Friday, May 26, 2017

Church of Scotland in step towards conducting same-sex marriages

From The Guardian-

The Church of Scotland has taken a significant step towards allowing ministers to conduct same-sex marriages as it apologised for historical discrimination against lesbian and gay people.

The Kirk’s general assembly, meeting in Edinburgh, instructed officials to consider changes to church law that would allow ministers to preside over same-sex-marriage ceremonies.

But despite strong support in the church’s governing body, it is likely to be several years before the first same-sex marriage is conducted by a Kirk minister. The necessary legal changes will first be brought to next year’s assembly.

More here-

East Lansing Church Declares Itself A "Sanctuary Church"

From Michigan-

Members of All Saints Episcopal Church in East Lansing plan to house up to two people whose U.S. citizenship in question.

Rector Kit Carlson said her church voted to become a sanctuary church on Tuesday night. The residents could move in by late summer when the church will complete facilities to accommodate them.

"We don’t draw lines between human beings," said Carlson during a news conference on Thursday. "We don’t draw lines because of their immigration status."

Carlson said the community group Action of Greater Lansing and the American Civil Liberties Union will screen potential residents. She said people with felony offenses on their record will not stay at the church.

More here-

Episcopal Divinity School’s 8-acre campus for sale in Harvard Square

From Boston-

The Episcopal Divinity School is selling its 8-acre campus at 99 Brattle Street in Cambridge’s Harvard Square area as it prepares to decamp for Manhattan’s Union Theological Seminary in late 2018.

Because of its location, the property, which includes more than a dozen buildings totaling 155,374 square feet, will instantly become one of the biggest and most well-positioned commercial listings in the entire Boston region when the school officially puts it on the block sometime after June.

Episcopal Divinity has not disclosed an asking price yet. However, Cambridge Day’s Marc Levy notes that a July 2016 analysis prepared for school trustees said a sale could add $25.5 million to Episcopal Divinity’s assets by the start of the next decade.

More here-

Assembly agrees apology to gay people and accepts same sex marriage report

From Scotland-

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has approved an apology to gay people for the history of discrimination they have faced in the Church.

Commissioners also approved a report which could pave the way to allow some ministers to conduct same sex marriages in the future.

The Assembly voted in favour of instructing the Legal Questions Committee to conduct new research into the availability of legal protection for any Minister or Deacon who refuse to officiate ceremonies as a matter of conscience.

A report of the committee’s findings will be presented to the General Assembly next year for further discussion.

More here-

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Birmingham's Anglican Cathedral closes doors to public in wake of terror attack

From England-

Officials at Birmingham's Anglican Cathedral took the "unprecedented but considered" decision to close its doors in response to the heightened national terror threat.

Although some services continued to be held at St Philip's and a prayer station was set up in its surrounding square, the building was closed to the general public.

The cathedral's acting Dean, Canon Nigel Hand, said: "At this time, we are committed to the safety and security of our congregations, visitors, staff and the general public.

"Cathedral clergy and staff remain committed to ministering to our local community, and we will, as always seek ways to do so.

"Our prayers remain with all those individuals and their families whose lives have been touched by acts of terrorism, in Manchester and across the globe."

More here-

Holy house hunters! Bidding for Ont. church starts at $1

From Canada (with video)-

Holy house hunters! A historic church in southwestern Ontario has gone up for sale with a starting bid of only $1.

“It was just listed yesterday and we have three showings booked for today,” realtor Roy Rodrigues told CTV Kitchener on Wednesday. “It’s a beautiful property.”

Built in 1871, Saint Jude's Anglican Church in Brantford, Ont., is a National Historic Site. But while the building was erected nearly 150 years ago, its rich 20th century interior that led the now-decommissioned church to receive its historic designation in 1993.

Inside, colourful century-old stained glass windows cast kaleidoscopic light on walls where intricate murals, some as large as 5.5 metres, depict various parts of Jesus’ life. The murals were painted in 1936 by the Browne family, which decorated churches across the country.

“They did it all across Canada,” Nathan Etherington, who chairs Brantford’s Heritage Committee, told CTV Kitchener. “They are the most well-known.

More here-

Church of Scotland to decide on gay marriage

From The BBC-

A proposal to allow Church of Scotland ministers to carry out gay marriages will come before the Church of Scotland's General Assembly later.

The report will say there are no longer grounds to deny ministers the authority to preside over gay weddings.

It will also recommend that the Kirk apologises for failing to recognise and protect the Christian vocation of gay people.

Scotland has allowed same-sex couples to marry since 2014.

However, individual church traditions can each decide whether to participate.

Equal marriage has remained a divisive issue within the Church of Scotland.

The report 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".

More here-

also here-

Ask an Anglican: What is Anglican Monasticism?

From Conciliar Anglican-

A Very Brief History of Anglican Religious Communities

The history of Anglican monasticism is both long and rich. In some ways, it is also rather complex—not because of anything unique to monasticism, but because of the historical complexities of the medieval west. Most simply stated, by the fifteenth century there were a large number of unofficial monastic movements. The most famous of these is the Devotio Moderna (literally ‘the Modern Devotion’, but also translatable as ‘the Modern-Day Devout’). The Devotio Moderna was primarily expressed in the Brethren of the Common Life. This group produced Thomas à Kempis, whose great work The Imitation of Christ was the most popular devotional in Europe for two hundred years, from the early-fifteenth through the early-seventeenth centuries. The Brethren also educated Erasmus of Rotterdam, the greatest humanist of the sixteenth century; Erasmus was a Catholic reformer who, despite his sympathies with Luther, remained within the Catholic church. He taught in England when Henry VIII was a young king, and Erasmus’s New Testament Paraphrases were among the official texts of the English reformations (right alongside the Book of Common Prayer, the English translation of the Bible, and the Homilies). The Devotio Moderna is thus important not just as a reform movement which inspired other reform movements, but as a reform movement which directly influenced Anglicanism.

More here-

What the Ascension is (and isn’t)

From The Living Church-

Among the easiest and most difficult topics in Christian theology is the ascension of Jesus Christ. The description given in Scripture and in most hymns is quite simple: “As they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9) or “God has gone up with a triumphant shout” (Ps 47:5). Any close consideration of this idea, however, raises a number of difficulties. After all, where is this place to which he goes up? Where is heaven? Are we to imagine that Christ shot up into the upper atmosphere and kept on “climbing” the heavens until he reached some unknown location? Is heaven one stop beyond the galaxy? More disturbing, we have to wonder about what happened to Jesus’ material body.

It’s partly due to these absurdities that the idea of Jesus’ ascension is puzzling to many. It’s not made easier by the fact that Jesus speaks of a “departure” to go to the Father and send the Spirit, along with a constant “abiding” with us forever. Similarly, we have to realize that, even in his descent to us in the Incarnation, Christ did not depart from his place with the Father: “No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the son of man who is in heaven” (John 3:13). He remained where he was and what he was, even in stooping down to our level, and he did not cease to be among us and be what we are, even in ascending on high. He was ever our God in the heavens and he is ever a human being, remaining with us. The crux remains, though: where is the human body of Jesus?
More here-

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Genocide: The mysterious case of 200 Tutsi killed at Midiho Anglican church

From Rwanda-

Sky-blue is associated with hope and a church extols belief. Put the two together and you have a powerful symbolism that won’t be missed from kilometres away.

St Peter’s Anglican Church of Midiho, in Mukarange Sector, Kayonza District, did just that. The sky-blue theme of its roofing would all but inspire profound belief.

However, to many survivors of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and other citizens, the colour and church itself have done little to dispel the shroud of mystery surrounding the fate of some 200 people killed at the scene 23 years ago.

The church is now open to worshippers but survivors in the area everyday live with the grief of not having been able to accord a decent burial to their loved ones killed at the church during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

There is no dispute that over 200 people were killed from the church in 1994, survivors and some Genocide perpetrators say, but no one seems to know where the bodies are buried.

More here-

Anglican Bishop, Muslim leaders condemn Manchester attack

From Vatican Radio-

A statement signed by the Anglican Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, and representatives of the Muslim community in Salisbury, has been released in response to the attack at the Manchester Arena on Monday 22 May.

The statement denounces the attack in strong language: “We utterly condemn this evil act which is intended to cause an increase in fear, hatred and division in our country and its communities.” Bishop Holtam, along with Rashid Ullah, the Chair of the Muslim Association of Salisbury and Atiqul Hoque, also of the Muslim Association
of Salisbury, say in the statement that they “commit [themselves] to reject absolutely this violence and hatred and the motivation that lies behind it.”

The full text of the statement follows:

More here-,_muslim_leaders_condemn_manchester_attack/1314368

Episcopal Seminary That Stopped Giving Degrees Amid $7.9M Asset Loss to Join Union Theological Seminary

From Christian Post-

Episcopal Divinity School of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a theologically liberal seminary founded in 1974, will move its personnel to Union's campus.

EDS spokesman Jim Naughton directed The Christian Post to a May 19 statement that noted the Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas will be the first dean of what is being called "EDS at Union."

In comments that were part of the statement, Douglas explained that she was "excited for the challenge" and that "this isn't the typical bad news of a small seminary closing."

"This is the news that this place believed enough in its mission that it went out and found a way to carry that mission forward in a viable fashion, and found a way for the mission to grow," stated Rev. Douglas.


Presiding Bishop preaches on ‘forgiveness, repentance, healing and reconciliation’ in Haiti

From ENS-

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached a sermon “on the occasion of the liturgical signing of the covenant of reconciliation” on May 23 at the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. All clergy in the diocese attended the special liturgy.

“Mutual forgiveness and repentance, healing and reconciliation are hard work and they often take time. Healing and reconciliation do not happen quickly. But it happens, if we are willing, to allow God’s grace to work in us, for God’s grace is sufficient. God is able,” said Curry in his sermon.
On April 24, the Episcopal Church announced that Curry, Haiti Bishop Jean Zache Duracin, Haiti Bishop Suffragan Ogé Beauvoir and the diocesan Standing Committee had entered a covenant agreement that “seeks to address and resolve many of the issues of conflict that have been burdening the diocese.”

The May 23 liturgy included a formal signing of the covenant, which took effect in April.

More here-

Clergy Should Be Paid

From Free Range Priest-

The Living Church posted an article a few days ago about Episcopal congregations who don't pay their clergy, some of whom report working 40 - 50 hours per week. This is because so many congregations, especially small ones, can no longer afford to pay full or even part-time salaries. Not paying a priest's salary (and benefits) can seem like a blessing for those churches that might otherwise have to close their doors. But at what cost?

1. The devaluing of ordained ministry. 'The laborer deserves to be paid,' 1 Timothy reminds us, especially those who labor at teaching and preaching the Christian faith. Ministry is clearly a spiritual calling, but from the beginning of the church, ministry has been compensated, whether through the community's direct support of food and housing or through wages. Not compensating ordained ministry at all devalues it within the church, and within the larger community. Which has larger consequences, including...

More here-


From The Living Church-

In 1840, John Henry Newman reviewed The Life and Times of Selina, Countess of Huntingdon for the British Critic (W.E. Painter, 1839), the quarterly journal he edited. Regarding the life of one of the great leaders of the 18th-century evangelical revival, Newman praised Selina Hastings’s devotion and that of her fellow Methodists, amid the “imbecile policy of the Establishment of the day.” Newman claimed that he would much rather say, “Sit anima mea cum Westleio” (“My soul is with Wesley”), than “cum Luthero” or “cum Calvino” or many other possible clever Latin tags. As for the Establishment, Newman wrote elsewhere,

Who would not rather be found even with Whitfield and Wesley, than with ecclesiastics whose life is literary ease at the best, whose highest flights attain but to Downing Street or the levee?

More here-

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fossil fuels fire up an impassioned debate over the Church of England's investments

From The Independent-

God certainly smiled on the Church of England’s investments last year. The Church Commissioners announced a total return of 17.1 per cent for 2016.

That sort of performance in the current climate looks like clear evidence of the divine.

It compares to a still very respectable 8.2 per cent the previous year. Over the past 30 years, the Church's funds have achieved a return of 9.6 per cent per annum. Mammon and God in alliance? Heaven forbid.

Joking aside, the fund had some help last year. The Brexit driven fall in the pound pushed the value of the UK stockmarket higher, chiefly because lots of the companies in it earn their money in dollars.

Which is where it gets interesting. Many of the dollar companies in the FTSE 100 are fossil fuel businesses. Should the Church really be investing in companies that produce material that could yet contribute to the destruction of life on a planet God gave to man in trust (if you follow the teachings of the Bible)?

More here-

Christ Church Cathedral 'holding up city's regeneration' as government intervention calls grow

From New Zealand-

The neglected Christ Church Cathedral is one of about 30 sites being targeted by council for holding up the city's regeneration.

The Christchurch City Council's list comes amid growing calls for the Government to take control of the earthquake-damaged building, which has been sitting derelict in Cathedral Square since the February 2011 tremor.

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Nicky Wagner wants action on the site before a planned Anglican vote on its future in September, while campaigners have called for immediate government intervention to restore the cathedral.

More here-

‘Total lack of awareness’: Elite NH boarding school bungled previous sexual abuse report

From New Hampshire (Additional links below)-

St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire has become the latest elite boarding school to publish a report outlining “substantiated claims” of misconduct by former faculty and staff members and admitting the school failed to protect students.

At the request of the private Episcopal school, the Boston, Massachusetts-based law firm of Casner & Edwards conducted an independent investigation into 34 allegations of sexual misconduct by former faculty and staff.

Their damning 73-page report found 13 substantiated claims of sexual misconduct by former faculty and staff who were named, 10 other reports of sexual misconduct by former faculty and staff who were not named, and 11 unsubstantiated claims of sexual misconduct by current and former faculty and staff.

“Put simply but starkly, several former faculty and staff sexually abused children in their care in a variety of ways, from clear boundary violations to repeated sexual relationships to rape,” the report said.

More here-

and here (with video)

and here-

and here-

and here-

Children in the Sanctuary

From Huffington-

I share these words in response to something disturbing that has taken place in my synagogue’s sanctuary twice over the last month.

In both cases, a child in the sanctuary made child-like sounds, and in both cases, someone asked the child’s parents to take the child out of the sanctuary. In one case, the person said to the parent, “perhaps your child doesn’t belong in synagogue.” Besides my sense of (and agreement with) the parents’ hurt, these words are also the least synagogue-ish I’ve ever heard. This sentiment has no place in our faith communities, and my response is one of outrage that they were said in the first place.

My response to these wrong reactions to the presence of children within holy space is simple and core to who we are called to be as faith communities: Our sanctuaries are not sanctuaries from children. They are sanctuaries for children.

More here-

Justin Welby: How to pray ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ and mean it

From Premier Christianity (Justin Welby)-

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby introduces a new prayer movement

Lately I have found myself constantly talking and thinking about prayer. This is not because I am an expert on it, or even particularly good at it. Nor is it because it’s the kind of thing I am paid to do. It’s because I see ever more evidence of the need for it. These words of Jesus in Luke 11 offer us a good foundation for why we pray: “So I say to you: ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Prayer begins by acknowledging that we don’t have what we need, we aren’t who we want to be and we don’t see what we long to see.

Last year the Archbishop of York and I invited people up and down the country to pray for the ten days between Ascension Day and Pentecost. The prayers had just one focus – a request to God for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit so that those who don’t know the love of Jesus might turn, hear his call and themselves becomes his followers.

More here-

Let’s talk about Sunday School

From Episcopal Cafe-

Let’s be honest about Sunday School.

