Saturday, November 4, 2017

Episcopal leader celebrates 10th year as bishop

From Oklahoma-

The top leader of Oklahoma Episcopalians is celebrating his 10th year at the helm of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma.

The Rt. Rev. Edward Konieczny, 63, was elected bishop of the Oklahoma diocese in May 2007 and consecrated in a special ceremony in September that same year at Oklahoma City University.

A self-described "cradle Episcopalian," he grew up attending church with his parents in Buena Park, California, was an accomplished church organist and an Eagle Scout before he began what was to become a longtime career in law enforcement in California. Konieczny was ordained to the Episcopal Church diaconate and priesthood in 1994.

A celebratory event to mark Konieczny's decade of leadership as bishop was planned for Saturday as the diocese's annual meeting continued in Tulsa. He shared some of his thoughts with The Oklahoman in the days before the annual gathering.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

More here-

Tradition and Innovation: Seminaries that Change the World, Class of 2017-18

From Huffington-

I loved going to Seminary. It defined me. It challenged me. It shaped me. It broke me down and built me up. Because of it, I am who I am today.

Seminary made me into my best self and from that place I gained the courage to engage in the world with energy, creativity, experience and confidence.

In seminary, I learned about the multi-cultural context of the Bible’s literature. I learned about the courage and stamina of the Hebrew prophets. I learned about the history of our faith. And I learned that ministry didn’t have to look any certain way.

In seminary, I was challenged not to accept easy answers, but to ask tougher questions and then to lead with insight, grace and resolve.

During my field education experience (the “internship” portion of a theological education), I given a training ground, lent a pulpit and a congregation.

More here-

An ‘ecumenical Mass’ is impossible, says German cardinal

From Catholic Herald-

Catholics and Protestants do not have enough in common to celebrate a so-called ‘ecumenical Mass’, a German cardinal has said.

Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne said there is “no basis” for such a service because the denominations “do not agree on the central issues” around the Eucharist.

The cardinal explained in the Kölner Express that for Catholics, the Eucharist is not just a common meal; it is the true Body and Blood of Christ in the transubstantiated gifts of bread and wine. Protestants do not have this understanding.

The Real Presence is an “incontrovertible certainty” for Catholics, he said. As long as these differences exist, there can be no “common supper”.

More here-

Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore

From Radically Christian-

According to the book, the four reasons people don’t want to go to church are:

They don’t want to be lectured.
They see the church as judgmental
They see the church as hypocritical.
They see the church as irrelevant.

Certainly, not everyone in this study is a Christian in the New Testament sense, but doesn’t this show you the real reason so many have stopped attending? The real reason is that over the last 2,000 years, the concept of “church” has become so diluted and twisted that people don’t even know what it is anymore. The church is supposed to be the family or body of all Christians.

For a Christian to say, “The church is judgmental, hypocritical, and irrelevant,” is for that Christian to call himself judgmental, hypocritical, and irrelevant because he is the church. When Christians don’t understand they are the church, and when they see the church as an institution which they can either choose to support or not, they lose the entire concept of Christianity. Jesus did not come to redeem individuals, but a people. One simply cannot be a Christian outside of the body of Christ (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12). To be a Christian is to be in the church.

More here-

Friday, November 3, 2017

Pope meets Welby as new director of Anglican Centre in Rome installed

From The Church Times-

THE Archbishop of Canterbury had a private audience with Pope Francis in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican last Friday, when he introduced his new Representative to the Holy See and Director of the Anglican Centre, the Most Revd Bernard Ntahoturi, formerly Primate of Burundi, and they discussed their concerns.

In a rare move, the Pope invited the two Anglican archbishops and their wives to lunch in his Santa Marta residence, where the conversation continued for more than an hour and a half.

Afterwards, Archbishop Welby described the encounter, his fourth official meeting with the Pope, as “full of meaning, but also full of joy, a good deal of laughter, very relaxed but very thoughtful”.

He said that they discussed areas of conflict and human trafficking, as well as how to face challenges and divisions within their own Churches. “You can’t be paralysed by disagreements,” Archbishop Welby said. “We have to see the call of Christ to be united in the service of the poor.”

More here-

More Religious Questioning from Senate Democrats

From The National Review-

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, asked a nominee to a federal district court about his church. Whitehouse begins his first question for the record thus: You are an elected member (until 2020) of the Falls Church Anglican, which broke away from the Episcopal Church largely due to the denomination’s consecration of an openly gay bishop. The Falls Church Anglican considers “marriage to be a life-long union of husband and wife” intended for “the procreation and nurture of godly children” and entailing “God-given” “roles of father and mother.” 

In 2015, the associate pastor of the Falls Church Anglican agreed that “if the U.S. Supreme Court decision includes a redefinition of marriage, this will constitute an intrusion of the state on God’s institution of marriage ‘from the beginning’.” Whitehouse then asks nominee Trevor McFadden seven questions based (loosely) on these facts about his church. Whitehouse asks McFadden whether he agrees with the associate pastor, for example. Several other questions relate to whether McFadden could faithfully apply the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which required governments to recognize a fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

Read more at:

Pope raises prospect of married men becoming priests

From The Telegraph- (Additonal links below)

Pope Francis has requested a debate over allowing married men in the Amazon region of Brazil to become priests, in a controversial move that is likely to outrage conservatives in the Church, Vatican sources say.

The pontiff took the decision to put a partial lifting of priestly celibacy up for discussion and a possible vote by Brazilian bishops following a request made by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the president of  the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, Il Messaggero newspaper quoted the sources saying.

Cardinal Hummes reportedly asked Francis to consider ordaining so-called viri probati, married men of great faith, capable of ministering spiritually to the many remote communities in the Amazon where there is a shortage of priests, and evangelical Christians and pagan sects are displacing Catholicism.

More here-

also here- 

and here-

Some Unique Black Vestments for All Souls Day

From Liturgical Arts Journal-

All Souls Day is a time of the liturgical year when the laudable custom of black vestments comes into particular focus. To mark this liturgical occasion I wished to share some unique, historical black vestments with you today.

The symbolism found on each of these is particularly striking, featuring skeletons, purgatorial fires, even shovels and coffins. Some might, of course, see such symbolism as "macabre" but that reaction seems to me to come from a modern sensibility which wishes to hide away the realities of death. These are not macabre in my estimation, but they are memento mori -- and perhaps the fact that we wish to tuck away such remembrances and realities shows that we are in particular need of being reminded of them today.

More here-

The Last Reformation … and the Next Reformation.

From Brian McLaren (Patheos)-

The last reformation is said to have begun on an identifiable day – October 31, 1517, corresponding to a single identifiable event – Luther’s nailing 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. In fact, the conditions for the reformation had been building for more than a century. Similarly, the next reformation has been building for over a hundred years and is gaining momentum as we speak.

The last reformation is associated with one “great man” – Martin Luther. He was joined by other “great men” – all white and European. The next reformation will be associated not with one “great man” but with many diverse people – especially women and people of color. The contribution of Liberation Theology, Black Theology, Feminist/Eco-Feminist/Womanist/Queer and related theologies will be as central to the next reformation as white European theology was to the last reformation.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Strong judicial disagreements fuel Episcopal controversy

From South Carolina-

As the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina seeks mediation and a possible rehearing regarding its breakaway efforts from the national Episcopal Church, the following may be of interest to lay observers. It’s certainly of interest to me, a lifelong St. Philips' parishioner. But admittedly these are the talking points I’d be interested in further pursuing in terms of my own bias as the Diocese restates its case.

The S.C. Supreme Court first took a stand in this ongoing legal battle in 2009 when it ruled that All Saints Waccamaw rather than the national church had title to its property. That decision (as expressed by then Chief Justice Jean Toal) stated:

“We hold that neither the 2000 Notice nor the Dennis Canon (which says Episcopal church properties are held in trust for the national church) has any legal effect on title to the All Saints congregation’s property. A trust ‘may be created by either declaration of trust or by transfer of property…’ (Dreher v. Dreher, 2006.) It is an axiomatic principle of law that a person or entity must hold title to property in order to declare that it is held in trust for the benefit of another or transfer legal title to one person for the benefit of another.”

More here-

How Martin Luther Changed the World

From The New Yorker-

Clang! Clang! Down the corridors of religious history we hear this sound: Martin Luther, an energetic thirty-three-year-old Augustinian friar, hammering his Ninety-five Theses to the doors of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, in Saxony, and thus, eventually, splitting the thousand-year-old Roman Catholic Church into two churches—one loyal to the Pope in Rome, the other protesting against the Pope’s rule and soon, in fact, calling itself Protestant. This month marks the five-hundredth anniversary of Luther’s famous action. Accordingly, a number of books have come out, reconsidering the man and his influence. They differ on many points, but something that most of them agree on is that the hammering episode, so satisfying symbolically—loud, metallic, violent—never occurred. Not only were there no eyewitnesses; Luther himself, ordinarily an enthusiastic self-dramatizer, was vague on what had happened. He remembered drawing up a list of ninety-five theses around the date in question, but, as for what he did with it, all he was sure of was that he sent it to the local archbishop. Furthermore, the theses were not, as is often imagined, a set of non-negotiable demands about how the Church should reform itself in accordance with Brother Martin’s standards. 

More here-

Bishop bans Dita Von Teese from performing at Bette Midler gala

From the "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" department (NY)

The Queen of Burlesque, Dita Von Teese, was banned by the Bishop of New York from performing at Bette Midler’s famed Hulaween Gala.

Midler had invited Von Teese to perform at this year’s Halloween costume event, which took place Monday night at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine on Amsterdam Avenue, in support of the New York Restoration Project.

But The Right Reverend Clifton Daniel, III, Interim Dean of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, was not pleased to hear of racy Von Teese’s slated show and ordered she not be allowed to perform inside his Cathedral Church, which according to its website, is a “house of prayer for all people and a unifying center of intellectual light and leadership.”

Proper Dignity to Saints and Souls

From Pray Tell-

There is a common conflation that occurs in churches that spring from the sixteenth century: the collapse of any distinction between the solemnity of All Saints and commemoration that follows, All Souls’ Day. It is common to hear the invitation for people to list names of departed loved one who will be remembered at the liturgy on All Saints’ Day (or Sunday). 

Sometimes this springs from theological reservation, cultivated in reformation objections to indulgences and masses for the dead (while All Saints’ Day remained in the Church of England, All Souls’ disappears from the calendar until the liturgical reforms of the twentieth century). But just as often, this conflation springs from simply confusion. The distinction between these two days, I want to suggest, is not only proper as it concerns the calendar. The distinction is actually pastorally tender and truly life-giving.

More here-

Who Won the Reformation?

From The New York Times-

The Western world has not known quite what to do with the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The powerful Protestant establishments that would have once celebrated the quincentenary wholeheartedly are mostly weak or impotent or gone, and while the disreputable sort of Calvinist and the disreputable sort of Catholic still brawl online, in official ecclesiastical circles the rule is to speak of the Reformation in regretful tones, like children following a bad divorce who hope that now that many years have passed the divided family can come together for a holiday, or at least an ecumenical communion service.

Meanwhile, the secular intelligentsia can only really celebrate the Reformation’s anniversary in instrumental terms. From the perspective of official liberalism, most of the Reformation fathers were fundamentalists and bigots, even worse in some cases than the Catholics they opposed. So for the Lutheran and Calvinist rebellions to be worth memorializing, it must be as a means to secularizing ends — the liberation of the individual from the shackles of religious authority, which allowed scientific inquiry and capitalism to flourish, made secular politics possible, and ultimately permitted liberalism to triumph.

More here-

Back Pew Voted Best Spot In Church Fifty-Eighth Year Running

A little humor to start the day-

The back pew at church was voted the best seat in the house among churchgoers for the 58th year running, sources at LifeWay Research confirmed Tuesday.

Regular church attendees were polled on their preferences for a place to sit during a service, with options ranging from the various pews in the sanctuary and the overflow room to the comfort of one’s own home while watching an online broadcast.

Over 92% of those polled stated that sitting in the very back pew is the perfect spot: far enough away that the pastor can’t effectively gaze into your soul, but close enough that you feel good about yourself for showing up unlike those heathens who are playing hooky.

More here-

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A historic church will remove plaques honoring George Washington and Robert E. Lee, but it shouldn’t

From The Washington Post-

The plaques on the walls of Christ Church in Alexandria, Va., commemorate famous Americans who at one time called the Episcopal parish their own: George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

As a church historian, I believe the vestry’s recent decision to remove the memorials — as well as their forebears’ decision to put them up in the first place — disregards the true purpose of Christians’ commemoration of the dead.

From the very start of the Christian faith, believers have remembered the “great cloud of witnesses” who came before them. During the third century, the church in North Africa regularly commemorated early martyrs on the anniversary of their death — the origin of saints’ days.

Whether honored through holidays or monuments, the church still recognized the complexity of the human situation and never expected perfection from these early saints. Scripture and church history provided plenty of evidence of their shortcomings: Paul’s thorn in his flesh, Peter’s denial of Christ, Augustine’s lust, Thomas Aquinas’ borderline gluttony, Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic tendencies, John Calvin’s use of capital punishment, and John Wesley’s failed marriage.

More here-

and here-

and here-

How the remains of five 'missing' Archbishops of Canterbury were found by accident

From The Telegraph (last spring but still interesting)

It is a perfect Easter story – except, unlike Jesus’s empty tomb after the Resurrection, this tomb is crammed with the remains of former Archbishops of Canterbury.

Last year, during the refurbishment of the Garden Museum, which is housed in a deconsecrated medieval parish church next to Lambeth Palace, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s official London residence, builders made the chance discovery of a lifetime: a cache of 30 lead coffins that had lain undisturbed for centuries.

Closer inspection revealed metal plates bearing the names of five former Archbishops of Canterbury, going back to the early 1600s.

Building site managers, Karl Patten and Craig Dick, made their discovery by chance as the former chancel at St Mary-at-Lambeth was being converted into an exhibition space. Stripping out some York stone to even out the precarious paving, and enable disabled access to the old altar, they accidentally cut a six-inch diameter hole in the chancel floor – and noticed a hidden chamber beneath.

More here-

Lutherans, Catholics, Methodists, Reformed and Anglicans “drawn into deeper communion”

From ACNS-

An agreement between the Lutheran and Roman Catholic Churches which settled one of the historic disagreement at the centre of the Reformation was the focus of a special service at Westminster Abbey today. On this day 500 years ago, Martin Luther kick-started the Reformation by posting his 95 theses on the door of All Saints’ Church – the Schlosskirche – in Wittenberg, Germany. Central to his argument was the theological principle that man can be reconciled to God – justification – through faith alone, rather than through good works, penance, or the buying of indulgences.

“When the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification in 1999, you resolved the underlying theological question of 1517, in a decisive moment for all churches in the search for unity and reconciliation,” the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said today during the service in Westminster Abbey.

More here-,-catholics-methodists-reformed-and-anglicans-drawn-into-deeper-communion.aspx

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s sermon at Reformation 500th anniversary service

From ACNS-

The sermon from Archbishop Justin Welby during a service at Westminster Abbey on Tuesday 31 October 2017, to mark 500 years since the start of the Reformation.

‘O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant, that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts. Amen.’

First I would like to thank the churches who are here today for the invitation to speak, and the Dean for kindly agreeing to that. Thank you, Mr Dean.

The gift that came through Martin Luther was first a moment of hope, then of controversy, then of politics and finally of war. Yet in the providence and grace of God it brought afresh to every Christian disciple the possibility of saying, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation.”

More here-

Presiding Bishop joins denominational leaders on Amicus Brief concerning Supreme Court case

From ENS-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry has joined the leaders of other major religious groups in signing an Amicus Brief in support of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission in the United States Supreme Court Case Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The well-known and much-watched Supreme Court case focuses on a bakery which refused to make a cake for a reception celebrating a same-sex marriage, an action that Colorado courts determined violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws.

In his capacity as Presiding Bishop and in exercising his responsibility to speak on behalf of the Episcopal Church and to “speak God’s word to the church and the world” (Canon I.2.4(a)(2)),  Presiding Bishop Curry joined the leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and the Chicago Theological Seminary (UCC) in signing the Amicus Brief.  As the Brief notes, the denominations represented by this group “hold differing views regarding the religious implications of same-sex marriage.”

More here-

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Catholic and Protestant leaders unite to mark start of Reformation

From The Guardian-

Catholic and Protestant leaders will stress their mutual bonds 500 years after the start of the Reformation, a movement which tore apart western Christianity and sparked a string of bloody religious wars in Europe lasting more than a century.

A service in Westminster Abbey on Tuesday will mark the anniversary of the date in 1517 on which the German theologian Martin Luther submitted The 95 Theses to the archbishop of Mainz as well as nailing a copy to the door of a church in Wittenburg, lighting the fuse of the Reformation.

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will present a text by the Anglican communion affirming a joint declaration by the Roman Catholic church and global Protestant bodies described as “a sign of healing after 500 years of division”.

Last week, Pope Francis said Catholics and Protestants were now enjoying a relationship of “true fraternity” based on mutual understanding, trust and cooperation.

More here-

Christ Church Should Be Ashamed

From The National Review-

Christ Church is a private religious institution, and it can do what it wants with the Washington monument. The First Amendment right to religious freedom allows churches to do whatever foolhardy thing they choose. I would have it no other way. Still, we are likewise free under the First Amendment to criticize this harebrained decision to disrespect the nation’s first president. Christ Church should be ashamed of itself. For starters, Washington actually freed his slaves after he died, the only major Founding Father to do so. 

Reverend Richard Allen, who cofounded the African Methodist-Episcopal Church, eulogized Washington in 1799, shortly after his death, as a patron of black Americans: To us he has been the sympathizing friend and tender father. He has watched over us, and viewed our degraded and afflicted state with compassion and pity — his heart was not insensible to our sufferings.

Read more at:

Episcopal Relief & Development receives $1.4 million grant to help children in Zambia and Kenya

From ENS-

Episcopal Relief & Development is proud to announce that it has received a $1.4 million grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to expand its integrated Early Childhood Development program (ECD) in Zambia and to extend the program into Kenya. The four-year grant will enable the organization and its local partners, Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Programmes (ZACOP) and Anglican Church of Kenya Development Services (ADS-Nyanza), to impact 7,600 families including 14,880 children ages 3 and younger, many of whom are impacted by HIV/AIDS.

“We are extremely grateful for the continued partnership of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and its commitment towards early childhood development and vulnerable children,” said Robert W. Radtke, president of Episcopal Relief & Development. “This generous grant recognizes the significance of our work and represents a strategic priority for Episcopal Relief & Development as we strengthen and expand the program in Zambia and Kenya.”

Episcopal Relief & Development is the recipient of one of 17 grants made by the Hilton Foundation’s Young Children Affected by HIV and AIDS Initiative in 2017, which is aimed at addressing the needs of families affected by the disease, particularly children aged 3 and younger.

More here-

Martin Luther’s ‘dream’ church? It wasn’t in Europe

From RNS-

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the launching of the Protestant Reformation in Germany. Commemorations will be held from Memphis to Mombasa to Mumbai to Munich.

Yet, most events and books on the Reformation explore it without any reference to African Christians.

This silence is profound, and I would like to break it by offering possible Ethiopian connections to Martin Luther and the Protestant movement.

Luther launched the Protestant Reformation in 1517, but he had begun that year fascinated with Ethiopian Christianity.

That will come as a surprise to many of today’s Christians, even scholars, who are accustomed to discussing Luther and the Protestant Reformation as solely European subjects.

But Luther esteemed the Church of Ethiopia because he thought Ethiopia was the first nation in history to convert to Christianity.

More here-

Five Important Women of the Reformation

From Roman Roads-

Most Christians have heard the names of John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Knox, and other giants of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. But there are many, many other men and women who worked to advance the cause of the Reformation! It is my pleasure to introduce you to five extraordinary women of the Reformation!

Each of these women played an important role, either in disseminating the ideas of the Reformation, or using their political power to protect the preachers and teachers of these ideas.

Reformation 500: we are all Protestants now

From Archbishop Cranmer-

‘Reformation’ is an awkward word; so, of course, is ‘Protestant’. Both terms convey a sense of theological unity or ecclesial uniformity wrapped in a righteous evangelical zeal, when, in fact, they are loaded with murky historical complexities and layered like the muddled onion of Catholic Christianity. And there’s another awkward word – ‘Catholic’. Is it the whole Church, or just the Western bit? Is it confined to Roman, to which it is usually appended, or does it embrace Eastern Orthodoxy? Is it defined by loyalty to the Bishop of Rome, and, if so, what do we call those professing Catholics who think their pope is preaching heresy? Have they ceased to be Catholic, or do they remain catholic? And what in the name of all that’s sainted is an Anglo-Catholic?

We can talk about the Reformation as a single historical event or as a process of ‘returning to Scripture’. We can talk about Protestants as being true gospel activists or of protesting against the errors of the Church of Rome, such as the selling of salvation. And then we have to negotiate contemporary politics, exegesis, the social setting or Sitz im Leben of the text, and then define what we might mean by ‘error’ or ‘heresy’, and the true source of religious authority. What role (if any) is played by tradition and experience? Who determined what constitutes ‘Scripture’? An ecumenical council? You mean a catholic council or a Catholic one? Who convened that council, and why? And then we can ponder the counter-Reformation or the Tridentine movement which some might term the Catholic Reformation. And then we might cavil about St Peter and petros, and argue over rocks and pebbles.

More here-

Be amazed

Fro  Aeon-

On a chalk down beneath an iron-age hillfort and a grove of beech trees near my home in Hampshire in the south of England, a labyrinth has been cut into the turf. It looks almost like a tinted engraving. The short-cropped grass pillows up around the narrow pathways as if they had been pressed into something soft, and in the right light the milky soil shines through.

On the morning of my wedding, I walked the folded path to its centre. I say ‘walked’, but I was in a bit of a rush so it was more a trot – but I wanted to finish the thing, so I traced the path back out again.  I could never have gotten myself lost. In the Mizmaze there is one entrance and one exit, and one route between them: by one definition this makes it a unicursal ‘labyrinth’ rather than a multicursal ‘maze’, which presents choices between alternative paths.

After performing my private little ritual, I continued on down the hill to the registery office in town, where I got married. Why had I felt the need to go labyrinth-walking? I am not prone to this sort of behaviour. I feel skeptical about confabulated New Age rites. And yet something about the Mizmaze drew me to it that morning. I wanted to understand what that thing was – to discover what, in human history and psychology, mazes and labyrinths are for.

More here-

Episcopal Bishop Prince Singh, justice center official honored for aid to farmworkers

From The Diocese of Rochester-

Rochester's Episcopal bishop and the Worker Justice Center of New York's executive director were honored for their work with farmworkers during an event Thursday.

The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh received the George Exley-Stiegler Award during the Rural & Migrant Ministry Dinner, held at Temple B'rith Kodesh in Brighton.

The Jim Schmidt Award went to Lewis O. Papenfuse, executive director of the Worker Justice Center, which has offices in Rochester, Albany and Kingston, Ulster County. Its work includes providing legal services to low-wage workers and advocating for institutional change. Schmidt, who died in 2012, served for more than 25 years as director of Farmworker Legal Services of NY, one of the center's predecessors.

More here-

Monday, October 30, 2017

Why the Reformation Should Make You More catholic

From The Gospel Coalition-

Celebrating the Reformation, as a 500th anniversary invites us to do, isn’t necessarily a straightforward affair. Even those of us who have robust confidence in the rightness of Protestant doctrine, who feel profound gratitude to the reformers, and whose entire Christian lives have been lived within the good heritage of Reformation churches, can nevertheless worry that somewhere around the third “hip, hip, hooray,” we might be in danger of giving the wrong impression.

The wrong impression would be the sectarian, clannish, hooray-for-our-team impression. It would be bad enough if our Reformation celebration looked like an excuse to mark the boundary between the Protestant us and the Roman Catholic them. But even worse would be a Reformation celebration that looked like an excuse to mark the boundary between 1517 and all that went before it. There is such a thing as chronological clannishness that divides Christian history into fourths and then celebrates the final quarter alone.

More here-

Former Priest Says Revered Colleague Was a Predator

From The New York Times-

Stephen Ryan-Vuotto was 14 and had recently lost his father to lung cancer when a priest in his Greenwich Village parish began inviting him to sleep over at the rectory. His mother was happy, he recalled, because she revered priests.

In particular, she loved the Rev. Robert V. Lott, the man who had befriended her son. He had ministered to the boy’s dying father, and was starting charitable organizations. Before his death in 2002, Father Lott’s reputation grew, as he led an effort to build hundreds of low-income housing units in East Harlem. To this day, an assisted living center, a home health care organization, a community development corporation and a charitable foundation in East Harlem are named for him.

But those nights at the rectory were not innocent. In August, Mr. Ryan-Vuotto was awarded a $500,000 settlement from a compensation program being run by the Archdiocese of New York for sexual abuse by Father Lott. In an interview, Mr. Ryan-Vuotto said he was abused more than 50 times between 1975 and 1985, in acts ranging from fondling to sodomy. But he kept silent, in part because after the abuse ended, he became a priest.

More here-

Protestant or Catholic?

From The Living Church-

A debate that began about halfway through the 16th century continues to this day. It centers on a seemingly simple question: When Henry VIII severed ties between the English Church and the See of Rome, did the Church of England join what was becoming known as Lutheranism and the various Reformed churches and become a Protestant church?

The question isn’t as simple as it might seem; hence the longevity of the debate. Orthodoxy broke with Rome in the 13th century and isn’t a Protestant Communion. The See of Utrecht severed its ties with the papacy in the 17th century and the Old Catholic churches aren’t Protestant. The complexity of the question deepens.

When Henry VIII forbade the Church of England to permit the pope to hear lawsuits or appoint English bishops and senior dignitaries, he changed no doctrines. The Church of England in the year of the old tyrant’s death was a National Catholic Church. Six years later, if the prayer book of 1552 indicates anything at all, what would become known as Calvinism, or perhaps even Zwinglianism, triumphed. Question answered? Perhaps not.

More here-

The war against Pope Francis

From The Guardian-

Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination: the new pope drove a Fiat, carried his own bags and settled his own bills in hotels; he asked, of gay people, “Who am I to judge?” and washed the feet of Muslim women refugees.

But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it. This summer, one prominent English priest said to me: “We can’t wait for him to die. It’s unprintable what we say in private. Whenever two priests meet, they talk about how awful Bergoglio is … he’s like Caligula: if he had a horse, he’d make him cardinal.” Of course, after 10 minutes of fluent complaint, he added: “You mustn’t print any of this, or I’ll be sacked.”

