Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nashville statement on sexuality prompts response from LGBT-supporting Christians

From The Church Times-

CHRISTIAN supporters of LGBT inclusion in the Church have been quick to issue a direct and opposing response to a statement released by Conservative Evangelicals this week which affirmed their belief that approval of “homosexual immorality” is sinful.

The Nashville statement was released by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, an Evangelical coalition in the United States, on Tuesday. It lists 14 beliefs, including a rejection of the idea that marriage can be homosexual, polygamous, or polyamorous, or that people can be identified as anything other than male or female according to the reproductive organs with which they were born.

The statement, which has accrued more than 150 signatures, including British clerics, also condemns sexual promiscuity, relations, and desire outside marriage; denies the possibility of redemption for people who identify as homosexual or transgender; and states that approving of “homosexual immorality or transgenderism” constitutes “moral indifference”.

More here-

The Cheap Prosperity Gospel of Trump and Osteen

From The New York Times-

Before it began to rain in Houston last week, the spectacularly wealthy pastor Joel Osteen could have opened up his megachurch to serve as a logistics center. He could have announced that evacuees were welcome to take shelter there when Hurricane Harvey landed. Instead he wrote tweets like “God’s got this” and “don’t drift into doubt and fear … stay anchored to hope.” Only a couple of his posts on Twitter offered “prayers.”

On Sunday, Mr. Osteen’s church announced that it was inaccessible because of “flooding.” But intrepid journalists proved otherwise. After Mr. Osteen was humiliated on social media, he finally opened the 16,800-seat church to the public on Tuesday. When asked about the delay, Mr. Osteen said that “the city didn’t ask us to become a shelter.”

President Trump, too, revealed his morally bankrupt soul during the storm when he said that he timed his pardon of the racist former sheriff Joe Arpaio to coincide with the hurricane’s landfall because he assumed that it would garner “far higher” TV ratings than usual. Mr. Trump did visit Texas, but there was apparently no mention of dead or displaced Texans, and no expressions of sympathy.

More here-

Bishop of Polynesia addresses festivalgoers in England on climate change

From ACNS-

Archbishop Winston Halapua of Polynesia has taken his concerns about climate justice and his moana theology message to a new stage – to the immaculate grounds of a stately hall in the English midlands. He’d been invited by the USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) to be their keynote speaker at the Greenbelt Festival, which was held in the grounds of Boughton House. The Greenbelt Festival has been a British fixture for more than four decades and its organisers say their mission is “to create spaces, like festivals, where art, faith and justice collide.”

Dozens of artists and performers share stages at Greenbelt, and many church agencies – USPG among them – host events within the festival. This year USPG was highlighting climate justice, hence its invitation to Archbishop Winston to anchor its 2017 Greenbelt programme.

More here-

The Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation: Joint message

From Vatican Radio-

The Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation is being marked today September 1 and has special importance in this its third year.

It is a Joint Message which was released on Friday morning from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who for the first time are writing together on Themes of the Day, inviting all the faithful and men of good will to prayer and to reflect on how to live in a simple and solid manner, responsibly using earthly goods.

The Day of Prayer for the Creation of the Creation was instituted by Pope Francis in 2015. The Orthodox Church has commemorated the Day since 1989. 

Below find the English Language translation of the Joint Message from Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

More here-

Friday, September 1, 2017


From Newsweek-

When he helped lead the national prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral in January, Dean Randolph Hollerith, who goes by Randy, asked God to “break down the walls that separate us.” President Donald Trump, whose inauguration took place a day earlier, sat in the first row with the first lady, the vice president and the vice president’s wife. During the service, Trump sang hymns, shook hands with religious leaders and, at certain points, appeared to doze off.

The National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. is the sixth largest cathedral in the world and the second biggest in the United States. It has always had ties to the U.S. presidency. In 1791, President George Washington suggested there be a national house of worship. More than a century later, in 1893, Congress granted the charter for one. Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan had state funerals at the cathedral and President Woodrow Wilson is interred there. The cathedral has also hosted prayer services to coincide with the inaugurations of five presidents: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Barack Obama and Trump.

More here-

5 Good Reasons A Church Should Close

From Carey Nieuwhof-

It’s no secret that thousands of churches close every year.

Every time I hear of a church that’s closing, my heart sinks. Despite the voices of all of the critics, I really do believe the local church is a beacon of light in a world that’s increasingly dark.

In light of the fact that I have a strong bias toward seeing churches grow and flourish, are there ever reasons a church should close?

Sadly, I think there are.

I began ministry in three little churches that were fairly close to death. One of them maybe had a year left.

By God’s grace, we saw a tremendous turnaround and began to reach new families and see people come to faith.

More here-

My God Only Punishes People I Don’t Like

From Patheos-

There should be a special place in purgatory for people who use theology to bludgeon their neighbors. And they almost always surface at times when tragedy strikes, ready to pronounce on its significance – for others, of course.

As Kimberly Winston notes, when Superstorm Sandy hit New York in 2012, John McTernan who runs USA Prophecy attributed the storm’s impact to God’s anger over “’the homosexual agenda.’” Franklin Graham blamed Hurricane Katrina on orgies in New Orleans and Buster Willson of the American Family Association argued that Hurricane Isaac was whipped up to stop an annual LGBT festival.

And, of course, it’s not just a particular brand of Christian who peddles this kind of nonsense. Jonah Goldberg notes that hard on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, the social media coordinator for an organization called Compassionate (?) Humans posted a satellite image of Harvey, declaring “Texas has been bitten by Karma, but they still have a huge debt to the bank of Karma…I just can’t bring myself to even consider providing aid to any red state, let them clean up their own mess.”


Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Almy Catalog, The Episcopal Church, and the Smurfette Problem

From The Crusty Old Dean-

Crusty flopped down on the couch after lunch on Sunday, ready for The Clergy Nap.  In preparation for this weekly event, Crusty likes to do something that stops his mind from racing from the events of the morning and allows him to settle down.  Since COD is easily whipped into a self-righteous fury, he was not looking for something to stoke his readily induced indignant rage. This Sunday, he noticed the fall C.M Almy catalog: sure to induce napdom.   What can be offensive about moderately priced ecclesiastical garb of moderate quality that never changes?  What's new in Guatemalan stoles?  Is it finally time to buy those preaching tabs?  What's the ugliest chasuble I can find?  Instead, he saw this advertisement while flipping through the clergy shirt section, and presents it for once without a snarky caption, in its fullness, without comment:

More here-

Study: Katharine Hayhoe is successfully convincing doubtful evangelicals about climate change

From The Guardian-

Approximately one-quarter of Americans identify as evangelical Christians, and that group also tends to be more resistant to the reality of human-caused global warming. As a new paper by Brian Webb and Doug Hayhoe notes:

a 2008 study found that just 44% of evangelicals believed global warming to be caused mostly by human activities, compared to 64% of nonevangelicals (Smith and Leiserowitz, 2013) while, a 2011 survey found that only 27% of white evangelicals believed there to be a scientific consensus on climate change, compared to 40% of the American public (Public Religion Research Institute, 2011).

These findings appear to stem from two primary factors. First, evangelicals tend to be socially and politically conservative, and climate change is among the many issues that have become politically polarized in America. Second, there is sometimes a perceived conflict between science and religion, as Christians distrust what they perceive as scientists’ “moral agenda” on issues like evolution, stem cell research, and climate change. As Webb and Hayhoe describe it:

More here-


From The Living Church-

In a quiet corner of South America, far removed from the splendor of Machu Picchu or the excitement of Rio de Janeiro, you can find a small, committed group of Anglicans who deeply love their church. The Anglicans of Uruguay, the small coastal country nestled between Argentina and Brazil, also fear for the future of their church: numbers have continued to decline, the parishioners are growing older, and the outside culture has not expressed taste for church.

