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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained
I was fortunate, in my own life, to have a bold counseling professor tell me what he saw—immaturity, arrogance, insecurity. We live in a culture of affirmation, and I believe in affirming young men and women entering ministry or leadership positions. But not without some honest feedback—about their relational patterns, hidden insecurities, and messianic dreams.
Spiritual health is not about climbing some moral ladder, but about what Jesus calls "purity of heart." This means that our inner life matches our outer. Remember, this was the problem of the religious leaders in Jesus' day. They were hypocrites, play-actors, doing life on stage but hollow within.
It takes time and suffering for growth to happen. This is why the poor, broken, and unclean seem to be privileged in the New Testament—they've already hit bottom. Our humiliations breed depth, grace, forgiveness, strength, courage, curiosity, and hope—all the attributes that make healthy leaders. Otherwise we'll quickly experience what happens to anyone living a lie: We'll get caught, fall, or alienate everyone we love.
Read it all (my emphasis).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who seton foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth "thrown in": aim at earth and you will get neither.--C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 10
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Books * Theology Eschatology
Check it out on Youtube.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Poetry & Literature Religion & Culture * Theology
At no time in my life have I felt more palpable anxiety than at the beginning of my experience of clinical pastoral education in seminary. My first visit with a hospital patient went something like this: I said, “Hi. I’m the chaplain on the floor today. What’s your name?” The patient said: “Oh—well, nice to meet you. I hope you have a wonderful day.” And then I hightailed it out of the room.
Thanks to clinical pastoral education, I did get better at this ministry. I learned how to sit in silence when necessary, how to offer prayers, how to be part of difficult conversations in fruitful ways.
Core to my learning was writing up and discussing verbatims—written records of conversations in the clinical setting that approximated the verbal back and forth of visits with patients. In reviewing verbatims, pastoral interns learn how to share and invite people into more meaningful conversations.
The helpfulness of that experience has inspired the idea of another sort of clinical endeavor. The type of conversation that frequently terrifies me now is a little different, but I am no less awkward and no less in need of something like a verbatim to help me with it. Call the course I need CEE: clinical evangelistic education.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
Read it all and click on the links in which you are interested.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
In his address, Cardinal Baldisseri revealed that the outline for the bishops’ October discussion is divided into three parts, the first focusing on the communication of the Gospel in today’s world, while the second part addresses the pastoral program for the family in light of new challenges.
The instrumentum concludes with the third part, which centers on an openness to life and parental responsibility in the upbringing of children.
“Dedicated to the Gospel of the family,” the first part of the outline “relates to God’s plan, biblical and magisterial knowledge and their reception, natural law and the vocation of the person in Christ,” the cardinal explained.
“The difficulties that arise in relation to natural law can be overcome through more attentive reference to the biblical world, to its language and narrative forms and to the proposal to thematize and deepen the biblically inspired concept of the ‘order of creation,’” he explained.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Stacey Irvine ate almost nothing but chicken nuggets for 15 years. She never tasted fruits or vegetables. She occasionally supplemented her diet with French fries. One day her tongue started to swell and she couldn’t catch her breath. She was rushed to the hospital, her airway was forced open, and they stuck an IV in her arm to start pumping in the nutrients she needed. After saving her life, the medical staff sent her home, but not before they warned her that she needed to change her diet or prepare herself for an early death.
I’ve heard people call it a famine. A famine of knowing the Bible. During a famine people waste away for lack of sustenance. Some people die. Those who remain need nourishment; they need to be revived. And if they have any hope of remaining alive over time, their life situation has to change in conspicuous ways.
During normal famines people don’t have access to the food they need. But Stacey Irvine could have eaten anything she wanted. She had resources, opportunity and presumably all the encouragement she needed to eat well. Can you imagine what would happen if all of us decided to follow her example and discontinued eating all but non-nutritious foodstuff? If we happened to beat the odds and live, we undoubtedly would suffer in the long run from nutrition-related chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
Like Stacey Irvine, we’re killing ourselves. It’s surely not for lack of resources; nevertheless, we are in fact starving ourselves to death.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Books Education History Religion & Culture * Theology
The first few years of this century are turning out to be busy ones for anti-religious polemicists. Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion and, soon to appear, Christopher Hitchens’s God is not Great revive a tradition of impassioned criticism of religious belief and of what people do in God’s name.
The reason for the relative quiet in the closing years of the last century is plain enough. As long as religion had seemed to have little to do with anything important – such as politics or war – committed secularists were spared the bother of arguing that religion is bad. It is only when people do bad things in the name of their religious beliefs that atheists need to get evangelical about their creed.
Personally, I don’t feel any desire to leap to the defence of Christian faith against this renewed assault. This is not because others are doing the job well enough, but because, Christian though I am, I have some sympathy with the view that belief in God can be dangerous.
If God is not to be abused, it seems important to me to recognise that religious belief can be dangerous for individuals and for society. The fact that most of the time religious convictions in practice make believers good neighbours and good citizens does little to lessen the scandal when God is invoked to justify tyranny or terror.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Seminary / Theological Education The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Even in our settled congregations--some of them of long standing--there occasionally occurs so much indifference to the sustaining of even the profession of religion, and the making of provision for the administration of its ordinances, as that while their neglect renders them subjects of censure, it ought also to he an excitement of our zeal. Even in such congregations, there are always at least a few persons, who are ready to "strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die." And even if there were none such, those of the contrary stamp are not out of the reach of that voice of the gospel which is raised, "not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." We have the satisfaction of knowing, that the call has been made with great effect, even in congregations of the description which has [7/8] been stated. And this, we hope, will serve as encouragement to those who are ready to do their part of the work of God, leaving the issue of their labour to the influences of his Holy Spirit.
