Saturday, May 20, 2017

'Please help stop these people starving to death' Archbishop aide pleads for Anglicans to act against famine

From Christian Today-

A senior adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury called on UK Christians to take part in this Sunday's Day of Prayer to End Famine as record numbers of people around the world face death by starvation.

Bishop Anthony Poggo, former Bishop of Kajo-Keji in South Sudan and now the Archbishop of Canterbury's Advisor for Anglican Communion Affairs, said more than than 20 million people across the globe face starvation.

World Vision UK is among the charities backing the global prayer day, in the hope of mobilising millions of Christians to help prevent mass starvation of children and their communities in Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria.

World Vision is also working in Kenya and Ethiopia, where millions more are also facing the threat of famine.

Bishop Poggo said: 'This crisis has the potential to be absolutely catastrophic. 7.5 million people in my home country are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance and their fate is shared by millions more across Africa and Yemen.

More here-

Christ Church Cathedral: What if it has to be modern?

From New Zealand-

Stonewalled. Nope, the Bishop won't be taking questions. Neither will the Church Property Trustees (CPT). Even those more distantly connected to the vexed Christ Church Cathedral question declined interview requests from The Press after a few days of "taking advice".

Perhaps that is human and reasonable. The Anglican hierarchy has been under sustained attack ever since it decided to pull down the very symbol of Christchurch – its earthquake-stricken Gothic revival cathedral – and replace it with something cheaper, safer and modern.

But here we are halfway through 2017, still waiting to hear an official response to a Government-backed plan to reinstate the Cathedral with the help of a $10 million grant from the public purse.

More here-

Bishop Sean Rowe: Follow the truth

From Northwest PA-

A leader who bears false witness — who does not acknowledge that we are bound to one another and must care for one another — leads us away from the kingdom of God.

About 2,000 years ago, in a backwater of the Roman Empire called Judaea, lived a ruler named Pontius Pilate. The people were angry about the power of a distant government that paid no attention to them, an economy that perpetuated an enormous gap between the rich and the poor, tax burdens that were unsustainable, and debt that ruined lives. They wanted scapegoats, and Pilate was happy to have them take out their wrath on someone other than himself.

One spring, the religious authorities handed over a troublesome rabbi to Pilate. He questioned him, trying to determine if he deserved to die. The rabbi, whose name was Jesus, told Pilate, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate replied with a question. “What is truth?” he asked.

Today, our president and many elected leaders remind me of Pilate. They would like us to believe that the truth is hard to pin down, that there are “alternative facts” and therefore they do not have to be straight with us. It is easy to understand why. No one wants to tell the truth to angry people, and many of us are angry.

More here-

Church of Scotland expected to back same-sex marriage

From The BBC-

The Kirk's General Assembly - gathering in Edinburgh - will be asked to approve more work on how such weddings could take place in church.

Equal marriage remains a divisive issue within the church.

Since 2014, Scotland has allowed same-sex couples to marry but individual church traditions can each decide whether to participate.

A report on the issue prepared for the General Assembly invited the church to take stock of its history of discrimination against gay people and to apologise "individually and corporately".

Moderator Designate the Reverend Dr Derek Browning said: "On Thursday afternoon the theological forum will be bringing a report to the General Assembly, and this year what they're asking to do is for the assembly, first of all, to consider making an apology to the gay community for things that have have been said in the past and the assembly will have to make up its mind on that.

More here-

Bishop Gene Robinson headed to Chautauqua Institution

From Chautauqua NY-

Retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson will be joining the leadership of the Chautauqua Institution.

Robinson will assume the new role of vice president and senior pastor of Chautauqua Institution, effective Sept. 1. His appointment is part of plans announced this week by President Michael Hill to reorganize the institution’s Department of Religion, according to information on the Chautauqua website at Maureen Rovegno, the longtime associate director of religion, will be promoted to director of religion.

Robinson is currently a fellow at the Center for American Progress. He retired as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire in 2013. A decade earlier, he had become the first openly gay and partnered priest to be elected bishop in the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Episcopal Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary agree on collaboration

From ENS-

Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) and Union Theological Seminary announced May 19 that they have signed an agreement that will allow EDS to continue as an Episcopal seminary through a collaboration with Union at its campus in New York City beginning in the fall of 2018.

