Friday, May 4, 2018

Episcopal Church Move to Make Marriage “Gay-Friendly” Divides Church of England

From New American-

“Walking with Christ is our highest calling,” wrote the Reverend Canon Peter Leonard, chair of the One Body One Faith (an Anglican LGBT advocacy group), and its chief executive, Tracey Byrne, in an open letter to William Nye, secretary-general of the Anglican Bishop’s Council in London last month.

Their idea of “walking with Christ” is to condemn Nye’s opposition to the decision of the U.S. Episcopal Church to remove references to “husband” and “wife,” and references to “marriage being for the purpose of procreation,” from its marriage liturgy. The change is intended to make the Episcopal Church’s marriage liturgy more friendly to homosexuals.

According to the U.K. Telegraph, “The new service removes the phrase ‘the union of husband and wife’ and replaces it with ‘the union of two people.’” In addition, the marriage liturgy which mentions that God’s intention for marriage is “for the procreation of children,” will now be changed to “for the gift of children.” Since same-sex couples cannot procreate, this will be considered more “relevant,” as same-sex couples may wish to adopt.

More here-

Ex-bishop doesn't merit early release from prison

From Baltimore-

I am outraged that Heather Cook, the former Episcopal priest, has the audacity to request to be released from prison after serving only two and a half years, not even four years after killing bicyclist Tom Palermo in a horrendous turn of events in which she showed herself to have no moral compass, her professional life that of a complete hypocrite and a repeated danger to the public (“Former Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook applies to serve rest of sentence on home detention,” May 2).

She was over three times the legal limit for alcohol and texting when she swerved and struck Palermo. He rolled off the hood of her car, and then she sped off to escape detection and elude witnesses, leaving him to die on the side of Roland Avenue. After she realized she would be found, she turned herself in. When questioned, she lied and said she didn't realize she had hit someone.

After her being charged, she spent 13 days in a luxurious addiction treatment center on the Chesapeake Bay, planning on doing "more extensive treatment" there. She was free on bail for almost a year. So it's not like she has actually served the time between killing her victim in December 2014, and now, May 2018. 

More here-

Is the Christian Right Driving Americans Away From Religion?

From Pacific Standard-

Religion in America has been rocked in recent decades by two societal shifts: the rise of Christian evangelicals as a right-wing political force, and the increasing number of people who decline to affiliate with any faith tradition.

New research presents evidence that these trends, usually discussed separately, are in fact related. It reports the rate at which people disassociate themselves from religion is higher in states where the Christian right exerts its political muscle.

"Religious attachments fade in the face of visible Christian right policy victories," writes a research team led by Denison University political scientist Paul Djupe. "There is clear evidence that people—probably those without strong relationships with houses of worship—use the Christian right as a proxy for religion as a whole, and discontinue their religious identities as a result."

In the journal Political Research Quarterly, Djupe and his colleagues analyze the intersection of personal faith and religion-driven politics on a state-by-state basis.

More here-

Thursday, May 3, 2018

A higher chime to God? The mysterious 11th bell at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral

From Pittsburgh-

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral was ready to rededicate its 10 bells in December, after refurbishing its steeple. Forty trash bags of guano had been cleared out, screens had been put up to keep out the pigeons, the bells had been safely rehung, and a new programmable system to play them had been installed after the 60-year-old electric keyboard had broken the previous year.

After work on the tower was finished, the new superintendent turned his attentions to a corner in the basement that had been used as a dumping site for building materials. Amid the debris of bags of cement and mortar, Ken Alexander found one crate too heavy to move. He pried open the box, made out of heavy hardwood planks, and found an 11th bell.

It had been made by the same long-closed Meneely Foundry, of Watervliet, N.Y. that manufactured the other 10 bells. As far as anyone knows, it never has been in the steeple. Maybe it was supposed to be, but the cathedral staff does not know that either.

