December 24, 2012
In the United Kingdom last month, Prime Minister David Cameron has appointed the Very Rev. Justin Welby to be the next archbishop of Canterbury. See www.telegraph.co.uk. Welby is currently the The Bishop of Durham, and will replace Dr. Rowan Williams, who has served for ten years. Welby has an interesting background, working in industry for many years. He says he supports the Church of England's opposition to same-sex marriage, but he promised to keep an open mind, and repeated his support for civil partnerships.
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori reacted to the appointment by saying she is "delighted to hear of Bishop Welby's appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury." episcopalchurch.org. Her opinion is crucial because of global tensions within the Anglican Communion over social issues. The Church of England recently voted against ordaining women as priests, something that was done in the U.S. branch of the faith 30-some years ago.
Last summer, the Episcopal Church authorized blessings for same-sex couples, a possible step toward holding marriage ceremonies. "At the General Convention in Indianapolis, 78 percent of laity and 76 percent of clergy in the House of Deputies voted to support the new liturgy Tuesday. The change went into effect on December 2, but ssage is restricted. A bishop's permission is required, and it may not be used in civil marriage ceremonies. See csmonitor.com, which quoted a leading Episcopal theologian, who is very dubious:
"It means the Episcopal Church is now separating itself that much more from the Anglican Communion," says Hood College historian David Hein, co-author of "The Episcopalians," a standard history of the church. "The American Episcopal Church is trying to set itself up as a separate denomination, although they would claim that they're not."
There is also a transition of church leadership in our diocese of southwestern Virginia. The Right Rev. Bishop Neff Powell announced early this year that he would retire in 2013. The diocese has been undertaking a search for a replacement. From dioswva.org, the four final candidates are:
And in local religious news, finally, a new priest has been selected to replace the Rev. Ed Covert, who retired as Rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church last month because of health problems. As of February 2013, the Rev. Shelby Ochs Owen will become the Priest in Charge. Shelby is well known to most of our members already, as she has served for the past few years as Associate Rector of Trinity Episcopal Church, which is located just two blocks from us. See emmanuelstaunton.org. (I'm the Web master.)