Saturday, September 7, 2019

Hundreds of clergy facing hardship despite vast C of E wealth

From The Guardian-

Hundreds of clergy are in financial hardship, with some resorting to credit cards or even a high-interest payday lender, despite the Church of England sitting on a multibillion-pound investment fund.

Some vicars are tens of thousands of pounds in debt, with many struggling to survive – especially those supporting families – and relying on charity handouts to make ends meet, the Guardian has learned.

Clergy Support Trust – a centuries-old charity which supports destitute Anglican vicars, assistant or associate priests, curates-in-training and chaplains – gave £1.8m worth of grants to 459 clergy last year.

Analysis last year found that 217 individuals who had applied to the charity for help had personal unsecured debts of £5,000 or more, totalling nearly £3m. The figures, based on a combination of grant application data over a 20-month period, do not include mortgages or student loans. Of the 217, 41% had debts of between £5,000 and £10,000, 44% between £10,000 and £20,000, and 15% over £20,000. Four applicants had debts in excess of £50,000.

More here-

Canterbury archbishop to visit Kolkata this weekend

From India-

The 105th archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, who is the symbolic head of the Anglicans worldwide, will be in the city this weekend. 

His visit to the city is part of his countrywide tour as part of an invitation extended by the Church of North India. The CNI was formed in 1970 when a large number of churches, other than the Roman Catholic Church, merged. 

The Anglican Church, or the Church of England, was among those that merged. The 200-year-old diocese of Kolkata, of the CNI will be hosting the Archbishop here. This is the oldest diocese of the country. 

The archbishop will arrive late on Saturday night and will be hosted at a five star address in the city. He will spend the entire Sunday visiting different locations, mostly heritage addresses, associated with the British rule. The day-long programme will start with the archbishop attending a special church service at the St Paul’s Cathedral. He will give his message to the city in this prayer service. 

More here-

Winchester’s Parish of the Epiphany receives social justice award

From Massachusetts-

Every month for the past two years, members of Winchester’s Parish of the Epiphany, along with other faith groups, have gathered at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center in Boston and Burlington to pray, sing, and hold signs of support for the detainees. From inside the building, the detainees pressed signs against the windows, saying “thank you” and “we love you,” acknowledging parishioners’ presence.

But the social justice work of the Parish of the Epiphany isn’t limited to immigration; neither is it new -- the Winchester church has been active in social justice work since the 1960s.

In June, the parish’s long commitment to social justice was recognized with an award from the Episcopal City Mission, a faith-based organization that works with local groups on social and economic justice projects. The award, called the M. Thomas Shaw Award for Social and Economic Justice, pays tribute to the legacy and justice work of Rev. Thomas Shaw, a former bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts who died in 2014 of cancer. The previous recipients of the award are the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mattapan, Diocese of Massachusetts Creation Care, Boston Warm Day Centers, and Grace Episcopal Church in Medford.

More here-

Is this the cultural moment of the ‘hot priest’?

From The Guardian-

“Are we living in the cultural moment of the ‘hot priest’?” my editor asked.

I wanted an assignment, and for my sins she gave me one.

“There’s the one on Fleabag,” she said. “And the ‘hot priest summer’ guy on TikTok. Find one more and it makes a trend.”

I must have looked dubious.

“Six hundred to 800 words,” she said. “Fast.”

But when I thought about it, I began to notice hot priests everywhere.

More here-

Friday, September 6, 2019

No decision on Justin Welby's attendance at GAFCON conference

From Premier-

The Church of England's representative in Parliament says no decision has been made about whether the Archbishop of Canterbury will attend the Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Kigali, Rwanda next year.

The event is seen as a rival gathering to the Lambeth Conference which Justin Welby will host next year.

While all Anglican bishops have been invited to the Lambeth Conference on 27th July - 1st August 2020, some have suggested they won't attend in protest at what they perceive as a move towards a more liberal position on sexuality within the Anglican Communion.

In a statement announcing the GAFCON event, leaders said: "On the one hand, we have no interest in attempting to rival Lambeth 2020. On the other hand, we do not want our bishops to be deprived of faithful fellowship while we wait for order in the Communion to be restored.

More here-

Asking the Clergy: What is your favorite religious rite?

From Newsday-

Spiritual leaders are called upon to officiate at a variety of celebrations — baptisms, bat and bar mitzvahs, weddings — and, of course, services marking the upcoming religious holidays. This week’s clergy discuss the joy and satisfaction that come from leading especially meaningful rituals.

The Rev. Winfred B. Vergara

Priest in charge, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Hicksville

Of all the sacramental rites I perform as priest of the Episcopal Church, my favorite is baptism. Baptism is a sacrament because it has an outward symbol and an inward grace. The symbol is water and the grace is new life in Christ.

After pouring water on her forehead in the baptismal formula, I would often raise a child (a la “The Lion King”) to signify that she is born again. In adult baptism, I would sometimes do immersion in the river, sea or swimming pool. The symbolism is that the person dies from sin (is drowned) and rises again to a new life in the spirit.

More here-

NWA New Sanctuary Network provides physical sanctuaries for immigrants

From Arkansas-

The Northwest Arkansas New Sanctuary Network will provide a physical sanctuary for immigrants in need. 

The group is made up of four congregations: Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, Rolling Hills Baptist and St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Fayetteville and All Saints' Episcopal Church in Bentonville. 

Rector Evan Garner with St. Paul's Episcopal Church said northwest Arkansas is in critical need of a group like this. 

"We have a lot of people in our community who live in fear, either as individuals whose status as immigrants is uncertain, or for loved ones in their family. When there's a knock at the door, there's worry," Garner said. 

The churches will welcome immigrants into their congregations, creating miniature sanctuary cities, providing shelter and safety for those in need. 

More here-

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Anglican priest plans 55-hour sermon for charity

From London Ontario-

It seems like a good idea, but his wife is calling him mad.

Preach for 55 hours straight; how hard could it be? After all, Rev. Kevin George managed to bicycle 2,200 km for charity last year, although neither his body nor his wife want him to repeat that endeavour.

Still, George, the parish priest at St. Aidan’s Church in west London, is restless.

“I believe the church should engage in the community outside its doors,” he said. “I began thinking about what (else) I could do to attract attention.”

An idea struck George during a recent trip to his native Newfoundland. His father, a handyman, asked for some help with a task and while George did his best, he said manual labour isn’t his strong suit.
“My father said, ‘It’s a good job you can talk. If you couldn’t talk you wouldn’t eat.’”

More here-

Anglican archbishop asks Christians to re-examine faith

From Ireland-

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said all religions and their leaders must own up to extremist activities within their faith and examine which of their traditional teachings enable extremists to commit evil.

Archbishop Justin Welby, the figurehead of the worldwide Anglican Church, told interfaith leaders in Sri Lanka that accepting responsibility is key rather than disavowing an evildoer as not a good enough follower of a religion.

Arriving in Sri Lanka last Thursday and meeting with Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim leaders, he said discussion among faiths has become more difficult in the last 30 or 40 years and in every faith, including in Christianity, extremist attitudes have grown.

“And it is the duty of every religious tradition, for its leaders to resist extremism and to teach peaceful dialogue. So, the first challenge to all of us is take responsibility,” he said.

More here-

Diocese of Georgia announces five-person slate of candidates for bishop

From ENS-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia is pleased to announce a slate of candidates who will stand for election as the 11th bishop of Georgia at the 198th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia on Nov. 14-16.

The Bishop Search Committee, after careful and prayerful discernment, recommended these candidates to the Standing Committee, who have formally approved the slate. The candidates, in alphabetical order by last name, are:
  • The Rev. Rob Brown, rector, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Spartanburg, South Carolina.
  • The Rev. Lonnie Lacy, rector, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia.
  • The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, canon to the ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, Savannah
  • The Ven. Jennifer McKenzie, Archdeacon of Wigan and West Lancashire, Diocese of Liverpool, Church of England
  • The Rev. Canon John Thompson-Quartey, canon for mission development and congregational vitality, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
More here-

Shannon MacVean-Brown Is the First Black Woman to Lead Vermont’s Episcopal Church

From Vermont-

By the time she entered an Episcopal seminary in 2004, Shannon MacVean-Brown thought she knew what sort of priest she wanted to be. In her 30s and pregnant, the seminarian had already run a design business, taught elementary school art and become a preacher at her unconventional childhood church in Detroit. She saw full priesthood as a way to take her creative approach to other congregations. 

MacVean-Brown did not initially see her race as particularly important to her ministry. That began to change when she entered Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., where, as one of the few nonwhite students, she was confronted with a church that wasn't quite living up to its ideals.
During her orientation, one of the professors made disparaging comments about the church's African American hymnal, and several classmates registered their displeasure with a required antiracism training. 

More here-

Episcopal Church sees greater drop in membership in 2018

From Christian Post-

The Episcopal Church saw a greater decline in members and average worship attendance in 2018 than in 2017.

According to statistics recently made available by the Office of the General Convention, The Episcopal Church saw its active baptized members decline from approximately 1.712 million in 2017 to 1.676 million.

The 36,000-member drop is larger than the previous two years, when the denomination declined by about 32,500 members in 2017 and a little more than 34,000 members in 2016.

In 2018, the average Sunday worship attendance declined by about 23,500 people, making it the largest drop the church body has seen since at least 2014.

In previous years, 2017 saw an average worship attendance decline of around 13,700, 2016 saw a decline of 9,300, 2015 saw a decline of 20,600, and 2014 saw a near equal decline of 23,200.

More here-

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Rev. Alison Cheek, first female Episcopal priest to celebrate Eucharist, dies at 92

From ENS-

The Rev. Alison Cheek, one of the first female priests in The Episcopal Church and the first to publicly celebrate the Eucharist, died on Sept. 1 at her home in Brevard, North Carolina, according to friends. She was 92.

Cheek was one of the Philadelphia Eleven, the first women to be ordained to the priesthood in The Episcopal Church. She and 10 other women were ordained at the Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia on July 29, 1974, two years before the ordination of women was officially authorized by General Convention. The highly controversial ordinations were later affirmed as valid.

“I sort of risked everything to do it,” she recalled on the 40th anniversary of her ordination. “I would do it again.”

More here-

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Australian Anglican church set to bless first gay marriage

From Australia-

The first official same-sex blessing of a civilly-married couple will occur within two weeks in an Australian Anglican church, reports.

This follows the passing of a new regulation to allow holding a same-sex blessings by the Wangaratta Synod (regional council) of the Anglican Church of Australia on the weekend. The vote was 67 for, 18 against, with one abstention.

The first same-sex service is likely to occur in two weeks’ time in the Melbourne Anglican.

“The retired Diocesan Archdeacon, the Revd Dr John Davis, and his partner of 20 years, the Rev’d Robert Whalley, are planning a [non-church] marriage, to be blessed in a service in the small church at Milawa on 14 September.” Both men are in their seventies.

More here-

New gun laws now in effect in Texas include being allowed to carry a firearm in church

From Texas-

A series of new laws went into effect in Texas Sunday, some of which are making it easier for people to carry weapons.

In churches across Texas, guns can now be carried on the property unless the church puts up a notice sign warning firearms are prohibited. 

There is a mixed reaction to the new gun laws and whether carrying guns during a worship service will keep you safe.

“In this church? You probably are (safer),” said Larry Gilbert the Executive Pastor at Stonegate Fellowship Church in Midland, TX.

While Rector in St. David’s Episcopal Church in Austin Chuck Treadwell said “we don’t believe there’s any place for guns in church. It’s that simple.”

More here-

Monday, September 2, 2019

Church’s lawsuit prompts SC town to lift ban on worship services at public civic center

From South Carolina-

A lawsuit filed by a church against a South Carolina town last year for prohibiting worship services at a public facility has prompted the municipality to lift the ban.

Redeemer Fellowship of Edisto Island and the town of Edisto Beach agreed Aug. 19 to end the suit, which alleged the town violated Redeemer Fellowship’s right to free exercise of religion after the municipality banned all rentals for religious worship services at its Edisto Beach Civic Center.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented the church in the case, commended the town for lifting its ban, which the alliance said was inconsistent with the town’s own statement that it welcomes “civic, political, business, social groups and others” to use its civic center.

“Churches shouldn’t be treated less favorably than other groups that want to rent facilities,” said ADF Legal Counsel Christiana Holcomb. “Its previous policy that singled out one form of expression — worship — as inferior to other forms of speech was clearly unconstitutional.”

More here-

Episcopal Church Attendance 2008-2018

From The Episcopal Church-

Average Sunday Attendance over the past 10 years by diocese.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Church of Nigeria, Anglican communion, ends episcopal synod, elects new bishops

From Nigeria-

Bishops of the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) from all the states of the country gathered on August 21, 2019, at Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State for the Episcopal Synod of the Church. 

The Synod was presided over by the Primate of the Church of Nigeria, His Grace, the Most Revd. Nicholas D. Okoh, assisted by the Dean of the Church of Nigeria, the Most Revd. Buba Lamido, with the Rt. Revd. David O. C. Onuoha as the Episcopal Secretary. The Archbishop of Bendel Province, the Most Revd. Friday Imaekhai, the Bishop of Ughelli, the Rt. Revd. Cyril Odutemu, whose jurisdictions cover Agbarha-Otor were also present. 

The Episcopal Synod, which is “a general meeting of the Bishops of the Church of Nigeria summoned independently of the General Synod to discuss Episcopal matters,” is convened by Primate of the Church of Nigeria, at a place and time, he determines, though three or more Diocesan Bishops may request the Primate to convene the Synod. 

More here-