Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Week Ending 1/9/17
Ecumenical Groups Express Concern About Trump AppointmentsThe National Council of Churches and PICO National Network (the largest group of faith-based organizations) have both expressed concern about some of President-elect Donald Trump's Cabinet Appointments. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judiaism and the Rev. William Barber's group Moral Monkeys made statements. You can find a summary of their concerns here.
Controversy Continues Over Dar-es-Salom BishopThe Archbishop of Tanzania deposed the Bishop of Dar-es-Salom for financial irregularities. Bishop Mokiwa however is refusing to recognize the authority of the Archbishop to do this, and controversy continues. It is not clear if the Archbishop can do this without the action of the House of Bishops and they had declined pursuing the charges. Mokiwa is himself a former archbishop of the Anglican province.
Bishops Against Gun Violence Take Next StepThe Episcopal Bishops United Against Gun Violence are now facilitating a conference in Chicago on April 20-22, 2017 which hopes to empower those who attend to deal with the "unholy Trinity" of poverty, racism and guns. You can find more information including registration information here.
The group of Bishops made their first public statements in a march during the 2015 General Convention in Salt Lake. (See the Update here.)
Five Part Series on Diocese of Fort Worth QuestionedLast week Pittsburgh Update carried the link to the first of a five-part series by the Episcopal News Network on the "Resurrection" of the Diocese of Fort Worth. The rest of articles each featured one parish, one that meets in a theater, one that does weekly lunches for college students, one meeting in a former mission chapel, and one in a shopping center. Meanwhile the IRD has published an article picked up by conservative church news sources that questions the statistics showing diocesan growth in the first article. While the material in the IRD article may not be accurate on budget, the rest is based on The Episcopal Church parochial report statistics for the diocese.
Anglican Archbishops in the NewsThe Anglican Archbishop who headed the Maori track within the three-part organization of the Church in New Zealand has died. Ninety-two-year-old Archbishop Brown Turei had already announced plans to step down in March 2017, after serving for over 24 years as archbishop. The update covered his retirement announcement here. Meanwhile Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby has come out with a statement in support of the Archbishop of Southern Africa. The South African President Jacob Zuma had told Archbishop Thabo Makgoba to keep the church out of politics. Both archbishops referred to the long history of the church witnessing on political issues.
Two Diocese Take Steps ForwardThe Episcopal Diocese of Vermont has made a major commitment to green energy by purchasing the solar array that they had been leasing. The array is on diocesan property and provided all the electricity needed for the diocesan conference center property with a little to spare and sell. Meanwhile, the diocese of Bethlehem is moving forward with plans to elect a bishop. They have been sharing a bishop with the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Bishop Sean Rowe has served as provisional bishop of Bethlehem since March 2014.
Too Much Candle Power at ChristmasChurch of England vicar Frank Coleman noticed that his server's vestments had caught fire from a candle and it was about to spread to her hair on Christmas Eve. He rushed over and patted out the fire with his hands and then after a member of the congregation made him soak his hand in cold water continued with the service. The server was unhurt. The vicar ended up after the service in the emergency room with severe burns on 30% of his hand.
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Diocese of Fort Worth Featured in Series of ArticlesThe Episcopal News Service has begun a series of four articles on the rebuilding Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. The first article covers ways that having to start over has led to innovation.
Province of South India Faces Charges of CorruptionThe Anglican Province of South India (which is part of a consolidated church with Methodists and Presbyterians) is in court because a special state commission investigating fraud has made an initial finding that major corruption has taken place. The investigator ordered the removal of all financial trustees. The same province has been in court defending the extension of the terms of current church official by one year. The question was whether that applied to the people currently in office or if the longer terms started with those to be elected in the upcoming synod. These legal difficulties led the Presiding Bishop of the province to resign from Anglican Communion committees and commissions to focus on matters at home.
California Bishops Write to TrumpIn December, Pittsburgh Update reported on a letter sent by Massachusetts Bishops to President Elect Trump. Now the bishops of the six dioceses in California have sent a similar letter asking Trump to reconsider his choice for head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and calling on him to be a president for all people, especially immigrants, women, people of color, and the poor.
Egyptian Archbishop Calls Story "Inaccurate"Pittsburgh Update carried a summary of a story by George Conger in AnglicanInk that suggested Archbishop Annis of Egypt was upset with the Archbishop of Canterbury for appointing the dean of the Alexandria Cathedral to a task force and for being unsupportive in a legal battle that could subordinate the Anglican Province to the Presbyterian Church. Now an Anglican Communion News Center release suggests that if Archbishop Annis is peeved at anyone, it is George Conger because he got a number of things wrong. Conger is an Episcopal priest in Central Florida who has been sympathetic to the Global South and is the founder and chief editor of AnglicanInk.
Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Week Ending 12/26/16
Merry Christmas!As we all celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, the Diocese of San Joaquin was celebrating Christmas for the first time since 2007 in the diocesan Cathedral. Their facebook page had two series of pictures, one taken of the building just before the service, and one during the service. Meanwhile in Melbourne Australia, people were happy to be celebrating Christmas in an intact cathedral. Police had announced the arrest of 5 self-radicalized terrorists who had been planning to blow up the Cathedral on Christmas. Because of ISIS threats to that and other Anglican Churches, there was heightened security at many places. In England despite fears that York Minister bells would not ring out at Christmas, a group of Yorkshire ringers volunteered to step in as the Cathedral continues to be at odds with its former bell-ringers. (See update story here.) Meanwhile Church of England parsons scurried from parish to parish trying to cover Christmas services despite a shortage of clergy for rural parishes. The shortage is forcing the Church of England to do things that have long been the practice in the Americas, such as giving more power to vestries, renting out church buildings, and using lay-led services.
Latest Appointment to Special Task Force Brings ControversyOne of the things that the January 2015 primates gathering requested was a special task Force to try to heal the divide among Anglican Communion Churches. The Archbishop of Canterbury has filled a vacancy created by the stepping down of a bishop from India by appointing the Dean of the Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt. The Task Force membership has created controversy because Welby did not allow GAFCON to dictate its membership. The latest appointment has led to criticism by the Bishop of Egypt (who is also the primate of Egypt and the Middle East), Mouneer Anis, a strong supporter of GAFCON.
National Cathedral to Host Post-Inaugural Service for TrumpThe National Cathedral is hosting a prayer service on January 21 for the newly sworn-in president. Planning of the ecumenical service is still under way. They have done this for each inauguration since FDR in 1933. The decision has led to criticism, however, by those who feel he embodies the opposite of Christian values. Episcopal Churches seem to figure prominently in Trump's recent plans. He attended Christmas Eve services at the Episcopal Church in Palm Beach near his estate; and is also planning to attend service at St. John's Episcopal Church, as have other presidents, on the morning of the inauguration.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Week Ending 12/19/16
Chief Operating Officer Nominated for Church HeadquartersThe Executive Committee has approved the candidate nominated by the Presiding Bishop and President of the House of Deputies as the new Chief Operating Officer for the Episcopal Church. It is a deacon, Geoffrey T. Smith, currently serving on the diocesan staff in New Hampshire. He has previously served as a deacon in the Dioceses of Chicago, Maine, and Massachusetts. He has a long career in the insurance field as a risk management officer, and has served in all four dioceses as a safe church trainer.
Bell Ringer Controversy ContinuesIn October the Cathedral of York fired all of its bell ringers and announced it would be holding interviews to create a new group to ring the changes. At the time there was a lack of communication between the cathedral dean and ringers, and an issue related to dismissal of one member suspected of sexual impropriety with a child. The cathedral has been having difficulty in recruiting a new set of ringers and is now complaining about intimidation of candidates by the old ringers. Thinking Anglicans has a good summary of the current flap, statements and counter-statements.
Lexington Bishop to ResignPittsburgh Update reported earlier on the unwillingness of the Diocese of Lexington to allow Bishop Douglas Hahn to return after a leave imposed because a past sexual affair became public. Now there has been a joint announcement by the Standing Committee of the Diocese and Bishop Hahn that he will resign March 10, 2017. Bishop Bruce Caldwell who has served as provisional bishop during Hahn's year-long leave, will continue in that role.
