Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Week Ending 07/11/16
Episcopal Church Responds to Week of Gun ViolenceThe shootings by police of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and of Philando Castile in Minnesota, and the shooting of 11 police officers (5 of whom died) in Dallas as they provided support for a peaceful demonstration protesting the earlier shootings elicited a call for prayer and study of ways to end racial strife by Presiding Bishop Curry, and statements on the initial shootings from the bishops in Minnesota and Louisiana, as well as responses to the Dallas shooting by the bishops in Dallas and Fort Worth. In addition, the Bishop of Louisiana and a diocesan delegation marched in a Baton Rouge protest on the July 10th against all of the violence. Episcopal Churches in other areas also responded. All Saints, Pasadena, for example, held its own march. Many used the Good Samaritan readings on Sunday to preach against violence.
Bishop Bruno Case to Move to Next LevelPittsburgh Update reported earlier that St. James, Newport Beach had a Facebook posting, saying that although they had been asked not to disclose the outcome of the June 20 Conference Panel hearing, it was likely their complaint against Bishop Bruno would move to the next level. The parish has now posted a notice on the front page of their web page that efforts at reconciliation by the Conference Panel which met June 20, 2016 have failed and the charges against Bishop Bruno will now move to an ecclesiastical hearing by a Reference Panel.
Church Developments on Same Sex MarriagesIt appeared that efforts to change the marriage canon in the Anglican Church in Canada fell one vote short in among the clergy while being approved by both the lay and bishops at the annual synod. A number of bishops responded saying that the current canons do not forbid same sex marriages and they will approve parishes offering same sex marriage. At least one authorized use of one of the rite approved by The Episcopal Church's General Convention last year. However, in a recent development, a check of the votes showed that one clergy vote was miscounted as a lay vote, and in fact, Canada DID approve a change in cannons so that it explictly allows same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, the synod of the Church of England held closed door conversations on sexuality despite threats of a walk-out by the most die-hard opponents to same-sex couples. While the Church of England talked, the United Reformed Church (heir to the Congregational and Presbyterian traditions in England) in the United Kingdom approved same-sex marriages being performed in their churches.
South India Church Subject to Fraud InvestigationThe Church of South India, which is recognized as a province in the Anglican Communion is currently under investigation for fraud and tax errors. A number of laity have been trying to get an investigation into the practices of the dioceses for at least nine years. The Church is overseen by a committee of bishops. Its moderator, the Rt. Rev. G Dyvasirvadam, who has only been in office for the last two years is confident that the audit will show that there were errors, but not a deliberate attempt to defraud.
Former Presiding Bishop Browning DiesEdmund Lee Browning, the last Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church to serve a 12 year term, and who was known for his statement that in the Episcopal Church "There will be no outcasts" lost his struggle with cancer on July 12, 2016. Browning was the Bishop of Hawaii when he became Presiding Bishop. During his term, he consecrated Barbara Harris as the first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church and in the Anglican Communion. He also was known for outreach to Native Americans, his response to economic and social injustice and the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. There are two postings on the Episcopal News Network, a general story and the official obituary.
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
Week Ending 7/4/16
Bishop Transitions in South CarolinaThis week South Carolinians were saying "hello" to Bishop "Skip" Adams who has been nominated as the next provisional bishop for the Episcopal Church in South Carolina. Adams is retiring as bishop of Central New York. The diocese will formally elect him at their convention in September. He replaces Bishop vonRosenberg, the retired Bishop of Tennessee who has served as provisional bishop during the stressful rebuilding of the diocese following schism. The diocese was also responding to the news of the death of their former bishop, Edward Salmon. Salmon worked closely with those who led the ACNA schism, but he himself refused to leave the Episcopal Church. His funeral is scheduled for the Episcopal parish he served near St. Louis, Missouri, before becoming bishop and where he retired after serving as head of Nashotah House Seminary. Both the Episcopal Diocese and the schismatic diocese are holding memorial services in Charleston. The June 29 entry for the web site scepiscopalians.com has long commentary on Bishop Salmon's role in the SC controversy.
Episcopal Parishes in West Virginia Respond to FloodingThe Episcopal Churches in two of the areas in West Virginia hardest hit by flooding are serving as disaster relief sites. The Church in Greenbriar, St. James Parish, was prepared to respond to disaster and has quickly teamed up with the Greenbriar United Way to become a major distribution hub for relief efforts. In White Sulphur Springs, St. Thomas Episcopal Church was one of the few public buildings not to be flooded and to retain electric service. The Episcopal News Service has a good article on the efforts in the two parishes. A member of the United Way has set up an Amazon.com wish list where people can buy items needed for relief and have them shipped directly to the the parish. You can find that list here.
