Saturday, December 23, 2017

Church helps provide 350 families with food for Christmas

From Ohio-

 People started lining up more than an hour and a half before the doors to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church opened at 5:30 p.m. Friday to provide 350 families with food for Christmas.

“We have prepared a meal that will feed six individuals,” church food bank coordinator Julie Clayman said as volunteers prepared for the onslaught of people.

With the event now in its third year, organizers have fine-tuned the distribution.

“This is very organized,” said Judy Davis as she wondered through the food selection area.

Davis said she appreciates the generosity and kindness of the food pantry workers that help people make ends meet every month.

More here-

The Salvation of ‘Napalm Girl’

From The Wall Street Journal-

You may not recognize me now, but you almost certainly know who I am. My name is Kim Phuc, though you likely know me by another name. It is one I never asked for, a name I have spent a lifetime trying to escape: “Napalm Girl.”

You have probably seen my picture a thousand times. Yes, that picture. The image that made the world gasp. Some called it a turning point in the Vietnam War—a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of me in 1972, age 9, running along a puddled roadway in front of an expressionless soldier. I was photographed with arms outstretched, naked and shrieking in pain and fear, with the dark contour of a napalm cloud billowing in the distance.

My own people had dropped bombs on Route 1 in an effort to cut off the trade routes for the Viet Cong rebels. I had not been targeted. I had simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

More here-


From Ft. Worth-

Born in Nigeria, Ayo was baptized, and confirmed in the Church of Nigeria, part of the Anglican Communion. He has deep roots with other family members in church ministry. His grandfather was one of the first ordained catechists by the missionaries in Odo-owa, Ekiti State, Nigeria. His brother was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church of Nigeria at 23 years old.

Ayo came to the United States in May of 1983 to further his educational goals, first in Michigan, and then in Oklahoma. Ayo moved to Texas upon completing a Master of Criminal Justice Administration and secured employment with the Texas Youth Commission. He currently works with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department as a Monitoring and Inspection Specialist (Lead). He and his family moved to Keller from St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Odessa in April, 2012 and became members of St. Martin’s. He is married to Tope, and they have three beautiful and accomplished children, two in college (a house divided between Texas and Texas A&M) and one in high school.

More here-

D. Bruce MacPherson, 1940-2017

So sad to hear he was a good man (and Bishop)-

The Rt. Rev. D. Bruce MacPherson, former Bishop of Western Louisiana and former president of the Living Church Foundation’s board of directors and trustees, died Dec. 21. He was 77.

Only days earlier, after suffering a fall, MacPherson had heard a diagnosis of late-stage leukemia and began receiving hospice care.

Bishop MacPherson is survived by Susan, his wife of 59 years; daughters Bonnie and Heather; four granddaughters; and two great-grandsons.

More here-

Santa Claus Converts To Calvinism, Moves Everybody To Naughty List

A little humor to start the day-

NORTH POLE—After a transformative moment reading R.C. Sproul’s What Is Reformed Theology? for the first time earlier this week, legendary Christmas icon Santa Claus reportedly converted to a full-on, five-point Calvinist, and almost immediately moved every single person on the planet to the naughty list, sources confirmed Friday.

“How can I put anyone on the nice list, when every human being is totally depraved from birth?” St. Nick was overheard saying to Mrs. Claus in his office. “No matter what filthy rags of righteousness they bring before the Lord, they are condemned already based on their sin nature.”

More here-

Friday, December 22, 2017

Kenya: Anglican Church to Launch Facebook Sunday Service for Youths Who Can't Go to Church

From All Africa-

The Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) will next year launch an online church service for its youthful flock.

Head of ACK Archbishop Jackson Jackson Ole Sapit has announced that the church will start training its priests on how to use social media ahead of the launch of the online service.

"As a church we cannot afford to be left behind and we need to embrace technology. It's a high time we start our online church to tap on the larger community in the social media," said Dr Sapit.


He explained that the bold move in meant to reach out to the diminishing numbers of young people attending church services. He urged fellow clergymen to be ready to embrace social media platforms.

More here-

2018 Likely to Be a Tough Year for Church of England and Anglican Communion

From Sojourners-

If 2017 was a tough year for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby keeping the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion together, 2018 promises to be tougher still.

There were continuing squabbles over same-sex marriage and headlines about declining congregations through the past 12 months. But in 2018 Welby will have to face particularly testing issues:

Any fallout from the appointment of a woman as the bishop of London – the third most senior cleric in the Church of England.

The gathering of the international conservative faction known as GAFCON in Jerusalem in June.

The likelihood of a breakaway church in England.

The threat of a financial “strike” by rebel parishes.

More here-

The second lobster: parents sceptical of new nativity plays with random parts

From The Church Times-

CHILDREN taking part in school nativity plays are given increasingly random parts, such as a Strictly Come Dancing judge, “Margaret Thatcher”, and a pair of underpants, as schools attempt to present more modern versions of the Bible story, new research suggests.

More than half the schools ques­tioned for a Families Online survey have chosen a modern retel­ling of the story. Unusual characters played by children have included a Morris-dancing shepherd, “Noddy Holder”, and a crew member of the Starship Enterprise, Families Online re­­ported. Other unusual parts were “a carrier bag”, “fried egg (no.2)”, and a “pair of underpants”.

But parents support a more tradi­tional telling of the nativity. Seventy-seven per cent said that they would prefer “old school” performances to return. Only 17 per cent of respond­ents preferred a modern version.

More here-

Challenges for the Careys

From The Living Church-

Postcard from London

It’s been a tough two years for Lord Carey and his family. The former Archbishop of Canterbury and his, wife, Eileen did not issue a Christmas letter in 2016 because their elder son, Mark, a vicar, was under investigation on allegations of abuse from more than 40 years ago.

In recent months, Carey’s handling of the case of Bishop Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, came under scrutiny. Carey is accused of failures in his handling of the Ball case, who was jailed for abuse of young potential priests two decades ago.

A report was sharply critical of Carey’s role in the Ball case. Archbishop Justin Welby asked Carey, 82, to stand aside from official episcopal duties, among them serving as an honorary assistant bishop in the Diocese of Oxford. That decision “is quite unjust and eventually will be judged as such,” Carey said.

More here-

Lilly Endowment launches initiative to help clergy thrive in congregational ministry

From RNS-

Lilly Endowment Inc. has launched a national initiative to help clergy working in congregations thrive in their roles as pastoral leaders. Through the Thriving in Ministry Initiative, the Endowment has approved 24 grants totaling more than $20 million to seminaries, universities, denominational judicatories and a retreat center.

The grants will help these organizations create or strengthen programs that help pastors build relationships with experienced clergy who can serve as role models and mentors and guide them through key leadership challenges in congregational ministry.

These grants make up the first round of funding in this national effort. A second round of funding will be made available through a national competitive grant program. Information will be available in mid-January through the Endowment’s website,

More here-

also here-

Christian Intellectuals and the Road to Socialism

From Town Hall Finance-

Distributism ideology always leads to socialism

Christians are concerned about the rise to dominance of transgenderism and same-sex marriage in the US. But they shouldn’t worry because R.R. Reno, editor-in-chief of First Things, has the solution: a kinder, gentler capitalism. His essay last October spawned a series of rigorous rebuttals at Public Discourse, the last of which is here. Reno lamented the economic “freedom” that Michael Novak promoted in his classic book, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, has destroyed morality in the country:

"The 'new birth of freedom' that Michael championed largely came to pass. And it has tended to weaken the two other legs holding up society: democratic institutions and a vital religious and moral culture. Michael observes that 'greater incentives will stimulate greater economic activism.' True, but he did not recognize that ever-greater economic activity can crowd out political engagement and sideline religious and moral authority. This is what has happened. Capitalism, now global in scope, is swallowing up more and more of civic life, so much so that in some contexts economists and policymakers present free market principles as ironclad laws about which we have no choice. Dwindling manufacturing jobs, technological displacement, global flows of labor and capital—we are told we have no alternative. This is a cruel reversal of what Michael commended as the source of freedom and openness [...] We are drowning in freedom [...] Age-old expectations of marriage and children have become choices. We can even choose to become male or female.

More here-

Maryland priest named interim dean at Albuquerque cathedral

From Maryland-

The Rev. Dan Webster, canon for evangelism and media, has been named interim dean at St. John’s Cathedral, Albuquerque. The announcement was made Thursday (Dec. 21) by Charles Hawkins, senior warden, on behalf of the cathedral’s chapter and vestry.

"We are excited about welcoming Canon Webster as he joins us in our faith journey toward discernment of a new Dean," said Hawkins. The full announcement was posted on the cathedral’s website.

Webster has served nearly eight years in the Diocese of Maryland first as canon for evangelism and ministry development. Two years ago he was given responsibility for all media communications.

"I announced last May at our diocesan convention that Dan was transitioning toward retirement," said the Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton, bishop of Maryland. "Dan has long wanted to return to the southwest and this is a blessing for both him and St. John’s Cathedral."

More here-

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Put the Dickens Back in Christmas

From Ancient Faith-

In the late 1600’s in colonial Boston, the celebration of Christmas was against the law. Indeed, anyone evidencing the “spirit of Christmas” could be fined five shillings. In the early 1800’s, Christmas was better known as a season for rioting in the streets and civil unrest.1 However, in the mid-1800’s some interesting things changed the cultural response to the feast and, in 1870, Christmas was declared a federal holiday (which is to say that prior to 1870, Christmas was not a day-off in America). What happened?

American Christmas demonstrates the amazing influence of literature on a culture. The first important book was by the author, Washington Irving (of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winckel fame):

In 1819, best-selling author Washington Irving wrote The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, gent., a series of stories about the celebration of Christmas in an English manor house. The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. In Irving’s mind, Christmas should be a peaceful, warm-hearted holiday bringing groups together across lines of wealth or social status. Irving’s fictitious celebrants enjoyed “ancient customs,” including the crowning of a Lord of Misrule. Irving’s book, however, was not based on any holiday celebration he had attended – in fact, many historians say that Irving’s account actually “invented” tradition by implying that it described the true customs of the season.

More here-

Anglican Church bishop to sell off churches in order to fund abuse compensation

From Australia-

There has been uproar in the small parish community of St Aidan's Anglican Church, at Black Springs in Oberon, after the Bishop of Bathurst, Ian Palmer, wrote to parishioners informing them the church would be shut and sold.

"I am committed to showing practical compassion to people who have been abused and I will work with people in the diocese in order to do it in a way which is helpful to us all," Bishop Palmer said.

"We've got more than a dozen properties across the diocese that we are in the process of selling in order to meet the challenges of paying redress for those who have been abused."

Two churches in Wyalong and Trangie had already been sold as part of the plan to raise money to pay compensation to victims of child sex abuse.

But local parishioners locked out of the church argue the revenue raised from the planned sale of St Aidan's would be minuscule.

More here-

Not-So-White Evangelicalism: How Conservative Denominations Actually Fare Better on Diversity

From Christianity Today-

Hip-hop artist Lecrae’s decision this fall to leave “white evangelicalism” stirred up introspection among American Christians about race—and whether evangelicalism is reserved only for whites.

While many evangelicals of color may feel tired of “begging to be noticed, considered, and invited,” they are having an impact, recent research shows.

In the United States today, 1 in 3 self-identified evangelicals is nonwhite, according to a September study from PRRI. This rises to 4 in 10 evangelicals when measured by theological belief, according to a December study from LifeWay Research.

Of those that are white, 1 in 3 attends a multiracial church, reported another study, published in June in the Review of Religious Research.