The bell, while smaller than all 10 in the tower, seems to fit the set, a half-step above the current highest pitch. But the church had no records of ever having it, and has been unable, so far, to identify how or why it ended up in the basement.

More here-

An Open Letter to Trump’s Evangelical Defenders

From National Review-

A Christian’s primary purpose is not to defend his own religious liberty. It’s not even to fight abortion — as vital as that task is. His basic task on this Earth isn’t protecting Christian education or preserving the freedom of Christian artists. Each of those things is important. Each of those things is necessary. But their defense cannot and must not compromise our true purpose.

And what is that purpose? I’m reminded of the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.”

Or, I’m reminded of Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

Or, let’s refer to Christ’s famous words: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

Taken together, these words indicate that our life on this Earth should glorify God, demonstrate profound virtue, and count even our lives forfeit in the pursuit of eternal truth. We are told — promised, even — that in living this life we should expect the world’s scorn. We are told — promised, even — that we will suffer trials of many kinds, and those trials can include brutal persecution.

More here-

In a reversal, Speaker Ryan says the House chaplain will remain in his post

From The Washington Post-

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) reversed course Thursday and agreed to keep the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy on as House chaplain after an extraordinary showdown that included the priest alleging anti-Catholic bias by Ryan’s chief of staff.

Conroy, who was forced to step down by Ryan last month, sent the speaker a letter rescinding his resignation and vowing to remain until the end of the year. Within hours Ryan had backed down, ending the possibility of what the speaker feared would be a “protracted fight” over what is supposed to be a unifying and spiritual position in the partisan chamber.

Ryan defended his original decision and continued to question whether Conroy was delivering sufficient “pastoral services” to the entire House. “I intend to sit down with Father Conroy early next week so that we can move forward for the good of the whole House,” he said.

More here-

Sex Scandal Rocks Luweero Anglican Diocese, Three Church Leaders Implicated

From Uganda-

The devil is rumoured to be at work as the Anglican Church leaders in Luweero Diocese try to deal with a sex scandal which has left a high ranking priest and a lay reader charged with aggravated defilement.

However, the diocesan top leadership remains mute and non-committal to disclose the steps they have undertaken to redeem the diocese image now on test.

This comes after a Rev. Canon in charge of one of the Archdeacons allegedly defiled and impregnated a 16-year- old girl and reportedly went into hiding after securing a questionable police bond.

According to Savannah Region Police spokesperson, Mr Paul Kangave, the Police are done with the investigations and a case file no. CRB22/2018 has already been sanctioned for the implicated Rev Canon aged 62 to appear in Court on charges of aggravated defilement.

More here-

Security at sanctuary: Debate over carrying guns in church

From Houston-

Many churchgoers in the Houston area, where Harris County property records show there are nearly 3,000 buildings designated for religious use, are in agreement with Skeen. For others, the idea of guns in church isn’t a welcome one.

“It just feels inappropriate,” said Valerie Meisel, who attends Christ Church Cathedral, an Episcopal Church on Texas Avenue where a note printed in the church bulletin every Sunday states that carrying a concealed or openly visible firearm is prohibited on church property. “It’s totally contrary to what going to church is about.”

Regardless of where a congregation member might stand on firearms inside churches, whether or not they can actually bring a gun into a place of worship ultimately comes down to where they attend religious services.

While some churches in Houston like Christ Church Cathedral prohibit concealed and open carry via posted signs, a statement in the bulletin, or spoken notice from a church official, there are others like Pathways Church that don’t have an official policy. And when there isn’t written or verbal communication that states otherwise, anyone with a license to carry can bring a firearm — either concealed or openly visible — inside a place of worship by default.

More here-

Dupont Circle church faces possible bankruptcy

From Washington DC-

St. Thomas’ Parish Episcopal Church in Dupont Circle, which is considered one of the city’s most LGBT supportive religious institutions, could be forced into bankruptcy following a D.C. government order halting construction of its new church and an adjoining residential building, according to Rev. Alex Dyer, a gay priest who leads the church.

