Saturday, March 9, 2019

Former priest accused of sexually assaulting parishioners taken into custody

From Fresno (ACNA)-

A former Anglican priest accused of sexually assaulting several male parishioners was taken into custody again on Friday.
Jesus Serna had to post a higher bail amount after prosecutors added additional charges against him. He's now facing 18 felony counts.

The district attorney filed charges on behalf of eight victims who they say were violated by the man who was their priest. The allegations range from 2014 to 2018.

Prosecutors say five more victims came forward since the DA and Fresno Police Chief had a news conference. The charges increased the bail to $444,000, and the bond wasn't posted by the 11 a.m. deadline.

His explanation that it was in the process of being posted was not good enough for Judge Jon Kapetan Friday. A deputy handcuffed the longtime Anglican priest and took him to jail, until the bail is processed. 

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of Arizona elects first woman ever to serve as Bishop

From Arizona (with video)-

Preparations are underway for a ceremony full of pageantry. As Jennifer Reddall, the Bishop-Elect of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona will be consecrated on Saturday with moments of joy but also high emotion.

"This is the next era, this is the next phase in our life in Christ in Arizona, is to come under the leadership of this new bishop," said David Benedict Hedges, Master of Ceremonies for the Consecration service. 

For Bishop-Elect Reddall, this is a major milestone, as she looks forward to bringing her leadership to Episcopalians in Arizona.

"The needs of the church and the needs of the world come together in the office of the bishop," said Reddall. 

March 8 is International Women's Day, and on this day the office of the Bishop has even more meaning. As it will be the first time, the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona has elected a woman to serve as their Bishop. 

More here-

From pets to the priesthood: Lane leads St. Philip's Episcopal into a new era

From Buffalo-

The Rev. Stephen Lane wasted little time stealing the hearts of the congregants at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, one of seven original African-American Episcopal churches in the country.

Lane cut the Sunday service from two hours to one, serenaded churchgoers with gospel music and hosted a chicken-waffle celebration for 300 in honor of Shrove Tuesday — unusual for a traditional Episcopal church. And the faithful of St. Philip’s are eating it up.

“Certainly, he is the best thing that has happened in a decade,” said Constance Eve, 86, a longtime member of St. Philip’s. “He’s fired up and he has vision and fresh ideas. He is Caucasian, but I wouldn’t care if he’s lavender. He is a gift to the community.”

Lane, 61, tells his story as he's probably done many times, but on this winter afternoon there’s an undercoating of glee making his words flow. Lane is seated in the study of his parish office. His new gig was unfolding as he always had thought it might, and if ever there were a match that seemed to be made in heaven, it may just be Lane and this church.

More here-

Friday, March 8, 2019

Cathedral 'should help conservative worshippers avoid women priest-led services'

From Premier-

Wakefield Cathedral was "asking too much" of a congregation member who cannot accept women clergy, a new report has found.

The independent review followed a complaint from one worshipper after the West Yorkshire landmark stopped publishing in advance the names of those who would be presiding over Holy Communion.

Dennis Belk claimed he was being "marginalised" because he was forced to arrive at services without prior knowledge whether there would be a male or female celebrant.

Mr Belk, who described himself as a "traditional Catholic" felt the situation put him in a "compromising position" and argued he had to leave services on three occasions because a woman priest was presiding.

Conducted by Sir William Fittall, the review found cathedral bosses were unreasonable in their expectations of Mr Belk.

More here-

Inside the Politics of Religious Denomination in Nigeria's Southeast

From Nigeria-

All politics, as the political cliché goes, is local. Politicians, in an attempt to woo voters, strive to strike a chord in their hearts. They invoke, and at times, invent social, cultural and even religious similarities between themselves and the voters and then spin convincing tales that can earn them votes.

This strategy, which is some sort of homophily-identifying with people of like minds, worked well for President Donald Trump during the last presidential elections in the United States. He knew his target audience- the ultra-conservative white supremacists, who believed that the problem of the US started and ended with immigration. Mr Trump identified with their aversion to immigration and with a we-are-all-in-this-hole-together kind of rhetoric, he won the election.

