Saturday, December 16, 2017

I'm an Evangelical Ecumenist? What Does That Even Mean?

From Christianity Today-

I consider myself an Evangelical ecumenist. Big ‘E’ for Evangelical, little ‘e’ for ecumenist, because I don’t follow the classic approach to ecumenism.

To put it another way, I don’t believe in searching for the lowest common theological denominator in a general statement like “Jesus is Lord.” Actually, Jesus is much more than that. For example, he is “the Son of God,” “the One born of a virgin,” he suffered, died, was buried, and rose again, ascended into heaven, and is coming to judge the living and dead. He is the head of the church, which has pastor/elders and deacons, calls people into covenant membership, and baptizes believers.

That’s too specific for many big ‘E’ Ecumenists.

More here-

Church of England Unfair to Dead Bishop, Abuse Inquiry Finds

From The New York Times-

At a time of a sharpening global focus on cases of sexual abuse dating back decades, an authoritative and highly critical report accused the Church of England on Friday of failing to respect “the rights of both sides” in investigating allegations made long after his death against one of its most revered bishops.

The case, involving Bishop George Bell and accusations that he abused a young girl in the 1940s and 1950s, raised tangled questions about the rights and reputations of people who have died and are thus unable to defend themselves against abuse charges. Mr. Bell died in 1958, but the accusations were not made until 1995.

More here-

Presiding Bishop plans pastoral visits to hurricane affected areas

From The Episcopal Church-

December 15, 2017

“These pastoral visits are a reminder of the promise of Jesus who said to his followers, ‘I will be with you even until the end of the age.”

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael B. Curry will embark on four pastoral visits in January 2018 to the hurricane affected areas of Florida, Texas and the Caribbean.

“When the cameras have left, when the world’s attention has gone elsewhere, when other news is the new news of the day, the Church remains bearing witness to the Good News of Jesus,” Presiding Bishop Curry said. “These trips are an opportunity to call to mind our commitment to walk with our brothers and sisters, not just for the short run of the news cycles, for the long haul as communities are rebuilt and built anew.  These pastoral visits are a reminder of the promise of Jesus who said to his followers, ‘I will be with you even until the end of the age.’ And it’s a way of saying that we, as fellow followers of Jesus, will be with you too.”

More here-

Effort to allow partisan politics in church reaches dead end

From Fox-

A provision that would have freed churches to make political endorsements has been dropped from the Republican tax overhaul, dashing the hopes of a segment of religious conservatives on what has been a key issue to the Trump administration.

Advocacy groups on opposing sides said Friday they expect lawmakers to keep trying to loosen rules over partisanship in the pulpit, even as this latest effort has reached a dead end.

Conservative groups such as the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom have for years sought to abolish IRS rules that bar electioneering by houses of worship and other charitable groups. President Donald Trump pressed the fight on the campaign trail and in the White House.

Still, only Congress has the authority to repeal the restriction known as the Johnson Amendment. It was named for President Lyndon Johnson, who introduced the measure in 1954 when he was a Democratic senator from Texas upset about a few nonprofit groups that had attacked him as a communist during a Senate race.

More here-

Friday, December 15, 2017

Anglican church 'rushed to judgment' in George Bell child abuse case

From The Guardian-

The Church of England has been criticised for a “rush to judgment” in its handling of allegations of sexual abuse against one its most revered figures of the 20th century in a highly damaging independent inquiry.

The report by Lord Carlile, released on Friday, said that although the church acted in good faith, its processes were deficient and it failed to give proper consideration to the rights of the accused.

The findings, which the church has made public two months after receiving them, concerned claims made against George Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, who died in 1958. A woman now in her 70s alleged that Bell had abused her in the bishop’s palace over a period of four years, starting when she was five years old.

In 2015, the church issued a formal public apology and paid £16,800 to the woman, known as Carol. Its statement triggered furious protests among Bell’s supporters, who said his reputation had been trashed, the evidence against him was thin and that he could not defend himself from beyond the grave.

More here-

Episcopal diocese's newest priest grateful for ministry

From Western Mass-

The Rev. Victoria Ix is communications director for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, and for the last six months has served as deacon at Grace Episcopal Church here.

On Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at the Boltwood Avenue church, Ix will become the diocese's newest priest when diocesan Bishop Douglas Fisher ordains her to that ministry.

Fisher called the liturgy for the ordination of a priest a "powerful one."

"Near the start of the service at Grace Church, I will ask the congregation 'Is it your will that Victoria be ordained a priest?' I anticipate a packed church and a thunderous reply 'It is!,'" Fisher said.

He added, "I'm confident that will be the response because Vicki was born for this mission."

"Later in the liturgy I will read the instructions of what a priest is to do which includes proclaiming the Word of God, celebrating the sacraments, and 'to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor,'" Fisher said.

More here-

Can “Evangelicalism” Survive Trump?

From The Anxious Bench-

Today at the Anxious Bench, historian George Marsden weighs in on how we define “evangelicalism” in the age of Trump, and on the role of Christian scholarship in the evangelical tradition.

Back in the 1980s when “evangelicals” were making the news in some unbecoming ways, my friend and Calvin College colleague, Ronald Wells, announced that he would like to resign as an “evangelical” but did not know where to send the letter.

These days there is no need to worry about a letter; just post your resignation online. And it seems as though almost every day more are joining in that chorus. Since I began this piece, the most prominent is Peter Wehner, who in the NYT declares “Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican.” Scott McKnight stated the problem here succinctly: “The issue is politics; the present painful reality is Trump. The reality is 81% of evangelicals voted for Trump. The word ‘evangelical’ now means Trump-voter. The word ‘evangelical’ is spoiled.”



From The Tablet-

Even though IS has been driven out, extremists are still operating there.

Christians are still being persecuted in Iraq and the threat of extermination must not be forgotten, according to a priest from the region.

Fr Daniel, 27, was in London this week to brief MPs, Peers and church leaders about the ongoing crisis in Iraq.

He handed prime minister Theresa May a scorched Arabic Bible recovered from Karamles near Mosul, Iraq, to as part of the campaign to raise awareness of the plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

According to a report by the charity Open Doors, the charity that supports persecuted Christians, more than 100,000 Christians have left Iraq since the conflict with IS began in 2014, while as many as half of Syria’s estimated 1.7 million Christians have fled the country since 2011.

More here-

The ties that bind our Anglican Communion family

From Anglican News-

The Secretary General of the Anglican Communion, Dr Josiah Idowu-Fearon, reflects on how membership of the Communion is defined.

There is much about our Anglican Communion which makes us unique. We are an extraordinary international family, bound together by faith in Jesus Christ and by our rich tradition.

The See of Canterbury is one of the unique features which binds us together. At the Primates’ Meeting in October it was clear just how much Canterbury meant to those who came. For Anglicans, communion with the See of Canterbury – and with its Archbishop – is the visible expression of our communion with one another.

In his advent letter to GAFCON, the Primate of Nigeria says: “the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration clarified that the Anglican Communion is not determined simply by relationship with the Archbishop of Canterbury”.

More here-

Nashotah Dean Advances

From The Living Church-

Garwood Anderson, who has been serving as acting dean and president of Nashotah House Theological Seminary, will become interim dean and president with the new year.

Anderson joined the faculty in 2007 as professor of New Testament studies. He writes for The Living Church and its weblog, Covenant.

“I hope to continue attracting the brightest and most gifted individuals to the faculty so that the House can lead a renewal in the church in the years ahead,” Anderson told the board recently.

“Dr. Anderson has been an outstanding leader at Nashotah House for many years and brings a level of expertise and commitment that is exactly what Nashotah House needs right now,” said the Rev. John Jordan, a member of Nashotah’s board of directors.

More here-

Died: R. C. Sproul, Reformed Theologian Who Founded Ligonier Ministries

From Christianity Today-

When Reformed theologian and Ligonier Ministries founder R. C. Sproul was once asked what he wanted written on his tombstone, he replied cheekily, “I told you I was sick.”

That was in 2015, after the esteemed teacher and author’s health declined severely following a stroke. This December, the 78-year-old was hospitalized and was forced to rely on ventilator support to breathe during his 12-day stay, due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He died on Thursday.

“His tombstone wouldn’t be able to hold the words of what he’s meant to so many,” tweeted Kansas pastor Gabriel Hughes. “Well done, good and faithful servant. Now great is your reward.”

Sproul’s legacy lives on in generations of laypeople and Reformed leaders whose theology was strengthened and shaped by Ligonier, the organization he founded in 1971 to fill the gap “between Sunday school and seminary.”

More here-

and here-

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Harford sheriff, legislators want measure to let people carry guns in church

From Baltimore-

The Rev. Tommy Allen of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Abingdon attended the news conference and said he would make sure that anyone who carries a weapon in his church has an “extra layer of training,” including coordination with the sheriff’s office.

“The best way to check a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, who is adequately trained to assess and address a potentially violent situation,” Allen said.

Mark Pennak, president of the gun-rights group Maryland Shall Issue, called the legislation “a great idea.”

Pennak said three people have approached him about whether the state would grant them a concealed-carry permit if their pastors asked the parishioners to protect the congregation. Pennak said he wasn’t sure state police would view a pastor’s request as a “good and substantial reason” to grant a concealed-carry permit, but that he encouraged them to apply under existing state law.

More here-

The Biggest Loser in the Alabama Election

From Christianity Today-

It’s not Republicans or Democrats, but Christian witness.

No matter the outcome of today’s special election in Alabama for a coveted US Senate seat, there is already one loser: Christian faith. When it comes to either matters of life and death or personal commitments of the human heart, no one will believe a word we say, perhaps for a generation. Christianity’s integrity is severely tarnished.

The race between Republican candidate Roy Moore and Democratic candidate Doug Jones has only put an exclamation point on a problem that has been festering for a year and a half—ever since a core of strident conservative Christians began to cheer for Donald Trump without qualification and a chorus of other believers decried that support as immoral. The Christian leaders who have excused, ignored, or justified his unscrupulous behavior and his indecent rhetoric have only given credence to their critics who accuse them of hypocrisy. Meanwhile the easy willingness of moderate and progressive Christians to cast aspersions on their conservative brothers and sisters has made many wonder about our claim that Jesus Christ can bring diverse people together as no other can.
More here-

White Evangelicals Voted En Masse For Roy Moore In Alabama, To No One’s Surprise

From Huffington-

Doug Jones’ victory in Alabama’s special Senate election Tuesday night upset the status quo in his state in many ways ― it put a Democrat from Alabama in the U.S. Senate for the first time in 25 years, and it showed off the political clout of Alabama’s black voters.

But amid the tumult of the special election, one thing did not change. White evangelical Christians, longtime supporters of Jones’ Republican opponent Roy Moore, decided en masse to stand by their man.

According to exit polling conducted by Edison Research, 80 percent of white voters who self-identified as born-again or evangelical Christians voted for the former judge. About 18 percent voted for Jones, while another 2 percent chose to write in a candidate.

About 76 percent of everyone else ― those who didn’t identify as white evangelical Christian ― voted for Jones.

A small number of evangelicals appeared to sit out the election. Evangelicals claimed 44 percent of the total vote in Alabama, The Washington Post reports, even though they made up 47 percent of voters in the 2012 and 2008 presidential elections.

More here-

Boston University creates new denominational program for Episcopalians

From Episcopal Cafe-

Perhaps sensing a gap in the wake of Episcopal Divinity School’s departure for New York City to join with Union Theological Seminary, Boston University School of Theology (BUSTH) has announced the formation of a new Episcopal denominational learning community.

In collaboration with the Episcopal Dioceses of Massachusetts, the intent of the learning community is to form a community of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to nurturing and preparing Episcopal students for future leadership and service in and through the church. The Anglican Episcopal Community of Learning (AECL) is a specialized program that aims to provide the best possible education in an ecumenical community that values the unique gifts, histories, and ministerial legacies of the denominations represented.

More here-

LDS Church donates another $5 million in 2017 for refugee resettlement in U.S.

From Salt Lake-

For a second straight year, the LDS Church has donated $5 million worth of aid to the nine voluntary refugee resettlement agencies in the United States.

The $1.2 million in cash and $3.8 million in commodities or services will be used during 2018 by the nine charitable organizations, who have agreements with the State Department to provide reception and placement services for refugees who arrive in the United States.

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Each organization will receive a different amount. Some are long-time partners of the church. Other relationships began in late 2015 or during 2016.

"Episcopal Migration Ministries and our 22 affiliate partners are deeply grateful for the generosity and support of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," one said in a statement provided to the Deseret News. "With a gift of $50,000 cash and $200,000 in-kind donations, the LDS Church has donated $500,000 combined (cash and in-kind) to Episcopal Migration Ministries since 2016. In addition, they are working with the Episcopal Migration Ministries team to create a strategic media plan to broaden outreach."

More here-

A Texas-sized Growth Story

From The Living Church-

St. Martin’s in Houston has been the largest Episcopal church for many years, and that is not likely to change anytime soon. Its 2016 average Sunday attendance of 1,871 is more than 30 percent higher than the next-largest church. The Rev. Russell Levenson Jr., rector of St. Martin’s since 2007, has been a prominent voice among evangelicals in the church. He recently spoke with me for well over an hour. The interview has been edited for brevity, clarity, and narrative flow.

How did St. Martin’s get to be so big?

A consistent pattern of engagement with members; a Christ-centered ministry. Our mission is to make and grow disciples for Jesus Christ. I think that’s what the world hungers for. I think they hunger for connection with God, and I think we within the Anglican-Episcopal tradition can offer a very clear, concise message of helping people become connected to our Lord.

More here-

Statement of Full Communion with the ACNA from the Global South Anglican coalition

From Anglican Church-

In 2015, the Global South Primates stated in their communique “We rejoiced to welcome the Anglican Church in North America as a partner province to the Global South, represented by its Archbishop, the Most Reverend Foley Beach.” This decision of the Global South Primates came after more than a decade of successive events, and gave the Anglican Church in North America seat, voice, and vote in Global South. In 2016 the Global South Primates elected the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach, to the Steering Committee of Global South. We will hereby discuss the events that led to our affirmation of the Anglican Church in North America.

1. At the Primates Meeting of 2003 , the Primates warned the Episcopal Church in USA about the consequences of the consecration of Gene Robinson.

More here-

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

I’m Jewish. My husband is Christian. What do I tell our daughter about Santa?

From The Washington Post-

My daughter started asking the inevitable Santa plausibility questions last year. She had just turned 4, and on Christmas Eve she rattled off a litany of queries: How does he get to all the houses in one night? How will he get inside if our door is locked? Doesn’t he feel sick from all those cookies? She only asked me these questions, not her father, even though I’m Jewish and he’s our resident Christian. Perhaps because she knew I was more likely to tell it to her straight — children can smell your uncertainty, and she sensed I wasn’t fully committed to this Santa business. In response to her skepticism, all I could muster was: “He’s magic!”

A sorry excuse for an answer, I know. But it’s one that I come by honestly.

More here-

Episcopal priest to get probation for Florida road rage

From LA Times-

The rector of an Episcopal church in North Carolina accused of pointing a gun at another vehicle in Florida is set to receive a year of probation.