Researchers Joseph Yi and Christopher Graziul dug into the more than 3,000 responses to the 2006 Faith Matters Survey, and found that more than a quarter of white evangelicals reported having a close Hispanic friend. Even more—about 2 out of 5—said they have a close friend that is African American.

More here-

Arsonist lit a fire under devoted Whitby congregation. Then the community came together

From Toronto-

As he sits inside All Saints’ Anglican church in Whitby, Roy Allam still gazes in amazement at how the building has been transformed since a devastating fire in 2009.

Allam feels those emotions welling up around the Christmas season because that’s when a deliberately set fire caused about $5 million in damage eight years ago.

The fire blew huge holes in the ceiling, including above the altar where flames tore through the roof.

But the holes have long since been covered, the portion over the altar now featuring beautiful painted images of chalices and other symbols of worship.

More here-

This tax plan is a grotesque insult to the Christian faith

From Daily News-

As Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, lawmakers on Capitol Hill who talk a big game about their faith passed a morally grotesque tax bill that makes a mockery of Christian values. Republican leaders in Washington have long worshiped at the altar of free-market fundamentalism — and reverently recite the dubious creed of trickle-down economics — but this gaudy handout to the rich is a festival of greed that will deepen already scandalous levels of inequality.

If the last will be first in God's kingdom, tax policy written by and for corporate lobbyists and members of Congress who will be enriched by their own legislative handiwork ensures that the privileged few are once again favored over the common good.

More here-

Martyn Percy: Why the Church's response to the George Bell inquiry is so shocking

From Christian Today-

The long-awaited Independent Review of the Bishop George Bell Case, conducted by Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE, QC was published on December 15. As one of the campaigners for transparency in this case - namely for the Church of England to disclose exactly how it reached its decisions in relation to a single complaint of sexual abuse made against Bell, decades after his death - Alex Carlile's Review is a fulsome vindication of the need for a complete overhaul of the practice of the Church. The report shows that justice was not served - either to Bishop Bell, or to the woman known as 'Carol'. The report shows - damningly, alas - that the entire process by the Church of England was conducted through the lens of reputational management. Appropriate legal expertise was not used. Assumptions were made: guilty unless proven innocent. Dreadful and egregious errors of procedure were made, revealing a culture of shoddy amateurism. When challenged on this, the evolving debacle was further compounded by assertions that a 'proper' process and 'robust' investigation had been undertaken. They hadn't. Not remotely.

More here-

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Pennsylvania bishops sign letter critiquing transgender movement

From Pennsylvania-

Three Pennsylvania bishops — one Eastern Orthodox and two Roman Catholic — have signed a letter expressing compassion for transgender individuals but criticizing “gender ideology.”

The Pennsylvania signatories to “Created Male and Female” were Scranton Bishop Joseph C. Bambera and Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, as well as Pittsburgh Archbishop Melchisedek (Pleska) of the Orthodox Church in America.

They were among 20 U.S. religious leaders to sign the statement, representing Lutheran, Presbyterian, Anglican, Southern Baptist, Roman Catholic, Orthodox and historically black churches. Signatories also included a Muslim representative and an elder from the Bruderhof community.

The letter, posted on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' website, critiques the transgender movement in light of Scripture and traditional religious teachings on human sexuality.

More here-

Trump + Gillibrand + faith: 'Why is religion only talked about when reporters profile Republicans?'

From Get Religion-

Did you happen to hear where Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was last week when President Trump posted a tweet about her that the president's critics labeled "sexually suggestive and demeaning?"

Yep, that's right: The New York Democrat was at a bipartisan Bible study.

So what are the odds that the New York Times political writers who profiled Gillibrand in Sunday's newspaper — in a lengthy A-section piece tied to the president's kerfuffle with the senator — delved into her faith?

Hint: The Times makes passing reference to the aforementioned Bible study.

But any actual consideration of Gillibrand's faith? Not so much. (Interestingly enough, the profile does point to the senator's propensity to curse "freely in public venues.")

