The Rev. Jon White named next editor of Episcopal Café

The Rev. Jon M. White, rector of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, in Beckley, West Virginia will become the new editor of Episcopal Café on November 25, the Café’s founding editor Jim Naughton announced today.

“I am excited that Jon has volunteered to lead the Café into a new phase in its life,” Naughton said. “Many talented people expressed an interest in the editorship when I announced that I planned to step down. What set Jon apart was a firm understanding of the importance of the Café’s role as an independent source of church news, and a clear vision of how to sustain the site in the years ahead." animal-blessing1.jpg

White, 47, is a 2012 graduate of Bexley Seabury, and was ordained in the Diocese of Oregon. He is a native of Indianapolis and an alumnus of Portland State University. White served seven years in the U. S. Navy’s Submarine Service and later in the Coast Guard Reserve. Prior to ordination he worked as an engineer in the high tech industry. He has lived in Australia, England and Zimbabwe.

“As a long time reader of the Café, I am excited about this new adventure;” said White. “The Café opened up the church to me when I was just beginning my Episcopal adventure and I am hopeful and eager that we will continue to provide ways for people to learn about and engage with their church.”

In speaking of the future, White said that his intention is to continue to provide the kind of quality content that has been the Café’s hallmark. “Our first goal,” White said, “is to maintain the integrity of the Café and ensure its place as the prominent place for news and insight about the Episcopal Church.”

The Café was launched in mid-April, 2007 and according to Google Analytics has been visited from more than 367,000 computers in the last 12 months. It has more than 13,000 followers on Facebook and more than 11,000 on Twitter.

“A lot has changed since 2007, technology-wise,” White said, “and we need to move the site to a new platform to ensure we can keep it up and running. So, since we need to make that move we’ll be taking the opportunity to redesign the look and feel of the site as well.” White said that the plan is to shutdown the site Thanksgiving Week and re-launch on December 1st, the beginning of Advent.

Naughton, who maintained two blogs before launching the Café, has been writing about Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion news online for almost nine years. He plans to work on a writing project unrelated to the church after signing off on November 24.

“I want to thank John Chilton of the Diocese of Virginia, the Rev. Ann Fontaine of the Diocese of Oregon and the Rev. Andrew Gerns of the Diocese of Bethlehem, who have been contributing to the Café for as long as it has been in existence,” Naughton said. “Ann deserves special thanks for her tireless work in spotting news items and working with writers on the Daily Episcopalian and Speaking to the Soul blogs.”

Naughton also thanked Bill Joseph, the Café’s webmaster, C. Robin Janning of Episcopal Church in the Visual Arts, who maintains the Café’s art blog, and Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Diocese of Rhode Island and the Rev. Torey Lightcap of the Diocese of Iowa for their long association with the Café.

“I’ll miss working with new bloggers like the Rev. Kurt Wiesner of the Diocese of New Hampshire, Theresa Johnson of the Diocese of Florida, the Rev. Megan Castellan of the Diocese of West Missouri and the Rev. Weston Mathews of the Diocese of Virginia,” he added. “They do an excellent job not only in keeping the church informed, but in provoking conversation, and, every now and then, making people laugh.”

The Diocese of Washington sponsored Episcopal Café from 2007-09, but the site became independent when Naughton left the diocese.

Bishop calls for prayers following Parliament Hill shooting

From André Forget's article in the Anglican Journal:

Diocese of Ottawa Bishop John H. Chapman has called for prayers following the shooting on Parliament Hill this morning. “Like all Canadians, we are following today’s news from Parliament Hill with shock and trepidation,” he said in a statement issued this afternoon....

Chapman urged prayers for the victim, "for all those at the centre of this situation and for a return to calm in our homes, hearts and streets."

He added: “In this moment of huge uncertainty, building lockdowns, evacuated streets, barricaded shopping malls and minute-by-minute updates, we draw strength and courage from our faith and pray that this event will soon be over.”


From The Globe and Mail:
Federal sources have identified the suspected shooter as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a man in his early 30s who was known to Canadian authorities.

Sources told The Globe and Mail that he was recently designated a “high-risk traveller” by the Canadian government and that his passport had been seized – the same circumstances surrounding the case of Martin Rouleau-Couture, the Quebecker who was shot Monday after running down two Canadian Forces soldiers with his car.

