Daily Archives: June 25, 2015

[ACI] Questions for Presiding Bishop Candidates, 2015

The following are questions we would want to see posed to and answered by the current candidates for Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church. We hope that our bishops will make sure that these, or questions like them, are put forward and engaged publicly by the candidates themselves.

In general, the Presiding Bishop is defined as the “chief pastor”, “primate”, “leader”, and “spokesperson” for the national church as it is ordered by General Convention. The Constitution gives the Presiding Bishop no “metropolitical” authority, in that the office has no jurisdiction over other bishops, and the General Convention has explicitly rejected the notion that the Presiding Bishop is an “archbishop”, even in name only. Hence, qualities and commitments that engage pastoral and representative duties should be foremost in assessing candidates, ones that embody the teachings and spirit of Jesus Christ. The questions below relate to such qualities as we understand them in the context of our present times.

Questions to which a “yes” answer should raise serious questions about the candidate’s fitness for the role of Presiding Bishop:….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Polity & Canons

GAFCON Chairman's June Pastoral Letter

”˜For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake.’ 2 Corinthians 4:5
[Archbishop Jensen] contrasted their decision with that of the Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod earlier this month to remove the biblical definition of marriage from the canons of their Church and added that the cost of trying to hold both views together is to obscure the teaching of the Bible when it is in fact very clear, just at a time when a new spiritual darkness is falling on the Western world.

The partnership and encouragement that GAFCON offers as a global fellowship is therefore going to be needed more than ever as we commit to the re-evangelization of the West and develop new wineskins for the task. So let me give the last words of this letter to an extract from Archbishop Jensen’s address:

“”¦liberal Christianity has little appeal to non-believers. The ancient world did not heed Christian idol worshippers: it was won over by those who preached and lived the biblical gospel with passion. It was the difference which made a difference; the difference with real content. It was the message that Jesus Christ is Lord and that he rules through the Scriptures, the word of God. The ancient Christians out-lived, out-thought and out-loved their contemporaries. They did not do this by doubting the faith or changing it to suit the times. They did it by confessing the truth, even to death.”
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Grace and peace to you in the name of our only Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

It is a strange thing that in the Church we can see both extraordinary strength and extraordinary weakness at the same time.

The strength of Christian faith has been revealed in a most profound way by members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston following the shooting of nine of its members during a bible study by a gunman obsessed with white supremacist ideas. The true Christlikeness of this historic church, which has been no stranger to persecution in its past, was summed up by a victim’s relative who faced the gunman in court and said, “I forgive you and my family forgives you. Repent and give your life to Christ”.

In a different way, but also in the face of adversity, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has noted the strength of Christians who have gone through terrible suffering at the hands of the Islamic State. During his recent fact finding visit to Iraqi refugee camps at the invitation of the Chaldean Catholic Church he found surprisingly high morale and that, despite great poverty, the church run camps have worship, medical and educational provision and these are open to all.

Let us not neglect to pray for these communities and all our brothers and sisters who are seeking to follow Christ faithfully despite deep trauma.

In contrast, there are too many examples in the Church of weakness in the face of the subtle challenges of cultural and financial pressure. In Africa we are still too dependent in our thinking on outside agencies. This makes us vulnerable to relationships designed to buy influence and damages the integrity of our witness, while in the more economically developed world there is too often a fear of being out of step with secular culture. In this context I cannot avoid mentioning a very disturbing event in England. On Saturday 20th June, a Canon of York Minster blessed a ”˜Gay Pride’ march of homosexual activists from the Minster steps, causing a senior clergyman in the Diocese of York to say “York Minster’s leading the way in the Gay Pride march is symbolic of what the Church of England’s leadership is doing generally on this issue ”“ leading people away from the clear teaching of the Bible and the Gospel.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, FCA Meeting in London April 2012, Global South Churches & Primates

Buckinghamshire Anglo-Catholic Clergy join Evangelicals in Protesting against Bp Alan Wilson

David Ould reports:

Four prominent Anglo-Catholic clergy in the Buckinghamshire region of Oxford Diocese have joined their evangelical colleagues in speaking out against Bishop Alan Wilson.
Anglo Catholic clergy in Buckingham Area join evangelicals in objecting to Bishop trying to redefine church marriage

”˜The definition of Marriage within the Canon Law of the Church of England is in accord with that of the whole Church for almost 2000 years. It is a matter of serious concern that a Bishop of the Church of England, who is one of those “ordained to be shepherds of Christ’s flock and guardians of the faith of the apostles” (Common Worship Ordinal) should describe that definition as “lousy.” ”˜
The Rev’d Canon, Fr Victor Bullock, Vicar of Fenny Stratford
The Rev’d Canon, Fr Gary Ecclestone, Vicar of Hanslope & Castlethorpe
The Rev’d Fr Andrew Montgomerie, Rector of Iver Heath (and trustee of Prayer Book Society)
The Revd Fr Ross Northing, Rector of Stony Stratford with Calverton

This very public move by key Anglo-Catholics appears to utterly undermine Wilson’s claim during a number of radio interview this past Sunday that opposition to his public statements was limited to a small number of objectors. On the contrary, I understand that a letter is circulating which has a growing number of signatories. This isn’t going away, in fact quite the opposite. Wilson’s attempts to dampen the fire have failed. Conservatives I’m speaking to are outraged by his radio interviews and according to one prominent figure in the ongoing discussions,

“[Bishop Wilson’s letter] has made things worth as it has displayed a total lack of understanding of what it is that people are unhappy about. I am delighted that more and more people are being encouraged to speak out to show him that we are not a ”˜potty’ fringe group”

It’s fair to say that the Oxford Diocese has reached a crisis moment.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Scores gather in Summerville SC public square to offer Prayer for Charleston

One week after the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, scores of Summervillians gathered in Hutchinson Square to pray together.

The Christian prayer vigil, organized by the Summerville branch of the NAACP, featured uplifting hymns such as “Amazing Grace” and “We Shall Overcome” and pastors from several local churches, including some who knew the victims.

“I started to decline (the invitation to speak) at first because I was so overwhelmed,” said Pastor Kenneth Gerald.

But then, he said, he remembered the Psalm that calls out for the Lord to lead the overwhelmed to a high rock.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Wash. Post) 3 survivors of the Charleston church shooting grapple with their grief

Felecia Sanders doesn’t remember sliding under the round table in the fellowship hall in the basement of Emanuel AME Church. Nor does she remember pulling her 11-year-old granddaughter down with her.

“It was the hand of God that put me under the table,” she later told friends.

But Sanders remembers the blood on the floor, the whispers to her granddaughter to “be still.” She remembers watching her son, Tywanza, 26, bloodied and clinging to life, crawling toward his dying great “auntie,” Susie Jackson, 87. And she remembers Tywanza reaching out, his last act in this world, to stroke Jackson’s soft, gray hair.

Sanders was one of only three people to live through the massacre at the historic church in Charleston last Wednesday, along with her granddaughter and Polly Sheppard, 70, a church trustee. This week, as the trio prepared to bury nine friends and loved ones ”” including the church pastor ”” friends say they are struggling with both immeasurable grief and humility over their improbable survival.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theodicy, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(LA Times) Edward Baptist–400 years of racist violence by white Americans is not so easy to forgive

The victims’ families are struggling with the private business of their own grief, using the language of Christian grace. This starts with the belief that God can forgive all sins. In turn, believers should try to do the same for the sake of their own souls and their own desire to live in harmony with God.

What too many whites seem to demand from these families’ statements, however, isn’t really grace. As the journalist Jamelle Bouie pointed out, people like Santorum insist on what the German theologian and anti-Nazi freedom fighter Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace” ”” the “preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance” from those who have sinned. The forgiveness they want is so cheap that I can only call it “Wal-Mart grace”: low-priced but shoddy, destructive of real community and built on exploitation.

Whatever faith you profess ”” or don’t ”” grace isn’t cheap. It’s one thing for a survivor of trauma to tell a handcuffed and doomed perpetrator that you forgive him. It’s another thing to forgive those who can still harm you. You don’t do that without a good reason to believe that the person who harmed you has changed into someone who will not do so again.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(The State) Claudia Brinson–South Carolinians and forgiveness

There have been so many deaths, not just of the body but the spirit.

We choose to honor Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, D-Jasper, the pastor of Mother Emanuel, with public viewings at the State House, in Ridgeland, and in Charleston, and with a eulogy by President Barack Obama. Dubbed the “moral conscience of the General Assembly” before his killing, Pinckney was called to preach at 13, appointed a pastor at 18, elected to the S.C House at 23 and the S.C. Senate at 27.

But we choose not to remember Frazier Baker and his family. Baker was appointed postmaster in Lake City in 1897. But he was black, and the whites objected. Eleven set fire to his home, and as the family tried to escape, shot Baker dead. They shot dead Julie, a 2-year-old in the arms of Lavinia, her mother. Lavinia and daughters Rosa and Cora escaped, each shot in the arm. So did son, Lincoln, shot in the arm and stomach. South Carolina would not prosecute. When the federal government did, a mistrial was called because of a deadlocked jury….

Most whites don’t know these stories and perhaps don’t want to know, too embarrassing, too shaming. Many African-Americans don’t know these stories because their grandparents and parents found them too painful to tell.

It’s time to talk, and without the talk, only a little will change.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/article25330030.html#storylink=cpy

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Telegraph) Archbishop Justin Welby–Capitalism should stop being so self-serving

Capitalism that cannot find £200 for a highly-motivated individual, with good skills, is simply not adequate to the task of creating a stable society.

That hard-working, self-starting man will be on my mind tomorrow, when I take part in the Conference on Inclusive Capitalism in the City of London. This brings together leading figures from business, finance and public policy committed to creating economic systems which will encourage a long-term prosperity that is broadly shared. I am sure I will learn a great deal. I also hope to contribute in a small way, bringing a perspective informed by both economics and theology.

A Christian understanding of inclusive capitalism begins with the nature of God, who in Jesus Christ reached out to include all humanity in salvation. What that looks like for each individual is purpose, calling and a destiny with God. The New Testament teaches us that none of this happens because we are good – in fact, St Paul says in his letter to the Romans that Christ died for us while we were still God’s enemies. It happens because God sought to include all human beings in his love and purpose for them, if they would accept his invitation.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

(Census Bureau) Millennials Outnumber Baby Boomers and Are Far More Diverse

Millennials, or America’s youth born between 1982 and 2000, now number 83.1 million and represent more than one quarter of the nation’s population. Their size exceeds that of the 75.4 million baby boomers, according to new U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. Overall, millennials are more diverse than the generations that preceded them, with 44.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group (that is, a group other than non-Hispanic, single-race white).

These latest population estimates examine changes among groups by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin nationally, as well as in all states and counties, between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2014.

Even more diverse than millennials are the youngest Americans: those younger than 5 years old. In 2014, this group became majority-minority for the first time, with 50.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group.

Reflecting these younger age groups, the population as a whole has become more racially and ethnically diverse in just the last decade, with the percentage minority climbing from 32.9 percent in 2004 to 37.9 percent in 2014.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Census/Census Data, Economy, Sociology, The U.S. Government, Theology, Young Adults

(Tablet) Turn France's empty churches into much-needed mosques, says Muslim leader

The rector of the Paris Grand Mosque has sparked uproar by suggesting that disused churches could be turned into mosques. Dalil Boubakeur, who recently said France needed double the 2,000 or so mosques it now has, said on French radio this was a sensitive question but he thought it could be done.

“We have the same God … I think that Muslims and Christians can coexist and live together,” he said in a radio interview.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Europe, France, History, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(BBC) Nigeria violence: 'At least 40 dead' in Boko Haram attack

Boko Haram militants have killed at least 40 people in north-eastern Nigeria, according to witnesses.

The attacks on Monday and Tuesday took place in the villages of Debiro Hawul and Debiro Bi in Borno state.

Residents say the militants drove into the towns and began shooting, looting and burning houses.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

([London] Times) The Pemberton Case–Same-Sex Marriage: an unholy union for the clergy?

This case comes hard on the heels of an attempt sponsored by Unite to establish that a beneficed parish priest is employed by his bishop or enjoys the status of a worker, thereby paving the way for unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claims. That was roundly rejected by the Court of Appeal in April. Lord Justice Lewison in his judgment sketched the history of the relationship between church and state and more particularly the jurisdiction of royal or civil courts over clergy from the investiture controversy in the 11th century right through to the establishment of the modern ecclesiastical courts. He appears to have accepted the proposition that employment tribunals could determine such questions as an attack on the balance that has been struck. Similar considerations apply to the Pemberton case, although the legal analysis is distinct.

While many will feel sympathy for Canon Pemberton, it should be remembered that even in the secular field, activities outside the workplace can result in a lawful termination of employment, although rarely. It should also be remembered that when ordained as a priest, he not only took an oath of canonical obedience to his bishop but also declared that he would fashion his own life “according to the way of Christ” and to be “a pattern and example to Christ’s people”.

What that amounts to cannot be a matter of private judgment. Plenty of other homosexual priests have at some cost followed the House of Bishops guidance and previous similar utterances from the hierarchy.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Reuters) Wednesday Bible study: Charleston attack upsets a Southern tradition

Brushing aside her son’s concerns, Rosa Ellington plans to keep attending Wednesday evening Bible studies as she has the past 15 years, despite last week’s massacre of nine black worshippers at a nearby church in Charleston, South Carolina.

The sessions had been a sustaining, if mostly uneventful, fixture of her weekly routine, until last Wednesday, when Dylann Roof, a white 21-year-old, is accused of having gunned down the people gathered at the nearly 200-year-old Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the city’s historic downtown.

Wednesday night Bible study is a cornerstone of religious life across the Southern United States, and particularly in Charleston, dubbed the Holy City because of its many churches.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Weldon Johnson

Eternal God, we give thanks for the gifts that thou didst bestow upon thy servant James Weldon Johnson: a heart and voice to praise thy Name in verse. As he gave us powerful words to glorify you, may we also speak with joy and boldness to banish hatred from thy creation, in the Name of Jesus Christ; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the Home to begin the Day from the Pastor's Prayer Book

O Heavenly Father, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named; Be present in this house, that all who live here, being kindly affectioned one to another, may find it a haven of blessing and of peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer