"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust." "All the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil." "Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest."
Shakespeare? The King James Bible? Close -- the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the liturgical and literary masterpiece that along with the playwright and the landmark Bible helped shape the English language, marks its 350th anniversary this year.
St. Paul's Cathedral in London celebrated the occasion on Wednesday (May 2) with a special service of evensong, or evening prayer, from the 1662 volume, often shortened to the BCP or Prayer Book. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was there, along with members of Prayer Book societies in Australia, Canada and the U.K. that are dedicated to keeping the work alive.
Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, announced this morning that he is resigning at the end of the year. After more than 20 years as bishop and then archbishop, Williams plans to return to academia at Cambridge University.
A Virginia judge has ordered seven congregations that broke from the Episcopal Church to return all property to the local diocese — from valuable land to sacred chalices — by April 30.
The Diocese of Virginia had wanted the properties returned by March 30, a week before Easter. But Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Randy Bellows agreed to give the breakaway congregations more time.
In a closely watched case that reached the Virginia Supreme Court, Bellows ruled in January that congregations had the right to leave the Diocese of Virginia, but not to take church property with them.
A conservative Brazilian bishop who broke away from his church over the consecration of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire was found murdered with his wife in the northeastern town of Olinda, according to the diocese.
Bishop Robinson Cavalcanti and his wife Miriam were found dead on Sunday (Feb. 26). Their adopted son, Eduardo, is a suspect in the stabbing deaths, church officials said.
Conservative Anglican media sites reported that Cavalcanti was returning from a parish visit.
Cavalcanti launched the breakaway Anglican Church -- Diocese of Recife after Bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated as the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.
The question now is whether these breakaway groups signal a seismic shift in American Protestantism, or just a few fissures in the theological terrain.
In some ways, the rifts are nothing new. American Protestants have been splintering since Roger Williams left Plymouth Colony in the 1630s, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University.
Yet the schisms counter a 20th-century trend in which ethnic and regional Protestant groups merged to form big-tent denominations such as the ELCA and PC(USA).
"What we may be experiencing at this point is the limit of that movement to draw a lot of diversity under one umbrella," said Ammerman, author of Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners.
The compelling story of the Global Christian Forum, shared with the more than 300 forum attendees (many of them new), was told in moving testimonies from Orthodox, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Catholic, and historic Protestant members of the forum's steering committee. ... It's remarkable to hear how an Egyptian surgeon became a Coptic Orthodox priest, or how a woman Anglican Bishop from New Zeland heard her calling to the priesthood as a teenager, long before her church ordained women. Story after story simply puts you in awe of God's grace.
The Global Christian Forum is the most exciting and promising ecumenical initiative I've participated in all my years of ministry. Its import can be summed up simply: This is the only place where the leadership of evangelical, Pentecostal, Catholic, historic Protestant and Orthodox churches -- which comprise all the major "families" of world Christianity -- are brought into sustained and intentional fellowship. In so doing, the Global Christian Forum is also responding to the dramatic shift of the center of Christianity from the North and West to the southern hemisphere.