Saturday, June 16, 2018

Australian bishop: Seal of confession cannot be ended by ‘law of politicians’

From Australia-
Politicians can change the law, but priests won’t violate the confessional, said the administrator of the Archdiocese of Adelaide.
A new law says religious ministers in the state of South Australia will have to report anyone who admits to child abuse, even if it’s in the confessional.
Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson in May became the most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be convicted of covering up child sex abuse in the 1970s. He could face two years in prison.
Adelaide is the capital of the state of South Australia.
Bishop Gregory O’Kelly, an Adelaide native, was appointed by Francis as apostolic administrator for the Adelaide archdioceseafter Wilson’s trial.
More here-

Taking a lesson from Michael Curry could just save the Church of England

From The Guardian-

Reports that the Church of England is to open up its pulpits to joyful Pentecostalist preachers in the style of the Royal wedding sermoniser, Bishop Michael Curry, may be just a tiny bit exaggerated. The truth is a minor tweak in church regulations is making it easier for local parishes to cooperate with their neighbouring black churches. And this is only part of a much wider effort, shepherded by archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, called Renewal and Reform, which is meant to shake the church free of its possibly fatal complacency.
It is certainly true, however, that the service at Meghan and Harry’s weddingdramatised the heroic efforts the Church of England is making to unstuffify itself. Mixing American, black preaching style with the jewel-encrusted tradition of St George’s chapel is only one example of the work it needs to do. The great difficulty for the Church of England is that it seems pointless to most people outside it, while the traditional language of evangelical Christianity, which is meant to reach out to new members, looks bigoted as well.
More here-

Bishop Curry on taking children from parents: 'This is not America'

From Seattle-

Separation of immigrant children from their parents goes against American ideals and the traditions of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Very Rev. Michael Curry, said in Seattle on Friday.
Bishop Curry made his remarks minutes after national news reports that the Trump Administration, under its "Zero Tolerance" policy, has seized 1,995 children from their parents at the Southern border.
"This is not America," Curry said at a meeting with diocesan leaders. "We do not separate families. We do not separate families from children. It is not American to separate children from parents. The American people must say that.
"It is going to take people in the pews . . .This is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It is a humanitarian issue. We need to be heard loud and clear on this one."
More here-

Episcopal Church bishop appoints new missioner for returning congregations

From South Carolina-

Bishop Skip Adams has appointed the Rev. William Coyne as the new missioner for returning congregations for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, a new diocesan staff position created to assist parishes and missions that are returning to The Episcopal Church.
“This new ministry is a way for our diocese to manifest good care of God’s people, live out our Diocesan Vision, and always seek the goals of reconciliation and unity in Christ during this important time of transition,” Adams said in a news release.
As missioner, Coyne will report directly to the bishop while developing teams and support systems around the diocese for the successful return of churches to the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, which is the diocese of the Episcopal Church in eastern South Carolina.
“Bill Coyne brings great gifts to this position, both in his education and abilities and in his many years of experience at the parish and diocesan levels,” Adams said. “His passion for congregational vitality and service to God’s people will be a great blessing to everyone who will be working with him in the months ahead.”
More here-

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Supreme Court declines to hear appeal of South Carolina churches that broke away from Episcopalian church

From Christian Times-

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a case involving a group of churches seeking to keep $500 million worth of property in South Carolina after breaking away from the wider Episcopalian church.
In a petition filed in February, the breakaway group, which refers to itself as the Diocese of South Carolina, asked the high court to consider "whether the 'neutral principles of law' approach to resolving church property disputes requires courts to recognize a trust on church property even if the alleged trust does not comply with the state's ordinary trust and property law," according to Episcopal News Service.
The case was discussed by the justices at a conference on June 7, before it was rejected without comment on June 11.
The Diocese of South Carolina had decided to leave the Episcopalian Church due to disagreements about biblical authority, theology and inclusion of LGBT individuals in the church.
More here-

Why Community Is Dangerous

From Plough-

America’s most frequently quoted theologian talks with Plough editor Peter Mommsen about the Benedict Option, evangelism, marriage, Christian communism, and why voting is overrated.

Peter Mommsen: Stanley, if I could sum up your influential career as a writer, you aim to help people live out the gospel more fully. Is that a fair description?

Stanley Hauerwas: I certainly hope so. I try to call attention to people who are living out the gospel in a way that makes my own life but a very pale reflection. I am thinking of people like Jean Vanier, the founder of the L’Arche community. If I know of anyone who is genuinely holy, it is Jean Vanier – not that he would ever think of himself that way. So in my writing about how to live according to the gospel, how to live to become the gospel, I try to direct attention to real people, not just to beliefs or concepts.

More here-

Catholic bishops rebuke Trump’s asylum changes, suggest ‘canonical penalties’

From RNS-

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opened its spring meeting this week with a stern reproach of the Trump administration’s latest immigration policies, with the group’s president suggesting the new rules on asylum are a “right to life” issue.
Some bishops followed by urging protests, including “canonical penalties” for those who carry out the administration’s new rules.

Within minutes of opening the USCCB’s biannual meeting in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday (June 13), Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB and archbishop of Galveston-Houston, read aloud a statement deeply critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent announcement regarding asylum qualifications.

“At its core, asylum is an instrument to preserve the right to life,” DiNardo said, reading from the statement. “The Attorney General’s recent decision elicits deep concern because it potentially strips asylum from many women who lack adequate protection.

More here-

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

No 'winners' in bitter Episcopal church dispute

From Charleston-

What is a church? Is it a group of like-minded people? A set of common beliefs? A tradition? A building?
For so many South Carolina churches, the answer is a combination of all of those things, which makes the dispute over 29 properties between the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the breakaway Diocese of South Carolina so painful.
The 29 properties in question have centuries of history. They have offered places of worship to generations of Charleston area families and helped shape the city’s spiritual culture almost since its founding. They are buildings and places, but they are much more than just walls and land.
More here-

Supreme Court denies breakaway Episcopal group control of its churches

From RNS-

The Episcopal Church in South Carolina is preparing to reclaim control of more than two dozen properties worth an estimated $500 million after the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal brought by a breakaway group of conservative Anglican congregations.
“We are grateful for the clarity that this decision offers, and hopeful that it brings all of us closer to having real conversations on how we can bring healing and reconciliation to the Church, the Body of Christ, in this part of South Carolina,” said the Rt. Rev. Gladstone B. “Skip” Adams III, bishop of The Episcopal Church in South Carolina, known as TECSC, in a statement.
In the same statement, TECSC chancellor Thomas S. Tisdale, Jr., said there would be no “immediate change in the physical control of the properties” because of the Supreme Court denial. However, the South Carolina Episcopalians and the parent Episcopal Church body have asked the state court to place the properties and assets under TECSC control and transfer ownership to both groups
More here-

Episcopal lay leaders attempt to take over church in Darien

From Connecticut-

Local Episcopal lay leaders attempt to take over church in Darien

The Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, and his staff learned tonight that some lay leaders of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Mansfield Avenue in Darien had called a locksmith to come earlier this afternoon to change the locks on the church without authorization, locking out the rector and effectively attempting to take over the church.

Their rector, the Rev. Canon George I. Kovoor, notified the Darien police and Bishop Douglas. The responding officers spoke with Bishop Douglas who provided the relevant secular case law, canon (church) law, and Letter of Employment for Canon Kovoor, demonstrating the authority of the Bishop Diocesan in any disputes between the vestry (elected lay leaders) and the rector.   

The June 12 action by the lay leaders grows out of a simmering conflict between the vestry of St. Paul’s and the duly elected rector of the parish, Canon George I. Kovoor.

More here-

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

US Supreme Court Decision

From The Diocese of South Carolina-

The United States Supreme Court today denied a petition from a breakaway group, letting stand the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court to return control of the Diocese of South Carolina and 28 church properties to The Episcopal Church and its recognized diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC).

The high court denied certiorari to the group that announced in 2012 they were leaving The Episcopal Church. The breakaway group filed a lawsuit in 2013 seeking to control diocesan and parish properties, and a Dorchester County court found in their favor in 2015. The state Supreme Court overturned that decision in August 2017.

“We are grateful for the clarity that this decision offers, and hopeful that it brings all of us closer to having real conversations on how we can bring healing and reconciliation to the Church, the Body of Christ, in this part of South Carolina,” said the Right Rev. Gladstone B. Adams III, Bishop of TECSC.

“Our path continues to be one of reconciliation and love, for love is the way of Jesus,” Bishop Adams said.

Today’s decision does not cause an immediate change in the physical control of the properties, according to Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., Chancellor of TECSC. It is now up to the state’s 1st Circuit Court of Common Pleas to execute the lower court’s decision.

More here-

Vatican stalls German bishops’ plan to give Protestants Communion

From Salt Lake-

Disagreements between Catholic bishops in Germany about plans to give Communion to Protestants have spilled out into the wider Roman Catholic Church.
Last Monday (June 4), the Vatican’s doctrine chief, Archbishop Luis Ladaria, informed senior members of the German Catholic hierarchy that the pope believes their plans to make it easier for Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Communion are “not ready” to be published. The letter signaled that top leaders in Rome were not prepared to let these guidelines become accepted practice in the German church — at least not yet.
The dispute highlights Pope Francis’ plans to move the church away from obsessing over doctrinal purity while giving bishops on the ground more decision-making power.
More here-

‘Vicar of Baghdad’ Cleared of Paying ISIS to Redeem Yazidi Sex Slaves

From Christianity Today-

Andrew White, best known as the former vicar of Baghdad, Iraq, has been cleared of criminal charges for allegedly paying Islamic State terrorists to redeem Yazidi sex slaves.

“For one year I have been under police investigation in response to a serious incident report submitted by FRRME to the Charity Commission indicating that I had paid money to ISIS terrorists in order to redeem sex slaves,” said White, 54, who pastored Baghdad’s St. George’s Anglican church until leaving in 2014 after ISIS offered a $57 million bounty for him. “This information was not true and finally, this month the case was officially dropped and I have been cleared from any further police investigation.”

Starting in 2014, ISIS terrorists overran the Yazidi enclave on Mount Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan. They abducted thousands of women and girls from this pre-Islamic religious minority and sold many as sex slaves. This action caused a handful of human rights activists independently to attempt buy-back redemptions of slaves. But anyone who channeled money to terrorists could be subject to criminal prosecution.

More here-  

Many Church Services Are Now a Sea of iPhones. And Clergy Members Think That’s Great.

From Slate-

The rousing sermon by Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry delivered at the royal wedding a few weeks ago drew notice around the world for its energy, its very American style, and its subtly radical message of liberating love. But there was something else about Curry’s sermon that stuck out to some viewers: He read it from the podium on what appeared to be an iPad.

It felt somewhat jarring to see a cool slab of 21st-century technology in a 14th-century Gothic chapel. But it shouldn’t have. Cellphones and other devices are increasingly common sights in Sunday-morning worship services, both in the pews and on the podium. It’s not just that churches are relying on technology in the same way that other large organizations do—snazzy websites, donations via app, and so on. The bigger change is that personal devices are increasingly part of services themselves, in ways both planned and unplanned.

More here- 

US Supreme Court declines review of Episcopal property dispute from South Carolina

From South Carolina-

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review the property dispute between The Episcopal Church in South Carolina and a breakaway group, marking a closing chapter of a more than five-year legal battle.
A year after the Diocese of South Carolina split from the national church in 2012 over theological divides and other differences, its parishes sued for control of 36 properties from the Grand Strand to the Lowcountry valued at $500 million.
Bishop Mark Lawrence's breakaway diocese prevailed during a Dorchester County trial but South Carolina's high court ruled last year in the larger church's favor, giving the national body ownership of 29 sites that were declared to have agreed to an internal property rule.
More here-
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Monday, June 11, 2018

Yale study finds where the spiritual lives in our brains

From New Haven-

Whether it’s a connection to God, to the wonder of nature or even a strong loyalty to a college football team, people at some point feel a sense of connection to something beyond themselves, a feeling often called spirituality.
Now a study involving researchers from Yale University and the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University Teachers College, developed “to test individuals’ spiritual experiences,” has found the locations in the brain where that feeling resides, which could assist those treating addiction or depression, according to Dr. Marc Potenza, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at the Yale School of Medicine and the Yale Child Study Center.
More here-

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry Joins Other Faith Leaders in a Statement on Family Separation at Our Borders

From The Epsicopal Church-

Recently, the Administration announced that it will begin separating families and criminally prosecuting all people who enter the U.S. without previous authorization. As religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, united in our concern for the wellbeing of vulnerable migrants who cross our borders fleeing from danger and threats to their lives, we are deeply disappointed and pained to hear this news. 
We affirm the family as a foundational societal structure to support human community and understand the household as an estate blessed by God. The security of the family provides critical mental, physical and emotional support to the development and wellbeing of children. Our congregations and agencies serve many migrant families that have recently arrived in the United States. Leaving their communities is often the only option they have to provide safety for their children and protect them from harm. Tearing children away from parents who have made a dangerous journey to provide a safe and sufficient life for them is unnecessarily cruel and detrimental to the well-being of parents and children. 
More here-

What Religion Gives Us (That Science Can’t)

From The New York Times-

It’s a tough time to defend religion. Respect for it has diminished in almost every corner of modern life — not just among atheists and intellectuals, but among the wider public, too. And the next generation of young people looks likely to be the most religiously unaffiliated demographic in recent memory.

There are good reasons for this discontent: continued revelations of abuse by priests and clerics, jihad campaigns against “infidels” and homegrown Christian hostility toward diversity and secular culture. This convergence of bad behavior and bad press has led many to echo the evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson’s claim that “for the sake of human progress, the best thing we could possibly do would be to diminish, to the point of eliminating, religious faiths.”

Despite the very real problems with religion — and my own historical skepticism toward it — I don’t subscribe to that view. I would like to argue here, in fact, that we still need religion. Perhaps a story is a good way to begin.

More here-

The Movement to Turn Church Land into Farmland

From Civil Eats-

Last summer, young farmer Moses Kashem broke ground on a neglected half-acre of land owned by St. Simon’s Episcopal Church in Miami, Florida. A year later, the lot has been transformed into a diversified vegetable farm, providing crops like lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, herbs, and eggplant to Whole Foods, several local restaurants, and a 30-member community supported agriculture (CSA) program.
Originally from Bangladesh, Kashem launched his farming career at Florida International University. When a lease on state-owned land didn’t pan out, he turned his attention to an overgrown four-acre piece of land owned by the church he had attended with his wife Erin since 2013. The 28-year-old asked the church’s vestry if he might farm the land.
At first, some of the elders balked, but they eventually agreed to allow Kashem to sign a three-year-lease, which he hopes to extend to 10 years. In exchange, he promised the church 15 percent of the farm’s profits along with outreach through farm-to-table dinners and cooking classes. Some of the church members even helped him pay to fence off the land.
 More here-

Rev. Torrey O. Johnson new ‘Priest in Charge’ at Holy Cross Episcopal Church

From Pittsburgh-

The Rev. Torrey O. Johnson has accepted the call to be the Priest in Charge of the Historic Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Homewood.
A native of Chicago, Rev. Johnson comes to Holy Cross with more than 15 years of ministry work in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). He has a proficient background in community development and multicultural ministry.
A Service of Institution for Rev. Johnson was held on April 22 at the church, 7507 Kelly St.
Reverend Dorsey McConnel, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese and Bishop Kurt Kusserow, Bishop of ELCA Southwestern Pennsylvania presided over the service.
In a statement, Rev. Johnson said: “I am excited about the opportunity to serve as the Priest in Charge for the Historic Holy Cross Episcopal Church. The church has over 144 years of ministry serving the disadvantaged. I believe wholeheartedly in this legacy of service, and I am humbled by the opportunity to be a public theologian and continue this rich tradition of service to the community.”
More here-