Saturday, December 29, 2018

Thomas Merton, the Monk Who Became a Prophet

From The New Yorker-

On December 10, 1941, a young man named Thomas Merton was received as a novice by a monastery in Kentucky, the Abbey of Gethsemani. Precisely twenty-seven years later, he died by accidental electrocution in his room at a retreat center in Bangkok, Thailand. He entered the monastery three days after Pearl Harbor; he died a month after Richard Nixon was elected to his first term as President. It had been an eventful time.

Merton was a remarkable man by any measure, but perhaps the most remarkable of his traits was his hypersensitivity to social movements from which, by virtue of his monastic calling, he was supposed to be removed. Intrinsic to Merton’s nature was a propensity for being in the midst of things. If he had continued to live in the world, he might have died not by electrocution but by overstimulation.

Thomas Merton was born in 1915, to parents living in the French Pyrenees. His American mother, Ruth, who would die of cancer when Thomas was only six, was a Quaker and an artist, though a less ambitious one than his father, Owen. Owen, a New Zealander, had great hopes to make a career as a painter, some of which he later realized. Living in Catholic France, married to a Quaker, he wanted his son baptized in the Church of England. This was done, bequeathing to Thomas a certain confusion about religious affiliation right from the outset.

More here-

‘Please pray for us’: Episcopal priest in Tennessee announces he’s becoming Catholic

From Tennesee-

A conservative Episcopal priest, who is a top administrator in the Tennessee diocese, is leaving the church to become a Roman Catholic.

Andrew Petiprin recently announced his plans to change his religious tradition and resign his post as the Episcopal diocese’s canon to the ordinary. He wraps up his job on New Year’s Eve, and Petiprin and his family will start 2019 in the Catholic Church.

“I’m not really running away from the Episcopal Church, but running toward the Catholic Church,” Petiprin said in an interview.

Since June 2017, Petiprin has worked alongside Bishop John Bauerschmidt, helping him with the administration of the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee, which covers much of Middle Tennessee.
Petriprin said he started the job excited about the chance to influence the future of the Episcopal Church, but it became clear several months ago that God was calling him to Catholicism.

More here-

Friday, December 28, 2018

Coptic Christians plan protests demanding justice as targeted killings continue in Egypt

From Egypt-

Coptic Christians will be staging protests in multiple cities at the end of the month to bring attention to the ongoing persecution their communities suffer in Egypt.

The Australian Coptic Movement Association said on Facebook Friday that protests on Dec. 30 are scheduled in at least three cities: Sydney, Melbourne, and Darwin.

The Coptic community has faced several tragedies in 2018. It's still reeling from the murder of father and son Emad and David Kamal Sadiq who were killed on Dec. 12 by a police officer who had been tasked with guarding a Christian church.

Al-Monitor reported on Thursday that Sgt. Rabie Mostafa Khalifa has officially been charged with premeditated murder in the shooting deaths of the believers after he opened fire while guarding Nahdet al-Qadasa Church in the Minya governorate.

More here-

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church Torn Down Ahead Of Meeting That Might Have Preserved It

From Florida-

The building that once housed St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, located at 4315 NW 23rd Avenue in Gainesville, is being torn down.

Deconstruction on the building began Wednesday, within hours of the City of Gainesville issuing a demolition permit.

The move comes after the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, headquartered in Jacksonville, made a last-minute motion to demolish the building amid community backlash and the possibility that the building itself would be marked as a historic landmark. St. Michael’s Episcopal Church was on the agenda for the next meeting of Gainesville’s Historic Preservation Board, which is scheduled for Jan. 2. Marking the building a historic landmark would have secured its preservation for at least one more year.

“It affects everyone,” said Morris Hylton, the president of Modern Gainesville, a local nonprofit aimed at preserving mid-century architecture. “It’s an architectural landmark deserving of preservation.”