Church of England Appoints Second Black BishopWhen John Sentamu was chosen as Bishop of Stepney in 1996, he became the first black bishop in the Church of England. He was still the only black bishop in 2005 when he became Archbishop of York. Now, twenty years after he was consecrated a bishop, Sentamu will be joined in March by another African-born priest, Dr. Woyin Karowei Dorgu. Dorgu has been chosen Bishop of Woolwich, a suffragan see in the diocese of Southwark. Woolwich is an area of London with a large Nigerian population. Before ordination, the newly nominated bishop served as a medical doctor. His service as a priest has been entirely in the Diocese of London and he is the current president of AMEN (Anglican Minority Ethnic Network). The Guardian reports that Dorgu hopes to encourage more ethnic minorities to enter the Church of England ministry. The Episcopal Cafe also has a story on his appointment.
Famine in AfricaThe Canadian Church's Anglican Journal reports that famine in Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe is forcing starving people to eat locusts which are toxic in large quantities. The famine is a result of crop failures at least partially caused by climate change. A bishop in Madagascar reported that one man collapsed from hunger as he was being confirmed, and that church officials had confirmed that some others had been too weak to come to the service. Although the UN is providing some relief and the Anglican diocese are working with farmers to mitigate crop damage in the future, there is a need for immediate relief.
Communion Secretary-General Fears African Churches Manipulated by American ConservativesBishop Joseph Idowu-Fearon, the Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion gave an extensive audio tape interview to the Church of Ireland Gazette last week. His comments on GAFCON and the role of American conservatives in creating the African anti-gay issue drew the most attention. Idowu-Fearon stressed there was more diversity in Africa than the primates would admit. The real pressure was from American conservatives who have manipulated African Church leaders. The Church Times has a full story on the interview, Episcopal Cafe has a shorter one.
Standing Rock Chaplains Provided a Needed Service After Army Corp of Engineers Denies Pipeline PermitAn ecumenical group of 30 trauma chaplains, recruited to work during the witness of several thousand veterans at the site of pipeline protests in Standing Rock had to quickly switch their focus after arrival. The 10 Episcopalians, 3 Buddhists, 6 Disciples of Christ, 4 Lutherans, 5 Unitarians, and 2 UCC ministers had just arrived when the Army Corps of Engineers announced it was denying a building permit for the pipeline on the last crucial segment. The chaplains quickly switched gears to help the veterans present process their own reactions to the changed situation and a fast approaching blizzard. The chaplains had come in response to an invitation issued by the Rev. John Floberg, priest of the Episcopal congregation at Canon Ball on the Standing Rock Reservation. They left feeling part of a team and convinced an ecumenical group of chaplains had much to offer in other crisis situations. The Episcopal New Service story has interviews and comments from the group.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Week Ending 12/13/16
Massachusetts Bishop Ask Trump to Reconsider EPA HeadFive Episcopal Bishops from Massachusetts, including the current diocesans of the Dioceses of Western Massachusetts and Massachusetts, and the current and two retired suffragan bishops of the Diocese of Massachusetts have all signed a letter to President-elect Donald Trump requesting that he rethink his appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. They also stated that they would write their representatives in Congress urging them to block Pruitt's appointment. Both dioceses currently feature the letter on the home page of their diocesan web site.
South Carolina Episcopalians Back in Federal CourtEpiscopalians in South Carolina made oral arguments in their second appeal to the Federal Appeals Court in Richmond Virginia. They are hoping to get the appeals court to tell the retired federal judge in S.C. he can no longer delay in hearing the suit brought originally by Bishop von Rosenberg against Mark Lawrence for fraudulently claiming he is an Episcopal bishop. The local judge had originally stayed the case until the State law suits over property had been settled. SC Episcopalians appealed the stay and the court sent the case back to the retired judge to hold the trial. He again issued a stay.
You can find a summary of the arguments on the December 9, 2016 blog posting on scepiscopalians.com. The actual oral arguments are available from the diocese. . Pittsburgh Update covered the filing of the second appeal here.