Breaking from the newswire:
SPRINGFIELD-- Police were called to a local bakery today to disperse an unruly crowd of approximately 75 Episcopalians after a religious procession degenerated into a dispute over doughnuts and coffee.
Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Allegheny this morning were read a pastoral letter from their bishop, The Rt. Rev. Wilbert Smith, explaining that 2012 would be the last year that “customary green palms” could by employed for liturgical purposes. Smith has effectively banned the use of regular palms henceforth.
His letter says, in part,
There is an on-line petition started to the Crown Nominating Committee seeking to have Geraldine Granger be appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by the Queen, Really.
Tim Flores has been living car-free for a decade. So when he needs to move, does he borrow a friend's pick up? Nah. He goes by bike.
Andrew Sullivan, writing in the Daily Beast, says that Christianity is in crisis. What he says is nothing new and neither is his prescription. But that does not mean it is not radical. His solution: stop propping up the church and go back to Jesus.
The Crisis of Our Time
Anglican Communion News Service reports on an invitation to share your views on the ministry of the next Archbishop of Canterbury:
Christian Piatt tells the 4 reasons he came back to church in the Huffington Post:
Bettany Hughes asks "Who knows whether God is a girl?" in The Telegraph today:
Bettany Hughes, an expert in ancient history, claimed that Christianity “was originally a faith where the female of the species held sway”.
To oppose the ordination of women bishops in the Church of England is to deny the central role women played in the foundations of the faith, said Hughes.
Box Turtle Bulletin reports on the anti-gay rhetoric and actions in Liberia while news of a new gay and lesbian publication emerges from Sudan:
A scan of the newswires shows a busy last couple of days for The Episcopal Church in the world of activism.
In his third "pre-Easter" breakfast held today, President Obama said the Easter story is a touchstone for strength in hard times.
File under cracked up: nzherald reports Christian students at Auckland University are lining up to become targets:
From the Association for Episcopal Deacons comes a call for the church to spark a conversation in 2013 around issues of poverty.
Dailybulletin.com reports on the 60-day public-comment period that began Monday for a proposed policy that would allow illegal immigrants who are immediate family members of U.S. citizens to remain with their families longer while applying for permanent residency.
Sabeel, leading organization for justice, peace and reconciliation in Palestine-Israel has posted an open letter to the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church:
The Queen of England continued the tradition of Royal Maundy.
Excerpt from On a Theme from Julian's Chapter XX by Denise Levertov:
Children narrate the stations.
How are you observing Good Friday? Tell us in the comments.
From The Rev. Canon Frank Logue in the Diocese of Georgia:
Human suffering is ubiquitous. What makes Jesus' death on the cross is not what humans did to Jesus, but that God responded with love to hate and with life to death. These video Stations of the Cross use film of more recent examples of needless suffering alongside images of Christ's passion to challenge viewers to see how Jesus' death and resurrection can redeem all of the many times and ways the innocent have endured pain even to death.
From St. Matthew Passion by J. S. Bach.
The Rev. Canon James C. Fenhagen died on Thursday in South Carolina. Fenhagen was known to many within the Episcopal Church because of his leadership in clergy education and parish development.
In most Maundy Thursday services the clergy wash the feet of members of their congregations. But Bishop James Mathes took to the streets on Thursday along with members of the diocese of San Diego to wash the feet of people living homeless and in need.
Episcopal priest, writer and "modern mystic" Cynthia Bourgeault had an epiphany last year on Palm Sunday. She noticed that nowhere in the gospel account of Passion read that day did the word "love" appear. And that Mary Magdalene remained voiceless throughout the entire reading in spite of the fact that she and other women remained with Jesus throughout his ordeal.
There's lots to be worried about in the Church of England. Numbers are declining, those that still remain are resistant to change that might bring in newcomers and the leadership seems increasingly deaf to the voices of the grassroots. Bishop Alan Wilson in a blog earlier this week wrote that the Church of England needed to be rebooted, to rethink its place in English society.
Many Episcopal Church congregations are in the process of starting their Easter Vigils, or have just finished them. The graphic below was used by Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis on their Facebook page to invite people to their vigil service.
Mark Harris shares his sermon from the Easter Vigil. How would you answer Lily's question?
Bruce Springsteen sings, and explains one of his lesser known songs, Jesus was an Only Son.
Michele Norris of National Public Radio sat down to talk about Easter with Anne Lamott.
The steadfast folks who remained in the Episcopal Church when most of their congregation and all of their clergy voted to breakaway and take the property with them returned to The Falls Church yesterday. Matt Rhodes offers a first person account.
We would like to try a little experiment this morning. We are celebrating the holiest season of the Christian year, a season we enter after seven weeks of preparation. We’d like to ask you to do three things here. 1) Describe what this experience, or some piece of this experience, has been like for you. 2) Think about how you would alter this description if you were speaking to someone who wasn’t currently attending a church, but might want to. 3) Think about under what circumstances you might feel comfortable offering such a description to such a person.
Do you feel comfortable taking it from here, or no?
It is safe to conclude that Mr. Tom Catolick does not believe that Archbishop John Sentamu would make a good Archbishop of Canterbury. We don't know much about Archbishop Sentamu. A number of the people involved in The Episcopal Church's attempts to work through its response to the Windsor Report at our General Convention in 2006 felt he inserted himself in the process in unhelpful ways. But it is difficult to say whether that says more about the man or the times.
Peter Stanford of The Independent profiles the Rev. Bernard Lynch, whose career is the Roman Catholic Church as a whistleblower, advocate for LGBT people, and, as it turns out, married gay man, would be dismissed as implausible were it proposed as fiction.
The Anglican Church of Nigeria has been caught up as a bit player in what might be evidence of government corruption, or might be an instance of a public spirited Italian construction firm doing its host country a good turn. (We aggregate. You decide. Or not.)
Bosco Peters writing at Liturgy points us to a fascinating lecture by Fr. John Behr, Dean of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Seminary in New York. Behr believes that the early church communities that were the most diverse--catholic--were what came to be known as orthodox.
BIshop Pierre Whalon says that it is both naive and impossible to separate religion and politics.
Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, VA, held their Easter worship in a local synagogue this week. The congregation at Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue invited their neighbors to use their worship space while Grace recovers from damage suffered during an earthquake in 2011.
Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA Today looks at the people who go back to the church of their youth. They are not converts, she calls them "reverts."
NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty sat down with both sides of the controversy and property disputes in the Diocese of Virginia. She says Virginia "is the epicenter of the Episcopal schism" and that cases like that of Heathsville typify the acrimony and pain.
Have you read Don Miller's Blue Like Jazz? If so, did you like it? Did you know it's been adapted into a movie project whose funding was crowd-sourced by Christians eager to see it committed to film?
I read the book after I heard The (now) Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia quote from it at a TENS conference a few years ago. Bishop Rickel, whom I then knew as Greg from Austin, talked about the quote on the first page of the book as illustrative of the Christian stewardship journey:
In a place where overhauling comprehensive immigration law is a hot topic, Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina spoke in late March at a heated public-comment session on behalf of immigrants before a group of legislators of the House Select Committee on the State’s Role on Immigration Policy.
Among its many merits, an article by Adam J. Copeland in the Lent 2012 issue of Journal for Preaching contains this poignant idea of how preachers might expand their thinking in consideration of those calling themselves "spiritual, but not religious" (SBNR).
Nicholas Kristoff, writing in the Sunday New York Times Week in Review, notices a new brand of atheist, ones who are skeptical but respect the role and achievement of religion in human culture
The Rev. Susan Brown Snook writes on the future of the Episcopal Church on her blog "A Good and Joyful Thing":
The Rt. Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool, Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, wrote this for the Huffington Post Religion blog:
Roger Wolsey has written an article on Elephant Journal: "A Kinder, Gentler, more Grown Up Easter."
The article, with fantastic visual illustrations, explores the challenges of triumphal Easter:
Joshua Bolding in The Deseret News reports on the effect on churches of the growing number of women clergy:
Is a cartoon showing the resurrection by using Humpty Dumpty all together again on the third day, humor or blasphemy? The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the storm of opinion about the cartoon:
CBSand Google+ partner to talk about religion in the digital age.
Bob Schieffer discusses how the Internet is changing the way people worship in a Google+ Hangout with Sarah Pulliam, Bobby Gruenewald, Jason Illian, Rabbis Laura Baum and Robert Barr.
The Guardian reports that former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey claims Christians are being persecuted and driven underground in the UK.
Sara Posner of Religion Dispatches reflects on the Roman Catholic Bishops' Religious Liberty Manifesto Vowing Disobedience to "Unjust Laws."
As the Anglican Church of Canada prepares for the 2014 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, it seeks original music compositions:
Will you be telling jokes on the second Sunday of Easter? Joyful Noise Newsletter tells of this tradition and gives some ideas for church services:
Ross Douhat, author of Bad Religion: How we became a nation of heretics, interviewed about his new book on NPR. The 3 main heresies of today are found in the popularity of the DaVinci Code, the preaching of Joel Osteen and the prosperity gospel, and of the narcissism of books like Eat, Pray, Love:
Gallup has issed a new poll measuring religious activity by residents of various states:
Episcopal News Service reports Church joins Titanic remembrances:
The Crown Nominations Commission, which will nominate Rowan Williams' successor as Archbishop of Canterbury, leaks. Strategically. And at least one leading figure thinks the leak needs to be plugged before the next archbishop is selected.
In a letter to the Guardian, Dean Jeffrey John wrote:
I live tweeted the presentation that Kirk Hadaway, director of research for the Episcopal Church, made to the Episcopal Church Building Fund conference, Buildings for a New Tomorrow, this morning. You can find it at https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23bldgfund
Someone who knows the Constitution of the Episcopal Church better than I do called my attention to an issue that has been hiding in plain sight in the church’s debate on structural reform.
More than 15 dioceses, and one province, have put forward a resolution calling for the creation of special commission on church structure that would make a thorough review of the way in which our church operates. The commission would
Jesse Zink has a few thoughts on the various maxims, slogans, symbols, buzzwords and bromides that define, or, more often, fail to define the Episcopal Church, and its role in the Anglican Communion.
In an essay for USA Today, Diana Butler Bass says the dilemmas that Rowan Williams faced as Archbishop of Canterbury are a sign of the times, but not in the way that most people think.
S. Brent Plate assesses the peculiar appeal of Thomas Kinkade, "the painter of light," who died earlier this month at 54.
In a response to a study that finds that the an overwhelming majority of religious voices in the media come from groups opposed to marriage equality or any tacit acceptance of LGBT people into the Church, Susan Russell writes that it matters that the voices of the acceptance are missing.
UPDATE: The link to the loan fund is here. Thanks to our commenters for asking.
A year ago we reported that there was $100,000 dollars in low interest loans available for any congregation to use to revision their building usage. As of yesterday, the money is still there. Apparently no one has even applied.
Addendum to post, concerning The Falls Church: A press release from the Diocese of Virginia
Court Declines to Rule on Stay sought by Falls Church Anglican; Will Hear Evidence April 27
The Fairfax Circuit Court heard today the Falls Church Anglican’s motion for a stay to suspend the court’s order until its appeal is decided. The court determined that it has jurisdiction over the matter, and that it could not impose a sharing arrangement on the parties. The court will hear evidence on the factors it must consider on whether to grant the stay at 2 p.m., Friday, April 27.
A press release from the Diocese of Virginia:
Lionel Deimel writes of his concern that the provisional bishop of Pittsburgh, Ken Price, has signed onto a document that opposes a federal mandate regarding universal access to contraceptives.
The Anglican diocese of Christchurch announced plans yesterday to build a temporary replacement structure for the ruined iconic cathedral. The cathedral, destroyed as a result of recent earthquakes will be replaced by a $5 million dollar (New Zealand) cardboard structure expected to last for twenty years. The new structure will seat 700 and is designed to be multi-use.
A statement from Ms. Diane Pollard and Bishop Stephen Lane, chairpersons of the Program Budget and Finance Committee about the 2013-2015 Budget for the Episcopal Church:
UPDATE: report from Episcopal News Service.
Ohio Bishop Mark Hollingsworth questioned why council could not correct the “mistakes and errors” in the version of the draft budget council forwarded to the church’s Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance (PB&F) in January. He asked whether council could send that group a revised version.
Ali Symons briefly sketches Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, on a recent trip to the Church of Melanesia in the Solomon Islands.
Lots of reactions, none particularly good, from Episcopalians concerning the statement on the proposed budget.
Today is the fifth anniversary of Episcopal Café. Five years ago a team of volunteers began posting news stories, commentary, spiritual reflections and artwork provided by Episcopalians from all around the country—and, to a lesser extent, the world. Today we are still at it.
Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) shared their survey of college-age Millennials (Americans ages 18-24) concerning faith, values, and the 2012 election. The survey was jointly conducted by Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Some of the religious highlights:
In reflecting Tuesday evening on his seven years as dean of Duke Chapel, Sam Wells said his own faith was strengthened during his tenure and he hoped he pushed the chapel to engage more fully with the rest of campus and surrounding community.
The Episcopal News Services reports a three day visit to the the U.S.-Mexico border between Arizona and Sonora by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.
The Governing Body of the Church in Wales has put the Anglican Covenant on hold, asking for clarity from the Anglican Consultative Council about the documents future in light of rejection by the Church of England.
The Deseret News follows a group of Episcopalians and members of other churches as they head to Alabama to help a community after a tornado to see how service brings religions together.
The Rev. Anthony Hutchinson is the new rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Ashland, Oregon. Before ordination, he served as a diplomat for the US State Department.
UPDATED: MEMO to PB&F corrected copy.
Updated. The Executive Council of The Episcopal Church has completed its last meeting before General Convention. They issued this letter today:
Margaret Susan Thompson, professor of history at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, New York, responds to the crackdown on American nuns by the Vatican. Writing in The Tablet, she talks about the contribution Catholic lay religious women have made to the Church's witness in the US and the support many Catholics feel for the nuns.
The Rev. Dr. Amy Richter relates her experience as a contestant in the Wisconsin State Fair physique competition. The New York Times carries her story:
UPDATED: 4:30 PM EDT and at 9:30 PM EDT All elections complete. See below
Elections in the Episcopal Dioceses of Pittsburgh and Western Louisiana for bishops diocesan, bishop suffragan election in Virginia:
Jeremy Marks who founded Courage in the UK to help gays and lesbians overcome homosexuality writes 'I began to think that perhaps we’d got it really wrong.' in
The Anglican Church of Canada is developing a set of competencies for priesthood. They will be used in the formation and evaluation of priests.
Defying the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York and those leaders who want the word "marriage" reserved for the church's sacrament, Church of England bishops, clergy and laity are speaking out for all who wish to be married.
The Telegraph reports Bishop Nicholas Holtam's statement that "church opposition to equal marriage is a 'disaster.'"
The Rev. Robyn Barnes, a deputy to General Convention from the Diocese of Montana, kept up an active twitter stream about last week's Executive Council meeting. You can follow her as @theologybird, and view the entire collective twitter stream by following the hashtag #ExCoun.
Mary Frances Schjonberg writing for Episcopal News Service reports:
Participants in the Episcopal Church’s “The Intersection of Poverty and the Environment” program April 21 agreed that people of faith can and should play an important role in organizing communities to be both good neighbors and stewards of creation.
The Rev. Megan Castellan, (on Twitter @revlucymeg) a college chaplain from the Diocese of Arizona, took a long look at the Executive Council's recent letter, and decided to write the council a letter in reply. Here is some of what she had to say on her blog, Red Shoes, Funny Shirt.
On this morning after Earth Day, we offer this excellent essay on the New Urbanism from Episcopal News Service, by the Rev. Jason Fout, assistant professor of Anglican theology at Bexley Hall Seminary.
You will have to read the Rev. Gay Jennings' entire sermon at the closing Eucharist of Executive Council to understand the headline on this item. Below is a passage that was especially heartening to me.
The Blue Book, information and resolutions for General Convention 2012, is now on web for downloading. Information for purchase of a printed copy or copy for e-books is also available.
For the pdf. click here.
Just before Holy Week, Bishop Chris Epting floated on Twitter the idea that the Episcopal Church should sell its headquarters at 815 Second Avenue in New York and move into the vacant College of Preachers complex at Washington National Cathedral. When I replied that I thought the idea was intriguing, he asked if I would float it on Episcopal Cafe.
The National Journal features a compelling analysis of American's deepening sense that the major institutions that held our society together are broken. That includes the church. Under the subheading "From Guttenberg to Google", writers Ron Fournier and Sophie Quinton compare a Sunday morning at a Methodist Church is Muncie, Indiana to Sunday morning at a nearby megachurch. They write:
The entire front page of the Sioux City (IA) Journal was devoted yesterday to an editorial against bullying.
link fixed - thanks Susan
We don't usually post job openings, but one of these days, the Cafe is going to start raising some money, and it occurred to us that if the new dean of the American Cathedral in Paris first learned about that opening on our site, he or she might be of a mind to be generous.
Lionel Deimel, who has been active in the new life of the Diocese of Pittsburgh relates his thoughts following the election of their next bishop. Pending consents from the other dioceses, Pittsburgh will enter into a new stage of their life.
There's a great deal of chatter in the past few days about the possibility of the John Sentamu, the present Archbishop of York, succeeding Rowan Williams as the Archbishop of Canterbury. There are opinion pieces in the English press claiming that if he doesn't, it's because of racism. And there are articles talking about leaked concerns regarding his management style.
Paul Vallely for instance writes:
With the final stages of this year's presidential election starting in earnest, Clay Farris Naff sees a profound reason to be concerned in the way that religion is emerging as a wedge issue. He's written an essay in the Huffington Post that discusses the spreading rhetoric of what we calls a "reactionary rhetoric of Old Time Religion"; something that he's seeing happen in all the major faith voices in the West. Even the atheists are reacting with their own version of uncompromising rhetoric.
The Anglican provinces that aligned themselves as part of the GAFCON movement, now described as FOCA (Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans), are meeting in England at the moment. As part of their work, they are suggesting that the Anglican Communion be reorganized in a way that the leadership selection is done by election not by tradition.
Three Episcopal bishops in North Carolina have released a joint letter in opposition to a state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as existing only "between one man and one woman" and would effectively outlaw other forms of domestic partnership within the state.
Texas Bishop Announces Plan to Navigate Proposed Rite
An extended riff on the impact of social media in The Atlantic asks, "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" Stephen Marche argues that no, it isn't, but it certainly isn't helping.
Painful day in Providence, Rhode Island: the city's Cathedral of St. John saw its final service for the time-being on Sunday and will soon be shuttered.
The Orlando Sentinel reports Sanford, Florida's churches have come to see how they have been divided by race in the wake of the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case, and how leaders of those congregations have responded in dialogue with one another and with civic leaders as they call for healing.
Presbyterian minister (PCUSA) and writer MaryAnn McKibben Dana says "Rumors of [our] demise have been greatly exaggerated" - that in fact, being in our declining years doesn't mean we can't give life to a new world.