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The Historic Diocese of South Carolina responds to the New TEC Diocese’s Motion on the Rehearing

Today The Episcopal Church (TEC) filed their reply, as requested by the Court, to the motions by the Diocese of South Carolina and 28 parish churches for recusal and rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court, regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.

On behalf of the Diocese of South Carolina, Rev. Canon Jim Lewis issued the following statement:

“Today’s filing by The Episcopal Church argues in essence, that the Diocese and its parishes waived their right to recusal, by not requesting it earlier, and that the Constitutional issues raised in their motions are negligible or mistaken.  The facts in this ruling, as it presently stands however, will not yield to such arguments.  Justice Hearn’s bias and conflict of interest is clear to any impartial observer.  The Constitutional issues for Freedom of Religion remain.  As our petition for rehearing stated: “These are serious issues for Respondents, Appellants and for all religious organizations in South Carolina. This Court should grant a rehearing.”  That continues to be our hope and Constitutional expectation from the Court.”


The Diocese is also providing the following background information and details:

•    In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted by an 80% margin to disassociate from The Episcopal Church.  In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court appeared to rule on August 2 this year that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church are subject to a trust interest in their property by (TEC).

•    The Constitutional due process requirements of the 14th Amendment are clear.  No member of government should make decisions in matters in which they have a vested interest in the outcome.  The Justice in this ruling who provided the deciding vote is a member of a TEC parish, Diocese and its national church.  Under South Carolina law, that Justice is a legal party to this litigation.  The bodies to which this Justice belongs as a member would be the beneficiaries of a nearly $500 million property windfall if this ruling stands.  That is a massive conflict of interest.  And it is the responsibility of the judge, under the South Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct, to reveal that issue, not for a party in the case to challenge the propriety of their actions.

•    The expert affidavit testimonies of Nathan M. Crystal, Professor and Adjunct Professor of Ethics at the University of South Carolina and NYU Schools of Law and Lawrence J. Fox, Professor of Ethics at Yale University are unanimous in their conclusions.  The due process rights of the Diocese of South Carolina have been violated by these actions and the only appropriate response is for this Justice to be recused from further participation in this case and their opinion vacated.  As Lawrence Fox observes in his analysis, “This is not a close case.”  The violations of due process here are not subtle.  They are profound….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Jeff Miller–SC Supreme Court ruling against Diocese of South Carolina threatens religious freedom

In addition, the majority of the Supreme Court made this decision on the fate of over $500 million of property without a proper factual review of whether the various parishes actually acceded to the canons of the Episcopal Church. For example, there is no evidence that St. Philip’s ever did so. If the present decision stands, as one dissenting opinion states, this case will be “nothing less than judicial sanction of the confiscation of church property.”

In short, by judicial fiat, the majority opinion imposed on a group of South Carolina churches, a standard of property law that it has not, and would not, impose on any secular organization. It does not take a legal scholar to recognize the danger this court action creates for religious freedom, and freedom in general. For these reasons, motions for reconsideration have been filed.

Sadly, the most serious threat to freedom comes from the Supreme Court’s failure to give St. Philip’s and the other parties a fair, unbiased hearing. The Supreme Court justice who provided the deciding vote to the majority is an active member of the Episcopal Church. She, along with her husband, actively participated in the events that gave rise to this lawsuit.

The South Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct requires that a judge disclose any potential conflict of interest and then disqualify themself from the case unless the parties to the litigation agree to waive the conflict. That did not happen.

St. Philip’s and others have filed a motion for recusal which is supported by strong affidavits from two experts – a national and a South Carolina expert on legal and judicial ethics. These highly respected authorities conclude that judicial disqualification is necessary.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

(The State) How a South Carolina Supreme Court decision threatens religious freedom


The court’s ruling violates these constitutional principles, creating a standard for property trusts that favors some organizations over others. The majority opinion suggests that an unincorporated association, merely by changing its bylaws, can claim the property of its members. It would be as if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce passed a rule claiming an interest in the property of every local chamber, with no explicit local agreement to that transfer of ownership.