It ought further to he taken into view, that even in neighbourhoods wherein provision is made for the exercise of the ministry, and congregations are duly organized, according to the venerable institutions of the Church; there are powerful incitements to zeal and labour, that we may call sinners to repentance; that we may direct the attention of professors beyond the forms, to the power of Godliness; that we may guard the imperfectly informed, against the errors engrafted by the weakness of men on the holy stock of Christian doctrine; that we may open all the branches of this in their integrity, as found in the Word of Truth; and that we may urge persons of all descriptions, to the attainment and the practice of whatever may contribute to the adorning of the doctrine of our rod and Saviour. It is not here forgotten, that for the accomplishing of these blessed ends, "although Paul plant and Apollos water," it is "God alone who giveth the increase." But he sees fit, as well in the influences of his grace as in the dealings of his providence, to produce his high ends by the instrumentality of human means. And in each of these departments, the duties of all of us are discernible from the relations and from the circumstances in which we severally stand.
While we thus hold out to all the members of our communion, the gospel work which we conceive to he laid on them by the divine Author of our religion; we are not backward to extend their attention to some articles of advice and exhortation, which we think especially worthy of notice, for the accomplishing of the ends which we have in view.
The first, and as essential to all the rest, is mutual incitement to the work; and this, in the Christian Spirit, which alone can either render it an object worthy of considerable exertion, or claim the promise of divine support. We read in one of the prophets, that when a general reformation was in prospect, "they who feared the Lord spake often one to another," it being evidently meant in mutual incitement, to the object of their common concern.
Read it all but no fair clicking the link until you guess the year it was written.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ecclesiology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
“It is well and good for the preacher to base his sermon on the Bible, but he better get to something relevant pretty quickly, or we start mentally to check out.” That stunningly clear sentence reflects one of the most amazing, tragic, and lamentable characteristics of contemporary Christianity: an impatience with the Word of God.
The sentence above comes from Mark Galli, senior managing editor of Christianity Today in an essay entitled, “Yawning at the Word.” In just a few hundred words, he captures the tragedy of a church increasingly impatient with and resistant to the reading and preaching of the Bible. We may wince when we read him relate his recent experiences, but we also recognize the ring of truth.
Galli was told to cut down on the biblical references in his sermon.
Read it all.
Longtime blog readers know well that one of my favorite examples of the importance of listening to the screaming silence of something missing comes from the Sherlock Holmes saga entitled "Silver Blaze." In one of the most famous sections in all of Arthur Conan Doyle's writing in this saga we find the follow exchange:
Inspector Gregory [of Scotland Yard]: "Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"I mention this because recently the Anglican Communion Office launched an Anglican Communion Facebook page. You may find the page here. Being preoccupied recently with the diocese of South Carolina convention and other matters, I only recently checked out the page.
Sherlock Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Inspector Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Sherlock Holmes: "That was the curious incident."
Imagine my surprise when on the front of the page I read the following:
A page to see posts shared by members of the Anglican Communion - 85 million Christians who share faith, tradition, history & ways of worshipping.Now 85 million people is a lot the last time I checked--but I would have thought the Bible had something to do with it.
The silence is screaming and it is oh-so-significant--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * By Kendall * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Globalization Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Theology: Scripture
Check them out.
There are a lot of links including resolutions, workshops, etc.--read it all.
Watch it all (a little over 10 minutes).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology
Leaders of the Episcopal Church in Alabama were vocal in their belief that slavery was a benign institution. "Its members tended to be disproportionaately slaveowners," Vaughn said. "They believed there wasn't any discrepancy between the Christian message and slave ownership. They didn't see any conflict at all. They were blinded by their financial self-interests."
One of the towering but controversial figures in Alabama's church history was Bishop C.C.J. Carpenter, who was scolded by both the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in "Letter from Birmingham Jail" and by Episcopal seminarian Jonathan Myrick Daniels, who took part in marches in Selma in 1965 and was killed in Hayneville protecting a black girl from a shotgun blast. Daniels defied Carpenter, coming to Alabama in spite of Carpenter's warning to outside agitators. Daniels and other Episcopal seminarians picketed Carpenter House, the diocesan headquarters in Birmingham, and wrote that "The Carpenter of Birmingham must not be allowed to forever deny the Carpenter of Nazareth," in a harsh letter to Carpenter.
"I think Carpenter was a great bishop in many ways," Vaughn said. "He's remembered as a kindly, warm grandfatherly figure. He increased membership; he increased the budget. He just didn't get it though when it came to the civil rights movement."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The elements of Benedict's "hermeneutic of reform" are nothing new in the life of the Church. Both Yves Congar in the 1960s and John Henry Newman in the late 1800s made exactly the same arguments for genuine reform: the application of a principle of internal ressourcement is the only way to a true expression of catholicity. Here I quote from Congar and Newman respectively:
"There are only two possible ways of bringing about renewal or updating. You can either make the new element that you want to put forward normative, or you can take as normative the existing reality that needs to be updated or renewed ... You will end up with either a mechanical updating in danger of becoming both a novelty and a schismatic reform, on the one hand, or a genuine renewal (a true development) that is a reform in and of the Church, on the other hand."It is no mere coincidence that both Newman and Congar are universally recognised as being two of the great "prophets" who shaped the reforming agenda taken up by the Second Vatican Council.
