Posted by Kendall Harmon

he divorce statistics for modern Western societies are catastrophic. They show that marriage is no longer regarded as a new, independent reality transcending the individuality of the spouses, a reality that, at the very least, cannot be dissolved by the will of one partner alone. But can it be dissolved by the consent of both parties, or by the will of a synod or a pope? The answer must be no, for as Jesus himself explicitly declares, man cannot put asunder what God himself has joined together. Such is the teaching of the Catholic Church.

The Christian understanding of the good life claims to be valid for all human beings. Yet even Jesus’s disciples were shocked by their Master’s words: Wouldn’t it be better, then, they replied, not to marry at all? The astonishment of the disciples underscores the contrast between the Christian way of life and the way of life dominant in the world. Whe­ther it wants to or not, the Church in the West is on its way to becoming a counterculture, and its future now depends chiefly on whether it is able, as the salt of the earth, to keep its savor and not be trampled underfoot by men.

The beauty of the Church’s teaching can shine forth only when it’s not watered down. The temptation to dilute doctrine is reinforced nowadays by an unsettling fact: Catholics are divorcing almost as frequently as their secular counterparts. Something has clearly gone wrong. It’s against all reason to think that all civilly divorced and remarried Catholics began their first marriages firmly convinced of its indissolubility and then fundamentally reversed themselves along the way. It’s more reasonable to assume that they entered into matrimony without clearly realizing what they were doing in the first place: burning their bridges behind them for all time (which is to say until death), so that the very idea of a second marriage simply did not exist for them.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyMenPsychologyWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySacramental Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A woman in her late 20s came to see me recently because her back hurt. She works at a child care center in town where she picks up babies and small children all day long.

She felt a twinge in her lower back when hoisting a fussy kid. The pain was bad enough that she went home from work early and was laid out on the couch until she came to see me the next day.

In my office she told me she had "done some damage" to her back. She was worried. She didn't want to end up like her father, who'd left his factory job in his mid-50s on disability after suffering what she called permanent damage to his back.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the InternetHealth & MedicinePsychologyScience & Technology* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the contrary, starting new churches first will probably help the existing churches in the same community. Pastor Tim Keller of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church notes: “studies have shown that if there is one church per ten thousand residents, approximately 1 percent of the population will be churchgoers. If this ratio goes to one church per one thousand residents, some 15 to 20 percent of the city’s population goes to church. If the number goes to one per five hundred residents, the number may approach 40 percent or more.”

In short, a rising tide lifts all ships. In Northern Virginia, I’ve long observed a flurry of successful church planting activity, even as the largest congregations – such as McLean Bible Church – continued to grow.

I would also take issue with [Jim] Naughton’s assertion that the resources freed up by church closures will enable more successful church starts. Studies on church plants show that, over the long-term, larger sums of money devoted to new church starts do not correlate with a substantially higher level of success. If you recruit entrepreneurial young church planters, it might even be to their benefit to be bi-vocational, where they may be more likely to interact with potential future parishioners.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

3 Comments
Posted July 16, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The revelation this week about the home burial of Kirsty Allsopp’s mother came as no surprise to us agents of change at the Natural Death Centre charity. Her mother's request for a 'stranger free', private, swift, home interment, expresses an instinctive desire that I hear frequently. The public are now increasingly aware that they have choices, power and knowledge to retake control of how our bodies are treated and cared for after death.

The internet has made information available that is generally suppressed by the industry and misunderstood by many gate-keeping professionals, including medics, registrars and civil servants. In the UK we are very lucky to actually have such freedoms - most other countries are tightly controlled by the state, industry and Church. I am contacted by people from all over Europe and beyond who cannot believe that we are so free to choose and control our funerals. Oh how I love being British.

Many people are also starting to question why we automatically hand over the care of the bodies of those who we have loved and cuddled to strangers, when we can carry out that final act of love and care for them ourselves, if we so choose. I hope Kirsty and her family are greatly comforted by their achievement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Father Michael Lapsley is an Anglican priest who was sent to South Africa during the institutionalized racial segregation of apartheid. He became a chaplain to Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress and a target of the white supremacy government. One day Lapsley opened a package that turned out to be a bomb. He lost both hands and one eye in the attack on his life, but his faith survived. He now uses his wounds to connect with those who have experienced trauma and help them find healing.

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychology* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth AfricaAustralia / NZ* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 14, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An NHS chaplain, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, who in April became the first Church of England priest to marry a same-sex partner, is unable to take up a new post because his bishop is refusing him a licence.

Canon Pemberton is Deputy Senior Chaplain and Deputy Bereavement and Voluntary Services Manager in the United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust. He married Laurence Cunnington in April (News, 17 April), in defiance of House of Bishops pastoral guidance, issued in February.

He received an informal rebuke from the Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, but kept his general preacher's licence in the diocese. His NHS post at the trust is also unaffected.

The Acting Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, however, the diocese in which Canon Pemberton lives, the Rt Revd Richard Inwood, withdrew his permission to officiate

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted July 11, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I want to ban the story that is vague. That vagueness is often seen in lack of detail: "There's a story of a man who made lots and lots of money. He found a family in need and helped them. By his giving, he showed the love of God."

We would serve our listeners much better if we did some writing and said, "Jon earned $650,000 last year, counting his bonuses and stock options. He was excited, because he and Betty needed only $80,000 a year to cover all expenses. He began to think about families he could help and bless. By their generous planned giving, Jon and Betty showed the love of God."

I want to ban the mono-genre illustration. I have a pastor colleague whose every illustration is from the world of sports. Another friend draws every illustration from politics and current events. To demonstrate a balanced and well-rounded life, I want to draw from the fields of literature, the arts, sports, military history, entertainment, and business.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 8, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A statewide program aimed at curbing recidivism rates among youthful offenders has been producing dividends in its early years, South Carolina Department of Corrections officials report.

The department incorporated the Intensive Supervision Services as a part of the Division of Young Offender Parole and Reentry Services in 2011. The program sought to reduce the rate that youthful offenders 17 to 25 years old return to jail. That rate historically has exceeded 50 percent, marking what the SCDC considered the least successful rate of any age group under parole supervision.

So far, the program has served 1,240 youthful offenders, and of that number, 57 violated terms of their parole – and went back to jail – while 140 others have graduated from the program and reentered their communities. A parole violation, like the failure of a drug test, doesn’t always result in a return to jail but can result in a graduated response such as additional rehabilitation or tracking bracelets.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FirePrison/Prison Ministry* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

How does “hurry” impede the healthy development of the soul?

Pastor Ortberg: Hurry blocks the development and health of the soul because the soul requires being rooted in the presence of God. And, hurry by its nature makes me unable to be fully present before God or fully present before other people. Hurry causes me to be conflicted and divided in my desires, and it causes my thoughts to jump around as Henri Nouwen used to say, “like a monkey in a banana tree.” There’s nothing that I can do that’s rooted in the kingdom when my soul is hurried.

What do you mean, “The soul is a ship that needs an anchor”?

Pastor Ortberg: The soul has to stay rooted. Our souls, because they mostly lie beyond our conscious control, can easily drift and slide along. We see this with many people and often with ourselves. We go from moment to moment, day to day without being clear about our deepest values, without being truly grateful for this day that we have received without being rooted in God. And the soul that is anchored in God is the only soul that can find peace.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchBooks* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 7, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Just as Christians can never retire from serving the Lord Jesus Christ, so also we can never retire from serving other people. The work of prayerfully proclaiming Christ, his cross and resurrection is a way of life more than an occupation.

One form of this service is that of a pastor: that is a shepherd or under-shepherd of the Great Shepherd. Being a pastor involves caring for and leading a flock. We misuse the word ‘pastor’ when we confine it to ‘counselling’, especially counselling an individual. Pastoral work is different to the work of the modern counsellor and a pastor does more than care for an individual sheep; he leads a flock.

A shepherd whose flock consists of one sheep is not a very profitable shepherd. He is a hobby farmer with a pet, and the emphasis is on hobby rather than farmer and pet rather than sheep. A pastor may leave the ninety-nine to search for the one lost sheep, but his aim is to bring it back to the flock, not spend all his time caring for the one that was lost. The nature of the gospel is to bring people into fellowship with each other and the pastor is to draw them together. While the good shepherd of Ezekiel 34 and John 10 will lay down his life for the sheep, the work of the pastor in these passages is more specific than simply self-sacrifice. It involves gathering the scattered sheep into a flock, leading them to rich pasture and judging between them so that the fat sheep do not trample the lean.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Anglican Church has decided to give priests in Australia the option of breaking the confidentiality of confessions.

The general synod, meeting in Adelaide, has voted for the historic change to cover serious crimes, such as child abuse.

It has decided it will be up to individual dioceses to adopt the policy.

Adelaide's Anglican Archbishop Jeffrey Driver says the change makes sense but there will not be a hard-and-fast rule.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of Australia* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Regarded as the father of Anglicanism in Nigeria, Bishop Crowther, who was born as Ajayi in western Nigeria in 1807, is credited with bringing many Nigerians to Christ. So great was his impact that he was ordained the first African Anglican bishop in 1864, despite great protest.

A former slave, Bishop Crowther became a great linguist, translator, scholar and mission teacher. He is also credited with producing the Yoruba Bible and greatly influenced how government’s improved their view of Africa in the 1800s.

But despite his passion and high achievements, Bishop Crowther’s mission was undermined and dismantled in the 1880s by racist white Europeans, including some of his fellow missionaries.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin WelbyAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Church of Nigeria* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted July 2, 2014 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In his address, Cardinal Baldisseri revealed that the outline for the bishops’ October discussion is divided into three parts, the first focusing on the communication of the Gospel in today’s world, while the second part addresses the pastoral program for the family in light of new challenges.

The instrumentum concludes with the third part, which centers on an openness to life and parental responsibility in the upbringing of children.

“Dedicated to the Gospel of the family,” the first part of the outline “relates to God’s plan, biblical and magisterial knowledge and their reception, natural law and the vocation of the person in Christ,” the cardinal explained.

