News for Week Ending 11/10/2014
Results from survey of Episcopal churches releasedThe Office of Public Affairs of The Episcopal Church released a collection of documents November 7, 2014, resulting from a recent survey of Episcopal congregations. (See press release here and list of materials available here.) Much of the information involves size, attendance, and finances of churches. An attempt is made to identify characteristics of Episcopal churches that are correlated with growth. The documents make interesting, if largely depressing, reading.
GTS and fired faculty reach agreement allowing teachers to returnAn agreement between the Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary and the eight striking faculty members who were fired on September 29, 2014, was announced on November 5. (See Pittsburgh Update story here.) Seven of the GTS professors will return to the classroom; one of the eight has chosen to leave the seminary. The agreement—the official announcement is here—does not guarantee the remaining GTS professors employment beyond the current academic year, and their exact duties during the current term are unclear, given that replacements have been hired. This story was covered by The New York Times, Religion News Service, and elsewhere. An e-mail message sent to students by Dean and President Kurt Dunkle concerning the agreement has been posted by The Lead. Dunkle sent another e-mail message on November 10.
Integrity celebrating 40th anniversaryIntegrity, the advocacy organization for sexual minorities in The Episcopal Church is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2014. The Lead noted the anniversary and offers a link to a brief history of the organization and a video interview with Vivian Taylor, the executive director of Integrity USA.
Clergy arrested while feeding the homelessAn Episcopal priest, another clergyman, and a 90-year-old advocate for the homeless were arrested in a Fort Lauderdale, Florida, park on Sunday, November 2, 2014, while providing food for homeless people. The Rev. Mark Sims, rector of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Coral Springs; the Rev. Dwayne Black of The Sanctuary Church, a Presbyterian church in Fort Lauderdale; and Arnold P. Abbott president of the Maureen A. Abbott Love Thy Neighbor Fund, Inc., were charged with violating a recently passed ordnance restricting how food can be distributed in public. In particular, the food distribution event failed to provide an outdoor toilet, as required the ordnance. The citations could result in fines and jail time. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler has been quoted as saying, “Providing them with a meal and keeping them in that cycle [of homelessness] on the street is not productive.” Black, on the other hand, said, “But let's just feed them and then deal with other issues.” Abbott was again arrested while feeding the homeless on November 6.
This story receive a good deal of attention in the press, including from Christian Today, Reuters, and The Washington Post.