Saturday, May 23, 2020

Oklahoma Episcopalians prepare to welcome new bishop

From Oklahoma-

A 50th birthday is typically considered a milestone worthy of great celebration.

Within about a week of turning 50, the Rev. Poulson C. Reed will have another reason to feel festive.
Reed is set to become the sixth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma in a private ceremony on May 30 at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Oklahoma City.

"Best birthday present ever," he said, joking during a recent interview.

The event had been set for April 18 and was to have been a huge celebration at Oklahoma City University, with between 3,000 and 4,000 people expected to attend.

However, the ceremony has been scaled down dramatically because of the pandemic.
"We're trying to keep everybody safe," Reed said. "I'm also very happy to have the service at St. Paul's."

More here-

exas Supreme Court rules against Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth in property dispute

From ENS-

On May 22, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a ruling against the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth and in favor of a breakaway group now affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America in a dispute over which group legally controls the diocese’s property.

The ruling reversed a 2018 appeals court decision that established The Episcopal Church’s diocese, led by Bishop Scott Mayer, as the rightful controller of the Diocese of Fort Worth. In 2008, a majority of clergy and lay leaders in the Diocese of Fort Worth voted to leave The Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone over doctrinal differences on topics like same-sex marriage and the ordination of women. Now there are two entities calling themselves the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth: the original diocese associated with The Episcopal Church and the breakaway group that is now part of the Anglican Church in North America.
The Supreme Court decision puts the ACNA-affiliated group in control of the diocese’s $100 million worth of property.

More here-

Friday, May 22, 2020

St. Luke's Episcopal Church in the Bronx Has Lost 21 Members to Coronavirus

From The Bronx-

There is no shortage of volunteers at St. Luke's Church in the Bronx. It's the largest parish in the city’s Episcopal diocese. The need in this community is great. Since the pandemic began, the food pantry line stretches three blocks. The soup kitchen has more visitors than ever. 

Father Pierre Andre Duvert said his congregation is eager to help, especially because it knows the pain this health crisis is causing. Twenty-one of its members have died from the coronavirus.
“When it hits home, that’s when we understand,” said Duvert.

The parishioners who fell victim were young and old. They came from all over the world. Donald Bookal, the church administrator, was among them. For more than 40 years, he organized most of the church's activities and outreach programs.

“I don’t want to say he was the first one, but he was the first that we knew. Then, other folks started getting sick,” said Duvert.

More here-

Not All Churches in Western NY Ready To Reopen Just Yet

From Western NY-

Leaders with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Jamestown and those from other denominations are preparing, but are in no hurry, to reopen their church doors.

"Our number one priority right now is serving our communities; it is not about getting back into buildings. It's not a tragedy. It's a tragedy that people are dying in a pandemic," said Sean Rowe, bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania.

Rowe is uniquely working with reopening guidelines across two states.

He says he'll plan to follow the science and let public health lead the way as he puts a reopening plan together for his churches that is appropriate and safe.

"We're going to hold ourselves to the highest standards in that regard. What it will look like in each place, and we believe that our local communers will be able to adapt," said Rowe.

More here-

Northwest Ohio's Episcopal churches to re-open as early as May 31

From Ohio-

Local Episcopal churches may re-open as early as May 31, Bishop Mark Hollingsworth, Jr., of the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio announced on Wednesday. The date opens the second phase of a detailed plan to return to in-person worship, which the diocese suspended in mid-March.

Each parish and individual should consider their own circumstances in deciding when to return to worship, the bishop wrote in a letter to the diocese that covers northwest Ohio. It need not be on May 31. Before a church re-opens, congregations are asked to submit plans on how they will safely do so.
Worship guidelines released by the diocese this week call for worshipers and worship leaders to wear masks; for the suspension of any singing and of any physical contact in passing the peace or offertory; and for only the celebrant to receive the consecrated elements in Holy Communion. 

Worshipers should maintain six feet between households, and facilities should be cleaned thoroughly, among other suggestions and requirements included in the guidelines.

More here-

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Local churches establishing their own time tables for reopening

From Massachusetts-

Not all of Foxboro’s faith leaders view Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision allowing conditional in-person worship at Massachusetts churches beginning this week as heaven sent.

