Saturday, March 23, 2019

Judge excoriates sexually-abusive Anglican priest, encourages victims

From Canada-

Ex-Anglican priest David Norton, the judge said, “forever stained the white collar he was entitled to wear.”

He “purported to be a man of God,” said Superior Court Justice Lynda Templeton but every action he took against the four boys who were altar boys at St. Andrew’s church at Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and were sexually abused by him “ran directly counter to the essence of his calling as an Anglican minister of the gospel.”

His behaviour was “insidious” and his actions “obliterated … the spiritual integrity as a leader in any community, be it secular or religious.”

“To don a collar and a cloak of faith and piety, as Mr. Norton did, and then commit those acts of which I have found him guilty, is particularly heinous and is grossly offensive not only to the children themselves but to all who seek to protect our children and nurture their physical, social, emotional and spiritual growth and well-being,” she said.

Templeton had “no difficulty” accepting a joint submission from the Crown and the defence for a nine-year prison sentence.

More here-

Peter Munson passes through Athens as part of 6-million-step journey for charity

From Georgia-

When he stepped foot into Athens, 61-year-old Peter Munson was 251 miles and 17 days into his walk across the country.

His goal? Raise a dollar per step as a part of his 6 Million Steps for Kids project, which aims to support four charities that help children both in the U.S. and around the world.

“My feet are a lot more sore than they normally are,” Munson joked.

Munson, an Episcopal minister from Denver, Colorado, started his journey in Folly Beach, South Carolina, and hopes to finish in San Francisco by November 2019. At the finish line, he will have walked more than 6 million steps and 3,600 miles.

More here-

Speaking Clearly About the Cost LGBTQ People Bear

From Union-

Several months ago, I received an email asking me to serve on the Taskforce on Communion Across Difference. Truthfully, my initial reaction was to say “absolutely not.” Growing up as an effeminate Latino gay kid in a small, mostly white town in rural Texas, the wounds are still fresh even as I approach my 38th year. I have only recently begun speaking about the fear of physical violence, the incessant teasing of my voice since the age of six, the nights that my family received prank call after prank call from fellow classmates screaming “faggot” into my mother’s ear, and how, after one particularly bad night, this resulted in my first of three suicide attempts.

Therefore, the idea of seeking communion across difference with Episcopal church theologians, editors, and clergy who are actively promulgating the idea that LGBTQ relationships are inherently sinful, made my stomach turn. And then, as if to bring this work even closer to home, my boyfriend proposed to me in late October. He and I will be married at the end of June in our Episcopal church.

More here-

In Praise Of Jonathan Daniels and Ruby Sales: Greater Love Hath No Man Than This

From Common Dreams-

Jonathan Daniels, born on 20 March 1939, would have turned 80 this week. A doctor's son and small-town kid from Keene, New Hampshire, he attended Virginia Military Institute and Harvard briefly, then entered an Episcopal seminary. In 1965, he followed the call from Dr. Martin Luther King for people of faith to join him in a march to Montgomery after civil rights activists were attacked on Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. Daniels went to Alabama for what he thought was a few days; instead, he briefly left and returned for the rest of his short life - "The imperative was too clear" - remaining as activist, witness and finally martyr until his cruel death at 26. In these bitter times, writes John Samuel Tieman, let us celebrate Daniels' story, "a history of becoming, of process. He was open to change and ordinary man who saw great evil and responded with love."

More here-

British minister sees more spirituality among Americans than Europeans

From Virginia-

Of course, it bothers the Rev. Justin Ivatts that many people seem to be focusing more on secular things and paying less attention to God.

But the Englishman, who now ministers at two Clarke County churches, has noticed over the years that Americans strive to have some kind of spirituality more so than Europeans.
He wonders why, considering that “European values are more in sync with what Jesus preached,” Ivatts said. For instance, he said, people with more money have a greater responsibility to help the poor.
“Britain is much more secular nowadays than the U.S.,” he observed, mentioning that churches there — especially ones in larger cities — generally are no longer well-attended.
“If you say over there that you go to church on Sundays, some people are going to look at you like you’ve got two heads,” said Ivatts. “It’s not cool,” so to speak, to attend church.

More here-

Friday, March 22, 2019

University of Kent called 'spineless' after agreeing to host Lambeth Conference banning gay spouses

From England-

The university of Kent has come under fire for hosting an Anglican conference excluding same-sex couples.

Its Canterbury campus will be the venue for next year's Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops and their spouses from around the world which takes place every ten years.

But students have called the decision "shocking" and "spineless" after it emerged gay bishops, who are joining the assembly for the first time, were personally told by the Archbishop of Canterbury that their spouses are banned from the event.

More here-

Former priest David Norton to be sentenced today

From Canada-

Today will mark the end of the trial of former Anglican priest David Norton, who sexually abused four boys from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

Norton, 72, was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault in November. He abused the four boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

On Monday, the court heard emotional victim impact statements from the four victims, along with statements from one of the victim's daughters and a statement from the Chippewas community.

"My spirit was shattered," shared one of the victims.

The victims recounted lives of trauma, substance abuse, suicide attempts and struggles to have meaningful relationships with their children, family and friends. They spoke of decades of struggle stemming from the abuse they suffered at the hands of Norton.

More here-

On Religion: Union possible on Episcopal, United Methodist left?

From California-

Next year, delegates at the United Methodist Church’s General Conference are supposed to consider a full-communion plan with the United States Episcopal Church.

“We seek to draw closer in mission and ministry, grounded in sufficient agreement in the essentials of Christian faith and order and assisted by interchangeability of ordained ministries,” states the current text for “A Gift to the World: Co-Laborers for the Healing of Brokenness.”

This is not a merger proposal, but: “We see this relationship of full communion as a step on the journey. … We are blessed in that neither of our churches, or their predecessor bodies, have officially condemned one another, nor have they formally called into question the faith, the ministerial orders, or the sacraments of the other church.”

However, events in the United Methodist Church have given some members of that flock – especially LGBTQ clergy and laity – a strong incentive to go ahead and investigate nearby Episcopal parishes.
A special General Conference recently voted to reaffirm current doctrine that marriage is the “union of one man and one woman” and “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The historic gathering also passed pieces of a “Traditionalist Plan” requiring UMC clergy to follow those laws in their Book of Discipline.

More here-

Trump Got Dunked On By The National Cathedral. Yes, The National Cathedral.

From Buzz Feed-

Seven months after John McCain's death from brain cancer at 81, President Trump is still beefing with the late senator — and now the National Cathedral is getting involved.

It all started last week, when Trump tweeted about McCain, accusing him of "spreading the fake and totally discredited Dossier" (as he called it) and voting against repealing Obamacare.


In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for the National Cathedral denied that Trump had to approve McCain's funeral being there.

“Washington National Cathedral was honored to host the funeral service for Senator John McCain," the cathedral spokesperson said. "All funerals and memorial services at the Cathedral are organized by the family of the deceased."

More here- 

and here-

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Human chain to protect Friday prayers at Pōneke mosque

From New Zealand-

Muslims worshipping at the Kilbirnie Masjid in Wellington this Friday will be shielded by a human chain surrounding the mosque complex during their Jumu’ah (Friday) prayers.

It was during prayers last Friday that worshippers were attacked at the Masjid Al Noor and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch.

The Anglican Assistant Bishop of Wellington, Eleanor Sanderson says, “supporting a life of prayer is central to all three Abrahamic faiths.  This is a tangible way that our people can come together to protect what should always be protected”.

Co-organiser of the human chain event, Daniel Kleinsman, says it’s not a new idea.
“It’s been organised overseas when Muslim and Jewish communities have been attacked.  It’s a powerful symbol of support and love, but it’s also practical.  It seeks to create a physical barrier of protection for those persecuted at this time.”

More here-

Muslim leader says Christchurch terror attack has brought community together

From New Zealand-

Anglican dean of Christchurch Lawrence Kimberley told Stuff why the event was held.

"I thought it was very important that there was a clear statement from the Christian churches that says we're standing in solidarity and love with our Muslim brothers and sisters."

Kimberley said he would like to be part of a delegation with other Christian leaders to meet with Muslim leaders to formally give their condolences. 

"[We'll] see if there's any ways we can assist practically and, in the long term, to build relationships of trust between us and a deepening of understanding between the two faiths."

More here-

Bishop Jennifer's Statement on Lambeth 2020

From Indianapolis-

Dear ones,

Last week, I gathered with my fellow bishops from across the church at Kanuga for a week of reflection, immersion in the Way of Love with Presiding Bishop Curry, and discussion about the issues facing the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. It was a prayerful and productive time, and I am grateful for the chance to seek refreshment and renewal with colleagues.

On Friday, the last day of our meeting, we adopted a resolution about the Lambeth Conference planned for the summer of 2020. This is a meeting of bishops from across the Anglican Communion that takes place every decade or so. In February, Anglican Communion Secretary Josiah Iduwu-Fearon announced that although opposite-sex spouses of bishops are all invited to attend the conference, same-sex spouses of bishops are not. 

Like the majority of Episcopal Church bishops at last week’s meeting, I plan to attend the Lambeth Conference, and Harrison plans to accompany me. I fully endorse the House of Bishops’ statement, which says:

More here-

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Has Britain become an unsafe place for Christian preachers?

From The Spectator-

At the beginning of the year, the Royal Holloway University of London published a survey on ‘The Safety and Security of Anglican Clergy’. The startling findings indicated that one in ten members of the clergy had been subjected to violent behaviour in the previous two years. Of the 540 UK respondents, more than two thirds had been on the receiving end of verbal abuse and one in five had experienced threatening behaviour. The authors of the report confirmed that the main reasons for the verbal abuse included the alcohol and drug use of attackers, mental illness, declined requests for money, and anti-Christian sentiments. Some, however, have suggested that the Christianophobic element shouldn’t be played down.

Nick Tolson the director of National Churchwatch, an organisation that advises on church security, told me that anti-Christian hate crime appears to be increasing:

More here-

Gay Nigerian reverend to be ordained by Church of England

From Nigeria-

Popular gay Nigerian cleric, Jide Macaulay, will, in June, be ordained an Anglican priest by the Church of England.

Macaulay revealed this on his Instagram page on Wednesday where he also posted a copy of his invitation letter.

He wrote, ‘It is a delight to share this news. I am to be ordained Anglican Priest in the Church of England in June 2019.

“Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord,” Psalm 27:14.”

The Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) has always rejected calls from western powers to ordain gay priests.

Macaulay was born on November 4, 1965. He is a pastor an ordained minister, an LGBTQ, human rights and HIV/AIDS activist, community builder, queer theologian, lawyer, and parent.

More here-

Man who tackled 'Eggboy' has outstanding warrant on charges relating to church incident

From Australia-

Outspoken Anglican priest Rod Bower has identified one of the men who attacked 'Eggboy' as the same person who allegedly 'terrorised' his Central Coast church last year.

It is believed Neil Luke Erikson and several others stormed into a Gosford Anglican Church service carrying a whip, a fake sword and a megaphone in May last year, traumatising the congregation.
At the time Father Bower described the incident as a "terrorist attack".

Erikson was also one of the men who tackled a teenager who cracked an egg over Queensland senator Fraser Anning's head at a press conference in Melbourne on Saturday.

The altercation prompted the senator to hit the 17-year-old in the face, after which several supporters tackled the teenager and restrained him.

More here-

and here-

and here-,12492

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Mother who sought sanctuary in church basement is still there 2 years later

From NY Daily News-

Nearly two years ago Juana Tobar Ortega was ordered back to Guatemala by federal authorities, but that was not an option for the mother of four who arrived in the U.S. illegally 25 years ago.
Instead she packed up her belongings and headed to St. Barnabas Church near her Greensboro, North Carolina home, seeking sanctuary. She has been there ever since.

“We need to violate the law in order to do the right thing, and the right thing for me is to be a mother,” Ortega told NBC News earlier this month. “They’re laws created by men who don’t understand what it means to be a mother.”

Since Donald Trump took office as President in early 2017, non-criminal immigrants who arrived here illegally have been given the same treatment as those who’ve been convicted of crimes, according to NBC News. The U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has been cracking down on everyone regardless of their potential for violence.

More here-

Appeals court upholds federal tax exemption for clergy housing expenses

From ENS-

In the latest installment in a nearly decade-long effort to have the Internal Revenue Service’s clergy parsonage exemption declared unconstitutional, the federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled just the opposite.

A three-judge panel said March 15 that the principal effect of the tax exemption is “neither to endorse nor to inhibit religion, and it does not cause excessive government entanglement.”

Seventh Circuit Judge Michael B. Brennan, writing for the unanimous panel, said “any financial interaction between religion and government — like taxing a church, or exempting it from tax — entails some degree of entanglement.” But, he wrote, only “excessive entanglement” violates the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause. The clause in the First Amendment prohibits the government from establishing an official religion, unduly favoring one religion over another, favoring religion over non-religion or vice versa.

More here-

Episcopal cathedral hosts Muslim prayer gathering

From San Diego-

Hundreds are expected to join hands in prayer this week at a San Diego church in response to last Friday’s shooting massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Residents of all faith are invited to gather at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 20, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in downtown San Diego to share a meal and stories of interfaith friendships.
Salaam, a local non-profit, is hosting the event along with the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

Salaam unites San Diego’s interfaith leaders to reject Islamophobia and stand against all forms of hate and violence.

“I think it would be a great opportunity for both members of Muslim and Christian communities to come together in solidarity,” said Steve Slocum, founder of Salaam. “I’m expecting the event to have some powerful moments across faith boundaries.”

Salaam is a non-religious, non-partisan organization and has held a number of events in the last year designed to bring people of Muslim and non-Muslim faith together.

More here-

Scott Gunn: The church is dead. Long live the church!

Scott Gunn on Fox News-

Several of my church-going friends shared a recent op-ed from Fox News Opinion on their social media, “Church as we know it is over. Here's what's next." The op-ed says that “the church needs to accept the fate of physical church as we know it, so we can move into the next phase of digital church.”

Yes, the old expectations that people will somehow just show up in churches must die. But the replacement is not digital church. While I love connecting online, it isn’t the same as being part of a gathered community. Church as we know it may be over, but it’s time to reboot church as we know it – and our expectations.

Let’s talk about why digital church isn’t enough, and then I’ll share three ways to change the pattern of declining attendance at church.

Digital church would work fine if church were only about transmitting content or selling a product. But a Netflix vs. movie theater metaphor won’t work for digital church vs. gathered church. We don’t go to church only to watch sermons. We go to church to be part of community, to pray with others, to offer our thanks and praise, and to learn from those around us. Digital church only works when our vision for church is quite small.

More here-

Monday, March 18, 2019

Common ground: Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles and St. Stephen Lutheran Church become one congregation in Arbutus

From Baltimore-

Two congregations gathered in one church on Sunday, March 3. They gave thanks, broke bread, and then packed up.

So began the procession.

Congregants picked up hymnals, candles, communion supplies and other items from the sanctuary and walked out the doors of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Apostles, located at 4922 Leeds Ave., singing as they strolled the 0.9 miles to St. Stephen Lutheran Church, at 901 Courtney Road.

Once inside the sanctuary, the space was rededicated as the new home for the two Christian communities, joined together as The Churches of Holy Apostles and St. Stephen.

“It was negating of ego and tradition and self,” said the Rev. Jim Perra, 38, the Episcopal priest from Holy Apostles who now oversees the new church community. “I think it’s breathtakingly beautiful that they made this hard and difficult choice.”

More here-

New Provost for Pittsburgh

From The Living Church-

Bishop Dorsey McConnell has named the Rev. Aidan Smith as provost of Trinity Cathedral in downtown Pittsburgh.

Smith — dean of advancement and church relations at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge and assisting priest at All Saints in the Brighton Heights neighborhood — becomes provost May 1 for an initial term of two years.

The bishop wrote to cathedral members about the appointment in a letter dated March 15.

“I know that Aidan and his TSM colleagues are proud of how under his watch enrollment grew, new relationships were forged, and the school’s financial health improved,” McConnell said. “I’m overjoyed that he will be bringing this skill set, along with his caring pastoral approach, to Trinity Cathedral.”

More here-

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Suicide Risk Among Pastors and Clergy Members

From Psychology Today-

A few months ago, I screened the film Indivisible, which was based on the true story of Army Chaplain Darren Turner. The portrayal of Chaplain Turner’s story of struggle and healing following his combat zone deployment is both refreshing and valuable. The movie highlights the often-hidden struggles of those who serve in ministry roles. For example, as in Chaplain Turner’s case, any one of us can have a crisis of faith, even our faith leaders. In addition, witnessing the struggles of those perceived by some to be exempt from needing to ask for help breaks down stigma.

In light of the suicide death of Inland Hills Pastor Andrew Stoecklein this past Saturday, I am again reminded that those who stand as a beacon of hope may have some under-appreciated vulnerabilities. Those who serve within the clergy are often driven by a deep and abiding mission, a calling that sometimes has its roots in childhood intuition. Many within the clergy derive a great sense of purpose — sometimes even life-saving purpose — from inspiring hope and pointing us to a life of faith and reliance on God.

More here-