More here-

RIP: Raymond Glover, Hymnal 1982 editor

From ENS-

Church musician Raymond Glover, 89, who influenced millions of Episcopalians by being the general editor of The Hymnal 1982, died Dec. 15 in Alexandria, Virginia.

Glover was born in Buffalo, New York, and began his musical life as a young chorister at St. Paul’s Cathedral there. Later, he sang in the choir at St. Mary Magdalen, when he was an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, studying composition with Healy Willan, who became his mentor and friend. His next move was to Union Theological Seminary to earn a Masters of Sacred Music. He returned to Buffalo as cathedral organist and choirmaster and met Joyce MacDonald (1923-2013), who was director of Christian education. They were married on Easter Monday 1957 and remained partners in so many ways throughout their life together.

More here-

Australian Archbishop’s Sorrow

From The Living Church-

A 404-page report by an Australian Royal Commission into child abuse in the Diocese of Newcastle, released earlier this month, has drawn a public expression of remorse from the Primate of Australia, the Most Rev. Philip Freier.

Freier said, like other Australians, he had been shocked and dismayed as the Royal Commission uncovered more than two decades of clergy misconduct. Two former bishops of the diocese, Alfred Holland (1978-92) and Roger Herft (1993-2005, later Archbishop of Perth), showed a distinct lack of leadership, such that alleged perpetrators were not called to account.

A former Dean of Newcastle, Graeme Russell Lawrence, is currently on bail to appear in court on Feb. 14, charged with sex offenses against a 15-year-old boy in 1991.

This is the full text of Archbishop Freier’s statement:

More here-

Bernard Law, Powerful Cardinal Disgraced by Priest Abuse Scandal, Dies at 86

From The New York Times-

Cardinal Bernard F. Law, whose stature as archbishop of Boston and America’s senior Roman Catholic prelate was shattered in a maelstrom of scandal, acrimony and resignation in 2002 after revelations that he had protected abusive priests for years, died Wednesday. He was 86 and lived in Rome.

The Vatican confirmed the death in a news release.

He was a staunch defender of church orthodoxy, a Harvard-educated advocate of social justice for immigrants and the poor who had campaigned for civil rights in the segregated South. And when he arrived in Boston in 1984 as Pope John Paul II’s new archbishop, he was welcomed like a favorite son.

Over the next 17 years, he became one of the nation’s most influential churchmen, a protégé and confidant of the pope, a friend of presidents, a force in politics who traveled widely, conferred with foreign leaders and nurtured Catholic relations with Protestants, Jews and others. Admirers thought he might become the first American pope.

More here-

and here-

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Motion to Dismiss filed

From South Carolina-

The Episcopal Church and its local diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, have asked the state court in Dorchester County to dismiss a lawsuit filed last month by a group that left the church in 2012.

The Motion to Dismiss, filed December 15, is in response to a new complaint filed by the breakaway group on November 19 in the Circuit Court in St. George. The suit cites the little-used “betterments statute” to seek compensation from TECinSC and The Episcopal Church for the cost of improvements made to the properties over the years. The new action followed a decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court on August 2 in favor of The Episcopal Church and TECinSC.

More here-

Little lord Jesus, fruitcake-style: the worst nativity scenes of 2017

From The Guardian-

This year, the sausage roll will be hard to beat.

In the search for 2017’s worst Christmas nativity scene, the infamous ad from bakery chain Greggs – where the baby Jesus was replaced with a large sausage roll – may be impossible to top.

It was widely ridiculed when it was released in November, prompted an official apology and was labelled a “sick, anti-Christian advent calendar” by a rightwing pressure group.

More here-

With Christmas Eve on a Sunday, churches faced unavoidable ‘conundrum’ in scheduling Advent

From ENS-

What to do about Dec. 24?

It’s a liturgical debate that has been brewing in congregations and clerical forums all season, based on a church calendar that this year has Christmas Eve landing on the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Every parish in the Episcopal Church must answer the question, as a matter of scheduling, and there are strong views on both sides.