“The difficulties that arise in relation to natural law can be overcome through more attentive reference to the biblical world, to its language and narrative forms and to the proposal to thematize and deepen the biblically inspired concept of the ‘order of creation,’” he explained.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryAdult EducationMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 29, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fr [Carl] Garner, 71, is walking back from morning prayers to his private apartment at the Hertfordshire estate of the family, which traces its direct ancestry back to Queen Elizabeth I’s trusted chief adviser William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley. The chapel, which celebrates its 400th anniversary this year, follows the example of Good Queen Bess, the Protestant queen who was said to hang crucifixes and light candles in her private chapel while fellow Protestants had stripped altars in outrage at such idolatry. Original stained glass and paintings of the apostles are “proto-Laudian”, laughs Canon Garner, resplendent in his dark robes with red buttons and traditional Church of England square cap.

“Many visitors see me in my formal robes and think I’m part of a film set,” says Canon Garner, who used to be a parish priest in Welwyn Garden City. “The service at 8.45am takes 12 minutes and comprises verses from the Book of Common Prayer. We say prayers to the Queen. Lord Salisbury has a busy day, so it’s deliberately short. It’s a bit like school prayers.” During the service the family dogs often lie solemnly under the pews. On major feast days and saint’s days, a communion service is held.

His predecessor, Canon John Laird, says, “The family believe in the beauty of the traditional language and the King James Bible. They appointed me because I’m a traditionalist.”

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 28, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[The following are]... separate steps people [can] take to improve their own morale:
Invest in relationships with people who know you that you trust, who are heading towards the same goals. People who can cheer you on and vice versa. People who will celebrate your successes and stand with you in the inevitable failures, those who you can tell what is under the mask. A virtual team with mutual respect.
Set some life goals that reflect the most significant current spheres of life. Work, family, hobbies, studies, etc., and give them some measurable values. Not New Year resolutions, more intentional investments in the things that matter.
Take seriously personal and professional investment. The clearest positive trend in the ‘FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to work for 2013’ research document highlights employee development, with staff being given on average 66 hours per year of professional development.
Guard against compassion fatigue. Our emotional resources are not infinite and in a caring profession we cannot take on all the cares of the world despite the information superhighway telling us everything we need to know about things we can worry about. Respond well to a limited number of needs.Find people, publications or websites that have a ‘can do’ air about them. I was on a mission stand at an event recently where Jackie Pullinger was speaking. After the event I overheard a number of people saying things like, ‘she made me feel that mission was possible, that I could play a part’.
Be intentional about eating and sleeping well.
And finally, rely on God.
Read it all (subscription called for).

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

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Posted June 27, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As one priest celebrated entering a same-sex marriage this weekend, another faced penalties for doing so.

The Vicar of St Mary with All Souls', Kilburn, and St James's, West Hampstead, the Revd Andrew Cain, married his partner of 14 years, Stephen Foreshew, on Saturday at Maidenhead register office, in the presence of two witnesses.

Fr Cain said on Tuesday that it had been emotional. "I've done lots of weddings; so I was not expecting the service to be moving, and it was. I was quite tearful at one point, as was Stephen. It was quite lovely."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 27, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When I share these [sobering] statistics [on the discontent and discouragement among parish minsiters and their families] with pastors, they slowly, knowingly nod their heads.

Yet when I share these statistics with non-clergy, they are shocked: “How can this be? I had no idea!” A widespread Super Pastor mentality has led us to believe that pastors never struggle, never doubt, never get discouraged, and never wrestle with feelings of failure — just because they’re pastors.
Read more in Briggs' recent book Fail.Read more in J.R. Briggs’ latest book.

But pastors are people, too. Ministry is a significant calling and it is involves broken, sinful, and scandalously ordinary people God calls and uses to shepherd souls. These broken ordinaries are called pastors.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 27, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

RNS: In my experience, redemption for evangelicals means “work harder,” do more good stuff, and stave off bad behavior. But this isn’t your message, is it?

MC: No, because redemption isn’t you working harder. Redemption is you having been saved from your error by someone else. In fact, you don’t possess the ability to redeem yourself in any way. This is the great lie of moralistic deism, that you can be good enough. Men from the Bible–from the prophet Isaiah to Jesus’ teaching on the Sermon on the Mount–teach that you cannot be righteous enough to save yourself. One of the more terrifying verses in the Bible is when Jesus said to a crowd, “Unless your righteousness supersedes the Pharisees, you have no part of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

The Pharisees were tithing their mint and dill and were more righteous, externally speaking, than anyone reading this has even tried to be. Jesus is exposing the truth that you and I will never be good enough, that all of our righteous deeds are worthless. So, this can’t be the message of redemption because the Scriptures are clear that redemption doesn’t work that way.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 25, 2014 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In your first column for Christianity Today, you noted that George Herbert helped guide you into the Anglican tradition. How exactly did that happen?

I was raised Southern Baptist and have been a believing Christian since childhood. But for several years during college and afterward, I felt I was still looking for the right ecclesial home. My first exposure to the Anglican tradition was when I attended a Maundy Thursday service during my freshman year of college. I was simultaneously put off by what felt, at that time, like excessive formality, and attracted to what seemed like a form of worship with integrity, mystery, and depth. Eventually I was confirmed in the Church of England, by then-Bishop of Durham Justin Welby. By that time, I had developed theological reasons for becoming Anglican — reasons that had to do with Anglicanism’s identity as “catholic” and “reformed.” But initially, Anglicanism represented more of a sensibility than a theology. It nurtured in me something I didn’t initially have or want: a taste for beauty in liturgy and church art, and an inclination toward theological reticence and reverence.

What thinkers of the Church, present or past, are you most excited about?

I’m very interested in the work that a celibate lesbian Roman Catholic named Eve Tushnet is doing. Her first book is coming out this fall from Ave Maria Press (Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith). I’ve been reading Eve’s blog for years, and I think she’s one of the sharpest cultural critics around, in addition to being one of our most provocative and helpful Christian voices on the theology of friendship.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological EducationTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted June 24, 2014 at 7:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I know. I'm biased, because I'm a pastor, and given the choice between engaging with pleasant, encouraging, smiling souls, and those carping critics who make piranhas look like tame goldfish, I'd obviously choose the latter. But it's worth thinking about why we should be nice to the women and men who lead us, for one simple reason: encouragement takes thought and strategy, and shouldn't just happen because it just happens. Years ago Ian Dury (together with his Blockhead friends) sang about 'Reasons to be cheerful'. Here are 5 reasons to be nice to your local pastor:

1. They frequently take the blame for God

It's true: Christian leaders represent God, who is currently invisible, and, at times, seems unavailable, especially when things go horribly wrong in life. When people get angry with God, there's no customer support line to call, and so they frequently take out their frustration on the person they most associate with God, which might be their vicar, pastor, leader or priest. Getting slapped on behalf of the Almighty is not a happy experience.

2. They are required to say some things that they'd prefer not to say

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted June 20, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There’s a good element to this. Part of the atonement is the discovery that in wounding and lacerating Christ’s body on the cross, we matter to God. If we matter negatively, by hurting and killing, then we can matter at least as positively by giving joy and delight. And just as the risen Christ still has the wounds of the tree, so the ascended Lord takes with him the joy we evoke in his heart. The pastor who says, with care, y’all matter to me is showing that we all matter to God.

Of course we’re not up to it. We forget her husband was going in for a scan and we should have inquired how it went. We neglect to ask her to read at the carol service. We get talking to someone else after the worship service, and she drifts away disconsolate to her car. But all these things are forgiven. And we know that they’re healthy ways of indicating she shouldn’t overinvest in us, because it’s not really about us, it’s about Christ and Christ’s body, the church. In fact, we shouldn’t be standing between her and God in the first place. God can look after that part without our unique contribution. The pastor’s job is not so much in front of the people as behind them, ushering them like sheep into a place where they may encounter God together. It’s not about being more interesting than God. Cyprian never said, “Outside the pastor there is no salvation.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

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

0 Comments
Posted June 19, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lindsay Graham grew up in the same church attended by her parents and grandparents, and she expected the same would be true for her children. That changed when her son, J.D., was diagnosed with autism at age 2.

There were outbursts and tantrums, calls in the middle of the church service from the Sunday school teacher that J.D. was being disruptive. There were disapproving looks from other members of the congregation. Even if they didn't say it, Graham knew what they were thinking: Can't you keep your child under control?

"I felt very ostracized because he was always misbehaving. We just didn't fit that perfect family mold," said Graham, 33.

It was time to find another church, one equipped to handle children with disabilities. They ended up at First Baptist Orlando, which has a special needs ministry for children.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 18, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As I vested for worship on a recent Sunday, a parishioner noticed me kissing my stole before I put it on. “I like that you do that,” she said, to my brief and unexpected embarrassment. I’ve made this small gesture every time I’ve vested since my ordination, but no one had ever prompted me to reflect on it before.

Augustine says that habit unresisted becomes compulsion. This maxim rings true with my experience of bad habits, but I’d never thought of it in terms of pious ones. My parishioner’s comment made me realize that kissing my stole has long since sunk from a distinct act into a habit—and may now be a compulsion.

“I guess it reminds me,” I told her.....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 18, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

War veterans return home from duty to the communities and families they left behind, but mental and emotional burdens often return with them. Decisions and experiences from the battlefield can lead to post traumatic stress and what is now being recognized as moral injury. The Department of Veterans Affairs is sharing its resources with faith groups to help those returning with deep moral wounds. “To rebuild a moral identity takes a community of support. It takes friends, and it takes a long time,” says Rita Nakashima Brock of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinty School. “There are no other institutions in our society that I know of except religious institutions that support people over their entire life course.”

Read or watch and listen to it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarWar in Afghanistan* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted June 14, 2014 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...one out of three children in the United States—more than 15 million—live without the certainty of their father's presence. Among industrialized countries, the United States is a world leader of fatherless homes, surpassed only by Belgium, Estonia, and the United Kingdom, with single mothers heading up a quarter of all U.S. households. Since the 1960s, the number of single-parent homes have more than tripled, and the bulk of those households (76%) are fatherless homes. Tragically, this number doesn't include circumstances in which the father technically lives with the family, but is emotionally or physically absent.