The Palm Beach Post reported Tuesday that Martin County prosecutors have reached a deal with 35-year-old Rev. William Rian Adams. He is scheduled to plead no contest Friday to a misdemeanor charge of improper exhibition of a firearm. He had been facing two felony counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

State troopers say a pickup truck driver was closely following Adams' Corvette on Florida's Turnpike in July and tried to pass the car. Authorities say Adams pointed a handgun at the truck.

Adams still is listed as rector at Calvary Episcopal Church in Fletcher, 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of Asheville.

More here-

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s Christmas message

From The Episcopal Church-

In 2 Corinthians, the Apostle Paul says,

If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new is come.

At a point in that passage, St. Paul says, “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself,” and he also says at another point in the same passage, “and we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.”

Have you ever gone to the movies or read a story or a novel, and the novel starts with the end, so you know where the story ends, but then the rest of the story or the novel is actually the story behind the story. We know about Christmas. We know about Mary. We know about Joseph. We know about the angels singing Gloria in excelsis deo. We know from our childhood the animals in the stable. We know of the magi who come from afar, arriving around Epiphany, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We know of the angels singing in the heavens, and the star that shown above them. 

Therein is the story.

More here-

Continuity in prayer book worship

From The Living Church-

For hundreds of years after the Reformation, Anglicans looked to the texts and rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer as a principal source of liturgical unity. When the preface of the 1549 Prayer Book declared that from then on “all the whole realm shall have but one use,” it canceled out a certain degree of medieval liturgical variety in a bid for uniformity. Though from the very beginning bishops, clergy, and congregations construed the text and rubrics differently, they were by and large sources of liturgical unity.

As their use became more familiar after the great vernacular watershed of the Reformation, the texts of the Book of Common Prayer became not only a source of unity but also of continuity. Liturgical texts bear meaning: not in a uniform sense but with a degree of nuance that allows them to carry freight of various sorts. In this they are like the texts of Holy Scripture. Different emphases and different interpretations coexist together. Over time, texts would continue to be extensively mined and new meanings discovered. This is true of any liturgical text in any tradition, but Anglicans have perhaps been uniquely conscious that their texts function in this way.

More here-

5 faith facts about Doug Jones: Quiet Christian

From RNS-

Democrat Doug Jones wasn’t supposed to have a chance in the Senate race that pits him against Republican Roy Moore in the ruby red state of Alabama.

But in recent weeks, as women began to accuse Moore of inappropriate conduct with them when they were teenagers, suddenly Jones seemed to have a shot.

Jones, a former U.S. attorney, slammed Moore on those allegations as they campaigned to take the seat once held by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying, “I damn sure believe and have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail, not to the U.S. Senate.”

Tuesday’s (Dec. 12) election will determine whether Alabama could actually elect a Democrat to the Senate. But even as his national profile has risen, most people still know little about Jones and his faith.

More here-

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Mind-Bending Translation of the New Testament

From Atlantic Monthly-

In the beginning was … well, what? A clap of the divine hands and a poetic shock wave? Or an itchy node of nothingness inconceivably scratching itself into somethingness? In the beginning was the Word, says the Gospel according to John—a lovely statement of the case, as it’s always seemed to me. A pre-temporal syllable swelling to utterance in the mouth of the universe, spoken once and heard forever: God’s power chord, if you like. For David Bentley Hart, however, whose mind-bending translation of the New Testament was published in October, the Word—as a word—does not suffice: He finds it to be “a curiously bland and impenetrable designation” for the heady concept expressed in the original Greek of the Gospels as Logos. The Chinese word Tao might get at it, Hart tells us, but English has nothing with quite the metaphysical flavor of Logos, the particular sense of a formative moral energy diffusing itself, without diminution, through space and time. So he throws up his hands and leaves it where it is: “In the origin there was the Logos …”

More here-

Gradually DISMANTLE Royal Family and Church when Prince Charles crowned King, says report

From Express-

Prince Charles' accession to the throne will offer a "particularly opportune moment" to have a debate on disestablishing the Church of England, according to a report by the National Secular Society (NSS).

