Saturday, January 13, 2018

Will Anglicanism reign supreme at the next coronation?

From Secularism UK-

On Sunday the BBC will broadcast an hour-long film on the coronation, the ancient initiation rite in which the monarch of the United Kingdom is formally invested with regalia and crowned at Westminster Abbey.

Today's British citizens (or should that be subjects?) haven't witnessed many coronations. If you're under 64 then you weren't even born when Her Majesty was crowned. Britain has changed a lot since then. Elvis Presley was unheard of and 'How much is that doggie in the window?' was topping the UK charts. Winston Churchill was prime minister, the mighty West Bromwich Albion were challenging for the league title, and never mind the internet – television sets were only just becoming part of the furniture.

But perhaps one of the most significant changes Britain has seen since the coronation is its shift away from Christianity. Today the UK is characterised by its religious diversity and has, for the first time, a non-religious majority.

More here-

Scottish Episcopal Church defends decision to ordain first female bishop

From Christian Daily-

The Scottish Episcopal Church has spoken up about its decision to consecrate Canon Anne Dyer as the new Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney in March, as it said those who questioned the move were attempting to "subvert" its processes.

Soon to be the first female bishop in Scotland, Canon Dyer is set to be ordained during a service at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Aberdeen this March. The Church's decision has sparked opposition from a group inside the diocese which wrote an open letter urging Dyer to consider turning down the position, the BBC News detailed.

In Aberdeen and Orkney, priests have threatened to resign over Dyer's appointment. They described the move as "divisive" and "disrespectful" since it "directly goes against the established wishes of the diocese on the views it would hope that our new bishop would hold and minister to us from the perspective of them," The Guardian relayed.

More here-

Oxfordshire vicar, Tim Davis, guilty of spiritual abuse against a teenage boy

From The Church Times-

A VICAR in Oxfordshire has been convicted by a church tribunal of spiritually abusing a teenage boy, in what is thought to be the first judgment of its kind. The victim was judged to have been put under “unacceptable pressure” during one-to-one Bible-study sessions in his bedroom over a period of 18 months.

The priest, the Revd Timothy Davis, of Christ Church, Abingdon, was found guilty under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) 2003 of “conduct unbecoming or inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in holy orders through the abuse of spiritual power and authority” by a five-strong Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Oxford diocese, chaired by His Honour the Revd Mark Bishop. Its judgment is dated 28 December and was published by the diocese on Monday.

It is thought to be the first CDM tribunal that has found a case to answer over allegations of the abuse of spiritual power and authority. A penalty has not yet been set.

More here-

Episcopal church converted to emergency response hub after deadly California mudslides

From ENS-

Sunday worship services at All Saints-by-the Sea Episcopal Church proceeded as scheduled on Jan. 7, as a storm loomed in the forecast.

Since then, deadly mudslides and flooding have turned life upside-down in Montecito, California. At least 17 people are dead, and this tight-knit ocean-side community next to Santa Barbara is under a mandatory evacuation order as emergency crews search for survivors and victims, restore utilities and beginning cleaning up the mud and debris that damaged and destroyed homes in their path.

All Saints was spared the worst of the damage but has no power or phone service, and the natural gas was shut off to allow repair crews to begin their work, said Sheri Benninghoven, a parishioner who has led communication efforts for the congregation. The parish’s school is closed, and worship services are canceled until further notice.

More here-

Here Are What Christian Leaders Are Saying About Trump’s Remarks About Haiti and Other Countries

From Relevant-

Yesterday, it was revealed that in a closed-door White House meeting, while discussing immigration and protections for immigrants from countries including Haiti, El Salvador and several African countries were being discussed, Trump reportedly said, “Why are we having all these people from sh**hole countries come here?”

After saying that the U.S. needed more people from countries like Norway (which is predominantly white), he then said, “Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.” The comments were told to The Washington Post by people familiar with the meeting, and initially, were not denied by the White House (though Trump denied some of them this morning). 

The comments were met with disgust and shock from leaders around the world.

Haitian-American GOP congresswoman Mia Love took to Twitter and said that the president must apologize in a statement.

