Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yesterday, after much prayer and deliberation and after consulting our legal counsel, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of The General Theological Seminary voted with great regret to accept the resignations of eight members of the Seminary faculty. The Board came to this decision with heavy hearts, but following months of internal divisions around the future direction of General Seminary, some faculty member’s demands for action not possible under the governing structure of the Seminary, and the eight faculty members’ refusal to teach, attend meetings, or even worship, it has become clear that this is the best path forward in educating our students and shaping them into leaders of the church. However, even after accepting the resignations, the Seminary is willing to meet with any former faculty member about the possibility of reconsidering the resignation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted September 30, 2014 at 6:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Often we want our churches to grow, but we're not sure what sort of tools to use. We don't have any sort of action plan to get the word out about our congregations. Of course, word of mouth is still the best way to get people to church, but there are things we can do to make that message sharable. Here are a few steps we can take.

Clarify our message—Think about who your church is and what they aspire to be. Can you think of a story in your history that reflects who you are? Can you think of a metaphor or some sort of physical object to reflect that message? Can you boil the message down to three to five words?

Google Maps—Find your church on Google maps and fill out the details. Make sure the contact information is good. Put your website there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthPastoral Care* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingMediaReligion & CultureScience & Technology* TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

His tenure in Winchester was more than 15 years, during which he not only served that See with distinction, but made a vital contribution to the House of Bishops and to the work of the Church in the House of Lords. With his ability to grasp detail and a remarkable stamina, he fulfilled all the demands made of him with a willingness that made him highly respected not only in the church, but far beyond. In addition Michael served as Prelate to the Order of the Garter, a privilege which he was honoured to fulfill with loyalty and care in service of his Sovereign.

In the wider communion there will be many mourning his passing, as he both cared about and championed many of the dioceses with which Winchester was linked, who suffered not only from lack of resources, but the scourges of war and famine.

He was a person not afraid to say what he believed, even when he knew those views might not be popular. But all this he did from his deep faith, and after much careful prayer.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals

0 Comments
Posted September 30, 2014 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St Barnabas Church in Swanmore will launch Barnaby’s Coffee Shop on October 11 after a £20,000 project to create a relaxed space for coffee, cake and chat.

Members of the congregation have worked hard to transform their old Victorian school room into a modern coffee shop. Volunteers – including the vicar the Rev Claire Towns – have been training as baristas so they can serve everything from expressos to macchiatos.

The church has bought proper coffee machines, comfy seating, atmospheric lighting and real Columbian coffee to ensure a quality experience.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted September 30, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Canon White, the vicar of St George's Church - the only Anglican church in Iraq - said civilians were being killed by coalition air raids in Iraq.

He said: "I've never known the city like it is at the moment.

"Streets which are usually choc-a-bloc with traffic, cars and people are almost empty. People are too fearful to even leave their homes.

"We are at a crisis point. People know IS are coming nearer. People are being killed by the (air) attacks of the coalition."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq

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Posted September 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his spare time, he likes to hunt, fish, hike or camp. And some Sundays might find Cartwright in the pulpit. He occasionally serves as a fill-in pastor at Bonneau's First Baptist Church, where he attends.

[Dwayne] Cartwright has not only a degree in history, but also religion. His father, Norman, is a pastor, and the younger Cartwright followed a calling to become ordained as well at age 22. In addition to a full-time job, he served as minister at Corinth Baptist Church in Salem, Mo., for 25 years.

"I enjoy helping people very much," he said. "I am an encourager. It gets back to my gratification from seeing people succeed."

Bonneau First Baptist Church Pastor Ken Owens called Cartwright a model citizen.

"He is a man of integrity with Christian principles," Owens said. "On many occasions when I'm out of town on vacation or at conferences, he preaches for us and does a tremendous job. If he's available, he will be there."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted September 29, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church was one of the pioneer churches of Dell Rapids, the Guild being organized when the town was only eight years old. In 1879, the idea of building an Episcopal Church was brought up, and a meeting was held in the sitting room of the Exchange Hotel to discuss raising funds. In the meantime, a warehouse was purchased for $100 and moved to a lot on Pearl Street (now 4th Street) and made suitable for holding church services. The lot was purchased from Peter Morse, the town’s founder.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted September 29, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“This is called a voting altar call!” said William Barber, a leader in the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina, which since 2013 has been challenging new legislation coming out of the Republican-controlled statehouse. Barber stood on a temporary stage in the middle of CCB Plaza in Durham, surrounded by hundreds on a Monday in late July.

Barber was focused on the one political issue that undergirds all others: the right to vote. Since last summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder gave state governments more power to shape election laws without federal oversight, legislators from Virginia to Arizona have been erecting new barriers to voting. This is part of a broader trend. Even states like Ohio and Kansas, which weren’t covered under the litigated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. have been changing election procedures, such as requiring photo IDs at voting precincts or cutting early-voting schedules. The new rules in North Carolina are among the most restrictive. The March to the Polls rally in Durham was just one of many efforts to rally blacks and other minorities to the voting booths in the face of new rules that would keep them out.

“We come to Durham, and we’re going all over this state to say to [state house Speaker Thom] Tillis, to say to [state senate president pro tem Phil] Berger, to say to [Governor Pat] McCrory, when we fight in North Carolina, this is not merely a political fight, this is the fight of history, this is the fight of our time, this is a blood fight,” said Barber, head of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. “We need to make sure they cannot figure out this election because they ain’t never seen folk organized like they will see us organized in a so-called off year.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralState Government* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will preach at a special service for journalists who have died while reporting from conflict zones.

It will be the first time an Archbishop of Canterbury has attended the annual service, which has been held at St Bride’s Church on Fleet Street in London for the last seven years.

Held shortly before Remembrance Sunday each year, the service commemorates reporters, photographers, cameramen and support staff who have died on the frontline.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchGlobalizationMediaReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 29, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What is the point of this world synod of Catholic bishops on the family that is starting in Rome on October 5, a week tomorrow?

Most talk in the papers and in the crabbed and febrile world of the internet has been about whether divorced people who remarry should receive Holy Communion. This matters, because Communion is the symbol and channel of a Christian’s spiritual relations with God. And yet Pope Francis, who, we have learnt, is no friend of laws as a substitute for ideals, says that this is not the point of the synod at all.

The Pope often speaks openly when he shares an aeroplane with journalists, and, on the way back from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land earlier this year, he said: “I have not been happy that so many people – even church people, priests – have said: 'Ah, the synod will be about giving Communion to the divorced’.” His difficulty was that he “felt everything was being reduced to casuistry”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental TheologyEucharist

1 Comments
Posted September 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Morningstar Youth and Family Life Center, a 13,000-square-foot facility and a $5.7 million project, is expected to open in a year. As speaker after speaker pointed out at the ceremony, the project is a real-life lesson to never abandon a dream.

Miles, pastor of Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church, is 69. How old was he when first began work to assemble property for the center?

"About 44," Miles said, smiling.

Plans are for the center to serve about 200 people a day, including youths and seniors, with a wide range of programs and services including math, science and computer tutoring; jobs skills training; food and clothing programs; counseling; and sports programs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 28, 2014 at 2:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

LAWTON: Butler says she wants to develop a church setting where she and her congregation members can wrestle together with difficult questions.

BUTLER: What does the Bible mean in our day and age? Does it mean anything? Or does God exist? Questions like that that people are wondering. And then to get to a personal level: I am in pain, my child is sick, where is God in all of this? I need to ask those questions, and I need to have a safe place where I can just say I don’t know the answers.

LAWTON: She’s open about her own struggles, including a painful divorce and the challenges of being a single mother to three children, ages 20, 17, and 16.

BUTLER: I want to be in a community of people who see me as a real person who is asking these questions, who is living through points of pain and fear and questioning just like they are.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 28, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Christians in the Nineveh region of northern Iraq are unable to celebrate communion for the first time in two millennia, after Islamic State militants captured the area and took over the churches.

Canon Andrew White, vicar of the only Anglican church in Iraq, told the Telegraph that Isil have set up offices in the churches and have replaced crosses with the militant group's black flag.

"Last week there was no communion in Nineveh for the first time in 2,000 years," he said. "All [the churches] are closed, all their people have run away. It is so sad."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church officials were "stupid" and their conduct "dismal" when they sold a painting at auction for £20,000 without diocesan permission, an investigation has found.

The Gloucester Diocese church court report accepted that the vicar and wardens had not acted dishonestly.

The 19th Century Madonna and Child by Franz Ittenbach was sold by Emmanuel Church in Cheltenham last October.

A parish spokesman stressed that officials had acted properly.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 12:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

(Via email--KSH).

In response to a request by the U.S. Supreme Court to file a brief in response to TEC’s June 19 appeal, attorneys for the Diocese and Corporation today filed our 49-page Brief in Opposition. TEC seeks reversal of the Texas Supreme Court's ruling in our favor. Our Brief supports the Neutral Principles approach to church property disputes that was issued by the nation's highest Court in 1979.

Aaron Streett, the diocesan Counsel of Record, offers the following timeline: “We anticipate TEC's reply will be filed by October 14. We anticipate the Court will vote on whether to grant certiorari on Oct. 31. The outcome of that vote could be known as early as that afternoon or the following Monday. It is also possible the Court will "re-list" the case for consideration at future conferences, which could delay the decision.”

Similarly, attorneys for the Church of the Good Shepherd in San Angelo have filed a Brief upon the Court's request. TEC and the Diocese of Northwest Texas appealed the Texas Supreme Court's ruling in that case, too.

Please keep the Justices and their staff in your prayers.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Fort Worth* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Colin Powell famously told President George W. Bush before the Iraq invasion, "If you break it, you own it." Well, it's safe to say we broke Iraq.

That's the story I heard last week from two people who live there. I met with the Rev. Canon Andrew White — "The Vicar of Baghdad" — who serves as the chaplain to St. George's Anglican Church in the heart of Baghdad. We were joined by Sarah Ahmed, a director at White's Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East. Ahmed was born and raised in Iraq. White has lived there for 15 years.

"I was in favor of the U.S. invasion," White told me. "But we are literally 5,000 times worse than before. If you look at it, you can see it was wrong. We have gained nothing. Literally nothing. We may have had an evil dictator, but now we have total terrorism. We used to have one Saddam. Now we have thousands."

Read it all from USA Today.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 8:01 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* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 27, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Consider also the reasons given by Francis and Anne which are partly personal fears and partly about a false altruism. Not wanting to ‘watch the slow decline of a partner’; fear of going to a nursing home; ‘too many people on this earth’- making more pension money available for others; not wanting to ‘dig into our savings’ and not being able to do the things they could at an earlier age. Add this to John Paul’s clear point that he didn’t want to look after them, and it’s almost a ‘perfect storm’ of lack of imagination, lack of a willingness to care and to look towards other alternatives.

There is also an insidious cultural side to this affair evident in the reporting at Moustique. There is no alternate voice here; no suggestion that promoting this story might have a deleterious effect upon others. No help lines promoted, no questioning in any constructive way. The social question, as always, is about the cart and the horse – is the media effectively pushing the issue or is it, as it may claim, simply reflecting the vox populi?

This is not a ‘celebration of choice’; far from it. It is a rationalization devoid of humanity and created, in the first instance by the legal possibility of euthanasia. It is then abetted by whatever it is in that family and that society that confirmed and supported the kind of dysfunction that allowed the children to confirm and assist instead of saying a clear, No, and offering every alternate support, no matter what the cost.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologySuicideReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeBelgium* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Craning his neck, he sought the eyes of his daughter, Maureen Stefanides, who had promised to get him out of this place. “I want to go home, to my books and my music,” he said, his voice whispery but intense.

He was still her handsome father, the song-and-dance man of her childhood, with a full head of wavy hair and blue eyes that lit up when he talked. But he was gaunt now, warped like a weathered plank, perhaps by late effects of an old stroke, certainly by muscle atrophy and bad circulation in his legs.

Now she was determined to fulfill her father’s dearest wish, the wish so common among frail, elderly people: to die at home.

But it seemed as if all the forces of the health care system were against her — hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, insurance companies, and the shifting crosscurrents of public health care spending.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family

0 Comments
Posted September 26, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The growing trend of former church buildings being turned into mosques and Islamic centers has reached Kentucky’s largest city where even some once-thriving Southern Baptist facilities are now occupied by Muslims.

“On a trip to England a few years ago, I recall seeing dozens of churches that had become mosques and wondering how it could happen there; now it’s happening here,” said Paul Chitwood, executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.

Todd Robertson, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Louisville, said the religious makeup of the Bible Belt is rapidly changing with declining membership in many Christian congregations and growing participation in Islam and other religions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Former Charleston Police Chief Reuben M. Greenberg, a charismatic and combative leader who drove down crime and drew national attention to the Holy City during his 23 years as its top cop, died Wednesday after a long period of declining health. He was 71.

Mayor Joe Riley said Greenberg - the city's first and only black police chief - will long be remembered as a pioneer and innovative pace-setter who led the force at a time when Charleston was growing again in terms of national prominence.

"He is an historic figure in this historic city," Riley said shortly after news of Greenberg's passing began to spread. "The quality and the credibility of his police leadership made him a national figure."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2014 at 10:36 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Archbishop Justin had the privilege of getting to know Bishop Stephen in his retirement in the diocese of Durham.

The Archbishop said: "Bishop Stephen’s whole life was dedicated to serving God and his Church. The Church of England is deeply indebted to his ministry of thoughtful scholarship and servant leadership. I am deeply saddened to hear of his death – not least because it is so sudden for his dear wife Joy, his children and grandchildren – yet I rejoice at a life lived so well and so wholly in the service of Christ, through many trials and difficulties."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2014 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As part of my study during these weeks when we are discussing the nature and purpose of the Bible, I have been reading N.T. Wright’s illuminating book, Scripture and the Authority of God: How to Read the Bible Today.

I particularly like his point that there is need to clarify what we mean when we speak about the Bible’s “authority.” Affirming that authority rightly belongs to God in the context of his Kingdom rule, Wright says we must have a more dynamic understanding of the term: the Bible only has authority in the sense that God exercises his sovereign rule through it.

Thus, Wright says, Scripture’s authority does not lie in its status as a “court of final appeal” or as a compendium of doctrine, as rules for living or a devotional manual. Rather, the “authority of Scripture” must be understood within the context of God’s Kingdom and God’s mission to the world. Scripture is a primary means by which God acts in and through his people to bring healing and redemption to all creation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted September 25, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the church upholds this kind of decision, it is endorsing cruelty, discrimination and exclusion. Pope Francis’ view is that this is exactly the kind of thing that requires the church to exercise mercy not rigidity. But allowing a married gay couple to sing in the choir as an act of “mercy” would merely further expose the fragility of the church’s thirteenth century views of human sexuality. It would put the lie to the otherness of gay people; to the notion that it is essential or even possible for a tiny minority to live entirely without intimacy or love or commitment. It also reveals that gay men have long been a part of the church – and tolerated, as long as they lied about their lives and gave others plausible deniability with respect to their sexual orientation. It is an endorsement of dishonesty.

None of this is compatible with the core moral teachings of the church – about fairness, truth, compassion, forgiveness, mercy and inclusion. And this is clear to large numbers of Catholics – especially the younger generation who will rightly view this kind of decision as barbaric and inhuman. There is only so much inhumanity that a church can be seen to represent before its own members lose faith in it. I recall the feelings of my own niece and nephew who lost a huge amount of respect for the church when they heard a homily denouncing the civil marriage of their own uncle. I notice the outcry among Catholic high school students when a teacher was fired for the very same reason. When a church responds to an act of love and commitment not by celebration but by ostracism, it is not just attacking a couple’s human dignity; it is also attacking itself.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture


Posted September 25, 2014 at 5:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...in early August, a 27-year-old priest who had just begun working at the parish summoned them to a meeting, according to local news reports. And at that meeting, he told them that they could no longer be choir members, perform any other roles like that or, for that matter, receive communion.

If they wanted those privileges restored, there was indeed a remedy, which the priest and other church officials spelled out for them over subsequent conversations. They would have to divorce. They would have to stop living together. And they would have to sign a statement that marriage exists only between a man and a woman.

Translation: Renounce a love fortified over 30 years. Unravel your lives. And affirm that you’re a lesser class of people, barred from the rituals in which others blithely participate.

Read it all.

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

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMediaPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Theology


Posted September 25, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Doubtless, death is a loss. It deprives us of experiences and milestones, of time spent with our spouse and children. In short, it deprives us of all the things we value.

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

Americans seem to be obsessed with...a valiant effort to cheat death and prolong life as long as possible. This has become so pervasive that it now defines a cultural type: what I call the American immortal.

I reject this aspiration. I think this manic desperation to endlessly extend life is misguided and potentially destructive. For many reasons, 75 is a pretty good age to aim to stop....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral Theology

17 Comments
Posted September 24, 2014 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What prompted you to write this book?

I went to a basketball game a couple years ago, and the crowd was screaming, “Overrated! Overrated!” at the other team. It’s not that I’ve heard people scream that when I’m preaching, but the possibility of being “overrated” myself is something I’ve sensed throughout my life.