More here- 

also here (video)

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Episcopal Church in US buys shares in gun manufacturers

From The Church Times-

THE Episcopal Church in the United States is to start buying shares in gun manufacturers, in order to be able to exert pressure to reduce gun violence.

It is the first time that the Church has bought shares with the sole purpose of engaging in shareholder action. The Church’s General Convention passed a resolution in the summer calling on the Executive Council’s committee on corporate social responsibility to look into investing in gun manufacturers in order to have influence to “minimize lethal and criminal uses of their products”.

The Bishop of Western Massachusetts, Dr Douglas Fisher, is taking over chairmanship of the committee at the beginning of January. He said: “At our January meeting we will begin the preparation for guidelines for investment. Executive Council needs to sign off on that. We should be ready for investment by the late spring. We need to hold stock for 12 months before we can file resolutions, but we can engage in dialogue before that time.”

More here-

Tiny Brookline Episcopal church feeds hundreds on Christmas Day

From Pittsburgh-

In a Brookline kitchen that is a tight fit for two and packed with six, 900 meals are made to roll on Christmas Day.

The Church of the Advent has a congregation of just 20 to 30 worshipers, but their big hearts are contagious. They have been feeding the lonely and the needy on Christmas since at least 1951, as near as anyone can figure. The church also offers free meals on Wednesdays throughout the year.
About a decade ago, when Jacqueline Hohmann arrived, the church stepped up its Christmas game, and others followed. Today there really is such a thing as too many cooks in a kitchen — but only because the tight squeeze won’t allow for more.

When the parish administrator from Bethel Park began as a volunteer, there were a few delivered meals, a few pickups and a few people who came to eat in the dining hall alongside the kitchen. Ms. Hohmann took over the free holiday meals in 2008, and that year she began advertising in Brookline Boulevard storefronts and wherever else her flyers were welcome.

More here-

Rohr: Church needs an 'awakening of the soul'

From NCR-

Unless Christians rediscover the "bigger heart" and "bigger mind" of the mystical and contemplative tradition, the church will be unable to make positive change in the world — or reform itself, said spiritual author and teacher Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr.

And the "master of the mystical life" is Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and spiritual writer who died 50 years ago today, Rohr said in a keynote address at a conference marking the half-century anniversary of Merton's death.

"Merton gave us the tools to develop a deeper sense of consciousness and therefore conscience," said Rohr, criticizing the kind of "kindergarten Christianity" that makes an idol of a political party or country.

"That's heresy," said Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "God loves people on the other side of the border as much as on this side. A lot of Christians don't know that."

More here-

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Why our congregation gives directly to a church school in Haiti

From The Christian Century-

In August 2015 I stood outside l’Eglise St. Matthieu, a small church in northern Haiti, looking at a low rectangular arrangement of stones, concrete, and rebar that was supposed to be the foundation of a new school building. Beside me were a fellow member of Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, Mas­sa­chusetts, and Père Joseph Tan­crel Diegue, a 61-year-old Haitian priest. We were all frowning.

Three years earlier, Grace Church had raised money to pay for the construction of classrooms for St. Matthieu’s School. With a new classroom building, the school’s five teachers would no longer have to try to teach five different grades simultaneously in the church’s sanctuary, a room smaller than a basketball court. Children at the school had carried stones for the construction. Workers had dug trenches for the foundation, poured the concrete, and set the stones and rebar. Now the foundation was covered with weeds, and the rebar was starting to oxidize. There were no walls and no rafters. No more money, either; it had all been spent, somewhere.

More here-

Bishop Michael Curry on the real message of Christmas

From CBS-

It's been a big year for Most Rev. Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church. He first made headlines in May when he delivered a rousing sermon at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and earlier this month he spoke at the funeral for former President George H.W. Bush

Bishop Curry told "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King that the real message of Christmas isn't just about giving, it's about love.