Kenyan Anglicans in the NewsThis last week Kenyans were celebrating the enthronement of their new Archbishop, Jackson Nasoore ole Sapit, whose route to Christianity, ordination, and leadership is an amazing story. Sapit has been known for his ability to bring warring groups together. He may well need to use that ability in dealing with a lawsuit filed by three Anglican priests against their bishop and diocese for destroying their careers and good names by calling them gay.
St. James Newport Beach Saga ContinuesSt. James the Great parish in Newport Beach, CA posted a cryptic statement on their Facebook page following the hearing held on charges they filed against Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles. Bruno locked the parish out of their building as part of his efforts to sell the property to a developer. That land deal has fallen apart but the parish and Bishop remain at odds. The note says that they have been asked to remain quiet until the panel official report is released, but it appears proceedings against Bishop Bruno will be going forward to a public Hearing Panel. Pittsburgh Update has followed this story from its beginnings. Our most recent posting is here.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Week Ending 6/27/16
Zanzibar Cathedral Opens Slave Trade MemorialThe Anglican Cathedral in Zanzibar has opened a slave trade heritage center on church grounds in Stone Town in the Diocese of Zanzibar. The cathedral itself sits on the site of a former slave trading market. The site documents the history of the slave trade in East Africa and the role the Anglican Church played in ending it. East African slave trading continued after the British began enforcing a ban on slave trading in West Africa.
Kansas Bishops Ban Guns in Episcopal ChurchesBishops Wolfe of the Diocese of Kansas and Bishop Millikin of Western Kansas have issued a joint pastoral letter banning guns from Episcopal Churches in Kansas beginning August 1, except for those carried by law enforcement officials in the course of their duties. The letter was a response to changes in state law that allowed both open and concealed carry of weapons in all houses of worship. The law allowed ecclesiastical authorities to ban weapons if proper signage was placed at the buildings. The bishops have made available to parishes quantities of the sign approved by the state attorney general. The ENS story on this is here.
"Vicar of Bagdad" InvestigatedThe Rev. Andrew White, who was for years the voice of the Episcopal Church in Bagdad, and was ordered to leave for his own safety by Archbishop Welby in 2014 is being investigated over concerns he may have paid ransom to ISIS in order to rescue girls from sexual slavery. Payment to terrorists groups, including ransom payments are illegal under British law. White is head of a charity, the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation, founded in 2010 that has worked with more than 150 girls freed from ISIS slavery. White insists he is innocent, and that his organization is not tied to another Canadian-based group that does ransom girls. The story was carried by Christianity Today.
Churches Respond to "Brexit" VoteA number of bishops, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued statements on the recent vote to leave the European Union and the current unsettled state of affairs in Britain. The vote has direct effect for the Church of England parishes in the Diocese in Europe and Gibraltar. The primates from the Anglican Churches in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales have all weighed in as well as the Archbishop of Armagh (Northern Ireland). A good place to find links to many of the statements is at Thinking Anglicans.
Closed Sessions at Executive Council ChallengedThe Living Church reported frustration at Executive Council's use of executive sessions which exclude observers and the press. Four out of five Council Committees pursued their work in executive session, including most of the matters in the area of World Mission. There is no provision in Executive Council by-laws for committees to meet in executive session, although the Council itself may do so. The Council used an executive session to hear a report on personnel matters. Mark Harris, a former member of the Council, voiced his concerns in an essay on his blog, suggesting that the matters discussed in the committee executive sessions, especially those on World Mission should have been open.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Week Ending 6/20/16
Bishop of Missouri Appoints Deputy for Gun Violence PreventionBishop Wayne Smith has appointed the Rev. Marc D. Smith to a special deputy role to lead efforts in his diocese on education and action (but not advocacy) to prevent gun violence. The diocese is approaching the issue as a health issue. Marc Smith has a background in medicine, including hospital administration, and has already been leading efforts in health and wellness within the diocese. For more on the job description, see the bishop's announcement. Actual biographical information on the Rev. Marc Smith is slim on-line, but a Bloomberg listing provides some insight as does this parish announcement.
