic Church when Father Wattson converted to Catholicism in 1909.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York spearheaded an 18-month investigation of the merits for Wattson's canonization. That probe ended earlier this month and the findings will now be reviewed by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican.

More here-

I'm a married Catholic priest who thinks priests shouldn't get married

From Dallas-

My wife and I, we have four children, all younger than 7. Ours is not a quiet house.

A house of screaming and a house of endless snot, it's also a house of love, grown and multiplied every few years. In a house of little sleep, my hobby these days is simply to sit down; fellow parents know what I mean. Just like that loud and beautiful Kelly family gone viral out of South Korea recently, ours is a perfectly normal family, "normal" understood, of course, in relative terms. It's both exhausting and energizing, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. It is the form and gift of my life, my family.

But here's what's strange about us: I'm a Catholic priest. And that is, as you probably know, mostly a celibate species.

Now the discipline of celibacy, as a Christian practice, is an ancient tradition. Its origins belong to the very mists of early Christianity: to the deserts of Egyptian monasticism, the wilds of ancient Christian Syria and to Luke's gospel. For priests, celibacy has been the universal legal norm in the Catholic West since the 12th century and the de facto norm long before that. Saint Ambrose in the fourth century, for example, wrote about married priests, saying they were to be found only in "backwoods" churches, certainly not in the churches of Rome or Milan.

More here-

Christianity in Iraq is finished, says Canon Andrew White, 'vicar of Baghdad'

From Fox-

He is one of the world’s most prominent priests, but Canon Andrew White – known as the “Vicar of Baghdad” – has reached a painstaking conclusion: Christianity is all but over in the land where it all began.

“The time has come where it is over, no Christians will be left. Some stay Christians should stay to maintain the historical presence, but it has become very difficult. The future for the community is very limited,” White told Fox News this week. “The Christians coming out of Iraq and ISIS areas in the Middle East all say the same thing, there is no way they are ever going back. They have had enough.”

Thirty years ago, there were approximately 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. The number dwindled to around 1 million after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, and a year ago it was estimated that there were less than 250,000 left. Numbers have continued to decline as families flee, and today even approximate figures are difficult to obtain.

More here-

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Church in Wales urged to rethink rejection of gay candidate for bishop

From The Guardian-

The Church in Wales has been urged to reconsider its decision to exclude a senior gay clergyman from its appointments process for the next bishop of Llandaff amid accusations of homophobia.

The chapter of St Albans Cathedral, where Jeffrey John is dean, said on Monday that “the fact that it appears Jeffrey’s sexuality and civil partnership have been used against him in the selection process is wholly wrong, and it is only right that the bishops in Wales review the process before making an appointment”.

It also said that John was “a highly respected and much loved leader of our flourishing and inclusive cathedral, the oldest site of Christian worship in Britain”. Its statement was issued without the dean’s involvement, said the chapter.

Has the Childhood Home of Jesus Been Found?

From Biblical Archeology-

The childhood home of Jesus may have been found underneath the Sisters of Nazareth Convent in Nazareth, Israel, according to archaeologist Ken Dark.

The excavation site located beneath the convent has been known since 1880, but it was never professionally excavated until the Nazareth Archaeological Project began its work in 2006. In “Has Jesus’ Nazareth House Been Found?” in the March/April 2015 issue of BAR, Ken Dark, the director of the Nazareth Archaeological Project, not only describes the remains of the home itself, but explores the evidence that suggests that this is the place where Jesus spent his formative years—or at least the place regarded in the Byzantine period as the childhood home of Jesus.

More here-

Burundi Archbishop is Archbishop of Canterbury's new man in Rome

From Christian Today-

An African Archbishop is to be the Church of England's new 'ambassador' to Rome.

Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, former head of the Anglican Church in Burundi, has been appointed as the representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Vatican and director of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

The move comes at a time of warm relations between the two churches with Pope Francis becoming the first pontiff to visit the Anglican church in Rome, praying side-by-side with an Anglican bishop.

Archbishop Ntahoturi succeeds David Moxon who retires in June.

A former presidential chief of staff to Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, Ntahoturi was imprisoned for three years after President Bagaza was overthrown in a military coup in 1987.

More here-


From The Living Church-

This post is the first in a brief series on how we handle tradition, specifically the instinct to imagine a primitive golden age to which we might return. The cause of this series is the 500th anniversary of the reformations of the 16th century (1517 being a convenient placeholder), and in this first post I want to reflect on the nature of tradition. But my focus will narrow to Thomas Cranmer and his work. Today is the anniversary of his execution.

In the second century, Tertullian wrote in his Prescription against Heretics, “We must keep what the churches have received from the apostles, the apostles from Christ, and Christ from God.” In a similar way, the author of Jude charged even earlier Christians to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Language like this has long been used to rally would-be reformers. Instead of seeing the organic emphasis in Jude and Tertullian, an emphasis on passing and handing by broken humans, it’s not uncommon to slip into primitivism.