"Hold on to it, 'cause it's all we got. The truth is, if love is just a sentiment then it doesn't matter. But love is a commitment and one of the passages that speaks about Christmas is John 3:16. It speaks about the crucifixion of Jesus but it also speaks about Christmas, 'God so loved the world that he gave his only son.' It is love which is tied to giving, not taking. Giving. We give gifts as a symbolic way of reminding us that God showed us the way of love, which is to give and not to count the cost."

More here-

Trump Attends Christmas Eve Service That Had A Message About Migrants

From NPR-

NPR's Ari Shapiro speak with Mariann Budde, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, about the Christmas Eve service she led at the Washington National Cathedral, which President Trump and the First Lady attended.

The migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border were on Marianne Budde's mind when she sat down to write her Christmas Eve sermon. She's bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. And when she delivered that sermon last night at the Washington National Cathedral, some surprise guests were in the audience. President Trump and first lady Melania Trump had been scheduled to be in Florida, but the government shutdown kept them in Washington. So they were sitting in the pews when the bishop gave this interpretation of the Christmas story.

MARIANNE BUDDE: There are social implications. The story's very clear about this. It begins as you heard tonight. It begins with an emperor who could move people around on a whim. And two people were forced to obey the emperor's edict, and they set out on a long, arduous journey in the last month of the young woman's pregnancy. And they were denied a place of comfort in the hour of her greatest need, and she had no choice but to lay her child in the trough reserved for animals.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2018 Christmas Sermon

From ENS-

Christmas is full of sounds. There are the sounds of parties and gatherings, of familiar people arguing, or joking, or sitting quietly enjoying being together – sounds that bring hope, or joy, or sorrow.
God, in the greatest of sounds, the Word of God, the baby at Bethlehem, calls to the world through a baby’s cry: “This is who I am. This is my way of being. This is my language, love.”

That word of God has become flesh – tangible, visible, intimate – flesh that changes the world, changes every person who hears and responds.

People will be rejoicing and celebrating, others will be causing trouble and others bringing joy. The world does not stop because it is Christmas. To think so is a dangerous illusion because God came into the reality of the world, to change it, not to give us an escape from it.

More here-

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Washington Post Discovers The Magnificat

From Patheos-

he Washington Post—and Evangelicals—just discovered the Magnificat. Apparently this portion of scripture is unknown to a goodly portion of American Christians. On one hand this surprises me because it is in the Bible, but on the other hand doesn’t because of all those recent polls illuminating the amazing fact that hefty numbers of “evangelicals” are not versed in the most basic elements of Christian doctrine. If ordinary “evangelicals” think that Jesus is a spirit emanation and that you can work your way to heaven, then the Magnificat is probably not something they are any more used to than the Lord’s Prayer.

Anyway, I’m Anglican and the Magnificat has always been my favorite, just like the whole Bible. And not only should everyone read it, but it should be so often sung that everyone knows it by heart. But, like the Bible, it is a dangerous song. And if you think that it belongs to you, or that you can sing it on behalf of others, or that Mary—as the Wapo article intimates—is a revolutionary, well, then you are just reading the prayer and haven’t heard the gospel.

More here-

Anglican church welcomes Indigenous teacher who once renounced Christianity

From Canada-

More than 50 years after Albert Dumont renounced Christianity, the dean of Ottawa's Anglican diocese has welcomed him back — not as a believer, but as an Indigenous spiritual teacher-in-residence.

Dean Shane Parker, who is also the rector of Christ Church Cathedral, met Dumont in 2015 during an event connected with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.    

"Someone came to see me to say, 'There's a fellow here who wants to smudge. Is that OK?'" said Parker. "I just had this strong sense of wanting to stay in the room."

Since then, the two men have bonded over a shared belief in the importance of compassion and interfaith dialogue. 

More here- 

Darien church in legal battle over rector accused of dishonesty

 From Connecticut-

It's been a turbulent year for a Darien church whose status has been stripped and is now embroiled in a legal battle over its rector’s alleged dishonesty.

A Stamford judge is considering whether to dismiss a case brought by the lay leaders of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church who want to remove rector George Kovoor, alleging he misrepresented himself when he was hired in 2016.

In June, the church vestry sent Kovoor a termination letter, ignoring Episcopal Bishop Ian Douglas’ call for the rector to remain at the Mansfield Ave. Parish.

More here-

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Just in: Bishop Ekpeye regains freedom after 5 days in kidnappers’ den

From Nigeria-

The Bishop of Ahoada, Rivers State Anglican Diocese, Bishop Clement N. Ekpeye, who was kidnapped by unknown gunmen last Tuesday night, has now been released.

It was not clear at the time of filing this report whether Bishop Ekpeye was released voluntarily or whether ransom was paid before he was set free five days after his abduction.

Sources in Ahoada, headquarters of Ahoada-East Local government area confirmed to this reporter that Bishop Ekpeye was released and was reunited with his family in the morning of Saturday December 22.

There was a huge celebration by the people of the area, especially, worshippers of the Anglican faith, who got wind of the release of the Christian cleric.

More here-

Anglican archbishop resigns from Rome role over sexual misconduct allegation

From Premier-

The governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome announced Archbishop Bernard Ntahouri’s resignation following an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Archbishop Bernard had also been the Archbishop of Canterbury’s personal Representative to the Holy See.

In a statement the Centre’s Governors said: “The Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome have accepted the resignation of its Director Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi following his suspension last week over an allegation of sexual misconduct.

“The Governors are now taking urgent steps to appoint an interim director, who will also act as the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See.”

Archbishop Bernard has held the role as Director since October 2017. Before he was ordained he was a civil servant who served as chief of staff to Burundi’s President and served four years in prison following a military coup in 1987.

More here-

Anglican Communion Gives Top Job in Rome to LGBT, Abortion Advocate

From Church Militant-

A senior Anglican bishop who publicly opposes fundamental Roman Catholic doctrine on abortion and homosexuality has been appointed Chair of Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome.

Michael Burrows, Anglican bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, who defied the official position of the Catholic Church during the Irish Referendum on abortion in May and announced he would vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, will oversee the Anglican Communion's headquarters for dialogue and unity with the Catholic Church from January 1, 2019.

"In an age when we are all supposed to be 'ecumenically sensitive' it seems an appalling insult to Catholics for an Anglican bishop who is an abortion and gay rights activist to be appointed to such an important position as the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Anglican Centre in Rome," said Catholic priest, author and blogger Fr. Dwight Longenecker. "Is Bishop Burrows' appointment an unfortunate blunder or a calculated move on the part of Anglican authorities to push a progressive agenda in the heart of Rome?"

More here-

Church reaches out to 300 families

From Ohio-

Christmas will be a littler brighter for 300 families thanks to the efforts of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church.

A long line of people were waiting outside the church doors at 5 p.m. when the Christmas dinner supplies distribution began on Friday evening.

“It is very overwhelming. I am very excited and happy,” said Michelle Pruchasky of Ashtabula as she walked from table to table as volunteers put different parts of a Christmas dinner in her bag.

Julie Clayman, director of the church’s food pantry, said church members start talking to Giant Eagle about bulk buying opportunities that reduce the cost of the meals.

“It is something we start working on in October,” she said. “Today it is a stuffed pork, side dish of green beans, pie and dinner roles and a gravy mix.”

More here-

“I’m supposed to be here” New minister finds a homecoming at St. John’s by the Campus

From Iowa-

The Rev. Kim Turner Baker, the new pastor at St. John’s by the Campus Episcopal Church, was born in Des Moines and lived there for the first eight years of her life. But her ties to central Iowa go much further back to the early 1900s when her great uncle and grandfather were among the first blacks to graduate from Iowa State University.

So when she visited St. John’s earlier this year, Turner Baker said she felt as if it’s where she belonged.

Turner Baker, 62, began her work leading the congregation of about 320 parishioners in August, and was installed as its pastor during a ceremony last month.

To learn how more about how Turner Baker got here you have to look back.

More here-