Category : TEC Parishes

TEC Diocese of Connecticut–St. Paul’s, Darien put under direct authority of bishop by vote of Episcopal Annual Convention

On Friday Oct. 26, the highest governing body of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut (“ECCT”) — its Annual Convention — changed the internal governance of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Darien putting the church directly under the authority of the Rt. Rev. Ian T. Douglas, Bishop Diocesan. This action was taken as a result of the refusal of its elected lay leaders to participate in reconciliation efforts with its Rector, the Rev. Canon George Kovoor.

The action changed St. Paul’s status in ECCT from a “Parish” to a “Worshiping Community,” which puts it now under the exclusive supervision, direction, and control of Bishop Douglas. While the change in status does not affect the worship life or the property of St. Paul’s, the change ended the authority of the previous lay leaders of the church, the Vestry and Wardens, whose job it had been to oversee the property and business affairs of St. Paul’s.

St. Paul’s is one of more than 165 Episcopal Parishes and Worshiping Communities in ECCT, spread across the state. The life of all ECCT Parishes and Worshiping Communities, as well as church-related actions by the bishops, priests, deacons, and elected lay leaders, are governed by church laws known as “Canons.” The Canons require that “Every Parish . . . live within a system of support and accountability that links its life and ministry to that of the Bishops and with those of other Parishes in the Diocese.” The Canons also require that lay leaders of a Parish comply with a godly judgment of the Bishop, and authorize changing a Parish to a Worshiping Community if the leaders refuse.

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

(Advocate) ‘All you need is love’: Louisiana Episcopal pastor in Covington to lead ‘Beatles Mass’ featuring Fab Four’s songs

U2, whose lyrical themes often align with the philosophy of the Anglican church, has always been a favorite. The success of last year’s “U2charist” at Christ Church made an encore inevitable.

“I had so many people come up to me and very genuinely say, ‘That was the best worship service of my entire life, and it profoundly affected me,’ ” Miller said.

“What makes a profound or sacred religious moment an authentic service? It’s good music. It’s reflecting on readings from a tradition that centers us and reminds us of what matters. It’s prayer. And it’s love that motivates people to be there in the first place, their love for God or for one another or the world.

“And the fact that we, in our extended family at Christ Church, have these great musicians — we can do anything.”

Those musicians include keyboardist Matt Lemmler, vocalist Ashley Lemmler and Crispin Shroeder, a professional musician who is also the pastor of the north shore’s Vineyard Fellowship. The Christ Church choir will also lend their collective voice to the Beatles canon on Sunday.

The hardest part was selecting the songs and making sure all four Beatles were represented.

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

Posted in America/U.S.A., Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

(JE) More Questionable Liturgical practices from Grace Cathedral in San FranCisco

Fresh off publicity from their recent Beyoncé Mass, Grace Cathedral is back with more liturgically questionable performance art in a worship service. This time, the San Francisco Episcopal Cathedral hosted a multi-faith service “of wondering and commitment” as part of the September 12-14 Global Climate Action Summit featuring participants on stilts dressed as trees….

Read it all and follow the links.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes, Theology

(1st Things) Nic Rowan–Rejuvenation at Trinity Church

For years, the Episcopal Church and its decline into secularism have been the butt of many a joke in the conservative Christian communities through which I’ve drifted. Membership is down—if baptism rates continue their decline, it will never recover—as the church concedes ever more beliefs in order to accommodate the modern world. Already, many of its members practice in a way that is nearly indistinguishable from the spiritual-but-not-religious folks who visit The Met on Sundays in lieu of a liturgy. Soon they may become like those who spend Sundays at MoMA.

It’s easy to be cynical about the state of the Episcopal Church. But everyone hungers for some salvation. When I entered the chapel, I found ten chairs set up in a ring behind the nave. In front of the chairs, ten flower-embroidered cushions formed an inner ring. Six middle-aged women sat in the chairs. A seventh woman wearing a scarf that looked like a tallit stood in the middle of the ring.

She introduced herself as Ellen and said she would be leading today’s meditation. “Now take a nice deep breath,” she said. “We’re centering ourselves for the exercises. Once you’re in your center, take one more deep breath and then exhale. Take one more big inhale, lift your arms up, and then exhale….”

Ellen addressed my singularity when she sat down on one of the flower cushions.

“Since we have a gentleman among us, I’ll be a little more modest,” she said as she draped the scarf over her legs. “Okay, now let’s just focus on our breath. As you breathe, focus on that breath and when your mind wanders—as it will do—get back to the breath. We’ll do this for about three minutes. Notice your breath. Notice your nose, your lungs….”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

(The State) In one of SC’s smallest churches, The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Spartanburg, 6 people sit in pews meant for 50. Can it survive?

Where does the church go from here?

That depends on who you ask.

Jane Span, 80, who has attended Church of the Epiphany since she was 25, doesn’t have much hope for her beloved church.

“We just don’t have people rushing to join the Episcopal Church,” Span said.

And without a sizable number of congregants, running the church can be expensive, she said. The church needs to be maintained. Except for the priest, everyone who works at the church is a volunteer.

Plus, she suspects that not as many African-American families have continued to raise their families with the Episcopal faith.

“I was born in the church,” Span said. “And I think it makes a difference.”

Keeping the church’s history alive is also difficult.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

(ENS) 69 percent of congregations in the Episcopal Church (TEC) ‘have an average Sunday attendance of less than 100’

Although capacious churches, glorious choirs, multiple clergy and the smells and bells of Holy Day services may capture the imagination of Episcopalians, the reality is that the majority of congregations in the Episcopal Church tend toward the smaller size, with often dramatically different backdrops and ministerial needs than large churches.

In fact, according to data presented by the Task Force on Clergy Leadership Formation in Small Congregations, 69 percent of Episcopal congregations have an average Sunday attendance of less than 100, placing them in the category of “small congregation.” To take this even further, bishops surveyed by the task force reported that a “substantial minority” of their congregations number less than 20 on an average Sunday.

Recognizing these congregations’ unique needs and issues, the 78th General Convention three years ago asked for a task force to “develop a plan for quality formation for clergy in small congregations that is affordable, theologically reflective and innovative.”

Read it all and I found the comments of interest as well.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

(WKTV) Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Whitesboro, New York, closes its Doors

The atmosphere inside St. John’s Episcopal Church was bittersweet Sunday, as it closed its doors for the final time. It was a day to celebrate Pentecost, but also a day to call it quits at 135 Main St. in Whitesboro.

“I will remember this church as a gather of people I knew throughout my life,” said John Groves, a member of St. John’s. “It will be a sad time.”

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

(Abingdon Journal) In the TEC Diocese of Bethlehem, Tunkhannock, Glenburn parishes share a priest

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Tunkhannock and The Church of the Epiphany in Glenburn began a new ministry relationship in January.

Rev. Lou Divis will remain as the pastor of St. Peter’s, and has become the Priest-in-Charge at The Church of the Epiphany. Both positions are part-time. This is a new era in The Episcopal Church as people become more involved in various ministerial activities with pastoral oversight.

In the not so distant past, every parish wanted “their own priest” for sacramental, missional, administrative and teaching needs. There are now several parishes in The Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem using one priest for two parishes. The people in these parishes take on some of the responsibilities of mission, administration, home visitations and teaching, while the priest continues with sacramental, worship, mission and other duties.

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Posted in Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

(LA Times) St. James and TEC Diocese of Los Angeles leaders try to forge ahead

Local Episcopal Church leaders acknowledged the continual, bruising conflict that has surrounded the St. James the Great church in Newport Beach for the last two and a half years of off-and-on sale attempts, extending a promise to transparently work together with the ascension of a new bishop and the impending reopening of the long-shuttered sanctuary.

In a joint statement released Thursday titled “Making All Things New,” John Taylor, the successor to retiring Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles Bishop J. Jon Bruno, Rachel Nyback, president of the diocesan Standing Committee governing body, and Rev. Canon Cindy Evans Voorhees, the priest who has continued to lead the St. James the Great flock, acknowledged the pain that has come from the sales attempts and related closure.

“The church’s sudden closing hurt the people of St. James,” they wrote. “Their leaders countenanced hurtful statements and tactics. This cycle of hurt strained relationships in the diocese. We will end the cycle by sharing our narratives openly and honestly, using reconciliation in relationship to rediscover our unity and purpose as a diocesan family in Christ.”

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

(WBFO) In Buffalo, NY, Converting Episcopal Church of the Ascension into senior housing becomes confrontational

The fight over converting historic Ascension Church at Linwood Avenue and North Street into senior housing turned into something of a confrontation between Buffalo’s Preservation Board and its Planning Board during Monday’s Planning Board meeting.

The Episcopal Diocese and an affiliate want to convert the century-and-a-half-old church into 28 units of low-income senior housing, wading through regulations on three different levels of government and concern the rules for financing the project might change.

The project has been in the works for more than two years, as various approvals were sought and various design changes were made, shrinking the project and moving a new building.

Charles von Simson said it is still not worth building in his neighborhood and other residents agree.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Housing/Real Estate Market, TEC Parishes, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Wash Po) Ryan Danker–Historic church should rethink Washington, Lee plaque removals

The plaques on the walls of Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, commemorate famous Americans who at one time called the Episcopal parish their own: George Washington and Robert E. Lee.

As a church historian, I believe the vestry’s recent decision to remove the memorials – as well as their forebears’ decision to put them up in the first place – disregards the true purpose of Christians’ commemoration of the dead.

From the very start of the Christian faith, believers have remembered the “great cloud of witnesses” who came before them. During the third century, the church in North Africa regularly commemorated early martyrs on the anniversary of their death – the origin of saints’ days.