“We had three goals when we began to plan this news phase in EDS’s life,” said the Rev.  Gary Hall, chair of the EDS board. “We wanted to continue providing Episcopal theological education within an accredited, degree-granting program, deepen our historic commitment to gospel-centered justice, and provide financial strength and stability for EDS’s future. Today, I am delighted to say that we have achieved all three.”

“This is an historic moment,” said the Rev. Serene Jones, president of the Union faculty and Johnston Family Professor for Religion and Democracy at Union. “We are honored that EDS has chosen to partner with us and are certain that the stewardship of our deepest commitments will be fulfilled in the years ahead.”

More here-

and here-

Friday, May 19, 2017

Religious statistics: 'Nones’ numerous but a committed Anglican core is flourishing

From The Church Times-

THERE are reasons to be hopeful in a new report that highlights high rates of “nonversion” — the loss of people brought up with a religious affiliation to the “no religion” category — its author argued this week.

Although “C of E” was no longer the “default setting” for British adults asked about their religious identity, there was left a core of committed, practising Christians who shored each other up and were set to become a “creative minority” in the UK, the author, Professor Stephen Bullivant, director of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, said.

His report, The “No Religion” Population of Britain, is based on data from the 2015 British Social Attitudes (BSA) Survey, and the 2014 European Social Survey. Those who identify as “no religion” make up 48.6 per cent of the British adult population.Those claiming a Christian affiliation make up 43 per cent of the population, of which 17.1 per cent are Anglican.

More here-


From Religion Dispatches-

The first out lesbian bishop consecrated by the United Methodist Church has long known that her path would lead to ministry. Bishop Karen Oliveto first felt the call when she was just 11 years old, preached her first sermon at 16, and became a student pastor at 18.

She came out as lesbian in seminary, where she was disappointed to learn that her authenticity around the way she believed God had created her suddenly made her “suspect.”

And even though a church judicial council ruled earlier this month that Oliveto’s consecration violated church law and requires a ministerial review, she remains in good standing with the church and, more importantly, she is more committed than ever to bringing peace, clarity, and acceptance to the United Methodist Church’s decades-long struggle over how to treat LGBTQ congregants and clergy.

More here-

Building Our House on Solid Rock: Messages We Don’t Intend to Communicate

From The Diocese of Washington-

It’s said that we only have one opportunity to make a first impression. That’s something I think about when I drive past our small, often rusty “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You” signs. For there isn’t one congregation in the diocese that describes itself as unwelcoming. Yet might our appearances communicate messages we don’t intend?

What poorly-kept signs unintentionally communicate is that our church is tired, and that we aren’t expecting anyone to pay attention to us, much less visit on a Sunday morning. Sadly, in some of our churches, that message is reinforced when people visit for the first time, not by how we treat them, but what our environment communicates.

In his book, Deep and Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend, Andy Stanley tells of a time when he attended a mid-week bible study at a friend’s church:

More here-

Montreal Is Taxing Churches

From Patheos-

No more religious exemptions, Montreal is taxing churches: For the first time churches in Montreal are being forced to pay taxes, and some church leaders are very unhappy.

CTV Montreal reports that churches and church space not being used explicitly for the purpose of worship is now taxable property, and is to be treated as any other property as far as taxes are concerned.

As one might expect, those benefitting from the tax exempt status enjoyed by churches are not happy. Again, CTV Montreal reports:

Joel Coppetiers, the Minister at the Cote des Neiges Presbyterian church, was shocked when his institution first received a municipal tax bill…

“The indication is there’s not an exemption for the church as a whole, there’s only an exemption for those areas used for public worship and things directly related to it,” said Coppetiers.

More here-

Priest Stabbed During Mass at Mexico City Cathedral

From National Catholic Register-

A Mexican priest is in “delicate but stable” condition after being stabbed in the neck Monday evening at Mexico City’s cathedral, according to government and Church authorities.

Father José Miguel Machorro Alcalá, 55, was stabbed in the neck and torso May 15 at the conclusion of saying Mass at the cathedral.

Witnesses reported that it appeared the attacker’s intention was to slit the priest’s throat.

Authorities detained a suspect at the scene who had reportedly attempted to flee the cathedral. The suspect has been identified as John Rock Schild, who identified himself as an artist from the United States. He is believed to be about 30 years old.

More here-

Episcopal, ELCA presiding bishops issue joint statement calling for prayer, fasting for hunger awareness

From ENS (with video links)

 Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have issued a joint statement calling for prayer, fasting and advocacy.

The statement, For Such a Time as This: A Call to Prayer, Fasting, and Advocacy, calls for fasting on the 21st of each month through December 2018, at which time the 115th Congress will conclude. 

The 21st of each month is targeted because by that time each month, 90% of SNAP (formerly food stamp) benefits have been used, thereby causing the last week of the month as the hungry week in America.

More here-

Thursday, May 18, 2017

New Primate for the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East

From Anglican News-

Archbishop Suheil Dawani of the Diocese of Jerusalem has been elected as the next Primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East. He succeeds Archbishop Mouneer Hanna Anis, who has held the post since 2007. Archbishop Dawani will serve for a period of two and a half years, to be followed by Bishop Michael Lewis of the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf. He will serve for the same length of time, ending in May 2022.

The changes were decided upon at a two day meeting of the Synod of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East,  in Amman, Jordan. In a statement, the Synod said: “We congratulate both Archbishop Suheil and Bishop Michael on their appointments, and we give thanks for Archbishop Mouneer’s service as our Primate since 2007....Please uphold the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East in your prayers.”

How fares Protestantism upon its 500th anniversary? Depends on where you look

From Get Religion (with lots of links)

Ed Stetzer of Wheaton College (Illinois) furrowed many a brow with an April 28 Washington Post warning that “if current trends continue” without letup, Americans active in “Mainline” Protestant churches will reach zero by Easter 2039.

Talk about timing.

That bleak forecast – mitigated by U.S. “Evangelical” Protestants’ relative stability – comes in the 500th anniversary year of the Reformation. This massive split in Christianity was sparked by a protest petition posted by 34-year-old German friar and professor Martin Luther on All Souls’ Eve (October 31) of 1517.

The Protestant scenario is rosy at the world level, however, according to anniversary tabulations by the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a standard resource for statistics and trend lines from 1900 to the present (media contact here).

More here-

Church's view on homosexuality 'needs work' - Mpho Tutu van Furth

From New Zealand-

Mpho Tutu van Furth knows plenty about forgiveness, having been booted from the Anglican Church on account of her homosexuality.

Using the wisdom gained from her own experiences growing up as a black woman in apartheid-stricken South Africa, she co-authored The Book of Forgiving alongside her father, high-profile social activist and Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu.

While she is free to continue her ministry in the United States, she had her licence rescinded in South Africa when she revealed she was gay - and she admits the period that followed was a difficult one.

"Do I forgive the church?" she wondered aloud on Thursday's edition of The AM Show. "I understand - I think I understand. I understand the challenge, but I don't necessarily feel that it's something that needs forgiveness.

"I think it's something that needs work, because the place that we're in is an entirely wrong and untenable place."

More here-

This woman preacher is schooling the Christian boys club on the crucifixion

From Colorado (via RNS)-

If you are embedded in a Catholic or conservative Protestant community, you might assume that theology is a man’s job. After all, most theological books are penned by male authors. Women are prohibited from becoming Catholic priests and are similarly forbidden from pastoring in many evangelical traditions. And most Christian conference rosters are dominated by male speakers.

It’s surprising then that a woman preacher is leading a conversation about the theology of the cross within these male-dominated communities.

Fleming Rutledge, 79, is a theologian and one of the first women ordained in the Episcopal Church. Her book, “The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ,” is a magisterial 669-page tome that has garnered the attention and respect of some unlikely religious leaders.

Exhibit A is the “New Calvinist” movement, which firmly holds that women are barred from the pastorate and are required by God to submit to their husbands. John Piper, who is something of the pope for New Calvinists and once claimed that God had intentionally given Christianity a “masculine feel,” featured a reading from the book on his podcast and called her book “valuable.” Andrew Wilson gave it a glowing review at The Gospel Coalition, a New Calvinist mega-website, where he called it “beautiful scholarship.”

More here-

Church organist fired for 'Heil Trump' graffiti

From Christian Post-

A church organist who sprayed 'Heil Trump' graffiti on the walls of his own episcopal church in Indiana days after the presidential election last year has been fired.

The clergy of St David's in Brown County met their organist Nathan Stang to discuss 'reconciliation and restitution' and offered to help him restore 'the fractured relationships' caused by his actions.

