Saturday, January 22, 2011
By Jay Haug
Special to Virtueonline
January 20, 2011
Survey after survey confirms what most of us already know. Jesus Christ remains an extremely popular and engaging figure to most of the world, but his church is too often considered corrupt, old-fashioned and out of touch. When conversing outside committed evangelicalism, I often hear people lamenting the state of "organized religion," spoken as if the person had recently received food poisoning at a restaurant and vows never to return.
The secular media has an entire genre of cataloging church scandals, and exposing financial hucksters operating under religious auspices. Elmer Gantry has many modern versions that too often obscure talented and courageous clergy ministering faithfully through the years.
Years ago when Saturday Night Live was still funny, the "church lady" was a hilarious character played by Dana Carvey, conveyed with prim demeanor and just enough judgmental and erratic behavior to strike a chord with the audience.
But clearly, America's religious landscape is changing. In fact, it has already changed. A friend of mine who is serving a dying Episcopal congregation in the Northeast tells me that no less than four Roman Catholic churches in his smallish city are in the process of closing. Clergy talk there focuses on the rise of non-denominational mega-churches emerging to take the place of hundred and fifty year old congregations on the point of extinction.
Does it matter that many committed Christians lament the state of the church? And is it important that the church is in such disrepute in the culture? Some might consider it a badge of honor. But if so, what kind of churches should we be building?
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There could be sandwiches to spare in Dublin
by Ed Beavan of the Church Times UK
PITY the poor caterers. The next Primates’ Meeting starts in Dublin in four days’ time — and no one knows how many Primates will actually turn up.
At the end of last year, it was announced that ten Primates from the Global South intended to boycott the meeting, in protest at the inclusion of the US Primate after rows over gay bishops and same-sex blessings (News, 26 November).
The Church Times understands that this number might have risen to 14 out of the possible 37 Primates eligible to attend. (There is one vacancy.) The general secretary of the Anglican Communion Office (ACO), Canon Kenneth Kearon, believes, however, that those who stay away, “in protest after developments in the Episcopal Church” in the United States, will number “less than ten”. There might be other absentees because of health or visa issues, he said.
He admitted, however, that numbers would be unknown until the meeting began on Tuesday. “Given that most Primates make their own travel arrangements, and that plans can change at the last minute, it is impossible for anyone to say for certain how many Primates will travel to Dublin for the meeting.”
The ten Primates in the original boycott are understood to be those of Jerusalem & the Middle East, the Indian Ocean, South-East Asia, the Southern Cone, Rwanda, West Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, and Kenya. A Global South spokesman suggested that another four were likely to stay away. One of these, the Primate of Sudan, has other matters demanding his attention in the wake of his country’s referendum.
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The Rev. John Chol Daau cited in the article is a recent grad of my alma mater Trinity School for Ministry
On Sunday, millions of southern Sudanese began voting in a referendum for independence as required in the 2005 peace agreement with the Muslim-majority national government in Khartoum.
The high expectation could be seen in the faces of many and the excitement could be felt in the air as women sang and danced around a voting center in Nairobi, Kenya. Old age and sickness did not deter people from casting their ballot. Elizabeth Nyuon, 66, sat in the sun, patiently waiting to vote.
Thirty-year-old Jacob Akol traveled from the coastal city of Mombasa to Nairobi, Kenya, a distance of more than 290 miles, to vote in the South Sudan referendum.
He was at the polling center at Thika Road by the time the station was opening at 8 a.m. on Sunday. His reason for making that long journey: "I don't want future generations to live under the same terrible conditions that we have lived in!"
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This week I am enrolled in a missions course at Trinity School for Ministry in conjunction with my DMin program. It is good and refreshing to be on campus and to engage other Christian leaders and to see old friends. I learned today from a student that the Rev. Dr. Jay Geisler (DMin) is the new rector of St. Peter's Brentwood. On the face I am glad the people of St. Peter's have called their rector but I have mixed feelings about Jay and his recent manoeverings at his former parish, St Stephen's McKeesport. Last fall Jay through some very questionable manipulations ensured that neither the legally elected vestry nor the parish could actually vote on choosing to affiliate with either the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh or the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. Less than three months later he leaves St. Stephen's --- hope he sleeps well.
An article posted on the TEC website from St Michael's Ligonier seems to be an indicator of their and perhaps their rector's position on parish property issues between our two dioceses. Their rector, the Rev. Dr. James Simons (Dmin) is a member of the TEC Diocese of Pittsburgh's litigation team --- hope he sleeps well too.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
This looks like De Ja Vu all over again!
From The Layman
According to the Lutheran CORE (Coalition for Renewal), Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) leaders are proposing new rules that will make it harder for congregations to leave the denomination.
At its Nov. 12-14 meeting, the ELCA Church Council proposed amendments to the denomination’s constitution for consideration at the 2011 Churchwide Assembly.
The changes are proposed as nearly 300 congregations have completed current departure requirements, and another 140 congregations have begun the process. These congregations represent a loss of 200,000 ELCA members, according to the newsletter. As has been the case in the PCUSA, many congregations are departing due to the denomination’s theological drift away from the Bible – including new policies on same-sex marriage, gay ordination and teachings that contradict Scripture.
“How ironic that ELCA leadership is so committed to disregarding the Law of God on sexual ethics but so determined to use the law of humans to coerce congregations to remain in the ELCA,” said the Rev. Mark Chavez, director of Lutheran CORE.
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Friday, January 7, 2011
Received by email on January 7th from the Most Rev. Robert Wm. Duncan, Archbishop
Many of us have watched and read news reports about the attacks on Christians in Egypt and Nigeria as they gathered to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. We mourn the tragic loss of life inflicted by these heinous acts of violence. We stand in solidarity with our Anglican and Coptic brothers and sisters in the Middle East and Nigeria who regularly face religious persecution. While persecution is never welcome or pleasant, it is inevitable for those who seek to follow in the way of Jesus Christ. Jesus bids us to pick up our cross daily and follow after him and promises that we are blessed when we are persecuted for his name's sake.
In light of attacks on Christians in Egypt and Nigeria this Christmas and in Iraq this past October, I invite you to pray for Christians living in Southern Sudan this Sunday in your local parish. This Sunday (January 9, 2011) Christians living in Southern Sudan will be deciding whether to secede from the country of Sudan to form a new independent country. Many international observers expect that this referendum will result in a resurgence of violence in an area that has already faced Africa's longest civil war (more info).
Some 3 million Anglican Christians living in Southern Sudan are looking to us, their Anglican family in North America, to support them in prayer. Please join with me in praying for persecuted Christians in Southern Sudan and throughout the world this Sunday.
Almighty God, in these days of terrorism and persecution, strengthen Christian communities in Southern Sudan and throughout the world with your grace and comfort. May your Holy Spirit comfort the bereaved and heal the injured. And grant that the gospel message of love, forgiveness, and redemption would be proclaimed through word and deed. All this we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Faithfully your archbishop,
Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of participating in the funeral service of the Rev. Barbara Knotts. Barbara was a priest in our Diocese as well as the wife of the Rev. Larry Knotts who is the rector of Christ Church Greensburg where the service was held. Barbara and I were in some classes together in seminary and Larry and I have known each other for almost 20 years. Barbara waged a long battle with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) and went home to the Lord on New Years Day. The Church was full, there was a large choir, Archbishop Bob Duncan presided and preached and Bishop John Rodgers participated as well. Bishop Duncan preached a very moving sermon testifying to Barbara’s deep faith and stalwart courage in the midst of her valiant struggle.
Most of the rectors and a good number of non-parochial priests and deacons of our Diocese vested and processed. Four or five clergy from the TEC diocese were in the congregation which to me was encouraging and really not surprising given who they were. They did not go unnoticed by Archbishop Duncan as he acknowledged and thanked them for coming following the passing of the peace. Sadly two TEC clergy who had been quite close to Larry were noticeably absent. It could have been they were out of town, or involved in pressing parish, diocesan, or national church business and couldn’t tear themselves away. One of them, however, is an avid blogger and there were no lack of postings yesterday. Who knows why they didn't attend. Nevertheless, it was a sad day but a glorious celebration of life.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Pressing on, Apple now calls Christian belief "objectionable and potentially harmful"
Shockingly Apple has turned us down again, and we need you to act at once. Please call (408-996-1010) or email Steve Jobs (email@example.com) at Apple today and tell him of your displeasure.
As you know, on December 8 we re-filed the Manhattan Declaration iPhone app with nothing except the Declaration and the opportunity to sign showing support.
Apple rejected the app, saying in a letter on December 22 that the app contains "references or commentary about a religious, cultural or ethnic group that are defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to expose the targeted group to harm or violence will be rejected. We have evaluated the content of this application and consider its contents to be objectionable and potentially harmful to others."
What this means is that the teachings of the Bible itself are offensive, even dangerous.
That's why we need you to sign the petition for app reinstatement at ManhattanDeclaration.org and email or call Apple. We have to persevere until Apple relents. If we don't, it will mean that merely citing Scripture on some key moral issues is grounds for removal of apps and the limitation of speech entailed by that. This app is no more objectionable than any other app that includes the Bible or the Quran, or other religious texts that speak to moral issues. The result of this decision will be chilling to all faith groups.
Apple may be banking on the fact that people have short memories; that this issue will just go away after a few days. Your job and ours is to make sure this doesn't happen.
Please continue to show your support by contacting Apple, signing the petition to have the app re-instated (which now has over 47,000 signatures), and encouraging those who have not signed the Manhattan Declaration to do so.
Thank you for your support at this important time,
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Bishop Abraham Yel Nhial is a recent graduate of my alma mater Trinity School for Ministry
By Ngor Arol Garang
January 3, 2011 (ABYEI) - With less than a week before a referendum to go to decide whether southern Sudan will secede or remain part of a united Sudan, the Episcopal church of Sudan in Aweil Diocese on Monday called for the plebiscite to be conducted peacefully.
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In Orthodox Churches, Christmas Means Pierogies
by Deena Prichep, NPR
January 2, 2011
Many Americans are busy sweeping up tinsel, but Ukrainian, Russian and other Orthodox churches are preparing for Christmas this week. And at the Christmas Eve feast, most of the faithful will eat pierogies. These dumplings are traditionally prepared at home, but recently they've become something of a parish industry.
Myra Petrouchtchak sets up shop in the basement of St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Church, a small parish of about 50 people in Southeast Portland. She's sitting with a few dozen others, stuffing and shaping potato pierogies by hand — more than 2,000 pierogies. They've developed a following in the neighborhood.
"People come here and say that those pierogies remind them about their childhood," she says. "Not only Ukrainian people — some German people, Polish people. And it's like, 'Oh, my grandmother used to do that.'"
Petrouchtchak and her husband, the priest at this parish, started weekly pierogi sales when they came to the church five years ago. They've raised enough money to renovate the church basement.
But from the beginning, this was more than just a fundraiser.
"It was good for the parish as a community," says Petrouchtchak, "because many young women didn't know how to make pierogies or didn't have time to make pierogies at home. But here, all children can learn how to do it and carry on the tradition."
And lots of kids are helping. The older ones shape pierogies; the littlest ones carry trays from the kitchen. Andrea Roelofs is third-generation Ukrainian-American, and explains that while the kids learn about their Ukrainian heritage, the adults get something out of it, too.
"It's a great way to socialize," says Roelofs. "They come in and they're a little frustrated with something. By the time they leave, they're fine. It's cheaper than a psychologist."
Another thing about pierogies: They are delicious, especially topped with sour cream and caramelized onions. But as it turns out, the pierogies that these women make aren't totally traditional. Usually they'd be made with a bit of cottage cheese, but St. John's uses cheddar instead.
Parish member Maria Kamsha says the results might be a little too good: "My children will say, 'Mom, you know, your pierogies that you make at home, they are not quite that good as the ones that are at the church.'"
Kamsha is wistful about the change. While the exact recipe may have evolved, the heart of the tradition — friends and family coming together over pierogies — is not in any danger of dying out.
Monday, January 3, 2011
DIOCESE OF RECIFE: 363 CONFIRMATIONS IN 2010
The Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti, of the Recife Diocese welcomed through the Confirmation Rite, 363 converts in 2010, most of whom were formerly of no religion, merely nominal Christians, or members of folk religion. From 2006 to 2010 a total of 1.815 confirmations (2006: 313; 2007: 351; 2008: 381; 2009: 407; 2010: 363). The diocese has a membership of 5,102 in 47 congregations – Parishes, Mission Plants and Points – and has a presence in 9 Brazilian states, with 61 clergy and an ample network of social outreach ministries.
Since its expulsion from the Brazilian Anglican Province in Brazil (IEAB) 5 years ago, and under Primatial oversight from the Province of the Southern Cone of America, the Diocese of Recife has more than doubled its number of congregations, clergy and members. The Diocese, of an evangelical and charismatic ethos, will not be a part of a Province which refuses to repent of its doctrinal and moral heterodoxy, and which does not maintain the Apostolic Faith and the Resolutions of the Lambeth Conference. However, within the current realignment process, wherever possible the Diocese seeks to maintain links with the Anglican Communion, particularly with orthodox sectors.
Diocese do Recife – Comunhão Anglicana
Visite nossa página: http://www.dar.org.br
“Tua é, Senhor, a magnificência, e o poder, e a honra, e a vitória, e a
majestade; porque teu é tudo quanto há nos céus e na terra; teu é, Senhor,
o reino, e tu te exaltaste por cabeça sobre todos” (1Cr 29:11)
Hat tip: Anglican Mainstream