Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bishop of Shrewsbury: Do not airbrush Easter

From England-

The Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury accused some of attempting to “airbrush” Easter out of the bank holiday weekend.

The Right Reverend Mark Davies also called on Christians to claim back Easter.

He spoke of the controversy surrounding a Cadbury’s Easter egg hunt at National Trust properties, which had simply been referred to as an ‘egg hunt’.

Cadbury and Nestle have also been criticised by Christian groups for missing the word Easter from their chocolate eggs. Both companies insist there has been no “deliberate decision” to drop the word from packaging, with Cadbury saying the word Easter is embossed on the actual egg.

Bishop Mark said: “In recent weeks a chocolate manufacturer and a national charity may have sought to airbrush the name Easter from this public holiday.


‘A different world’ for churches – and they all know it

 From Massachusetts-

Every Friday morning, the Rev. Tim Schenck orders a cup of coffee at the Redeye Roasters shop at Hingham Harbor. The pastor of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church takes a table and, marked by his clerical collar, waits for other customers to talk to him about God and life.

On the first Friday night each month, musicians, poets and artists gather with youth and their parents at The Sanctuary in Marshfield for “safe space” time that doesn’t include a hymn or sermon.

Those are among the ways South Shore congregations are making a presence in their communities at a time when formal church membership continues to decline for Roman Catholics and Protestants here and across the country.

Surveys by the Pew Research Center and other organizations paint a worrisome picture for religious institutions, especially in Massachusetts.

More here-

South Sudan Episcopal Church consecrates two new bishops in Aweil

From South Sudan-

Daniel Deng Bul, Archbishop of the Episcopal church of South Sudan ordained and consecrated three new bishops in Aweil region on April 4th, 2017. This increased the number of dioceses in the region.

The ceremony was attended by more than 500 believers and Archbishop Daniel Deng, ordained and consecrated Joseph Mamer Manot as the new Bishop of Wanyjok Diocese in Aweil East and Peter Garang Akuei as the new Bishop of Nyamelel diocese in Lol state.

During the service, the Archbishop was assisted by Moses Deng Bol, the provincial Archbishop of Wau, anointed the new bishops with the oil of Chrism and presented them with the symbols of office; the Episcopal ring, pectoral cross and mitre. The newly appointed bishops were received with applauds and cheers when they were presented with a Bible and a pastoral staff.

In his sermon, Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul said: “The consecration of the first two bishops of Wanyjok and Nyamelel demonstrates clearly the speed with which the word of God is spreading in the region and acknowledges that young men can now be ordained.”

More here-

What is the historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived and died?

From The Guardian-

How confident can we be that Jesus Christ actually lived?

The historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth is both long-established and widespread. Within a few decades of his supposed lifetime, he is mentioned by Jewish and Roman historians, as well as by dozens of Christian writings. Compare that with, for example, King Arthur, who supposedly lived around AD500. The major historical source for events of that time does not even mention Arthur, and he is first referred to 300 or 400 years after he is supposed to have lived. The evidence for Jesus is not limited to later folklore, as are accounts of Arthur.

More here-

Organists declining but still in demand for Easter

From RNS-

Eileen Guenther, a church music professor at Wesley Theological Seminary and music lecturer at George Washington University, said the top pulpits in the country that offer good salaries to organists still have applicants lining up for them.

“But the places where it’s trickier are smaller, (with) less dense population, whether it’s rural or suburban,” said Guenther, a past president of the American Guild of Organists. “It’s an aging population in terms of some places. I have students here at the seminary that will say, ‘This woman has been our organist for 72 years.’”

A 2014 survey by the AGO tells the story: More than half of members surveyed (58 percent) reported serving 31 or more years as organist at a religious organization, and most of the members were in their mid-50s to mid-70s.

“In the next two decades, current Boomer members will ‘age out’ of the AGO, with strikingly few younger members able to ‘take their place,’” the 97-page report warned.

More here-

Friday, April 14, 2017

Stop the 2,000-year-old slut-shaming of Mary Magdalene this Easter

From Dallas-

Here's who Mary Magdalene was: one of Jesus Christ's original followers, the last to stay with him while he was nailed to the cross and, Christians believe, the first to see his empty tomb and his resurrection.

Here's who she wasn't: a reformed or forgiven prostitute.

Yet on Easter Sunday, Christianity's holiest day, that's exactly how she will be described in some sermons and how she continues to be portrayed in much of popular culture.

The woman dubbed in the Bible the "Apostle of the Apostles" has spent two millennia being reduced to a seductress. In some ways, Mary Magdalene's story is the story of modern women everywhere.

