Saturday, September 23, 2017

House of Bishops, Alaska, Day 1 and 2

From The Bishop of Olympia-

I arrived in Fairbanks on an Alaska flight from Seattle filled with bishops and other support staff headed for our meeting in Alaska.  We were all warmly welcomed in Fairbanks by Bishop Mark Lattime and by members of the diocese.  The first night was mostly about getting settled in and resting.  That was easier for me this time considering Alaska is basically in our neighborhood and this is most often not the case.

Thursday we met with several of the elders of the Athabascan people and heard presentations about culture in Alaska.  The Presiding Bishop was gifted with a beaver skin miter and then the visiting elder reminded him, and us, that it is customary to dance after receiving a gift.  Our PB did not miss a beat!

More here-

The blessing of kindred people

From The Bishop of Rhode Island-

Yesterday morning, as we began our House of Bishops meeting, we were greeted by two representatives of the native communities on whose ancestral lands we have gathered. The speakers began by telling us that this was the common custom of the native people’s of Alaska – that when people came for a visit, it was proper to be greeted by the people who lived in the place.

One of the speakers was a the leader of consortium of tribes and native communities in the Fairbanks area. He talked at length of the challenges facing his people, how they were trying to balance the resources of the modern world with the wisdom and traditions of their people. He talked specifically about an issue that had arise regarding the foster care for a village child. The state system wanted to take the child out of the village and place the child with state certified foster parents. But the community insisted that the child stay with the village and in their extended family so that the child would know their customs and would learn how to live according to the traditions. The chief who spoke to us said that they had been successful, that the child was now a young man who was doing well and starting a family – and because he had stayed in the community and learned the traditional ways – had not fallen into habits of drinking, etc that are such a challenge for the native communities right now.

More here-

Friday, September 22, 2017

Church Opposes Rehearing

From The Living Church-

The Episcopal Church has argued that the South Carolina Supreme Court should decline to reconsider its ruling that certain church buildings and other properties belong to the Episcopal Church.

In a fractured and confusing set of five opinions, a 3-2 majority ruled in August that 29 church buildings occupied by breakaway congregations must be handed over to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, along with the 314-acre St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, which is on a  coastal island southwest of Charleston.

A different 3-2 majority ruled that seven other congregations, now part of the Diocese of South Carolina affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, were entitled to keep the buildings where they worship, because there was no proof that they had accepted the Dennis Canon. The Dennis Canon, which General Convention adopted in 1979, says that local congregations hold their buildings in trusts for the Episcopal diocese.

More here-

Church’s revival Friday night aims to connect it to the Southeast Raleigh community

From North Carolina-

As a buzz swarms worldwide about six Episcopal Church revivals planned for this year and 2018 to motivate, equip and mobilize Episcopalians for evangelism and reconciliation, St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Southeast Raleigh will host one of its own that crosses denominations and into communities across the state.

It’s a rarity for Episcopalians everywhere – and the first-ever revival for St. Ambrose, a historically African-American church founded in 1868 for the newly emancipated.

The St. Ambrose Revive Me Community Revival is Friday from 7-9 p.m. at St. Ambrose, 813 Darby Street. There will be preaching, a worship and prayer service, personal testimonies, storytelling, and music and dance from African drummers from Oxford, and liturgical dancers and choirs from other churches.

Read more here:

Archbishop Justin Welby’s message to all those celebrating Rosh Hoshanah

From Justin Welby-

It was an extraordinary experience to spend ten days in the Holy Land in May this year.

What helped to make the visit so unique was the willingness of [United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth] Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to provide his own personal guided tour of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. His breadth of historical understanding and knowledge was combined with his reflections of spending time living in the city himself. We finished with an act of prayer side-by-side at the Western Wall – an unforgettable moment.

More here-

Call me Hester (or Reverend Hester)

From The Living Church-

Vocation, title, and identity are interwoven in ways that have become increasingly apparent to me since my ordination. Ordination brought with it a new title, as I moved from being Mrs. Hester Mathes to the Reverend Hester Mathes.

The Reverend most often lives in letterheads, email signatures, and Sunday bulletins, all written forms of communication, but what I have learned in my first years of ordained ministry is that my title in spoken language, especially as a priest, becomes trickier. I often hear it in conversations: What are we supposed to call you?

My first response has been to invite people to call me my baptized name, Hester. My idea of ministry is firmly rooted in the priesthood of all believers. I find that my vocation as a priest sets me apart in my ministry, but not above. I operate best through building relationships, and I like being on a first-name basis with those who serve with me.

More here-

2017 Fall House of Bishops, Day 1

From Dan Martins-

This is the actual airplane flown by the third Bishop of Alaska, the legendary "flying bishop" Bill Gordon, who was elected in 1948 at the age of 29 and served until his retirement in 1974. The aircraft is on display at the Morris Thompson Cultural Center, a museum in downtown Fairbanks about a dozen blocks from the hotel where the House of Bishops is meeting through next Tuesday. Most of the bishops and spouses made a stop there as part of their afternoon activities. I found it an intensely interesting place.

Our day began with Morning Prayer at our tables in the main meeting room. We were then welcomed by Bishop of Alaska Mark Lattime, who, in turn, introduced two gentlemen from the indigenous peoples of the area, who addressed us at some length. I was particularly impressed by the first one, who maintains a profound sense of connection with the people who have inhabited this land for 10,000 years alongside an uncommonly rich, articulate, and well-formed Christian faith. He had some insights into the story of Melchizedek in Genesis that I had never heard before.

More here-

Death, the Prosperity Gospel and Me

From The New York Times-

ON a Thursday morning a few months ago, I got a call from my doctor’s assistant telling me that I have Stage 4 cancer. The stomach cramps I was suffering from were not caused by a faulty gallbladder, but by a massive tumor.

I am 35. I did the things you might expect of someone whose world has suddenly become very small. I sank to my knees and cried. I called my husband at our home nearby. I waited until he arrived so we could wrap our arms around each other and say the things that must be said. I have loved you forever. I am so grateful for our life together. Please take care of our son. Then he walked me from my office to the hospital to start what was left of my new life.

But one of my first thoughts was also Oh, God, this is ironic. I recently wrote a book called “Blessed.”

More here-

Thursday, September 21, 2017

In NYT Open Letter, Bishops Implore President, Congress not to end DACA

From The House of Bishops-

The letter shown below, signed by Bishops Dietsche, Shin and Glasspool, Presiding Bishop Curry and 130+ other bishops, appeared this morning on page 17 of the New York Times.

If this is difficult to read on your device, the text of the letter is reproduced lower down the page. Please click here to go directly to it.

For a pdf of the letter as submitted to the NYT for printing, click here.

More here-

Corruption: Anglican Primate Attacks Corrupt Officials

From Nigeria-

The Archbishop, Metropolitan and Primate of All Nigeria, Anglican Communion, the Most Reverend Nicholas D. Okoh has berated public officers who embezzle public funds, declaring them as real enemies of Nigeria.

Primate Okoh made this known on Wednesday in his opening address at the 12th general Synod of the Church in Port Harcourt which is ongoing.

He said, “Those who embezzle public funds are enemies of Nigeria, no matter what they say, their faith and the position they occupy.”

Stressing that stealing and corruption are signs of sinful nature of man and lack of fear of God, Most Reverend Okoh lamented that stealing of public funds has become commonplace in Nigeria because of those involved.

He said, “it is indisputable that many wealthy persons and political figures, especially in Africa, have been guilty of corruption, enlarging their business empire and perpetuating themselves in the office by unrighteousness and oppression.

“They defraud others by taking advantage of those who are unable to defend their rights or speak for themselves.”

More here-

Up to 6 primates set to miss meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury

From Premier-

Justin Welby has confirmed he's expecting up to six of the most senior Anglican church leaders to reject his invitation to Canterbury next month.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is set to host a meeting of the 39 primates from across the world.

It'll be the first meeting of its kind since the January 2016 meeting in which there was said to be much conflict on the issue of sexuality.

The Archbishops of Nigeria (pictured below) and Uganda have already confirmed that they won't attend because of their belief that not enough progress has been made on the subject since that meeting.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby excited by prospect of “extraordinary” Primates’ Meeting

From ENS-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been speaking of his excitement at the prospect of next month’s Primates’ Meeting. Justin Welby has invited primates and moderators from around the Anglican Communion to Canterbury for the Oct. 2-6 meeting.

The gathering gives Anglican leaders an opportunity to discuss major issues within their provinces, broader topics affecting the whole Communion and more general global matters.

“I am greatly looking forward to the primates meeting,” the archbishop told ACNS. “It’s an extraordinary feeling to have the leaders of all the provinces gathering together to pray, to encourage one another, to weep with one another, to celebrate with one another.”

The final agenda will be agreed by the primates themselves at the beginning of the meeting. But it is expected to include sessions on mission and evangelism; reconciliation and peace-building; climate change and environment; and migration and human trafficking.

More here-

Retired Indianapolis bishop nominated for Eastern Michigan provisional bishop role

From ENS-

The standing committee of the Diocese of Eastern Michigan has nominated the Rt. Rev. Catherine Waynick, retired bishop of the Diocese of Indianapolis, as candidate for bishop provisional to be voted on at their 23rd diocesan convention from Oct. 20 to 21.

Eastern Michigan’s former bishop, the Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, concluded his ministry in the diocese in June after accepting a call from the presiding bishop to serve on his staff as bishop for pastoral development.

In a letter to the diocese, the standing committee articulated its reasons for calling for a bishop provisional rather than calling for a search for a bishop diocesan, saying, “In most cases, a bishop departs their diocese through retirement. This allows the diocese to have some lead time to go through the search process, nominate a slate of candidates and vote to elect their next bishop before the exiting bishop departs. Because our bishop left for another position and not for retirement, we did not have that time. We do have the time and space to faithfully consider the issues and opportunities confronting our diocese – these are not limited to budget realities, decreasing and emerging populations, and cultural trends away from church-attendance and religious life. Like a congregation engaging an interim pastor, we hope, with a provisional bishop as a companion, to faithfully engage the entire diocese in this exciting conversation to discover where God is leading us in our life and ministry as the Episcopal Church in Eastern Michigan.”

More here-

Also here-

5 Reasons We Must Stop Doing Traditional Worship

From Patheos-

For those of you who are familiar with my work, that title might be a surprise. “Stop doing traditional worship?! Jonathan, for the love, what are you saying?” Please let me explain.

I am for historic worship; that is, following the liturgical tradition rooted in the New Testament church that has continued throughout the ages. I am for the work of the people. I am for I am for singing hymns, new and old, corporate prayer, Word and Sacrament. But I refuse to call this “traditional.” It’s just worship, at least it was before the evangelical church, fueled by the commercialization of American popular music, ushered in the era of preferentially-based worship.

From there, we have settled into a false dichotomy, in which we’re told that we each have a worship style imprinted on our hearts, and that it’s probably either traditional or contemporary. Thus, the stuff we used to do in worship has been labeled “traditional.”

I think that’s not only wrong, but it’s ultimately toxic. Here are a few reasons we must stop with our “traditional” worship.


Public Theology in Retreat

From The LA Review of Books-

WHERE IS THE Reinhold Niebuhr for today? What is theology good for? Such questions have become hallmarks in public commentary on the role, past and present, of Christian thought in politics and in the academy. The first has generated a whole subgenre unto itself — call it “O Niebuhr, Where Art Thou?” — marked by an understandable, but usually nostalgic yearning for the halcyon days when serious Christians commanded an audience by dint of their learning, eloquence, and pertinence to the national situation. The second question is less prominent, but no less well meaning: recognizing theology’s profound loss in social and intellectual stature, earnest essays recommend giving it another chance, at least as a sort of instrumental good; it may not be of much value in itself (at least to the unbelieving), but familiarity with theology may help one better understand the history of art, philosophy, and politics in the West, not to mention one’s church-attending neighbors next door.

That such questions must continually be asked, and such essays continually written, tells us all we need to know about the time in which we live. Obituaries, diagnoses, and genealogies have been offered in plenty, the most recent and profound of which is Alan Jacobs’s “The Watchmen” in Harper’s last year. There he chronicles the death of the Christian public intellectual in the United States. Although Jacobs recognizes the manifold external conditions that both gave and took away the possibility for thoughtful religious discourse to have a broad public in the United States, his argument comes at the issue from the inside: what actions on the part of Christians led to their marginalization? It turns out that Christians silenced themselves, at least in part. That is, just as society began to turn its attention away from the Church, the Church turned inward, began to talk primarily to itself; and when it turned outward, moreover, it increasingly and stubbornly used language unfamiliar to an unchurched polis.

More here-!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Everyone Can Sing: How to Stop the Non-Singer Epidemic in Our Churches

From Patheos-

Yes, you can. Everyone can sing.

Our culture is obsessed with musical superstars. We see American Idols high and lifted up as the pinnacle of vocal prowess. The commercial music industry has furthered the idea that those who can truly sing should be rewarded with recording contracts, while others are better off sitting and being spectators. Those who love to sing but feel they are lacking in talent will relegate themselves to singing along with the radio, or only sharing their voices with an audience of shampoo and conditioner bottles.

Sadly, instead of counteracting the myth that singing is something only a few are born to do, churches embrace this musical culture. We place a holy microphone in a few select hands, reducing the congregation to an inaudible, unnecessary backup group.


Kidnapped priest recounts harrowing 18-month ordeal

From Catholic Herald-

Fr Tom Uzhunnalil was sitting in a room in an unknown location – one of several he had been relocated to during his 18-month imprisonment – when he received some unexpected news.

“Those who kept me came to where I slept [and said]: ‘I bring you good news. We are sending you home. If you need to go to the bathroom, go. Take a shower, but quickly!'” Fr Uzhunnalil told reporters at the Salesian headquarters in Rome.

The Salesian priest from India was kidnapped on March 4, 2016, from a home for the aged and disabled run by the Missionaries of Charity in Aden, Yemen. On that day, four Missionaries of Charity and 12 others were murdered in the attack by uniformed gunmen.

Seeing a group of Missionaries of Charity Sisters seated at the news conference in Rome, Fr Uzhunnalil expressed his condolences. However, the memory of the four Sisters’ martyrdom still proved too difficult to bear.

More here-

MacDonald reflects on 10 years as national indigenous Anglican bishop

From ENS-

Every Sunday for the past decade, Canadian Anglicans have offered prayers for “our national indigenous bishop, Mark MacDonald.”

For some, perhaps, it is a name that conjures little—another in a list of diocesan and national figures who have little directly to do with their home parish. Others may know MacDonald for his involvement in reconciliation and Indigenous activism, or for his sermons on environmental justice, or his columns in the Anglican Journal—or even for his talent on the acoustic guitar at a gospel jamboree.

But MacDonald (and more importantly, the office he holds) is also the most visible example of structural change in a church still struggling to build a more equitable relationship with its First Nations, Inuit and Métis members.

“People recognize…that [MacDonald] has this position, and behind him is this big ministry for indigenous peoples,” says Donna Bomberry, who was co-ordinator for indigenous ministries for the Anglican Church of Canada when MacDonald was first appointed to the role in 2007. “He lends himself well to that, brings respect and dignity to that position for our people.”

More here-

Episcopal Diocese Of Texas College Ministry

From Texas-

The statistics are alarming. The trends are discouraging. This phase of life is laced with low expectations. Presumably, young adulthood is an odd place for the church to expend a great deal of resources. Unless it’s the perfect space. College is a time of self-exploration and growth. With this, comes the phase in life when one is least likely to attend church. Millennials, Digital Natives, and presumably subsequent generations are choosing not to affiliate with a religion, making for a discouraging trend.

For these reasons, and many more, this marginal space is precisely where we ought to be as the church. Jesus’ ministry always found the proverbial boundary and intentionally spent time with the people experiencing limitations. His ministry was constantly calling Him to the edges of what was expected, what was appropriate, and what was necessary. The phase of life one experiences while pursuing higher education is a marginal space. The work of self-exploration and growth is laced with discomfort, messiness, and a longing for roots. 

More here-

The savage Reformation

From History Extra-

Fierce fighting raged all day on 4 August 1549 in the fields and lanes outside the Devon village of Clyst St Mary. By evening, royal forces had driven the rebels from the streets, and taken the bridge over the river Clyst. But even in the moment of victory, 
the king’s commanders feared a counter-attack. The order was given for soldiers to 
kill any prisoner in their custody: perhaps 900 men were, in the words of a chronicler, “slain like beasts”.

This moment of shocking violence was 
an extreme but not anomalous occurrence 
in the course of England’s 16th-century Reformation. Recent scholarship on the changes taking place after Henry VIII’s break with the papacy tends to assert their relatively peaceful character, and points to continuities across the Reformation divide. Certainly, some important things didn’t change – most folk carried on worshipping in the same church, for example. It’s also true that England witnessed no slaughter on the 
scale of the German Peasants’ Rebellion of 1524–25 (when as many as 100,000 people were butchered), or the Wars of Religion breaking out in France after 1562 (in which as many as 4 million may have lost their lives).

More here-

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The return of clandestine marriage?

From The Living Church-

Both the reading the banns of marriage and the charge that “if any of you can show just cause why they may not lawfully be married, speak now; or else for ever hold your peace” (1979 BCP, p. 424) stem from the same concern that gives us the double-consent formula: a desire to avoid abuse. In the case of the banns, the concern was to avoid bigamy. In the case of double consent, it was to avoid forced marriages. In both cases, the desire was to prevent the strong from imposing their will on those with less power or a lower social standing.

What does this have to do with us today, in our culture of falling marriage rates, widespread cohabitation, and changing sexual mores? I submit it may be of interest because Episcopalians may be asked at the next General Convention to enshrine something very much like clandestine marriage.

In its latest report, the Task Force for the Study of Marriage proposes using The Blessing of a Lifelong Relationship in two circumstances:

By mature couples who seek to form and formalize a special relationship with one another that is unconditional and lifelong, but is nevertheless something different than a marriage in that it does not include the merging of property, finances, or other civil legal encumbrances, in order to protect against personal and familial hardship.

By couples for whom the requirement to furnish identification to obtain a marriage license could result in civil or criminal legal penalties, including deportation, because of their immigration status.

More here-

Episcopalians struggle with history of Confederate symbols

From Philadelphia-

Just steps away from the Statehouse, the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral is wrestling with Confederate ghosts. The South’s Gen. Wade Hampton and its poet laureate, Henry Timrod, are buried on the parish’s grounds. A plaque in its sanctuary honors members who died in the Civil War. However, the church doesn’t allow the display of Confederate flags, and the Very Rev. Dean Timothy Jones said Confederate flags recently placed on soldiers’ graves were removed.

“I care deeply about how historical symbols can create hurt and communicate a message of discrimination,” Jones said. “We believe in redressing the terrible wrongs of slavery and affirming the dignity of every human being.”

Several weeks after the church shootings, delegates to the national Episcopal church’s convention passed a resolution calling for the removal of Confederate battle flags from display. The call included not only taking down actual flags but also the removal of the images from iconography, like plaques and stained glass windows. Afterward, Washington National Cathedral, which is Episcopal, announced its plan to remove Confederate battle flags from two windows honoring Confederate generals Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, saying later it would remove the windows entirely and store them pending a future decision about their fate.

More here-

CATECHESIS FOR A SECULAR AGE What if the common good just might depend on conversions?

From Comment-

As we commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, perhaps it's fitting that our conversation with twenty‐first‐century pastor and author Tim Keller returned to themes that were central for the Reformers: the priesthood of all believers and the importance of catechesis. In this conversation with James Smith (read the first part of their conversation online here), Keller highlights the need to contextualize faith formation, attentive to the rival stories that vie for our mind and imagination—and that seep into us often unawares. But this emphasis on catechesis and formation isn't protectionist, a merely defensive strategy for "keeping our own." To the contrary, Keller goes on to emphasize the importance of evangelism, and even revival, for the church's mission today. 

More here-

Congregation once led by Robert E. Lee votes to remove his name from their Lexington church

 From the diocese of Southwestern Virginia-

 Leaders of R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church in Lexington voted Monday evening to change the parish’s name to Grace Episcopal Church — what it was originally called when the Confederate general moved to town after the Civil War and joined the congregation.

The decision concludes a quiet, two-year debate among congregants over whether it’s appropriate for a Christian institution that aims to welcome all to carry a name that memorializes a man best known for fighting a war to preserve the institution of slavery.

“It’s been a very divisive issue for two years,” said the Rev. Tom Crittenden, the church’s rector. “But Charlottesville seems to have moved us to this point. Not that we have a different view of Lee historically in our church, but we have appreciation for our need to move on.”

More here-

Commission recommends merging Pittsburgh Catholic diocese's parishes into 48 groups

From Pittsburgh-

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh should merge its 188 parishes into 48 groups to address its declining attendance and number of priests, according to a report released by a diocesan commission.

The diocese's On Mission Commission said each group would “become one parish over time,” but no church buildings are scheduled to close when the groupings take effect in fall 2018.

A list of the proposed groupings can be found here.

Bob De Witt, a spokesman for the diocese, said the commission report is just a proposal. No final decisions will be made until next year, he said.

Bishop David Zubik is expected to announce a final decision on the groupings plan in April. No church mergers or closings would take place until 2019 at the earliest, De Witt said.

“Bishop Zubik has said the first step is helping people come together. We must develop our relationship with God and with people in our parishes, and get to know one another,” De Witt said.

More here-

Bp. Franklin to Retire in 2019

From The Living Church (North West PA and Western NY merger?)-

The Rt. Rev. R. William Franklin writes to the Diocese of Western New York to announce his plan to retire in April 2019:

When I left on sabbatical in April, I said to you that one of the things I would be doing during that time was praying and thinking about my retirement as Bishop of Western New York.

I want to share with you that I have made the decision to retire on April 3, 2019, which is the date required by the current Canons of the Episcopal Church.

I count it as one of the greatest privileges of my life that I serve you and the Church as the 11th Bishop of Western New York. It is a joy and pleasure to walk closely with each of your congregations and to see the Gospel of Christ manifested in so many places and in so many ways in our region.

Update and correction by the Diocese of Western New York: “With the consent of both Standing Committees, Bishops Franklin and [Sean] Rowe [of Northwestern Pennsylvania] discussed with clergy a plan for the two dioceses to consider the possibility of a shared future.”

More here-

Archbishop Justin Welby joins new UN advisory board on mediation


The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has joined 17 other global leaders and experts on a new United Nations High Level Advisory Board on Mediation. The board was established by António Guterres, nine months into his tenure as UN secretary-general. It is part of a “surge in diplomacy for peace” that Guterres has called for. The new board “brings together an unparalleled range of experience, skills, knowledge and contacts,” the UN said, and “will provide the secretary-general with advice on mediation initiatives and back specific mediation efforts around the world.”

Guterres wants to strengthen the UN’s work in conflict prevention and mediation and the new board is expected to allow the UN “to work more effectively with regional organisations, non-governmental groups and others involved in mediation around the world,” the UN said.

Archbishop Justin Welby said that he was “honoured” to join the new board and was “praying for its contribution to global peace and reconciliation.”

More here-

Food Consumed At Church Functions Does Not Count Toward Daily Caloric Intake, Nutritionists Confirm

A little humor to begin the day-

Confirming an age-old rumor among churchgoers, world-class nutritionists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Food Research Institute announced Thursday that any and all food consumed on church grounds or at a church function is exempt from counting toward one’s caloric intake for the day.

“We’ve done numerous exhaustive studies on this and can now say without a doubt that calories consumed at church simply are not absorbed by the body,” UW Food Research Institute Lead Nutritionist Philip Reed said at a press event announcing the findings. “We have no scientific explanation for this at the moment—it seems to be some sort of miraculous event that takes place inside the body of a believer when he or she is consuming delicious baked goods in the house of God.”

More here-

Monday, September 18, 2017

Stop teaching our children lazy anti-Catholic myths

From Catholic Herald-

There’s something about the word “medieval” which makes some people behave very strangely. As Professor David Paton recently noted on the Catholic Herald website, GCSE textbooks are still repeating depressingly common misconceptions about the Middle Ages, painting it as a time of darkness, ignorance and superstition.

The BBC Bitesize website, for instance, informs students that in the medieval period “most peasants were extremely superstitious”, and that the medieval Church was responsible for “stagnation” in medical knowledge, mostly because of “its encouragement of prayer and superstition”. Supposedly the Church “discouraged progress” in science, “encouraging people to rely on prayers to the saints and superstition”, and telling people that “disease was a punishment from God”, a belief which “led to fatalism and prevented investigation into cures”.

This is a slanted and inaccurate picture of medieval learning, and the Bitesize website is not as exceptional as one might hope. An AQA-approved history textbook groups “superstition and religion” as a single phenomenon. A popular website,, claims: “Doctors had superstitious beliefs, saying magical words when treating patients and consulting stars.”

More here-

The Sea Change

From The Living Church-

But I was wrong. Repeatedly, I was advised that I was “too academic” and would need to play down my experience as a theological educator. And while some of my problems were of my own making, I’ve now spoken with enough scholar-priests on both sides of the Atlantic to know that my experience is a common one. Whatever benefits a solid theological formation provides, they increasingly do not excite search committees. Like the recipients of Sidonius’s letter, search committees are interested in qualities different from the old virtues.

I was reminded in all this of a conversation I once had with a bishop. We were discussing of which kind of learning ministerial formation should consist. I was advocating more engagement with Scripture and doctrine before introducing students to ministerial skills, especially the great obsession of the church today: reflective practice.

“I disagree,” he replied. “What I don’t want from my parish clergy is for them to be little theologians.” He then encouraged me to stress more the practice of ministry in my teaching.

More here-

Call a priest “priest”

From The Cafe-

Jesus said; “call no man father on earth, for you have one Father, the one in heaven” (Matthew 23:9).  Yet, in the Episcopal Church, which has ordained women as priests for more than 40 years – 40 years! – male priests are still often called “Father.”  As a result, the church has not developed forms of address that work for both male and female priests.

I, who have been a priest for more than forty years, have been in so many settings over those years, and still today, where the male clergy are addressed as “Father Tom” or “Father Smith” and I am addressed as “Flora”.  In truth, I prefer Flora, but just as much, I would want the men to be called Tom or Bob.  What is communicated when male priests are addressed as Father and female priests are called by their first names?

Before I was ordained, before women could be ordained, and even after, what drew so many of us to ministry was the vision of a transformed church: a church that was less hierarchical and more egalitarian, that not only respected the laity, but empowered them.  We prayed that, as women, we could help make those changes happen.

More here-

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Episcopal Bishop Eugene Sutton Champions the Cause of the “Dreamers”

From Maryland-

Recently, President Donald Trump decided to end the DACA program. Then, instead, he passed the buck onto the U.S. Congress, which has a Republican majority.

The rally was sponsored by the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation. One of the speakers was Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton of the Diocese of Maryland.

The Bishop, an African-American, traced his family’s history back to the days prior to the founding of the American Republic. He said his “forebears were brought to this country in 1619, to Jamestown, VA. The first peoples enslaved in America. We had no choice about coming here, they wanted our labor. We were treated as slaves. We were property.”

The Bishop was standing in front of a pedestal that had recently held a large monument – a tribute to the lost cause of the Confederacy. It was taken down a few weeks ago on the orders of Baltimore’s Mayor, Catherine Pugh.

More here-

Swords to Plowshares, Part I

From Plough-

A sculpture of a man beating a sword into a plowshare stands on the grounds of the United Nations in New York City. The UN was founded in October of 1945, after the carnage of the two world wars, and this sculpture was a testament to the hope that all nations would gather at one center, submit to a common law, and forswear armed conflict: as the prophet Isaiah said, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks.”

Isaiah was an audacious man. He challenged the Israelites’ fascination with military power. There was something exhilarating about brandishing a sword or riding in a chariot, thereby enhancing one’s power and transcending one’s human limitations. One felt quasi-omnipotent. There was something intoxicating about shooting arrows or throwing spears, thereby projecting power over ever-greater distances. One felt quasi-omnipresent. There was something God-like about warfare.

But Isaiah derided the people of Israel for their trust in weapons and alliances. When the army of the Assyrian king Sennacherib marched toward Jerusalem, and Hezekiah sent his ambassadors to Egypt for help, Isaiah was outraged. The Lord had liberated the Israelites from the Egyptians, and now they willingly returned to Egypt. The Lord had once destroyed the Egyptian army, but now the Israelites were trusting in its power rather than the Lord’s. Isaiah confronted them with their foolishness:

More here-

Do you actually want to be our pastor?

From Christian Century-

Hank Pierce and Amy Quitman were neighbors on Rural Route 28. Their mailboxes shared a weathered post at the end of the gravel lane. This seemed fitting, since their families also shared a weathered pew at Granby Presbyterian Church. Hank and Amy—along with Tom, the tire salesman, and Luther, the county’s public defender—made up Granby’s Pastoral Search Committee. Though a thankless job, their assignment did mean that every Thursday night they’d sit in the church’s empty manse, drink Folgers, and enjoy a few minutes shooting the bull. Then they’d return to the pile of résumés that represented the fleeting hope for their beleaguered flock.

This night, though, after the coffee and the gossip, they sat quietly, staring at the stack. Over these last several months, they’d endured phone interviews with four candidates and visits from two more. After confirming the town’s modest population or seeing the church’s humble clapboard building, three candidates quickly exited the process. One candidate turned out to be an ex-con and abruptly stopped answering their calls. Last they heard, he was back preaching in the pen.

More here-