Whether through abandonment, incarceration, death, or workaholism, fatherlessness is a root of many of our contemporary social ills. According to a widely cited report from the U.S. Department of Justice, children from fatherless home are 5 times more likely to commit suicide, 32 times more likely to run away, 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders, 14 times more likely to commit rape, 9 times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution, and 20 times more likely to end up in prison than children from homes with a mother and father present.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyMen* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A 2011 study of the long-term unemployed published by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University also found that half of participants experienced shame and embarrassment that led them to isolate themselves from friends and associates. Among the long-term unemployed, 31.1 percent reported spending two hours or less with family or friends the previous day, versus 21.5 percent among short-term unemployed adults.

Long-term unemployment is not just a mental health crisis; it’s also a spiritual crisis. And the church is the only institution in American that can adequately respond. “Fortunately, the church is in a unique place to explain Christ’s restoration of work,” says Michael Jahr, “the meaning of suffering, and the hope and peace that result from putting our trust in him.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Primate of the Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA) and Bishop of Northern Zambia, the Most Revd Albert Chama explained the purpose of the workshop during the opening ceremony held June 6 at the Chamba Valley Exotic Hotel in Lusaka.

He said: "One of the things which the church in Africa grapples with has to do with the financial sustainability of the church. However, this workshop is not about lecturing but learning from what has been done somewhere."

Archbishop Chama challenged the participants to "open their hearts and minds" and learn from one another. He also emphasised that for the Church in Africa to be successful, there is need to learn from what other dioceses have successfully done and replicate it in their own areas.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomyPersonal Finance* International News & CommentaryAfricaZambia* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted June 10, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Last week, funeral director Caleb Wilde wrote a blog post about who to seek out when dealing with grief. His basic advice: find a therapist before you seek out your pastor. The reasoning goes that therapists, with their training in the psychological aspects that arise in times of grief, are better qualified than clergy to deal with things like depression.

I agree. In fact, this article caused me to think about a few roles that pastors are expected to take on to varying degrees, but ultimately are unqualified to fulfill. Beyond a few continuing education classes that help us better understand some of the issues that inevitably arise in ministry with individuals or organizations, to be a pastor is to be one thing and not another. A certain amount of dabbling is inevitable and a certain amount of understanding is necessary, but there come points when certain issues are best left to the experts.

So I present three things that pastors are not, even though at times maybe we or our parishioners think we are or want us to be. In the interest of balance, I'll present a similar list of things that we are later this week.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 10, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Orthodox leaders who are willing to name our present situation as unacceptable and untenable are being attacked as undermining the unity of the church. Expect to hear “You troubler of Israel” (2 Kings 18:17) directed at those who will not be silent about the unfaithfulness of our leaders and the crisis we are facing.

But don’t be fooled. Those who are breaking the covenant that holds us together while loudly calling for more conversation have no real desire to hear our voices or consider our views. They wish to maintain the illusion of unity until enough orthodox United Methodists have walked away or died off, so that a liberal view of the Scriptures and a progressive sexual ethic become the rule.

Good News and the 60 leaders mentioned above will be condemned for disrupting the unity of the UM Church – in fact, we already have been. But unity without integrity is not unity. And a plea for unity by those who are destroying it is a ploy. Naming the present reality for what it is does not disrupt unity – it is essential if unity is ever to be achieved.

God once chided those who cried, “Peace, peace,” when there was no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). And we will not be guilty of crying, “Unity, unity,” to hide the reality that if we are one church, we cannot act as if we are two.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 7, 2014 at 4:56 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Go to Google and type “Millennials, church,” and the screen will be dominated by links to articles, blogs and studies documenting that generation’s exodus from American congregations.

What irks some, however, is that evidence is being overlooked that the problem is not one that plagues the ‘capital-C church.’

A growing group of African-American, Hispanic and other ethnic ministers are pushing back. And they are armed with yet more articles, blogs and studies — this time revealing that the departure of young adults from churches is a largely white-church problem.

Read it all.

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

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Posted June 5, 2014 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The chief error in Wills’s attempt at primitivist reformation is the mistaken assumption that first-century people must be just like 21st-century people. The picture we get of the early Church in Why Priests? is a demythologized reversal of a fanciful Catholic Last Supper, with Jesus wearing a fiddleback chasuble, stole, and maniple. Rather than take pains to show why early Christians must have really meant and implied everything that the Council of Trent taught, Wills takes pains to show why early Christians must have really denied and abhorred everything that the Council of Trent taught.

Wills might consider the possibility that first-century people did not think and keep records like 21st-century people do. Not only was their culture more deeply oral; compared to ours, it was so saturated in ritual and cult that the unbloody “oblation” of Christians to their one God would have seemed utterly atheistic and anti-religious.

Pagans had trouble recognizing Christianity as a religion not, as Wills suggests, because it had absolutely no sacrifice and no priests, but because its sacrifice bore little resemblance to anything that they called sacrifice, its priests differed markedly from their own cultic leaders, and its God seemed unrecognizably divine.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted June 4, 2014 at 5:23 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

RNS: Fair enough. Then how does your view of scripture inform the sexuality debates today? Would your approach to the Bible allow, for example, the blessing of monogamous, lifelong same-sex relationships?

NTW: Monogamous, lifelong same-sex relationships were known in the ancient world as well as in the modern—there is plenty of evidence, despite what people sometimes say. When Jesus reaffirms the traditional Jewish standards of sexual behavior (he was talking in a Jews-only context where people would know what his shorthand sayings meant), and when Paul, speaking in a largely Gentile context, spells out a bit more clearly what is and what isn’t part of the new-creation lifestyle for those “in Christ,” this way of life was always counter-intuitive in that world, as it is again today.

But it’s important that we do not reduce the Bible to a collection of true doctrines and right ethics. There are plenty of true doctrines and right ethics there, of course, but they come within the larger thing, which is the story of how the Creator is rescuing and restoring the whole creation, with his rescue and restoration of humans at the heart of it. In other words, it isn’t about “do we allow this or that?” To ask the question that way is already to admit defeat, to think in terms of behavior as a set of quasi-arbitrary, and hence negotiable, rules.

We must ask, with Paul, “This new creation God has launched in Jesus—what does it look like, and how can we live well as genuine humans, as both a sign and a means of that renewal?” We need to remind ourselves that the entire biblical sexual ethic is deeply counter-intuitive. All human beings some of the time, and some human beings most of the time, have deep heartfelt longings for kinds of sexual intimacy or gratification (multiple partners, pornography, whatever) which do not reflect the creator’s best intentions for his human creatures, intentions through which new wisdom and flourishing will come to birth. Sexual restraint is mandatory for all, difficult for most, extremely challenging for some. God is gracious and merciful but this never means “so his creational standards don’t really matter after all.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & CultureScience & TechnologySexuality* TheologyAnthropologyApologeticsChristologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted June 4, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Erin Stevens isn't that kind of evangelist who stands outside the strip club with her bullhorn, yelling at the customers to repent or face the flames.

She's inside the lobby with the strippers, feeding them a catered dinner twice a month, giving them Mary Kay Cosmetics gift sets and quietly slipping her cellphone number into their hands.

She brings no Bibles. No tracts. No lectures.

Just love and an unusual mission given to her by God two years ago, she says, after she spent 21 days fasting and praying for a building for nondenominational Friendship Community Church in Mt. Juliet. Friendship, launched by her husband, Todd Stevens, in 2006, has more than 1,000 members but still meets in Lakeview Elementary School's rented auditorium.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchWomen* TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

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Posted May 31, 2014 at 3:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

He’s grateful for the support of his family, friends and congregation. So it’s appropriate that his farewell service at St Mary’s on May 25 will involve him baptising his latest grandchild, Drew. And after a lifetime of serving God, Paul is grateful for the chance to make another contribution to society in retirement.

“It’s a cliché, but you do realise what matters in life – not what you’ve got, but the people around you,” he said. “I’ve been prayed for around the world, by people of virtually every denomination. I wouldn’t be here without the combination of modern medicine, the love of God and the support of others.

“Each time I’ve had the treatment and recovered, I think I’ve become a different person. I’ll be continuing to explore my discipleship in retirement, and I hope I can be useful in this new era of my life.”

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & Family* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 28, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The way to pray for a desolate church is to remember past mercies, and be encouraged that God never changes.

Verse 15: "And now, O Lord our God, who didst bring thy people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand . . . " Daniel knew that the reason God saved Israel from Egypt was not because Israel was so good. Psalm 106:7–8,

Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider thy wonderful works; they did not remember the abundance of thy steadfast love, but rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power.

Prayer for a desolate church is sustained by the memory of past mercies. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If God saved a rebellious people once at the Red Sea, he can save them again. So when we pray for a desolate church, we can remember brighter days that the church has known, and darker days from which she was saved.

This is why church history is so valuable. There have been bad days before that God had turned around. The papers this week have been full of statistics of America's downward spiral into violence and corruption. Church history is a great antidote to despair at times like this. For example, to read about the moral decadence and violence of 18th century England before God sent George Whitefield and John Wesley is like reading today's newspapers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / HomileticsSpirituality/Prayer* TheologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 22, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I know that if she could, my mother would grab that pail and toss it out the window. She would forgive me; in fact, I believe she has forgiven me. But in a way, that makes it harder. Knowing of her unfailing love and grace makes me feel worse about my own failure. Of course, I am envisioning her at her very best, now in heaven knowing as she is known and seeing me with the eyes of God, and I am remembering myself at one of my lowest moments. What about God’s forgiveness? God is always in a best moment and ever aware of our worst. Does that divine forgiveness erase our regret or increase it?

Jesus’ first word to the disciples on the other side of the locked doors is peace. I imagine myself in that room, staring at his wounds and accepting the resurrection miracle. I imagine embracing the improbable, exciting mission commended to me in the words that follow. But peace? Peace is another story.

After Jesus called Peter to feed his sheep, did Peter ever think back on that day around the charcoal fire when he denied the one he dearly loved? Did Peter remember when Jesus yelled at him and called him a terrible name? When Peter stood to preach on Pente­cost and 3,000 were baptized in one day, did he go home and lie awake wishing he could take back his actions on another day? According to the psalm, our transgressions are removed “as far as the east is from the west.” If we accept that as true, then it seems that regret should not linger. But in my experience, forgiveness has not erased regret. Not yet anyway.

These post-Easter days, I am thinking that if my mind and heart are not yet in sync with what should be—with sin removed to a distance beyond my reach—perhaps mere inches matter.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEasterParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyChildrenHealth & Medicine* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted May 19, 2014 at 7:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I don’t consider myself to be a “Church Planter” for two reasons. First, I was not the initial planting priest in either of the two church plants I’ve been a part of. At Church of the Apostles, Columbia, I was a seminarian, and then a staff member under Fr Chip Edgar during its planting phase. At Resurrection I became the first full-time Rector, as the church was still in a “plant” phase. Fr Victor Oliver had helped the initial core group get organized, and the church was already meeting on Sundays for worship with 40-50 people.

That said, I’ve had the great opportunity to see two churches grow from plant to fully established local church, and to be a part of leadership on teams that helped make that happen.

Second, I am not a big risk-taking, entrepreneurial, dynamic guy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 17, 2014 at 10:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo has urged Roman Catholics attending a one-of-a-kind Catholic and Episcopal church to worship at a nearby parish because he has not been able to find a "suitable priest" to serve the blended congregation.

It was the latest round of adversity for a church that has battled to maintain its ecumenical mission in the face of flagging support in the Catholic hierarchy.

In a letter read Sunday to members of the Church of the Holy Apostles, DiLorenzo noted that the 36-year-old congregation's interim Catholic priest is in poor health and has been unable to serve consistently.

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted May 16, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The truth is that fewer young couples are choosing traditional church weddings. An increasing number of couples choose a small civil ceremony, or a Christian ceremony offsite, or no wedding at all. Many establish a household and a life together without any official civil or religious sanction. These changes in relationships and in commitment decisions feed a growing apprehension that young people are divorcing themselves from the church. If couples are not choosing typical church weddings, doesn’t that indicate the marginalization of the church in these people’s lives and, by extension, in society at large? And so congregations like Matthew’s ask anxiously: Why wouldn’t a pastor unquestioningly embrace a couple asking to be married? Why would a pastor pass up a chance to draw a young couple into the church?

But perhaps that’s the wrong question. Perhaps the question we should be asking is, What does it mean for a couple to get married in the church? One of my seminary professors once recited the nursery rhyme: “Here is the church, and here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people.” Then he added, “Of course, it’s only when you open the doors that you see the church. The church is the community.” Viewed in that light, Matthew did not deny the engaged couple a church wedding but instead offered them one.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 16, 2014 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Province of British Columbia formally apologized to Chinese Canadians Thursday for historical wrongs and racism dating back to Confederation.

Premier Christy Clark read the apology into the legislature, which was supported by the Opposition NDP and other MLAs.

“On behalf of the Province of British Columbia, and on behalf of the entire legislative assembly, we sincerely apologize for the provincial government’s historical wrongs,” said Clark.

“We are sorry for the discriminatory legislation and racist policies enacted by past provincial governments. We will ensure that this never happens again.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* International News & CommentaryAsiaChinaCanada* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 15, 2014 at 2:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Sudanese judge on Thursday sentenced a Christian woman to hang for apostasy, in a ruling which activists described as "abhorrent".

Born to a Muslim father, the woman was convicted under the Islamic sharia law that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death.

Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, 27, is married to a Christian and eight months pregnant, human rights activists say.

"We gave you three days to recant but you insist on not returning to Islam. I sentence you to be hanged," Judge Abbas Mohammed Al-Khalifa told the woman, addressing her by her father's Muslim name, Adraf Al-Hadi Mohammed Abdullah.

Khalifa also sentenced Ishag to 100 lashes for "adultery". Under Sudan's interpretation of sharia, a Muslim woman cannot marry a non-Muslim man and any such relationship is regarded as adulterous.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryAfricaSudan* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 15, 2014 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After three deployments to Iraq and three to Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Dennis Swols is agitated, prone to bouts of anger and unable to really talk about his time on the battlefield.

But as Swols sits in a small office in the Robinson Health Clinic at Fort Bragg, his hand drops to the furry head beside him and his mood brightens. Settled at his feet, Lexy, a 5-year-old German shepherd, gives Swols a few moments of distraction.

It's her job. And, according to Swols, she's good at it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePsychologyStress* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, Military* General InterestAnimals* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 14, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The most information the official press releases provided came in the final release sent right after the meeting closed yesterday:

“In further conversations about the adaptive challenges facing The United Methodist Church, the residential bishops noted that Christ calls them to be in union with him, with one another, and with the Church. They recognized that they are called to lead according to the example of Jesus Christ during a challenging time within the church. Disagreements about human sexuality threaten to divide the church; and while there will be differing understandings, the bishops are called to be bishops of the whole church and to lead the church through such challenges. The residential bishops had conversations about how they could carry out the Book of Discipline and lead during this time. The conversation involved listening and forthright discussion in a covenant of grace-filled hospitality and truth-telling. No decisions or agreements were reached during these conversations.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It turns out that Hollywood has grief and loss all wrong. The waves and spikes don’t arrive predictably in time or severity. It’s not an anniversary that brings the loss to mind, or someone else’s reminiscences, nor being in a restaurant where you once were together. It’s in the grocery aisle passing the romaine lettuce and recalling how your spouse learned to make Caesar salad, with garlic-soaked croutons, because it was the only salad you’d agree to eat. Or when you glance at a rerun in an airport departure lounge and it’s one of the episodes that aired in the midst of a winter afternoon years earlier, an afternoon that you two had passed together. Or on the rise of a full moon, because your wife, from the day you met her, used to quote from The Sheltering Sky about how few you actually see in your entire life. It’s not sobbing, collapsing, moaning grief. It’s phantom-limb pain. It aches, it throbs, there’s nothing there, and yet you never want it to go away.

Read it all from New York Magazine.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 11, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The idea that there ought to be "nothing but Beauty" is, I think, part of the modern myth of parenting. Our expectations for our kids and for ourselves get higher and higher. (Writer Micha Boyett recently said that if she hears about another toddler taking Mandarin lessons, she'll heave.) We want our children to be perfect, and we want to be perfect parents. Yet we don't even know what that means. In her recent book All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenting, Jennifer Senior notes that "happiness" is a vague concept, and perhaps the wrong goal for parenting.

The truth is that parenthood is not always fun. In the church, where we rightly acknowledge that children are gifts from God, perhaps we are especially afraid to say this. There's so much pain and heartache. The way of the parent is often the way of the Cross: the glory and grace and joy in it come at significant cost. We relinquish our time, energy, money, and personal desires for our children.

English novelist John Lancaster recently called for "a revival of the concept of duty." It's the moral obligation to fulfill a responsibility to another, regardless of whether it makes us happy. By God's grace, duty often yields not to happiness but to something better: joy. As the early church in Acts teaches us, joy can coincide with suffering and struggle.

"Gift love longs to serve or even to suffer" for the beloved, wrote C. S. Lewis.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted May 10, 2014 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The morning after Mkeki Ntakai learned of the mass kidnapping by Boko Haram, he fired up his rickety motor scooter and sped down a dirt road in northern Nigeria to find his 16-year-old daughter.

Mr. Ntakai was joined by more than 100 fathers, uncles and big brothers, all seeking several hundred girls taken by force from a boarding school in the remote hamlet of Chibok. The men followed a trail of hair ties and scraps of clothing the girls dropped to lead rescuers. One found his daughter's flip-flop; another retrieved a remnant of a school uniform.

But the kidnappers had too big a head start. Three weeks later, the trail has gone cold for the 223 girls still missing. More than 50 managed to escape in the first few hours, jumping out of the beds of pickup trucks or slipping away while they were supposed to be washing dishes.

The rest are presumed held by the jihadi group, whose leader Abubakar Shekau said he would sell the girls as slaves.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenEducationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireMarriage & FamilyTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 10, 2014 at 9:12 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMedia* South Carolina* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 10, 2014 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The time has come. On Sunday, May 4, I announced my retirement plans. In case you were not present at worship, this letter will provide the details. My last day to serve as Rector of St. Paul’s Summerville will be Friday, November 14, 2014. That date will mark my 19th anniversary among you and in the meantime provide a window to enjoy our remaining months among you.

I will always treasure these years…always. In vestry meetings for many years, I made this observation: ‘St. Paul’s needs a long-term pastorate! It doesn’t have to be me, but it needs to be someone. I am willing to be that person, but it may not work out that way.’ I would offer that thought in light of the fact that since the retirement of Dr. Ambler in 1940 (He served as St. Paul’s Rector for 32 years.), the average tenure of a Rector has been 4 ½ years. That is not healthy for a parish since you never have time to establish traction and momentum under sustained leadership. It is not unlike the long coaching tenures which often complement the strongest programs in athletics, think Coach K at Duke or Dean Smith at Chapel Hill, etc.

So, it turned out to be me after all—a long-tenured priest for St. Paul’s. I step down grateful and excited for all we have done together. It has been so rich and fruitful! May the Lord and you continue to build on the foundation that has been laid. Don’t you just know, He will! And may St. Paul’s next Rector be enabled and empowered as well for a long pastorate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* South Carolina* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 10, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...here’s a challenge.


Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and, by all means, let’s use it to celebrate the moms in our lives with flowers and brunches. But let’s also use the occasion to honor the girls still missing in Nigeria.

One way is a donation to support girls going to school around Africa through the Campaign for Female Education, Camfed.org; a $40 gift pays for a girl’s school uniform.