There is no statute or common law in South Carolina supporting the validity of such a claim, yet that is what this ruling does. It asserts that there are different rules for religious versus non-religious entities. That is a disturbing precedent. As Justice John Kittredge observed in his dissent, “The message is clear for churches in South Carolina that are affiliated in any manner with a national organization and have never lifted a finger to transfer control or ownership of their property — if you think your property ownership is secure, think again.”

With freedom of association comes freedom to disassociate. Churches that freely associated with each other should be free to disassociate — and that disassociation should not cost them the very ministries that were established by local sacrifice. When the vast majority of…[parishioners] choose to disassociate (80 percent in this case) in keeping with state law and Supreme Court precedent, the courts should respect the decision.

There are also essential issues of fairness at stake in this case. A principle of the 14th Amendment is that no one in government should make decisions on matters in which they have a vested interest. In this ruling, the deciding vote was cast by a justice who belongs to a parish, diocese and national denomination that stand to gain tremendously from the outcome.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

The Global South Primates’ Communiqué of September 2017

We express our sadness for the decision taken by the Scottish Episcopal Church to change its doctrine of marriage and are thankful for the faithful remnant of the Scottish Anglican Network that continues to contend for God’s Word. We are also saddened by the decisions of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada to allow same-sex marriage. If this decision is ratified it will further tear the fabric of the Communion.

We invited Bishop Julian Henderson, President of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC), to address us about the challenges facing orthodox Anglicans in England. We commend the recent CEEC statements reaffirming the biblical definition of marriage. We encourage Anglicans in England to continue to stand firm in defence of the Gospel and to speak up for the central place of Scripture in the life of our Church, particularly in this 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

We are saddened that the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council in Lusaka, Zambia, did not unequivocally accept the decisions of the last Primates Meeting. While we expressed a desire to walk together as a Communion, this was contingent upon our decisions regarding The Episcopal Church being respected and upheld. Unfortunately, this agreement was not enforced and The Episcopal Church has been allowed to take part in decision making regarding “matters pertaining to polity and doctrine.” They have also represented us in ecumenical meetings. This has led to a further breakdown of trust and confidence.

In light of this reality, we discussed the Archbishop of Canterbury’s invitation to the upcoming Primates’ Meeting. The conscience of some does not allow them to attend. Some intend to go in defence of the Gospel and some are continuing to discern what the Lord is asking of them in this hour. We have all agreed to pray that the outcome of the upcoming meeting will be decisive and lead to coherent and responsible action regarding the issues which continue to tear apart the fabric of the Communion, issues that have eternal consequences.

Read it all.

Posted in Egypt, Global South Churches & Primates

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (II)

Rehearing is required, flat out, because respondents’ due process rights to a fair and impartial tribunal were grossly violated. But rehearing would be required in any event because the bias injected into the proceedings by Justice Hearn tainted not only her conclusions, but those of Acting Justice Pleicones and of Chief Justice Beatty, as well.

In a nutshell, the fault exposed by the petition for rehearing is this: there is no 3-2 majority, or any majority, of the Court that is united in favor of any reasoning for any result that is dispositive of the entire case. When a court has failed properly to dispose of the whole case before it, it must grant a rehearing to clarify what it meant by its original decision.

Let me restate that observation, in terms a lay person can understand. To have an effective decision from a court of law in which a panel of multiple justices participates, there has to be a majority of the participating justices who each concur in (agree with) the result that necessarily follows from that concurrence. And in this South Carolina decision, an analysis of the separate opinions shows conclusively that while three justices out of five may concur in one given result, they differ fatally in what process gets them to that result.

With no clear majority agreeing on the approach the Court (through its supposed majority) is laying out, the picture is the same as if three bettors at roulette won money when the ball landed on Red 34, because the first bet on “red”, the second bet on “even”, and the third bet on “34”. There is consensus only in result, but not in how you get there. And basic due process requires courts to explicate their reasoning for reaching a given result.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (I)

In a demonstration that tops all that came before, the motion makes its most convincing argument for Justice Hearn’s disqualification at pp. 11-12. ECUSA itself has for a long time declared in its national canons that as an unincorporated association of dioceses, its members are individuals who have been baptized in the Church (Canon I.17.1 [a], cited in n. 1 on p. 11). Justice Hearn fits that description, so ECUSA itself regards her as one of its own members.

Likewise, ECSC stated in discovery that “its members are persons” (ibid.), and so Justice Hearn, who belongs to a parish that recognizes the authority of ECSC and its Provisional Bishop, is a member of that body as well.

But the kicker is that under South Carolina law, all members of unincorporated associations are deemed to be parties to an action in the name of the association — and both ECUSA and ECSC are unincorporated associations. Ergo, Justice Hearn is a party defendant, and could be found personally liable if ECSC ends up with a money judgment against it and no means to pay it. As a party defendant, she has no right to sit in judgment of her own case (just as she has no inherent right to rule on her own disqualification by participating in deciding the motion). See the motion at pp. 11-12, and 24.)

Two Experts in Legal Ethics State that Justice Hearn Should Have Recused Herself

It is no answer to all of the foregoing to say that it was the responsibility of Bishop Lawrence’s attorneys to have requested Justice Hearn to withdraw from participation in the case. The South Carolina Judicial Canons required her to make a full disclosure on the record of all of the relevant facts before proceeding at all. Not only that, once she made such a disclosure, the Canons forbid parties from waiving disqualification on grounds of personal involvement, so that she would have had to step down once she revealed the extent of her and her husband’s personal involvement (see motion, pp. 13-19).

In further support of their motion, Bishop Lawrence’s attorneys submitted the affidavits of two recognized experts in the field of legal ethics.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Diocese of South Carolina and 29 Parish Churches File Motion for Rehearing in State Supreme Court

Citing significant departures from both state and federal precedents, the Diocese of South Carolina and 29 parish churches today filed a motion for rehearing in the South Carolina Supreme Court regarding its recent ruling in Appellate Case No. 2015-000622.  In 2012, the Diocese of South Carolina, along with 50 of its congregations voted to disassociate from The Episcopal Church.  In a complicated and sharply divided ruling consisting of five separate opinions, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled on August 2 this year that parishes which had “acceded” to the national church’s ‘Dennis canon’ are subject to a trust interest in their property by The Episcopal Church (TEC).  Only eight congregations were judged to have full rights to retain their property.

In a decision that partly reversed the February 2015 Circuit Court ruling of Judge Diane Goodstein, the Supreme Court significantly changed court precedents in multiple areas and divested the property rights of at least 28 congregations and over 20,000 church members.

Grounds for Rehearing

While there are multiple legal issues in the ruling that merit rehearing, the most crucial are possibly the constitutional ones controlling cases of religious property.  As stated in the conclusion to the petition: “The majority has fashioned a neutral principles standard for religious organizations under South Carolina property, trust and corporate law that admittedly would not be applied to secular organizations. It then applied it to religious organizations today in a fashion it did not do 8 years ago involving the same issues between the Plaintiff Diocese, The Episcopal Church and a parish church. It does so when no appellant asked the trial court, either during trial or post trial, to apply such a standard. As a result, the majority would transfer the real and personal property of South Carolina religious organizations, many of whom preexisted The Episcopal Church and the United States, to a New York religious organization. This establishment of one religion over another impacts the choices these South Carolina religious organizations (and those associated with them) made in the free exercise of their religion.  They chose to disassociate, exercising their right of association under the United States and South Carolina Constitutions which this Court has recognized.  Yet, according to the majority, that constitutionally protected decision, requires a massive transfer of centuries old real and personal property when it would not be required for a secular South Carolina organization.”

The petition concluded: “These are serious issues for Respondents, Appellants and for all religious organizations in South Carolina. This Court should grant a rehearing.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Primary Source, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

A Summary of recent posts on the August 2 South Carolina Supreme Court Decision involving “five different, strongly-held opinions”

Careful blog readers should make sure there have read and understood them all. I have been asked why I have not linked to secular media reports or other stories, and the answer is I would be happy to if they were accurate but they have not been–KSH.

South Carolina Supreme Court on Diocese of South Carolina/TEC Diocese in SC Dispute Ruling is Out.

Diocese of SC Statement on the recent South Carolina Supreme Court Ruling.

AS Haley–Massive Conflict of Interest Taints South Carolina State Supreme Court Ruling.

South Carolina Bishop Lawrence Writes his Diocese Following the recent Supreme Court Ruling.

A Message from the Standing Committee of the Diocese of South Carolina.

Bishop Mark Lawrence of the Diocese of South Carolina Calls for a Day of Prayer+Fasting on August 30.

Diocese of South Carolina and 29 Parish Churches File Motion for Rehearing in State Supreme Court.

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (I).

A S Haley–Faults in the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision Laid Bare (II).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology, Uncategorized

(Economist) Reno, Nevada–Anti-vagrancy laws are not the best way to reduce homelessness

As the city’s fortunes have risen, so too have its rents, occupancy rates and house prices. Since 2012 the median price of a home has doubled; the average rental price jumped 17% between 2014 and 2016. In January the Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless counted nearly 4,000 people living in weekly motels, up from 2,560 in 2011. Those who cannot afford motels have moved into shelters or onto the street.

If the proposed ordinance to ban sleeping outside passes, Reno’s police officers will be directed to try persuading those living on the streets to move to shelters. If they have no space, the homeless living on the street will be left alone. But if they do, anyone living outside who refuses to move in after a warning might be arrested.

An arrest record makes it harder for a homeless person to find employment or housing in the future. Many studies suggest there are cheaper ways to tackle the problem. The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, a charity, found that the average costs associated with the incarceration and hospitalisation of a chronically homeless person are about triple what it would cost to provide a chronically homeless person with housing. Between 2007 and 2015, New Orleans reduced its homelessness rate by 85%, primarily by providing housing. Reno’s city government should take a look.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Poverty, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Deutsche Welle) ‘WhatsApp blasphemy’ and the plight of Pakistani Christians

On Friday, an anti-terrorism court in eastern Pakistan sentenced Nadeem James, a 35-year-old Christian, to death on blasphemy charges. James, a tailor by profession, was accused by a friend of sharing “blasphemous messages” on WhatsApp’s text messaging service.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive topic in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, where around 97 percent of its 180 million inhabitants are Muslim. Rights advocates have long been demanding a reform of the controversial blasphemy laws, which were introduced by the Islamic military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq in the 1980s.

Activists say the laws have little to do with blasphemy and are often used to settle petty disputes and personal vendettas. Religious groups oppose any change to the blasphemy law and consider it necessary for Pakistan’s Islamic identity.

Pakistan’s Christians and other religious minorities complain of legal and social discrimination. In the past few years, many Christians and Hindus have been brutally murdered over unproven blasphemy allegations.

Read it all.

Posted in Pakistan, Religion & Culture

(CAJ News) Fragile Nigeria fracturing as ethnic eviction deadline nears

Fears of a coup may have been allayed with the return of President Muhammadu Buhari after a lengthy absence due to ill health but the panic gripping delicate Nigeria has taken a new dimension as an ultimatum issued by the major ethnic group for other tribes to vacate some parts of the country approaches.

Coupled with terrorism by the Islamic militant Boko Haram sect escalating, with over 20 000 civilians killed (unofficial figures suggest the toll is 100 000) and some 2 million displaced, the West African powerhouse has to contend with inter-ethnic relations at their most fractured nation in recent years with the deadline some diehard members of the majority Hausa for the Igbos to leave the northern parts of the country due at the end of this month.

