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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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St Thomas Aquinas considers the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in his treatise on Christology in Part III of the Summa Theoiogica, Q53. In the First Article of Q53, he asks Whether it was necessary for Christ to rise again? Thomas quotes St Luke 24.46 (`Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead'), and offers five reasons why this is so. I summarize them below: they make a sound basis for a series of Easter sermons from Low Sunday to the Sunday before Ascension Day, inclusive. Note how closely St Thomas roots all his reasoning in Scripture.
First, the Resurrection of Christ attests to the Justice of God. God exalts those who humble themselves for his sake (see Luke 1.52). Christ has humbled himself on the Cross, out of love for God, and obedience to him; therefore, God has lifted him up to a glorious Resurrection.
Second, the Resurrection of Christ instructs us and confirms us in our faith. The Resurrection proves Christ's divinity (2 Corinthians 13.4) and it establishes the sure ground for our belief in him (1 Corinthians 15.14; Psalm 29.10).
Third, the Resurrection of Christ is the grounds for our hope, for where Christ our Head has gone, we too hope to follow (1 Corinthians 15.12; Job 19.25, 27.)
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Easter Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Eschatology Theology: Scripture
On June 28 a handful of fundamentalist hecklers from the Church of Wells, located in the piney woods of East Texas about three hours northeast of Houston, disrupted services at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church. As reported in national and local media outlets, and astutely analyzed by historian Charity Carney, security removed the activists after they shouted at the popular preacher and they were arrested. While that June Sunday was not the first time the Wells hecklers visited Lakewood, it represented a bold and memorable confrontation with America’s smiling pastor, not unlike the one evangelist Adam Key had with Osteen in 2007.
It is easy to dismiss the Wells hecklers and Key as fundamentalist partisans whose messages appeal to a small number of like-minded followers. However, as my book Salvation with a Smile argues, their actions are part of a longer history of public castigation of popular preachers. And Molly Worthen’s insightful description of evangelicalism’s crisis of authority speaks powerfully to the rhetorical combat between Osteen and his critics, as does Todd Brenneman’s post for this blog.
Lakewood’s heckler episode this summer, while documenting one way to understand Osteen’s popularity, also prompts historical reflection about the summer of 2005 when Joel and his congregation moved into Houston’s Compaq Center, a sports-arena-turned-megachurch. The last decade encompassed Joel Osteen’s ascendancy to the peak of American evangelicalism.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
Listen to it all (just under 20 minutes).
Should a “transgender” person be allowed a ceremony of “re-baptism” at their local church? That is what a parishioner requested from the Rev Chris Newlands, Vicar of Lancaster.
“I said we don’t do that, but we did offer him, and then carry out, a service,” Mr Newlands told the Lancaster Guardian. “He was originally baptised as a baby girl, and to him it was about God knowing him by name.”
Mr Newlands mobilised his Deanery and put a motion on the House of Bishops’ agenda for the General Synod of the Church of England: “That this Synod, recognising the need for transgender people to be welcomed and affirmed in their parish church, call on the House of Bishops to consider whether some nationally commended liturgical materials might be prepared to mark a person’s gender transition.”
That was earlier this year, but such services are already being performed.
Read it all from Christopher Howse at the Telegraph.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Psychology Sexuality * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Sacramental Theology Baptism
I was also reminded of a more somber anniversary coming next month: It will have been five years since Chaplain Capt. Dale Goetz was killed in action, along with five soldiers from his unit, on Aug. 30, 2010, by a roadside bomb in the Arghandab Valley near Kandahar, Afghanistan. He was the first U.S. military chaplain killed in action in 40 years.
The hardest moment during my tenure as Army chief of chaplains was receiving the news that one of our nation’s chaplains had been killed in action. Emails and phone calls began flooding in, attesting to the tremendous spiritual impact he’d had on members of the military and their families.
An airman reported that Chaplain Goetz had led him to a profession of faith. A couple said that his pastoral counseling had saved their marriage. Two young men entered the ministry as a result of his influence on their lives. A soldier who attended Chaplain Goetz’s last chapel service, inspired by his message that we should live with the same compassion we saw in Jesus Christ, said he had been moved to ask God’s forgiveness of those who were “setting the bombs on the road for us to die.”
Such influence on America’s military personnel has been a hallmark of the chaplain corps since the Revolutionary War.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Military / Armed Forces Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
The vicar who is the star of a reality television show in which couples are married as soon as they meet has been criticised for allowing his clerical collar to give respectability to a “seedy” experiment.
The Rev Nick Devenish is one of five experts who selected six strangers to tie the knot in the Channel 4 show Married at First Sight.
The team vicar at the Church of St Mary & St Michael in Cartmel, Cumbria, analysed the participants’ understanding of marriage, what they wanted from their union and how well they understood the seriousness and commitment required. He was part of a panel of experts alongside a sex therapist, a psychologist and two anthropologists.
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev David Walker, accused the show of “inappropriate and rather seedy behaviour” and has said that a Church of England vicar should not have been involved.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Movies & Television Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
...Dodgson’s writing bears subtle witness to the wonders of both creation and its creator in ways that deserve more attention. He was a committed, lifelong member of the Church of England. Although he balked at taking Holy Orders, he was ordained as a deacon in the church in 1861.
While his doctrinal views parted ways with those of his high church ancestors (his great-grandfather had been a bishop and his father a clergyman), Dodgson shied from the religious controversies plaguing the church at the time, remaining essentially what would have been considered orthodox.
“Most assuredly I accept to the full the doctrines you refer to — that Christ died to save us, that we have no other way of salvation open to us but through His death, and that it is by faith in Him, and through no merit of ours, that we are reconciled to God,” Dodgson wrote in a letter to a friend in 1897, “and most assuredly I can cordially say, ‘I owe all to Him who loved me, and died on the Cross of Calvary.'”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Children History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * International News & Commentary Africa Sudan --South Sudan * South Carolina * Theology
The Rev. Brian Baker, dean of Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento, California, and a member of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council, said that other than “the ick factor,” there was nothing to prevent Episcopalians from participating in the Urban Death Project. Given the importance of environmentalism to his congregation, he wouldn’t be surprised to see it gain traction.
“This is much better stewardship of the Earth and human resources and land than putting up a cement crypt and a coffin that obligates people to care for it,” he said. “We’re not a doctrinal church. It’s not like a church body would say yes or no, it’s more like Episcopalians do it and so it becomes church practice.”
Muslims wanting to participate in the Urban Death Project may hit some theological obstacles. In Islam, while burial in a shroud and natural decomposition are consistent with the Urban Death Project’s model, its compost harvesting might be seen as disinterment, considered a forbidden mutilation of the body. Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that scholars may be able to argue around the issue.
Read it all from Slate.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Energy, Natural Resources * Theology Anthropology Eschatology Ethics / Moral Theology
What Christ thinks of the church--Read it all.
This is a must-not-miss as far too many do not know of this story of Saint John in his elder years--KSH.
Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For when, after the tyrant's death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring territories of the Gentiles, to appoint bishops in some places, in other places to set in order whole churches, elsewhere to choose to the ministry some one of those that were pointed out by the Spirit.
7. When he had come to one of the cities not far away (the name of which is given by some ), and had consoled the brethren in other matters, he finally turned to the bishop that had been appointed, and seeing a youth of powerful physique, of pleasing appearance, and of ardent temperament, he said, 'This one I commit to you in all earnestness in the presence of the Church and with Christ as witness.' And when the bishop had accepted the charge and had promised all, he repeated the same injunction with an appeal to the same witnesses, and then departed for Ephesus.
8. But the presbyter taking home the youth committed to him, reared, kept, cherished, and finally baptized him. After this he relaxed his stricter care and watchfulness, with the idea that in putting upon him the seal of the Lord he had given him a perfect protection.
9. But some youths of his own age, idle and dissolute, and accustomed to evil practices, corrupted him when he was thus prematurely freed from restraint. At first they enticed him by costly entertainments; then, when they went forth at night for robbery, they took him with them, and finally they demanded that he should unite with them in some greater crime.
10. He gradually became accustomed to such practices, and on account of the positiveness of his character, leaving the right path, and taking the bit in his teeth like a hard-mouthed and powerful horse, he rushed the more violently down into the depths.
11. And finally despairing of salvation in God, he no longer meditated what was insignificant, but having committed some great crime, since he was now lost once for all, he expected to suffer a like fate with the rest. Taking them, therefore, and forming a band of robbers, he became a bold bandit-chief, the most violent, most bloody, most cruel of them all.
12. Time passed, and some necessity having arisen, they sent for John. But he, when he had set in order the other matters on account of which he had come, said, 'Come, O bishop, restore us the deposit which both I and Christ committed to you, the church, over which you preside, being witness.'
13. But the bishop was at first confounded, thinking that he was falsely charged in regard to money which he had not received, and he could neither believe the accusation respecting what he had not, nor could he disbelieve John. But when he said, 'I demand the young man and the soul of the brother,' the old man, groaning deeply and at the same time bursting into tears, said, 'He is dead.' 'How and what kind of death?' 'He is dead to God,' he said; 'for he turned wicked and abandoned, and at last a robber. And now, instead of the church, he haunts the mountain with a band like himself.'
14. But the Apostle rent his clothes, and beating his head with great lamentation, he said, 'A fine guard I left for a brother's soul! But let a horse be brought me, and let some one show me the way.' He rode away from the church just as he was, and coming to the place, he was taken prisoner by the robbers' outpost.
15. He, however, neither fled nor made entreaty, but cried out, 'For this did I come; lead me to your captain.'
16. The latter, meanwhile, was waiting, armed as he was. But when he recognized John approaching, he turned in shame to flee.
17. But John, forgetting his age, pursued him with all his might, crying out, 'Why, my son, do you flee from me, your own father, unarmed, aged? Pity me, my son; fear not; you have still hope of life. I will give account to Christ for you. If need be, I will willingly endure your death as the Lord suffered death for us. For you will I give up my life. Stand, believe; Christ has sent me.'
