Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of Ethiopians made a pilgrimage to Liverpool to mark a 2,000-year-old festival.

Followers of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church descended on Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral to honour the Timkat tradition.

The festival celebrates Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan with a 24-hour spectacular of singing, chanting and prayer.

One of the highlights of the celebration is the parading of the Tabot – replicas of the tablet of stone on which the 10 commandments were inscribed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryAfricaEthiopia

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Not surprisingly, a mild sense of panic leaks out of all the reports. I imagined Archbishops standing in the road shouting: "The car is stuck in a ditch! Quick! Grab the tools nearest to hand and get it out!" But, the more I read, the more I worried that the hard questions that needed to be asked had been sidelined: why the vehicle fell into the ditch; whether it needed a different engine and new running gear; and whether it was going in the right direction in the first place.

The failure to get to grips with the terrain is particularly apparent. It is said of the society of which the Church is part that it is a "secularised, materialistic culture, often experienced as a desert for the soul", "built on the . . . presumption that I get to make my life up". This is a troublingly paranoid and unevidenced projection, and it urgently needs to be married to the existing research on cultural values, social change, and the reasons for church decline which could inform it.

As for the nature of the Church, and the priorities for its recovery, it is simply assumed that the improvement depends on more and better clergy; that only congregations can fund it (with a fillip from the Commissioners); and that being a Christian is a matter of "discipleship".

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Theology

7 Comments
Posted January 23, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Also, as Ian Dowbiggin showed in “A Merciful End: The Euthanasia Movement in Modern America” (2003), physician-assisted suicide was periodically championed in the 20th century yet rejected time after time by American voters when its practical harms were comprehended. As recently as 2012, Massachusetts voters defeated an initiative to legalize assisted suicide.

There are two essential harms from the practice. First: Once doctors agree to assist a person’s suicide, ultimately they find it difficult to reject anyone who seeks their services. The killing of patients by doctors spreads to encompass many treatable but mentally troubled individuals, as seen today in the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.

Second: When a “right to die” becomes settled law, soon the right translates into a duty. That was the message sent by Oregon, which legalized assisted suicide in 1994, when the state-sponsored health plan in 2008 denied recommended but costly cancer treatments and offered instead to pay for less-expensive suicide drugs.

Read it all from Paul McHugh.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife Ethics* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMedia* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Courage...is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry.... If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go make shoes to fit them. Go even and paint pictures you know are bad but will suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all of your life preaching sermons which shall not say what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous. Be independent.

----Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, the 1877 Yale Lectures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 59

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A handful of other congregations, including All Saints Anglican Church in Charlotte, NC, Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Raleigh, NC and Saint John’s Anglican Church of Americus, GA have also announced building plans. This summer All Saints’ Anglican Church in Springfield, MO and All Saints’ Anglican Church in Peachtree City, GA, completed and consecrated new church buildings.

The churches range from a modest colonial-revival brick building in the case of Restoration to a 30,000-square-foot gothic structure built for the congregation of St. Peter’s.

In addition to making the churches more visible in their communities and accommodating growth in the size of congregations, the new structures are allowing for new programs and events. St. Peter’s is partnering with Trinity School for Ministry to offer theological education far from the seminary’s Ambridge, Pennsylvania campus. Other congregations plan to use their news space for conferences, or to begin hosting programs such as Vacation Bible School which were impractical or not possible in leased spaces.

“Our new church is just the beginning of what we hope to build,” explained Fr. Andrew Rowell, associate rector of St. Peter’s Anglican Church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market

3 Comments
Posted January 22, 2015 at 11:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

n his Preface, the Bishop of Coventry notes that that the report is offered as a resource for theological reflection that can "inform the improvisations the church will continue to require in its practice of leadership and anchor them in faithfulness to the gospel…. How do the dynamics of Church life and leadership in the New Testament apply to the Church today? How might we draw faithfully and creatively on the rich traditions of the church over two millennia around authority, responsibility and service? How can we talk constructively about ambition in church life and deal with the realities of disappointment and the experience of failure? These are not just issues for those who exercise senior leadership in the Church of England. We hope this report can contribute to fostering serious thought and prayer about them."

Professor Loveday Alexander, one of the members of the Faith and Order Commission, comments: "What we are offering, as a gift to the Church and as the result of many years of collective reflection, is a theological contribution to practical thinking about leadership development in the Church. We have tried to set out some of the deep spiritual roots of the Church's understanding of what it means to exercise leadership within the body of Christ."

Read it all and note the whole report is there.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Much of England is experiencing economic crisis. Our economy appears to be, in one sense, a tale of two cities – one being a growing and constantly improving London (and the south-east generally), and the other being most, but not all, other cities, alike in that they are each trapped in apparently inevitable decline.

Of course, London has many economic problems of its own. While on a national level entire cities are being cast aside and left to their own devices, one cannot walk the streets of London for long before realising that this national trend is happening at an individual level in this massive city. There is poverty around the corner from every multimillion and multibillion pound industry – individuals and families similarly trapped in apparently inescapable circles of despair.

This sketch of our current plight will not come as news to many. It is the reality we experience and see on a daily basis. And I believe that many of the prescribed remedies that so often accompany this diagnosis are deeply flawed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town LifeUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The story of the wise men and their star-led quest represents the religious and spiritual quest of the entire human race. Reason's star led them to Jerusalem, in quest of a new born King of the Jews; the Scriptures' revelation sent them to Bethlehem, where the star confirmed the scripture and stood over the place where the young child lay: the only begotten son of the Father, the full and final revelation of God's glory, incarnate of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, now manifested to the Gentiles as the only mediator of God and men, the Saviour of the world.

Let us be clear: at the heart of the Magi's journey is a claim offensive to many: not just Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus; but even, or especially, to many Christians and post-Christians, atheists, and skeptics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus expect to disagree with Christians, as they do with one another. It is the Christians and post-Christians who are embarrassed and offended by the claim that Jesus is the only Mediator of God and men (1 Timothy 2:5), the Saviour of the world.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

However, the dean of Duke Divinity School, Richard Hays, raised concerns about the use of the chapel for the Muslim call to prayer if it’s seen as a Christian church (given its history and iconography), rather than a neutral space on campus.

“There are serious questions...about the wisdom and propriety of allowing Duke chapel to be used for this purpose,” he said in a statement. “Despite some common beliefs and traditions, Christianity and Islam stand in significant theological tension with one another.”

Durham resident and author Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove wrote that while he was “glad Duke Chapel hosts a vibrant Christian congregation,” he did not see the space as holy ground.

“The Dukes are buried in the crypt, not saints. Robert E. Lee's statue is in the entryway. Muslim prayers would not desecrate ground marked by the blood of Christian martyrs,” he wrote. “It would, instead, be an act of hospitality to hallow a messy place.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

8 Comments
Posted January 21, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop [Kevin] Rhoades served as the main celebrant for the Vespers, asking that “the Lord bless us and the Church, that we may be united in our Baptism as brothers and sisters in Christ.” He acknowledged that true unity is only possible through the work of God. “By our own efforts, our own works, we cannot achieve peace. It is only through the gifts of the Holy Spirit that this will be possible; that is why we are here this evening.”

Throughout the service, cantor Alicia Nagy from St. Matthew Parish led Psalms and hymns of praise, in the hope of unity. A combined choir from St. Matthew and the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. James accompanied Nagy.

Bishop [Ed] Little offered the sermon for the event, first acknowledging both his gratitude to Bishop Rhoades and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend for their hospitality and graciousness.

He exclaimed that “acknowledging this friendship provides a sound foundation to remind us that we come together in prayer so that the Lord will make us one. It also signifies that we have unfinished business, specifically to welcome one another as Christ has welcomed each of us — and to do so for the greater glory of God.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

2 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday (Jan. 15), just as the civil rights drama “Selma” was nominated for best picture in the Oscar race, one fact of American life was little changed.

Sunday morning remains, as King once observed, the most segregated hour in America. And, against a backdrop of increased racial tensions, new research shows that most Americans are OK with that.

Two in three (66 percent) Americans have never regularly attended a place of worship where they were an ethnic minority, according to new polling analysis released by LifeWay Research.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Filed under: * By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEpiphanyParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can find the speakers brief bios here and the conference schedule there and the vision for the gathering here. You all know enough about a conference like this to know that there is much more to it than simply the presentations. Please pray for the speakers travel and ministry here (a number are serving in Sunday worship after the conference locally), the time to develop new friendships and renew old ones, for the Bishop and his wife Allison in their hosting capacity, and especially for the the Rev. Jeffrey Miller of Beaufort and his assisting staff, who has the huge responsibility of coordinating it all--KSH.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* South Carolina* TheologyApologeticsSeminary / Theological Education

7 Comments
Posted January 20, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve done so much out of respect and admiration for, in celebration and in honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that I wonder if these expressions are just that— words left hanging on calendars and parade routes, on school buildings, city streets and expressways, in libraries and museums, in filled rooms with empty people.

I am afraid that we are content with the sound of his words, that we like the way that they make us feel and perhaps, appear to others, that they are consumed but not digested, preached but not practiced, repeated but not remembered. We lick our fingers and then close our mouths satisfied. We push away from the table full of ourselves. Having done none of his work, we take the credit.

We have forgotten that he was a Baptist minister, a pastor, a shepherd while his flock was a nation. We have forgotten that he was not really fighting for civil rights but declaring the truths of the kingdom of God on earth, the message lost in politics, propaganda and people- pleasing. We have forgotten that he was only reminding us of what God says about all of us, that we are created equally—no one human being or culture having more time with the hands of God than the other. His message cannot be reduced to a march, a dream or a stamp. It is we who still need to be moved though we don’t want to be stirred or sent anywhere should it bring discomfort.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 19, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As [Ralph] Abernathy tells it–and I believe he is right–he and King were first of all Christians, then Southerners, and then blacks living under an oppressive segregationist regime. King of course came from the black bourgeoisie of Atlanta in which his father, “Daddy King,” had succeeded in establishing himself as a king. Abernathy came from much more modest circumstances, but he was proud of his heritage and, as he writes, wanted nothing more than that whites would address his father as Mr. Abernathy. He and Martin loved the South, and envisioned its coming into its own once the sin of segregation had been expunged.

“Years later,” Abernathy writes that, “after the civil rights movement had peaked and I had taken over [after Martin’s death] as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,” he met with Governor George Wallace. “Governor Wallace, by then restricted to a wheel chair after having been paralyzed by a would-be assassin’s bullet, shook hands with me and welcomed me to the State of Alabama. I smiled, realizing that he had forgotten all about Montgomery and Birmingham, and particularly Selma. ‘This is not my first visit,’ I said. ‘I was born in Alabama–in Marengo County.’ ‘Good,’ said Governor Wallace, ‘then welcome back.’ I really believe he meant it. In his later years he had become one of the greatest friends the blacks had ever had in Montgomery. Where once he had stood in the doorway and barred federal marshals from entering, he now made certain that our people were first in line for jobs, new schools, and other benefits of state government.” Abernathy concludes, “It was a time for reconciliations.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryMediaRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years ago, the Smithsonian Institution acquired a conceptual work by Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar that reflects on the funeral of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. The piece — titled “Life Magazine, April 19, 1968” — is one of Jaar’s lesser-known works, produced when he was culling through the archives of the iconic magazine.

Alongside a reproduction of a photo of King’s funeral that ran in “Life,” Jaar graphically lays bare the nation’s racial divisions at the time of the civil rights leader’s death. In one frame, Jaar represents all of the African Americans at the funeral march with black dots. In a second frame, he shows the white people present as red dots. There are thousands of black dots and only a few dozen red ones.

Jaar produced the work in 1995, but until recently it has not been exhibited. “There was no interest in showing this kind of stuff at that time,” the artist, whose work focuses on the politics of images, said in a phone interview Thursday.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race Relations* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted January 19, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



You can find the full text here.

I find it always is really worth the time to read and ponder it all on this day--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 19, 2015 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many of you who read my editorials are pastors of a local church as I am. Imagine this scenario. One hundred of your most committed and loyal members write you a letter. You know they love your church. Most of them have been members for decades. They serve faithfully in your congregation’s ministries and they give generously. Their letter states they are deeply concerned about a matter they believe is endangering the health of the church they love and they hope you will act to address it.

How would you respond? Would you ask to meet with them and hear them out? I know I would. Maybe you would decide to sit down with a few of their leaders and ask them to speak for the group. Short of that, would you send a letter of your own, thanking those who wrote for sharing their concerns? If not inclined to go that far, would you at least in some way acknowledge that you had received their letter? I mean, you would respond, right? Even if you did not agree with their concerns, as a leader you would feel it important to respond to your members who took the time to write, wouldn’t you? And if not as a leader, then wouldn’t simple politeness require you to make some kind of reply to your brothers and sisters in Christ?

What if you did nothing? What would you expect those 100 members to do? Would you expect them to continue to look to you for leadership? Listen to your sermons, telling them how we Christians should treat each other? Pay your salary?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 18, 2015 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In October, Seacoast’s Mount Pleasant Campus pastor took the stage to tell its 14,000 weekend attendees that he felt God calling the church to alleviate, even end, the local foster care crisis.

A few weeks later, 550 church members showed up for two interest meetings to learn more. An orientation meeting drew nearly 100 serious about becoming foster parents, almost as many people as licensed foster homes existing in Charleston County today.

Next week, the first series of foster parents licensing classes is full with 20 couples.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some people have obvious activities to chop. If you're surfing the web for four hours a day or spending your weekends in a casino, you know what needs to be done. But I'd wager most of us have more difficult decisions to make. Streamlining our schedules and keeping our sanity involves continually choosing the best from among the merely good.

In my interview with Bill Hybels from the Spring issue of Leadership, I asked him what changes he'd made to simplify his life. He talked about scheduling. "I know that sounds like such a boring subject," he said, "but sitting down before God with a calendar and a submitted spirit is one of the holiest things you can do."

That's good advice. I don't think following it will magically make our lives simple. If we wanted simple, we wouldn't have chosen ministry. But bringing our complicated lives before God and submitting every detail to his will—that's a pretty good place to start.

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 18, 2015 at 1:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sources confirmed today that the brainwashed morons at First Baptist Assembly of Christ, all of whom blindly accept whatever simplistic fairy tales are fed to them, volunteer each Wednesday night to provide meals to impoverished members of the community. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in town who have fallen on hard times and are unable to afford to put food on the table, so we try to help out as best we can,” said 48-year-old Kerri Bellamy, one of the mindless sheep who adheres to a backward ideology and is incapable of thinking for herself, while spooning out homemade shepherd’s pie to a line of poor and homeless individuals.

Read it all from the Onion.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionPovertyReligion & Culture* General InterestHumor / Trivia

0 Comments
Posted January 18, 2015 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For busy pastors who want to get better educated about Islamist extremism, Martin Amis's 2008 book, The Second Plane, September 11: 2001-2007 (Jonathan Cape, 208 pages), is most helpful.

It is a collection of 14 pieces, two short stories and 12 essays and reviews. Mr Amis, who describes himself as an agnostic, is a gifted teacher. He provides useful facts about the rise of Islamist extremism in the 20th century in the course of his stimulating and lively discourses.

Terror and Boredom: The Dependent Mind, originally published in The Observer in 2006, is particularly useful for frontline clergy who want to be able to answer people's questions about Islamism and the mentality underlying it. It cannot of course substitute for a pastor's own thinking and theological reflection but it is a useful mental pump-primer

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 17, 2015 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Heather] Cook and [Mark] Hansen attended General Theological Seminary in New York at the same time in the 1980s, according to the school's website, and Hansen participated in Cook's consecration ceremony last September.

Hansen, who lives in Millington on Maryland's Eastern Shore, is a lay pastor at St. Clement's Episcopal Church in Kent County. He is also executive director of the St. Paul's Cathedral Trust in America, a nonprofit that supports the London cathedral.

Cook, who served on the Eastern Shore for 10 years, is listed on the St. Paul's Cathedral Trust website as a donor who gave more than $1,000.

A spokeswoman for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland described Hansen as a friend of Cook's. Spokeswoman Sharon Tillman said the church was not involved in the bail payment but was "grateful that she'll now be able to resume treatment."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

12 Comments
Posted January 17, 2015 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Of all the Task Group reports being published this week it is perhaps Resourcing the Future which is least easy to understand from its title. So let me explain what it is about and how we reached our recommendations.

We started with all the research findings contained in the Anecdote to Evidence book published a year ago. That pointed to a declining and ageing Church of England population. Projecting the findings forward made us see the real threat to the presence of our Church, not only in every community but in large parts of rural and urban England.

Each of us has a personal Christian mission to help the Word of the Risen Christ reach out. In other words, we need to change this trend and start securing growth – not just in some places as at present, but with a more uniform pattern across the country.

And we had a long hard debate about what we mean by growth.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture

1 Comments
Posted January 17, 2015 at 10:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since the late 1960s overall church attendance in Britain has dropped steadily, along with adherence to the Christian faith. The proportion of people calling themselves Anglican fell from 40% in 1983 to 20% in 2012. But in pockets, mostly in London and the south-east, churches are thriving. Much of the energy has come from large African Pentecostal churches and from an influx of Roman Catholic immigrants from Eastern Europe. But there is growth in the Church of England, too. Most of this comes from “church plants”, based on a model imported from America in which a group of people move from a thriving, often evangelical, church to an ailing one, and turn it around.

Several big London churches, such as Holy Trinity Brompton (where the popular Alpha course started) and St Helen’s Bishopsgate, have been planting churches in the capital for decades. More recently Holy Trinity Brompton has started to reach farther afield. It was behind the plant to St Peter’s and has also sent people from its London congregation to Norwich and Bournemouth. Some members of the St Peter’s congregation have in turn set up another plant in Hastings.

Most church planters explain that they felt called by God to move. But more mundane things drive them, too. Being part of a team under an entrepreneurial leader is exciting; their friends may also be relocating.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Theology

15 Comments
Posted January 17, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For [the] Rev. Jason Catania, Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, is a blessing.

"I still remember the day in the fall of 2009 when it came to be. I couldn't believe it," said Catania, an American Ordinariate priest.

This was Pope Benedict's response to Anglicans requesting to join the Catholic Church — to come into communion with Rome yet retain much of their Anglican patrimony.

The Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus ("groups" of Anglicans), establishes a new structure within the church. It allows Anglicans who become Catholics to keep their spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions.

"This is something that was dear to the (former) pope's heart. It is a novel opportunity, to allow Anglicans to retain their own identity and still be full members of the Catholic Church," said Catania.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 17, 2015 at 9:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In addition to personal hurt, the baggage accumulated here, again, might result in the “baby” of holiness getting thrown out with the “bathwater” of legalism. If the ex-fundamentalist does not become a New Atheist — the inverted modernist equivalent of the rationalizing fundamentalist — he might drift in the Anglican direction. Here he will decide whether to let John Spong usher him through the dusty halls of a bygone Protestant liberalism back towards Dawkins et. al. or, via the “Canterbury Trail,” he will head towards the more romantic tradition of Anglo-Catholicism. The temptation then is to construct an Anglican identity that is more concerned with “not being fundamentalist” than with being Christian. So ex-fundamentalists are largely reacting against pride and legalism, while ex-evangelicals are reacting against the spiritual emptiness of faddish evangelicalism. But, of course, there are degrees of mixture between the two.

In closing, I want to say that although this new generation of Canterbury Trail Anglicans has a lot to offer the Anglican and Episcopal churches which we now inhabit — especially in our greater desire for unity than many a Boomer who busies himself with ecclesial marketing, lawsuits, or even doctrinal and moral “purity” — we also carry a lot of baggage. Not having “stayed put” in those places where we originally received the faith, we struggle here too in this Anglican place to practice what we have come to preach. Here we counsel the local “cradle” Anglican evangelical not to throw overboard the riches of the tradition in order to fill the pews. But we also need to be reminded that without mission, evangelism, and, yes, conversion, the tradition simply becomes liturgical histrionics, much to the annoyance of the local Anglican evangelical. Finally, the new Canterbury Trail Anglicans need to be more than “not fundamentalists” or “not-Southern-Baptists.” Not only would such an attitude contradict the ecumenical spirit, not only does this tempt us to throw out the legitimate orthodoxies held by those we react against, but, contrary to the spirit of humility, it also tempts us to “via media” pride, as if we somehow have got it all together. Truth, humility, and unity are a package.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Identity* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.CanadaEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological EducationSoteriology

0 Comments
Posted January 16, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We didn't question a Baltimore district court judge when she said she couldn't trust Heather Cook's judgment if released from jail pending trial. After all, the Episcopal bishop is charged with being a repeat drunk driver who recklessly took the life of a bicyclist on Roland Avenue last month, then left the scene. But we do wonder why Judge Nicole Pastore Klein allowed Bishop Cook bail at all, even one as high as $2.5 million. Does Ms. Cook suddenly become trustworthy if she wins the lottery?

