Friday, May 31, 2019

Decline and revival in the Church of England

From Christian Century-

British media regularly re­port the latest surveys of religious faith and activity in that country, and rare is the news that is not deeply depressing. So rapid has been the process of secularization that it hardly seems far-fetched to imagine a near future in which Christian faith in the country would be confined to recent immigrants.

Particularly hard hit is the Church of England, which in practice attracts only a tiny proportion of the national population on any kind of regular basis. Yet even among what seem to be the battered ruins of Anglican loyalty are surprising signs of life and even vigor. (I will focus here on England, as conditions in other parts of the British Isles differ in many ways.)

The Church of England has long been divided between high and low church factions, between Anglo-Catholic ritualists and evangelicals. During the 1960s, a new force appeared on the scene in the form of a charismatic revival. Over the following decades, that charismatic impulse rose and fell in influence, but it received new infusions of support from the global church repeatedly. At different times, those overseas influences derived from transatlantic revivals, both in the US and in Latin America, but also from new immigrant populations from Africa and the Caribbean. These new influences reshaped many urban parishes, some of which became what an American would easily recognize as evangelical-charismatic megachurches.

More here-

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Workshop to examine future of church buildings

From Canada-

With their congregations shrinking, churches across Canada are looking for a renewed place in their communities.

That search is to bring together religious leaders, community groups and elected officials on Saturday at The Spire for a daylong workshop about reimagining places of worship.

According to the National Trust for Canada, within the next decade about one-third of Canada’s 27,000 places of worship could be closed.

“These are really community hubs, they have been from the day churches were first built, that’s where everything happened. We’re trying to reclaim that,” Bruce Hutchinson of Friends of The Spire said.

“The model of a church that is empty all week is no longer financially viable.”

The workshop is to include sessions on how congregations can change how they see their church’s place in the community. 

More here-

Metro Vancouver Anglicans to direct millions to Indigenous efforts

From Canada-

The dwindling Anglican church in Metro Vancouver plans to direct 10 per cent of revenue from sales of church property to Indigenous groups and projects.

Vancouver-area Anglicans voted at their weekend synod to give one-tenth of the money made from sales of Anglican church properties in high-priced Metro Vancouver retroactively to January 1, 2018 and in the future. The money involved will amount to millions of dollars.

“I have a great deal of faith in the wisdom of synod and the whole process that this is going to set loose,” Melissa Skelton, bishop of the Anglican diocese of New Westminster, said in a note to fellow Anglicans. Her diocese encompasses Metro Vancouver and out to Powell River and Hope.

Diocesan spokesman Randy Murray said the Anglican resolution “calling for restitution to Indigenous people sourced from funds of some past and all future properties was passed by a strong majority after a robust but cordial discussion on the synod floor.”

The synod vote still requires the assent of the bishop and consultation with diocesan council, which meets June 12.

More here-

Citing inclusion of LGBT clerics, Anglican bishops in Africa to shun Lambeth Conference

From NCR-

As disputes over homosexuality continue to stir within the worldwide Anglican Communion, conservative African bishops say they will boycott a decennial gathering of top clerics next summer unless what the Africans consider godly order is restored.

After delaying the Lambeth Conference, normally held once a decade, for two years, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the global leader of Anglicanism, has invited all active bishops and their spouses to the United Kingdom in July and August of 2020 — except the spouses of bishops who are in same-sex unions.

But the African bishops object to the invitation of bishops in the communion who are in same-sex unions. Those bishops' presence, the Africans say, constitutes an endorsement of homosexuality, which they reject as contrary to the Scriptures.

More here-

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Churches Outnumber Pubs in the UK

From Christianity Today-

Every village in the United Kingdom used to have a pub, a church, and a general store. Today, pubs (short for “public houses”) have become iconic, a popular destination for visitors to try drinks, traditional pub meals, and the cultural ambiance.

But these local landmarks are closing quickly; only 39,000 are left in England, down a quarter from 20 or so years ago. There are now more church buildings than pubs, according to recent figures announced last month by the National Churches Trust.

But the number of churches overall is falling too, just not as fast. The share of Christians in the UK is declining, as in America and other parts of the Western world. Total secularization isn’t inevitably around the corner for at least two reasons. First, surveys show that many who say they have “no religion” still believe in God, pray, say they have a soul, or even read the Bible. Second, there is actually substantial growth among certain types of churches in the UK, all in the context of God’s promise to build his church.

More here-

Church of England praises temporary release for prisoners

From Premier-

An Anglican Bishop has said the government's decision to give more working releases for prison inmates will have a positive impact on society.

Release on temporary license (ROTL) is a system which gives prisoners the opportunity to spend time in the community for short periods, normally towards the end of their sentence.

Rules on ROTL schemes are being relaxed, to allow more inmates to work and train while serving their sentences, with the hope of boosting their future job prospects and preparing offenders for life outside of prison.

The decision to ease the rules on day and overnight release is part of a government effort to reduce re-offending, which is estimated to cost society £15bn a year.

The Bishops' Advisor for Prisons and Penal Affairs, Reverend Paul Cowley believes these work placements are vital for rehabilitation.

More here-

Women Clergy and the Stained-Glass Ceiling


Unlike in Roman Catholic parishes, Episcopal laypeople have a strong say in who is selected as pastor. Sullins suggests that inequality remained in the Episcopal Church as a result of embedded cultural values which did not change much over time, even as the wider church body allowed for women’s ordination. This bore out in the way women clergy in the Episcopal Church climbed the ranks of larger church institutions and bureaucracies, while encountering frequent opposition at the parish level. The more democratic selection process of rectors—the equivalent of pastor—often worked against women seeking to advance in church ranks. On the parish level, even a small group opposed to the idea of a woman pastor could exercise an informal veto on the selection process.

A generation after Priesand was ordained a rabbi, women comprised about four percent of Jewish clergy, divided across the Reform-Conservative spectrum. Those early women rabbis saw their role differently than their Protestant counterparts. Protestant women ministers saw themselves in a more spiritual vein, more often feeling themselves called by God as religious leaders. Women rabbis saw themselves more as community leaders and advocates for social justice, particularly regarding issues around women’s rights.

More here-

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

New Anglican Archbishop appointed

From Trinidad and Tobago-

The An­gli­can Church in the West In­dies has a new head fol­low­ing the elec­tion of Ja­maican Bish­op Howard Gre­go­ry to the post of Arch­bish­op for the Province of the West In­dies dur­ing its provin­cial syn­od at the Cas­ca­dia Ho­tel yes­ter­day.

Arch­bish­op Gre­go­ry pre­vi­ous­ly held the posts of head of An­gli­can Church in Ja­maica and Cay­man Is­lands. 

He suc­ceeds Bar­ba­di­an Dr John Hold­er, who re­tired in Feb­ru­ary 2018 and has be­come the first Ja­maican to head the An­gli­can Church in the Caribbean since Arch­bish­op William Hardie va­cat­ed the post in 1949.

Dur­ing a short press con­fer­ence fol­low­ing his elec­tion, Arch­bish­op Gre­go­ry said there were many top­i­cal is­sues in the Caribbean on which the church need­ed to be lend guid­ance.

“At the mo­ment we are deal­ing with is­sues re­lat­ed to abor­tion, we are deal­ing with is­sues re­lat­ed to mar­i­jua­na, we are deal­ing with is­sues re­lat­ed to hu­man traf­fick­ing and as a church we cer­tain­ly have to be a part of the en­gage­ment of the so­ci­ety bring in some per­spec­tives to bear on these things, not just out of emo­tion, not just po­lit­i­cal par­ti­san in any­way but to bring our the­o­log­i­cal and bib­li­cal per­spec­tive to bear on these sit­u­a­tions,” said the new Arch­bish­op.

More here-

and here-

and here-

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Māori King has met with Pope Francis in Rome

From New Zealand-

They talked about current issues facing all New Zealanders, particularly Māori and indigenous communities when it comes to employment, youth issues, housing, health, and education.
The Anglican Church was pivotal in securing the audience with the Pope and the royal party for the papal audience was supported by a delegation that included the Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Sir David Moxon and Archdeacon Ngira Simmonds. 

The King is of Pai Mārire faith, while his daughter was baptised Catholic by the people of Whanganui.

The King and his delegation then went on to Monte Cassino, where he paid his respects at the Cemetery of Cassino to the 457 New Zealand soldiers that died there, including the 60 from the 28th Māori Battalion. 

More here-

also here-

Catholic Church mourns Kenyan pilgrims perished in Iganga hit and run accident

From Uganda-

The Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC), the assembly of Catholic Bishops in Uganda has honoured the four Kenyan pilgrims perished in a hit and run accident on weekend as they trekked from Bungoma Diocese, Kenya to Namugongo Martyrs shrines, for the annual pilgrimage.

“Prayers and fond memories are what we have to remember our dearly departed four Kenyan pilgrims who were walking to Namugongo’s Martyrs Catholic Shrine today (Sunday),” a statement shared on their official social media reads.

Two of the victims were from Kisoko Parish while the other two were from Naitiri Parish, which are both under Bungoma Catholic Diocese.

UEC adds that the victims were among the about 150 pilgrims who were heading to Namugongo for this year’s martyr’s day to be marked on June 3.

Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga says two of the pilgrims who died on the spot have been identified as Obanga Ashiuma Geoffrey, 48 of Naitiri, Bungoma and Roseline Wanjala (51), of Kisoko, Busia.

More here-

Closed Episcopal Church in Center City reopened to find a new mission — and graves beneath the floorboards

From Philadelphia-

For years, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Center City had been inching toward oblivion. The families that sustained it for nearly two centuries were vanishing, until Sunday services became lonesome gatherings of fewer than 10 worshipers.

So, in 2016, leaders of the denomination’s Pennsylvania Diocese decided to close the church at 10th and Ludlow Streets, between Market and Chestnut, even though they would be leaving some longtime parishioners behind — buried beneath the floorboards.

The nine graves, some dating to the early 1800s, are still in the sanctuary, but invisible no more as part of a resurrected St. Stephen’s, retooled for a new definition of “church.”

The change agent was Bishop Daniel Gutierrez, who arrived here from the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. “When we abandon one of these places," he said, "we abandon the possibilities of spreading what we believe in so deeply.”

More here-

Sunday, May 26, 2019

After more than 200 years in Philly, Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania headquarters moves to Norristown

From Philadelphia-

Ever since 1784, the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania has been headquartered in Philadelphia, most recently leading its 134 churches from offices adjacent to the denomination’s cathedral in University City.

This fall, however, the diocese, which represents 40,000 parishioners in the five-county Philadelphia area, will move its administrative base to the suburbs — to a Norristown church that was closed nearly four years ago.

The new headquarters will be St. John’s Episcopal Church, a Gothic-style cathedral steps away from the Montgomery County courthouse. The diocese also will set up a satellite office in Philadelphia at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, another congregation that had earlier closed its doors but is now reopened as a community resource center.