More here-

Faith still a potent presence in UK politics, says author

From The Guardian-

Faith remains a potent presence at the highest level of UK politics despite a growing proportion of the country’s population defining themselves as non-religious, according to the author of a new book examining the faith of prominent politicians.

Nick Spencer, research director of the Theos thinktank and the lead author of The Mighty and the Almighty: How Political Leaders Do God, uses the example that all but one of Britain’s six prime ministers in the past four decades have been practising Christians to make his point.

The book examines the faith of 24 prominent politicians, mostly in Europe, the US and Australia, since 1979. “The presence and prevalence of Christian leaders, not least in some of the world’s most secular, plural and ‘modern’ countries, remains noteworthy. The idea that ‘secularisation’ would purge politics of religious commitment is surely misguided,” it concludes.

More here-

Priest who used dead woman's parking badge may face more charges

From the "Major Crimes Unit"-

A priest in East Sussex found guilty of fraud after he used the disability parking badge of a dead woman may face further charges.

William Haymaker from Bexhill was found guilty by a jury of possessing an article for use in a fraud at Chichester Crown Court last month.

Appearing in the dock at Hove Trial Centre, the 62 year old of Suffolk Road was told further potential charges had not yet been ruled out.

Representing East Sussex County Council, the organisation which brought the case, Gareth Jones said: "Our proposal is to investigate this."

More here-

Good Friday: Make sacrifice, Anglican bishop tells leaders

From Nigeria-

The Diocesan Bishop of Lagos and Dean Emeritus, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Most Rev. Adebola Ademowo, has asked leaders in the country to sacrifice for the future of Nigeria.

He urged people in the country to shun greed, violence and corruption, adding that everyone must embrace sacrificial living which characterised the life of Jesus Christ.

Ademowo spoke in a statement commemorating Good Friday.

The cleric stated that Good Friday represented freedom and salvation for mankind since it was the day Jesus Christ suffered and died for the sin of the world.

He said, “Good Friday teaches us to jettison all forms of abuse like gross corruption, kidnapping, stealing, violence and all forms of decay in our system that have put the nation where we are today.

More here-

Artist sues Trinity Church for removal of 9/11 sculpture

From Newsday-

A Pennsylvania artist whose sculpture memorializing a sycamore tree destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks was displayed in the courtyard of Trinity Church in lower Manhattan has filed an unusual lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, challenging the church’s removal of his piece.

Sculptor Steve Tobin, who gave his three-ton “Trinity Root” bronze to the church for display on its site just south of the World Trade Center, said that by moving it to Connecticut the church violated the federal Visual Artists Rights Act. He wants damages and an injunction.

“Its purpose was to memorialize the site of a 9/11 event of grace and celebrate the tree’s role and sacrifice,” the lawsuit said. “The intent, spirit and design of the sculpture – its aesthetic essence and spiritual meaning – were inextricably specific to that site.”

More here-

Episcopal Church Says Trump's Refugee Order Is Forcing Closure of 6 Offices

From Christian Post-

Episcopal Migration Ministries will reduce the number of its 31 affiliates to 25 and will not be resettling refugees in the removed affiliate areas for 11 months, starting in October through September 2018.

EMM Director the Rev. Canon E. Mark Stevenson told Episcopal News Service that the reduction was a "painful" but necessary step.

"It's painful; it's horrible, but we hope — we pray — that we have made the right decisions for the health of the overall network and for the well-being of the refugees," Stevenson said in the interview with ENS.

"It's important for us to have a system where refugees are resettled where it is safe, where it's affordable, where opportunity is given to them to thrive as new Americans."


While the Men Were in Hiding, Women Delivered the Greatest News the World Has Ever Known

From Sojourners-

Imagine what these women — these followers of Jesus — must have felt as they heard the best news in the history of the world.

In so many of the gospel stories that are familiar to us, women were behind the scenes — always there, always present, always faithful — but nearly always in the background and hardly ever mentioned by the men in the stories, and certainly not the ones writing the stories. Their testimony as women was not even admissible in court under Jewish law; the word of a woman had no public credibility in that patriarchal culture. But God chose to reveal the miracle of Jesus' resurrection first to women. They were then told to report the astonishing news of the empty tomb to the men.

Jesus' first appearance was also to a woman: Mary Magdalene. She was in the garden near the tomb, stricken with grief. The one who had accepted and forgiven her, the one whom she loved so deeply, was gone. She saw a figure she thought was the gardener and said to him, "They have taken my Lord. Do you know where they have laid him?" Then a familiar voice called her name, "Mary." She looked up and recognized him. "Master!" she cried. Her Lord had come back, and the heart of the woman who had been cleansed by his love leapt for joy. Mary went straight to the disciples with a simple testimony, “I have seen the Lord.” Again, the male disciples hearing the greatest news in history and for the future of their lives from Mary was itself a powerful sign of the purposes of God.