Judge Klein took a gamble on the public's behalf and lost. Bishop Cook, whose attorney earlier in the week said she couldn't afford release, posted bail today through Fred Frank Bail Bonds, according to court records.

The scenario underscores why a recommendation submitted last month to legislative leaders proposing that the state's asset-based bail system be "completely eliminated" should be given swift and thorough consideration. Whether defendants are incarcerated before trial should be based on the likelihood they'll return to court and won't harm the public rather than on their ability to afford release.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

12 Comments
Posted January 16, 2015 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The expansion of congregations suggests that the drop in religious affiliation is not as dramatic as it seems, and that a stealthy revival might even be coming. The growth may not yet offset disaffiliation, but it is part of the American religious pattern. Early colonists included the highly religious Puritans. But their children and grandchildren strayed, even forcing churches to loosen qualifications if they were to keep members.

In the century that followed, Methodists and Baptists began spreading Christianity largely through small groups, or “bands,” as the Methodists called them. They used nontraditional gathering places, including open fields, to bring their message to the masses. By 1850, 34% of Americans were church members, and by 1900 half were, according to Mr. Stark. By the early 1990s, nearly two-thirds of Americans were members of a congregation.

Fewer new churches these days are going up with drywall and spackling, but members are probably still stacking chairs and warming coffee on Sunday morning.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted January 16, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The annual number of candidates for ministry needs to increase by 50 per cent within five years, according to a report by a task group looking at ministerial education in the Church of England.

The report, Resourcing Ministerial Education, one of a series published this week as part of the Archbishops' programme for renewal and reform of the C of E, calls for "a cohort of candidates for ministry who are younger, more diverse, and with a wider range of gifts to serve God's mission".

To achieve this, it proposes an eight-fold increase in training programmes that helps those under 30 to explore vocations, from the present 30 participants a year to 250. At the other end of the age scale, it suggests dropping the national selection process for candidates over the age of 50.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted January 16, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Following interventions by a few high profile Christians, some people are suggesting that the Church of England's position on the 'Assisted Dying Bill' lacks clarity. For once, nothing could be further from the truth. In February 2012 the current law was debated by General Synod, a representative body made up of bishops, clergy and lay people. No member of Synod voted against a resolution to support the law as it stands. It is relatively unusual to find an issue which attracts such an overwhelming consensus of opinion. This is one such issue, and the reasons for that massive level of agreement were well rehearsed.

Foremost among them is the view - shared by many people of other faiths and none - that every person's life has an intrinsic value regardless of circumstance. Whatever they themselves or other people may think of their 'value' to society, and despite any apparent lack of productivity or usefulness, nothing can alter their essential significance as human beings. To agree that some of us are more valuable than others when it comes to being alive would be to cross an ethical Rubicon. Until now, our society has regarded this as self-evident. That is why we have 'suicide watch' in prisons; and why we try to stop people killing themselves by jumping off bridges or cliffs or high buildings. It is why doctors undertake to give only 'beneficial' treatment to their patients, and why we attach so much importance to human rights legislation.

Then there is our fundamental responsibility as a 'civilised' society to care for and protect the most vulnerable among us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 15, 2015 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Diocese of Maryland is in deep pain. Words barely express the depth of our shock and despair over the events and revelations of the past two weeks in the aftermath of the tragic collision involving Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook, which resulted in the death of a cyclist, Thomas Palermo, on Saturday, December 27. She is now in jail, facing charges of manslaughter, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a death, driving under the influence of alcohol, and texting while driving.

There are still too many questions for which there are no easy answers, and we are filled with anger, bitterness, pain and tears. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Palermo family in their bereavement and for ourselves as a diocese in mourning. And we continue to pray for our sister Heather in this time of her tremendous grief and sorrow, knowing the Episcopal Church’s “Title IV” disciplinary process is underway to consider consequences for her actions as well as review the process that resulted in her election.

But what now? What do we do with our grief?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

5 Comments
Posted January 15, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After high school, I attended a Christian liberal arts college. In the first semester of my freshman year, I signed up for a course with a brilliant, articulate, recently minted DPhil graduate of Oxford University. The textbook for our introduction to the Bible course was Jesus: A New Vision, by Marcus J. Borg, a prominent fellow of the Jesus Seminar. The scholarly project intended to discover “the historical Jesus” apart from creedal commitments or church teaching....

For me, this dose of higher criticism was nearly lethal. Any sense that the Bible was divinely inspired and trustworthy, or that the creeds had metaphysical gravitas, started to seem implausible. The best I could muster was that, somehow mystically, perhaps Jesus was the Christ, existentially speaking....

When I told my father what I was thinking, he was alarmed. He recommended different apologetics works that defended biblical authority. I sloughed them off. Keep in mind that this was an era before figures such as Craig Blomberg, N. T. Wright, and Luke Timothy Johnson had gained notoriety among evangelicals and had written their best work on the historical reliability of the Scriptures.

Then Dad had a brainstorm. He knew that I was enamored with modern philosophy. So one day when I phoned home, he said, “There’s an evangelical theologian who might interest you. His PhD is in philosophy....His name is Carl F. H. Henry. Find the volumes of God, Revelation, and Authority in your library, and read them before you decide to give up the faith.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

3 Comments
Posted January 15, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I once accompanied a friend to visit a church plant with roots in a non-denominational tradition. He was excited to take me because his church shared the Lord’s Supper weekly and he knew I was “into Communion.” On this particular occasion the Pastor concluded the service with a prayer, the exit music came over the sound system and he walked off the stage. We were gathering our things to leave when he jogged back up on stage, turned his mic on and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to mention that on your way out we have some bread and juice on a table by the door. Christians call this Communion and have done it for thousands of years. If you are into that kind of thing, we’d love to have you grab some on your way out.”

As an Anglican, my sacramental soul shriveled. I literally stood where I was and said a silent prayer interceding for the people as the words of 1 Corinthians 11 ran through my head, “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died (29,30).” I felt like Moses waiting for a plague to spread like a wave until it stopped at my outstretched hands. It was a profound juxtaposition to hear the lackadaisical language of the pastor “if you’re into that kind of thing” and Paul’s clear language of warning of the importance of approaching the Eucharist with preparation, solemnity, respect and awe, “this is why some of you have died.”

While mistakes like this are common among well-intentioned planters and pastors, new missional works do not always have careless sacramentology. I have celebrated the Eucharist with linens draped over a plastic table in a gym that smelled like sweaty kids and experienced something transcendent and beautiful, something ancient but immediate. What makes the difference in a church plant between an experience of the sacraments that is holy and one that is sloppy?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* TheologySacramental Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 15, 2015 at 6:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Episcopal officials will reassess the process by which the church elected a bishop now accused in the hit-and-run death of a prominent local bicyclist, the head of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland wrote in a letter to members Tuesday.

"A disciplinary process is underway to consider consequences for [Bishop Suffragan Heather Elizabeth Cook] as well as review the process that resulted in her election," Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton wrote in the letter posted online.
Bail set for $2.5m for bishop charged in cyclist's death.

Sutton said the diocese continues to pray for the family of Thomas Palermo, the bicyclist killed in the accident Dec. 27, as well as for Cook "in this time of her tremendous grief and sorrow."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismLaw & Legal IssuesTravelViolence* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 5:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Supreme Court on Monday (Jan. 12) considered a tiny church’s curbside sign in a case that could raise the bar on government regulation of speech, and make it easier for houses of worship to advertise their services.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the advocacy group that represents Pastor Clyde Reed and his Good News Community Church, bills the case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, as a religious rights case. But their attorney mostly argued it on free speech grounds.

“The town code discriminates on its face by treating certain signs differently based solely on what they said,” attorney David A. Cortman told the justices. “The treatment we’re seeking is merely equal treatment under the First Amendment.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMediaReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(For detailed information on the bill, you may go here)-KSH.

I shall not address the elements of the Bill in exhaustive detail. Others have far greater expertise in each of the areas concerned. However, I want to make some points about the Bill’s provisions in their own terms. As I do so, I believe that it is important to step back and see the proposed changes in the context of broader trends in how we live, govern ourselves and seek to ensure the security of our people.

I begin where local churches begin: trying, under God, to be agents of reconciliation; building communities marked by trust, mutual respect and care, and not by fear and suspicion. In many places, faith communities are coming together to build understanding and break down prejudice and stereotypes. Yesterday, in response to events in Paris, in my previous diocese of Southwell and Nottingham, faith leaders from Muslim, Jewish, Christian and other communities enacted a day of fasting as a sign of mutual commitment and dependence on God in seeking peace for all. They stood in solidarity with one another. In my current diocese of Durham, where the numbers of adherents to faiths other than Christianity are relatively small, work is continually done by the faith communities in places such as Sunderland, Gateshead, South Shields, Stockton and Darlington to build strong community relationships. The Near Neighbours programme nationally has had a significant impact on every place in which it is run.

This groundswell of community building is, and is seen by faith groups as, the most powerful force against radicalisation, especially among young people, on whom so much of the sense of risk tends to be focused. The Department for Communities and Local Government is doing some excellent work supporting local initiatives in this field. Groups with wider knowledge than local churches, such as the Quilliam Foundation, emphasise that this type of work in the community is vital to the Prevent Strategy.

Read it all (starts toward the end of column 673).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Developing Discipleship aims to renew and deepen a conversation about discipleship across the Church of England.

The conversation will begin in General Synod when we meet in February. I hope it will happen in local churches and in dioceses in the coming months.

At the February General Synod, the paper will provided a context for the important conversation and debate about the reports from the four Task Groups to be published later this week.

Read it all and please note the links at the bottom for the paper (a 12 page pdf) and the online discussion site as well.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Every month for about three years, Nina McCarthy followed the same routine after payday. She’d go into a Check Into Cash near her home in the Richmond area, and pay off an open-end loan for $700 or $800 – and then she’d take out a new one for the same amount, never accumulating interest in the process.

Then McCarthy’s overtime hours at work were cut. With rent, a car payment and a 3-year-old granddaughter to feed, McCarthy didn’t have $700 for Check Into Cash. McCarthy made a partial payment, but interest piled up rapidly, at a rate she recalls was 24.9 percent a month, or a nearly 300 percent annualized rate.

McCarthy estimated that she paid more than $1,100 on the bill in the first three-quarters of 2014, including payments that Check Into Cash began collecting directly out of her bank account. Then in September, she had a stroke. She closed her bank account and hasn’t made any payments since. When she went back to the Check Into Cash store on Friday, an employee directed her to the collection line that has taken over her account. McCarthy was told she still owes nearly $650 on the line of credit and doesn’t know when she’ll be able to pay it off.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To begin with, the language and culture of confirmation as a rite of passage isn’t going away any time soon, and so we might as well use it to our catechetical advantage. By dispensing with required confirmation preparation and reception, the sacrament can truly become a moment of conversion for Catholics, regardless of when it occurs. In this way, confirmation will take on particular importance for Catholics returning to the Church after being away for a time, especially when such a return coincides with significant life changes—like marriage for instance, or having that first baby. And young people who never drift away from the Church? They’ll likely seek confirmation in their teen years anyway. Thus, for all recipients, the sacrament will cohere with their actual lived experience of faith.

There’s an additional catechetical value to this approach: Confirmation classes will start to mix together maturing teens, young adults, and the retired—and everyone in between! Younger candidates will get to hear older Catholics share about their struggles and joys; in turn, those older Catholics will get to hear the younger candidates express their aspirations and enthusiasms.

I can’t think of a better way to foster the idea that confirmation (and Christianity) is really for grown-ups—grown-ups, that is, that humble themselves and come to Jesus.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationYouth Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

6 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Legal experts and the police said a law allowing assisted suicide in Scotland needed more clarity in order to remove the risk of someone being prosecuted.

There is a "fine line" between assisting someone killing themselves and an act of euthanasia which could result in criminal charges, MSPs heard.

The plans, contained in a backbench bill, have widespread public backing, said supporters.

But opponents believed such a move was "unethical and uncontrollable".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 14, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The note from the Archbishops, published on Monday, speaks of the "urgency" of the challenges that the Church faces. These include diminishing congregations - attendance has declined by, on average, one per cent a year over recent decades - with an age profile "significantly" higher than that of the general population, and ordination rates "well below" those needed to replace the 40 per cent of the parish clergy who are due to retire in the next ten years.

The current reliance on an increase in individual giving to keep financially afloat is not sustainable, it warns. "The burden of church buildings weighs heavily and reorganisation at parish level is complicated by current procedures."

The Sheffield formula, introduced after the 1974 Sheffield report to determine targets for the number of stipendiary priests in each diocese, and taking into account congregation size, population, area, and number of church buildings, is "no longer generally observed".

The distribution of funds under the Darlow formula (used since 2001 to allocate national funding to dioceses with the fewest resources to assist with their stipends bill) has "no focus on growth, has no relationship to deprivation and involves no mutual accountability".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Archbishop of York John Sentamu* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

3 Comments
Posted January 13, 2015 at 3:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

2015 will be for Lincoln Diocese a 'Year of Discipleship', where our emphasis will be on helping one another to grow as followers of Jesus; to become more faithful, joyful and confident. A variety of events and resources are being planned, and the information will be released on his as dates and venues are confirmed.

The Year of Discipleship begins on January 18th, when all congregations are encouraged to commit themselves to the journey. There is a short 'Liturgy of Commitment' which can be used during your usual worship: you might like to use it at the end of the Eucharist in place of the prayer of offering our souls and bodies to God, or for you it might fit better somewhere else.

Read it all and see what you make of the resources.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult Education* Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 13, 2015 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leading figures in Uganda today announced they will be holding a day of celebration to remember an Anglican Archbishop who was assassinated for opposing the Idi Amin regime.

At a ceremony at Namirembe Cathedral today notaries - including Uganda's Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugund, the former Prime Minister Professor Apolo Nsibambi, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali and other bishops - announced a major event to remember 20th Century martyr Archbishop Janani Luwum.

Every 16th day of February for the last 37 years a small function to commemorate the late archbishop has taken place place at Mucwini primary school where the late Archbishop rests.

Read it all from ACNS.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Uganda* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals

1 Comments
Posted January 12, 2015 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How to share the gospel in a bazaar world? Lately I’m seeing the need to reverse what I learned as the linear process from inner conversation to service in the world. What if instead the Spirit is leading us to begin with acts of mercy and justice? How can we use our connective technology to host conversations about real-life experiences, to ask thoughtful questions and then see where our stories intersect the gospel? And then how can we take things deeper, challenging one another to live a life of integrity and purpose, using God’s gifts for the healing of the world?

I’ve also been intrigued by communication models such as the TED talks, the Episcopal Story Project and the Khan Academy. Where I’m serving, the question is this: how do we move the discussion from the (mostly empty) couches in the parish hall to the online world that people can access from where they are, when they have the time? It’s about going where people are, rather than continuing to try to make them come to us.

After finally letting go of some old wineskins, my church is finding creative energy to go after new ones. I don’t know what exactly this will look like, but it is a thrill and a privilege to be a gospel-bearer during this reformation. There is much for us to receive, but we won’t have the hands to do it unless we set down whatever things are no longer working.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 12, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Mark Lawrence is our special guest--read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted January 11, 2015 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can find the background there and today's news is here.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family

0 Comments
Posted January 10, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I write today to let you know that after much prayer and consideration, I am convinced that the time has come for me to retire from my position as Rector of the Church of the Holy Cross. I believe that I have run my portion of the good race and that it is right for me to pass the baton to the next generation.

I am excited and delighted to tell you that Bishop Lawrence met in a private session with your vestry (without my presence) and after prayer and discussion the vestry unanimously chose Chris Warner to become our next rector. I am of the opinion that there is no better person for the position anywhere.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* South Carolina

2 Comments
Posted January 10, 2015 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...not only was I starting to feel left out during dinner table conversations about the latest viral phenomenon, I also realised that social media was the best way to disseminate my writing work. I wrote to be read, not so my words would simply disappear forever into the cloud. If I had ideas, I needed to get them out there.

However, aside from sharing my articles, I’ve actually had some difficulty in knowing what else to say. Well meaning techy friends gave me advice: find your ‘thing’ and just be interesting about it. But it’s felt like a hard task to be witty and engaging about my ‘thing’ which happens to be the subject of religion and spirituality. As an Anglican chaplain and commentator on religious affairs, my ‘thing’ is a deeply held desire to draw near to the divine and see others do the same – try packing that in 140 characters! It’s a rather complex and personal subject to generate regular pithy soundbites about.

All I knew is that there were certain things I didn’t want to say. More than anything I wanted to avoid becoming one of those people who post inane details about their personal life alongside random spiritual hash tags (e.g. ‘Fed the kids now off to prayer meeting #meetwithjesus’), as if by shoehorning references to God into commentary about everyday life they might make spirituality seem more normalised and appealing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingReligion & Culture

0 Comments
Posted January 10, 2015 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

During the twenty-five years I taught Pastoral Care at The General Theological Seminary, and later at Bexley Hall and Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, I always tried to include a unit on Alcohol and Addictions. I was disappointed to see how few students really engaged with the issues, no matter what books I had them read, what speakers I had them hear, or what case studies I had them consider. Periodically I would arrange elective courses on “Alcohol and Addictions” which were taught by skilled clinicians. Alas they were undersubscribed and sometimes had to be cancelled due to insufficient registrations. I was also troubled by the number of seminarians I knew over twenty-five years who arrived at seminary “in recovery” and graduated persuaded that they were really healthy social drinkers. Not a few train wrecks have ensued over the years.

Starting in 2010, I bought numerous copies of So You Think You Don’t Know One? Addicition and Recovery in Clergy and Congregations by Nancy Van Dyke Platt and Bishop Chilton R. Knudsen, and gave them as gifts to all of my seminary students. The book is full of wisdom and superb case studies that are diverse enough to engage almost anyone’s awareness or imagination. These days, I hand out copies to parishioners from time to time as well.

I am convinced that at this tragic time in the life of the Diocese of Maryland, and the Episcopal Church, we are called yet again to come out of the darkness and the silence which still surrounds alcohol and addictions. Perhaps some brave souls will shed their anonymity, though that can be a serious career risk for clergy. Perhaps more of us can raise these concerns in our teaching and preaching. Perhaps we can draw on the expertise of professionals in the fields of alcohol and addictions, some of whom are present in our parishes or communities. In the early days of the AIDS Crisis, one of the activist groups had the slogan: Silence = Death. Indeed it does!

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 10, 2015 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Q: This weekend you told NPR: "I don’t think that God exists." Can you elaborate?

I think the best way I can explain the conclusion I’ve come to — and conclusion is too strong a word for the provisional place I now stand and work from — is that the intellectual and emotional energy it takes to figure out how God fits into everything is far greater than dealing with reality as it presents itself to us.

That probably sounds very nonrational, and I want people to know that I have read several dozen books and understand a good many of the arguments. I’d just say that the existence of God seems like an extra layer of complexity that isn’t necessary. The world makes more sense to me as it is, without postulating a divine being who is somehow in charge of things.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheismSecularism* Theology

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Posted January 10, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Connecticut Supreme Court's ruling that 17-year-old Cassandra could be forced to undergo cancer treatment sparked thousands of impassioned comments on NPR.org and Facebook.

Cassandra, who is being identified by her first name because she is a minor, had been removed from her home and put in the custody of child welfare authorities after she said she didn't want chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma.

The state and her doctors said that without treatment, she would die. With treatment, she has an 85 percent chance of survival.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyTeens / Youth* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 10, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook will be charged with manslaughter in the fatal crash that killed cyclist Thomas Palermo, new state's attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced Friday morning.
lRelated Episcopal leaders awaiting details of case involving bishop involved in fatal accident

Cook will face charges of leaving the scene of a fatal accident; driving under the influence and causing an accident due to texting while driving. Both the manslaughter and leaving the scene charge carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

A warrant will be issued for Cook's arrest, prosecutors said.

Read it all.

Update: the diocese of Maryland has issued a statement on today's news.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingAlcoholismLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSportsTravelUrban/City Life and Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology


Posted January 9, 2015 at 10:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England's Buildings Division has backed a plan to fit all of the C of E's 16,000 churches with WiFi internet access.

The director of the Cathedral and Churches Buildings Division, Janet Gough, said in a statement on Tuesday that the Church was ideally placed to build up a national network.

"We will be talking with those involved to explore how to build on the existing projects, such as the diocese of Norwich's WiSpire programme, and the provision of free WiFi for all visitors at individual cathedrals such as Chester, Canterbury, Ely, and Liverpool, to link up and expand WiFi coverage countrywide."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 9, 2015 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Legendary gospel singer, composer and producer Andrae Crouch died Thursday at the age of 72, his publicists announced Thursday night. He had been hospitalized in the Los Angeles area since Jan. 3 following a heart attack.

The seven-time Grammy winner was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1998. His songs were recorded by Elvis Presley and Paul Simon, he collaborated with Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Elton John, Quincy Jones and Diana Ross, and he was a backup singer on several Michael Jackson songs.

Some of Crouch's most beloved songs were "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power" and "Soon and Very Soon," which was sung at a memorial following Jackson's death, reports KPCC.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryMusicReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted January 9, 2015 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Diocese of Winchester retains oversight of Church of England legal matters in the Channel Islands, despite the islands splitting from it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, ended a 500-year-old relationship when he moved the from Winchester to his own diocese in 2014.

Details of the interim arrangement have now been released.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistory* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 9, 2015 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A show opened in New York recently that didn't get a whole lot of attention, but it features some of the most powerful singing voices you've never heard. You haven't heard them because for most of the performers, this is their first time on the stage. They've been singing their whole lives -- in church, in amateur groups, in the shower -- but like so many who had dreams of making it big, life somehow got in the way.

The show was created by a theater producer and former disc jockey named Vy Higginsen, who has made it her mission to preserve a special part of American culture: African-American music, both gospel and popular music like soul and R&B. She found a pool of untapped talent, men and women in what she calls their "second half of life" just waiting for their chance to shine.

Read (or better watch) it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyMusicPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

1 Comments
Posted January 8, 2015 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But last Sunday, sitting and trying to be unobtrusive on the back row of the circle of chairs at House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver and watching the eclectic crowd gathering around the central altar, I thought of another thing I might say to pastors and churches about offering a welcome.

Apart from any specific programming or practice that a church might implement in order to be more hospitable to LGBT people, I think I’d suggest that churches would simply do well to ask themselves: Do we want—do we really want—queer people walking through our doors and sitting in our pews and sharing in our post-service potlucks? Are we asking about how to welcome them because we feel that we must, or is it that we really do want these people among us because they’re our neighbors and friends?

I watched Nadia on Sunday walking around the room greeting people who were there. I saw her giving long, tight hugs, high fives, and warm smiles to dozens of folks, lingering to talk with them and (it appeared) hear their stories and concerns from the past week. I watched her during the ten-minute interlude after her sermon, as she cradled one of the infants of the congregation on the edge of the room. And my main impression was, This woman just likes this ragtag bunch of people here. She liked them. She was happy to be with that crew. And they, in turn, seemed happy to be in her company. They seemed to want to talk a bit longer with her, and they didn’t resist those hugs and high fives at all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 8, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three local village churches celebrated a special milestone on Sunday 4th January, as they came together to congratulate their vicar on ten years of service to the community.

St John’s in Peasedown and St Julian’s in Wellow are part of the St J’s Group of Anglican Churches, which have been led by Revd Matthew Street since he took up the posts of ‘Rector’ and ‘Priest-in-Charge’ in 2005.

The united parish of St Julian’s Shoscombe and James’ Foxcote are also part of the group – having joined after a Church of England clergy reorganisation in 2010.

Matthew, along with his wife Jane and their daughter Hannah, moved to the Peasedown Vicarage in Church Road after a short stint as curate at Holy Trinity Church in Combe Down, Bath.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 8, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On a typical Sunday, the pews in Trinity Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. are almost full. But a few months ago, the large stone church with stained glass windows in northwest Washington, D.C. began looking rather empty. Roughly a quarter of the congregation — 50 people — had stopped showing up.

At first, [the] Rev. John Harmon, the head of the church, wasn't sure what was going on. Then he started getting phone calls from parishioners. "Some folks called to say, I'm not coming to church because I don't know who's traveling [to West Africa]," Harmon says.

The congregation at Trinity is an international crowd. More than 20 countries are represented, including several in West Africa. Reverend Harmon himself was born in Liberia before moving to the U.S. in 1982, when he was 18.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted January 7, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Asante-Mampong Diocese of the Anglican Church has been inaugurated amid outpouring of joy and praises to God.

The diocese is the second to be created in the Ashanti Region after Kumasi and comes over a century after the introduction of the Anglican faith to the region.

The Asantehene, Otumfo Osei Tutu 11, was among traditional rulers, the clergy and other high profile personalities in public service, politics and business who joined in the celebration of the occasion at a special church service held on the theme “Working together to grow the harvest”.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Province of West Africa* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfricaGhana

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Posted January 7, 2015 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In summary, the rationale behind the PMM is:

funeral services of suicides conducted by Church of England clergy may be in contravention of Canon B38; and
removing this canonical bar [on the use of “the rites of the Church of England” in these circumstances] “would send a very positive message to society at large, particularly if presented in the context that it was actually recognising current practice.”

Not quite the “legalization of suicide” or a “U-turn on funerals” of the headline; essentially an alignment of canon law with current custom and practice that will have little perceptible impact on the families of those involved. If clergy adherence to canon law were a major concern to the Church, infractions such as these are not necessarily the place at which one would start. As the Revd Gavin Foster has observed[1]:

“the requirements of Canon Law were perceived by clergy to be distant, ‘other’, far away and irrelevant to the everyday life of the Church. [Anglican] clergy seemed to be only vaguely aware of the requirements of canon law and would frequently (and quite often knowingly) breach them.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPsychologySuicideReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

9 Comments
Posted January 7, 2015 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Days before he was scheduled to die, inmate Frank Van Den Bleeken has been told he won't be allowed to die from an assisted suicide, despite his request. Last fall, a court approved a deal that would have allowed him to end his life.

The planned euthanasia was called off this week, after the doctor who was to oversee the procedure backed out. Belgian justice officials said Tuesday that they will work out a better solution for Van Den Bleeken.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPrison/Prison MinistryPsychology* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the Lloyd Webber plan ever comes to fruition, the whole concept of Church Wi-Fi will only be of any value if churches actually do something proactive with it. In its own way it will act as a potential catalyst for them to reach out and offer something bigger that can bless their communities. It will only succeed, though, if churches have an understanding of the needs around them, and the vision to put something together that is dynamic and relevant to the 21st-century lives of those who visit.

Traditionally, churches tend to lag behind the prevailing culture and technologies, often playing catch-up when it comes to taking advantage of the opportunities on offer. The gospel has no need at all to be tampered with - God’s truths are eternal – but the method of delivery needs to updated with every generation if the message is to be effectively presented. Andrew Lloyd Webber is no fool with a harebrained scheme: he sees the potential for churches to be vibrant and provide the lifeblood for the communities around them. The more we see the lead of pioneers such as Tubestation being followed, the greater the likelihood that churches – and the Christian faith – will regain local prominence and community approbation. And if free Wi-Fi comes as standard, then that just makes things better still.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted January 6, 2015 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Oscar-winning composer behind Jesus Christ Superstar is planning an even more ambitious scheme to connect the nation with its Christian heritage – wi-fi in every church.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose father was music director at a London church, said the initiative would put the increasingly deserted buildings back at the centre of their local communities.

The theatre impresario behind musicals including Cats and Evita has been in talks with Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, who is ‘actively’ considering the project.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHistoryReligion & CultureScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 6, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasEpiphanyParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

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Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Paula Smalley was hurt in a hit and run accident during the busy holiday season in the last couple of weeks. We are admirers of the ministry of the parish of which they are a part and her husband, Craig, is a former member of the diocese of South Carolina and known to many here. You can see a picture of the whole Smalley clan and offer your own thoughts if you wish there.

I will quote here Craig's recent facebook post: "Friends, a note to say that though we are consumed with the work of rehab and recovery, and not able to respond sufficiently, we are wonderfully overwhelmed with the love, care, and encouragement from so many. We feel much like Wayne and Garth, "we're not worthy," but we are grateful."

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral CareSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyTravel* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 6, 2015 at 5:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dr. Seitz, one of the pledge’s authors, said that as an academic he does not “do the kind of weddings on a regular basis as someone whose full-time job” is in the clergy. And many of those who have signed his pledge appear to be laypeople, or women in traditions in which women do not perform weddings. Like them, he is mostly an observer, and one of his observations is that we are in “a funny time.”

If marriage moves toward becoming just “a contract between two people, the state can take care of that,” Dr. Seitz said. “And it makes a lot of sense — property, custody of children.” But he believes that marriage needs more, and that the state may be weakening, rather than enhancing, the customs and mores that uphold the institution.

Dr. Radner, the pledge’s other author, is on sabbatical in France, which has long separated religious marriage from civil marriage. Seeing the separation up close has only made him more of a fan.

“Just living here made me realize that the church can function rather well,” he said, “and also avoid some of the conflict that we seem to get all embroiled in in the U.S. over sexuality matters, by being somewhat disentangled, practically, from the civil marriage system.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* International News & CommentaryCanada* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted January 5, 2015 at 3:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A stained glass window design commemorating Winston Churchill has been revealed.

It will be installed at St Martin's Church in Bladon, Oxfordshire, where the wartime prime minister is buried.

The window includes imagery of a Spitfire, a gas mask and a cat.

Robert Courts, chair of the parochial church council, described it as a "rich mixture of the Bulldog Churchill... and equally Churchill the man".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchArtHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

1 Comments
Posted January 5, 2015 at 7:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of England is embroiled in a row over proposals to sweep away laws that forbid a full Christian funeral to people who have taken their own lives.

Most clergy now regard suicide with far more sympathy than when ‘self murder’ was still a crime, and the move will be seen as reflecting a growing acceptance as more Britons choose to end their lives in clinics such as Dignitas in Switzerland.

But some critics within the Church say the reforms will ‘legalise’ suicide, which should still be regarded a serious sin.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicide* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 5, 2015 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“At my age, [Armagh] didn’t seem an obvious career opportunity” he chuckles, and one is left with the impression that having lost Linda, his wife, and mother of their two grown-up children, after a long illness in 2009, he would have remained content in Meath and Kildare until perhaps retiring in his late sixties.

He would have been expected to maintain his sustained ecumenical outreach and perhaps to have increasingly indulged his love for writing about theology and history, having written three books already, including A Whisper of God (Columba 2006).

But now, health permitting, he can remain in the top post in the Church of Ireland until he is 75. While there is little time for writing and scholarship, there are even greater opportunities for ecumenical endeavour for a Church leader who trained as an historian at Trinity College Dublin and as a theologian at King’s College London.

His role involves doing three jobs: being diocesan bishop in Armagh where he doesn’t have an assistant bishop, being a national Church leader/Primate of All-Ireland and being an Anglican bigwig, one of 38 Primates in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland

0 Comments
Posted January 5, 2015 at 5:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stuart Scott, a longtime anchor at ESPN, died Sunday morning at the age of 49.

Among the features of the new ESPN studio in Bristol is a wall of catchphrases made famous by on-air talent over the years. An amazing nine of them belong to one man -- from his signature "Boo-Yah!" to "As cool as the other side of the pillow" to "He must be the bus driver cuz he was takin' him to school."

That man is Stuart Scott, and his contributions to the sports lexicon are writ large. But they are only one aspect of his legacy. When he passed away, he left behind so much more. He inspired his colleagues with his sheer talent, his work ethic and his devotion to his daughters, Taelor, 19, and Sydni, 15. He defied convention and criticism to help bring this network into a new century. He spoke to the very athletes he was talking about with a flair and a style that ESPN president John Skipper says, "changed everything."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMediaMovies & TelevisionSports

0 Comments
Posted January 4, 2015 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Edward Herrmann, a stalwart American actor of patrician bearing and earnest elocutionary style who became familiar across a spectrum of popular entertainment, from movies and television shows to plays, audiobooks and advertisements, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 71.

The cause was brain cancer, his son, Rory, said.

Well over six feet tall, broad-shouldered and, especially in later years, hefty, Mr. Herrmann could be formidable or friendly, authoritative or milquetoast, insistent or obsequious. He was often cast in the role of an affluent or privileged personage; he played lawyers, judges, headmasters, executives, a lot of millionaires.

More often than most actors, he had a tuxedo — or at least a suit — as a costume, but his characters could be comic or dramatic, as likely to be stuffed shirts as genuinely commanding men.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMovies & Television

0 Comments
Posted January 4, 2015 at 1:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Allan Edwards is the pastor of Kiski Valley Presbyterian Church in western Pennsylvania, a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. He's attracted to men, but considers acting on that attraction a sin. Accordingly, Edwards has chosen not to act on it.

"I think we all have part of our desires that we choose not to act on, right?" he says. "So for me, it's not just that the religion was important to me, but communion with a God who loves me, who accepts me right where I am."

Where he is now is married. He and his wife, Leanne Edwards, are joyfully expecting a baby in July.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 4, 2015 at 12:22 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. The number of unchurched people in America would make the 8th most populous country in the world.
As of 2014, the estimated number of people in the U.S. who Barna Group would define as “churchless”—meaning they have not attended a Christian church service, other than a special event such as a wedding or a funeral, at any time during the past six months—stands at 114 million. Add to that the roughly 42 million children and teenagers who are unchurched and you have 156 million U.S. residents who are not engaged with a Christian church. To put that in context, if all those unchurched people were a separate nation, it would be the eighth most populous country in the world, trailing only China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the remaining churched public of the United States (159 million).

2. In the past decade, more people in the U.S. have become churchless than live in Australia or Canada.
Barna tracking research has seen significant shifts in church involvement over the past decade. During that time, the number of adults who are unchurched has increased by more than 30%. This is an increase of 38 million individuals—that’s more people than live in Canada or Australia.

3. The vast majority of America’s churchless have attended a church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted January 4, 2015 at 4:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The substantial increase in middle-aged Americans seeking second careers in the pulpit has been a godsend for seminaries faced with overall declines in enrollment and budget shortfalls.

And for many pursuing a clerical career in their 40s and 50s, it is a dream come true, a chance to follow what they consider God’s call and do meaningful work in their later years.

But the realities of a shrinking clergy labor market, and seminary tuition costs outpacing inflation, leave some facing debts of $80,000 or more trying to find work in a relatively low-paying profession.

The burden is falling particularly hard on prospective minority clergy with the fewest resources, analysts state.
\
Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

1 Comments
Posted January 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all (and note there is a downloadable option).

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted January 3, 2015 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The death of a church isn’t an easy subject, particularly to those who are losing their spiritual home.

But it is something being talked about more and more as church closings are becoming an increasingly regular occurrence — some estimates are nine a day in the United States.

The trend took on a very high profile Dec. 28 when Baptist author and pastor Rick Warren gave the final sermon at Mars Hill Church, the Seattle-based megachurch that dissolved after Mark Driscoll, its lead pastor of 20 years, resigned amid church discipline and leadership issues.

In a pre-recorded video beamed to Mars Hill’s numerous campuses, Warren urged members of the dissolving church to be gracious and forgiving to Driscoll and other church leaders during their grief. He urged an avoidance of bitterness and gossip, and an embrace of forgiveness and gratitude.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 2, 2015 at 4:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Everyone in the Netherlands, where a right-to-die law was passed in 2002, seems to know of someone who has lost a loved one through a mercy killing.

As many as one in 33 people now use euthanasia to end their lives, and the number of cases rose from 1,923 in 2006 to nearly 5,000 in 2013. It is thought that in 2014 around 6,000 people could have chosen to die by this means.

You might be entitled to think that what people do in Holland is their business and nothing to do with us in Britain. But you could not be more wrong.

If campaigners have their way, the law will be changed here, too, to allow those who wish to end their life to do so at a time of their choosing. For opponents of euthanasia, this raises grave moral questions, as well as concerns that unscrupulous relatives might take advantage of elderly family members — whose estates they might covet — by encouraging them to end their lives.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeThe Netherlands* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 2, 2015 at 2:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In CS Lewis’s story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which..[was] on our movie screens...[in 2005] the land of Narnia is under a curse that means that it is always winter but never Christmas. Of course, it is never winter at Christmas time in Australia, but we can nevertheless understand what a terrible curse this is! Narnia is stuck in hard times, with no cause for celebration. Its creatures are suffering, with no highlight to look forward to.

Like the Narnians, many Australians will be doing it tough this Christmas. For some, it is a time when relationships are strained to the limit, when the cracks in our marriages, our families and our friendships seem to widen. For others, the strain is financial, as we see what the neighbours have and we don’t. Yet others find it difficult to join in the festivities because the world just doesn’t seem like somewhere worth celebrating. Wars, hurricanes and child poverty press in on our hearts and minds, refusing to be pushed aside, even for a day.

My challenge to you this Christmas is to lift your eyes from your daily struggles and see what lies around the corner. To the great surprise of the children in CS Lewis’s story, Father Christmas turns up in Narnia to hand out gifts. His appearance is a sign that the curse on the land is breaking, and a better world is on its way.

Of course, this is just a story, but it points to an event in history that we must understand in order to have any hope at Christmas time. The birth of Jesus around 2000 years ago was the beginning of a new hope for the people of the world. It was like the first spring flower pushing through the winter snow—the first sign that things were looking up.
Christians believe that Jesus was a gift to the world from God himself, to give us hope.
When Father Christmas handed out gifts in Narnia, he didn’t indulge the children with toys they didn’t need or appreciate. Rather, his gifts prepared them for the battle ahead with the dark forces they would confront.
In the same way, the Bible tells us that in Jesus God gave us a gift we desperately need. The Gospel of Luke records for us the words of one man called Simeon, who saw the young Jesus, took him in his arms and said “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people”.
Jesus was sent to rescue us from sin and judgement (that’s what salvation means), to make God known to us, and to assure us that God is not off in his heaven ignoring us, but is closely involved with our world and our troubles.
But the gift must be acknowledged—if you ignore God’s gift, you do so at your peril, for without Jesus there is no clear hope to see you through the wintry days.
Christmas should focus our thoughts on where we are headed. I urge you to take time this Christmas to acknowledge God’s gift of Jesus, to read about him in the New Testament, and to understand how he has broken the curse of sin and guaranteed those who trust him a better future.

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Posted January 1, 2015 at 5:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Out of the thousand things which follow directly from this reading of John, I choose three as particularly urgent.

First, John’s view of the incarnation, of the Word becoming flesh, strikes at the very root of that liberal denial which characterised mainstream theology thirty years ago and whose long-term effects are with us still. I grew up hearing lectures and sermons which declared that the idea of God becoming human was a category mistake. No human being could actually be divine; Jesus must therefore have been simply a human being, albeit no doubt (the wonderful patronizing pat on the head of the headmaster to the little boy) a very brilliant one. Phew; that’s all right then; he points to God but he isn’t actually God. And a generation later, but growing straight out of that school of thought, I have had a clergyman writing to me this week to say that the church doesn’t know anything for certain, so what’s all the fuss about? Remove the enfleshed and speaking Word from the centre of your theology, and gradually the whole thing will unravel until all you’re left with is the theological equivalent of the grin on the Cheshire Cat, a relativism whose only moral principle is that there are no moral principles; no words of judgment because nothing is really wrong except saying that things are wrong, no words of mercy because, if you’re all right as you are, you don’t need mercy, merely ‘affirmation’....

Read it all.

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Posted January 1, 2015 at 2:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Everything is turned upside down. Much to everyone’s astonishment it’s not Augustus who is the real son of God, the saviour who bring good news of peace – no, it’s Jesus. And the proclamation is made not in the public forum in front of the Roman citizens but to the shepherds on the hill sides, who were the social outcasts. And as the narrative unfolds Simeon and Anna proclaim that this child, Jesus, is the one who will become the saviour of God’s people, not Augustus or for that matter, any earthly ruler, especially those who govern by the sword and with violence.

Now so much of our celebration of Christmas has sanitized these insights. Take popular carols, such as ‘While shepherds watched their flocks by night’ or ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ which give us a romaticised, privatised interpretation of Christmas, which, though I love them too, have no little bearing on the world in all its pain and suffering. These carols give us a piety which is only about feeling an inner sense of peace. Now there is nothing wrong with feeling inner peace. It’s just that here in Luke chapter 2 the events are profoundly political. This is the Christ who is born into a country which has been occupied by foreign forces, where its people are oppressed and where he comes to bring peace founded in justice.

And so let’s return to where we started: that cold Christmas day in 1914 where peace broke for a few hours. It did not come from the politicians who were safely back in Blightly tucked up with their families in the warm with their turkey lunch. Peace did not come from the generals – they certainly didn’t order a cease fire. No, it came because ordinary soldiers, recalling the events of Christmas, put down their weapons and dared to venture out into no man’s land.

If we are going to find true peace in our world today, it will not come primarily through the politicians and certainly not through the soldiers who may keep the peace, but cannot alone establish it.

Peace will come when ordinary men and women like you and me, dare to climb out the trenches that we have dug to protect ourselves, the trenches of fear, of greed, of hatred. Can we show similar courage to that of the First World War soldiers who stuck their heads above the parapets?

Read it all.

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Posted December 31, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It’s a story so strange we could not have dreamed it up by ourselves, this story of how God was incarnate in Jesus the Christ. An embarrassing pregnancy, a poor peasant couple forced to become undocumented immigrants in Egypt soon after the birth of their baby, King Herod’s slaughter of the Jewish boy babies in a vain attempt to put an end to this new “King,” From the beginning the story of Jesus is the strangest story of all. A Messiah who avoids the powerful and the prestigious and goes to the poor and dispossessed? A Savior who is rejected by many of those whom he sought to save? A King who reigns from a bloody cross? Can this one with us be God?

And yet Christians believe that this story, for all its strangeness, is true. Here we have a truthful account of how our God read us back into the story of God. This is a truthful depiction not only of who God really is but also of how we who were lost got found, redeemed, restored, and saved by a God who refused to let our rejection and rebellion (our notorious “God problem”) be the final word in the story.

Read it all.

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Posted December 31, 2014 at 3:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This Gospel is so clear that it requires very little explanation, but it should be well considered and taken deeply to heart; and no one will receive more benefit from it than those who, with a calm, quiet heart, banish everything else from their mind, and diligently look into it. It is just as the sun which is reflected in calm water and gives out vigorous warmth, but which cannot be so readily seen nor can it give out such warmth in water that is in roaring and rapid motion.

Therefore, if you would be enlightened and warmed, if you would see the wonders of divine grace and have your heart aglow and enlightened, devout and joyful, go where you can silently meditate and lay hold of this picture deep in your heart, and you will see miracle upon miracle. But to give the common person a start and a motive to contemplate it, we will illustrate it in part, and afterwards enter into it more deeply.

First, behold how very ordinary and common things are to us that transpire on earth, and yet how high they are regarded in heaven. On earth it occurs in this wise: Here is a poor young woman, Mary of Nazareth, not highly esteemed, but of the humblest citizens of the village. No one is conscious of the great wonder she bears, she is silent, keeps her own counsel, and regards herself as the lowliest in the town. Shestarts out with her husband Joseph; very likely they had no servant, and he had to do the work of master and servant, and she that of mistress and maid, They were therefore obliged to leave their home unoccupied, or commend it to the care of others.

Read it all.

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Posted December 30, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the radio one time I heard a breathtaking African-American spiritual that I had never heard before. It had a question-and-answer format, or, rather, call-and-response:
What month was my Jesus born in? Last month of the year.

What month? January? No...February? No... March? No…

Last month of the year…

Born of the virgin Mary.

What does this suggest to you? I think it means that the tide of human possibility was running out. Month after month, we thought that we could fix whatever was wrong. New resolutions, new products, new leaders, new technology, new strategies, new medicines, new regimes—surely we can fix it. Month after month the statistics tell the story: better lives for rich Arab sheiks, worse lives for Chinese peasants. Better lives for Scandinavian welfare recipients, worse lives for Congolese children. Better conditions for Baghdad, worse for Kabul and Islamabad. Put your finger in the dike here, a leak springs over there. We look to the stars, we look to the earth, but for this word which we speak there is no dawn. Human potential has been explored to the nth power and it is a dead end.

What month was my Jesus born in? Last month of the year.

What month?

Last month of the year…

Born of the Virgin Mary.



What does this suggest? When the tide of human possibility has run out, divine intervention take its place....

Read it all.

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Posted December 30, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all (about 17 1/2 minutes).

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Posted December 30, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Saint John has described the character of Jesus in just two words, grace and truth. He said Jesus was "full of grace and truth...."

How would someone describe you? Are you strong on truth but weak on grace- quick to judge and slow to forgive? A whole lot of people are. Or are you strong on grace and weak on truth? A whole lot of people are. But grace without truth is not grace, it’s denial.

It’s easy to fall off the slippery slop in one direction or another. In our marriages, parenting, our work places, and even in ministries there is often a lot of one but not much of the other.

Look at our churches. Some churches are deeply immersed in truth, but awfully thin on grace. One of the greatest novels ever written, in my humble opinion, is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Talk about a story of truth with no grace. Mistress Hester Prynne was sentenced to wear the scarlet letter, (an A for adultery), as a mark of shame upon her breast all the days of her life until the letter be engraved upon her tombstone. If she entered a church, trusting to share a comforting word from God, it was often her mishap to find herself the text of the sermon.

How sad that accurately describes many churches today- a lot of law, a lot of truth, but thin on grace. There is a story of a clergyman who had an argument with a vestryman about whether a young man who had a bad reputation should be made welcome in the church. Finally the minister said, "Well, didn’t the Lord forgive the woman taken in adultery?" "Yes," replied the old gentleman, "but I don’t think any more of him for having done it." And so it is with many churches- strong on truth, but weak on grace.

And on the flip side, there are many churches that cheat people out of truth, churches that vow never to offend, to make everybody feel good and comfortable. It may feel good and comfortable, it may sound like sacred tolerance, but there is no abiding peace there. There is no new life, no liberation, no transformation.

I knew a man who once asked a much younger woman to marry him, but with a pre-nuptial agreement. In the pre-nuptial it was stated that she was not suppose to nag him about his drinking. She agreed, and little by little, instead of speaking the truth in love she sat by and watched him die of alcohol. Now it could be argued that she stuck nobly to the agreement, but it could also be argued that she lived a marriage of no truth.

Read it all.

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Posted December 30, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This year recorded the highest number of children caught in conflict zones who were directly and deliberately attacked. The targeting of children in conflict is not new, but it's rising at an alarming rate. In 2014, more children were killed, kidnapped, tortured, raped, forcibly recruited by armed groups and even sold as slaves than at any time in recent history.

The numbers are grim. In Pakistan, over 130 students — most of them 12 to 16 years old—were slaughtered in a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar earlier this month. In the Central African Republic, where 2.3 million children are entangled in a long-running sectarian conflict, as many as 10,000 children are believed to have been recruited as child soldiers, and more than 430 children were killed and maimed this year — three times as many as in 2013. When violence erupted in Israel and Gaza last summer, more than 530 children were killed, at least 3,370 children injured, and 54,000 children were left homeless, while countless others hid in fear from rockets, artillery and air strikes.

In Syria, where civil war, now approaching its fifth year, has created 1.7 million child refugees, there were at least 35 attacks on schools, killing and injuring hundreds of children. In Iraq, at least 700 children are believed to have been maimed, killed or even executed this year. In South Sudan, an estimated 12,000 children have been recruited and forced to fight in an ongoing civil war that has caused more than a million children to flee their homes. In Ukraine, 128,000 children have been displaced by violence.

Read it all.

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Posted December 29, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The picture of the Bethlehem mother distraught over the slaughter of her infant son will be mirrored as Mary observes her son die upon a cross. And here at last the sorrows of Bethlehem’s mothers —and of David for his dead sons—and of Job for his dead children—are finally answered. For here death itself is overcome. “And indeed, how could Rachel be answered otherwise?” Persson writes. “What mother would be satisfied with anything less than the unworking of her child’s death? Rachel refuses to be comforted, because comfort is not what she wants. She does not want comfort; she wants her children.”

It’s the story of Bethlehem’s mothers. It’s the story of David, grieving his dead sons. It’s the story of Job, mourning the death of his children. And it’s our story too—the story of all of us who grieve and weep and mourn.“We, with Job, wait—still with the tears of Rachel—for the time at the end of the eschaton when every tear will be wiped away,” Persson writes. “That time is not yet, and so there are still tears. There are tears, and it is Christmas. But this—this hope—is why we can sing. Not because there is no suffering, not because there is no Rachel, not because there are no slaughtered innocents, whose blood indeed cries out in their feast during the season of Christmas. No, it is not because these things are not, but because He—Christ—is.”

Read it all.

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Posted December 29, 2014 at 3:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I don’t know what peo­ple do who cel­e­brate Christ­mas with­out the Lord Jesus. They must feel ter­ri­bly empty when they wake up the next day with presents unwrapped, the food eaten and life back to nor­mal. No won­der the doc­tors say so many folk get depressed dur­ing the hol­i­days. I think peo­ple have for­got­ten that Love came down at Christ­mas. God’s Love! God’s Son—our Sav­ior! He did not grow up out of this ancient world of ours as if he was the best we had to offer. No, dear friends, He came down from heaven—God looked down and saw our need and so He sent His Son. That is why we call him, Immanuel, “God with us”. It is odd how you learn new things about that. Twelve years ago when my hus­band died it was my first Christ­mas in 54 years with­out my dar­ling Hank. I was all alone in my liv­ing room and I said, “Lord, I don’t think I can go on. I’m so alone.” Then the room seemed to grow unusu­ally quiet and the Lord seemed to say to me, “Mabel—you are not alone—always there will be two of us. Oth­ers may leave but I will stay.” That’s what Christ­mas means to me. God is with us—God is with me.

So go ahead. Dec­o­rate your trees and houses. I sup­pose it puts us all in a more cheer­ful mood. Give the chil­dren their gifts. Fill your stom­achs with all the deli­cious foods. But lis­ten to an old lady, if only for a moment. Sooner or later a per­son has to real­ize he is not going to live for­ever. No mat­ter how hard we try to live upstand­ing lives there is a lot we do in this life for which we need to be for­given. When we stand before God’s judg­ment every­one needs a Sav­ior. Besides there is more than once in a man’s or woman’s life she stands before a cross­road and doesn’t know what path to take. If you don’t have a Sav­ior and Lord at these times you’re rud­der­less. You’re like a boat adrift on the open sea. You’re like that boy, Daniel, out in a boat in the wild ocean waves look­ing for his dead father. Look—I’m swim­ming out to the lamp post to hold out this ram­bling let­ter to you like some ragged and torn umbrella for some poor soul to grab hold of ‘less he miss Christ­mas alto­gether. It is the least I can do for my Lord who is with me even when Christ­mas is over. I know I’ve ram­bled on but I do want to wish you and yours a Merry Christ­mas and a God-filled New Year!

Read it all.

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Posted December 29, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...I have chosen this text with some fear and trembling that I would do an injustice to it by treating it with one sermon. But I choose it for two reasons. One is that it is a great Christmas passage. The key verse that shows this Christmas orientation is verse 14: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." This is the meaning of Christmas. God has come into the world, born of virgin, in the person of Jesus Christ. The second reason I have chosen this text is because it is so full of particular truths about Jesus Christ that we desperately need to know and embrace.

This is especially important today because, as I said last week during my welcome, even the major non-Christian religions of the world are speaking these days as though they esteem and honor and, in some sense, believe in Jesus. You hear this especially, these days, from Muslim leaders who want to draw the fact that they even honor Jesus more than we do because they do not think God would allow him to suffer the ignominious death of a criminal on the cross. So it is crucial that Christians know Jesus Christ very well, and can tell the difference between the Christ of the Bible and the Christ which other religions claim to honor.

So what I would like to do with this great paragraph about Jesus Christ, written by the one who knew him on earth more intimately than anyone else, the apostle John, is to point out and explain and exult over five truths concerning the Word made flesh, and then contrast two starkly different responses that you might give to him this morning. My aim is that you might see him for who he is and be moved to receive Him as your Lord and your God and your all-surpassing Treasure. And if you have already received Him, I pray that you will embrace him, and treasure him and delight in him and follow him and display Him more than you ever have.

Read it all.

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Posted December 29, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From here:
Whatever the coming of the kingdom means, it cannot mean that the healing, reconciling, non-combative Christ we know was an imposter, just biding his time until he could beat down his enemies under his feet. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence. If we seek the kingdom by violence, then the violent will bear it away.

I don’t know why we would be disappointed to discover that Christ comes again as he came the first time—working through small things, not big things, among little people, not powerful people, with local effect, not cosmic effect—except that we find great armies on thundering horses a more adequate display of power. I don’t know why we would be disappointed to discover that the kingdom of heaven operates under the sign of the cross just as the Coming One did, except that we have always been disappointed by God’s reluctance to give us the kind of world, the kind of life, the kind of savior we want.

“And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me,” he said, knowing better than anyone the disappointing, redemptive ways in which God works--sending a human child into the world instead of a mighty king, sending servants instead of troops--sending people like you and me instead of real disciples to do the work of the Coming One until he comes, for in just this way the kingdom of heaven draws very, very near.


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Posted December 28, 2014 at 6:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all beginning here on page 7.

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Posted December 27, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I behold a new and wondrous mystery! My ears resound to the Shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.

The Angels sing!

The Archangels blend their voices in harmony!

The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise!

The Seraphim exalt His glory!

All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.

Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side the Sun of Justice.

And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, he had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move in obedience to God.

This day He Who Is, is Born; and He Who Is becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became he God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassibility, remaining unchanged.

And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.

Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His Incarnation has he departed from the Godhead.

And behold,

Kings have come, that they might adore the heavenly King of glory;
Soldiers, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of child-birth into joy;
Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin, beholding with joy, that He Who is the Giver of milk, Who has decreed that the fountains of the breast pour forth in ready streams, receives from a Virgin Mother the food of infancy;
Infants, that they may adore Him Who became a little child, so that out of the mouth of infants and sucklings, He might perfect praise;
Children, to the Child Who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
Men, to Him Who became man, that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech;
Servants, to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might bless our servitude with the reward of freedom;
Fishermen, to Him Who from amongst fishermen chose catchers of men;
Publicans, to Him Who from amongst them named a chosen Evangelist;
Sinful women, to Him Who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant;


And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world.

Since therefore all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice. I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival. But I take my part, not plucking the harp, not shaking the Thyrsian staff, not with the music of pipes, nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ.

For this is all my hope, this my life, this my salvation, this my pipe, my harp. And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels, sing:

Glory to God in the Highest; and with the shepherds:
and on earth peace to men of good will


--From Antioch in 386 A.D.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 27, 2014 at 12:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

in thus being laid in a manger, he did, as it were, give an invitation to the most humble to come to him. We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger. Had we seen the Master at first riding in state through the streets of Jerusalem with garments laid in the way, and the palm-branches strewed, and the people crying, "Hosanna!" we might have thought, though even the thought would have been wrong, that he was not approachable. Even there, riding upon a colt the foal of an ass, he was so meek and lowly, that the young children clustered about him with their boyish "Hosanna!" Never could there be a being more approachable than Christ. No rough guards pushed poor petitioners away; no array of officious friends were allowed to keep off the importunate widow or the man who clamored that his son might be made whole; the hem of his garment was always trailing where sick folk could reach it, and he himself had a hand always ready to touch the disease, an ear to catch the faintest accents of misery, a soul going forth everywhere in rays of mercy, even as the light of the sun streams on every side beyond that orb itself. By being laid in a manger he proved himself a priest taken from among men, one who has suffered like his brethren, and therefore can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Of him it was said "He doth eat and drink with publicans and sinners;" "this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them." Even as an infant, by being laid in a manger, he was set forth as the sinner's friend. Come to him, ye that are weary and heavy-laden! Come to him, ye that are broken in spirit, ye who are bowed down in soul! Come to him, ye that despise yourselves and are despised of others! Come to him, publican and harlot! Come to him, thief and drunkard! In the manger there he lies, unguarded from your touch and unshielded from your gaze. Bow the knee, and kiss the Son of God; accept him as your Savior, for he puts himself into that manger that you may approach him. The throne of Solomon might awe you, but the manger of the Son of David must invite you.

...Methinks there was yet another mystery. You remember, brethren, that this place was free to all...

Read it all.

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Posted December 27, 2014 at 10:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I can bring it so neare; but onely the worthy hearer, and the worthy receiver, can call this Lord this Jesus, this Christ, Immanuel God with us; onely that virgin soule, devirginated in the blood of Adam but restored in the blood of the Lambe hath this Ecce, this testimony, this assurance, that God is with him; they that have this Ecce, this testimony, in a rectified conscience, are Godfathers to this child Jesus and may call him Immanuel God with us for as no man can deceive God, so God can deceive no man; God cannot live in the darke himself neither can he leave those who are his in the darke: If he be with thee he will make thee see that he is with thee and never goe out of thy sight, till he have brought thee, where thou canst never goe out of his.

--John Donne (1572-1631), Preached at St. Pauls, upon Christmas Day, in the Evening, 1624

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Posted December 26, 2014 at 2:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined" (Is 9:1). "An angel of the Lord appeared to [the shepherds] and the glory of the Lord shone around them" (Lk 2:9). This is how the liturgy of this holy Christmas night presents to us the birth of the Saviour: as the light which pierces and dispels the deepest darkness. The presence of the Lord in the midst of his people cancels the sorrow of defeat and the misery of slavery, and ushers in joy and happiness.

We too, in this blessed night, have come to the house of God. We have passed through the darkness which envelops the earth, guided by the flame of faith which illuminates our steps, and enlivened by the hope of finding the "great light". By opening our hearts, we also can contemplate the miracle of that child-sun who, arising from on high, illuminates the horizon.

The origin of the darkness which envelops the world is lost in the night of the ages. Let us think back to that dark moment when the first crime of humanity was committed, when the hand of Cain, blinded by envy, killed his brother Abel (cf. Gen 4:8). As a result, the unfolding of the centuries has been marked by violence, wars, hatred and oppression. But God, who placed a sense of expectation within man made in his image and likeness, was waiting. God was waiting. He waited for so long that perhaps at a certain point it seemed he should have given up. But he could not give up because he could not deny himself (cf. 2 Tim 2:13). Therefore he continued to wait patiently in the face of the corruption of man and peoples. The patience of God. How difficult it is to comprehend this: God’s patience towards us.

Through the course of history, the light that shatters the darkness reveals to us that God is Father and that his patient fidelity is stronger than darkness and corruption. This is the message of Christmas night. God does not know outbursts of anger or impatience; he is always there, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, waiting to catch from afar a glimpse of the lost son as he returns; and every day, with patience. The patience of God.

Isaiah’s prophecy announces the rising of a great light which breaks through the night. This light is born in Bethlehem and is welcomed by the loving arms of Mary, by the love of Joseph, by the wonder of the shepherds. When the angels announced the birth of the Redeemer to the shepherds, they did so with these words: "This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger" (Lk 2:12). The "sign" is in fact the humility of God, the humility of God taken to the extreme; it is the love with which, that night, he assumed our frailty, our suffering, our anxieties, our desires and our limitations. The message that everyone was expecting, that everyone was searching for in the depths of their souls, was none other than the tenderness of God: God who looks upon us with eyes full of love, who accepts our poverty, God who is in love with our smallness.

On this holy night, while we contemplate the Infant Jesus just born and placed in the manger, we are invited to reflect. How do we welcome the tenderness of God? Do I allow myself to be taken up by God, to be embraced by him, or do I prevent him from drawing close? "But I am searching for the Lord" – we could respond. Nevertheless, what is most important is not seeking him, but rather allowing him to seek me, find me and caress me with tenderness. The question put to us simply by the Infant’s presence is: do I allow God to love me?

More so, do we have the courage to welcome with tenderness the difficulties and problems of those who are near to us, or do we prefer impersonal solutions, perhaps effective but devoid of the warmth of the Gospel? How much the world needs tenderness today! The patience of God, the closeness of God, the tenderness of God.

The Christian response cannot be different from God’s response to our smallness. Life must be met with goodness, with meekness. When we realize that God is in love with our smallness, that he made himself small in order to better encounter us, we cannot help but open our hearts to him, and beseech him: "Lord, help me to be like you, give me the grace of tenderness in the most difficult circumstances of life, give me the grace of closeness in the face of every need, of meekness in every conflict".

Dear brothers and sisters, on this holy night we contemplate the Nativity scene: there "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light" (Is 9:1). People who were unassuming, people open to receiving the gift of God, were the ones who saw this light. This light was not seen, however, by the arrogant, the proud, by those who made laws according to their own personal measures, who were closed off to others. Let us look to the crib and pray, asking the Blessed Mother: "O Mary, show us Jesus!".

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

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Posted December 25, 2014 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Looking back to my childhood, I can see that this was what Alice did for me. I loved the thought of plunging down a rabbit hole and falling into a new world, or pushing through a mirror on the wall and stepping into topsy-turvy-dom. In those imaginary places, the laws of normal life didn’t apply any more. Nothing was what it seemed. And yet it didn’t feel any the less real. In some ways, these worlds of fiction seemed almost tangible, populated by characters you got to know. Yes, in the end Alice has to wake up from her dream. But her journey has changed her. And those of us who travel with her.

I don’t reckon it’s fanciful to think about Christmas in this kind of way. It’s a time of year when we not only dream about a kinder, fairer, better world, but even dare to try living it out. How? By thinking of other people through Christmas greetings, the presents we give as symbols of our love and care, noticing the needs of others far and near and responding with compassion. We long for a new start for our world, our society, ourselves and those we care for. And in small ways, we enter into the spirit of that new beginning.

These are the dreams, the hopes, the vision embodied in the Child whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksChildrenReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyChristology

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Posted December 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Marsden was probably born in 1765 and grew up in the Yorkshire area of England....

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and PolynesiaChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained

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Posted December 24, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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