Tuesday, June 21, 2016
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.
Executive Council SummaryThe Episcopal News Network has issued a summary of actions taken at the recent Executive Council Meeting. Support for historically black colleges of the Episcopal Church and for initiatives among indiginous peoples was high on their agenda. They also announced a number of other moves to support mission. The rebuilding diocese of Fort Worth got a $107,500 grant for rebuilding and church planting in 2016, and $55,000 for each of 2017 and 2018.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
Week Ending 6/7/16
Diocese of Rochester Announces Intent to Sell Its Diocesan HeadquartersBishop Singh of Rochester has issued a letter informing his diocese that after months of discussion and consultation, it has been decided to sell the Diocesan House and seek smaller quarters. The current staff does not use much of the space, and the expense of the building was hard to justify given the current finances of the diocese. The first draft of the 2017 budget for the diocese has an $84,000 deficit.
Churches in Europe Seeing Increase in Conversions from IslamThe Manchester Guardian carried a story showing a huge upswing in Muslim refugees converting to Christianity throughout Europe. The Cathedral in Liverpool offers a serive each week in Farsi attended by 100-200 people. Churches say that the conversions are real. That those converting do so from a variety of reasons, including the way they were welcomed in the countries that admitted them. The BBC has noted that officials in England, however, are more skeptical since being a Christian may help applicants get a grant of asylum. Review committees have been asking questions about the Bible to decide if the converts really are Christian and turning down those they deem to have failed the questions. The problem is that the questions are things that can be memorized but do not prove faith. This controversy is likely to grow as countries try to deal with the refugee crisis.
Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Week Ending 5/30/16
New Zealand Church Delays Vote on Replacing ConfirmationThe Anglican Church in Aotearoa, NZ and Polynesia decided to hold over to their next synod a proposal to replace the rite of Confirmation with The Laying on of Hands for Affirmation, Renewal and Reception. The proposals for changes to baptism and replacement of confirmation were left lying on the table at the synod recently concluded. The church will use the time to hold wider conversations. Those who made the proposal noted that the rite of confirmation has slowly lost its importance since the church made baptism the entry point for communion. Others were concerned about the replacement of the rite with a very different ritual. This discussion should be of interest to the Episcopal Church given that the TEC has a very similar stance on baptism.
Archbishop of Canterbury Tries to Mend Rift with Scottish Episcopal ChurchThe announcement shortly before Christmas that the Church of England and the (presbyterian) Church of Scotland had drafted an accord for closer ties, blindsided the Scottish Episcopal Church. (See update stories here and here.) To the Scots, it appeared that the Church of England was crossing boundaries and inserting itself into another province's business. The Church of Scotland approved the agreement at its recently concluded General Assembly. Archbishop Justin Welby was present and addressed the Assembly. In his address he took responsibility for blindsiding the Scottish Episcopal Church and requested that as the conversations continue and details are worked out, that the Scottish Episcopal Church be given a seat at the table. For at least some this gesture is too little too late. See the commentary here.
Still Another Episcopal School Dealing with Possible Sexual ImproprietiesSt. Andrews School in Boca Raton, LA has dismissed its headmaster, Peter Benedict, Jr. and a month later announced it had hired two law firms with experience in sexual misconduct issues to represent the school. One of the firms has been charged with conducting an investigation to see if there has been any improprieties. The board has also contacted parents to find out if there are unaddressed incidents of sexual misconduct. There is no specific charge pending at St. Andrews, but the previous headmaster, the Rev. George Andrews's name has surfaced in conjunction with investigations at St. George's School in Rhode Island.
Newest Bible Translation in Emoji!Given the texting shortcuts used extensively by younger Americans, it was bound to happen. A translation of the Bible is now available using emoji and all the abbreviations used by frequent texters. The Episcopal Cafe has a sample of the new text.
PBS Interview with Presiding Bishop Curry AvailableBoth the video and a transcription of Judy Woodruff's interview of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry are now available. She interviewed him to see how things were going after 6 months in office.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Week Ending 5/23/16
National Cathedral Chooses New DeanBishop Budde of the Diocese of Washington has announced that the Rev. Randy Hollerith, rector of a large and thriving parish in Richmond, Virginia, has been selected as the new Dean of the National Cathedral. The previous dean, the Rev. Gary Hall, had resigned last year (see update story) saying he was too close to retirement age to carry the cathedral through an extensive fundraising effort. Hollerithl has ties to the Cathedral, and has been in his Richmond parish for 16 years. The Washington Post article gives more details on Hollerith's successful parish building and fundraising.
