Saturday, August 5, 2017

Breakaway churches have 30 days to decide what happens with Episcopal Church lawsuit

From South Carolina- TV News video-

Leaders within The Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina are giving each other 30 days to decide where the lawsuit between the churches will go from here.

Wednesday’s ruling states that dozens of parishes that split with The Episcopal Church over theological issues, including the ordination of gay priests, cannot take valuable property with them.

Bishop Skip Adams with The Episcopal Church said a meeting was held Friday at Grace Church Cathedral with the Standing Committee, Diocesan Council, and Trustees, along with three bodies of clergy and non-ordained elected leaders to review the top court’s ruling on church property and assets from a breakaway group’s lawsuit against The Episcopal Church.

“We’ve found some clarity in the ruling at this point,” Adams said.

Reverend Jim Lewis, with the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina (the breakaway congregations), said they have until September 1 to make a decision on whether they would like to have the case reheard.

“We don’t believe this is the end of this matter by any stretch,” Lewis said.

More here-

Episcopal Church schism enters new chapter of uncertainty after court ruling

From South Carolina. (Post and Courier)

In the aftermath of the S.C. Supreme Court’s ruling Wednesday on the dispute between The Episcopal Church and a breakaway diocese, many parishioners, clergy and others with a vested interest in Anglican life are wondering when — or whether — another exodus will occur.

The court decided in a set of five distinct opinions that most of the church buildings in the Diocese of South Carolina, as well as Camp St. Christopher on Seabrook Island, belong to The Episcopal Church. These properties include historic parishes such as St. Michael’s and St. Philip’s downtown, Old St. Andrew’s in West Ashley and Christ Church in Mount Pleasant, as well as buildings in Beaufort, Edisto, Summerville, Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, Florence and elsewhere in the coastal half of the state.

The Diocese of South Carolina under the leadership of Bishop Mark Lawrence was granted an extension on Friday for filing a request for a rehearing, giving lawyers 30 days to submit their petition with the S.C. Supreme Court.

More here-

Keep up the good work, evangelical prophets!

From RNS-

Silly me.

On Wednesday, when President Trump embraced an immigration bill that would give priority to English speakers with job skills over family members, I figured the prophets of the evangelical world would be all over him. After all, wasn’t it Jerry Falwall, Sr. who wrote in his 1980 manifesto Listen America, “The family is the fundamental building block and the basic unit of our society, and its continued health is a prerequisite for a strong and prosperous nation”?

So something was needed from the family values crowd along the lines of the statement issued by Austin Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Migration:

"The United States supports families and should not throw up obstacles to their unity. Unfortunately, the RAISE Act would have our nation turn its back on this long and storied tradition of welcoming families setting out to build a better life."

But no, as with every other Trumpian affront to their professed principles, the President’s house prophets either tell him what he wants to hear or forever hold their peace.

More here-

U.S. Muslims More Accepting of Homosexuality Than White Evangelicals

From NBC-

A recent survey by the Pew Research Center found a sizable shift in the views of American Muslims when it comes to homosexuality and found them to be more accepting of it than white evangelicals.

In a survey conducted between January and May, 52 percent of U.S. Muslims said homosexuality should be accepted by society — an increase of 25 percentage since 2007. Comparatively, only 34 percent of white evangelical Protestants said they believed homosexuality should be accepted, the smallest percentage of any group surveyed.

Within the U.S. Muslim community, women and college graduates had the highest acceptance rate of homosexuality (both 63 percent), followed by less religious Muslims (62 percent) and millennials (60 percent).

More here-

Friday, August 4, 2017

Church institutions address gender gap as men found to outearn women

From The Church Times-

WOMEN working for the Church of England’s national institutions are, on average, paid 41 per cent less than men, reflecting the fact that they are more likely to work in lower-grade jobs.

The data has been released by the National Church Institutions, which include the Archbishops’ Council, Church Commissioners, Pensions Board, and Lambeth Palace, under regulations that require companies and institutions with more than 250 employees to disclose data on the gender pay gap.

Within each grade of post, men and women are paid similar amounts; the same in the first two grades, women nine per cent more in the third grade, and men three per cent more in the top grade. The gender ratio within the grades varies significantly. In the lowest grade, where the average salary (according to the median) is £26,754, 74 per cent of employees are women. In the highest grade, where the average salary is £64,460, 64 per cent of employees are men.

More here-


From James Caldwell-

The storm has passed. It left a great deal of destruction in its wake, but it has moved on. The Episcopal Church and her diocese survived. The schismatic faction in South Carolina is now in disarray, confusion, and collapse. Yesterday's decision I believe was the turning point in the history of the schism. The fundamental issue of property has been settled---in favor of the national Church.

The dispute between the Church diocese and the independent diocese was primarily over two big issues: property and legal rights of the pre-schism diocese. Yesterday, the state supreme court settled the first issue and passed the second on to the United States District Court in Charleston for settlement.

The state supreme court overturned most of the circuit court decision of Judge Goodstein (Feb. 3, 2015). Only one justice, Kittredge, gave much recognition to Goodstein's decision.

The crux of yesterday's ruling was property. The court said 29 of the parishes that had claimed to break away from the Episcopal Church must return control of their properties to the Episcopal Church and the Church diocese (Episcopal Church in South Carolina). The court also said that 7 of the breakaway parishes could keep their properties trust-free. 

More here-

Christians are more than twice as likely to blame a person’s poverty on lack of effort

From The Washington Post-

Which is generally more often to blame if a person is poor: lack of effort on their own part, or difficult circumstances beyond their control?

The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation asked 1,686 American adults to answer that question — and found that religion is a significant predictor of how Americans perceive poverty.

Christians, especially white evangelical Christians, are much more likely than non-Christians to view poverty as the result of individual failings.

“There’s a strong Christian impulse to understand poverty as deeply rooted in morality — often, as the Bible makes clear, in unwillingness to work, in bad financial decisions or in broken family structures,” said Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “The Christian worldview is saying that all poverty is due to sin, though that doesn’t necessarily mean the sin of the person in poverty. In the Garden of Eden, there would have been no poverty. In a fallen world, there is poverty.”

More here-

Bishop: Church 'abandons' the poor because clergy won't leave middle-class areas with trendy coffee shops

From The Telegraph-

The Church is "abandoning" the poor because middle-class clergy are unwilling to move away from "trendy coffee shops", a bishop has said.

The Rt Revd Philip North launched a stinging critique of Church of England priests who are too wedded to wealthy areas to minister to the poor.

In a speech made at the Christian conference New Wine, the Bishop of Burnley said: "I am astonished at the number of people Jesus is calling to plant new churches as long as they are in Zones 1 and 2 of the London transport system."

He added: "If you feel called to plant, we need you on the outer estates, we need you in our northern towns, we need you in areas where a majority of people come from other world faiths, we need you in those areas where the trendy coffee shops and artisanal bakers are hard to find. 

More here-

Why so negative?

From Draughting Theology-

The more I read Luke’s version of the Transfiguration, the more I’m wondering about the reactions to this text, both within my own being as well as from what I read and hear in sermons and sermon resources.  This came to light especially this morning as I read a reflection on Matthew’s version of this passage that was posted on the Christian Century website back when it came up in late February of this year.  Jason Micheli’s piece, entitled “What preachers get wrong and Peter gets right about the Transfiguration” noted that no where does Jesus or God rebuke Peter for his desire to build some booths for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah.  As I read the article, and as I’ve re-read the passage this morning, I’ve noticed that Peter’s question isn’t the only part of this story that stirs up negative reactions in me, and has me wondering why?

More here-


From The Living Church-

Samuel Moor Shoemaker (1893-1963) was rector of Calvary Church, New York, from 1925 to 1951 and of Calvary Church, Pittsburgh, from 1952 to 1961. A graduate of Princeton and the General Theological Seminary, Shoemaker was a popular radio preacher, a missionary in China, and a major 20th-century evangelical leader both inside and outside the Episcopal Church. He is sometimes credited as a founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, but this is not accurate; rather, his work with the Oxford Group movement for “moral re-armament” inspired the founders of AA, and Shoemaker supported their early efforts.

17 years after this essay for TLC, Shoemaker reported on a later effort at organized evangelism: “The Episcopal Church and Evangelism.” He is commemorated on January 31 as “Priest and Evangelist, 1963” in Holy Women, Holy Men.

Below is the first part of his essay.

“Why some evangelism peters out,” from The Living Church (April 26, 1930).

More here-

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Archbishop of Uganda to boycott global meeting over gay marriage

From Africa News-

Stanley Ntagali, the Archbishop of Uganda, has disclosed that he will not attend the next meeting of Anglican leaders citing the gradual acceptance of same-sex marriage by the church.

The 62-year-old who also doubles as Bishop of the Ugandan capital, Kampala, in an interview with the BBC said he was not prepared to engage with people who took ‘an unbiblical view of marriage.’

He made the comments after joining the global leader of the church, Justin Welby – Archbishop of Canterbury – to visit refugee camps in the country’s north. Welby is on an African tour that saw him visit Sudan where he declared the 39th province of the church in Khartoum.

The next meeting of the church’s global leadership is slated for October this year in England but Ntagali says he will not take part – a decision supported fully by senior clergy of the local church.

More here-

South Carolina: Breakaway Anglicans Must Return 29 Churches

From Christianity Today-

A conservative South Carolina diocese that left The Episcopal Church five years ago has been involved in a complicated dispute over its name, leadership, and land ever since.

Today, the Palmetto State’s supreme court decided that the Diocese of South Carolina—which contains about 50 churches and 20,000 parishioners and is now part of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)—does not get to keep about $500 million worth of historic church properties that it claimed in the split.

The ruling declares that 29 local parishes cannot take their properties with them and must return them to the Episcopal Church. However, the breakaway diocese can continue to use its name, seal, and symbols.

A lower court decision in 2015 granted the conservative Anglicans “all their property, including churches, symbols, and other assets,” worth half a billion dollars. That same year, the breakaway diocese rejected an Episcopal attempt to settle the dispute by basically letting the conservatives keep their physical properties in return for giving up their intellectual property. They refused.

More here-

Rafael L. Morales Maldonado consecrated bishop of Puerto Rico

From ENS-

The Rt. Rev. Rafael L. Morales Maldonado was ordained and consecrated the seventh bishop of the Diocese of Puerto Rico on July 22 during a Eucharist celebrated at the Pedro Rosselló Convention Center in San Juan. 

A native of Puerto Rico, Morales lives in Toa Alta and is the second Puerto Rican to be elected bishop of the diocese.

Twelve hundred people attended the event, including ecumenical guests, government representatives and Episcopalians representing parishes throughout the island.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preached and served as chief consecrator, co-consecrating bishops included, Bishop David A. Alvarez, retired bishop of Puerto Rico, Bishop Wilfrido Ramos Orench, who served as bishop provisional of Puerto Rico since 2014, Bishop Julio Holguin of the Diocese of the Dominican Republic, and Bishop Peter Eaton, of the Diocese of Southeast Florida. President of the House of Deputies the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings also attended. Parishioners from across the island sang in the choir, played music and served as liturgical dancers.

More here-

Churches must improve treatment of singles or risk losing them, author says

From Baptist News-

It’s high time churches wake up and smell the coffee when it comes to the single adults in their pews – and for the even bigger number of singles who aren’t there.

That’s a message Gina Dalfonzo, author of the 2017 book One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church, is busily and urgently sharing with media outlets, pastors, laypeople and anyone else who will listen.

Just look at the numbers provided in recent surveys, she says. The Pew Research Center found that the number of married Americans is at its lowest point — about 50 percent — since 1920. Meanwhile the Barna Group reported that 23 percent of active churchgoers are single.

Yet, church-going singles consistently report feeling like second-class citizens in their own sanctuaries.

“The question is what are churches going to do about that?” said Dalfonzo, editor of BreakPoint, a project of The Colson Center for Christian Worldview.

More here-

Vatican article on ‘ecumenism of hate’ in U.S. was long overdue

From Crux Now-

In the last fifteen years, people in the pews have grown to expect adult conversations about man-made problems within the Church, especially those presenting a threat to the Church and society.  One such challenge is the division within the Church along political lines.  This is no secret to anyone paying attention, although too often it is hidden in plain sight.

The division is deep, and weakens the Church at a time when the Church could be - and arguably should be - providing leadership and serving to bridge the divides within our society and the global community.  This is the role that Pope Francis, the bridge builder, envisions for the Church in today’s world.

Recently two intrepid souls, both of whom reportedly hold Pope Francis’s confidence, sought to advance a long-overdue conversation on this matter.  They’re Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor-in-chief of the Jesuit publication La Civilità Cattolica, and Presbyterian Rev. Marcelo Figueroa, editor-in-chief of the Argentinean edition of L’Osservatore Romano.

More here-

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Split Episcopal dioceses can’t take millions in property

From AP-

Dozens of parishes that split from The Episcopal Church over theological issues including the ordination of gay priests cannot take valuable real estate with them, according to a split ruling issued Wednesday by South Carolina’s highest court.

The South Carolina Supreme Court decision settled some of the issues swirling in the wake of the 2012 departure of several dozen dioceses from The Episcopal Church. Attorneys on both sides of the long-awaited resolution were still reviewing it Wednesday afternoon and did not immediately comment.

The conservative Diocese of South Carolina, dating to 1785 and one of the original dioceses that joined to form the Episcopal Church, left the national church in 2012 amid differences over theological issues, including the authority of Scripture and the ordination of gays. The group has since affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, a group that formed in 2009.

Parishes in the region that didn’t leave the national church formed a diocese now known as The Episcopal Church in South Carolina.

The conservative diocese sued in efforts to protect its identity, the diocesan seal and other symbols it uses, and $500 million in church property, including the individual parishes’ holdings, as well as large properties including an Episcopal church camp in the Charleston area.

More here-'t-take-millions-in-property

State Supreme Court rules The Episcopal Church can reclaim 29 properties from breakaway parishes

From South Carolina-

In a highly anticipated ruling, the state Supreme Court decided Wednesday that 29 local parishes whose congregations left The Episcopal Church in 2012 cannot take their valuable properties with them, a decision that could set the stage for a massive exchange of historic church capital in the region.

However, seven parishes and a land trust that departed can hold on to their properties because they never agreed in writing to let the national church hold them in trust, unlike the others, a majority of justices ruled.

The beloved St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center on Seabrook Island and Charleston parishes including St. Michael's Church, the oldest surviving religious building in Charleston, and St. Philip's Church, the oldest congregation in the state, appear to be among properties set to return to The Episcopal Church, according to several sources and notes included in the court's document.

More here-

Ojai pastor makes sure undocumented immigrants know their rights

From California-

Early on a recent weekday morning, a man in a white priest’s collar holding a fistful of small cards strode toward a group of day laborers gathered under a tree next to an Ojai gas station.

“Good morning, I’m Father Greg with St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church,” he said and began handing out the cards. “We’re giving people these cards in case ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) or other law enforcement comes. These are know-your-rights cards.”

Some of the men shifted uncomfortably, backing further into the shade. But a couple of the men recognized the Rev. Greg Kimura and smiled.
For the past six months, the pastor and other church members have been coming to these spots around Ojai to distribute the cards to immigrants who may be living in the country without legal permission.

One card, printed in English and Spanish, invokes the constitutional right to remain silent and resist warrantless searches.

More here-

Top Episcopal bishop removes L.A. bishop from control over Newport's St. James church

From The LA Times-

The top bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States has removed J. Jon Bruno, the embattled bishop of the Los Angeles diocese, from any jurisdiction over the St. James the Great church in Newport Beach, which Bruno has tried twice to sell.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, issued the restriction Tuesday, transferring pastoral and property oversight from Bruno to Bishop John Taylor, who has been named Bruno’s successor upon Bruno’s planned retirement at the end of the year.

The restriction comes about a week and a half after an ecclesiastical disciplinary panel issued a tentative ruling July 21 recommending that Bruno be suspended for three years and that St. James — which was closed as Bruno tried to sell it to would-be townhouse developer Legacy Partners in 2015 — be reopened to its congregation. The board found Bruno guilty of misconduct related to the sale attempt, which fell through after Legacy’s investment partner dropped out.

Curry’s decision also comes on top of a partial restriction he placed on Bruno’s ministry on June 28, barring him from completing another planned sale of the St. James property — this one to Newport Beach-based developer Burnham-Ward Properties — that was about to close escrow.

More here-

also here-


From The Living Church-

Fred Craddock’s As One Without Authority (1971) marked a significant shift in the way preachers were thinking about the form of the sermon. Craddock began by addressing the problems facing the preacher in an age when people no longer accept religious authority. Critiquing the traditional approach to preaching, the three-point sermon, he suggested that one of the reasons so much preaching was ineffective is that listeners have changed — they are in many cases more sophisticated and less open to a traditional authoritative mode of preaching. He  recommends an inductive rather than a deductive approach to preaching. Instead of simply offering a thesis and then exploring and defending the thesis in three or more relatively balanced points, he argues for beginning with questions that will grab the listener’s attention because they are pertinent to the lives of the listeners.

Craddock’s argument has been dismissed by many who want to hold to a high view of preaching, since at first blush the emphasis on the listener appears to advocate for relevance over faithfulness. Rather than placing our confidence in God’s self-communication in Scripture and through preaching, the focus appears to shift to the preacher’s ability to communicate. With confidence in God, objectors maintain, we need to keep our primary focus on faithfulness to the biblical text, which argues for classic expository preaching where the preacher carefully and faithfully “unpacks” the text for the listener.

More here-

A Canterbury trail: exploring the city’s medieval streets on foot

From The Guardian-

The place is, in a word, cryptic. This is not just because of the cathedral’s vast undercroft and the tales its stones could tell about the strange murder of an archbishop in the late 12th century. There’s a sense of the city’s riddlesome quality even before arriving.

One of the two railway stations, Canterbury West, is no further to the west than the other one, Canterbury East. What’s more, Canterbury West is situated right at the north of the town, while Canterbury East is right at the south. Once inside the old walls, middle England does its best to assert stability in the Kent peninsula, but don’t be taken in; this is the eternal capital of medieval murder mystery.

Canterbury East is the better of the two approaches, with the train slowing parallel with the largely restored mass of the Roman walls, then drawing up like a docking liner. So durable were these walls, with a thickness of two-and-a-half metres, that they offered stout resistance to the Viking invasions of Kent between the ninth and 11th centuries.

More here-

Man Shall Not Live on the New Testament Alone

From Christianity Today-

What do Christians do with the Old Testament, with its weird laws, brutal violence, and unpredictable God? Some are confused by it, some are afraid of it, and some simply ignore it. Our confusion, fear, and avoidance of the Old Testament has led to a severe problem. Like a doctor examining a patient, Brent Strawn examines our Old Testament habits and makes a dire diagnosis that supplies the title of his new book: The Old Testament is Dying.

Strawn’s analysis is divided into three sections. The first two focus on the problem (Part 1: “The Old Testament as a Dying Language” and Part 2: “Signs of Morbidity”), while the final section offers a solution (Part 3: “Path to Recovery”). Strawn’s grave assessment should cause great concern to any who believe, along with Paul the apostle, that all Scripture is divinely inspired and profitable for teaching (2 Tim. 3:16). But his suggested treatment should be a source of great hope.

More here-

Top 10 Things Never to Say to Your Female Pastor

From Patheos-

So I began asking: What are some of the sexist things parishioners have said or done to you as a female in ministry? Maybe they were not intending to be sexist. Maybe they actually thought they were complimenting you or “helping” you by giving you “feedback.” But what they said left you feeling uncomfortable, annoyed, or even angry.

Here is what they shared:

“For such a tiny little woman, you have a lot of energy!”

On first meeting me: “Are you married? What does your husband think about this?”

“You are the prettiest pastor I’ve ever met.”

You are “articulate and attractive” said my ex-senior…as compared, of course, to my male associate who is “brilliant, intelligent.” I’m thinking I should have been a TV anchor instead of a pastor!
“You should be wearing stockings or pantyhose.” (And I am in robe down to mid-calf.)

After worship and I had taken off my robe, I was helping a woman get into the chair lift to leave the building. One of the elder men came up to me and said, “From this angle, I can see what you’re all about in your dress.”

90% of what was said to me as a pastor involved my attire. “That’s not how a minister should dress,” and that sort of thing. My personal favorite was, “First we hire a woman and then she wears pants!”

More here-

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Presiding Bishop issues Further Partial Restriction on the ministry of Bishop J. Jon Bruno

From The Cafe-

Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry has issued a Further Partial Restriction of Ministry to Bishop Jon Bruno of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Signed today by the Presiding Bishop, the Further Partial Restriction is effective immediately and is intended to protect the integrity of the Church’s disciplinary process until it is concluded and also allow the Diocese of Los Angeles under its new leadership to move forward even as the disciplinary process with Bishop Bruno continues, as explained by the Presiding Bishop.

The Further Partial Restriction is intended to chart a way forward that clarifies and respects the appropriate role and authority of the Bishop Coadjutor and Standing Committee as well as the Hearing Panel and the Title IV process.

More here-

Former archbishop probed over how disgraced priest John Mounford fled Adelaide in 1992

From Australia-

A former Anglican archbishop is at the centre of a police investigation into the handling of sexual abuse at one of Adelaide's most prestigious schools.

Ex-school chaplain John Mountford was sacked from St Peter’s College after admitting he sexually assaulted a Year 10 student in 1992, and the same day fled to Bali.

It would be another 12 years before he was eventually extradited from Thailand to face charges, but the case was dropped on the first day of the trial after the victim was deemed too mentally unwell to give evidence.

Mountford then again fled the country, this time to Libya, where he was later murdered in 2009.

His victim took his own life five years later.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks ‘strongly’ to Sudan President of religious freedom for Christians

From World Watch-

The advent of the world’s newest country, South Sudan, in 2011 has not been without its impact. Not only has it spawned a civil war and one of the world’s biggest current humanitarian crises, but also the need for a new Province in the global Anglican Communion. This weekend, the Archbishop of Canterbury was in Khartoum to inaugurate the Communion’s 39th Province, that of Sudan.

Previously, after independence, the Anglican Province of Sudan and South Sudan had been headquartered in South Sudan, where the majority of the Anglican Episcopal Church of Sudan’s (ECS) four and a half million members live. South Sudan has since been wracked by civil war along first political, then tribal lines, and it was also difficult for a Primate based in a neighbouring country to oversee the Church in Sudan.

More here-

Religious groups join suit against ‘sanctuary cities’ law

From Texas-

For the first time, religious groups have filed court briefs against the so-called sanctuary cities ban in Senate Bill 4, entering the fray in a lawsuit that seeks to prevent the implementation of the law, which they say will harm their faith communities.

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, numerous individual religious leaders and a state interfaith organization asked the federal court in San Antonio on Sunday to consider their opposition to SB 4 when deciding on a request for an injunction that would prevent the law from being enforced beginning Sept. 1.

“SB 4 is contrary to the moral imperative that we love our neighbor, welcome the immigrant and care for the most vulnerable among us,” Bishop C. Andrew Doyle of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas said in a news release. “This law represents an anti-immigrant agenda that is born out of fear and promoted out of a sense of privilege, jeopardizing justice for everyone.”

More here-

Russell Brand Sat Down with Theologian Alister McGrath for a Fascinating Conversation About Faith

From Relevant-

Actor, comedian and author Russell Brand recently sat down with Anglican priest and professor of science and religion in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford and professor of divinity at Gresham College Alister McGrath for a really interesting conversation about God and faith.

The discussion took place on Brand’s Under the Skin podcast, and if you’ve ever listened to Brand’s web series before, you know that he’s pretty open to a range of ideas. In the show, McGrath explains his own journey from atheism to committed Christianity.

More here-

Lessons from the confessional on dealing with ‘cutting’

From Crux Now-

“I cut myself.”

It’s a bald statement, which I repeatedly hear in confessions of high school youth, one offered along with more mundane sins, such as disobeying one’s parents or stealing a jacket at school.  Sometimes it’s followed by a specification.  The young person behind the screen will add, “On my stomach.”

In one face-to-face confession, the young man showed me his arms.

In three decades of hearing confessions, I’d developed the attitude of Qoheleth, the author of Ecclesiastes: “There is nothing new under the sun.”  But after twenty years of primarily scholastic ministry, I have returned to parochial ministry.  Hearing so many confessions about “cutting” is new for me.

More here-

Report: Episcopalians May Still Exist

A little humor to start the day-

While many Americans believed the Episcopal Church to be some kind of myth or legend, the religious organization may actually still exist, researchers revealed Monday morning.

The shocking findings came as a surprise to many American Christians, who had thought the denomination to have completely disappeared off the face of the earth, if it had ever existed at all.

“Contrary to popular opinion, yes, we are still around,” Most Reverend Michael Curry, head of the apparently-still-in-existence Episcopalian Church, allegedly said Monday in front of a dilapidated, overgrown church building. “We exist, and we plan to continue not to die. In fact, we are still hanging in there, and to my knowledge, we have not yet ceased to be.” Curry then allowed reporters to touch his hands to prove his existence, though all photos of Curry’s press conference mysteriously disappeared.