At the centre of the brewing conflict are the Hausa (largely Muslim), are the largest ethnic group with 29 percent of the 190-million population, and the Igbos (predominantly Christians), who are third with 18 percent. The Yoruba are the second largest tribe (21 percent) in Africa’s biggest country by population, and with over 500 tribal groups.
While the government of Buhari (a Hausa), who nonetheless has spent the better part of the tense period in the United Kingdom for health reasons, audios and videos urging the North to attack the Igbos in the region are in circulation on the internet and social media.

Read it all.

Posted in Nigeria

What Activist Masha Gessen, a promoter of Same-sex Marriage, admitted in 2012

Found there:

It’s a no-brainer that (homosexuals) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist . . . . Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—-because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.

The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s sort of not what I had in mind when I came out thirty years ago.

I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally . . . . I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three . . . . And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage (emphasis mine).

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst deign to be made like unto men, the sharer of our sorrows, the companion of our journeys, the light of our ignorance, the remedy of our infirmity: So fill us with thy Spirit and endue us with thy grace that, as thou hast been made like unto us, we may grow more like unto thee; for thy tender mercies’ sake.

Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up;
but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another…

Psalm 75:6-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Archbishop Justin Welby meets the new Apostolic Nuncio

The Archbishop and the Nuncio discussed matters of mutual concern, including the peace process in South Sudan, the current refugee crisis and the future of Europe.

The Holy See maintains diplomatic relations with most countries around the world. This is managed via the ‘second section’ of the Secretariat of State, which is headed by Archbishop Paul Gallagher. The history of the nunciature in the UK goes back to the 1930s.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

A Story of Hope for a Friday–this Wonderful Lady provides Birthday parties for children who have never had one

Watch and enjoy it all.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Children, Poverty

(WSJ) Nina Shea–How to Help Iraq’s Religious Minorities

As Islamic State heads toward defeat in Iraq, Christian and Yazidi survivors of genocide should be returning to their hometowns in Nineveh province. Instead, these fragile minority communities mostly remain stranded at displacement shelters in Kurdistan without the means to rebuild their villages. Many are fleeing Iraq, and the country now risks losing these religious minorities entirely. The Trump administration is making the situation worse by continuing Obama policies that effectively exclude these non-Muslims from U.S. aid in Iraq.

Today there are fewer than 250,000 Christians in Iraq, according to the State Department, down from as many as 1.4 million before the 2003 invasion. These Christians speak Aramaic, like Jesus of Nazareth, and trace their faith to Thomas the Apostle, whose relics were spirited from Nineveh by Orthodox monks as ISIS approached. The Iraqi Jewish community, its roots in the Babylonian exile, was forced out over the past 70 years; fewer than 10 Jewish families remain in Baghdad. Yazidis—who have lived near the Sinjar Mountains—number about 400,000. Nadia Murad, the voice for thousands of Yazidis enslaved by ISIS, warned a congressional panel earlier this year that her people could soon disappear because of emigration. This would signal the end of Iraq’s indigenous non-Muslim communities.

Since fiscal 2014, the U.S. has provided $1.4 billion in humanitarian aid for Iraq, but very little of it has reached the beleaguered Christian and Yazidi communities. This is because the Obama administration decided to channel most of it through United Nations refugee and development agencies, a practice the new administration has continued. There is no protection for religious minorities in the U.N.’s overwhelmingly Muslim camps, and Christians and Yazidis are terrified of entering them. The U.N. doesn’t operate camps in Iraq for displaced Christians, and the international body has enough resources to shelter only half the Yazidis who congregate around Dohuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan. U.N. programs also exclude the local churches that struggle to care for these minorities, forcing them to raise aid on a piecemeal and insecure basis from other sources.

Read it all.

Posted in Foreign Relations, Iraq, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(AI) TEC Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania to share a bishop

Last weekend at a meeting of the clergy of the Dioceses of Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania, Bishop Franklin (pictured) announced that he will retire on April 3, 2019, as required by the canons of the Episcopal Church. His letter, which you can read here, says he has returned from sabbatical “full of energy and ideas that we will explore together over that time.” Chief among those ideas, as we discussed with the clergy of both dioceses, is the possibility of our dioceses sharing a future.

