Saturday, August 4, 2018

Portsmouth cathedral removes 'distressing' nude paintings

From England-

A cathedral has withdrawn a series of nude paintings from an art exhibition after attracting complaints.
    Portsmouth's Anglican cathedral said "worshippers expressed distress" at the four depictions of women by artist Joe Greenwood.

    It said it had agreed with exhibition organisers to remove the work, in order to "balance the needs" of all visitors.

    Mr Greenwood, 40, said he was unhappy that his work had been deemed "inappropriate".
    He said: "While I'm obviously disappointed that my opportunity to exhibit has been affected... I don't bear a grudge against any of the parties involved."

    More here-

New congregation planted in Hermitage

From North West PA-

With new siding and parking spaces, people passing by the Resurrection Church: An Episcopal Congregation at 5130 E. State St. in Hermitage can tell the building has undergone some renovations.

But it’s not just the building that is getting an upgrade. Father Jason Shank says the way the congregation worships will change, too.

“We’re a church creating a fresh expression of vintage Christianity,” Shank said.
The building formerly housed the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, and was a part of St. Jude’s Mission, including the Trinity Episcopal Church in New Castle and St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Greenville. Although the church in Hermitage didn’t grow as anticipated, the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania still wanted a church in Hermitage.

However, the project doesn’t just involve fixing an old building. The congregation itself must be built up “from scratch,” Shank said.

More here-

Diocese of Virginia bishop to retire in November

From The Episcopal Church-

Editor’s note: Diocese of Virginia Bishop Shannon S. Johnston announced Aug. 3 that he will resign his office in three months.

The announcement appears to culminate a process that began in October 2017 when he announced plans to seek a bishop suffragan after the retirement of the Rt. Rev. Ted Gulick, assistant bishop. Then on May 24, Johnston announced an end to the search, citing “serious questions raised by members of the diocesan staff having to do with the leadership and the culture among diocesan staff,” and taking “full responsibility for this situation.” Johnston also said that he had begun to look more seriously about retiring earlier than he had originally planned, having reached age 60 and with 30 years of service in the Episcopal Church.

Dear Diocesan Family,

After many months of intense prayer and reflection, and in close consultation with the presiding bishop and our Standing Committee, I am formally announcing that I have decided to resign my office and ministry as Bishop of the Diocese of Virginia effective November 3, 2018, prior to the adjournment of our annual convention. I will then serve the diocese in a consulting capacity to facilitate the transition to new leadership. I will fully retire effective July 1, 2019, having served over twelve years as a bishop in this diocese.

More here-

Episcopal bishop retired to Abilene pens book that addresses church challenges

From Texas-

As a retired rector and bishop in the Episcopal Church, Claude Payne naturally is concerned about the decline in church attention among most mainstream denominations.

He’s not alone.

Plenty of current bishops, ministers and other church leaders are worried about the same thing. Payne offers an approach to perhaps reversing that trend with a new book, “Reclaiming Christianity,” which was released by Forward Movement during the Episcopal Church’s triennial General Convention held in Austin in July. The book went on sale to the public Wednesday and is available for $15 on

Payne and his wife, Barbara, both grew up in Abilene and live here in retirement. Payne was rector of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston before becoming bishop of Texas in 1995. He participated in the April 21 funeral of former First Lady Barbara Bush at St. Martin’s.

More here-


Friday, August 3, 2018

More than 5,500 UK churches put faith in clean energy

From Business Green-

More than 5,500 churches and cathedrals across the UK have put their faith in 100 per cent renewable power, helping divert over £5m each year from fossil fuels towards green energy providers, Christian Aid revealed today.

Thanks to a raft of group buying schemes, thousands of Church of England, Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Quaker, and Salvation Army places of worship now run on renewable energy, according to the charity.

The news follows the CofE's recent decision to sell its shares in fossil fuel companies which it deems are not on track to meet the aims of the Paris Agreement.

As well as small parish churches, the cohort of sites running on green power includes fifteen Anglican cathedrals such as Salisbury, Bristol, Sheffield and York Minster, which are all now on 100 per cent renewable electricity tariffs through the CofE's Parish Buying procurement group.

More here-

Anglican Priest Denounced for Telling Gays the Bible Is Just 'Silly Words'

From CBN-

An Anglican priest on the Caribbean island of Barbados has been strongly condemned for giving his public support and encouragement to the LGBT community and attacking the Bible in the process.

At a gay pride parade last week, Father Clifford Hall told marchers that nothing can stop their movement, "...legions of Pharisees won't stop it... the roaring lion won't stop it. And some silly words written in a book thousands of years ago won't stop it." 

His words were met by loud applause from parade attendees. Hall also told them they were accepted into the "flock of Christ" and that God is willing to give them the Kingdom.  

He also claimed that homosexuality has "always been part of the natural order of things."

In a separate opinion piece for the Barbados Daily Nation, entitled "Time to Live free from Shame," Hall encouraged the local LGBT group to "assert yourselves unapologetically. Write your letters...hold public Christian services...don't be afraid. There are those who will support you – in the name of Jesus."

More here-

Urbana native elected dean of Buffalo Cathedral

From Southern

The Rev. R. Derrick Fetz, a 2000 graduate of Urbana High School, will serve as the next dean of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Buffalo, New York (, beginning in September. The Vestry, the top leadership body at the local level, unanimously elected Fetz after a series of interviews with prospective candidates conducted by an interview team.

After being asked to consider the opportunity, Fetz was drawn to the position because of the Cathedral’s commitment to making a difference in the daily lives of those who call Buffalo home, including the homeless and marginalized, its implementation of a variety of worship styles, its diversity among parishioners, its success in partnering with and attracting Millennials, its focus on inclusion and social justice, and its appreciation for choral music.

The cathedral in many Episcopal dioceses is the mother church and spiritual center of the diocese, holding many worship services and other events on behalf of the diocese. As a result, a dean of a cathedral works closely with the diocese’s bishop and her/his staff to plan and implement a variety of festivities, including major holiday services, ordinations, festivals and lectures. In addition, the dean oversees the day-to-day life of the Cathedral, its staff, and its programs.

More here-

Kavanaugh thinks prayer in government is OK, and here's why

From Dallas-

When Barack Obama was elected, he invited two private ministers, the Revs. Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery, to lead prayers at the inaugural ceremony. He also asked Chief Justice John Roberts to add the phrase "so help me God" to the presidential oath of office.

This prompted a lawsuit from a group of atheists, who complained the prayers and oath violated the clause in the First Amendment that bars government from establishing a religion. The case ended up in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 2010, before Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The court affirmed dismissal of the case, saying the plaintiffs lacked standing. Judge Kavanaugh agreed with the decision, but not for lack of standing. Instead, he concluded that such religious references in government traditions do not violate the First Amendment. Below is an excerpt of his concurring opinion.

More here-

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Bishop Curry Not Faithful

From The Bahamas-

Bishop Michael Curry is an engaging communicator. This is evident from his Royal Wedding sermon and, more recently, his sermon at Christ Church Cathedral on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE). But more important than being engaging, a preacher of God’s word must be faithful to God’s word. Sadly, by this more important measurement, Bishop Curry falls far short.

Although Bishop Curry preached from two very different texts (1 John 4:7-8 for the Royal Wedding and 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 for the UBE service), on both occasions he preached the same message: Love is the way. And without any distinction, Bishop Curry called everyone to live out the love expressed in 1 John 4:7-8 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-17, which is an impossibility; because only those who have been born of God can love that way. Let me explain.

The personal pronouns “we” and “us” are frequently used in the New Testament letters. And the mistake many people make in reading the New Testament letters is this: They take the pronouns “we” and “us” and apply them universally to the whole world. But in 1 John 4:7-8 and 2 Corinthians 5:14-17, “we” and “us” refer exclusively to those who belong to Christ — those who have been born again. And not everyone belongs to Christ because not everyone has been born again. 

More here-

An Open Letter To The Episcopalians’ General Convention Hatefest

From The Jewish Press-

Just in case no one bothered, dear members of The Episcopal Church, we’re reaching out to thank you for giving us the resolve to go on. You see, the most potent weapon against the Jewish State is not a Hamas suicide belt or an Iranian missile. With the help of G-d and Israel’s army, we can deal with those. What really does the most harm is a hug – and you folks just gave us the antidote.

Beleaguered Jews are suckers for love. Lob missiles into our kindergartens, and we’ll fight back. But send some signal that you “might be ready” to live alongside us, and we melt. On the road to Oz, we bought into the Oslo Accords, and really wanted to believe that somehow the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza would help bring peace. In the end, both were catastrophic.

To your credit, your Church removed any veneer of objectivity or fairness from your General Convention, and zeroed right in on those pesky Zionists. We watched as you introduced a dozen resolutions hostile to the Jewish state, prompting one bishop to ask why Episcopalians were intent on “piling on” to Israel. We heard allegations that Israel incarcerates children for 10-20 years simply for throwing stones; that Israel suppresses peaceful protests in Gaza with lethal weapons.

More here-

Could the Trump Compromise Cause Evangelicals to Follow the Path of the Mainline?

From The National Review-

I’ve long thought that one of the most important stories of modern times is the precipitous decline of so-called mainline Protestant denominations. It wasn’t long ago that mainline denominations such as the Episcopal Church and Presbyterian Church (USA) were titans in the American religious landscape. Now, many of them are declining so fast that they’re in danger of disappearing entirely. Books and essays have been written analyzing the decline, and the point of this post isn’t to rehash every explanation. However, central to the analysis is that fact that each of these churches compromised on core tenets of biblical Christianity. In fundamental ways, they secularized. They responded to social pressure by conforming to (mainly) secular progressive moral norms. They merged with the ambient culture to the extent that the distinct meaning and purpose of the church was lost.

The loss of the mainline and the corresponding rise of the Evangelical church has changed American culture and transformed American politics. And each step of the way, Evangelicals looked at their brothers and sisters across the theological aisle and told them that church is purposeless when it merges with NPR.

More here-

Community watch volunteers offer 'peace of mind' to Ellicott City shop owners

From Maryland-

On Wednesday in the late afternoon, Kim Pelech was in the middle of her 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. shift for the community watch group. Pelech is volunteering every day for the rest of the week.

“There’s great spirit of everyone around here helping,” Pelech said.

Pelech said the business owners and contractors. “use us as a resource. They like having someone else around.”

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, which has served as a hub for the community during both floods, is assisting with the effort.

The Rev. Anjel Scarborough, who has been priest-in-charge since November 2017, said that the efforts of the community watch group is to “give those folks on Main Street a little extra peace of mind as Main Street reopened.”

More here-

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

E. Mark Stevenson named canon to the presiding bishop for ministry within the Episcopal Church

From ENS-
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has appointed the Rev. E. Mark Stevenson as canon to the presiding bishop for ministry within the Episcopal Church, a member of the presiding bishop’s staff.
In this role, Stevenson will support the ministry of the presiding bishop among Episcopalians as a pastoral assistant and strategic and theological advisor. Responsibilities include serving as liaison and representative to bishops within the church and overseeing preparations for meetings of the House of Bishops. Additionally, he will provide support for bishops and Episcopal dioceses in carrying out their ministry and mission as well as preparation for visitations by the presiding bishop. Stevenson will also work closely and collaboratively with the executive officer of the General Convention, the president of the House of Deputies, and the other canons and chief officers on the presiding bishop’s staff, in addition to directing the work of the Formation, Youth, and Young Adult Ministries and Transition Ministries departments.
More here-


What the early church thought about God’s gender

From The Conversation-

The Episcopal Church has decided to revise its 1979 prayer book, so that God is no longer referred to by masculine pronouns. 

The prayer book, first published in 1549 and now in its fourth edition, is the symbol of unity for the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion founded in 1867. While there is no clear timeline for the changes, religious leaders at the denomination’s recent triennial conference in Austin have agreed to a demand to replace the masculine terms for God such as “He” and “King” and “Father.”

Indeed, early Christian writings and texts, all refer to God in feminine terms.

As a scholar of Christian origins and gender theory, I’ve studied the early references to God.
In Genesis, for example, women and men are created in the “Imago Dei,” image of God, which suggests that God transcends socially constructed notions of gender. Furthermore, Deuteronomy, the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible written in the seventh century B.C., states that God gave birth to Israel.

In the oracles of the eighth century prophet Isaiah, God is described as a woman in labor and a mother comforting her children.

More here-

Hill Riddle, 19-year rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in New Orleans, dies at 82

From Louisiana-

The Rev. Hill Riddle, an avuncular Virginian who preached a pragmatic message of Christian love and community over 19 years of nurturing social justice at New Orleans' Trinity Episcopal Church, died Sunday (July 29) at his home. He was 82.

Rev. Riddle retired as Trinity's rector in 2003 after doubling the size of its Lower Garden District physical property, which includes a church and an elementary school, and fostering dialogue and understanding across socioeconomic differences. With a mostly white, well-to-do, old-line New Orleans congregation worshiping three blocks up Jackson Avenue from the St. Thomas public housing development, Riddle's church ran summer camps for poor, black children, taught parishioners to recognize racism in themselves and society and established medical missions to Nicaragua and Honduras.

All the while, Trinity thrived with education ministries, a rich and storied music series, the Trinity Counseling and Training Center, conventional worship services and what for the Episcopal Church at the time were unconventional spiritual offerings such as Taize services and a labyrinth. With some 3,000 members it was the largest Episcopal church in Louisiana and one of the 25 largest in the United States.

More here-

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry resting after surgery

From The Episcopal Church-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is resting comfortably following surgery on Tuesday, July 31.  According to the presiding bishop’s family and his medical team, the surgery went well, as had been expected. Bishop Curry is resting, and a full recovery continues to be anticipated.

On July 25 Curry shared news that he had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer and would be having surgery to remove the prostate gland.

Curry and his family are touched by the outpouring of prayers and well wishes. In their thankfulness, they ask for privacy during his recovery.

Further information will continue to be released by the presiding bishop’s office, as needed.

More here-

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Anglican diocese of Leeds in serious financial crisis

From The Guardian-

The Church of England’s largest diocese, Leeds, is facing a serious financial crisis, forcing it to make staff redundant, close its pension scheme and review salaries.

The diocese of Leeds has drawn up an action plan in an effort to tackle a £3m deficit. It has told staff that up to 14 people will lose their jobs, inviting them to apply for voluntary redundancy. It may also impose compulsory redundancies.

Its defined benefit pension scheme will close at the end of the year. It will reduce four pay scales to one, and evaluate jobs “to ensure the correct levels of pay” have been set.

A letter sent to all members of the Leeds diocesan synod – its ruling body – said the diocese had run a “significant deficit in 2017 and continues to do so”.

The proposals to tackle this had been explained to staff, and a number of them had been given “very difficult news”, the letter said. Synod members were asked to “keep them in your prayers through this difficult time”.

More here-

Camp Beckwith director offers "apologies" amid Melatonin scandal

From Central Gulf Coast-

Several days after parents first filed reports with the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office claiming Camp Beckwith staff gave children 5 mg pills at bedtime without their explicit consent, the camp's executive director has broken her silence about the allegations. 

Eleanor Reeves is the Episcopal church camp's executive director. 

On Saturday, July 28, she wrote to concerned parents in an email. 

The email reads in full:


I grieve for the pain and disappointment and disillusionment that have tarnished "God's Front Yard" over the last few days. I also rejoice in the sweet smiles and new friendships and exuberant innocence which have confirmed my belief that we do something important here.

I offer my unrestricted apologies to all who will remember this Summer as anything less than a glimpse of the Kingdom. I give glory to God for those staff and volunteers who have endured the yellow flies, who have swept floors, who have played kickball til their toes are black and blue, who have eaten tater tots for nine weeks ... and who have loved your kids... our kids.
Attached to my note is a letter from our Bishop.

God's Blessings,
Eleanor Reeves"

Some parents, who claim camp staff gave their children the Melatonin, said they feel as though Reeves' apology was sarcastic and insensitive. 

More here-

Archaeologists may have found a reliquary of Jesus’ apostles

From Aleteia-

Further evidence has emerged to confirm last year’s discovery of the home of Jesus’ apostles on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee, according to archaeologists from the Center for the Study of Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins and Nyack College who are leading excavations there.

Most startling of all, is the discovery of what archaeologists believe may be a reliquary that once contained relics of three apostles.

Last year archaeologists believed they had found the ancient fishing village of Bethsaida, mentioned in the New Testament as the home of the apostles, after unearthing Roman ruins beneath a Byzantine church that, according to the records of a pilgrim from that time, was built over the house of Peter and Andrew.

The finding corroborated an account of a pilgrimage made by a Christian named Willibald who traveled through the area in 725. He noted that he visited a church in Bethsaida that stood over the house of Peter and Andrew.

More here-  

Did the Early Christians Understand Jesus?

From Plough-

There are statements so ­bewildering that they are quoted again and again. Among these is a remark, now a century old, by the French biblical scholar Alfred Loisy: “Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God – and what came was the church.”1 I’ll leave to the side the question of what Loisy himself meant by this sentence. Rather, I’ll focus on how it’s understood by those who gleefully quote it. Usually, they understand it as bitterly ironic.

Here, on the one side, is the kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed: the immense, all-comprehensive, yet incomprehensible trans­form­ation of the world under God’s reign – and there, on the other side, is the church that came after Easter: a finite body with all the limitations of any other social structure. Clearly, then, there’s a gaping chasm between Jesus’ proclamation and the post-Easter reality! Here the glory of the kingdom of God; there the bitter paltriness of the actual existing church.

I’ll say immediately what merit I find in this approach: None. None at all. For it rends open a cleft between the will of Jesus and the reality of the church in a way that does injustice to both Jesus and the church. How so?

More here-

Monday, July 30, 2018

South Rwenzori launches search for next bishop

From Uganda-

The South Rwenzori Diocesan Synod has launched a search for her next bishop as the incumbent prepares to handover power.

The Rt Rev Jackson Nzerebende Tembo, whose term expires in 2021, succeeded retired Bishop Zebedee Masereka Kahangwa, the diocese’s founder bishop.

Masereka bowed out in 2003 after serving from 1984 when south Rwenzori Diocese was curved out of Fort Portal-based Rwenzori Diocese.

Kick-starting the search, Bishop Nzerebende urged the synod to start looking among themselves for his successor.

He was delivering his eight-page charge to the diocesan 17th Synod session which took place at St Paul’s Cathedral, the diocesan headquarters located in Kamaiba Ward of Kasese Municipality on Saturday.

In the Anglican church of Uganda, the synod is highest policy-making body chaired by a bishop and sits once in two years.

More here-

Stop politicising Mau issue, Archbishop Sapit urges politicians

From Kenya-

Anglican Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit has urged politicians to stop meddling in the Mau Forest evictions.
He said the water tower is the source of several rivers, and its protection should not be politicised.
“The preservation of Mau Forest should not be politicised. We are seeing politicians from certain communities politicising the issue for their own gain. They should remember that at the top of Mau is the main swamp that distributes water to other rivers,” he said.

“The environment is groaning because people have destroyed it. We urge the President not to relent in the preservation of Mau Forest and other water catchment areas across the country,” he added.
Archbishop Sapit, who hails from Narok, where some rivers whose source is the Mau Forest Complex, said they were beginning to dry up due to uncontrolled human activity.

More here-

Church of England to review George Carey's official role

From The Guardian-

The Church of England is to review its decision to allow George Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury, to resume an official church role following his evidence at the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA) last week and criticism from survivors.

Steven Croft, the bishop of Oxford who issued Lord Carey with a “permission to officiate” (PTO) earlier this year, said: “We recognise that there will be renewed questions concerning Lord Carey’s permission to officiate following the IICSA hearings this week and I am sorry that my response to Lord Carey’s request for PTO in February this year caused additional distress to some survivors of abuse.”

Carey offered “uncritical support” for a bishop accused of sexual abuse in the 1990s, the inquiry heard.

More here-

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Episcopal Church’s Campaign Against Israel Comes Close to A Blood Libel

From The Simon Wiesenthal Center-

Episcopal Church’s Campaign Against Israel Comes Close to A Blood Libel
July 26, 2018

The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemns the outrageous fabrications made from the floor of the recent General Convention of The Episcopal Church by Bishop Gayle Harris of Massachusetts. In speaking in favor of a punitive measure against Israel, Harris claimed, “I was there a couple years ago on the Temple Mount. A three-year-old little boy, Palestinian, with his mother was bouncing a rubber ball. The ball happened to sort of roll away from him and go over the side down to the Western Wall,” leading to Israeli soldiers charging the Temple Mount and attempting to handcuff the child.

This is an absurd allegation. There is a high stone wall on top of the Temple Mount that blocks balls and people from going over the side. Nonetheless, Harris’ charge was met with many “aye” votes, and no challenge of her facts.

More here-

Episcopalians move slowly toward same-sex marriage

From Albany-

When the General Convention of the Episcopal Church changed its canonical definition of marriage in 2015 to include the term "gender-neutral," it seemed like a huge victory for proponents of same-sex marriage.

And earlier this month in Austin, Texas, the General Convention took another step and passed Resolution B012, ensuring that all Episcopalians, regardless of sex, could be married in their own church building using same-sex liturgies.

Another victory?

Perhaps, but to Episcopalians in the Capital Region, the impact of the decision isn't so clear. Rev. Brad Jones at Christ Church on State Street in Schenectady, who aligns himself with the more traditional view of marriage espoused by Bishop William Love of the Albany Episcopal Diocese, isn't sure how Resolution B012 will actually work.

"The issue went back and forth between the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, and what they came up with was a compromise resolution that will allow same-sex marriages to take place around the country according to state law and practices," said Jones, who was a delegate at the General Convention. "The people on the traditional side of marriage, and the people on the progressive side, well, no one came away with what they wanted."

More here-

Coastal Georgia woman becomes Episcopal saint

From Georgia-

On her way to a final vote for sainthood, the deaconess won Lent Madness in March.

Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander, born on St. Simons Island the year the Civil War ended, has been added to the Episcopal Church’s calendar of saints. The vote took place this month during the church’s General Convention in Austin, Texas.

She died in 1947 and, following the required minimum 50-year wait, was made a Saint of Georgia in 1998 because of her mission in life of educating emancipated slaves and the generations that followed, according to the Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia in Savannah.

More here-