More here-


From Episcopal Relief and Development-

The Episcopal Church’s roadmap of the Jesus Movement has been guiding Episcopalians in their response to the chain of disasters that have struck the world in the last two months.
“You can see it in that we have various departments of the presiding bishop’s staff, the companion dioceses, Church Insurance, ourselves [at Episcopal Relief & Development], diaspora Episcopalians, friends and good people of faith all working together,” Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development senior vice president of programs, told the Executive Council October 19.

How exactly is Episcopal Relief & Development responding to recent disasters?

Nelson gave council members an overview of the kinds of work Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting by way of what she called “this great chain of strength and assets” that is enabling Episcopalians to “do much more than we can do alone.” That work includes such efforts as setting up online tools for affected Episcopalians to communicate with each other and keep track of work done and help needed. The organization is also supporting such efforts helping to supply water, tarps, solar batteries, pastoral care, and connecting with other relief and government agencies.

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George Washington's Church Says Plaque Honoring First President Must Come Down

From Fox- (with video)

Leaders at the church that George Washington attended decided that a plaque honoring the first president of the United States must be removed.

Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia will take down a memorial marking the pew where Washington sat with his family, saying it is not acceptable to all worshipers.

“The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome," leaders said, a reference to the fact that Washington was a slaveholder.

"Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques.”

"Many in our congregation feel a strong need for the church to stand clearly on the side of 'all are welcome- no exceptions,'" they concluded.

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Why Can’t Christians Get Along, 500 Years After the Reformation?

From Atlantic-

Elizabeth Eaton is in a bit of a bind. Exactly 500 years ago on October 31, Martin Luther allegedly nailed his famous “95 Theses” to the door of a German church, decrying the Catholic Church’s abusive sale of indulgences, or reprieves from punishment for sins. The monk’s dramatic declaration set in motion years of theological sparring and bloody wars. It also led to the flowering of Protestantism and its many distinct denominational traditions, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, over which Eaton presides as bishop.

The thing is, “that was not good for the church,” Eaton said, referring to the global body of Christian believers. The New Testament calls for followers of Jesus to be “completely one.” By Luther’s time, Christianity had been split from East to West as the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches parted ways. Within those traditions, dissidents had already formed a number of prominent sects. The Protestant Reformation catalyzed further breakdown.

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Washington, Lee plaques to be removed from Va. church sanctuary

From The Washington Times-

An historic Episcopal parish where George Washington frequently worshiped has decided to remove a memorial plaque honoring the nation’s first president, saying the decision was out of a desire to provide a “welcoming” worship space for all visitors. 

The church will also remove a similar memorial plague honoring Robert E. Lee, the commander of Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.
The vestry of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, announced its unanimous decision in an Oct. 26 letter, The Republican Standard website reported Thursday. The letter suggests that while initially the concern was over honoring the Confederate military leader, Washington’s slave ownership was a factor in the decision to remove his plaque as well.

“We understand that both Washington and Lee lived in times much different than our own, and that each man, in addition to his public persona, was a complicated human being, and like all of us, a child of God,” Christ Church’s vestry said. “Today, the legacy of slavery and of the Confederacy is understood differently than it was in 1870. For some, Lee symbolizes the attempt to overthrow the Union and to preserve slavery. Today our country is trying once again to come to grips with the history of slavery and the subsequent disenfranchisement of people of color.

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Diocesan Leadership on the Lawsuit Against the Bishop and Diocese

From Oregon-

The following statement was originally delivered at the 129th Convention of the Diocese of Oregon and the livestreamed video may be viewed on our Facebook page.

Bishop Michael Hanley

My Friends, I come before you today saddened by the lawsuit filed the other day by a former member of the diocesan staff against the diocese and me personally.

The Episcopal Church takes these matters seriously and these allegations, which first surfaced in 2015, have been investigated throughly by several bodies. These allegations are false. Please know that I have participated fully in all of the proceedings.

The goal of all clergy Title IV proceedings is reconciliation and I continue to hope and to pray for such an outcome.

I now invite The Rev. David Sweeney, Ms. Sharon Rodgers and Mr. Rick Grimshaw to provide further comment.

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