Saturday, February 16, 2019

Split grows over same-sex blessings in Anglican Church in New Zealand

From Christian Today-

The decision by the Anglican Church in New Zealand to allow blessings for same-sex relationships has led to a widening rift with those who believe in the traditional position on sexuality. 

The Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACNZP) passed a resolution last year stating that although there was no change to its teaching on the nature of marriage 'as between a man and a woman', vicars could request permission from their bishops to hold a 'non-formulary service' to bless a same-sex relationship.

That move has disappointed some vicars who are choosing to break away and start new churches instead of remain in a Church that they feel has strayed from the Bible. 

The latest vicar to go is Andrew Allen-Johns, who stepped down from AnglicanLife Rangiora in Christchurch to lead a completely new church outside of the ACNZP.

More here-

Falklands' bishop travels to Stanley for a confirmation service

From The Falklands-

Three people were confirmed this week in the most southerly cathedral in the Anglican Communion – but the cathedral’s bishop, Tim Thornton, had to travel some 8,000 miles from his office in London, England, for the service, reports the Anglican Communion News Service.

The Falkland Islands are not within an Anglican Communion province but is an Extra Provincial area under the metro-political authority of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Bishop to the Falklands is a post held by the Bishop at Lambeth – the senior episcopal assistant to the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace.

Despite the remoteness of the Christ Church cathedral on the South Atlantic islands, a full slate of clergy were present for to watch Denise Blake and Antonia and Stirling Harcus make their confirmation vows during what was described as a “joyous” service. In addition to Bishop Tim, the interim priest in charge of the Falkland Islands, Ian Faulds was joined by other Christ Church Cathedral clergy Kathy Biles and Betty Turner. Also present was the Chaplain-in-Chief of the Royal Air Force, John Ellis, and Forces padre Alice McDermott.

More here-

The global excitement about Lambeth Conference

From Anglican Communion News-

As I travel around the Communion, it has been encouraging to see the level of excitement and enthusiasm growing about next year’s Lambeth Conference. The Conference team has now received bookings from 27 different provinces. Bishops and spouses from around the world are signing up all the time and it is clear that momentum is building.

I am also excited about the Conference. The theme of being God’s people for God’s world is so important at a time when so much of our world is hurting. We are a resurrection people who have been transformed by God. And, as the Archbishop of Canterbury says in his video about his vision for the Conference, we are to be key in God’s transformation of the world around us. It is going to be wonderful to see bishops and spouses come from across the globe to be part of this amazing event.

I need to clarify a misunderstanding that has arisen. Invitations have been sent to every active bishop. That is how it should be – we are recognising that all those consecrated into the office of bishop should be able to attend. But the invitation process has also needed to take account of the Anglican Communion’s position on marriage which is that it is the lifelong union of a man and a woman. That is the position as set out in Resolution I.10 of the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Given this, it would be inappropriate for same-sex spouses to be invited to the conference. The Archbishop of Canterbury has had a series of private conversations by phone or by exchanges of letter with the few individuals to whom this applies.

More here-

Friday, February 15, 2019

Anglican Archbishop Urges Prayer After Nigerian Priest Murdered, Family Still Held Captive

From Nigeria-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has issued a statement of condolence to the family of a Nigerian priest who was murdered in Nigeria last week. Anthony Idris Jata’u, a priest in the Nigerian Diocese of Sokoto, was kidnapped along with his family last Thursday by a group of unknown militants. Tragically, his body was discovered Saturday on the side of a road.

Archbishop Justin Welby, the worldwide head of the Anglican Church, told the Anglican Communion News Service he was “deeply distressed and saddened” by the news.

“My prayers and those of the whole community at Lambeth Palace are with the family of the Reverend Anthony Idris Jata’u, who grieve even as they continue to be held in captivity and great danger,” Archbishop Welby said. “May God draw near them in comfort, and bring the freedom and justice that are so urgently needed.”

More here-

Anglican splinter group grows as first same-sex blessing goes ahead in Canterbury

From New Zealand-

Another Anglican vicar has resigned over the decision to allow same-sex blessings as the first ceremony takes place in Canterbury under the new rule.

Rangiora vicar Andrew Allen-Johns resigned from his parish earlier this month and established a new church in central Christchurch called Anchor. The move comes as a male couple became the first in Canterbury to have a same-sex blessing under the Anglican church.

One of the pair declined to comment as they wanted the blessing to remain a private matter.

More here-

Pastor at Wethersfield’s Trinity Episcopal Church focused on service at home and abroad

From Conneticut-

When Rev. Tom Furrer isn’t working on Trinity Episcopal Church in Wethersfield’s many community projects, he’s raising money to fund medical clinics in Nigeria.

Furrer, who was named pastor in January, served for many years at a different Trinity Church, located in the Tariffville section of Simsbury. In 2016, he retired to focus on his nonprofit organization, Kateri Medical Services, which runs five clinics in areas of Nigeria where people don’t have access to medical services.

Furrer will work part-time at the church so he can continue to focus on his mission work. His dedication to serving others fits in perfectly with his new church, he said.

“One of the things I love about this parish is the servant hearts of so many people here. Even though it is a relatively small parish, they have great energy for helping people in need, both locally and around the world,” Furrer said.

More here-

Call for the Election of the Thirteenth Bishop of Chicago

From Chicago-

Dear friends in Christ:

Ever since that cold February day in 2008 when you welcomed me with a glorious ordination celebration, it has been a great privilege to serve God with you as your bishop. Now, trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the counsel of those dearest to me, I believe it is time for you to choose someone new to carry this ministry into the future. Accordingly, I am writing today to announce my intent to retire eighteen months from now, in August 2020, and to call for the election of the thirteenth bishop of Chicago. 

Searching for a new bishop—a process that will be led by the Standing Committee—will take all of that time and perhaps more. The work began last evening, when Bishop Todd Ousley, bishop for pastoral development on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s staff, met by teleconference with the members of the Standing Committee. You will hear more from them soon about a timetable for the election and transition and the process for forming a bishop search committee. 

More here-

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Pope Francis to Canonize Blessed John Henry Newman, Declares Cardinal Mindszenty Venerable

From NCR-

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman is to be canonized following a Vatican announcement on Wednesday that the Pope had formally approved a miracle attributed to his intercession.

Oratorian Father Ignatius Harrison, postulator for Blessed John Henry’s cause, told the Register Feb. 13 that he heard the news with “enormous elation.” 

Everyone at the Birmingham Oratory, which Cardinal Newman founded, is “absolutely delighted that the heroic sanctity has been recognized,” Father Harrison said, “and we look forward to many more graces with his help.”  

The papal decree comes after the Vatican last year judged the healing of a woman to be miraculous. 
The case relates to a law graduate in the archdiocese of Chicago who had been inexplicably healed in 2013 after praying for Blessed John Henry’s intercession while suffering from a “life-threatening pregnancy.” 

More here-

‘Never in hate or fear’: Bluefield Ministerial Association, former Del. denounce Porterfield’s comments

From West Virginia-

The Bluefield Ministerial Association and a former county delegate have taken a stand against some comments made by Del. Eric Porterfield (R-Mercer County) regarding the LGBTQ community.
Rev. Chad Slater with Christ Episcopal Church said in a statement from the association that its members “are grieved by the recent comments made by Delegate Eric Porterfield,” who “professes to be a man of faith.”

“As religious leaders we feel compelled to point out that many of Mr. Porterfield’s recent statements do not reflect the values or sentiments of the entire faith community; rather, he has spoken only for himself,” the statement said. “While we may not all agree on issues pertaining to our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or queer brothers and sisters we should all agree on the inherent worth of all human beings.

“Scripture is clear that all people are made in the image of God, a marvelous truth that places immense value and dignity on every single person. This certainly includes the LGBTQ community, and it includes Delegate Porterfield himself.”

More here-

The Rebel Virgins and Desert Mothers Who Have Been Written Out of Christianity’s Early History

From Atlas Obscura-

When Jerome, the Catholic priest and scholar, arrived in Rome in the middle of the fourth century, he discovered a circle of noblewomen living in elaborate homes on the Aventine Hill who were nothing like their neighbors. 

They’d given up their silk clothes and pearl earrings, the hairstyles and rouge and musk, even bathing, as signs of vanity, and were now wearing coarse robes made of goat’s hair. They stayed almost entirely in their houses, fasting and praying, discussing Scripture; in secret, they might visit a nearby basilica or martyr’s tomb. They never allowed themselves to rest on couches or cushions of any kind, and at night they slept on thin mats on the floor—though they hardly slept, spending those hours, instead, crying and praying. Most importantly, these women—some of them widows, some only recently of marrying age, all converts to Christianity—had each taken a vow of chastity.
Their ringleader was Marcella, a famous beauty, now a widow, who lived with her mother. No one was sure where she’d gotten the idea for this improvised monastic network, but when her husband died only months after her marriage, Marcella embraced a life that few of her class would ever understand.

More here-

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Alister McGrath: Michael Green Taught Me the Importance of Evangelism

From Christianity Today-

When John Stott and J. I. Packer needed speakers for a crucial 1960s gathering of evangelical leaders, they invited only one in his 30s: Michael Green. The British theologian, who died in Oxford on February 6 at the age of 88, went on to become one of the most gifted evangelists of his generation.

Green, an academically talented student, was converted to Christianity as a teenager. In quick succession, he earned first class honors in classics at Oxford and first class honors in theology at Cambridge. His sense of calling to minister in the Church of England reflected his lifelong passion for evangelism. While serving on the staff of the London College of Divinity, a theological college of the Church of England, Green published two works aimed at a student audience that established his growing reputation as an apologist and evangelist: Man Alive (1967) and Runaway World (1968).

These books were widely read and shared by Christian students and led to invitations to speak at major churches and student gatherings throughout the United Kingdom. I read them both myself while a student at Oxford in the early 1970s, and I recall vividly the impact of a sermon Green preached in Oxford on John 3 which helped me grasp the core themes of the gospel.

More here-

The Midweek Hymn: Onward, Christian Soldiers

From Conservative Woman-

The original words, based on references in the New Testament such as ‘Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ’ (2 Timothy 2:3, King James Bible) were written by an Anglican clergyman and scholar, Sabine Baring-Gould. He must have been superhuman. Standing at an upright desk and working far into the night, he wrote at least 248 books, including 35 novels which were popular in their day, and 1,000 or more other publications on subjects as diverse as saints, antiquities and folk songs. He also had 16 children, 15 of whom lived to adulthood.

He was born in 1834 into the landed gentry. At the age of 30, in 1864, he took holy orders, and became curate at Horbury Bridge, near Wakefield. One of the big events was the Whit Monday procession when the parish children marched to the next village, headed by a cross and banners. The year after taking up his post, Baring-Gould decided to write a hymn for the occasion, and came up with Onward, Christian Soldiers. He later said it took about 15 minutes, apologising, ‘It was written in great haste, and I am afraid that some of the lines are faulty.’ The same year he wrote the other hymn for which he is remembered, Now the Day is Over, performed here by the choir of Hastings College in Nebraska.

More here-

Bandits kill Katsina Anglican priest …demand N10m ransom for wife, kids

From Nigeria-

A priest of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), Anthony Jata’u, has been killed by bandits in Gusau, Zamfara State, on the way to his new station in Katsina State.

Multiple sources close to the family told our correspondent on Tuesday that Jata’u, from Southern Kaduna, was abducted last Thursday alongside his wife, three kids and two sisters-in-law.

He was posted to the new station by the Sokoto Diocese of the church.
One of the sources said the reverend, who attended the Crowther Graduate Theological Seminary, Abeokuta, Ogun State, was killed and his body dumped by the roadside by his assailants, who went away his family members.

“The bandits shot at the car he was driving and dragged him and the occupants out as the vehicle skidded off the road. His body was recovered two days later, but his family members were taken away,” the source said.

More here-

and here-

Justice & Dignity: Pauli Murray

From North Carolina-

As a Chapel Hill resident, it always astounds me when I come across someone who is unfamiliar with Anna Pauline Murray (also known as Pauli Murray). We are, after all, a professed and often recognized community of educated, social justice activists with a proclivity for open discourse and legacy pride.

Murray, great-granddaughter of an enslaved woman and the family that owned her, was raised by her grandparents in neighboring Durham. She celebrated her first Eucharist at the local Chapel of the Cross church and was famously denied admission to the UNC School of Law because she was African American. In a letter to then UNC president, Frank Graham, Murray argued that any hesitation about admitting African Americans should be answered by “frank, open discussion” and a “give-and-take process where prejudices are openly aired and accounted for, where correct interpretations are made and where enlightenment is gained in an atmosphere of mutual co-operation and respect.” Early on in her life Murray demonstrated an interest in social justice and open dialogue that became a life-long commitment to advocacy.

More here-

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Decline and Fall of the Protestant Sermon

From The National Review-

The Episcopal Church of my youth, in a memory now fading around the edge but still vivid at the core, was a place of binary judgments. In those days now long gone, there was right and there was wrong and never were the twain to be conflated. God’s Commandments, which concretized Christian principles, were not offhandedly suggestive. They were starkly dispositive. Old-school sermons pushed home the point that there was His way and the dark way and, pace the triangulators, not much at all in the way of a via media.

When it came to moral conundra, as some of you may recollect, the intellectual living was easy. Clarity had been pressed upon us. We all knew where we stood, which was on the wrong side of the bright red line dividing saint from sinner. And we all knew what we had to do. As John Kennedy put it unforgettably in another context, we had to do better. (You had to be there. JFK’s salty Boston accent gave eternal life to the mundane phrase.)

As even a casual student of human affairs might have guessed, we didn’t do better. In the increasingly politicized view of fancy-pants Protestantism, we began to do worse. And the Episcopal Church, with theatrical reluctance, seized the opportunity to gather more extra-cathedral responsibility into its own well-manicured hands.

More here-

Episcopal bishop of Alabama plans to retire

From Alabama-

Bishop John McKee “Kee” Sloan, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, has announced that he will retire next year.

During the annual convention of the Diocese of Alabama on Feb. 9, Sloan called for the election of a bishop coadjutor, who would assist him and then succeed him when he retires at the end of 2020.
“I think it’s time for me to step aside for new leadership as we continue to share the Good News of the love of God in Jesus Christ in a changing world,” Sloan wrote in a letter to the diocese.

Sloan was ordained as a suffragan, or assistant, bishop in 2008 for the diocese. Sloan then won an election in 2011 to take over as head of the diocese when former Bishop Henry N. Parsley retired.
Sloan presides over about 30,000 Episcopalians in 91 churches across the north-central part of the state.

More here-

Monday, February 11, 2019

Synod rejects campaign to split ACK Mbeere Diocese

From Kenya-

Delegates from the 62 parishes who met at the Siakago diocese headquarters ruled that the faction pushing for the split neither represented the rest of the congregation nor did the issues they raised.

They also resolved that the faction did not follow the church’s procedure in agitating for the split. Each of the 62 parishes had sent three delegates - a priest and two lay leaders - to the crucial meeting.

The church’s lawyer, Wairimu Rugaita, and key leaders and professionals from the region attended.

Bishop Moses Masamba, who read a statement on behalf of the synod, said the allegations by some Christians that the church leadership favoured the north side of Mbeere diocese were false. He said the church’s development projects and resources were equitably distributed in all the parishes.

More here-

‘It Is Well With My Soul: Messages of Hope for the Bereaved’

From Pittsburgh-

The Rev. Dr. Harold T. Lewis appeared at the Church of the Holy Cross in Homewood, Feb. 3, preaching and signing copies of his new book, “It Is Well with My Soul: Messages of Hope for the Bereaved.”

An internationally-known figure, Rev. Dr. Lewis served as Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside from 1996 until his retirement in 2012. According to, he is an active chronicler of the African American struggle in the Episcopal Church and has participated on numerous church and seminary boards including the Office of Black Ministries as director from 1983 to 1994. He has served on the Standing Commission on World Mission of the Episcopal Church, where he pressed to have African American missionaries recognized and celebrated alongside White missionaries.

More here-

Alabama church removes pew honoring Confederate president

From Alabama-

An Alabama church has removed a pew honoring Confederate President Jefferson Davis, saying the memorial had no place at a time when rebel symbols have been adopted by white supremacists.
The pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church, Robert C. Wisnewski Jr., posted a message on the church website last week saying the wooden pew was dedicated more than 90 years ago at a service featuring a pro-lynching segregationist.

After learning of the pew's history at a recent planning retreat, church leaders discussed it and then voted to remove the pew from the sanctuary and place it in the church archive, he wrote.

"Confederate monuments and symbols have increasingly been used by groups that promote white supremacy and are now, to many people of all races, seen to represent insensitivity, hatred, and even evil," Wisnewski wrote. "The mission of our parish is diametrically opposed to what these symbols have come to mean."

More here-

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Episcopal Diocese of Northern California Elects First Female Bishop

From Northern California-

The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California has its first female bishop.

The vote happened today at the Special Electing Convention at Faith Episcopal Church, Cameron Park.

The Reverend Canon Megan M. Traquair was selected from the first slate to ever include female candidates in the diocese of Northern California.

Rev. Canon Megan is currently Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Arizona. Her husband Philip is a pediatrician at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. e Church and a majority of the Standing Committees of the dioceses, the consecration is scheduled for June 29, 2019, at the Mondavi Center in Davis.

More here-

Maine Episcopalians elect openly gay bishop

From Maine-

Hundreds of clergy members and laypeople convened Saturday in Bangor to elect a new bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine. Pending confirmation by the other Episcopal dioceses, the Rev. Thomas James Brown, 48, will be the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in Maine and the third ever elected in the U.S.

“I did not see this coming. I am of course delighted and thrilled,” Brown said in an interview Saturday night.

A majority of the 261 clergy members and laypeople elected Brown after three rounds of balloting at the Cross Insurance Center. Brown will be the 10th bishop selected by Maine’s Episcopal Church in its nearly 200-year history. He will replace Bishop Stephen Lane, who is retiring after leading the church for 11 years.

Brown has been the rector for the Parish of the Epiphany in Winchester, Massachusetts, since 2009. Before that he spent nine years as a rector for a parish in Brattleboro, Vermont, and was the director of alumni and church relations at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkley, California, after receiving his master’s of divinity at the school. Brown was ordained in 1998.

More here-

The Lutheran Pastor Calling for a Sexual Reformation

From The New Yorker-

Bolz-Weber had flown in from her home in Denver to promote her book “Shameless,” which was published last week. In it, she calls for a sexual reformation within Christianity, modelled on the arguments of Martin Luther, the theologian who launched the Protestant Reformation by nailing ninety-five theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, in the sixteenth century. (One of the slogans of the church that Bolz-Weber founded in Denver, House for All Sinners and Saints, is “Nailing shit to the church door since 1517.”) Luther rebelled against the legalism that pervaded the Church during the Middle Ages, arguing that the focus on sinful conduct was unnecessary, because people were already redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice. “Luther saw the harm that the teachings of the Church were doing in the lives of those in his care,” Bolz-Weber told me. “He decided to be less loyal to the teachings than to their well-being.” For all of his faults—among them, rabid anti-Semitism—Luther’s theology centered around real life. “He talked about farting and drinking and he was kind of like Nadia,” the bishop Jim Gonia, who heads the Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, told me. Gonia summed up Luther’s idea like this: “Now that we don’t need to worry that we’re good enough for God, how do we direct our attention to our neighbor?”

More here-