Saturday, May 25, 2019

Kenyan court upholds bans on gay intimacy

From RNS-

In a case that pitted influential faith leaders against gay rights groups, Kenya’s High Court declined on Friday (May 24) to force the repeal of sections of the penal code widely seen to discriminate against homosexuals.

A ruling in favor of repeal would have been a trailblazing step for an Africa court, but the three-judge bench said there was not sufficient evidence of discrimination or denial of basic rights.

“We are not persuaded by the petitioner that the offense against them (gays and Lesbians) are overboard,” said Justice Chacha Mwita, one of the judges.

But pro-gay church leaders and activists reacted sharply to the ruling, vowing that the struggle for equality will continue.

More here-

Citing ‘aging and diminishing’ congregation, St. Simon’s Episcopal Church to close

From New York-

The 165-year-old St. Simon’s Episcopal Church in Concord is set to close on July 7, according to the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

“The catalyst [for the church closing] is a steadily aging and diminishing congregation, which has gotten to the state where it simply isn’t sustainable anymore,” said Nicholas Richardson, director of communications for the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

“There’s always a sadness when churches close. ...The hope is any of the resources left over can be directed to other parishes on Staten Island,” he added.

The church is working with several groups that rent space in the church for meetings and other services to find new homes, he said.

The Rev. Mary Hansen, pastor of the Amazing Grace Interfaith Ministry, said her group has rented space for her interfaith services and events, such as feeding the homeless, from St. Simon’s for more than 20 years. The group is now in search of a new meeting place, she said.

More here-

Friday, May 24, 2019

One million pilgrims expected at Anglican martyrs shrine

From Uganda-

With eleven days remaining to the Uganda Martyrs Day celebrations, the Anglican Church is prepared to receive over one million pilgrims for the 3rd June event.

The Archbishop from Kenya, Jackson Ole will lead the celebrations that are being organised by dioceses like Central Buganda, Mityana, Luweero, Mukono and West Buganda.

The venue and security coordinator Mary Nsangi Kakembo said they have prepared facilities including washrooms to cater for more than one million pilgrims.

23 Anglican Martyrs and 22 Catholic Martyrs were killed between 1885 and 1887 on the orders of Buganda King Mwanga for accepting Christian.

More here-

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Impossible Future of Christians in the Middle East

From The Atlantic-

The call came in 2014, shortly after Easter. Four years earlier, Catrin Almako’s family had applied for special visas to the United States. Catrin’s husband, Evan, had cut hair for the U.S. military during the early years of its occupation of Iraq. Now a staffer from the International Organization for Migration was on the phone. “Are you ready?” he asked. The family had been assigned a departure date just a few weeks away.  

“I was so confused,” Catrin told me recently. During the years they had waited for their visas, Catrin and Evan had debated whether they actually wanted to leave Iraq. Both of them had grown up in Karamles, a small town in the historic heart of Iraqi Christianity, the Nineveh Plain. Evan owned a barbershop near a church. Catrin loved her kitchen, where she spent her days making pastries filled with nuts and dates. Their families lived there: her five siblings and aging parents, his two brothers.

More here-

'God has been calling me here:' First female, black Episcopal bishop in Colorado talks her past and the church's future

From Colorado-

For the first time in history, the Episcopal Church in Colorado will be led by an African American woman.

On Saturday, the church hosted the ordination and consecration of Kym Lucas as its 11th bishop. She is both the church's first woman bishop and first black bishop.  

Before being elected to the position last October, Lucas served as rector of St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. 

9NEWS sat down with Lucas to learn more about her history with the Episcopal Church, the challenges ahead, and the congregation she now leads.

(Editor's note: Responses have been edited for context and clarity.) 

9NEWS: Where did your journey with the Episcopal Church begin?

Lucas: I am actually what they call a near-cradle Episcopalian. My godmother had me baptized in the church when I was two years old. So, I started my spiritual journey in the Episcopal church. She was a member of what our church calls the Altar Guild. That is the group that sets the table and prepares the space for worship every Sunday. I remember my early childhood, spending early Sunday mornings in church while back then the Altar Guild ladies did their work. I just got to hang out in church which was a pretty cool thing.

More here-

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bishop Kagunda agrees to settle 'gay clergy' dispute

From Kenya-

Anglican Church Mt Kenya West Diocese Bishop Joseph Kagunda is expected to mobilise worshipers to accept back three clerics he had attempted to suspend on allegations of engaging in homosexuality.

Bishop Kagunda has also agreed to accompany the clerics; Archdeacon John Gachau, Reverend James Maigua and Reverend Paul Warui to their newly posted parishes either in person or through parish councils.

This is according to an agreement filed at the High Court in Nyeri by a mediator, Mr Joakim Oundo, following a prolonged legal battle.

However, the two parties differed on the amount of money the church should pay the priests as facilitation fee as they re-embark on their ministerial duties.

The church proposed to offer each of the priests an equivalent of a three-month-salary, while they demanded an amount equal to three years’ pay, the agreement indicates.

More here-

So Long, Cardinal Wuerl

From First Things-

As bishop of Pittsburgh, Wuerl was years ahead of his peers in responding to what would become the sexual abuse crisis. From the moment he arrived as bishop in 1988, Wuerl was meeting personally with victims at a time when many bishops would not even consider doing so. Within a year, Wuerl had established a diocesan committee to evaluate policies for responding to abuse allegations, a committee that grew to become the current Diocesan Review Board, nearly a decade before the Dallas Charter called for every diocese to have such a body. Wuerl also imposed a personal policy of “zero-tolerance” which stands comparison to any other diocesan policy today.   

Despite the grand jury report’s frequent mentions of Wuerl, that document cannot dent the core statistic: During Wuerl’s nineteen years as bishop of Pittsburgh, nineteen new allegations were brought forward against diocesan priests, and eighteen of these priests were immediately and permanently removed from ministry. And curial officials have not forgotten the time Wuerl flew to Rome to personally resist an order to reinstate an accused cleric, a contest of wills he eventually won.

More here-

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

In the LGBTQ community, faith brings comfort and pain. Six Pittsburghers reflect on feeling rejected for who they are.

From Pittsburgh-

While many Americans see religious communities as places of comfort and hope, many of those same communities have been openly hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer [LGBTQ]* people. Not only have they labeled LGBTQ people as “sinners,” but they’ve also opposed measures like same-sex marriage.

In recent years, some of these long-standing tensions have shifted. Over the past decade, Americans with a religious affiliation have increasingly supported same-sex marriage. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, support by religious Americans for legal protections for LGBTQ people has also grown. PublicSource recently explored faith communities that have openly welcomed LGBTQ members.

Yet a large majority of LGBTQ adults viewed mainline religions as “unfriendly" toward people who are LGBTQ, according to a 2013 survey from the Pew Research Center. 

There’s more corruption in Buhari govt than Jonathan, Yar’Adua, Obasanjo’s – Anglican Archbishop

From Nigeria-

The Anglican Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Olusina Fape, has insisted that there was more corruption in Nigeria under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration than what obtained in previous governments.

Fape made this remark while condemning the Federal Government for lamenting over corrupt activities of previous administrations, instead of delivering on its electoral promises of fighting corruption to a standstill.

Speaking over the weekend at the 3rd Session of the 12th Synod of the Diocese of Remo (Anglican Communion) at the All Saints Anglican Church, Irolu-Remo, Ogun state, the cleric said the anti-corruption fight ought not to be selective and must be fought “holistically without any fear or favour; regardless of political affiliations of those found culpable.”

More here-

Monday, May 20, 2019

Trouble looms in Anglican Diocese following bishopric elections

From Kenya-

Trouble is looming at the Anglican Diocese of Maseno West after a faction that was defeated in the bishopric elections accused the electoral college of irregularities.

Following yesterday’s elections that saw Rev. John Mark Haung- Godia elected to succeed the outgoing bishop Joseph Otieno Wasonga, a faction that supported Canon Fancis Omondi called on the head of the Anglican Church in Kenya, Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit to nullify the elections and order for fresh polls.

Speaking on behalf of the faction today, Rev. Kenneth Wachianga said that failure to order for repeat polls may force them to go for other alternatives, among them seeking legal action or calling for a split of the diocese that covers slightly more than half of Siaya County.

“We cannot be criticizing Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission for presiding over flawed processes yet we as church leaders allow ourselves to be influenced to manipulate church elections” said the clergyman who spoke at St Marks Mindhine ACK church in Gem Sub County.
He said that they became alarmed when some of the electoral college members, especially from the church headquarters in Nairobi, were hijacked by one of the candidates and booked at a hotel in Kisumu, instead of a Busia hotel which had been earlier booked.

More here-

Magdalene House seeks skilled volunteers

From Arkansas-

Just a few months after securing a local property for use, the Magdalene House has completed its initial inspections and found itself in need in one particular area — skilled volunteer laborers.

The Magdalene House, which started through St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, aims to provide a two-year program to help women survivors of sexual exploitation, violence and addiction. Since starting the local group last year, board members have worked to acquire a suitable property and furnishings.
In late February, the board formally approved taking ownership of a donated house in El Dorado. 

Since then, they’ve met with city inspectors and an architect to identify what needs to be done before anyone can move in. Becky Choate, board president, said the house needs a lot of work and there are plenty of projects to take on. She described the property as being an older house that has a “cottage feel,” with a screened in porch.

“It’s got a lot of personality,” Choate said.

More here-

Prayer service honors flood victims, church’s history

From Johnstown-

At the beginning of a community prayer service held Sunday to commemorate the 130th anniversary of the 1889 Johnstown Flood, rumbles of thunder and the sound of rain spread throughout the sanctuary of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. 

“You know, I didn’t ask God for the sound effects, but God provided them,” said the Rev. Nancy L. Threadgill, priest in charge at St. Mark’s. 

The service honored Father Alonzo Potter Diller, rector of St. Mark’s, his wife, Marion Diller and their children, all of whom perished at the church, as well as other victims of the flood. 

Behind the altar, an inscription reads, “to the glory of God and in loving memory of Alonzo Potter Diller – many waters cannot quench love.” A stained glass window at the church pays tribute to Marion Diller, displaying the date of her birth and her death. 

Threadgill said Diller was known to spend time out in his community and, about a month before he and his family were killed in the flood, he turned down an offer at a larger rectory in Pittsburgh. 

More here-

Sunday, May 19, 2019

New Anglican diocese created in New Zealand as wider Province moves towards same-sex blessings

From Christian Today-

An independent diocese has been created by orthodox Anglicans in New Zealand following moves within the wider Province to allow same-sex blessings.

The establishment of the Church of Confessing Anglicans Aotearoa/New Zealand follows the passing of a resolution by the Synod of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia paving the way for churches in the province to bless same sex relationships.

'Motion 29' recommended no change to the Church's official definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman, but said that individual bishops should be able to use existing canonical provisions to hold "a non-formulary service" allowing for the blessing of same-sex relationships.

The resolution, which was passed earlier this month, also stated that the existing canon should be amended to make clear that members of the clergy will not face disciplinary action for refusing to conduct the blessings. 

More here-

First African-American Bishop of The Episcopal Church in Vermont elected

From Vermont-

Eighteen months after Bishop Thomas Ely announced his retirement, the Episcopal Church of Vermont has officially named his replacement.

Reverend Dr. Shannon MacVean-Brown was elected by the 45 Episcopal congregations across the state Saturday.

She was one of three women vying for the position, and is the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Church in Vermont.

Rick Swanson, a reverend at Saint John's in the Mountains in Stowe, explained the church's decision.
"I believe that the three candidates that we had were all wonderful women and offered amazing gifts," said Swanson. "I believe that Shannon brings a host of creativity and artistry with her that will help us break boundaries."

More here-