Week Ending 9/5/16
Same Sex Couples in the News in EuropeThe Church of England cannot escape the reality of same sex couples and marriage. This week the Church was hit with two pieces of headline news and a third emerged in the Finnish Lutheran Church which is in full communion with the Church of England. Pressured by a British newspaper, The Bishop of Grantham, Nicholas Chamberlain, acknowledged that he lived in a committed, celibate relationship with a male partner. He had never hidden the fact, but it was also not publicized. Predictably the GAFCON leadership denounced the relationship and raised questions of secrecy when Chamberlain was consecrated last year. The Executive Secretary of the Anglican Communion on the other hand, issued a statement saying that since the Bishop was following carefully the Church protocols on matters of sexuality, there was no problem. While these statements were flying back and forth, a group of Church of England clergy signed a public letter saying that they had married their same sex partners despite church rules opposing same sex civil marriage. There are asking for a more inclusive policy that will allow individual parishes to be openly affirming of their marriages. To top off the week the Church of Finland issued guidelines saying that when civil same sex marriage becomes legal in Finland later this year, the church teaching will not change, and the church will continue to provide marriage only to couple comprising a man and a woman. They did say the civilly married couples would be welcomed and blessed at church. The Finnish Lutheran Church position contrasts with that of the Church in Denmark, where the head of that church recently performed a wedding for two Church of England men with the help of the men's Anglican parish in Denmark.
Episcopalians Continue Supporting Standing Rock Protests Against PipelineDuring the last week the number of oil pipeline protesters in North Dakota continued to grow as various interdenominational and indigenous groups rallied to the support of the Sioux who are trying to stop an oil pipeline from being constructed on land that contains sacred burial sites and jeopardizes their water supply. (See the Update from last week.) When the oil company suddenly switched its construction to a site specifically identified the day before in court filings by the Standing Rock tribe as filled with burial cairns, protesters rushed to the site only to be met by private security guards with pepper spray and dogs. Several of those in the crowd, including a young child needed treatment for dog bites. Episcopalians can follow all the news, which is not getting much press attention, at a Facebook site, Episcopalians Stand With Standing Rock.
St. James in Newport Beach Files Motion to Recover PropertyLast week the Petitioners who filed the original complaint against Bishop Bruno with the Episcopal Church filed a motion with the Hearing Panel asking to be allowed access to what had been their church property before Bishop Bruno locked them out as part of an attempt to sell the property to developers. The Church Attorney, who serves the Episcopal Church during the Hearing Panel process (not one of the parties) filed his own motion supporting the return of the property to the parish. Both of these were filed August 26. Two days later Bishop Bruno filed his response asking that the case be dismissed and charges dropped because of errors in the process, and because legal papers and letters were shared in public forums. In the bishop's motion, he denies any recognition to the parish or its rector. The most recent previous Update story on this ongoing saga is here.
After a Year, South Carolina Still Waits for Decision from State Supreme CourtIt is now a full calendar year since the oral arguments were made before the South Carolina Supreme Court in the case originally brought by the parishes that left the Episcopal Church to defend their claims to Episcopal Property. After the trial court favored the seceders, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina appealed. The reason for the long delay in issuing an opinion is not clear, but the chief justice at the time has retired (but remains a part of the court for this decision) and the court apparently is having trouble agreeing on an opinion. Journalist and blogger, Steve Skaradon has gone out on a limb and speculated the court members may have rejected an opinion written by the retired Chief Justice upholding the lower court and have had it assigned to another judge. Links on this site do not got to individual stories, so look for the September 3 posting.
News Around the Anglican CommunionChristians in the Peshwar region of Pakistan are praising a Muslim security guard who died preventing four suicide bombers from entering a church in a Christian colony. He raised the alarm, summoning other security forces and then started firing at the bombers. All four bombers were killed short of their target. Five other security people were injured.
Meanwhile, Anglicans in Seoul, South Korea are celebrating the opening of a women's ministry center that has been in planning or building stages for 20 years. It is a full service women's center offering a variety programs which should appeal to women and families. These will include religious and leadership programs, provide support for women facing a number of life stresses or who are recently released prisoners or defectors from North Korea.