Saturday, May 6, 2017

Church of Ireland delegates defeat motion on public service for same-sex couples

From Ireland-

A motion that Church of Ireland bishops investigate developing a public thanksgiving service for legally married same-sex couples was defeated at the church’s General Synod on Friday night.

It followed a debate where speakers divided along North-South lines, with all speakers from the South in favour and almost all Northern speakers opposed.

Proposing the motion Dr Leo Kilroy of Glendalough diocese said: “many lesbian and gay people continue to feel gravely hurt by this church. They have been injured by the lack of compassion shown by some, who cling to a small number of disparate and disputed verses that exist in pockets of the Bible, and claim a divine rejection of gay people.”

More here-

Hungry, scared South Sudanese stay in cathedral compound for protection

From NCR-

The Rev. Bang Akuei Nyuol, an Anglican who serves as regional director for the South Sudan Council of Churches, said government officials did try to mitigate the violence by mounting a campaign for civilians to turn in weapons. Yet the same day it convinced a group of cattle keepers to hand over their assault rifles, a large number of cattle were stolen from them. In the wake of the cattle raid, few listened to the government's appeal to disarm.

And so the displaced wait.

"I'm a university graduate, but I've been sitting in this camp for almost a year," said William George, a resident of the cathedral camp. "This morning I didn't eat anything. Nor did my children. If I had $100, I'd leave for Egypt or somewhere else, anywhere other than here. My house was burned and all my things taken. There's no future here because there's no accountability. They can kill someone and there's no response, no judgment."

Father Moses Peter, the diocesan emergency coordinator, said the victims of the violence trust the clergy to protect them.

More here-

Why some religious groups oppose the Republican health bill

From Salt Lake-

She quoted a Catholic nun, Sister Simone Campbell, who has said, "This is not the faithful way forward and must be rejected." And to the Episcopal Church she attributed this line: "Trumpcare falls woefully short of our spiritual calling to care for the least of these, as well as the noble values upon which our great nation was founded."

A spokeswoman for The Episcopal Church said the church did say the Republican plan "falls woefully short of our spiritual calling" in a letter that Rebecca Linder Blachly, the church's director of governmental relations, sent to members of Congress.

The spokeswoman, Neva Rae Fox, also said in an email, "Please know that the Episcopal Church has never used the phrase 'Trumpcare.'" The language in the letter is "this current proposal."

More here-

'Crazy Christians' author bringing his Jesus message to Hammons Field

From Western Missouri-

When Steve Rottgers first heard Michael Curry preach, the West Missouri Episcopal priest knew he was hearing something exciting. When Curry was elected presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA in 2015, Rottgers decided that excitement needed to come to Missouri.

“He just has a dynamic personality and demeanor,” said Rottgers, who serves as both the priest at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Bolivar and as assistant to the bishop of West Missouri. “It lends itself to a kind of revival, a renewal, an awakening,” he added. “That doesn’t often happen in the Episcopal Church.”

Serving in a part of the country that knows little about the Episcopal Church but holds a genuinely evangelical view of Christianity, Rottgers figured he had a great idea — the church could hold an “Episcopal version” of that kind of revival.

More here-

Greater 501(c)3 Freedom

From The Living Church-

Churches in the United States may now exercise more freedom of speech on political issues, thanks to an executive order signed by President Donald Trump on May 4.

The order directs the IRS to use “maximum enforcement discretion” of the regulation, which prohibits churches and tax-exempt groups from participating in campaigns and endorsing candidates. Churches and other 501(c)3 organizations that stray into political speech risk losing tax-exempt status.

Trump signed the order on the National Day of Prayer at the White House. “This financial threat against the faith community is over,” Trump said. “No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.”

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury makes surprise visit to Gaza

From The Guardian-

The archbishop of Canterbury has made a surprise visit to Gaza during his 12-day tour of the Holy Land.

Justin Welby spent three and a half hours in the Gaza Strip, which has been the scene of repeated conflicts over the past decade and is governed by the militant group Hamas.

The archbishop, who was accompanied by the Anglican bishop of Jerusalem, Suheil Dawani, and two aides, was granted Israeli permits and given security clearance at the last minute, after earlier this week seeking permission to enter the Gaza Strip.

Welby described his short visit to the densely populated and impoverished territory as “extraordinary”. About 1.9 million Palestinians live in Gaza, which is surrounded on three sides by walls and fences and blockaded by the Israeli navy along its coastline.

More here-

A Pastor and the loss of his child.

From Empty Arms-

Everyone knows there are certain things you just don’t say when a baby dies. Especially as the chaplain. Silence is preferable to easy answers or saying ‘something.’ I’m pretty sure every chaplaincy department drills that into you on the first day. And yet early that morning, the chaplain that met us apparently didn’t get the memo.

“Well,” she said, “Though we can’t say how, we know that this is a part of God’s plan.”

Normally, when a chaplain utters such a simplistic and insensitive platitude, those on the receiving end rip them apart. And yet, seeing her discomfort, the deer in the headlights look in her eyes, her complete inability to do or say anything else, Carolyn and I could only feel sorry for her. This chaplain was completely overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do. And I’m almost certain if I had been in her shoes during my first year of seminary, I wouldn’t have done any better. Ideally, I would have just kept quiet. But I don’t know.

More here-

Friday, May 5, 2017

12 years after being destroyed by fire, Iqaluit's igloo church is finally debt-free

From Canada-

Twelve years after it was destroyed by arson, Iqaluit's iconic igloo church — St. Jude's Anglican Cathedral — is debt-free, and people in the parish are breathing a sigh of relief.

"It was a large weight on our shoulders, the debt that we had owing on the cathedral," said Darren McCartney, Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of the Arctic.

The last payment was about six weeks ago, he said.

Fundraising started back in 2004 with a plan to renovate the existing cathedral, which was build in the early 1970s. Those efforts had to be expanded to rebuild the cathedral from scratch in 2005, after a fire, which was later determined to be arson, gutted the building.

The build was completed and church services resumed in 2012.

More here-

Trump is encouraging pastors to push politics. Here's how that's gotten them in trouble before

From The LA Times-

All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena

Two days before the 2004 presidential election, a guest speaker at All Saints Episcopal Church in Southern California gave a sermon in which he pitted Jesus debating against presidential candidates George W. Bush and John F. Kerry.

The Rev. George F. Regas, the church’s former rector, did not make an endorsement. He said “good people of profound faith” could vote for Bush or Kerry. But he also strongly criticized the Iraq war and said Jesus would have said Bush’s Iraq strategy had “led to disaster.”

The IRS opened an investigation into the sermon the next year, and wrote a letter to the church saying investigators thought the priest’s words were illegal.

More here-

“Awakening the Spirit” Event in Springfield Aims Strengthen Community

From West Missouri-

Springfield has played host to several political rallies and marches in recent months, with crowds ranging from the dozens to thousands. This weekend, an event entitled “Awakening the Spirit” is projected to draw people from across the region.

It’s designed to build a stronger community, says Rev. Martin S. Fields, the bishop of the West Diocese of Missouri.

“We’re trying to be hosts to folks who just perhaps need a lift, perhaps need an opportunity to explore anew the fact that what can  be an awfully hard, tough life in this world can actually be lived with joy if we find joy in one another and we build relationships with one another.”

Fields is one of many scheduled speakers at Sunday’s event, with the Most Rev. Bishop Michael Curry to deliver the keynote address.

Curry, elected in 2015, is the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church. He’ll be speaking in Springfield a day after a similar event Saturday in Kansas City.

More here-

CNY Episcopal bishop to bless motorcyclists then drive her Harley in Jordan church's ride

From Central New York-

When Jesus Christ sent out his disciples to spread his teachings in what the Bible calls the Great Commission, they might not have envisioned going out on motorcycles to do it.

But, that is exactly what the Rev. DeDe Duncan-Probe — the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, the first woman to hold that position — does and what she will do next weekend when she participates in the annual Blessing of the Bikes at Christ Episcopal Church in Jordan.

The event is slated to begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 13 at the church, 25 N. Main St., Jordan, with a brief worship service in which the bishop will bless the riders and their motorcycles. Then, she will join them on her black Harley-Davidson Softail Slim S — a birthday gift from her husband, she said — and take part in the one-hour ride before returning to the church.

More here-

1.5 million Christians have fled Iraq in an exodus that could lead to the extinction of the faith in the land

From Christian Today-

As many as 1.5 million Christians have fled Iraq since the rise of Islamic State, according to an Iraqi MP.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Christian lawyer Josef Sleve said that just 14 years ago, there had been nearly two milliion Christians in Iraq.

There are now between 500,000 and 850,000.

'This means that over the past 14 years, some 1.5 million Christians have emigrated to other countries," said Sleve.

The exodus began after the 2003 invasion of Iraq by a coalition including forces from the US, Australia, the UK and Poland. But most fled the terrors of Islamic State, which wants to wipe out Christians and is notorious for its executions by beheading.

More here-


From The Living Church-

I was speaking recently with an evangelical friend who described how, at his large, affluent Presbyterian Church, the current pastor is pushing the vision that the church service should be designed with the outsider in mind. “Seeker”-friendly church is hardly a new concept, but it is obviously becoming more pervasive, since it has spread even to the mainline churches.

The theological or biblical rationale for this approach is that Jesus went and met people where they were. Christ’s meeting with the Samaritan woman may be the supreme example. He doesn’t browbeat her for her immorality and her misguided religious notions. He does make a number of important truth statements — God is Spirit — but he does so in the context of their established conversation. Even in addressing her personal life, his tone does not express moral outrage. If it was intended to induce any shame, its only purpose was so that she would know her life had been put in the light of the Lord, in which forgiveness was already on hand before it was even sought.

More here-

Who Owns a Pastor’s Body?

From Sojourners-

The other day, a female pastor posted in a private Facebook group for young clergy, sharing the first comment she received after her first sermon in her first church. Immediately, I was cringing with empathy. I knew what was coming: It was going to be about her hair. Of course it was. What else would someone have to say after hearing a minister preach on the gospel, right?

Such stories are common among clergy. Ministers I know have received unsolicited commentary from parishioners on their relationship status, their pregnancies, their weight, their facial hair, their attire, and just about any other physical or personal attribute you can imagine. During my own short time in ministry, I’ve heard that I am too skinny and that I’m overweight, that my hair is a distraction, that I’m too young, that I’m looking particularly tired, that they’d date me if they could, and even that I have great legs.

We tend to laugh or shrug off these interactions most of the time because we know that there is, more often than not, no malicious intent behind them. We care for our congregation members, and we don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable or angry. But while not every earnest comment offered by a church member is unwelcome, some of these unsolicited encounters can be frustrating and even degrading for us. They undermine our confidence and our authority.

More here-

Eligible for parole after 18 months in prison: The builder, the bishop, and a most violent crime

From Cycling Tips-

What happened next is simple to explain and impossible to understand. He was hit from behind by a car. The driver, who turned out to be a high-ranking bishop in the Episcopal church, was drunk and texting. She smashed into Palermo and left the scene — twice. Her name is Heather Cook and on that brilliant Saturday, she killed Tom Palermo.

The incident caused outrage – in the cycling community, of course, but also with the general public, which often just shrugs when riders get killed. Like a horrific crash in Kalamazoo, Michigan, last June, in which a drugged-out driver killed five cyclists on a group ride, the tragic death of Tom Palermo touched a nerve. Even people who hate cyclists wanted justice to be served.

Now, 29 months after Cook killed Palermo, the very nature of justice is again the subject of agony and debate. On May 9, Cook will be summoned to a room at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, a facility in Jessup that houses 800 prisoners, for her first parole hearing. Cook, now 60, has served roughly 18 and a half months of the seven-year sentence a judge handed down in October 2014. She is eligible for early parole because the State of Maryland does not classify vehicular homicide as a violent crime.

More here-

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Archbishop reflects on meeting Iraqi Christians in Jordan

From Justin Welby-

Yesterday we visited St Paul's Anglican Church in Amman, Jordan. It is an extraordinary place - a congregation made up of Jordanians, a few Egyptians, some Syrians (though many of these have been resettled) and Iraqi refugees.

It was their stories which I found especially moving. The intense suffering of Iraqi Christians does not end when they leave Iraq. As I listened, there was this awful sense of lives torn apart.
People are divided from their children and families and have no idea what will happen. One woman has children in both Germany and the Netherlands, but has been refused entry to both so she doesn't know when or if they will ever be reunited.

Young men are vulnerable to being recruited to extremist causes because their community and networks have been stripped away.
One man told me he has no hope at all. He said he is caught between Islamic State, the government and NGOs who further discriminate against him because he is a Christian.

More here-

The historic shift in the US Supreme Court’s religious makeup (plus or minus a Gorsuch)

From Quartz-

US Supreme Court justices are secular clerics of the highest order. The Constitution is their guiding document—a set of basic commandments—and textual analysis is their practice, used to dissect thorny moral issues. All share a reverence for the law: It would be impossible to get the gig without a religious devotion to its rule.

Still, a shift in the religious backgrounds of justices in recent years arguably represents a dramatic change in American culture. There is no religious test for Supreme Court justices, nor any requirement that the bench represent the makeup of the nation. Yet it’s notable that court has gone from all-Protestant origins to now mostly-Catholic, with one third of the bench Jewish.

More here-

Brown County church organist admitted to November vandalism

From Indiana-

A Brown County church vandalized with Donald Trump graffiti shortly after the 2016 election wasn't targeted by pro-Trump political activists, but a member of their own congregation, according to police.

People suspected the KKK or some other hate group was responsible for the graffiti. The arrest of the church organist, was a surprise - and a relief.

The Brown County prosecuting attorney's office issued a statement Wednesday saying they had charged 26-year-old George Nathaniel Stang of Bloomington with institutional criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. Stang was the man who originally claimed to have found the graffiti, and works as the organist at St. David's Episcopal Church in Bean Blossom.

"Oh my, the organist," Mary Ayers said. "The organist. Wow. Wow."

More here-

also here-

Staying Put: A Look at the First 10 Years of Ministry

From Alban-

During my years in parish ministry I offered spiritual direction for clergy in the area. In the span of two years, four pastors came to me with what seemed to be the same symptoms. Each felt a sense of restlessness, malaise, and vague anxiety about the future of his or her current congregational ministry. Puzzled that their struggles seemed so similar, I looked for a common factor in these pastors’ lives and their widely differing church contexts.

The only common element all four shared was the length of time they had served their current parishes. Each was in either the seventh or eighth year with one congregation. Moreover, none of these pastors had previously stayed with one parish for more than five years. Could this common thread of short pastoral tenure be the source of their restlessness?

More here-

Becoming Beloved Community: Introducing the Episcopal Church’s Long-Term Commitment to Racial Healing, Reconciliation and Justice

From The Episcopal Church-

Following a year of listening, consulting and reflection, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and House of Deputies President the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings and officers of the House of Bishops and House of Deputies are inviting Episcopalians to study and commit to using Becoming Beloved Community: The Episcopal Church’s Long-term Commitment to Racial Healing, Reconciliation and Justice.

The full document is available here.

“You’re not looking at a set of programs,” Presiding Bishop Curry explained. “You’re looking at a path for how we, as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement, can more fully and prayerfully embody the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus in our relationships with each other. Look at the scriptures, at Christian history. There is no doubt that Beloved Community, healing, justice and reconciliation are at the heart of Jesus’ movement in this world.”

More here-

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A CHURCH THAT WAS- by Peter Hitchens

From First Things-

Yes, I remember the Church of England, much more than a name, a living thing. As it happens, my own religiously confused family was not churchgoing. By the early 1950s, most of the respectable English middle class had ceased to be especially religious, though they continued to respect faith. Church attendance had ceased to be normal in most of Britain around the time of the 1914–18 war, and had begun to be abnormal after the 1939–45 war. But parents brought up in the lost age of faith still felt it right that their children should be taught beliefs they themselves had lost, but be taught them by someone else.

So through various schools I was exposed to the last enchantments of Anglicanism as it once was, full of the might, majesty, dominion, and power granted to it by the first Queen Elizabeth. These men had crowned the second Elizabeth before an astonished world in 1953, and made an ordinary young woman our anointed monarch in a ceremony of grandeur, mystery, and poetry, a vast moth-eaten musical brocade that in those days still comfortingly covered up the peeling wallpaper and cracked plaster of our national home.

More Here-

White American Evangelical Christianity Is a Bubble — and It’s About to Burst

From Sojourners-

Last Friday, Jerry Falwell, Jr. took to Fox News to proclaim that in Donald Trump, “evangelicals have found their dream president.” Two years ago, this statement would have made virtually no sense, at least on the surface. To many outside the white evangelical world, it seemed — and still seems — inconceivable that a thrice-married serial adulterer, ultimate materialist, casino owner, habitual liar, and unprincipled deal-maker could ever become the standard bearer for a group that professes to base their vote on “family values.”

How times have changed. In the two years since Trump announced his candidacy, we have seen a remarkable moral unmasking of white Americans who call themselves Christian, and in particular those who claim the “evangelical” label. Eighty-one percent of white evangelical voters cast their vote for Donald Trump, and the most recent Pew Research poll puts Trump’s support after his first 100 days in office at 78 percent among white evangelicals (and 80 percent among white evangelicals who attend church once a month).

More here-

Head of Anglican church visits Christian refugees in Jordan

From ABC News (more links below)-

The head of the Anglican Church met with Iraqi refugees Tuesday during a visit to Jordan in which he called on the region's embattled Christians to remain in the Middle East, the cradle of their faith.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said Christians "are the past in the Middle East, they are the present and they must be the future."

Two dozen refugees from Iraq asked the archbishop to help them leave the Middle East after praying with him at the Anglican church of St. Paul in Amman. Welby also met Jordan's King Abdullah II and visited the Zaatari refugee camp.

The Middle East is home to the oldest Christian communities in the world, but large numbers have fled in recent years to escape war and Islamic extremism.

At dusk, the bells at Amman's Church of the Redeemer rang out in welcome of the archbishop for a prayer service with about a hundred Jordanian, Iraqi and other Christians.

More here-

The Daily Mail-

Christian Today-

Huffington Post-

'This isn't an attempt to storm Lambeth Palace': GAFCON not looking for split in Church

From Premier UK-

GAFCON, a worldwide group of conservative Anglicans, has told Premier it's not looking to break up the Church of England but is instead working to keep Anglican Communion united.

Over the weekend, a statement from the group was released with details of the creation of a missionary bishop to be sent to the UK in response to the Church of England and Scottish Episcopal Church's teaching on marriage and sexuality.

GAFCON, which follows the traditional understanding on these issues, says it is sending someone here to give episcopal leadership to those who claim the Churches are becoming too liberal.

The trigger point was the upcoming debate between Anglicans in Scotland which could lead to a change in teaching on marriage.

Addressing the issue on Premier's News Hour, Most Rev Peter Jensen, GAFCON's General Secretary and a former Archbishop of Sydney, said: "There are many issues that divide us, where we have diverse opinions, and that's OK - but some of them are so important that a stand has to be taken. A painful and costly stand.

More here-

GAFCON should stay out of our territory, says Scottish Anglican leader

From Christian Today-

The leader of the Anglican church in Scotland has described as 'regrettable' the decision to appoint a 'missionary bishop' to England and Scotland.

Bishop of St Andrew's David Chillingworth was speaking in response to an announcement by the conservative group GAFCON that it is to appoint a special bishop' for conservative Christians in Europe.

GAFCON, made up of primates from nine Anglican provinces and five 'branches', made the decision at its recent meeting in Lagos, Nigeria.

GAFCON was set up an an attempt by its leaders to stand against what they regard as unbiblical acceptance of homosexuality among some churches in the West.

More here-

Refugee admissions down in Kansas, Wichita amid ‘uncertain times’

From Kansas-

In late January, Episcopal Migration Ministries-Wichita said it hoped to resettle another 110 refugees in Wichita between then and the end of September, the end of the federal fiscal year.

It has resettled 16 refugees since Jan. 27, Schmidt said last week. The organization expects a few families to arrive in May since the State Department is still scheduling some travel for refugees to the U.S.

Schmidt said the number of refugees expected to arrive the rest of the year is “impossible to predict during these uncertain times in refugee resettlement.”

The national ministry of the Episcopal Church announced last month it was cutting some affiliate offices because of the lower number of refugees being resettled in this country.

Read more here:

Women Bishops speak out on gender justice

From ACNS-

The seven female bishops of the Provinces of the Anglican Church Australia and of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have used their first ever meeting to speak out “for the well-being of girls and women across the Anglican Communion.” The Bishops have served in the Anglican Episcopate for various lengths of time ranging from less than 2 years to more than 23 years.

During the three day meeting, in the Diocese of Gippsland, to the east of Melbourne, the bishops addressed the history and experience of women in the episcopate and reflected on the journey of women to ordination to all three orders of ministry in their respective Provinces.

They have issued a communiqué from their gathering, which expresses their general concern “for the well-being of girls and women across the Anglican Communion and the opportunities for them to live into the fullness of their humanity.”

More here-

Churches vow to shelter immigrants

From Seattle-

Puget Sound-area faith leaders, gathered at St. Mark's Cathedral, delivered a May Day message of defiance to the Trump administration and a bid to put the ice on ICE raids targeting undocumented immigrants.

In a re-launching of the Sanctuary Movement, congregations pledged to serve as "places of respite and refuge on a short-term basis in the case of local raids, sweeps or communal fear of harassment or hate violence."

"We will welcome the outside, the stranger, the undocumented immigrant, the documented immigrant," said Father Antonio Illas of St. Matthew/San Mateo Episcopal Church in Auburn.

More here-

Girl Scouts no longer "compatible" with Gospel, Archdiocese of Kansas City says

From American Magazine (AP)-

The archdiocese covering the Kansas City, Kansas, region and much of the eastern part of the state said Monday it is severing ties with Girl Scouts and urging an end to cookie sales, citing philosophical concerns with the organization.

The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced in a statement that Girl Scouts is "no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and values of the Gospel," The Kansas City Star reported.

The archdiocese said it is switching its support to a 22-year-old, Christian-based scouting program, American Heritage Girls.

American Heritage Girls, with 1,005 troops and more than 47,000 members, has become an option for those who claim Girl Scouts has turned too liberal and has relationships with organizations that don't share traditional family values. The Girl Scouts deny that.

