Saturday, May 9, 2020

Attacks on Nigerian Christians persist despite pandemic lockdowns

From Nigeria-

Minutes before 9 p.m. Tuesday, Anglican Rev. Canon Bayo James Famonure was praying with his wife and two sons in the family’s sitting room when at least three armed herdsmen stormed into their home in Nigeria’s central Plateau state. 

The latest in a string of attacks on Christian leaders in central Nigeria began with the gunmen demanding money. Famonure said he had no cash, and the intruders shot him in the head and leg. Then they shot his wife, Naomi, in the back, and their two sons in their legs. 

As the assailants fled, neighbors carried the family to a hospital in Jos, the capital of Plateau state. Famonure’s wife underwent surgery on Wednesday, reported Mark Lipdo of the Stefanos Foundation in Jos. Doctors removed a bullet from her back that narrowly missed her spine. Doctors treated the rest of the family and all are in a stable condition, Lipdo said.

More here-

Despite Gov. Ricketts’ OK, some churches to stay closed

From Nebraska-

Nebraska Episcopal Bishop J. Scott Barker has said his parishes, including North Platte’s Episcopal Church of Our Savior, will stay closed through June 28.
The websites for First Evangelical Lutheran and Messiah Lutheran churches indicated Friday that COVID-19 suspensions of public worship remained in place. Both are congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
Masses won’t resume before the last weekend of May at any of North Platte’s three Catholic parishes.

More here-

Friday, May 8, 2020

Despite visit from Vice President, Iowa faith leaders urge against in-person services

From Iowa-

DES MOINES -- With Vice President Mike Pence slated to visit Des Moines Friday to reopen churches for service, 21 denominational religious leaders will continue to urge Iowa congregations to refrain from in-person worship.
The faith leaders had made similar recommendations when Gov. Kim Reynolds lifted a ban on in-person worship due to COVID-19 concerns on April 28.  
The Rev. Ian McMullen, General Presbyter of the Presbytery of Northern Iowa, and the Rev. Lorna H. Halaas, Bishop of the Western Iowa Synod, ELCA, were among the Western Iowa denomination leaders to sign statements that was released on Thursday.
Other faiths included The Episcopal Diocese of Iowa, Catholic Diocese of Davenport, Southeastern Iowa Synod-ELCA, Northeastern Iowa Synod, ELCA, Christian Church in the Upper Midwest, Mid-American Baptist churches of Iowa and Minnesota, Church of the Brethren, Ecumenical Connections of Iowa, Presbyteries of Des Moines and North Central Iowa, Presbytery Missouri River Valley, Presbytery of Prospect Hill, Presbytery of East Iowa, John Knox Presbytery, and Central Plains Mennonite.

More here-

James Turrell Named Dean Of The School Of Theology

From Tennessee-

Vice-Chancellor John McCardell announced the appointment of the Rev. Canon James F. Turrell, Ph.D., as dean of the School of Theology at the University of the South. Turrell is the current Norma and Olan Mills professor of divinity, professor of liturgy, associate dean for academic affairs and sub-dean of the Chapel of the Apostles. He will assume his new duties on July 1.

“I am delighted that Jim Turrell has accepted this appointment,” said Vice-Chancellor McCardell. “Not only is he well acquainted with the School of Theology and its mission, but he is also a respected scholar and participant in the life of the wider Church. I know that the Sewanee family will join me in welcoming Jim to his new duties with great enthusiasm.”

More here-

Many Southern Indiana churches won't open this week

From Indiana-

It will be at least another week — if not a month — before many of Southern Indiana’s largest churches resume on-site worship services.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced May 1 that places of worship could reopen for in-person services beginning today, May 8, as guidelines were provided by the state to encourage safety practices with the spread of COV-19 still a concern.

However, some churches are taking more time before resuming on-site worship to form plans and provide direction for those attending services.

The Rev. Mark Feather of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in New Albany said the likely earliest date for a return to in-person services for the congregation will be June 14. But he emphasized that the work of the church never ceased.

“The church is open, it’s our building that’s closed,” he said. “We have never closed as a church, the church is the people.”

More here-

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Kaziimba to Government - Clergy Are Essential Workers

From Uganda-

Church of Uganda Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba has asked government to recognise the clergy as essential workers and allow them to perform their spiritual duties during the lockdown.

In his pastoral letter to bishops and clergy, Archbishop Kaziimba yesterday said for many Ugandans, the impact of lockdown has been much harder than the coronavirus pandemic itself, and urged church leaders to continue offering pastoral guidance to Christians.

"The need has increased because of the fear and uncertainty many are experiencing. I call upon government to recognise the clergy and lay readers as "essential employees," to provide psycho-social services to Ugandans," the Archbishop said.

More here-

Why won't the timid bishops let us mourn our dead at funerals in church?

From The Daily Mail-

The other day I learnt that an old friend had died. But although I can accept this as a matter of fact, I can’t really take it in because there has been no shared recognition among those who knew her that her life is over. 

There hasn’t been a funeral. Tens of thousands of people have died in recent weeks, many from Covid-19, some from different causes. 

Because of lockdown, and the prohibition of more than 10 mourners at a graveside, their deaths have barely been marked in the public sphere. 

And yet one of the most important functions of a funeral is to help us come to terms with the earthly passing of a person we have loved. 

How wrenching it was at the beginning of last month to see photographs of the funeral of 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, who died from Covid-19. 

More here-

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Archdiocese of Baltimore, Episcopal bishops release coronavirus reopening guidelines

From Maryland-

The Episcopal dioceses are taking a similar approach. The bishops of Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., pledged to coordinate their reopening efforts as the political leaders of the region have been doing, and announced a phased reopening plan for when services are allowed to resume.

“The hard truth is that we will not be able to welcome all people into our places of worship for the foreseeable future,” the bishops wrote in the announcement. “Thus we must prepare for different stages of regathering, following the guidelines of civic leaders.

"Moreover, the process of regathering may not be uniform, but vary according to county or region, and we must also prepare for the possibility of suspending in-person gatherings again should cases of infection rise.”

Phase one, while stay-at-home orders and other crowd restrictions are in place, consists of virtual worship, bible study and other activities.

More here-

Pandemic puts some bishop retirements on hold, delays elections, alters dioceses’ consecration plans

From ENS-

Calling a new bishop isn’t a simple task under normal conditions. Add a global pandemic to the timetable, and most Episcopal dioceses have had no choice but to adjust or freeze even their best-laid plans for leadership transitions.

“We didn’t want to stop the timeline if we could possibly do it,” said the Rev. Linda Anderson, who co-chairs the Diocese of Wyoming committee that is reviewing candidates to replace Bishop John Smylie, who is retiring in early 2021. The search committee had scheduled a retreat last week with the semi-finalists, and “there were some panicky moments when we thought, this can’t possibly happen,” Anderson told Episcopal News Service.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee’s retreat proceeded mostly as planned – not in person, but as a two-day online video conference. For now, the Diocese of Wyoming remains on track to announce its slate of nominees this month in anticipation of an election at the diocesan convention in September.

More here-

DC-area episcopal bishops set plans for resuming public worship

From Washington D.C.-

Episcopal churches in the D.C. area, including the Washington National Cathedral, are making plans for an eventual return to public worship, based on guidance from civic leaders and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Episcopal bishops of Maryland, Virginia and D.C. said there will be a phased regathering, requiring 6 feet of physical distancing between congregants, and all congregants will have to wear masks.

There’ll also be restrictions surrounding the celebration of communion. And the bishops said the regathering plans could be suspended if there’s a rise in coronavirus cases.

More here-

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

British public turn to prayer as one in four tune in to religious services

From The Guardian-

A quarter of adults in the UK have watched or listened to a religious service since the coronavirus lockdown began, and one in 20 have started praying during the crisis, according to a new survey.

The findings of the poll reinforce indications of an increase in the numbers of people turning to faith for succour amid uncertainty and despair.

The Church of England has said that unexpectedly high numbers of people are tuning into online or broadcast services, and 6,000 people phoned a prayer hotline in its first 48 hours of operation. Other faiths have also reported surges in people engaging with online religious activities as places of worship have been closed during the lockdown.

The survey of more than 2,000 people, commissioned by the Christian aid agency Tearfund and carried out last weekend, found that a third of young adults aged between 18 and 34 had watched or listened to an online or broadcast religious service, compared with one in five adults over the age of 55.

More here-

Catholic, Episcopal churches release plans to phase in worship

From Baltimore-

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland's plan also follows the governor's vision for reopening. The diocese has four phases, with the first phase being the current situation.

|| Episcopal Diocese of Maryland's plans for reopening ||

Phase two is similar to the Catholic Church in resuming in-person gatherings with limited attendance.
Phase three would see larger gatherings, youth groups and other classes resuming.

Phase four, which wouldn't take place until there's a vaccine, would resume gatherings with no limitations, no facial covering requirement and no restrictions on sacraments.

More here-

Monday, May 4, 2020

Anglican Bishop warns priests against allowing worshippers without face masks into church

From Nigeria-

The Bishop of Anglican Communion, Aba Ngwa North, Rt. Rev Nathan Kanu, has threatened to sanction any priest that allows members to attend church service without face mask.

The Anglican Bishop also decried negligence of the government’s directives on COVID-19 lockdown put together by governors of the affected states in containing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Kanu made this known while delivering sermon attended by our correspondent on Sunday.
He said church leaders in various denominations in Abia State assured to take personal responsibility for the enforcement of the rules on social distancing and face masks during service.

More here-

Interfaith effort collecting, donating diapers and personal hygiene products

From Springfield Mass.-

Sometimes women have to choose between diapers for their babies or tampons for themselves. Sometimes those items are sacrificed to pay the rent or electric bill.

“Given the shut-down of many non-profits and take-away centers during this COVID-19 pandemic, food banks are allocating their available space for food items. This means that families may have to choose between food, paying their electric bill or buying personal care products like diapers,” said the Rev. Charlotte H. LaForest, rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Longmeadow. “An inadequate supply of these items can lead to health issues.”

So when a concern was raised about the need for diapers, feminine products and incontinence supplies, LaForest and church members formed Longmeadow Loves, a supply drive throughout the month of May.

More here-

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Staten Island pastor welcomes homeless people into church amid coronavirus

From New York-

Rev. Terry Troia refuses to be cowed by the coronavirus.

The Episcopal pastor and her 15 volunteers are helping more than 250 homeless people per day, using a loyal network of faith-based emergency shelters on Staten Island that she has cultivated for nearly 40 years.

It’s a relationship that has remained resilient during the worst of the coronavirus pandemic as most churches and houses of worship in the rest of the city shut down their emergency homeless programs in March when the contagion started to spread.

“For years there was no place for homeless to go to on Staten Island,” said Troia, 62, who heads up the non-profit, interfaith Project Hospitality. “But necessity really is the mother of invention because since 1984, we have forged a strong relationship with these churches.”

More here-

Let’s Care For Our Brothers And Sisters Behind Bars

From Hawaii-

We, as members of the faith community, write to express our strong support and compassion for all members of our communities across Hawaii Nei during these uncertain times.

The novel coronavirus – COVID-19 — is a serious public health crisis that requires everyone’s kokua if we are to paddle our canoe forward through these rocky shoals.

We express our concern for our brothers and sisters who are living and working in Hawaii’s jails and prisons.

Dr. Pablo Stewart is a licensed clinician who trains psychiatric residents at John A. Burns School of Medicine to provide psychiatric care to people detained at Oahu Community Correctional Center.

His deep concerns were articulated in an April 8 letter to the Hawaii Correctional Oversight Commission about what he has observed working at OCCC four times a week.

More here-