Episcopal Church

Image via Rev. Jeff Bunke / RNS

Orange isn’t a traditional liturgical color in the Episcopal Church.

But on Sunday, June 5, Episcopal clergy across the country are planning to wear orange stoles as a stand against gun violence, inspired by the Wear Orange campaign.

Anna Paulina Murray. Image via Carolina Digital Library and Archives / Yale / RNS

A new residential college at Yale University has been named for an Episcopal saint who was the first African-American woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest.

Anna Pauline Murray, known as “Pauli,” was also civil rights activist who helped shape the legal argument for the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling. She was the co-founder of the National Organization for Women and received an advanced law degree from Yale in 1965 and an honorary doctorate from Yale Divinity School in 1979.

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If we who are Christians participate in the political process and in the public discourse as we are called to do — the New Testament tells us that we are to participate in the life of the polis, in the life of our society — the principle on which Christians must vote is the principle, Does this look like love of neighbor? If it does, we do it; if it doesn’t, we don’t.

We evaluate candidates based on that. We evaluate public policy based on that. And that has nothing to do with whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, liberal or conservative. It has to do with if you say you’re a follower of Jesus, then you enter the public sphere based on the principle of love which is seeking the good and the welfare of the “other.” That’s a game-changer.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala. Image via Fredrick Nzwili / RNS

The Anglican Church in Kenya has become the latest province to announce it will boycott the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Zambia over the participation of the Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church was recently censured at a primates’ meeting in Canterbury, England, because of the American church’s willingness to ordain and marry LGBT people. According to the sanctions, the Episcopal Church cannot represent the communion at the April meeting or vote on doctrine and polity.

Joy Carroll Wallis 02-29-2016
a katz / Shutterstock

a katz / Shutterstock

THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION is a beloved, global, traditional, innovative, challenging, frustrating, and sometimes very confusing institution. A lot like families I know.

On Jan.14, a majority of the Anglican senior leaders voted that, for a period of three years, no one from the Episcopal Church’s 109 dioceses in the United States and 17 other countries may “[any] longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee, and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

This action came in response to a decision made by the Episcopal Church last July to remove its canonical language that confines marriage to unions between a man and a woman and authorizes two new marriage rites with language for use with same-sex or opposite-sex couples.

Yet the Anglican leaders also unanimously expressed their desire to “walk together in the grace and love of Christ” as this process unfolds.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry. Image via Jerome Socolovsky/RNS

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is describing the recent censure of his church over allowing clergy to perform same-sex marriages as a “fair” move by the wider Anglican Communion. Anglican primates voted last month in Canterbury, England, to remove the Episcopal Church from votes on doctrine and to ban it from representing the communion in ambassadorial relationships for three years.

Ryan Hammill 01-21-2016

Archbishop Justin Welby. Image via Mobilising Faith Communities in Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict/Wikimedia Commons

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, the “first-among-equals” leader of the world’s Anglican churches, has published his reflection on the 2016 Primates MeetingThe Jan. 11-15 meeting of the leaders, or primates, of the Anglican Communion ended with a three-year suspension of The Episcopal Church’s right to represent the Anglican Communion on interfaith or ecumenical bodies and vote on doctrine and polity because of The Episcopal Church’s unilateral decision to recognize same-sex marriage.

Archbishop Eliud Wabukala. Image via Fredrick Nzwili/RNS

Restoring the Bible to the heart of the Anglican Communion should be the goal of a meeting called this week by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby on how Anglicans should move forward, said the head of the Global Anglican Future Conference.

Welby’s meeting of Anglican leaders is planned for mid-January 2016 in Canterbury, England. It is being viewed as an attempt to heal the 80 million-member communion, which remains deeply wounded by disputes over homosexuality and women’s ordination in the global church.

GAFCON’s chairman, Archbishop Eliud Wabukala, the primate of Kenya, said the meeting was a recognition of the deep concerns of the faithful Anglican Church leaders in the world. GAFCON, started in 2008 in Jerusalem, says its aim is to restore the integrity of the Anglican faith and order.

Betsy Shirley 09-16-2015
Volt Collection / Shutterstock

Volt Collection / Shutterstock

In an interview that aired last week, Stephen Colbert — possibly the only Catholic whose popularity rivals Pope Francis himself — admitted that one of the times the Eucharist felt “most real” to him was when he attended an Anglican service and heard a woman consecrate the bread.

“The freshness of hearing a woman say that gave the message a universality that it always should have,” said Colbert.

Today, if you walk through the red doors of an Episcopal church on Sunday morning, the person presiding over the Eucharist might be female, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. But on Sept. 12, some of the first women ordained as Episcopal priests reminded the church: it hasn’t always been that way.

Forty years ago last week — before women were allowed to be priests — four women were "irregularly" ordained as Episcopal priests before the altar of St. Stephen and the Incarnation in Washington, D.C. Closely linked with the "irregular" ordination of eleven women in Philadelphia (the “Philadelphia Eleven”) the previous year, the ordination of the Washington Four — Lee McGee Street, Alison Palmer, Betty Powell, and Diane Tickell — is seen by many as a key step in securing women’s ordination in the Episcopal Church.

REUTERS / Jim Urquhart / RNS

Members sing at a church service during the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Salt Lake City on June 28, 2015. Photo courtesy of REUTERS / Jim Urquhart / RNS

By an overwhelming majority in both of its legislative houses, the Episcopal Church made history July 1 by making marriage for same-sex couples available throughout the church.

The actions on marriage equality came after decades of progress toward fully including LGBT Episcopalians in the work and witness of the church.

Tripp Hudgins 05-08-2015
iluistrator / Shutterstock.com

iluistrator / Shutterstock.com

When did you last think about the relationship between your community's worship practices and their missions? It's such a loaded conversation. What makes for "mission?” Why do we set the two practices — what we do in worship and what we do after — at odds with one another? Is it simple geography? One happens behind the ecclesial closed doors while the other is more public? I want to know when we lost the sense that our liturgies were public events rather than secret rites. But that's another post.

Gay Clark Jennings 05-06-2015
Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

Ikeita Cantu, left, and Carmen Guzman, of McLean, Va., hold signs in front of the Supreme Court. Photo via Adelle M. Banks / RNS

People who argue against marriage equality frequently do so for religious reasons, even if they cast their argument in secular terms. While I believe there are strong constitutional arguments for striking down bans on marriage equality, I support striking down these bans because of my faith, not in spite of it.

For too long, religious institutions have contributed to the scourge of homophobia that fuels the discrimination that this case seeks to strike down. Far too many of us are familiar with the discrimination, fear, and violence that gay and lesbian people have suffered while people of faith turned a blind eye or, worse yet, acted as perpetrators.

Rachel Held Evans. Image via Rachel Held Evans / RNS

Rachel Held Evans. Image via Rachel Held Evans / RNS

Rachel Held Evans has grown into a powerful voice in American Christianity, first as the author of Evolving in Monkey Town and later with the New York Times best-seller A Year of Biblical Womanhood. Those who follow her writings often note that her thinking has become increasingly progressive, especially on hot-button theological issues such as gender and sexuality. That shift culminated in her leaving evangelicalism for the Episcopal Church.

Next month, Evans will release Searching for Sunday: Loving, Leaving and Finding the Church, a book that oscillates between stinging critiques of American Christianity and prescriptions for how she believes believers can more faithfully participate in church life. In an interview with Religion News Service, she talked about the key to revitalizing the church and defended her exit from evangelicalism. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Q: You say that the way to stop the exodus of millennials from churches isn’t cosmetic changes like better music, sleeker logos, and more relevant programming. Why are these methods ineffective?

A: These aren’t inherently bad strategies, and some churches would be wise to employ them. But many church leaders make the mistake of thinking millennials are shallow consumers who are leaving church because they aren’t being entertained. I think our reasons for leaving church are more complicated, more related to social changes and deep questions of faith than worship style or image.

If you try to woo us back with skinny jeans and coffee shops, it may actually backfire. Millennials have finely tuned B.S. meters that can detect when someone’s just trying to sell us something. We’re not looking for a hipper Christianity. We’re looking for a truer Christianity.

Q: If these aren’t the answer, what is?

Kevin Eckstrom 03-04-2015
Photo via Paul Moseley / Star-Telegram / RNS

"The Call Of St. Andrew,” is at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, TX. Photo via Paul Moseley / Star-Telegram / RNS

For the second time in as many months, a state court has sided with a group of breakaway Episcopalians, ruling that they can keep their property after leaving the national church in 2008 over sharp differences on homosexuality and the authority of Scripture.

Judge John P. Chupp of the 141st District Court in Tarrant County, Texas, ruled March 2 that more than 60 parishes in greater Fort Worth can retain their property and remain independent of the Episcopal Church.

“We are grateful for the ruling in our favor,”said Bishop Jack Iker, the former Episcopal bishop of Fort Worth who’s now affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, which formed in 2009 as a rival to the Episcopal Church. “It’s clear that both church laws and Texas laws have been rightly applied to this dispute.”

While still a part of the Episcopal Church, Iker was a leader of the church’s small conservative wing that opposed the 2003 consecration of an openly gay bishop and blessings for same-sex unions. He’s also criticized the theology of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as unorthodox, and he refers women seeking ordination to a neighboring diocese.

Stanley Hauerwas. Photo © Duke University, Photography by Jim Wallace/RNS.

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas has declined a series of lectures he was scheduled to give at New York’s General Theological Seminary in November in the wake of the crisis roiling the school.

On Oct. 8, the Christian ethicist said he does not want to get in the middle of a controversy involving the resignations or firings of eight faculty.

Two weeks ago, the eight faculty members quit teaching classes and attending official seminary meetings or chapel services until they could sit down with the Board of Trustees.

Hauerwas, who is professor emeritus of divinity and law at Duke Divinity School, said he pulled out of the lecture series so he would not appear to take a side.

“I was looking forward to going because I’ve known of General for my whole academic life, but I had never been there. At one time, it represented a commitment to an Anglo-Catholic tradition with which I’m very sympathetic,” said Hauerwas, who attends an Episcopal church in Chapel Hill, N.C. “I think the situation is one of deep pathos; it’s just pathetic. I’m sorry that I’ve gotten caught in it.”

Tom Ehrich 10-07-2014

General Theological Seminary in New York. Photo courtesy of Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr/RNS.

General Theological Seminary’s campus in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan is everything you’d want in an urban seminary.

Handsome buildings, a chapel at the center, quiet walkways in a noisy city, calm places to read and pray. All serving a wonderfully diverse student body eager to minister in a changing world.

It’s like the best of historic church properties: harking back to a day of noble architecture and tradition and yet looking outward to a frenetic city and changing religious environment.

Why, then, is GTS on the verge of financial collapse and, now, paralyzing internal conflict? Its dean is under attack, 80 percent of its full-time faculty were dismissed, its board is floundering — all in the glare of press and blogosphere.

Why? For the same reason that historic churches and denominations are trapped in “train wrecks.” Their time has passed.

General Theological Seminary From the Highline in New York City. Photo courtesy of Eden, Janine and Jim via Flickr/RNS.

Several faculty members at the Episcopal Church’s oldest seminary are battling with the school’s leadership, although neither side agrees whether they quit, were fired or staged a walkout.

General Theological Seminary in Manhattan is the only seminary overseen by the national church. Last week, eight faculty decided to stop teaching classes, attending official seminary meetings or attending chapel services until they could sit down with the Board of Trustees.

The dean and president, Kurt Dunkle, wrote a letter to students saying the Board of Trustees’ accepted the eight faculty members’ resignations. But faculty member Andrew Irving wrote to students saying the professors never suggested they would resign.

“We wish to underline that we have not resigned,” Irving wrote, suggesting the group sought legal counsel. “Our letters did not say that we would resign. We requested meetings with the Board.”

The Rev. Ellen Tillotson, an Episcopal priest in Connecticut and a GTS board member, wrote that it has become clear that the eight faculty have been planning a walkout.

Katharine Jefferts Schori is seen here at her 2006 installation as bishop. Photo via Alex Dyer/Episcopal News Service/RNS.

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman elected to head a national branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, announced Sept. 23 that she will not seek a second nine-year term in office.

Her departure will likely set off debates over her legacy and the future of the 2 million-member denomination.

“I believe I can best serve this church by opening the door for other bishops to more freely discern their own vocation to this ministry,” Jefferts Schori, 60, said in a statement. “I will continue to engage us in becoming a more fully diverse church, spreading the gospel among all sorts and conditions of people, and wholeheartedly devoted to God’s vision of a healed and restored creation.”

Her 2006 election was celebrated as a breakthrough for women leadership in the church; delegates sported pink “It’s a Girl!” buttons after the vote. She remains the only female primate in the Anglican Communion, but last year the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America followed suit and elected its first female presiding bishop.

Jefferts Schori’s current term will end at the conclusion of the Episcopalians’ General Convention in Salt Lake City in June 2015. Church membership during her term has dropped by 12 percent, according to the most recent statistics available from the denomination.

Jefferts Schori’s time as presiding bishop has been lauded by theological liberals and bemoaned by conservatives, but both breakaway Anglicans and Jefferts Schori were instrumental to one another’s rise.

Giovanni Maria Vian, editor of L’Osservatore Romano since 2007. Creative Commons image by Premiosciacca.

The Church of England’s vote to allow female bishops threatens unity with the Catholic Church, according to the editor of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Giovanni Maria Vian, who is also a Rome historian, on Tuesday said the decision would have “an extremely negative impact” on steps to bring the churches closer together despite a positive meeting between Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis a month ago.

“Clearly it’s a decision that complicates the ecumenical path,” Vian said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa published on Tuesday. “The problem is not only with Rome but also with Orthodox Churches, and that the Anglican Church is itself divided on the issue.”

After nearly 20 years of debate, the Church of England’s General Synod voted Monday to permit women priests to be ordained as bishops, overturning centuries of tradition in a church that has been deeply divided over the issue.