18. And he, when he heard, first stopped and looked down; then he threw away his arms, and then trembled and wept bitterly. And when the old man approached, he embraced him, making confession with lamentations as he was able, baptizing himself a second time with tears, and concealing only his right hand.
19. But John, pledging himself, and assuring him on oath that he would find forgiveness with the Saviour, besought him, fell upon his knees, kissed his right hand itself as if now purified by repentance, and led him back to the church. And making intercession for him with copious prayers, and struggling together with him in continual fastings, and subduing his mind by various utterances, he did not depart, as they say, until he had restored him to the church, furnishing a great example of true repentance and a great proof of regeneration, a trophy of a visible resurrection.
(From Eusebius which may be found there [III.23]).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Theology Christology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
3) The overly simplistic false dichotomy
At least one a week. Social media is for provocation and retweets, not nuance or thoughtfulness....!
8) Never let on how hard Mondays are
Your people need not know that by 9:00 AM every Monday you are a hairs breadth away from sending in your resignation letter. Nope. Just post a Bible bomb instead (but leave off the first part of the verse about God’s anger).
Read them all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture * General Interest Humor / Trivia
The Revd Dr Andrew Atherstone, Welby’s biographer, says Church growth is the ‘golden thread’ that ties all the reforms together. Welby, he says, wants people to see that decline is ‘not inevitable’. In Africa and China churches are booming. ‘Globally, church growth is normal,’ he says. Welby, he suggests, is ‘very optimistic about turning the Church of England around’.
Yet Atherstone admits that Welby’s tendency to focus on numbers ‘makes some in the C of E nervous’. One Church observer says the reason clergy are panicky about the reforms is that they seem ‘very bottom line — if you can’t get more punters in then you’ve failed’.
Atherstone suggests Welby wants the Church to be more entrepreneurial. The change to dioceses’ funding is intended to encourage that. Instead of the old model of one vicar looking after his medieval parish, the idea is to fund projects that no one has yet tried. Welby, says Atherstone, thinks the Church is too ‘safety-conscious’, smothering start-ups in paperwork.
Critics, on the other hand, say the reforms are merely depressing the workforce. Talented young clergy are ‘in despair’, they say — head office doesn’t seem to grasp what their ministry is really about.
Read it all from the Spectator.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
In the mid-20th century many Anglican Church of Canada parishes joined their mainline and evangelical neighbours in creating tightly-focused programs for even the tiniest demographics. Now, many parishes are tearing down those walls between ages and stages, hoping to bind up scattered, sometimes shattering church communities.
The 20th century craze to split the church into demographic segments was a profound departure from Judeo-Christian tradition. Jesus grew up in a Jewish community where the generations nurtured each other’s faith — in fact, young Jesus was so caught up learning from his elders at the temple in Jerusalem that he let Mary and Joseph start for home without him. The Apostle Paul mentored his spiritual son, Timothy, in ministry; he also instructed older men and women to be good examples and to mentor younger people in faith.
Sadly, segmentation – intended to keep kids, youth, young adults, or even seniors in church – may cut off them off from each other and the worshiping life of the church. This leaves youth with “no sense of what it means to be a mature adult Christian living out a life of faith in the Church,’’ writes the Rev. Valerie Michaelson, pastoral associate and Queen’s Chaplain at St. James’ Anglican Church, Kingston, Ont., in “How to Nurture Intergenerational Community in Your Church,” posted on the Wycliffe College Institute of Evangelism website. It also deprives adults and seniors the opportunity to understand and mentor younger members of the church, say advocates of intergenerational ministry.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Youth Ministry * Culture-Watch Aging / the Elderly Children Marriage & Family * Theology Pastoral Theology
Christians claim to believe the Bible is God's Word. We claim it's God's divinely inspired, inerrant message to us. Yet despite this, we aren't reading it. A recent LifeWay Research study found only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. Over 40 percent of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible—essentially the same number who read it every day.
Because we don't read God's Word, it follows that we don't know it. To understand the effects, we can look to statistics of another Western country: the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom Bible Society surveyed British children and found many could not identify common Bible stories. When given a list of stories, almost 1 in 3 didn't choose the Nativity as part of the Bible and over half (59 percent) didn't know that Jonah being swallowed by the great fish is in the Bible.
British parents didn't do much better. Around 30 percent of parents don't know Adam and Eve, David and Goliath, or the Good Samaritan are in the Bible. To make matters worse, 27 percent think Superman is or might be a biblical story. More than 1 in 3 believes the same about Harry Potter. And more than half (54 percent) believe The Hunger Games is or might be a story from the Bible.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Theology Christology Theology: Scripture
..[The] understanding that ordained ministry is a vocation, a calling from God, challenges the contemporary understanding of authority in at least three senses. First, if vocation is a calling from God it is not based on our own self-importance or charismatic capabilities. As Jesus told his apostles, we do not choose this office; Jesus chooses us. Second, because ordained ministry is a divine calling, ordained clergy are answerable to God for their charges. Jesus says in Matthew 18:6, “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” In the pastoral letters, the apostle Paul gives instructions to his own delegates Timothy and Titus about just how important their responsibilities are to their congregations. Finally, because ordination is a vocation from God, ordained clergy always need to be aware that they are responsible not to deliver their own opinions to their congregation, but God’s own word. Quoting again the passage from Jeremiah, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jer. 1:10).
Jared and Rebecca each affirm this morning: “I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and therefore I hold myself bound to conform my life and ministry thereto, and do solemnly engage to conform to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of Christ as this Church has received them.” It is because vocation means that clergy have to deliver a divine word and not their own subjective opinions that the church requires this confession.
Rebecca and Jared understand well the importance of vocation to ministry. I am going to relate an event that most of you probably do not know about. Before Naomi was born, Jared and Rebecca invited some special friends to their home to help them assess whether they indeed had a joint vocation to ordained ministry. I was invited along with my wife Jennie. Our friend and faculty member Martha Giltinan was there. Rebecca’s parents and her youngest sister were there along with two fellow students, Noel and Greg Pfeiffer-Collins. We talked, we prayed, and Martha in particular laid hands on Rebecca and prayed for her unborn child, whose name we did not yet know would be Naomi. I am sure that night meant a lot to Rebecca and Jared, but it also meant a lot to me that they placed such trust in us. I truly wish that our dear friend Martha could be here to see the fruition of that evening, but her namesake is here, in Jared and Rebecca’s youngest daughter, named after Martha.
Read it all.
How we develop and prepare some of those who have wide responsibilities in leadership is both demanding and potentially prophetic as regards the world around. Our interest is in discerning and developing God's gifts and graces in his people. Let me just say, given a couple of the questions that came up last night: that we're committed to nurturing vocation across the whole of God's people, regardless of sexuality and regardless of whether lay or ordained.
The FAOC report shows that leadership needs preparation: in prayer, in theology, in skills of every day matters, in collaborative working, in interpreting the times, in safeguarding, in how to ensure that what the church discerns as necessary, the church does. We must have a system that is pastorally sensitive for those being formed, self-consciously inclusive of all those we too easily exclude, and ensures that those being considered for appointment in posts of wide responsibility are from all areas of the church, and are diverse especially in the areas of major weakness: BAME people and gender balance, disability and others. Our theology and practice must challenge inherited or widely accepted bad models through prayer and also theological thinking.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Scripture
Where do we find the antidote to fear? Where do we find the capacity to be prophets of grace and hope, joyful, fervent and clear against injustice in a world of martyrdom and torture, or of inequality and greed? Even in the days of William Temple, his call to a different model of life was ignored, mocked and opposed by the government of the time, when he brought before them the needs of the poor. The language of opposition was the same as today.
Few of us like criticising; we know that, thank God, we have much to praise in our society, much for which to give thanks, under governments of all colours now and for years past. Yet, under this and every government the church is constantly called to a loving critique of the secular powers.
Temple asked what right has the church to speak? So how do we keep our nerve, and find the way to overcome our fears and inhibitions, in love but also with passion for the poor, for the environment, for justice, for the lost, how do we obey the Spirit who sent Amos and John the Baptist?
The answer is found in that great reading of the hymn of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics
Yesterday, Felix, a special touch was felt by you as a number of us surrounded you and placed our hands on your head. If you have a recollection of someone pressing your ear, that was me! That moment of ordination was not a kind of mysterious masonic initiation ceremony but an incorporation in an apostolic calling that, wonderfully, takes us back to the very times of the Lord.
Just over fifty years ago, the great Austin Farrer, surely one of the greatest Anglican theologians of the 20th century, preached at the Ordination of a priest and used these words:
‘Here before you is a new made priest; and what does he do? What place does he hold in the mighty purposes of God? The answer is before you. He is not special in himself, he is special because the sacraments are special. Apples don’t drop from the sky, they grow on apple trees. And sacraments don’t hurtle down here, they grow on the great planting tree of the Apostles’ ministry; the tree planted by Christ when he called twelve men and made them his ambassadors; a tree which has grown and spread and thrown its arms out through history. So, a priest is a living stem, bearing sacraments as its fruit, to give you the body and blood of Christ. And that’s not all, the man who bears the sacrament is sacramental himself. He is, one might almost say, a walking sacrament’.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Sacramental Theology
When Bishop William White of Philadelphia became a bishop in 1787, he was No. 2 in the Episcopal Church's chain of apostolic succession.
When Bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2003 -- the first openly gay, noncelibate Episcopal bishop -- he was No. 993. This fact was more than a trivia-game answer during a recent sermon that represented a triumphant moment both for Robinson and his church's liberal establishment.
Standing on White's grave before the altar of historic Christ Church, the former New Hampshire bishop quipped that he did "feel a little rumble" when he referenced the recent Episcopal votes to approve same-sex marriage rites. But Robinson was convinced White was not rolling over in his grave.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Marriage & Family Psychology Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
I received news last night that Bishop Terry (Terence) Kelshaw met His Savior face-to-face in the early dawn of yesterday after being diagnosed with wide-spread cancer. For those who knew him, you will appreciate God’s kindness in letting his earthly life end on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day as the birds sang at sunrise in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For Bishop Terry, this was the perfect day to die. Above all that he was in this life, he was a Sunday kind of man.
Bishop Terry loved the Church. He loved her when she was dressed up and beautiful. When she was big and accomplished. When she sang loudly and when she wept silently. When she was wounded and suffering. When she was sorrowful and ragtag. When she was many, when she was few and when she was just one. Bishop Terry loved the Church.
No one knew this lavish love more than the people of St. James Anglican Church who Bishop Terry came to lead in a critical time in our history. Our rector had just left following a fall from leadership which devastated our formerly successful congregation.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Theology Pastoral Theology
Downing Street has today announced the appointments of two new Bishops in the Diocese of London. The Revd Rob Wickham, Hackney Area Dean and Rector of St John at Hackney, is to become the new Bishop of Edmonton and the Revd Ric Thorpe, the Bishop of London’s Adviser for Church Planting and Rector of St Paul’s Shadwell, is to become the new Bishop of Islington. In addition, the Bishop of London has confirmed that Prebendary John Hawkins will become the new Archdeacon of Hampstead.
Commenting on the three senior appointments, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO, said:
“Rob brings to the London team an enormous amount of experience and, in his eight years in Hackney, he has helped to provide a distinctive Christian contribution to the regeneration of his community. He will be well supported by John as Archdeacon of Hampstead, who has already experienced serving in an archidiaconal role in the area. They will form a highly effective partnership when they take up their roles in the autumn.
“As Bishop of the revived See of Islington, Ric will expand on his important work to date, supporting those involved in new Christian ventures, as well as applying the lessons learned for pioneers in training. He will harvest and share experience of church growth strategies as well as supporting people beyond the Diocese who are interested in the London experience.”
Read it all.
R S Thomas, who died in 2000, was a priest and a poet, described as lacking charity and patience, and known for his crabbiness, his poetry however captures some of the realities around about life and faith, about pondering some of the deeper things of life, as we do in a service such as this one.
I wonder whether you have had a Romeo or Juliet moment? Balancing gravel in your hand, throwing it up at a window, wondering if it will be heard? Maybe it actually happened for you, the window really and literally opened and someone responded to your voice. Or, maybe sometime in your life, you have called out, perhaps in prayer, just wondering if anyone is there at all.
The poem is an illustration of faith in most of our lives today, some of us detecting the slight movement of a curtain, be it a hunch, a mysterious coincidence or a curious inquisitiveness to push at the door, or throw that stone up at the window, just to see what might happen.
Today, that curtain has moved that bit more noticeably for all of us as we observe faith in action. As these candidates respond to God’s call on their lives by being ordained. 25 being ordained in services here today, and of many hundreds being ordained across the country over the last few weeks.
Read it all.
The Catholic Church in England and Wales is turning to the pioneer of the Alpha course to inspire parishes to evangelise.
The Revd Nicky Gumbel, vicar at the Holy Trinity Brompton church in South Kensington, London, is due to address 850 diocesan representatives at Proclaim ’15, a national Catholic evangelisation gathering in Birmingham on Saturday.
The Alpha course is a 10-week introduction to Christianity borne out of the charismatic Evangelical movement and is now used by more Catholic churches worldwide than Anglican ones.
Clare Ward, home mission adviser to the bishops’ conference said Mr Gumbel had been invited to help parishes shift their mentality “from maintenance to mission”.
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Contrast this statement with another, from January 1963. [Maxie] Dunnam, then a young pastor in Mississippi, invited three other Methodist pastors to his river camp in order to draft “Born of Conviction,” a historic challenge to Jim Crow amid one of its darkest moments. Only a few months before, rioting had broken out when James Meredith became the first black student to enroll at the University of Mississippi. A few months later, a white supremacist shot and killed Mississippi NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers (whose wife would later honor Dunnam).
“Born of Conviction” cited the official Methodist teaching that all men were equal, denounced resegregation under the cover of Christian schooling, and rejected the charge that the civil rights movement was Communist. Several of the twenty-eight Methodist pastors who subsequently signed the statement were forced to leave the state. Some received death threats.
The distance between Dunnam's statement in 1963 and [Bill] Mefford's in 2015 provides another measure of the loss of moral seriousness in mainline social justice activism. The comparison is not, I think, an altogether unfair one. Mefford's official position makes it impossible to dismiss his comments as the mere product of one man's glibness, rather than to admit them as evidence of a church bureaucracy that has lost touch with scripture, tradition, and the believers it purports to represent.
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A number of chaplains were notified via text message the night of June 17 that there was a mass shooting, at least eight dead and an active shooter situation.
“Are you available?” said Spike Coleman, a chaplain of five years, of the text message. “We didn’t know exactly where it was. Rich (Robinson) was getting more information and then because it was an active shooter situation, Rob (Dewey) was making sure it was safe for us to be there.”
Dewey is senior chaplain of Coastal Crisis Chaplaincy and Robinson is deputy senior chaplain. Robinson said like in so many other tragedies, what he was doing the night he found out about the shooting is forever ingrained in his mind.
“I was looking at my bedspread getting ready for bed when the text came in and I immediately dropped the phone and started getting dressed again,” he said.
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...in the wake of the 5-4 Obergefell decision by Justice Anthony Kennedy and the U.S. Supreme Court, the Chicago Tribune has followed up with a news report about Reardon that does a good job of describing his decision, yet does little to dig into the thoughts and beliefs of those who either oppose or dismiss his strategy. Consider, for example, this passage in which an Orthodox bishop seems to echo, in reverse, some of Reardon's thinking:
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, said he doesn’t foresee such a boycott in Chicago. He even questions whether it’s legal.
“I can’t imagine any of our priests doing that,” he said. “It hasn’t happened yet and I don’t anticipate it happening to make a political statement,” he said.
That's a really important quote.
I would stress that this statement by a Greek Orthodox bishop in no way represents an endorsement of Obergefell, but it clear indicates that there will be theological and legal debates ahead – inside Eastern Orthodoxy in this land and in other sanctuaries – about how priests should handle this clash between state and church.
In other words, this quote should have been near the top of the Tribune report and backed with more material explaining, on the record when possible, the views of those – in Orthodoxy and elsewhere – who have rejected Reardon's strategy.
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Senior Anglican leaders have responded to a move by the Presbyterian Church in NSW to consider ministers handing back their marriage licences if marriage is redefined to include same-sex couples.
Kevin Murray, the moderator of the NSW Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, wrote to churches about debate at the annual assembly in Sydney last week.
“The Assembly considered what the church should do if marriage is redefined in Australia. It decided to ask the General Assembly of Australia to withdraw the whole church from the Marriage Act, so that our ministers could no longer solemnise marriages under the Marriage Act.” Mr Murray said. “The report which recommended this decision argued that if the Federal Government were to redefine marriage to include same-sex marriage then it would corrupt a good gift of God into a wrong. That would mean that ministers would then be acting for the government in a system which did not reflect the biblical view of marriage. In this case the positive reason for our co-operation with the Marriage Act would have been removed, and we would be better to avoid association with evil by no longer acting as celebrants.”
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Terry Kelshaw as he was then known was my teacher of pastoral theology at Trinity School for Ministry back in the mid 1980's. He was tirelessly energetic and went out of his way to be encouraging, especially to me.
My understanding is that he died yesterday at his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, surrounded by his family and prayer.
An interesting and mostly unnoticed part of Bishop Kelshaw's ministry in 2014 is described here--KSH.
I think the key takeaway is the following two sentences:
It remains to be seen whether or not the issue of women’s ordination can be resolved in any direction beyond the status quo, apart from making judgments about these divergent views, thereby further defining holy orders for the whole church. The bishops and church will need to consider the tension between the values of liberty and unity in this regard.Read it all.
I am left with the sense that in many ways Nicholson’s own life stopped that day. Faith, career and marriage all ended soon afterwards and for years after the bombings she would take the train from Bristol to London, travel to Edgware Road Tube station and stare into the tunnel where her daughter died.
She says she will never forgive Mohammad Sidique Khan, her daughter’s killer. How does she feel when she sees a picture of him today?
“There’s a moment in the film when Emily Watson, as me, throws a bottle of wine at the television screen when his face appears on it. I feel that I could still throw that wine.”
Early in our conversation, while discussing her writing and what it has brought her, I clumsily use the word “catharsis”. Nicholson interrupts: “I wouldn’t call it that. After catharsis there is a sense of renewal and I don’t feel renewed. I’m still grieving deeply. I will be until I take my last breath.”
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Amongst Princess Charlotte’s own ancestors, now buried in the Holy Land, is a saint, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, whose life was one of transparent beauty and death one of beautiful courage and service. In her life she forgave the man who killed her husband. At her cruel murder she continued to care for those suffering with her. It is of such beauty that Jesus speaks when he talks of being great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Such beauty of character begins with baptism, and is established in the habits of following and loving Jesus Christ, habits to be learned from parents and God parents, and the whole community of the church.
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Known as the “red carpet curate” for his appearance at glitzy film and theatrical premieres, he wants to make the church relevant to creatives struggling with life and their spirituality.
We meet in a public relations office in Soho, the heart of London’s theatreland. (The PR executives are donating their time for free.) His dog collar is accessorised with a bright blue jacket, bowler hat and a multicoloured scarf. The flamboyance reflects his vivacious and garrulous personality. “I am groovy. I am theatrical. I am loud,” he says, redundantly. “I love people. Not everyone gets me.” Yet, he says, he is also a “contemplative soul”.
It is the larger ambition that is so arresting. For Rev Feital is on a mission to create a social enterprise — called the Haven — in central London. This is part of the Diocese of London’s strategy, Capital Vision 2020, which aspires to reach new people and engage with the creative arts to find fresh ways to convey the church’s message. The steering committee is being put in place, which Rev Feital says will include a City investor as well as representatives from the music, film and fashion industries.
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He has been under the watchful eyes of millions of American people across the nation as he took to the pulpit days after the shooting to deliver a Sunday service, as he led services at the murdered parishioners’ funerals, and as he spoke alongside President Barack Obama at the funeral of Pinckney, who was also a state senator.
And although the shooting has quickly grown into a statewide and national debate of the use of the Confederate flag and race relations in general, Goff maintains his church is his first priority.
“Our focus has been the nine families who lost loved ones,” he said. “Those issues may arise and warrant it, especially about the flag, in the arena of ideas and politics, community activists and faith, but in due time. There is a time and place for everything. For us, this is a time to heal. When it comes to the flag, Gov. (Nikki) Haley is to be commended for her position, but there are other things we need to work on. … What’s the common good and the greater good for the community? That’s where I am and where my concern is.”
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In years and decades to come, we’ll remember the last two weeks. The Emanuel A.M.E. massacre, the sudden shift away from the Confederate flag, the Supreme Court’s reaffirmation of the Affordable Care Act and its extension of same-sex marriage to every state. Last Friday there was an awesome funeral service for Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel and one of the victims in the shooting. And all of it while once again black churches have been burning, some under suspicious circumstances.
For all of America’s secularization, actual and expected, each event was resonant with religious significations—and each prompted a wave of public theology. And none more so than Pinckney’s funeral, which saw a small army of clergy, a massive choir, an arena full of mourners, and the president of the United States in the pulpit for the eulogy.
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The bishops agreed to allow clergy to begin offering same-sex marriages using the new rites after Nov. 1. However, no clergy could be compelled to perform a same-sex marriage, and a bishop had the authority to forbid his clergy from celebrating gay marriages.
The former bishop of Virginia, Peter Lee, explained to the bishops in Salt Lake City the accommodation meant that a conservative priest in a liberal diocese would incur no penalty if he refused to perform a same-sex marriage. The priest would, however, have to pass a couple seeking to be married on to another church or priest to perform the ceremony.
Priests in dioceses where the bishop forbid same-sex marriages may not solemnize gay marriages. A priest who did so would be liable for punishment for disobeying the bishop. A diocese that does not perform gay marriages must pass the couple on to another part of the church that permits gay marriage.
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Simmons was a fourth-generation preacher and longtime pastor at several AME churches in South Carolina including: Wayman AME, Pleasant Grove AME, Allen Chapel AME, Greater Zion AME, Friendship AME, Olive Branch AME, St. Stephens AME. He was pastor of St. Luke AME in Hollywood, until his retirement in 2013. Upon his retirement, he joined the ministerial staff of Emanuel AME Church.
Simmons was born in Clarendon County in 1940. He graduated from Palmetto High School in Mullins and received a bachelor’s degree from Allen University, a master’s degree in social work from the University of South Carolina and a master’s in divinity from Lutheran Seminary.
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The young daughters of the slain Emanuel AME pastor Rev. Clementa Pinckney wrote heartbreaking letters to their father. The letters were included in the funeral program distributed Friday during services at the College of Charleston arena, where President Obama eulogized Pinckney.
Thousands of mourners flipped through the programs which included photos of the family smiling. One snapshot shows the older daughter wearing a yellow sun dress; her hair twisted with yellow barrettes. The younger daughter with a pink rose hairclip poses in front of Emanuel AME church.
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Not unworthy of record among these devoted servants of Christ is the name of the Rev. Cornelius Hill. He was the oldest and last of the Oneida Chiefs and from an early age had taken his seat in the Indian Councils. He bore the name of Chief Onon-Gwat-Ga, or Great Medicine, and was one of the most influential in the tribe. He became converted to Christianity, studied at one time at Nashotah, was the interpreter in the Church for many years until the day of his death; was ordained to the diaconate and priesthood by myself; at one time was sent to the General Convention from this Diocese and was ever a most earnest and devoted and faithful Christian and Churchman.
It is owing, in no small measure, to his example and teaching that the tribe has so progressed in temporal civilization and in its spiritual life. There is, as it is well known, no remaining party of heathen on the reservation. The Indians are for the most part loyal and devoted children of the Church.
By their zeal and devotion they are, in many ways, an example to us white Americans. I cannot speak of Father Hill's loving loyalty to myself without much feeling. His name will ever be cherished amongst his people and held in high regard in our Diocese.
Everliving Lord of the universe, our loving God, who raised up thy priest Cornelius Hill, last hereditary chief of the Oneida nation, to shepherd and defend his people against attempts to scatter them in the wilderness: Help us, like him, to be dedicated to truth and honor, that we may come to that blessed state thou hast prepared for us; through Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, in glory
Hours before first light, they began to line up along Marion Square for what is anticipated to be among the most historic days in Charleston’s long history.
The Rev. Curtis Capers of Summerville was among those first in line when he showed up at 3:30 a.m. Just three hours later, the line would extend from Calhoun Street, up Meeting Street and about 100 yards around on Hutson Street.
Capers, pastor of the Honey Hill Baptist Church in Cottageville, said he came to pay his respects to the Rev. Clementa Pinckney and other victims of last week’s Bible study massacre inside Emanuel AME Church.
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Two South Sudanese pastors whose legal plight is drawing comparisons to Meriam Ibrahim have been isolated by Sudan. They won’t be heard from until next Thursday, when a judge lets them speak in a Khartoum court.
The question is what role American advocacy played in their relocation to a higher-security prison earlier this month.
The families of Yat Michael (imprisoned for six months) and Peter Yen Reith (imprisoned for five months) were denied visitation on June 4. The day before, a vocal New York City pastor had attempted to visit the two Presbyterian pastors. A few days before that, a Virginia-based Christian TV network aired a telephone interview the two pastors gave from prison.
William Devlin, who pastors Infinity Bible Church in the Bronx, has long advocated for American pastors to travel to “hard, dangerous, difficult places” in support of persecuted Christians. Sudan ranks No. 6 among the world’s most difficult places to be a Christian.
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The Rev. Norvel Goff will walk into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church for Bible study keenly aware of the crushing burden now on his shoulders: to be a comforter, a teacher, a man of God and most powerfully, a leader of a church whose heart is heavy with the tragic loss of its senior pastor and eight members.
"Even in the midst of tragedy, we still must press forward, and move forward with the understanding that we can still make this world, this community, and our nation a better place to live by living out our faith, not sitting down on it," Goff said in an interview with The Associated Press.
The 65-year-old Goff was named interim leader of the historic church called "Mother Emanuel" at one of the lowest points in its nearly 200-year history. But the Georgetown, South Carolina, native said the church won't dwell on the past, although the slain included the church's senior minister, state Sen. Clementa Pinckney.
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This case comes hard on the heels of an attempt sponsored by Unite to establish that a beneficed parish priest is employed by his bishop or enjoys the status of a worker, thereby paving the way for unfair dismissal and whistleblowing claims. That was roundly rejected by the Court of Appeal in April. Lord Justice Lewison in his judgment sketched the history of the relationship between church and state and more particularly the jurisdiction of royal or civil courts over clergy from the investiture controversy in the 11th century right through to the establishment of the modern ecclesiastical courts. He appears to have accepted the proposition that employment tribunals could determine such questions as an attack on the balance that has been struck. Similar considerations apply to the Pemberton case, although the legal analysis is distinct.
While many will feel sympathy for Canon Pemberton, it should be remembered that even in the secular field, activities outside the workplace can result in a lawful termination of employment, although rarely. It should also be remembered that when ordained as a priest, he not only took an oath of canonical obedience to his bishop but also declared that he would fashion his own life “according to the way of Christ” and to be “a pattern and example to Christ’s people”.
What that amounts to cannot be a matter of private judgment. Plenty of other homosexual priests have at some cost followed the House of Bishops guidance and previous similar utterances from the hierarchy.
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South Carolinians and residents of the Lowcountry are reeling from the tragic killings that took place in Charleston last week. The actions of Dylann Roof by no means represent the attitudes or beliefs of most Americans or Southerners, but they do highlight the fact that the sin of racism is still with us as a people and a nation. The one bright spot in this otherwise nightmarish event is the way the people of the “Holy City,” both black and white, have come together in a spirit of unity and forgiveness--a testimony to the power of the Christian Gospel. The rioting and acts of violence that have taken place in St. Louis and Baltimore have not occurred in South Carolina, and people everywhere have been awed by our response. Praise the Lord for the spirit of forgiveness and restraint!
However, wounds are still fresh and old battles have been reignited as a result of this tragedy....
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Before he became senior pastor of the Fort Lauderdale congregation, [Tullian] Tchividjian’s church plant, New City, merged with the larger Coral Ridge. Seven months in, a group of church members, headed by Kennedy’s daughter, circulated a petition calling for his removal. Church members voted 69 percent to 31 percent to keep him, but a group of congregants formed a new church in response.
Tchividjian was described by the Miami Herald as a pastor who would focus on specific Bible passages rather than on the news, preferred more contemporary music over the organ, and chose podcasting over broadcasting.
The Hartford Institute for Religion Institute’s database of megachurches lists Coral Ridge as having 1,900 attendees. The church began in 1978 under Kennedy, and its weekly services were televised as the Coral Ridge Hour, reportedly reaching up to 3 million people. Kennedy was a founding board member of Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Moral Majority and developed the popular curriculum “Evangelism Explosion.”
Last year, Tchividjian broke up with the Gospel Coalition, a network of Reformed leaders, over a theological dispute. His popular blog was hosted at TGC and he wrote several books with evangelical publishers Crossway and David C. Cook.
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Harold Washington, 75, expects the sanctuary to host even more newcomers after one shattered the group's sense of peace and security.
"We're gonna have people come by that we've never seen before and will probably never see again, and that's OK," he said Saturday. "It's a church of the Lord, you don't turn nobody down."
Church leaders will try to address the heavy psychological burdens parishioners bring with them.
"I think just because of what people have gone through emotions are definitely heightened, not just in Charleston but with anyone going to church because it is such a sacred place, it is such a safe place," Shae Edros, 29, said after a multiracial group of women sang "Amazing Grace" outside the church Saturday afternoon.
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[The] Rev. Ronnie Elijah Brailsford Sr., pastor, Bethel AME Church, Columbia
“We are a resilient people of faith in God. Why? Because God is with us. Emmanuel means, ‘God is with us.’ We (the AME church) are a people of the Christian faith. We will celebrate 200 years of being formally organized as the AMEC in July of 2016. Nearly 200 years ago, the founding father, Bishop Richard Allen, lead his people courageously through many trials, temptations, tests, threats and dangers. He had to fight to be free and remain free. He had to overcome fears from within and without. He had to overcome racism and bigotry. Yet, with faith in God, he stood strong and boldly.
“So this is not the first time our resolve as a people of faith, whose color happens to be black, has had to withstand difficult and trying times. . . We have come too far to turn around. The power of our love is too strong for hate.
“And our faith is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Thus, we stand. The work of the Lord shall go forward. Why? Because we are the people of Emmanuel. God is with us.”
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Newcastle's Anglican Bishop has fought back tears while apologising for past church cover-ups and the poor handling of complaints about child sexual abuse.
Greg Thompson marked 500 days in the position by saying sorry for "the terrible harm done [by] a culture of not listening".
"If you are a victim or a survivor of abuse I want to encourage you to come forward," he said.
"I want to assure you that when you do share your story the church will believe you and you will be supported in that process.
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The Bishop of Buckingham has described the Church of England's teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman as "a lousy definition".
The Rt Rev Alan Wilson was speaking at a discrimination case brought by Canon Jeremy Pemberton against the Church.
He was refused a licence to work as a hospital chaplain by the then acting bishop of Southwell and Nottingham after he married his partner.
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The Anglican Church of Canada expressed regret on Monday for the "immoral sexual behaviour" of one of its priests and apologized for not publicly disclosing a confession made two decades ago by the B.C.-based priest, who admitted to sexually abusing parishioners.
Gordon Nakayama's case was never reported to the police, but his story was the inspiration for The Rain Ascends, a novel by well-known Canadian author Joy Kogawa who is also the priest's daughter.
The former priest ministered to the Japanese-Canadian community in B.C. and Alberta. During the Second World War, he followed his Japanese-Canadian parishioners from Vancouver to their internment camps.
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Defying the governor, lawmakers here enacted a law on Thursday that allows state court officials to refuse to perform a marriage if they have a “sincerely held religious objection,” a measure aimed at curtailing same-sex unions.
The Republican-controlled House voted 69-41 on Thursday to override a veto by Gov. Pat McCrory, also a Republican, who refused to sign the marriage bill in May. Mr. McCrory said at the time that although he believed that marriage should be between a man and a woman, he vetoed the bill because “no public official who voluntarily swears to support and defend the Constitution and to discharge all duties of their office should be exempt from upholding that oath.”
The State Senate, which is also controlled by Republicans, voted to override Mr. McCrory’s veto on June 1.
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There are other elements to the spirit of the ages, not just disobedience. The spirit of the ages is not spiritual but materialistic. That is why Nicodemus was confused when Jesus said that he must be born again. Nicodemus stated, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” No Nicodemus, being born again is a spiritual birth not a physical birth. People confuse the kingdom of this world for the Kingdom of God. There is a bumper sticker that reminds me of this. “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Really, I believe that he who dies with the most toys is the biggest loser. He is the one who can’t pass through the eye of a needle.
Another element in the spirit of the ages is individualism. There are positive aspects to individualism like someone who does not conform to the pressures of society like Rosa Parks. She refused to go to the back of the bus just because she was black. Individualism in its worst form however is narcissism. Narcissists are people that believe the rest of the world is there to make them happy and to adore them. I think we have helped this along with the self-esteem school program called “I am special”. As Christians we are individuals but members of the body of Christ, the church. We all have spiritual gifts unique to each of us intended for service to other members of the body. Individualism may be one of the most dangerous elements in the spirit of the ages because folks believe that being an individual means they have a right to do whatever they please. Once again, the church is pointed at as discriminating and bigoted because we don't condone behaviors legally engaged in by consenting adults. For example, just because Marijuana is legal does not mean that it is not harmful. As the electronic highway signs state, “Buzzed driving is drunk driving.”
Another element in the spirit of the ages is the loss of Truth....
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A couple of deans have offered measured comments on Richard's blogsite, and the Dean of Liverpool has written a longer, and in my view splendid, response in a blog of his own. In it, he invites Richard to experience for himself the extraordinary diversity of activity in that great cathedral comprehensively including prayer and pilgrimage, outreach, social care, the arts, Christian community and a whole lot else.
I want to ask a few questions of my own.
1. Isn't Richard's concept of how God speaks to human beings a bit selective and narrow? Doesn't God make himself known in an infinite variety of ways, not simply through the spoken word (or even Word)? Cathedrals are numinous sacred spaces that speak of the divine not only through their buildings but also in the life and activity of their communities: daily prayer and worship, music and the arts, a common life of love and service, all of which play a part in building up the people of God and communicating faith.
2. Doesn't Richard underestimate the key role liturgy plays in speaking of faith? Wesley called the eucharist 'a converting ordinance'. Paul says that the breaking of bread is to 'show forth the Lord's death until he comes' - show forth being a strong, outward-facing missionary word. He wants the church's worship to be so compelling that guests coming in from outside have no choice but to conclude that 'God is among you'. The huge investment of care that goes into cathedral worship is at the heart of our witness to the gospel. People have been converted through coming to midweek choral evensong. (You don't believe me?)
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Dear Ms. Eleanor Maxine and the Family, Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It is with great sadness that we received the news of the passing of the Lay Canon Kodwo E. Ankrah of the Church of the Province of Uganda, a native of Anomabu, Ghana.
I write to express my sincere condolences as well as those of the World Council of Churches. The Canon was respected and beloved among you, the Church of the Province of Uganda and his childhood Methodist Church in Ghana but also within the ecumenical movement, through his leadership in the Christian Council of Ghana, the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World Council of Churches. A true “sojourner” in his own words in transit from Ghana to Uganda from 1970s to the time he was called to the eternal home on Friday 29th May 2015.
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(The Dear Deans letter to which this responds may be found here--KSH).
Now, Liverpool Cathedral is not perfect. Your piece is a challenge to me. What might we do better, where are we falling short and failing to make the most of the opportunities which the Lord is presenting to us? But nor is Liverpool Cathedral unique! Here’s the thing: in its inherited tradition, ours probably is the most Evangelical of all the Cathedrals in England. I guess it is, anyway – though we now manage that in an intentionally non-partisan, non-tribal way, delighting in the contributions of the Anglo-Catholic and liberal bits of the CofE. But given that Evangelical inheritance, maybe I’ve found a greater appetite for evangelism here than I might have found if I had been appointed Dean anywhere else. But I can assure you that when I am talking to my fellow Deans about what’s going on here, I absolutely don’t encounter sniffy contempt. Not one bit. They rejoice with me, and sometimes I think they’re a bit wistful on account the scope which both our architecture and our long tradition gives us. Because, for all your frustration, the fact is that the Deans do understand and embrace the missionary challenge we face. Of course, the mission is understood differently in different places – you’d expect that in the Church of England. You’re surely not asking for every Cathedral to be an outpost of HTB.
Here, by the way, is an excerpt from the report which Vivienne Faull, the Dean of York, has just given (as its Chair) at the annual meeting of the Association of English Cathedrals. (I don’t have her permission to quote from it, but I think she’d be delighted if it reaches a wider audience!) She cites some recent research to be published imminently by Grace Davey which ‘will show how cathedrals are an important means by which the passive majority becomes acquainted with the forms of religion performed by the active minority… The location of cathedrals on the border between the religious and the secular enhances this capacity. She goes on, ‘many English Anglican cathedrals are working with this liminality with creativity and effectiveness. And towards the end she notes, ‘Many of those who now affiliate to cathedrals have relatively little knowledge of Christian faith, or of the Church of England. Most cathedrals are now offering routes by which newcomers to faith may discover more. Intentional discipleship in cathedrals marks a significant shift away from the assumption that those who worship with us seek anonymity’.
This, I think, is the particular ministry of Cathedrals, and I’m confident all my colleagues know it, value it and want to make the most of it. How we are doing so will differ according to several variables: theological standpoint is only one; architecture and location are significant too. But take heart: there is much effective evangelism taking place. Maybe we could all be making more of precisely the interface you cite, when Choral Evensong meets Tourism Central; but don’t assume that’s the whole deal. And also, give us a break: the Church of England is on a journey, and Cathedrals are on board. You can be sure that the language of mission is more and more mainstream even in Cathedrals and that when the Deans meet to talk, we even talk, at least some of the time, about making Jesus known. We remember that that is what we were ordained to do, I promise.
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SEVERSON: The reality is there are not nearly as many available jobs as pastors as there were even a few years ago. Seminaries and divinity schools have seen a drop in enrollment, and especially in the number of graduates who become pastors. There are several reasons, but the main one is that not as many people are attending mainline churches anymore. So there is less need and less money to afford a pastor. This is Greg Sterling, dean of the Yale Divinity School.
DEAN GREG STERLING (Yale Divinity School): There are about 300,000 congregations and churches in the United States. I don’t know what percentage of those are financially viable in the sense of having the capacity of supporting someone on a full-time basis, but my guess is that the majority are not.
SEVERSON: Yale Divinity School students come from several different denominations. Last year only one-in-five graduates went on to become church pastors. Sixteen percent became chaplains at hospitals and schools. About that many will teach in parochial and independent schools. A majority of the rest go to work for nonprofits, like Steven Masbach. Even as he completes his three-year master’s degree, he’s working for a church organization that builds affordable housing. He has a master’s in real estate development and was arranging financing for rich home buyers, but something was missing.