"Those [developments] which do but contradict and reverse the course of doctrine which has been developed before them, and out of which they spring, are certainly corrupt; for a corruption is a development in that very stage in which it ceases to illustrate, and begins to disturb, the acquisitions gained in its previous history."
Any analysis of the reception of the Council in the life of the Church today, any contemporary call for reform in the life of the Church precipitated by current events and times, and any reform proposed by Pope Francis, would do well to keep in mind the elements by which genuine ecclesial reform will happen. As a theological friend from outside of the Catholic tradition has recently put it, "No one who has not learned to be traditional can dare to innovate."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Come hear Baroness Cox live on Friday, February 7
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Thy Kingdom Come - A Call to Action
Charleston Music Hall - 37 John Street
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Globalization Religion & Culture * South Carolina
The Anglican Church in North America is pleased to announce the release of To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism produced by the provincial Catechesis Task force.
Led by the Rev. Dr J.I. Packer, the Task Force has developed a unique and powerful resource for helping inquirers come to an understanding of the Christian faith, and for helping disciples deepen their relationship with God. Written in a “Question and Answer” format, this Catechism, in the words of Packer, “is designed as a resource manual for the renewal of Anglican catechetical practice. It presents the essential building blocks of classic catechetical instruction: the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments (the Decalogue). To these is added an initial section especially intended for those with no prior knowledge of the Gospel; as such, this catechism attempts to be a missional means by which God may bring about both conversion to Christ and formation in Christ.”
Read it all and note the link at the bottom to the text of the catechism itself.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology
C. S. Lewis (1898-1963), who lectured in English literature at Oxford for most of his life, was a prolific writer in many areas and a man who powerfully and eloquently defended Christianity. Half a century after his death many of his books remain bestsellers: one, Mere Christianity, sells a quarter of a million copies a year.
Why have Lewis's books endured? There are several reasons. For a start, he was a brilliant writer who used English to maximum effect. He was also an enormously intelligent and creative man capable of analysing problems from different angles, courageous enough to tackle difficult topics (for example, two of his books are called Miracles and The Problem of Pain) and creative enough to branch out into children's fantasy (the Narnia Chronicles). Yet although these are all important in explaining the lasting popularity of C. S. Lewis, I think there are other factors and they are all to do with how he saw the world.
First, Lewis was always intensely aware of the past. There is a tendency in our culture to dismiss dead authors as 'irrelevant'. Such views were alien to Lewis, a remarkably well-read man, even by the standards of his contemporaries at Oxford and Cambridge.
Read it all (I see it is also in this week's Church of England Newspaper on page 7).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Books Children * Theology Apologetics
You can find the link to listen to it all here; note you can listen by clicking the link or download by clicking the blue "download" word underneath the black line. Professor Lennox preached at Saint Helena's, Beaufort, S.C. on Sunday.
Listen to it all should you wish to and also note that there is an option to download it there.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch History Religion & Culture Science & Technology * South Carolina * Theology Apologetics
An Anglo-Catholic priest was bullied out of his parish after challenging a cadre of “very right-wing” church- goers over a culture of binge-drinking, according to a report.
Father Simon Tibbs, 41, had been in charge of St Faith’s church in Great Crosby, Merseyside — which includes the former Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie among its past parishioners — for just nine months when he was allegedly forced out last September.
An investigation into his departure found yesterday that he had offended an “inner circle” of the congregation by trying to drive through a ban on excessive drinking by worshippers who were treating the church like a “social club”.
Read it all (subscription required).
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 Alcohol/Drinking * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Read it all (page 6).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * South Carolina
Finding the future in the past--an interesting theme, that, to be sure. Listen to it all (highly recommended).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * South Carolina * Theology Christology
Englewood runs counter to the church culture — and its own past — in some other ways. Where the church once focused primarily on evangelism, attractive programming and high membership growth, Englewood seems more interested in getting to know people.
"A lot of times churches just think it is about getting people to be baptized and saving their souls so they can go to heaven," said Benjamin, the church secretary. "We believe the picture is so much bigger than that. It is about what God intended life to be. He intended people to have good shelters. He intended people to have the basic needs of life. He intended people to live together in harmony and share together."
That philosophy is what Smith, the editor of the church's book review, describes in a new book he has co-authored called "Slow Church: Cultivating Community in the Patient Way of Jesus."
Borrowing some of the language of the Slow Food movement, it proposes to resist what some have called the "McDonald's-ization of the church."
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Theology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
Is materialism competing with God for the hearts of his people?
The Book of James famously says that faith without works is dead. What James adds to the key passage (2:18–26) comes immediately before it, in verses 14–17, which illustrate what a workless faith looks like. If a brother or sister needs food and clothing, and someone says "keep warm and well fed" but does nothing to help, James asks, "Can such faith save them?" The Greek terms he uses imply a negative answer.How well are churches modeling sacrificial giving?
The scary statistic is that 20 percent of self-identified evangelical churchgoers give nothing. It is reasonable to question their faith. If idolatry is what a person who claims belief in God actually gives allegiance to, does anything have greater idolatrous potential than material possessions?
Churches need to apply to their own revenue streams the same principles that they encourage among members....Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Consumer/consumer spending Corporations/Corporate Life * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Yet strangely enough, my idols are not strange to me.
They call to me. Personally. They appeal to me from my past. They make their persuasive case for why I need them so badly and how much they can do for me. They try to convince me that we can all get along here in one place together, that I can share space with both them and my Christian devotion at the same time, and that God will understand.
So my idols are much more personal than a piece of stone or a block of wood. Anything from my past or present that shapes my identity or fills my thoughts with something other than God, especially on a regular, ongoing, irresistible basis, is an idol. Idolatry does not count the cost of worshipping anything but God. And although few of us could ever imagine worshipping a picture of ourselves, the reality is--we are either worshipping God or some form of ourselves. When we are driven by physical and emotional appetites rather than being led by the Spirit of God, we are worshipping the idol of ourselves. Paul spoke as a prophet on fire to the Colossian Christians: "Therefore, put to death what belongs to your worldly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry" (Col. 3:5).
Read it all from Ed Stetzer.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The law convicts us of sin. It shows us that we are, all of us, judged; that we are, all of us, found wanting.
But the law also convicts us by a second device. Law paints the lines on the savage playing field of our sin: what the law condemns, it first describes. Rules encapsulate sport: without ever having played a round or been on the ice, you know from their rulebooks the respective natures of golf and hockey.
Thus, our readings for today, readings from which the contemporary reader is apt to flee.
Read it all.
O God of searing truth and surpassing beauty, we give thee thanks for Clive Staples Lewis whose sanctified imagination lighteth fires of faith in young and old alike; Surprise us also with thy joy and draw us into that new and abundant life which is ours in Christ Jesus, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Spirituality/Prayer * Culture-Watch Poetry & Literature * Theology Apologetics
... members are also being asked to debate a motion calling for a review of how the Synod itself operates including the parliamentarian way debates are conducted and whether the complex system of electing members is now “fit for purpose”.
An official Synod briefing paper warns that members are now seen by many outside the Church seen as “rude and poor examples of Christians”.
The motion also questions whether the Synod should meet just once a year, instead of two or three times as at present, to encourage younger people with busy careers and families to stand for election.
Read it all.
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 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 Laity Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Media * South Carolina * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
The problem is that preachers and teachers of such messages are not telling us the whole truth. They are not giving us a full understanding of the Good News.
Proverbs is only half of wisdom. The other half is found in the Book of Job. And Ecclesiastes. And Jesus at Golgotha. The other part of wisdom—the deeper wisdom—centers on the folly of the Cross.
Not the Cross as a mere rest stop on the way to Resurrection. Not suffering as a means to an end. Not hardship that builds character and makes us better. That's more Proverbs wisdom and is true as far as it goes. That's the theology of glory—if we do this and that, and endure this and that with the right attitude, all will be well.
The theology of the Cross says that God is most deeply met in the suffering itself, not just on the other side of it. Forgiveness of sins is not found after the Cross, but in, with, and under the Cross. This is the "wisdom of the cross" (1 Cor. 1–2) that is folly to the world.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
When he died on Nov. 22, 1963 hardly a soul blinked in Northern Ireland where he was born or in England where he spent most of his working life as one of the world’s greatest Christian apologists.
Clive Staples Lewis was a week short of 65 when he suffered a heart attack at his home in Oxford. The obituary writers barely noticed his demise, in part because he died on the same day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
British indifference to Lewis half a century ago will be examined at a one-day seminar at Wheaton College on Nov. 1, co-sponsored by the Marion E. Wade Center, the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals and Wheaton College’s Faith and Learning program.
Lewis may be the most popular Christian writer in history, with millions of copies of his books sold, the vast majority in the United States where his influence is far greater than in his native country.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Books * Theology Apologetics
Lillian Daniel: What possessed you to write a novel? Has it always been a dream of yours?
William Willimon: Sort of. I’m a lover of novels, ever since a college course in the modern American novel. I love Flannery O’Connor, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Thomas Mann and even dear, sweet, degenerate Marcel Proust. I reread them all.
Pastors must be curious about people. Novels are a natural aid to pastoral work. When you watch Gustave Flaubert dissect a character, it’s a great help in attempting to figure out why the chair of your vestry is so screwed up. Also, as a pastor, you spend a great deal of time with people who are exposed and without adequate protection. Being a pastor is therefore almost like being a novelist without all the alcohol.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
Kimberla Lawson Roby stood near the pulpit of a Baptist church in this Atlanta suburb one Saturday in late August, giving her testimony. She spoke of infidelities, mistresses, blackmail, out-of-wedlock children and extravagant spending. She did so as neither minister or worshiper, but rather as a novelist telling scores of rapt fans about her fictional characters.
...for the past 13 years ...[she has been] writing a series of novels built around an African-American pastor, the Rev. Curtis Black. The series, now numbering 10 books, has sold well upward of one million copies, and several titles have made best-seller lists.
Besides being a commercial phenomenon, Ms. Roby’s books represent a theological and cultural one.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Race/Race Relations Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Anthropology
Young Christians need encouragement to see their calling as scientists as a valuable Christian vocation. Though there are painful exceptions, the work environment for most Christian students in science today is not hostile. In fact, there are many young Christians in training in the sciences. Christian fellowship groups for graduate students are beginning to form and flourish on many campuses, and a large percentage of these Christian graduate students and postdocs are scientists.
It is during these formative years that young scientists are faced with some weighty decisions. For example: What kind of thesis research should I pursue? My advisor has asked me to do fetal tissue experiments; should I refuse and risk my position in graduate school? (This really happened to one student.) How do I explain my faith to my advisor and my fellow graduate students? Wouldn't it be more valuable to God for me to join some of my Christian friends who are planning careers as evangelists or in direct ministry to the poor rather than to spend my life, for example, evaluating molecular spectra? Traditional Christian churches and circles do not always recognize the unique environment that the young Christian scientist faces. Science is sometimes viewed with misunderstanding and suspicion or ignored as unspiritual. These reactions are discouraging to young people who want to choose a career path that glorifies God. Hearing encouraging talks from older Christian scientists can be a great encouragement to younger people seeking guidance.