More here-

Judge Gorsuch’s Episcopalianism a concern to conservatives

From Episcopal Cafe-

As we reported previously, Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Neal Gorsuch has been attending Episcopal churches for much of his adult life. This has been the source of some concern for conservative Christian leaders, given the Episcopal Church’s more liberal stance on issues such as abortion and equal marriage rights. Gorsuch himself has remained adamant that his personal feelings and beliefs should not be relevant. He feels that judges should interpret the law on the basis of the text, not on their own personal morality. “My personal views, as I hope I have made clear, have nothing to do with the case before me in any case,” he said. “The litigants deserve better than that, the law demands more than that.” Gorsuch was raised Roman Catholic, but has attended Episcopal churches since he married his wife, a member of the Church of England, whom he met while studying at Oxford. As a result, some conservative pundits suspect Gorsuch of being a secret liberal. Bryan Fischer, of the American Family Radio Network, tweeted, “Be advised, Gorsuch attends a church that is rabidly pro-gay, pro-Muslim, pro-green, and anti-Trump.”

More here-

King Richard II's recipe book to go online

From The Telegraph-

Forme of Cury, which was written in 1390 in Middle English, details more than 200 recipes that were cooked in the royal household, including blank mang (a sweet dish of meat, milk, sugar and almonds) and mortrews (ground and spiced pork).

The recipe book is one of 40 rare manuscripts that are being digitally photographed and put on the internet by the University of Manchester's John Rylands University Library.

Other Middle English manuscripts include one of the earliest existing editions of the complete Canterbury Tales by Chaucer, John Lydgate's two major poems Troy Book and Fall of Princes, and 500-year-old translations of the Bible into English.

More here-

Monday, March 20, 2017

Inadequate Anglican training led to abuse

From Australia-

The Anglican Church's failure to properly select and train its aspiring priests led to child abusers in its ranks, the royal commission has heard.

Chair Peter McClellan asked four senior Anglicans if the process for picking and guiding student clergy had meant "people ended up in the church who were capable of committing these terrible crimes".

The four panellists agreed, with the administrator of the Anglican Diocese, Bishop Tim Harris, saying the church had been in a position of great privilege and autonomy.

"I would hope, going into the 21st century, that there is a much greater awareness that the church is rightly more accountable," he told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Monday.

Data released on the first day of the hearing revealed 22 Anglican dioceses received 1115 reported complaints of child sexual abuse between 1980 and 2015.

More here-

'Homophobia' row over Bishop of Llandaff selection

From Wales (BBC)-

A gay clergyman has accused the Anglican Church in Wales of homophobia after he was rejected for a job as a bishop.

The Dean of St Albans, the Very Reverend Jeffrey John, was not chosen as the Bishop of Llandaff earlier this month.

A current bishop said it would be "too much of a headache" to appoint him, he claimed.
The Church in Wales "strongly denied" the accusations of homophobia.

Dr John said he had been told appointing him would be difficult because he was in a civil partnership, although celibate in line with Church teaching.

More here-

Repairs underway to church wall damaged by strong winds

From Lansing-

The intimate Parish Hall inside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church filled quickly as parishioners arrived for the 10 a.m. service.

There were welcoming smiles, greetings and catching up and soon there was not an empty seat.

There were no signs of the near disaster the more than 100-year-old church faced a week and a half ago.

The church exterior told a different story.

Temporary braces now support an exterior wall of the church that was damaged in the March 8 wind storm that knocked out power to more than a million utility customers across the state.

The upper part of the wall pulled away from the rest of the structure during the storm and could be seen swaying in the wind.

The worship space remains off-limits. For now, Sunday services are being held in the parish hall.

More here-

Benedict Option: ‘Dark Mountain’ For Christians?

From The American Conservative-

Via The Browser, Peter Ross of the Boston Review has an interview with Paul Kingsnorth, the co-ounder of a dystopian movement called the Dark Mountain Project. It’s not a political or religious thing; it’s a group of artists, writers, and thinkers who are focused on ecology, and who believe that civilization as we know it is unraveling, and can’t be stopped. From its website:

It might also be useful to explain what Dark Mountain is not. It is not a campaign. It is not an activist project. It does not seek to use writing or art to ‘save the planet’ or stop climate change. Rather, it is a creative space in which people can come to terms with the unravelling of much of the world we have all taken for granted, and engage in a conversation about what the future is likely to hold, without any need for pretence or denial.

Peter Ross describes the Dark Mountain vision as the belief “that it is too late to save the world, but you can care for one small part of it, enriching both the land and your own life in the process.” Here are excerpts from the interview:

PK: My writing is also increasingly religious, or spiritual, although “spiritual” is such a horrible New Age word. I am a Zen Buddhist, but that’s not exactly a religion, it’s more a practice. As I get older, the spiritual mystery of life seems to be coming to the fore. It’s right there in Beast, which is a religious book, a quest book. It’s all the way through The Wake as well. I have a strong sense that the earth is alive. I’ve always had this. I remember reading Wordsworth when I was fifteen or sixteen and being really struck by the fact that he was talking about experiences that I had had—when you are up on a mountain and the world opens itself up to you. All the time when I was young, I felt there were mysterious things going on in nature. I believed in fairies and magic and all that. Then you grow up and put all that to one side, but it feels like it’s coming back into my writing as I get older. One of the disastrous stories our culture tells itself is that the world is a machine, and that you can cut it into bits and look at how it works. But it’s not a machine, it’s a great web of life with a strange religious mystery bubbling underneath.