For example, I’ve been speaking, writing, blogging, and preaching about justice. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea. But something gets lost in the actual practice and application. When I started sensing this, I personally felt exposed and began to see the problem in the larger church....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPovertyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

0 Comments
Posted September 24, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although a quasi-legislative fix (i.e. guidelines for the clergy) could be introduced relatively quickly by means of a House of Bishops Statement, as we have seen with the Statement on Same Sex Marriage, this would cause difficulties in its implementation and problems for its enforcement were a challenge to be made. (It is estimated that about a quarter of CofE clergy administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation, i.e. Confession.) However, a change to the Proviso to Canon 113 would require full synodical consideration and could take considerably longer.

Thus in answer to the question “Is the CofE to axe seal of confessional?”, it seems inevitable that some changes will need to be introduced but: these may take some time; and will certainly put pressure on the Roman Catholic church, as in Australia, the US and elsewhere.

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted September 23, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop John said he will walk "at three miles an hour, it is the speed of the love of God, it is not rushing".

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The partnership between the church and the seminary pairs two theologically aligned institutions that are interested in influencing the broader evangelical movement. Although Redeemer is a PCA church, many of its church plants are not affiliated with the denomination, and RTS is a nondenominational seminary. About two-thirds of RTS students affiliate with the Presbyterian or Dutch Reformed traditions, while the remaining third align with Baptist, Anglican and Methodist traditions.

More megachurches are partnering with seminaries to provide local, affordable theological training, according to “Beyond Megachurch Myths” by Scott Thumma and Dave Travis. Churches offering theological degrees now include Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill Church in Bellevue, Wash., and John Piper’s Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

Historically, seminaries have grown out of a particular theological vision.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted September 23, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"As we approach the first anniversary of the horrific suicide bombings at All Saints Church, Peshawar – which made martyrs of more than 100 Christians and wounded many more – firstly our thoughts and prayers are with all those who were bereaved and injured in these terrible attacks. As we have done, so must we continue to pray fervently for Jesus Christ to comfort all those whose lives were changed forever by these evil acts. Meanwhile we must continue to pray and call for justice, and for the peace of Pakistan and the protection of Christ’s people there.

"In May I visited Pakistan’s Anglican community – who number 800,000 in a population of 180 million – and I was appalled to hear and see evidence of the hatred, violence and persecution they face. As I sat among them, I heard the searing anguish in their cry for the right to worship in freedom and safety. But I was also moved and inspired by their steadfastness and courage, which is grounded in deep and unshakable faith in Jesus Christ.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther Faiths

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 3:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Listen to it all (starts about 7:15 in). Also note there is a download option.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 1:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Reconciliation in its widest sense is about the restoration of relationships that have been badly damaged and broken. Jesus taught us to love and forgive those who hurt us. There can be no reconciliation without forgiveness – this is love in practice.

The bonds that unite this country have been tested to near breaking point this week. We will now be together for a long time to come and it is important for the sake of our future that we move forward without carrying heavy baggage full of resentment and distrust along with us.

Politicians have been given a sharp shock and need to wake up to the disillusionment felt by many voters. The incredible turnout in Scotland has engaged an entire population. Fears for some have been dissipated, but hopes for others have been shattered. Politicians cannot ignore those desires for change. They can work towards building a politically fairer society, but reconciliation has a spiritual dimension. If Scotland is to become a united country once again in a United Kingdom, then Christians will need to play their part, pouring out an unconditional love that dissipates resentment and reminds factions who have fought against each other how much they still have in common.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You may find the audio link here if you wish to suffer listen to it.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Linda] Woodhead sees Fresh Expressions and other forms of missionary outreach as attempts to boost the God-fearers. She puts her faith in both the churchgoing and non-churchgoing mainstream. There are several problems with this strategy. With admitted exceptions, clergy tend to be recruited from the committed. As numbers shrink, it becomes more difficult to recruit able candidates, especially able young candidates. Studying American evangelicals, Christian Smith has suggested, teaches us that churches thrive when they have a distinctive message but remain in dialogue with the secular society. What is crucial is that Christians choose the right issues on which to make a stand. Woodhead ignores signs that the number of those who claim church affiliation but are not active members or believers is in decline as more claim to be ‘spiritual’ but not ‘religious’. Woodhead herself has studied this pattern in Kendal. One move would be to make the Church more welcoming of spiritual seekers and turn clergy into what the NHS already terms ‘spiritual care givers’. Questions need to be asked about how far the Church can go in this direction and still be Christian.

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* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 21, 2014 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The gravity of the financial situation facing the Bathurst Diocese of the Anglican Church hit home this weekend for members of the 47th Synod.

Bishop of Bathurst Ian Palmer implored representatives of parishes from Bourke to Bathurst to accept the need for fresh approaches to ministry across the Central West.

He said the Diocese needs to look at where its resources are spent and ask itself if there are resources that are no longer needed.

Bishop Palmer said the mood of the Synod was one of grappling with, or coming to terms with, the enormity of the financial problems currently facing the Diocese.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 21, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A tour guide hollers over the clip-clop of his carriage horse passing St. Michael's Church that the iconic white building at the Four Corners of Law is the city's oldest surviving church structure in a place rich with historic structures.

Tourists peer over the carriage rails, then up and up the steeple soaring 186 feet high, perhaps to see the oldest tower clock in North America or in hopes of hearing bells imported from England in 1764.

From Charleston's poorest days to its wartime sagas to these prosperous tourist-ladened years, St. Michael's bells have announced the city's routine life events, not to mention hurricanes, earthquakes, fires and two war-time bombardments.

Read it all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* South Carolina

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Posted September 21, 2014 at 11:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For centuries the secrecy of the confessional has been sacrosanct, but the Church of England may relax the rules to allow clergy to reveal serious crimes such as child abuse.

Former Bishop of Chelmsford John Gladwin – who last year led an inquiry into clerical sex abuse in the Church of England – is pressing for the changes, along with members of the Church’s ‘parliament’, the General Synod.

But any change will be fiercely resisted by traditionalists who think clergy should retain the trust of worshippers. It will also cause tensions with Roman Catholics, who believe the seal of the confessional should remain inviolable.

Bishop Gladwin’s moves follow a decision by the Anglican Church of Australia to allow its priests to report crimes they hear during confession to the police.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of AustraliaChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental Theology

13 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The panel, which included doctors, nurses, insurers, religious leaders, lawyers and experts on aging, said Medicare and other insurers should create financial incentives for health care providers to have continuing conversations with patients on advance care planning, possibly starting as early as major teenage milestones like getting a driver’s license or going to college.

It called for a “major reorientation and restructuring of Medicare, Medicaid and other health care delivery programs” and the elimination of “perverse financial incentives” that encourage expensive hospital procedures when growing numbers of very sick and very old patients want low-tech services like home health care and pain management.

And it said that medical schools and groups that accredit and regulate health providers should greatly increase training in palliative care and set standards so that more clinicians know how to compassionately and effectively treat patients who want to be made comfortable but avoid extensive medical procedures.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & Family* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentMedicaidMedicarePolitics in General

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The church was built in 1873 and classified as a historical site in 1991. The building was still used as a church, but was empty at the time of the fire. The former church hall, destroyed by fire earlier this month was a centre for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Canada* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryCanada

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 2:52 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even though the government is working hard to reform the GCSE and ensure that it is rigorous and challenging, it will not be included as one of the humanities options in the English Baccalaureate. This exclusion has not stemmed the rising numbers of those young people who value and want to study the subject, but that is primarily because the Ebacc was not compulsory and schools can still offer the subject as one of the ‘Progress 8’ that will be measured in performance tables.

But recent announcements from the Secretary of State suggest that the Conservative Party’s manifesto is likely to see the EBacc becoming compulsory, and that will have a disastrous impact on the numbers of students able to take a subject which they value so highly.

Perhaps the largest challenge is found in the desperate shortage of specialist or dedicated RE specialist teachers. It is shocking that more RE lessons are currently being taught by non-specialists than by teachers trained in the subject. One can only imagine the outcry if this was the situation with Maths or English. Encouraging new RE teachers requires the government to reconsider their current policy not to provide bursaries to PGCE students wishing to train as RE teachers. Why would anybody want to train to teach a subject which is undermined by central government in such a fashion?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenEducationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 11:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Columbia church pastor Johnnie Clark was sentenced to one day in jail...[recently] after being found guilty in Columbia Municipal Court of violating city noise limits.