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When I was a small boy, I attended church every Sunday at a big Gothic Presbyterian bastion in Chicago. The preaching was powerful and the music was great. But for me, the most awesome moment in the morning service was the offertory, when twelve solemn, frock-coated ushers marched in lock-step down the main aisle to receive the brass plates for collecting the offering. These men, so serious about their business of serving the Lord in this magnificent house of worship, were the business and professional leaders of Chicago. One of the twelve ushers was a man named Frank Loesch. He was not a very imposing looking man, but in Chicago he was a living legend, for he was the man who had stood up to Al Capone. In the prohibition years, Capone's rule was absolute. The local and state police and even the Federal Bureau of Investigation were afraid to oppose him. But singlehandedly, Frank Loesch, as a Christina layman and without any government support, organized the Chicago Crime Commission, a group of citizens who were determined to take Mr. Capone to court and put him away. During the months that the Crime Commission met, Frank Loesch's life was in constant danger. There were threats on the lives of his family and friends. But he never wavered. Ultimately he won the case against Capone and was the instrument for removing this blight from the city of Chicago. Frank Loesch had risked his life to live out his faith. Each Sunday at this point of the service, my father, a Chicago businessman himself, never failed to poke me and silently point to Frank Loesch with pride. Sometime I'd catch a tear in my father's eye. For my dad and for all of us this was and is what authentic living is all about.--Bruce Larson, There's a Lot More to Health than Not Being Sick (Garden Grove, California: Cathedral Press, 1981), pp. 55-56 and also quoted by yours truly in yesterday's sermon
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Police/Fire * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
Over time I have come to believe that the reading of scripture in public worship is as important as expounding on scripture (i.e., preaching). As a friend says, “A good reading is expounding.”
I am appalled at the way some traditions and congregations take such a casual attitude toward the reading of scripture in worship. It’s treated sometimes as the role “anybody can do.” Not anybody can do it, and it takes practice. I get the sense sometimes that people are reading the assigned text for the first time when they read it in worship.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture * Theology Theology: Scripture
The Anglican Church of Southern Africa (ACSA) has launched a free cell phone application or 'app' to aid communication between parishes and parishioners in the Province.
The Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in the Polokwane area of South Africa, the Very Revd Luke Pretorius, is also a member of ACSA Media Committee.
"I am excited at what may be a world first from Africa," he told ACNS, "and [also] for how this app will improve the communication between churches and people by using cell phone technology, an essential and already popular tool in Africa.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Southern Africa * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
After the Mass [for the Death of my Father], people from the church gathered around to console. A priest friend accompanied me to the funeral home to work out the details of the wake. The parish where the funeral Mass was held assigned a laywoman volunteer who, in a very sensitive and knowledgeable way, helped me to plan the service. A contingent from my home parish in Brooklyn came to the wake and funeral. Sisters and others who work with my wife at a Catholic high school in Brooklyn arrived in large numbers.
I saw a theological term made real—that God's people make up the Body of Christ, a mystical concept of the church that encompasses the living and the dead, the visible and invisible, my deceased father and me. As St. Paul wrote, if one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer. This is the church I would not be lured to leave, even on the frequent occasions when its leaders disappoint me.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Death / Burial / Funerals Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic * Theology Pastoral Theology
So, why do we have In the Living Room? Why should artists get their own joint in the body of the church? I asked myself these questions, too. Was this some sort of team-building, Kumbayah camp exercise?
For some, it was a time to heal and be built up. To contemplate the God-endued honor in what some people in their past labeled “frivolous”. To be with others whose day job is one thing while their mind- and heart-life is occupied elsewhere. To be challenged by the fact that God can be in the process of our work, when the work itself doesn’t have a hard outline.
We discussed the notion of liminality, the “here, but not yet” place that Christians can live in. (e.g. Our marriages are a “here, but not yet” version of our status as Bride of Christ.) For people in the creative arts, we walk into this shifting place in our work lives, too, and it can be unnerving. There is no such thing as “finished” in art. But we’re all working toward some imagined plateau before the next climb. The target is wavering and the fruit of our labor is not always in measure with the amount we have sown.
For me, this was the benefit of In the Living Room: to communicate and have communicated to me the blessedness of our “at work” state.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology
The crown jewels of the Church of England are its parishes. Priests have the cure of souls—not just the churchgoers but of every resident of the neighborhood, where every blade of grass in the entire country has a church that seeks to make itself in some way a blessing to all, where the clergy know that “I can’t know everyone, but everyone can know me.” But this inheritance is under pressure. In the corners of clergy gatherings there are mutterings. Stories are told of spouses or friends in health care and education who see very few patients or students any more, but instead sit behind computers filling in forms about targets and thresholds. The same is said about priests—that a Prussian-style bureaucracy is infesting the poetry of the priest’s relationship to the parish.
In the Church of England, parish clergy are all paid the same; there are no “rich rectors” with well-endowed churches and sprawling expense accounts, so the conventional commercial appraisal—balance sheet healthy, 2 percent pay increase, MBA completed, another 2 percent increase—doesn’t apply. But now appraisal schemes for ministry review have been introduced by some dioceses, and this is the bureaucracy that is resented by clergy who see it, with its target goals, assessments, statistics and accountability, as another layer of control.