More here-

Monday, July 31, 2017

Uhuru gifts Kilifi ACK Bishop with luxurious vehicle

From Kenya-

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday donated a luxurious vehicle to the Anglican Church of Kenya Bishop Lawrence Dena in Kilifi town.

The brand new Toyota Prado TX was officially handed over the church by Jubilee Party governor candidate Gideon Mung'aro.

The car was received by Ven Captain Reuben Katite at the ACK St Thomas Memorial in Kilifi in front of church followers.

Uhuru had, during one of his earlier visits to the church, promised to give out a vehicle to the bishop in Malindi.

There was excitement in the church when Mung'aro handed over the vehicle.

The bishop, after receiving the 'special gift' from the head of state, prayed for Uhuru's victory in next week's election.

The church ministers also prayed for Mung’aro together with Kilifi North MP candidate Esther Kache.

Mung’aro called for peace during the electioneering period and condemned the Saturday attack at DP William Ruto's residence.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury declares Sudan new Anglican province

From Sudan-

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on Sunday declared Sudan the 39th province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, six years after the predominantly Christian south gained independence from the north.

The Anglican church in Sudan, a majority Muslim country, has been administered from South Sudan since the 2011 split which followed a civil war that left more than 2 million people dead.

Sunday’s ceremony in Khartoum added Sudan to the 85 million-strong worldwide Anglican communion’s 38 member churches – known as provinces – and six other branches known as extra provincials.

Welby said that creating a 39th Anglican province with its own Khartoum-based archbishop was a “new beginning” for Christians in Sudan.

More here-

also here-

Behind the Rail

From The Cafe-

They come as supplicants, lining up at the rail, hands cupped to receive the bread, some with their eyes down, some looking up at the altar, a few making eye contact. Most kneel, those with rickety knees stand, some hold infants or fuss with toddlers squirming beside them. I speak softly, gently, crouching down to allow a child to dip the wafer in the cup, instructing a visitor about what to do, clasping someone’s hands to help steady their hold on the chalice. These are intensely private moments and it’s as though we are meeting each other in a place that no one else can see.

There is nothing slapdash about communion in the Episcopal church. We are a denomination steeped in tradition, so we tend to do things properly, respectfully and with reverence. There is an exquisite beauty in the formal ritual, in the reciting of ancient words, in the vestments and organ music, in simply occupying a space that does not look like the commercial world we inhabit the rest of the week. Our church offers a brief respite from the constant bombardment of the secular.

More here-

St Cuthbert's coffin features in new display at Durham Cathedral

From The Guardian-

As the light picked out every detail of the angels and saints, and the runic and Latin inscriptions carved into the oak coffin of a man who died more than 1,300 years ago, the dean of Durham Cathedral struggled to find an appropriately reverent word. “Wow,” Andrew Tremlett finally said. “Wow.”

Janina Ramirez, a historian, was also seeing for the first time the cathedral’s new display of the coffin of St Cuthbert. She said she had been unable to sleep from excitement the night before. “This is the Tutankhamun’s tomb of the north-east,” she said, “a window into a time in history which some people call the dark ages.”

The coffin, made from English oak on Lindisfarne in 698 – 11 years after Cuthbert’s death – is regarded as the most important wooden object surviving in England from before the Norman conquest.

It is displayed surrounded by objects found in the coffin, which historians and archaeologists agree almost certainly did belong to the saint. They include his portable altar, a gold and garnet pectoral cross damaged and crudely repaired in his lifetime – which was found tucked into his robes in the 19th century – and most intimate of all, a rather scruffy ivory comb.

More here-


From The Living Church-

Anglican veneration of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the author of the Spiritual Exercises and founder of the Society of Jesus, at first glance appears odd or completely illogical. Unlike other theologians venerated by Anglicans, such as St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas, Ignatius’ work follows the Reformation, and stands in stark opposition to many of the distinguishing tenets of Anglicanism. The Jesuit Order was founded by St. Ignatius in Rome in 1540, six years after the 1534 English Act of Supremacy in which Henry VIII declared himself “Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England.” In contrast to Henry’s denial of papal supremacy, the priests in Ignatius’ new order were required to take a fourth vow (in addition to the traditional monastic vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience) in which they “further promise a special obedience to the sovereign pontiff in regard to the missions, according to the same Apostolic Letters and the Constitutions” (Constitutions S.J., N°527). Moreover, in his letter regarding prayer for the nations, Ignatius, writing in 1553, commented that

Since the order of charity by which we must love the entire body of the Church in Jesus Christ her head requires that remedies be applied especially to that part of the body which is seriously and dangerously ill, we have determined that to the extent of our weak powers, we ought to devote the Society’s efforts with particular zeal to the aid of England, Germany, and the northern nations imperiled by the grievous disease of heresy.[1]

More here-

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Cole named Bishop-elect of Episcopal Church in East Tennessee

From Tennessee-

The Rev. Brian Cole was elected the 5th Bishop of the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee Friday at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Knoxville. The election culminated a search process lasting just over a year.

