The Most Revd. Rowan Williams 104th Archbishop of Canterbury final message for the Anglican Communion:
Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite writing in the Washington Post looks at an underlying issue fueling the proliferation of guns and gun violence in the USA:
Dr Who meets the Archbishop of Canterbury in news on Anglican Meme's last night:
With Facebook ablaze with New Year's resolutions, Susan Brown Snook wonders in her blog A Good and Joyful Thing where everyone gets the energy:
NPR's All Things Considered remembers "Peace Pilgrim"
by Zak Rosen. Here is an excerpt:
Libby Nelson of Inside Higher Ed has a story we missed when it appeared a few weeks. She writes:
From the Public Religion Research Institute comes a round-up of the ten biggest developments in religion and politics in 2012. The findings described by Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox include:
The Wall Street Journal explains how the fiscal-cliff bill affects income tax deductions:
Becky Garrison writing at Religion and Politics talks with Cameron Partridge about his journey to becoming university chaplain:
The House of Bishops of the Church of England has effectively lifted the 2005 ban that prevented gay clergy in civil partnerships from becoming bishops. A Church Times reports the action took place during the December meeting of the Bishops but the move was done so quietly that many commentators and bloggers either missed it or misunderstood it.
Dan Webster, an Episcopal priest, writes for RNS:
Marcus Borg talks to Candace Chellow-Hodge at Religion Dispatches about reading the New Testament chronologically and what this approach teaches us about the early Church and about being a Christian.
Western assumptions about cultural uniformity combined with Islamists bent on purging other faith groups are threatening the future of the Christian church in the Middle East.
While the future of the "kill the gays" bill is still up in the air in Uganda, American preacher Scott Lively is being sued by a a Ugandan LGBT group for crimes against humanity in a Massachusetts federal court.
According to Episcopal News Service, Mark Lawrence, former bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, and others have filed suit against The Episcopal Church:
The Rt. Rev. Rob Hirschfeld becomes Bishop of New Hampshire today as Bishop Gene Robinson retires. We haven't prepared a full retrospective on Gene's remarkable career, but want to say this much: he is a major figure in the recent religious history of the United States and the wider Anglican Communion, and if you care about fairness and equality, you owe him your thanks.
The Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette raises the profile of the growing push for stricter gun control legislation emanating from U. S. churches.
The Rev. Kyle Oliver, digital missioner and learning lab coordinator in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary passes on a collection he put together that gives us a glimpse of how students at the seminary are "learning to use social media to tell the story of how they've been seeking and serving during their formation as church leaders."
Have a look and tell us what you think.
Born-again Christianity has become synonymous with social conservatism, but a growing number of adherents don’t see it that way according to an item in The Independent:
The Rev. Gary Brinn writing in the Sayville-Bayport Patch
....This year the choir was excellent, as always, though the whole community has been struggling a bit. It isn't easy to reconcile the call to be festive with the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy, much less the massacre in Newtown. I tried to strike a balance, hope and challenge in the same homily.
One of the more inventive analysis of Uganda's dreadful anti-gay legislation, which the country's parliament seems to dangle over the heads of the international community to watch that community jump, comes from the Rt. Rev. Godfrey Makumbi, Anglican Bishop of West Buganda. He doesn't see a need for the law because he doesn't believe there are any gay people in Uganda.
The feast of the Epiphany always leads me in a free-associtive sort of way to James Joyce's definition of the word epiphany offered in Stephen Hero, one of his early works:
Andrew Sullivan surveys some of the recent writings about holding church services in unusual settings.
He quotes Walter Russell Mead who wrote:
Is capitalism an enemy of the good life? Marxists and other radicals think so. Toward the end of How Much Is Enough?, Robert and Edward Skidelsky (an economist father and his philosopher son) quote one such thinker:
Pastor Keith Anderson says the church's generational logjam is "making everyone cranky," an observation which rings true to us here at the Cafe. In a blog posting about Congregational Connections: Uniting Six Generations in the Church by Carroll Sheppard and Nancy Burton Dilliplane, Anderson, who leads a Lutheran church in Pennsylvania writes:
From The Episcopal Church's Office of Public Affairs:
Conciliation meeting slated for January 8, 9
[January 7, 2013] A conciliation meeting concerning complaints involving the Episcopal Dioceses of Fort Worth and Quincy will be held on January 8 and 9 in Richmond, VA (Canon IV.10).