Changes in Women's Role as Clergy Marked in Three LocationsChanges in women's roles as priests can be marked in three announcements this last week. The first is the addition of a fifth candidate to the bishop search in Central New York. The search committee put forward three women and one man as candidates. Now a fifth candidate, another woman has been nominated. She is th rector of the oldest parish in Central New York, and the only candidate from the diocese. The Diocese of Spokane has also announced candidates for its search for a bishop, and like Central New York, three of the four candidates named by the search committee are women. Meanwhile, Bishop Davidson of the Diocese of Guyana in the Province of the West Indies has announced that the upcoming diocesan synod will have ordination of women as priests on the agenda. It has been discussed for two or three years, but the bishop wants the diocese to come to a conclusion.
Gun Violence Continues in the NewsA man who had made threats and defaced both the church sign and beheaded an antique church statue charged into the services of St. Bernard de Clairvaux Episcopal Church which meets at the Ancient Spanish Monastery and threatened to shoot the priest. He also ordered the roughly 140 people attending the Sunday service to leave. Police were on site because of the threats and he was arrested before anyone was hurt. The parish meets in a 12th century building dismantled and reassembled in Florida in the 1950s and donated to the Episcopal Diocese in 1964. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's bishop, Dorsey McConnell has issued a pastoral reflection on the Orlando shooting. Update covered other responses last week.
Gay Rights Continues to Roil Waters of Anglican CommunionWhile insiders at the Church of England are beginning to predict that the issue of same sex marriages may well split that church and will be the focus of major "conversations" at the upcoming synod, the Archbishop of York hotly defended on TV the idea that you could oppose church marriages for same sex couple without being homophobic. More basic issues are at stake in Kenya, where a parish priest has joined a lawsuit asking for greater protection and human rights for LGBT people in his country. He argues it is a pastoral matter, having seen the way some of his parishioners have been abused. He risks the wrath of his bishop by going against the official position of the Kenyan Church. In Kenyan there are strict laws making homosexuality illegal.
Hearing on Presentment of Bishop Bruno Took PlaceThe St. James the Great Congregation which has been locked out of its building by Bishop Bruno for a year after Bruno announced he was selling the property, posted a Facebook notice June 20 asking for prayers. The official hearing had finally convened into their charges that Bruno had violated his oaths and church canons. Mediation had already failed, and this is closest equivalent to a trial that can be held under current Episcopal Church canons. The outcome will not be known for a while.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Week ending 6/13/16
Orlando Shooting Elicits Numerous Statements From Church LeadersThe Archbishops of Canterbury and York have issued a statement on the Orlando shooting, along with a number of American Church leaders. The Thinking Anglicans web site provides a convenient set of links to them all, including the statement Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
Epected Pushback Emerges on Scottish Episcopal Church VotePittsburgh Update reported several weeks ago on expected changes by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change its canon on marriage to be inclusive of same sex couples and that it had already begun allowing blessings of civil marriages. The Scottish Episcopal Church General Synod overwhelmingly passed the first reading of canon changes June 10, 2016. Before the action is final, the synod will need to pass in 2017 by a two-thirds majority. In between each Diocesan Synod is to hold a discussion on the measure. Nonetheless, the usual voices are already acting as if it is complete. The Archibshiop of Canterbury has responded by informing the Scottish Primate he will be removed as leader of the World Anglican - Reformed Dialog. from A faction within the Scottish church called the Scottish Anglican Network has issued a statement suggesting they may follow a path pioneered by American dissidents, and the leadership of GAFCON has denounced the Scottish church as no longer Christian. GAFCON has offered "alternative episcopal oversight."
The Pope Upgrades Mary MagadaleneWhile Episcopalians have long commemorated the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene, the Roman Catholics just listed her in their secondary "memorials." Now Pope Francis has announced that the church should observe her date as a feast of the church. The official announcement focuses on her role in telling the apostles of the resurrection, her role as a evangelist, and as a role model for women in the church.
Latvian Lutherans Downgrade WomenIn a vote that has elicited horrifed responses from the rest of the European Lutheran Community, the Latvian Lutheran Synod voted to end ordination of women as priests.
Those women already ordained will be allowed to continue in the ministry. Women were ordained priests beginning in 1975. There have been no ordinations of women since 1993 when a conservative archbishop assumed control. This makes the Latvian Church one of about 30 world-wide Lutheran bodies out of 145 that only ordain men.