Saturday, January 5, 2019

Today's anxiety, mistrust will pass

From Mississippi-

Last month, a cohort of astronauts and bishops gathered in Washington to commemorate the Apollo 8 space mission’s 50th anniversary.
The Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, said before the ceremony, “The exploration of space is part of the human quest for knowledge, and the human quest for knowledge is to know God’s creation.”
The Apollo 8 mission, taking place Dec. 21-27, 1968, saw the first manned spacecraft break through earth’s lower orbit, orbit around the moon, and come back. The ship’s crew – Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders – became the first humans to see an “Earthrise” and experience the sensation of zero gravity. It set the stage for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to finally set foot on the moon on the Apollo 11 mission just six months later.
The historical moment of the Apollo 8 mission was a tense one. If you’ll remember, the Apollo missions were part of the Space Race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.

More here-

Presiding Bishop’s statement on consent process in the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti

From The Episcopal Church-

January 4, 2019
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has issued the following statement:

Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,

On 3 January 2019, the 120-day canonically mandated period for gathering consents to the ordination and consecration of the Venerable Joseph Kerwin Delicat as the Bishop Coadjutor of Haiti came to a close. I am writing to report that a majority of the bishops with jurisdiction in The Episcopal Church did not consent to the ordination and consecration, nor did the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Haiti provide evidence of consent from a majority of the Standing Committees of the dioceses of The Episcopal Church.

In the coming days I will be in consultation with leaders in the Diocese of Haiti, as well as with others around The Episcopal Church, as we look for the next, best steps forward.

More here-

Friday, January 4, 2019

GACON chair slams CofE transgender guidance as 'false teaching'

From Christian Today-

The chairman of GAFCON, the global conservative Anglican grouping, has hit out at the Church of England over guidance for services to mark transitions for transgender people.

In a message for Epiphany, Archbishop Nicholas Okoh, Primate of Nigeria, contrasted the 'revealed wisdom of God' and 'the wisdom claimed by secular ideologies'. He said calls for 'dialogue' masked the continuing spread of 'false teaching'.

Guidance issued by the House of Bishops commends the rite of Affirmation of Baptismal Faith as a template for recognising a person's gender transition. Okoh said: 'A form of service which is intended to mark a renewed commitment to Christ and the new life we receive through him is instead used to celebrate an identity which contradicts our God-given identity as male and female (as affirmed by Jesus himself in Matthew 19:4) and is still controversial even in secular society.'

The CofE, he said, was 'rejecting biblical authority' in line with the US Episcopal Church and other 'revisionist' provinces.

More here-

Fallout from books and bombs: 1960s’ Anglican radicalism

From Church Times-

IN MARCH 1963, the SCM Press published John Robinson’s Honest to God, a slim theological paperback that sent shock-waves around the Church of England.

Robinson had become the Bishop of Woolwich in 1959, and he had already achieved national fame by appearing as a defence witness in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial of 1960. On the eve of Honest to God’s publication, he outlined his arguments in a widely read Observer article, “Our Image of God Must Go”.

There was now occurring, he argued, a radical revolution in human life. “Modern man” was becoming irreversibly “secular”, and this meant that the Churches needed to embrace “glad acceptance of secularisation as a God-given fact”, abandoning the conventional, theist understanding of God, and shifting their efforts to focus on social activism rather than Sunday services.

These arguments prompted instant controversy. Supportive letters were written to Robinson, and angry letters were written to the Church Times. By December 1963, Honest to God had sold 350,000 copies. Its sales eventually reached more than a million, not including its translations into 17 languages (Features, 26 April 2013).

More here-

Presiding Bishop Appoints New Board Chair for Episcopal Relief & Development as Organization Welcomes New Board Members

From Benzinga-

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, has appointed Teri Lawver as Board Chair for Episcopal Relief & Development. Ms. Lawver replaces Neel Lane who served as chair from 2015 until the end of 2018.

Episcopal Relief & Development welcomes Lawver and also new board member Matt Silva. Lawver was previously on the board of the organization from 2008 to 2013 and has continued to serve on the Advancement Committee.