Stang declined their offer of future employment, although said he was 'incredibly grateful'.

Stang, 26, reported the incident when he arrived at the Bean Blossom church to play the organ the Sunday after the election. But after a six-month police investigation he was confronted with the evidence and confessed to spray-painting the words himself.

In a statement, the Church says Stang's contract has been 'terminated'. The church adds: 'After discussions with church leadership and congregational members, our church community has offered Mr Stang a path to reconciliation and possible future re-employment.

More here-

‘I’m Going to Trust Him’

From The Living Church-

The Rev. Jacob Worley called a diocesan synod “an amazing experience of the Holy Spirit” when he was elected Bishop of Caledonia. He still sees it that way after a majority of bishops in his province rejected his election.

“I still believe that the Holy Spirit moved at the election, as do others who were there,” he told TLC. “And I believe that I am the Lord’s choice to be bishop. It’s clear that the House of Bishops didn’t think so. I’m not sure what the end result will be, where the Holy Spirit is ultimately moving, but I know that the Lord is orchestrating all of this. I’m going to trust him, because what is most important is that he has all the glory.”

A majority of bishops in the Ecclesiastical Province of British Columbia and Yukon rejected Worley’s election, citing his past work on behalf of the Anglican Mission in America.

Worley, an American-born priest, was elected bishop on the eighth ballot April 22 in Prince Rupert. Worley is rector of Bulkley Valley Regional Parish, which includes three congregations in the northern interior of British Columbia.

More here-

Let All Mortal Flesh: A Zen priest attends an Episcopalian Mass

From Patheos-

This past Sunday I attended an Episcopalian mass celebrated in a tiny chapel in West Cornwall, Connecticut.

Eighteen of us gathered there, which I understand to be on the larger side for this little community. The church they usually meet in is under repairs and so we were at a little stone chapel that is the heart place of a retreat center now administered by Trinity Church in Manhattan.

The service itself was Prayerbook Rite II with all that means. For me as a progressive filled with awkward masculine by preference language and as a Buddhist with full on dualistic God out there and you and me, down here theology.

More here-

UMC bishops ponder full communion with Episcopal Church

From The United Methodists (and others)

The United Methodist Church is studying a draft proposal to establish full Communion relationship with The Episcopal Church, a significant step toward bringing the two churches into a closer, visible unity.

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of the Ohio West Episcopal Area and Bishop B. Michael Watson, the Council of Bishops Ecumenical Officer, presented the proposal during the ecumenical report at the Council of Bishops spring meeting in Dallas, Texas.

“Over the coming months the dialogue team, co-chairs, and ecumenical staff will solicit input from our bishops, ecumenical networks, and other bodies before developing this draft into an official resolution to be acted upon by our respective legislative bodies,” Bishop Palmer, who is co-chair of The Episcopal-United Methodist Dialogue Committee, told his fellow bishops.

More here-

Episcopal Cafe-

The Living Church-

Christian Post-

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


From The Tablet-

An Anglican church in Newcastle has insisted its decision to consecrate a renegade bishop is not intended to split the Anglican Church, but is necessary "to preserve the Church of England's heritage and mission".

The Revd Jonathan Pryke was consecrated as a "bishop in the Church of God" by a breakaway faction of the church of South Africa without the permission of the Archbishop of Canterbury, on 2 May.

The move has been seen as a direct challenge to the authority of the CofE and renews the threat that ‘conservative evangelical’ Anglicans will splinter from the rest of the CofE.

In a question and answer sheet handed out to the congregation of the church in Jesmond, Newcastle on Sunday (14 May), the church’s leaders said that their aim was not to create a new denomination.

“This is one small but necessary step on behalf of faithful Church of England ministers and congregations nationwide in our mission to the nation,” parishioners were told.

More here-

Episcopal Church Launches Racial Healing Program to Become 'Beloved Community'

From Christian Post-

"Part of this work is actually to help to build bridges — bridges that will connect people not only through their stories but in a sustained way over time through relationships that are built," stated Presiding Bishop Michael Curry during a webinar held via Zoom on Thursday.

"Relationships will break the back of racism every time and in the long run, relationship is the key. And this attempt is really trying to foster those relationships. That's a game-changer."

During the webinar, the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, identified herself as a "white woman of privilege," explaining that she is "keenly aware" of how she has benefited from "white privilege."

"Over the years what I have tried to do is to make sure that change for which I've advocated wasn't just change that would benefit middle-age white women like me, but would truly bring the church closer to ... the Kingdom of God," said Jennings. "Those of us who live with white privilege have to figure out how we can be allies."

More here-

Healing a House Divided: An Interview with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry

From Religion and Politics-

In April, Washington University in St. Louis welcomed to campus the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. Bishop Curry delivered a public lecture, entitled “Healing a House Divided.” The John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, which publishes this journal, sponsored the event.

Bishop Curry was elected to be the 27th presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church in 2015, becoming the first African American leader of the denomination. Before his installation, he served as bishop of the diocese of North Carolina for 15 years, and previously he served as a pastor in North Carolina, Ohio, and Maryland. Known for his emphasis on social justice and evangelism, he now leads the 1.9 million members of the Episcopal Church, part of the Anglican Communion of nearly 85 million members around the world.

During his visit, Bishop Curry sat down to talk with Marie Griffith, director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, editor of Religion & Politics, and the John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in the Humanities. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

More here-

Scripture connects environmental destruction with idolatry, says bishop

From Anglican Journal-

The environmental threat posed by today’s “principalities and powers” is one of the great spiritual issues of our time, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald says.

“We live in a society where greed has become normal,” MacDonald said in a keynote address at the daylong, ecumenical Green Churches Forum at Saint Paul University in Ottawa May 11. “In fact, it’s one of the animating factors in the way our culture and the way our economy works.”

When the apostle Paul wrote about the struggles against “principalities and powers,” he was referring to evil rulers, authorities and dark forces of the day, MacDonald suggested. Today, those are the corporations, governments and the way culture has been structured, he said.

“All these principalities and powers are conspiring against the environment” and are creating a climate of injustice, MacDonald said. “This climate of injustice is something that we, as religious people, have to say is one of the great moral and spiritual issues of our time.”

More here-


From The Living Church-

In my last post, I began exploring how the Oxford Movement’s understanding of spiritual renewal was based upon a specific approach to Scripture and the vision of God. But above all, they were convinced that the Incarnation provided the model for how divine life and truth are communicated by sensible means in human words or earthly sacraments. They are “earthly Sacraments, yet full of Heaven, earthly words, yet full of the Word, λογοι proceeding from and setting forth the Λογος.”[1]

The Incarnation is the mystery of human nature divinized, and the goal of the Christian life is “union with that mystery, whereby we are made partakers of the Incarnation.”[2] Learning from the Fathers how to see, as well as how and where to look, is a form of instruction in the character of that mystery, but this seeing, this reading, is also a way to come to share in, to participate in, the truth that is known. The basic insight of the incarnational approach is that the truth that is known is also the life into which one is drawn by participation, sanctification, and illumination.

More here-

The rationalist way of death

From The New Humanist (UK)

Rationalists and secularists in the old plain style were very clear about death and dying, or at least they tried to be. “It’s just a nothing,” they would say: “the lights go out and then the curtain falls.” I won’t exist after I die, but then I didn’t exist before I was born, so what’s the big deal? It’s going to happen anyway, so just get over it. We are only forked animals after all, and when the time comes you should give my body to medical science, or burn it and use it as fertiliser; or why not eat it, if you’re hungry, or feed it to the pigs? And for goodness sake, don’t worry about how I died – whether peacefully or in pain – and don’t speculate about my last thoughts, my last sentiments or my last words. Why attach more importance to my dying moments than to any other part of my life? As for the business of seeing the body and saying goodbye, and the trouble and expense of coffins and flowers and funerals: what are they but relics of morbid superstitions that we should have got rid of centuries ago? So no fuss, please: the world belongs to youth and the future, not death and the past: go ahead and have a party if you must, with plenty to drink, but no speeches, nothing maudlin, no tears, nothing that might silence the laughter of children. And I beg you, no memorials of any kind: no stones, no plaques, no shrines, no park benches, no tree-plantings, no dedications: let the memory of who I was die with me.

More here-

Trump is evangelicals’ ‘dream president.’ Here’s why.

From The Washington Post-

Even in an era of marriage diversity, it remains the most unlikely match: President Trump and his loyal evangelical base. In the compulsively transgressive, foul-mouthed, loser-disdaining, mammon-worshiping billionaire, conservative Christians “have found their dream president,” according to Jerry Falwell Jr.

It is a miracle, of sorts.

In a recent analysis, the Pew Research Center found that more than three-fourths of white evangelical Christians approve of Trump’s job performance, most of them “strongly.” With these evangelicals comprising about a quarter of the electorate, their support is the life jacket preventing Trump from slipping into unrecoverable political depths.

More here-

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Baltimore Sun skips key angle in DUI bishop case: Why was Heather Cook using that cellphone?

From Get Religion-

There are limits to how much of a recap a given news story can provide. The Baltimore Sun is not The New Yorker magazine, so a 20,000-word treatise isn't to be expected. But there's one journalistic point worth mentioning that the Sun skipped.

Our own tmatt, a longtime resident of Charm City, deserves credit for noting this: We still do not know, more than two years after the accident, who Cook was texting at the time of the crash.

Was she on a personal smartphone or one belonging to the diocese? And why isn't the Sun trying to find out? There could be legal and financial ramifications there.

Was the communication work related? Was she contacting someone in the diocese on official business? That Cook was using mobile technology has not only been widely reported but "driving while texting" was one of the charges to which she pled guilty.

More here-

The Chief Rabbi And The Archbishop: Pushing Beyond Interfaith Clichés

From Jewish Week-

It was moving to see one of the world’s most important Christian leaders stand at Yad Vashem earlier this month, declaring that anti-Semitism should become so alien that it would be “something that is only found mysteriously in old history books.” And it wasn’t only what Justin Welby, leader of the world’s third-largest Christian grouping said that made the sight so moving — but who he said it with.

Welby is Archbishop of Canterbury, meaning that he leads the world’s 80 million Anglicans, and as he spoke about anti-Semitism in Jerusalem, his travel companion stood behind him, and then picked up where he left off. Archbishop Welby had told Commonwealth Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis that he would be visiting Israel, and realizing that the rabbi has been living in Jerusalem for a two-year stint and knows the city well, invited him to join the trip.

And so, a personal and professional bond set the stage for an interfaith trip that pushed far beyond the clichés that can sometimes limit such get-togethers. It was a visit that saw the archbishop take a hard look at his own society in England and say that “a fresh sense of anti-Semitism” there “must go so deeply into the root of our culture.” Having earlier called anti-Semitism the “root of all racism” in European culture, Archbishop Welby declared: “Until that is expelled from our culture, there will be a taproot for all racism, all discrimination, all cruelty because of the nature of the human being in our culture.”

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury's praise for "bridge-building" Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem

From ACNS-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby,  has concluded his longest pastoral visit to a diocese outside the Church of England by praising the Archbishop of Jerusalem's "bridge-building" work between Israelis and Palestinians.

Archbishop Justin's 11-day "pastoral pilgrimage" was designed to provide an opportunity for him to hear from beleaguered Christians in the Middle East and to witness the Diocese of Jerusalem's work in the area of reconciliation.

The diocese, in the province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, includes Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.  Archbishop Justin began his visit in Jordan, where King Abdullah assured him that the country would continue to speak out for the presence of Christians in the region. After that meeting, Archbishop Justin asserted that Christians "are the past in the Middle East, they are the present, and they must be the future."

More here-

Indigenous Christian ministers walk in 2 worlds

From The CBC-

Andrew Thunder knew he wanted to commit himself to Christianity before he was 10 years old.

But for the 28-year-old and other Indigenous ministers in Canada, it can be difficult to reconcile their personal faith with the role that churches played in residential schools.

About 150,000 First Nation, Métis and Inuit children in Canada were removed from their homes and forced to attend the church-run, government-funded schools. Many children lost their language and culture, and some were physically and sexually abused.

"There [were] obviously some good intentions from the church and government to come in and educate the Aboriginal people, but it was the method that was completely incorrect," Thunder said.

"It is embarrassing for me, being identified as a Christian."

More here-

Presiding Bishop urges the Church to ‘wake up’

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry returned to his old stomping grounds in the Diocese of Maryland, bringing an inspiring message and encouraging Episcopalians to claim their role as members of the Jesus Movement.

“’Heaven help the devil if the Episcopal Church ever wakes up,’” he said, quoting the famed 20th-century evangelist, Billy Sunday. “Wake up, Episcopal Church. That’s what the Jesus Movement is all about.”

Curry, who served as rector of St. James in Baltimore for 12 years, has been calling for a new period of evangelism within the church since being elected in 2015. This effort also includes a desire for the Episcopal Church to address some of the systemic race and class issues that plague American society.
“We need to find a way for the grace of God to bear on the deeply rooted system of sin that mires us in a quagmire of racism,” he said. Racial reconciliation, evangelism and the care of God’s creation are the roots of the Jesus Movement for the presiding bishop.

More here-

House of Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of BC & Yukon registers objection to election of the Rev. Jacob Worley

From Canada-

The question of his views arose from a review of his exercise of priestly ministry when he served in the Anglican Mission in America under license from the Province of Rwanda in the geographical jurisdiction of The Episcopal Church without permission of The Episcopal Church.

As the Provincial House has registered its objection, the Rev. Worley will not be consecrated bishop in the Diocese of Caledonia in the Anglican Church of Canada. As outlined in Canon 4 of the constitution and canons of the Province of BC & Yukon, “the decision of the [Provincial] House of Bishops shall be final” in these matters. The Diocese of Caledonia will now begin the process to hold a new electoral synod according to its canons.

“The Provincial House of Bishops of BC & Yukon ask for your prayers during this extraordinary time,” said Archbishop Privett,  “especially for the Worley family, for the Diocese of Caledonia and all those who worship and minister there”.

More here-

also here-

Monday, May 15, 2017

Losing my religion? Secular Brits now outnumber Christians, but Islam & Hinduism growing

From England-

Britain has reached new heights of secularization, with almost half of Britons now identifying as non-religious, a new study reveals.

According to ‘The “No Religion” Population of Britain’ report by Stephen Bullivant, professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, non-religious people, known as ‘nones’, account for 48.6 percent of Britain’s population.

Although there has been an overall trend towards secularization in Britain, the figures also show record numbers of people from non-Christian faiths, such as Islam and Hinduism.

The number of British people identifying as Christian dropped from 55 percent to 43 percent between 1983 and 2015. By contrast, non-Christian believers such as Muslims and Hindus quadrupled.

“The rise of the non-religious is arguably the story of British religious history over the past half-century or so,” Bullivant said.

More here-

The Anglican Church Has Rejected A Rebuttal To Its “Hurtful” Same-Sex Marriage Booklet

From Australia-

The critique was written by progressive Anglican priest Rev. Dr Keith Mascord in response to the Anglican Sydney Diocese’s document What Has God Joined Together?, which claims legalising same-sex marriage would have adverse consequences for children, women and society more broadly.

What Has God Joined Together? also describes a change in the marriage law as potentially the “greatest threat to religious freedom we have ever seen in Australia”, and advises lay people on how to respond to common questions in the marriage debate, such as “Why does God have such a problem with gay people?”

About 65,000 copies have been distributed to Anglicans in Sydney and some areas of regional NSW since late February. It can also be accessed online.

Mascord, an Anglican priest who works in corrective services, was angered by the document and penned what he described as a “scathing critique”, which he sent to Sydney Archbishop Glenn Davies and senior clergy last week.

More here-

Churches say they shouldn't have to pay special assessment for streetcar

From Kansas City-

As voters are deciding whether to expand the streetcar line down to 53rd Street in Brookside, some church leaders along the extension route want to pump the brakes.

Every property within the Transportation Development District would pay a yearly assessment fee to finance the streetcar - whether they're tax-exempt or not.

"I know that the proponents of the funding mechanism say it's not a property tax, but it's based on property value," Rector Stan Runnels said.

For churches and other non-profits, the first $300,000 of market value is exempt from the assessment. But many churches like St. Paul's Episcopal on Main Street own more than one property well above $300,000.  Runnels says his assessment would come out to around $12,000 a year, which would force them to cut from their charity food programs.

More here-

Ex-chaplain at St. George’s School pleads guilty to 1973 molestation

From Boston-

A former associate chaplain at St. George’s School in Rhode Island has pleaded guilty to molesting a student during trips to Boston in 1973. Howard White Jr., who was also accused of sexual abuse in three other states and stripped of his priesthood by the Episcopal Church, received an 18-month sentence, according to Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

Officials in the Suffolk District Attorney’s Office said last year that the charges against White grew out of a Rhode Island State Police investigation into allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct by former faculty and students at the elite prep school in Middletown, R.I., going back to 1970. He was arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court last December.

More here-

St. John’s Episcopal: Minister’s offenses did not involve criminal wrongdoing

From North Carolina-

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charlotte still won’t reveal the reason its chief minister had to resign, but the church did say Sunday that the Rev. Paul Winton did nothing criminal.

In an email sent to members of St. John’s, the church said that Winton’s offenses “did not involve in any way – from start to finish – any criminal or financial wrongdoing or any other wrongdoing against any other person or child.”

The email came from Matt Williams, whose title is senior assistant to the rector for family ministry. He confirmed to the Observer that he sent it at the instruction of the church’s vestry, or lay leadership group.

Winton, the rector at St. John’s since 2010, agreed to resign from his post after a diocesan panel concluded that he engaged in “conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy.”

One member of that panel was Bishop Anne Hodges-Copple, who heads the Raleigh-based Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina. She was in Charlotte last Thursday night to speak in person about Winton’s case to the congregation at St. John’s – the second largest Episcopal church in Charlotte.

She followed up with a Friday letter to the church’s 2,000-plus members. In it, she wrote that she received allegations against Winton last December, after which he went on a leave of absence.

More here-


From The Living Church-

This academic year, in preparation for ordained ministry, I have been studying at General Theological Seminary. As I anticipate ordination, I have been reflecting on my experience of formal theological education over the last thirteen years, and thinking what it will come to mean in ministry.

The purpose of theological education is not obvious. While some academic institutions and most churchly ones continue to offer ostensibly theological education, many of the Church’s members and clergy nevertheless do not acknowledge that theology has much of a purpose. A few days ago, a priest whom I had just met congratulated me for studying at GTS, which, she alleged, thankfully prepares “worker priests” rather than “scholar priests.”

More here-

Where Dreher lost me on the “Benedict Option”

From Aletia-

Like many Catholics who spend too much time reading, arguing and thinking online, I’ve recently gotten caught up in discussions of Rod Dreher’s best-selling book, The Benedict Option.

I have wanted to like Dreher’s arguments — I really have. I’ve lurked on his blog and read his interviews, hoping to see him flesh out his thoughts in directions that make sense to me. But, somehow, he always seems to miss the mark.

When I picked up Archbishop Chaput’s book, Strangers in a Strange Land, a few weeks ago, I started to understand where Dreher loses me. Chaput quotes heavily from the Letter to Diognetus, an early Christian work describing how Christians in the Roman Empire went about living as the leaven in the loaf. While both writers explore the post-Christian landscape, Chaput’s overall vision and hope seems to be very different from Dreher’s exclusivism, and a closer reflection of where our society is, and where the Church fits into the world.

More here-

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Anglican church congregation numbers have 'stabilised'

From The Telegraph-

The decline in Anglicanism may have slowed thanks to a resurgence in patriotism and pride in Christianity, a report has found.

Academic Stephen Bullivant said that the growth in non-religious people has slowed and Anglicanism has seen a small uptick since 2013.

The professor of theology and the sociology of religion at St Mary's University in Twickenham said that the church was recovering after losing a lot of believers after the publication of Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion in 2006.

He also said that a rise in patriotism might be linked to greater pride in Christianity among some groups.

"People see Christianity as an expression of Englishness. There has been more rhetoric around Britain being a Christian nation.

More here-

and here-


From The Living Church-

Review by Rowan Williams

Anything written by Ephraim Radner can be guaranteed to be serious, constructively difficult, spiritually challenging and original, and this book is no exception. It will be hard to classify, though; it is essentially an essay in theological anthropology, but is at the same time an exceptionally wide-ranging essay on our North Atlantic cultural crisis. In a nutshell, what he argues is that our Western society has lived through a “Great Transition” involving altered expectations of life and health, and reduced birth rates. We are less and less capable of seeing our lives as following a God-given trajectory in which birth, generation, and death constitute the way God gives us of being human and growing in our humanity to the point at which we resign our lives into God’s hands for a “Great Transfiguration.” Learning to inhabit this trajectory is the “Great Traversal,” the journey in which we enact and echo God’s traversing of human experience in Jesus Christ, the divine act that has established that the prosaic transitions of our routine experience are the stuff of which the new creation will be made — not by our effort or success, but by God’s mercy.

More here-