Saturday, May 12, 2018


From First Things-

Walk into one of the old Episcopal churches on the East Coast, and once your eye has adjusted to the light slanting in through the clear glass windowpanes onto plain white walls, one of the first things you’re likely to notice is the writing on the eastern wall behind the pulpit. Step closer and you’ll see it’s a placard with the Ten Commandments in flowing script. In 1604, this placarding of the Decalogue became a canonical requirement for Anglican parishes. A posting of the Commandments was to be “set up on the East end of every Church and Chapel, where the people may best see and read the same.” Right above the communion table, in view of all sermon-hearers, the Commandments were to issue their silent implication: These ancient words remain the word of God for the people of God.

Nor was this Anglican practice unusual by wider Christian standards. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it, “In fidelity to Scripture and in conformity with Jesus’ example, the tradition of the Church has always acknowledged the primordial importance and significance of the Decalogue.” Luther wrote in his Large Catechism that “those who know the Ten Commandments perfectly know the entire Scriptures and in all affairs and circumstances are able to counsel, help, comfort, judge, and make decisions in both spiritual and temporal matters.” Luther was merely summarizing what was by his time a catechetical commonplace. The Decalogue was, as he wrote elsewhere, “eternal.” The Ten Commandments were not a time-bound, culturally-limited expression of a superseded ancient society but were instead the abiding word of the God who had eventually been revealed as the God and Father of Jesus Christ.

More here-


From Texas-

In southeast Texas, federal agents are investigating the bombing of an Episcopal church in the city of Beaumont. No one was hurt, but there are concerns it could possibly be the work of a serial bomber.

The Thursday morning blast at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church caused minimal damage, but prompted a big response, with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) assisting the Beaumont Police.

Amanda Pena and her newborn daughter were asleep in a house across the street when it happened.

“I heard the loud noise, and my husband heard it at the same time, and he just jumped out of bed,” she said. “To me, cause I saw a dim light, I thought it was just like lightning and thunder.”

More here-

Episcopal Asset Map Unveils Redesigned Site, Invites Full Participation Across Church

From Benzinga-

The Episcopal Asset Map ( an online platform showing the location and ministries of Episcopal churches, schools and other communities, has been revamped and refreshed with more-detailed information, easier access and ease of navigation.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry called the Asset Map "truly a tool, a resource" and points out that it has been "revised, expanded, updated, user-friendly and now includes virtually the entire Episcopal Church from the largest cathedral to the smallest house church."

The Episcopal Asset Map is a joint project of the Episcopal Church and Episcopal Relief & Development ( This innovative partnership tracks local ministries and shows the location and the array of ministries and programs offered by Episcopal congregations, schools and institutions throughout the Church. Nearly every diocese of the Episcopal Church is represented on the map as well as over 20 networks, such as Jubilee Ministries, the United Thank Offering, Ethnic Ministries, and Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers.

More here-

TECSC asks courts to return property, identity

From Episcopal Cafe (with links)

The Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) have petitioned the 1st Circuit Court of Common Pleas to execute the state Supreme Court’s decision and return church properties to the Episcopal Church.

The petition, filed Monday in Dorchester County, also asks the court to appoint a Special Master to oversee an “orderly and expeditious resolution” of the issues.

In August 2017, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that property currently being controlled by a breakaway group under Bishop Mark Lawrence actually is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and its local diocese, TECSC. The decision affects all diocesan property of the Diocese of South Carolina, including Camp St. Christopher, as well as the property of 28 parishes.

In a separate but related case, TECSC also filed in the U.S. District Court in Charleston today, asking the court to resolve trademark and false-advertising issues involving the identity of the diocese.
TECSC’s ultimate goal in both courts is to bring a final resolution to five years of legal disputes over church property and identity, and begin the work necessary to heal and reunify the diocese.

More here-

Friday, May 11, 2018

Westmoreland County church leaders to get firearms training

From Western PA-

Local church leaders concerned about shootings at their places of worship soon will have a chance to get actual firearms training, including range time.

Rodney Smith, a Westmoreland County native and certified firearms instructor, plans to return to the area June 22-23 to offer a 16-hour advanced security course to interested churches.

Smith, 59, of Flowery Branch, Ga., taught free, three-hour courses in Bolivar, New Florence and Fairfield Township last year and at a Hempfield church in February. Nearly 100 people attended the first round of training sessions for the general public.

The upcoming course is for pastors and lay leaders who have a state firearms permit and who can bring their own handgun and ammunition.

“What we train is situation awareness, active shooter, active threat, use of deadly force, carry laws and room clearing,” Smith said. “Our goal is to enhance our students' awareness to respond and react to an active threat situation.”

More here-

Society needs us to be Anglican, not sectarian

From The Church Times-

MORE than 75 years years since William Temple argued, in Christianity and Social Order, that the Church had a right and duty to “interfere” in political and social policy issues, we seem to be witnessing new interest in the interface between religion and public life.

Much current public thinking about theology and society focuses on Roman Catholic Social Teaching, but neglects the important Anglican tradition, which is less comprehensively codified, but arguably, since Temple, more influential in British history.

There is a distinctive and robust tradition of social theology within Anglicanism, especially the Church of England. I argued in Anglican Social Theology, published in 2014, that the continuities in the tradition would be able to carry the weight of repositioning Anglican thinking in response to financial crisis of 2008, which led either to an aggressively resurgent market and social liberalism, or to an authoritarian and introspective reaction to it.

Although an aggressive mode of liberalism appears, superficially, to have followed the financial crisis, deeper doubts about both social and economic liberalism are also surfacing more prominently.

More here-

Explosive device caused damage at St. Stephens Episcopal Church

From Texas-

The Episcopal Diocese of Texas says a package detonated outside the door of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Beaumont between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, damaging windows and part of the church office.

The AFT and Beaumont Police and Fire are investigating.

The church is near the an Episcopal school. No one was at the church or school at the time and no one was hurt.

The school alerted parents to pick up their children.

Last month, what police told KFDM was a box with an explosive target used in hunting was placed outside the Starbucks on Dowlen Road in Beaumont. No one was hurt and investigators haven't found the person who placed it there.

From Episcopal Diocese:

(May 10, 2018) Sometime between the end of worship Wednesday evening and the beginning of school this morning, a package detonated outside the office door of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Beaumont. No one was injured in the blast, which “broke out windows, put holes in the office walls and blew apart the bushes lining the entrance,” said the Rev. Steven Balke, rector of St. Stephens.
Balke immediately called police and soon had the office and school evacuated. “The FBI is here and checking the property,” Balke said. An explosive device was located at an area Starbucks on April 27 so the event at St. Stephen’s is not an isolated incident. “Everyone is taking this very seriously, especially since there is a school involved,” he added.

More here-

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Protestants decline, more have no religion in a sharply shifting religious landscape

From ABC-

The nation’s religious makeup has shifted dramatically in the past 15 years, with a sharp drop in the number of Americans who say they’re members of a Protestant denomination – still the nation’s most prevalent religious group – and a rise in the number who profess no religion. 

On average last year, 36 percent of Americans in ABC News/Washington Post polls identified themselves as members of a Protestant faith, extending a gradual trend down from 50 percent in 2003. That includes an 8-point drop in the number of evangelical white Protestants, an important political group. 

Reflecting the change among Protestants, the share of Christians overall has declined from 83 percent of the adult population in 2003 to 72 percent on average last year. In the same time, the number of Americans who say they have no religion has nearly doubled, to 21 percent. 

Catholic self-identification (22 percent) has held steady during this time. The share of adults who identify with another form of Christianity – including Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons and Greek or Russian Orthodox, for example – has risen modestly, from 11 to 14 percent. 

More here-

“Dead Sea Scrolls” exhibit in Denver illuminates the mysterious origins of major world religions

From Denver-

Deep inside the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, past layers of security card-activated doors and stoic guards, Tania Treiger compares color photographs of a restored Dead Sea Scroll to the original article — which sits a few inches away in an airtight frame that mimics the atmosphere of the cave at the Qumran archaelogical site in Israel where it was found.