Another way to empower women is to support Edna Adan, an extraordinary Somali woman who has started her own maternity hospital, midwife training program and private university, saving lives, providing family planning and fighting female genital mutilation. At EdnaHospital.org, a $50 donation pays for a safe hospital delivery.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingGlobalizationMediaTeens / YouthViolenceWomen* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAfricaNigeria* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted May 8, 2014 at 11:34 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When someone asked the Rev. Canon Andrew White why members are so happy at St. George’s Church in war-torn Baghdad, the response came from Lina, whom White considers his adopted Iraqi daughter: “When you’ve lost everything, Jesus is all you have left.”

The question was not a theoretical one for Canon White (more popularly known as the “Vicar of Baghdad”), his loved ones, or his parishioners. St. George’s Church is a cathedral that has suffered the loss of 1,276 congregants during the last decade. And yet he declares with joy and a tinge of wonder in his voice, “I have one of the most wonderful congregations you can imagine.”

Visiting Washington, D.C., to receive the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview’s William Wilberforce Award, White spoke on “Reconciliation and Peacemaking in the World, Church, and the Anglican Communion” at Truro Anglican Church on May 1. He is the author of several books, including Father, Forgive: Reflections on Peacemaking (Monarch, 2013).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesThe Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsIraq War* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIraq* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 7, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)House of Deputies President Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts SchoriTEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: South Carolina* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A commission is to look at the relationship between the Anglican Church in the Channel Islands and the Diocese of Winchester after they split, the Archbishop of Canterbury says.

The islands split from the Diocese of Winchester in January after a dispute over how abuse complaints were handled.

The Diocese of Canterbury currently has oversight of the islands.

The Archbishop, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, said the special commission would start work soon.

Read it all.

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

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Posted May 6, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This one’s in honor of everyone finishing up seminary exams or recovering from the Holy Week ministry binge. I don’t know how YOUR denomination do, but mine is all over some “clergy excellence,” and we have all these reports and numbers we have to keep to prove that our church isn’t dying. It’s set up to combat the fact that the mainline denominations really are not growing. It’s also set up to combat lazy or crappy pastoring. The problem is that we have to be more perfect than Jesus, and the pressure to always grow and do great things can really be overwhelming. I find myself pouring more energy into excellent programming, and not enough time in real discipleship formation.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodist* TheologyPastoral TheologySeminary / Theological Education

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Posted May 4, 2014 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This past week was 25th National Infertility Awareness Week, an effort by RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association to raise awareness of the condition experienced by one in eight U.S. couples of childbearing age. Since they began this campaign much has changed in the way we discuss fertility, and more men and women now feel free to speak openly about their reproductive challenges and know how to find help. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been matched by more affordable treatment options or more supportive public policies.

Something very similar has occurred in the Jewish community. Men and women have begun to address infertility, sharing their own stories and those of their congregants, stripping the stigma away from infertility and making what was once a very private ache a communal one. And yet no large donor or organization has risen up and offered this growing chorus support.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureScience & Technology* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 3, 2014 at 10:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even in a church full of surrendered believers, human frailty alone will lead to problems. But many problems in the church are caused by sin. And we are never told to stay put in our sinfulness. Paul expected the Corinthian church to change and grow. God expects the same progress in our churches today.

Yes, the church is holy because God, on the basis of Christ's imputed righteousness, proclaims it so. But if we desire to move beyond being called holy—if we desire to be holy—then we must cooperate with such grace. In this sense, the holiness of the church is dependent on the holiness of its people. But always and forever, the holiness of its people is dependent on the sanctifying grace of God, who is in essence holy love.

We are God's people. The church is God's church. God, help us to become who we are.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

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Posted May 2, 2014 at 11:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Nearly three quarters of Danwon [High School]’s 11th graders died two weeks ago in the sinking of a ferry that ranks as one of the country’s deadliest disasters in recent decades.

“I’ve seen these kids grow up. I know each of their faces,” said Mr. Kim[In-jea], 57, who lives nearby and said seven of his neighbors lost their children. “To say that this neighborhood feels empty would be an understatement. This neighborhood feels like a morgue.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenEducation* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea* TheologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted May 1, 2014 at 4:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Saturday, former Glen Ellyn, Ill., priest [Matthew Gunter] was consecrated and ordained as the eighth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Fond du Lac, which is based in Appleton. The diocese has more than 5,700 members at 38 locations across the northeastern third of the state.

Those churches are a smorgasbord. Some are big, some small; they’re urban and rural. They’re not all economically vibrant, and perspectives vary both theologically and socially.

“But what I haven’t seen and haven’t heard is any evidence of deep divisiveness,” Gunter said. “There’s definitely disagreements about various things, but folks seem to be willing to engage one another with gentleness and reverence. I want to build on that, too, and figure out how to have conversations that might need to be had in ways that can bring us all together and move us forward together.”

Read it all from the Post-Crescent in Wisconsin.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC BishopsTEC Parishes* TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 30, 2014 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This week, the layoffs and pending departures of two key staff members have shocked the Brooklyn Heights community and again have raised the issues of how costly the maintenance of that building envelope remains.

The Rev. John E. Denaro, rector of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, announced the layoffs of longtime organist and music director Gregory Eaton, and of one of the church’s two sextons (church building custodians). The Rev. Sarah Kooperkamp, who serves as associate rector, is leaving for different reasons, including the birth of her first child.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 25, 2014 at 6:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I can’t tell what Stackhouse intends with the sentence just before the parenthesis. Is he implying that if Marsh had ruminated a bit more, he might have concluded that a pursuit of friendship as intense as Bonhoeffer’s must have been fueled by sexual desire (thus lending credence to the idea that Bonhoeffer was gay, albeit celibate)? Or is Stackhouse rather suggesting that more interrogation on Marsh’s part would have shown our suspicion of Bonhoeffer’s being gay to be a post-gay-rights-era preoccupation, all too ready to classify people as either “gay” or “straight” and not attuned enough to the complexity, even for “straight” people, of desire in simple friendship? As I say, I can’t tell, but I’d like to continue the conversation.

In any case, as I’m nearing the end of working on my friendship book, I can say that reading Bonhoeffer and Bethge’s correspondence was one of the richest experiences I had in the course of my research. Other than Pavel Florensky’s The Pillar and Ground of the Truth, I doubt there was a book that taught me more about friendship than Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison. What struck me in reading it, perhaps in contrast to Marsh and Stackhouse’s views, was how unwieldy our categories are—either “homosexual” or “just friends”—when it comes to classifying a relationship as profound as Bonhoeffer and Bethge’s was.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

4 Comments
Posted April 23, 2014 at 10:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A colleague of mine who had two young adult children would often talk to me about their escapades. I’ll never forget how he referred to the two using distinctly different language. Of his son, he always used the passionately emphasized phrase, “my son,” without fail. Of his daughter, who had been somewhat of a disappointment to him, he loosely and almost apologetically called her, “our daughter,” as though he would’ve preferred to attribute her entirely to his wife, rather than claim her as his own.

In these genealogies in 1 Chronicles, God is counting those returned exiles (chapter 9) as the heirs of the spiritual promises that he made to their ancestors. By listing their names and tribes and parentage, God is claiming them as his own, even after their time of pronounced disobedience. God is saying, essentially, “you, too, are my people.”

For us, when we feel cut off from relationship with God and his people (now the church), whether because of blatant sin, spiritual apathy, or a dullness of belief, we need to hear again that we are spiritual descendants in a long line of believers. We are heirs of the promises of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, “for all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

God claims us as his own, saying to us, “you, too, through Jesus, are my people.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychology* TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 23, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The two ministers were foes before they ever met, partisans in a war they did not start, but partisans nonetheless.

For four years, they did not speak.

But in the spring of 2011, the Rev. Tory Baucum drove 100 miles south to Richmond to introduce himself to the Rev. Shannon Johnston. And now the friendship that resulted, nurtured over Guinness in the bar of Richmond’s storied Jefferson Hotel, at dinner with their wives and during many difficult conversations, is being hailed as one of the most unexpected and intriguing developments in a bitter feud that has split the Episcopal Church in the decade since the denomination elected an openly gay bishop.

Mr. Johnston is the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia — the most populous Episcopal diocese in the United States — and a supporter of same-sex marriage who has blessed same-sex couples. Mr. Baucum is the rector of an unusually vibrant parish, Truro Church in Fairfax, which left the Episcopal Church over the election of... [a same-sex partnered bishop], the final straw in a long-running dispute over theological orthodoxy.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican Church in North America (ACNA)Episcopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsTEC Conflicts: Virginia* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal Issues* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I believe the story. With my head, looking at the evidence and thinking logically as a person who was a research physicist for twenty-five years, I believe it. And after listening to the testimony of people – from beggars to kings -- through all the ages who had concluded that the story is true, I believe it. And at the innermost levels of my heart, where the deepest truths reside but are not easily put into words, I believe it is true.

And that is why I know that I will see my mother again someday. It’s not just wishful thinking, some little tale I’ve fooled myself with because I can’t face the cold hard facts of life. Yes, I will see Della Mae, and I am convinced that it will be a day of great victory and joy. St. Paul says that it will be like putting on a crown, and St. John says that it will be a time when every tear will be wiped away from my eyes. That’s what will happen someday to me. But what Jesus did affects me right here today also -- I know that this Jesus who overcame death and the grave has promised not to leave me here twisting in the wind. He is with me every day, through his Spirit, to guide me, comfort me, embolden me, and use me for his glory and to serve his people, right here, right now.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsEasterParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & Family* TheologyChristologyEschatologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 21, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“[Hans Urs von] Balthasar’s theology of Holy Saturday is probably one of his most intriguing contributions since he interprets it as moving beyond the active self-surrender of Good Friday into the absolute helplessness of sin and the abandonment and lostness of death.

In the Old Testament one of the greatest threats of God’s wrath was His threat of abandonment, to leave His people desolate, to be utterly rejected of God. It is this that Jesus experienced upon the Cross and in His descent into the lifeless passivity and God-forsakenness of the grave. By His free entrance into the helplessness of sin, Christ was reduced to what Balthasar calls a “cadaver-obedience” revealing and experience the full horror of sin.

As Peter himself preached at Pentecost (Acts 2:23-24; 32-33):

‘[Jesus] being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you, by lawless hands, have crucified and put to death; who God raised up, having abolished the birth pangs of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it…This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, He pour out this which you now see and hear.’

We ought to pause and note the passivity that is expressed here. Christ experienced what God was doing through Him by His purpose and foreknowledge. Jesus was truly dead and fully encompassed within and held by the pains of death and needed God to abolish them. He was freed from death by God, not simply by God’s whim, but because for God it was impossible that death should hold Christ. Christ Himself receives the Holy Spirit from the Father in order that He might pour out that Spirit. Balthasar writes:
‘Jesus was truly dead, because he really became a man as we are, a son of Adam, and therefore, despite what one can sometimes read in certain theological works, he did not use the so-called “brief” time of his death for all manner of “activities” in the world beyond. In the same way that, upon earth, he was in solidarity with the living, so, in the tomb, he is in solidarity with the dead…Each human being lies in his own tomb. And with this condition Jesus is in complete solidarity.’

According to Balthasar, this death was also the experience, for a time, of utter God-forsakenness—that is hell. Hell, then, is a Christological concept which is defined in terms of Christ’s experience on the Cross. This is also the assurance that we never need fear rejection by the Father if we are in Christ, since Christ has experienced hell in our place.

–S. Joel Garver on Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988) [emphasis mine]

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 19, 2014 at 12:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Yet, there was one large omission that set all other truth dangerously at risk: the omission of holy rest. The refusal to be silent. The obsessive avoidance of emptiness. The denial of any experience and any people in the least bit suggestive of godforsakenness.

It was far more than an annual ignorance on Holy Saturday; it was religiously fueled, weekly arrogance. Not only was the Good Friday crucifixion bridged to the Easter resurrection by this day furious with energy and lucrative with reward, but all the gospel truths were likewise set as either introductions or conclusions to the human action that displayed our prowess and our virtue every week of the year. God was background to our business. Every gospel truth was maintained intact and all the human energy was wholly admirable, but the rhythms were all wrong, the proportions wildly skewed. Desolation—and with it companionship with the desolate, from first-century Semites to twentieth-century Indians—was all but wiped from consciousness.

But there came a point at which I was convinced that it was critically important to pay more attention to what God does than what I do; to find daily, weekly, yearly rhythms that would get that awareness into my bones. Holy Saturday for a start. And then, times to visit people in despair, and learn their names, and wait for resurrection.

Embedded in my memory now is this most poignant irony: those seven or eight Indians, with the Thunderbird empties lying around, drunk in the alley behind the Pastime Baron Saturday afternoon, while we Scandinavian Christians worked diligently late into the night, oblivious to the holiness of the day. The Indians were in despair, religious despair, something very much like the Holy Saturday despair narrated in the Gospels. Their way of life had come to nothing, the only buffalo left to them engraved on nickels, a couple of which one of their squaws had paid out that morning for four bony ham hocks. The early sacredness of their lives was a wasteland; and they, godforsaken as they supposed, drugged their despair with Thunderbird and buried their dead visions and dreams in the alley behind the Pastime, ignorant of the God at work beneath their emptiness.

Take the time to read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsHoly Week* TheologyChristologyEschatologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 19, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

An Anglican hospital chaplain has become what is believed to be the first member of the clergy in Britain to have a gay marriage.

Canon Jeremy Pemberton is a chaplain at Lincoln Hospital and has Permission to Officiate and leads occasional services in Nottinghamshire.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted April 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"The Drop Box" - Documentary Trailer from Arbella Studios on Vimeo.



Worth every second of the three minutes of your time it takes to watch--touching, heart-rending, and encouraging--KSH.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineLife EthicsMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaSouth Korea* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The final evening of Jack Chen’s life was indistinguishable from many others. The sophomore returned home from school, ate dinner with his mother and retired to his room. His mother asked him to turn out his light at midnight.

Inside his bedroom, anguish gnawed at him, a darkness invisible to friends and family: He maintained a 4.3 grade-point average at one of the area’s top high schools, was a captain of the junior varsity football team and had never tried drugs or alcohol.

But that hidden pain drove Jack from his Fairfax Station home early the next morning — Wednesday, Feb. 26. The 15-year-old, who pestered his father to quit smoking and wear his safety belt, walked to nearby tracks and stepped between the rails as a commuter train approached.

His death is one of six apparent suicides at Fairfax’s W.T. Woodson High School during the past three years, including another student found dead the next day. The toll has left the school community reeling and prompted an urgent question: Why would so many teens from a single suburban school take their lives?

Read it all from the Washington Post.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationHealth & MedicinePsychologySuicideTeens / YouthViolence* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted April 12, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Jeff Bauman knows the exact moment his life was changed forever. It was the moment he looked Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev in the face.

“He just seemed out of place,” said Bauman in his most recent interview with Brian Williams. “Everybody there was having fun, you know, clapping, taking pictures, and he was just standing there with a backpack ... he just looked really odd. So I looked at him and I stared at him.”

And then, in an instant: a flash, and what sounded like a pop, and he was lying flat on his back.

Watch and/or read it all from NBC.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & MedicineMarriage & FamilyPsychologyUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This is the Rev'd Mark Abrey, vicar of St. Nicholas' Church, Chadlington, Oxfordshire. He seems to be a quiet and unassuming sort of minister, so you won't find much written about him anywhere. Indeed, it took His Grace the best part of an hour to unearth a photograph. The Rev'd Mark happens to be David Cameron's local vicar in his constituency. And this is what the Prime Minister said of him at Wednesday's Downing Street Easter reception:

..it’s lovely to have here tonight the vicar from St Mary Abbots school, Gillean Craig, and also the vicar who looks after me spiritually in the constituency, Mark Abrey in Chadlington, who, when I often – anyone asks me about the pastoral care that many vicars carry out across the country, I remember 5 years ago when we had to mourn the loss and bury my son Ivan, I can’t think of anyone who was more loving or thoughtful or kind than Mark. And of course, Ivan would have been 12 yesterday, which has had me pause to think about that.

Now, Mr Cameron said an awful lot more in his speech, which spanned politics, religion, the law of Christ, the Big Society and Dyno-Rod. And you may read all of that for yourselves and make up your own minds what you think about it. But His Grace is going to dwell on this single sentence of tribute to a single Church of England vicar, for this speech was extempore - not carefully crafted by some Downing Street hireling. And, clearly coming from the heart, it reveals rather more about the Prime Minister's spirituality and appreciation of the Church of England's ministry than anything he has previously disclosed.

Read it all from Archbishop Cranmer's blog.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Enio Aguero had never been to Oso before late last month. But he recognized the faces.

“Faces of hopelessness, trying to find out why or how this could happen,” said the 53-year-old chaplain from Northern Virginia, a veteran of disaster relief in Moore, Okla., where a tornado last May obliterated entire subdivisions and killed 24 people.

“When a disaster like this happens, it touches the deepest part of our being. At one minute, there was everything; a minute later, there was nothing,” said Aguero, a chaplain coordinator for Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. “There’s no way we can make sense of this, except that God is in control.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureRural/Town Life* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyPastoral TheologyTheodicy

0 Comments
Posted April 10, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Florida megachurch pastor Bob Coy has resigned from his 20,000-member Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale congregation over a “moral failing.”

A statement on the church’s website reported the news: ”On April 3, 2014, Bob Coy resigned as Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, effective immediately, after confessing to a moral failing in his life which disqualifies him from continuing his leadership role at the church he has led since its founding in 1985.”

A call to Coy on Sunday (April 6) was not returned. But it appears extramarital affairs may have been one reason.

Read it all.

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

0 Comments
Posted April 8, 2014 at 11:07 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A service to mark the 20th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide will take place on Monday 7 April at 7.30 p.m. in St Anne’s Cathedral Belfast. The speaker will be the Presbyterian Moderator, The Rt Revd Dr Rob Craig.

The Revd Canon Jerome Munyangaju, Rector of Killyleagh, who – along with the Dean of St Anne’s, the Very Revd John Mann – will also participate in the service, said in advance of it: ‘This year, the 7th of April marks the commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. This 20th anniversary is an important occasion on which we remember over a million lives brutally lost in just 100 days. Their cries should have been answered, yet the international community, aware of the desperate situation, chose not to intervene. The country and its people have scarring memories of the violent killings, pain and trauma. Kwibuka (remembering) of our past helps toward the healing of our future....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of IrelandChurch of Rwanda* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaRwandaEngland / UK--Ireland* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Bye-bye, “Bishop Bling.” So long, “Pastor Perks.” The so-called “Francis effect” may be real, at least when it comes to clerical housing, and could be coming to a church near you.

Pope Francis famously eschewed the trappings of the papal office, including deluxe digs in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, and the pressure of his example seems to be making itself felt.

Last week, the pontiff accepted the resignation of the most ostentatious offender, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg in Germany, aka “Bishop Bling” who spent a cool $43 million on a swank new residence and office complex while cutting staff.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted April 2, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A big-hearted restaurant owner known as "Momma" leads a group in Arlington, Washington called the Soup Ladies who for 10 years have been dishing up meals for first responders. They are feeding hot meals to search and rescue workers at the site of a tragic mudslide roughly 70 miles away in Oso.

Watch the whole thing from NBC.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchCharities/Non-Profit OrganizationsDieting/Food/NutritionHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/Fire* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity Government* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Local people facing homelessness soon will be able to earn money by selling a news magazine with content about challenges they face and various social justice issues.

Founder Paul Gangarosa put up his own money and time to create The Lowcountry Herald, a monthly news magazine whose first 16-page issue should be published this week.

"I saw through the Great Recession how easy it is for anyone to become homeless," says Gangarosa, an adjunct professor at the College of Charleston who teaches public health. He also saw the concept of so-called street newspapers.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaPovertyUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor Market* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The response to your Facebook post has been staggering. Was it written on the fly or what?

In the last month, there were four instances where I was subtly or not subtly moved along. I was having lunch with a mother younger than I am who was recently bereaved. Her loss was 14 months ago. I said, "Before the one-year mark was up, did you have people telling you, hinting or saying to you that you should move on?" I asked other people who had lost children. I was hearing the same story. It just made me mad. I jotted off that Facebook post and have been completely astounded by the response—3,780,000 views and more than 10,000 comments.

Aren't most of the comments supportive?

Somebody wrote, "I want to print words around my neck that say, 'Please just read Kay Warren's Facebook post.'"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchBlogging & the Internet--Social NetworkingChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyMental IllnessReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

...the church has been caring for the sick, both physically and mentally for 2,000 years longer than any government or agency. Most people are unaware that it was the Church that invented the idea of hospitals. For centuries the Church has been a refuge for the outcast, those on the margins, and anyone enduring societal stigma and shame.

Finally, studies have shown that when families or individuals experience the chaos caused by mental illness, the first place they typically call in a crisis is not a doctor, a law office, the school, or the police, but rather they call or go see their priest or pastor. Anyone who’s served as a receptionist for a church knows that they often are required to do triage in mental illness cases. Why is that? Because people instinctively know that churches are called by God to be places of refuge, comfort, guidance, and practical help for those who suffer.

It’s time to stand with those who are suffering.Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyMental IllnessReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 27, 2014 at 3:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Labour MP is to challenge the Church of England to say whether it would defrock a priest for marrying a same-sex partner.

Ben Bradshaw has accused the Church of "trying to have its cake and eat it" by accepting same-sex marriage for its members, but not for its clergy.

The ex-cabinet minister said priests needed to know where they stood.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The starting point and the guide for this journey is the one given to us by Pope Francis: “the beauty of the family and of marriage, the grandeur of a reality that is both simple and profound, a combination of joy, hope, burdens and suffering, just like the rest of life.” We will seek to deepen our understanding of the theology of the family and of the pastoral care that we must exercise in today’s world.” “All this we will do,” confirmed Pope Francis, “in depth and without tripping into that ‘casuistry’ that would inevitably diminish the value of our work.” The Holy Father emphasized that in today’s world the family is looked down on and treated badly and that what we are called on to do is make known how beautiful, and true and good it is to create a family, to be a family in today’s world, and how the world, and the future of all human kind, cannot do without the family. Our task is to show the world God’s shining plan for families, to help married couples live out that plan with joy, and to be there for them with a shepherd’s care that is wise, brave and full of love” (Pope Francis’ Opening Discourse to the Special Consistory on the Family, February twentieth, 2014)

This is what we will do as we look toward the Meeting in Philadelphia: we will be there for all the families of the world with a shepherd’s care that is “wise,” and “brave” and “full of love.” Wisdom in understanding what families face today, bravery in taking on today’s many and complex problems; and love in helping to resolve those problems in the light of the Gospel of the Family and of Life. We will deal with many issues in our wise, brave and loving work together: theology of the family, married spirituality and holiness, ecclesiology and pastoral care for families, the family in contemporary culture, immigration and the family, the family and ecumenism.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 25, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Picture the scene: the Bishop's post is being opened, and among the invitations, job applications, and clerical outfitters' catalogues are three troubling pieces of correspondence.

The first is from the Diocesan Director of Ordinands, informing the Bishop that an ordinand in training, who is in the process of looking for a title post in the diocese, has entered into a same-sex marriage.

The second is a letter of complaint from a group of parishioners that the Vicar of X has just used the form of service for prayer and dedication after a civil marriage from Common Worship: Pastoral Services to bless a same-sex marriage in church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Why Osteenification? Because Joel Osteen is the prime provocateur of a seductive brand of American Christianity that reduces God to a means to our ends. A message that beckons multitudes to the table of the Master, not for the love of the Master but for what is on the table. He is the de facto high priest of a new brand of Christianity perfectly suited for a feel-good generation. And while a host of pretenders (including Prince) follow in his train, Osteen is clearly the biggest of the bunch—according to People magazine, “twice as big as the nearest competitor.” And his claim to America’s largest church is just a small part of the story. With one billion impressions per month on Facebook and Twitter, Osteen is the hip new personification of God-talk in America.

But here’s the problem. Behind Osteenian self-affirmations—“I am anointed,” “I am prosperous,” “My God is a ‘supersizing God’”—there lies a darker hue. Behind the smile is a robust emphasis on all that is negative. If you are healthy and wealthy, words created that reality. However, if you find yourself in dire financial straits, contract cancer, or, God forbid, die an early death, your words are the prime suspect. Says Osteen, “We’re going to get exactly what we’re saying. And this can be good or it can be bad” (Discover the Champion in You, May 3, 2004). In evidence, he cites one illustration after the other. One in particular caught my attention: the story of a “kind and friendly” worker at the church. He died at an early age, contends Osteen, “being snared by the words of his mouth” (I Declare [FaithWords, 2012], viii–ix).

This illustration serves to underscore a predictable trend; a trend now pandemic in American Christianity. Osteen and company simply use the Scriptures to communicate whatever they want. Again and again, Scripture is tortured in the process of deluding the faithful. As even the most cursory reading of Proverbs 6 makes plain, being “snared by the words of your mouth” has nothing to do with negatively professing death into one’s own life and everything to do with a divine warning against making rash pledges.

Read it all (with thanks to Timothy Dalrymple at Patheos for this guest post).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchMediaPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 22, 2014 at 3:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many of us love the busyness, energy, and creative dynamism of a robust church. Many of us love the program direction and even the management. And yet all of us pastors must summon an uncommon discipline if we are to reflect the priority and importance of preaching.

It can be done. [Joseph] Sittler [wrote in his essay “The Maceration of the Minister”]:
It [the congregation] is likely to accept, support and be deeply molded by the understanding of Office and calling which is projected by its minister’s actual behavior. It will come to assess as central what he, in his actual performance of ministry and use of his time, makes central.
The preacher, Sittler concluded, must order her or his time around study, reflection, and sermon preparation.

--Christian Century, March 19, 2014 edition, page 3

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchBooks* TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 21, 2014 at 3:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’re beginning the season of ‘giving up’ things – a tradition of Lent. So what to give up? For us Christians, it is about self-denial, yes, and making time for deeper prayer and repentance too.

But Lent isn’t simply about giving up something for a while, just to start it again when Easter arrives. We certainly shouldn’t be giving up good service to our neighbours, though we may wish to postpone excessive meetings about that work.

We certainly don’t give up meeting together to worship and study God’s Word. Repentance is about ‘doing sorry’ – turning away from wrong (sin) and in Lent we can take extra time to think about whether we’re living as God would have us live – or, as the first of our themes puts it, discovering the heart of God.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLent* TheologyChristologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 21, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Let’s not fool ourselves. A lot of what gets called ministry is motivated by guilt. Peter was not reconciled to Jesus yet. So his efforts out on the lake that morning were driven by a desire to prove something, to compensate for a weakness in himself that he didn’t want to face. Peter was avoiding having that all important conversation with Jesus that thankfully he eventually did have. It is that conversation that will bring Peter back to his beginnings. Through that conversation he will relearn what we all need to learn that even if we’ve been Christians for a while, we never cease being sinners saved by Grace.

“Do you love me, Peter?” What a painful question that was. “You know that I love you, Lord.” “Feed my lambs.” Peter had to go back over his three denials of the Master and relive the agony of them. Three times Jesus asked him: Peter, do you love me? Peter do you love me? Peter do you love me? Only when Peter grasped that Jesus still accepted him, despite his huge failure, could his shame be absolved, and could he move on.

A failure to get this can affect whole churches....

Read it all or there is an audio link here if you want that instead.

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

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Posted March 20, 2014 at 4:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

No-fault divorce changed the American culture of marriage. So did the sexual revolution. Now proponents of gay rights are redefining marriage at an even more fundamental level. What’s to be done? As a post-biblical vision of sex, gender, and marriage gains the upper hand in our society, should our religious institutions get out of marriage? Should priests, pastors, and rabbis renounce their roles as deputies of state authority in marriage? Or should we sustain the close links between religious and civil marriage?

To help us think more clearly about these issues, we asked eight writers to respond to the following question: With the legal affirmation of same-sex marriage in some states, should churches, synagogues, and mosques stop performing civil marriages?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 20, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Pope Francis have given their backing to a ground-breaking ecumenical initiative to combat modern slavery and human trafficking.

The agreement to help eradicate an injustice affecting up to 29million people was co-signed on March 17th by the Archbishop of Canterbury's Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon, the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Science, Bishop Sanchez Sorondo and Mr Andrew Forrest, the founder of the large international philanthropic anti-slavery organisation from Perth, Western Australia "Walk Free".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby* Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesPolice/FireSexualityViolence* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis * TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 17, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Priests are odd. They are meant to look at the same world as everyone else, but from a particular slant, so as to pick up things others might otherwise forget. To be sure, every single person in this room is called by God to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Priests are supposed to do so for the community as a whole. Priests are called to see God’s hand, his call, his gift, his warning, in the lives of the people he has given us to care for. The artists of whom I spoke saw things that seem ordinary. But they could see more there. They saw the work of the God who crouched down to where we live in Jesus Christ, and lifted who we are up to heaven in his resurrection. It is part of priests’ job to see ordinary and extraordinary things in these, the people God has put into their care, and to tell them so. In this, priesthood is a kind of artistry.

There is a tradition in the spirituality of Anglicanism of what one contemporary author has called “Easter in ordinary.” In the same vein, the Anglican poet George Herbert speaks in this way of committing the most ordinary acts to God:

All may of thee partake;
nothing can be so mean,
which with this tincture, “for thy sake,”
will not grow bright and clean.

As a priest, the things you are looking at are not odd, nor in reality is seeing things in the light of what is most real, most true. But to the world, to the way the world teaches us to see things, it seems odd. The things that shine with the light of the Holy Spirit, someone facing death with courage, someone raised up from addiction, someone challenging a wrong in a costly way, these seem like little things. The outsider looks at the Church in its flaws and humanity and sees things as lowly as pavement, as passing as waste. But it is not to be so with you. To accomplish this, you, like those artists, have to keep your eyes on things most do not look much at: prayer, the Scripture, the inner significance of ordinary things, the spiritual weight of suffering.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistrySpirituality/Prayer* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 15, 2014 at 12:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The meeting in Jerusalem this week was called in a sense of urgency that a false gospel has so paralysed the Anglican Communion that this crisis must be addressed. The chief threat of this dispute involves the compromising of the integrity of the church’s worldwide mission. The primary reason we have come to Jerusalem and issued this declaration is to free our churches to give clear and certain witness to Jesus Christ.

It is our hope that this Statement on the Global Anglican Future will be received with comfort and joy by many Anglicans around the world who have been distressed about the direction of the Communion. We believe the Anglican Communion should and will be reformed around the biblical gospel and mandate to go into all the world and present Christ to the nations.
--From the final text on which i will be giving a presentation later today

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Global South Churches & PrimatesGAFCON I 2008Instruments of UnitySexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastIsrael* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

1 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 9:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For those who are waiting for a full reversal of church prohibitions, the dismissal of the Ogletree complaint is not enough.

Dorothee Benz of Methodists in New Directions, an advocacy group that has provided direct support to the retired pastor, commended McLee’s “very bold step” to find “a new way out of this problem,” and said the time for complacency is over....

“I’m heartened, but we’re not there,” said Lyn Ellis, co-coordinator of Affirmation, a long-time advocacy group. “Justice can’t be served if this can happen again.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

2 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Good News thanks the complainants, the Revs. Randall Paige and Roy Jacobsen, for their courageous attempt to maintain the church’s faithfulness to its doctrine and Discipline. They set an example for all of us to follow in their willingness to stand up publicly for biblical teaching. We cannot predict the future course of events, but when some parts of the church declare by their words and actions that they will no longer live by our agreed-upon way of discipleship, it puts the long-term viability of The United Methodist Church as a united body in grave jeopardy. - See more at: http://goodnewsmag.org/2014/03/good-news-statement-regarding-the-ogletree-case/#sthash.c3vf0lpZ.dpuf

Read it all.

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

1 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am disturbed that this settlement appears to represent a determination on the part of the New York Annual Conference leaders that they will no longer enforce or uphold the Discipline on this matter. While dialog and deep listening are good, they are no substitute for living up to the vows of obedience we took as United Methodist clergy, even when we disagree with the provisions we are asked to obey. Bishop McLee’s commitment to have no more trials for those accused of performing same-sex services means that numerous complaints that are in process will be held in abeyance, and further complaints will be discouraged.

The impact of this settlement today will be that faithful United Methodists who support the church’s teachings will feel ignored and will face their own crisis of conscience, as to whether they can continue to support a church that will not abide by its own rules. In addition, clergy in the New York Annual Conference and other like-minded annual conferences, are now given a green light to disobey the Discipline and perform same-sex services at will, without any consequences. Far from avoiding schism, today’s settlement increases the probability that schism will take place. For all these reasons, I cannot support this settlement.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesMethodistSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 14, 2014 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The head bishop of the United Methodist Church in New York on Monday committed to ending church trials in his region for ministers who perform same sex-marriages, essentially freeing them to conduct a ceremony still prohibited under his denomination’s laws.

As the first sitting United Methodist bishop to publicly make such a pledge, Bishop Martin D. McLee instantly became a leading figure in a decades-old movement within the United Methodist Church, the country’s second-largest Protestant denomination, to extend equal recognition and rights to gay and lesbian members. Though Bishop McLee said that he hoped his approach would heal the church’s deep divisions over homosexuality, more conservative Methodists warned that his actions would push the denomination closer to an irrevocable split.

Read it all.

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

3 Comments
Posted March 14, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was impossible not to notice a linebacker who would take a shower, dry off, wrap a towel around his waist, pick up his Bible, and ask those of us in the locker room, "Do you know Jesus?" I would think, Do you know you are half-naked?

I asked the veterans on the team about him. They said, "Don't pay attention to him. That's the Naked Preacher...."

As the Naked Preacher preached, God's love crushed me. I had achieved the American dream, only to realize it could not empower me to love my wife or forgive my father. My fame and money could not erase my sin, shame, guilt, fear, and insecurity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSports* TheologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 13, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the Netherlands people with early dementia are already being visited by mobile euthanasia units. In Belgium the law allows euthanasia only when, technically, “the patient is in a medically futile condition of constant unbearable suffering”. Wesley J. Smith, of the US-based Centre for Bioethics and Culture, has listed examples of ways in which the law has been interpreted much more expansively.
It has, for example, permitted the euthanasia of a transsexual left distraught by the results of a botched sex change operation and elderly couples who prefer joint and early death to living alone. Belgian doctors encourage each other to look out for suicidal patients whose organs can be harvested. In one PowerPoint presentation it was noted that patients with neuro-muscular diseases were good potential donors because, unlike cancer sufferers, they have “high-quality organs”.
And don’t think that Britain will be any different. We can’t regulate the banks or the police properly and assisted dying laws would soon become lethal tools in the hands of activist judges, greedy relatives and financially stretched health services. Look at our abortion laws. Introduced to end the horror of back-street terminations, they’re now used to end late-term pregnancies because of a cleft lip or a club foot.

Read it all (subscription required).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & MedicineLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsPsychology* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Franck Darmon is only 35, but he already knows where his bones will lie. Not in his native France, but in Israel.

“When you compare a cemetery in Israel — with the blue sky, the sun and all the white tombstones — to a cemetery in France with the gray surroundings, it’s very distressing,” Darmon said. “The soul doesn’t have the same type of rest.”

Darmon is not the only French Jew reaching this conclusion, and not just because of the weather. France may have Europe’s largest Jewish population, but many don’t want to stay here for eternity.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEuropeFranceMiddle EastIsrael* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsJudaism* TheologyEschatologyPastoral Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 12, 2014 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 was designed to deal with a range of disciplinary issues concerning the clergy in the Church of England – but to the exclusion of matters of doctrine or ritual.

The 1963 Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure (one of whose chief architects was the late +Eric Kemp) retained the jurisdiction inherited from the Victorian era, and ultimately from the middle ages, expressly as a criminal jurisdiction, modelled on the former Assize Courts.

This meant among other things that the procedures of the consistory court when sitting under the EJM were those of a criminal trial, that prosecutors had to achieve a criminal standard of proof – beyond all reasonable doubt – in persuading the court to convict – and that the court’s sentences were effectively criminal convictions for what in some cases were relatively trivial offences. Its proceedings were open to the public and to the media.

The CDM was designed to be a civil tribunal and to operate without the full glare of publicity brought by EJM proceedings. The world’s press turned up for the trial of the Dean of Lincoln, Brandon Jackson, and the false evidence against him was published on the front pages of national newspapers. He was acquitted.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The sad reality is that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Although it is reported that only one bishop voted against the guidance, it is also being claimed that a significant number, even a majority, are not personally happy with it. The reactions to the guidance make clear just how extensive the divisions are in the wider church and thus how difficult the environment for the facilitated conversations is going to be. They also perhaps highlight two areas where the conversations need to focus their attention but which were largely unaddressed by the Pilling Report:

(1) What doctrine of marriage should the Church have and how should it then bear faithful witness to that in ordering its own life and in mission in a wider society which recognises same-sex marriage? and

(2) What is to be done, what new church structures may be needed, so that those who find themselves unable to accept the conclusions on the doctrine of marriage and its practical implications can faithfully bear witness to their understanding of marriage without undermining the mind of the majority or condemning the Church of England to continuing destructive conflict over this issue?

Read it all and Pt I is here.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: AnalysisAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE BishopsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* TheologyAnthropologyEcclesiologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral TheologyTheology: Scripture

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Posted March 11, 2014 at 6:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The young man, weighed down by luggage and despair, was a first-time flier on his way to a funeral in Detroit. His father’s.

He was unaware that most airlines no longer haul checked bags free, and he was short on money. So workers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport did what they often do when passengers encounter a problem: They sent him to the chapel.

The Interfaith Airport Chaplaincy, in the atrium next to a steak-and-brew restaurant, offers more than a two-item menu of spiritual guidance and comfort. It is the concierge for the disconnected. Maj. Larry Cowper of the Salvation Army and the Rev. Donna Mote of the Episcopal Church lent the traveler a sympathetic ear. Then Ms. Mote accompanied him back to the check-in, pulled out the chaplaincy credit card and covered the fee.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureTravel* TheologyPastoral Theology

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

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I read that by some estimates, every day in the United States, nine churches shut their doors forever. On January 26, 2014, my church—the Reformed Church in Plano (RCP)—was one of them.

After hearing the news late last year, I cried during every worship service for six weeks straight. The music, a prayer, a line during the sermon, or a simple look around would trigger me, and the memories and tears would flow.

I wasn't the only one. After-church hugs and chats lingered a bit longer each Sunday, as everyone comforted and supported one another.

"I still can't believe this is happening," someone would say. "Can't we figure out a way to save our church?" said another. "I'm sorry, but I really think that (fill in person or circumstance here) is a lot to blame for this," several people remarked. "What are we going to do? Where are we going to go?"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* TheologyPastoral Theology

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Posted March 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the first anniversary of the Newtown shootings, Rep. Tim Murphy, a Republican from Upper St. Clair, rose in the House to propose a bill in response to this tragedy and others like it. As the only clinical psychologist in Congress, and in a party that has resisted gun control efforts, his suggestion may seem to some beside the point. That would be a mistake.

The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, the result of a yearlong investigation by a House subcommittee led by Mr. Murphy, is a serious attempt to reduce gun violence by another means.

Although Mr. Murphy’s HR 3717 may not fix every defect in the mental health system, it is a bold, sweeping attempt at reform. It comes at a time when governments have cut their mental-health budgets for community care, leaving the nation’s prison system the last hope for many with mental illness (up to an estimated 50 percent of inmates have a mental illness).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicinePrison/Prison MinistryPsychologyMental IllnessViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of Representatives* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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