Saturday, August 10, 2019

Pastor out at famed Riverside Church after sex toy shopping spree

From New York (and the, "You Can't Make This Stuff Up" Department)-

The reason for her ouster is far more stimulating than any sermon this pastor could have delivered.

The Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, the first woman to lead Manhattan’s famed Riverside Church, lost her lofty post amid complaints that she brought ministers and a congregant on a sex toy shopping spree and then gave one of them an unwanted vibrator as a birthday gift, The Post has learned.

On May 15, Butler allegedly took two Riverside assistant ministers and a female congregant to a sex shop in Minneapolis called the Smitten Kitten, during a religious conference, according to sources familiar with the out-of-town shopping excursion.

At the store, the pastor bought a $200 bunny-shaped blue vibrator called a Beaded Rabbit for one minister — a single mom of two who was celebrating her 40th birthday — as well as more pleasure gadgets for the congregant and herself, sources said.

More here-

Story of the Wesley brothers illustrates faith, humanity

From South Carolina-

The man was a giant, standing 20 feet tall. Glazed in gold, he clutched a Bible in his right hand and extended his left, open palmed, an invitation to come closer.
This is the image of the Rev. John Wesley that greets those who enter the Arthur J. Moore Methodist Museum and Library at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island. The founder of Methodism looms large on the very ground that he walked upon more than 280 years ago.
While the depiction is an impressive one, it’s not a true representation of the man. In actuality, Wesley was small framed, 5 foot, 3 inches tall, weighing in at 122 pounds. Like the statue compared to the reality of his stature, Wesley’s real life seems to oppose his untarnished legacy. In reality, Wesley was filled with a contradictions and shortcomings that plagued the pious yet all too human man.

More here-

Marriage registry changes could lead to £1000 fines, says Church

From Premier (England)-

A new system for registering marriages could lead to criminal offences and £1,000 fines, the Archbishop of Canterbury's marriage licensing office fears.

Under changes which may be law before 2020, couples will no longer be given a marriage certificate at the end of a church wedding.

Instead of being asked to sign a register and certificate, they will instead sign a "marriage schedule", the Faculty Office said.

The couple then have to take this document to their local register office to record their marriage into a database and only then will they get a certificate, it added.

More here-

Friday, August 9, 2019

Bishop of St Albans: My role is to speak up for other faiths as well as Christianity

From England-

I am sometimes asked why I use my role in the House of Lords to speak up for other faiths as well as Christianity.

In response, I usually describe the nature of the Established Church and explain that bishops are not just concerned with the interests of Anglicans, but seek to serve and care for all people and especially those whose voices are suppressed or marginalised, whether in England or elsewhere.

The Bench of Bishops in the House of Lords is the only group which can claim something akin to a ‘constituency’. Each one of us serves in a diocese and as such we are out and about on a daily basis. We have a presence on the ground in virtually every community; many of our churches run food banks, lunch clubs, toddler groups, have bereavement visitors and even debt advice centres.

More here-

An entire Lutheran denomination has declared itself a ‘sanctuary church body,’ signaling support for immigrants

From The Washington Post-

More than 500 years ago, a monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 theses outlining his grievances with the Roman Catholic Church to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.

On Wednesday afternoon, members of the mainline Protestant denomination bearing Luther’s name taped 9.5 theses — expressing their concern for immigrants and refugees — to the door of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in Milwaukee.

The action was part of a prayer vigil for migrant children and their families during the ELCA Churchwide Assembly this week at Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Center.

It took place on the same day the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America declared itself a “sanctuary church body,” signaling its support for immigrants.

More here-

The Shroud of Turin: Latest Study Deepens Mystery

From The National Catholic Register-

A new French-Italian study on the Shroud of Turin throws doubt on what many thought was the definitive dating of the cloth believed by millions to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

This latest two-year study was headed and funded by French independent researcher Tristan Casabianca, with a team of Italian researchers and scientists: Emanuela Marinelli, who has written extensively about the shroud; Giuseppe Pernagallo, data analyst and senior tutor at the University of Catania, Italy; and Benedetto Torrisi, associate professor of economic statistics at the University of Catania.

In 1988 radiocarbon tests on the Shroud of Turin dated the cloth to between 1260 and 1390. The implication was clear: The shroud was a medieval forgery. After a 2017 Freedom of Information (FOI) request, a new team of researchers gained access to the original data used for the 1988 test. The findings of this new team are that the 1988 test results were unreliable.

More here-

Thursday, August 8, 2019

First Māori King's 160-year-old flag handed back to 'rightful owners' in Auckland ceremony

From New Zealand-

The first Māori King's flag has been returned to its "rightful owners", after being owned by the Anglican Church for around 160 years.

Bishop Ross Bay, from the Anglican Diocese, officially signed over ownership to the Kīngitanga in a ceremony hosted by Parnell's Holy Trinity Cathedral on Thursday. 

"There was no doubt that [the flag] belongs in Ngaruawahia from whence it came, 160 years ago. They are the rightful owners," Bay said. 

Pōtatau Te Wherowhero was the first Māori King and founder of the Te Wherowhero royal dynasty. He became king in 1858 and reigned until his death in June 1860. 

More here-

Stebbins bound for Montana as new bishop

From North Carolina-

In a few months' time, the Rev. Marty Stebbins will give up her Southern lifestyle leading the congregation at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church to oversee every Episcopal church in Montana.
Stebbins, who has led the downtown Wilson church since July 2010, received a call last fall about becoming the diocesan bishop 2,300 miles away. It took several months, but the Montana Diocesan Convention elected Stebbins and she has accepted the call.

"First I considered the location because it is beautiful, but it also has winter with a capital W," Stebbins said with a laugh. "What attracted me to it is they have a lot of small churches in small towns where those churches actually have a big impact and I have a heart for small churches even though I'm the rector of a large church now. 

More here-,185806

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Chesterton hiccup highlights trouble in getting lay saints, expert says

From Angelus-

Following this week’s announcement that the cause for sainthood for celebrated writer Gilbert Keith Chesterton would not go forward in his home diocese, Dale Ahlquist, an expert on the author, said this stall “points to the difficulty of getting a layperson canonized.”

Ahlquist noted one reason given for halting Chesterton’s cause was that the author, considered one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, lacked a discernible personal spirituality.

Speaking to Crux, he said that “now more than ever we need more lay saints, with clergy being under a cloud.” He said it often seems to be “easier” for priests or religious who found orders to be canonized, since the order typically promotes the person’s cause for sainthood.

More here-

Bishop Calls Installing Miniature Golf Course in One of England's Oldest Cathedrals 'a Really Serious Mistake'

From Newsweek-

One of the oldest Anglican churches in England is being criticized for installing a miniature golf course to attract more visitors.

Rochester Cathedral in Kent, about 30 miles from London, dates back to 1066, when it replaced an earlier church on the same grounds from the 7th century. It was previously known as Cathedral Church of Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The nine-hole golf course is located in the cathedral's nave, the central space where parishioners are seated, and features a model of a historic bridge at each hole—including the original Roman bridge in Rochester and the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in Dartford.

More here-

Ministers at immigration talk: Christians must weigh obedience, laws

From Texas-

The call for Christians to balance obedience to God and complying with their nation’s laws is louder these days when it comes to immigration, a group of ministers concluded Tuesday during a monthly discussion of faith-based responses to practical problems.
“Some Christians call civil disobedience divine obedience,” the Rev. Bill Carroll told about 75 people attending Theology On Tap at the Oil Horse Brewing Co. in downtown Longview.
No specific disobedience to immigration laws was spoken about by the four ministers leading the discussion on “The Christian Response to Today’s Immigration Debate,” but there were numerous citations of lawbreaking by God’s people in both the Old and New Testament eras.
Carroll, the new minister at Trinity Episcopal Church in Longview, said Christians who sat in at lunch counters during the civil rights era are a good example of letting conscience trump civil law.

More here-

Clergy protest outside Mitch McConnell’s office, demand action on gun violence


A group of clergy protested outside Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office on Tuesday (Aug 6), calling on the Republican Senate majority leader to take action to address gun violence in the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend.

The band of around two-dozen faith leaders, who called themselves the Coalition of Concerned Clergy, prayed and challenged what they said was the Senate’s inaction on the issue of gun violence.
Helping lead the event was the Rev. Rob Schenck, who serves as president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, a nonprofit organization that addresses social issues from a Christian perspective. He listed a number of possible policies lawmakers could pass to address gun violence, such as universal background checks or “extreme vetting” for citizens wishing to purchase an assault rifle, but stressed the issue is a moral one.

“As a Christian … we are required to rescue those who are perishing, to come to their aid, and the Bible says if you fail to do it God will hold you to account,” Schenck, who is also a founding signer of an evangelical Christian pledge to take action on gun violence, told Religion News Service. “That’s our message to the senator today. Maybe he fears the NRA more than God. He shouldn’t.”

More here-

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Anglican vicar banned for life after affair with married woman seeking pastoral support

From Christian Post-

An Anglican vicar has been banned for life for having an intimate affair with a married parishioner who came to him for pastoral support. 

The Rev. Simon Sayers, who was a vicar for over 30 years, received a permanent ban from a Church of England through a disciplinary tribunal in the Diocese of Portsmouth last week.

Sayers, who pastored at a parish in Warblington with Emsworth, was already serving a six-year suspension in 2016 for two "sexual incidents" with a 16-year-old girl in 1995, which drew a police investigation at the time but no criminal charges were filed. 

According to the tribunal's decision, media reports surrounding Sayers suspension in 2016 led to further accusations being made against him. 

According to the document, Sayers was also accused of having a "sexual relationship" with the unnamed married woman in the fall of 2010, where he allegedly sent the woman "sexually explicit texts" and failed to maintain professional boundaries. 

More here-

Christian ‘Purity’ Guru’s Loss of Faith May Signal a Coming Reckoning For Conservative Christianity

From Rewire-

Joshua Harris, who literally wrote the book on Christian purity in the 1990s, announced in July on Instagram that he and his wife, Shannon, were separating after more than 20 years of marriage. Less than two weeks later, the author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye (IKDG) dropped a second bombshellhe no longer identifies as a Christian.

“I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus,” Harris wrote beside a picture of him looking out over lake in the mountains. “The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.”

Though he has not revealed the forces that led to the simultaneous unraveling of his marriage and his religious identity, it seems like it was questioning his previous stance on sexuality and gender issues that played a part in the latter. Harris paired his second announcement with an apology for contributing to a “culture of exclusion” with his previous views on women in the church and his opposition to marriage equality. The “deconstruction” of Harris’s faith not only seems intertwined with his change of heart on matters of gender equality and sexuality, but it could be an indication that evangelical churches in the United States will soon have to wrestle more fully with these issues as well.

More here-

Watch National Cathedral Worshipers Deliver a Standing Ovation for a Statement That Criticized Trump

From D.C. (with video)-

Worshipers at the National Cathedral stood and applauded Sunday when a leader at the institution, which is closely associated with the presidency, spoke about a statement the cathedral published last week that strongly criticized President Trump.

In a video from the service, which you can see above, Episcopal Diocese of Washington Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde offers some words of welcome, followed by the Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, who expresses gratitude for the cathedral community’s response to the statement. Douglas then has to pause to accommodate nearly half a minute of applause from the congregants, many of them standing.

More here-

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Churches divided over bill to decriminalise abortion

From Australia-

A split has emerged within the churches over a bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW, with the Uniting Church the first mainstream denomination to support the proposed new laws.

Independent MP Alex Greenwich introduced the Reproductive Health Care Bill 2019 on Thursday to remove abortion from NSW's 119-year-old criminal code and create a standalone healthcare act.

In a move that will set it apart from the other churches, the Uniting Church has written to state MPs telling them abortion is a "health and social issue and should not be a criminal issue".

Its position is vastly different to the Catholic and Anglican churches, with the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies, warning the bill will "open the floodgates" to abortion on demand.

More here-

Vancouver sewing group stitches clothing for homeless children

From Canada-

After 20-some years of sewing clothes for homeless children, the Helping Hands Sewing Group has noticed some changes.

Fabrics have gotten thinner and contain more polyester than they used to. What little ones like to wear has changed. Volunteer seamstresses have come and gone. The group’s formidable founder, former social worker, gerontologist and activist Betty Plank, died in 2012.

“Some of us move. Some of us get old. Some of us couldn’t make it down the stairs,” said Sandy Hubbard.

The group comprises eight primarily retired, senior women who have the free time to sew Thursdays in the basement at St. Luke’s/San Lucas Episcopal Church in Vancouver.

The large church hosts all sorts of groups from narcotics anonymous to single seniors to clutterers anonymous.

“This is really a niche ministry,” said St. Luke’s rector, the Rev. Jaime Case.

More here-