Saturday, August 26, 2017


From Comment-

Some of us remember Enid Strict, the infamous and wildly popular "church lady" played by Dana Carvey on Saturday Night Live. Enid was a caricature of the busybody finger-shaking moralist no one would want to share a pew with. Her routines included condemnations of all things sexual, judgments on the rich and famous, and a little "superior dance" she performed to music played by an organist named Pearl. Perhaps I shouldn't admit to having watched SNL, let alone laughed at the antics of the church lady. But I did. I have also shared Jane Austen's wry amusement at the Reverend Mr. Collins's obsequious panderings and laughed out loud at Stella Gibbons's portrayal of Amos Starkadder, pastor of the Church of the Quivering Brethren in Cold Comfort Farm, who delivers stock hellfire sermons in Scottish brogue. Figures like these continue to amuse readers and viewers by exposing the false pieties and self-serving practices of Christians at their worst.

More here-

It's not Iconoclasm, It Is Anti-Jim Crow Racism!

From Long Island-

On Wednesday, August 16th, I accompanied members of my staff to the property of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, to remove two memorial plaques on a tree (or at least the third incarnation of the tree) planted on the property by General Robert E. Lee in the mid-1840s.

It is a fact that General Lee was a founding member of St. John’s Episcopal Church while he was stationed at Fort Hamilton and served as a lay leader (warden) of the parish during that time.

The fact also is that he was a gifted engineer and a brilliant military strategist whose tactics are still studied and taught in military academies. Most historical accounts provide a picture of his integrity, honesty, leadership, and valor. And except for leading the army of the Confederacy against the United States in an effort to preserve slavery, and therefore committing treason, he was by most accounts an outstanding historical figure.

So why in heaven’s name would anyone seek to remove his image or a plaque in his memory on a tree he planted on church property in Brooklyn?

More here-

San Anselmo’s San Domenico School creates stir by removing Catholic statues

From California (Can't decide if this is real or not)-

Removal of a number of statues and other smaller Catholic icons from the campus of San Domenico School in San Anselmo has raised concerns among some parents.

In an email to the school’s board of directors, Dominican Sisters of San Rafael and the head of school, Shannon Fitzpatrick objected to the removal of the statues and other steps the school has taken in an effort to make the school more inclusive.

“Articulating an inclusive foundation appears to mean letting go of San Domenico’s 167-year tradition as a Dominican Catholic school and being both afraid and ashamed to celebrate one’s heritage and beliefs,” wrote Fitzpatrick, whose 8-year-old son attends the school.

She added, “In our time here, the word ‘Catholic’ has been removed from the mission statement, sacraments were removed from the curriculum, the lower school curriculum was changed to world religions, the logo and colors were changed to be ‘less Catholic,’ and the uniform was changed to be less Catholic.”

More here-

Church Joins Federal Lawsuit

From The Living Church-

U.S. District Judge Richard Mark Gergel ruled Aug. 23 that the Episcopal Church may join a federal lawsuit concerning the rights to service marks.

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina announced the decision on its website Aug. 25.

The marks include the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.

The judge’s order and the motions that prompted it follow in full.

The most recent statement by the Diocese of South Carolina (ACNA) is a call to prayer and fasting on Aug. 30, as the diocese prepares to file its motion for a rehearing in the Supreme Court of South Carolina. That statement also follows in full.

More here-

Reasons to go to church

From The Cafe-

Here are five reasons, not necessarily in order of importance, I would give the reluctant and the skeptical to check out church, despite their reservations:

A healthy church will help you get over yourself. One of the primary aims of good preaching is to invite us into a story much larger than our own.

A healthy church will allow you to acknowledge guilt and experience forgiveness. As Toni Morrison’s wonderful character Baby Suggs puts it to her congregation, here you can come to “lay it all down.” It may not seem that acknowledging guilt would be a particularly attractive reason to attend church, but you find, if you do it, that it’s amazingly restorative.

