Tag Archives: Episcopal

BRIEF: Church to host “Godly Play Taster”

By Tracy Simmons

On March 24 St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church will host a “Godly Play Taster.”

Sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane and Ministry of the Christ Child, the day-long program will learn about seasonal (Lent/Easter) Godly play stories as well as provide time to practice the featured stories in a safe and supportive environment.

Refreshments and lunch will be served with a donation basket on the table.

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Episcopalians release same-sex marriage rites

By Kevin Eckstrom
Religion News Service

Shutterstock PhotoAfter several years of study, the Episcopal Church has released a draft of what same-sex marriage rites would look like. An important caveat: these are just drafts, and it will likely be years before any final liturgy is approved for official use across the church.

Episcopalians in states that allow same-sex civil marriage (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland and others) already have the option to bless same-sex marriages but there is no formal churchwide liturgy. Same-sex commitment ceremonies are permitted elsewhere in the church at the discretion of the local bishop.

From the church’s Office of Public Affairs:

The report’s theological reflection notes that the SCLM [Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music] has reviewed more than 30 years of General Convention’s deliberation on same-gender couples, especially [a] resolution approved in 2000, that identified characteristics the Church expects of couples living in marriage and other lifelong committed relationships: “fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.”

“Such covenantal relationships can reflect God‘s own gracious covenant with us in Christ, manifest the fruits of the Spirit in holiness of life, and model for the whole community the love of neighbor in the practice of forgiveness and reconciliation,”  the report states.

The drafts will now be studied by bishops and lay/clergy delegates ahead of the church’s General Convention this summer. The General Convention in Indianapolis won’t be asked to formally approve them, and it looks like formal approval wouldn’t come until 2015, 2018 or even 2012, depending on whatever timeline the General Convention approves. Either way, the formal liturgies are not likely to be included in the Book of Common Prayer unless and until Episcopalians opt to formally revise it.

The draft rites are here, and the part that everyone’s curious about (from the traditional “I know pronounce you man and wife”) looks like this:

“Inasmuch as N. and N. have exchanged vows of love and fidelity in the presence of God and the Church, I now pronounce that they are bound to one another in a holy covenant, as long as they both shall live. Amen.”

And the vows:

In the name of God, I, N., give myself to you, N. I will support and care for you: enduring all things, bearing all things. I will hold and cherish you: in times of plenty, in times of want. I will honor and keep you: forsaking all others, as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow.

Vatican launches Catholic home for U.S. Episcopalians

By David Gibson
Religion News Service

American Episcopalians upset with their denomination’s acceptance of gay and female clergy can now convert to the Roman Catholic Church while keeping many cherished traditions in a special new U.S. diocese that was established on Sunday (Jan. 1) by Pope Benedict XVI.
    The Houston-based diocese, called the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, will allow a special Anglican-style Catholic Mass that can include sections from the Book of Common Prayer and other Anglican liturgies.
    This new structure grew out of a controversial 2009 effort by Pope Benedict to convince conservative Anglicans to align with Rome under an exemption that allows Anglican priests, laity, and even entire congregations to convert while keeping their prized music and prayers.
    Bishops who convert under the rite will be allowed to function as Catholic priests, but not as bishops. Married Anglican male priests will be able to remain married and serve as Catholic priests, though unmarried priests who join will not be able to marry later without renouncing their priesthood.
    The American ordinariate is only the second such jurisdiction established since Benedict launched the process; the first was set up a year ago in England, the birthplace of Anglicanism, and others are being considered for Canada and Australia.
    It is still unclear how much of a draw the new jurisdiction will be.
    So far, some 100 former Episcopal priests have applied to become Catholic priests in the U.S. ordinariate, and about 1,400 individuals — as well as six small congregations — have sought to join the Catholic Church under the new provision.
    After a year in existence, the ordinariate in England and Wales still counts only 1,000 former Anglican lay people and 60 former Anglican priests as members.
    Some Episcopalians in the U.S., like some Anglicans in other countries, have opted to affiliate with conservative Anglican bodies or breakaway traditionalist groups rather than becoming Catholics.
    The U.S. ordinariate will be led by the Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop of New Mexico and father of three who became a Catholic in 2007 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 2009.
    In a statement on Tuesday (Jan. 2), Steenson was enthusiastic about the new rite, but also cautioned that Episcopalians who join face “a steep learning curve” in trying to integrate under such a novel arrangement.
    “Pray that we may strive to learn the faith, laws, and culture of the Catholic Church with humility and good cheer,” Steenson said. “But pray too that we do not forget who we are and where we have come from, for we have been formed in the beautiful and noble Anglican tradition.”

Bishop Waggoner delivers Christmas message to community

By Blogger Sam Fletcher

Bishop James Waggoner, of the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane, sends Christmas message to Spokane community.

Meet Rev. Martin Elfert, our getting-to-know-God writer

Rev. Martin Elfert

The Rev. Martin Elfert is an immigrant to the Christian faith. After the birth of his first child, he began to wonder about the ways in which the Divine was at work in the world. Shortly thereafter, he joined Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC, where he and his new son were baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2005 and where the community encouraged him to seek ordination.

Elfert now serves as a pastor at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist . Through his writing he seeks to minister with, and to learn from, all those who hope to get to know God better, he said.

Elfert and his wife, Phoebe, have three children.

Websites: http://www.stjohns-cathedral.org, www.martinelfert.tumblr.com

Tuesday’s Religion News Roundup: The Last Testament; Episcopal abandonment; Western Wall

Just in time for the holidays, God has a new book out called the “The Last Testament,” as “revealed” to a Daily Show writer. The NYT calls it “pseudoquaint.”

Speaking of writers, the late David Foster Wallace reportedly flirted with joining the Catholic Church near the end of his life.

David Brooks has been reading about Augustine and says Republicans and Democrats remind him of the Donatists. “They were more interested in following their accepted doctrine than in looking at reality.”

Lisa Miller has been reading about the black church and says it may be the answer to the laggardly liberal movement’s prayers.

The Episcopal bishop of South Carolina has been cleared of charges that he “abandoned” the communion of Episcopal Church.

Read full post here.

Faith came first

By Blogger Bill Ellis

Rev. Bill Ellis

There is an old and trite joke – with many variations – which goes something like: “There are two types of people in the world, those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who don’t.”  Just for now I am with the former; I am going to divide the world, for the sake of argument, into two types of people.  One type says that the Bible is the basis of faith.  We read the stories of scripture, believe they are historically accurate, and because of that come to have faith in God.  For many people the nativity stories of Jesus found in Matthew and Luke function this way.  It is the historical truth of these stories which creates the intellectual framework for people to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah.

As we enter Advent and begin to prepare for the celebration of the Incarnation of Christ, and hear again those very important birth stories, I realize more and more that I just don’t see the relationship between scripture and faith in this way.  The historical relationship between scripture and faith is not that scripture is the presupposition of faith, it is that faith is the presupposition of scripture.   Long before there was any sacred literature whatsoever there were people who believed in God and told stories to illustrate that faith.  Over time those stories were put together in what became a single library of many books by people who already believed in God.   It wasn’t that these people believed because they put the Bible together, they put the Bible together because they believed.  That is true both with the Hebrew Bible, which we Christians call the Old Testament, and with the New Testament.  Without a living and powerful faith that was prior even to the earliest of Paul’s letters there would be no New Testament.  Only because people believed in the first place did they first create and then collect those stories and letters which became the New Testament.  For early believers the stories did help shape and inform faith, but they didn’t create faith.  Rather, faith created scripture.

That is how it is with me.  I don’t read the Bible in order to decide if these stories are plausible enough for me to have faith in God.  I read the Bible because I first have faith in God – that God is real and present – and then because I have faith I seek to understand this literature and what it is telling me about God, about us, and about the world in which we live.  What matters to me therefore is not whether or not the birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are history, nor do I care whether or not they can even be harmonized successfully. What I care about is what these stories say about God and the world. Matthew declares that in Christ the covenant God made with the Jews is universalized, it is now for everyone, all are chosen.  Luke says something different, but equally significant, that the presence and power of God is made known not in marching armies and royal palaces, but in a baby dispossessed so completely that his mother had to give birth to him in a stable.  Luke and Matthew didn’t hear those birth stories and then come to believe in the revelation of God in Christ.  The first believed in that revelation, and because they believed they wrote those stories.  So, the question for me at Christmas is not: “Are either or both of these stories history?”  The question for me is: “Are either or both of these stories true?”  Do they tell us the truth about where God is in this world and who God is for?  Though I don’t believe either story is history, I deeply believe both are true; they tell us where God is in this world and who God is for in this world.  Where people believe because they are convinced the Bible is history, historical research, critical studies and scientific advances will always be a lurking danger.  Where faith precedes scripture, and informs our reading of it, such things will always be a welcome sign of a growing understanding of God and God’s ways with people.