Saturday, February 23, 2019

'Slave meal' at Black History Month celebration at Havre de Grace church offensive to some; organizer apologizes

From Baltimore-

The idea of serving an “authentic slave meal” at an event Saturday to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Booker T. Washington has angered some people.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Havre de Grace is hosting the event to honor Washington, an educator, author, orator and presidential adviser to “Learn, Appreciate and Celebrate Black History,” according to a flyer.

In addition to a dramatic reading of “The Man – The Story” and a performance by Expressions of Faith Baltimore Gospel Choir, organizers will serve an “authentic slave meal.”

Alex Ibewuike, a 2008 Havre de Grace High School graduate who works as a consultant for the health care industry in Washington, D.C., said the point of the event is to celebrate black culture, black people, Black History Month and Booker T. Washington.

“There is nothing to really celebrate about a slave meal because that was something that people in that circumstance didn’t have a choice of what they had to eat,” Ibewuike said. “They were given slop and leftover intestines of animals, things people didn’t want to eat.”

More here-

Orkney monk sends hate mail to Episcopal priest who prayed for Prince George to be gay

From Scotland-

“Brother” Damon Kelly, 57, bombarded the Reverend Kelvin Holdsworth, the Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral Episcopal church in Glasgow, with letters and post cards branded gay people “devil’s droppings”.

The anti-gay mail littered with vile phrases and insults included assertions gay people “will not enter the kingdom of heaven” and called for Rev Holdsworth to hang himself.

Kelly, from Westray – who is part of an extremist Catholic group known as the Black Hermits – denied behaving in a threatening or abusive manner between January 30, 2017, and February 7 the same year, by sending the mail, which was aggravated by sexual orientation and transgender prejudice.

More here-

Friday, February 22, 2019

Church of England urged to make land available to Gypsies

From The Guardian-

The Church of England is being urged to make land available for Gypsies and travelling communities who face institutional racism and ostracisation.

It may also appoint chaplains to provide pastoral care to Gypsies and Travellers, and to encourage them to become part of the church.

The governing body of the C of E, the synod will vote on a motion this weekend calling on bishops and other senior church figures to “speak out publicly against racism and hate crime directed against Gypsies, Irish Travellers and Roma, and urge the media to stop denigrating and victimising these communities”.

Local and national church bodies must “play their part in lobbying for and enabling land to be made available” for sites for Gypsies and Travellers, says the motion proposed by Stephen Cottrell, bishop of Chelmsford.

More here-

Kenya hosts 18 Anglican communion primates

From Kenya-

The primates who are currently at a retreat in Maasai Mara are in the country to reflect and pray over their ministry in a visit hosted by the Most Rev Dr Jackson Ole Sapit, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK).

In the dinner hosted at the Archbishop’s official residence on Sunday evening, the church leaders reiterated the need for oneness among Christian faithful and the need for peaceful coexistence. “This is an annual meeting where we get together and have a peer review even as we share our experiences and pray for each other and deliberate on our ministry,” said Dr Sapit.

He also stated that the meeting which is held in different countries came to Kenya this year; last year it was held in Ghana while in 2017, the leaders were in Zambia.

The trip has been organized by Trinity Church Wall Street, a leading episcopal church in Manhattan, New York.

More here-

Episcopal bishop: America must stop ‘running in fear’ from truth about racism

From Syracuse-

When we were children, we played hide and seek. One time when we were playing after dark, I was hiding behind a tree. I heard someone approaching and I began to run. No matter how fast I ran, the person chasing me kept getting closer. Something about running in the dark, feeling that I wouldn’t be able to escape, suddenly seemed ominous and frightening.

As February, the month dedicated to Black History and Presidents Day, comes to a close, I find myself considering the ways that our nation is still running in fear from the truth about racism. Those of us who have benefited most from slavery and institutional racism often dismiss the need to talk about race. We may even think racism no longer exists in America. But the more we refute it, the more we find it chasing us. There is more work to do, much more work. So as Lent, the Christian season of repentance, approaches on March 6, I invite you to join me in prayerfully doing the work of repenting of America’s original sin of institutional racism.

More here-

The United Methodist Church will vote on LGBT issues. The outcome could tear it apart

From USAToday-

One of the nation's largest religious denominations could be headed for a split this weekend.

"What the United Methodist church will look like in March will likely be very different than it is today," said the Rev. Ron Robinson, a chaplain and religion professor at Wofford College, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. "This has the most significant potential for major division out of anything in my lifetime."

When delegates meet in St. Louis this coming weekend for a special session of the General Conference, they will hold a critical vote on whether to ordain openly gay clergy and allow individual churches to conduct same-sex marriages. The outcome will likely reshape the denomination, and could potentially tear it apart.

More here-

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Amid dangerous times, a 'Blessing of Journalists' in Springfield

From Western Massachusetts-

For journalists overseas, the job is becoming increasingly dangerous. Even here at home, concerns are growing over press freedom.

Knowing this, for the second year in a row, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts dedicated the Feast of Frederick Douglass on Wednesday to the "Blessing of Journalists."

"He was an orator and advocate for truth and justice," Bishop Doug Fisher, of Great Barrington, said of Douglass, at Christ Church Cathedral. "He believed telling the truth about slavery would change hearts."

At the blessing, which drew about two dozen people, the diocese awarded WGBY-TV reporter Carrie Saldo with the Bishop's Award, honoring her for bringing local and national concerns to residents of Western Massachusetts through her reporting.

Saldo, host of the station's "Connecting Point," has reported for Public Broadcasting Service, NPR, The Berkshire Eagle and Berkshire Living Magazine. 

More here-,565437

United Methodists confront possible split

From Youngstown-

The United Methodist Church’s top legislative assembly convenes Sunday for a high-stakes, three-day meeting likely to determine whether America’s second-largest Protestant denomination will fracture due to divisions over same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy.

While other mainline Protestant denominations – such as the Episcopal and Presbyterian (U.S.A.) churches – have embraced gay-friendly practices, the Methodist church still bans them, even though acts of defiance by pro-LGBT clergy have multiplied and talk of a possible breakup of the church has intensified.

At the church’s upcoming General Conference in St. Louis, 864 invited delegates – split evenly between lay people and clergy – are expected to consider several plans for the church’s future. Several Methodist leaders said they expect a wave of departures from the church regardless of the decision.

“I don’t think there’s any plan where there won’t be some division, and some people will leave,” said David Watson, a dean and professor at United Theological Seminary in Dayton who will be attending the conference.

Formed in a merger in 1968, the United Methodist Church claims about 12.6 million members worldwide, including nearly 7 million in the United States. In size, it trails only the Southern Baptist Convention among U.S. Protestant denominations.

More here-

Episcopal Church Launches Five-Yr Strategic Plan

From Liberia-

The Episcopal Church of Liberia has launched its five-year strategic plan, which is expected to see more emphasis on evangelism, advocacy and other activities that will cater to the spiritual and physical needs of parishioners and the Christian community at large. The plan seeks to reinvigorate the spiritual activities of the church, while at the same time diverting more attention to health and education needs, as well as engaging in meaningful and responsible entrepreneurial activities to ensure growth.

Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Jonathan B. B. Hart, said at a special convention held on Friday, February 15, that the plan is a systemic process of envisioning a desired future and serves as a guide to the ministry of the church—reflecting all elements of its work in advancement of “God’s kingdom in the Liberian vineyard.

Though approached with renewed vigor, Bishop Hart noted that the idea has been reflected upon in a variety of ways over the past few years. The plan rallies Episcopalians across the country to work towards a more vibrant Diocese. The Episcopal Church is also endeavoring to augment, improve and diversify its investment portfolio in the country.

More here-

A Santa Barbara Episcopal Priest’s Stand Against Racial Injustice

From California-

My father was an Episcopalian missionary in Davis, California, before the church appointed him associate rector at Santa Barbara’s Trinity Episcopal Church in 1961. It was quite a change to move from a small, rural college town to one of the prettiest cities in the world. Palm trees grew in front of the church. Olive trees grew on Olive Street, figs on Fig Avenue. In Davis, Dad started out holding services in the local movie theater before the Episcopal Church purchased a house we were able to convert into a parish church. Parishioners from the campus theater department turned its windows into colorful stained-glass replicas with only glue and tissue paper. 

What a contrast to the imposing Trinity Church, one of the oldest Episcopal churches in the state. In the English Gothic style, it is built of local sandstone and designed by Philip Hubert Frohman, the same architect for the Washington National Cathedral. It all seemed near perfect to me and my brother and sister, especially when my parents were able to buy a house in the Samarkand, a neighborhood of charming houses and underground utilities.

More here-

Archbishop of Canterbury calls an Anglican Primates’ Meeting in Jordan in January 2020

From ACNS-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the leaders of the 40 autonomous Churches in the Anglican Communion to invite them to attend a Primates’ Meeting in January 2020. Primates’ Meetings are one of four “Instruments of Communion” within the Anglican Communion. The last one took place in Canterbury in October 2017. The 2020 meeting will be in the Jordanian capital Amman from 13 to 17 January.

Archbishop Justin announced the meeting in an Epiphany letter to his fellow-Primates last month. He gave further details in a subsequent letter this month.

In his Epiphany letter, Archbishop Justin spoke of the “long and agonising” list of difficulties facing Christians across the world, including violence, corruption, poverty, religious-based discrimination and climate-change related rises in water levels. But, he said, “it is our vocation to be bearers of joy . . . in the midst of the real troubles of our world.”

More here-

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

W. Michie Klusmeyer: Seeing God's love in everyone includes LGBTQ

From West Virginia-

At a time when divisiveness and anger seem to be prevalent in our state and nation, it is now that we need to look for God in the faces of our friends, co-workers, family and even those with whom we disagree. We must recognize we are all God’s children and, therefore, kindness, respect and love must prevail.
This behavior must be encouraged and modeled by our elected officials when it comes to the LBGTQ community. Each person is created by God, for the Kingdom of God, and nothing we can say or do will remove us from the love of God. This is why the nondiscrimination bill in the state Legislature is needed.
While the discussion of human sexuality continues to consume many people’s conversations — and many disagree with various acts, nowhere in the Gospel of Jesus Christ are we allowed to remove the God-givenness of any individual or group of people.

More here-

Gunning It After Parkland: Faith-Based Investor Success With Gun Safety Shareholder Resolutions

From Forbes-

Only seven of the largest gun manufacturers and retailers in the US are publicly traded. Specifically, three of the largest US gun manufacturers are publicly traded. Sturm, Ruger & Co. (NYSE: RGR) manufactured 1.7 million guns in 2015, followed by American Outdoor Brands (NASDAQ: AOBC), which manufactured 1.5 million via its subsidiary Smith & Wesson. The sixth largest US gun manufacturer Savage Arms at 400,000 guns is owned by Vista Outdoor (NYSE:VSTO). Of the largest gun retailers in the US, four are publicly traded: Walmart (WMT); Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE: DKS); Sportsman’s Warehouse (NASDAQ: SPWH); and Gander Outdoors—owned by Camping World (NYSE: CWH). Shareholder advocacy efforts have achieved key victories in three of them in the year since the Parkland shooting.

Faith-based investors have led the way in these advocacy efforts. They bolster their moral authority and organizational prowess with significant financial firepower. Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, which pioneered shareholder advocacy for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, represents over $400 billion in assets from 300 institutional investors globally. The Catholic Church and the Mormon Church each separately have over $30 billion in assets. The Church Pension Fund of the Episcopal Church alone has assets in excess of $13 billion, and Trinity Church alone in New York’s financial district alone has a $6 billion investment portfolio. These are in addition to the assets of individual Catholics, Mormons, and Episcopalians.

More here-

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Anglican Church slammed for excluding same-sex spouses from 2020 conference

From Reuters-

Leading gay Christians have accused the Anglican Church of hypocrisy following its decision to ban same-sex spouses from attending the church’s 2020 global conference. 

Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who in 2014 became the first Church of England priest to wed his same-sex partner, said the move to exclude LGBT+ spouses “panders to the views of the most extremely conservative” members of the Anglican Church. 

“I just think they increase public revulsion at their hypocrisy and their inability to treat people decently,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday. 

More here-

Anglican church recommends former assistant bishop Richard Appleby be defrocked

From Australia-

An Anglican church professional standards board has recommended a senior bishop be defrocked for failing to act on allegations of child sexual abuse within the Newcastle diocese.

Richard Appleby was assistant bishop in the Newcastle Anglican diocese from 1983 to 1992.
In December 2018 he fronted a professional standards hearing that was convened to determine if he was fit to continue to be employed by the church and remain in Holy Orders.

Bishop Appleby was referred to the board in the wake of his evidence before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse.

More here-

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Muslims touched by kindness of Episcopalians

From Newsday-

The Muslims needed a place to pray until the dental office that they had bought in Deer Park was renovated. 

No one, it seemed, wanted to rent to them, leaders of the group said. Then, after a year of searching for a temporary home, they found an Episcopal church not far from the dental office that was willing to let them use the basement once a week. The room was big and open, ideal for them to lay down their prayer rugs. 

What came to pass in 2013 was much more than a lease agreement between a tenant and a landlord. Over the past half-dozen years, a deep friendship has blossomed between the Islamic Center of Deer Park and St. Patrick’s Episocpal Church. 

“How they arrived at our rectory door, I don’t know, but I like to think it was the hand of God that brought us together,” the Rev. William Mahoney, who spearheaded the agreement, said in a 2017 video produced by the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island

More here-

Monday, February 18, 2019

Uganda: Joy As Amin's Kinsmen, Luwum Family Reconcile

From Uganda-

It was an emotional moment on Saturday after Idi Amin's kinsmen from Koboko District asked for forgiveness from the family of late Archbishop Janani Luwum over the latter's murder.

Luwum, who was the archbishop of the Province of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Boga-Zaire, was killed in 1977 by former president Idi Amin's henchmen.

During the 42nd commemoration prayers held to mark Luwum's death in Wii Gweng Village, Mucwini Sub-county in Kitgum District at the weekend, Christians from Koboko Archdeaconry led by Rev Canon Stephen Gelenga said the community still feels the impact of what happened during Amin's regime.

"As Christians from the Kakwa Community, we said we should put aside what happened in the past and let it die completely," he said.

According to Rev Canon Gelenga, the Christians also met with Luwum's widow at their family home in Wii Gweng where they held prayers together.

More here-

Family Promise to assist homeless in Greenville: Belk donation helps launch effort in 10 cities

From East Carolina-

That’s an element of homelessness that does not always catch the public’s eye, said the Rev. John Porter-Acee, rector of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church.

Homelessness can be determined by asking the question, “How many people don’t know where they are going to spend the night tomorrow night?” said Porter-Acee, who is familiar with Family Promise from his involvement with the organization in another North Carolina city before he moved to Greenville two years ago.

“We have many more homeless families in the community than people realize,” Porter-Acee said. “(People) are going to be somewhere and they’re going to be somewhere indoors, but they do not have secure housing and it’s not their own and they may be on the floor or they may be on somebody’s sofa ... You go to school as a child and you don’t know ... where you’re going to be sleeping and you have to carry everything with you all the time.” 

Another reason that Belk partnered with Family Promise is that it has a record of success, Hampton said.

More here-

Anglicans bar same-sex spouses from Lambeth Conference

From Pink-

The Anglican Communion has barred spouses of gay bishops from attending its next Lambeth Conference.

The global Anglican church is facing an increasingly fractious split between liberal Western churches who embrace LGBT+ people, and a faction of hardline African churches who do not.
 A once-a-decade meeting of Anglican church leaders, the Lambeth Conference, is set to go ahead next year, despite fears that anti-LGBT church leaders will choose to boycott the event.
As part of a compromise measure intended to quell dissent, Anglican leaders this week barred religious leaders from pro-LGBT churches from bringing same-sex spouses to the event, although opposite-sex spouses are allowed.

More here-

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Mother and son share the joy of ordination in the Episcopal tradition

From Maryland-

On January 12, 2019, Benita Keene-Johnson and Joe Zollickoffer were ordained to the transitional diaconate. It was, by all accounts, a particularly beautiful and uplifting ordination with an inspired sermon by the Rev. Adrien Dawson, rector of All Saints’, Frederick, on the mission of the transitional diaconate.

Even more meaningful for Benita was the fact that her son, the Rev. Ramelle McCall, rector of Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Baltimore, was there to see his mother, an ordained African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.) pastor, become a part of the tradition that brought him closer to God. And for Benita, her son was a guiding light on her journey to discern a call to ministry in The Episcopal Church. “I was so happy to see the support Ramelle has gotten as a person of color in this Church.”

Ramelle walked alongside his mother as she served in the A.M.E. Church but he did not consider himself a church person until he was in college. While attending Wake Forest University he developed a love of hearing great preachers. After returning to Baltimore, Ramelle began attending St. James’ Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, the former parish of our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry and a long-standing African American parish in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. St. James became the parish to sponsor Ramelle in his call to ordination. He has been ordained seven years and in addition to serving as rector of Holy Trinity, serves as Diocesan Urban Missioner and serves at the churchwide level, most recently on the Interim Body on the State of the Church, per the 2018 General Convention.

More here-

The Silence (and Silencing) of the Clergy

From Clint Schnekloth-

According to my letter of call, my congregation called me to preach and teach. I guess this means I have to commit to saying things within hearing distance of others. 

Additionally, my letter indicates I’m called to do traditional pastor-like stuff: sacraments, worship, pastoral care, encourage others to ministry, etc. 
Then, as if the preaching and teaching weren’t enough, it indicates I’m supposed to speak for justice in behalf of the poor and oppressed, and equip my congregation for witness and service, and guide the people of God in proclaiming God’s love through word and deed.

I fully recognize there is a lot of action in there, lots of loving, ministering, sacramenting, etc. But you know, that letter of call is a lot about speaking and words! My words. The words of those in my congregation. The church is really a word-house. Words make a difference. A seriously huge difference, so much so that the Savior of the world is also referred to in our tradition as the Word.

Given that reality, it’s always amazed me how silent clergy are, and how much the church (writ large) attempts to silence clergy.

More here-