“It’s the Episcopal Church. Everything we do leads to debate,” said the Rev. Keith Voets, a New York City priest who helps moderate a Facebook discussion group on Episcopal liturgy.

The conundrum for parish leaders goes something like this: If they load up on Christmas Eve services while maintaining their full Sunday morning schedule, they risk burning out their clergy and volunteers. But to reduce or eliminate the morning services could be seen as curtailing Advent.

The potential solutions churchwide are as plentiful as Advent candles, though the scenarios playing out at Episcopal churches across the country generally fall into a few categories. Episcopal News Service surveyed more than a dozen congregations by phone and email and found that church leaders were basing their scheduling decisions on tradition, local needs and, in some cases, a bit of experimentation.

More here-

Jesus and the apocalypse

From Mark Vernon-

It’s Christmas time. It’s the winter solstice. It’s our appropriation of the Saturnalia. Yes, yes. And it’s the official birthday, in the west, of Jesus. So it’s timely to revisit an old question: who did the baby turn out to be?

I’ve been reading around the latest in the quest for the historical Jesus and it’s striking how much has settled in the last few years. Quite a lot about the man is now agreed and what’s agreed amounts to quite a lot.

Aside from the occasional conspiracist, no-one now doubts that Jesus actually lived. As the sceptic and religious studies scholar, Bart D. Ehrman, summarizes in How Jesus Became God (2014): “Jesus was a lower-class Jewish preacher from the backwaters of rural Galilee who was condemned for illegal activities and crucified for crimes against the state.”

Of course, many of the things that the gospel writers say about Jesus are hard to verify historically, and some of them are clearly not historically accurate. Only Matthew describes wise men visiting him at the time of his birth. Only Luke describes shepherds visiting him as a baby in Bethlehem. But we should be too surprised at these inventions. The gospel writers were more interested in conveying the significance of Jesus, rather than capturing the facts of his life. As was common at the time, they used mythical ideas and reinterpreted sacred texts, alongside historical events, to show what they thought was important.

More here-

Nine killed as terrorists target Church Nativity service in Quetta, Pakistan

From Anglican News-

The Moderator of the Church of Pakistan, Bishop Humphrey Peters, is to visit the Christian community in Quetta after terrorists killed nine people attending a pre-Christmas service. The terror group Daesh has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Bethel Memorial Church in the Pakistan province of Balochistan. The full details of the attack remain confused, with conflicting accounts. It appears that four terrorists were involved in the attack. One detonated his suicide vest at the entrance to the church compound. Another opened fire at the entrance to the church before being shot by security officials. Two terrorists fled the scene and a security operation was underway to locate them. The security operation succeeded in preventing the terrorists from entering the church itself. In addition to the nine dead, around 60 people were injured.

Speaking to a local pastor attached to the British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA), one of the victims described the attack: “I heard loud gunfire and people screaming, some of them fell dead after being shot through the walls others were riven in blood, then a loud explosion occurred,” she said. “There was dust everywhere; people were rushing to help those injured. It was terrifying.

More here-


From Religion Dispatches-

Relatively little fanfare accompanied U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling in October that a tax exemption for clergy housing dating back to 1954 violates the First Amendment. Crabb confirmed her ruling in the case Gaylor v. Mnuchin this past Wednesday, declaring unconstitutional a provision of the tax code that’s made it possible for clergy to enjoy higher standards of living than their salaries might suggest.

At issue is section 107 of the U.S. Tax Code, which contains two subsections pertaining to “the case of a minister of the gospel.” (The term was originally intended to refer only to ordained Christian clergy, but its meaning was later expanded by the Internal Revenue Service to include their counterparts in other religious traditions.) The first subsection, 107(1), allows a minister to exclude from taxable income the value of a living space that’s considered “part of his compensation,” while the second, 107(2), permits the exclusion of “the rental allowance paid to him” for a living space. This second subsection, wherein the employer provides the money rather than the space itself, is the one that Crabb found unconstitutional.

More here-

This Evangelical Leader Denounced Trump. Then the Death Threats Started.

From Politico-

Last fall, Jen Hatmaker, a popular evangelical author and speaker, started getting death threats. Readers mailed back her books to her home address, but not before some burned the pages or tore them into shreds. LifeWay Christian Stores, the behemoth retailer of the Southern Baptist Convention, pulled her titles off the shelves. Hatmaker was devastated. Up until that point, she had been a wildly influential and welcome presence in the evangelical world, a Christian author whose writings made the New York Times best-seller list and whose home renovation got its own HGTV series. But then 2016 happened, and, well, of course everything changed.

During the campaign, as other white evangelicals coalesced around the Republican nominee, Hatmaker effectively joined the coterie of “Never Trump” evangelicals, telling her more than half a million Facebook followers that Donald Trump made her “sad and horrified and despondent.” After the “Access Hollywood” tape leaked and prominent evangelical men came to Trump’s defense, she tweeted: “We will not forget. Nor will we forget the Christian leaders that betrayed their sisters in Christ for power.” Then, in an interview with Religion News Service columnist Jonathan Merritt, she made what was a stunning admission for her evangelical community: She said she supported same-sex relationships.

More here-

Monday, December 18, 2017

A bishop, a blanket and a bridge-building trip to China

From Pittsburgh-

Bishop Dorsey McConnell, who leads the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, recalls that when he was growing up decades ago, he used to gaze at a hand-made Mongolian saddle blanket that was draped on a rocker in the family den.

The blanket featured a pattern of an antlered reindeer, craning its neck to reach a leaf on a tree.

“I would study that reindeer,” wondering if it would “ever reach that leaf,” Bishop McConnell said.

Only over time did he come to understand the historic significance of the blanket.

The bishop’s father, John Paul McConnell, was an Army Air Forces brigadier general during World War II. Gen. McConnell served as chief of staff of an Allied command that made treacherous flights across the Himalayas, helping the Chinese in their resistance against the Japanese occupiers.

More here-

The season for church-burning

From The Washington Times-

The “soldiers” of ISIS are battered, bloody and on the run in Iraq, but they’re making with big talk for the holidays which they have no reluctance to call by their right name, “the Christmas season.”

They’re promising to torch the National Episcopal Cathedral in Washington, to burn the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Temple (the formal name for the Mormon church) in San Diego, and even hint angrily at Times Square in New York, which is not ever, by anybody here, confused with a church.)

ISIS has even put up a video on social media, with the National Cathedral in flames, with a soldier in the camouflage of jihad standing guard in front of the Gothic church, ready to slay anyone fleeing the flames. There’s even an ISIS poster circulating on terrorist channels with an image taken from an article about the cathedral on Wikipedia.

More here-

also here-

As a vicar, I know better than anyone why so many clergy are close to the edge

From The Telegraph-

Two days before Christmas, at 10.30 in the evening, the vicarage doorbell rang in my parish of Gilesgate, Sherburn and Shadforth, former pit villages just to the east of Durham city centre. It was a police sergeant. He had a young woman in his car who had just been removed from a situation where she was suffering domestic violence.

The woman had said she knew me, and that I would be able put her up for the night. If I couldn’t help, the sergeant explained, she was going to be on a chair in the front office of his police station until the morning.

My two grown-up children, both of them now in professional jobs and living away from home, were back to spend Christmas with me and their mother. They watched this scene unfold on our doorstep. Afterwards – when I had taken the woman to the local Travelodge, where we have an arrangement, and found her a room for the night – one of them remarked: “What a strange way of life you live, Dad!”

More here-

Mission impossible? The C of E’s attempt to woo new members

From Spectator UK-

If you work for the Church of England in any capacity, from Archbishop of Canterbury to parish flower-arranger, how do you deal with the distressing statistics that in the past 20 years, average Sunday attendance has plummeted to 780,000 and is going down by a rate of about 20,000 a year?

Do you pretend it’s not happening and just tell everyone about the spike in your numbers at Christmas, or accept that it might be happening but believe that God’s grace will deal with the problem in its own good time? Or do you throw your weight behind a vast national marketing initiative, hurling millions of pounds at the problem?

Are you, in short, a denier or a panicker? We must thank Bishop Humphrey Southern, principal of Ripon College Cuddesdon, for coming up with those two words to describe the people on opposite sides of the debate, which isn’t really a debate because the people on opposite sides are hardly speaking to each other. In the nicest, most prayerful Christian way, they can’t stand each other and will do their best to avoid each other at synodical events. The panickers think the deniers are steering the Church towards oblivion; and the deniers think the panickers are eroding and cheapening the Church’s whole character.

More here-

Message to the Diocese from Bishop Sarah – the next Bishop of London

From the Diocese of London-

May God the Son, come among us in power and reveal in our midst the promise of His glory. Amen

I have to admit that I am both delighted and slightly terrified at being nominated to the See of London. I have lived and worked for over 32 years in London (although I have to confess for some of that it was south of the river so I hope you will forgive me). So returning to London is for me returning home.

Having made a commitment to follow Jesus Christ as a teenager, in the words of the hymn by Horatio Bonnar, I have found in Jesus Christ my Star and Sun. Jesus Christ has been good news for me and I look forward to sharing that with others as I come to London.

More here-

and here-

and here-

and here-

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Gay United Methodist choir director fired

From The Methodist Church-

After serving as children’s choir director at a United Methodist church for more than three years, Ryan Mould said he was fired and told the denomination does not allow homosexuals to be “spiritual leaders.”

Mould, 29, said the pastor and staff parish relations committee of Trinity United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, North Carolina, cited The United Methodist Book of Discipline to justify his firing.

However, his supporters said that The United Methodist Church’s lawbook does not state gay people cannot hold leadership roles such as choir directors. The church does not allow self-avowed practicing homosexuals to become ordained clergy and does not allow churches to conduct same-sex weddings.

More here-

State of Church Committee Looks at Pension Fund

From House of Deputies-

Deputy Winnie Varghese of New York and President Gay Jennings are quoted in a recent Episcopal News Service story about

In 2015, President Jennings charged the House of Deputies State of the Church Committee to explore three aspects of church life, one of which was CPG. Varghese chaired the sub-committee.

"The reality of the church is that there are fewer people and, more than that, less money," she told Episcopal News Service. 

about challenges confronting the Church Pension Fund (CPG) and CPG's legal relationship to the Episcopal Church.

 More here-

No More Lying About Mary

From Patheos-

It’s Advent, and the same old lies about Mary are slipping over pulpits and out of parish letters, Christmas cards, public prayers, TV holiday movies, and late night comics’ jokes.

The subjugation of Mary, the maligning of her as meek, mild, and mindless, has been harmful to millions.

Hiding within the wonder of Christmas are a thousand years of doctrinal female subjugation, doctrines that, like tinsel, are dripped all over the season of Christmas. In the midst of the celebration of Wonderful Life, these malicious ideas keep women from feeling empowered, invited to be strong, and urged by God to imagine new ways t live, as Mary of Nazareth did, who mothered God’s redemption of the human world.

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Multi-Campus Church Debuts New 3D Experience To Make It Feel Like Pastor Is Actually There

A little humor to start the day-

Experiences Church finally debuted its long-awaited 3D experience at each of its 12 campuses Sunday morning, with state-of-the-art VR goggles making it feel like the pastor of the church is actually there each and every week, churchgoers confirmed.

Each of the church’s 1,000 seats was equipped with a VR headset, with footage of Pastor Ryan rendered in real-time by a powerful PC.

“The effect is really convincing—very lifelike,” one church member said afterward. “You really feel like the man who is called to shepherd your soul is really there in the room with you—like you could actually reach out and touch him.”

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