Friday, January 15, 2021

392,349 Total US Coronavirus deaths

 




Where do we stand?

 


“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. —Strength to Love, 1963

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Church Times (UK): US Bishops call for Trump's removal

 


US bishops call for Trump’s removal

13 JANUARY 2021

PA

A window damaged during the storming of the Capitol building, left unrepaired on Tuesday

THE Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, has called for the immediate removal of President Trump from office after the President’s public comments — widely regarded as incitement — before and during a violent attack on the Capitol. Five people died (CommentNews, 7 January).

After repeatedly alleging that the election had been “stolen”, President Trump told a crowd rallying south of the White House to “walk down to the Capitol,” and said: “You will never take back our country with weakness.”

Bishop Curry added his name to an open letter from church leaders in the United States to Vice-President Mike Pence, urging him to remove the President at once.

Their letter reads: “For the good of the nation, so that we might end the current horror and prepare the way for binding up the nation’s wounds, we, as leaders of the member communions of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA, believe the time has come for the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, to resign his position immediately. If he is unwilling to resign, we urge you to exercise the options provided by our democratic system.”

Bishop Curry had described the violence as a coup attempt. In a video message to the Episcopal Church, he urged people to choose community over chaos. “In the moment of a national crisis, a moment of great danger . . . a people must decide, ‘Who shall we be?’” he said.

On Wednesday, as expected, Vice-President Pence rejected demands to enact the 25th Amendment, which would have removed the President immediately. The House of Representatives, however, later voted for an unprecedented second time on a motion to impeach President Trump. The vote was carried, as predicted, and the Senate is to hold a trial to determine his guilt. Impeachment would block Mr Trump from running for office ever again.

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Some of those who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday of last week held signs reading “Jesus Saves” and “Jesus 2020”. Some were there to join an event dubbed the “Jericho march”: a gathering of Christians to rally for “election integrity”.

Mr Trump took the presidency in 2016 with up to 80 per cent of the white Evangelical vote, a figure that fell by just a few percentage points in November’s election.

Some of the Christian leaders who had questioned the legality of the November election distanced themselves from the President after the violence last week. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham and a former supporter of President Trump, posting on Twitter, called on “Christians to unite our hearts together in prayer for President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris, and for the leadership in both parties.”

But other pastors who backed Trump were supportive in their Sunday sermons. Pastor Brian Gibson, of HIS Church in Kentucky, blamed others, including the left-wing Antifa movement, for the violence.

He told his congregation: “So now I know some, some bad actors went in, and I believe potentially there were Antifa up there. I think more and more I know there were Antifa up there, insiders up there that started that action.”

Pastor Tim Remington in Idaho, from the Altar church, called on “the army of the Lord” to be ready. “The next two weeks are probably the most important two weeks in the history of America,” he told his congregation. Others referred to freedom of speech and the First Amendment, including the President’s spiritual counsellor Paula White-Cain.

President Trump has now been banned permanently from Twitter, which referred to the “risk of further incitement of violence”; and he was suspended from Facebook and Instagram indefinitely. YouTube has also suspended President Trump’s channel.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Virginia, General seminaries pursue joint venture to foster deeper collaboration

 

Virginia, General seminaries pursue joint venture to foster deeper collaboration

By David Paulsen
Posted 2 hours ago

[Episcopal News Service] The Episcopal Church’s two oldest and largest seminaries, Virginia Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary, announced Jan. 13 that they had reached an agreement to begin “the process of exploring partnership options” that could include shared faculty and “collaborative governance” while maintaining two distinct institutions.

“Purposefully walking together in as many ways as possible is our goal going forward,” the chairs of the two seminaries’ boards, David Charlton at VTS and Atlanta Bishop Robert Wright at General, said in a joint written statement. “We both put service to the church at the top of both of our missions.”

General Theological Seminary is located in New York, and Virginia Theological Seminary is in Alexandria, Virginia.

The details and extent of this partnership are still under consideration. The seminaries underscored that their growing collaboration is not a merger. “This is an imaginative and innovative model of cooperation in a shared venture,” the seminaries said in a list of talking points about their discernment process.

General Theological Seminary in New York was founded in 1817. VTS, founded in 1823, is located in Alexandria, Virginia. The boards of the two seminaries met Jan. 8, and each voted to begin a process of review, starting with the seminaries’ legal and financial positions and then seeking opportunities for “shared programming and some form of collaborative governance.”

The seminaries, in pursuing “shared leadership,” say they envision “a model that safeguards seminary identities and safeguards the assets and endowments of each institution.” Seminarians still will receive degrees from either VTS or General.

“The ultimate goal is two stronger institutions, with more faculty, more students, and more opportunities to create program that makes a real difference for the work of The Episcopal Church within the world,” the seminaries said. “Working together will enable the two seminaries to do more than they can separately.”

This partnership will build on the seminaries’ experience of working together on the TryTank Experimental Lab, a joint project founded in 2019 to develop new approaches to church growth and innovation.

“We have a lot more in common, which is serving the church and serving Christ in this world,” the Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija, TryTank’s director, said in an interview with Episcopal News Service after the announcement. He graduated from General in 2014 and now is attending VTS for his doctorate.

A deeper partnership between the seminaries “opens up more possibilities for the future, and that’s really what this is about,” Lebrija said. There eventually may be some cost savings, he said, but with both seminaries financially sound, that wasn’t the primary motivation. “What do we do together that we couldn’t do by ourselves?”

To answer that question, the review of the seminaries’ operations and development of a collaborative framework is expected to continue through November, followed by decisions on how to move forward together.

“I am encouraged to hear that these two seminaries are exploring creative possibilities for how to more faithfully, effectively and strategically form leaders for the movement of Jesus Christ, through the Church, for the sake of the 21st century world,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in the seminaries’ news release. “This is the crucial question. All other issues of practicalities and logistics must fall under the primary question of what serves our participation in the mission of God as followers of Jesus of Nazareth and his way of love and life.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.