More here-

Friday, January 12, 2018

Church to thieves: Give our bell back and all will be forgiven

From RNS-

Who would steal a 400-pound church bell?

That’s the question baffling the parishioners of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church near Norris, S.D., where the hundred-year-old bell has chimed for news, services and emergencies from atop its small wooden tower.

The bell was swiped between Dec. 30 and Jan. 6, the church’s pastor guesses, and would be welcomed back with thanksgiving and forgiveness.

“(B)ecause that’s what we do in the Church,” the Rev. Lauren Stanley said in a Facebook post appealing for the bell’s return.

More here-

Church leaders cancel services in Lusaka in bid to halt cholera outbreak

From ACNS-

Church leaders in Zambia have announced that services in parts of the capital should be cancelled to help halt the spread of cholera. The “epicentres cannot be allowed to hold church programs on Sunday and any other day until further notice,” the Council of Churches in Zambia (CCZ), which includes the Zambian dioceses of the Church of the Province of Central Africa, said. “Church Services can be held in other areas outside these worst hit areas on Sunday as long the highest levels of hygiene are maintained. Every Church must have adequate and very clean toilets as well as enough clean water. Strictly urge all members to avoid handshakes, hugs, and communal foods.”

The instruction was given in a memo sent to churches by the Revd Canon Emmanuel Chikoya, the general secretary of the CCZ. “We encourage those in less affected areas to conduct very short worship services than the usual after which people are to be encouraged to go to their respective homes without idling and mingling around,” he said.

More here-

Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to a community in the middle of a culture war

From Christian Century-

Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, now lost, in the fall of 50 CE. The Corinthians pushed back quite hard. They wrote a reply to Paul with a number of questions. In the spring of 51 CE he wrote a long letter back, our 1 Corinthians. This is where we start to build up a more detailed picture of the community, and it is not a pretty sight.

The church at Corinth was a mess. I count 15 distinguishable problems that Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians: partisanship, with the Corinthians factionalizing behind rival leaders (1:10–4:21; 16:10–18); incest (5:1–13); prostitution (6:12–21); celibacy within marriage (7:1–7); Christians married to one another asking about divorce (7:8–11, 39); Christians married to pagans asking about divorce (7:12–16); questions surrounding marriage and remarriage (7:25–40); lawsuits (6:1–11); idolatry (8:1–11:1); concerns about women praying and prophesying in immodest ways (11:2–16); chaos in worship, with speaking in tongues and competing voices (chapter 14); inequality in the communal meal (11:17–34); denials of the bodily resurrection of Jesus and of Christians (15:1–58); the collection of a large sum of money to be sent to Jerusalem (16:1–4); and a change in Paul’s travel plans (16:5–9).

More here-

A theology for Anglican church growth

From The Living Church-

‘It’s just an unspiritual bigging yourself up.” This was the acerbic verdict of one Durham ordinand on the subject of church growth.

His hostility to talking of growing churches is widely shared, at least in the Global North. When two or three clerics are gathered together and the subject of church growth comes up, a multitude of theological objections rapidly appear: It’s the kingdom that matters, not numerical growth; It’s an ungodly sidelining of the need to love one’s neighbor; Isn’t church growth just something those uncouth schismatics obsess about?

These are serious objections, but beyond them, there is often a lurking sense of other fears. For many parish priests in North America, Britain, and much of the West there is a troubling worry that looking for numerical church growth is not only theologically dodgy but also practically futile. In the Western world, nearly every media and academic outlet trumpets the decline of Christianity. When many parishes and even whole dioceses are being spliced together because of their decline, looking to expand congregations can seem like wishful thinking.

More here-

How the Evangelical Culture of Forgiveness Hurts Victims of Sexual Abuse

From Slate-

When megachurch pastor Andy Savage sat on a stool in front of his congregation on Sunday and confessed to a regretful sexual incident from his past, he ended his statement with an apology and a request for forgiveness. “I love you all very much,” he said, at which point the congregation rose to applaud. In context, Savage’s congregants were returning an expression of love, not grotesquely cheering for an assault. Nevertheless, the optics were painful—and so are their implications: The flock’s insta-forgiveness of its pastor illuminates the way evangelical culture, long known for its harsh judgment, is now just as likely to err in favor of what theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.”

