Saturday, January 26, 2019

Raising Children Without the Concept of Sin

From The New York Times-

We were standing in line for meat pies at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. The indoor arena south of San Francisco had been transformed into Victorian London; actors wearing top hats and crinolines roamed about wishing fairgoers “Happy Christmas.” As we contemplated the menu — haggis or shepherd’s pie? — a noisy band of temperance advocates marched by hoisting signs that stated, “Gin is Sin!”

As my 9-year-old daughter watched them pass, her forehead knitted, and then she looked up at me with solemn hazel eyes.

“Mama, what is sin?” she asked.

The merriment of the fair receded and I stared at her, my brain spinning with the magnitude of her question. By failing to teach my child the meaning of the word sin, had I somehow failed to give her a moral foundation?

Sin. That tiny word still makes me cringe with residual fear. Fear of being judged unworthy. Fear of the eternal torture of hell. Fear of my father’s belt. 

More here-

Just one in ten babies is baptised into the Church of England

From The Daily Mail-

Only one in ten babies is baptised into the Church of England – and in London, the figure is even lower at three in every 100, a national breakdown of the Church’s strength has revealed.

The tiny minority of infants who are introduced to Christianity by the CofE in London is mirrored in other major cities.

In Birmingham, only 5 per cent of babies are christened by the Anglican church; in Bristol it’s 6 per cent; in Manchester 8 per cent; and in Nottingham 9 per cent.

But the proportion of newborn children who are baptised is much higher in provincial towns and rural areas. In the Hereford diocese, for example, one in four babies is christened by the CofE.

More here-

From royal wedding to Roanoke, Episcopal bishop to deliver message of love

From North Carolina-

Some years ago, if you’d asked the Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church, what’s the opposite of love, he would have replied, hate.
But it’s dawned on him that’s only partially true.
“The real opposite of love is selfishness, it’s self-centeredness,” Curry said. “The reality is we must find ways beyond selfishness and self-centeredness and find ways for common ground, ways that we can live together, in order to live. Love is the way. That’s what love is about.”

And that’s the main message Curry seeks to impart this weekend in Roanoke when he presides over a neighborhood walk Saturday and speaks at a revival Sunday.
Curry gained worldwide recognition last year at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for his sermon on the power of love.

More here- 

and here-

Friday, January 25, 2019

Welby says it is 'wonderful' to convert to Catholicism

From The Tablet-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he is perfectly happy if members of the Church of England convert to Catholicism, and that it can even be "wonderful".

In an interview with Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, the Most Rev Justin Welby says he does not mind at all that many of Church of England clergy defected to Rome after the ordination of women priests. 

"Who cares?" he says. "I don’t mind about all that. Particularly if people go to Rome, which is such a source of inspiration. I had an email from a very old friend, an Anglican priest who has decided to go to Rome. I wrote back saying: how wonderful! As long as you are following your vocation, you are following Christ. It’s just wonderful.

"What we need is for people to be disciples of Jesus Christ. I don’t really care whether it’s the Church of England or Rome or the Orthodox or Pentecostals or the Lutherans or Baptists. They are faithful disciples of Christ."

More here- 

and here-

London congregation joins alternative Anglican denomination, questions C of E's 'theological trajectory'

From Premier-

A vicar in south London has announced his congregation is joining an alternative Anglican denomination as he criticised "hostility to evangelical church planting" during "decades" by his local Church of England diocese.

Andy Palmer, who announced that Christ Church Balham is joining the Free Church of England described a "dominance of theological liberalism in the Diocese of Southwark.
The senior minister said: "We have made the decision to join the Free Church of England (FCE) denomination, which we believe will help us secure the gospel ministry here in Balham for generations to come..."

Similarly to the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), the FCE is an evangelical Anglican denomination. It is a supporter of GAFCON - a global movement of conservative evangelical Anglicans.

Rev Palmer continued: "Given the theological trajectory of the Church of England, many churches like us across the country are now looking elsewhere for alternative oversight from evangelical bishops."

More here-

Why I had to cross the Tiber

From The Catholic Herald-

For years, I had felt drawn towards full communion with Rome. But making the leap wasn’t simple – for a start, I was an Episcopal priest 

On the morning of January 1, 2019, my family and I began a new life in the Catholic Church. At Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, my wife and two children and I were received, confirmed and made our first Communion together at St Patrick’s Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Until the day before, I had been an Episcopal priest and a diocesan official.

I was raised Evangelical and passed through an agnostic phase before I was confirmed in the Church of England in 2002 while a graduate student at Oxford. My wife and children were all baptised in the Anglican Communion. For a long time, we thought we knew where we belonged; but when Mass finished on January 1, a crowd of parishioners surrounded us, shook our hands, gave my son and daughter children’s missals and rosaries, took our pictures, and repeated the phrase, “Welcome home.” On social media those same words came our way thousands more times, from all corners of the earth.

More here-

Thursday, January 24, 2019

'Read the Bible, pray and love one another', Justin Welby offers LGBT advice to confused Christians

From Premier-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has addressed the division in the Church of England over sexuality, encouraging members to seek unity.

Justin Welby has been speaking to Premier in a wide ranging interview and admitted there's no simple answer to the ongoing battles within his Church.

While some claim the Church is moving away from the Bible, others claim a greater welcome needs to be given to LGBT people.

"Is there a simple answer?" he asked. "If there was a simple answer we would have found it. It is a complex of things and every church - not just the Anglicans - every church is struggling and has always struggled between the balance of what holiness looks like and how we treat those who fall short.

"Do we condemn them and expel them? Or do we only let them go on in the Church under certain conditions? Do we ignore it and say it really doesn't matter? Of course not. But the difference between setting the ideal and applying that ideal pastorally has always been a tension for the church and these issues are hugely, hugely, hugely important."

More here-

Justin Welby has shown why his church is in such trouble

From The Spectator-

Sorry to sound sectarian, but the Archbishop of Canterbury should really be able to articulate a preference for Anglicanism over other variants of Christianity, including Roman Catholicism. Interviewed here in this week’s Spectator, he was more or less invited to do so; instead he said that he was entirely positive about Anglican priests converting to Rome. Hard to imagine the Pope saying the same thing in reverse. Ecumenical enthusiasm is all very nice, but a Church is in trouble if it can’t say why people should stay within it, or choose it over other options.

So what is Anglicanism’s selling point? The answer is unfashionable but unavoidable: its socio-political liberalism. Note that I do not say simply ‘liberalism’. For one form of liberalism, in theology, is not at all helpful: the sort of liberalism that over-promotes rational humanism, undermining respect for traditional religious teachings and practices.

The Church of England should unashamedly tell a story that middlebrow types will dismiss as ‘Whiggish’. It has played a huge role in the emergence of political liberty, human rights and so on. And it remains the form of Christianity that is most in tune with such values (along with the liberal wings of some other Protestant churches I suppose). Catholicism has its virtues (we can leave it to Catholics to trumpet them), but it has not fully managed to affirm various aspects of modern humanism, to banish the reactionary spirit. Until quite recently, the 1960s, it officially denigrated religious freedom, and its theocratic habits live on.

More here-

Covington priest cries foul over Saints no-call; plans special services to help fans deal

From Louisiana-

Like most Saints fans, The Rev. Bill Miller was a bit irate after referees blew an obvious pass interference call in Sunday’s (Jan. 20) NFC Championship game that essentially robbed the New Orleans Saints of a trip to the Super Bowl in Atlanta.

Rather than simply seething in anger, the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Covington has decided to help the community re-channel its grief and anguish by hosting “Black and Gold and Yellow Flag Sunday” during the church’s four services on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3.

"Folks will be encouraged to wear black and gold," Miller said. "And we will distribute yellow penalty flags during the service but will turn them into prayer flags on which they can write an injustice or a challenge they wish to change, or work toward changing."

At the conclusion of the service, the congregation will sashay to "When the Saints Go Marchin' In" and hang the symbolic yellow flags on prayer lines set up outside the church.

More here-

For 15 same-sex couples, saying ‘I do’ in their Far North Dallas church means everything

From Dallas-

Bryant Surley-Strong was skeptical he’d ever see the day when he could get married in his own church.

“I know the congregation was always supportive, but it just wasn’t allowed,” Surley-Strong said.

But those worries are gone — forever — after he and his husband and 14 other same-sex couples who were originally married outside the church renewed their vows in a boisterous gathering at Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration.

“We’re just doing a little something tonight, no big deal,” the Rev. Casey Shobe told the hundreds who packed the sanctuary at the Far North Dallas Church.

About 40 more people watched the ceremony on a TV screen in the lobby.

“I feel blessed. It’s been a long time coming,” said Shayne Bonner, who renewed her vows with her wife, Tina, who she married in 2016 in Fort Worth. “This church has always been extremely supportive. It’s more emotional for us being able to share this moment with our families.”

The celebration included a Eucharist with the full Transfiguration Choir and brass — directed by Joel Martinson, who renewed his vows with his husband, David Reece — and a sermon from the Right Rev. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop ordained in the church in 2003.

More here-

Amid Pittsburgh division, a priest revives the parish that raised him

From ENS-

When the Rev. Kris Opat returned to St. David’s Episcopal Church in suburban Pittsburgh in 2012, only 20 people were there to start over as a congregation with him. The sanctuary, which seats 300, made the group look even smaller. The building’s previous occupants, part of the Anglican Church in North America, had just decamped.

Ordained for only three years, Opat had never been a priest-in-charge.

Today, St. David’s is a growing parish with almost 300 members, mostly busy young families in a growing suburb who have no previous Episcopal ties. They hear the message of Christ’s unconditional love preached every week from Opat, 38, a trained engineer with dreadlocks who grew up in this congregation.

Opat’s entire career as a priest has unfolded amid the rancor and litigation in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, and weathering that conflict has influenced his welcoming, no-nonsense approach to ministry.

“The split in 2008 was terrible, but since then some wonderful things have happened,” said the Rev. Lou Hays, a retired priest who served in the diocese and mentored Opat. “St. David’s is the top of the list.”

More here-

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Against Anglican Myopia: GAFCON, Canterbury, and Lambeth

From The Living Church-

While reports of the Anglican Communion’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, the decline of some of the Communion’s constituent churches has not, nor have the declines yet been faced with full seriousness and sobriety. Ours is a Communion in turmoil, and as the 2020 Lambeth Conference approaches, the turmoil only seems to deepen. 

Predictably, an increasing number of Global South Provinces, particularly those aligned with GAFCON, announce their intentions to decline the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to attend Lambeth 2020. The Instruments of Communion have failed, they tell us, and nothing will be resolved by pretending otherwise and propping up ineffectual tools capable only of maintaining a problematic status quo. This is not the place to evaluate GAFCON’s assessment of the Instruments of Communion, except to note that the refusal to engage with them becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

More here-

N1.6bn fraud: I’m innocent, Jonathan’s ex-aide, Dudafa, says

From Nigeria-

He told the court that contrary to the allegation by the EFCC, the N1.6bn traced to him was not part of proceeds of a criminal act and he did not conspire with anyone to conceal the funds.

“The source of the money is known; the money was not mine; the money belongs to the Anglican Communion of Otuoke Community in Bayelsa State. It was realised from the fundraiser organised by the church and the then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who is a member and grand patron of the Anglican Church,” Dudafa said.

According to him, at the fundraiser, a businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, who was the chief donor, pledged $10m, and Jonathan instructed him (Dudafa) to follow up with Eze to redeem his pledge.
Dudafa said Eze redeemed the pledge in installments, adding that the money was kept in the bank account of one Somprei Someibi, a friend of the Jonathan’s family.

More here-

Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, a former aide to the ex-president, Goodluck Jonathan, has told the Federal High Court in Lagos that the N1.6 billion traced to him by the EFCC belongs to the Anglican Communion of Otuoke community in Bayelsa state. Dudafa who spoke through his lawyer, Adegboyega Oyewole (SAN), said he was innocent of all the corruption charges brought against him and urged the court to discharge and acquit him, The New Telegraph reports. "The source of the money is known. The money was not mine, it belongs to the Anglican Communion of Otuoke Community in Bayelsa state," he said. “It was realised from the fundraiser organised by the church and former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who is a member and grand patron of the Anglican Church. Dudafa explained that the money was gotten at a fundraiser where a businessman, Prince Arthur Eze, who was the chief donor, pledged $10 million. Read more:

Bradford nightclub could be £4.6m church

From England-

THE Anglican Diocese of Leeds has announced it is going to create a £4.6 million church in an old nightclub in the centre of Bradford. 

The church, which is described as a friendly Christian worship centre with its own cafĂ© and gym, will be created in the West End area near City Park and will engage with the whole community. 

The new church is planned for a former nightspot and will have its doors open to all – welcoming the large resident student and business population in particular, alongside those who call the city centre their home. 

he project has been developed by the Bradford Episcopal Area of the Church of England Diocese of Leeds, supported by £3.1m from the national Church Commissioners’ Strategic Investment Board and £1.5m of local money.  

More here-

Is Christian language to blame for falling church attendance?

From The Church Times-

CHRISTIANS talk in code. They are not alone: the same is true of chemists, chiropractors, and cricket commentators. Code is a handy shorthand for those who can decrypt it. It can even be reassuring. Dot, dash, dot-dot-dash. If someone replies in the same code, we know we are being understood.

But, simultaneously, the code excludes those who cannot read the secret language. Perhaps that is the intention, or perhaps we simply cannot admit that, while we think we are speaking with clarity, in fact we’re talking gibberish.

And code also quickly descends into clichĂ©: a language we automatically tune out of. When the cricketing pundit Geoffrey Boycott first used the term “the corridor of uncertainty” to describe the passage of a fast ball whistling close to the off stump, it was refreshing, even poetic. Now it’s a dreary Test Match Special mantra.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Priests and pastors shoulder a huge emotional burden, but they're burning out ... alone

From Canada-

When we were 16, one of my closest friends told me he wanted to be a priest. I must have looked as shocked as I felt, because he reassuringly added "a Protestant priest, dear."

He read me right.

Having been raised Catholic, my mind jumped straight to celibacy, a concept that made my hormonal teenage mind reel. I was relieved to hear my friend wasn't committing to a life of total abstinence. For a moment, I had been afraid that I didn't know him at all.

Celibacy aside, I was still puzzled. I couldn't imagine joining the clergy. I realized that part of the reason I was confused was because I had no idea what being a priest entailed.

What do priests actually do?

More here-

Prayers have no place in Parliament, say a number of UK MPs

 From Free Thinker-

FOR at least 450 years Anglican prayers have kicked off proceedings in Parliament, but a group of British MPs have decided the time has come to ditch this silly and arcane practice.

The MPs have moved a motion that says the prayers are incompatible with a society which respects the principle of freedom of, and from, religion.

The early day motion has been backed by the National Secular Society (NSS) at a time when church attendance in the United Kingdom has plummeted to new lows.

NSS chief executive Stephen Evans, above, said:
Religious worship is for individuals who choose it – not for nations or legislative bodies. Members of parliament are of course free to pray in their own time, but institutionalised prayer doesn’t belong in the legislative process.
Parliament should reflect the country as it is today. Ending this anachronism would be tangible example of the reform needed in the house and represent a positive step forwards for modernity, equality and freedom of conscience.

More  here-

Facing Torture, Death in Sudan, Convert Flees to Egypt—Only to Receive More Death Threats

From Christian News Network-

“I started to read by myself, comparing the Bible with the Koran, and found that something must be wrong with the God of the Koran who incites Muslim to kill in his name,” he said. “I wondered what kind of God is that, and then one day Jesus appeared to me at night with a very bright light. I was afraid, but He told me not to fear.”

By 2007, his family and friends began abandoning him after noting he had stopped fasting during Ramadan and saying Islamic prayers. He said he discovered that God cares more about the inner heart than ritual obligations.

In 2014 Osman took a train from Khartoum north to Halfa, just over the Egyptian side of the border. From there he managed to avoid arrest by traveling on the Nile River to Aswan in southern Egypt and eventually made it to Cairo.

He worked odd jobs living with Sudanese friends, but when they discovered that he was a Christian, they ordered him to leave, he said. In December 2016, Osman was baptized in the Episcopal Church in Egypt.

More here-

Monday, January 21, 2019

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says he prays 'in tongues' every day

From the Daily Mail-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said that God communicates with him through letters sent by people with a gift for divine prophecy.

As well as receiving divine intervention from believers the clergyman also said he prays 'in tongues' daily, meaning he speaks unknown languages as part of a spiritual experience.

Speaking to Christian radio website Premier Justin Welby, the most senior clergyman in the Church of England, said he reads letters sent to him daily from people who feel God has given them a message to pass onto the archbishop.

More here-

also here-

Shalt thou pray in British parliament? Group of MPs move to scrap practice, Indian-origin MP against

From India-

A group of British MPs has moved a motion to stop the ancient practice of starting the day in parliament with Anglican prayers on the ground that they are incompatible with a society which respects the principle of freedom of, and from, religion.

The early day motion has been backed by the National Secular Society (NSS) at a time when church attendance in the United Kingdom has been dwindling. Reciting Anglican players has been a practice in parliament for at least 450 years, but MPs hold mixed views about it.

The motion has so far attracted support from ruling Conservative, Labour, Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats MPs, but at least one senior law-maker – Labour MP Keith Vaz – wants the practice to continue.

Tommy Sheppard of SNP said: “Parliamentary prayers is one of many archaic Westminster procedures that is long overdue a rethink. The current system completely ignores that MPs, and society as a whole, come from all faiths and none.”

More here-

Anglican bishops tackle malaria

From Southern Africa-

Bishop Luke Lungile Pato of the Anglican Diocese of Namibia says leaders of the faith community can play an important role in supporting efforts to eliminate malaria because of their close connection with the grassroots.

“It is important for faith leaders and churches be involved in combating malaria. Churches are present in communities. They are trusted, respected and active everywhere. Churches extend the reach of existing national services and can use their experiential knowledge of the local context to identify and take action against the specific local drivers of malaria,” the Bishop said.

Pato is one of four southern African Anglican bishops who have declared war on malaria which the World Health Organisation (WHO) says still kills approximately 445 000 people globally annually.  More than 90 percent of these deaths occur in Africa and children form a significant percentage of people who die of malaria in Africa.

More here-

Aberdeen congregation splits from Scottish Episcopal Church over 'continued liberal trajectory'

From Scotland-

A congregation in Aberdeen is parting ways with the Scottish Episcopal Church because of concerns that biblical authority is being compromised.

Westhill Community Church is splitting with the SEC after 83 per cent of its members voted to leave.
Announcing its decision, the church said it was concerned about the 'continued liberal trajectory' of the SEC.

The Rector of Westhill, Canon Ian Ferguson, told the Anglican Communion News Service that the SEC had taken 'a number of decisions' that it 'could not accept'.

'Our church was not able to feel they could go on the trajectory that the SEC are going and they wanted to maintain their sense of biblical authority and their fellowship with the wider Anglican Communion which is being torn apart by decisions of some provinces,' he said.

More here- 

also here-

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Up close with Bishop Mutamiri. . . Anglican turns new leaf

From Central Africa-

BISHOP Farai Mutamiri was early this month consecrated as the new Bishop of the Anglican Church’s diocese of Harare, Church of the Province of Central Africa.

The 51-year-old took over from Bishop Chad Gandiya who retired last year after steering the Anglican ship ashore through stormy waters that included factional fights within the church.

Coming from St John Parish in Canada where he had been based since August 2017, Bishop Mutamiri has set sights on making sure the Anglican Church continues to be a blessing to the community and wins more souls.

More here-

Anglican priest exorcises 'Christian ghost' from Muslim family home –'They were terrified'

From (The You Can't Make This Stuff Up Department) Express-

A MUSLIM family who claims to be being haunted by the ghost of a Christian monk have hired an Anglican priest to rid their house of the supernatural spirit.

 The Muslim family hired Reverend Jason Bray, who is a parish priest in Wales and diocesan deliverance minister, to cast out the demons from the house. They were referred to him via social services and his bishop’s office. He said: “Because they had seen what they thought might be a monk, they felt this was a Christian ghost and therefore they needed a Christian deliverance minister — exorcist, whatever you want to call us — to sort the problem out.
 They were terrified.”

Mr Bray, who described the incident with the monk as “low-level poltergeist activity”, said he arrived wearing a stole.

This is a long band of coloured cloth worn over the shoulders.

More here-

and here-

‘Jesus: His Life’ Event Series Coming to HISTORY

From Reel Faith-

Jesus: His Life, an eight-part event documenting the life of Christ produced by Nutopia, will premiere on the HISTORY Channel March 25 and air for four weeks leading up to Easter. The channel had big success xix years ago with the epic Bible series produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, drawing ratings.

The series interviews and consulted with a diverse group of scholars, faith leaders, and theologians from across the ideological spectrum to provide a rounded picture of the life and times in which Jesus lived, including:
  • Robert Cargill – Assistant Professor of Judaism, Christianity and Classics, University of Iowa
  • Christena Cleveland – Associate Professor, Duke University Divinity School
  • Bishop Michael Curry – Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church
More here-

Scottish Episcopal Church faces split after equal marriage row

From Pink News-

An Aberdeenshire church has voted to break away from the Scottish Episcopal Church, because of its teachings on equal marriage.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has been facing a backlash since a 2017 decision to embrace same-sex marriage, angering evangelicals and conservatives by becoming the first mainstream branch of Christianity in the UK to allow same-sex weddings
 The body faced a controversial ‘punishment’ from the global Anglican Communion, while a number of local churches have moved to break away to maintain their anti-gay marriage teachings and traditions.

The fallout continued this week, as Westhill Community Church in Westhill, Aberdeenshire overwhelmingly voted to break away from the Church.

More here-