Back home in Nigeria, President Mohammadu Buhari understood this strategy--and it has worked for him. Mr Buhari started working on the strategy since 1999 when he led a team from the Arewa Consultative Forum to the Oyo State Governor's Office, Ibadan, to challenge the government on the perceived unfair treatment meted to the Fulani in the state. It was reported that he asked the then Governor Lam Adesina: 'Why are your people killing my people'? Mr Buhari was later to make many other pro-North - interventions. This, overtime, endeared him to the average northerner who saw him as someone who would always protect their interest. Competence, unfortunately, was secondary.

More here-

Curry: 'We need a Jesus movement today'

From Easton-

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, who gained international attention when he preached at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, delivered a sermon March 3 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina.

Curry is the presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church.
Sunday’s service brought about 1,000 attendees from around the entire Episcopal Diocese of Easton, which is composed of more than 40 Episcopal faith communities on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
The service was in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the diocese. The Episcopal Diocese of Easton was formed in 1868, shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War.

More here-

Lord Habgood obituary

From The Gaurdian-

As archbishop of York, John Habgood, who has died aged 91, pushed through a compromise position on the ordination of women in 1992 that many in the Church of England felt to be a betrayal.

Although he was intellectually and theologically in favour of women priests – telling the General Synod to remember that God was neither male nor female – he nonetheless led the bench of bishops and the General Synod to support his idea that “two integrities” should be allowed within the church: one that could accept women priests and another that could not. It was an awkward squaring of the circle that left women to pay the price.

Over the years Habgood had consistently voted in favour of female priests, but in the final analysis it felt as if his heart was not with his mind. At the crucial General Synod decision on the matter he voted again in favour, but then immediately took action to appoint a group of provincial episcopal visitors – the famous “flying bishops” – who were assigned to minister to those who refused to accept the ordination of female priests. 

More here-

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaches on selflessness at Baptist church

From RNS-

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry spent the evening of Ash Wednesday at a Baptist church, preaching a Lenten message focused on love and selflessness.

“When love breaks out, we all get set free,” he said to an applauding crowd gathered at Harvest Assembly Baptist Church.

The bishop, who preached on the importance of love at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last year in a sermon watched by some 29 million people, continued that theme across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital.

“Imagine the White House — help me, Jesus,” he preached, “imagine the White House, the United Nations, the nations of the world if love was the law of our hearts and our land.”

He noted that in the New Testament passage from 1 Corinthians, often cited in weddings, that speaks of “faith, hope and love,” the Apostle Paul also warns that love “is not selfish.”

More here-

Thursday, March 7, 2019

The Reason for Baptism before Communion

From The Living Church-

In Up With Authority, Victor Austin asserts that rules and authority are needed for us to be our best selves ([T&T Clark, 2010], p. 1). His argument’s foundation comes from Thomas Aquinas, who says that rules, “properly speaking, regard first and foremost the order of the common good” and should reflect God’s nature and purposes (Summa Theologiae, Part I-II, Q. 90, A. 3). “Authority does not come upon us because of some tragic flaw in human beings,” Austin writes. “Rather … authority is [the] manifestation of the glory of being human” (p. 1).

I cite Austin and Aquinas because of the debate occurring throughout the Episcopal Church regarding Communion without baptism, allowing or actively inviting unbaptized persons to receive the Eucharist. This practice has become known by many throughout the Church as Open Communion, which is the wrong terminology. (Open Communion involves allowing baptized Christians from all Christian churches, baptized in the Name of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to receive the Eucharist in the Episcopal Church.)

More here-

Bishop Kee Sloan: Lent means more than giving up brussel sprouts

From Alabama-

Bishop Kee Sloan, head of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, kicked off Lent with an Ash Wednesday sermon at Cathedral Church of the Advent that recalled his childhood vow to give up brussel sprouts.

“When I was a kid, for several years in a row, I gave up brussel sprouts for Lent,” Sloan said. “And for me it was like it checked off a box. We never had brussel sprouts. The few times we had them we were suspicious of them and complained about them, so Mom fixed something else. I was well into my fifties before I realized I really like brussel sprouts. Who knew?”

Sloan now thinks he may have missed the point.

“If we give up something that doesn’t touch us, then I don’t think we get any credit for just checking something off a box,” Sloan said.

More here-

Episcopal Diocese of NWPA Bishop to also take over the Diocese of Western New York

From NW PA (with video)-

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania begins a new leadership role next month.

Bishop Sean Rowe will be doing double duty, not only will he lead Northwest PA, but also act as bishop of the Diocese of Western New York. 

Bishop Rowe will maintain this dual role for the next five years. The bishop has served the Episcopal church in Northwest PA since 2007.

Rowe says, "Fewer and fewer people are attending our churches on Sunday morning.  We know that we have to continue to make our message more relevant to reach people and that we have to do new things in order to do that.  And this is one step in that direction. "

More here-

Worshipers Find Pittsburgh Episcopal Diocese’s ‘Ashes To Go’ Locations A Convenient Way To Observe Lent

From Pittsburgh (with video)-

“I think it’s wonderful they came. They take the time to come out here and make life a bit easier for everybody with our hectic schedules,” Moore said.

Two people from the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh manned both entrances of the T stop during the Wednesday morning rush, catching people along the way for “Ashes To Go.”

“We’re here because we recognize a lot of people aren’t able to get to their faith communities or maybe aren’t members of a faith community. Last year, I had a bus driver pull over and ask me for ashes when I did this,” said Erin Morey, with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mt. Lebanon.

More here-

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

South African pastor’s resurrection stunt draws mockery and memes

From RNS-

When South African Pastor Alph Lukau claimed to have resurrected a dead man recently, the biblical story of Lazarus may have echoed in the minds of his congregation.

But the action that day (Feb. 24) by the senior pastor and prophet at Alleluia International Ministries in Kramerville, Sandton, in Johannesburg, has stirred a storm after the video showing the alleged resurrection went viral.

Lukau, in the video, is seen standing before a coffin that contains the body of a purportedly dead man in a white suit. Lukau calls the man’s name twice, speaks in tongues and touches his body. The man then sits up inside the casket with his mouth wide open. The congregation breaks into wild celebrations and prayers.

The man — whose name is given as “Elliot” — had allegedly been dead since Feb. 22 and his body had been kept at a mortuary.

More here-

Crusader skull stolen from Dublin church recovered

From Ireland-

The skull of an 800-year-old skeleton known as the Crusader, which was stolen from the crypt of an Irish church, has been found.

Vandals decapitated the skeleton, which was interred beneath St Michan's Church in Dublin, during a break-in last week.

On Tuesday, gardaí (Irish police) said they had recovered the skull along with another stolen from the crypt.

The crypt is a popular tourist attraction but tours were cancelled after the break-in.

A Garda Síochána (Irish police force) spokesman told BBC News NI that the stolen skulls were recovered in Dublin but he would not give more details about the circumstances of the find.

More here-

GAFCON gathering claims 'sense of betrayal' at liberal Anglican teaching

From Christian Today-

A gathering of conservative Anglicans organised by the former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, has called for liberal bishops not to be invited to the 2020 Lambeth Conference.

A GAFCON meeting for Anglicans in 'restricted circumstances' – where practising Christian faith is difficult or dangerous – in Dubai referred in a closing statement to 'the sense of betrayal they experience when the very gospel for which they are suffering is being undermined and denied in other parts of the Anglican Communion. It grieves us that those who reject the clarity and authority of the Scriptures, the universal teaching of the Church, the classical Anglican formularies and the decisions of the Lambeth Conference undermine the credibility of our witness amongst our fellow citizens of other faiths and of none,' the statement said.

It called for representatives of breakaway groups like the Anglican Church of North America and the Anglican Province of Brazil to be invited and warned that 'the fellowship in the Anglican Communion has been torn at the deepest level by those who preach another gospel and those who urge us to continue to "walk together" with them'.

More here-

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

CCN holds mass prayer for rain

From Namibia-

A large number of people turned up at the University of Namibia’s Hifikepunye Campus on Sunday afternoon to pray for rain and other social challenges affecting the country.

The mass prayer was organised by the Council of Churches in Namibia (CCN).

Although an invitation was extended to other churches, only congregants from the Anglican Diocese of Namibia, the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Namibia (ELCIN) turned up.

The prayer was necessitated by the lack of sufficient rainfall since the start of the rainy season, with farmers concerned Namibia could be headed for the worst drought in decades.

Contrary to the norm, many northern communal farmers have entered the third month of the year without even bothering to plough their crop fields.

More here-

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary partners with Episcopal Diocese to offer Anglican/Episcopal studies

From Pittsburgh-

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh have entered into a new partnership intended to change the way clergy and lay leaders are prepared for ministry in the Episcopal Church.

The two organizations are introducing the Anglican/Episcopal Studies Track, a concentration that breaks down the traditional segregating of future priests, deacons, and lay ministers in favor of training them within the same context and course of studies.

The design allows for all those engaged in ministry to enjoy the same substantive academic and spiritual preparation, fully aware of and appreciating each other’s respective role and contribution to mission of the Church.

This training will be enhanced by the ecumenical setting offered at Pittsburgh Seminary.  The program will begin with the Fall 2019 semester.

“The partnership that generated the new Anglican/Episcopal track displays the seminary’s commitment to engage meaningfully with denominational partners,” said the Rev. Dr. David Esterline, seminary president. “The presence of Anglican/Episcopal students has always enriched the learning environment at PTS. By pairing focused attention to Anglican/Episcopal worship, spiritual formation, and tradition with the seminary’s professional degree programs, this new track formalizes a course of study for those seeking to serve within the Anglican/Episcopal tradition.”

More here-

Trinity Church Wall Street acquires Church Divinity School of the Pacific

From ENS-

Church Divinity School of the Pacific, or CDSP, and Trinity Church Wall Street announced March 4 that the New York parish has acquired the Berkeley, California-based seminary.

The Very Rev. W. Mark Richardson, CDSP president and dean, told Episcopal News Service in an interview that the deal will put the school on a solid financial footing and position it for growth. CDSP and its assets now belong to Trinity, he said, and the value of those assets “will be a fund, among other resources they have, that supports the program at the school and operation.”

“It’ll be starting point of the kinds of funds we need to, say, augment faculty or to provide scholarship funding for students,” he said. “This becomes part of their assets that are poured back into the mission of the school.”

Trinity sees CDSP as part of its strategy “to present and offer the curriculum that will bring new leaders into the world that can gather communities and resource them in a way that we have not been able to do currently,” the Rev. William Lupfer, Trinity’s rector, told ENS in an interview.

More here-

Monday, March 4, 2019

Anglican bishop urges Nigerians to accept President Buhari’s re-election as the will of God

From Nigeria-

Rt. Rev. Humphrey Olumakaiye, Diocesan Bishop of the Diocese of Lagos (Anglican Communion), has urged all Nigerians to accept the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari as the will of God.

Olumakaiye made the call on Sunday at the diocesan rally which was part of the activities marking the Centenary Celebration of the diocese of Lagos at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos.

He said God had appointed President Buhari for Nigeria, so the people must try to cooperate and be patient with his government to push the nation forward.

“We know that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. We must not do anything that will drag us back as a nation.

“We have taken a bold step forward so let us continue to move forward,’’ he said.

More here-

Mother who sought sanctuary in church basement in 2017 is still there

From North Carolina-

Jackeline Tobar noticed the signs of her mother’s absence immediately. Flowers weren’t blooming in the garden. Furniture wasn’t constantly being rearranged in the living room. And then there was the kitchen.

“She always uses vegetables to cook,” Tobar, 23, said, “but after the first week, the vegetables were still sitting there, rotting.”

That was almost two years ago.

In April 2017, her mother, Juana Tobar Ortega, was ordered by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to self-deport to her native Guatemala by May. Instead, she packed up her clothes, left her home and family in Greensboro, North Carolina, and moved into a nearby church where she sought sanctuary.

She has not stepped out the church since.

More here-

tate grant helps Monticello church resurrect altar window

From New York-

A Monticello church’s patron saint is about to go in for some much-needed surgery.

Since St. John’s Episcopal Church was built in 1880, an image of its patron saint has occupied a stained-glass window behind the altar in the sanctuary.

Over time, the St. John’s window has cracked, the lead holding it together has fatigued, and the glass has warped.

But soon, that part of the church will look 140 years younger.

Courtesy of a $10,000 Sacred Sites grant from The New York Landmarks Conservancy, the St. John’s window and the wood around it will be restored to its original state.

It’s not the only stained-glass window at the church that needs rehabilitation, but it is the oldest and most important, according to the Rev. Diana Scheide.

More here-

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Thought for the day: is it time to silence BBC preachers who keep women down?

From The Guardian-

And welcome to the amoral maze, where our dilemma of the week is: just how insufferable does a spiritual leader have to be before he or she becomes unqualified to preach at the general public? Or to put it another way, why should the church have a monopoly on excommunication?

The question is not, emphatically, restricted to the case of the ubiquitous prelate, blogger and speaker, Giles Fraser, although with his recent blog – chastising women who fail to stay near home for the future convenience of incontinent fathers – he has done more than most to focus attention on the sort of qualities that should, ideally, distinguish a Thought for the Day contributor from, say, Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Actually, since the latter Brexit supporter is hardly less ostentatiously devout, is yet more ostentatiously fertile, is also hired by the BBC to troll its audience and believes – conclusive indicator of divine approbation – that women are designed for bottom-wiping, it seems almost unfair that he is not, like Fraser, invited to provide “reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news”.

More here-

Church of England to hold first service in Farsi after a huge rise in converts

From The Telegraph-

When the Bishop of Loughborough was 13-years-old, her brother was murdered for being a Christian. 

Born and raised in Iran, she was forced to flee her homeland in 1980 on the grounds of religious persecution - a story that is all too familiar for many Iranian Christians. 

Now, as the ordained Bishop of Loughborough, the Rt Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani is leading the Church of England’s growing community of Iranians who have found a home in the Anglican church. 

This unprecedented shift was yesterday marked with a “historical” service at Wakefield Cathedral in Yorkshire, where the Holy Communion scripture was delivered in Persian for the first time to cater for the growing - yet traditionally unusual - new Anglican congregation. 

With the Cathedral packed full of 450 Persian Christians from parishes all over the UK, Rev Francis-Dehqani led the inaugural service, delivered in both Farsi and English.

More here-

Episcopal bishops object to same-sex spouses’ disinvitation to global conference

From Sight-

Three bishops from the Episcopal Diocese of New York have written an open letter to their clergy and parishioners to express their dismay at a request by the Archbishop of Canterbury that two gay bishops not bring their spouses to the Anglican Communion’s Lambeth Conference in July, 2020.

The letter also explains why, despite consideration of boycotting the meeting, all three New York bishops will attend.

“We have concluded that we cannot in conscience remove t
he voice of the Diocese of New York from the larger conversations at Lambeth,” the letter reads, “regarding sexuality and the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the full sacramental life of the church.”

The Lambeth Conference convenes bishops from the worldwide Anglican Communion once a decade in Canterbury, England. The issue of homosexuality has dominated the last two gatherings, exposing deep differences between bishops from the global South and the US and Canada.

More here-