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Four Methodist bishops. Four denominations. One place. One cause.
“They have sensed the need for leadership and have come to give unity to families across the state who have been impacted by officer-involved shootings,” said The Rev. Dr. Robert Kennedy, pastor of St. Peters African Methodist Episcopal Church in North Charleston.
ennedy stood Wednesday night at the head of his North Charleston church, packed with hundreds, and introduced The Rt. Rev. Richard Franklin Norris, presiding bishop of the Seventh Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; The Rt. Rev. Kenneth Monroe, presiding bishop of the South Atlantic Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; The Rt. Rev. James B. Walker, presiding bishop of the Seventh Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; and the Rt. Rev. Lewis Jonathan Holston, presiding bishop of the S.C. Conference of the United Methodist Church.
“We come tonight to make a plea for liberty for minorities who are not always treated fairly,” he said, adding that while there are good cops, there are also those who make poor decisions on the job and something needs to be done.
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As an undergraduate at a men’s college, I am constantly bombarded with the culture’s view on sex. Guys see how many times a week they can “score” as though sex were a sport and women the ball being tossed around. Once, a drunken classmate of mine, walking toward his room with a girl he had just met at a party, told me, “Don’t worry, bud. You’ll get there one day.” The implication, of course, was that I would one day have the exciting opportunity to “hook up” with a stranger.
Sadly, in spite of my Christian upbringing, no one ever told me what was wrong with the hook up culture. In fact, sex before marriage was encouraged by much of my Christian family and by the unanimous agreement of my Christian friends, who both mentioned preventing unwanted pregnancies, but never voiced the option of abstinence. What is worse, I never heard about the topic of sex in church. It was not until my involvement with a Christian campus ministry that I heard someone speak against premarital sex using biblical teaching.
This being my experience, I urge the Church, particularly parents raising children in the Church, to speak out on this issue and embrace the God’s intention for sex. Parents, do not make your child wait until he is a legal adult to hear about it from someone else. Talking about it may be awkward, but it could save your child from making a huge mistake and dealing with a lifetime of baggage for it.
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When doctors recommended radiation treatment for my thyroid cancer, they explained the treatment’s side effects. I’d have a very sore throat and lose my voice for about six weeks. I was astounded. What? Lose my voice for six weeks? I’m a pastor! How would I cope?
Challenging days were ahead, not only for me, but also for my congregation. We trust in God, but truly did not know how God would meet our needs during this time. Our little church could not afford to pay for pulpit supply—the members had already paid for three weeks of pastors when I had surgery.
I shared my story with the board of deacons. After time for prayer and discernment, the deacons decided that they would be the pastor’s voice during this time. Six weeks—six deacons—yes, we could do it. The six weeks would cover the season of Advent through Epiphany. We traditionally light the candle on the Advent wreath each Sunday during this season, so we developed themes of hope, love, joy, and peace to go with the candle of the week. The deacons, and sometimes their spouses, signed up for the week of their choice.
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Listen to it all. You can read a bit about Russ Parker here.
A leading witch and herbalist shared a Church of England platform last night with other women religious leaders including the Presiding Bishop of the US Episcopal Church and Gogglebox tv vicar Rev Kate Bottley.
Helene Mobius, who heads the prison chaplain ministry of the Pagan Federation, challenged stereotypes of women at the event, the latest in the Westminster Faith Debates series at London's liberal flagship church, St James's Piccadilly.
The Pagan Federation and the Druid Network have recently become fully-fledged members of Britain's religious establishment, having been voted into the Inter Faith Network UK as a body representative of its community.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
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During my time in seminary I took a leadership course taught by the late, great Howard Hendricks. As we studied the life of David, Hendricks shared a study he conducted with a group of men in full-time ministry who had fallen into a morally disqualifying sin.
At the time, I had only been a Christian for a few years, but unfortunately the subject was all too relevant. During my early days I had witnessed several men whom I loved and respected fall into serious sinful compromise. At one point in those days, the falls came so frequently I felt as if I was on the spiritual beach of Normandy watching buddies’ lives get blown apart all around me.
The study examined 246 men in full-time ministry who experienced moral failure within a two-year period. As far as Hendricks could discern, these full-time clergy were born-again followers of Jesus. Though they shared a common salvation, these men also shared a common feat of devastation; they had all, within 24 months of each other, been involved in an adulterous relationship.
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“The diocese wasn’t overwhelmingly pleased with it,” he said. “I’m not sure of whether it was a perceptual issue or whether [the bishop] figured he invested 12 years of education in me and didn’t want to lose it too quick in a motorcycle accident. But the diocese has never been completely at ease with my being a biker.”
His parishioners, he says, believe otherwise. The pastor often cites his motorcycle experiences in his homilies, attempting to convey the Scriptures so that they will relate in the modern world.
“I tell them weather reports are very important to motorcycle riders. If you’re going to be out for a couple of hours, you can’t just look out the window. What’s it going to be like two hours from now when I come back? There’s a 50 percent chance of rain, but if it rains, you get 100 percent wet,” he said.
“So the Lord tells you, ‘not the day nor the hour.’ You know, the odds may be 50 percent that you’re not going to get caught doing something wrong. But if you get caught doing something wrong, you’re 100 percent guilty.”
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Alice Hargreaves, nee Liddell died in 1934 aged 82 and is buried at Lyndhurst, Hants.
She inspired the author – a friend of her family – to write about a girl who fell down a rabbit hole to entertain her and her sisters when she was a child.
The book, which has since been published in more than 170 languages and adapted for the big screen, first came about on a rowing trip they all took together.
Ann Rogers, warden at St Michael and All Angels Church where the grave is, said: “We get lots of visitors to see Alice’s grave - every day there’s a family struggling to find it in the church grounds...."
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Just over a year ago Lichfield diocese agreed to pilot a fresh approach. 60 people, lay and ordained, gathered one morning in Stafford to think about how to get people talking about death, dying and funerals. They went away to try out a new concept: GraveTalk, with 35 parishes setting up café-style events. Each event involves setting up a space to look like a café, where refreshments are served. People gather in small groups at tables. Conversations are started through a pack of 52 specially written questions covering a wide range of topics, ranging from attitudes to death to personal experiences.
There are no answers, just a space to talk. Facilitators, lay or ordained, make sure the event is running smoothly – and there is always ‘tea and cake’. The trial was researched in partnership with the University of Staffordshire, and the results were overwhelmingly positive: when we make the time and the space, people will talk.
One vicar who piloted GraveTalk said:
“I gave it to them and I went and made coffee while they started discussing it. And I just couldn’t shut them up. When I came to draw them to a conclusion, they wanted to carry on. They thought it was absolutely brilliant. I was really surprised.”
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After the accident, it was revealed that leaders from the Diocese of Maryland knew Cook had been arrested for a previous DUI before she was hired as the assistant bishop. They failed to pass that information on to the committee that appointed her.
MONTAGNE: Now, the diocese has appointed a new assistant bishop, who is a recovering alcoholic. Chilton Knudsen has made addiction counseling a key part of her ministry. She took a break from a conference on clergy addiction to talk to us and said her selection was no accident.
CHILTON KNUDSEN: Renee, I'm confident that the Diocese of Maryland came looking for me because they know I'm a publicly acknowledged person in recovery. And so as an ordained person and a recovering person, I have a little palette of skills that I think are uniquely helpful in a situation like the diocese of Maryland has now.
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The United Methodist Church has only 15 years to reverse its decline in the United States if it is to have a sustainable future, an economist warned church leaders.
At the same gathering, the church leaders discussed possible missional goals to address that decline and enhance the global denomination’s ministries around the world.
“By 2030, the denomination in the United States will either have found a way to turn around, meaning it is growing, or its turnaround in the United States is not possible,” Donald R. House Sr. told the May 19 combined meeting of the Connectional Table and the General Council on Finance and Administration board. “By 2050, the connection will have collapsed.”
In other words, he predicted that unless things change soon, the denomination in coming decades will not have enough U.S. churches to pay for its connectional structures. Such structures include conferences, bishops, agencies, missions and international disaster response.
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Be your own size. There are 300 billion stars in our own galaxy and a hundred billion galaxies in the universe. Before you tell everyone not to start the party until you arrive, take in the enormity of that reality and your tiniest part in it. Before you say to someone, “Do you know who I am?” ask yourself, in light of the scale of the universe and its venerable age, “Who exactly am I?” Look at the earth, which you share with so many living beings. Many of the tiny ones scurry and multiply in hidden ways that make it possible for you to breathe, heal, digest, and sleep. Realize how you take for granted that the sun will rise tomorrow. If it wasn’t so, what could you do about it? Your life rests in an ecology that you will never live long enough to comprehend, much less thank.
Be gentle. Remember the physician’s mantra, “First, do no harm.” In the words of William Blake, “We are put on earth a little space, / That we may learn to bear the beams of love.” There is so much that we’ve never even paused to imagine. When we look to right and left, we see others who know as little as we do. People tend to do the best they can with what they have and what they know. A little compassion, a little generosity of heart helps us look to our fellow creatures with gentleness rather than bitterness, anger, or condemnation. How often have you commented on what another person said or did with horror, fury, or scorn, only to find yourself, ten years or ten minutes later, saying or doing the same thing? Be sparing with your scorn, lest it rebound on you and make you lamentable in your own sight.
Be a person of praise and blessing.
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Anglican war chaplains saw terrible things on the Western Front in the First World War and many were hailed as heroes for ministering to dying men amid the shell fire and machinegun bullets in no man’s land. They returned to their pulpits with a righteous anger to change their church and British society.
Linda Parker’s wide-ranging book, Shellshocked Prophets: Former Anglican Army Chaplains in Interwar Britain, tells the story of this brave band of Anglican clergyman — who were awarded around 250 Military Crosses between them — and then helped to transform the church. “Given the changes that occurred in the Church of England institutionally, liturgically and in its attitudes to a rapidly changing society, it is important that the role of former chaplains should be examined and their significance analysed,” says Dr Parker, herself the daughter of a former Territorial Army chaplain.
A harbinger of social change in the church was the Industrial Christian Fellowship founded by the Rev Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, MC,in 1919 to encourage Christians to relate their faith to their working lives. As chief “missioner”, Studdert Kennedy travelled the country evangelising in factories, mines and canteens, and gathered about him a team of other ex-war chaplains.
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With Victorian-style public lectures now a rarity, listening to anyone speak to a crowd, for most of us above school age, occurs only when the best man tells stories of the groom’s indiscretions. “Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking” is as much a case of “unaccustomed as I am to public listening”.
Pity the preacher then, who, as well as the regular Sunday gig, is drafted in for school assemblies, the Women’s Institute and the odd Rotary dinner.
The vicar is charged with delivering something memorable, neither too long nor too short, and not just once in a while, but week in week out. For me, the Sunday sermon looms large enough to make many a Saturday night sleepless. As I step nervously up the pulpit steps I worry that my waffling will leave them uninspired or, worse still, asleep. But while preaching is culturally alien to many, and being “preached at” unappealing to most, it is similar to something we are more used to seeing: standup comedy.
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The Most Rev. Hector “Tito” Zavala, Bishop of Chile and Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Province of South America, made his comments in clear English during a meeting at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul, Charleston, May 20. He said that, despite the Diocese’s separation from the Episcopal Church in 2012, the Diocese continues to be recognized as Anglicans by the majority of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
“I'm here with you with the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury," said Bishop Zavala. He told those gathered that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was with the Global South Primates "Steering Committee" in a meeting in Cairo, Egypt in 2014 when "we decided to establish a Primatial Oversight Council to provide pastoral and primatial oversight to some dioceses in order to keep them within the Communion" said Bishop Zavala.
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Bishop Tito Zavala, Presiding Bishop of South America, was with us at Diocesan Council today, May 19, 2015.
"We are here to know you, to be with you, to say with our presence that we, in the Global South, are with you and want to do the best we can for you so you can continue being part of the Anglican Communion," said Bishop Zavala.
As one of 40 primates of the 80 million member worldwide Anglican Communion, Bishop Zavala will be in South Carolina specifically to encourage and support fellow Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, and the clergy and lay people of the Diocese of South Carolina.
“We’re grateful for the strong support we’ve received from Anglicans around the world and are especially thankful for this time we’ll have with Bishop Zavala,” said the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, XIV Bishop of South Carolina. “The Global South Primates have assured us of their prayers and their stand with us.”
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[THE] REV. WAYNE MEISEL: We have a generation of young people in their 20s and 30s that define themselves by their commitment to service and justice work. The challenge is that many of them, I think most of them, do not believe the church cares about them or the causes they care about. There’s this bubbling fervor and energy and possibility that we just have to figure out how to both tap and how to support, and then for guys like me to get out of the way.
ABERNETHY: Craig Barnes is the president of Princeton Theological Seminary.
CRAIG BARNES (President, Princeton Theological Seminary): Wayne is a fascinating and charismatic kind of leader. He works best kind of on the margins of schools, churches, and organizations, and he’s a visionary. But he doesn’t work through the system. He works with the students themselves, and he excites students, and they become all caught up in his vision of changing the world and thinking that their life can make a real difference. And this is not just happening in Princeton. This is happening in seminaries all over the country. So it’s a phenomenon.
The students are asking different questions in class. Our professors are developing their syllabi differently to account for this passion they have to not just study ethics but to do ethics along the way. These students actually are devoted to loving thy neighbor. And they won’t tolerate any more sitting in class taking notes on wonderful lectures about social responsibility and then folding up their laptops and just going home.
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What does directly touch church life are Pew’s numbers on generational change. Attachment to religion is declining across all age groups, but the rise of the nones is most pronounced among younger cohorts: the younger the age bracket, the less likely people are to belong to any Christian (or other religious) body. And of all Christian groups, mainline Protestants do the worst job at reaching and retaining younger generations.
One practical lesson of the Pew report, then, is on the crucial need for mainliners to focus on passing the faith on to the next generation. Mainliners may need to borrow some of the ethos of evangelical Protestants (who seem to do a better job at this) in equipping families to be primary incubators of faith and in forming identities that are distinct and (in some selective ways) more oppositional toward the culture than they have been.
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3. What are you most looking forward to?
It’s a while off yet, but I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the opportunities for preaching and evangelism. I’m looking forward to meeting the Cathedral church family, getting to know them, the challenges they face and the opportunities they have in living for Jesus. I’m looking forward to meeting those already engaged in gospel work in the city and seeing how we can support one another in advancing the interests of the Lord in ‘that great city’.
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The Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh, the Primate, Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), on Wednesday called on Nigerians and the incoming administration led Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to focus on peace and the unity of the country. Okoh told newsmen in Abuja no development could be achieved in any society without peace and unity. He said the current problem of insurgency, regional and ethnic suspicion in the country was a threat to peace and unity. “Peace is a major capital needed to develop the country and there must be a deliberate policy by the incoming administration to reassure Nigerians of peace and unity....
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Last year, a death penalty sentence slapped on a Sudanese doctor for refusing to renounce her Christian faith stirred international outrage and heightened calls on the government to increase religious liberty.
Meriam Yahya Ibrahim was released a month later, but now two Christian pastors have been jailed and they also face a possible death sentence.
The Rev. Michael Yat and the Rev. Peter Yein Reith, both from the South Sudan Presbyterian Evangelical Church, have been charged with undermining the constitutional system and spying, offenses punishable by death or life imprisonment.
The clerics are charged with waging a war against the state and assault on religious belief.
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Congregations in Yorkshire and the Humber region have the most entertaining services, with 80 per cent able to recall laughing at a clerical quip – just ahead of London, where 77 per cent had heard a decent joke in church. London also has some of the fastest growing churches in Britain.
In the East of England barely half (53 per cent) could do so. The news will be a disappointment to one East Anglian cleric, the Bishop of Norwich, who said recently that the Church should provide an alternative voice to Russell Brand.
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On those who say religion is unnecessary, given humanity's growing scientific knowledge.
I think science and religion are at some point both about big questions of origin and wonder. And I think, for me, I've always felt that it's important for religious people to have the same kind of philosophical stance they use in their religious life as they do in the rest of their life. And a lot of times I think religion — religions — ask people to sort of turn off the scientific part of their lives and just go and kind of think about God kind of pre-scientifically.
I don't think we can do that. We've got to have a faith that is, in some sense, consonant with the way we think about the world scientifically. And again, I think one of the things the Pew study suggests to us is that if the church can get over its anxiety about talking about God in a grown-up way, we would actually reach out to and speak to more people than we do right now.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture Science & Technology Sociology * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology
South of the border, the Church of England already allows clerics to form civil partnerships as long as they claim to be celibate. But the Church of Scotland’s approach does not require celibacy.
The Very Rev David Arnott, who coordinates the General Assembly’s business, said that although the Presbyterian structure of the Church of Scotland is different from that of Anglican churches, he hoped the plan could offer a “template” for the Church of England to consider.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “We are not going to change people’s minds, we have to come to a way of living together with our differences and living with our diversity and I hope that we’re able to do that.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
Earlier last week, the outgoing moderator, the Right Reverend John Chalmers, issued an appeal for calm in the run-up to the debate and also called for a “year of grace”.
During the debate, the Rev Gordon Kennedy from Edin-burgh said: “This has been the greatest cause for the expression of disunity in our church for 170 years. The only fruit this will bear is disharmony and disunity,”
But the Rev Dr Ian Whyte strongly disagreed and said he had witnessed the suffering of gay ministers who felt they had to hide their sexuality.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
This day in the church year—the Sunday in-between the Ascension and Pentecost—is given to us as a reminder of what it means to be a Spirit-filled disciple of Jesus: our life as Spirit-filled disciples is a life of (1) clinging to the Spirit’s testimony about what Christ has accomplished, (2) a life of suffering in the world, and (3) a life of doing good to our neighbors.
First, we cling to the Spirit’s testimony. Today’s prayer anticipates Pentecost, the giving of the Holy Spirit: “Leave us not without consolation but send us the Spirit of truth.” The Holy Spirit’s consolation is precisely in testifying about Jesus.
What are the specifics of the Holy Spirit’s comfort (or, consolation)? The devil and your own conscience will frighten you because of your sins; the world will hate your confession of the faith, your morals and your piety. That you must expect. But the Holy Spirit comforts us by pointing us to Christ. He won’t make your wallet fat, but He will enable you to say, “When I have lost everything—spouse, children, house, car, possessions, reputation, even my own life—yes, when all that is gone, still Jesus Christ for my sake was made man, died and rose again, and ascended into heaven. He is coming at the last day for me. If God’s Son suffered for me, He will certainly not be my enemy. Since He loves me and has given me such great promises, then I have everything” [Adapted from Luther].
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Pentecost Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Ecclesiology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology) Theology: Scripture
Cathy Rion Starr and Heather Rion Starr, the ministers of the Unitarian Society of Hartford since last summer, were reminiscing recently about a conversation early in their friendship, before they had become either romantic partners or co-workers.
“We had some colleagues in common, who were a same-sex couple serving a congregation in California,” Heather Rion Starr said on Tuesday in the office they share at the church. “And I think I said something about, ‘So-and-so and so-and-so are starting a co-ministry — what do you think about that?’ And you said, ‘Oh I would never want to do that. I would never want to spend that much time with someone.’ ”
“And now here we are,” Cathy Rion Starr said of the church, which will hold the couple’s installation ceremony on Sunday.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has voted to allow congregations to ordain gay ministers who are in same sex civil partnerships.
Delegates voted 309 in favour and 183 against.
The vote followed a church-wide debate and consultations with all 45 presbyteries, which voted 31 to 14 in favour of change.