The incident in question happened in 1998, when Savage was a 22-year-old youth minister at a Baptist church in suburban Houston. Jules Woodson was a 17-year-old high school senior who attended the church youth group. In Woodson’s account, Savage offered to drive her home from an event at the church, but instead he drove her down a dirt road, stopped the car, and pressured her to perform oral sex. When she told another pastor at the church what had happened, she says he suggested that she had “participated” in the incident, and Savage was allowed to resign with no public reckoning or police involvement. (The pastor who she turned to has been placed on leave by his current church over the allegations.)

More here-

You Want to Make the Visitor Welcome? Twelve Church Website Tips

From Christy Thomas-

In my past role as “mystery worshipper” for a newspaper column, I am offering a few pointers for an effective church website. The number one issue: Never, ever change your normal worship time without splashing it all over your website!

But other than that particular rant, below are some things I have learned after perusing hundreds of church websites.

One: Do not assume that a Facebook page provides adequate electronic presence. You still need an actual, up to date, reasonably professional looking website.

Two: Make sure your website actually shows up using basic keywords in different search engines. There are ways to do this by the good use of metatags. At the very least, your keywords should indicate your city or town, state, and general religious affiliation. Ask multiple people to test how quickly your church site shows up on searches from their own computers and mobile devices. They also need to view it using different browsers.

More here-

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Our church was named for Robert E. Lee — here is how we changed it

From RNS-

Confederate symbols in churches, especially Episcopal churches in Virginia and the National Cathedral in Washington, have followed a pattern of controversy parallel to, but distinct from, the civic battles over their removal from public spaces.

In Episcopal churches directly associated with Robert E. Lee, the controversy has been a deeply emotional, semiprivate clash of sensibilities, one side claiming to respect the sacredness of history and the other, the history of sacredness.

It has been, under the surface, a re-litigating of Lee’s terms of surrender at Appomattox.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Richmond is the church Lee and Confederate President Jefferson Davis attended during the Civil War. Five months after the mass shooting in a black church in Charleston, S.C., by a neo-Confederate in June 2015, St. Paul’s began removing images of the Confederate flag from kneelers, bookplates and plaques.

More here-

The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Most Dangerous to Follow Jesus

From Christianity Today-

For decades, North Korea has clearly been the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. But now, another nation nearly matches it.

Open Doors released today its 2018 World Watch List (WWL), an annual ranking of the 50 countries where it is most dangerous to follow Jesus. Approximately 215 million Christians now experience high, very high, or extreme levels of persecution; that means 1 in 12 Christians live where Christianity is “illegal, forbidden, or punished,” according to Open Doors researchers.

Kim Jung-un’s country hasn’t moved from the No. 1 spot on the list for 16 years in a row. “With more than 50,000 in prison or labor camps, such a ranking is little surprise for the totalitarian regime that controls every aspect of life in the country and forces worship of the Kim family,” Open Doors reported.

More here-

Diocese rallies to assist stranded West Coast teens

From Newark-

It started with a Facebook post and a chance cross-country friendship. It turned into what became a very long email chain on the Newark list. By the time it was over, a bunch of Episcopalians in northern New Jersey had helped feed a group of high school kids from the West Coast, because the kids had left their shoes in a foreign country. There’s also a Connecticut angle.

Follow closely now.

Last Thursday, as a severe winter snow storm was creating brutal conditions for much of the East Coast, Selene Nesland and four other chaperones were leading a group of 20 kids from five high schools home to Vancouver, Washington, a suburb of Portland, Oregon. The group had traveled to the Dominican Republic with Courts for Kids, a nonprofit organization founded by Nesland and her husband, which brings volunteers to impoverished areas to build or repair courts used for sports.

The group spent more than a week in shirt-sleeve weather at Red Misericordia, a Christian orphanage in Santiago, whose name translates roughly as “Mercy Network.” They built an outdoor basketball/volleyball court – “just a simple, concrete structure, but something [the orphanage] wouldn’t have been able to do on their own,” Nesland said.