While the worldwide nature of the Anglican Communion is often a subject of discussion, Uruguay’s Anglicans may not come to mind frequently to northern Episcopalians and Anglicans. The Iglesia Anglicana del Uruguay made headlines in 2010, when, based on its desire to ordain women to the priesthood, it voted to leave the Province of the Southern Cone and join Brazil. The rest of the province said no. Trouble also erupted after the election of Canadian-born Michael Pollesel as bishop in early 2012; the province’s House of Bishops refused to ratify the election. In 2012, the Anglican Consultative Council declined Uruguay’s request to leave the Southern Cone. However, with the ratification of Pollesel’s election in 2013, and a local option for women’s ordination granted in 2015, Uruguay’s Anglicans have slipped away from the headlines and likely toward the back of Northern minds.

More here-

Bishop Richard S. O.Chang

From Hawaii-

TO: The Diocese of Hawaiʻi

I am sad to inform you that the Rt. Rev. Richard S.O. Chang, IV Bishop of the Diocese of Hawaiʻi, died this afternoon after a short illness. Please remember Bishop Chang in your prayers.

Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to you our brother Richard, who was reborn by water and the Spirit in Holy Baptism. Grant that his death may recall to us your victory over death, and be an occasion for us to renew our trust in your Father's love. Give us, we pray, the faith to follow where you have led the way; and where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, to the ages of ages. Amen.

May his soul, and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

More here-

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Anglican Church elects Australia's first female Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy

From Australia-

The Anglican Church has elected its first female Archbishop, the Right Reverend Kay Goldsworthy AO, to lead the West Australian division.

The Archbishop-elect became the first female Anglican bishop in Australia in 2008, when she was appointed assistant bishop of Perth.

Currently working as the Bishop of Gippsland, in Victoria, Bishop Goldsworthy will return to WA to take up her new position next year.

Formerly a chaplain of Perth Anglican girls' school, Perth College, Bishop Goldsworthy was ordained a deacon in 1986 and joined the priesthood in 1992.

Her election follows an eight-month selection process by the Church, following the departure of former archbishop Roger Herft in December.

More here-

What did it take to finally unite Al Sharpton and Jews? Donald Trump.

From The Washington Post-

President Trump has united us, after all.

He brought together the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Jews.

This modern-day miracle was on display Monday, at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall, 54 years to the day after the great man gave his greatest speech. There, clergy of all varieties, but mostly rabbis and black ministers, came together in common cause against the despicable anti-Semitism and racism Trump has unleashed, most conspicuously in Charlottesville.

Sharpton has been a controversial figure in the Jewish community for decades, earning criticism during the Crown Heights riot in 1991 and when he called a Jewish landlord in Harlem a “white interloper” before a deadly attack on the man’s store in 1995.

But that was long ago, and a rehabilitated Sharpton, who has privately expressed regrets to Jewish leaders for his past actions, made Jews the centerpiece of his Thousand Minister March for Justice on Monday. The civil rights leader, joined by Martin Luther King III, stopped in at a pre-march prayer session held by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and addressed the assembly of 300 rabbis, cantors and lay leaders.

More here-

My life in a religious cult: 'The most dangerous place in the world is the womb of an ungodly woman'

From The Guardian-

On the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand, a religious cult named Gloriavale Christian Community closed itself off from the rest of the world in 1969.

Founded by the self-styled and self-named Australian religious leader Hopeful Christian – who was convicted and jailed on three charges of indecent sexual assault of a young woman in 1995 – the 500-strong community was run according to a strict and oppressive interpretation of fundamental Christianity.

Women had to cover their heads, show no flesh so as not to tempt sin from the menfolk, do all the domestic work, submit to their husbands and birth as many babies as they could.

Eight years ago, Lilia Tarawa – granddaughter of Hopeful Christian – escaped with her family into what she had always believed to be the evil, wicked world. This is an extract from her memoir about her life in the cult.

“Take out your Bibles.”

Every day began with a Bible reading.

More here-

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

At gathering in Squirrel Hill, clergy say call for racial justice is still urgent

From Pittsburgh-

First they listened to the words of preachers from more than 50, 100 and 1,000 years ago.

Then they voiced some of their own, seeking to bring those historic messages of tolerance off the page and into the present.

Scores of clergy gathered at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill Monday afternoon to issue a statement against bigotry and then urge each other to live out that resolve in the daily lives of their congregations and families.

More here-

Episcopal churches cook thousands of lobsters. PETA asks them to consider vegan bake sales instead.

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department (and the Washington Post)-

At churches from Maine to Maryland to Mississippi, the annual community supper means one thing: lobsters.

To animal rights activists, that’s a problem.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the prominent advocacy group, has honed its focus on one beloved tradition in Episcopal churches across the country, the lobster boil. The animal-rights group sent a letter Friday to Bishop Michael Curry, the presiding bishop and primate who leads the nationwide church, asking him to end the practice of lobster dinners in favor of something more vegetarian.

“Most of us grew up believing that killing lobsters and other animals for food is what must be done, but if we contemplate it, all killing requires conquering, violence, and separating ourselves from the rest of creation,” PETA wrote to the bishop. “God designed humans to be caretakers, not killers.”

More here-

Clergy march in Washington against white supremacy

From Religion News-

From Protestant preachers to Jewish cantors to Catholic nuns, religious leaders of a range of faiths demonstrated in the nation’s capital for racial justice, criticizing the silence of some within their own ranks on the subject of white supremacy and questioning the morality of Trump administration policies.

Wearing stoles, robes and yarmulkes, the participants proceeded Monday (Aug. 28) on a 1.7-mile route from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to the Justice Department. Organizers estimated close to 3,000 ministers took part, a larger turnout than suggested by the title of the event: “One Thousand Ministers March for Justice.”

“We wanted to say this nation is in moral trouble,” the Rev. Al Sharpton told those assembled at the King memorial.

More here-

and here-

Bishop Andy Doyle's Response to Hurricane Harvey

From The Diocese of Texas-

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I continue to give thanks for all those around the world who are praying for South Texas and for this Diocese. It is of great comfort to us to know that we are connected to and supported by the larger Body of Christ.

As we move into the next days, many are beginning to ask how to help. The city is a mess, there is more to come, and there are advisories against venturing out onto the roads. Managing water levels in dams and levees is an unfolding issue. Flooding will continue to worsen in some areas. The Diocese expects to be hit on the east side again as Harvey moves back into the Gulf and advances into Houston. We do not want to jeopardize life, so until further updates, here is what you can do: 

More here-


From The Living Church-

If we could spatially represent the difference in excitement for a new Bruce Springsteen album and for an addition to the scholarship on Springsteen, it would be as large and mysterious as New Jersey. But, now, in the middle of that otherwise lunar landscape may be Springsteen’s brilliant memoirs,[1] published last year. Some analyses of Springsteen’s religious imagery see him in terms of a distinctly Roman Catholic imagination; others, as the representation of a universal experience of hope and despair. In his memoirs, Springsteen clarifies his relationship to his Catholicism and helps us make sense of his last full, original album, Wrecking Ball (2012), as well as the nature of hope itself.

At first, Springsteen seems to have transferred his childhood religiosity to an affirmation of the world as it is — those “precious gifts of earth, dirt, sweat, blood, sex, sin, goodness, freedom, captivity, love, fear, life and death … our humanity and a world of our own.”[2] But Springsteen has said of Roman Catholicism, “I’m still on the team.”

