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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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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics
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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Books Health & Medicine History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
"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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics Prison/Prison Ministry Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Europe Belgium * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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.
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[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.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Education Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Israel The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Judaism * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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....
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Eschatology
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."
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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.
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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 Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK
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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Suicide * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
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...
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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.''
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Music * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
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 Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * South Carolina * Theology Christology Soteriology Theodicy Theology: Scripture
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.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary Middle East Iraq * Theology Pastoral Theology
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 Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children Drugs/Drug Addiction Marriage & Family Poetry & Literature Psychology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology
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.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Education Young Adults * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Middle East Israel The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Judaism * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Movies & Television Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
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."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Marriage & Family * International News & Commentary Africa Liberia * South Carolina * Theology
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.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Children History Marriage & Family Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
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 Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
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."
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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.
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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."
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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 Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History Music Urban/City Life and Issues Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * General Interest Photos/Photography * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
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 Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Terrorism * General Interest Photos/Photography * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
(Courtesy of our son Nathaniel Harmon, who now lives and works in NYC).
Filed under: * By Kendall Harmon Family * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Terrorism * General Interest Photos/Photography * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
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 Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch History * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
[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 - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary Middle East Israel The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle * Theology
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
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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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Music Urban/City Life and Issues Young Adults * International News & Commentary Australia / NZ * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
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.”
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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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Immigration Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Anthropology Christology Theology: Scripture
You may find the audio link here if you wish to suffer through it.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology Soteriology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
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.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK
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.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
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.
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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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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.
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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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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 - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Rural/Town Life * International News & Commentary England / UK
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 - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
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).
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...
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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 Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
“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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Sociology Young Adults * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
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 - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
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.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Middle Age Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Pastoral Theology
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.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Taxes Politics in General * International News & Commentary Europe Germany * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * International News & Commentary Middle East Iraq * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Islam
Five months after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls in Nigeria’s Borno State, the Islamic extremist group has begun occupying churches in the country’s northeastern region, church officials there said.
The militant group, which church leaders and analysts view as an African variation of the Islamic State, is also beheading men, forcing Christian women to convert to Islam and taking them as wives, officials said.
“Things are getting pretty bad,” said the Rev. John Bakeni, the secretary of the Maiduguri Roman Catholic diocese in northeastern Nigeria. “A good number of our parishes in Pulka and Madagali areas have been overrun in the last few days.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire Military / Armed Forces Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Defense, National Security, Military Politics in General Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Other Faiths Islam Muslim-Christian relations
Reports of churches and Christians being targeted for persecution continue to emerge, with two of the latest occurring in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and the beleaguered coastal city of Wenzhou, which has been at the center of this year's crackdown on Christianity.
In Guangzhou, which borders Hong Kong, nearly 90 police officers stopped a five-year anniversary celebration of the Revival Church in the Yiexiu district and rounded up and took to the police station the approximately 80 people in attendance.
The police banned the celebratory gathering, which they called “an illegal meeting,” and interrogated and photographed everyone who was at the scene.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Economics, Politics Foreign Relations Politics in General * International News & Commentary Asia China
The YouTube link is here.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained
We'd love to hear from T19 readers on the following topics:
1) Share memories of a sermon that greatly influenced your life - what was the text, who was the preacher, what year was it?
2) Who are the best preachers you've ever heard give sermons? What made their sermons or teachings memorable and excellent?
3) Are there links to good sermons available online that you would recommend?
I was fortunate, in my own life, to have a bold counseling professor tell me what he saw—immaturity, arrogance, insecurity. We live in a culture of affirmation, and I believe in affirming young men and women entering ministry or leadership positions. But not without some honest feedback—about their relational patterns, hidden insecurities, and messianic dreams.
Spiritual health is not about climbing some moral ladder, but about what Jesus calls "purity of heart." This means that our inner life matches our outer. Remember, this was the problem of the religious leaders in Jesus' day. They were hypocrites, play-actors, doing life on stage but hollow within.
It takes time and suffering for growth to happen. This is why the poor, broken, and unclean seem to be privileged in the New Testament—they've already hit bottom. Our humiliations breed depth, grace, forgiveness, strength, courage, curiosity, and hope—all the attributes that make healthy leaders. Otherwise we'll quickly experience what happens to anyone living a lie: We'll get caught, fall, or alienate everyone we love.
Read it all (my emphasis).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
Take a look at them all.
Almighty God, the source of all that we can have, and all that we can hope for,
Grant that we may be worthy custodians of the earth in which we dwell.
Make us creative so that we will not burden others;
Make us conservative so that we will not squander what comes our way;
Make us perceptive so that we may properly weigh our necessities against the needs of others;
Make us generous so that we may give freely of what we have that others can enjoy a portion of our fortune.
Remove from us all trust in anything but thee;
Strengthen us in the knowledge that thou wilt always provide all that we really need;
And finally, by thy Grace, instill in us that perfect desire to be thy servants and ultimately to be with thee in thy Heavenly Kingdom,
Who reignest forever and ever, Jesus Christ, our Lord.
--The Pastor's Prayerbook
Robin Williams died this morning, his publicist confirms. You can read a statement from his wife Susan Schneider there.
People in Sierra Leone and Liberia filled churches on Sunday to seek deliverance from an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, defying official warnings to avoid public gatherings to contain an epidemic that has killed nearly 1,000 people in West Africa.
With their creaking healthcare systems completely overrun, Sierra Leone and Liberia have both declared states of emergency to tackle the highly contagious and incurable disease, which has also stricken neighbouring Guinea.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa Liberia Sierra Leone
On a clear, Sunny July morning, as churchgoers all around Houston take to their pews, dozens of nonbelievers are finding seats inside a meeting room in a corporate conference center on the city’s west side to listen to a sermon about losing faith. But first there’s the weekly “community moment”–remarks on a chosen topic delivered by the group’s executive director, this time focused on how we’re hardwired to read sensationalized news–as well as announcements about an upcoming secular summer camp. In between, a musician sings softly of Albert Einstein.
The men speaking before the assembled gathering–executive director Mike Aus, who regularly leads the group, and Jerry DeWitt, a visitor who heads a similar gathering in Louisiana–are both deeply familiar with the idea of Sunday ritual. Just a few years ago, they were Christian ministers active in the pulpit. Today they’re both nonbelievers leading secular Sunday services.
This is Houston Oasis, a church that’s not a church. It was started in September 2012...
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Atheism
A man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kent Torrey Hinkson, a missing Anglican priest from Durham whose body was found late Saturday in a state park in Orange County.
Authorities said Sunday that Matthew Reed, 36, was being held at the Orange County jail. Reed has a first court appearance Monday. They did not say whether the suspect knew the victim.
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Germany made headlines this week by letting Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One chief, pay $100 million to end his bribery trial. In Greek justice, money talks in a different way: Some inmates jailed for minor offenses are allowed to buy their freedom, at an average rate of five euros per day.
With the rich at a clear advantage, Greek Orthodox priest Gervasios Raptopoulos has devoted his life to paying off the prison terms of penniless inmates.
The soft-spoken 83-year-old has helped more than 15,000 convicts secure their freedom over nearly four decades, according to records kept by his charity. The Greek rules apply only to people convicted of offenses that carry a maximum five-year sentence, such as petty fraud, bodily harm, weapons possession, illegal logging, resisting arrest and minor drugs offenses.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Prison/Prison Ministry * International News & Commentary Europe Greece * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Orthodox Church * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
I started going at the the beginning of 2005, I had only gone to Pine Grove United Methodist a couple of Sundays, when I fell at work and broke my neck. I broke C-2. While I was laying in the floor, waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I felt a sense of warmth and peace, and a feeling that God would take care of me. I was very calm, even though I was in extreme pain.
I was told by my neurosurgeon that when people break C-2 they normally die instantly or become quadriplegics, I was neither! His remark was GOD is not finished with you yet!!!!! The people at church showered me and Jim with love, food, offers of rides to the dr, anything that they could do for us. It was amazing.
Read it all (page 9).
Most people spend their Saturdays relaxing, especially when the weather looks grim. However, people driving through Durham's Woodcroft Shopping Center saw a small group of dedicated volunteers handing out copies of a police missing person message.
The handbills have two pictures of Kent Torrey Hickson, the 71-year-old Anglican priest who's been missing since Monday.
Hickson's son-in-law Maurice Perry told ABC11, "We've searched around his house, searched around where the car was found. And now, looking between the bank where he was last seen and where the car was found."
Read it all.
Hoping that "the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored," the Acts 29 church planting network founded by Mark Driscoll has removed the Seattle pastor and his Mars Hill megachurch from membership.
“It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network,” said Acts 29 in an online statement signed by Matt Chandler and other board members of the network of 500 churches.
Acts 29 came to the drastic decision "with deep sorrow," according to the statement. "In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Parker, the article says, preached in Baptist churches as a young man, before going into medicine. He had, he says, a “come to Jesus” moment where he became convinced that he ought to do abortions. “The protesters say they’re opposed to abortion because they’re Christian,” he says. “It’s hard for them to accept that I do abortions because I’m a Christian.”
The profile portrays Dr. Parker as he prepares women for the abortions he is selling them. He tells them to ignore everything but their own consciences, and then, of course, he informs their consciences that abortion is morally acceptable. “If you are comfortable with your decision, ignore everything from everybody else.”
Apparently, he knows how to ignore everything else, including the conscience. The article quotes him talking a woman through an abortion by telling her that her unborn child is “very small.”
Read it all.
The men in charge of Liverpool's two cathedrals have abseiled down the city's Anglican cathedral, to raise money for charity.
Cathedral Dean Rev Peter Wilcox and his Roman Catholic counterpart, Father Anthony O'Brien, joined an abseil down the cathedral on Saturday.
As part of a two-weekend event, the 150 ft (45m) leap has helped to raise about £48,000 for the cathedral,
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Charities/Non-Profit Organizations Religion & Culture Urban/City Life and Issues * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic
The five-year-old son of a founding member of Baghdad’s Anglican church was cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State1 on the Christian town of Qaraqosh.
In an interview today, an emotional Canon Andrew White told ACNS that he christened the boy several years ago, and that the child’s parents had named the lad Andrew after him.
“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptised his child in my church in Baghdad2. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * Economics, Politics Terrorism * Religion News & Commentary Inter-Faith Relations Other Faiths Islam * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The Most Revd Clarke said: “One of the most perplexing aspects of the intervention of a former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, into the debate in England on the side of assisted dying was that a fundamental Christian tenet – that our life on earth is not our property to do with as we choose – appeared to have eluded him entirely.
“Much therefore depends on how we understand the significance of earthly life.
“If life is simply a personal commodity...then life is disposable, entirely at the will of the individual ‘possessor’. This is clearly not the Christian perspective and, even for the non-believer, it is not an automatic understanding of the significance of life.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Law & Legal Issues Life Ethics * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The Anglican Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is breaking new ground by bringing help and hope to a Pygmy community living in the country’s forests.
Pygmy peoples live in several ethnic groups across the forests of central Africa. There are an estimated 250,000 to 600,000 living in the Congo rainforest alone.
These forest dwellers have lived by hunting and gathering for millennia. But in the past few decades their homelands have been devastated by logging, war and encroachment from farmers. Their appearance and lifestyle means they have also been marginalized by much of society
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church in Congo/Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary Africa Republic of Congo
One of the reasons many churches struggle is they're not a friendly place for men.
Think about the worship service at your church. More than likely, there's a lot of talk about loving each other, but not much about fighting against sin or fighting for each other. There's holding hands when we sing, but not much locking arms as we get marching orders for the mission.
Yes, I'm stereotyping. But, that's what I often hear from many critics of churches. Regardless of its universal application, men need to be challenged to act like men—that's what the Bible does. We need to live out our callings as men, to be and do what God has called us to be and do.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Men Psychology * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology
Clergy often face a great deal of occupational stress that in turn can lead to mental distress. In recent years denominations have been turning to peer support groups to combat these challenges, but little research exists regarding their effectiveness. This
study explores the utility of peer support groups for reducing mental distress among pastors by analyzing data from two waves of an ongoing study of United Methodist Church (UMC) clergy in North Carolina, as well as focus group data from the same population. Results indicate that participation in peer support groups had inconsistent direct and indirect relationships to mental distress (measured as mentally unhealthy days, anxiety, and depression). Focus group data indicated that the mixed results may be due to individual differences among group participants, which in turn lead to a mix of positive and negative group experiences.
Read it all (Hat tip: DP).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Health & Medicine Psychology Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Killucan, Co Westmeath, Parish Registers (1696–1786)
Drogheda, Co Louth, St Peter’s Parish registers (1702–1900)
Taughboyne Union Registers, Co Donegal, (Taughboyne, All Saints’ Newtowncunningham, Killea & Craigdoonish)
(1820 – 1900)...
Check it out.
Even in death, you can’t escape the property bubble.
From New York to London, growing populations are competing with the deceased for land, driving up real-estate costs well into the afterlife. In Asian megacities, where cremation is the norm, even space for urns is in short supply.
“At the end of the day, it’s like any other piece of real estate,” says Amy Cunningham, a New York state licensed funeral director. “Prices have conspired to put burials out of the range of most people’s budgets.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life Housing/Real Estate Market * Theology
A new Christian community has started up in Crewe. ‘Restore’ is part of the ‘Fresh Expressions’ movement. The Revd Tim Watson is the leader of ‘Restore’, which will have a focus on the arts and has an ambitious plan to open an arts centre in Crewe.
The group currently meets twice a week – 8pm on Tuesdays at 30 Oakhurst Drive, Wistaston; and 10am on Sundays in Costa Coffee in the town centre.
In the months ahead, Tim and the team have also set themselves the task of restoring the old Christ Church site in the town centre, to turn it into an arts centre and café.
Read it all.
The first priest to marry his same-sex partner is to issue a legal challenge to the Church of England after his offer of a job as an NHS chaplain was withdrawn when his bishop refused the necessary permission.
The Rev Jeremy Pemberton, who married Laurence Cunnington in April, was informed on Friday that Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS trust had withdrawn its offer of a job after Bishop Richard Inwood had refused him the official licence in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.
"It this is not challenged," Pemberton said on Sunday, "it will send a message to all chaplains of whom a considerable number are gay and lesbian. This is an area of law that has not been tested and needs to be."
Read it all from the Guardian.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
St. John’s Church is changing – again. After services ended several years ago at the Episcopalian church on the Union City/North Bergen border, a group of local residents and former congregants repurposed the space to hold community functions and kids’ classes. Now a large part of the church is being sold to a developer to be turned into low-income housing for a special needs population.
On Monday, July 28 the Zoning Board of Adjustment of the City of Union City held a special public meeting at which they approved the application by Garden State Episcopal Community Development Association Corporation (GSECDC) to purchase all of the church property except the rectory and sanctuary, and build 13 condominium units within the space....
At the Zoning Board meeting and a community meeting with the developers one week earlier, residents raised concerns about whether the programs previously held within the church space will be allowed to continue. The answer to that question is still up in the air.
Read more: Hudson Reporter - Historic church to become special needs housing Questions asked about community programs who gets priority for units
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Housing/Real Estate Market
Like most people, I don’t particularly relish encounters with death. But, welcome or not, I’ve had my fair share. I’ve clasped a woman’s hand as her breathing slowed, became sporadic, and finally ceased. Through the cramped hallways of an ancient farmhouse, down which no stretcher could be maneuvered, I helped heft the sheet-wrapped body of a family’s matriarch to carry her to the waiting hearse. When a small Oklahoma church mourned a member who’d fallen asleep at the wheel, late at night, early in life, I was there, thinking of the joyless “Joy the World” the band of believers had choked out the day before that December 26th funeral. In each of these situations, the death of the young or the old, there was within me a desire to lighten the load of grief borne by the survivors, to shine a ray of life into the gloom of death.
Because of that desire, when I first heard about families opting to have a so-called “Celebration of Life” service for their departed loved ones, instead of a funeral, my interest was piqued. Perhaps here was a viable alternative. The name alone effuses a positive, uplifting appeal that “funeral” or “memorial service” can’t begin to match. Celebrations are good, right? And, life, well, who can possibly have any qualms about that? Perhaps this approach to confronting death, at least the ceremonial part of saying goodbye, would help alleviate some of the pain associated with, and expressed in, a more traditional rite. Maybe it was time to have a funeral for the funeral.
So what makes a Celebration of Life different? Rather than a focus upon the loss of a loved one, this service rewinds the present into the past, to draw the mourners back into the life lived by the deceased. It’s like a miniature, enacted biography of the person, with a focus upon those qualities, interests, and achievements that his family and friends found most endearing about him. Whereas a traditional funeral is structured around a liturgy, in this ceremony stories about the person—serious or lighthearted—take center stage. It is his funeral, after all, so shouldn’t it be about him?
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Wellspring Anglican Church was birthed during the pangs of dissension between the theologically liberal Episcopal Church and its dioceses and parishes whose members held more conservative views. The first and only local congregation to voluntarily leave its former property at the beginning of the conflict, the Wellspring group walked away from a multimillion-dollar campus at St. Paul’s on Oakdale Road in 2009 and has spent the past five years meeting in rented space in downtown Modesto.
Parking has been tight, trains rumbling next to the sanctuary have disrupted worship services, and having people in the area who were vagrants or addicted to drugs posed challenges, but the congregation persevered.
Members finally will have their own home again. The congregation bought a building near the Modesto Junior College West Campus in 2013 and is remodeling the former food-testing laboratory space to make it suitable for a church. Work is expected to be complete in early 2015.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin TEC Departing Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology
Up to one in 10 Catholic priests are former Church of England clergy, according to new figures.
Professor Linda Woodhead, a sociologist of religion at Lancaster University and organiser of the Westminster Faith Debates, worked with the Catholic bishops' vocations director Fr Christopher Jamison OSB to establish that 389 Catholic priests are former Anglican priests, including 87 priests in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingam.
Currently it is estimated that in England and Wales there are 3,000 active diocesan priests, 800 retired priests, 1,000 religious priests and 700 deacons. Most of the Anglicans are believed to be working in parishes or chaplaincies.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Sociology * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
It’s not easy being a celebrity pastor these days with that pesky Internet around.
Consider the struggles of Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Faced with mounting accusations circulating online — plagiarism, misusing church funds to prop book sales, silencing anyone in his church with the temerity to question him — Driscoll has urged his followers to stay off the Web. “It’s all shenanigans anyway,” he explains.
Steven Furtick, a megachurch pastor in North Carolina, and Dave Ramsey, an evangelical finance guru, have been taking hits, too, as have the wheeler-dealers on the Preachers of L.A. reality show. This, against a backdrop of culture shifts creating strong headwinds against the leader-and-follower model typified by today’s Christian superstars.
What are a megapastor and his followers to do? Remembering the biblical admonitions against idolatry would be a good start.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Media Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Pastoral Theology
The gentle probing in today’s debate, and the view that it is up to the CofE to address such issues, contrasts with the attitude of parliament towards the Church of England in the debates, PQs &c which followed the General Synod’s defeat on 20 November 2012 of the draft legislation to allow women to become bishops. Furthermore, the parliamentary record indicates that during this session of parliament, Sir Tony Baldry has not been required to respond or give a written answer on the marriage of clergy to their same-sex partners.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The trial court in Quincy first handed a shock to TEC when it denied TEC’s summary judgment motion and ordering TEC to prove at trial that it was hierarchical....TEC was not prepared for this ruling coming out of the Adams County courthouse. Then, in a well-reasoned opinion after the trial, the trial court again disagreed with TEC, holding that: “There is no provision in TEC's Constitution or Canons which require prior approval (by TEC) of a diocesan constitution or its canons. There is no express prohibition against withdrawal of a diocese.”
In a unanimous opinion, the Appellate Court also rejected TEC’s claims and held that TEC failed to prove that it was hierarchical. More importantly, it ruled that even if TEC were hierarchical, this was irrelevant because deference by the court to the determination of the hierarchy was not necessary since the property dispute could be decided using neutral principals of law. As stated by the Appellate Court:
This approach (neutral principals of law) may be applied in resolving property disputes, even within a hierarchical church organization, so long as the court need not decide a religious matter involving church doctrine, polity or practice. Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Commentary Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Quincy * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The three-week trial of the Diocese of South Carolina vs. The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) ended July 25, with Judge Diane S. Goodstein, who presided, telling the parties what she wanted from them to assist in her deliberations.
Attorneys representing the Diocese, the Trustees and the Diocesan churches were given 30 days to create a three-page document describing the testimony given in court which explained the procedures they followed to legally separate from TEC, (such as amending their by-laws, giving notice of meetings, properly taking votes, etc.) They were then to send those documents to the Court and to TEC and TECSC whose attorneys will have 30 days to respond in a similar fashion.
In essence, the judge’s last words reiterated what she said throughout the trial: The case will be decided on neutral principles of law, which means that the judge must apply the law to this case as it would any other – making no adjustments because it involves a religious organization. TEC and TECSC have opposed the application of neutral principles; essentially arguing that the judge should defer to their view on the issues since they are a religious organization.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts * Admin Featured (Sticky) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology
When Philadelphia’s St. Paul Baptist Church hired the Rev. Leslie Callahan as its first female pastor, in 2009, she was nearing her 40th birthday and the tick-tock of her biological clock was getting hard to ignore.
She delighted in her ministry but also wanted a husband and children in her life. The husband she couldn’t do much about — he just hadn’t stepped into her life.
“But it was clear to me that I was going to do everything in my power to realize my dream of becoming a parent,” she said.Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Women * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
My friend Larry Taunton of the Fixed Point Foundation set out to find out why so many young Christians lose their faith in college. He did this by employing a method I don’t recall being used before: He asked them.
The Fixed Point Foundation asked members of the Secular Students Associations on campuses around the nation to tell them about their “journey to unbelief.” Taunton was not only surprised by the level of response but, more importantly, about the stories he and his colleagues heard.
Instead of would-be Richard Dawkins’, the typical respondent was more like Phil, a student Taunton interviewed. Phil had grown up in church; he had even been the president of his youth group. What drove Phil away wasn’t the lure of secular materialism or even Christian moral teaching. And he was specifically upset when his church changed youth pastors.
Whereas his old youth pastor “knew the Bible” and made Phil “feel smart” about his faith even when he didn’t have all the answers, the new youth pastor taught less and played more.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Youth Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Atheism * Theology Apologetics
On Day 7, ECUSA finally got to the meat of the matter by calling an acknowledged expert in South Carolina’s religious and non-profit corporations law, Professor Martin McWilliams of the University of South Carolina law school. He offered an elaborate theory as to why the diocese’s vote to secede from the national Church was invalid under South Carolina law: according to him, the diocese incorporated the national Church’s constitution and canons into its articles by reference, holus bolus, when it simply mentioned them in passing. Then, because the national governing documents (as amended from year to year) were part and parcel of the diocese’s corporate articles, it could not change those articles in any manner that was inconsistent with the Church’s governing documents.
This theory, however, had a hole in it so wide that one could drive a truck through it, and it was a simple matter for Bishop Lawrence’s counsel, on their cross-examination of Prof. McWilliams, to discredit it completely. First Prof. McWilliams conceded that there was no language in the national governing documents – even if they had been incorporated into the articles by the brief reference to them – which forbade a diocese from seceding, or from amending its articles in any manner whatsoever. And with that concession, any effect Prof. McWilliams might have had with his testimony was finished. For he next had to concede that the Diocese was wholly within its rights under South Carolina law when it amended its articles so as to remove its language of accession to the national Church.
After that major concession, the case for ECUSA and its rump group never regained its momentum, and their attorneys became ever more desperate in their tactics as they tried to recoup lost ground. On Day 8 they tried to call an expert witness they had not bothered to disclose by Judge Goodstein’s deadline, and she blocked the testimony after giving the hapless attorney trying to introduce it a good tongue-lashing for disregarding her rules.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Conflicts * Admin Featured (Sticky) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who seton foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in": aim at earth and you will get neither.--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 10
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Books * Theology Eschatology
It is a rare person who possesses such an indomitable spirit and yet offends almost no one. But John Hughes was this rare person - without ambition, but able to assume with radiant humility any elevation; as innocent as a child and yet as wise as an ancient sage; full of fun and yet attuned to sorrow; able to polemicise, yet also to offer wise counsel. In debate, like no other, he knew how not to alienate while avoiding vacuity. In his sermons (several of which have or will be collected in print) he knew how to delight as well as to instruct. In his life as in his work, he managed to interweave gentleness with an optimum pitch of boldness and exactitude - and in such a way that these attributes combine as one.
As John Dryden described Henry Purcell, who died when he was just one year older and equally in the full flood of his creativity, John Hughes was a "matchless man." It is now up to those who knew him to ask him and all the saints to assist us in dealing with this new lack in our lives. We can envisage this lack as being like guilt, since John had a strong New Testament and Patristic sense that sin and death are bound up with one another - are indeed in the end but one abyss.
Therefore we can apply his words in his Lear essay on the recognition of guilt also to the recognition of lack: "Properly, the recognition that the judge may be as guilty as the thief can be understood, not as universal innocence, but as the universal need for forgiveness and transformation." We are all both lacking and guilty, but beyond this negative diagnosis of much secular existential and social critique, and consequent illusions as to either "natural" innocence or incurable anxiety and ferocity, lies the faith that alone allows us to build each other up once more.
This was the Christian Socialist vision of John Hughes. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
Read it all.
To be sure, there is no one simple way forward. But both sides must be willing to compromise if they want to see unity. Credobaptists should work to assure paedobaptists, especially those in the evangelical vein, that they do consider them fellow Christians, insofar as they have accepted Christ by faith. And it helps for credobaptists to go one step further and reconsider infant baptism, performed within a context of genuine faith, as valid if imperfect. They can still require would-be members who were baptized as infants to undergo a "completion" of baptism—perhaps immersion upon making a public confession of faith.
Meanwhile, paedobaptists could work harder to understand credobaptist concerns and consider re-baptism as completing infant baptism rather than totally rejecting it. And they would do well to emphasize more strenuously that baptism itself does not save the infant. Similarly, they should not relegate children of credobaptist believers to the status of covenantal outsiders.
Both groups should look beyond their differences and focus on a bigger problem: the growing neglect of baptism among people who call themselves Christians. As followers of Jesus, we must prevent Christ's call to follow him fully from being drowned out.
Read it all.
Testimony in the ongoing lawsuit between the national Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, and the Diocese of South Carolina wrapped July 25.
The Diocese, which filed suit against the church in January 2013 and maintains that it legally broke away from the church in 2012, brought suit against the church in January 2013 over who is the rightful owner of the Diocese name, seals and symbols – and some $500 million in property and assets.
The Diocese has for some time disagreed with the national church on matters of theology, morality, and polity, which ultimately led to its decision to break away from the Episcopal Church in 2012, according to Diocese officials. While such issues as same-sex unions and ordination of gay clergy have caused some friction, Diocese officials say it left the church only after the church attempted to remove Lawrence from his post as Bishop of the Diocese -- some nine years after the church appointed its first openly gay Bishop – an action the Diocese believed to be outside of the church’s authority.
Read it all.
[This illustration I heard is a...] great story about the power of a good deed. There’s just one problem: Almost nothing about this story is true. It’s one of the most popular myths about Churchill, according Snopes.com and the Downers Grove, Illinois-based Churchill Centre.
How do I know this?
During the sermon, I stopped listening to the pastor and instead turned my eyes on my cell phone. Something about the story just didn’t sit right — it was too good to be true. So whatever spiritual lesson I was supposed to learn in the sermon was soon overshadowed by the wisdom of a Google search.
Things get even worse when a pastor starts quoting statistics.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking History Religion & Culture Sociology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
While more than 200 thousand Palestinians have fled Gaza since the war began, and more being added daily, some remain in resistance. Among them is Fr George Hernandez, pastor of the Catholics in Gaza, at Holy Family Church in Zeitun, where he stays to care for his flock while bombs continue to fly overhead and land too close to home.
Fr. Hernandez spoke to Vatican Radio where he described the situation on the ground and how the war has struck the Catholic community:
“Unfortunately, the resistance movement is situated near houses and in the streets. For us, this was a problem yesterday. At a certain point, we could not leave the house. Then the bombs fell. One house near the church was hit and there have been some major damage to our rectory and parish school”.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Violence * International News & Commentary Middle East Israel The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Pastoral Theology
Check it out on Youtube.
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Like the 1968 film “The Odd Couple,” a group of liberal Episcopalians, recently divorced from Anglican former parishioners, is looking to share space with some Korean Southern Baptists.
Currently this Episcopal congregation, a small remnant of a once robust congregation that joined the Anglican Church in North America and lost its building to the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, is subsidized by the Diocese to the tune of over $6,000 per church attender.
This past autumn I blogged about how two church properties formerly the home of Anglican churches and awarded to the Diocese of Virginia in court rulings were now, somewhat ironically, being rented or sold to evangelical congregations. The rebuilding of continuing Episcopal congregations is slow work, in some cases requiring substantial financial support from the diocese in order to maintain and operate facilities. The Diocese is once again leasing space to an evangelical group, this time at Epiphany Episcopal Church in Herndon.
In an announcement to church members this past Sunday, Epiphany Episcopal Church made public that an agreement has been reached with New Hope Washington Central Baptist Korean Congregation, which will move into the property off of Fairfax County Parkway in late July.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
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