“Personally, I was very disappointed and shocked that the governor would open up churches in the first phase,” said the Rev. Edward Cardoza, rector at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. “I think the governor’s done a very good job, but on this particular piece I think he caved.”

Baker’s so-called Phase 1 plan, announced Monday, permits churches to reopen their doors to worship services provided they comply with safeguards to minimize transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

More here-

'Things Will Never Be The Same.' How The Pandemic Has Changed Worship

From NPR-

One of the most disturbing changes for Christians has been the suspension of congregational singing and church choirs. Health experts say the coronavirus is easily spread through singing, but music is an essential part of the worship experience for many churchgoers, especially in the Protestant tradition.

"I would never have heard my call to the priesthood if I hadn't found my faith through song," says Rev. Jennifer Reddall, the Episcopal bishop for the diocese of Arizona. She was announcing the guidelines under which Episcopal churches in her diocese would be allowed to reopen. A ban on singing and choral performances was the restriction that Reddall said was most personally upsetting.
"I'm not even sure I would be a Christian today if I wasn't able to pray by singing," Reddall said in a video message to the members of her diocese. "But I don't want to kill someone by my prayer or by my music."

For Episcopal parishioners in Arizona, the only music option now available is to follow the church program at home.

More here-

New York to allow small religious gatherings, with restrictions

From Central New York-

Rt. Rev. DeDe Duncan-Probe, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York, said churches also have to take into account other things before inviting worshipers into a gathering place.

"The wearing of masks, the cleaning regimen that would have to happen before or after, the airing out of the space, the need to manage things like doorways or bathrooms or places of contact," said Duncan-Probe.

Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said this announcement doesn't do anything but clarify that religious services are among areas where ten or fewer people can gather. He's supporting a plan from the Central New York Control Room, which monitors the area's reopening, that would allow religious groups to hold services using a fraction of the capacity of a church, temple or mosque.

"With religious gatherings, 25% of the building capacity, everyone at minimum six-feet apart, it makes sense to us," McMahon said.

More here-

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Pandemic will alter Communion rituals for many US Christians

From AP-

The Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C., Mariann Budde, said she and about 60 of her fellow bishops will meet Wednesday to discuss possible adjustments to Communion and other worship.
“I do think new practices emerge from crises like this,” she said. “They come from communities experimenting, pushing the boundaries. You don’t know how that process will turn out.”

The biggest denomination in the U.S., the Catholic church accounts for the bulk of Holy Communion services nationwide.

Under its governance system, decisions on logistical details of Communion are largely left to individual bishops.

Over the past three weeks, at least two sets of guidelines have been issued to Catholic clergy by high-level bodies. There’s one main difference: the guidelines from the Washington-based Thomistic Institute says communion wafers could continue to be placed on a parishioner’s tongue or be placed in the hand. Guidelines from the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions says there should be a temporary ban on receiving the wafer on the tongue.

More here-

Obituary: Rev. Canon Richard Davies, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh’s longest-tenured priest

From Pittsburgh-

For the Rev. Canon Richard Davies, serving the church and mankind were one and the same.

The longest-tenured priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh, Rev. Davies 62 years ago helped to start what is now a regional program for special-needs children and more recently devoted himself to physically and spiritually restoring an 18th-century Colonial church.

Rev. Davies, 93, of Scott, died May 7 of congestive heart failure.

The son of immigrants from Llandudno, in northern Wales, Rev. Davies had a tough upbringing in Wilkinsburg.

His father, who worked as a coal miner for years in Wales, died of lung cancer, followed by his mother, who likely suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, family members said.

“He was an orphan by the age of 18,” said his daughter Glynis Carlson, of Peters, who said her father cared for his dying parents. “His history of caring and serving others, I think, was established as a teenager for him.”

More here-

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Local church reaches out to community during lockdown

From South Africa-

The St Francis of Assisi Anglican Church and Waterkloof Community Action Network (CAN) launched an outreach programme during Covid-19.

CAN is a Covid-19 community response programme, which falls under the Gauteng Together Initiative.

“We are offering services and help in these difficult times to anyone who could use a little,” Diana Higgs from the church said.

CAN was started in Cape Town, at the start of the lockdown, by a group of concerned citizens who wanted to do something for people in communities that would be suffering during this time.

More here-

Zoom outage snarls Sunday worship services

From ENS-

With churches unable to meet in person for services and other gatherings, the Zoom videoconferencing app has been a lifeline. And just as many congregations had finally gotten the hang of it, it went down in the U.S. for several hours at the worst possible time: Sunday morning.

The outage, which has since been resolved, appeared to hit users on the East Coast particularly hard. Many were unable to host or join livestreams, while some could see the other participants but not hear them.

Although many churches stream their services on Facebook Live or YouTube instead of (or in addition to) Zoom, it is commonly used for virtual coffee hours, Sunday school and Bible studies because of its interactive capabilities. Some Episcopal churches improvised based on the level of functionality they had, holding audio-only coffee hours or call-in services, or catching up in the chat section of Facebook Live instead of Zoom.

More here-

Monday, May 18, 2020

Ahead of Massachusetts reopening announcement, religious leaders left in the dark Updated May 17, 1:33 PM; Posted May 17, 6:00 AM

From  Massachusetts-

At the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Rev. Tim Schenck has tried to be proactive by setting up his task force to discuss what a reopening will be like not only for his church but the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.

Schenck told MassLive that the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts has also released guidelines that his church draws from. The Episcopal Diocese bishop said that there will be no in-person worship before July 1.

“We've been trying to just do this faithfully and with our eyes wide open from the start and we're going to continue that,” said Schenck. “I mean even when the state may well say, ‘okay, it's safe for groups of X number of people to go [back to church].’ Well, if we don't think it's safe, we’re going to push that back a little bit further.”

Church leaders are looking for ways to give sermons but also observe the restrictions set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the state.

More here-

Detroit pastors keep the faith after getting coronavirus

From Michigan-

His views are echoed by three Episcopal bishops in Michigan who wrote an open letter last week titled: “We believe in Jesus, science and staying home.”

“As the Episcopal Bishops of the State of Michigan and as a people of faith, we follow the commandment Jesus gave us – to ‘love our neighbors as ourselves,’ “ wrote the Rt. Rev. Bonnie Perry, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, the Rt. Rev. Whayne Hougland, Bishop of the Episcopal Dioceses of Eastern & Western Michigan, and the Rt. Rev. Rayford Ray, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan. “Loving our neighbors these days in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic means setting limits: quarantining, refraining from traveling, physical distancing when in public, and closing down places of gathering where transmission is likely. This is how we love our neighbors – by working to slow the spread of this extremely contagious, life-threatening virus.”

The letter noted that they have shut down all the Episcopal churches in Michigan, saying they support Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home order. They also said “this pandemic has exposed injustices already present in our society: racism, hunger, health care, a living wage, housing insecurity and access to education.”

More here-

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Reggae the best music for quarantine – Episcopal priest - Father Mark Bozzuti-Jones names Tosh, Marley

From Jamaica-

A Jamaican pastor, the Rev Dr Mark Bozzuti-Jones, is being hailed for his conscious reggae talk from the pulpit as he delivered a sermon to the faithful about the positive effects of the music created in the land of his birth. The priest at Trinity Wall Street parish in New York City, where he is the director of core values and also the director of Latin American and Caribbean relations, served up some listen-to- reggaemusic-and-chill, quarantine advice. 

“I am not sure if you are aware of this, but it is written, and if it is not written, then it should be written, that the best music during the time of quarantine is reggae music. So you should be listening to reggae music at home. I want to invite you to listen to two of my favourite pieces of music,” the Episcopal priest said while addressing his congregation virtually.

One of the pieces was Redemption Song, the final track on Bob Marley and the Wailers’ 1980 Uprising project, the last album released by the reggae icon during his lifetime. The priest soberly quoted some of the lyrics of Redemption Song: “How long shall they kill our prophets while we stand aside and look, some say it’s just a part of it we’ve got to fulfil the books.”

More here-