Saturday, April 29, 2017

Catholic bishops urged to review celibacy rules amid shortage of priests

From The Guardian-

Catholic bishops in England and Wales are facing a fresh call for a national commission on the ordination of married men amid mounting concern that the church’s celibacy requirement is contributing to a shortage of priests.

The call for a review of celibacy as a condition of priesthood comes after Pope Francis signalled last month he was open to the possibility of ordaining married men under specific conditions. The issue is expected to raised at a synod next year on vocation.

The Movement for Married Clergy (MMaC) is renewing its call for a national commission of bishops, clergy and laity to discuss ways of tackling the shortage of priests. “We’re asking bishops to recognise the issue and examine possible solutions in good faith,” said the MMaC secretary, Chris McDonnell.

A recent editorial in the Catholic Times endorsed the call. “What has the church got to lose by establishing such a commission? Or perhaps more importantly, the focus should concentrate on what the church has to gain from such a move,” it said.

More here-

Scholar who revitalized Christian philosophy wins Templeton prize

From Crux-

Philosopher Alvin Plantinga has won the prestigious Templeton Award for once again making belief in God “a serious option within academic philosophy,” the Templeton Foundation has said.

“The field of philosophy has transformed over the course of my career,” Plantinga said in response to the honor. “If my work played a role in this transformation, I would be very pleased.

“I hope the news of the Prize will encourage young philosophers, especially those who bring Christian and theistic perspectives to bear on their work, towards greater creativity, integrity, and boldness,” he said April 25.

The Pennsylvania-based John Templeton Foundation awards the prize to a living individual who has made “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works.”

More here-

The trendy way faith leaders are saving the homeless

From Salt Lake City-

The Rev. Connie Pearson-Campbell calls it a "God moment." She says divine influence put Ralph Johnson in her path last summer.

She'd been at the city offices to learn whether building codes in Bozeman, Montana, allowed for tiny homes, residences generally smaller than 400 square feet. She thought the trendy spaces could fill a gap in the city's anti-homelessness efforts.

Johnson, an architecture professor at Montana State University, was in meetings about potential student projects. A city engineer sent one of his aides to catch the Rev. Pearson-Campbell before she left the building, telling her and Johnson they might be able to help one another.

"Right then and there, the collaboration was born," said the Rev. Pearson-Campbell, a deacon at St. James Episcopal Church.

More here-

Methodist High Court Rejects First Openly Gay Bishop’s Consecration

From The New York Times-

The United Methodist Church’s highest court has ruled that the consecration of its first openly gay bishop violated church law, compounding a bitter rift over homosexuality that has brought the 13-million-member denomination to the brink of schism.

In a 6-to-3 vote made public on Friday, the church’s Judicial Council found that a married lesbian bishop and those who consecrated her were in violation of their “commitment to abide by and uphold the church’s definition of marriage and stance on homosexuality.”

Still, the court ruled that the bishop, Karen P. Oliveto of Denver, “remains in good standing” pending further proceedings, offering her supporters a glimmer of hope. But it also raised the prospect of a suspension or forced retirement.

“Under the longstanding principle of legality, no individual member or entity may violate, ignore or negate church law,” the council ruled. “It is not lawful for the College of Bishops of any jurisdictional or central conference to consecrate a self-avowed practicing homosexual bishop.”

More here-

Also here-

And here-

and here-

Indy's new Episcopal bishop heard the voice of God across the street from the White House

From Indianapolis- (with video)

Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows stepped out of the historic Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan into a city where she’d lived most of her life but suddenly couldn’t recognize.

Cars flipped upside down, buildings with shattered windows, ash coating everything. These were the features of the hellish streetscape a few blocks from Ground Zero on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

In that moment, the North Tower of the World Trade Center came crashing down. Someone urged her group, which had been huddled in a stairwell during the attacks, to run for a nearby ferry terminal. Baskerville-Burrows, who grew up in a housing project on Staten Island, knew the way. Soon a ferry was carrying her away from the smoking city. Back in the building where she'd lived as a child, she knocked on doors she hadn't visited in years, seeking refuge from terrorism where she had once only feared the gunfire outside.

More here-

Slate of 5 in East Tennessee

From The Living Church- (with links)

The Diocese of East Tennessee has announced a slate of four men and one woman for the diocese’s election of a fifth bishop:

The Rev. Brian Cole, rector of Good Shepherd, Lexington, Kentucky

The Rev. Hendree Harrison, rector of St. Paul’s, Athens, Tennessee

The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, canon to the ordinary, Diocese of Georgia

The Rev. Canon Lance Ousley, canon for stewardship and development in the Diocese of Olympia and priest-in-charge of St. John’s, Kirkland, Washington

The Rev. Marty Stebbins, rector of St. Timothy’s, Wilson, North Carolina

The diocese will accept nominations by petition through May 12. The election is scheduled for July 28 at St. John’s Cathedral in Knoxville.

More here-

Knights of Malta draw battle lines after clash with pope

From Reuters-

They will not be drawing swords like their predecessors did 1,000 years ago, but battle lines have been drawn between conservatives and reformers in the Knights of Malta, the Catholic chivalric order and global charity.

Its former leader, Briton Matthew Festing, has returned to Rome for a decisive boardroom confrontation over its future this Saturday, defying a request to stay away by a representative of Pope Francis, who ordered his resignation in January.

Festing will be among 56 men who will vote on the leadership of an organisation with a budget of billions of dollars and 13,000 members, 80,000 volunteers and 20,000 paid medical staff running refugee camps, drug treatment centres, disaster relief programmes and clinics around the world.

His supporters have been moving behind the scenes to reassert their power and perhaps even try to reinstate him, against the wishes of the Vatican, which demanded he step down after he fired the organisation's number two.

More here-

The heresy of worshiptainment

From Mike Livingstone-

The great heresy of the church today is that we think we’re in the entertainment business. A.W. Tozer believed this to be true back in the 1950s and 60s. Church members “want to be entertained while they are edified.” He said that in 1962. Tozer grieved, even then, that it was “scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.”*

More recently, David Platt has asked: “What if we take away the cool music and the cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for his people to come together?” (Radical)

Would it be enough?

Tozer got it right: “Heresy of method may be as deadly as heresy of message.”

More here-

Friday, April 28, 2017

For many overbooked Christian families, Wednesday is the new Sunday

From Minneapolis-

Each Wednesday, the Latzke family heads to their Bloomington church for an evening of religious education and a worship service. Sunday is too packed to squeeze in church, so now Wednesday is their day — as it is for thousands of busy Minnesotans.

“Wednesday is the new Sunday,” is what some clergy call this trend reflecting the scheduling quirks of modern families.

“This works really nice for us because we’re so busy on weekends,” said Robyn Latzke shortly before the service at Transfiguration Lutheran Church. “She dances, and she plays volleyball,” Latzke said, pointing to her daughters.

“And I farm on weekends with my brother,” added her husband, Jeff Latzke.

As churches across Minnesota try new ways to accommodate the hectic lives of the faithful, Wednesday night services have emerged as a popular option.

For churches that already offered religious education on Wednesdays, adding a worship service was a logical fit. For others, a Wednesday service helps folks who travel on weekends, hold down jobs, or schlep children to hockey, soccer and other events.

More here-

GAFCON considers a missionary bishop for UK

From The Church Times-

THE consecration of a “missionary Bishop” for Anglicans who want alternative oversight in the Church of England is being considered by Primates meeting in Lagos this week, GAFCON UK confirmed on Monday.

In a response clarifying a report in the Mail on Sunday, GAFCON UK, a conservative Evangelical grouping, said that some of the language in the report was misleading. GAFCON Primates were not “plotting” to create such a bishop: “This implies subterfuge and deceit, and that foreign church leaders plan to impose a solution on British Anglican churches, which is not the case.”

Discussions were taking place “in response to requests from Anglicans in the UK”.

The statement, provided by the Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, on behalf of GAFCON UK, explained: “The GAFCON Primates recognise the existence in England, Scotland and Wales of faithful Anglicans who are already distanced from their local structures because of revisionist teaching and practice in the Church of England leadership, and they are ready to provide assistance. One option is to consecrate a missionary Bishop to give oversight if necessary.

More here-


From The New Yorker-

Rod Dreher was forty-four when his little sister died. At the time, he was living in Philadelphia with his wife and children. His sister, Ruthie, lived in their Louisiana home town, outside St. Francisville (pop. 1,712). Dreher’s family had been there for generations, but he had never fit in. As a teen-ager, when his father and sister went hunting he stayed in his room and listened to the Talking Heads; he read “A Moveable Feast” and dreamed of Paris. He left as soon as he could, becoming a television critic for the Washington Times and then a film critic for the New York Post. 