Writing for the Alban Institute, Bob Sitze says:
Michael Leahy takes a long hard look at Notre Dame's football program and its iconic status among some American Catholics in a piece for the On Faith section of The Washington Post. He writes:
Former Senator Chuck Hagel, active Episcopalian, has been nominated by President Obama to be Secretary of Defense. The Palestine Israel Network yesterday posted the piece, "Shedding Light on Palestine/Israel/US Politics" which discussed Hagel:
Fifty years ago this June, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was slain in his home driveway by a rifle shot to his head. JFK had earlier that day given his speech proposing what became the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Although a white supremacist was arrested soon after the murder it was thirty years before he would be convicted and sentenced. One of several good reasons for the choice is it underscores a commitment to address the senseless deaths of innocents each day in our country due to the plague of gun violence.
From the Anglican Communion News Service - a request of prayer for Northern Ireland:
From The Rt Revd Harold Miller, Bishop of Down and Dromore
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he will meet with indigenous leaders. Protests and hunger strikes have been ongoing since December 10. From The Guardian:
The Washington National Cathedral has announced that it will hold same sex-weddings, effective immediately.
The Very Rev. Gary Hall, Dean of Washington National Cathedral, made the announcement now posted on their website:
A new study says that the overweight live longer. Economists say that may be true, but the overweight have higher health costs.
Yesterday, Episcopal Cafe focused on the announcement that the widow of civil rights leader Medgar Evers would deliver the invocation at President Obama's inauguration.
A study published in this month's British Journal of Psychiatry, says spiritual but not religious people are more likely to develop mental problems and dependence on drugs. From CNN's religion blog:
A little Episcopal church that dubs itself "The James Taylor Church" because it's been damaged by fire and rain has garnered attention from the singer himself, who is using his Facebook page to help raise money to restore its historic pipe organ. Taylor posted this week, "St Paul's Episcopal Church in Jeffersonville IN is now known as the "James Taylor church," since it's been hit by both fire and rain! St Paul's is trying to raise money to restore their pipe organ after several floods and a fire. Click here to find out more: http://cjky.it/WKFGjg"
The Rev. Louie Giglio will not be delivering the invocation at President Obama's inauguration after all. ABC News reports that he backed out of the ceremony over criticism of anti-gay remarks he made in the mid-1990s:
The Rt. Rev. Charles Glenn vonRosenberg, a retired bishop of East Tennessee, has been nominated to serve as bishop provisional of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina. vonRosenberg has longstanding ties to South Carolina, a diocese working to regroup in the wake of the departure of Bishop Mark Lawrence and his followers. Episcopal News Service reports:
I recently had a conversation with a writer who said that she needs to cut off Internet access to her office so she can finish a book project. Cruising the Web is eating up way too much of her time, she can't meet her deadlines because of it, and she can't make herself stop.
As President Obama considers who might replace Pastor Louie Giglio to deliver the benediction at his upcoming inauguration, GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) notes:
"The Rise of the Nones" was one of the big religion stories in the last year. But what if "none" doesn't mean atheist or agnostic. What if "none" really means "none?"
The website for the Archbishop of Canterbury reports:
The first meeting of the House of Laity since the lay members of Church of England's General Synod narrowly defeated the women bishop's measure will weigh whether their chairman overstepped his proper role in speaking against the proposal.
Maybe at one time religious leaders thought that printed books or periodicals meant the end of religion. It was considered a radical reform when printed Bibles in English were introduced into every parish church in England. Today there are many who think that the internet and social media will harm faith by interfering with the intimacy and immediacy of human relationships.
Comparing and contrasting the decision by Washington National Cathedral to perform same-sex marriages and the University of the South's decision to do so only if the bishop in the place where the couple lives approves.
SCG writes on the blog "Wake Up and LIVE."
The Washington Post advises the religious left on its need for strong moral issues:
Rita Nakashima Brock's work with moral injuries is featured in the New York Times.
Members of the Global South Primates Steering Committee have issued a statement in response to the action of the Church of England House of Bishops confirming "that the requirements in the 2005 statement concerning the eligibility for ordination of those in civil partnerships whose relationships are consistent with the teaching of the Church of England apply equally in relation to the episcopate". The statement follows, in full.
Religion Dispatches reports on why companies cannot claim religion as a basis for rejecting parts of the Affordable Care Act:
NPR reports that the Church of England planning to try olive oil in an attempt to save the exterior stone of Yorkminster:
The Archbishop-elect of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has an op-ed at Bloomberg.com on banking reform. He stresses "it isn't regulations, but virtue and leadership embedded within corporate cultures" that is the foundation of reform:
I think a number of practical steps must be taken.