More here-

Soul-searching at Princeton Theological Seminary

From RNS-

After news emerged that Princeton Theological Seminary intended to honor Tim Keller, pastor of New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, people were outraged.

How could an institution committed to full inclusion of women and LGBT people in ministry give a prize — and $10,000 — to someone who very publicly wasn’t? Indeed, how could the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s flagship graduate school honor a minister of the Presbyterian Church in America, a denomination founded partly in opposition to the PCUSA’s decision to ordain women?

Then we learned Keller wouldn’t get the prize. Again, people were outraged. How could an institution committed to academic freedom silence Keller? What kind of “Christians” were these, backtracking on honoring a true man of God?

Lost amid these social-media-fueled caricatures was the on-campus reality. Seminary president Craig Barnes constantly heard a refrain: “I wonder if I really belong here.” Initially, it came from women and LGBT students.

More here-

Chicago new church start attracts national attention before first worship service

From Chicago-

Tell true stories. Share good food. Worship beautifully. Those three practices are the building blocks of a brand new church in the Chicago neighborhood of Rogers Park that must be doing something right.

Gilead Church Chicago has not yet celebrated its first weekly worship service. It's scheduled for May 7, location TBA. However the United Church of Christ new church start is already attracting a lot of people and attention. The spiritual community's first preview service in January drew a crowd so large, one of the worshippers had to leave because they felt claustrophic. And after its St. Patrick's Day celebratory launch of "Balm of Gilead" Session IPA — a craft brew made especially for the church and created right in the neighborhood — the Today Show came calling. The NBC morning show plans to run a story on Gilead on Tuesday during Holy Week.

All of this is a bit surreal to the church's co-pastors, Rebecca Anderson and Vince Amlin.

More here-

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Egypt's Catholic, Evangelical churches cancel Easter celebrations over Sunday church bombings

From Ahram-

Egypt's Catholic and Evangelical churches have decided to cancel Easter celebrations on Saturday night after the two deadly suicide bombings that hit Mar Girgis Cathedral in Tanta and St Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria on Palm Sunday.

Father Andrea Zaki, the head of the Evangelical community in Egypt, said Easter celebrations will be cancelled and masses will be limited to prayer services in mourning of the victims of the attacks.

The secretary of Egypt's Coptic Catholic Church Emmanuel Ayad said on Wednesday that the Catholic Church has also decided to cancel Easter celebrations in solidarity with sister churches and the families of those killed in the attacks.

On Tuesday, the secretary of the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church Bishop Rafael announced the cancelation of Easter celebrations and the limiting of Saturday night masses to prayers, with a reception of mourners on Sunday.

More here-,-Anglican-churches-cancel-Easter-c.aspx

How the CDF Created the Anglican Ordinariate

From National Catholic Register-

Benedict XVI gave a tremendous gift to the English-speaking world in 2009, when he finally realized a dream centuries in the making, and established a permanent canonical home for groups from the Anglican tradition seeking to enter the Catholic Church with the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Today, the Catholic Church has three Personal Ordinariates — informally known as the “Anglican Ordinariates” — that preserve the Anglican patrimony in their Catholic parishes, communities, and religious orders. These Personal Ordinariates have the only English form of the Roman Missal, promulgated by Pope Francis, called Divine Worship — an actual English form, not an English translation of the Latin Mass — written in traditional, poetic “Prayer Book” English. Each Personal Ordinariate covers a region of the globe (Oceania, the United Kingdom, and North America) and is headed by a bishop or ordinary who falls directly under the jurisdiction of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

But how did the Vatican determine the solution for corporate unification with the Catholic Church had to be this structure called a “Personal Ordinariate?”

More here-

First African-American woman on New York’s highest court, Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, found dead on Hudson River shore

From The Daily News-

Abdus-Salaam and the Rev. Gregory Jacobs wed last June at the Greater Newark Conservancy, according to a marriage announcement.

Jacobs, who works for the Episcopal Archdiocese of Newark, stopped by Abdus-Salaam’s Harlem brownstone Wednesday evening, accompanied by detectives.

Neighbor and friend Deborah Audate said the couple maintained separate residences, but spent time together on weekends.

“Even though she was an appellate judge, which is a position of high authority, she was just an ordinary person on the block,” Audate said. “She’s just very smart. She really was a very humble person.

“She’s very well respected on this block. I think we’re still stunned by it,” she added.

More here-

Bishop's staff returns to Hastings church after being passed down for 60 years

From Nebraska-

A church in Hastings experienced a homecoming of sorts Wednesday morning as part of its history heads back.

It is something that's been passed down for over 60 years, and now a bishop's staff owned by the bishop who helped build the church almost a century ago has finally made it home.

Bishop George Allen Beecher served as bishop of the Missionary Diocese of Western Nebraska from 1910 to 1943.

The staff he used while serving at Saint Marks Episcopal Pro-Cathedral starting in 1920 was returned to the church by a long line of family friends.

More here-

Crucified man had prior run-in with authorities

From The Washington Post-

The gentleman arrested Thursday and tried before Pontius Pilate had a troubled background.

Born (possibly out of wedlock?) in a stable, this jobless thirty-something of Middle Eastern origin had had previous run-ins with local authorities for disturbing the peace, and had become increasingly associated with the members of a fringe religious group. He spent the majority of his time in the company of sex workers and criminals.

He had had prior run-ins with local authorities — most notably, an incident of vandalism in a community center when he wrecked the tables of several licensed money-lenders and bird-sellers. He had used violent language, too, claiming that he could destroy a gathering place and rebuild it.

More here-

Holy Week and the Hatred of the Jews: How to Avoid Anti-Judaism this Easter

From Australia-

Jesus of Nazareth, charged by the Roman authorities with the sedition, dies on a Roman cross. But Jews - the collective, all Jews - become known as "Christ-killers."

Still haunting, the legacy of that charge becomes acute during Holy Week, when pastors and priests who speak about the death of Jesus have to talk about "the Jews."

Every year, the same difficulty surfaces: how can a gospel of love be proclaimed, if that same gospel is heard to promote hatred of Jesus's own people?

The charge against "the Jews" permeates the pages of the New Testament.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Pilate literally washes his hands while "all the people" - all the Jewish people - clamour for Jesus's death: "Let him be crucified ... His blood be on us and on our children!" (Matthew 27:23, 27).

More here-

Frances FitzGerald on how evangelicals lost their way

From RNS-

The most important new book on evangelicals in many years has been released just in time for Easter. Frances FitzGerald’s massive new tome is called “The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America.” Everyone who cares about religion in America must read it. I will be moderating a conversation with the author on Wednesday night (April 12) at the Atlanta History Center.

Reading this book during the Lenten season, and completing it during Holy Week, may be contributing to my primary take on the book: Evangelicals very badly lost their way. And they did so because their gospel stopped being about the love of God in Jesus Christ, demonstrated most profoundly at the cross, and instead became a reactionary jeremiad about saving America by electing Republican politicians and fighting culture wars.

The author is not an evangelical insider and does not make that claim. But she offers all the evidence necessary for me to make it, aided by nearly 40 years as a participant in American evangelical Christianity.

More here-

A Charlotte church put up a sign about its Muslim neighbors. The neighbors spoke back

From Charlotte-

Kate Murphy was driving to work in East Charlotte not long ago when she saw a car that looked like it had some words painted on it. She pulled up for a closer look and saw that yes, they were words. But they were more than words. They were anti-Muslim slurs.

This was back in February, shortly after the Donald Trump administration had issued its first executive order banning people from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States. That order, you remember, was struck down in court and scorned by many. But plenty of people also thought it was exactly what the country should do.

“There was so much being said that troubled me,” said Murphy, who is pastor of The Grove Presbyterian Church.

Read more here:

Bishop Todd Ousley named Bishop for the Office of Pastoral Development

From The Episcopal Church-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry has named Bishop Todd Ousley of Eastern Michigan as Bishop for the Office of Pastoral Development, a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff.

“Bishop Ousley is an experienced bishop with a depth of pastoral and leadership skills,” Presiding Bishop Curry said. “I am very thankful to him for his willingness to assume this particular ministry which is vital to the spiritual life and vitality of our bishops and, through them, the Episcopal Church. I have known and worked with him for several years and, like my brothers and sisters in the community of bishops and spouses, Bishop Ousley has my deep respect, affection and trust.”

More here-

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bishop Borsch Dies at 81

From The Living Church-

Bob Williams reports on the death of the Rt. Rev. Frederick Houk Borsch, fifth Bishop of Los Angeles, on April 11:

The Rt. Rev. Frederick Houk Borsch — whose 1988-2002 tenure as bishop of the six-county Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles was marked by his theme of “Adelante: Forward Together” — died in his sleep April 11 at his Philadelphia home. He was 81 and succumbed to complications of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a blood cancer, for which he began treatment last fall.

He is survived by Barbara S. Borsch — his wife of more than 56 years and an honorary canon of the Diocese of Los Angeles — and by their sons, Benjamin, Matthew and Stuart, daughters-in-law Jeannie, Elizabeth, and Fang Vhang, grandchildren Jack, Emily, Owen and Zoe; by his sister, Jane Borsch Robbins, and by nieces and a nephew and their families.

More here-

Believers must find new, more radical ways to practise their faith

From The Spectator (UK)

Hannah Roberts, an English Catholic friend, was once telling me about her family’s long history in Yorkshire. She spoke with yearning of what she had back home and how painful it is to live so far away. I wondered aloud why she and her American husband had emigrated to the United States from that idyllic landscape, the homeland she loved. ‘Because we wanted our children to have a chance to grow up Catholic,’ she said.

It’s not that she feared losing them to the Church of England — it’s that she feared them losing Christianity itself. She and her husband Chris, an academic theologian, are now raising their four young children in Philadelphia, a city with a historically large Catholic presence. Even so, Philadelphia is no safe haven, as the Robertses freely acknowledge. Christianity is declining sharply in the north-east of the United States, one of the nation’s least religious regions. The most recent studies confirm that the country is, at last, firmly on the same trail of decline blazed by the churches of Europe.

More here-

Manuscripts shed light on early days of Christianity

From Ireland-

Some of the oldest surviving biblical manuscripts are on display in Dublin.

The texts, which caused a global sensation in 1931 when they were bought by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, contain both Old and New Testament books and date from 200 to 400AD.

And as Easter approaches, the library named in the collector's honour is showing St Paul's Letter To The Corinthians, which recounts how Jesus Christ died, was buried and rose again.

Jill Unkel, curator of the Western Collection at the Chester Beatty Library, said: "It's a very, very significant collection.

"It's the earliest collection of Pauline epistles on book. There are surviving fragments dated earlier but it's the earliest known collection.

More here-

Piers Morgan: ISIS war on Christianity ‘ought to be dominating cable news’

From The Washington Times-

Daily Mail editor-at-large Piers Morgan on Monday criticized the American media for paying more attention to isolated terrorist attacks in Europe while ignoring the Islamic State’s ongoing war on Christianity in the Middle East.

Appearing on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” Mr. Morgan lamented that “a handful of people being killed” in recent terrorist attacks in Stockholm and London have gotten “huge attention” in America, while coverage of suicide bombings on two Coptic Christian churches that killed dozens in Egypt on Palm Sunday appeared to be an afterthought.

“And yet, what happened in Egypt was unbelievably significant,” Mr. Morgan said.
“If you look at what ISIS really stands for, what they are carrying out now in the Middle East and in Egypt in particular, is a kind of genocidal attack on Christians and Christianity,” he said, using an acronym for the Islamic State terrorist group.

More here-

Who are Egypt's Coptic Christians, and why do extremists target them?

From American Magazine-

They trace their founding to the voyage to Alexandria of St. Mark, the apostle of Jesus and New Testament author. Just a decade or two after the original Easter, which Christians celebrate around the world, tradition states that Mark founded their church, one of the earliest in the Middle East and the first in Africa. It was to become a pillar of early Christendom.

Some two thousand years later, Egypt's Coptic Christians have become the preferred target of the Islamic State group, an apocalyptic cult seeking religious war.

Inside the Arab world's most populous country, IS seeks to sow discord, undermine President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and split the country. It's a strategy the group has used before in Iraq, undermining trust in the government and inciting Shiites against Sunnis to provoke a backlash. That strategy looks unlikely to work in Egypt, where Sunnis vastly outnumber the Coptic minority, who make up some 10 percent of the population of 92 million and who are overwhelmingly dedicated supporters of el-Sissi. But it does whittle away at the Christians' sense of security.

More here-

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Endangered Anglican cathedrals prompt Church of England review

From RNS-

The future of England’s cathedrals — often described as the crown jewel of the nation’s architectural heritage — will be examined by a special Church of England working group following a series of disastrous financial crises for the churches.

The archbishops of Canterbury and York, Justin Welby and John Sentamu, ordered the review in the wake of crises that have included layoffs, debts, and the sale of assets. On Monday (April 10), the 12 members of  the group were announced, including its chair, Bishop of Stepney Adrian Newman, and Dean of York Vivienne Faull, who will serve as vice chair.

The group will study how cathedrals are governed, their accountability, and how decisions about finances are made.

More here-

Cardinal Kasper: Pope sees married priests debate ‘positively,’ seeks proposals from bishops’ conferences

From Life Site-

German Cardinal Walter Kasper says Pope Francis wants bishops' conferences to submit to him proposals for ordaining married men.

Kasper said this in an interview with, the official website of the German bishops' conference. Dr. Maike Hickson at One Peter Five translated his remarks.

There is an "urgent need for action" on the question of married priests, Kasper said. Previous discussions on this topic were "not approved officially by Rome," but now the pope is open to the question. Kasper noted Pope Francis hasn't said where he stands on this, but said he views the discussion "positively."

"This discussion is very urgent" given the shortage of priests in Germany, according to Kasper. The entire country only has 40 candidates for the priesthood; in liberal Cardinal Reinhard Marx's archdiocese, there's only one.

More here-

Muslim woman to preach at Episcopal Service

From Atlanta-

A Muslim woman is to preach Tuesday during a service in which Episcopal priests and deacons will reaffirm the vows first taken at their ordinations.

Soumaya Khalifah, executive director and founder of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta was chosen to preach by Atlanta’s Episcopal Bishop Robert C. Wright. Wright said he chose Khalifah because of her ongoing efforts to bridge the gaps between religions.

“Soumaya provides a wonderful example for how to share the love of God; the same God worshiped by all the world’s Christians, Jews and Muslims,” Wright said. “It is an example that has never been more needed.”

The renewal of vows service will be held Tuesday, April 11, at St.

David’s Episcopal Church in Roswell beginning at 11 a.m. The service is open to the public.

More here-

Egypt declares state of emergency after bombings of Coptic churches

From Episcopal Cafe-

Yesterday, two Coptic churches in Egypt where hit by suicide bombers. The first blast took place at St. George’s in Tanta, a Nile delta city, at around 9:30 in the morning. Several hours later, another bomb went off at the gates of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. Both bombings have now been found to be suicide bombings. In Tanta, the bomber made it into the church and detonated his bombs in the front pews. 27 people are reported dead there, with 71 injured at least. However, police in Alexandria were able to intercept the suicide bomber outside the cathedral, preventing him from entering. He detonated his bombs there, killing the two officers who stopped him, along with 11 others, and leaving 21 more people injured, according to the Health Ministry. Pope Tawadros II was at the Cathedral, but he was not injured in the explosion. Daesh/ISIL immediately claimed responsibility for both attacks. “Crusaders and their apostate allies should know the bill between us and them is very big and they will pay it with rivers of blood from their children, god willing. Wait for us, for we will wait for you,” the jihadist group said in a statement quoted by Reuters news agency.

More here

Parole hearing for Heather Cook

From Anglican Ink-

Heather Cook is scheduled to appeal before a Parole Board hearing on 9 May 2017, offering the possibility the former suffragan Bishop of Maryland will be paroled two years after she was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for having struck and killed a cyclist while driving while intoxicated.  On 27 Oct 2015 a Baltimore City judge sentenced Cook (60) to 20 years imprisonment, but suspended 13 years of her sentence. Cook was to serve five years for manslaughter followed by a two year sentence for leaving the scene of the accident. She was sentenced to a further five years probation upon completion of her term. Cook, who currently is incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institute in Jessup, is eligible for early release as a non-violent offender under Maryland parole guidelines. According to court records on the afternoon of 27 Dec 2014 Cook was driving her car on Roland Avenue in Baltimore while intoxicated -- her blood alcohol level was later recorded at .22 per cent, three times the state’s legal limit. She then began to text whilst driving and swerved out of the traffic lane onto the bicycle lane, striking cyclist Richard Palermo from behind.

More here-

also here-


From Tablet-

There’s no reason the prohibition against consuming chametz means having to spend another Passover restricted to Manischewitz Concord, Golan Heights Cabernets, or the one-off slivovitz. A holiday that requires adults to down at least four cups of wine at the start ought to pack at least as much punch as St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, or Cinco de Mayo.

Any beverage produced from one of the five grains—barley, oats, rye, spelt, or wheat—is off the table for Passover. In practical terms, that means no beer, Bourbon, Scotch, Irish or rye whiskeys, most vodkas and gins, or any other drinks made with grain neutral sprits can be consumed during the 192 hours of Passover. Ashkenazi Jews add another layer of self-deprivation by foregoing legumes, corn, rice, and various spices.

The good news is there’s plenty of decent alcohol available for drinking over Passover.

More here-

Monday, April 10, 2017

Visiting Bishop gets a big welcome

From Texas-

Church leaders don’t often get a rock star welcome, but that’s exactly what the head of the Episcopal Church in the United States received Sunday night in Abilene when he was greeted by Episcopalians from much of the southern part of the Diocese of Northwest Texas.

Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the church, whose office is in New York City, walked into the packed nave of the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, where he got a Texas-size welcome, complete with rousing ovation, hoots, hollers, and whistles.

The bishop, who was beaming at the sight, returned the goodwill.

“It’s just a privilege,” Curry said, “and a great joy.”

Curry, who was elected in 2015, is the first black person chosen to lead the church in the United States. He follows Katharine Jefferts Schori, who was the first woman elected to the position. The Episcopal Church in the United States is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, headed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

More here-


From The New Yorker-

In classic Murray fashion, the position she sought was officially unavailable to her: the Episcopal Church did not ordain women. For once, though, Murray’s timing was perfect. While she was in divinity school, the Church’s General Convention voted to change that policy, effective January 1, 1977—three weeks after she would complete her course work. On January 8th, in a ceremony in the National Cathedral, Murray became the first African-American woman to be vested as an Episcopal priest. A month later, she administered her first Eucharist at the Chapel of the Cross—the little church in North Carolina where, more than a century earlier, a priest had baptized her grandmother Cornelia, then still a baby, and still a slave.

It was the last of Murray’s many firsts. She was by then nearing seventy, just a few years from the mandatory retirement age for Episcopal priests. Never having received a permanent call, she took a few part-time positions and did a smattering of supply preaching, for twenty-five dollars a sermon. She held four advanced degrees, had friends on the Supreme Court and in the White House, had spent six decades sharing her life and mind with some of the nation’s most powerful individuals and institutions. Yet she died as she lived, a stone’s throw from penury.

More here-

Former slave's grave unfolds mystery at St. Philip's

From Baltimore-

Behind St. Philip's Episcopal Church on the corner of Main and Sixth streets is a small cemetery with a big mystery. Headstones bear the names of some longtime, historical Laurel families: Snowden, Stanley, Talbott, Cronmiller, Dodge, Vanduesen and Haslup. At the far end, next to Prince George Street, it also contains the gravesite of a former slave, Mary Ann Simmes, who died in 1887, the only such grave at St. Philip's. Who was the woman and why is she buried there?

Two St. Philip's parishioners, Betsy Welsh and Mickey Evans, have worked to unfold the mystery of this grave.

The original headstone, which is still there, is so weathered that it is hard to read. A new stone monument, which was dedicated in November 2016, has a brass plaque that reads: "This place marks the final resting place of Mary A. Simmes. Her original headstone reads: In Memory of Mary Ann Simmes. Our Dear Old Mammy, by Those She Loved. Died August 21, 1887 in the 86th Year of Her Age"

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Hearing on a bishop's efforts to sell Newport church offers a rare look at Episcopal justice system

From The LA Times-

The Rev. Erik Larsen came to Southern California to decide the fate of a bishop accused of trying to sell one of the churches under his direction without authorization, of bruising the heart of his flock and hurting the priesthood and his diocese. And he came to pray.

Larsen and four other leaders from Episcopalian churches around the country convened as a panel in a Pasadena hotel conference room last month for a disciplinary hearing looking into the actions of J. Jon Bruno, bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles. Bruno is facing possible sanctions after attempting to sell the St. James the Great church in Newport Beach to developers, then locking out congregants and keeping them out even after the sale fell through.

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Church Event in UP Disrupted By Police After Hindu Yuva Vahini Alleges ‘Conversions’

From The Wire-

Police stopped a church event attended by more than 150 people, including ten American tourists, in Maharajganj, Uttar Pradesh after the right-wing organisation Hindu Yuva Vahini alleged that religious conversion was being carried out.

The event was stopped after the youth brigade, set up in 2002 by Yogi Adityanath, now the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, filed a complaint against Yohannan Adam, the pastor of the church, accusing him of converting Hindus to Christianity, a charge the pastor denied.

SHO, Dathauli, Anand Kumar Gupta said no prior permission was taken for the meeting, which was held ahead of Good Friday.

“We stopped the prayer meeting after a complaint was registered. A probe is underway and appropriate action will be taken if the charges are found to be correct,” he said.

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Who are Egypt's Coptic Christians?

From CNN-

An ISIS-claimed attack on one of the holiest days in the Christian faith is drawing the world's attention to Egypt's Coptic community, a religious minority long targeted for violence.

The Palm Sunday bombings killed 43 people and injured dozens more at two Coptic Christian churches in Alexandria and Tanta, the latest in a yearslong spike of violence against the community.
In a statement claiming responsibility for the bombings, ISIS warned of more attacks. Egyptian authorities responded by declaring a three-month state of emergency. But Coptics, who have long been targeted for violence, are not optimistic the situation will change.

Here's what you need to know about Egypt's native Christians, who trace their origins back to ancient times.

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Two Explosions Kill at Least 31 at Egyptian Coptic Churches on Palm Sunday

From The New York Times-

Two explosions at Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday left at least 31 people dead and injured dozens of others as a day of worship in the besieged Christian community turned to destruction and carnage.

The first blast ripped through St. George’s Church in northern Egypt in the Nile Delta city of Tanta, 50 miles north of Cairo, during a Mass about 9:30 a.m., according to an official from the Health Ministry.

The deputy minister of health put the preliminary death toll at 25.

Hours later, a suicide bomber set off an explosion outside the main Coptic church in Alexandria, St. Mark’s Cathedral, killing at least six — including three police officers — and injuring 21 others, the Health Ministry said.

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After 12 Years Of Quarterly Church Attendance, Parents Shocked By Daughter’s Lack Of Faith

From Babylon Bee- ;)

Local father Trevor Michelson, 48, and his wife Kerri, 45, are reeling after discovering that after 12 years of steadily taking their daughter Janie to church every Sunday they didn’t have a more pressing sporting commitment—which was at least once every three months—she no longer demonstrates the strong quarterly commitment to the faith they raised her with, now that she is college-aged.

Trevor Michelson was simply stunned at the revelation. “I just don’t understand it. Almost every single time there was a rained-out game, or a break between school and club team seasons, we had Janie in church. It was at least once per quarter. And aside from the one tournament in 2011, we never missed an Easter. It was obviously a priority in our family—I just don’t get where her spiritual apathy is coming from.”

“I can’t tell you how often we prayed the prayer of Jabez on the way to a game,” added Janie’s mother.

“You know, the more I think about it, the more this illustrates how the church just keeps failing this generation,” lamented Trevor, citing a recently-googled study by Barna or someone.

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Church of Ireland bishops pressed over financial transparency

From Ireland-

A senior clergyman has hit out at the Church of Ireland over its “indefensible” refusal to provide a detailed breakdown of expenditure on the church’s 12 bishops. Canon Jonathan Barry made his scathing comments in relation to an ongoing campaign for greater transparency in how church funds are spent. 

In the latest edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette (which is editorially independent of the church itself), Canon Barry describes a pre-Christmas trip by the bishops to the Portmarnock Hotel and golf complex near Dublin last year as a “jolly” – at a time when “clergy in the main hardly get time to breathe”. Canon Barry, who is rector of Comber, said a number of questions on overall expenditure posed by the Gazette were “perfectly reasonable,” yet were not being answered by the bishops and the Representative Church Body (RCB).

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From The Living Church-

Palm Sunday is to me the most disorienting liturgy of the year. We begin with a festal procession, waving palm fronds and shouting our Hosannas to the Messiah. Then suddenly it is as though the brakes are applied and there is a screeching turn. The colors change. The mood darkens by several shades. The Passion is sung. Yet more bitterness is portended: betrayal, torture, death. Holy Week is here.

We know what lies ahead, on the other side of the middle distance. Easter is but one week from today. It’s a funny feeling when one makes an effort to engage these mysteries with a more deliberate attention, like looking at contour lines on a familiar map. It’s a pilgrimage we make every year. Unlike the apostle Thomas, perhaps, by now we ought to “know the way” (John 14:5) — every turn, every landmark. And yet. Today, as ever, it only manages to be portended. The destination is somehow a long way off.

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International gathering of Bishops in northern England

From ACNS-

The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, has this week hosted a group of international Bishops for a retreat in the north of England.

The diocese of Leeds has Anglican partnership links with Sudan, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, USA (Southwestern Virginia), and international ecumenical links with Lutherans in Sweden (Skara) and Germany (Erfurt).

Those participating were: the Archbishop of Khartoum, the Bishops of Mara, Colombo, Faisalabad, Southwestern Virginia, Skara and the Superintendent of Erfurt; they spent five days with the Bishop of Leeds and the suffragan bishops of Bradford, Huddersfield, Richmond, Ripon and Wakefield.

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Evil in Holy Week and the vocation of mission: A meditation

From Titus on Mission-

Evil in the world.  Suffering among the poor, the drought-stricken and famine-stricken.  Agony among people on whom is inflicted excruciating death.  Betrayals on personal, social and global scales.  Gratuitous cruelty in families and neighborhoods.  Outrageous grabs by the powerful who disenfranchise, oppress and impoverish the less powerful.

We see all this around us – locally, regionally, globally.  The headlines need no recitation.  There you have it – evil.

In this world-scape, human-scape, suffering-scape people often ask – in puzzlement, despair or rage – ‘Where is God in all this?!  Where are you, God – that is, if you even exist?!’  And when they’re calmer and more analytical, many conclude, ‘Look at all this!  Obviously  God doesn’t exist, or if God exists God doesn’t care!’

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