Cole was elected from a field of five candidates.

Cole, 49 has served as rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Lexington, Kentucky, since 2012.

Pending the canonically required consent of a majority of The Episcopal Church’s diocesan Standing Committees and bishops with jurisdiction, Cole will be ordained and consecrated on Dec. 2 by the Most Reverent Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

The service will be held at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Knoxville.

In order to be elected, Cole needed to receive a simple majority of votes from both clergy and the lay delegates to the electing session of the 33rd Convention of the Episcopal Church in East Tennessee, voting as separate orders on the same balloting round.

More here-

Why Do Intelligent Atheists Still Read The Bible Like Fundamentalists?

From Patheos-

Before I begin, if you’re an atheist coming here looking for a fight, I’m the wrong guy. Yes, I’m a Christian (okay, the Religious Right would take issue with that claim, but whatever), but I have the utmost respect for my atheist friends and colleagues– especially the fruitful dialogue we have, and the many areas of common ground that can be discovered when we take the time to listen to one another.
One of those colleagues I respect is Hemant Mehta over at Friendly Atheist (and in further disclosure, Terry Firma at Friendly Atheist is one of my real-life best friends).

Hemant has given me some thoughtful and friendly push-back from time to time, and in this case, I need to do the same.

So here is the question I can’t figure out, and was reminded of when reading a piece Hemant wrote: Why do intelligent atheists often insist on reading the Bible like a fundamentalist– as if there’s only one way to understand and apply it to Christian living?

Case in point: Friendly Atheist today is poking a bit of fun at a Miss Teen USA contestant who happens to be a devout Christian. Their issue with her?

That she has a tattoo.

More here-


From The Living Church-

Innumerable printer cartridges have been used up and billions of electrons inconvenienced in the effort to explicate what is arguably a monumental shift in the relationship between Christianity and Western culture. This has been taking place over the last several decades, at least, but seems more recently to be gaining momentum at an exponential rate. The privileged position that Christianity had enjoyed, first in Europe and then in the Europe-influenced societies of the Americas, has been effectively lost in all but a few scattered pockets. The Constantinian synthesis has run its course. Quite possibly, the primary challenge facing the Church in the coming years, dwarfing all other challenges, will be how to navigate this new and unfamiliar territory, how to exist — and, indeed, thrive, one hopes — in a post-Christian environment, one without an assumed hand-in-glove relationship with secular society.

The problem is, it’s been so long since we’ve had to do this that we’ve forgotten how. There is very little by way of received wisdom or “best practices.” We can get a few ideas by examining evidentiary fragments of catechumenal praxis that might be traceable to the third century, but, in the larger context, that’s pretty meager fare. For most practical purposes, the task before us is more akin to discovering fire or inventing the wheel. That prospect is, to say the very least, daunting. It will require us to cast aside the mental maps that are so familiar and comfortable. They are obsolete, no longer corresponding accurately to the territory they purport to represent.

More here-

Ancient DNA reveals fate of the mysterious Canaanites

From Science-

When the pharaohs ruled Egypt and the ancient Greeks built their first cities, a mysterious people called the Canaanites dominated the Near East. Around 4000 years ago, they built cities across the Levant, which includes present-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and part of Syria. Yet the Canaanites left no surviving written records, leaving researchers to piece together their history from secondhand sources.

One of those sources is the Bible’s Old Testament, which suggests a grisly end for many Canaanites: After the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, God ordered them to destroy Canaan and its people (though other passages suggest that some Canaanites may have survived). But did that really happen? Archaeological data suggests that Canaanite cities were never destroyed or abandoned. Now, ancient DNA recovered from five Canaanite skeletons suggests that these people survived to contribute their genes to millions of people living today.