Whether honored through holidays or monuments, the church still recognized the complexity of the human situation and never expected perfection from these early saints. Scripture and church history provided plenty of evidence of their shortcomings: Paul’s thorn in his flesh, Peter’s denial of Christ, Augustine’s lust, Thomas Aquinas’ borderline gluttony, Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic tendencies, John Calvin’s use of capital punishment, and John Wesley’s failed marriage.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Office of the President, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes

(JE) Mark Tooley–What Christ Church’s decision to Remove George Washington’s Plaque really Tells us

Over the last 14 years the Episcopal Church has suffered a nationwide schism since electing an openly homosexual bishop. Some conservative congregations, including several in Northern Virginia, left the denomination to create the new Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Another church Washington helped govern at the same time as Christ Church was The Falls Church, whose congregation joined ACNA. It lost its historic property in litigation to the Episcopal Church but continues to thrive and grow while meeting in a Catholic high school auditorium. It has even planted several successful new churches.

Christ Church remained in the Episcopal Church and has headed in a more liberal direction. One Christmas Eve sermon I heard got political, as I shared here. And in recent years the church has hosted a labyrinth, advertised by a large banner outside the church to passing commuters. This arguably New Agey fad is popular in some liberal Protestant churches, and I wrote about it here, noting that neither Washington nor Lee, if alive today, were likely to walk the labyrinth.

I mention the political sermon, the labyrinth and support for same-sex marriage because they could all be interpreted as unwelcoming signals to potential worshipers who don’t share Christ Church’s form of Episcopal liberalism. This kind of church invariably attracts a demographic that is nearly all middle and upper class, educated, socially liberal urban white people. Churches that stress their welcome-welcome-welcome message of inclusion over a firm orthodox theological message typically are, whether realizing it or not, actually welcoming some and discouraging others. In my visits to Christ Church I have noticed the well-dressed congregation is not very diverse. Removing the Washington and Lee plaques will not likely expand its demographic.

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Posted in Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Religion & Culture, TEC Parishes, Zimbabwe

(DNA info) Old St. James Episcopal Church in Elmhurst in the borough of Queens, the City’s 2nd Oldest, Gets Landmarked

The Old St. James Episcopal Church on Broadway, one of the city’s oldest churches, is now officially a landmark.

The Church of England mission church, which was built in 1735 and 1736, was unanimously voted for the distinction by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday.

It’s the second-oldest religious building in the five boroughs, constructed in what was then Newtown Village for the new Anglican residents. (The oldest is the Old Quaker Meeting House in Flushing, also known as the Flushing Friends Meeting House, which was built in 1694, according to the church’s website.)

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes

(OM) Downtown Milwaukee landmark Episcopal Church will close; transform into a wedding/events venue

St. James Episcopal Church, which has made its home at 833 W. Wisconsin Ave. since 1851, will close its doors at the end of this month. The building, which was put up for sale a few years ago, is in the process of being sold.

According to the church’s pastor, Father John Allen, the final worship service will be held on Oct. 1 and the diocese will hold a closing service on the evening on Nov. 1.

“The church will be secularized,” Allen said. “The bishop or his representative will come and say a prayer to say, ‘we blessed you but now we’re taking it back.'”

Allen said the sale of the building is expected to be finalized in November.

He added that a group of partners – including developer Josh Jeffers, Shawn Hittman and The Hidden Kitchen owners Oliver Hunt and Kate Crowle – plan to open a wedding and events venue in the building.

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Parishes

(AI) Despite win against Bruno, St James Newport Beach learns they will lose their church

We understand that the Hearing Panel’s ruling, which awaits the possibility of Bishop Bruno’s appeal, calls on us to return the congregation to the building. The four concurring Hearing Panel members and the attorneys who advised them evidently did not take fully into account the existence of a binding contract nor all the ways the dispute begs for wider reconciliation. (One panel member dissented and supported Bishop Bruno.)

Their advocacy bespeaks a commendable pastoral connection with the people of St. James. As recently as the filing of the church attorney’s brief after the hearings in Pasadena in March, those conducting the proceeding against Bishop Bruno made it clear that he could avoid being sanctioned if he would relent on his intention to sell the property. This is not to understate the significance of the panel’s findings against Bishop Bruno. But we trust that from the painful experience of the Diocese of Los Angeles, The Episcopal Church will learn lessons about how, in disciplinary settings, to differentiate between actions by a respondent which deserve sanction and a complainant’s wish to reverse an operational decision.

We share the panel’s profound concern for the people of St. James. Bishop Bruno asked them to start a new congregation, and under the leadership of the Rev. Canon Cindy Voorhees, they accepted the challenge. They praised, worshipped, and served, as they continue to do. We are not here to relitigate Bishop Bruno’s actions or the Hearing Panel’s verdict. In all likelihood, after 40 years of ordination, including many moments of courage and vision, he will lose the right to say Holy Eucharist and to baptize, confirm, and bless for three years. It is also outside the realm of Bishop Curry’s charge to assess how long it would have taken St. James to achieve sustainability. Suffice it to say that it was making good progress and that losing its church building was a disappointment and shock….

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Parishes