He was living in Cobble Hill on 9/11, and watched the South Tower fall. He walked with his wife in Central Park. He wrote a book, “Crunchy Cons,” about how conservatives like him—“Birkenstocked Burkeans” and “hip homeschooling mamas”—might change America. Ruthie never left. She was a middle-school teacher, and her husband was a firefighter. She could give a damn about Edmund Burke and the New York Post. She was not a crunchy con, and she found her brother annoying.

More here-

On Religion: A Muslim preacher in a Christian pulpit

From Atlanta-

Soumaya Khalifah’s sermon fell in the usual place in the Holy Week rite in which clergy from the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta renewed their vows: after a Gospel passage and before the consecration of bread and wine as Holy Communion.

In this Mass, the Liturgy of the Word also included a Quran reading, including: “God, there is no god but He, the Living, the Self-Subsisting. Neither slumber overtakes Him nor sleep. Unto Him belongs whatsoever is in the heavens and whatsoever is on the earth. Who is there who may intercede with Him save by His leave?”

Khalifah asked leaders from the region’s 96 Episcopal parishes an obvious question: Was this a historic moment, with a Muslim woman preaching in a liturgy for an entire Christian diocese?

“I truly believe that interfaith works is the civil rights movement for the 21st century,” said Khalifah, head of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta. “Faith is used to divide us and we need to make intentional efforts to bring ourselves together. Normally we worship, associate and have friends from our own faith tradition, our own race. ...

More here-

Is Catholicism Facing a Schism?

From The Trumpet-

Cardinal Robert Sarah warned that the Roman Catholic Church is facing a “grave risk” of schism. The Guinean cardinal stated that church officials who insist regional episcopal conferences have authority to make their own doctrines are threatening Catholic unity.

“Without a common faith, the Church is threatened by confusion and then, progressively, she can slide into dispersion and schism,” he said in an April 18 interview. “Today there is a grave risk of the fragmentation of the Church, of breaking up the Mystical Body of Christ by insisting on the national identities of the Churches and thus on their capacity to decide for themselves, above all in the so-crucial domain of doctrine and morals.”

Many Vatican watchers view Cardinal Sarah’s comments as criticisms of Pope Francis. In his 2016 exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, Francis wrote, “I would make it clear that not all discussions, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium.” Rather, the pontiff noted, “Each country or region … can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs.”

More here-

Who's In Charge of the Christian Blogosphere?

From Christianity Today-

The rise of the blogosphere in the early 2000s yielded the genre of the “spiritual blogger.” From the comfort of their living rooms, lay people suddenly became household names, wielding influence over tens of thousands of followers. A new kind of Christian celebrity—and authority—was born: the speaker and author who comes to us (often virtually) as a seemingly autonomous voice, disembedded from any larger institution or ecclesial structure.

Just as the invention of the printing press helped spark the Protestant Reformation and created a crisis of authority, the advent of social media has catalyzed a new crisis in the church.

One of the most prominent recent examples of this crisis involves the popular blogger Jen Hatmaker, who last year announced that her views about homosexuality have changed. She was cheered by some and denounced by others. LifeWay stopped selling her books. Aside from the debate about sexuality, broader questions emerged: Where do bloggers and speakers like Hatmaker derive their authority to speak and teach? And who holds them accountable for their teaching? What kinds of theological training and ecclesial credentialing are necessary for Christian teachers and leaders? What interpretive body and tradition do these bloggers speak out of? Who decides what is true Christian orthodoxy? And how do we as listeners decide whom to trust as a Christian leader and teacher?

More here-


From The Living Church-

The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music’s proposal that we consider prayer book revision has prompted a lot of discussion in general and especially on this site. Rather than go into the details of prayer book revision, in this post I would like to consider things a bit more anthropologically.

As human beings, whenever we encounter something we make a decision about it, even if the decision is to do nothing. The decision leads to some kind of behavior. Often that behavior becomes habitual, especially if we encounter the same thing more than once, or if the encounter is significant enough.

Sometimes we make a good decision and the habit that follows remains a good habit. Sometimes we make a bad decision and the habit that follows remains a bad habit. But, oddly, sometimes we can make a good decision in the face of some encounter — especially a significant or dangerous one — that nevertheless forms habits that are thereafter not truly helpful, perhaps even bad.

Why Don't Democrats Take Religion Seriously?

Video from The Atlantic (January)-

Many religious voters feel alienated from the Democratic Party, says Atlantic staff writer Emma Green. Why haven’t liberals tried harder to reach the broad percentage of Americans who identify as religious? “Democrats in Washington often have trouble speaking in religious terms, and they reflect a broader liberal culture that doesn’t take religion seriously,” she explains. But this is an uncomfortable shift, one that has a political costs. Previous progressive figures have actively relied on religious rhetoric to move policies forward. Martin Luther King Jr. and Jimmy Carter, for example, framed their ideals in religious terms and audiences were receptive. Is it time for Democrats to incorporate religious identity back into their outreach and politics? This is the second episode of “Unpresidented,” an original series from The Atlantic exploring a new era in American politics.

More here-

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Iraqi Refugee is Ordained as Priest in Anglican Church

From Christian Post-

In a historic event, an Iraqi refugee who became a Chaldean Catholic priest has been ordained into the Anglican Church.

Fr. Ayoob Shawkat Adwar is the first priest from the Chaldean Catholic Church to ever be ordained into the Church of England.

He received his priestly orders from the Bishop of New Westminster Melissa Skelton at the Church of Epiphany in Surrey on March 26.

Adwar was born in Mosul, Iraq and spent time in the war-torn nation as a Chaldean priest after his ordination in 2008. When fighting erupted in the city, his family decided to leave and seek refuge elsewhere outside Iraq.

His family came to Canada in 2012 and he himself followed in 2014 when his refugee status was approved, said the Anglican Journal.

Read more at -

In the Methodist Church, Signs of a Culture War

From FaithZette-

There is a civil war brewing within the Methodist Church over whether or not Karen Oliveto’s unanimous July election by the Western Jurisdiction to bishop will be sustained or overturned — and with the decision comes the potential to split the denomination. Karen Oliveto is the church’s first openly gay bishop.

The Methodist Church’s General Conference is comprised of 1,000 delegates — half clergy and half non-clergy members. The General Conference, which officially speaks for the church as a whole and sets policy, has upheld language dating back to 1972, which defines same-sex relationships as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

More here-

also here-

Partners in Agriculture plans new facility, continues fight against hunger in Haiti

From Upper South Carolina-

For 18 years, Greenville’s Gillaine and Charles Warne have grown food and taught sustainable agriculture in Haiti to eliminate malnutrition. Now they’re feeding thousands with three farms, a family security program, and a vocational school.

In 1999, Gillaine Warne made her first trip to Haiti’s Central Plateau through Christ Episcopal Church after Father Fritz Lafontant, a Haitian Episcopal priest, asked her to teach English in the small rural village of Cange.

During her visit, Warne witnessed the extent of malnutrition. “I felt as if each of my senses had been assaulted,” Warne says. “Children were dying, and mothers were walking barefoot across mountains for days to find help. It was even more astonishing to see that nobody was growing anything.”

More here-

Anglicanism: An introduction to the Episcopal Church

From California-

Most people know that the Church of England started because King Henry VIII needed an annulment from his wife, Catherine of Aragon.

What people often don’t realize is that the Pope did often grant annulments for royalty who wanted male heirs. In this case, though, Catherine’s brother didn’t allow the Pope to grant the request. After several attempts, Henry passed the Act of Succession and then Act of Supremacy that gave him control over the Church in England.

While this was the beginning of the Church of England it was not the beginning of Anglicanism.

England was ripe for change to the structure of the church. On the mainland, there were many who were “protesting” the Roman Catholic Church. These “Protestants” were raising doubts over the supremacy of the church of Rome and its teachings. With progress on the mainland, the church in England started to push away from Rome.

More here-

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Almost half of C of E cathedrals face financial crisis and could be forced to charge for entry to avoid closing

From The Daily Mail-

Almost half of England's Anglican cathedrals are facing financial crisis and could be forced to start charging for entry to avoid closing their doors, it has emerged.

Deans are meeting in London this week for crisis talks amid fears over the spiralling running costs of the ancient buildings at a time when public funding is drying up.

About 11 million people visit a cathedral each year but daily running costs can reach well into the thousands of pounds.

It has forced nine of the historic properties so far - including St Paul's in London and York Minster - to start charging an entry fee with many more set to follow suit if a solution is not found.
The remaining 33 rely on donations and grants as well as income from commercial sources.

Read more:

Clergy rally in Lowell for immigrants (VIDEO)

From The Boston Globe-

The clergy members stood shoulder to shoulder Tuesday at St. Anne's Episcopal Church with a promise to help undocumented immigrants.

The nearly 20 faith leaders were there to formally announce the formation of the Merrimack Valley Sanctuary Network, through which they plan to offer shelter, needed supplies, or services to undocumented immigrants who are threatened with deportation.

"We here believe that the current policies of the Department of Homeland Security and the practices of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE, are cruel, destructive, and fail to live up to the ideals of America," Rev. Peter Lovett, senior minister at the United Church of Christ (UCC), read from a statement signed by the leaders of participating congregations.

Read more:

Episcopal Church leaders come together to honor Bishop Marble

From Mississippi-

Chip Marble came home Monday.

In a small service at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Bovina officiated by the Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, presiding bishop for the Episcopal Church in the U.S., Bishop Alfred Clark “Chip” Marble’s ashes were buried by his parents and sister in the church cemetery as family and friends looked on.

Marble served as bishop of Mississippi, and after his retirement was assistant bishop to the bishop of North Carolina.

“He was my bishop, but he was also my mentor, and he could not have been more pastoral to me and my family,” said the Rt. Rev. Brian R. Seage, Episcopal bishop of Mississippi who assisted at the service. He said Marble was bishop when he was ordained a deacon and later as a priest.

“One of the things I’ll always remember, when my eldest child was born — and it was a real difficult pregnancy and she very premature — Bishop Marble drove down to Mobile, (Ala.) where she was born to make sure we were OK.”

More here-

Your Church Does Not Need Volunteers

From Patheos-

I was writing my weekly note to the congregation  (a few days late, because I took Monday off and it’s all downhill from there). Usually in this note, I share a few words about the message for Sunday so that we can all be reflecting on the same topic throughout the week. It makes the sermon more of an ongoing conversation. I sometimes discuss something that’s going on in the life of the church, as well. But this week, it was more of a thank you note. Because when I think about how much work my church folks did over the last few weeks to get our place ready for Easter, it blows my mind. And as I look around the property, I can see the fruits of many hours of shared labor.

Sparkling windows and floors; finely manicured landscaping; dramatic paraments, hung with a complex pulley system by dedicated House Elves in the wee hours… And then I start thinking about the work of the worship team, the children’s ministry team and musicians; not to mention greeters, hand-shakers, bulletin-hander-outers, and coffee makers; and the youth group out there hiding eggs for the little ones; plus more behind the scenes workers I have not mentioned. Just thinking about it makes me overwhelmed with gratitude. It’s enough to make my mascara run. (I’m not crying, you are).

More here-

Long Path to a New Call

From The Living Church-

Tali Folkins writes for Anglican Journal:

The Rev. Jake Worley, an Alabama-born priest, has been elected bishop of the diocese of Caledonia.

Worley, rector of the Bulkley Valley Regional Parish, which includes three congregations in northern British Columbia, was elected on the eighth ballot of an episcopal election held in Prince Rupert Saturday, April 22, in what he described as a very Spirit-filled event.

“It was an amazing experience of the Holy Spirit,” he said. “He certainly came there and moved on our hearts. It was amazing. I don’t know what else to say besides we’re in many ways shocked, but also grateful, for his leading.”

Link here

Worley is a graduate of Trinity School for Ministry and was ordained in the Episcopal Church in 2005. He founded a church that became part of the Anglican Church in North America, served as an interim rector at St. Martin’s Anglican Church in Fort St. John, British Columbia, served a year as a priest in the Church of Ireland, and most recently became rector in Bulkley Valley.

More here-

Indy's Episcopal church making history with new bishop

From Indianapolis-

The Indianapolis Episcopal Diocese has been a part of our state since 1849, but it has only had ten leaders, until now.

On Saturday, it will get number eleven - an energetic New York City native named Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows. While the church has ordained woman since he late 1970s, a female rising to the level of bishop is still relatively rare. Bishop Baskerville-Burrows will be one of only a handful of women to lead one of just over a hundred Episcopal dioceses in the United States.

The diocese is made up of 48 congregations, counting more than 10,000 members spread out over an area from Indianapolis south to the Ohio River. While Indiana might not always have the reputation as one of the most progressive cities in the country, the Episcopal Diocese here has been a leader in breaking new ground. The current bishop, Cate Waynick, has been the church's spiritual leader here for the last 20 years and the transition will mark the first time in the church's U.S. history that a woman will replace another woman as bishop.

More here-

Worcester Cathedral blessing for asparagus crop criticised as 'absurd' by Anglicans

From The Telegraph-

Asparagus is so venerated in Worcester that it has been blessed in a special ceremony in the city's cathedral.

But the thanksgiving service celebrating the local crop has been criticised by other Anglicans who have called it "absurd".

The bizarre Sunday evensong service was defended by the cathedral's Precentor, who said the vegetable was "a sign of the abundant provision and generosity of God". 

Christian groups told the Daily Telegraph that the ceremony, which also involved a man in costume as an asparagus spear, was inappropriate.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, chief executive of pressure group Christian Concern, said: "This is an absurd pantomime-type scene that makes a mockery of Christian worship."

More here-

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

GAFCON contemplates missionary bishop to support UK malcontents

From The Church Times-

THE consecration of a “missionary Bishop” for Anglicans who want alternative oversight in the Church of England is being considered by Primates meeting in Lagos this week, GAFCON UK confirmed on Monday.

In a response clarifying a report in the Mail on Sunday, GAFCON UK, a conservative Evangelical grouping, said that some of the language in the report was misleading. GAFCON Primates were not “plotting” to create such a bishop: “This implies subterfuge and deceit, and that foreign church leaders plan to impose a solution on British Anglican churches, which is not the case.”

Discussions were taking place “in response to requests from Anglicans in the UK”.

The statement, provided by the Executive Secretary of Anglican Mainstream, on behalf of GAFCON UK, explained: “The GAFCON Primates recognise the existence in England, Scotland and Wales of faithful Anglicans who are already distanced from their local structures because of revisionist teaching and practice in the Church of England leadership, and they are ready to provide assistance. One option is to consecrate a missionary Bishop to give oversight if necessary.

More here-

also here-

Presiding Bishop announces covenant agreement for the Diocese of Haiti

From ENS-

With profound thanks to Almighty God and with deep gratitude for the prayers of so many throughout the church, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry announces a covenant into which he, Bishop Jean Zache Duracin of Haiti, Bishop Suffragan Ogé Beauvoir, and the Standing Committee have entered.

The covenant “seeks to address and resolve many of the issues of conflict that have been burdening the Diocese,” brings an end to the pause on fundraising by the Episcopal Church and opens new possibilities for a united future as the diocese prepares to elect its next bishop diocesan in 2018.

As noted in the presiding bishop’s letter to the parties and shared with the Church, “The Covenant has entirely resolved the Title III matter that involved Suffragan Bishop Beauvoir’s relationship with the Standing Committee of the Diocese.  Further, the Covenant, together with the Memorandum of Understanding [providing guidance for mission partnerships]…fully resolved the Title IV matter that has been pending against Bishop Duracin.”

More here-

Fourth Circuit Tells District Court Not to Abstain in False Ad Holy War

From South Carolina-

At the heart of this unique Lanham Act case is a dispute between the Episcopal Church (the “Church”) and one of its “disaffiliated” districts, the Diocese of South Carolina (“Diocese”).  In 2012, led by its Bishop Mark Lawrence, the Diocese withdrew from the Church, but the Church did not recognize the withdrawal, and appointed Bishop Charles vonRosenberg to replace Bishop Lawrence as the head of the Diocese.  Lawsuits ensued, and the dispute raised an interesting question:  when a federal court confronts false advertising claims that are related to issues of intellectual property ownership that are being litigated separately in state court, should the federal court abstain from hearing the false advertising claims?

The Diocese fired the opening salvo by suing the Church in state court, and seeking a judgment resolving the ownership of various property rights, including intellectual property rights.  The Episcopal Church counterclaimed for, among other things, trademark infringement and dilution.

Thereafter, the newly appointed Bishop vonRosenberg filed a federal lawsuit claiming that Bishop Lawrence falsely advertised himself as the Bishop of the Diocese despite having been removed from that post after the Diocese withdrew from the national church.  Bishop Lawrence maintained that he acted properly in continuing to represent himself as the Bishop of the Diocese  because the Diocese existed as an independent entity following its withdrawal from the Church.

More here-

High-rise project planned for downtown Austin block

From Austin-

Another high-rise development is destined for yet another downtown Austin block.

The Episcopal Church has selected Austin-based Cielo Property Group to partner in developing a church-owned block, with plans calling for a large mixed-use project, along with a permanent home for the church’s historical archives.

Cielo Property Group, a commercial real estate investment and development firm, released conceptual renderings of what a mixed-use project might look like on the site, known as Block 87 and bounded by Seventh, Eighth, Trinity and Neches Streets.

A tower could rise somewhere in the 30-story range, with the mix of uses not yet determined, said Rev. Canon Lang Lowrey III, the asset manager for the property who is representing the church in its search for a development partner.

More here-

GAFCON Bishop-U.K.?

From The Living Church-

Lambeth Palace has declined to comment on reports that GAFCON may appoint a bishop to work in England. GAFCON’s primates, who are meeting this week in Lagos, Nigeria, are considering appointing a bishop in response to developments in the Church of England on same-sex marriage.

“I would say there is now a 75 percent probability of the GAFCON archbishops voting to consecrate a new bishop for the UK,” an anonymous source told The Mail on Sunday.

Already there is speculation about the identity of the GAFCON bishop, including the Rt. Rev. Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester, and Canon Andy Lines, chairman of GAFCON-UK and general secretary of the Crosslinks mission agency.


Want to solve the crisis facing England's cathedrals? Here is one answer

From Christian Today-

In terms of attendance, cathedrals are the modern success story of the Church of England. They seem immune from the savage decline that is decimating congregations, particularly outside London. Yet they are failing to monetise this success. And this is leading to a cash crisis in as many as half of them that could mean some even have to close.

There are 42 cathedrals in the Church of England, attended by up to 40,000 people a week – an increase of 18 per cent from a decade ago. Nearly all this is accounted for by midweek services. Festivals do exceptionally well. Easter worshippers rose by two per cent to 54,000 between 2014 and 2015 alone. Christmas attendance was 125,200 in 2015, the highest figure since 2011.  And while infant baptisms are falling, in common with the wider Church, baptisms of people over one year of age are increasingly steadily.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sex offender’s fate in limbo: Judge receives report to determine classification for transgender, former youth pastor facing prison

From West Virginia-

A diagnostic evaluation was completed recently for a former youth pastor and admitted transgender sex offender who is facing a prison term after pleading guilty last year to sexual abuse first degree.

James Lilly, 25, of Bluefield pleaded guilty in August 2016 in Mercer County Circuit Court to three counts of sexual abuse in the first degree. Raleigh County Judge John A. Hutchinson, who was assigned to the case after Mercer County Judge Derek Swope recused himself, delayed Lilly’s sentencing on Dec. 21, 2016 and remanded him to the state Department of Corrections so a diagnostic study could be completed with regard to how he would be classified as an inmate.

Lilly was arrested Jan. 12, 2016 and indicted in February that same year on 28 counts of sexual abuse in the first degree as well as charges of sexual assault third degree and incest.

More here-


From The Living Church-

Shortly after being ordained, I found myself completely overwhelmed. I was then rector of the only Anglican church in a small city in northern Canada. My wife and I had just moved into the rectory beside the church, and we had a newborn. All these changes happened within a month. I felt ill-prepared to navigate the complex intersecting realities of parish ministry and family life.

A big factor was the scope of ministry in that parish. My time was spent not with only a growing number of church members, but also people in the community with minimal connection to the church. As well, my community being a hub, I was called upon by people outside the community who were in town for one reason or another (this broad scope of ministry is actually quite common in northern Canada). Additionally, there were many challenges in the community and limited resources to meet those challenges. I saw firsthand what Eugene Peterson describes as “the sheer quantity of wreckage around us — wrecked bodies, wrecked marriages, wrecked careers, wrecked plans, wrecked families.”

More here-

Ethics, Mathematics and the Rosary: An Ex-Atheist Discusses Her Conversion

From National Catholic Register-

Leah Libresco Sargeant, once a prominent atheist blogger, converted in 2012 to Catholicism after engaging and challenging her readership to present an intellectually rigorous, spiritually rewarding response to her questions on life. Sargeant continues to blog, only now from a Catholic perspective, and also is a contributing editor at America magazine.

She is the author of "Arriving at Amen: Seven Catholic Prayers That Even I Can Offer."

Sargeant recently spoke with the Register about what motivated her conversion and the surprising changes she experienced in her life afterward, including how she learned to pray through the Rosary. The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

 More here-

A Reflection on Congregational Vitality

From Episcopal Cafe-

At the spring House of Bishops meeting, the Bishop of Washington, Marianne Budde spoke to the House.  According to Dan Martins, her colleague in Springfield, after a morning of reflection, prayer and an emphasis on personal growth, there seemed to be some dis-ease in the House.  Budde arose to address what was termed “the elephant in the room.”  She spoke of congregational vitality, saying in part,

"I can’t bring myself to count the number of congregations I cannot, in good conscience, recommend to those who are seeking a vibrant expression of Christian community. . . . Many of the issues holding us back in the Diocese of Washington are spiritual.  We, like Nicodemus, need to be born again.  Many of the congregations in the Diocese of Washington offer a tepid expression of Christian life, with almost nothing to offer the very people congregational leaders say they want to ‘attract.’"

More here-

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Statue Of A Homeless Jesus Startles A Wealthy Community

From NPR-

A new religious statue in the town of Davidson, N.C., is unlike anything you might see in church.

The statue depicts Jesus as a vagrant sleeping on a park bench. St. Alban's Episcopal Church installed the homeless Jesus statue on its property in the middle of an upscale neighborhood filled with well-kept townhomes.

Jesus is huddled under a blanket with his face and hands obscured; only the crucifixion wounds on his uncovered feet give him away.

The reaction was immediate. Some loved it; some didn't.

"One woman from the neighborhood actually called police the first time she drove by," says David Boraks, editor of "She thought it was an actual homeless person."

More here-

St George’s Day 2017: Why England should celebrate their patron saint

From Metro UK-

All across Wales people get their daffs out for St David’s Day and in Scotland St Andrew’s Day is a national holiday.

But St George’s Day passes each year, unnoticed by many, and often completely unmarked or celebrated.

This year St George’s Day (today) could finally be time for people to redress the balance. Here’s everything you need to know about the date.

England celebrates St George’s Day each year on April 23, which is thought to be the date of St George’s death in 303 AD.

However, it is also celebrated by Eastern Orthodox Churches on May 6.

Read more:

African and Asian church leaders threaten to ‘plant’ a bishop in Britain to defy Welby on gay Christians

From The Daily Mail-

Conservative Anglican archbishops from Africa and Asia are plotting to create a new ‘missionary’ bishop to lead traditionalists in the UK – after warning that the Church of England is becoming too liberal on homosexuality.

The rebel archbishops are set to give the green light to the controversial plan at a crucial meeting in Africa this week in defiance of the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
Insiders said the move was the ‘nuclear option’ as it would represent a highly provocative intervention into the Church of England by foreign archbishops and a direct challenge to the authority of Archbishop Welby, who is nominal head of Anglicans worldwide.

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The Crisis of Western Civ

From The New York Times-

Between 1935 and 1975, Will and Ariel Durant published a series of volumes that together were known as “The Story of Civilization.” They basically told human history (mostly Western history) as an accumulation of great ideas and innovations, from the Egyptians, through Athens, Magna Carta, the Age of Faith, the Renaissance and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The series was phenomenally successful, selling over two million copies.

That series encapsulated the Western civilization narrative that people, at least in Europe and North America, used for most of the past few centuries to explain their place in the world and in time. This narrative was confidently progressive. There were certain great figures, like Socrates, Erasmus, Montesquieu and Rousseau, who helped fitfully propel the nations to higher reaches of the humanistic ideal.

This Western civ narrative came with certain values — about the importance of reasoned discourse, the importance of property rights, the need for a public square that was religiously informed but not theocratically dominated. It set a standard for what great statesmanship looked like. It gave diverse people a sense of shared mission and a common vocabulary, set a framework within which political argument could happen and most important provided a set of common goals.

More here-