Episcopal Bishop on marriage equality in Wyoming

Michele Richinick on MSNBC:

Wyoming on Tuesday became the 32nd state to legalize gay marriage, joining several other conservative areas in allowing same-sex weddings.

Legislators filed a legal notice in the morning that declared their refusal to defend a recently overturned state law that defined marriage between a man and a woman. Their move allows county clerks to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. It also means that the state will recognize same-sex unions legally performed outside of Wyoming. The state’s first same-sex marriage could occur as early as Tuesday night.

The move is particularly significant for the state because it is the location where Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming, was killed in a 1998 hate crime.

The Rt. Rev. John Smylie, Bishop of Wyoming, offers direction:

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, Today (10/21/14) at 10 a.m. gay marriage became legal in Wyoming. Some of us are excited about this new direction, while others of us are disappointed by it. I ask that we be respectful of others who disagree with us and that we remember we are all united in our Lord Jesus Christ. With this change in the legal definition of marriage, the process I established for performing the blessing of a same gendered union is no longer necessary. In the interest of the unity of our churches, I ask that our clergy and lay leadership work together to determine how their congregation will respond to this law. Additionally, I will be issuing a pastoral letter to be read in place of the sermon at all of our congregations on Sunday, Nov. 9th.

Furthermore, all marriages must meet the canonical requirements of The Episcopal Church. These requirements include:

that both parties have a right to marry within Wyoming
that pre-marital counseling take place
that at least one of the parties be baptized
that anyone who has been divorced receive permission from the Bishop prior to being married ( this should be done 60 days in advance)

The complete canonical requirements for marriage in The Episcopal Church may be found in Canon 1. Sections 18 and 19 of The Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church which can be downloaded here.

As we go forward let us we share the prayer for the Church found on pg. 816 in the Book of Common Prayer:

Gracious Father, we pray for your holy Catholic Church. Fill it with all truth, in all truth with all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in any thing it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, strengthen it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of Jesus Christ your Son our Savior. Amen.

May God Bless and Keep you Always,

The Rt. Rev. John S. Smylie

Social media and the events at GTS

We are interested in hearing your thoughts on the role that social media--specifically blogs, Facebook and Twitter--played in the events that unfolded over the last several weeks at General Theological Seminary. It feels to us as though the Episcopal Church has just been through a new experience and we'd like to try to understand it better.

We know there was intense interest in the story in certain circles. The Cafe reached more than 105,000 people on Facebook in the last seven days, a record for us, and we've had more than 207,000 visits to the blog in the last month, which is more than double our average. And we were certainly not the only players in the social media game. But what do these numbers mean? What, if anything, did they make happen?

If social media influenced the events at General Seminary, how did it do so? What were the mechanisms? Who benefitted from the use of social media? Who was hurt by it? In what ways?

How did you choose to participate in this conversation on social media and what, in retrospect, do you think about your participation?

Best answers have a good chance to be footnotes in a future master's thesis....

Episcopal Church in Minnesota forgives 1.2 million in loans

The Trustees of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota are forgiving all loans to their faith communities. Their press release:

ECMN TRUSTEES FORGIVE $1.2 MILLION IN LOANS TO MN FAITH COMMUNITIES

On October 11, the Trustees of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota (ECMN) voted unanimously to forgive the remaining balances of all loans currently held between the Trustees and ECMN faith communities, totaling more than $1.2 million. The Trustees are elected to ensure the missional sustainability of faith communities, and have traditionally managed property, engaged in investments, and made loans to faith communities. After nearly two years of discernment about their identity and role within ECMN, the Trustees have chosen to divest themselves of the loan program, converting the remaining loan funds to a matching grant program for property maintenance called the ECMN Maintenance Savings Plan.

Of the Trustee’s recent action, the Rt. Rev. Brian Prior, Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, said, “Part of our heritage is that of the Jubilee, where our spiritual ancestors reset their relationships with their neighbors by letting go of debts and obligations held against one another. I am proud that our Trustees made this brave decision, and pray that our faith communities will have even more resources from which to engage in God’s work.”

The Trustees expect to have the Maintenance Savings Plan fully operational by January 1, 2015. Through this matching grant program, the Trustees will match a portion of investments from faith communities, while offering simple tools and a template that will enable faith communities to easily create a plan for maintenance while enhancing their sustainability in God’s mission.

GTS faculty: we're ready to return to work

From Facebook:
Preamble:

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your patience and prayers for us and for all the students, staff, Board and administration of the Seminary. We last spoke publicly last Friday, and have spent the intervening time reflecting on the Board’s press release, and privately seeking clarification on the meaning of that statement.

Last night we received a letter from Bishop Sisk which clarified the offer, and we drafted a positive response, which we needed to have checked with our legal counsel. Since some aspects of the contents of the Board’s offer were made public this afternoon in the Bishop of Pennsylvania’s public statement via Episcopal Café we feel it is appropriate to make our positive response public also. We look forward to resuming our ministries in the Seminary.

Letter:

October 20, 2014.

Dear Bishop Sisk,

Thank you for your invitation to come together to find a way forward. We receive this invitation in the good faith in which it is offered. Thank you also for acknowledging that healing is not an easy thing to accomplish; we are appreciative of both the alacrity with which you seek to facilitate our return to work and the attention you are giving to a long-term process of reconciliation for the entire Seminary community.

We accept your offer of reinstatement to our positions, and the salaries and benefits outlined in our contracts in effect prior to September 25, 2014. We look forward to being able to do this as soon as possible. Like any member of the Seminary’s faculty we agree to abide by the terms of the Seminary Constitution, Bylaws and policies. Given some of the confusion that has arisen about these texts in recent weeks, we will need you to provide us with copies of them: this would help us as we seek together to work
within them. We are pleased to see that during the “cooling off period” all of the parties’ respective legal arguments and positions will be reserved.

We also commit with energy to the holy work of reconciliation which we understand to be very important for the health of the entire institution and all of its constituent members: faculty, board, administration, staff and students alike. You mentioned in a telephone conversation the possibility of using a Mennonite group to facilitate this process. We heartily accept this proposal, since we have great respect for their expertise in this area. If, God forbid, at the end of the academic year we find that the collective process of reconciliation has not worked well, we ask that there be some understanding that appropriate severance will be made available to enable us and our families to make a transition. Lest we be misunderstood here, let us state clearly that we will devote ourselves fully to the difficult work of reconciliation this year.

As you know, one of our principal concerns has been to ensure that the seminary workplace be one of mutual respect and collegiality. As we move forward and return to our work, we ask that you consider the appointment of an ombudsperson agreeable to all sides who would act during this “cooling off period” as an interlocutor and safe person to whom complaints could be referred if need be. This will help all of us to feel less on edge and safer, and so will be an indispensable means of helping the process of reconciliation to work well.

As an important sign of our movement forward together, any public acknowledgement of these agreements should be issued together.

Thank-you for this very positive step forward for the sake of our Seminary, our students, and staff and God’s church.

Yours sincerely,

Professors Davis, DeChamplain, Good, Hurd, Irving, Kadel, Lamborn, Malloy.

PDF of letter here

Bp of Pennsylvania: Some thoughts on the current moment at the General Theological Seminary and a modest proposal

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, 3rd, Bishop Provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania and member of the Board of Trustees has issued the following statement:

The peace of God, it is no peace,

But strife closed in the sod.

Yet let us pray for but one thing,

The marvelous peace of God.

(The Hymnal 1982, #661)

bpdaniel72dpi.jpgThe Peace of God is not simply the absence of conflict. If that were so, then Jesus and Paul led very un-peaceful lives. The Peace of God comes with the presence of the risen Christ who enters conflict willingly through our confession and repentance in order to bring reconciliation, renewal and hope.

I call now for a season of self-examination and repentance as our General Theological Seminary (GTS) community seeks the guidance of Jesus to lead us toward fulfilling his will for this seminary in the current difficult moment.

I am hopeful that the Executive Committee and Board’s invitation to the Faculty to a return to the prior status through the remainder of this academic year will be received in a positive way and that the faculty assume their prior positions. I am encouraged by the decision of the Executive Committee to engage a skilled, qualified Christian mediator who will call the Dean, the Board, the Faculty, Students (and perhaps representatives of the Alumni/ae Association) together to engage in a prayerful, structured and disciplined process of mediation and reconciliation. Following graduation in May 2015, we as a community can come together to determine where we are and where we need to go. Part of the process must be mutual conversation, confession and repentance as necessary steps toward reconciliation.

While we cannot change the past, we can with the guidance of the Holy Spirit seek to redeem the future. Each party in this family quarrel we now experience at the General Theological Seminary (GTS) is called to acknowledge its responsibility and accountability for our present state. I call for a season of self-examination and repentance as our GTS community seeks the presence of Jesus to lead us toward reconciliation.

The Board of Trustees, meeting October 16-17 at GTS carefully reviewed the present situation and its history, heard the report of the law firm investigating allegations against the Dean, met with the Dean privately, with the entire faculty privately, and with the student body and staff. These meetings were intense and often painful. I can say that, based on the evidence I have seen and heard, I believe the decisions and actions of the Board are reasonable and cogent and I continue to support them.

Since personnel issues are involved, the Board is legally constrained in what it can say publicly. I understand that into this enforced silence, it may be tempting for some to speculate and perhaps initiate mischief by assuming knowledge that they do not have. I plead with all members of the GTS community and beyond to refrain from making rash statements based on appearance and assumption without having the benefit of all the facts. I pray that all who are involved or who participate in any way in vicious and wounding attacks towards individuals or groups who are part of the Seminary community either in private communication or on social media will cease this un-Christlike, hurtful and damaging behavior which is contrary to our Baptismal vow to”…protect the dignity of every human being.” (The Book of Common Prayer, page 305)

The Diocese of Pennsylvania currently has five fine students at General Seminary and our Diaconal educational program is situated at the seminary. I have personally visited and spoken with all of our diocesan seminarians and assured them of my ongoing support and concern in this present moment. Our diocese for over two centuries has enjoyed the fruits of the ministry of GTS through its graduates who have faithfully served here in the past and those who do so today. Even in this difficult moment in its life, I continue to have trust in the Dean, Faculty, Students, and the Board of Trustees of this great seminary of our Church, and I urge all Board members, Faculty, Students, Alumni/ae and all who love GTS to continue in this way. As a demonstration of that trust and support, I have this morning put a check into the mail to the seminary and said a prayer as I wrote it. I call on all who read this and who love GTS to do the same.

I pray that the presence of the risen Christ lead us, and that we resolve to follow his footsteps in word and in action.

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, 3rd

Bishop Provisional

Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania

October 20, 2014


Reaction to the Roman Catholic Synod continues

The senior cardinal of Great Britain, Vincent Nichols, has told the Telegraph that he believes the statement released by the recent Synod of Roman clergy did not go far enough to welcome all different sorts of families into the church.

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St Louis parents and teachers talk about race with kids

Leslie Scoopmire, seminarian and contributor to Episcopal Café and Danielle (Elle) Dowd, youth missioner for the Diocese of Missouri share how they discuss race with children in class and at home. St Louis Public Radio has the story:

As part of the continued coverage of these issues, St. Louis Pubic Radio, through the Public Insight Network, invited educators and parents to share how they talk about race at home and in school.
...
PIN_photo_Dowd_101514_0.jpgDanielle and Adam Dowd adopted their daughter, Alice, about a year ago, from Sierra Leone. “My daughter came to the U.S.A. at age 6, and we immediately started talking to her about race. We do not try to hide any information from her. We try to give her as much info as possible and then listen to her, and let her form her own opinions. She finds it all very interesting and often seeks out books from the library to learn more about the civil rights movement,” Dowd wrote.

Dowd works as the youth missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, supporting and overseeing youth groups throughout the diocese. “Many of the youth and youth groups that I work with are very interested in issues of social justice,” she wrote. “When I talk to youth groups and parents, these things come up. As a transracial family, we talk about race at home almost every day.

“I try to give historical context while not relegating racism as ‘history.’ It is something currently happening as well. I also try to explain systematic racism, which is ‘prejudice plus power’ ... the power (via representation in media, government, heads of corporations) to carry out those prejudices.” Dowd dismisses the notion of color blindness as a “privilege that people of color do not have.” “Color blindness erases the experiences of people of color and does nothing to dismantle racism, “ she wrote....

Leslie Scoopmire, St. Louis County

PIN_photo_Scoopmire1014.jpg“I have three kids: One is a young adult, 20, at college; one is a senior in high school, 17; and one is a freshman in high school, 14. I also just retired (from the Pattonville School District) after teaching middle and high school for 27 years. “With my own kids, (conversations about race occur) over situations they encounter at school, among their friends, or in the news. With my students, it was in discussing historical situations or the news.

“In history class, I would usually talk about the Civil War amendments (especially equal protection and due process clauses), Reconstruction, etc., and go from there.” Regarding the Brown case, “my son (Scott, 14) and I … talked about white privilege … “We also talked about the common tactic of criminalizing a suspect to justify their death at the hands of the police. We also discussed the two different ways the expectation of due process actually played out in this situation. We also talked about the double standard of rushing to judgment in this case, and that overreacting can inflame a situation.”

“Listen to the young people, and be open and honest. Talk about being aware of presumptions we all bring to the table. Treat kids and young people with respect and encourage examining our own views. Discussions should be conversations, not lectures. Be aware that the words an adult uses are heavier than one may realize, and can have a great impact. Be clear yourself, about your own views and attitudes. Remember that very few situations are clear cut.”

[Photo of Dowd family by Graham Gardner provided by the family.
Photo of Scoopmire family from family.]

ENS has this comprehensive report the Episcopalian presence in Ferguson:

Danielle Dowd was back in front of the Ferguson police department Oct. 15, just two days after being arrested there while protesting the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and other African-American youths. Since Brown’s Aug. 9 death, “I’ve come a couple of days every week, except for when my 7-year-old daughter had her tonsils out and I needed to do the mom thing. I’ve been able to form some good relationships with young people, whose voices need to be heard,” Dowd, 26, youth missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, told the Episcopal News Service (ENS).

Similarly, the Rev. Jon Stratton, director of Episcopal Service Corps in the diocese, spent Oct. 13 – his 30th birthday – marching, singing, chanting “Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? God’s streets,” and ultimately, being arrested.

They and other Episcopalians were among dozens jailed during a “Moral Monday” action at the Ferguson police department. It was part of a weekend series of acts of civil disobedience across the St. Louis region coordinated by “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and the Organization for Black Struggle.


Continue reading over at ENS.

Ebola in Church: Story from Liberia's Cathedral

Herman_Browne_web_web.jpgThe dean of Monrovia's Anglican cathedral entered voluntary quarantine and then preached about it, according to NPR. The Very Rev. Herman Browne had been preaching about ebola protection in his Sunday sermons from the beginning of the epidemic, but the message hit close to home when his wife's friend fell sick and his whole family was put at risk.

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GTS Alumni/ae Executive Committee releases statement--UPDATED

In the ongoing negative reaction to the Board of Trustees's decision on Friday not to reinstate the forcibly-resigned professors and to fully support the controversial dean, today, the Alumni/ae Executive Committee of the seminary issued the following statement, available on their Facebook page:

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Bishop Stokes, a board member, reflects on events at GTS

A statement on the crisis at The General Theological Seminary by Bishop Stokes of New Jersey and a Board Member:

October 20, 2014

Dear People of the Diocese of New Jersey:

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Trustee resigns from the GTS Board

In the aftermath of Friday's contentious decision by the Board of Trustees to not reinstate the forcibly-resigned faculty members, and to fully back the dean of the seminary, the reverberations continue to echo.

Yesterday evening, trustee Jeffrey Small, Jr of Atlanta, announced his resignation on Twitter:

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"The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord"

Scott Carter, a former standup comedian who once suffered from a near-death bout with asthma, has written a play called, "The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord". Carter's play is about spiritual questions from the perspective of the three men and, for Carter, is a means of understanding the spiritual questions of three individuals who wrestled with significant existential questions:

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Bp Dietsche of NY issues statement on GTS, calls for reinstatement of faculty

This statement was sent as an email to the Diocese this morning

Sunday, October 19, 2014

My brothers and sisters,

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Catholic Bishops fail to welcome gays, divorced Christians

On Saturday at the Vatican Extraordinary Synod on the Family, efforts to welcome LGBT and divorced Catholics failed:

Catholic bishops scrapped their landmark welcome to gays Saturday, showing deep divisions at the end of a two-week meeting sought by Pope Francis to chart a more merciful approach to ministering to Catholic families.

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Bp Breidenthal dismayed by GTS Board action

UPDATE: see below re: Diocese of California resolution.

The Rt Rev. Tom Breidenthal, Diocese of Southern Ohio, has posted a public statement about the General Theological Seminary Board of Trustees actions on Friday. From his Facebook page:

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Largely negative reaction to GTS Board statement

Yesterday, the Board of General Theological Seminary in New York City issued a statement after meeting with 8 faculty whom the Board claimed had resigned, though the faculty dispute that.

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Churches can play vital role in response to ebola

The Church has dealt with the issue of how to respond to infectious disease before, from the 1919 flu epidemic to swine flu. Today's concerns over ebola are again causing churches to examine practices such the passing of the peace and distribution of communion.

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Statement from the eight dismissed GTS faculty

The following statement was released this evening by the eight faculty dismissed by the Seminary.

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GTS Board: Dean to stay; faculty "resignations" still in effect; replacements okay

UPDATE #2:

Statement from the Eight Faculty:

The following statement was issued tonight by the eight faculty whose job action resulted in their dismissal.

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Bishop Shaw of Massachusetts has died

Update #2. The Society of St. John the Evangelist has announced that the Rt. Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, monk and, for 20 years, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, died on Friday, Oct. 17 in the care of his SSJE brothers at Emery House in West Newbury, Mass. He was 69.

Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts:

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Unconventional transitional housing

In Eugene, Oregon, local faith groups, religious leaders, and volunteers have created Opportunity Village, a community of small houses for the unsheltered homeless.

RNS:

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The role of historically black colleges in church & society

The Union of Black Episcopalians and the Office of Black Ministries have issued a joint statement on the "Rationale for Historically Black Colleges of Episcopal Church."

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"It’s time to stop giving our crap to the poor"

Kristen Welch at the We Are that Family blog writes:

Somehow collecting clothes for immigrants has become the perfect opportunity to get rid of stuff we don’t want and gathering baby items for new moms is the perfect excuse to toss out stained and worn clothing we wouldn’t dare use again. I’ve packed suitcases with beautiful donations, but mostly I’ve pilfered through piles of junk donated in the name of Jesus.

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City subpoenas preachers, stirs controversy in Houston's anti-gay discrimination case

Some strange and objectionable goings on in Houston, where lawyers for the city issued subpoenas for the sermons of five preachers who are trying to overturn a city ordinance that bans discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender people.

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Bishop Robinson on Catholic synod: "hardly an earthquake, but definitely a tremor"

Bishop Gene Robinson writes in The Daily Beast:

This week’s working paper, released by the Synod on the Family taking place at the Vatican, is being hailed as an “earthquake” for the Roman Catholic Church. Hardly! It is only a tremor (albeit substantial), which may forewarn of a coming earthquake, or merely be relieving some of the tension that has been building over the past few decades.

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Justin Welby: what should we do about ISIS?

The Archbishop of Canterbury's reflection on how world leaders should respond to the threat posed by ISIS appear in the November issue of Prospect magazine in the United Kingdom, and online.

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A better grasp from Barna on why people aren't come to church

The Barna Group has a new report that plumbs the question of why fewer and fewer Americans are attending church.

The document names five trends:

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"Fear-bola"

As Americans' fear of Ebola has been rising this week, a number of people are trying to remain calm, and properly direct peoples' attention to West Africa.

Mel Robbins warns about "catching Fear-bola" on CNN:

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Churches shed fossil fuel holdings

Kate Galbraith writes a "Green Column" called "Churches Go Green by Shedding Fossil Fuel Holdings" in the International Business section of the online New York Times. An excerpt:

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Court blocks abortion limits in Texas

From Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog's report:

Over the dissents of three Justices, the Supreme Court on Tuesday evening barred Texas from enforcing two parts of its new abortion-restriction law — one part as it applied throughout the state, the other as it applied to two clinics in the southwest part of the state.

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GTS Alums write to Board of Trustees

From the Executive Committee of The General Theological Seminary Alumni/ae Association:

October 14, 2014

Dear Bishop Sisk and members of the Board of Trustees:

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Former Presiding Bishop Griswold to facilitate GTS Faculty/Trustees meeting

Episcopal News Service is reporting:

Former Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold will facilitate the Oct. 16 meeting between trustees of the General Theological Seminary and eight professors whose employment is at the core of the dispute involving complaints about the conduct of the school’s dean and president.

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Susan Snook on Re-imagining the Episcopal Church webcast

TREC1.pngThe Rev Susan Snook, church planter and rector of the Episcopal Church of the Nativity, Scottsdale, Arizona, member of the National Executive Council and Chair of its Budget Committee reflects on what she heard and saw in the webcast from the Task Force to Re-imagine the Episcopal Church. (quoted by permission):

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Nearly 50 arrested in Ferguson

release.jpgNearly 50 protestors were arrested, including the Rev. Anne Kelsey (retired rector of Trinity, St. Louis), interns at Deaconess Anne House Episcopal Service Corps (see Twitter feed below), director of the house the Rev. Jon Stratton and the Rev. Rebecca Ragland (interim pastor of Church of the Holy Communion, University City) . Scholar Cornel West, was also arrested. The Patriot News reports.

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Rate of decline in Sunday attendance little changed from recent years

The 2013 statistical totals for the Episcopal Church are now posted at the Research and Statistics site and the General Convention site.

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Synod of Roman Catholic Bishops discussing shift in church attitudes towards LGBTQ persons and divorced catholics

The Roman Catholic Church’s Synod of Bishops released a mid-term report this morning signaling a potential shift in the Church’s pastoral response to several issues, including remarried divorced persons and homosexuals. Cardinal Péter Erdő, General Rapporteur of the Assembly, in speaking of Jesus; said; "the Truth, became incarnate in human fragility not to condemn it, but to heal it”

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Mississippi Clergy Urge Governor to Take Back Control of Privately Run Prison

The Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference, which includes Bishop Duncan Gray III, have drafted a letter to Gov. Phil Bryant urging the state to retake control of the East Mississippi Correctional Facility.

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When Ebola comes to church

George Mason, Senior Pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, reflects on the lesson Ebola is teaching him as a faith leader:

What we've learned in recent weeks is that there's a flip side to this truth as well: When we're carefully taught to love rather than hate, when we're carefully taught to care rather than shun, it shows up in our actions. And in times of crisis -- like when Ebola comes to church -- what we've been taught pops into full view.

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Marriage equality without job protection for same-sex couples

Pennsylvania was the only state with marriage equality, but no job protection for same-sex couples. Now there are several. Vox.com has the story and the map:

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Integrity Elects New President

As reported at Episcopal News Service, Integrity, the organization dedicated to inclusion of LGBTQ persons into the full life of the Episcopal Church has elected Matt Haines to be their new President, filling the vacancy left by the departure of the Rev Dr Caro Hall.

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$1.5 million awarded to seminaries to include science in their curricula

The Washington Post reports that the American Association for the Advancement of Science has awarded grants to seminaries across the United States to fund efforts to bridge science and faith.

“Many (religious leaders) don’t get a lot of science in their training and yet they become the authority figures that many people in society look up to for advice for all kinds of things, including issues related to science and technology,” said Jennifer Wiseman, director of the AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion."

None of the ten Episcopal seminaries are receiving grants, but it would interesting to know how future Episcopal clergy are being formed regarding this issue (if at all).

Hope in the midst of tragedy in St Louis

Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, the Very Rev. Mike Kinman offers a story of hope in the midst of tragedy:

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Jesuit magazine criticizes GTS trustees' response to striking faculty

In an essay for America, the Jesuit weekly, Nathan Schneider places the ongoing crisis at General Theological Seminary in the context of labor relations in higher education.

He writes: [The] crisis is not GTS’s alone. It is a crisis for any community of faith in which cherished rights are being twisted into excuses for repression.

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Malala Yousafza shares in Nobel Peace Prize, youngest recipient ever

The New York Times reports:

Reaching across gulfs of age, gender, faith, nationality and even international celebrity, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2014 peace prize on Friday to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India.

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Prayers for Bishop Tom Shaw as he nears the end of this life

From the Diocese of Massachusetts:

Bishop Alan M. Gates sent the following message on the evening of Oct. 9 to the diocesan community:

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How to defend your neighbor in a bold striped maxi dress (with discussion questions)

The activist and editor Rose Berger has taken the video of a confrontation that took part in a Washington D. C. neighborhood this morning as her text for a little adult education exercise called How To Defend Your Neighbor In Bold Stripe Maxi Dress (With Discussion Questions).

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Maybe a little bit of overkill for a moving violation?

In early August, Ellen Bogan passed a vehicle on an Indiana road. State Trooper Brian Hamilton pulled her over. Then, as David Moye of Huffington Post reports, things got interesting.

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Kristof: When criticizing a religious group, speak carefully, but speak

In his latest column, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times warns against making sweeping statements about the nature of any religion, whether it is Islam, Christianity or another faith.

In an indirect way, the column calls out many of the participants in our current debate about religions persecution.

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