Saturday, March 7, 2020

A letter from The Bishop of Arizona

From Arizona-

March 6, 2020  

Dear People of God in the Diocese of Arizona,
Some of my episcopal colleagues have written letters to their dioceses suspending the reception of the cup from clergy and laity. They write in good faith, to those in their own dioceses, and I respect and honor them and their decisions.
My understanding of both the rubrics and doctrine of the Episcopal Church (specifically page 365 of the Book of Common Prayer and Article XXX of the Articles of Religion) prohibit me from taking such a step. The practice of withholding the cup from the laity was a crucial issue in the Reformation, and it is not exaggerating to say that many people died for us to have the privilege of sharing in both Christ's body and Christ's blood at the Eucharist. 
More here-

Friday, March 6, 2020

Meet the Finalists

From Oregon-

The Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon is pleased to announce a slate of candidates who will be on the ballot for the election of the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.

Additional information about each candidate can be found at the “Learn More” link under each photo.

Houses of worship taking precautionary methods because of COVID-19 Subtitle Settings Font Font Size Font Edge Font Color Background

From Florida-

Whether it’s hand sanitizer stations or implementing new greeting guidelines, houses of worship like First Sarasota Baptist Church are doing their part to prevent people from spreading germs. 

“We’re just not making any physical contact like a handshake or a hug. We’re doing some fun things and we kind of believe here that if life throws you lemons we’re not just going to make lemonade, we’re going to make sweet lemonade," said Pastor William Hild. 

The Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida is also taking a proactive approach. They’re asking people to not have physical contact at services, especially during the passing of the Peace. They are asking people to slightly bow, elbow pump or fist bump. 

The same holds true for the Catholic church. The Venice Diocese says they issued recommendations to Priests and local Parishes to empty Holy Water fonts and frequently clean commonly touched surfaces. 

More here-

Chicago-area religious gatherings being reshaped because of coronavirus, but some churchgoers not worried yet

From Chicago-

Even as coronavirus concerns spread across the world and religious groups in the Chicago area made changes to their practices to deal with the disease, some churchgoers said they aren’t worried enough yet to change how they worship.

At St. James Episcopal Cathedral, a group of about 15 parishioners gathered for an afternoon Mass on Wednesday. Prior to beginning the readings, the Rev. Courtney Reid told the group that some tweaks in the ceremony will apply because of coronavirus concerns, including refraining from handshakes and changing communion practices. She also pointed to pumps of hand sanitizer stationed around the church.

During the exchange of peace, parishioners giggled, confused about how to interact with one another. Some tapped elbows and waved to each other. Though worshippers had been reminded that they could fully receive communion by taking only the bread, many also chose to drink out of the chalice during the ceremony.

Alison Gomersall, who said she regularly attends Wednesday services, said COVID-19 does not worry her yet.

More here-

A trial that should shame all Anglicans

From Christian Today-

Turns out, however, that Bishop Curry seems to have forgotten his own sermon – at least if his treatment of a fellow bishop in the US is anything to go by. For in a few weeks' time the Bishop of Albany, William Love, will go on trial, after Michael Curry restricted his ministry just over a year ago.

You might rightly wonder about Bishop Love's crime.  Was he siphoning off diocesan money, for example? Has he had a series of secret affairs? Does he not believe the Bible or deny that Jesus is the Christ? Has he, perish the thought, engaged in repugnant sexual acts with children?

But no. Bishop Love has done none of those things. Bishop Love stands accused of believing what most Christians – Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Pentecostal, Evangelical, and indeed Anglican – believe, and have always believed, about sex and marriage. His crime, if one can call it that, is not to permit same-sex marriages in his diocese.

More here-

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Communal cups suspended at Anglican churches amid COVID-19 outbreak

From Toronto-

Anglican churches in Toronto are changing liturgical practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 ahead of the gathering of large congregations for Easter ceremonies.

Effective immediately, the Diocese of Toronto is suspending the sharing of communal cups at celebrations. It is also advising people to alter the Exchange of the Peace by sharing words and smiles only, as opposed to handshakes or hugs. In churches where holy water is used, the basin will be emptied after every service.

"Our normal liturgical customs are important to us, and we hope to reinstate them as soon as we are advised that the risk of transmission has been better contained," the Bishop of Toronto Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil said in a letter to the clergy and members.

More here-

Responding to a Public Health Crisis

From Springfield-

Beloved in Christ,

As you are aware, the COVID-19 virus (“coronavirus”) has emerged only in the last couple of weeks as a serious threat to public health. It is a situation that cannot help but affect church communities, as evidenced by the cancellation of next week’s planned meeting of the House of Bishops as an in-person event.

I am not a public health expert, so I hold any technical opinions quite tentatively. But it does fall to me to exercise leadership as concerns the principal thing we come together to do–that is, celebrate the Eucharist on the Lord’s Day. I here offer counsel on three specific aspects of our worship life on Sundays.

First, come to church! Unless you are ill to a degree that you would stay home anyway, the current status of the outbreak does not merit measures so extreme as to disrupt this central element in our common life. If anything, it is even more important than ever for us to let our communities function in a way as close to normal as possible.

Second, avoid shaking hands at the Peace. From all I can tell, hands and fingers are the primary culprits in the spread of any communicable disease. Some have suggested avoiding any physical contact at the Peace, but I believe this is not necessary. The classic historic gesture for this liturgical act is actually neither a handshake nor a hug, but the mutual placing of hands on one another’s shoulders or arms. The photo below illustrates what I’m talking about. Of course, we should all heed the advice about frequent and thorough hand-washing. I would urge anyone who handles communion bread, either before or after consecration, to conspicuously wash his or her hands just prior to doing so.  It is worth bearing in mind, however, that anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, while a popular symbol of conscientiousness in this regard, offer no protection against viruses.

More here-

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Time to ordain women bishops in the Church of Uganda

From Uganda-

We give glory to God for Dr Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu, the new Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, and former Archbishop Stanley Ntagali, whom we hope to see continuing his work of evangelism. 

Archbishop Kaziimba’s to-do-list must be a very long one. What with the spiritual coldness and moral rot that have the country in their grip! Human rights abuses; grand corruption that has become the country’s tradition; commercialisation of Jesus Christ’s name; State capture of the Church; and the urgency of cross-generational communication to attract the youth to the Church. These are some of the challenges that will keep Kaziimba awake at night.

To this list, I add election of women bishops, an equally important item that should be central to his legacy when he retires in 2027. I am aware of the passions that inform the worldwide debate on this subject. Many leading clergy in the Anglican Communion are strongly opposed to ordination of women to the priesthood. Among these opponents is Dr Foley Beach, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, who was the main preacher at Dr Kaziimba’s enthronement at Namirembe Cathedral two days ago. 

More here-

Lesbian priests to lead church service on eve of Anglican summit

From The Guardian-

LGBT+ campaigners will hold a church service led by two high-profile married lesbian priests on the eve of the Lambeth conference, a once-a-decade assembly of Anglican bishops from around the world that is expected to be dominated by conflicts over sexuality and marriage.

The move is likely to rile conservative bishops who maintain that homosexuality is a sin.
An “inclusive” eucharist at a church in Canterbury will be presided over by the Rt Rev Mary Glasspool, the assistant bishop in New York. The preacher will be the Rev Canon Mpho Tutu van Furth, a daughter of Desmond Tutu, the veteran South African anti-apartheid campaigner.

The service is intended to send a strong message to up to 1,000 bishops from 165 countries who are due to gather at the University of Kent at the end of July for almost two weeks of prayer and discussion about issues facing the worldwide Anglican church.

More here-

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Church of England to launch a 'Google Maps for graves' within five years enabling family historians to search for burial records and locations in an online database

From The Daily Mail-

Thousands of cemeteries across the UK will be imaged and mapped over the next five years to create a comprehensive database of British burial sites. 

The Church of England project hopes to immortalise the tombs of millions of people buried in Anglican graveyards as well as those interred on unconsecrated land.

Maps and photographs will be uploaded alongside burial records in a searchable database at some point before 2026. 

Volunteers from the Church of England have partnered with Historic England, which has injected £250,000 in funding, and private company Atlantic Geomatics is providing the technology and expertise.  

More here-

Barrington woman is a delegate at annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women

From Chicago-

Barrington resident Ellen Birkett Lindeen says she plans to promote women's education opportunities when she arrives in New York this week as a delegate at the 64th annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

"I'm thrilled that (I'm representing) not only the province, not only the diocese of Chicago, but I'm bringing Barrington to the U.N.," said Lindeen, 65, a longtime member at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in the village.

Lindeen will be part of an international contingent for the U.N.'s Commission on the Status of Women running from March 9 to 20. The commission is the main global intergovernmental body dedicated to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.

This year's session at U.N. headquarters in New York has added significance with the silver anniversary recognition of the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women and the adoption of the Beijing declaration where Hillary Clinton famously said: "Human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights."

More here-

RIP: G.P. Mellick Belshaw, ninth bishop of New Jersey

From ENS-

The Rt. Rev. George Phelps Mellick Belshaw, who served as the ninth bishop of New Jersey until his retirement in 1995, died peacefully at his home in Princeton on Feb. 29. He was 91.

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Mellick Belshaw, the ninth bishop of New Jersey,” said the Rt. Rev. William H. (Chip) Stokes, current Bishop of New Jersey. “Mellick was old-school gracious and kind. He loved the people God called him to serve from Hawaii to New York to New Jersey. His leadership in the Diocese of New Jersey was strong and stable during the years he was bishop suffragan and later bishop diocesan. When I was a seminarian at The General Theological Seminary in New York, Mellick was president of the board. 

I will always be grateful for his warm affection then and in later years when I ended up in the bishop’s chair in New Jersey. I will miss his wise care and counsel and am eternally grateful for the legacy he left for those of us who have succeeded to the office he occupied so faithfully and well.”

More here-

‘No fingers in the cup’: Coronavirus prompts Maryland Episcopal Church leader to suggest communion changes

From Maryland-

The leader of the Episcopal Church in the diocese of Maryland is asking congregants to alter some of their worship practices to minimize the chances of contracting or spreading COVID-19, the coronavirus first reported in China in December that has spread to 70 countries, including the United States.

The Rt. Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton issued a statement encouraging the more than 44,000 members of his 117 congregations to refrain from shaking hands while “passing the peace” during services.

And he discouraged the practice of “intinction,” a ritual observed in many Episcopal churches in which congregants dip a piece of communion bread into a common cup. The process poses a risk “especially when the bread is handled with unwashed hands of children and adults," he wrote.

More here-

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Local pastors address safety concerns regarding the possible spread of coronavirus

From NW PA-

As many local, state and national governments grapple with how to deal with, and prevent, the spread of novel coronavirus, churches that provide communion to parishioners at the altar are also coming to terms with addressing the potential epidemic.

Worldwide the virus has killed at least 2,800 people with reports of 82,000 global cases to date.

At the local level, several pastors at churches of the Catholic and Episcopal faith spoke of how they and their staff plan to keep their congregations safe when providing bread, as well as wine from a chalice, during communion.

More here-