“It’s my babies!” said Treiger, a Russian-born conservator for the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and one of only four people in the world allowed to handle the 2,000-year-old scrolls. “There are 20,000 fragments that have been found, from big ones to teeny, teeny, teeny pieces. It’s a blessing.”
Museum staff members are hoping for similar enthusiasm from the 100,000 people they expect to view the “Dead Sea Scrolls” exhibit, which opens its final U.S. stop Friday in Denver.

More here-

From Prison to Princeton to Priest

From Sewanee-

This is the story of the incredible journey the Rev. Ricardo Sheppard, T’16, has taken. At nine years of age, he immigrated from Trinidad and Tobago with his Baptist minister parents to the inner-city of Brooklyn, New York. At 17, Sheppard enlisted in the Marines. “I joined to get away from the church,” he recalls. For two decades he has run, marched, and paced to get away from the call to ordained ministry. Just like how gum sticks to a shoe, no matter what he did “the call” stuck.

Serving as an infantry man in the Marines gave Sheppard a ticket to travel the world. Even in the military, however, the call to minister to others kept coming. “Marines kept coming to me with their problems and I would help them out. I just could not get away from it.” Pastoring people is not a choice for Sheppard, as he is most comfortable and the happiest when helping and serving others.  

Honorably discharged, Sheppard returned home to Brooklyn married, with children, and within a year was incarcerated for what he calls “robbing drug dealers.” “It sounded good, we were trying to clean up the neighborhood and get the drugs out.” But Sheppard admits that illegal drugs became a lucrative business and some of his choices led him to incarceration for 12 years, three months, and 26 days.

More here-

Thursday, May 10, 2018

This 400-year-old Virginia church is older than almost any institution in America

From Southern Virginia-

Long before American independence, before the Pilgrims even landed at Plymouth Rock, there was Martin's Brandon Church.

And now, the Rev. Eve Butler-Gee looks at her flock at the same Martin's Brandon Episcopal Church in amazement. "They're faithful. Every single one of them is engaged and active," she said. But then again, it's no wonder: "They've been doing this for 400 years, and they're not about to stop now."

The church, one of the oldest in the United States that still operates, celebrates its 400th birthday this year. And for many families in the rural congregation, the pink-colored house of worship near the James River has been part of their family stories for a very large portion of that time.

"We've been coming here for seven generations. At least. We don't have any records before the Civil War," said Alecia Redfearn, 31, as the sixth-generation Martin's Brandon mom juggled Caroline, 3, and Bennett, 4 weeks - the seventh generation.

Redfearn spent her childhood here and never left, and she soaked up more than the light streaming in through the stained-glass window that, she can readily point out, is etched with the name of a Titanic survivor. "We live in the history here. That's why I like history so much," she said. "We take the ferry over to Williamsburg. You go by Jamestown. You think, 'This is where America started.' " Today, shaped by that upbringing, she teaches history to students in grades six through 11.

More here-

Episcopal Church of S.C. seeks return of property, identity

From South Carolina-

The Episcopal Church and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) have petitioned the 1st Circuit Court of Common Pleas to execute the state Supreme Court's decision and return church properties to the Episcopal Church.

 The petition, filed Monday in Dorchester County, also asks the court to appoint a Special Master to oversee an "orderly and expeditious resolution" of the issues.

In August 2017, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that property currently being controlled by a breakaway group under Bishop Mark Lawrence actually is held in trust for The Episcopal Church and its local diocese, TECSC. The decision affects all diocesan property of the Diocese of South Carolina, including Camp St. Christopher, as well as the property of 28 parishes.

In a separate but related case, TECSC also filed in the U.S. District Court in Charleston today, asking the court to resolve trademark and false-advertising issues involving the identity of the diocese.

TECSC’s ultimate goal in both courts is to bring a final resolution to five years of legal disputes over church property and identity, and begin the work necessary to heal and reunify the diocese.

More here-

A Letter to My Brothers

From Beth Moore-

Then early October 2016 surfaced attitudes among some key Christian leaders that smacked of misogyny, objectification and astonishing disesteem of women and it spread like wildfire. It was just the beginning. I came face to face with one of the most demoralizing realizations of my adult life: Scripture was not the reason for the colossal disregard and disrespect of women among many of these men. It was only the excuse. Sin was the reason. Ungodliness.

This is where I cry foul and not for my own sake. Most of my life is behind me. I do so for sake of my gender, for the sake of our sisters in Christ and for the sake of other female leaders who will be faced with similar challenges. I do so for the sake of my brothers because Christlikeness is at stake and many of you are in positions to foster Christlikeness in your sons and in the men under your influence. The dignity with which Christ treated women in the Gospels is fiercely beautiful and it was not conditional upon their understanding their place.

About a year ago I had an opportunity to meet a theologian I’d long respected. I’d read virtually every book he’d written. I’d looked so forward to getting to share a meal with him and talk theology. The instant I met him, he looked me up and down, smiled approvingly and said, “You are better looking than _________________________________.” He didn’t leave it blank. He filled it in with the name of another woman Bible teacher.

more here-

Evangelicals are having their own #MeToo moment

From The Washington Post-

Evangelical Protestantism, thank God, is experiencing its own version of a #MeToo moment. 

Paige Patterson — head of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and icon of conservative Baptist belief — is being called out for a story he told in 2000. An abused woman had come to him for counseling. Patterson recommended prayer. Later, the woman returned with two black eyes. In Patterson’s telling: “She said, ‘I hope you’re happy.’ And I said, ‘Yes . . . I’m very happy,’ ” because the woman’s husband had heard her prayers and come to church the next day.

This, presumably, is Patterson’s version of a happy ending: A wife gets battered, but the church gets a new member. God works in misogynist ways. 

A number of prominent Baptists have risen in criticism. Thom Rainer, president of the Christian publishing house LifeWay, tweeted, “There is no type or level of abuse of women that is acceptable.” Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, added: “Any physical abuse on any level is completely unacceptable in marriage. The church should immediately step in & provide a safe place for the abused.”  

More here-

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Anglicans challenge church fire sale to pay sex abuse victims

From Australia-

The Anglican Church has been ­accused of “emotional blackmail” after linking the unpopular sale of almost half of its churches in Tasmania with compensation for survivors of abuse by pedophile priests.

Bishop Richard Condie has released a list of 55 churches earmarked for sale, with 21 more to follow, and tied 25 per cent of the proceeds to a redress scheme for child sex abuse survivors.

However, many communities are in revolt over the plans and believe it is unfair and inappropriate to link the fire sale — of 76 of 156 Anglican churches in the state — to justice for abuse victims.

“It is blatant emotional blackmail,” said Angela Turvey, a member of Friends of St John the Baptist, a historic church in Buckland, northeast of Hobart, among those slated for sale.

“It is punishing communities around Tasmania for what the church was ultimately responsible for. That’s what insurance and liability is for. This is not the way to be redressing child sexual abuse.”

More here-

Anglican Church will bless same-sex relationships

From New Zealand-

The Anglican Church has voted in favour of blessing couples in committed same-sex relationships.

It will allow priests to bless same-sex civil marriage or civil unions, but not to carry out same-sex marriage in the Anglican church.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia's governing body passed the motion by a clear majority in New Plymouth on Wednesday.

While the Tikanga Pasifika arm of the church had said that it was against the blessing of "same-gender relationships", it didn't vote against the motion as it didn't want to hinder the Tikanga Māori and Tikanga Pākehā partners in the church.

The motion provides protection for theological convictions held by bishops, priests and parishes, and won't see any changes to the church's doctrine or its formularies around marriage.

More here-

By Deleting 'Husband and Wife,' Episcopal Church Will Delete More Members

From CBN-

Despite losing more than a half million church members since 1980, the Episcopal Church in the U.S. has decided to alienate more.