A further vote will be held this week on whether or not to extend ordination to ministers in same sex marriages.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * International News & Commentary England / UK --Scotland * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Presbyterian * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Scripture
....Neuhaus had an extraordinary talent for bringing people together—to discuss, debate, and strategize. He regularly convened intellectually and theologically diverse groups to spend a couple of days discussing topics of interest. (In my own case the topics included, civil religion, multinational corporations, ecumenism, faith and politics, and “culture wars,” among others.)
But the most important of these projects was the 1990 founding of First Things. While Neuhaus had previously edited two similar journals, Worldview and This World, they had each been sponsored by larger foundations, the Carnegie and Rockford Institutes respectively. This time around the journal was Neuhaus’s own, to shape as he wished. And shaped it he did, with great talent and flair, bringing together like-minded writers representing Catholicism, evangelicalism, Orthodoxy and Lutheranism, along with fellow travelers from Judaism and Islam.
First Things was the flagship publication of Neuhaus’s Institute on Religion and Public Life, and the concept of “public life” was foundational to his efforts. Neuhaus always insisted that politics is only one aspect of a larger “public square”—one that makes room, as best it can, for a variety of religious, moral, and communal traditions. Boyagoda reminds us that Neuhaus and Berger actually coined the term “mediating structures,” now commonly used in social science, in their 1977 book To Empower People. That short book (just over 50 pages) showed how a wide range of smaller institutions—families, churches, professional associations, teams, guilds, neighborhood organizations, book clubs, schools—can offer a protective, nurturing space between individual and the power-hungry state.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Politics in General * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Evangelicals Lutheran Roman Catholic * Theology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology
Let’s be honest, most sermons today are terrible. They are boring. They ramble. They sound like bad imitations of high school book reports. Listening to a sermon today is often like listening to the teacher from the old Charlie Brown cartoons. And I believe the reason why preaching has gotten so bad, particularly in liturgical churches, is rather obvious. We do not have good preachers because we do not understand what preaching is for.
Like being a great cello player or a great center fielder, a great preacher is born with a certain degree of raw talent that then must be honed and trained in order for the preacher to reach his or her full potential. But in liturgical churches in the contemporary West, we see preaching as less important than other aspects of ministry. We assume that anyone can be a great preacher and that the honing of preaching skills ought to be relatively low on the clergy’s priority list, something to tend to once all the other fires are put out. We reap what we sow. We treat preaching like it is nothing, and thus it becomes nothing.
What I offer here are a few maxims on what makes great preaching. They are culled from my own experience both as a preacher and as someone who listens to sermons. I am no expert, and this list is nowhere near exhaustive, but it is a start. I hope that others will build on this. “Faith comes through hearing,” Paul says (Romans 10:17). It is no secret that the Church in the West is in decline, and I see no scenario for its revival that does not include a renewal of great preaching.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
The power that comes is to be given away not hung onto; Jesus was no Mugabe clinging to power. There would be no public glory or acclaim, merely hard work and sacrifice, like most of those who serve the church round the world today. I spoke to someone yesterday working for reconciliation in a civil war, whose name will never be known outside the circles of his own friends – yet he carries a cross of suffering for Christ.
Put like that it makes the worst of any recent party manifesto looks like words of gold, to which people would flock by contrast. Few would be elected on the manifesto of Jesus, surely?
Yet the church grew at such a rate, despite opposition and suffering, that 300 years later the Empire that had casually swiped away the life of Jesus with the sort of attention we might give to a mosquito, found itself honouring and converting to the faith. The same disciples who beforehand seem foolish and act only in their own interests, were willing to lay down their lives, confident in the promises of God, the Kingdom of God and the triumph of Christ.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Christology
I am publishing this paper on the further research we plan to do around the Resourcing Ministerial Education (RME) workstream on the day it has been considered by the Ministry Council, which since the RME Task Group finished its work and disbanded just before the February Synod, now holds the responsibility for progressing the task. The paper was shared privately for consultation with a number of stakeholders, including TEI Principals. Somehow or other, a copy has found its way to the press. I guess this is part of the price of consulting .
The paper sets out a significant programme of research over a long period. It recognises that the issues raised by RME are profound and need long term and deep enquiry into the effect of ministerial education in terms of mission and ministry in practice. The Ministry Council has today expressed its commitment to this for a number of reasons.
The first is that, as the RME report acknowledged, the research done within the six or so months available to us in the first stage of the task is initial research and reveals a great deal of scope for further work.
Read it all and follow the link.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
Jesus hasn’t just gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality – our reality and God’s. He has become far more than a visible friend and companion; he has shown himself to be the very centre of our life, the source of our loving energy in the world and the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting God as a loving parent, actively and hopefully at work to make a difference in the world, to make the kind of difference love makes.
So if the world looks and feels like a world without God, the Christian doesn’t try to say, ‘It’s not as bad as all that’, or seek to point to clear signs of God’s presence that make everything all right. The Christian will acknowledge that the situation is harsh, even apparently unhopeful – but will dare to say that they are willing to bring hope by what they offer in terms of compassion and service. And their own willingness and capacity for this is nourished by the prayer that the Spirit of Jesus has made possible for them.
The friends of Jesus are called, in other words, to offer themselves as signs of God in the world – to live in such a way that the underlying all-pervading energy of God begins to come through them and make a difference.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Christology
Listen to it all (It begins with the reading of the gospel by the Rev. Fred Berkaw) [It is an MP3 file]. It occurred on the occasion of the Bishop's confirmation visit to Saint Paul's in Summerville, South Carolina in times past.
He speaks of a memory from 1960 and later there comes this quote to whet your appetite:
"What is astonishing to me I suppose is that we in the church make so little of the Ascension of our Lord."
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Ascension Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * South Carolina * Theology Christology
The leader of the Church of Ireland has said "we may as well close the doors now" if it cannot solve the problem of falling attendances.
Archbishop Richard Clarke made the comments after it was revealed in a survey that only 15% of Irish Anglicans attend services on Sundays.
This represents just 58,000 out of a total of 378,000 who claim affiliation to the church.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Ireland * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK --Ireland
Most of us were trained to minister to a culture that had a Christian baseline, but we weren’t trained how to reach people who don’t accept the Bible as true or know about Christ.
In other words, we were trained to focus on Nominals but now we increasingly need to reach Seculars.
There are resources to help with that.
I’m a big fan of Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God. Many use that curriculum for reaching secular people. I also recommend the work of George Hunter, a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary. His book How to Reach Secular People is good, as is James Emery White’s book called The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated.
Do you deal more with Nominals or Seculars? Has your church made progress in reaching either group? What have you found that works in bringing these people to Christ?
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Religion News & Commentary Other Faiths Secularism * Theology Anthropology Soteriology
On May 1, 2015, The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) honored the Rev. Dr. Dallas H. Wilson, Jr., a priest in the Diocese of South Carolina, and the Vicar of St. John’s Chapel, Charleston, for his work creating and implementing ministries and programs to prevent at-risk youths from engaging in violent activities, spiraling into crime, drug and alcohol use, and incarceration.
The Bureau has been presenting its Director’s Community Leadership Awards (DCLA) for more than two decades to ordinary citizens and organizations striving to build stronger, safer, and more cohesive communities
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One derived an impression of his strength of nature from a certain reticence regarding his deepest feelings and experiences. That which he thought and felt was kept under the lock and key of a masterful will, repressing any full expression of much that was characteristic within. In intercourse with him one felt the quiet power of self-control. A man of rare personal dignity, he manifested the gravity of a noble seriousness in tone of conversation and in outward bearing. It was evident that his mind was resolutely set to meditate upon great and worthy things.
Dr. Harwood was a typical scholar. Graduated from the University with high honors, he gave his best energies in loyal devotion to the Queen of Sciences, Theology. He had read widely, studied diligently, and thought profoundly. Especially was he a student of sacred Scripture. From 1854 to 1859 he was Professor of the Literature and Interpretation of the Scriptures in the Berkeley Divinity School. Thence he brought to this parish the treasures of his scholarship. I well remember, as a boy, sitting in this Church, being impressed by his reading of the Scriptures. That office he performed with a reverence and dignity and an accurate touch of emphasis which brought out the meaning of every word of that Holy Writ he knew so thoroughly.
He was a man of vast reading in theology. That which especially characterized him as a theologian, I should say, was, first, his love of truth, and, secondly, his courageous faith in truth. Devotion to truth was with him a passion. His reverence for the authority of truth made him fearless, that is to say, he was not afraid of the truth and he was not afraid for the truth. Nor did he ever fear to speak out what he believed to be the truth. In theological controversy he was truly "a man of war," a foeman of undaunted prowess. As an example of his virile doggedness and fearlessness, let me quote these characteristic words from a pamphlet of his regarding a controversial topic: "We have heard lately that this is a closed topic! Pray, will any one I tell me what is closed? How was it closed? When was it closed? Who closed it? It is not a closed, but a very open I topic." The words sound like him, one who has drunk delight of battle with his peers, "a mighty valiant man."
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Theology Seminary / Theological Education
Last year in his maiden speech in the House of Lords, the Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell spoke of the importance of chaplaincy and how the role in schools and colleges should be seen as essential not an irrelevant luxury. As co-sponsors of a new technical college in East London, Bishop Stephen described how his diocese was not just committed to the best technical training but also to enable pupils to understand the modern world. One of the first things the college did was recruit a chaplain, he said.
Although each chaplaincy is very different, what they all have in common is a commitment to serving the needs of the whole school or college. Where their independence and integrity have earned it, they may be the one person the Principal can unburden themself to, or the one person who is able to say that a proposed course of action is not the right one in the light of the college’s values.
Perhaps it’s not surprising after all that chaplaincy is growing - while hard data are not easy to assemble, some 80% of colleges have some level of chaplaincy provision. The number of volunteers in school chaplaincy is also growing, as our last Report ’ The Public Face of God’ illustrated.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Education Religion & Culture Teens / Youth * International News & Commentary England / UK
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