At our upcoming diocesan conventions, we will propose that we spend the next year convening discussions among leaders across our region about how we might create more opportunity for mission by working together. This process will culminate in October 2018, when our dioceses plan to meet together for a joint convention in Niagara Falls.

If our discussions in the next year are fruitful, as we hope they will be, we would anticipate that in 2018, the Diocese of Western New York would elect Bishop Rowe as its bishop provisional for five years beginning in April 2019, when Bishop Franklin retires. During the first three years of the partnership, our two dioceses would work together to deepen our relationships and develop shared mission priorities. In October 2021, we would re-evaluate the partnership and then, in October 2024, decide whether we wanted to continue it beyond the five-year mark.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Stewardship, TEC Bishops

(Local Paper) South Carolina insurance director confirms http://HealthCare.gov prices will increase 31% next year

As Congress once again turns its focus toward health care reform, the S.C. Department of Insurance posted some sobering news about 2018 health insurance prices.

The agency confirmed on its website Thursday that average premiums for HealthCare.gov polices will skyrocket 31 percent in South Carolina next year, confirming information the federal government published on the future of health insurance costs earlier this summer.

Some customers will face higher increases than others. A 60-year-old patient in Charleston County who doesn’t use tobacco and wants to buy a “silver” plan next year will pay about 28 percent more. His monthly premium will increase from about $837 a month this year to $1,068 a month next year.

Read it all.

Posted in --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance & Investing

(Church Times) Dire state of Religious Education laid bare in analysis of Government census

A quarter of all state secondary schools are struggling to meet their legal obligation to teach religious studies, data obtained by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) has shown.

Its analysis of the previously unpublished School Workforce Census, obtained from the Government by a Freedom of Information request, found that, out of the 2793 schools that took part in the census, 28 per cent (787 schools) said that they gave no time to religious education (RE) in Year 11, the GCSE year.

This equates with 800,000 pupils, NATRE estimates in its report, The State of the Nation: A report on Religious Education provision within secondary schools in England, published on Monday. And, of the schools claiming to offer non-examined RE to Year 11 pupils, 83 per cent admitted that their students received zero minutes of teaching per week, meaning that, in practice, it was not on the curriculum — what the report calls a “tick-box exercise”.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Education, England / UK, Religion & Culture

(JE) Jeff Walton-Episcopal Church Still Skidding Downhill

Episcopalians have yet to hit bottom in their downward membership spiral that began in the early 2000s.

Updated statistics made available today by the Episcopal Church General Convention Office show a denomination continuing a sustained decline in 2016 to 1,745,156 domestic members. The U.S.-based denomination shed 34,179 members, a decline of 1.9 percent, while attendance losses were relatively limited compared to previous years, declining 9,327, down 1.6 percent. A net 37 parishes closed, bringing the denominational total to 6,473 congregations.

Among dioceses facing the largest declines is Eastern Michigan, which dropped 14.7 percent from 5,888 down to 5,022 members (-866). The diocese also saw a 3.5 percent drop in Average Sunday Attendance (ASA), down to 1,922 attendees.

The diocese’s past bishop, Todd Ousley, recently joined the staff of Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to serve as bishop for pastoral development after 16 years serving in Michigan. In a letter to the diocese, the local standing committee wrote about its decision to pursue a provisional bishop rather than seek a new diocesan bishop to replace Ousley.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Data

The Columbus [Ohio] Dispatch looks back to 1817–Episcopal priest Philander Chase Comes to Preach

On May 3, 1817, he conducted the first…[Episcopal] service in Columbus at the Buckeye House hotel.

Four days later, he preached again at the High Street home of storekeeper Lincoln Goodale. “Some of those who came were merely curious. Others believed that God’s inerrant providence brought them to that spot. All listened with reverence as Chase intoned the service from the Book of Common Prayer and preached to them,” Lisa M. Klein wrote in her 2003 history of Trinity Episcopal Church, Be It Remembered.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC)

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Philander Chase

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith We give thee heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of thy servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of thy Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ’s name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer