Saturday, August 18, 2018

Here comes the revivalist bishop of Lagos

From Nigeria-

Monday, July 30, 2018 will remain significant and memorable for the diocese of Lagos, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion). It was the day the diocese enthroned a new diocesan bishop in the person of Right Reverend (Dr) Humphrey Bamisebi Olumakaiye to take over from Most Reverend Adebola Ademowo who retired gloriously after serving for 29 years as bishop of the Church Of Nigeria and archbishop of the Lagos Province.

The enthronement ceremony which was quite serene was at the same time colourful due to the array of dignitaries who graced the occasion. Not less than 62 bishops representing the heirachy of the church of Nigeria were present, joined by eminent personalities from all walks of life across the country. Members of the Cathedral Church Of Christ, Marina, Lagos who were present also adorned beautiful attires to celebrate the day.

The church auditorium was filled to capacity while worshippers and guests who could not find seats inside had to sit under canopies outside the church. The ceremony was by all means a historic event, a testimony to the wide acceptance of the new bishop, thus laying to rest the initial apprehensions raised in some quarters following his election.

More here-

The Summary of Actions of the 79th General Convention is now available

From The Episcopal Church-

The Rev. Canon Dr. Michael Barlowe, Secretary of General Convention, has announced that A Summary of Actions of the 79th General Convention is now available online at the General Convention website, here: The text of resolutions can be found in the resolutions section of the virtual binder at

A Summary of Actions of the 79th General Convention presents the results of resolutions and the membership of the Executive Council as well as other elections and appointments made during the 79th General Convention held July 5th – 13th, 2018 in Austin, Texas.  This document is in fulfillment of the requirement under Joint Rule of Order V.15 of the General Convention of The Episcopal Church. 

The Journal of the 79th General Convention, which is the official record of the proceedings, will be available in 2019.

More here-

Responding to Report on Sexual Abuse in PA Roman Catholic Dioceses

From The Diocese of Bethlehem-

In the last several days, our fellow Christians in the Roman Catholic Church here in Pennsylvania have been shaken by the revelations of widespread child sexual abuse committed over many years by clergy in that church and covered up by bishops and other church leaders. The stories detailed in the grand jury report released on Tuesday are horrific and evil, and have shaken to its core the faith of many good people who have trusted in the church their entire lives.

I ask you, first, to join me in praying for the people whose lives have been ripped apart because they were sexually abused by priests or other church leaders. In the face of the unthinkable betrayal they have suffered, may God enfold them in healing mercy and strengthen their spirits with the knowledge that they are perfectly loved. I ask your prayers especially for those victims who were so broken by the abuse they suffered at the hands of clergy and other church leaders that they have ended their own lives and now rest in God’s loving arms.

Please also pray for our friends and neighbors who are faithful Roman Catholics, some of whom are now struggling with the faith they have placed in the church, and for the lay and clergy leaders of the Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania who have cooperated with this investigation and now must find ways to repent for the abuse and rebuild a more accountable, transparent structure.

More here-

Cleansing the Catholic Church of Its Sins By Andrew Sullivan

From The Daily Intelligencer-

After a while, I couldn’t continue reading the Pennsylvania grand jury report on sexual abuse in six dioceses in the Catholic Church. Apart from the rising nausea, I realized the horror of each incident had begun to numb my conscience, and the sheer number of cases had numbed it still further. One case is a tragedy; thousands of cases can too easily become a statistic. Like dealing with Trump’s lies, you can get dizzy following the specific horrors committed against children, and the excuses and prevarications and silence of so many in the hierarchy. Which is why specifics matter. They reveal the core nature of the evil involved.

And so we come across a case like this: A teenage boy called George was befriended by a young priest in his twenties, Reverend George Zirwas. The boy’s family saw this as a good influence, as most Catholic families in the 1970s and 1980s would have. One afternoon, the priest invited George, who was around 14 at the time, to a rectory 25 minutes south of Pittsburgh, where he met several other priests: “During a conversation about religious statues, the priests told George to get onto a bed and remove his shirt, and strike a pose like Jesus on the cross. Then they instructed him to strip off his pants and underwear,” writes the Philadelphia Inquirer. “In the unnerving moments that followed, George claimed that [the priests] began taking photos of him on a Polaroid camera. All of the priests giggled — and then added the photos of George to a collection of photos of other teen boys.” This was a grooming gang.

More here-

Friday, August 17, 2018

Growing Christian genocide in Nigeria: Christian death toll exceeds 6,000 in six months

From Nigeria-

According to the Christian Association of Nigeria, more than 6,000 Christians have been murdered by Islamist Jihadists since the beginning of 2018. Not many people outside Nigeria seem to care.

Dictatorship, tribalism rock Anglican Church – Bishop on the spot

From Kenya-

A storm is brewing in the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), diocese of Nairobi, following the exit of five clerics over blighting leadership wrangles.

The diocese head Rt Rev Bishop Joel Waweru, has been accused of dictatorship, ethnicity, nepotism and favouritism following the departure of the six clerics over vicious boardroom tussles.

The five are David Mutua Kiiru, Kennedy Kinyua, Eli Seka K’owunda, Isaac Mbogo Rukungu and Agnes Nyokabi Kuria, whom the faithful claim were edged out for leaders preferred by Waweru who is said to run the church like a personal fiefdom and doesn’t entertain contrary opinion.

Clerics who spoke to The Nairobian sought anonymity for fear of reprisals as the bishop has instilled fear among senior members who dare to oppose him on financial and spiritual matters.

More here-

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Peter Hollingworth ‘surprised’ by police review

From Australia-

FORMER governor-general Peter Hollingworth says he is yet to be approached by police, who are looking into claims he failed to act on sexual abuse allegations. 

His comments came after Queensland police said they were reviewing allegations against Dr Hollingworth.

The matter relates to claims Dr Hollingworth failed to act on sexual abuse allegations against priests and teaching staff in the 1990s, when he was Anglican archbishop of Brisbane.

“We have received information with respect to the matter,” a Queensland Police Service spokesman told News Corp Australia.

More here- 

and here-

Anglican Consultative Council Chair expresses hope of Provincial status for Chile

From ACNS-

A delegation from the Anglican Consultative Council has concluded its fact-finding visit to the Diocese of Chile, with its Chair, Archbishop Paul Kwong of Hong Kong, expressing his hope that it will become the 40th Province of the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Church in Chile is currently a Diocese in the Province of the Church of South America; but has been moving towards becoming one of the Communion’s independent-but-interdependent autonomous Provinces. The delegation will report its findings to the ACC’s Standing Committee next month. If they give the go-ahead, and if that decision is ratified by a majority of the Communion’s Primates, the Province of Chile could be operational by the end of the year.

The delegation were in Chile from 7 to 13 August to investigate the current state of the Anglican Church in the country and to determine whether it is ready and meets the criteria to become an Anglican Province. They took part in an intense programme of meetings and visits to churches and institutions linked to the diocese; including its theological seminary and the Permanent Commission – a group made up of bishops, clergy and laity.

More here- 

and here-

Diocese of Kansas names three women as candidates for bishop in historic first for the Episcopal Church

From Kansas-

In a first for the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Kansas will select the 10th bishop of the diocese from a slate of women candidates.

The three people are:
  • The Rev. Cathleen Chittenden Bascom, assistant professor of religion at Waldorf University, Waldorf, Iowa;
  • The Rev. Martha N. Macgill, rector, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Cumberland, Maryland; and
  • The Rev. Helen Svoboda-Barber, rector of Luke’s Episcopal Church, Durham, North Carolina.
The Presiding Bishop’s Office of Pastoral Development confirmed that this will be the first time that a diocesan bishop is elected from an all-women slate of candidates.

Macgill and Svoboda-Barber were presented as candidates on June 21 by the Council of Trustees, acting in its canonical role as the diocese’s Standing Committee. Chittenden Bascom was added by petition and announced by the council on Aug. 15.

More information about all three candidates is online here.

More here-

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Disentangling the Gospel from Politics

From Plough-

If the early Christians understood who they were and what their mission was so clearly, why do Christians today find it so hard to imagine following Jesus apart from political affiliation?
One well-known reason has to do with the birth of the Religious Right and how it aligned itself with the Republican Party to help elect Ronald Reagan, which has had effects to this day.

But that’s not where the current politicization of American Christianity began. As Princeton historian Kevin Kruse details in his book One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America, already in the 1950s business leaders plotted to link Christianity, Republican politics, and libertarian economics tightly together. Why? To help drive a wave of public piety and create a feeling of solidarity between Christians and corporations who might both see “big government” as a common enemy.

More here-

Grand jury names 20 Greensburg priests, 99 from Pittsburgh in Catholic sex abuse report

From Pennsylvania-

Systemic efforts to cover-up sexual abuse by clergy in six Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses included not only church officials and bishops in Greensburg and Pittsburgh but reached as high as communications with the Vatican, revealed a long-anticipated grand jury report made public Tuesday. 

Backed by more than a dozen adult victims of priest abuse in six Catholic dioceses, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro blasted the church. He said the grand jury that sat for two years in Pittsburgh heard searing testimony from dozens of witnesses and corroborated most of the allegations made against 301 “predator priests” in more than a half million documents secreted away in church archives. 

Of those, 20 worked in the Greensburg diocese and 99 in the one based in Pittsburgh.
“There have been other reports of abuse within the Catholic church, but none this extensive,” Shapiro said Tuesday from his Harrisburg office, moments after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released an edited version of the 884-page report. “It paints a complete picture of abuse and cover-up in every diocese in Pennsylvania.” 

More here-

Parishioners struggle to save historic Episicopal church in St. Mary's County

From Maryland-

All Saints Episcopal Church has stood, in some form, in Avenue for the last 376 years. The unassuming building, nestled off Oakley Road, has seen better days — termites, unchecked over the years, have compromised the integrity of the building, where a makeshift ramp leads to a neglected structure of rotting wood.

Still, the ghost of the church’s glory days can be seen in the stained glass windows, and as local builder Don Cropp said, it stands unique among other county churches for its all-wood structure, the “only old frame structure” amid mostly brick buildings, he said.

A small but devoted group of parishioners is rallying to save the current church building, built in the 1840s. In past decades, the congregation has made similar petitions to the community to restore parts of the church. In 2002, the church successfully raised $25,000 to cosmetically restore the interior after using funds that had been saved for years to address the old paint on the exterior.

More here-

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Willow Creek Church paid out $3M to sex assault victims: report

From Chicago-

Willow Creek Community Church has paid out more than $3 million in settlements to the families of two disabled children who were sexually abused by a church volunteer, the Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

The megachurch in the northwest suburbs settled the two lawsuits, which stemmed from incidents in 2013 and 2014, after incidents at the hands of Robert Sobczak, according to the Tribune.
Sobczak, now 24, was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to the attacks, court records show.

The Sun-Times could not immediately verify the settlement and Willow Creek did not respond to requests for comment Monday evening.

The church has found itself mired in controversy since the Tribune detailed allegations of sexual harassment against founding pastor Bill Hybels and the church’s own mishandled investigation.

More here-

Why does this Toronto church have a heart inside its walls? Because a scandalizing convert wanted it that way

From Toronto-

When John Elmsley died in 1863, his will included a minor renovation project: Please take my heart from my body and place it in the wall of St. Basil’s Church.

There it remains, floating in alcohol, inside a jar, behind a wall. The heart of the man who was involved in one of this city’s biggest religious scandals, the heart of a mercurial but generous guy who changed the fortunes of Catholic Toronto when he made a splashy conversion in 1833.

Heart burial was a mortuary practice once trendy among medieval kings, religious men and European nobility, especially during the Catholic Reformation. The practice never took off in North America, and was not a custom of Indigenous people here. Elmsley’s heart burial in St. Basil’s Church is believed to be the only one in Toronto’s history.

“It is shocking in today’s somewhat bloodless society,” David Mulroney said a few days before retiring from St. Michael’s College, which was built alongside St. Basil’s Church on land donated by Elmsley. Mulroney has been a parishioner at the downtown church east of Queen’s Park for his entire life, and he remembers being fascinated with the heart as a boy.

More here-

The clergyman (names withheld) who is married with children and hailed from Tombia community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state, according to a church member was not known to be sick but was complaining of headache before his tragic death.

Read more at:

The clergyman (names withheld) who is married with children and hailed from Tombia community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state, according to a church member was not known to be sick but was complaining of headache before his tragic death. According to the church member identified as Mary said: “Our reverend was not known to be sick but was complaining of slight headache before the wedding ceremony . We are at a loss as to what must have happened to him. He was such a nice family man.” It was gathered that the pandemonium that ensued changed the mood of the wedding programme and temporarily disrupted the wedding proceedings for half an hour before normalcy was restored.

Read more at:
The clergyman (names withheld) who is married with children and hailed from Tombia community in Yenagoa Local Government Area of the state, according to a church member was not known to be sick but was complaining of headache before his tragic death. According to the church member identified as Mary said: “Our reverend was not known to be sick but was complaining of slight headache before the wedding ceremony . We are at a loss as to what must have happened to him. He was such a nice family man.” It was gathered that the pandemonium that ensued changed the mood of the wedding programme and temporarily disrupted the wedding proceedings for half an hour before normalcy was restored.

Read more at:

Tasmanian Anglican congregations fighting to save churches marked for sale

From Australia-

Anglicans around Tasmania are frustrated they are being asked to "buy back their own property" in order to prevent churches from being sold to pay child sex abuse redress claims.

The Anglican Diocese of Tasmania announced earlier this year they would be selling off more than 100 properties, including 76 churches, to help fund the $8.6 million needed for the National Redress Scheme.

The scheme, which began in July this year, provides support for the victims of institutional child sexual abuse.

But only 25 per cent of funds from the sale of Tasmanian buildings will go to the scheme; the church will quarantine the rest to help continue ministry in areas that lose church buildings.  

More here-

THERE was pandemonium at Our Saviour Anglican Church, Romania, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital, weekend, when a cleric slumped and died on the pulpit, while conducting a wedding.

Read more at:

THERE was pandemonium at Our Saviour Anglican Church, Romania, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital, weekend, when a cleric slumped and died on the pulpit, while conducting a wedding.

Read more at:
THERE was pandemonium at Our Saviour Anglican Church, Romania, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital, weekend, when a cleric slumped and died on the pulpit, while conducting a wedding.

Read more at:
THERE was pandemonium at Our Saviour Anglican Church, Romania, Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital, weekend, when a cleric slumped and died on the pulpit, while conducting a wedding.

Read more at:

Monday, August 13, 2018

Being salty in a secular world: An interview with Os Guinness

From Australia-

Steve Tong, on behalf of the ACR, had the chance to interview Os Guinness during his recent visit to Sydney. Here, Os shares about the need to connect evangelism and apologetics, and the responsibility of Christians to engage with our world by holding out the light of the gospel. Os also encourages lay people to work alongside their clergy in the task of defending the gospel and winning people for Christ.

ST: Thank you for time today. It’s a real privilege for the Australian Church Record that you have agreed to talk with us. Let me begin by asking about some of your research interests. Many of your talks and books take as a general theme the intersection between religion, politics, and religious freedom in public square discourse. These stimulate a lot of questions for lots of people. My question is, how optimistic or confident are you about the ability of modern, Western Christians to engage with the communities and societies that we find ourselves in now?

OG: A general feature of the Church in the modern world is that the Church is exploding in the Global South, and not really doing very well anywhere in the West. The generalisations are rather gloomy, although there are magnificent exceptions. So I’ve always been concerned, and this is the reason I went into Sociology, to first understand what the impact of the modern world was on faith, not so much on religion, but on faith—our faith, the Christian faith. And then secondly, to try and address the issues that raises, because we have to recover integrity and effectiveness so that we can be salty and light bearing, as our Lord called us to be. So I’ve got many books, dealing with either the impact of modernity on faith or issues that that raises for the Church in recovering its integrity, such as religious freedom.

More here-

Our Bishop Is A Polygamist, Keeps Two Wives In Bishop’s Court – Anglican Church Abia Cries Out

From Nigeria-

All is not well with the Christ Church Cathedral [Anglican Communion], Akwete, Ukwa Diocese, Abia State. The diocese is enmeshed in crisis as members are at loggerheads with the bishop, Rt. Rev. Samuel Kelechi Eze.
In fact, the members have banned Eze from conducting church services and presiding over the affairs of the church. They are also pushing for him to vacate the Bishop’s House, his official residence.
Bone of contention
Among other allegations, the bishop is accused of being a polygamist; diocese members say he has two wives who live with him in the Bishop’s Court. Other allegations against Eze include maladministration of the diocese as well as not taking proper care of the priests working under him.
The attention of the Primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, has been drawn to the crisis. Indeed, the situation has got to the head when the Laity of Ukwa Diocese organized a protest against the bishop.
More here-

Former Canberra Anglican priest jailed for historic rapes

From Australia-

A former Anglican priest who raped a young girl on the pew of a Canberra church had a long-history of molesting children.

Justice Michael Elkaim on Monday sentenced John Philip Aitchison, 67, to nine years jail on five charges of sexual intercourse with a young person and seven counts of acts of indecency on a young person.

The ACT Supreme Court heard had been convicted of offences against children in the United Kingdom, NSW, Victoria, and the ACT.

However, he had only served two years behind bars.

Justice Elkaim said the offender had been "dealt with leniently" in the past, on one occasion a NSW court found he had pyschological issues.

"[This] was incorrect. He is unquestionably a paedophile," Justice Elkaim said.

More here-

‘Ghost bike’ a grim reminder of tragedy

From San Joaquin-

“Bless all who ride,” Deacon Stephen Bentley proclaimed during his prayer dedication Sunday over the city’s first ghost bike on the outskirts of southeast Stockton where 53-year-old Robert Tristan was killed in 2016 by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bicycle home.

“Ghost bikes serve as a reminder of our brothers and sisters who were struck down while pedaling. They are placed in areas of the city where riders have fallen, as a remembrance of those who have died, offer comfort to those who mourn, and restore hope to the broken-hearted,” Bentley said during the brief ceremony attended by Tristan’s tight-knit family and their supporters.

Bentley, with St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in downtown Stockton, runs the church’s bicycle ministry and as such, operates HUB — Helping Urban Bicyclists — that provides refurbished bikes to the homeless and other struggling residents for whatever they can afford.

More here-

Faith-based protesters flock to Washington to counter white supremacists

From RNS-

When white supremacist groups announced plans to hold a demonstration in Washington, D.C., to mark the one-year anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., many were concerned the day would descend into violence as it did in 2017, when one woman was killed and many more injured after a man who had marched with racists allegedly plowed his car into a group of counter-protesters.

But by Sunday evening (Aug. 12), D.C. had hosted far more anti-racist Methodists, Baptists and other religious demonstrators than white supremacists, and the thousands of other counter-protesters spread across the city suggested white nationalists had inadvertently done more to unite people across religious and racial differences than bolster the ranks of racists.

More here-

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Old churches find new purpose

From The Guardian-

Like many of us, I suppose, I hadn’t been inside a church on a Sunday in a long time.

Yet there I was recently as sunlight filtered through the stained glass and filled the rafters of the old St. Paul’s Anglican Church in the village of Cherry Hill, trying to keep a 43-kilogram dog with a wandering attention span from crashing into the tables of old glassware, the vintage toys and the nautical curios.

Teena Coolen tells me she hasn’t changed much inside the church since she bought it, price undisclosed, from the Anglican Diocese five years back.

“I had to do some repairs, of course. The community couldn’t handle the upkeep; there weren’t enough people going to church and putting money into the collection plate.”

But the pews are still there, the same ones, perhaps, as when Donald Conrad became the first baby baptized in the church, which had been built in the late 1800s.

So is the altar, behind which Rhoda Conrad, Mary Lohnes, Maurice Conrad and Stella Forbes at one time or another played the organ.

More here-

Plan to sell Anglican churches in Tasmania draws anger

From Tasmania-

In the tiny Australian town of Hamilton, a quiet 180-year-old sandstone church stands as a reminder of the Christian heritage of the nation's British colonists.

Once the life blood of the community in the island state of Tasmania, St Peter's Church faces an uncertain future.

Like a growing list of churches across the country, it is scheduled to be sold off by the Anglican Church to help pay compensation to the victims of child sex abuse.

But the sale of churches has prompted anger among local communities, who say the churches provide important services such as childcare, assisting the elderly and serving religious needs.

In an emotive appeal yesterday, Ms Miranda Ashby, a Tasmanian resident, said St Peter's Church, where her ancestors were married and buried, was "part of who I am".

More here-

‘Green’ service connects people to creation

From Minnesota-

For centuries, people have worshiped in hallowed spaces of brick or wood, with sunlight streaming through colored glass and music swelling to arched ceilings.

But what of the hallowed spaces of glens or rolling hills, with sunlight streaming through foliage and music swelling to heaven itself?

Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Elk River attempts to bring people back to the latter space with the annual outdoor “green” worship service. The service was held on Aug. 5 this year.

“We have made a conscious effort to focus on the environment and on the Earth and creation,” the Rev. Rob Cavanna said. “It’s really quite poignant and inspirational, we think.”

More here-

In ecclesial matters, less may be best

From Lancaster-

What just happened here? I wondered, scanning summaries of the actions at the Episcopal Church’s 79th General Convention.

It’s a triennial event that brings laypeople, priests and bishops together to hash out, more or less harmoniously, a future direction for the church.

No historic initiatives (unless you count readmitting the Episcopal Church of Cuba) or cutting-edge innovations.

Lots of compromises, apparently.

But sometimes less is truly more.

According to the Episcopal News Service, the in-house media outlet, members of the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops set a new record for resolutions while also passing a $134 million budget focused on the priorities laid out by charismatic Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

Thus, it’s no surprise that some resolutions and activities focused on the environment, racial reconciliation, immigration and a response to gun violence. Bishops confessed the church’s participation in sexual harassment — and deputies will now be allowed to nurse or bottle-feed infants on the House floor.

More here-