Dyer said the church faces a financial crisis as a result of a decision by the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to issue on April 23 a “stop work” order on the construction of the parish’s new church building and an adjoining 56 apartment residential building.

The DCRA says it issued the stop work order in response to a ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals vacating a zoning variance awarded to the church by the city’s Board of Zoning Adjustment. The court, in siding with an appeal opposing the building project filed by the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, ruled that the Board of Zoning Adjustment failed to provide sufficient justification for awarding the zoning variance.

The court ruling says the variance could be reissued at a later date if the Board of Zoning Adjustment provides a better legal rationale to justify it.

Attorneys representing the church and CAS Riegler development company have argued in a motion asking the court for a stay on the stop work order that the court ruling did not require DCRA to issue the stop order and the order was a mistake that will cause irreparable harm to the church.

More here-

Former Episcopal priest Howard White to be extradited to North Carolina on sex abuse charges

From Massachusetts-

When Howard White, a former Episcopal priest behind bars in Massachusetts after he raped a prep school student in the 1970s, is released from jail Thursday he will be extradited to face more charges in North Carolina, prosecutors said.

White, 76, is one of six named offenders in the sex abuse scandal at St. George's School in Middletown, R.I.

Last May he pleaded guilty to five counts of assault and battery in Suffolk Superior Court for his abuse of an unnamed former student in the 1970s. He served 12 months of an 18-month sentence and was due to be released on Thursday.

But a new indictment from North Carolina accusing White of raping two more teenagers there will change things, prosecutors said.

The charges are: one count of rape; four counts of second-degree sexual offense; one count of second-degree rape; one count of first-degree forcible sex offense; and two counts of indecent liberties with a child.

More here-

U.S. Episcopal Church bows to gay pressure, deletes ‘husband and wife’ from marriage liturgy

From Life Site-

The Church of England is torn over plans by the The Episcopal Church (TEC) in the United States to efface the terms “husband” and “wife” – as well as references to “procreation” – from its marriage liturgy. 

The change is meant to make the church’s marriage ceremonies more “gay-friendly.” Gay and lesbian Episcopalians have complained that the language of the current liturgy is offensive and exclusionary. 

The move prompted a critical response from Church of England Secretary General William Nye last October, strongly urging the TEC to reconsider. The letter threatened to cut ties with the U.S. church if it adopts the planned gender-neutral, replacing the current wording in its Book of Common Prayer.

“The new service removes the phrase ‘the union of husband and wife’ and replaces it with ‘the union of two people,’” according to a report in the U.K. Telegraph. It also “replaces the section which talks about part of God's intention for marriage being ‘for the procreation of children’ with the phrase ‘for the gift of children’ to make it more relevant for same-sex couples who may wish to adopt.”

More here-

also here-

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Former Episcopal bishop Heather Cook is requesting home detention

From Baltimore-

Heather Cook, the former Episcopal bishop who pleaded guilty to the hit-and-run crash that claimed the life of a 41-year-old bicyclist in 2014, has requested home detention.

“Ms. Cook is asking for home detention, she is not as yet under consideration for home detention,” said Gerard Sheilds, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Before the request could be granted, he said, it would have to survive “a very tedious process.”
“We would have to inspect her home plan, where she would be staying, check her sponsor, check her recovery plan – it’s like a parole hearing,” he said.

Cook has been incarcerated at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup since her October 27, 2015 sentencing.

Family members of cyclist Tom Palermo, who were formally notified of the request, were incensed by the idea that Cook might be released early.

“Obviously, I oppose this,” said a family member who asked not to be identified by name. “We oppose this, and I will write a letter stating the reasons for the family opposing it.”

More here- 

and here-

More landmark churches charging admission fees during week while keeping worship free

From ENS-

Planning for a half million people a year to step foot in your church may seem like a rector’s foolish pipe dream. In reality, though, Old North Church is one of Boston’s most popular tourist destinations, and it doesn’t maintain itself.

“That’s a lot of wear and tear on the building,” the Rev. Stephen Ayers said. His church, while remaining free for all who come to worship and pray, soon will begin charging admission to most of its hundreds of thousands of annual visitors. “We’ve managed as long as we can by cutting corners, but that’s not enough to keep the place going,” Ayers said.

Boston is a city steeped in Revolutionary War history, and Old North Church is one of its most treasured historical landmarks. Its stature stems from its pivotal role in Paul Revere’s famous ride on April 18, 1775, as the site of a poetic advance in lantern-based messaging – “One if by land, and two if by sea.”

More here-

Esteemed Anglican military chaplain and priest dies after motor vehicle collision

From Canada-

Canon Robert Fead, a priest in the diocese of Niagara, died after a vehicle collision Monday, April 30.

Fead, 54, was the rector of St. Jude’s Anglican Church, in Oakville, Ont., honorary canon of Christ’s Church Cathedral in Hamilton, Ont., and a chaplain with the Anglican Military Ordinariate.

A statement released by diocese of Niagara Bishop Michael Bird and Bishop-elect Susan Bell requests prayers “for Canon Rob’s wife, Veronica, and his mother, Pat; for his friends and family and colleagues; for the clergy and people of St. Jude’s, Oakville and for all the churches and military units where he served.”

Fead served as the canon reservist on the Military Bishop’s Council, representing all Anglican Reserve Military Chaplains throughout Canada. He was also senior chaplain for 31 Canadian Bridgade Group, overseeing an ecumenical team of up to a dozen reserve chaplains.

More here-

Orthodoxy, Capitalism, and “the West”

From Public Orthodoxy-

In a recent essay for the Bloomberg View, Leonid Bershidsky attempts to explain why traditionally-Orthodox countries “remain stuck” in the anti-capitalist, anti-Western, and authoritarian mindset characteristic of the communist era. Drawing support from a new World Bank working paper, Bershidsky locates the source of this mindset in supposed theological differences between Eastern and Western Christianity. He argues that post-Soviet Eastern Europe’s slowness to adopt capitalism and its penchant for authoritarian leaders is not explained by its communist legacy but by its Orthodox Christian heritage. His conclusion is that traditionally-Orthodox cultures “aren’t really comfortable in a Western-dominated world,” a problem that can be “mitigated” but not “removed.”

Unfortunately, Bershidsky’s analysis remains stuck in an obsolete “clash of civilizations” narrative that obscures more than it enlightens. The insinuations of irrationality and irredeemable primitivism (as if reason dictated that those outside the West should be comfortable in “a Western-dominated world”) are the hallmarks of a (neo)-colonial outlook that thrives on civilizational divide. That Bershidsky is able to muster “Eastern” scholars who affirm such a divide is little more than an affirmation of the pervasiveness of the hegemonic discourse of Western superiority.

More here-


From Newsweek

Last week, news reports emerged that House Speaker Paul Ryan had forced Father Patrick Conroy, a Jesuit priest and longtime House chaplain, to resign over what many, including Conroy, have claimed is about the content of his prayer. Speaker Ryan has disputed this account, saying that some members simply wanted a different chaplain to better serve their “pastoral needs.”

We are scholars of religion and American politics who, with Brandeis Ph.D. candidate Margaret Clendenen Minkin, have written about the history and work of congressional chaplains. The present controversy offers a unique opportunity to ask broader questions about why the U.S. Congress employs chaplains and what they do.

History of congressional chaplains

The American tradition of legislative prayer dates to 1774, when Jacob Duché, the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Philadelphia, was recruited to offer prayers before the First Continental Congress.

After the Constitution was ratified, the U.S. Senate selected an Episcopal bishop from New York, Samuel Proovost, as its chaplain in April 1789.