More here-

How To Make The World A Better Place In 2018, According To Pope Francis

From NPR-

Pope Francis has some surprising things to say about the state of the world.

On Monday, Pope Francis delivered his annual address to his diplomatic corps, ambassadors from 183 nations to the Holy See. The speech outlined a bold vision for a peaceful, free and just world. The pontiff touched on themes that have been in the headlines, like the Syrian war and the Rohingya refugee crisis.

But he also drilled down on development topics like child labor, global inequality and the threat of technological advances that may put millions of people, especially the poorest, out of work.

Here are a few highlights from his speech, delivered at the Vatican Apostolic Palace in Vatican City:

More here-

Origin Of Life Vs. Origin Of Consciousness: Which Is Harder To Tackle?

From Forbes-

It seems to be the job of theologians to worry more about the limits of science than scientists do themselves. But that doesn't mean they don't enjoy hashing it out together.

You just have to know where to look.

A case in point was the discussion between Michael Ruse, Fraser Watts and Ottoline Leyser at the Ian Ramsey Center's Oxford conference on Religion, Society and the Science of Life which took place last July.

Watts, a retired psychologist and Anglican theologian, has been at the forefront of the debates about religion and science in the UK over the past decade. These tend to be far more interesting than our own U.S. debates--which too often boil down to whether creationism should be taught in the public schools.

More here-

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Scottish Episcopal church defends first woman bishop

From The BBC-

he Scottish Episcopal church has defended the selection of Canon Anne Dyer as the next Bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney.

A group within the diocese has called on her to consider standing down.

Canon Dyer is due to be consecrated as the first woman bishop in Scotland at a service in St Andrew's Cathedral, Aberdeen, in March.

The Primus of the church has accused those behind an open letter of trying to "subvert" its processes.

Mark Strange, who is Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness, reaffirmed his belief that Canon Dyer is the right person to be bishop of Aberdeen and Orkney.

More here-

also here-

The Bishop who helps South Sudanese Refugees

From Africa News-

He became their vessel used to help at a very crucial season of their life.

Every week at Parolinya camp in northern Uganda, Bishop Emmanuel Murye’s congregation – made up mostly of South Sudanese refugees, meet under a tree for Sunday service.

They came at the start of 2017 from their homes in Kajo Keji, South Sudan – as the government and two rebel groups battled for control in a war sparked by a feud between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

Bishop Murye had been installed as the new Anglican bishop of Kajo Keji county just days before the fighting broke out.

He sheltered dozens of families in his church compound until the fighting died down. Thousands of people fled to Uganda.

Murye stayed and organized trucks to carry over 100 people across the border.

Kajo Keji became a ghost town – almost everyone left and Bishop Murye decided to follow his church.

More here-

It’s time to wrestle the church’s budget.

From Church Work-

When I started this blog in 2012, one of the first major topics was the Episcopal Church’s 2013-2015 budget. It had to be. That year the draft budget released for comment had math errors and accidentally cut almost all churchwide funding for Christian formation. It was a debacle.

The budget process worked. The math errors were corrected, the formation funding was restored. The Rev. Susan Brown Snook was elected to Executive Council from the floor of General Convention because the entire voting membership of the House of Deputies was grateful for her service. A priest, blogger, and former CPA, she helped a confused church figure out its finances.

Then there was the 2016-2018 budget cycle. It was a relief by comparison, but it was still a challenge. We were having an ecological crisis, yet there was almost no funding for creation care. We were having a crisis of church decline, yet there was not enough funding for new ministry development.

More here-

A pastor admitted a past ‘sexual incident’ with a teen. His congregation gave him a standing ovation.

From The Washington Post-

On December 1, as headlines across the country blared with news about Matt Lauer’s surprise firing from the “Today” show for sexual misconduct, a woman named Jules Woodson tapped out a short email. It ran only 78 words but was nearly 20 years in the making. “Do you remember?” the subject line read.

“Do you remember that night that you were supposed to drive me home from church and instead drove me to a deserted back road and sexually assaulted me?” Woodson wrote. “Do you remember how you acted like you loved me and cared about me in order for me to cooperate in such acts, only to run out of the vehicle later and fall to your knees begging for forgiveness and for me not to tell anyone what had just happened?”

She closed with three words and a hashtag. “Well I REMEMBER,” the email said. “#me-too.”

More here-

Provincial and Episcopal delegates named for March 2018 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

From The Episcopal Church-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Curry has named the provincial delegate and churchwide delegates to represent him at the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York City, NY, March 12-23, 2018.

The provincial delegate and the churchwide delegates will be able to attend the official UNCSW proceedings at the United Nations and will represent the Presiding Bishop with the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion delegations in their advocacy at the UN, including joint advocacy with the group Ecumenical Women.

The delegates named by Presiding Bishop Curry are: Dr. K. Holly Carter, Diocese of Massachusetts; the Rev. Annalise Castro Pasalo, Diocese of Hawaii; Dr. Damaris De Jesús Carrasquillo, Diocese of Puerto Rico; Lois Frankforter, Diocese of Connecticut; Maria Gonzalez, Diocese of Olympia; Stephanie Gray, Diocese of Arkansas; Claudia Haltom, Diocese of West Tennessee; Dr. John Harris, Diocese of Oklahoma; Clare Hendricks, Diocese of Montana; Pragedes Coromoto Jimenez de Salazar, Diocese of Venezuela; the Rev Deacon Myra Kingsley, Diocese of Arizona; the Rev. Dr. Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, Diocese of Los Angeles; Annika Lewis, Diocese of Colorado; Maire Powell, Diocese of Iowa; Lydia Simmons, Diocese of South Dakota; the Rev. Stacy Walker, Diocese of Chicago; and Amanda Ziebell Mawanda, Diocese of Minnesota.

More here-

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A letter from Archbishop Hiltz on the future of his primacy

From Canada-

January 7, 2018

The Baptism of the Lord

Dear Friends:

On this Sunday, right on the heels of The Feast of the Epiphany we find ourselves at the Jordan River remembering The Baptism of the Lord. We recall how he insisted that John take him into those waters. We hear again that voice from heaven as he rose up from his transitory burial, ”This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased,” (Matthew 3:17) We remember that the Spirit descended and rested upon him like a dove, and then within days drove him out into the wilderness beyond Jordan. There he fasted for forty days and nights. The evangelists speak of that time as His Temptation in the Wilderness. Many biblical scholars speak of it as a time of spiritual discernment as to the nature of his mission. It was clearly a time of spiritual wrestling, marked by a deepening awareness of his identity as the Servant of God, The Anointed One who would announce good tidings and publish peace, saying to Zion, “Your God reigns”. (Isaiah 52:7) From those days in the wilderness, he would come in the power of the Spirit into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God, teaching the people in their synagogues and healing the sick among them. So began his public ministry.

More here-

An Announcement from Bishop Gibbs

From Michigan-

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

Dear Sisters and Brothers of The Diocese of Michigan:

In September of 1999, one of the questions asked of me during the “walk-about” was: “you’re young; you could be a bishop a long time! If you were elected, how long would you be our bishop?” My response was, “as long as I believe God is calling me to be here. I have always been committed to following where God calls me.”

On February 5th of this year, I will begin my 19th year as a bishop in God’s holy Church. I have served as your Bishop Diocesan since November 1, 2000. After much prayerful discernment, I have heard God’s call to move into retirement. Therefore, in consultation with The Standing Committee of the Diocese and in conversation with the Diocesan Staff, I am calling for the election of the 11th Bishop of Michigan. It is my intention to resign effective December 31, 2019; and, in conversation with the Office of the Presiding Bishop, the ordination and consecration of the next Bishop of Michigan is expected to occur in February 2020.

More here-

Cambodia Anglicans Chart a New Path

From Juicy Ecumenism-

Space is tight in the Phnom Penh chapel where Cambodian Anglican Christians have gathered to worship on a Sunday morning.

“If you can’t find a seat, just stand for a few minutes and seats will open up when the children go to their Sunday school,” advises Pastor Jesse Blaine, a Khmer-speaking American who leads the congregation.

Circulation fans whir in the quaint rented space that offers stained glass windows and a central location in the bustling Southeast Asian city, but no air conditioning. The church has posted significant growth in the past year. A missionary outpost of the worldwide Anglican Communion, it is one piece of the growing Christian community in Cambodia, where church attendees weigh the truth claims of Christianity a generation removed from the Khmer Rouge genocide.

More here-

“Love Like Christ”: Presiding Bishop’s pastoral visit to post-hurricane Puerto Rico

From ACNS-

Bishop Rafael Morales leaves no impression he is still wading into his job. He had led the Diocese of Puerto Rico a mere two months when Hurricane Maria devastated the island in September, and since then he, his staff and clergy around the diocese have mobilised relief efforts with a determination that earned praise from Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop of the US-based Episcopal Church, during a two-day visit.

Hurricane Maria was and continues to be an unparalleled catastrophe, Morales said, but he is seizing the opportunity for ministry to his fellow Puerto Ricans.

“Our people have a good heart,” he said on the road to the coastal town of Toa Baja accompanied by Curry. Puerto Rico’s culture is one of thanksgiving, Morales said. “This diocese is a diocese of hope.”

More here-

Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong

From Aeon-

This past year, I burdened the English-speaking world with my very own translation of the New Testament – a project that I undertook at the behest of my editor at Yale University Press, but that I agreed to almost in the instant that it was proposed. I had long contemplated attempting a ‘subversively literal’ rendering of the text. Over the years, I had become disenchanted with almost all the standard translations available, and especially with modern versions produced by large committees of scholars, many of whom (it seems to me) have been predisposed by inherited theological habits to see things in the text that are not really there, and to fail to notice other things that most definitely are. Committees are bland affairs, and tend to reinforce our expectations; but the world of late antiquity is so remote from our own that it is almost never what we expect.

Ask, for instance, the average American Christian – say, some genial Presbyterian who attends church regularly and owns a New International Version of the Bible – what gospel the Apostle Paul preached. The reply will fall along predictable lines: human beings, bearing the guilt of original sin and destined for eternal hell, cannot save themselves through good deeds, or make themselves acceptable to God; yet God, in his mercy, sent the eternal Son to offer himself up for our sins, and the righteousness of Christ has been graciously imputed or imparted to all who have faith.

More here-

Seeking direction in 2018? Check out the pope’s thought-provoking Epiphany homily

From Aleteia-

Pope Francis today celebrated Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany. Here is the official Vatican translation of his homily:
Three actions of the Magi guide our journey towards the Lord, who today is revealed as light and salvation for all peoples. The Magi see the star, they set out and they bring gifts.

Seeing the star. This is where it starts. But why, we might ask, did the Magi alone see the star? Perhaps because few people raised their eyes to heaven. We often make do with looking at the ground: it’s enough to have our health, a little money and a bit of entertainment. I wonder if we still know how to look up at the sky. Do we know how to dream, to long for God, to expect the newness he brings, or do we let ourselves be swept along by life, like dry branches before the wind? The Magi were not content with just getting by, with keeping afloat. They understood that to truly live, we need a lofty goal and we need to keep looking up.

More here-

The Episcopal Church’s Budget is a Dim Bulb

From Draughting Theology-

There was a movement afoot in the Episcopal Church.  For the first time in my recollection, people were genuinely excited about the E word: Evangelism.  We had a Presiding Bishop who was comfortable talking about Jesus.  A groundswell of support saw a $2.8 million budget amendment to fund evangelism, especially in the growing and heretofore under-served Latino population.  There were revivals planned.  A new Canon for Evangelism and Racial Reconciliation was hired.  One of the best church planting minds in the church came on board to serve as the Staff Officer for Church Planting Infrastructure.  It was looking like we might finally be living into the prayer we pray every Second Sunday after Epiphany, and taking our responsibility, having been “illumined by Word and Sacrament” to “shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth.”

Things were looking good, until the Executive Council met from October 18-21, 2017, and all the hope and good will came crashing to the ground.  The working budget for the next triennium (2019-2021) shows a 41% cut in evangelism spending.  This cut includes a full 1/3 cut in spending for new congregations from $3 million to $2 million and a cut in total Latino/Hispanic ministry spending of more than 45% from $1,219,400 to $558,000.  Meanwhile, as has been noted by several very learned practitioners, including church planter, Susan Snook, mission re-developer, Everett Lees, and Forward Movement Executive Director and discipleship guru, Scott Gunn, investment in the administrative side of things, has increased by close to $4 million in the Presiding Bishop’s office (a roughly 47% increase) and $5.25 million in Governance (nearly 38%).  All that, and there is still $40 million set aside to pay for operations, finance, and legal fees!

More here-

Hell freezes over: how the Church of Satan got cool

From The Guardian-

Disappointingly, Chelsea Clinton has denied she and her husband practise satanism. Her tweet wishing the folks at the Church of Satan a happy new year should not be taken as endorsement of the dark lord’s manifold heresies.

One hopes that, like her father’s denial of having had “sexual relations with that woman”, Chelsea’s disclaimer isn’t for real. Doesn’t she realise that the radical power of Satan is having a moment unparalleled since Milton unwittingly made him the badass rebel hero of Paradise Lost?

According to the LA Times, “a heterodox generation of new self-described satanists is upending old Rosemary’s Baby and Helter Skelter stereotypes in service of radical politics, feminist aesthetics and community unity”.

The paper sent a reporter to investigate a satanic soiree in a California basement where they found a coterie of artists, writers and musicians who chanted “Hail Satan!”, while someone, unacceptably, played minor chords on the organ.

More here-

Monday, January 8, 2018

Kissimmee psychotherapist accused of battering patient, police say

From Central Florida-

A pastoral psychotherapist at a behavioral health center is accused of battering a female patient on multiple occasions, according to the Kissimmee Police Department.

The victim contacted police on Dec. 27 and she said that she had been a patient of Gerardo "Jerry" James DeJesus, Ph.D., at Mindful Behavioral Healthcare on East Oak Street for the past three months.

She said DeJesus touched her multiple times in an "unwanted manner, outside of the scope of his care," according to a news release.

He was arrested Friday on three counts of battery.

Mindful Behavioral Healthcare's website lists DeJesus as an adolescent and adult psychotherapist who treats anxiety, depression, dreams and self-destructive behavioral patterns. He is also an Episcopal priest, according to the website.

More here-

Museveni, Religious Leaders Pay Tribute to Archbishop Nkoyoyo

From Uganda-

President Museveni yesterday joined church leaders at All Saints Cathedral, Nakasero in Kampala to pay tribute to former Church of Uganda Archbishop Livingstone Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo.

Nkoyoyo, who was archbishop between 1995 and 2005, died last Friday at Kampala Hospital after succumbing to pneumonia aged 80.

The casket carrying his body was brought to the cathedral at about 2pm, with hundreds of mourners in attendance to celebrate the life of a man who many have since described as "loving and caring".

President Museveni praised the late Nkoyoyo for his developmental drives, notably the construction of the Uganda Martyrs Anglican Museum at Namugongo.

His work at Namugongo

"I want to salute him for his passion for Namugongo. We are going to support the completion of the work there. The archbishop died when he was worried about Namugongo. That was a good death and he lived his life on earth about doing good," Mr Museveni said.

More here-

What is to become of the Confession?

From The Living Church-

As the possibility of prayer book revision is bandied about, one aspect of our liturgy deserves significantly more attention: the General Confession. If it suffers pruning similar to that of the 1928 and 1979 editions of the prayer book, then it might disappear altogether.

The form of the General Confession that was used in the 1928 prayer book, and that is more or less preserved in the extended Rite I options of the 1979 book, remained remarkably similar to the earliest English prayer books. It moved out of the eucharistic prayer, but the words remained mostly unchanged. In the now-ubiquitous Rite II liturgy, however, the General Confession has been bowdlerized, and this has harmed our theology of sin and grace. The historic confession’s language (“We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us, the burden of them is intolerable”) has become “We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.”

More here-

Actor Matthew Broderick, cleric sister shimmer with 'A Christmas Memory' reading

From New Jersey-

Actor Matthew Broderick couldn't keep a grin off his face as he watched his sister, the Rev. Janet Broderick, give a credible performance as his whiskey-soused, middle-aged cousin.

