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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Longtime U2 musician and veteran activist Bono, who spent a lot of time with Nelson Mandela, speaks about his friend.
Watch it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Music Race/Race Relations * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
Read it all.
the bishops may also want to consider the significant omissions of fact in the PR's revision of Anglican history since 1998:
that the issue dominated the 1998 Conference because of the threatened actions of the North American churches;
that Resolution I.10 was approved by a vast majority of bishops and continues to be held as normative by virtually all the churches of the Global South;
that the primary ground of the resolution was fidelity to Scripture, and several additional resolutions affirmed this point;
that the North American churches followed through on their threat with the consecration of Gene Robinson despite repeated warnings from various Instruments; and the more "collegial" atmosphere at Lambeth 2008 was purchased at the expense of 280 bishops being absent from Lambeth 2008.
It is astonishing that the PR in fact lacks any reference to The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.
The Church of England's bishops may wish to consider these omissions of fact, and, by contrast, the recitation of the actual history of the failure of the Instruments of Communion to discipline the North American churches that repeatedly breached Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998) in the last 15 years - a recitation which can be found in the October 26 Nairobi Communique and in other communications from Global South Anglican leaders.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Global South Churches & Primates Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
On Sunday 1 December, St George's Anglican Church in Berlin celebrated the 10th anniversary of the restoration of regular services in central Berlin (Mitte).
The first St George’s in the city was built in 1885 under the patronage of the Crown Princess of Germany, Victoria (eldest daughter of Queen Victoria) who was married to the future Kaiser Friedrich III. It was the only Anglican Church in Germany to remain open during World War I, as the Kaiser was the Church’s Patron. It was closed in the Second World War and hit by allied bombing 24 Nov 1943 and the remains were pulled down by the East Berlin authorities. After World War II, new St George's, a garrison Church, was built in the British sector. In 1994 the new St George’s became a civilian congregation of the Diocese.
Read it all and check out the pictures as well.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Europe Germany
Guernsey will not be "forced" into any relationship change with the Anglican Church, the island's Dean has said.
It follows questions raised over the relationship between Jersey and the Diocese of Winchester after a review of how an abuse complaint was handled.
Guernsey's Anglican Dean the Very Reverend Canon Paul Mellor, said it was not clear if any changes would be made.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Local dignitaries including cabinet minister and MP for Twickenham Vince Cable MP and Richmond Mayor Meena Bond came together for a special service to mark the 150th anniversary of the consecration of St James's Church, Hampton Hill.
The service, presided over by the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, also brought together representatives from Hampton Hill Junior School and the school choir the mark the special occasion.
Read it all and enjoy the picture.
Rather than focusing on zombies as campy characters in B-movies, our sermon series reimagined zombies in a more symbolic way. Zombies became the bad ideas that have popped up at various misguided moments in the church’s history and, for whatever reason, can’t seem to die off. They keep coming back and, in some cases, exert a kind of stranglehold on the life of Christians and the ministry of the church.
And the way we fight off these zombies is with better ideas — with good, solid theology that reflects the grace of God, the compassion of Jesus and life of the Spirit.
During our six-week series, we exhumed and battled all kinds of zombies. One Sunday morning, we focused on belief. As Christians, does it matter what we believe? Most would answer in the affirmative. But are there times in the church’s life when Christian faith has become only about believing certain things to be true? Absolutely. Many de-churched folks can trace their journeys out of their congregations to the day that they stopped believing all of the fantastical things they were being asked to believe.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Christology
Father Jerry Sherbourne, an active-duty U.S. Army Chaplain, and former Anglican priest, was ordained a Catholic priest Sunday, December 8, 2013 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Through the invocation of the Holy Spirit and the imposition of hands, Archbishop Broglio ordained him during a 10:00 a.m. Mass.
Father Sherbourne is now a Catholic priest, incardinated in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a special Church jurisdiction established by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining distinctive elements of their theological, spiritual, and liturgical patrimony.
In preparation for his transition from Anglican to Catholic, Father Sherbourne underwent a two-year formation program approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Holy See, a process that included his ordination as a transitional Catholic deacon.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Military / Armed Forces * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
Rolihlahla Mandela was nine years old when a teacher at the primary Methodist school where he was studying in Qunu, South Africa, gave him an English name - Nelson - in accordance with the custom to give all school children Christian names.
This was common practice in South Africa and in other parts of the continent, where a person could often be given an English name that foreigners would find easier to pronounce.
Rolihlahla is not a common name in South Africa.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
"We found out today that Isaac took his life," says the email sent by Darling Murray, a coordinator at Summit Church in Orlando. "We are obviously deeply deeply devastated and saddened beyond words by this news. The tears keep coming and coming as we mourn. We are praying for his family and this congregation as we walk through this together."
Officials of Northland, a Church Distributed, said they are still awaiting the police report on Isaac Hunter's death, but the church confirmed his death in a statement posted on the Northland website.
"By now you may have heard that Pastor Joel and Becky's son Isaac Hunter died today. All of us are grieving for the Hunter family, and we will deeply miss Isaac. Words cannot express the sorrow we're feeling," said the statement by Vernon Rainwater, a Northland pastor. "We love this family and are so grateful for the impact they have had on each of our lives. I have loved Isaac since he was a child, and I know this ... Isaac loved Jesus. And we are assured of his continuing relationship with Christ now in heaven."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Suicide Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Britain’s most senior judges are preparing to make a landmark ruling over attempts to introduce a ”right to die” under human rights legislation.
A full panel of nine Supreme Court Justices, headed by Lord Neuberger, the court’s President, is to be convened next week to hear the culmination of three separate legal challenges to the current ban on assisted suicide.
The three cases have been put into one “super-case” to allow a sweeping judgment on the current state of the law in England and Wales.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Despite rampant commercialization, the holiday season also has become a lifeline for nonprofits. One-third of all giving now takes place during the last three months of each year. About 18 percent of all giving to nonprofits last year occurred in December alone.
So far, it looks like that giving spirit will soar higher this year.
The Blackbaud Index, which measures charitable giving trends, announced last week that giving nationwide grew 2.3 percent for the three months ending October 2013 compared to the same time in 2012. Online giving increased almost 10 percent.
Read it all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.
Listen to it all if you so desire.
Growing up in Greece, Vasileios Marinis encountered world-famous religious images on the walls of a thousand-year-old monastery not far from home.
The still-active monastery, called Hosios Loukas, is an acclaimed example of Middle Byzantine architecture. As a youth, Marinis learned to behold the building’s artful objects—mosaics, murals, icons—not as museum pieces frozen in time but as windows on eternity, declarations of faith that enlisted color, paint, fabric, wood and stone. These taught him to look, to see. Dreams of becoming an art historian—a byzantinist—were born.
“It was an astounding building,” recalls Marinis, assistant professor of Christian art and architecture at Yale Divinity School and Yale Institute of Sacred Music.
Read it all.
I found a divinity school…[where] we didn’t come to the Bible until about two weeks before commencement….[and as a result of my theological education]…during the first years of my ministry what I knew about God kept me from God….
[Later when I was reading I learned that] Rembrandt had a powerful painting on… [the subject of the raising of Lazarus in John 11], and it was quite obvious that Lazarus was not being raised in spirit only. The reanimated and bandaged corpse was realistically coming to life. Then I happened to turn to the back of the painting to see what the critic said of it. Critics have done much harm, but the words of that critic left there helped me into the Lord's bright blessing: “Rembrandt did everything he could think of to intensify the miracles of Christ.” I had intended to dampen their effect, but Rembrandt did everything he could think of to enhance them, to give them glory. For some reason those words of that unknown critic did me in. From then on, I too tried to do everything I could think of to intensify the effect of the miracles. When I turned that page, I changed sides….I had never raised my voice in.. [the] Presbyterian pulpit [in the parish where I served] before, but that day, since John said Jesus shouted, I shouted… [the words “Lazarus, Come out!”] as loudly as I could. And for the first time in my life someone asked me for a copy of my sermon.
--David Redding, Jesus Makes Me Laugh (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), pp.14-18, my emphasis
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian * Theology Christology Seminary / Theological Education Theology: Scripture
Aside from a pastor's personal weaknesses, what cultural forces make it harder for pastors to stay true in their calls?
We have a cultural tendency to elevate leaders. Maybe it's because they have an extraordinary education or a title or a position. Maybe it is because they have had a great deal of success in the growth of their church, or as an author or speaker. Whatever the reason, we're creating minigods in our minds and hearts. That creates expectations in leaders, and expectations are the foundations for disappointment.
What does that look like in a local church?
Maybe the pastor receives disproportionately large gifts compared to what's given to associates or other staff. Or the senior pastor is seen as the person that we all go to. It's people saying, "The pastor sat at my table," or, "The pastor was over at my house." As if the pastor is a movie star or sports figure.
I don't know how many times in Peacemakers' work, after coming in to help a church, I've heard elders say, "I wanted to say something, but I thought, Who am I?" We elevate pastors to a place where we feel they know so much more than we do, so we don't hold them accountable to some fundamental issues.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Health & Medicine Marriage & Family Psychology * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, the Most Revd Thabo Makgoba wrote a prayer:
"Go forth, revolutionary and loving soul, on your journey out of this world, in the name of God, who created you, suffered with you and liberated you. Go home Madiba, you have selflessly done all that is good, noble and honourable for God’s people.
"We will continue where you have left off, the Lord being our helper. We now turn to you, Lord, in this hour of darkness, sadness, pain and death, in tears and mourning. We wail, yet we believe that you will console us, that you will give us the strength to hold in our hearts and minds, and the courage to enact in our lives, the values Madiba fought and stood for....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of South Africa * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Prison/Prison Ministry * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
Leaders: what kind of culture are you fostering in your ministry? In a world ever more primed for speed and convenience, should the church lean into the trend or cling to more grounded values? Engage this piece from Craig Detweiler, and respond in the comments.
Jeff Bezos is a brilliant man and a remarkable marketer. He realizes that in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, the role of technologist-in-chief is up for grabs. And while Google is offering us Glass and Facebook and Twitter are aggregating our friends and followers, Amazon is appealing to a different felt need—for speed. By turning 60 Minutes into a platform to announce “drone delivery,” Bezos shifted the news cycle towards Amazon on the same day that Christians have traditionally initiated Advent. While people of faith were shifting into a season of waiting and anticipation, Amazon offered the promise of “Prime Air” that could go above and beyond UPS or Federal Express to deliver our choices in an even faster, more convenient manner—via octocopters.
It doesn’t really matter when this innovation will arrive. By getting us talking and thinking about the virtues of Amazon’s delivery methods, Bezos enjoyed a miraculous public relations coup.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Science & Technology * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Watch it all (Hat tip: RH).
When, after 27 years, Nelson Mandela was finally released from prison, the world marveled at his generous spirit, even temperament, genteel manners, disarming wit, ready smile and lack of bitterness.
Admirable as they were, those saintly virtues don’t begin to explain his political genius. Mandela was also cunning, iron-willed, bull-headed, contemptuous — and more embittered than he let on. He needed all of his traits — soft and hard — to engineer a political miracle: persuading a sitting government to negotiate its own abdication by yielding power to the very people it had ruthlessly oppressed.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
What's the most indelible time of all the personal time-- and you had some intense personal time with him? Is there any one you can separate out?
Watch it all to hear Bill Clinton's answer (just under 2 3/4 minutes).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Mr Powell said that Mr Mandela was a guide to him when he became the first black US secretary of state:
What I liked telling people was I was the first secretary of state who happened to be black, and I put that descriptor behind the title. We have to get beyond these labels depending upon your gender or your colour or your background. I'm proud of being black, and I'm proud of being an immigrant of British subjects, but at the same time I want to be seen as an American. And I think Nelson Mandela was able to create that kind of an image within South Africa. We are not black South Africans or white South Africans, we are South Africans who happen to be black or white. We are one family, one nation, one people.
Read it all and watch the whole video clip (approximately 3 1/4 minutes).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Race/Race Relations * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Nelson Mandela was honored with the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2009 ESPY's. Morgan Freeman pays tribute to Mandela's actions at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
Watch it all.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
Bishop Shannon Johnston of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has presided over the blessing of a same-sex union, according to an Arlington clergywoman.
Mother Leslie J. Hague, rector of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Arlington was joined in “holy union” with her partner, Katie Casteel, at Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross in Dunn Loring on November 23. The afternoon blessing ceremony followed Hague and Casteel’s civil marriage in nearby Washington, DC exactly one year before. Same-sex marriages are not recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Roosevelt, Stalin, Churchill, Hitler — these were the names that, for much of the world, defined the first half of the 20th century, the most destructive era in history.
Gandhi, King, Mandela — these, it could be argued, are the figures who will live longest in the public consciousness as we look back on the postwar world: leaders who had no real armies to speak of and who wielded little power in office but who helped create a new ethic through the power of their ideas and the example of their lives.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Prison/Prison Ministry Race/Race Relations * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
You may watch the announcement by Jacob Zuma here.
The Wall Street Journal now has an interactive obituary complete with some of his most memorable quotes, tweets and video there
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Africa South Africa
Bishop Moses Deng Bol of Wau Diocese warned members of his diocese not to be fooled by the conmen in Yei--in the south of the country.
"How stupid then to think that you can pay for faith or sell it like market goods," he wrote in the Diocesan newsletter. "Let us be clear – salvation is a free gift that no amount of money can buy."
Bishop Deng Bol said the reports of such examples of "Prosperity Gospel" made him angry and said he was unable to stay silent about such behaviour. He added that paying for prayers was "contrary to the way God wants us to behave."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Episcopal Church of the Sudan * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --South Sudan * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Listen to it all (just under 24 minutes).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education * Theology Seminary / Theological Education Theology: Scripture
A long-retired first grade teacher who died a couple of years ago in Simsbury, Connecticut, lived very simply and wasn’t aware of how many riches she had – not until her lawyer discovered she was actually quite wealthy. NBC’s Harry Smith reports that she gave it away to the institutions that mattered to her the most in the community.
There are two videos and they are both well worth your time: The first may be foundhereand the second there.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Education Rural/Town Life * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
You can imagine how my heart raced. I was told that the amount exceeded $500,000 – an unheard of sum in those days. (It actually ended up being well above that – but read on.) There was just one hitch: The man had insisted in his will that the money go only for the seminary education... [under conditions we could not honor].
Still, I didn’t want to let go of an obvious windfall. When the board finally met, they debated the pros and cons, and I made the case for it as best I could. But quietly, I did have my misgivings. When one of our trustees, a bishop, said, “This has the smell of sulphur about it,” I realized the die was cast: We could not accept the gift.
Read it all.
In their introduction to the Annual Report, Church Army Chair and Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, and Church Army Chief Executive, Mark Russell, said: "During this year under review, one of our main focuses has been the implementation of our DARE strategy which we launched in 2011; doing evangelism, advocating evangelism, resourcing evangelism and enabling evangelism. Therefore, our staff and evangelists have been working hard as they’ve endeavoured to convert this strategy into operational reality - particularly in relation to encouraging and challenging the wider church in evangelism.
"Yet, it is the individual lives changed that speak best of Church Army's impact during 2012/2013. It is their names and faces, along with the statistics and finances, which will give you a real insight into our work. People like Jenny, from The Amber Project in Cardiff, who has struggled during her teenage years with self-harm but thanks to our support has found hope. Or Dot who lives on the deprived Flaxley Road housing estate in Selby and has come to faith through our Centre of Mission....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
The law convicts us of sin. It shows us that we are, all of us, judged; that we are, all of us, found wanting.
But the law also convicts us by a second device. Law paints the lines on the savage playing field of our sin: what the law condemns, it first describes. Rules encapsulate sport: without ever having played a round or been on the ice, you know from their rulebooks the respective natures of golf and hockey.
Thus, our readings for today, readings from which the contemporary reader is apt to flee.
Read it all.
Dear Father,—Do not be grieved at the slanderous libel in this week's Express. Of course, it is all a lie, without an atom of foundation; and while the whole of London is talking of me, and thousands are unable to get near the door, the opinion of a penny-a-liner is of little consequence.
I beseech you not to write: but if you can see Mr. Harvey, or some official, it might do good. A full reply on all points will appear next week.
I only fear for you; I do not like you to be grieved. For myself I WILL REJOICE; the devil is roused, the Church is awakening, and I am now counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake... Good ballast, father, good ballast; but, oh! remember what I have said before, and do not check me.
Last night, I could not sleep till morning light, but now my Master has cheered me; and I "hail reproach, and welcome shame." Love to you all, especially to my dearest mother. I mean to come home April 16th. So amen.
Your affectionate son, C. H. Spurgeon.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * International News & Commentary England / UK
Sunday Worship, available on Apple’s iPhone and iPad, offers full Bible readings for the main Sunday service, together with prayers, based on the Common Worship liturgies launched at the start of the millennium.
This follows two other apps published to support congregations in their prayer. An app for daily prayer reflections is already available and has been downloaded more than 50,000 times. There is also The Lectionary, which contains Bible readings for every service along with full details of feast days throughout the year and has been downloaded 9,000 times. The busiest day for downloads last year was the start of Lent, Ash Wednesday, in February when there were 416 downloads.
Read it all (subscription required).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
Oh brother. More lazy stereotypes about celibates. Bill Keller’s op-ed today in The New York Times “Sex and the Single Priest” (ha ha) says that pretty much all celibate priests are lonely and that celibacy “surely played some role” in the sexual abuse crisis. By his own admission, Mr. Keller hasn’t been an active member of the church since around high school. But that’s not the problem with his piece: former Catholics have written perceptively about the church. The problem is that Keller’s article is based largely on the opinions of two priests who left the priesthood and a sister who left her order, and his own speculation about what the celibate life must be like. That’s like writing a piece on marriage and speaking only to divorced men and women. “Yeah,” some of them might say, “married life stinks.”
Maybe it would have been helpful to look at some actual data. Sure, there is some loneliness in the priesthood--and there are problems in married life too. But the picture that Mr. Keller paints is ridiculous. In the latest survey on priests from the Center for Applied Research on the Apostolate in 2009, 95 percent report they would “definitely or probably choose priesthood again,” up from 79 percent in 1970. Wow.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Media Psychology Religion & Culture Sexuality * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Young people are being given a taste of life behind the dog collar with the launch of the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES), run by the Ministry Division.
The scheme, which began with a pilot phase...this September in four dioceses, is a one year programme of theological teaching, practical experience and personal development for young people aged 18-30 who are considering future ministry in the church. The scheme was set up to encourage more young people to consider being involved in ministry and focus on the nine criteria used in the selection of clergy.
The scheme is currently being run in the dioceses of Sodor and Man, Newcastle, Peterborough and the Stepney area of London. Ministry Division are working with 15 more dioceses interested in the scheme, with a view to provide a CEMES programme in every diocese.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
...I was a pastor’s kid, so eyes were always on me, even then. I sat in the first pew of the church, and I had to wear a suit every Sunday, because my parents wanted me to be this role model that I didn’t always want to be. I preferred going to punk-rock shows in small venues in New Jersey, where we grew up, wearing my jean jacket and all my band pins. That’s how I fell in love with music, how I became obsessed with it. I’d stand there, watching the singer running around the stage, owning the crowd. I didn’t even notice whatever else was happening onstage. All I could see was the singer.
But I had certain obligations at that age. If I ever didn’t want to go to church on Sunday, or when I was trying to figure out what religion I wanted to be, or trying to understand spirituality, I would always have to deal with knowing that people were looking up to me. We eventually left our church, Assembly of God, when I was 14. A scandal had erupted involving stolen money, and it caused a big rift in the church. After that the concept of church really upset me for a long time. I mean, I believe in God, and that’s a personal relationship that I have, but I’m not religious in any way.
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Music Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology
The Supreme Court has rejected a final bid to preserve the quake-damaged ChristChurch Cathedral.
This means the Diocese of Christchurch is free to demolish the Cathedral and to move ahead with plans for a replacement.
The Great Christchurch Buildings Trust (GCBT) earlier contested a Court of Appeal decision that demolition of the landmark could go ahead.
The Court of Appeal had upheld a High Court decision clearing the way for demolition to continue after the lawfulness of a decision to bring it down to a safe level was challenged by the GCBT.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Urban/City Life and Issues * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc. * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ
At the end of...[the party], though, after most of the guests had gone home, my sister had gone to sleep after marathoning all then-7 of the Harry Potter films the night before and my folks were busy chatting with my aunt and uncle, I headed to the stack of my new books and, almost at random, chose one of the titles from my American Literature survey course: Mr. Ives’ Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos.
I read the book in most of 2 days, instantly captivated by the story of a man, himself an orphan, trying to put his life back together after the murder of his aspiring priest son, and thinking back over the story of his own life as a honorary member of New York’s Cuban community of the 40s and ’50s, despite not really being Cuban himself; a simple story, Hijuelos captured it in poetic, delicate writing that painting broad, vibrant brushstrokes in your head.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Books Poetry & Literature Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. Caribbean Cuba
Perhaps the significance of Kennedy is ultimately found in his tragic and untimely death and that is why November 22 has been singled out in his memory, eclipsing Lewis' death. But it seems to me that Lewis' significance is found in his life and work. JFK's importance is found in what could have been had he lived (and perhaps a little too romanticized in the process), as well as the continued controversy generated by conspiracy theorists as to how many assassins were involved that day. But I think Lewis' importance is found in not what might have been, but in what he contributed prior to his death, challenging us to rethink our view of the world and the significance of a "mere Christianity" in which an orthodox understanding of Jesus was essential, while poking at that mere Jesus with some new and different questions.
November 22 seems to have been dedicated to JFK by default because of his untimely death. Lewis continues to be read and discussed and pondered in an ever-continuing stream of new books, in coffee shops and pubs and taverns and at conferences. The significance of Lewis' contribution cannot be limited to one day a year....
Lewis' death may get no attention, but his life and work cannot be eclipsed.
Read it all.
On November 14, R&E invited students and tutors from New York Avenue Presbyterian Church’s after-school tutoring program, Community Club, to recite the Gettysburg Address in honor of its 150th anniversary. The club meets at the church every week and provides dinner, academic tutoring, and mentorship to DC students ranging in age from 5 to 18. New York Avenue Presbyterian is also the church where President Lincoln rented a pew and sometimes attended services. The Gettysburg Address, described by historians as “the sacred scripture of the Civil War’s innermost spiritual meaning,” was delivered at Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.
Watch and listen to it all.
The female American priest chosen as the new bishop for the Vancouver-area Anglican diocese says she attracts people to her church who have been “wounded” by other Christian traditions.
Rev. Melissa Skelton, who leads St. Paul's Episcopal parish in Seattle, Washington, was elected a bishop in Canada on the third ballot at a vote held Saturday at Christ Church Anglican Cathedral in downtown Vancouver.
Skelton will replace retired Anglican bishop Michael Ingham, who was at the centre of a storm within the 60-million-member worldwide Anglican communion when he became the first Anglican bishop to formally support the blessing of same-sex couples.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Canada
The former Crystal Cathedral will close to the public as it undergoes a transformation from a space built as a television studio as much as a sanctuary into the spiritual home for the Orange County Catholic community of more than 1.2 million people.
Beginning Sunday, the newly named Christ Cathedral will be closed for construction as crews launch a $29 million effort to restore the more than 75,000-square-foot space.
The Diocese of Orange has been working with liturgical consultants and architects to modify the church built in the vision of the Rev. Robert Schuller into one that meets the requirements of a Catholic cathedral.
"The beauty and inspiration evoked by the cathedral grounds and its architecture are only surpassed by the extraordinary communities of faith that now call this campus home," Bishop Kevin Vann said in a statement. "The cathedral will be an international center of faith and evangelization, a vessel for the love of God, a beacon of faith, a home for neighbor and traveler, and a sanctuary for the human spirit."
Read it all.
I’m a university professor. I have no tolerance for this kind of nonsense. I’ve failed students for less flagrant plagiarism. So, it’s my duty, as a member of my professing profession, to give Driscoll an “F.”
Mark Driscoll, you have failed.
I’ve dealt with a number of plagiarists, and it seems to me that plagiarism stems from two issues. I’ll let you decide which problem Driscoll suffers from, because there obviously is a problem.
1. Laziness. Writing is hard work, so some writers don’t want to do it right. Laziness also leads to procrastination. Getting behind schedule causes writers to cut corners and plagiarize.
2. Ignorance. I don’t mean ignorance of the conventions of proper citation. Everyone knows not to steal other people’s words. I mean ignorance of the topic.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Almighty God, who didst give such grace to thine apostle Andrew that he readily obeyed the call of thy Son Jesus Christ, and brought his brother with him: Give unto us, who are called by thy Word, grace to follow him without delay, and to bring those near to us into his gracious presence; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
We note that the Pilling Report has been released and we recognize the substantial amount of work that has gone into the consultation and writing of the report.
We can state at this stage that we stand with the historic, orthodox faith in its Anglican expression, under the authority of Scripture, to which the Book of Common Prayer, the Thirty Nine Articles and the Ordinal bear witness. We affirm the teaching of the Church of England that the appropriate context for a sexual relationship is only in a lifelong, faithful marriage between a man and a woman. This teaching will continue to be true, and is endorsed by the large majority of Christian churches historically and globally, as confirmed by the Nairobi Commitment of GAFCON 2013.
The summary of the Report that has been released suggests that a number of conclusions on the way forward have already been drawn, and that a programme of “facilitated conversations” will enable people with different views on sexuality to remain in the church together. The impression is given that a matter on which Scripture and tradition give clear theological and ethical direction is open to compromise by negotiation. However we would like to take time to study the document in detail before giving a full response.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
In an interview with The Christian Post, the Rev. Lewis said that the motion was "based upon false claims, bordering on the absurd," and represents "a complete reversal of the facts."
"TECSC has accused us of conspiracy to leave TEC. The reality has been our attempt to defend against continued and insidious intrusions by TEC into the life of this Diocese," said Lewis.
"Our resolutions were triggered only by their actions against us. The reality is that it was TEC's attack that brought us to this place. The Diocese wisely prepared for the assaults for which TEC has become known. This current motion is simply a continuation of that pattern."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Conflicts * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
One day near the middle of the last century a minister in a prison camp in Germany conducted a service for the other prisoners. One of those prisoners, an English officer who survived, wrote these words:
“Dietrich Bonhoeffer always seemed to me to spread an atmosphere of happiness and joy over the least incident, and profound gratitude for the mere fact that he was alive… He was one of the very few persons I have ever met for whom God was real and always near… On Sunday, April 8, 1945, Pastor Bonhoeffer conducted a little service of worship and spoke to us in a way that went to the heart of all of us. He found just the right words to express the spirit of our imprisonment, and the thoughts and resolutions it had brought us. He had hardly ended his last prayer when the door opened and two civilians entered. They said, “Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us.” That had only one meaning for all prisoners–the gallows. We said good-bye to him. He took me aside: “This is the end; but for me it is the beginning of life.” The next day he was hanged in Flossenburg.”I read it every year on this day and every year it (still) brings me to tears--KSH.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * International News & Commentary Europe Germany * Theology Eschatology Pastoral Theology
What about what some call the greatest mission field, which is our own secularizing or secularized culture? What do we need to do to reach this increasingly pagan society? I think we need to say to one another that it’s not so secular as it looks. I believe that these so-called secular people are engaged in a quest for at least three things. The first is transcendence. It’s interesting in a so-called secular culture how many people are looking for something beyond. I find that a great challenge to the quality of our Christian worship. Does it offer people what they are instinctively looking for, which is transcendence, the reality of God?
The second is significance. Almost everybody is looking for his or her own personal identity. Who am I, where do I come from, where am I going to, what is it all about? That is a challenge to the quality of our Christian teaching. We need to teach people who they are. They don’t know who they are. We do. They are human beings made in the image of God, although that image has been defaced.
And third is their quest for community. Everywhere, people are looking for community, for relationships of love. This is a challenge to our fellowship. I’m very fond of 1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us.” The invisibility of God is a great problem to people. The question is how has God solved the problem of his own invisibility? First, Christ has made the invisible God visible. That’s John’s Gospel 1:18: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
People say that’s wonderful, but it was 2,000 years ago. So in 1 John 4:12, he begins with exactly the same formula, nobody has ever seen God. But here John goes on, “If we love one another, God abides in us.” The same invisible God who once made himself visible in Jesus now makes himself visible in the Christian community, if we love one another. And all the verbal proclamation of the gospel is of little value unless it is made by a community of love.
These three things about our humanity are on our side in our evangelism, because people are looking for the very things we have to offer them.
You may find the whole article from which it comes there. I quoted this at the early morning service sermon this past Sunday--KSH.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology
You say in The Church for the World that Christian public witness has gone awry in the United States. How so?
The main problem is that Christian presence in public life tends to be triumphalistic. The purpose of Christian witness is to point to Jesus and the reign of God he embodies, but a triumphal presence actually contradicts Jesus’ way of being in the world as depicted in the Gospels.
The triumphal character of Christian witness has contributed a good deal to how polarized our society and churches have become. Christians so thoroughly disagree about war, sexuality, ecological care, immigration and other issues that we wind up on opposing sides of the political spectrum. This is cause for great concern, because partisan politics ends up defining what is Christian; it shapes the way we think and speak about public issues.
It is possible, though, for Christians to take a stand on specific social and political matters without binding the church to partisan politics. We have biblical and theological resources to help us reframe issues and offer something new—a third way.
Read it all.
Here are titles of three recent books about evangelical Christianity:
“The Great Evangelical Recession: Six Factors that Will Crash the American Church … And How to Prepare.”
“The American Church in Crisis.”
“A Call to Resurgence: Will Christianity Have a Funeral or a Future?...”
None are anti-Christian screeds. All are written by evangelical pastors.
And they're all part of an intense, active debate – in books, magazines, conferences and anxious church offices – about the future of evangelical Christianity....
Read it all.
The growing Church in Gambella, Ethiopia, "overwhelmed by poverty, natural disasters, and tribal conflicts", is in need of support, according to Bishop Mouneer Anis.
The Most Revd Mouneer Anis is Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, as well as Primate of The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East.
Read it all and also read and enjoy the pictures there.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * International News & Commentary Africa Ethiopia
Listen to it all if you so desire. This is highly recommended to blog readers for three reasons--you can meet Rob Kunes, a new member of the diocese of South Carolina, but you can also hear testimony about healing and the power or prayer--KSH.
...Teo Bishop, while keeping up a career in pop music, accomplished something less predictable and altogether curiouser. Beginning about three years ago, he began a rise to prominence in the Pagan community. Then, last month, he shocked the Pagan community by re-embracing Christianity.
“I’m overwhelmed with thoughts of Jesus,” Mr. Bishop wrote on Oct. 13, on his blog, Bishop in the Grove. “Jesus and God and Christianity and the Lord’s Prayer and compassion and forgiveness and hope. ... I don’t know what to do with all of this.”
For American Pagans, Mr. Bishop’s defecting to a big, bad mainstream religion is bigger news than winning a Grammy, bigger than shooting a Vanity Fair cover. If you’re a Druid, a Wiccan or any of the nature-religion followers grouped under the label Pagan, you’re not talking about Britney, JT or Xtina. You’re talking Teo Bishop.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Other Faiths Wicca / paganism
....in the current litigation in South Carolina, the drive by ECUSA's team to move the ball into federal court has been blocked at every maneuver. They are stuck back on their own 10-yard line, with just a few dozen seconds left on the clock. (The case in South Carolina's Court of Common Pleas for the County of Dorchester is due to go to trial early next summer; all discovery in the case has to be completed by February 7.)
And so what do they decide to do?
The defendant rump group (but not yet ECUSA itself) throws a "Hail Mary" pass -- a motion to add, at this late date, four new defendants and eighteen new claims against those defendants, who are Bishop Mark Lawrence, James Lewis, Jeffrey Miller and Paul Fuener. The Rev. James Lewis serves as Bishop Lawrence's Canon to the Ordinary and Executive Secretary to the Diocesan Convention; the Revs. Miller and Fuener have both served as President of the Standing Committee of Mark Lawrence's Episcopal Diocese.
The very first claim the rump group seeks to assert demonstrates the flaw in the entire motion: it is a claim for alleged breach of "fiduciary duty."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The filing lists 18 causes of action including breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, trademark infringement and civil conspiracy....
However, [Diocese of S.C. Canon Jim] Lewis said the allegations “are based upon false claims, bordering on the absurd.”
Lawrence also has maintained that he didn’t want to leave but was driven away by Episcopal Church leaders’ hostile administrative actions against him and the church’s departures from orthodox teachings.
Leaders of The Episcopal Church, or TEC, didn’t seek sincere reconciliation with local clergy and parishioners who disagreed with their views. Instead, they interfered in local diocesan life, Lewis said.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Facing a $26 million earthquake repair bill and years of persistent deficits, the iconic Washington National Cathedral will start charging visitors in 2014, an abrupt change that cathedral officials had long resisted.
Adults will be charged $10, and seniors, students, children, veterans and members of the military will be charged $6, according to cathedral officials. Regular worship services and Sundays will remain free of charge; the ticket plan is scheduled for a six-month trial run starting in January.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.
Hymn books could soon be a thing of the past as churches switch to high-tech services with the words on giant screens, assisted by an iTunes app.
The fashion for ‘hands-free worship’ has led to a decline in book sales. But it is said to have improved the singing, as congregants look up at a screen instead of down at the page.
Some vicars also prefer screens because they are less likely to spread germs and are said to be environmentally friendly.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Science & Technology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
The individuals named in the motion are:
• Mark Lawrence, who was bishop to local Episcopalians from 2006 until December 2012, when the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church accepted his renunciation as a bishop of TEC. Members of the breakaway group still recognize him as their bishop.
• Jim Lewis, who was Canon to the Ordinary of the diocese, and continues to use that title in the breakaway organization.
• Jeffrey Miller, who has been president of the Standing Committee of the diocese. Miller also is rector of St. Helena’s, Beaufort, one of the congregations that filed suit against TEC.
• Paul Fuener, who has been president of the Standing Committee. Fuener also is rector of Prince George-Winyah in Georgetown, another plaintiff in the suit against TEC.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina
An East End rector is entering the race for the Christmas No 1 as a rank outsider, taking on Lily Allen, Robbie Williams and the winner of The X Factor to challenge for the top slot in the charts.
The Rev Niall Weir, rector of St Paul’s in West Hackney, London, is hoping to repeat the success of his first and only Christmas chart hit to date, which earned £30,000 for his local community in 1991.
He has assembled a choir of 60 people, including the homeless, recovering drug addicts, vulnerable adults, pensioners and others who belong to the wide variety of charitable groups and organisations that use Stoke Newington church hall for their meetings.
Read it all from the [London] Times(requires subscription)
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According to CT sister resource Managing Your Church, the average base salary of a full-time senior pastor in 2012-2013 ranges from $33,000 to $70,000. Eighty-four percent of senior pastors surveyed said they also receive a housing allowance, which accounts for $20,000 to $38,000 in added compensation. The Joint Committee on Taxation calculates the exemption amounted to $700 million in recent years, notes Peter Reilly of Forbes.
CT previously reported how the threat to pastor parsonages lost its legal legs but was revived again, and examined debate over whether or not Congress should change the rules on pastor housing allowances. CT also noted the quirky reasoning that recently allowed one prominent pastor to claim two parsonages.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market Personal Finance Taxes The U.S. Government * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Very few areas get me wound up faster than clergy finances. There are two reasons for this. One is that the actual situation with taxes and clergy compensation is quite complicated and not well understood even by people who work with taxes professionally and, as if that isn't trouble enough, many clergy in my experience are inadequate and in some cases even ignorant in the financial area.
Sure enough, this has led to some very poor reporting on this story already, as well as some even worse posting about it on the blogs. If you wish to understand it can I please advise that you do your own research and not jump to conclusions.
With that said, here goes. First, there is no need for panic. This is one ruling, and we have a system which involves a lot of layers of the judicial system, so overeacting now is not going to help.
Second, you need to understand the bizarre--and I mean bizarre--basic situation of clergy finances.
If you take a look at the basic IRS definition it starts as follows:
A minister's housing allowance, sometimes called a parsonage allowance or a rental allowance is excludable from gross income for income tax purposes, but not for self-employment tax purposes. Now before you go whizzing past that, make sure to read it and take it in a couple of times. Please note the DUAL status of clergy finances. Housing allowances are excludable (under certain conditions) BUT NOT FOR SELF EMPLOYMENT TAXES.
In other words, for the purpose of social security, the situation is different, and, indeed, I would argue, poor, because as far as social security is concerned, a clergyman or clergywoman is treated as if there were a self employed writer like Gore Vidal or Stephen King, and for that they pay both their portion of social security taxes AS WELL AS the employers portion. So whereas the woman who works for Coca Cola, say, pays for half of her social security taxes every pay period, her employer, Coca Cola, pays the other half. For ministers this is not true; ministers pay both halves.
So the important point right from the get go is that any idea that clergy get some kind of special "deal" in the tax system at a basic level is wildly misleading. No article that reports on this fairly can do so without mentioning the dual tax status issue and whereas the housing allowance does help, the social security situation does not.
There is more. The housing allowance is for actual housing costs so any compensation which is what it costs you to maintain a home for the year (or, if the church owns the home, there are other stipulations). So If you see a minister X and he reports a salary of 10,000 and a housing allowance of 40,000 and you think this is unfair be aware that any amount of the 40,000 dollars NOT related to housing is to be declared as "excess housing allowance" to the IRS (and, yes, I will also remind you that this person is paying 2x social security taxes on the WHOLE 50,000 overall compensation).
Now, I am well aware that some churches (and sadly some clergy) abuse this situation. That is unfortunate but remember that is an abuse of existing rules not the rules themselves.
Why do we have this crazy system? Mainly because when it was originally put in place many clergy lived in church owned housing and so when they retired because many did not own their own home ever they had no housing equity built up at all. That has since changed, never mind that life expectancy has gone up considerably. But changing existing law in America is not easy. For myself, I think a strong case can be made that it would be "fairer" if clergy were treated as employed (as opposed to self--employed for self-employment tax purposes, which would mean paying half of social security and the church paying the other half) and did not get the housing allowance consideration. But the situation with many smaller congregations and their ministers would very much be impacted. It would take a herculaean effort to reform the bizarre area of clergy compensation taxes in the right way, even if it were attempted.
All of which brings us back to the real underlying problem here in America, and that is not with our tax system's basic structure BUT ITS COMPLEXITY. This system is built to favor those with resources and power and the accountants and lawyers who get compensated to enable them to manage it so much better than most. If I were ever working in this area, I would be promoting TAX SIMPLICITY and TAX STABILITY (the tax code changes way too often also).
In the meantime, pray for those in ordained ministry, it is a very, very demanding area in which to work--KSH.
Filed under: * By Kendall * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Personal Finance Taxes
You can find the actual ruling here and the Wisconsin State Journal article about it there. The Wisconsin State Journal article begins as follows:
A federal judge has found unconstitutional a law that lets clergy members avoid paying income taxes on compensation that is designated part of a housing allowance.You should read it all as well as the Religion News Service article there.
The decision Friday by U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb could have far-reaching financial ramifications for pastors, who currently can use the untaxed income to pay rental housing costs or the costs of home ownership, including mortgage payments and property taxes.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Culture-Watch History Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes The U.S. Government Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a warm cup of milk, or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please”. This is quoted by Chuck Swindoll in his book, Improving Your Serve (where he cites Tim Hansel's book When I Relax I feel Guilty as the source) in the second chapter, after which Dr. Swindoll makes these additional comments:
“That’s it. Our inner ‘self’ doesn’t want to dump God entirely, just keep Him at a comfortable distance. Three dollars of Him is sufficient. A sack full, nothing more. Just enough to keep my guilt level below the threshold of pain, just enough to guarantee escape from eternal flames. But certainly not enough to make me nervous…to start pushing around my prejudices or nit-picking at my lifestyle. Enough is enough!”
Every 14 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies by suicide. Every 15 minutes, someone is left to make sense of it. Survivors of Suicide Day is a time of hope, healing, and support for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
Take the time to watch the video.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Psychology Suicide * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
2. Besides being the centre of creation, Christ is the centre of the people of God. We see this in the first reading which describes the time when the tribes of Israel came to look for David and anointed him king of Israel before the Lord (cf. 2 Sam 5:1-3). In searching for an ideal king, the people were seeking God himself: a God who would be close to them, who would accompany them on their journey, who would be a brother to them.
Christ, the descendant of King David, is the “brother” around whom God’s people come together. It is he who cares for his people, for all of us, even at the price of his life. In him we are all one; united with him, we share a single journey, a single destiny.
Read it all.
Read it all.
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Fifty years after his death...I fear that much of the Kennedy mythos is an obstacle to the flowering of Catholic witness in America—and indeed to a proper understanding of modern American history.
The myth of Camelot, for example, misses the truth about the assassination: that John F. Kennedy was a casualty of the Cold War, murdered by a dedicated communist. “Camelot” also demeaned the liberal anti-communist internationalism that Kennedy embodied; that deprecation eventually led Kennedy’s party into the wilderness of neo-isolationist irresponsibility from which it has yet to emerge.
Then there is the mythology surrounding Kennedy’s 1960 speech on church-and-state, delivered to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association....
Finally, there is the phenomenon that might be called the Kennedy Catholic: a public official who wears his or her Catholicism as a kind of ethnic marker, an inherited trait, but whose thinking about public policy is rarely if ever shaped by Catholic social doctrine or settled Catholic moral conviction.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
Aldous Huxley never attracted [the] kind of attention [that C.S. Lewis did]. And yet there are good reasons for regarding him as the more visionary of the two. For one of the ironies of history is that visions of our networked future can be bracketed by the imaginative nightmares of Huxley and his fellow Etonian George Orwell. Orwell feared that we would be destroyed by the things we fear – the state surveillance apparatus so vividly evoked in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Huxley's nightmare, set out in Brave New World, his great dystopian novel, was that we would be undone by the things that delight us.
Huxley was a child of England's intellectual aristocracy. His grandfather was Thomas Henry Huxley, the Victorian biologist who was the most effective evangelist for Darwin's theory of evolution. (He was colloquially known as "Darwin's Bulldog".) His mother was Matthew Arnold's niece. His brother, Julian and half-brother Andrew both became distinguished biologists. In the circumstances it's not surprising that Aldous turned out to be a writer who ranged far beyond the usual preoccupations of literary folk – into history, philosophy, science, politics, mysticism and psychic exploration. His biographer wrote: "He offered as his personal motto the legend hung around the neck of a ragged scarecrow of a man in a painting by Goya: Aún aprendo. I am still learning." He was, in that sense, a modern Voltaire.
Read it all.
This Sunday we will be celebrating Christ the King Sunday (or "The Reign of Christ the King")! - It is the last Sunday after Pentecost and the last Sunday of the Christian year. It is also the Sunday just prior to our entering into the holy season of Advent.
The observance of Christ the King Sunday is really a relatively new celebration. It was originally instituted by Pius XI, Bishop of Rome, for celebration on the last Sunday of October. However, after Vatican II, it was moved to its current location on the Christian calendar.
Read it all.
At the dedication of a memorial [pictured in the link] to C S Lewis in Poets’ Corner yesterday, the Westminster Abbey choir sang one of his poems, “Love’s as Warm as Tears” (to a setting by Paul Mealor, who wrote the music for Ubi Caritas at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011).
Lewis was not a great poet, if a more accomplished one than Adam Fox, whose memorial is visible across the south transept. Lewis had plotted to have Fox, a clerical fellow of Magdalen, elected Professor of Poetry in 1938, even though the candidate himself was well aware of his limitations as a poet or academic. (He admired Plato and wrote a long poem called Old King Coel, published by the Oxford University Press.)
The success of Lewis’s scheme probably lost him any professorship at Oxford, but he was turning in any case against academic politics (as reflected in his novel That Hideous Strength)....
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Speaking to a group of reporters after the trial ended, he said he was surprised he walked out of the trial with the title of “Rev.”
“I gave them every excuse in the book to defrock me immediately but that did not happen,” he said. “I am still wondering what it means. I told them clearly that I can no longer be a silent supporter but now I feel I have to an outspoken advocate for all lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people.”
The 30-day suspension seems to be “time for me to change my mind,” he said. “I am here to tell you, I will not change my mind. I am what I am.”
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During worship, the Rev. Robert Two Bulls covers the altar with a star quilt. Instead of burning incense, he opts for sweet grass.
Two Bulls is a fourth generation Episcopalian. He’s been a priest for 13 years. Yet he’s frequently asked if he truly wants to be a Christian.
His answer is always the same.
“I’m a follower of Jesus Christ,” he told Minnesota Public Radio. “That’s kinda what it boils down to, you know.”
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Facing crowded pews and heavy hearts, Dallas clergy took to the pulpits on Nov. 24, 1963 to try to make sense of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy just two days before.
“The ministers saw the assassination as an unwelcome opportunity for some serious, city-wide soul-searching,” said Tom Stone, an English professor at Southern Methodist University, who has studied the sermons delivered that day.
“Though Dallas could not be reasonably blamed for the killing, it needed to face up to its tolerance of extremism and its narrow, self-centered values,” Stone said.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Soteriology Theodicy
For 50 years, Dallas has done its best to avoid coming to terms with the one event that made it famous: the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. That’s because, for the self-styled “Big D,” grappling with the assassination means reckoning with its own legacy as the “city of hate,” the city that willed the death of the president.
It will miss yet another opportunity this year. On Nov. 22 the city, anticipating an international spotlight, will host an official commemoration ceremony. Dallas being Dallas, it will be quite the show: a jet flyover, a performance from the Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club and remarks from the historian David McCullough on Kennedy’s legacy.
But once again, spectacle is likely to trump substance: not one word will be said at this event about what exactly the city was in 1963, when the president arrived in what he called, just moments before his death, “nut country.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Fifty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the nation seems to be experiencing a kind of fairy tale about itself, alternately bright and dark.
It is inspiring, but also deflating, to see and hear again (and again) the handsome, vigorous president, the youngest ever elected to the office, as he beckons the country forth to the future, to the “New Frontier,” and its promise of conquest: putting a man on the moon, defeating sharply defined evils — totalitarianism, poverty, racial injustice.
This, we have been reminded, was the dream Kennedy nourished, and much of it died with him, when the sharp cracks of rifle fire broke out as his motorcade rolled through the sunstruck streets of Dallas. With this horrific, irrational deed, a curse was laid upon the land, and the people fell from grace.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Violence * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
50 years ago today, John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley all died. Simply remarkable--KSH.
O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give thee thanks for Clive Staples Lewis whose sanctified imagination lighteth fires of faith in young and old alike; Surprise us also with thy joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
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At a time of national debate over health care costs and insurance, a Pew Research Center survey on end-of-life decisions finds most Americans say there are some circumstances in which doctors and nurses should allow a patient to die. At the same time, however, a growing minority says that medical professionals should do everything possible to save a patient’s life in all circumstances.
When asked about end-of-life decisions for other people, two-thirds of Americans (66%) say there are at least some situations in which a patient should be allowed to die, while nearly a third (31%) say that medical professionals always should do everything possible to save a patient’s life. Over the last quarter-century, the balance of opinion has moved modestly away from the majority position on this issue. While still a minority, the share of the public that says doctors and nurses should do everything possible to save a patient’s life has gone up 9 percentage points since 2005 and 16 points since 1990.
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Leighton Farrell was the minister of Highland Park Church in Dallas for many years. He tells of a man in the church who once made a covenant with a former pastor to tithe ten percent of their income every year. They were both young and neither of them had much money. But things changed. The layman tithed one thousand dollars the year he earned ten thousand, ten thousand dollars the year he earned one-hundred thousand, and one- hundred thousand dollars the year he earned one million. But the year he earned six million dollars he just could not bring himself to write out that check for six-hundred thousand dollars to the Church. He telephoned the minister, long since having moved to another church, and asked to see him. Walking into the pastor’s office the man begged to be let out of the covenant, saying, “This tithing business has to stop. It was fine when my tithe was one thousand dollars, but I just cannot afford six-hundred thousand dollars. You’ve got to do something, Reverend!” The pastor knelt on the floor and prayed silently for a long time. Eventually the man said, “What are you doing? Are you praying that God will let me out of the covenant to tithe?” “No,” said the minister. “I am praying for God to reduce your income back to the level where one thousand dollars will be your tithe!”
The Church of England pays its top bureaucrat over £10,000 more than the Prime Minister receives despite launching a series of attacks on high executive salaries, it has been disclosed.
Papers laid before the Church’s General Synod, which has been meeting this week, show that eight lay officials across the Church’s London headquarters and its financial arm receive more than 100,000 a year.
Questions were raised about the level of pay for top Church officials after William Shawcross, chairman of the Charity Commission, recently warned that charities risk bringing good causes into “disrepute” by awarding further pay rises to chiefs on six-figure sums.
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Police in the central province of Henan arrested the pastor Zhang Shaojie, leader of the Church of Nanle County , and more than 20 Christian staff and faithful. The authorities have not stated the reason for detention, but some sources speaking to ChinaAid argue that the pastor has "angered" the authorities for the defense of his faithful against the abuses committed by Communist officials.
Zhang is part of the Three-Self Movement, the "official" Protestant Church built by Mao Zedong in the early years of his government.
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1. Let us appreciate the church but let us reimagine it. So I want each of you now to think of your church and mentally describe it to yourself. What is it like? I am sure it is full of good and earnest people. The work goes on faithfully week after week. And I have a pretty good idea of your church because most churches are the same; similar things go on in them. It is recognizable.. as the hymn puts it: ‘In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear, for safe in such confiding, for nothing changes here!’
So, if you and I want to start on a process of re-imagining the church perhaps we have to go back to basics and, for me, the starting point would be the Great Commission: ‘Go and preach the gospel’. What I notice from my study of the bible is that both the Hebrew word for congregation, qahal, and the Greek word for church, ecclesia, are not static words but active words....
My second affirmation is that: Our task is to nurture fellow Christians but also to grow authentic disciples. And this affirmation is about moving from encouraging fellow believers to moving them on into discipleship. Consider in your mind now, some people who come along to church but as far as you know are rather passive Christians. They are faithful in attendance but that is the extent of their involvement in church life. We might long to see them developing as a public Christian. How might that happen?
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[The only] other scientists who have received two Nobels are John Bardeen for physics (1956 and 1972), Marie Curie for physics (1903) and chemistry (1911), and Linus Pauling for chemistry (1954) and peace (1962)....
In a 2001 interview, Dr. Sanger spoke about the challenge of winning two Nobel Prizes.
“It’s much more difficult to get the first prize than to get the second one,” he said, “because if you’ve already got a prize, then you can get facilities for work, and you can get collaborators, and everything is much easier.”
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Jeff Rudolph, pastor at Clearwater First Assembly of God, told The Christian Post that he remains surprised that people are so willing to believe the claims of Scientology.
"It's amazing to me that people believe their whole story in the first place!! An alien galactic ruler named 'Xenu'?" said Rudolph, adding, "I shake my head in disbelief, but the truth is people believe them and their story. Its sad."
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Filmmaker Ken Burns, author David McCullough, actors Sam Waterston, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Lang, and Medal of Honor recipient Paul W. Bucha recite one of the most famous speeches in American history.
Musical Score by Academy Award-winning composer John Williams....
You may find the video here.
Listen to it all--still amazing, still so important; KSH (Hat tip: Jeff Miller).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Military / Armed Forces * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Almighty God, by whose grace thy servant Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and honored Jesus in the poor of this world: Grant that we, following her example, may with love and gladness serve those in any need or trouble, in the name and for the sake of Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
Youth leaders must be able to speak God's truth into the given circumstances of a student's life. If you're ready, this can occur spontaneously while riding in a car, playing Settlers of Catan, or taking part in a service project. No formulas. Just two people listening and responding to one another, their stories made sense through his.
Of course, there's no shortage of helpful methods for learning Scripture. One that's shaped me personally is regular group meditation. By "meditation" I mean part rote memorization (chapter and verse) and part prayerful imagination. Beginning on my own, I like to prayerfully consider a cluster of verses based around a particular biblical topic—say, the church.1 Over a week or so, a brief conversational narrative begins to form in my mind that sufficiently explains the topic in a way that's both orthodox and also unique to my personality. My primary purpose is to know God better through his text, then to share it with others doing the same thing. Once I can distill from a cloud of ideas one or two pithy thesis-like statements, I know I've spent transformative time with his Word and am ready to share and discuss with my leader friends.
Sharing is as an act of fellowship. It encourages accountability to the task and is an opportunity to learn from others. As I'm shaped by my time in Scripture, I'm sustained in the valley, and my functional trust in Scripture increases. When we experience and model rich biblical thinking, the incomparable wisdom and power of God's truth is made apparent not only to ourselves, but to others as well.
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The Empowered21 Next Gen Youth Leaders Network (NGYN21) hosted a summit comprised of youth leaders from around the globe. The youth leaders discussed topics such as Spirit-empowered living in the 21st century, the impact of the Holy Spirit on discipleship and developing young Spirit-empowered disciples in the ministry.
“We seem to think there is a different method used in other countries,” said Christ for All Nations President Daniel Kolenda. “The gospel works with humanity and all cultures. We were created to receive it. Just preach its simplicity and let the Holy Spirit do the drawing. God is going to give our generation a message that is so old, they think it is new. The hub is the gospel of salvation; the other spokes will align.”
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Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan flocked to ruined churches on Sunday, kneeling in prayer under torn roofs as the Philippines faced an enormous rebuilding task from the storm that killed at least 3,681 people and displaced 4 million.
At Santo Niño Church, near the waterfront in the flattened city of Tacloban, birds flitted between the rafters overhead as women moved through the pews with collection plates. At the end of mass, the Roman Catholic congregation broke into applause.
Rosario Capidos, 55, sat crying in one row, hugging her nine-year-old grandson, Cyrich.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc. * International News & Commentary Asia Philippines * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
... members are also being asked to debate a motion calling for a review of how the Synod itself operates including the parliamentarian way debates are conducted and whether the complex system of electing members is now “fit for purpose”.
An official Synod briefing paper warns that members are now seen by many outside the Church seen as “rude and poor examples of Christians”.
The motion also questions whether the Synod should meet just once a year, instead of two or three times as at present, to encourage younger people with busy careers and families to stand for election.
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Already, in the hours since the death of Doris Lessing was announced, many people will have watched a widely circulated video, filmed on her doorstep in 2007. In it, she has just been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the news of which is relayed to her by reporters who greet her as she alights from a London taxi. “Oh Christ,” she says in apparent irritation, and puts down her shopping bags. Watching, you think she must have heard it wrong. But no. Pausing to check whether she or her companion have left anything behind in the cab, she turns to the assembled camera crews and sighs. “I’m sure you’d like some uplifting remarks of some kind,” she says.
Bids for popularity were not Doris Lessing’s thing. Of course, in many ways that made her more appealing. You might call her misunderstood, or reappropriated, or simply taken to heart — in any case she was popular in ways she never meant to be. Take her best known work, The Golden Notebook, which Margaret Drabble described as “a novel of shocking power and blistering honesty”. I
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At the cemetery of a former Minnesota mental hospital, hundreds of patients were buried in nameless graves marked only with numbers. But disability rights groups and family members are working to identify the graves and give these forgotten dead a respect and dignity they did not receive in life.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Mental Illness Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Two local men have been added to the priesthood of the Anglican Church after an ordination ceremony that was held Nov. 9.
The ceremony, which took place at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on the U.S. 45 Bypass in Jackson, included the ordination of the new priests, the Rev. Wesley Adam Gristy and the Rev. Brian Patrick Larsen Wells.
The ordination ceremony was conducted by the Right Reverend Bill Atwood, bishop of the International Diocese of the Anglican Church in North America. Atwood lives with his wife, Susan, in Frisco, Texas.
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The Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, will be at Trinity Episcopal Church, 200 High St., Hampton, on Saturday, Nov. 16 to sign the recently adopted Shared Ministry Covenant between that church and Christ Episcopal Church in Portsmouth.
Holy Eucharist with the signing of the covenant will be held at Trinity Church at 5 p.m.; a celebration dinner will follow in the church's Hobbs Hall at 7 p.m.
All are welcome as the two churches celebrate the culmination of many months' work — and many years' anticipation.
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When it comes to the children of the clergy, stereotypes abound. First, there's the model child, who lives by the rulebook and follows in the footsteps of his or her minister parent. In many churches, this is an expectation as much as it is a stereotype. Yet perhaps the dominant stereotype of the pastor's kid is the prodigal—the wayward child, the rebel who has fallen away from the faith, the backslidden who'd rather strike out on their own than live in the shadow of the steeple.
The underlying assumption of this stereotype, however, is that Christians believe those who've grown up closest to the church are the quickest to leave it. And as with any stereotype, it's worth closer examination to see if any of these perceptions are really true....
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Hundreds of congregations have filed for bankruptcy or defaulted on loans. University of Illinois law professor Pamela Foohey, who tracks church bankruptcies, says more than 500 congregations filed Chapter 11 between 2006 and 2011—and the pace hasn't slowed since. About 90 congregations filed for bankruptcy in 2012, even as the overall rate of bankruptcy filings declined 13.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the church bond market, once a refuge for cautious investors, is now a black hole, says Rusty Leonard, CEO of Stewardship Partners, a Christian investment management firm.
Before the 2008 economic crash, church bonds had strong investment appeal due to a decades-long safety record. Now, "the market has disappeared," said Leonard. "The options for a new church trying to build a building are significantly reduced. We'll see fewer buildings."
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