A healthy church will invite you into countercultural community. It won’t be an extension program in civil religion.

 More here-

Friday, August 25, 2017

How a group of refugees saved a church on the brink of collapsing

From Oklahoma-

Through the arduous journey, says Win, God was close by.

"We are the people of God — even if we are lost, away from our home, even if we are isolated, we are still close to God," he said. "God never left our people."

When Win and about 70 Karen refugees ended up in Smyrna, Tennessee, a small Bible Belt city about a half-hour from Nashville, they found God waiting for them — at a tiny Episcopal church that was on the brink of shutting down. Together, the refugees and a handful of older congregants brought the church back to life.

It's a story told in "All Saints," a new faith-based feature film from the Sony-owned AFFIRM Films that opens in theaters this month. The film debuts at a time when many U.S. Christians, fearful about the future, have become skeptical about refugees and have supported the Trump administration's temporary shutdown of the nation's refugee resettlement program.

More here-


From The Living Church-

In 1985 Robert Webber, a former theology professor at Wheaton College and Northern Baptist Seminary, wrote a now famous book of stories of evangelicals who had left their free-church traditions to join Episcopal churches. Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail also described the reasoning behind his movement from a fundamentalist/evangelical background to the Anglican liturgical/sacramental tradition.

I was sort of one of those. My family had begun attending an Episcopal church when I was six years old. We quit attending when I was 11, and I found my way into a Bible church, truly fundamentalist and evangelical.

By the time I arrived at college, I had become increasingly dissatisfied with the churches I had been attending. I began a spiritual and intellectual journey to deepen my faith. The fundamentalist churches had no real answers to the uncomfortable questions that I was asking, and the non-fundamentalist but evangelical churches were too linear and lacked — in my opinion — any sense of the numinous holiness of God. I learned that my mind did actually matter to God.

More here-

National Cathedral to Remove or 'Contextualize' Confederate Stained Glass Windows

From D.C. (with video)-

Amid conversations across the country about whether to remove Confederate statues, the Washington National Cathedral will decide soon whether to remove two stained glass windows that depict Confederate generals, News4 has learned.

Church officials told News4 they will make an announcement soon and not wait until summer 2018 to decide, as the church previously planned.

"The events in Charlottesille have certainly added a sense of urgency that wasn't there before," cathedral spokesman Kevin Eckstrom said. 

The pair of 8-foot-by-4-foot windows installed in 1953 memorialize Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Stonewall Jackson. They were sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. 

More here-

Bishops to decide on same-sex Anglicans

From South Africa-

The Anglican bishops will be urged to finalise guidelines on how its leaders should respond to same-sex partnerships of a “faithful commitment”, following a motion tabled on the matter in Cape Town at the weekend.

Leaders of the Cape Town diocese’s meeting in Rondebosch, Cape Town, debated the motion and asked for the bishops to publish the final report on the matter.

At the diocesan synod in 2011, a motion requesting a pastoral response to same-sex partnerships of faithful commitment was defeated but a request was made that the bishops refer the matter to the synod bishops for preparation of guidelines to help the church respond to the matter.

While the draft report was being prepared in 2016, a motion was tabled at the provincial synod and was defeated.

More here-

After Charlottesville, Trump’s Spiritual Adviser Doubles Down: Resisting Him Is Resisting “the Hand of God”

From Slate-

Televangelist and pastor Paula White has known Donald Trump since the early 2000s, and she is thought to be the president’s closest spiritual adviser. She prayed at his inauguration, appeared with him when he signed his executive order easing restrictions on pastors engaging in politics, and told evangelical TV host Jim Bakker she is in the White House at least weekly these days. This week, as Trump faced sustained criticism over his response to the violent white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, she proved her loyalty once more, appearing on the Jim Bakker Show to defend Trump’s presidency and his spiritual bona fides in apocalyptic terms. While White has
condemned white supremacy as evil and has a racially mixed fan base, she didn't mention Trump’s equivocations that have roiled the nation.