"I am thrilled to welcome Teri back to the Board of Directors as Board Chair," said Presiding Bishop Curry. "Teri and Episcopal Relief & Development know each other exceedingly well and I am confident that together with the rest of the board and staff, we will create lasting change."

Lawver was named Board Chair, effective January 1, 2019 as Lane completed his term on the board.

More here-

How this Episcopalian’s own book convinced him to become Catholic

From CNA-

An Episcopalian priest set out to write a book on finding and understanding the Gospel’s truth. Now, after he and his family have converted to Catholicism, he says they have found it.

Andrew Petiprin, his wife Amber, and their two children Alex and Aimee were confirmed into the Catholic Church on Jan. 1, at St. Patrick’s Parish in Nashville, the city where they have lived for the last 18 months.

“I am grateful for 16 formative years as an Anglican, and 8 as an Episcopal priest, most recently as Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Tennessee. But I am thrilled that the Lord has called me, my wife, and our children into full communion with Rome,” said Petiprin on Twitter.

Petiprin told CNA that his conversion was heavily influenced by questions raised in the process of writing his book “Truth Matters: Knowing God and Yourself,” which was released last April. 

More here-

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Celibacy isn’t the cause of the church sex-abuse crisis; the priesthood is

From The Boston Globe-

Year after year, we seem to reach new depths of priestly depravity in the Catholic church’s “ministry” to children in its charge. After 16 years of bad news on that front, a Pennsylvania grand jury reported last August that more than 1,000 children had been molested by more than 300 priests in that state. 

And now the attorney general of Illinois, Lisa Madigan, has revealed that 500 cases of alleged molestation were kept hidden by Catholic authorities. They were rejected as unproven by their own investigation. But Madigan says these were not real investigations at all, since the clerical bodies involved “will not resolve the clergy sexual abuse crisis on their own.” Civil authorities are needed where spiritual guidance has been nothing but misguidance.

The first instinct of bishops in these scandals was to “lawyer up,” and the first instruction of lawyers was not to show compassion or admit to any accusation. Large amounts of money are at stake here — millions already paid in settlements, with more millions to come. Madigan rightly says: “The priority has always been in protecting priests and protecting church assets.” I have a priest friend who went to console a family he knew when their child reported an abuse, but he was told by his religious superiors to cut it out. He was just lending credibility to the accuser. 

More here-

Preservation board reacts to St. Michael’s demolition

From Florida-

About a dozen people showed up Gainesville’s Historic Preservation Board meeting on Wednesday to talk about the destruction of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, a meeting that was originally scheduled to nominate the site as a local historic landmark.

Most expressed frustration with the process that played out leading up to last week’s demolition, with some pleaded that the board ensure a similar scenario doesn’t happen again.

Last week, the Episcopal Diocese of Florida, which owned the church at 4315 NW 23rd Ave., began demolishing the building the same day it was issued a permit by the city of Gainesville. A group of Gainesville residents were trying to nominate the site as a historic landmark through the city’s historic preservation procedures.

“The process seems extremely flawed,” said board chairman Jay Reeves. ”... I think we need to smooth it out and make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

The preservation board voted unanimously to send a letter to the Gainesville City Commission requesting it expedite future nomination processes and to amend loopholes in ordinances that the Episcopal diocese managed to bypass or expose. The board will also send a letter censuring the actions of the diocese, its attorney and CHW Professional Consultants, a local group working with the diocese and developers.

More here-

Worries about Black Episcopal churches surface

From Miami-

On a chilly December morning, 100 years and one week after its sanctuary opened, All Saints’ Episcopal Church, an African-American congregation with a proud history, was formally closed.
Bishop Samuel Rodman presided over the Eucharistic service in an elementary school a block away from the church, where weekly services ended more than three years ago. Several longtime members returned to read Scriptures and sing hymns. Afterward, the group of 100, including history buffs and well-wishers from North Carolina and Virginia, shared a meal of fried chicken and baked beans.

All Saints is hardly alone among mainline Protestant and Catholic congregations. Faced with dwindling members, crumbling infrastructure and costly maintenance, some 6,000 to 10,000 churches shutter each year, according to one estimate. More closures may be in the offing as surveys point to a decline in church attendance across the country.

But All Saints is an example of an even sharper decline.

Historically African-American churches across the South are fast disappearing. Some were created after the Civil War when slavery was abolished; others in the crucible of Jim Crow, when whites who had long relegated Blacks to the church balcony no longer tolerated them at all.
The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina once boasted 60 such churches. Today, a mere dozen are left and, of those, only three have full-time clergy. Epiphany Episcopal Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, closed two years ago; at least one other is in danger of shuttering next year.

More here-

Where We Wor­ship… And Who We Are: Christ Epis­co­pal Church and San Mar­cos

From New York-

We are the church with all the ban­ners and signs,” said The Rev­erend Su­san Cop­ley, Rec­tor of Christ Epis­co­pal Church on South Broad­way in Tar­ry­town. A rain­bow flag hangs in front of the church, and, among other signs that have graced the front wrought-iron fence over the years is one stat­ing “Im­mi­grants and Refugees Wel­come.”

Christ Church has a rich his­tory. Built of brick in 1837 in vil­lage Gothic Re­vival style, lu­mi­nous Vic­to­rian stained glass win­dows grace its walls. The founder of Amer­i­can lit­er­a­ture and his­to­rian, Wash­ing­ton Irv­ing, was a pa­tron and early war­den. (His pew is tucked into a cor­ner of the Church by the dec­o­rated Vic­to­rian bap­tismal font.)

More here-

3 words for the church in 2019: ‘we were wrong’

From Baptist News-

As we look toward new year’s resolutions, my hope is that the Christian church might be able to utter just three simple words in 2019. These are words that would change the course of history, foster civil dialogue and perhaps even bring skeptics back into the church. But they are hard words to say: “We were wrong.”

There are many things the church universal and churches more specifically might – or should – admit we were wrong about. But admitting any error does not fall easily from the lips of religious folk – ironically, the very people who want others to confess their sins and turn from their wicked ways.

Too much of Christianity is built upon absolute certainty and not enough on divine mystery. I’m reminded of one prominent Southern Baptist pastor who assuredly declared that he had not changed his mind on anything ever. And I’m haunted by the words of an older adult friend who struggled with our church’s decision two years ago to be fully inclusive of LGBTQ Christians. After hearing a presentation on various ways to understand Scripture, he said: “You’re asking me to say that what I learned about the Bible from my parents and grandparents was wrong on this issue. And if I say they were wrong about this thing, then I have to ask what else they were wrong about. I just can’t do that.”

More here-

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Outspoken priest Rod Bower raises ire of Jewish groups

From New Zealand-

Activist priest and Senate hopeful Rod Bower has been rebuked by Jewish groups for the “offensive” and “irresponsible” comparison of the processing of asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru to the Holocaust. 

The Rector of the Gosford Anglican Church used his now ­famous parish sign to offer support to another priest, Catholic Father Bob Maguire, who said pictures of refugees on the islands “reminded” him of Nazi concentration camps.

Father Bower, who announced plans to run for the Senate last ­October, erected his own sign which read: “Manus is how the Holocaust started.”

More here-

Bishop listed in worst anti-Semitic acts of 2018

From Premier-

A speech by an Anglican Bishop from Massachusetts has been named in the worst global anti-Semitic acts of 2018.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center listed Bishop Gayle Harris at number eight claiming she fabricated Israeli atrocities.

It said: "During a speech in Massachusetts last July, Bishop Gayle Harris reported that she witnessed an Israeli soldier arrest a three-year-old Arab child on the Jerusalem Temple Mount and gun down a 15-year-old Palestinian teen in the back.

"After the Simon Wiesenthal Center exposed the claims as fabrications, Harris, the #2 Episcopal clergy in the state, backtracked, saying that she had only heard the stories from a third party (a Palestinian). 'The fault is solely mine,' Harris said. 'I was ill-advised to repeat the stories without verification'."

The human rights organisation claimed the fabrications "generated widespread outrage in the Jewish community".

More here-

An Episcopal priest bolts for the Catholic Church, but will news story answer the obvious questions?

From Get Religion-

I really should get my click count off to a healthy start in 2019 and write something controversial. At the very least, I should criticize somebody.
Instead, I’m going to do a positive post about an interesting story by one of my favorite journalists on the Godbeat.
Happy new year, Holly Meyer!
Meyer is, as regular GetReligion readers know, the hard-working, prodigious religion writer for The Tennessean, Nashville’s daily newspaper.
The story I want to highlight on this New Year’s Day is an an example of a solid, well-done piece of reporting on the beat. It’s the kind of crucial local journalism that Meyer and Godbeat specialists like her produce day after day.
At a paper without a religion writer (and sadly, there are too many such papers), there’s a 99 percent chance this story would be missed or ignored. Fortunately, The Tennessean has Meyer to recognize the newsworthiness in a prominent local Episcopal priest leaving to become a Roman Catholic.
More here-

Pastoral Letter from Bishop Rickel on Suspension of Statute of Limitations for Clergy Sexual Misconduct

From Olympia-

Pastoral Letter from Bishop Rickel

To all the good people of the Diocese of Olympia,

This past summer, at our General Convention in Austin, Texas, the Episcopal Church took some historic and much needed steps in addressing past abuses by clergy toward lay persons and toward other clergy in the church.   For far too long there has been too much silence, and often misdirection, when persons in our church were brave enough to bring such allegations forward.   I am writing this letter, and asking that it be read in every congregation,on Sunday January 6th and/or January 11th,  in order to make you aware of the implementation of one specific resolution from General Convention, namely, D034, which called for the lifting of the statutes of limitations as spelled out in Title IV.19.4 of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church specifically as it relates to sexual misconduct of clergy. That three year period of suspension begins on January 1, 2019 and will run until December 31, 2021.

More here-

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

As simple as a cartoon: At the New Yorker, white evangelicalism = Ku Klux Klan + patriarchy

From Get Religion-

I know reporters do not control the headlines assigned to their piece, so I am hoping Eliza Griswold was chagrined at the click-bait headline give to her recent New Yorker piece: “Evangelicals of Color Fight Back Against the Religious Right.

Where is this happening, I wondered. And what. precisely, is the “religious right” these days?
Answer: White evangelicals. Period. 

You know: The evangelical Deep State that’s part Ku Klux Klan and part white patriarchy.

In recent years, I’ve noticed how Eliza Griswold is the major go-to writer who gets to explain the religious world to New Yorker readers. The daughter of former Episcopal Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, and more of a Christianity-and-Islam specialist, she didn’t exactly grow up in an evangelical context. I’m curious as to why she gets to define this group.

More here-

Changing the world with a $10 bill: Pittsfield faith leaders renew 'Do Some Good With This' challenge

From Massachusetts-

Earlier this fall, when the Mega Millions lottery offered up a jackpot of more than $1.5 billion, people pondered lavishly about how they would spend such a sum.

But what would you do if you suddenly received an extra $10 and were told, "Do some good with this"? Could you still achieve a dream or make an impact on a drastically smaller scale?

A group of local parishioners believe so.

After a successful pilot last year, the Rev. Cricket Cooper, pastor of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, and the Rev. Timothy "Tim" Weisman, pastor of Zion Lutheran Church of Pittsfield, presented an encore challenge this year of the "Do Some Good With This" advent project.

"Nothing makes you feel more grateful than to be generous," Cooper said. "I think the operative word of this project is 'do.'" 

More here-,560378

From Astrology to Cult Politics—the Many Ways We Try (and Fail) to Replace Religion

From Quillette-

If you count yourself among the secularists cheering for the demise of religion, it isn’t hard to find comforting statistics. Nearly every survey of the state of religion in my own country, the United States, presents a similar picture of faith in decline. Compared to their parents and grandparents, Americans are less likely to self-identify as religious, attend religious services, or engage in religious practices such as daily prayer. Full-blown atheism is still a minority position. But the ranks of the “non-religious”—a broad category made up of those who reject traditional conceptions of God and religious doctrines, or who express uncertainty about their beliefs—are growing.

Even those who self-identify as Christians are less inclined to talk publicly about God and their faith than their predecessors. Indeed, many Americans are Christian in name only—using the term more as an indicator of their cultural background than as a declaration of a spiritual life committed to the teachings of Christ. And the rest of the Western world is even farther ahead on this same path.

More here-

George Bailey at the Bridge: The Costly Virtue of It’s a Wonderful Life

From Christ and Pop Culture-

When George Bailey cries out to God, God’s answer is not an easy one. Die to yourself some more, George. Continue doing the hard things. Dive into the river and save an old man from drowning. When George pulls Clarence out, Clarence shows him that although the price he paid for virtue was costly, he was the one man who could pay it, thereby standing against a great tide of evil. For all the lives George Bailey touched throughout his life, what he really held back through his (often small) virtuous actions was utter depravity and darkness. He saved countless lives, he prevented financial ruin, he elevated the lowly, he prevented the establishment of institutions degrading to women, he built a community for families where instead there would have been a graveyard. For as costly as George’s virtue was to him personally, the absence of his virtue would have cost his community far more.

Virtue should have a communal aspect. In our age of roaring individualism, this is something we might need to be reminded of. In Rome, the word virtus—from which we derive virtue—denoted greatness, valor, and courage, and a virtuous Roman was often one who did great service to the state (it was a male trait—the female equivalent was prudence). In watching It’s a Wonderful Life, I was reminded of a legendary Roman who did for Rome as George Bailey did for Bedford Falls, although in far more Roman fashion.

More here-

Monday, December 31, 2018

Canadian gay bishop marries in Toronto cathedral

From Toronto-

An Anglican gay bishop has married his partner surrounded by friends and family at a cathedral in Toronto.

Bishop Kevin Robertson has married his partner Mohan Sharma at St James Cathedral in the Canadian city.

Bishop Susan Bell of the Diocese of Niagara carried out the ceremony, which took place on 28 December.

Diocese celebrated marriage of gay bishop

The Diocese of Toronto posted a notice congratulating the couple. The missive noted that the pair were married in the presence of their two children, families and friends.

In a sign of shifting attitudes within the church, Colin Johnson, who is the Archbishop of Toronto, also attended the ceremony.

Bishop Kevin and Mohan have been a couple since 2009. Their relationship was blessed in 2016 according to the Pastoral Guidelines of the Diocese of Toronto, but, after this week’s ceremony, are now officially married.

More here-

Typical C of E church 'held just one wedding last year'

From Premier-

The average Church of England (C of E) church hosted only one wedding last year, figures reveal.
Statistics seen by the Daily Mail show the typical Anglican church also held four baptisms and five funerals.

Harry Benson, a Christian from the Marriage Foundation think-tank told the newspaper: "The Church needs to sell marriage rather than weddings.

"We are all obsessed with celebrity weddings but, in the long term, more couples will marry in church if the Church of England talks about the benefits of a formal commitment."

Approximately 38,000 Church of England weddings were held in 2017, a significant decrease compared to the more than 50,000 ceremonies staged in 2007.

Earlier this year, a survey found the number of people who describe themselves as belonging to the Church of England had reached a record low.

More here-

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Five families seek refuge in Anglican Church for Caroling

From India-

For six days, since 23 December, five families have been forced to stay within the premises of a church in Pathamuttam near Kottayam in Kerala, ever since they were attacked whilst carolling before Christmas. On the night of 23 December, a group of carollers, including women and children, was allegedly attacked by DYFI workers. Chingavanam police arrested seven individuals in connection with the case including six DYFI workers. All those arrested were later granted bail.

However, the family members allege that DYFI workers continue to threaten them, and that they were forced to stay in the Pathamutam St Paul’s Anglican Church out of fear of attack if they left.

Johnson PC, committee secretary of the Pathamutam St Paul’s Anglican Church told TNM, "On December 23, a 45 member carol team was visiting homes in the area. But when they reached one of the homes, a group of DYFI workers allegedly joined the team and started calling them ugly words without provocation. The DYFI workers began harassing the girls in the group, and it was alleged that girls of the carol group was molested. When we questioned their actions, they attacked us and destroyed our instruments. Then we informed the police, and they reached the spot and directed us to stop carolling, and so we returned to the church.”

More here-