Here's a topic for a Sunday night: who are your favorite fictional Episcopalians? The question came to me recently when I was reading The Darkest Mission, an espionage novel by an old college friend Rick Burton, who is now on the faculty at Syracuse University. The book is set during World War II, and an Episcopal priest plays a key role.
The redoubtable Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John's the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Hingham, MA, and co-owner of the Lent Madness franchise, has written a perceptive column about teaching children to deal with death. His essay is all the more piquant because the death that occasioned his musings was that of his children's pet ferret.
"Now that the Rev. Louie Giglio, the Atlanta pastor who was going to pray at President Barack Obama's inauguration but came under fire for an anti-gay sermon he gave in the mid-1990s, has bowed out, some conservative Christians and evangelicals have began to ask: are they welcome in the public square?"
In an op-ed essay for The Times of London, journalist Oliver Kamm responds to the arguments made by Catholic clergy opposed to British Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to permit same-sex marriages in the United Kingdom.
Joan Acocella of The New Yorker reviews two recent books on St. Francis of Assisi, and, in the best tradition of long form book reviews, gives us a crash course on the subject at hand. Of particular interest is the dispute over Francis' legacy.
CNN Beliefblog notes the appearance of evangelicals supporting legislation to control gun violence:
Harry Hagopian, an international lawyer, ecumenist and EU political consultant who also acts as a Middle East and inter-faith advisor to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England & Wales and as Middle East consultant to ACEP (Christians in Politics) in Paris, writes about the fears and hopes of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa for Ekklesia
Giles Fraser, writing in The Guardian explores Augustine and Freud and the concept of original sin:
Religion and Ethics Newsweekly asked the Rev. Ian Markham, dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary, "to ponder religious and spiritual themes in the series, from the invisibility of God to the relationship between faith and a rapidly changing social order:"
The Rev. Luis León told CNN on Tuesday the White House and the Presidential Inaugural Committee invited him last week to deliver the closing prayer at the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
UPDATED: see below
From the Diocesan News of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts:
(President Obama has since unveiled his gun-control proposals, via The Washington Post)
Jaweed Kaleem writes on Huffington Post that training in notifiying someone of a death, an often overlooked part of a job, is starting to be more valued:
This week, NPR's Morning Edition has been explores the "nones" — Americans who say they don't identify with any religion.
This echoes the Episcopal Cafe post "None" but not "atheist" from this past weekend.
Owain Johnston-Barnes writes in The Royal Gazette online that the two candidates for the Anglican Bishop of Bermuda would "work to unify the church and encourage it to grow if elected to the post next month".
Archdeacon Andrew Doughty said:
"Nones" are getting a lot of attention these days (so much so that I probably don't need those quote marks to describe people whose religious affiliation is "none"). Salon presents an interesting piece by Valerie Tarico (originally posted at Alternet) positing that the flood of information available on the Internet makes it near impossible to maintain one's religious beliefs-- there is just too much information out there that runs counter to anyone's ancient, tightly woven doctrine.This is bad news for organized religion:
The Rev. Deacon Carol E. Peterson, a registered nurse from St. Mark's Church in Cheyenne Wyoming, provides these tips on communicable disease prevention in our parishes:
I taught an adult Sunday School class last week for newcomers at our church, and struggled a little to hide my shock when a couple of the students said they'd never heard the story of Joseph and his jealous brothers, and didn't know why Noah had built an ark. So the idea of a "Bible Challenge," in which we would invite parishioners to read the entire Bible in the year ahead, has some appeal to me. Apparently many churches are embarking on this project, including St. Mark the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale, according to the Sun-Sentinel:
David Briggs writes at Huffington Post that while believers played a major role in the civil rights movement, "the voluntary segregation still found in houses of worship on Sunday mornings appears to limit the likelihood non-Hispanic white Americans will date, much less marry, a black, Hispanic or Asian partner."
Last night the Cafe published a story from Episcopal News Service that began:
In a secular, connected world, how does confession and absolution fit with the media-guided public apology?
Baptist pastor Alan Rudnick looks at Lance Armstrong and thinks about confession.
Following is a letter that many clergy received in the last couple of days. It is from Michael Rehill. What is your reaction? Have you had experience with Title IV as it now stands? Have you served on a Title IV committee?
As the Church Pension Group reminds us of the requirements for lay employee pension provision that became effective January 1, 2013 for Episcopal Church organizations in the U.S.:
In 2009, the 76th General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed Resolution A138 and its associated Canon, establishing the Church-wide Lay Employee Pension System (LPS) and naming the Church Pension Fund (CPF) as administrator.
Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Diocese of Washington was among the panelists discussing President Obama's second term on Religion and Ethics Newsweekly.
The Episcopal Diocese of New York reports that the bishops of the Diocese have written to the Metropolitan Transit Authority:
President Obama will worship today at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church. Later today he will be sworn in a private televised ceremony. (Update: Monday he attended a private service at St. John's.)
Martin Luther King, Jr., whom we celebrate tomorrow, died before he could lead the Poor People's Campaign. Forty-five years later, poverty continues to flourish in our wealthy nation.
Dean of the Washington National Cathedral, the Very Rev. Gary Hall preached on Martin Luther King, Jr and opposing violence:
NPR reports on making a marriage work when only one spouse believes in God:
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech.
From "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution," the last Sunday sermon of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered at Washington National Cathedral, March 31, 1968, (which you can read and listen to, here.)
Poet Richard Blanco reading the inaugural poem:
The Rev. Luis Leon, rector of St John's Episcopal Church, Washington DC, who came to the US as a refugee from Guantanamo, Cuba, gives the benediction at the inauguration.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King has been made less challenging in death than he was in life, so we as a nation can pretend that we all recognized him as a prophet and supported his movement. Here are ten of this less frequently quoted remarks, that put some bite back into his criticism of our country's preoccupations.
Mark Silk, who keeps The Spiritual Politics blog writes: [L]ike King Cnut the Great (though perhaps less prepared to retreat before the inevitable), Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Catholic Diocese of Providence has commanded the [marriage equality] tide to halt at his feet. Contrariwise, Bishop Nicholas Knisely of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island has gladly chosen to go with the flow.
Tobin took his stand earlier this month on the Immutable Plan of Nature’s God.
As Justin Welby prepares to become Archbishop of Canterbury, Malcolm French, convenor of No Anglican Covenant Coalition offers his thoughts:
[D]mergent believes that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. predicted the Predicted the Decline of the Mainline Church. Perhaps the blog speaks to all churches as all are in decline as the "nones" become the largest faith group:
You may want to be remembered after you die but Seven Ponds raises the question of just what sort of impact you want to make:
Cornel West and Charles Pierce have had a lot to say as Barack Obama is installed for his second term. There is joy in some of the ideas put forth by the President and concern over the continued use of drones, the human rights record and the seeming coziness with opponents to the point of what looks like caving in to their demands when it is not necessary.
The New York Times introduces is latest "Room for Debate" segment, asking "Is Atheism a Religion?"
Josh O’Leary of the Iowa City Press-Citizen reports on worries that Trinity Episcopal Church will be shadowed by a proposed tower in downtown Iowa City:
Beatrice Marovich writes about "jellyfish time" in Religious Dispatches:
In a malpractice case involving a Colorado woman and her unborn twins, lawyers for a Catholic Hospital are arguing that the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.” From the Colorado Independent:
The Rhode Island State House is expected to pass a bill today that would legalize gay marriage, though the measure faces opposition in the Senate. The New York Times notes that Rhode Island is the "last holdout in New England" on this issue, and is "one of several states, including Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota and New Jersey, where supporters of gay marriage are trying to make legislative gains this year."
A Circuit Court judge in South Carolina has issued a temporary restraining order preventing those loyal to the Episcopal Church from using registered names and marks, such as diocesan names and seals, claimed by Mark Lawrence and his followers. Mary Frances Schjonberg of Episcopal News Service reports:
Mark Osler, who describes himself as an evangelical Christian, believes that arrogance on the part of the faithful is driving more and more people to identify themselves as "nones" who affiliate with no organized religion. Writing at Huffington Post, he says:
The Rhode Island State House has voted 52 to 19 to legalize same-sex marriage. The measure now moves to the Senate, where its fate is less certain. The Providence Journal reports:
We are all called to offer pastoral care to sick friends, loved ones and in our parishes, sometimes to folks we don't know well. It's important to be positive, not maudlin, and to consider what would really be most appreciated. Carepages.com offers some practical suggestions:
When Episcopalians from the 19 South Carolina parishes and six worship groups that have not followed their former bishop gather this weekend, they will have a lot of work to do: re-organize their diocese, elect a provisional bishop, and, it appears, adopt a name or at least a working title.
Mary Hunt, writing on Religion Dispatches, reflects on the elimination of the barrier to women serving in combat. She compares the move by the Pentagon with another institution that prevents women from serving in front-line roles--the Roman Catholic Church.
The Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple was elected on Friday, January 25, as Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, pending the required consents.
From the Diocese of North Carolina web-site:
Can one experience change us forever? On the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, this might be a question worth pondering.
Mike Hayes reflects on the dynamics of conversion on his blog "Googling God."
Derek Penwell, writing at Huffington Post, says many of the "nones" turn away from religion, at least Christianity, because of the apparent unwillingness of many Christians to live like Jesus. The question that should be keeping Christians up at night is "So what?"
A photo from the convention of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina - temporary name for the diocese and missing seal.
Diana Butler Bass writing in the Washington Post analyses the President's Inaugural Speech and concludes we are hearing someone articulate the new US religion:
The Episcopal Church in southern South Carolina has itself a bishop.
Gathered in convention in Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston, members of the diocese who chose not to depart from the church with former Bishop Mark Lawrence and his followers elected the Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg as their provisional bishop.
In this the season of Annual Meetings. Share your best experience of an annual meeting? What happened? How did it happen?
What was your worst annual meeting? What went awry? And here is an Episcopal Meme that is going around Facebook. Did your meeting seem like this?
At Huffington Post, Catherine Hochman probes the question, "Has science replaced religion?"
Hochman cites Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) as well as current figures Richard Dawkins (he of the polarization) and Matthew Alper. Of this last name,
The Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia adopted two resolutions on gun control:
R3 Revised-A: Response to Gun Violence
Adopted as amended; text pending final review.
From The New York Times:
Threatened by long-term declining participation in shooting sports, the firearms industry has poured millions of dollars into a broad campaign to ensure its future by getting guns into the hands of more, and younger, children.
There's a lot more. But just meditate on that sentence for a while before reading the rest.
The bishops of the Episcopal dioceses in Ohio have written a letter to the editor to all the newspapers in Ohio:
Katharine Gregg of the Providence Journal fills readers in on the politics behind the marriage equality debate in Rhode Island:
Updated at bottom with statement from Immigration Equality.
One day before President Barack Obama is to announce his plans for reforming the nation's immigration laws, a bipartisan package of reforms is gaining momentum on Capitol Hill.
Pete Williams of NBC News reports:
The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.
If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial -- one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.
“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization.
The Diocese of New Jersey will elect its bishop from a slate that is laudable for its diversity. They are the Rev. David Anderson of the Diocese of Connecticut; the Rev. Dr. Joan Beilstein of the Diocese of Washington; the Rev. Allen Robinson of the Diocese of Maryland; the Rev. Canon Melissa Skelton of the Diocese of Olympia; the Rev. Canon William "Chip" Stokes; the Reverend Martha Sylvia Ovalle Vásquez. Meet them here.
Bishop Suheil Dawani of the Diocese of Jerusalem has written an essay for the Anglican Communion News Service about the dire situation facing refugees from the civil war in Syria, especially women. He writes:
This funny and provocative essay by the blogger at Stuff Wayne Writes asks us to consider whether robots will one day do the job of rectors. It concludes:
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network issued this Press Release Monday January 28 reporting that the Diocese of North Carolina passed a resolution urging Executive Council action on Palestine/Israel church policy. Received via email:
The Rt. Rev. James Curry, bishop of Connecticut testifies before the CT legislature. He says in part:
While Christ Episcopal Church undergoes renovations First Baptist Church will host Episcopalians on Sundays and Wednesdays for four weeks and will allow wine during communion.
UPDATE: President of the House of Deputies Gay Jennings has issued a letter asking Episcopalians to contact their Senators and Representatives about support for immigration reform. (see below)
The Rt Rev Justin Welby gave a farewell speech to the Diocese of Durham as he leaves to become the Archbishop of Canterbury:
Public Religion Research Institute has issued a poll just in time for the big game: nearly 3-in-10 Americans say God plays a role in outcomes of sports events.
Jesus says to disciples in this verse:
"And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one."
The Rt. Rev. Dan Thomas Edwards, Bishop of Nevada, begins his recent blog post with three experiences of people returning to a parish they have been absent from. In all three cases, it's the last time they go back:
A little parish in East Sussex, England, has produced a hit with its recording of silence inside the church. From the Daily Mail:
A CD of the sounds of silence from inside a village church has sold out after becoming an unlikely hit.
The Rt. Rev. Justin Welby initially responded to the Crown Nominations Committee that it would be "a joke" to choose him as Archbishop of Canterbury. Obviously the committee disagreed. Church News reports:
The Rev. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John the Evangelist Church in Hingham, Mass., offers some insight about what it takes to grow a church, and he's a pretty credible source on this. In his three and a half years at St. John's, average Sunday attendance has increased 35 percent, pledging is up 50 percent, and the church has doubled the size of its staff. He blogs: