Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two trends made the PCUSA shift so quickly.

First, as the AP reports, the PCUSA has lost thousands of members and hundreds of churches in recent years. Some of this decline is purely demographic. Presbyterians, like most Mainline Protestants, are aging (dying) and have low rates of fertility, intramarriage, and adult retention. But a significant number of churches have left the denomination over its liberal stances. Some are large, like the Reverend Dr. John Ortberg's Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Many others are small.

As traditionalists leave the PCUSA for more conservative denominations like the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO), the theology and politics of those who remain in the PCUSA will move to the left. Think about how the realignment of Dixiecrat politicians and other conservative Democrats to the Republican Party moved the Democrats' median ideology to the left. It's the same principle at work.

I also want to offer an additional explanation that no one else is talking about, one that helps explain why the Mainline churches are liberal and becoming more so as they decline. Clergy are significantly more polarized than laypeople. (This 2008 survey of Mainline Protestant clergy is worth studying.) We now know that a bare majority of Americans supports same sex marriage (53%). Surveys indicate that 62% of Mainline Protestants approve of same sex marriage. Mainliners, who comprise only 14% of the population, are more liberal than Americans as a whole on this issue.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsSociology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We call upon all Kenyans;

To cease from spreading rumours, incitement and inflammatory and derogatory remarks of any kind that may spiral to ethnic violence due to the volatile atmosphere . The name calling, and ethnic profiling on social media and other public places should stop.
To obey the the rule of law, respect and uphold the Constitution of Kenya and all its instituions.
To exercise patriotism and seek to uphold national unity for the sake of development and the well-being of all. With the political, social, economic, religious and any other differences amongst us, we should acknowledge that we are united by one country- Kenya.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Kenya* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAfricaKenya* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodistPresbyterianRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted June 21, 2014 at 3:04 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After passionate debate over how best to help break the deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on Friday at its general convention to divest from three companies that it says supply Israel with equipment used in the occupation of Palestinian territory.

The vote, by a count of 310 to 303, was watched closely in Washington and Jerusalem and by Palestinians as a sign of momentum for a movement to pressure Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and end the occupation, with a campaign known as B.D.S., for Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock Market* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted June 20, 2014 at 9:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The top legislative body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted by large margins Thursday to recognize same-sex marriage as Christian in the church constitution, adding language that marriage can be the union of "two people," not just "a man and a woman."

The amendment approved by the Presbyterian General Assembly requires approval from a majority of the 172 regional presbyteries, which will vote on the change over the next year. But in a separate policy change that takes effect at the end of this week's meeting, delegates voted to allow ministers to preside at gay weddings in states where the unions are legal and local congregational leaders approve. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage.

The votes, during a national meeting in Detroit, were a sweeping victory for Presbyterian gay-rights advocates. The denomination in 2011 eliminated barriers to ordaining clergy with same-sex partners, but ministers were still barred from celebrating gay marriages and risked church penalties for doing so. Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a gay advocacy group, said the decisions Thursday were "an answer to many prayers."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

5 Comments
Posted June 20, 2014 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Ministers in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can preside at same-sex marriages in states where they are legal following a vote this afternoon at the denomination‘‍s top legislative body.

And in the coming year, the denomination’‍s regional presbyteries will vote on whether to change its marriage definition church-wide to include two people regardless of gender.

Strong applause broke out after the overwhelming votes, which came after debate of more than two hours at the denomination‘‍s General Assembly here at the Detroit Cobo Center. But the decisions also came with plenty of anxious words about the looming possibility that more conservatives will join an exodus of estimated 350 congregations that have left for more conservative denominations in recent years as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) shifts to increasingly liberal stances on sexuality. In 2011, the denomination voted to authorize the ordination of gays and lesbians in non-celibate relationships.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

8 Comments
Posted June 19, 2014 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Although parishioners at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church held their last service there in November, hymns might be heard again from the nearly 100-year-old church as soon as this fall. Riverview Presbyterian Church, now on Kanawha Boulevard, plans to buy the church building and move in.

“It had always been the hope of folks from St. Paul and Trinity [Evangelical Lutheran Church] that it would be purchased by a church or a community organization, so this is a real godsend,” said Trinity Lutheran’s Rev. Randy Richardson.

The Trinity and St. Paul congregations joined last year because of St. Paul’s dwindling membership. There were only about 40 voting members when the church closed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranPresbyterian

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Posted May 28, 2014 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is scarcely any one who is ashamed to acknowledge that every thing good which he possesses comes from God; but, after making this acknowledgment, they imagine that universal grace has been given to them, as if it had been implanted in them by nature. But Christ dwells principally on this, that the vital sap — that is, all life and strength — proceeds from himself alone. Hence it follows, that the nature of man is unfruitful and destitute of everything good; because no man has the nature of a vine, till he be implanted in him. But this is given to the elect alone by special grace. So then, the Father is the first Author of all blessings, who plants us with his hand; but the commencement of life is in Christ, since we begin to take root in him. When he calls himself the true vine the meaning is, I am truly the vine, and therefore men toil to no purpose in seeking strength anywhere else, for from none will useful fruit proceed but from the branches which shall be produced by me.

--Commentary on John, Volume II

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* International News & CommentaryEuropeSwitzerland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Hundreds of worshippers from one of the Church of Scotland’s biggest congregations have left en masse to join the Free Church amid dissent over the issue of ..[clergy in same-sex unions]....

The moves follow the decision by the General Assembly to allow the ordination of openly-gay ministers if this has the support of the congregation. At its General Assembly in May last year, the CoS voted to uphold its historic doctrine on same sex relationships but to also consider a policy of permitting individual congregations to choose ministers in stable same-sex relationships.

Although some Christians will continue to oppose the move at the Kirk’s General Assembly this week, the decision is expected to be ratified as a means of keeping most congregations within the fold.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

2 Comments
Posted May 20, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Once upon a time, from the UUA on down, “Headquarters” buildings were statements of power: “Look! We are important! ‘Notice us!’” But just as cathedrals don’t tower in an age of skyscrapers, so impressive-looking headquarters no longer draw notice. And “secularization” is only part of the reason for this change.

When we look at secular analogues, we see that newspaper and other publishing empires are down-sizing for many reasons, including digitalization and the demands and opportunities that come with the internet. Today denominational and agency business is largely transacted in ways that permit employees to work from home, committees to meet by Skype, Conference Call, and other digital means. Many in the “secular” public make up their minds about the power and value of religious works and workings not based on images of huge Interchurch Centers or denominational Power Houses, but based on what they do....

Planners in religious agencies may regret turning the key to close the Big House doors for the last time, but wise planners are using their skills and energies to advance their work through non-elite, less-strategically-located bases of operation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* Theology

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Posted March 27, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is the revivalist style of at least some members of the New Calvinism punctuated by constant references to Jonathan Edwards and the rise of charismatic Calvinism that has many Old School Presbyterians concerned. Piper side-stepped the main issue between the two camps: from an Old-School perspective the New Calvinism smacks of the evangelical revivalism of a D. L. Moody, or, more to the point, the baseball-player-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday (insert Mark Driscoll reference here). Sunday once called the novelist Sinclair Lewis “Satan’s cohort” in response to Lewis’s 1927 satirical novel Elmer Gantry, whose main character—a hypocritical evangelist—was modeled on Sunday’s flamboyant style.

That older coalition of Congregationalists, Baptists, and New School Presbyterians combined dispensationalism, celebrity revivalism, and fundamentalism—the very traits that Old School Presbyterians disliked then and now. It is not without some irony that Piper acknowledged the important role of Westminster Seminary while not even mentioning that it was the epicenter of Old School Presbyterianism with its anti-revivalist and cessationist stance (at the end of his lecture Piper got a laugh when he said, “you don’t even want to know my eschatology.” Indeed!).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsPresbyterianReformed* Theology

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Posted March 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As mainline Protestant denominations continue decades of decline, one of the main institutions helping educate its leaders announced Wednesday (March 19) that it will shut its doors.

Since it was founded four decades ago, the Virginia-based Alban Institute has guided mostly mainline congregations through consulting and publishing. Its founder and former president, the Rev. Loren Mead, became well-known for his speaking and writing about the future of U.S. denominations and was one of the first to predict denominational decline.

“When I started as a parish pastor, I found there wasn’t much help or continuing education,” said Mead, a retired Episcopal priest. “I am glad I have been able to contribute to the church, but I have not been able to solve its turnaround.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSociology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* TheologyEcclesiology

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Posted March 21, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A writer named Cheryl Forbes once said people who live imaginative lives are what if? people. They respond to ideas and events with a what if? attitude. They behave in what if? ways.

What if? is a big idea, as big as God, for it is the practice of God. That's our God. Our God thinks, "What if I make a universe? What if I make people in my own image? What if, when they sin, I don't give up on them?..."

You guys all know next week we're going to walk together through a really important vote, and we're asking every member of our church to pray, because we're seeking together to discern God's leading for our church. We're asking all of you who are members to come back next weekend. Come early. Come at 8:30. We have to get registered. We have a 9:30 service. We're asking everybody to come early....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

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Posted March 3, 2014 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After an extended, mediated negotiation, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, which has over 3,300 members, including former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University academia, and those in the Silicon Valley...[voted by 93% to]... move forward with the recommendation by their elders and pastors.

In a sermon delivered on Feb. 2, MPPC's senior pastor John Ortberg explained how the $8.89 million was arrived and explained why the elders still voted unanimously against the option of simply staying in PCUSA.

"As you all know, we have a vision. We have a mission. We want to reach thousands of people for Jesus Christ around this Bay Area that needs him so much," he said. "We want to launch new sites to help us do that."

Read it all.




Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* Theology

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Posted March 3, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Mr. [David] Dyson announced his retirement in 2011, a committee was formed to find someone to fill in during the arduous process — involving exhaustive surveys and self-examination — of finding a permanent pastor. The Session, 15 people elected by the congregation, chose Ms. Mason-Browne and gave her the standard contract for a one-year term. It was later renewed for a year.

Many saw parallels between the pastors. “Both have big personalities,” Joy Bell, a member since 1997, said. “Both are well read, well educated and demonstrate what Christianity should be about.”

But when her contract came up again at the end of 2013, the Session declined to renew it. With that, the number of black female pastors, like Ms. Mason-Browne, leading Presbyterian congregations in New York City dropped to five, though minorities are close to half of church members citywide. Nationally, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is 90 percent white.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted February 3, 2014 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Oostburg's pastor, the Rev. Brian Jacobson, said he feels a sense of hopefulness about the process.

"It feels like a genuine attempt — in Christian language — to make room for the spirit," Jacobson said. "It feels to me like this could be a way forward that would honor both sides."

First Presbyterian is seeking to affiliate with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, a theologically conservative denomination that formed after the 2011 vote.

Since then, about 260 congregations have left the 2.8 million-member Presbyterian Church USA, said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, who serves as the stated clerk of the church's general assembly in Louisville. Similar schisms have erupted in the Episcopal Church and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 29, 2014 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Church leaders are encouraging politicians to sustain the momentum and energy generated by the Haass talks.

In a joint statement from the leaders of the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches together with the Irish Council of Churches they applaud the ‘strenuous and sincere efforts put in by all involved in seeking to find solutions to some of the most contentious issues we face’.

They also recognise the ‘profoundly challenging’ nature of the issues to be addressed but firmly believe that ‘a peaceful and reconciled society is possible’.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of Ireland* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & CultureViolence* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Ireland* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesMethodistPresbyterianRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 13, 2014 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I found a divinity school…[where] we didn’t come to the Bible until about two weeks before commencement….[and as a result of my theological education]…during the first years of my ministry what I knew about God kept me from God….

[Later when I was reading I learned that] Rembrandt had a powerful painting on… [the subject of the raising of Lazarus in John 11], and it was quite obvious that Lazarus was not being raised in spirit only. The reanimated and bandaged corpse was realistically coming to life. Then I happened to turn to the back of the painting to see what the critic said of it. Critics have done much harm, but the words of that critic left there helped me into the Lord's bright blessing: “Rembrandt did everything he could think of to intensify the miracles of Christ.” I had intended to dampen their effect, but Rembrandt did everything he could think of to enhance them, to give them glory. For some reason those words of that unknown critic did me in. From then on, I too tried to do everything I could think of to intensify the effect of the miracles. When I turned that page, I changed sides….I had never raised my voice in.. [the] Presbyterian pulpit [in the parish where I served] before, but that day, since John said Jesus shouted, I shouted… [the words “Lazarus, Come out!”] as loudly as I could. And for the first time in my life someone asked me for a copy of my sermon.

--David Redding, Jesus Makes Me Laugh (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973), pp.14-18, my emphasis


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyChristologySeminary / Theological EducationTheology: Scripture

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Posted December 9, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While at Taizé, I felt called by God to choose the unique experience of spending the week in silence. This meant that I would join a small group of other pilgrims staying in the quiet and quaint village of Taizé in a house near the main grounds. The accommodations were simple and comfortable, providing a private room to be fully immersed in the gift of silence.

Spending a week in silence may not immediately sound like the kind of experience to put at the top of your bucket list. Yet this experience was so formational, I would not hesitate to do it again. It was initially challenging to allow my mind to become quiet and my spirit to settle, but after the first few days, my rhythm became one of great joy in silence. I would spend the morning reading scripture and in the afternoon, I would take time for personal prayer, enjoy a holy nap, and walk through the beautiful French countryside. While the days themselves seemed to pass slowly, the week went by very quickly.

Besides the inspiring prayer services, a poignant part of my week was sitting at the table and sharing meals with my fellow pilgrims. We gathered for meals in a beautiful common room that overlooked the hills of Burgundy. As each meal began, the aroma of freshly peeled tangerines filled the room. The only spoken words that broke the silent fellowship were the Taizé prayers we sang before eating. Each face around the table was of a different nationality—French, German, American, and others. As we served each other in the sacred silence, the real blessing was that we spoke the common language of service to one another. In these moments at mealtime, it was as if I were joining Jesus and the disciples at the table of servanthood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted December 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“In the western section of the diocese,” the Rev. John Stark Ravenscroft told North Carolina Episcopalians in 1825, “the prospect (of advancing the faith) is very discouraging, though not without hope.”

“Spiritual destitution” is how Bishop Levi Silliman Ives characterized our region’s religious landscape 19 years later, though the physical landscape was “beautiful and striking, far beyond my powers of description.”

Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians had made great spiritual progress in Western North Carolina as early as the 18th century. Samuel Edney, head of the Methodist church’s Swannanoa circuit, established the first camp meeting west of the Blue Ridge in what is now Edneyvillle in the 1790s; in 1797, the Rev. George Newton turned Asheville’s Union Hill Academy into a Presbyterian school named after him. The French Broad Baptist Church was organized in Henderson County in 1780, and regional churches formed the French Broad Baptist Association in 1807.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

5 Comments
Posted November 4, 2013 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Half a century ago, the denominations under the mainline umbrella dominated the American faith landscape. Now, after decades of declining numbers, only about one in five U.S. adults identifies with a mainline denomination such as United Methodists, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA) and American Baptists.

Could replacing the “mainline” name help stem the slide? The challenge came from scholar and Presbyterian pastor Carol Howard Merritt. Writing in the venerable Christian Century magazine, she called for a new brand that conveys her view of the mainline’s rising diversity and social justice leadership.

“The image of an all-white, elitist church is not going to fly for generations to come,” said Merritt, an author and speaker who lives in Chattanooga, Tenn. “’Mainline’ was a good historic marker but the future needs to reflect who we are now.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2013 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

....it’s this point that I think provokes most of the reaction to Calvinism in the popular mind today (and to Augustinianism and Lutheranism to the extent that they are identified with the teaching as well): Modern man does not want to be transparent before God, or before anyone else. We deem it an invasion of our privacy and of our autonomy. We want our hearts to be the one place in creation so sacred that even God dare not tread there.

For whatever reason, Calvinism is the school that gets most of the attention to taking on this preference. For better or for worse, it’s the Calvinists who are taken to be “in your face” in asserting a Christian anthropology in direct opposition to the spirit of the age. While I don’t count myself among their number, they should be credited more broadly by Christians for taking so much heat on their view of the will.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 2, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, is preparing a “ten-year plan” to put payday lenders such as Wonga out of business.

A Church of England task force will, in collaboration with the Church of Scotland, make church buildings available to credit unions and recruit expert churchgoers as volunteers to help to run them. A leading financier is to meet the archbishop this week on whether he would lead the task force, which will include academics who, it is hoped, will produce a radical new theology of finance.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/Sector* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Presbyterian Church USA's largest congregation in Texas has filed a lawsuit to seek legal protection for their property should they seek dismissal from the denomination.

The Highland Park Presbyterian Church, a Dallas-based congregation with approximately 4,000 members, filed the suit on Tuesday in Dallas County District Court.

Mark Annick of Androvett Legal Media in Dallas is working with Highland Park Presbyterian on the suit over the property.

"Regarding the status of the lawsuit, the court granted the temporary restraining order…and set a hearing date on the matter for September 23," Annick told The Christian Post.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

1 Comments
Posted September 14, 2013 at 2:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Finitude, contingency, transience. These three linked words signal basic elements of what it is to be a human—and especially to be a historian. David Tracy, noted theologian and next door study-neighbor, taught me this connection, and I’ve let it color my life and scholarly preoccupations. It will help us interpret the almost reflexive use of the rubric “decline” in relation to the western Christian presence. Specifically, do a search for “mainline Protestant” and “decline” and you will get the picture, millions of times over.

Everything and everyone dies, is subject to accidents and change, and all human endeavor will pass and be forgotten. What can a church historian do with this obvious insight at such a time as ours? Given my parallel calling as a peregrinating lecturer, I use the vantage acquired there to try to sense the comings and goings of topics for inquiry. One way to measure public curiosity is to listen to questions asked after a lecture.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

0 Comments
Posted August 23, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A lot of material here for those interested--check it out.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 13, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fans of a beloved contemporary Christian hymn won’t get any satisfaction in a new church hymnal.

The committee putting together a new hymnal for the Presbyterian Church (USA) dropped the popular hymn “In Christ Alone” because the song’s authors refused to change a phrase about the wrath of God.

The original lyrics say that “on that cross, as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song wanted to substitute the words, “the love of God was magnified.”

The song’s authors, Stuart Townend and Nashville resident Keith Getty, objected. So the committee voted to drop the song.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* Theology

12 Comments
Posted August 7, 2013 at 3:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

ome scholars with roots in more traditional churches caution against overstating the importance of liberal religion. The recent work on the subject is “a nice rebalancing of the historiographical ledgers,” said Mark Noll, a historian of religion at Notre Dame and a prominent evangelical intellectual. But for a tradition to have any continuing influence, he added, it needs committed bodies in the pews.

That point is seconded by Ms. Coffman, who worked as an editor at Christianity Today before entering academia. She currently teaches at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian institution where pastors in training, she said, are less likely to be savoring their broad cultural victories than debating which elements of evangelical worship they should adopt to attract a viable congregation.

“I teach at a mainline seminary, and we do not feel very triumphal,” Ms. Coffman said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchEducationHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

0 Comments
Posted July 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first known use of the word “mainline” to describe the largest Protestant denominations and distinguish them from their growing evangelical and fundamentalist counterparts appeared in the New York Times in 1960—at the very moment when mainline Protestantism began its rapid decline. You don’t call something “mainline” or “mainstream” unless its supremacy is being disputed (think of the “mainstream media”). And the supremacy of older, more socially prestigious churches within American Protestantism was being directly disputed in the mid-1950s. It’s impossible to speak with precision about what constituted mainline Christianity, but in general the mainline churches de-emphasized doctrinal differences; were Northern and Midwestern rather than Southern; promoted social causes rather than personal conversion or repentance; and virtually always took the liberal line in politics. By 1960, liberal Protestantism enjoyed almost nothing of the authority that had seemed unassailable 15 years earlier.

In “The Christian Century and the Rise of the Protestant Mainline,” Elesha Coffman charts the half-century ascendancy of liberal Protestantism in American society from its beginnings in northern seminaries at the turn of the 20th century to its brief triumphant moment immediately after World War II, when it had no effective rival. She does this through the lens of the magazine that, in the absence of any formal governing body, was effectively this strand of Protestantism’s voice and conscience: the Christian Century.

Read it all (if needed another link is there).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooksHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

3 Comments
Posted July 8, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Denominationalism is not dead but, increasingly, it’s only one of several options for organizing the church in America,” explained Baptist historian Bill Leonard, the James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and professor of church history at Wake Forest School of Divinity.

Increasing pluralism in the United States and the decreasing influence of Protestantism are forcing denominational leaders to ask hard questions about identity, viability and relevance.

Pluralism, “which Baptists helped put into place,” is becoming more normative, Leonard said. The rise of the “nones”—people with no connection to organized religion— also plays into the challenges denominations face.

Gone are the days when communities formulated policy and activities around the church. “We are living through the death rattle of the Protestant privilege,” Leonard said.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsDisciples of ChristEvangelicalsLutheranMethodistPentecostalPresbyterianRoman CatholicUnited Church of Christ

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Posted June 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Scotland was last night bracing itself for the departure of up to a dozen well-heeled congregations over the issue of the ordination of gay ministers.
Three new congregations have indicated that they will quit the Kirk in the first signs of division to emerge since the vote to allow gay ministers.
New Restalrig Parish Church, St Catherine’s Argyle Parish Church and Holyrood Abbey Church in Edinburgh are in the process of negotiating a depart

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 13, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When it comes to leading denominational conversations on sexual violence, clergy across traditions express twin reactions: encouragement over the protocols already in place and the efforts of fellow advocates; and frustration with a culture of silence around sexual violence in the church. Despite strikingly different experiences across denominations — and church by church — the clergy, church staff, and seminarians who spoke with Sojourners are in agreement that addressing this issue in one’s own house is complicated at every level.

First, the good news: Several major Protestant denominations, across progressive and fundamentalist strains, subscribe to a practice of what the United Methodist Church calls “safe sanctuary” — a commitment to ensure their church buildings and leadership are free from sexual predators. These policies generally include running background checks on any volunteers working with children and establishing protocols (many developed by Marie Fortune and the Faith Trust Institute) for interpersonal interaction at the church.

These denominational policies are the first line of defense against abuse, particularly of children, in houses of worship. So what else, if anything, beyond this basic groundwork is needed from leadership?

This is where consensus breaks down, and in speaking with clergy and seminarians across denominations and traditions, various barriers and fear patterns were revealed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureSexualityViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianRoman CatholicUnited Church of Christ* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2013 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am not looking for the Free Church to expand at the cost of another denomination. But I do hope that when that denomination forfeits the right to be known as a church of Christ, you will know that there is a brotherly love, concern and welcome for you in this denomination.”
--The Rev Iain D. Campbell, convenor of the Free Church of Scotland’s Ecumenical Relations Committee, in an article in the London Times [in reference to the Church of Scotland] (subscription required).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 7, 2013 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The number of churches that were dismissed from Presbyterian Church (USA) last year has increased by fivefold compared to 2011, says a recently released report.

According to statistics released [last] Thursday by the Office of the General Assembly for PC(USA), 110 congregations were granted dismissal in 2012 in order to join other denominations; in 2011, the reported number was only 21. In 2010, at the 219th General Assembly of PC (USA), a majority of presbyteries, or regional bodies, voted to approve Amendment 10a, which lets presbyteries allow for the ordination of openly homosexual clergy. Because of this amendment, many conservative congregations in PC (USA) decided to pursue dismissal from the mainline denomination, usually for more conservative Presbyterian...[bodies].

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Right Reverend Lorna Hood, said: "This is a massive vote for the peace and unity of the Church."

The Kirk said that after a "full but gracious debate" it affirmed its current doctrine and practice in relation to human sexuality but moved to permit sessions wishing to depart from the traditional position to do so.

Mrs Hood added: "This was a major breakthrough for the Church but we are conscious that some people remain pained, anxious, worried and hurt. We continue to pray for the peace and unity of the Church."

Read it all and make sure to read Robert Piggott's comments alongside also.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Salvation (Soteriology)

3 Comments
Posted May 30, 2013 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

‘There is not going to be a great schism.” The Rev Lorna Hood is sitting on a sofa in the drawing room of an elegant town house in Rothesay Terrace, the official home of the Moderator of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.

With one sharp sentence she has fired a tranquiliser dart into the pink elephant in the room.

Officially, there is still a moratorium on discussing whether the Church of Scotland should ordain practising gay ministers but next Monday’s debate and vote at the General Assembly is set to be the most divisive the Church has faced since the Disruption of 1843 when a predecessor as moderator, Dr David Welsh, walked out with 450 ministers and founded the Free Church of Scotland. There has been suggestions that, once again, ministers are strapping on their hiking boots.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted May 17, 2013 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has urged evangelical congregations within the Church of Scotland not to “walk away” over the ordination of [noncelibate] gay ministers.

Speaking on the eve of a visit to Scotland as the new chairman of Christian Aid, Williams said he understood some congregations might threaten to break away if the Kirk’s ­General Assembly votes to allow the ordination of gay ministers later this month, but warned against such a divisive move.

“The impulse to walk away, while deeply understandable, is not a very constructive one,” he said. “The things which bind Christians together are almost always more profound and significant for themselves and the world than the things that divide them. When you do walk away from other Christians you are in effect saying well, either I can do without you or I’ve got nothing to learn from you. That can’t be good for us. You may disagree, you may think somebody else is tacitly perverse, but you might want to hang in there with them.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

5 Comments
Posted May 7, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Controversy sells. It sells newspapers, journals and movies. It may even sell conference registrations, to judge from the frequency with which I’m asked to speak at such events about “controversial issues” that confronted the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song (PCOCS) as it worked on the denomination’s new song collection Glory to God.

Does controversy also sell hymnals? I’m not sure. But the Presbyterian Hymnal of 1874 came out in the midst of a controversy so intense that pamphleteers took to writing about the War of the Hymn Books. The war they had in mind was a campaign launched by disaffected members of the official hymnal committee who seceded to create a rival publication. In response to this campaign, the board of publication for the denominational hymnal took pains to report (in the January 1875 edition of the Presbyterian Monthly Record): “It will be gratifying to our Presbyterian constituency to know that the persistent efforts to prevent the adoption by the churches of the new Hymnal . . . fail to arrest its sale.” Indeed, by June of 1875, the rate at which congregations were adopting the new hymnal was reported to be “without a parallel in the history of hymn and tune books.” So maybe controversy does boost sales, even where hymnals are concerned.

Still, I am relieved to note that the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song has experienced nothing as dramatic as a secession and threatened publication war. The most animated disagreements we experienced within our group were over matters of theology; our most animated disagreements with people outside our group have been over issues of musical accompaniments and (not surprisingly) of language.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

2 Comments
Posted May 3, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Small wonder, given the harrowing times recently, that news about a long-running property fight over a picturesque church in northern Virginia escaped most people’s notice. But the story of the struggle over the historic Falls Church is nonetheless worth a closer look. It’s one more telling example of a little-acknowledged truth: though religious traditionalism may be losing today’s political and legal battles, it remains poised to win the wider war over what Christianity will look like tomorrow.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: VirginiaGlobal South Churches & PrimatesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyChristologySoteriologyTheology: Salvation (Soteriology)Theology: Scripture

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Posted April 30, 2013 at 7:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Church of England minister will make history this weekend when he becomes the head of a Free Church of Scotland congregation in St Andrews.

The Rev Paul Clarke has been appointed to a three-year placement with St Andrews Free Church, whose congregation has been without a minister since 2012.

Mr Clarke, widely regarded in Anglican circles as one of its most promising preachers, previously served at one of the biggest congregations in England – St Helen’s Bishopsgate in inner city London.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

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Posted April 26, 2013 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At first, Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., could see itself as exempt from the economic forces shaking seminaries and theological schools nationwide. Luther is the biggest seminary for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States. Among its peers, it had a reputation for being innovative. Individual donors continued to give, and its local area -- in one of the country’s most Lutheran states -- was supportive.

Last fall, though, it all came crashing down. Enrollments were dropping. The seminary found it was running multimillion-dollar deficits, spending down its endowment and relying on loans. In December, its president, the Rev. Dr. Richard Bliese, resigned, as the seminary’s board began to look at options to trim at least $4 million from the seminary’s $27 million annual budget.

The results were announced...[not long ago]: layoffs for 18 of its 125 staff members, many effective within a few weeks; the voluntary departure of 8 of 44 faculty members at the end of the academic year, who will not be replaced; the termination of a master’s program in sacred music; and the decision to no longer admit Ph.D students for at least three years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchEducationReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted April 17, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

More than 200 Presbyterian congregations nationwide - including nine in Sacramento - have been torn asunder over the Presbyterian Church USA's new rules and the ordination of its first [noncelibate] gay minister, who is a former Sacramento pastor. The rift has resulted in lawsuits, sold churches, broken friendships and scattered congregations.

In a historic vote in October 2011, 427 Fremont Presbyterian congregants voted to leave the national denomination while 164 voted to stay. At the time, the 128-year-old congregation had about 1,200 members.

The vote prompted a church investigation into the schism to determine which faction was entitled to the church property valued at $9 million.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 11, 2013 at 7:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A church in Aberdeen wants to break away from the Church of Scotland because of the institution's decision to lift its ban on appointing gay ministers.

Reverend Dominic Smart said elders at Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen, pictured, disagreed with the General Assembly's resolution, feeling it had "marginalised" the Bible.

He insisted the assembly's May decision on same-sex partnerships represented a "clear and deliberate move away from the authority of scripture".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Lamin] Sanneh acknowledges a debt to the missionary schools that unintentionally introduced him to a desiccated version of Christian faith, and he tells how as an earnest young man he wandered from pastor to pastor, desperately seeking baptism, only to be deflected by missionaries who had compromised mission in their uneasy accommodation to Islamic culture. The story would almost be humorous if it were not so sad. Yet even the account of the missionaries’ rebuff is less painful to read than the account of what he received at the hands of liberal, mainline North American pastors who had long before enmeshed themselves in their culture by reducing their ministry to caregiving rather than conversion. As for many frustrated would-be converts in our age, it was easier for Sanneh to find Christ than for him to find Christian community. Eventually he became a Catholic while at Yale.
--Will Willimon in a review of Lamin Sanneh's new Summoned From the Margin (Eerdmans, 2012), Christian Century, the October 17th, 2012 issue, page 53 (emphasis mine)

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAfrica* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesDisciples of ChristMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of ChristOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted October 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New York Times colum-nist Ross Douthat recently described the collapse of liberal Christianity in America, pointing to a 23 percent drop in Episcopal attendance over the previous decade as evidence of its demise. While Douthat and others single out the Episcopal Church, the rapid decline is shared by other mainline denominations, including my own, the Presbyterian Church (USA).

This collapse is all the more startling in light of the current global success of Christianity. Historian Philip Jenkins observes that African Christianity is growing at 2.36 percent annually, and the number of Christians on the continent is expected to double in less than 30 years. According to Jenkins, the growth of African Christianity represents the largest quantitative religious change in history....

In my own denomination, I have witnessed the casual dismissal of essential truths of the faith by pastors and professors. One Presbyterian pastor in Tennessee has gone even further, rejecting the idea that Christ died for our sins — claiming the idea is “absurd” and stating that the cross “doesn’t even make sense.”

Without orthodox biblical truths guiding and protecting the church, liberals have become immersed in religious pluralism, leaving the church with a weakened message of tolerance and theological relativism. Yale theologian Richard Niebuhr described this situation back in the 1930s, asserting that liberals preach a “God without wrath who brings human beings without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a bloody cross.”

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

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* South Carolina* Theology

7 Comments
Posted September 2, 2012 at 12:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pittsburgh Presbytery is poised to vote on a plan that would allow congregations to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) with their buildings if they first engage in an open discernment process and negotiate a settlement with the presbytery.

About 170 people attended a discussion Tuesday night in Bethany Presbyterian Church, Bridgeville. The plan will be voted on Sept. 15. Four churches asked for such a policy: Mt. Lebanon United Presbyterian Church, Lebanon Presbyterian Church in West Mifflin, Bellefield Presbyterian Church in Oakland, and Round Hill Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth Borough.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

6 Comments
Posted August 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The Rev. Eric] Greenwood, rector of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, says his denomination has its troubles. But it is still a force for good in the world.

“Everybody gets all excited about sex in the church,” he said. “But the good work that gets done in the name of God and our lord Jesus Christ, it will take your breath away.”

Nationwide, the numbers don’t look good for the Episcopal Church and other mainline Protestant denominations, most of which tend to hold more liberal beliefs. From 2000 to 2010, most suffered double-digit percentage declines in membership, leading some to wonder if those denominations can be saved in the future.

But in Nashville, those mainline churches have showed surprising strength and have grown in membership over the past decade.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* Theology

12 Comments
Posted August 21, 2012 at 6:50 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’ve become so accustomed to the narrative of “mainline decline” that it is difficult to get our minds around a more nuanced version of this story. How do you tell this story?
The ecumenical leaders achieved much more than they and their successors give them credit for. They led millions of American Protestants in directions demanded by the changing circumstances of the times and by their own theological tradition. These ecumenical leaders took a series of risks, asking their constituency to follow them in antiracist, anti-imperialist, feminist and multicultural directions that were understandably resisted by large segments of the white public, especially in the Protestant-intensive southern states.

It is true that the so-called mainstream lost numbers to churches that stood apart from or even opposed these initiatives, and ecumenical leaders simultaneously failed to persuade many of their own progeny that churches remained essential institutions in the advancement of these values.

But the fact remains that the public life of the United States moved farther in the directions advocated in 1960 by the Christian Century than in the directions then advocated by Christianity Today. It might be hyperbolic to say that ecumenists experienced a cultural victory and an organizational defeat, but there is something to that view. Ecumenists yielded much of the symbolic capital of Christianity to evangelicals, which is a significant loss. But ecumenists won much of the U.S. There are trade-offs.
Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesEvangelicalsLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

7 Comments
Posted August 8, 2012 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Rt. Rev. Mark Joseph Lawrence, the Episcopal bishop of South Carolina, fears for the future of his church.

One week after the U.S. Episcopal Church overwhelmingly voted to approve a provisional rite for blessing gay unions and the ordination of transgender people, Bishop Lawrence said in an interview with NBC News that his denomination is moving too far out of the mainstream.

"Do I think that these two decisions will cause further decline? I believe they will," Bishop Lawrence said. "I think we've entered into a time of sexual and gender anarchy."

Lawrence's comments come amid a growing debate over the future of so-called mainline Christian churches: Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, some Lutherans and more. These denominations, which are generally more liberal than their evangelical counterparts, have been in decline for decades, a trend some observers attribute to their supposed leftward drift.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistPresbyterian* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted July 20, 2012 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jesus is sending out his disciples to the people....[and he concludes by saying] if they are rejected, if... [those to whom they speak]...refuse to hear what they are saying, to leave. And he tells them that as they walk away they should shake the dust off their feet as a sign that they had not been welcomed.

Its sort of a Leadership Principles of Jesus 101 class. As much as you want consensus, as much as you want everyone to join you, that won’t always happen. And sometimes you have to just move forward and do the right thing anyway.

I was thinking about this last week. I was watching the webcast of the biannual national meeting of my former denomination, the Presbyterian Church. It’s a church I still love, but I, like many others, had my own moment of shaking the dust from my feet in order to join a church that was truly committed to moving forward and embracing all in their ministry.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianUnited Church of ChristSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

1 Comments
Posted July 8, 2012 at 3:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[After the rape]...Church brought no relief. It made everything worse. Church, at least in the wake of tragedy, was the empty predictability of confession recited in unison, hymns sung by rote, sermons about the glorious soul and the sinful body and magical forgiveness. A favorite verse from Romans in her copy of the Good News Bible now sounded like a lie: “We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him.”

Only at home, alone with the secret of her rape, could Ms. [Marcia] Shoop find something to grasp for survival. “I felt Jesus so close,” she recalled in a recent interview. “It wasn’t the same Jesus I saw at church. It was this tiny, audible whisper that said, ‘I know what happened. I understand.’ And it kept me alive, that frayed little thread.”

By now, more than a quarter of a century later, that thread has led Ms. Shoop, 43, to become a Presbyterian minister herself, one who has developed religious teachings aimed at repairing the rift between mind and body, soul and spirit. Born out of a survivor’s struggle, they form her variation on the broader field of “incarnational theology,” which focuses on the living, breathing, physical Jesus.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted July 8, 2012 at 4:41 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After a long and complicated debate Friday afternoon and evening of General Assembly, the gathered commissioners chose to maintain the Biblical definition of marriage. They voted down overtures to redefine marriage and to issue an authoritative interpretation to allow teaching elders to conduct marriages for same sex couples in states where that is legal. Instead, the assembly approved a two-year “season of serious study and discernment” for presbyteries and congregations regarding the meaning of Christian marriage.

Commissioner Bill Thro remarked, “This is a Gideon moment – a victory that never would have happened. I think God saved the PCUSA from schism tonight. I am humbled that God called my colleagues and me to play a role in this drama.” Thro was a member of the Civil Unions and Marriage Committee and presented one of the minority reports.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted July 7, 2012 at 8:51 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Today, the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) discussed two different ways to expand the 2 million member denomination’s understanding of marriage to include committed same-sex couples. While neither option ultimately collected the majority of votes needed to begin the ratification process, this discussion marked another step towards making the Presbyterian Church (USA) a truly inclusive church.

“While it is disappointing that the Church missed this historic opportunity to move toward full inclusion, the fact that so many Presbyterians from around the country called for the Church to recognize love between committed same-gender couples was awe-inspiring to see.” said Michael J. Adee, Executive Director, More Light Presbyterians. “We have more work to do to show those who oppose full inclusion how truly wonderful the gifts that committed, married same-sex couples bring to our church. We’re inspired by the progress we’ve made together and are just as committed to continuing this work, together.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted July 7, 2012 at 8:42 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Commissioners’ opinions were varied on the season of study.

For the past two years, presbyteries have been wrapped up in discussions about changes to ordination standards and a new Form of Government, both of which were approved by the 219th General Assembly (2010), said Allen Foster, a teaching elder from Glacier Presbytery. They need this time to focus on studying marriage, he said.

But other commissioners saw the study as a way to delay action.

“While we are thrilled with yet another study, it doesn’t give any relief to those of us in states where same-sex marriage is legal,” said Karen Bartel, a ruling elder from the Presbytery of East Iowa.

Read it all and there is another article there.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted July 7, 2012 at 8:38 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Presbyterian Church (USA) on Friday did not approve a proposed constitutional amendment to change the church's definition of marriage from between "a man and a woman" to between "two people." The vote was 308 in favor, 338 against, and 0 abstentions.
The vote, at the church's biennial convention held Downtown this week, followed over three hours of personal testimony and sharp debate by the general assembly.
Jodi Craiglow of Miami Valley Presbytery said she loved "unashamedly and unequivocally" gay members of the church and that her "heart breaks from your pain and frustration." However, she continued, "God's words tell us he established the covenant of marriage between one man and one woman."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & Family* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted July 7, 2012 at 8:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Presbyterians in favor of divestment said that their church could not in good conscience hold stock in companies that they said perpetuate an unjust occupation and undermine the search for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But opponents said that divestment would unfairly vilify Israel, and accomplish little but further polarization.

Arthur Shippee, a delegate from southern New England, said: “What divestment will achieve is this: We will add a whisper soon lost in the storm, but we will further the divisions in our church when we have our own serious problems to address, and we will precipitate divisions with the synagogues within our communities whom we work with frequently on a variety of issues. This will be perceived as picking on Israel, and how could it not?”

Speaking in favor of divestment and against the pro-investment resolution, Tim Simpson, a delegate from the Presbytery of St. Augustine in Jacksonville, Fla., said: “The Palestinians aren’t asking us for a check, sisters and brothers. The Palestinians are asking us for justice. They’re asking us for dignity. How can you write a check to a people who don’t control their own water?”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeStock MarketForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsraelThe Palestinian/Israeli Struggle* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

0 Comments
Posted July 6, 2012 at 5:46 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Surrounded by controversy since it was learned she had recently signed a same-gender wedding license in Washington, D.C., 220th General Assembly vice moderator Tara Spuhler McCabe stood down from that office today (July 4). The news was greeted with a chorus of “no!” and a standing ovation from most of the commissioners as she concluded her statement.

McCabe told the Assembly that “the amount of conversation in person and comments online indicate that my confirmation (Sunday) touched a nerve”. During the question-and-answer session during the moderatorial election Saturday night, the Rev. Neal D. Presa, 220th GA moderator, acknowledged that he and McCabe disagreed on the issue of same-gender marriage but their friendship outweighed their disagreement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

0 Comments
Posted July 5, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church, which has also seen dozens of congregations leaving over the years for its increasingly liberal theology, has already been blessing gay and lesbian couples for decades, but those wishing to change the legal definition of marriage want to make the commitment vow free of gender and official liturgy.

"The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant," as the Episcopalian proposal is called, would first be used on a three-year trial basis if it passes, and then another decision would have to be made on whether to fully change Episcopalian doctrine to include same-sex couples in the definition of marriage.

"I don't think there is any member of the clergy that stayed [in The Episcopal Church] that didn't know this was going to happen. This is the drift of the culture and, when you have a mass exodus of your conservatives, this is just inevitable," expressed the Rev. James Simons, rector of St. Michael of the Valley in Ligonier.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 28, 2012 at 6:26 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Presbyterian churches around Charlotte now face the same philosophical debates over Biblical authority and homosexuality that have cleaved other religions.

To date, nine area congregations have either left the Presbyterian Church (USA) or have announced wishes to do so over what they believe to be the liberal drift of the church.

The latest: Huntersville Presbyterian, which voted Sunday to dissolve its affiliation with the Presbytery of Charlotte.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 11, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even as they supported the move, many of the Presbyterian Church's more progressive members called West Hollywood's defection deeply troubling and a little perplexing, given the timing. A year ago, the church lifted its prohibition on gay and lesbian ministers. This summer, its governing body will vote on whether to allow same-sex marriages. The outcome is uncertain.

"Just because there is a rule on the books that says we're not restricting [ordination], the denomination is still pretty hostile to gay and lesbian folks," said the Rev. Maria La Sala, who teaches Presbyterian governance at Yale Divinity School. "On the one hand, my heart is broken. On the other, I understand."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 5, 2012 at 9:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The year 2012 is shaping up to be another one of steep membership decline for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) as nearly a dozen congregations have already finished their process of separation from the group or are continuing it.

On February 11, congregations in Davenport, Wash. and South Charleston, Ohio were officially dismissed by their presbyteries, concluding a three-year and nine-year process of consideration for the respective churches. Both churches, like many before them, cited theological differences, particularly regarding the ordainment of active homosexuals, as their reasons for leaving....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 3, 2012 at 7:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In an unprecedented act of defiance, a California branch of the Presbyterian Church (USA) refused a ruling from a church court to rebuke a pastor who wed same-sex couples.

The Napa-based Presbytery of the Redwoods voted 74-18 on Tuesday (May 15) to instead praise the Rev. Janie Spahr, who wed 16 same-sex couples when gay marriage was legal in California in 2008.

Read it all and also note an LA Times article on this matter is there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

4 Comments
Posted May 18, 2012 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The largest Colorado congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted to leave the denomination over theological differences.

First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs voted Sunday morning to leave the Pueblo Presbytery of PC(USA) in large part due to the denomination's decision in 2010 to allow the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

0 Comments
Posted April 24, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As a pastor — especially as a woman pastor — the Rev. Kristine Holmgren is used to being in the public eye.

In addition to speaking from the pulpit, Holmgren has reached people across the country through the informally syndicated column she wrote for the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune and as a commentator for National Public Radio.

That exposure has perhaps helped prepare her for her newest venture as a playwright.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchTheatre/Drama/Plays* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

3 Comments
Posted March 23, 2012 at 5:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Senior Pastor, Jim Singleton, writes about the congregational meeting as follows:

I want to offer a big thank you to all who attended the Congregational Gathering on Sunday afternoon. It was the longest congregational gathering most have ever attended, but in Presbyterian polity it was likely the most important such gathering most have attended here. To put attendance in perspective, there were more here and voting than were in attendance when I was called as senior pastor seven years ago. Over 1500 were in attendance and over 1300 voted. The result of the vote was that a little over 88% voted “yes” to leave the PCUSA and join ECO. A little over 4% voted “no” and a little over 6% indicated that at this point they were unsure of their decision. Lots of issues surfaced at the meeting – issues we hope to address shortly. At this time, we do not have a firm date for the second meeting as it depends in part on permission and scheduling with the Presbytery. But we will know soon.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

1 Comments
Posted March 12, 2012 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The question now is whether these breakaway groups signal a seismic shift in American Protestantism, or just a few fissures in the theological terrain.

In some ways, the rifts are nothing new. American Protestants have been splintering since Roger Williams left Plymouth Colony in the 1630s, said Nancy Ammerman, a sociologist of religion at Boston University.

Yet the schisms counter a 20th-century trend in which ethnic and regional Protestant groups merged to form big-tent denominations such as the ELCA and PC(USA).

"What we may be experiencing at this point is the limit of that movement to draw a lot of diversity under one umbrella," said Ammerman, author of "Pillars of Faith: American Congregations and Their Partners."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranPresbyterian

2 Comments
Posted February 28, 2012 at 11:22 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A retired Presbyterian pastor who spent her career ministering to gay men and lesbians has been censured by her denomination for marrying same-sex couples during the brief time such unions were legal in California.

The Rev. Jane Adams Spahr lost her final appeal before the highest court in the Presbyterian Church (USA), which released its opinion Tuesday. The tribunal ruled that the 69-year-old lesbian had violated the church's constitution and her ordination vows when she officiated at the unions of 16 couples and called them marriages.

A lower court's rebuke of Spahr was upheld, along with the warning that pastors should not represent the marriage of gay or lesbian couples as Presbyterian marriages....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

5 Comments
Posted February 22, 2012 at 7:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Together, the leaders of these Christian, Jewish and Muslim national organizations affirmed:
“We stand with President Obama and Secretary Sebelius in their decision to reaffirm the importance of contraceptive services as essential preventive care for women under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and to assure access under the law to American women, regardless of religious affiliation. We respect individuals’ moral agency to make decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health without governmental interference or legal restrictions. We do not believe that specific religious doctrine belongs in health care reform – as we value our nation’s commitment to church-state separation. We believe that women and men have the right to decide whether or not to apply the principles of their faith to family planning decisions, and to do so they must have access to services. The Administration was correct in requiring institutions that do not have purely sectarian goals to offer comprehensive preventive health care. Our leaders have the responsibility to safeguard individual religious liberty and to help improve the health of women, their children, and families. Hospitals and universities across are respected and that their students and employees have access to this basic health care service. We invite other religious leaders to speak out with us for universal coverage of contraception.
Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistPresbyterianRoman CatholicUnited Church of Christ

6 Comments
Posted February 12, 2012 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, along with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, which includes the Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA) and United Church of Christ, have stunningly endorsed Obamacare's mandate that all religious hospitals and charities must provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization, despite religious objections.

In contrast, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, National Association of Evangelicals, Southern Baptist and Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod leaders and others have condemned the mandate as an assault on religious liberty. Megachurch pastor Rick Warren has declared: "I'd go to jail rather than cave in to a government mandate that violates what God commands us to do."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistPresbyterianRoman CatholicUnited Church of Christ

9 Comments
Posted February 12, 2012 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two of Buffalo's most venerable mainline Protestant churches are in discussions to share space, staff and ministries -- with one of the congregations possibly selling off its buildings and moving into the landmark structure of the other congregation.

Leadership of Trinity Episcopal Church on Delaware Avenue revealed the surprising proposal, which also involves First Presbyterian Church, in a letter this past weekend to Trinity church members.

The proposal calls for First Presbyterian, the city's first congregation, dating from before the War of 1812, to sell its buildings on Symphony Circle and move to the Delaware campus of Trinity, which was formed in 1836.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and Issues* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesPresbyterian

10 Comments
Posted February 6, 2012 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

They may not be as large as Catholics or as active as evangelicals, but white mainline Protestants have a big thing going for them this election cycle: they are divided, and possibly persuadable.

That's according to a new poll released Thursday (Feb. 2) that found white mainline Protestants are more evenly split between President Obama and his Republican challengers than other religious groups.

"They're the most important ignored religious group in the country," said Dan Cox, research director at the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the poll in partnership with Religion News Service.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesDisciples of ChristLutheranMethodistPresbyterian

0 Comments
Posted February 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The 1,759 to 185 vote exceeded the two-thirds majority needed to seek dismissal from the PC (USA). The 3,600-member First Presbyterian is the largest Presbyterian church in Florida and fourth largest in the nation.

"Change is never easy," said Senior Pastor David Swanson, "but I believe our congregation has prayerfully discerned God's leading for us, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for First Presbyterian Church as she embarks on this new phase of ministry and service for his sake."

First Presbyterian has been losing membership in recent years and blamed some of that on PC (USA) doctrines that permitted the ordination of gay deacons, elders and clergy. Some also blamed the decline on doctrines that quest questioned the Bible as the literal word of God and Jesus Christ as the only salvation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* Theology

4 Comments
Posted February 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seven influential megachurch pastors took part in live unscripted discussions on different approaches to ministry in the second round of The Elephant Room – an event billed as "conversations you never thought you'd hear" from pastors.

Held in Aurora, Ill., and broadcast to over 70 locations around the U.S., the discussions were mediated by James MacDonald of Chicago's Harvest Bible Chapel and Mark Driscoll of Seattle's Mars Hill Church.

With nondenominational churches growing across the county, the role of denominations and church networks was the first topic discussed.

Read it all.

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

20 Comments
Posted January 27, 2012 at 8:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Conservative Presbyterians launched a new denomination on Thursday (Jan. 19), saying that the Presbyterian Church (USA) is too consumed by internal conflicts and bureaucracy to nurture healthy congregations.

“This ‘new Reformed body’ is intended to foster a new way of being the church, just as traditional, mainline denominations rose to serve in their day,” wrote leaders of the new Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians.

More than 2,000 people attended the ECO’s meeting in Orlando, Fla., this week, but a straw poll indicated that most have not yet decided whether to leave the PC(USA), according to the Presbyterian Outlook, an independent magazine.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

38 Comments
Posted January 23, 2012 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While the public eye is focused on the troubles of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia - which announced Friday that it would close four high schools, and shutter or merge 44 elementary schools - the struggles of St. James Episcopal and Leiper Presbyterian are illustrative of the demographic trends that likewise have battered mainline Protestant congregations.

"Across the board, it's increasingly tough sledding," said David Roozen, director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, which studies trends in faith life.

The congregations often face dwindling membership and aging buildings. Finances are shrinking, no thanks to the floundering economy, and that hinders the offering of programming that can attract young families, Roozen said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

8 Comments
Posted January 10, 2012 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Since I’ve been chairing a national Presbyterian Church (USA) committee on the Nature of the Church for the 21st century, I’ve been gaining a different perspective on many of the larger trends of our denomination. One thing that has been difficult to realize (and equally difficult to communicate to the larger church) is the young clergy crisis.

Why would I call it a crisis? We’ve known for a long time about the startling decline of young clergy. The drop-out rates don't help (I can't find hard and fast stats on this... but some claim that about 70% of young clergy drop out within the first five years of ministry, usually because of lack of support or financial reasons). The average age of a pastor in the PCUSA is 53. And I’ve realized that the age of our leadership might be much higher.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyMiddle AgeYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

5 Comments
Posted December 20, 2011 at 5:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A list of the Episcopal Church’s 75 commissions, committees, agencies and boards spilled over eight PowerPoint slides during a recent presentation by its new chief operating officer, Bishop Stacy Sauls.

By his count, there are also nearly 50 departments and offices in the church’s New York headquarters, and 46 committees in its legislative body, the General Convention.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate Life* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ* TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted December 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Scotland said it could not agree with a change in the law to allow same-sex weddings, arguing that it would fundamentally alter the understanding of marriage in Scotland as the union of one man with one woman....

“The Church of Scotland is concerned about the speed with which the Scottish Government is proceeding on this issue, and believes that the debate has so far been patchy, undeveloped and exclusive of both ordinary people and the religious community,” the church said.

“The government states that the purpose of this proposal to redefine marriage is to accommodate the wishes of some same-sex couples. The Church believes that much more measured consideration is required before the understanding of marriage, which is entrenched and valued within the culture of Scotland, both secular and religious, is surrendered to accommodate this wish.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

1 Comments
Posted December 2, 2011 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First Presbyterian Church of North Palm Beach tonight will begin discussing whether it should split from the Presbyterian USA group, which recently approved openly gay clergy and lay leaders, and join another Presbyterian group, which does not.

First Presbyterian has about 1,100 members, among them golf legend Jack Nicklaus and former GE head Jack Welch.

Ken Kirby, one of the members that organized the meeting at the church, said that it would be oversimplifying to reduce the decision to the issue of gay clergy. He is part of a growing group of Presbyterians who feel that the Presbyterian Church USA has taken a radical step away from traditional beliefs.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted November 30, 2011 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Louisiana appeals court has opened the legal door for Episcopal churches in the state to quit the national Church and keep their properties.

On 14 September 2011 the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Baton Rouge upheld a lower court decision allowing a Presbyterian congregation to leave its presbytery and keep its property – even though the Presbyterian Church’s constitutional documents claimed an interest in the property.

Relying upon the US Supreme Court’s decision in Jones v Wolfe, the appeals court in the case of Carrollton Presbyterian Church v the Presbytery of Southern Louisiana rejected the argument put forward by the presbytery that the addition of a trust clause in a denomination’s constitution was sufficient to create a valid and enforceable trust on property.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Conflicts* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

4 Comments
Posted November 11, 2011 at 8:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I share these two experiences alongside a comment I came across years ago: every church and every member of the clergy, over a span of time, needs to belong to a denomination. I serve as a district superintendent, and I am aware of the church's imperfections, and my own. I watch over 69 local churches and a few assorted institutions within our geographical boundaries, and we are at work on the development of a new church plant and the development of a missional church network. At any given time about 3-5 of these churches are in real crisis: they are in need of outside intervention, mediation, conflict resolution and spiritual guidance. A denomination, at its best, provides a framework for the protection of the clergy in a workplace and supervision of even the most powerful clergy leaders. In addition, a denomination works out the implications of a missional strategy in an area that is more nuanced than simply whatever the market can bear.

I share these experiences at a time when there is much rhetoric around moving energy, resources and attention to the local church. I love the local church. It is the basic context for the mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world. At the same time, the local church will, on occasion, be stronger as it accomplishes mission that is beyond its own capacity, and as it is accountable to a wisdom that is outside its own day to day movements.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsDisciples of ChristLutheranMethodistPentecostalPresbyterianReformedRoman CatholicUnited Church of Christ* TheologyEcclesiologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 17, 2011 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Shortly after the election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008, the cover of Time magazine featured a fabrication of an iconic photograph of Franklin Roosevelt, cigarette holder at a rakish tilt, sitting at the wheel of a convertible. FDR's face and hands had been displaced by those of Obama's above a headline speculating on the arrival of a "New New Deal." That same week, the New Yorker featured an article by George Packer advancing a similar speculation, which was illustrated with a drawing of much the same invention.

What this image in two major American magazines mani-fested was the hope on the left and the fear on the right that Obama would revitalize and extend the New Deal order that had been significantly dismantled by the conservative ascendancy since the mid-1970s (and that "new Democrat" Bill Clinton did little if anything to stem in his eight years in office)....

In sum, FDR's recovery policies centered on the un­employed, depositors and homeowners. Obama's recovery policies have centered on employers, bank managers and shareholders, and mortgage lenders. FDR's more egalitarian policies generated enormous political capital; Obama's much less egalitarian policies have helped push him to the edge of political bankruptcy.

Read it all (requires subscription) and you may see more information about the author there.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

1 Comments
Posted September 20, 2011 at 11:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Some national church denominations have changed their standards in recent years – stirring debate among congregations about whether to stay or find a new path.

In the central San Joaquin Valley, some congregations have chosen to leave their denominations because, they say, it doesn't represent their traditional values. The goodbyes have worked out for the churches, but they have been difficult.

The trend has reached three major denominations – the U.S. Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA) and most recently the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: San JoaquinSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

1 Comments
Posted August 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is Monday morning (or Tuesday, if your pastor takes Monday off), and your pastor is wondering where to begin. There are sermons to write, committee meetings to plan, visits to make, and things left over from last week's list that he was never able to get to. He may already feel overwhelmed, and the week has not yet even begun.

Where should he begin? What should he be doing? Most Orthodox Presbyterian churches do not have a written job description for their pastor. We expect them to know what to do. But with the lack of a clear job description comes the problem of our expectations—unwritten, but as firm as if written in stone—of what our pastor ought to do. Pastors face the same problem: what should their priorities be?

In this article, I want to suggest that the pastor's job description can best be defined by aligning it with the job description of Christ as our mediator. The Shorter Catechism reminds us that Christ, as our mediator, executes the offices of prophet, priest, and king (SC 23). Since pastors are Christ's representatives, serving as undershepherds of their flock, it is helpful to think of their calling in terms of the same three categories. I have found that I cannot be a faithful pastor if I am not actively involved in all three areas.

Interesting reflections from another tradition--read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicalsPresbyterian* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 21, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

New York--After same-sex marriage becomes legal here on July 24, gay priests with partners in the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island will head to the altar. They have to. Their bishop set a nine-month deadline for them to marry or stop living together.

Next door, meanwhile, the Episcopal bishop of New York says he also expects gay clergy in committed relationships to wed "in due course." Still, this longtime supporter of gay rights says churches in his diocese are off limits for gay weddings until he receives clearer liturgical guidance from the national denomination.

As more states legalize same-sex marriage, religious groups with ambiguous policies on homosexuality are divided over whether they should allow the ceremonies in local congregations. The decision is especially complex in the mainline Protestant denominations that have yet to fully resolve their disagreements over the Bible and homosexuality. Many have taken steps toward acceptance of gay ordination and same-gender couples without changing the official definition of marriage in church constitutions and canons. With the exception of the United Church of Christ, which approved gay marriage six years ago, none of the larger mainline churches has a national liturgy for same-sex weddings or even blessing ceremonies.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC ParishesSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesLutheranMethodistPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

4 Comments
Posted July 16, 2011 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Aberdeen church is expected to break away from the Church of Scotland following the decision to allow the appointment of gay ministers.

Gilcomston South Church in Union Street will formally vote on the issue at a later date.

The Kirk's General Assembly last month voted to allow the induction of some gay ministers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 10, 2011 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Photos of St George's Church, Linwood, Christchurch--take a look.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* General InterestNatural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc.* International News & CommentaryAustralia / NZ* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

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Posted June 9, 2011 at 7:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There will be no mass break up of the CofE, they appreciate accommodation as a theological as well as social virtue. A few will go off to Rome, but not many, a few will go independent, but not many, and the church will have a new progressive face. The new centre will not be as tolerant as the old, they will demand obedience and the wings will be gradually squeezed to eccentric irrelevancy.

Not so in Scotland. Admittedly we have seen the anglification of the CofS due to increasing standardisation of viewpoint courtesy of the influence of the media, and a drastic weakening appreciation of and understanding of theology courtesy of our method of training ministers. However, there is a core difference in denominations.

As Malcolm [Duff] points out the centre no longer holds. That viewpoint which evangelicals could once deride as Auld Kirk, traditional, cautious and always seeing problems with anything new or enthusiastic, the view represented by the ex-Moderators in the play pen at the Assembly, has gone. Progressives, always more adroit politically and with greater access to and sympathy from the media have, as with the CofE, taken over the centre ground.

The big difference in denominations is that we have a centrifugal force at our core. In our history principle has usually come before compromise. At times this has been self destructive hair splitting, at other times it has meant awe inspiring faithfulness. The neo-Protestant progressive centre has little understanding of our history. They look south today and see that nothing terribly dreadful has happened or will happen, the CofE will continue under progressive management and a few trouble makers will have disappeared.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted May 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The depth of the split between the progressive and traditionalists appeared during a debate over the section that would allow the induction of ministers and deacons "ordained before May 2009 who are in a same-sex relationship".

Traditionalists claimed that the section was a "Trojan horse" which could pull the church apart.

The Rev Andrew Coghill, of the Presbytery of Lewis, described the section as a "hand grenade". He said: "I believe it will be ruinous for unity of the church, potentially multiplying homosexual inductions the length and breadth of the country. The church almost pulled apart over one such induction."

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Church of Scotland has voted to allow the possible selection of gay and lesbian ministers in the future.

The controversial issue was being debated at the Kirk's General Assembly.

A theological commission will now be set up and will report in 2013 before a final decision on the issue of gay ordination is taken.

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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:55 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What the Assembly agreed today was this:
Resolve to consider further the lifting of the moratorium on the acceptance for training and ordination of persons in a same-sex relationship, and to that end instruct the Theological Commission to prepare a report for the General Assembly of 2013 containing:
(i) a theological discussion of issues around same-sex relationships, civil partnerships and marriage;
(ii) an examination of whether, if the Church were to allow its ministers freedom of conscience in deciding whether to bless same-sex relationships involving life-long commitments, the recognition of such lifelong relationships should take the form of a blessing of a civil partnership or should involve a liturgy to recognise and celebrate commitments which the parties enter into in a Church service in addition to the civil partnership, and if so to recommend liturgy therefor;
(iii) an examination of whether persons, who have entered into a civil partnership and have made lifelong commitments in a Church ceremony, should be eligible for admission for training, ordination and induction as ministers of Word and Sacrament or deacons in the context that no member of Presbytery will be required to take part in such ordination or induction against his or her conscience; and to report to the General Assembly of 2013.
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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted to continue dialogue on same-sex relationships and the ministry following the Special Commission report today.

After several hours of debate, commissioners voted by 351 to 294 to adopt deliverance 7B, which means a move towards the acceptance for training, induction and ordination of those in same-sex relationships for the ministry.

The Assembly also voted to allow ministers and deacons in same-sex relationships ordained before 2009 to be inducted into pastoral charges by 393 to 252.

A theological commission will be set up to bring recommendations to the 2013 General Assembly, as well as considering whether ministers should have freedom of conscience to bless civil partnerships and possible liturgy for such occasions.

As nothing has been formally enacted, the proposals do not need to consult the Kirk’s 46 presbyteries under the Barrier Act, but it does mark a significant departure from the Church’s traditional teaching, as acknowledged by the Commission’s report.

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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all (over 30 page pdf).

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEngland / UK--Scotland* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 23, 2011 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[For the PCUSA now]...all references to marriage and chastity are gone, along with the language about refusal to repent of sin. The new language speaks instead of submission to the Lordship of Christ and being guided by Scripture and confessions. In any other context, that language might not seem revolutionary, but in this case, it means the denomination’s surrender to those pushing for the normalization of homosexuality.

Put another way, this church has now decided that “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness” is just too restrictive.

Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) General Assembly, explained the meaning of the change: “Clearly what has changed is that persons in a same-gender relationship can be considered for ordination . . . . The gist of our ordination standards is that officers submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and ordaining bodies (presbyteries for ministers and sessions for elders and deacons) have the responsibility to examine each candidate individually to ensure that all candidates do so with no blanket judgments.”

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted May 15, 2011 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Presbyterians join a growing Protestant movement of Lutherans, Episcopalians and United Church of Christ members who have eliminated official barriers to leadership by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons,” a coalition of pro-gay Presbyterians said in a statement.

The momentum of the gay clergy movement, however, may soon grind to a halt.

“There is not another denomination I see on the horizon right now that is on the cusp of this,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute, a nonpartisan research and consulting firm.

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianUnited Church of ChristSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The denomination "has talked about, prayed about, worked, discussed, discerned for 35 years," ...[the Rev. Ann Deibert] said. "It feels like an enormous gift and a breath of the Spirit. What it means is we are recognizing the gifts and graces of God in more and more people."

But the Presbyterians for Renewal, a Louisville-based coalition of evangelical churches, lamented "this unfaithful action" in a statement.

"In a lot of presbyteries, evangelical folks didn't show up in enough numbers that it swung some votes," added its executive director, the Rev. Paul Detterman. "How opposing sides can work together without compromising their core identities under the same denominational canopy is the question of the day."

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 11, 2011 at 6:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A debate that has raged within the Presbyterian Church for more than three decades culminated Tuesday with ratification of a measure allowing the ordination of gay and lesbian ministers and lay leaders, while giving regional church bodies the ability to decide for themselves.

With the vote of its regional organization in Minnesota, the Presbyterian Church USA became the fourth mainline Protestant church to allow gay ordination, following the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran churches and the United Church of Christ. The Minnesota vote was closely followed by one in Los Angeles.

"This is an important moment in the Christian communion," said Michael Adee, a Presbyterian elder who heads an organization that fought for gay ordination. "I rejoice that Presbyterians are focusing on what matters most: faith and character, not a person's marital status or sexual orientation."

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 11, 2011 at 5:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

So far, 85 presbyteries have voted to support Amendment 10-A, which would delete from the PC(USA) constitution the requirement that candidates for ordination practice “fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness.” Instead it affirms in more general terms that “[s]tandards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life” and that “[g]overning bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”

Sixty-two (62) presbyteries have disapproved the amendment.

Compared to the last round (in 2008-09) of voting on that proposed change, eighteen (18) presbyteries have now switched from opposition to support, while just three (3) presbyteries have withdrawn their support.
Passage of the amendment requires 87 affirmative votes, including a minimum of net nine presbyteries to switch from opposition to support, so the net change so far of 15 presbytery votes indicates an almost unstoppable trend toward passage, which is likely to occur within the next week.

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 10, 2011 at 4:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With a vote in Minneapolis, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is expected to pass a measure on Tuesday afternoon allowing openly gay people in same-sex relationships to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons.

Although Presbyterians have been debating the issue since 1978, the news will most likely come as a surprise to many church members. Only two years ago, a majority of the church’s regions, known as presbyterys, voted against ordaining openly gay candidates.

This time, 19 of the church’s 173 presbyterys so far have switched their votes from no to yes. The Twin Cities presbytery, which covers the Minneapolis and St. Paul region, is expected to cast the deciding vote at its meeting on Tuesday.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

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Posted May 10, 2011 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Churches in northern Minnesota are part of a presbytery that voted in favor in February. The presbytery in southern and western Minnesota voted against it in April.

"There is more and more ambiguity within the culture and within the church on topics like human sexuality," said the Rev. Paul Detterman, the executive director of Presbyterians for Renewal, a group that opposes the change in ordination standards. "It does nothing to clarify questions that people are asking. What it basically also does is it removes a national standard for ordination, and it makes this much more of a territorial issue."

Detterman conceded the measure is likely to pass. His group of opponents will meet in Minneapolis in late August to consider next steps. He said if the vote is about inclusivity, he hopes that will also will extend to accepting Presbyterians who disagree on the matter, and he says leaving the church would be a last resort.

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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

9 Comments
Posted May 10, 2011 at 8:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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