In my experience, clergy and laity widely regard Sunday School as an essential element of a congregation’s programming but equally widely hope that someone else will take responsibility for ensuring that Sunday School happens. This tacit disdain for Sunday School is evident in our delegating responsibility for Sunday School to newly minted and therefore inexperienced curates (in those few remaining parishes fortunate enough to have a curate) and fervent prayers that longsuffering volunteers will serve one more year. The proffered justification that youthful clergy will somehow instinctively relate better to youth and children lacks prima facie credibility. What that justification really communicates is that Sunday School may be necessary but is not one of the rector’s top priorities.

More here-

Diocese of West Texas notified of successful canonical consent process

From The Episcopal Church-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry and Registrar of General Convention, the Rev. Canon Michael Barlowe, have notified the Diocese of West Texas that Bishop-Elect Jennifer Brooke-Davidson has received the required majority of consents in the canonical consent process.

The Rev. Jennifer Brooke-Davidson was elected Bishop Suffragan on February 25.  Her ordination and consecration service is slated for July 29; Presiding Bishop Curry will officiate.

In Canon III.11.4 (b), Standing Committees, in consenting to the ordination and consecration, attest they are "fully sensible of how important it is that the Sacred Order and Office of a Bishop should not be unworthily conferred, and firmly persuaded that it is our duty to bear testimony on this solemn occasion without partiality, do, in the presence of Almighty God, testify that we know of no impediment on account of which the Reverend A.B. ought not to be ordained to that Holy Office. We do, moreover, jointly and severally declare that we believe the Reverend A.B. to have been duly and lawfully elected and to be of such sufficiency in learning, of such soundness in the Faith, and of such godly character as to be able to exercise the Office of a Bishop to the honor of God and the edifying of the Church, and to be a wholesome example to the flock of Christ."

More here-

Monday, May 22, 2017

Churches warn South Africa becoming a “mafia state”

From South Africa-

The influential South African Council of Churches has warned corruption is turning South Africa into a “mafia state” under a government that intimidates whistleblowers, local media reported on Friday.

In unusually frank comments from the council (SACC), its secretary general Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana was cited as saying President Jacob Zuma’s government had “lost the moral radar”.

The criticism puts more pressure on Zuma, who in past weeks has faced calls to resign from within his own ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and the opposition amid a slew of scandals that prompted street protests and credit-rating downgrades.

“We have come to recognise that South Africa may just be a few inches from the throes of a mafia state from which there may be no return, a recipe for a failed state,” Mpumlwana was quoted as saying.

More here-

Anglican Pastor In Adultery Storm, Accused Of Having S*x With Married Church Member

From Nigeria-

Reverend Gilbert Sambona, a Zimbabwean Anglican priest with the Manicaland diocese, has been accused of having a romantic affair with a married parishioner.

According to Sunday Mail, Mr Clever Ndiringepi, a church member, claimed that the man of cloth was in an intimate relationship with his wife, Bridget.

In November last year, Mr Ndiringepi wrote a two-paged letter of complaint to the Anglican Manicaland diocese leader, Bishop Erik Ruwona.

“On the 1st of November 2016, I checked my wife’s (Bridget Ndiringepi) phone. I went through Whatsapp chats and came across a disturbing chat between her and a person saved as Mbona Rev, with the cell number +263 773 436 942 on the 31st of October 2016 and Sunday 30th October 2016.

“All these were love messages. It’s undoubted that the two are in love as per attached copies of the chat. I also noticed messages of the same nature between the two, even in my wife’s Netone number.

More here-

Religious leaders call for inclusive dialogue to end South Sudan conflict

From Sudan-

“Without a doubt, the swearing in of the members of the dialogue being organised by the government will mark the beginning of a long march together. Hand in hand, Christians and Muslims looking in the same direction in order to eradicate violence, suspicious, mistrust and hatred,” said Isaac Dhieu, the Episcopal Bishop of Akot diocese.

The conference “will not only strengthen the brotherhood and sisterhood for our citizens, but it will also help to boost the momentum that we support as custodians of the divine law,” he added.

The Bishop denounced the voices that advocate war and glorify violence in the name of reforms.

Last Thursday, the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said the dialogue will kick off its works soon without the opposition figures who declined their appointment.

More here-

I’m a Pastor With Depression. For Years I Thought I Had to Hide It.

From Sojourners-

I was serving as associate pastor to a small church in southern Wisconsin, just a year out of seminary, and I couldn't get out of bed. I slept all the time. I couldn't eat. I couldn't see any future ahead of me. I was filled with a despair I couldn’t put into words. My primary care doctor diagnosed me with anxiety-related depression. It was 2011.

There was no way I could tell anyone about this diagnosis. Forget talking about it in regular conversation — I'm a pastor, for God’s sakes, a leader in the Christian church. I couldn’t be dealing with this. I needed to man up, I told myself — I’d get tough, and pull myself out of this nightmare.

“Demons” have never been part of my religious vocabulary. Growing up in a fundamentalist Christian community, spending my teens as an agnostic, then becoming a Lutheran pastor, at every turn, my faith journey made me wary of terms like that. I mean, it wasn’t like I was living in a scene from The Exorcist, right?

More here-

Rowan Williams: Britons are peering into the abyss after Brexit vote

From Guardian-

Rowan Williams has warned of the dangers of “messianic leadership” arising from disillusion in the political process, saying lessons need to be learned from Germany in the 1930s.

The former archbishop of Canterbury also said many Britons were peering into the abyss following last year’s Brexit referendum. Asked if the country was facing an existential crisis, he told the Guardian: “Yes … we’re certainly not a country at ease with itself.”

He called for a broad consensus on tackling long-term systemic issues facing the UK, such as inequality and alienation. “If we don’t [address these], the spring will coil tighter and tighter,” he said.

Williams, now master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and chair of Christian Aid, referred to a new edition of a 1943 book, Darkness Over Germany: a Warning from History, published this week, which charts the rise of fascism.

More here-

A Prayer for Donald Trump

From The New York Times (Opinion)-

Given the mess that he’s in and the martyrdom that he hallucinates, it’s only fitting that Donald Trump would turn toward God.

He has fled the country — not a moment too soon! — for his first foreign excursion since taking office, and it’s less a conventional presidential trip than a roving seminar in world religions: Islam (Saudi Arabia is the first stop), Judaism (Israel is second) and Roman Catholicism (the Vatican is the capper).

I’m especially eager for his communion with Pope Francis, an entry in the annals of odd couples that ranks somewhere just above Oscar and Felix, and below Mork and Mindy.

One of them is splenetic. The other is ascetic. One sins. The other redeems. Cue the metaphors and clutch your rosary beads.

More here-

Is the Old Testament dying?

From RNS-

Brent Strawn was teaching at a Methodist church in Atlanta when he asked his class to identify the origin of Jesus’ well-known cry from the cross — “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”


The Emory University professor of the Old Testament was stunned.

How could it be that these mostly older adults, faithful lifelong churchgoers, didn’t know that Jesus was quoting directly from Psalm 22?

That’s when it dawned on him: The Old Testament is dying.

That realization, now a book by the same name, argues that many contemporary Christians have lost biblical fluency and can no longer speak the language of more than half their sacred Scripture.

More here-

Pay for a Priest or a Building

From The Living Church-

In Bethel, Vermont, Christ Church cannot afford a full-time priest. But its buildings — an in-town church and parish hall, plus a historic church for summer use a few miles away in the countryside — are in good shape. So is the congregation’s record of giving thousands a year to the local food pantry and supporting other missions.

Christ Church’s priest, the Rev. Shelie Richardson, is a volunteer who works as a full-time insurance agent. That has freed much-needed cash for buildings and benevolence.

“It’s money we just wouldn’t have available if we were trying to pay for a salary, a reasonable retirement, and all the things that go along with being an employer,” said Nancy Wuttke, Christ Church’s senior warden.

In turning to volunteer clergy, Christ Church ranks among scores of Episcopal congregations exploring what becomes possible when the priest is not paid a penny. Such arrangements can have drawbacks and need careful structure, diocesan officials say. But they also open the door to new vitality, an invigorated laity, and what many regard as a heartening shift in congregational dynamics.

More here-