New Zealand Anglicans Set Goals for Gender Equity in Church OfficesWhile last week's synod meeting of the Anglican in Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia deferred decisions on blessing same sex marriages, they passed a resolution setting a goal of 50% representation of women in all aspects of their church's governance, including appointed boards, and at the highest levels of liturgical leadership (i.e. bishops). The resolution was sponsored by those who had attended the UN meeting on the status of women and it passed to rounds of applause.
Same Sex Marriage in the News in Scotland and South AfricaBoth the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland and the Scottish Episcopal Church put same sex marriage on the agendas of their governing body meetings this spring. The Church of Scotland passed changes that allow ministers of their denomination to take advantage of the civil marriage laws. They have not approved any changes though that would allow same sex couples to wed in the church. That however, is the question that the Scottish Episcopal Church will vote on at its synod in early June. A commission has submitted a proposal to amend the marriage canon to allow same sex marriages. It will require votes at two successive synods to go into effect. Meanwhile, Archbishop Tutu's daughter has resigned her ministerial license rather than be suspended by the church in South Africa because she married her same sex partner in the Netherlands, home of her spouse. Archbishop Tutu and his wife were present for the wedding, and the Archbishop gave a father's blessing during the service. South Africa has had legal civil marriage for same sex couples since 2006, but the church has not changed its canons. Her resignation does not affect Reverend Canon Mpho Tutu-Van Furth's standing as a priest in the Episcopal Church. She is canonically resident in the Diocese of Washington.
Initial Court Ruling Disappoints St. James Newport BeachThe initial court ruling on whether the restrictive covenant forbidding sale of St. James Church in Newport Beach has disappointed that congregation. The original donor of the land was sued by Bishop Bruno because they claimed that they had not removed restrictions on the church property that barred its use for anything other than a church. The trial court has ruled that the restrictions were lifted on all three parcels of land donated by the company in the 1980s. The company claimed it had only removed the restrictions on parcels being bused for parking. The company is considering appealing. For more on the dispute, you can pick up the threads at this Update post.
Bishops of Four Rebuilding Dioceses Meet with President of the House of Deputies in PittsburghOn May 10-11, Bishops from Fort Worth, South Carolina, San Joaquin and Pittsburgh met with Gay Jennings, the President of the House of Deputies, and Sally Johnson, Chancellor to Jennings. The bishops of the four dioceses have met periodically to discuss common issues and news. The meeting in Pittsburgh allowed them to also brief Jennings on what was happening in the dioceses. The Diocese of South Carolina e-news has an article on the meeting and a picture.
Monday, May 16, 2016
Week Ending 05/16/16
Virginia Bishops Are Working on Transgender Policy for Church Schools
The three bishops of the Diocese of Virginia, Diocesan bishop Shannon Johnston, Suffragan Bishop Susan Goff, and Assisting Bishop Ted Gulick have issued a statement that they are carefully working on a policy for the Church Schools of the diocese, (and for other diocesan related organizations and camps) that will address controversies that have arisen in fully including transgender students. The principles that will infuse the policy are sensitive to the needs of transgender students and parents, educators, psychologists, and others involved with the schools. There are six official Church Schools, some of which are day schools and some that take boarders. The diocese elects a single board of trustees that oversees all six schools while granting much autonomy to individual boards at each school. The six are Christchurch (Middlesex County) St. Catherine's (Richmond), St. Christopher's (Richmond), St. Margaret's (Tappahannock) Stuart Hall (Staunton), and St. Stephen's and St. Agnes School (Alexandria). Three of the schools are single sex schools. One Additional Richmond school, the Anna Julia Cooper School is considered an "related institution" for the diocese. The Cooper School is a middle school with ties to the Church Schools in Richmond. In addition the policy would affect the diocesan summer camps run at Shrine Mont. The Episcopal High School in Alexandria is independent and it is not clear if any policy developed by the diocese will apply to it.