More here-

Bishop Karen Oliveto: ‘My presence changes the conversation’ on LGBTQ people

From RNS-

Last week’s decision by the United Methodist Church’s top court on the consecration of openly gay bishops may have been muddled, but that just shows that the Judicial Council is “a very good representation” of the denomination, said Bishop Karen Oliveto.

“We are not of one mind when it comes to the role of LGBTQI people in the life and ministry of the United Methodist Church,” Oliveto said.

The 6-3 decision announced Friday (April 28) found that while the consecration of an openly gay bishop violates church law, Oliveto’s consecration is not in question. She remains a bishop “in good standing” until an administrative or judicial process is finished.

Opponents of Oliveto’s election and consecration have said the Judicial Council’s decision did not go far enough since it did not remove her from office. Among them, Good News — an evangelical ministry within the United Methodist Church — released a statement calling it “convoluted and ultimately unsatisfactory.”

More here-


From The Living Church-

This past Epiphany, I blessed chalk during the Mass. It was the first time our parish had engaged in this particular practice. Each person who attended was given a piece of chalk to take home with them, along with a set of instructions for scrawling the formula for a blessing over the doors of their homes: “20+C+M+B+17.” It was a strange thing to do. People in the neighborhood would later stare at our doors and wonder. It made no sense to the world. Many people thought it was weird.

To that I say, good. It is good that Christians are weird. The weirder we can be, the better.

We in the West live in a culture in which Christianity is increasingly alien. Despite the fact that much of our cultural understanding of things like human rights and social responsibility is still loosely based on a Judeo-Christian ethic, our societies in America and Europe have become increasingly secular and hostile to Christian faith. Our culture’s priests today are celebrities and scientists (and the celebrity scientist is the most prized figure of all — witness the recent controversy over Bill Nye’s new show). Our houses of worship are football stadiums. Our creeds are sound-bite versions of political platforms delivered over social media and cable news.

More here-

The Gift of Candor

From Dallas-

I am not telling tales out of school - the sermon in question at the latest House of Bishops has been reported in the press or blogosphere several times. The Bishop of Washington, Mariann Budde, though of a more progressive theological stripe than I, is thoughtful, creative, and gracious. People listen to what she has to say. She spoke of the struggle to help parishes to grow, in spite of which many continue to decline (with one notable exception in her diocese, which I believe is a large evangelical parish). The bishop also observed that other churches, of the kind for which Episcopalians often feel scorn, are growing on every side of her.  What can be learned and gained by listening to them?  Others expressed appreciation that she had pointed out a sizeable elephant in the room, and to his credit the Presiding Bishop took note as well.

More here-

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Church of Ireland General Synod to debate same-sex marriage

From Ireland-

The Church of Ireland is to debate and vote upon a motion on same-sex unions at its general synod in Co Limerick this week. The general synod is the main decision-making body of the Church of Ireland, meeting once a year. 

A private member’s motion is set to be debated on Friday, calling for the church to acknowledge the “injury felt by members of the church who enter into loving, committed and legally recognised, same-sex relationships, due to the absence of provision for them to mark that key moment in their lives publicly and prayerfully in church”. The motion also “respectfully requests the House of Bishops to investigate a means to develop sensitive, local pastoral arrangements for public prayer and thanksgiving with same-sex couples at these key moments in their lives, and to present their ideas to general synod 2018, with a view to making proposals at general synod 2019.”
Read more at:

Anglican Church lawyers after Nolbert Kunonga

From Zimbabwe-

The Anglican Church has instructed its lawyers to recover everything the church lost to ex-communicated bishop Dr Nolbert Kunonga following the Supreme Court ruling last month.

The superior court ordered the bishop to pay the Anglican Church $427 000 as compensation for shares he sold after he led the church into schism in 2007.

The shares were owned by the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) in various firms and by command of the law, the decision of the Supreme Court is final and binding on all subordinate courts.

The Anglican Diocesan secretary, Reverend Clifford Dzavo, said Dr Kunonga was yet to comply with the Supreme Court ruling.

"We met our lawyers Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans last week on Friday after the court ruling," said Rev Dzavo.

"We have instructed them to follow up the matter and recover the money and everything that we lost to Kunonga.

More here-

Newport Beach church at center of dispute denies family’s request for funeral of 60-year congregant

From Orange County-

The daughters of a long-time member of a displaced local congregation say they are disappointed by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles’ decision to reject their request to hold their mother’s funeral service at their former church home.

Nancy Knight, who has been a member of St. James the Great Episcopal since 1956, died of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease April 7, her daughter Ellen Knight Gordon said Monday. She was 86.

The family told their pastor, the Rev. Cindy Voorhees, that they wanted to honor Knight’s wishes by holding her service at the church, where she had served as a volunteer for about 60 years. Three weeks after they made that request, the family heard from the diocese through an email: “This is not going to work.”

Diocesan officials did not give a reason why it wouldn’t work but offered to help the family find a different location. A spokesman for the diocese did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

More here-

Who pastors the pastor? Even ministers suffer from suicidal thoughts.

From The Washington Post-

My cousin’s trembling voice uttered the unthinkable. “Kay, I need to let you know that Wayne took his life this morning.” My knees collapsed under me. “No! How can this be? What happened? Why? What was wrong with him?”

My mouth formed tumbling questions despite my mind being frozen in disbelief and grief.

Through his tears, my cousin told me his brother-in-law had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts for some time. His family thought Wayne was truly improving after he agreed to see a therapist.

On the morning of his death, Wayne said goodbye to his wife, Lynn, as she left for work. But Lynn felt uneasy and came home at lunch to check on him, only to find the worst had happened.

More here-

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Communiqué from the Gafcon Primates to Members and Supporters

From Gafcon-

A Missionary Bishop

During our meeting, we considered how best to respond to the voice of faithful Anglicans in some parts of the Global North who are in need of biblically faithful episcopal leadership. Of immediate concern is the reality that on 8th June 2017 the Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to formalize their rejection of Jesus’ teaching on marriage. If this were to happen, faithful Anglicans in Scotland will need appropriate pastoral care. In addition, within England there are churches that have, for reasons of conscience, been planted outside of the Church of England by the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE).  These churches are growing, and are in need of episcopal leadership. Therefore, we have decided to consecrate a missionary bishop who will be tasked with providing episcopal leadership for those who are outside the structures of any Anglican province, especially in Europe.

More here-

First married gay vicar quits as minister in 'institutionally homophobic' Church of England

From The Independent-

An Anglican vicar who became the first in Britain to marry his same-sex partner has announced he is quitting as a minister in the “institutionally homophobic” Church of England.

Father Andrew Foreshew-Cain, a member of the ruling General Synod, is leaving his church in north London to move to the Peak District with husband Stephen, but will not seek another parish as he said he was told he wouldn’t be given one.

“I’m resigning my parishes and won’t be a licenced minister anymore and, because I’m married to Stephen, it was made clear to me that I wouldn’t get a licence for a new church," he told The Independent.

“In the normal run of things, I’d be looking for a parish up north but I can’t have one because of the institutional homophobia of the Church of England.”

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The complicated story behind the famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’

From PRI-

“It seems kind of like an all-purpose, hopeful song,” says Steve Turner, author of “Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song.” But while the song has a universal message, its origins are much more complex.

For one, while the song is a well-known anthem of the civil rights movement, its original text was written by a former slave trader. John Newton was an Anglican priest in England in 1773, when he debuted a hymn to his congregation called “Faith’s Review and Expectation.”

The hymn opened with a powerful line: “Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound) That sav’d a wretch like me!” And it drew on Newton’s own experience as a slave trader — specifically, from a near-death experience he’d had decades earlier, when the slave ship he was on encountered a violent storm, prompting him to convert to Christianity. (Newton didn’t speak out against slavery until 1788.)

The hymn wasn’t particularly popular in England, according to Deborah Carlton Loftis, executive director of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. But she says in the United States, it became well-known during the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s when thousands of people — white and black — would gather for outdoor revival meetings.

Songs were important to these meetings — although not always exactly as they were written. Revival leaders frequently switched out melodies and borrowed verses from other hymns. “There were choruses and refrains that people could learn quickly,” Loftis says.

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GAFCON pushes ahead with new bishop to support traditional marriage

From Primier-

A new bishop will be consecrated to support UK Christians who support the traditional interpretation of the Bible's view on marriage.

The position is being created by the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON), an international group of conservative Anglicans who believe marriage is intended to be a life-long union solely between one man and one woman.

GAFCON said the new bishop will minister to churches who have rejected the Church of England "for reasons of conscience".

In a statement, the group said: "...within England there are churches that have, for reasons of conscience, been planted outside of the Church of England by the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE).

"These churches are growing, and are in need of episcopal leadership.

"Therefore, we have decided to consecrate a missionary bishop who will be tasked with providing episcopal leadership for those who are outside the structures of any Anglican province, especially in Europe."

More here-

also here-

Black female Episcopal bishop of Indy diocese breaks stained glass ceiling

From USA Today-

On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, 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.

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.

The trauma of that day lingered with Baskerville-Burrows for years. She remembered it earlier this week in another historic Episcopal church — Indianapolis’ Christ Church Cathedral — as the most dramatic chapter in a life that has led her to the eve of a new milestone: becoming the 11th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis.

More here-

And here-


From Religion Dispatches-

A new Pew Research Center analysis of General Social Survey data confirms a long-simmering trend in U.S. religious observance: While attendance at religious services has declined for all Americans, it has declined more among women than men.

In the early 1970s, 36 percent of women and 26 percent of men reported attending church services weekly, a ten-point gap that reflected the long-standing trend of women being more religiously committed than men.

The gap reached its widest point in 1982, when it hit 13 percent, but then it began to shrink. By 2012, 22 percent of men reported attending church weekly, as did 28 percent of women, reflecting a “worship gap” of only six percent, an historic low.

Pew’s David McClendon gives several possible reasons for women’s declining levels of religiosity as measured by church attendance. One is the increase in the number of women in the workforce, which could theoretically decrease their leisure time and force them to cut back on activities like church. But as McClendon himself notes, “the fastest increase in women’s full-time employment” actually “occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s, during which time the gender gap on religious service attendance actually widened somewhat.”

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From The Living Church- (Mark Clavier)

The older I grow the less I’m convinced that we know anything much about God. Everybody seems to have an opinion about him, and even people grounded in theology disagree vehemently with each other about the nature and attributes of the Almighty. But one thing I do know: God despises bores.

Easter reminds us of this. Put the redemption of the world into our hands, and we’d come up with something unimaginative, uninspiring, and probably much too believable. Perhaps we’d save the world through force: a mighty sign in the heavens or some other demonstration of heavenly power. Or perhaps we’d save the world by sentiment: a kind of saccharine, spiritual digestion of God as people come to experience “joy, joy, joy, joy down in their hearts.” Or, I don’t know, perhaps we’d have mankind somehow saved by gin, lace, and impeccable manners.

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Losing my religion for equality

Jimmy Carter in The Age-

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Anglican Blessing Of The Asparagus

From American Conservative - (Rod Dreher)

I am strongly inclined to disagree with the traditionalists here, for reasons I’ll get to in a moment. What holds me back fully is that the image of a man dressed like a giant asparagus, participating in the church procession, does make it seem more like an asparagus growers’ promotion.

But leave that clown out, and, well, what’s the big deal? Why should we not ask God’s blessing on our crops, especially one that is so important to the local people within the cathedral’s parish? In south Louisiana fishing communities, Catholic priests bless the shrimp boats on the first day of the season. This sort of thing strikes me as very traditional, very medieval.

The Archbishop Cranmer Blog disagrees. This is a very fine rant. Excerpt:

More here-

Methodist court ruling a setback for openly lesbian bishop

From The LA Times-

The first openly lesbian bishop in the United Methodist Church can stay on the job for now, but she is subject to a disciplinary review that could lead to her removal, the top church court ruled.

Bishop Karen Oliveto's civil marriage to another woman violates church law that bars clergy who are "self-avowed practicing homosexuals," the Judicial Council said. However, a decision over whether she can remain in the position must come from a separate disciplinary process, the court ruled.

Oliveto was elected last year to lead a Denver-area church region that is part of the Methodist Western Jurisdiction, which has rejected the denomination's position that "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." Within minutes of her election, a challenge was filed by the Oklahoma-based South Central Jurisdiction, leading to Friday's ruling.

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Challenge to CofE as GAFCON Anglicans appoint 'missionary bishop'

From Christian Today-

The Global Anglican Futures Conference – GAFCON – is to appoint a 'missionary bishop' for conservative Christians in Europe, bypassing Anglican Churches in England and Scotland.

The move was announced in a communiqué yesterday from GAFCON'S meeting of conservative primates in Lagos, Nigeria. Made up of nine Anglican provinces and five 'branches', the organisation claims to represent the majority of the world's Anglicans. It was set up in alarm at what founders saw as the increasing acceptance of homosexuality among Western, more liberal Churches, and is adamantly opposed to any compromise on the issue.

Its statement said: 'During our meeting, we considered how best to respond to the voice of faithful Anglicans in some parts of the Global North who are in need of biblically faithful episcopal leadership.

'Of immediate concern is the reality that on 8th June 2017 the Scottish Episcopal Church is likely to formalize their rejection of Jesus' teaching on marriage. If this were to happen, faithful Anglicans in Scotland will need appropriate pastoral care.

More here-