In a move to become even more "gay-friendly," the church is removing the terms "husband" and "wife" from its marriage ceremony and replacing it with "the union of two people."   The London Telegraph says it will also replace "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."

An Anglican (British) LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) group that wanted the change,  said, "No one is attracted to a group of Christians who profess the love of Christ but seem incapable of recognizing it in the loving, committed relationships of two people."

That's a strange thing to say when the numbers show that a lot more people are attracted to churches that stand on the Word of God and refuse to become tools of the LGBT movement.

More here-

Millennial pilgrimage boom prompts Church of England to send chaplains to Spain

From The Telegraph-

A millennial on a post-university gap year might not fit the obvious profile for a religious pilgrim travelling through Europe. 

But growing numbers of of then are following a trend for pilgrimage - prompting the Church of England to send chaplains to fulfil their spiritual needs. 

For the first time Anglican priests from England as well as sister churches in Canada and Australia will minister to people who have completed the Camino de Santiago, a voyage of hundreds of miles across France and Spain which is normally undertaken on foot.

The Rev Alasdair Kay, a Church of England priest based in Derbyshire, suggested the project after completing the walk himself during a sabbatical. 

More here-

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Meet the Next Bishop

From Rio Grande-

Dear Diocese of the Rio Grande,

I already feel such love and gratitude as we look forward to our future together. I am giving thanks for so much we cannot yet see - the relationships we will build and the ministry we will share - the joy, tears, and opportunities. I am also feeling at least some nervous expectation. Meg and I are eager to begin making a home among you in a few short months. May God bless and guide us in the years ahead.



The Reverend Canon Michael Buerkel Hunn


The Rev. Canon Michael Buerkel Hunn grew up in New Mexico and Texas. In twenty years of ordained ministry he has served as a parish priest, a school chaplain, college chaplain, and Canon to Bishop Michael Curry. He currently serves as Canon to the Presiding Bishop for Ministry within The Episcopal Church, is Director of Communications, and oversees other key departments. He led Bishop Curry's transition team and led a staff-wide restructure and culture transformation process. He supports the Presiding Bishop's ministry in 108 dioceses and 16 countries.

More here-

Child sex case against former Waynesville priest could grow

From Western North Carolina-

The case of a former Haywood County Episcopal priest facing child sex charges could get bigger.

Howard White faces charges of rape, sex offense, and indecent liberties with a child. The charges stem from alleged abuse of two minors dating back to the 1980s when White was rector at Waynesville’s Grace Church in the Mountains.

White had a hearing Friday where his bond was increased from $660,000 to $1.6 million.
Prosecutors argued White is a flight risk since he faces a possible life sentence, has no Haywood County ties, and has substantial financial means. They also found rationale for the bond increase, citing two more alleged victims coming forward who also claim they were sexually assaulted by White, one as recently as 2004.

“The state made representations about additional evidence and I really can't…until we see what the evidence is, really isn't too much more that I can say about it,” White's attorney Sean Devereux said.

More here-

Loren Mead, author, teacher, and priest, has died

From Episcopal Cafe-

Born in Florence, South Carolina, on February 17, 1930, Loren B. Mead, graduated from the University of the South, and later earned an MA from the University of South Carolina.  After teaching in the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School for Adults for two years, Loren attended Virginia Theological Seminary and received his Masters in Divinity in 1955 and was ordained an Episcopal priest.

He was an educator, consultant, and author who worked to strengthen religious institutions, especially of local congregations. Mr. Mead collaborated with lay people, clergy, executives and bishops, teachers, and others committed to ministry.  A pioneer in congregational studies, he brought together the methods of organization development consultation and applied research for working with congregations.

Born and raised in the segregated South, Loren worked for racial justice and reconciliation throughout his career. Besides marching with a delegation of white pastors in support of Martin Luther King after the death of Medgar Evers, he played a leading role in the desegregation of Chapel Hill.

More here- 

and here-

Historic Trinity Church begins 2-year, $98.6 million renovation

From Metro-

For more than 320 years, Trinity Church Wall Street has been both a house of worship and a tourist attraction thanks to notable permanent residents like Alexander Hamilton.

But starting Monday, the nave, or main body of Trinity Church, will be closed while the landmarked building begins a two-year, $98.6 million renovation. Though the nave will be closed, New Yorkers, tourists and parishioners alike can still visit the Chapel of All Saints and Trinity’s churchyard, which will remain open during the work.

With the renovations expected to end in the spring of 2020, church services will take place at St. Paul’s Chapel just up Broadway. This is not the first time Trinity Church’s sister chapel will serve as its stand-in — parishioners relocated there after the Great Fire of 1776 and again in 1839 when the current church was constructed. The last major renovation of Trinity Church took place in 1945.

More here-

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Monday, May 7, 2018

What does it mean to be a godparent? Singing God’s song when your godchild forgets how it goes

From The Church Times-

THE term “godparent” has two kinds of largely unhelpful connotations. The first is gothic and sometimes rather terrifying. Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 film The Godfather tells the story of how Michael Corleone emerges from the shadows as his father’s youngest son, and becomes the ruthless leader of a murderous Mafia clan. It teaches the viewer never to trust a man holding a violin case, and to associate the term “godparent” with manipula­tion, violence, and virulent lust for power.

Meanwhile, in Pyotr Ilyich Tchai­kovsky’s 1892 ballet The Nutcracker, based on E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story, the children of the house gather round the sparkling Christmas tree, whereupon, as the clock strikes eight, in walks the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer, councillor, magician, and godfather to the daughter of the house, Clara. He brings with him four dancing dolls, made by his own hand, and a wooden nutcracker in the form of a diminutive man, whose midnight transformation into a life-size character drives the rest of the story. The ballet teaches the viewer to see a godparent as a purveyor of mysteries, fables, and magical dreams.

Then there is the 1697 Charles Perrault fairy tale Cinderella, which tells how a young woman, though oppressed by her stepsisters and forced into virtual slavery, none the less goes to the Prince’s ball and wins his heart through the intervention of her fairy godmother, who conjures dress, slippers, carriage, and footmen with nonchalant aplomb. This tale teaches that a godparent can make dreams come true, especially for those in the gutter.

More here-

St. Cyprian Episcopal Church robbed for the third time within span of a month

From Detroit-

An Episcopal church on Detroit’s west side has been robbed three times within the span of a month.

Rector Donald Lutas says his congregation cannot afford to replace everything that’s been stolen, and he is angry with Detroit police, saying parishioners are doing all they can to keep the church safe.

Lutas came to church early to prepare for Sunday service and the first thing he noticed was shattered glass.

"This is a house of worship, for crying out loud. If this has no reverence or there’s no sense of security here, where can one get security?" said Lutas.

Lutas says the St. Cyprian Episcopal Church on Detroit’s west side has been robbed three times. Once last month and twice in just the past week.

More here-

Holy Land Christians feel abandoned by U.S. evangelicals

From NBC-

Jesus was arguably the matchmaker for the Rev. Munther Isaac and his wife, Rudaina: The two met when Munther, a theology professor, spoke at a Christian conference Rudaina had organized while attending college.

And it is conviction that keeps the Palestinian couple in the town in the occupied West Bank where Christians believe Jesus was born.

“It is my husband’s belief that it is God’s will for us to be in this country,” Rudaina Isaac, 31, an architect, said as her husband conducted Sunday service at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem.

But faith may not be enough to keep the family rooted in the Holy Land, where Munther heads Christ at the Checkpoint, a biannual event critical of Israeli policies.

“I don’t know how they will take this mission,” Rudaina says, referring to sons Karam and Zaid, her wide smile fading and her voice breaking. “Most of the Christians here only think of emigrating.”

Rudaina believes that American evangelicals who form a vital base of support for hard-line Israeli policies — and helped propel President Donald Trump to power — have made the local Palestinian Christian community's suffering more acute.

More here-