When I overhear the clergy grumbling, the elderly Welsh millworker comes to mind, and I find myself asking, “Shouldn’t we pause for a moment and ask ourselves why all these systems and controls have been introduced? Isn’t it because the glorious parish system puts the parish priest in a position of extraordinary trust, and because that trust has gone without honor rather more times than we’d care to admit?”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Theology Pastoral Theology
After 25 years of consulting and researching local congregations, I have found four common approaches churches take to break attendance barriers regardless of size. There are certainly more than four possibilities, but allow me to evaluate these four more common approaches.
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My first congregation was located in a diminishing rural area, but after a year, we were growing. We began a youth group. Families and young members began attending. More people started commuting from the larger city to attend the church.
Then the local governing body put a minimum salary in place that was 10k above what I made. I applied for a grant that got me enough money for the next three years, but a struggle at the church arose between those who wanted to “go out with a bang” and those who wanted to hold onto the little bit in the bank account. There was an idea that having money in the bank was going to keep the church alive for an eternity. So I got a better job. (And yes, it was a better job at a more stable church. I don’t want to spiritualize it too much by saying it was God’s calling.)
When I look back, I’m sad about how it all went down. Not to overblow my importance, but it was as if the church didn’t buy the prescription medicine that they needed to live well, because it would cost too much.
Read it all.
St. Christopher Camp and Conference Center, at the southern end of Seabrook Island, marks its 75th anniversary with a three-day celebration beginning June 22.
Most of the scheduled events are free and open to the public.
Read it all and please take the time to look at the special website for this event.
Read it all.
It was left to Cambridge to right the [Oxford] injustice, and in the early Fifties to bestow a newly created chair. In the meantime, Lewis, like his colleague Tolkien, had created a series of imaginative stories. The Chronicles of Narnia were works of keen imagination, appealing alike to many children and perceptive adults. They echoed the incarnation of Christ, his death and resurrection, and have enjoyed a mass-revival in the United States in recent years, where they have been responsible for creating a new kind of Christianity: what might be called educated evangelicalism. This is a remarkable and valuable phenomenon, and gives Lewis a high rank among writers on religion, alongside Wesley and Newman.
He deserves his lasting appeal, and for three reasons. First he was immensely well- read, delving into every corner of English literature with intelligence and sympathy, and squeezing from it moral qualities which had been hitherto unsuspected in many works. Second, he had an enviable clarity, so that his meaning, even when making rarefied distinctions, always leaps from the page. Thirdly, he had excellent judgment in both literature and theology, and combined them both in fascinating books which never condescend and are always a pleasure to read. Alister McGrath gives us much food for thought in this dutiful, sound and worthy book.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Books History Poetry & Literature * Theology Apologetics
Molly Ethridge, a Winnetka resident of 25 years, feels at home sitting on the church steps.
Yes, Christ Church at 470 Maple St. has been a home away from home for the 23 years she’s worked here as parish administrator.
Fittingly, at Easter this year, Ethridge celebrated her retirement among friends, colleagues and loved ones. Her accomplishments include comforting parishioners at very difficult times, often during devastating situations such as the death of a child. She has received several national awards through Episcopal Communicators, a professional organization. Her graphics art skills have assisted in the publishing of two Christ Church books with author and historian Bob Bradner.
Read it all.
Read it all. The preface alone, to his two sons and only daughter, is wonderful--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Youth Ministry * Theology
This is a very sobering time for ecclesiastically minded Americans. At a steadily growing rate, more and more Americans — especially the young — claim no religious affiliation. The figure has climbed from 15% to 20% of all Americans in the past five years. Pew researchers call the trend “nones on the rise.”
In reaction, Protestants and Roman Catholics are proving that the author of the Bible’s Book of Ecclesiastes had it right when he wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. In a classic attempt to turn adversity to advantage, Christian leaders who once assumed a cultural dominance (in the beginning of the baby-boom era, Christian identification among Americans was at least 91%; today it’s down to 77%) are now arguing for a double-down strategy. Rather than softening the Gospel message to make it more marketable to an America skeptical of institutions — a frequent reform point of view — what draws the real energy among the faithful is a renewed commitment to what Christians call the Great Commission, the words the resurrected Jesus spoke to his apostles at the end of Matthew: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
At the center of this strategy of unapologetic apologetics stands George Weigel, the papal biographer and prominent Catholic writer who has just published Evangelical Catholicism: Deep Reform in the 21st-Century Church, a handbook for Catholics seeking to keep the church out of the catacombs. “It’s a recovery of the basic dynamic of New Testament Christianity, but that passionate impulse to live the Great Commission and convert the world cooled during centuries when the ambient public culture helped do the church’s job,” says Weigel.
Read it all from a recent issue.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals Roman Catholic * Theology Anthropology Soteriology Theology: Scripture
I would especially like to draw your attention to the article entitled "St. Christopher Celebrating 75th Diamond Anniversary on June 22-24--"read it all (pdf).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina * Christian Life / Church Life Missions Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care Youth Ministry * South Carolina
The reform of the Church already evident in the words and witness of Pope Francis may be starting, but it won’t be stopping at the revamping of the Vatican Curia and the renewal of the clergy.
It also will involve a thorough reform of the laity, since some of the cancers the cardinals elected him to confront in Rome have metastasized throughout Christ’s mystical body.
In his conclave-changing address to the cardinals four days before his election, then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio identified what he believes is the Church’s fundamental illness: “ecclesiastical narcissism.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Globalization Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Ecclesiology
Nearly 400 people attended the 222nd Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina at the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center in Florence, South Carolina, March 8-9, 2013.
"Wasn't the worship incredible last night?" said Patricia Smith, remarking on the Convention's Friday evening service of Holy Eucharist. Smith is a member of St. Paul's, Summerville, and attended with her husband who is a delegate. "I felt like I was coming in to the gates of heaven. It had that triumphant sound. I guess, now that we've made a stand there was a unity, a lack of confusion. We were uniting in worship. It felt like God's favor was there."
For the second time the Convention voted unanimously to remove all references to The Episcopal Church from the Diocese's constitution--the final step in severing their ties to the denomination they helped to found in 1789, five years after the South Carolina Convention first met in 1785.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Youth Ministry Spirituality/Prayer * South Carolina * Theology Apologetics
At our convention last March I stressed two dimensions of our diocesan calling: Our vocation to make Biblical Anglicans for a Global Age working in relationship with Anglican Provinces and dioceses around the world; and secondly our calling to make disciples by planting new congregations as well as growing and strengthening our existing parishes and missions in an era of sweeping institutional decline among almost all of the mainline denominations. These remain two constants for us today even while so much around us is in flux. You will be relieved to hear that it is not my intention in this address to retrace the road we have traveled in these intervening months since our Special Convention on November 17th. Suffice it to say that since these two dimensions of our common life and vocation remained unshaken when the tectonic plates of the diocese shifted, I remain convinced that they were God’s mandate for us then and they are God’s mandate for us now. The reason for this is two-fold: What is at stake in this theological and moral crisis that has swallowed up the Anglican Communion since the latter years of the 20th Century is first and foremost, “What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as this Church has received it?” We did not create it and we cannot change what we have received. So what is the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Anglicans have received it? There is nothing in Anglicanism that cannot be found elsewhere among the churches of Christendom. What is unique is how we have blended certain aspects of what other churches hold together. But we have received a Gospel. What is it?
The second thing is “What will Anglicanism in the 21st Century look like?” While the former is the more important, the latter is the more complex. Put another way, proclaiming the Good News, “the whole counsel of God” as St. Paul declared in his parting address to the presbyters of Ephesus in Acts 20:27, that should be our first concern. Proclaiming the good news – the whole counsel of God. But the charge to “care for the Church of God, which he obtained with his blood” (Acts 20:28) or as our text last evening put it, “which he obtained with the blood of his son.” was also part of St. Paul’s charge to the bishop-presbyters. If we apply this second charge to take care of the church of God, which he obtained, with the blood of his son, if we apply this charge to ourselves – those of us whose leadership is in this vineyard where the Lord has placed us – I believe this means caring for emerging Anglicanism in the 21st Century. Frankly, this caring for Anglicanism in the 21st century gets wearisome at times, painful almost daily, exhausting, but it is a charge we cannot relinquish without abandoning our vocation. What does this mean specifically for us here in this Diocese of South Carolina? Let me take up three aspects of this charge as it I believe it applies to us.
Read it all and a pdf version is available top right of the page.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care Youth Ministry * South Carolina * Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
More than 350 people are expected to attend the 222nd Annual Convention of the Diocese of South Carolina at the Francis Marion Performing Arts Center in Florence, March 8-9. The last time the Convention was held in Florence was 1976.
This year the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence, the 14th Bishop of South Carolina, is focusing on the future. “We cannot afford to focus on the backward glance,” said Lawrence “Christ calls us to look forward and carry out the Great Commission to make disciples and to proclaim the Gospel to a hurting world.”
This year’s convention workshops are designed to equip the Diocese’s lay members and clergy for the work of ministry. Bishop Lawrence promised that such workshops would be key parts of future annual Diocesan Conventions....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Youth Ministry * South Carolina * Theology Apologetics
See what you think.
Responding to the debate, Dr Giddings said that he had "no choice" about when he spoke in the women-bishops debate. His words had not been intended to undermine or personally criticise Bishop Welby, but, in any case, he had offered "an apology for any offence my words may have caused him".
Bishop Welby's reply was quoted to the Synod, with permission: "It never crossed my mind that you were in the slightest being offensive, discourteous, impolite, [or disrespectful]. . . I did think you were wrong! You thought I was, but we really need to be able to disagree, as I am sure you do agree."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Justin Welby Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Women
The pastor offers the congregation’s laments and doxology to God and proclaims God’s holy word to the congregation. Friendships have little to do with this. Should God call the pastor to go to another place, it’s asking too much of the congregation to expect them to discern this with the pastor.
Ordination costs pastors, and one of the greatest costs is maintaining the lonely status of being surrounded by everyone in the church while always being the odd person in the room. [Layman] Jack Anderson will never understand this, but it is critical for his sake that I did.
As a physician, Jack had a similar challenge when he diagnosed me with a condition that required minor surgery. He didn’t ask me to help him discern the best course of action, and he knew that the truly loving act was to say necessary things that I didn’t want to hear. That’s because his ethical responsibility was to treat me not as a friend but as a patient. That makes perfect sense to him and to me. But he’s confused when I treat him as a parishioner.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
We were having lunch together and I was praying like mad. My friend had been in a committed same-sex relationship for about 15 years. He was interested in Jesus; attracted to his teaching and message. But he wanted to know what implications becoming a Christian might have on his practicing gay lifestyle.
I had explained, as carefully and graciously as I could, that Jesus upheld and expanded the wider biblical stance on sexuality: that the only context for sexual activity was heterosexual marriage. Following Jesus would mean seeking to live under his word, in this area as in any other.
He had been quiet for a moment, and then looked me in the eye and asked the billion-dollar question: ‘What could possibly be worth giving up my partner for?’