The siblings united Friday night as a cast of two in a free, dramatic reading of Truman Capote's short story "A Christmas Memory" in the parish hall of Saint Peter's Episcopal Church in Morristown, where Janet Broderick has been rector for nine years.

"The Broderick family players!" church musical director Joshua Stafford announced to the sold-out house as the siblings walked down an aisle to a simple stage set 5 feet from the front-row audience seats.

They sat on chairs beside each other, their scripts before them on music stands, before Matthew Broderick plunged into the opening lines of Capote's endearing, semi-autobiographical story from the 1930s about the bonds of love and companionship between a 7-year-old boy and his dotty, middle-aged cousin.

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Keep The Faith: The Rev. Paula J. Toland

From Massachusetts-

Today, January 6th, many Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. It is the day commemorating the arrival of the magi, commonly known as the three wise men, at the stable where they meet the infant Jesus. We are told that these men, perhaps astrologers and the scientists of their time, were guided by a star in the East. It would have taken many days to come from their home west of Bethlehem, which explains the time between Christmas and this day. In many churches, the wise men are an integral part of the Christmas story, which then, in essence, is a combined story of the Nativity and the Epiphany.

The story of the magi is important in and of itself. Their story is our story. It is the story of how real people, going about their daily lives, allow their curiosity, their innate awareness of the need for something beyond themselves, to lead them to an encounter with God. And in that first encounter they are changed. They and their lives are transformed. The grace they received is grace extended to all of us. It is meant for all of us. It is freely given and undeserved. It is, as the saying goes, “ours for the asking.”

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Memphis mega-church pastor admits he molested a minor days before his ‘True Love Waits’ workshop

From Memphis-

Twenty years ago Memphis mega-church teaching pastor Andy Savage sexually assaulted a high school senior who was 17 years old.

According to Fox 13, the Highpoint Church leader admitted to the act on his social media platforms. At the time, Savage was in college and working as a staffer at a Texas Baptist church now known as StoneBridge. He said in his statement that he apologized immediately and asked for forgiveness from the victim.

“I apologized and sought forgiveness from her, her parents, her discipleship group, the church staff, and the church leadership, who informed the congregation,” he said on the church website. “In agreement with wise counsel, I took every step to respond in a biblical way.”

The response from Savage came after the woman came forward with graphic details to The Wartburg Watch, a site started by two Christian women who pursued their faith, but saw “disturbing trends within Christendom.”

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Sunday, January 7, 2018

South Sudanese Anglican Bishop Urges Arrest of Soldiers Accused of Rape

From South Sudan-

A South Sudanese Anglican bishop said the government of South Sudan is not serious about apprehending soldiers who rape women and girls in the country.

The Archbishop of the Internal Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, Reverend Paul Yugusuk, said his office has reported a case of a pregnant women who was raped at gunpoint this week by a member of the South Sudan army stationed at Aru conjunction post on the Juba Nimule highway.

Yugusuk told VOA's South Sudan In Focus that military authorities have not yet arrested the accused soldier, who remains at large and might continue raping women in Aru at gunpoint.

The bishop said the woman and her husband were held at gun point by soldiers manning the Aru conjunction."The woman was threatened by gun. The husband was also threatened. One soldier raped the woman.The woman is now in the hospital. She has been in a critical situation.A (police case) has been opened at the Aru conjunction Police post against the SPLA," he said.

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Earthquake repairs to Washington National Cathedral could last another decade

From ACNS-

The earthquake that struck the Washington DC area in August 2011 caused an estimated $34 million [USD, approximately £25.1 million GBP] in damage to Washington National Cathedral. More than six years later, less than half of those repairs are done, and the remaining work could take another decade to complete. Progress is being made, however, and the Episcopal cathedral last month received a year-end donation from a foundation that will allow it to embark this spring on the next phase of repairs.

This latest $1.5 million project will focus on the structure around an interior courtyard, which is the last part of the cathedral still closed to the public. “It took 83 years to build this place,” Kevin Eckstrom, the cathedral’s chief communications officer, said. “We’ve had scaffolding on the outside of our building more than we have not. In some ways, we’re kind of used to it.”

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