According to “Separating Church and State: The Case for Disestablishment”, Prince Charles will antagonise the non-Anglican majority of the UK population if he retains a coronation oath overtly committing him to uphold the tenants of the Anglican faith.

The NSS recommends “gradual dismantling, rather than securing a single clean break,” of the Church of England.

The decision will likely infuriate Royalists and Anglican believers.

More here-

Anglican Catholicism and the reformation of ecclesial order

From The Living Church-

I must confess that I am not sure I understand the meaning of the principal term of this mini-conference’s title about which we are invited to speak: Anglo-Catholicism. The Humean empiricist, visiting any number of parishes, chaplaincies, or dioceses that self-designate under the moniker Anglo-Catholic, would find it difficult to discover any real coherent center that binds them all together. From the Diocese of Forth Worth to the Society of St. John the Evangelist, from Christ Church New Haven or the Diocese of Albany to Pusey House, Oxford, and not excluding the so-called Biretta Belt of the Northern Midwest, of which our institutional neighbor, Nashotah House, might be said to be the pompom — the untutored pilgrim making her way through such a wondrous and varied landscape would depart with many field notes and even more questions. A minori ad maius, the difficulty of defining the adjective Anglo-Catholic raises the question of whether or how we might meaningfully speak of a reified Anglo-Catholicism. Given such complexities, I should like to make a brief note here about how I will be using these terms.

More here-

Historic Philadelphia church takes new approach to serving the oppressed: healing trauma

From ENS-

As the lunch crowd dwindled, three men stood in a huddle and pulled out white boxing gloves. The Rev. Renee McKenzie-Hayward emerged from her office and greeted them.

Soon, the priest was gloved, taking practice jabs and right hooks — and laughing.

“Fighting for the life of this community, we want to maintain the African-American rich cultural history. The Advocate is central for that. It’s a hub for that,” McKenzie told Episcopal News Service the day before, as she sat in her office painted in African violet. “People can come here to organize, and I say you come here to get stronger and then go out to work.”

You have to be tough, yet warm and welcoming, to do McKenzie’s job at George W. South Memorial Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In that northern area, the church sits in the Cecil B. Moore neighborhood, named after the civil rights activist and local NAACP president. The neighborhood is predominately African-American and Puerto Rican residents who grew up here, but the ever-increasing influx of college students from nearby Temple University is changing the landscape. A Temple graduate herself who values what the burgeoning college population can offer the community, McKenzie has watched the gentrification change the fabric of the neighborhood. She’s also the university’s Episcopalian chaplain.

More here-

Congregation fights to save church where Harriet Tubman worshipped

From The Guardian-

The modest wooden frame of the Salem Chapel British Methodist Episcopal Church was laid in the 1850s by former slaves as they settled into their new lives in Canada.

The stucco-clad gabled church soon became a focal point for the community; hosting not only worshippers but gatherings of civil rights activists and abolitionists – including the church’s most famous attendee, American Harriet Tubman.

Some 160 years later, the chapel in St Catharines, Ontario – built near the final terminus of the Underground Railroad’s eastern line – continues to hold service every Sunday. But the building has fallen into disrepair, prompting the congregation to launch campaign aimed at preserving this sliver of history for generations to come.

More here-

In 1219, St. Francis crossed Crusade lines to meet Egypt's sultan. What can we learn from their encounter?

From America Magazine-

A moment in time that has been captured in art has now been captured on film and could hold a powerful lesson for us today.

The encounter in 1219 between St. Francis of Assisi and Malek al-Kamil, the sultan of Egypt, during yet another flashpoint in the long history of the Crusades -- the subject of one famous fresco in Assisi, Italy -- has been made into a documentary. "The Sultan and the Saint" will get its nationwide premiere Dec. 26 on PBS (check local listings for dates and times).

Not surprisingly, members of the order St. Francis founded participated in the documentary's making.

More here-