More here-

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Ugandan faith leaders grapple with accepting Israel’s African refugees

From RNS-

Some Ugandan faith leaders say their nation should accept African refugees facing deportation from Israel, while others counter that resettlement would place too heavy a burden on already overtaxed refugee programs.

Up until a few weeks ago, Uganda and Rwanda had been widely viewed as the two African countries that would absorb the refugees in a deal with Israel, which claims about 40,000 African refugees live in Israel illegally and should be deported. Up until a few weeks ago, Ugandan officials had spoken positively of the possibility of accepting refugees from Israel.

But now officials from both Uganda and Rwanda have denied that they struck a deal with Israel to absorb them.

Ugandan clergy are nevertheless considering that at least some of the African refugees in Israel may still wind up in their country. Many say these refugees — many of whom have arrived in Israel since the mid-2000s, fleeing unrest and war in Eritrea, Sudan and other war-torn countries, and surviving a dangerous trek across the Sinai Desert — should be welcomed in Uganda.

More here-

Church of England split over US plan to remove 'husband and wife' from marriage service

From The Telegraph-

The Church of England is split over US plans to remove "husband and wife" from the marriage

Plans by The Episcopal Church (TEC) to change its marriage service to a gay-friendly version which also removes mention of the word "procreation" were criticised in a letter from the Church of England's Secretary General William Nye last October.

But the proposals have received support from elsewhere in the English church, with more than 300 members including Alan Wilson, the bishop of Buckingham, signing an open letter distancing themselves from Mr Nye's statements. 


His letter, which emerged earlier this month, threatened to cut ties with the US church, which is a fellow member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, if it introduces the new service as standard, replacing the current wording in its Book of Common Prayer.

More here-

Māori Anglicans Welcome Young Archbishop

From The Living Church-

Māori Anglicans welcomed the Most Rev. Don Tamihere as a new archbishop April 28 during a lively ceremony in the North Island coastal town of Gisbourne.

Archbishop Tamihere, 45, becomes the sixth Māori leader under the 1992 constitution of the Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia. He succeeds Archbishop Brown Turei, who died in January 2017.

The main ethnic groups within this Anglican province operate within a tricameral system. The senior bishops of each tikanga have equal standing as primates within the church.

Archbishop Tamihere shaped the ceremony to reflect Māori culture. He chose to be installed not by fellow bishops but by three students from Māori schools. The Rev. Wiremu Anania, 24, who was ordained to the priesthood three months ago, celebrated the Eucharist.

More here-

Episcopal Church in Navajoland welcomes return of chapel

From New Mexico-

 As the scent of burning cedar filled Hozho Chapel, members and friends of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland gathered on Wednesday to welcome the space's reopening.

The chapel is located inside an old hospital built by the church in 1922. It served as one of the first hospitals for the area.

The Episcopal Church in Navajoland was organized as an area mission for the entire Navajo reservation by the Episcopal Church in 1976, according to the church's website.

Navajoland has been working to restore the two-story building and transform it into a women's wellness center.

The downstairs area will house Cheii's Web Development, an entity under Navajoland that focuses on website development. After its new home is complete, Cheii's will offer courses to teach Navajos how to develop and implement business ideas, as well as teach website design.

More here-

Monday, April 30, 2018

Carrying of arms indiscriminately will spell doom for Nigeria – Clergy

From Nigeria-

The Archbishop of Anglican Communion, Most Reverend Nicholas Okoh, on Sunday urged both the federal and state governments to stop people from carrying arms as such act would spell doom for the country

Okoh made this known while addressing journalists at the Cathedral of All Saints, Abakaliki, shortly after commissioning about 135 metres road that leads to the Church which was constructed by the Ebonyi State Government.

He further called on government at all levels and security agencies to sit up on their responsibilities and ensure adequate security of lives and property of Nigerians.

The clergy noted that the responsibility of security lies squarely on the shoulders of the government, adding that securing lives and property of Nigerians is part of the social contract it entered while being voted into power.

More here-

Bishop joins 300 Anglicans backing US Church's plans for gender-neutral wedding service

From Christian Today-

A prominent bishop and 300 other Anglicans have backed the US Episcopal Church's stance on same-sex marriage, saying it shows the Church is 'not as homophobic as it can sometimes appear'.

They have signed an 'alternative' letter to one sent by the Church of England's general secretary, William Nye, that warned American Anglicans could face 'stringent consequences' if it went ahead with plans for a gender neutral wedding service. He added such a move would increase pressure for the CofE to 'disassociate' itself from its US counterpart.

The Episcopal Church (TEC) in America permits same-sex marriage, unlike the Church of England and most other provinces in the 80 million-strong Anglican Communion around the world.

Nye's original letter has sparked a fierce backlash from pro-LGBT Anglicans in the UK and more than 300 have signed a different note thanking TEC for 'leading the way on this important issue'.

The bishop of Buckingham, Alan Wilson, joined 30 of the ruling general synod's 483 members, as well as other clergy and churchgoers, to dissociate themselves from Nye's letter.

More here-

Diocese of Missouri Bishop Wayne Smith announces plan to retire in 2020

From ENS-

Bishop Wayne Smith released the following letter to the diocese on April 27, announcing his plans to retire in 2020 and outlining the process for electing his successor, the 11th bishop of Missouri.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is with a whirlwind of emotions that I write this letter, for no ministry have I loved more than serving as the Tenth Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. Even so, the time has come for me to set in motion a process for electing and calling the Eleventh Bishop. In a lengthy meeting yesterday, I announced this decision to the Standing Committee, who from this time forward will have complete responsibility for the process. The Rt. Rev. Todd Ousley, Bishop for the Office for Pastoral Development, was present to present a framework for this season ahead. I have called for the election of my successor during the 2019 meeting of Diocesan Convention, November 15-16. The ordination of the new bishop will be sometime in the spring 2020, probably in April. My resignation will become effective on that date.

More here-

Theologians and White Supremacy: An interview with James H. Cone

From American Magazine-

Are American theologians saying enough about racism?

No, they are not. Both Catholic and Protestant theologians do theology as if they do not have to engage with the problem of white supremacy and racism. Not all of them ignore it completely, but some write as if slavery, colonialism and segregation never existed. In fact, white supremacy is more deeply entrenched now than it was in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, because back then, the country acknowledged its racial problems more directly. The civil rights and black power movements forced the nation—through Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and a host of other courageous people—to confront racism as a cancer in the body politic. The churches did too, both Catholic and Protestant. Fighting for racial justice in the 1960’s was the churches’ finest hour.

But now, having confronted it years ago, they think they have made the racial situation better, whereas in some ways it is worse. It is like a new form of racism, in that it accepts the tokenism of a few blacks in churches, educational institutions and government in order to make people think everything is fine on the racial front. But just look at the statistics about the African-American community with regard to imprisonment, health care, education and employment. We are worse off today in areas like these. So I want to challenge white theologians and their churches to speak out in a sustained and prophetic way about racial injustice.

More here-

Sunday, April 29, 2018

New bishop elected to lead Bethlehem Episcopal Diocese

From Reading-

Episcopalians in southeastern Pennsylvania have selected a new church leader.

In a vote Saturday, the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem chose the Rev. Canon Kevin D. Nichols as its next bishop, its ninth.

“I am thrilled to be joining with the people of the Diocese of Bethlehem to bear witness to the power of the resurrection in their communities,” Nichols said in a news release. “The momentum there is unmistakable and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us together.”

Nichols was elected on the first ballot at Cathedral Church of the Nativity on Wyandotte Street in Bethlehem. He edged out the other candidate, the Rev. Canon Ruth Woodliff-Stanley, by a vote of 47-45 among lay representatives, and 43-28 among clergy, according to diocese results.

More here-