Clark leads worshipers at Rehoboth United Assemblies on Laurel Street. The church has been in its current location for a quarter-century. Recent redevelopment downtown has brought the church into conflict with some owners of newly built homes along that street.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* South Carolina

1 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A few years ago, I was caught up in a big research project about contemporary hymns (or “hymnody,” as they say in the trade). I listened to hundreds of hymns on Spotify; I interviewed a bunch of hymn experts. What, I asked them, was the most successful contemporary hymn—the modern successor to “Morning Has Broken” or “Amazing Grace”? Some cited recently written traditional church hymns; others mentioned songs by popular Christian musicians. But one scholar pointed in a different direction: “If you’re willing to construe the term ‘hymn’ liberally, then the most heard, most successful hymn of the last few decades could be ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,’ by U2.”

Most people think of U2 as a wildly popular rock band. Actually, they’re a wildly popular, semi-secretly Christian rock band. In some ways, this seems obvious: a song on one recent album was called “Yahweh,” and where else would the streets have no name? But even critics and fans who say that they know about U2’s Christianity often underestimate how important it is to the band’s music, and to the U2 phenomenon. The result has been a divide that’s unusual in pop culture. While secular listeners tend to think of U2’s religiosity as preachy window dressing, religious listeners see faith as central to the band’s identity. To some people, Bono’s lyrics are treacly platitudes, verging on nonsense; to others, they’re thoughtful, searching, and profound meditations on faith.

Christianity Today regularly covers U2, not just as another Christian rock band but as one of special significance. In 2004, the magazine ran an article about Bono’s “thin ecclesiology”—his unwillingness to affiliate himself with a church—that sparked a debate about the health of organized religion. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, addressed the issue of Bono’s belief in a fascinating 2008 lecture about the place of organized faith in secular society.

Read it all (and consider following the links also).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMusic* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On more serious matters, [Bishop Blase] Cupich was asked about reports that he had moderate leanings.

He response was that he was “no saint.”

“Labels are hard for anyone to live up to. ... It's not my agenda, it's not what I feel,” he said. “I'm going to try to be attentive to what The Lord wants.”

He pressed for immigration reform, saying it was desperately needed and “every day we delay is a day too long,” he said.

He said he did not think Pope Francis was sending a message to U.S. Catholics with his appointment. “I think his priority is not to send a message but to send a bishop. ... I think he sent a pastor, not a message,” Cupich said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * Theology

2 Comments
Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Having served in urban ministry for over 30 years, I see our attention shifting away from planting churches in areas of poverty. In a time of economic struggle many urban churches have had to close their doors—both front and side. It’s possible to conclude that our past efforts were ineffective and created dependency. But every pastor I know who has worked in such ministries talks about lives changed for the better and leaders who were nurtured because the church was there with open doors. I fear we are giving up on such places.

Some of the most creative church starts today are what we call emergent communities. The ones that get the most attention are doing wonderful and essential work, especially in reaching people who have felt alienated from the church. Yet many of these people are the disaffected children of the demographic we’ve always served. We need more of these communities, but we also need to take some of that out-of-the-box vision and focus it on addressing the prevailing poor-door reality of our church.

Whenever I visit our congregation’s vice president and her family of four, I sit on the chair facing the lower bunk of their bed; the space is so tight that our knees touch. The parents sleep on the bottom bunk and the daughters (in college and high school) share the top. They live in a building where families of Mexican immigrants are squeezed into single-room cubicles without kitchen or closet and use a bathroom in the corridor with dozens of other people. This building sits in the shadow of a gleaming high-rise where the penthouse sold for millions. When I say, “in the shadow,” I mean on the same block, in eyesight of public housing projects and rent-stabilized middle-income apartments.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPovertyPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 20, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics

7 Comments
Posted September 19, 2014 at 6:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Caitlin Doughty has been cutting pacemakers out of corpses, grinding human bones by hand, and loading bodies into cremation chambers for seven years. But the 30-year-old mortician doesn’t want to keep all the fun to herself: She thinks the rest of us should get to have a little more face time with the deceased. In her new book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (that’s a cremation joke), Doughty argues for more acceptance of death in our culture—and tries to spark a wave of amateur undertaking.

Are you really saying that people should handle their loved ones’ bodies? Can we do that?

Most people think dead bodies are dangerous or that they’re required to hire a funeral director to prepare a body. I’m a licensed mortician, but I want to teach people that they don’t need me.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksHealth & MedicineHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Faiths* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"Sadly, Belgium has been at the forefront of making euthanasia available on demand. The door was first opened in 2003, and every year since then the demand for euthanasia and its practice has increased," Paul Moynan, director of CARE for Europe, told Christian Today.

"Last year these deaths were up by 27 per cent on the previous year, with five people a day being euthanised," he added.

Moynan blamed the Belgian health system for failing to address Van Den Bleeken's needs sufficiently.

"With euthanasia being packaged as palliative care, our care homes are not safe. With its extension this year to all ages, our children are not safe. And now the mentally ill in prison are not safe," he explained.

Read it all.


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

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Posted September 18, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The general conduct of our Church has been true to her first principles, to render to Caesar the things that were Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's; to do nothing against the command of God, but to suffer every thing which the Caesar may require. It was thus that the seven Bishops mainly checked James's tyranny, refusing to do, but submitting to suffer, what was unlawful; it was thus that even in the Great Rebellion men cheerfully took the spoiling of their goods; it was thus that in events familiar to us, the members of this place, at different periods, suffered what was un lawful, rather than compromise their principles;--and we cherish their memories.

The two events, for which we keep this day as an annual thanksgiving to God, together, strikingly illustrate these principles. 1. That we may safely leave things to God. 2. That there is great risk, that man, by any impatience of his, will mar the blessing which God designs for His Church.

In the plot, from which this day is named, God had permitted things to come to the uttermost; every preparation was made, every scruple removed; a Roman priest had solemnly given the answer, that, for so great a benefit to the Church, their own people too might be sacrificed; the innocent might be slain, so that the guilty majority escaped not. The secret was entrusted to but few, was guarded by the most solemn oaths and by the participation of the Holy Eucharist, had been kept for a year and a half although all of the Roman Communion in England knew that some great plot was being carried on, and were praying for its success; inferior plots had been forbidden by Rome, lest they should mar this great one; no suspicion had been excited, and there was nothing left to excite suspicion, when God employed means, in man's sight, the [28/29] most unlikely. He awoke, at the last, one lurking feeling of pity for one person in the breast of but one, so that a dark hint was given to that one: and He caused him who gave it, to miscalculate the character of his own brother-in-law, or entrust him with more than he was aware; then He placed fear in that other's breast, so that, through another and distant fear, he shewed the letter which contained this dark hint; then, when the councillors despised the anonymous hint, as an idle tale, He enlightened the mind of the monarch, to discover the dark saying, which to us it seems strange that any beforehand should have unravelled; and when even then the councillors had surveyed the very spot, and discovered nothing, He caused the monarch to persevere, undeterred, until He had brought the whole to light. Yet to see more of this mystery of God's Providence, and how He weaves together the intricate web of human affairs, and places long before the hidden springs of things, we must think also, how He ordered that one of these few conspirators should be intermarried with one of the few Roman peers, and so desired to save him; and by the conspiracy from which God had shielded the monarch's early life, He quickened his sense of the present danger; so that while men were marrying, and giving in marriage, and strengthening themselves by alliances, God was preparing the means whereby this kingdom should be saved against the will of those so employed; and while men were plotting against a sacred life, God was laying up in the monarch's soul the thought, which Himself should hereafter kindle to save it. Verily, "a man's heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps." "The ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He pondereth all his goings; own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins." The words of the Psalmist, selected for this day's service, find a striking completion in this history. "God hid him from the secret counsel of the wicked, from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity--they encourage themselves in an evil matter; they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? they search out iniquities; they accomplish a diligent search; the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep: but God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded; so they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves."

But it yet more illustrates the teaching, and is an argument of encouragement to our Church, how God in two neighbouring countries permitted similar plots to be accomplished.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics

0 Comments
Posted September 18, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Bruce] Shipman didn’t understand Jewish connections to Israel, argued religion writer Mark Oppenheimer in a column for Tablet. Oppenheimer said Shipman failed to understand the difference between Israel and the action of Jews and anti-Semitism.

“You don’t say to Muslims, ‘If you have a problem with anti-Muslim bigotry, take it up with al-Qaida,’” Oppenheimer said in an interview. “That’s not the way American dialogue should proceed.”

However, Oppenheimer, who teaches a class at Yale, does not believe Shipman should have had to resign.

“I’m opposed to drumming people out of communities,” he said. “I don’t think the answer is to call for someone’s scalp.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ideal Home Show has been running since 1908 and the International Motor Show began in 1903 so it was only a matter of time before someone came up with a similar show and earlier this month the Beeches in Bournville, Birmingham played host to the first Ideal Death Show.

The event billed itself as a 'weekend gathering of entrepreneurs, pioneers and progressives from the funeral industry'.

Open to members of the public, the show allowed discussions about death, planning a funeral and some of the more eccentric ways people select to mark their own passing....

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyEschatology

0 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The fact that there are now two cowboy churches in the Fort Worth Stockyards is a sign of the times: Dozens of these churches have popped up in the last 15 years, constituting a rapidly growing constituency of new Western Christianity that embraces simple services over big-church productions.

Westby's church is a nondenominational congregation with a relaxed, indoor service featuring lots of music and no formal sermon. Miller's, meanwhile, is associated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and has been open for a little more than a year with a focus on ministry that goes beyond Sunday morning.

The two pastors don't conflict or compete: They say there are enough cowboys, or at least enough people who want to worship like a cowboy, in the Stockyards to go around.

"Talking to someone about religion is like talking about politics," Miller said. "Talk to them about their horses and their spirituality, that's what they connect with."

Read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* General InterestAnimals* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 17, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He was appointed Dean of St Albans in 2004 and two years later he and his partner Rev Grant Holmes entered into a civil partnership.

Dr John was shortlisted last year for Exeter but the vote went narrowly against him, even though his performance at interview was outstanding. His name was also withdrawn previously from the Southwark diocesan appointment process because of opposition from the conservative wing.

The shortlisting of Dr John once again is an indication that the Church is taking seriously its pledge to "listen" to the gay community. Last year the Church dropped its prohibition on gay clergy in civil partnerships becoming bishops, which effectively removed the bar against the elevation of clergy such as Dr John, who are openly gay but live within the guidelines stipulated by the Church, which demands celibacy and, controversially, forbids its gay clergy from marrying their partners.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

2 Comments
Posted September 16, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The withdrawal of US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan means that fewer American soldiers are in harm's way. But new data from the Department of Defense suggests that the drawdown has done little to solve the serious problem of military suicides. The rate of military self-inflicted deaths has stayed roughly the same even as combat deaths have fallen.

Last year alone, 475 active service members took their own lives according to a report published last week by the Department of Defense. In the same year, 127 soldiers lost their lives in the line of duty reported icasualties.org — a website that has been documenting war deaths since the Iraq War in 2003. That's the lowest level since 2008.

The same Department of Defense report said that 120 personnel took their own lives in the first quarter of 2014, a rate of nearly one soldier every day. That compares with 43 soldiers who lost their lives on the front line between January 1 and September 11, 2014.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicide* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 16, 2014 at 6:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What unites members of this fledgling congregation, many of whom have migrated from evangelical Christian churches, is not necessarily ritual and dogma. It is the church's mission, based on a passage from the Book of Jeremiah, to "seek the peace and prosperity of the city" in which they live.

"What draws them together is the love of the neighborhood, and the desire to be in mission here," said Ryan Boettcher, one of Christ Redeemer's three lay pastors, who lives in Riverwest with his wife and infant son. "There's this community vision that our welfare as a church is so tied to the neighborhood that, unless our neighborhood is flourishing, we can't see our church as flourishing."

Christ Redeemer, which has grown to about 45 families, worships in rented space at the Holton Youth + Family Center, at 510 E. Burleigh St. It is one of about 500 new churches planted by the Anglican Church in North America...

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 16, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rev Kate Bottley, star of Gogglebox, Channel 4's fly-on-the-wall show, has criticised BBC1 show Songs Of Praise for being ''depressing'' and ''like a piece of soggy quiche''.

The vicar, who has become an unlikely TV favourite since appearing on the cult show, praised presenters Aled Jones and Diane Louise Jordan, and said that the Sunday teatime show was ''great for those who can't get out to church.''

But she hit out at the ''over-exaggerated mouth movements, as if the singers are trying to chew a toffee at the same time'', and the congregations, adding: ''I've never seen an Anglican church so full on a Sunday evening ....and with such a huge variety of ages.''

Read it all.

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

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Take the time to listen to it all (an MP3 file). You can read more about read more about Marcus there.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* South Carolina* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheodicyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 16, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For the Rev. Canon Andrew White, in his work as chaplain of St. George’s Anglican Church of Baghdad, the flesh may be weak but the spirit remains strong.

“I have to be honest with you. I’ve never felt overwhelmed. I know I’m doing what I was made to do and what I was created to do,” White said during a forum at All Saints Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on September 14. “The Lord is here, and he has never left us, even in our time of great trial.”

Even in the face of violence, persecution and killings perpetrated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), “I’ve never felt discouraged,” he told TLC, because of his deep trust in God. “I never doubt him,” White said. “I always love him and I know he loves me.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

HIRSCH: I was completely shocked when Gabriel died and I tried to go back to work after a while and I couldn't really function at work and so in order to alleviate my grief I began to write a document in which I wrote down everything I could remember about Gabriel. I suddenly became desperate that I would forget things because I'd lost him so suddenly, so completely. It all was sort of a blur and I wanted to remember and I began to talk to my partner, to my ex-wife, to my sisters, to my mother, to Gabriel's friends and every day I went to a coffee shop and I basically tried to tell the story of Gabriel's life....

GREENE: You've said though that poetry is not a protection against grief.

HIRSCH: On the contrary, poetry takes courage because you have to face things and you try to articulate how you feel. I don't like the whole language of healing which seems to me so false. As soon as something happens to us in America everyone begins talking about healing, but before you heal you have to mourn and I found that poetry doesn't shield you from grief but it does give you an expression of that grief. And trying to express it, trying to articulate it gave me something to do with my grief.....

GREENE: Talking about - mourning and grief it makes me want to hear another passage from your poem. It's on page 73, and it starts with, I did not know the work.....

HIRSCH: (Reading) I did not know the work of mourning is like carrying a bag of cement up a mountain at night. The mountaintop is not in sight, because there is no mountaintop. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I did not know I would struggle through a ragged underbrush without an upward path. Because there is no path, there is only a blunt rock with a river to fall into and time with its medieval chambers. Time with its jagged edges and blunt instruments. I did not know the work of mourning is a laborer in the dark we carry inside ourselves. Though sometimes when I sleep I'm with him again and then I wake. Poor Sisyphus Greif. I'm not ready for your heaviness cemented to my body. Look closely and you will see almost everyone carrying bags of cement on their shoulders. That's why it takes courage to get out of bed in the morning and climb into the day.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenDrugs/Drug AddictionMarriage & FamilyPoetry & LiteraturePsychology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 15, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The official reason for [Bruce] Shipman’s resignation, according to the Episcopal Church at Yale, was not the letter but “dynamics between the Board of Governors and the Priest-in-Charge.” Ian Douglas, bishop of Connecticut and president of the board of governors for the Episcopal Church at Yale, emphasized this distinction to the Yale Daily News. “It’s not as glamorous a story to hear that Priest-in-Charge Bruce Shipman resigned because of institutional dynamics within the Episcopal Church at Yale and not the debates related to Israel and Palestine — but it’s the truth,” he said.

Shipman disagrees. “This story cannot be simply dismissed as the inner problems of the Episcopal Church at Yale. It was not,” he says. “It was this letter that set off the firestorm.”

For Shipman, the controversy raises a number of “troubling questions” about free speech on campus. In addition to the hate mail, Shipman says he has also received letters of support from people thanking him for taking a courageous stand for Palestinian rights. University chaplains, he adds, have a long history advocating unpopular cultural positions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchEducationYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 15, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop T.D. Jakes, the founding pastor of the 30,000-member The Potter's House megachurch in Dallas, Texas, is making a weekly program based on his latest book as well as a daily talk show for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Jakes' weekly program will be based on his book, Instinct: The Power to Unleash Your Inborn Drive, and his daily talk show is also being developed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Both shows will be produced through his TDJ Enterprises, a for-profit company, and its partners 44 Blue Productions and Enlight Entertainment. The shows will be targeted for national syndication in 2015 or 2016.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 2:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Owly Images

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchBooksHistory* International News & CommentaryEuropeItaly

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Posted September 14, 2014 at 11:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From his own wallet, Kowbeidu also supports his siblings and obsesses over spending his money on Western luxuries. After Valerie threw him a 50th birthday party, he made her promise no more. That money could help Liberian children attend school, as he received help.

"I am here because of God's generosity through God's people," he says. "From whence I came, I pray I never forget."

That's largely what made him run for Mount Pleasant Town Council last year, he says.

"This country has given me more than I could have imagined," he says. "I want to give back."

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* International News & CommentaryAfricaLiberia* South Carolina* Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2014 at 6:24 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Running through the Bible and Christian thought is the conviction that the idea of covenant lies at the heart of God's relationship with human beings. It is therefore at the heart of how we as peoples relate to one another. 'Better together' is almost an echo of 'It is not good for a human being to be alone' in the book of Genesis. Therefore, any covenanted relationship based on mutual trust, fidelity, common purpose, interdependence and a care for one another's welfare is always better than being independent and alone. The breakup of the united kingdom of Israel and Judah was regarded as a disaster by the prophets because it flew in the face of a covenant between peoples.

This is why I think that for Scotland to say no to the Union of which we have all been a part for 300 years would not only be a tragedy, but also a denial of a hard-won principle of human society that the United Kingdom expresses. The point is not whether Scotland could be a successful, prosperous nation on its own. I am sure it could. But the Christian ideals of mutuality, partnership and service surely point in the opposite direction from narrow nationalisms and self-interest. They suggest that we should be reinvigorating the relationships between us, not dismantling them.

The United Kingdom is not a perfect union: far from it. The English have a long history of treating the Scots with disdain, even contempt. Durham Cathedral, 'half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot' in Sir Walter Scott's famous words, epitomises an often violent, destructive relationship. We English need to repent of this, and start treating Scotland as an equal partner in the Union.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted September 13, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 12, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Twenty stories above ground zero, its existence and whereabouts known only to those who needed it, the Family Room served for a dozen years as a most private sanctuary from a most public horror.

It was spartan office space at a 54-story tower at 1 Liberty Plaza for families to be by themselves, a temporary haven where they could find respite from bad weather and the curious stares of passers-by. Piece by piece, without any planning, it was transformed into an elaborate shrine known only to them.

Unconstrained and undesigned, a profusion of intimate expressions of love and loss filled the walls of the room, the tabletops, the floors and, even, the windows, obscuring views of the World Trade Center site below, as if to say: Jim and John and Jonathan and Harvey and Gary and Jean and Welles and Isaias and Katherine and Christian and Judy are all here, with us, not down there in the ruins.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 12, 2014 at 11:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Preaching is really hard, and many churchgoing people have no idea what goes into preparing a sermon. Perhaps they shouldn't care, but preachers are disappointed to find that many folks think we just preach on Sundays and do little else. There are preachers who wait until Saturday night to get their sermons ready; they are either extremely gifted or stupid and lazy.

The late Rev. Dunstan Stout, a Roman Catholic missionary priest to the American community in Mexico City, was the best homilist I have heard, ever. I knew him in the mid-1960s, and he could deliver a four- to six-minute homily, hard-hitting and even accusatory, and everyone in the church believed he was speaking directly to them...[He said] "a homily or sermon must be Gospel-centered and relevant to the listeners." His final rule on preaching: "Never say anything from the pulpit that you do not believe."

Preachers, past and present, violate Father Stout's rules. Sometimes I suspect the problem is that these preachers have lost their Gospel faith and turned to their own agenda. One hears social justice and political agendas of all sorts preached, but little or nothing of the Gospel.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

7 Comments
Posted September 12, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the great themes of the Hebrew Scriptures is that God identifies with the suffering. There are all these great texts that say things like this: If you oppress the poor, you oppress to me. I am a husband to the widow. I am father to the fatherless. I think the texts are saying God binds up his heart so closely with suffering people that he interprets any move against them as a move against him. This is powerful stuff! But Christianity says he goes even beyond that. Christians believe that in Jesus, God’s son, divinity became vulnerable to and involved in - suffering and death! He didn’t come as a general or emperor. He came as a carpenter. He was born in a manger, no room in the inn.

But it is on the Cross that we see the ultimate wonder. On the cross we sufferers finally see, to our shock that God now knows too what it is to lose a loved one in an unjust attack. And so you see what this means? John Stott puts it this way. John Stott wrote: “I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the Cross. In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?” Do you see what this means? Yes, we don’t know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, but we know what the reason isn’t, what it can’t be. It can’t be that he doesn’t love us! It can’t be that he doesn’t care. God so loved us and hates suffering that he was willing to come down and get involved in it. And therefore the Cross is an incredibly empowering hint. Ok, it’s only a hint, but if you grasp it, it can transform you. It can give you strength.

And lastly, we have to grasp an empowering hope for the future. In both the Hebrew Scriptures and even more explicitly in the Christian Scriptures we have the promise of resurrection....

Read it carefully (noting especially the original setting as described) and read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 1:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 8:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For some who lost loved ones in the attacks, the increasing feel of a return to normalcy in the area threatens to obscure the tragedy that took place there and interfere with their grief.

"Instead of a quiet place of reflection, it's where kids are running around," said Nancy Nee, whose firefighter brother, George Cain, was killed in the attacks. "Some people forget this is a cemetery. I would never go to the Holocaust museum and take a selfie."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

0 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Congressional Gold Medal awarded to those who died at the site of the memorial will be presented today as part of the ceremony. Bells will be rung and the names of the victims will be read at 10:03 a.m., the moment the airliner crashed as passengers fought with hijackers for control of the jet.

Today’s ceremony also comes as the National Park Service marks progress on a $17 million to $23 million phase of the project that includes a visitors’ center and a learning center, which officials hope will boost the number of annual visitors to the memorial from 300,000 to more than 500,000. Ground was broken on the project a day before the 12th anniversary ceremony last year, and a media tour of the construction progress was held Wednesday.

“We have to make sure there will be a place to come in the future to learn about what happened,” Gordon Felt said just after dawn Thursday, near the tent where the memorial ceremony was to take place. Felt’s brother, Edward, was among the passengers killed. Gordon is president of the Families of Flight 93, a support group of victims’ families which has had input on the memorial park’s design.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 7:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Haynes said that, despite all the evil that happened during 9/11, one of the positive things that happened as a result of the attacks was the good it brought out in people.

"It was just an outpouring of love from the American people," he said. "Everybody was just supportive of one another. I've never seen anything quite like that before."

Haynes said he feels privileged having been at the Pentagon during 9/11, being able to serve those in need of spiritual support. He said that although it was a trying and tiring time, his faith helped him meet the demands.

"I believe that God gives you strength. And I believe in the power of prayer. There was a lot of prayer going on," he said. "A lot of people just wanted to hear some positive words. I felt like that was my duty. I had to do that. I had to be strong for my fellow comrades and employees in the building. I believe that God prepares us for stuff, and I believe that God had me there for a reason."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

0 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is a long download but an important file to take the time to listen to and watch. There are a few pieces I would have wished to do differently in terms of the choices for specific content, but the actual footage and the music is valuable.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryMusicUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It isn't easy, but it is important--I make myself do this every year on this day. Watch it silently, and watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



(Courtesy of our son Nathaniel Harmon, who now lives and works in NYC).

Filed under: * By KendallHarmon Family* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* General InterestPhotos/Photography* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 11, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Almighty God, Lord of all compassion, We remember the terrible events of this day in America...[thirteen] years ago. We are reminded that we live in a broken and grievously divided world, where some are bent on terror and destruction.

We recall that day when planes speared into the twin towers in New York, that later collapsed in dust and fire to rubble; another hit the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed because brave men fought to stop it reaching its target....

Read it all from the NSW Council of Churches.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 11, 2014 at 4:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The] Reverend Bruce Shipman, chaplain of Yale’s Episcopal Church, resigned Thursday after he was accused of anti-Semitism.

In an Aug. 21 letter to the New York Times responding to Deborah Lipstadt’s Aug. 20 op-ed “Why Jews Are Worried,” Shipman wrote that Israel’s actions in Gaza contributed to growing anti-Semitism in Europe. He added that stalled peace negotiations and Israel’s occupation of the West Bank were also factors. As a result, Shipman faced a wave of criticism claiming he was anti-Semitic.

Shipman responded in an Aug. 28 post to the News, writing that he simply believed that there is a correlation between increased anti-Semitic violence and the events taking place in Israel, Palestine and Gaza.

Read it all and you can find more here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Theology

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Posted September 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Smart-crack responses will not get one very far. Thus, when asked, “Are you a member of the organized church?” I can look at the chaos of polities and answer, “No, I am a Lutheran.” Then: “Do you believe in institutional religion?” I can answer, “maybe I would if I were institutionalized and we had good chaplains.”

Two new books reviewed by Kaya Oakes...one by Linda Mercadante, the other by the Smith-Longest-Hill-Christofferson team, teach the smart-cracker to get not smart but wise, as these authors deal with SCNRs—Mercadante’s acronymic coinage for the “Spiritual But Not Religious.”

Mercadante writes: “No matter how organized religions try to ignore, challenge, adapt, or protest it, our society is being changed by this pervasive ethos.” Her studied types, “dissenters, casuals, explorers, seekers, and immigrants (to new beliefs), are often “millennials” who cannot return to the religion of their youth, “in part because many of them never had one.” - See more at: http://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/drift-away-martin-e-marty#sthash.e9l1DNGC.dpuf

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 10, 2014 at 3:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A toned and sunburned 32-year-old Australian with the letters F-A-I-T-H tattooed onto his biceps strode onto the stage of a former burlesque theater here and shouted across a sea of upstretched hands and uplifted smartphones: “Let’s win this city together!”

The crowd did not need much urging. Young, diverse and devoted to Jesus, the listeners had come to the Belasco Theater from around the city, and from across the country, eager to help an Australian Pentecostal megachurch that is spreading worldwide establish its first outpost on America’s West Coast.

The church, Hillsong, has become a phenomenon, capitalizing on, and in some cases shaping, trends not only in evangelicalism but also in Christian youth culture. Its success would be rare enough at a time when religion is struggling in a secularizing Europe and North America. But Hillsong is even more remarkable because its target is young Christians in big cities, where faith seems out of fashion but where its services are packing them in.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMusicUrban/City Life and IssuesYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted September 10, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Wolfhart Pannenberg has often been called the greatest theologian of the second half of the 20th century. With his death Friday, the world has lost a brilliant interpreter of Christianity, and I have lost the mentor who molded me as a scholar, theologian, and person.

In the 1950s, when Pannenberg was a doctoral student in Heidelberg, Karl Barth dominated the theological stage. In order to counteract Barth’s overemphasis on salvation history (Heilsgeschichte), Pannenberg redefined revelation as “universal history” (Universalgeschichte). A few years later he published a major Christology (Jesus—God and Man) that established him as the world’s leading defender of “theology from below.”

Over the next 30 years, Pannenberg extended this program to philosophy, the religion/science debate, the dialogue across the world religions, and to every corner of theology. He had the most encyclopedic mind I have ever encountered. You need only to read around a bit in his multi-volume Basic Questions in Theology to be stunned by the range and depth of his scholarship. John Cobb once quipped, “I saw that Pannenberg was able to encompass the entire range of knowledge within his own mind. Realizing that I could never match this achievement, I decided it would take a lifetime of working with my doctoral students to cover as many topics.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* International News & CommentaryEurope* Theology

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The diocese of Baton Rouge has asked the US Supreme Court to reverse a Louisiana Supreme Court decision that a priest may be compelled to testify as to what he heard in the confessional in 2008 concerning an abuse case.

The legal step is the latest in a case involving Father Jeffrey Bayhi, pastor of St John the Baptist Church in Zachary, Louisiana, and the sanctity of the seal of confession.

The petition to the US Supreme Court comes after a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling in May outlining arguments that priests are subject to mandatory reporting laws regarding abuse of minors if the person who made the confession waives confidentiality. The state Supreme Court opened the door for a hearing in which the priest would testify about what he heard in the confessional.

Under canon law, the seal of confession is sacred under the penalty of excommunication.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 9, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On her 27th day of living in a tiny room at a Tucson church known for pioneering the popular immigrant sanctuary movement in the 1980s, Rosa Robles Loreto swept a courtyard, prayed with a group of parishioners and greeted her uniformed son fresh off his baseball practice.

Robles Loreto is a 41-year-old immigrant who lacks legal status and is facing deportation after getting pulled over for a traffic infraction four years ago. She has vowed to remain in Southside Presbyterian Church until federal immigration authorities grant her leniency.

Robles Loreto is the third immigrant to take sanctuary in a church this year in Arizona, reviving a popular movement from the 1980s that sought to help Central American migrants fleeing civil wars stay in the U.S. by letting them live inside churches, where immigration officials generally do not arrest people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 9, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You may find the audio link here if you wish to suffer through it.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* By KendallSermons & Teachings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)Theology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted September 8, 2014 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury is likely to lead mourners at the televised funeral of King Richard III, found buried under a Leicester car park.

The Right Reverend Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, confirmed The Most Reverend Justin Welby would attend Leicester Cathedral for the King’s funeral in March next year.

He will be joined by his equivalent figure in the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols, and representatives of other faiths to bury the Last Plantagenet King with “dignity and honour”, Bishop Tim said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

0 Comments
Posted September 8, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It has taken more than 100 years, but a North Oxford church looks set to be finally finished.

A decision was made when St Michael and All Angels’ Church, in Lonsdale Road, was built in 1909 to cut short its nave and erect a temporary west wall due to lack of funds.

Since then the Grade II listed church has never been “finished”, with succesive vicars feeling it was not necessary – until now.

Now Rev Gavin Knight has taken on the project as he wants to expand the church’s role in the community and felt he could combine this with completing the 105-year-old buidling.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted September 8, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

LAWTON: Across the nation, the number of drug overdose deaths has increased one hundred and eighteen percent since 1999, with more than one hundred people dying from overdoses every day. According to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, those numbers represent a dramatic spike in the abuse of opioid drugs, including prescription pain killers and increasingly, heroin.

MICHAEL BOTTICELLI (White House Office of National Drug Control Policy): We have more people in the United States dying of drug related overdoses than we do motor vehicle fatalities and gunshots. And so from a public health perspective, we know that we have a huge epidemic on our hands.

[KIM] LAWTON: Michael Botticelli is acting director of the White House office, a job often known as the “drug czar.” He says the vast majority of heroin users started after abusing pain medicine.

BOTTICELLI: We know that the availability of very cheap, very pure heroin, has been on our streets. We know that addiction is a progressive disorder and that people often move from one substance to another in essence to basically maintain their addiction.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 3:25 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Slow Church joins a host of movements inspired by the Slow Food revolt begun in the 1980s, a global coalition that resists the industrializing of all aspects of food. Not all churches have been seduced by what Smith and Pattison call “Franchise faith” or “McDonaldization.” Still, the authors say, at least some fast-food, consumer-culture values—an obsession with efficiency, calculability, predictability, and control—have unwittingly crept into many houses of worship.

Smith and Pattison contrast the dominant “attractional” church model with the “incarnational” model, described by missiologists Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, who founded the Forge Mission Training Network 15 years ago. Up to 95 percent of Western churches, they estimate, function essentially as mission outposts luring unbelievers to their doors through imported, prepackaged programs and services. They tend toward top-down leadership structures and dualistic thinking about the church and the world. Because the church is often far from its commuting congregants, it can feel not only disembodied but also displaced, even “placeless.” This model sees people as “in or out,” belonging or not.

A Slow Church, in contrast, attempts to be “incarnational,” focusing less on attracting outsiders and more on the quality of its common life. The authors’ congregations work at “cultivating together the resurrection life of Christ,” not through a Sunday “consumerist experience,” but by the daily discipline of “deeply and selflessly loving our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, and even our enemies.”

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Serah Okeh was hurrying to her hotel one recent Sunday night when Gene Prevatt’s words slowed her down.

A “come as you are” half-hour service was about to begin, according to Prevatt, a Christ Church Anglican member who stood downtown near Bull Street.

“It was short, and I decided to just pop in,” said the Marietta woman who was visiting Savannah.

Candlelight flickered against the walls of the darkened sanctuary where Okeh sat in silence during Compline.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMusic

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 12:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This truth is demonstrated in the phenomenal growth of the early church (Acts 2:41–47). These first Christians turned the world upside down not because they discovered a trendy new way to “do church” but because of their striking conformity to Jesus. Notably, the church grew as the believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Because devoting yourself seems to lack pizzazz, we tend to make spiritual growth more difficult than it is. But, with few exceptions, those who are growing in godliness are committed to preaching, the sacraments, and prayer. These are the ordinary means of grace. Spiritual growth doesn’t require innovation because God doesn’t work erratically and irregularly (Mal. 3:6). We don’t have to “find God’s wave and ride it” until He surges elsewhere.

Still, the means of grace don’t always seem to work. Maybe we’ve said, “I come to church, partake of the sacraments, spend time in prayer, and I don’t seem to grow.” Assuming that we are diligently and believingly using the means, we shouldn’t too easily dismiss the vital role they are playing in our lives. Imagine saying, “I eat three times a day, but I don’t get any healthier. Eating must not be the answer.” What shape might we be in if we weren’t being fed by God through His ordinary means?

In our church, new members hear this admonition when they profess their faith in Christ: “By the diligent use of the means of grace and with the assistance of your God, continue in the profession which you have just made.” Surely, exercises like maintaining godly associations, using edifying media, sharing our faith with others, engaging in works of service, making diligent use of time, and caring for our bodies will affect our spiritual wellness. But participating in preaching, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer must regulate the routine of any healthy Christian.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted September 7, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

She hasn’t got the heaves, but if Miss Opsimath’s cough isn’t better by next Saturday, I’d better take my bike. So my cousin told me, when the possibility of my borrowing the mare was discussed. I’ll probably be more comfortable on the bike, because, although this is Dorset, which can be lumpy, the route is fairly flat, eastwards down the river Frome from Dorchester for six or seven miles and back.

The idea is to drop in on five churches, and I know they’ll be open, along with 300 others in the county, because it’s Ride & Stride day. Last year, 183 Dorset parishes took part, to raise money for the Dorset Historic Churches Trust, which in 2013 helped 27 churches in need of repair. To me, visiting old churches makes more sense as a fundraiser than a bucket of cold water thrown over my head.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

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Posted September 6, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week's retirement of Pastor James McConnell after some 57 years in the Whitewell Ministries raises the question as to what happens to institutions once the main figure has gone....

In the Church of Ireland, a minister can stay in a parish as long as she or he desires, barring misbehaviour. However, an incumbent can be plucked out very quickly to higher office.

Perhaps the moral of all this is to recognise the reality of life, retirement, frailty and death, and to conclude that, however big or small a leading Church figure may be in his or her day, no individual is bigger than the church itself.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyEcclesiologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 6, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One of the really great theologians of the last century. He will be greatly missed. Read it all and there is more there (translation there).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Theology

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Posted September 6, 2014 at 9:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by The_Elves

Martin Luther once wrote, “For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel.” Luther wrote this to emphasize the challenges and obstacles God’s people will face just because of who we are in Christ, and what we are trying to do– to advance God’s Kingdom at the expense of his adversary, Satan. It’s nothing less than the truth Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:12-13 that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities and spiritual wickedness in high places….”

I find that Biblical perspective both illuminating and convicting when I think of the struggles and conflicts we face in the Anglican Communion, the Anglican realignment in North America, our dioceses and local churches– and in the cauldron of leading change in the local church. Wherever we are serving and whatever we are seeing, it is helpful to avoid personalizing the conflict. It is essential to recognize the spiritual dimension in change, challenge and conflict. It’s true that if the church is God’s ordained instrument to save the world, it must be the target of the adversary, the devil, at every level. With that recognition, we realize that we are not going to win this conflict alone by workshops, conferences, sharing best practices and strategic planning. These are helpful tools to be sure, and they put practical “feet” on the things we need to do to turn our churches around. But if the conflict is spiritual we need to use the spiritual means God has given us to overcome the wiles of the adversary (see 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5).

Prayer is at the top of that list...

Read it all

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 11:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Before relocating to Nashville, I was ministering in an area of New York City with a high concentration of men and women who worked in finance. When the Great Recession hit in 2008, and as financial institutions crashed and careers were ruined, many people expressed a feeling that they'd not only lost money and a career, but also a sense of self. When you work on Wall Street, you begin to believe you are what you do, and you are what you make. "What is she worth?" is a question taken quite literally. The metrics of human value are measured in terms of salaries and bonuses. When the salary and bonus disappear, so does the person's worth. This becomes true not only in your peers’ eyes but also in your own. One multibillionaire lost half his net worth in the crash. Though he was still a multibillionaire, and though nothing about his quality of life had changed, he committed suicide. The shame of losing rank in the pecking order of the financial world turned him completely inward and caused him to self-destruct.

Kelly Osbourne, the famous daughter of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, disappeared from the public eye for an extended season. In 2010 she reappeared during Fashion Week with a new look and a new body. She'd lost 42 pounds, causing her new and curvy figure to become a major headline. When a journalist asked what motivated her to lose so much weight, she said she hated what she saw whenever she looked into the mirror. Osbourne measured her own value in comparison to other women, and was undone by the comparisons. Why don’t I look like this girl or that girl? she'd ask herself. But her shame wasn't only internal. It was also reinforced externally by a culture that says (absurdly) that thin has value and full-bodied is worthless. “I took more hell from people for being fat,” she remarked, “than I did for being an absolute raging drug addict.”

What if there were a way to divorce ourselves from cultural pressures to be rich and beautiful? What if we no longer felt a need to prove ourselves, to validate our own existence in the world’s eyes and in our own? What if we began actually believing God has not called us to be awesome but to be humble, receptive, faithful, and free? What if our secret battle with shame was neutered, freeing us to turn our attention away from ourselves and toward our neighbors?

This is my greatest joy as a Christian pastor.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPastoral Care* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 3:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two years after the Episcopal Church voted to allow the blessings of same-sex unions, Milwaukee's bishop has opened the door for blessings to take place in his diocese.

But the new rite, created by Milwaukee Bishop Steven A. Miller, will be available only to those couples already married by civil authorities, and only in churches where the vestry, or parish council, signs off on its use.

The decision, outlined by Miller in a letter to clergy dated Aug. 29, appears to be a compromise between the personal convictions of the bishop, who has criticized the rite approved by the national church as deficient, and most of the clergy in the diocese, who had been pushing for him to allow its use locally.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“I have been given the task of sharing the gospel,” said Brandon McCauley, an 18-year-old who just finished his senior year at Lebanon High School in Ohio, where he ran a lunchtime Bible study program. “I am offering you the opportunity to experience Jesus Christ,” McCauley exhorted fellow students, as he debated whether to pursue the ministry instead of higher education.

“I like being different,” said McCauley, explaining his motivation to tell classmates that they will end up in hell if they aren’t saved. “If you sin, you deserve death,” McCauley yelled, before getting choked up and concluding, “I’m the reason that He had to die … I am accepting that You died on the cross for me.”

American adults under 30 increasingly identify with no religion whatsoever, but some teenagers on the edge of this demographic are enthusiastically embracing faith. As the fraction of unaffiliated, agnostic, and atheist surpasses one-third of young people, proselytizing denominations are trying to win over the so-called “nones.”

A landmark Pew Research from 2012 shows that attachment by young people to organized religious bodies is on the decline.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociologyYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* Theology

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Taskforce for Reimagining The Episcopal Church (TREC) has progressed in our work, we have come to see the raising and unbinding of Lazarus as a helpful way of understanding this moment in the life of The Episcopal Church. We believe Jesus is calling our church to new life and vitality, but the church is held back by its bindings—old ways of working that no longer serve us well.

We write this as we begin the final months of our work, to give you an update about our thinking and emerging recommendations for your prayerful consideration and feedback. We will publish our final report and specific legislative proposals in December 2014....

The Episcopal Church’s structures and governance processes reflect assumptions from previous eras that do not always fit with today’s contexts. They have not adapted to the rapidly changing cultural, political, and social environments in which we live. The churchwide structures and governance processes are too disconnected from local needs and too often play a “gating” or regulatory role to local innovation. They are often too slow and confusing to deal decisively with tough and urgent tradeoffs or to pursue bold directions that must be set at the churchwide level. Our study and observations would suggest, for example, that:

■ General Convention has historically been most effective in deliberatively discerning and evolving the church’s position on large-scale issues (e.g., prayer book revision, reform of clergy formation and discipline canons, women’s ordination, same sex blessings). This should continue to be the primary role of General Convention....

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

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Posted September 5, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Decades ago, baby boomers and older Gen Xers pushed to create churches centered on the young, nuclear family. Sadly, this ministry model now excludes many of us. Having outgrown the local church’s core programs, we’re left to usher, teach fourth-grade Sunday school, or attend committee meetings. At times, I can’t help thinking: Been there, done that. Got the Christian T-shirt to prove it.

While local churches work to reach a younger generation, some of their graying members are stepping away. In our 50s, 60s, and beyond, we face a new set of challenges: relationship shifts, loneliness, health risks, divorce, and death. Boomers have begun attending church less frequently, according to Barna Research, while Gen Xers registered a significant uptick in those with no church affiliation.

I recently took an informal survey on my blog, and heard from nearly 500 believers about their church experiences as they’ve gotten older. Most stayed involved, using their extra empty-nester time to serve and continue their relationships with other congregants. But a little less than half said they’d scaled back their involvement from what it had been a decade ago. Those who had downshifted or left cited weariness with church politics, increased career demands, significant time devoted to caring for parents or grandchildren, health issues, and a sense that they’d somehow outgrown their church. “I’m tired of the same programs year after year,” one said. “I want deeper relationships with fewer people, more spiritual exercises like prayer and meditation than the canned studies offered.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMiddle AgePsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted September 4, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In Germany, being an official church member usually means paying an extra tax. But a change in the country's tax code is now causing many believers to leave the fold.

Germany is just one of a number of European countries where members of the main organized religions pay a special levy on income to provide the bulk of churches' finances. But when a loophole concerning income from capital gains closes next year, church leaders have good reason to expect an exodus.

So far this year, the number of Germans leaving the country's Protestant and Catholic churches has reached its highest level in 20 years, twice last year's level—a surge many clergy and finance experts blame on the changes in how the tax is levied.

The outflow is now fueling a debate about whether a levy that goes back to the 19th century is an appropriate way to finance churches in an increasingly secularized Germany.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeGermany* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted September 4, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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