Instead, she made an extended comparison of the president to the biblical figure Esther on Bakker's show Monday, in an interview that at times sounded more like an impassioned sermon. Like Esther, White said, Trump is a come-from-nowhere figure elevated to leadership against all odds in order to do God’s will. She described Trump as a generous, humble man of “character and integrity” and vouched repeatedly for the state of his soul. “He surrounds himself with Christians, and he is a Christian,” she told Bakker, about a man who’s been widely reported as being irreligious for most of his life, prompting applause from the studio audience. “He loves prayer.”

More here-

Lakewood Church Issues Eclipse Glasses For Gazing At Joel Osteen’s Teeth

A little humor to start the day-

The rumors are confirmed: local authorities have instructed Lakewood Church to issue eclipse glasses to any churchgoer who might catch a glimpse of Joel Osteen’s brilliant teeth.

“It’s just no longer worth the risk,” public health official Riley Carnicella told reporters. “Every weekend in this great city, 52,000 people are exposed. Who knows how much irreversible eye damage has already occurred.”

Reporters caught up with one Lakewood staff member for comment. “Eclipse glasses are now required at all times inside the arena,” assistant financial director Brandon LoPresti explained. “When Victoria is up there, the knock-off ones will work. But when Joel ascends the stage, only certified ISO 12312-2:2015 pairs are safe. That bestselling smile can be hazardous for the uninitiated.”

More here-

Thursday, August 24, 2017

All the President’s Preachers

From The New York Times-

Last week President Trump, facing a mutiny by American business leaders on two of his business advisory councils, abruptly shuttered them. The councils were largely ceremonial, but suddenly they were an opportunity for executives to take a stand against Mr. Trump’s equivocations following the recent white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va. And the executives, not often looked to for moral guidance, were being lauded for taking a principled stand against the president.

All of which raises a question. What about the people who actually are supposed to provide moral guidance — the president’s 25-member Evangelical Executive Advisory Board?

The board, which Mr. Trump created in 2016 while he was running for president, is likewise a largely ceremonial body, though also one designed to give cover to the famously irreligious candidate and allow him an entree to millions of evangelical voters. In exchange, the board members got unprecedented access to the White House; one activist later said the president had them on “speed dial.”

More here-

Amid national fury, local reb service proceeds quietly

From Louisiana-

They gathered in Thibodaux as they have in the past, numbering nearly 50.

Their purpose, they said, was to honor dead whose lives included service to the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

“It is a memorial to those who served who are buried at this cemetery, and for those who died at Lafourche Crossing and other battles, and those who are buried in St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery,” said Steve Alvarez, a retired Gretna carpenter who is commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans Lt. J.Y. Sanders Camp, organized at Thibodaux.

The memorial service, held on private property at St. John’s Episcopal Church, was cultural as well as spiritual, as evinced by the Confederate re-enactor uniforms, the presence of several Confederate national and battle flags, and sentiments expressed in speeches and in the prayers themselves.

The Rev. Larry Beane of Salem Lutheran Church in Gretna – like St. John’s, a church steeped in history – gave the invocation.

More here-

Virginia congregation deeply divided over church’s name honoring Robert E. Lee

From ENS-

Was Robert E. Lee an American hero or a traitorous defender of slavery? The Confederate general has been called both in the ongoing debate over whether statues, monuments and plaques in his honor should be remain on display in public places, from parks to churches.

At least one aspect of Lee’s biography is undisputed: He was a prominent parishioner at the Episcopal church that now bears his name, R.E. Lee Memorial Church in Lexington, Virginia.
And that name now threatens to tear the congregation apart.

“Change is hard, and this is about change that goes right down to our identity,” vestry member Doug Cumming told Episcopal News Service. He supports removing Lee from the name of the church.
Turmoil has grown since 2015, when the vestry first considered but failed to approve a proposal to change the name back to the original Grace Episcopal Church. Members began leaving the congregation in protest, and such exits continued this year after the vestry in April chose not to act on a consultant’s recommendation for a name change.

More here-

Lost Latin commentary on the Gospels rediscovered after 1,500 years thanks to digital technology

From The Conversation-

The earliest Latin commentary on the Gospels, lost for more than 1,500 years, has been rediscovered and made available in English for the first time. The extraordinary find, a work written by a bishop in northern Italy, Fortunatianus of Aquileia, dates back to the middle of the fourth century.

The biblical text of the manuscript is of particular significance, as it predates the standard Latin version known as the Vulgate and provides new evidence about the earliest form of the Gospels in Latin.

Despite references to this commentary in other ancient works, no copy was known to survive until Dr Lukas Dorfbauer, a researcher from the University of Salzburg, identified Fortunatianus’ text in an anonymous manuscript copied around the year 800 and held in Cologne Cathedral Library. The manuscripts of Cologne Cathedral Library were made available online in 2002.

More here-

The Church of England Takes on Climate Change—and Generates a 17 Percent Return

From Bloomberg-

President Donald Trump may have quit the Paris climate accord, but shareholders aren’t going to let carbon-producing U.S. ­companies off the hook. Witness the investor victory over Exxon ­Mobil Corp. management on May 31, a day before the Trump decision.

Over the Exxon board’s objections, almost two-thirds of shareholders voted for a proposal asking the company to provide a detailed report on how curbing climate change could affect its business. Leading the charge was the giant New York State Common Retirement Fund, which manages $192 billion and is a veteran activist. Its partner was a far smaller and lower-profile newcomer taking one of its first public stands in the U.S.: the Church of England.

Through a £7.9 billion ($10 billion) fund that finances the church’s mission activities, cathedral costs, and clergy pensions, the church has been quietly—and successfully—engaging with European companies in the energy and mining industries for the past few years. BP, BHP Billiton, and Royal Dutch Shell have all voluntarily adopted similar climate change steps to those sought at Exxon.

More here-


From The Living Church-

In Evangelical Versus Liturgical? Defying a Dichotomy, Melanie C. Ross commends evangelical Christians to liturgical ones. Evangelicals are not careful to preserve the ecumenical ordo established at least since the second century, which would seem to bar the possibility of a conversation. In lieu of the ecumenical ordo, evangelicals have created an ordo of pragmatism: do what works to convert souls.

Ross points out that an ordo is still an ordo, however, which opens the door for conversation. If a conversation can start, then Ross suggests that it might be grounds for claiming that the unity of the Church is not strictly liturgical, but also pneumatological. The same Spirit inhabits evangelical and liturgical Christians alike, and this, Ross says, is what evangelicals want their liturgical sisters and brothers to know.

More here-

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

She Gave Words to Opera’s Nixon

From The New York Times-

When “Nixon in China” had its premiere at Houston Grand Opera on Oct. 22, 1987, there had never been anything quite like it. No previous American opera — perhaps no opera, ever — had so boldly dealt with recent political history. The topic, President Richard M. Nixon’s 1972 trip to China, was still the subject of international conversation 15 years later, and many of its principal characters were still very much alive and contentious.

The opera caused a sensation. John Adams, its composer, and Peter Sellars, its director, went on to become two of the most prominent figures in contemporary music.

But Alice Goodman, who wrote its enigmatic, poetic libretto, seemed to vanish from the scene after her subsequent collaboration with Mr. Adams and Mr. Sellars, the still-controversial “Death of Klinghoffer.” Raised Jewish, she converted to Christianity in 1989 and in 2001 was ordained an Anglican priest in England. Now 59, she serves around 6,000 people in a group of parishes in Cambridgeshire, driving a battered car festooned with flinty, expletive-strewn bumper stickers with mottos like “Doing my part to piss off the religious right.”

More here-

Patrick P. Augustine: There's no place for white supremacy

From Wisconsin-

White supremacy and racial superiority has no place in today’s America.

Last week we saw images of a noxious rally with a message of hate in Charlottesville, Va. Groups of individuals with White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi ties attacked those who came to show their solidarity against such bigotry. One person was killed and many others severely injured.

All the great world religions call on their followers to live in goodwill and peace. It is only when these religious beliefs are perverted that misguided followers choose the path of hatred and violence.

Christians believe Jesus called his disciples to form a church that would be multiethnic, multinational, from every family, language, people and nation. This message is opposite to hatred. It says love your enemies, live in peace and settle disputes without violence. The White Supremacist agenda is exclusionist, while Jesus’ agenda of “God so loved the world” includes white, black and yellow. God equally loves them all.

More here-

Alabama judge dismisses ex-Episcopal Church official Stacy Sauls’ lawsuit

From ENS-

An Alabama judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the corporation of the Episcopal Church, called the Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society (DFMS), by former Chief Operating Officer Bishop Stacy Sauls after he was let go from his post.

Mobile County 13th Judicial District Judge Ben Brooks said in his Aug. 22 decision that Alabama was not the proper place for Sauls to bring such a suit.

The former chief operating officer said that because the Episcopal Church is present in Alabama, he ought to be able to file suit there. The church had argued that the case did not belong in the Alabama courts but, instead, in New York where Sauls was based.

The judge agreed with the church, saying all the actions described in the suit took place in New York, where Sauls still lives and where the church maintains its denominational office.

“The only potential Alabama witnesses are the lawyers [Sauls] hired,” Brooks noted.

Neva Rae Fox, the church’s public affairs officer, said late on Aug. 22 that “we believe this to be a just and proper decision.”

More here-

also here-

Bishop encourages name change for R. E. Lee Memorial

From The Cafe-

Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post today has This is the church where Robert E. Lee declared himself a sinner. Should it keep his name?

Less than two weeks after a deadly white supremacist rally, leaders of the R.E. Lee church found themselves back at the table Monday night, with some again pressing the issue of a name change. While the church has been divided in the past over the issue, Charlottesville has pushed more members and some in leadership to conclude that, no matter what good Lee did in Lexington a century ago, white supremacists have taken ownership of his reputation and made him their symbol. The bishop [Mark Bourlakas, Episcopal bishop for Southwestern Virginia] has made clear that the Lee name is a distraction from sharing the gospel and is heading to Lexington in the next week or two to push the issue.

More here-

also here-

Bishops to decide on same-sex Anglicans

From South Africa-

The Anglican bishops will be urged to finalise guidelines on how its leaders should respond to same-sex partnerships of a “faithful commitment”, following a motion tabled on the matter in Cape Town at the weekend.

Leaders of the Cape Town diocese’s meeting in Rondebosch, Cape Town, debated the motion and asked for the bishops to publish the final report on the matter.

At the diocesan synod in 2011, a motion requesting a pastoral response to same-sex partnerships of faithful commitment was defeated but a request was made that the bishops refer the matter to the synod bishops for preparation of guidelines to help the church respond to the matter.

While the draft report was being prepared in 2016, a motion was tabled at the provincial synod and was defeated.

More here-

God's words and liturgy's echo

From Christian Century-

The historian of liturgy Hughes Oliphant Old once observed that “prayer, particularly Christian prayer, uses biblical language. . . . The Bible contains a vast number of paradigms for prayer and a thesaurus of words to handle the unique experience of prayer.” The Book of Common Prayer is a paradigmatic instance of the use of biblical language in prayer. If you are familiar with that tradition of prayers, you know more Bible than you realize.

Indeed, at a Sunday Eucharist in the Episcopal Church, words of scripture are almost the first words we say. After an opening hymn, the priest and the congregation exchange a greeting. During the season of Lent, that greeting is “Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins. His mercy endures forever.” During the season of Easter, it’s “Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.” 
During the rest of the year, the greeting is “Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed be his kingdom, now and forever. Amen.”

More here-

First rule for lectors: Remember that you’re not a public speaker

From Aleteia-

In the past I have taught college speech, many times. Along with requiring students to deliver the usual species of speeches conforming to the usual categories, I always included sections on poetry recitation and public reading before a group. Both are art forms, I think (I may exaggerate but at least I taught them that way). Certainly they are a craft, and lectoring is a craft by itself.

Done well, reading scripture publicly is more than just a Bible reading. It is the lector’s job to read a passage into life so we may hear God’s story for us, first hand, for ourselves.

So here’s the first thing. Public reading is not public speaking. That runs the other way, too: Public speaking is not public reading. Too many times the one is mistaken for the other. Nearly every lector’s manual I’ve read emphasizes eye-contact with worshipers, even to the point of providing scripted clues for when to leave the text and look up at people.

I could not disagree more. So let me say it again: public reading is not public speaking. Here’s why:

More here-

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Priest urges haters to repent; reveals his Ku Klux Klan past


Forty years ago he was a Ku Klux Klan "wizard," burning crosses on black families' lawns. Now, after decades as a Catholic priest, he's coming forward about his past.

While Father William Aitcheson's racist past was a matter of public record, it wasn't widely known in the diocese of Arlington, until this week. Prompted by images of violence during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Aitcheson described his transformation in a column published Monday in The Arlington Catholic Herald, the diocesan newspaper, and urged white supremacists to repent.

"While I firmly believe God forgave me -- as he forgives anyone who repents and asks for forgiveness -- forgetting what I did would be a mistake," wrote Aitcheson, who is taking a leave of absence from active ministry. "My actions were despicable. When I think back on burning crosses, a threatening letter, and so on, I feel as though I am speaking of somebody else."

Aitcheson, 62, said 40 years have passed since he was in the Klan, but the violence he saw last week compelled him to describe his journey.

Guatemalan mother who sought refuge in Manhattan church files petition to stay in U.S.

From New York-

A Guatemalan mother of three U.S. born children who has taken refuge in a Manhattan church to avoid deportation has filed a motion to remain temporarily in the United States.

On Monday, Geoff Kagan Trenchard, an immigration attorney representing Amanda Morales Guerra, 33, filed a petition with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials requesting she be allowed to stay in the U.S. for at least for a year.

Kagan Trenchard is preparing an asylum bid on her Guerra’s behalf and pursuing “other legal avenues” that would allow her to stay indefinitely with her three children, ages 9, 7 and 2.

The family lived previously in Massapequa, but moved into the Holyrood Episcopal Church in Washington Heights on Thursday in an effort to avoid a deportation order against Morales.

More here-

Indigenous bishop slams the “doctrine of discovery”

From ACNS-

The “doctrine of discovery” – the idea that indigenous people need to be discovered and westernised – has been criticised by the national indigenous bishop of Canada. Bishop Mark MacDonald made his comments during a visit to Australia where he attended a number of events, including a retreat for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Anglican leaders retreat in central Australia. “The doctrine of discovery describes a habitual way of thinking that continues to marginalise, dehumanise and downgrade Indigenous people,” Bishop Mark said.

During a forum in Adelaide, Bishop Mark was asked to nominate the “blind spots” of the Australian Church in relation to reconciliation. He spoke of the experience of Canadian Anglicans in unveiling and seeking to repudiate the doctrine of discovery.

“At the heart of the doctrine is the idea that Indigenous people are a primitive form of human life who are therefore discoverable,” he said. “This hidden assumption causes us to look at indigenous people as people who need to be updated, who need to be westernised or civilised in order to have any sort of happy life.

More here-

With bathroom bill dead, Pastor Council looks to future fights

From Texas-

A day before the Texas Legislature ended its special session this week, a session that included a high-profile fight over a bathroom bill that appeared almost certainly dead, David Welch had a message for Gov. Greg Abbott: call lawmakers back to Austin. Again.

For years, Welch, executive director of the Texas Pastor Council, has worked to pass a bill that would ban local policies that ensured transgender individuals’ right to use restrooms in public schools and government buildings that match their gender identity. The summer special session, which was quickly coming to a close, had been Welch and other social conservatives’ second chance, an overtime round after the bill — denounced by critics as discriminatory and unnecessary — failed during the regular session that ended in May. 

But with the Texas House unlikely to vote on a bathroom bill, Welch gathered with some of the most conservative Republicans in that chamber to make a final plea. The bill, they argued without any evidence, would prevent men from entering bathrooms to sexually assault or harass women.

More here-

Why We Should Stop Funding Church Plants

From Gravity Leadership-

Here’s an idea whose time has come: Let’s stop funding traditional church plants.

Instead, let’s fund missionaries to inhabit contexts all across the new mission fields of North America. It’s easy, simple, saves money, and I think it could seed the mission of God in North America for generations to come.

Traditional funding for church plants

Traditionally denominations have funded church plants. They do this by providing:

A full time salary plus benefits for three years for the church planter,
Start-up funds for equipment, building rental, etc. to a well-assessed church planter (basically an entrepreneur).

The goal is a self-sustaining church in three years, which means the church pays its own pastor’s salary and assorted costs of running the church’s services internally from tithes and offerings.

More here-

Evangelical pastor who has promoted social justice steps down from leading megachurch

From Christian Century-

Megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, who tried to lead evangelicals toward more moderate positions on issues such as climate change and immigration, is stepping down as leader of Northland, in Florida.

In a public letter he said that God was calling him to “a new season of ministry outside the four walls of the church.”

He has led Northland for more than 30 years, during which time it grew from 200 to 15,000 members. For the past two decades, Hunter urged his fellow evangelicals to make common cause with other faith communities on issues on which they could agree, such as human trafficking, homelessness, hunger, and prison reform.

“He is true to evangelical core values and at the same time rethinks responses based upon a changing world,” said Steven Engel, rabbi of the Congregation of Reform Judaism in Orlando. 

More here-

Monday, August 21, 2017

Liberal Anglican bishop slams Christian Right for supporting 'amoral' Trump

From Christian Daily-

A liberal Anglican bishop has slammed America's "Christian Right" for not seeing U.S. President Donald Trump's "narcissistic amorality" beforehand and for supporting him in the November elections.

In a blog titled "We won't get fooled again: Trump, Charlottesville and the American Dream," the Bishop of Leeds, Nicholas Baines, launched an attack on Trump and the evangelicals who voted for him. The entry was written after the violent rally by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, which the president had at first not condemned specifically, Christian Today noted.

According to Bishop Baines, the Christian Right was at fault for believing Trump's promises of making America great again without questioning his "empty rhetoric." He also slammed the president over his alleged "misogyny, amorality, financial track record, sexual behaviour, narcissism and nepotism," and other negative characters which reportedly would have ruled out other candidates from the presidency.

More here-

Immigrant Family Seeking Sanctuary In Washington Heights Church Gets Support From Community

From New York-

The Washington Heights community has pitched in to help a Guatemalan immigrant facing deportation who publicly took sanctuary Thursday at Holyrood Episcopal Church.

The rectory library which Amanda Morales and her three children — 9-year-old Dulce, 8-year-old Daniela and 2-year-old David —now call home was outfitted with bunk beds Friday, food donations are pouring into the church and local officials are planning to rally Monday morning at Federal Plaza to request a stay of deportation.

Yvonne Stennett, the executive director of the Community League of The Heights, told Patch that her organization was called on by City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez to help Morales and her family while seeking sanctuary.

More here-

also here-

L.A. Parker: Solving U.S. race issues requires white leadership

From New Jersey-

Fifty-two years have passed since destiny caught up with Jonathan Daniels, a 26-year-old white Episcopal seminary student from Massachusetts.

Destiny and fate frequently travel parallel with death and such an unexpected demise awaited Daniels as he, Richard Morrisroe, a Catholic priest, and two young black women were ambushed while attempting to buy soda pop in a Ft. Deposit, Alabama store on August 20, 1965.

Daniels jumped in front of a shotgun shell fired by white supremacist and special county deputy, Tom Coleman.

Coleman had targeted 17-year-old Ruby Sales who escaped injury but Daniels suffered a fatal wound.

More here-


From The Living Church-

In these early days of my priestly ministry, the questions I’ve thought about the most are the ones that fall into the same category as Cole Hartin’s “Should priests be paid to pray?“ — a category I might call questions of theological scheduling. In my daily life, I feel many of the tensions that Hartin articulates. Is it okay for me to wait until the start of the traditional work day to say the morning office? If I had to skip my day off last week, does that mean I take an extra one the next? Do I count a midnight call to the hospital as “working hours”?

To be a parish priest is, if nothing else, to live in a world of bizarre rhythms — you don’t clock in but you also never really clock out. On one hand, you work for a volunteer organization, which means you often need to be available after 5 p.m., when your volunteers are free. On the other hand, you also work in an institution that looks in many ways like the offices many of your parishioners work in from 9 to 5 — with office hours, staff meetings, terrible coffee, and a regular UPS guy.

More here-

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Member of Trump's Evangelical Advisory Board resigns over 'conflict in values'

From The Hill-

The pastor of a New York megachurch said Friday that he has resigned from President Trump's Evangelical Advisory Board, citing "a deepening conflict in values" with the administration.

Rev. A.R. Bernard, who leads the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, said in a statement that he had "quietly stepped away" from the panel several months ago, but submitted his formal resignation on Tuesday.

"In a social and political climate such as ours, it often takes a gathering of unlikely individuals to shape the future of our nation on issues of faith and inner city initiatives," Bernard said. "I was willing to be one of those individuals, and that is why I agreed to serve on the President's Evangelical Advisory Board."

More here-

Hitting the pavement instead of the sheetcake

From Christian Century-

Tina Fey officially made “sheetcaking” into a verb, as she consumed copious amounts of frosting on SNL’s Weekend update. Fey is, of course, unveiling the grassroots art of stress eating. Which was her way of dealing with watching the heartbreaking Nazi parade at her alma mater.

Boys in white polo shirts, khakis, and torches, standing next to militia armed to the teeth, chanting, “Jews will not replace us” will certainly up the caloric intake for most of us. Between long walks and fervent prayers, I found that my ice cream intake has also increased. Ben and Jerry have become steady companions.

Please, please. Find comfort where you can. Yet, I have to say, since most of the people who read the esteemed Christian Century are clergy or lay people who have at least one denominational t-shirt in our drawers, we can’t really take Tina Fey’s advice. We, unfortunately, don’t have the convenient option of screaming into a pile of bakery goods. Especially if we're white, we have to robe up, show up, stand up, and pray up, whenever possible.

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How Church Leaders in Charlottesville Prepared for White Supremacists

From The New Yorker-

Just down the road from Emancipation Park in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a thousand white supremacists congregated around a statue of Robert E. Lee this weekend, is another historical landmark. It’s a large, two-story brick building called the Jefferson School, which first underwent construction in 1924—the same year that the Confederate monument went up—at the insistence of the local black community, whose children were barred from the city’s high schools because of segregation. Now the school is on the National Register of Historic Places.

On Monday night, a few hundred Charlottesville residents gathered at the Jefferson School, in an auditorium on the second floor, for a community meeting. Two days before, three people died and nineteen were injured when violent demonstrators from across the country came to Charlottesville with guns, shields, weapons, and flaming tiki torches for a “Unite the Right” rally. “We’ll fucking kill these people if we have to,” one of them told Vice News. A twenty-year-old neo-Nazi from Ohio ran over counter-protesters in his car, in an act that Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, later called domestic terrorism. (The President initially condemned violence “on many sides,” then followed up on Tuesday afternoon by saying that there were “very fine people on both sides.”) But, almost as soon as they had arrived, the agitators were gone, and community members were left to try to make sense of what had just happened.

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