More here-

An ethical analysis of the ‘New Sanctuary Movement’

Fro RNS-

The “New Sanctuary Movement” is under considerable discussion these days. What exactly people mean by “sanctuary” is not always clear, but the basic idea is to help undocumented immigrants in their struggle to avoid deportation under US immigration laws.

I encountered the first “Sanctuary Movement” in the 1980s, when some churches organized to shelter Salvadorans and Guatemalans who were at risk of being sent back to their violent and repressive homelands during the Reagan Administration. Since then the concept has never really gone away, and it is spiking today as the new Trump Administration has made clear its intent to heighten immigration-law enforcement.

In my role as interim pastor, I have been asked to consider affiliating our church with an organization called the “New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta” (SMA). Moral issues look  different when you are not just cogitating but have leadership responsibility for a community or an organization.

More here-

Episcopal Bishops Issue A Word to the Church

From The House of Bishops-

"We reject the idolatrous notion that we can ensure the safety of some by sacrificing the hopes of others.”

On Good Friday the ruling political forces of the day tortured and executed an innocent man. They sacrificed the weak and the blameless to protect their own status and power. On the third day Jesus was raised from the dead, revealing not only their injustice but also unmasking the lie that might makes right.

In a country still living under the shadow of the lynching tree, we are troubled by the violent forces being released by this season’s political rhetoric. Americans are turning against their neighbors, particularly those on the margins of society. They seek to secure their own safety and security at the expense of others. There is legitimate reason to fear where this rhetoric and the actions arising from it might take us.

More here-

Sunday, March 19, 2017

What is Neil Gorsuch's religion? It's complicated

From CNN-

Earlier this month, the Trump administration summoned two dozen religious leaders to a private meeting. The mission: to rally support for Neil Gorsuch, Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

According to several participants, White House staffers emphasized Gorsuch's robust defense of religious rights as a judge on the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals. In one prominent decision, Gorsuch argued that the government should rarely, if ever, coerce the consciences of believers.
Eventually, the conversation turned to Gorsuch's own religious background.

He was raised Catholic but now worships with his wife and two daughters at St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado. Like the city, the congregation is politically liberal. It bars guns from its campus and installed solar panels; it condemns harsh rhetoric about Muslims and welcomes gays and lesbians. And its rector, the Rev. Susan Springer, attended the Women's March in Denver, though not as a form of protest but as a sign of support for "the dignity of every human being."

More here-

Called to be one with the Apsotles

From Episcopal Cafe-

In 2015 General Convention created a Task Force on the Episcopacy.  Some of the Task Force’s ideas were presented at the recently concluded House of Bishops meeting.  Among ideas offered were the creation of a list of pre-vetted candidates for election to bishop.  Frederick Schmidt offered an opinion piece, A Nursery for Ambition, outlining ways he thought such a list was a bad idea.  The overwhelming response here at the Cafe and elsewhere has been a loud rejection of the idea.  In this essay, Andrew Gerns offers another way of looking at how we select bishops that might be improved with a potential for discernment prior to entering into the election process.

by Andrew Gerns

Do we want a formed and prepared episcopate?
 Dr. Frederick Schmidt’s reaction to the interim report of the Task Force on the Episcopate at this week’s House of Bishops meeting seems be to that only people previously vetted by a select group would be considered for the episcopate—giving way to the sin of excess ambition; and that this process might both diminish the role of the laity in the councils of the church thereby hindering the work of the Holy Spirit.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Spokane ordains new bishop

From Spokane-

Donning a plain white robe, Gretchen Rehberg stood before five consecrating bishops, and with 650 witnesses packed into the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, promised to lead the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane as its ninth bishop.

Rehberg, 52, was elected as the Diocese’ first female bishop last year and in an elaborate and musical ceremony, was ordained Saturday.

“The gladness we share today is sacramental. It’s the outward expression of being in tune with God,” said The Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, former presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church. “When we sing and rejoice and give thanks, we’re sharing the love and hope of God for all that is being legalized here. Singing and joining in this great drama atunes us to the great harmony God intended before creation.”

For the past 11 years Rehberg served as rector of the Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Lewiston, Idaho and before that worked as a professor of organic chemistry at Bucknell University. She’s also served as a volunteer EMT and firefighter for more than 20 years.

More here-

How Pastoral Care Stunts The Growth Of Most Churches

From Carey Nieuwhof-

Of all the mysteries that shouldn’t be mysteries, why most churches remain small is perhaps the greatest.

I’m sure there are a few leaders who want to keep their churches small, or who don’t care about growth.

But most small church leaders and pastors I meet actually want to reach more people. They want to see their mission fully realized. They hope and pray for the day when they can reach as many people as possible in their community.

But that’s simply not reality.

The Barna group reports the average Protestant church size in America as 89 adults. 60% of protestant churches have less than 100 adults in attendance. Only 2% have over 1000 adults attending.

As a result, the dreams of pastors of most small and even mid-sized churches go unrealized. Why?

More here-