More here-

Houston Churches Fight Flooding After Harvey Cancels Services

From Christianity Today-

It takes a lot to cancel church in the shiny Bible Belt stronghold of Houston, Texas, home to more megachurches than any city in America. Specifically, 9 trillion gallons of rain in a weekend.

Hurricane Harvey shut down Sunday services from downtown to the sprawling suburbs, where churches replaced typical worship gatherings with sermon videos posted on Facebook or simply messages to stay safe.

Almost all Houston-area churches—including the Bayou City’s biggest congregations such as Second Baptist, Houston’s First Baptist, Church Without Walls, Wheeler Avenue Baptist, and Woodlands Church—canceled all Sunday activities as a precaution.

More here-

'Don't take the Bible literally' says scholar who brought to light earliest Latin analysis of the Gospels

From The Telegraph-

The earliest Latin interpretation of the Gospels has been brought to light by a British academic – and it suggests that readers should not take the Bible literally.

Lost for 1,500 years, the fourth-century commentary by African-born Italian bishop Fortunatianus of Aquileia interprets the Gospels as a series of allegories instead of a literal history.

Dr Hugh Houghton, of the University of Birmingham, who translated the work, said it was an approach which modern Christians could learn from.

The find adds weight to the idea that many early biblical scholars did not see the Bible as a history, but instead a series of coded messages which represented key elements of Christianity, he said.

"There's been an assumption that it's a literal record of truth - a lot of the early scholars got very worried about inconsistencies between Matthew and Luke, for example.

More here-

Monday, August 28, 2017

Cathedral means more to Christchurch than to Anglican church, mayor says

From New Zealand-

The Christ Church Cathedral means more to the city than it does to the Anglican church, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says.

Dalziel made the comment in Cathedral Square during Sunday's launch of an 8.4 metre-tall model of the People's Steeple, built by United States master carpenter Marcus Brandt.

Brandt, who has the support of the Restore Christchurch Cathedral Group, wants to rebuild the collapsed Christ Church Cathedral spire in timber and hoist it into place using ropes, pullies and 500 volunteers.

More here-


From The Institute on Religion and Public Life-

As America’s troubles intensify, and anger and violence spread, it’s essential for people of good will, especially those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, not to be drawn into the vicious cycle.

Following the attempt on the life of Congressman Steve Scalise, and the tragic death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, many eloquent statements have been made, calling for peace and civility, and an end to racism and hate. But as important as these appeals are, in our current environment they will not, of themselves, bring about needed change. For as Archbishop Chaput said: “If we want a different kind of country in the future, we need to start today with a conversion in our own hearts, and an insistence on the same in others.” America’s ongoing crisis is primarily spiritual, not political.

In praying for the spiritual rebirth of our nation, we can also draw strength from the life of Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton. For she was a remarkable and gifted woman who lived in the United States during a time of national strife, yet overcame personal tragedies and discrimination to become the first American-born saint.

More here-


From Bexley Seabury-

Bexley Seabury Seminary sees itself as a Seminary Beyond Walls. This self-characterization, in part, refers to our low-residency/high-context model of theological education that allows people from around the country to study with us from their places of residence and ministry. They do this by participating in our “hybrid” courses that mix weekend or weeklong intensive classes held on campus with online learning in between. They bring their ministry experiences and the realities of their local communities with them.

Being a Seminary Beyond Walls demands more of us than just offering an innovative non-residential educational model. We aim to form leaders who will come to appreciate ministry as a beyond-walls, boundary-shattering activity that provides glimpses of that for which we refuse to give up hope: God’s reign of love and justice in the world.

We in this seminary community of learners, lay and ordained, are teaching each other to look beyond the walls of church and academy to see what is happening in our local, national, and global communities, and to hear what God is calling us to do and to be in response to that call. Lately, we don’t like much of what we see. We see blatant discrimination, exclusion, and rejection of God’s beloved. We see truth-denying disregard for the health and wellbeing of our planet and of its creatures. We hear unapologetic hate-filled and judgmental rhetoric against immigrants and Muslims, and undeserved blame cast upon those who are sick, poor, and most vulnerable.

More here-


From Chuck Lawless-

I know some readers won’t like this post. Most of us have a habit of sitting in the same place in church on Sunday, and I realize that nobody else is calling for changing this pattern. Nevertheless, I press on with my reasons that you and I should sit in a different place at church this weekend.

Most of us get too comfortable at church in general. We develop all kinds of habits, like parking in the same area, going in the same door, following the same route to our small group room, sitting in the same place, and often going to the same restaurants after the service. Nothing changes – including, frankly, the depth of our walk with God. We also don’t expect God to do anything different when we gather, and we then get what we expected.  

You’ll get to know different people. You might already know everybody in your church, but sitting among different people will give you opportunity to get to know somebody more deeply. If you don’t know everybody, moving your seat will allow you to know somebody new. You’ll appreciate better the Body of Christ.   

More here-

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Religious leaders plan rally in Washington as a moral rebuke to Trump’s presidency

From The Washington Post-

The Rev. Al Sharpton organized more than 1,000 religious leaders from multiple faiths to rally Monday in Washington, saying he hopes to show that opposition to President Trump is not merely a political reproach, but also a moral one.

The “One Thousand Ministers March for Justice” in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial will come on the 54th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where King delivered his famed “I Have a Dream” speech.

The rally was planned long before a deadly white supremacist protest earlier this month in Charlottesville, although Sharpton said the events in Virginia only intensified the mission of Monday’s march.

“Charlottesville gave it a new energy, and a lot of ministers called in saying that this is the time to make a moral statement,” Sharpton said. “The president called for unity, and we are going to show unity. The question is, which side is the president on?”

More here-

Catholic school removes Jesus statues to be 'more inclusive'

I guess it's true-

Parents of students at a Catholic school in the San Francisco Bay area are protesting the board’s decision to remove and relocate more than 160 statues of Jesus, Mary and historic church figures from the campus in an effort to make the school more “inclusive.”

Shannon Fitzpatrick, who has an 8-year-old son at San Domenico School in San Anselmo told the local Marin Independent Journal that “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.”

She said that during the time of her family’s association with the K-12 independent school, “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.”

The chair of the school’s board of trustees, Amy Skewes-Cox, explained to the local paper that the move was made to help non-Christian students feel more welcome.


Ministry helps struggling veterans heal from the wounds of war

From Faith and Leadership-

The fading light of evening streaked through the stained-glass windows at St. Richard’s Episcopal Church in Round Rock, Texas, as about a dozen military veterans knelt at the altar rail.

The veterans, including men who had seen combat in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, had come to the suburban Austin sanctuary that August night seeking reconciliation and healing.

The priest, a slim 41-year-old former U.S. Army chaplain, invited them to write down and offer up to God any transgressions they may have committed while in the military that now plague their consciences.

“Maybe you killed someone,” the Rev. David Peters told them. “Maybe you don’t know who you killed. … Maybe you sat back when someone was suffering.”

Silently, each person wrote a few words on a yellow Post-it, then deposited the note in a thurible used for incense.

More here-

Pope Francis says with magisterial authority: the Vatican II liturgical reform is ‘irreversible’

From America Magazine-

Seeking to put an end to various attempts to roll back the reform of the liturgy introduced by the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis this morning stated unequivocally that “the reform of the liturgy is irreversible.”

He declared this in a major address for National Liturgical Week in Italy, marking the 70th anniversary of Center for Liturgical Action. A source close to the pontiff told America the remarks were intended not only for the Italian liturgists present but the church worldwide.

In his talk on Aug. 24, Francis reminded his audience that over the past 70 years “substantial and not superficial events” have happened in the life of the church and in the history of the liturgy. Vatican II and the reform of the liturgy are “two events directly linked,” and “they did not flower in an unexpected way but were prepared over a long time.”

More here-