I held his gaze for a moment while my brain raced for the answer. There was eternity, of course. There was heaven and hell. But I was conscious that these realities would seem other-worldly and intangible to him. In any case, surely following Jesus is worth it even for this life. He was asking about life here-and-now, so I prayed for a here-and-now Bible verse to point to. I wanted him to know that following Jesus really is worth it – worth it in the life to come, but also worth it in this life now, no less so for those who have homosexual feelings. Yes, there would be a host of hardships and difficulties: unfulfilled longings, the distress of unwanted temptation, the struggles of long-term singleness.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Christology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)
Jay Litton: “One of the most interesting things about a job networking ministry is, you don’t need more than one person to volunteer. And by the way, you just need one person out of work. That’s it. I have a concern that when people stop by and see what we’re doing, it looks like this big huge production, big huge event. And it’s like, ‘Well, if we can’t do that then we shouldn’t do anything.’ And that’s just so wrong. So we go out of our way to let every church know that there should be somebody there at that church that should be willing to have conversations with people that are in transition.”
Tyrone Griffin tried the program at Roswell, found a job, and kept the faith.
Read it all or check out the video.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Pastoral Theology
Check out all the links noting especially this one.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Parishes Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
As clergy we are caught in the gap between our vow to abide by the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Episcopal Church and our commitment to care for our people and to discern the workings of the Holy Spirit in our time. I am among those of our Church who believe that the Spirit is leading us to embrace full marriage equality for all people, recognizing that the Constitution of our Church has yet to reach that conclusion. The actions of General Convention clearly permit us to act on our convictions, with full provision, as is always the case with marriage, for those who choose not to preside at ceremonies for same-sex couples.
The diocesan guidelines for same-sex marriage strive for parity where parity is possible. In other words, for those congregations that feel called to offer their sanctuaries and pastoral services for same-sex couples, I ask that your marriage policies match those for heterosexual couples. And while it is within your authority as priests to make decisions regarding worship, I do ask that you engage the lay leaders of the congregation, to hear their views and concerns.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Pastoral Theology
[When Charles] Proudfit... [became a Christian] he was eager to "apply my new faith to every area of my life, including my work." But when he looked to his church for guidance, he was stymied.
"The local church doesn't deal much with everyday realities for the working people in the pews," he laments. So, "more out of exasperation than inspiration," Proudfit founded the Cincinnati-based marketplace ministry At Work on Purpose (AWOP).
That AWOP formed independently of the church is common, says Princeton University scholar David W. Miller. Author of God at Work: The History and Promise of the Faith at Work Movement, Miller notes that most marketplace ministries "have formed outside the authority, involvement, or impetus of the church." What is uncommon is AWOP's holistic approach to integrating faith and work among its 5,000-plus members in the Cincinnati metro area. It's moving past a narrow focus on workplace evangelism to include ethics, social responsibility, and citywide engagement—a model that more marketplace ministries are embracing across the nation.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics Economy Corporations/Corporate Life Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
What will be the role of the United States on the global stage in 2062?
India and China will be thriving super nations and leading the world in arts and sciences. People in the United States are already being operated on by Chinese and Indian surgeons. Another nation that is emerging as a surprising international power is Canada. That nation is now exploring its vast natural resources in the north and is in the midst of a renaissance. Some of the best novelists, musicians, poets, artists, now live in Canada. It already has been awarded “best cheese in the world” (“Cinderella cheese”) and the number one place to do business. The role and place of the United States is uncertain. Our future in 2062 may be similar to the position of France and England in 2012 if we continue on the present trajectory.....
Daniel Pink has observed that the well curve has replaced the bell curve....The middle class is declining and the United Methodist Church is a church of the middle. All middles are in trouble. The challenge for the church is to tribalize (particularize) in order to globalize (universalize). We need to “make my parish my world” before we can follow John Wesley in saying, “The world is my parish.” We need churches to love their zip codes and their heritage—I don’t mean love their bishop and polity. I mean churches must know and love people in their community and their “campfire” heritage.
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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 Globalization Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist * Theology Anthropology Apologetics Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
Tim Keller, pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church and New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God, has taught and counseled students, young professionals, and senior leaders on the subject of work and calling for more than twenty years. Now he puts his insights into a book for readers everywhere, giving biblical perspectives on such pressing questions as:
• What is the purpose of work?
• How can I find meaning and serve customers in a cutthroat, bottom-line-oriented workplace?
• How can I use my skills in a vocation that has meaning and purpose?
• Can I stay true to my values and still advance in my field?
• How do I make the difficult choices that must be made in the course of a successful career?
Read it all.
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The gray clapboard church with the red door had stood near the New Jersey coastline for more than 125 years, surviving floods and fires, hurricanes and northeasters. So when its senior warden left the church on the Sunday before Hurricane Sandy hit, he tucked the church records into a drawer for safekeeping and kept everything else in place.
That moment keeps replaying in his mind, said the warden, Dennis Bellars, because this time, luck ran out for St. Elisabeth’s Chapel-by-the-Sea, a tiny Episcopal chapel in storm-ravaged Ortley Beach, N.J. The church is marked now by nothing but a field of sand and broken pavement. The pews, the brass candlesticks; the 1885 stained glass windows, the needlepoint kneelers sewn by a parishioner; the wooden baptismal font — the sea or the sand took all of them.
Mr. Bellars, 70, said he had evacuated to the mainland that afternoon with the family Bible, a change of clothes, his dog and some dog food. Devastated, he found the destruction hard to talk about....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * General Interest Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc. * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches
The 12 lay communicants include: Robert R. Black, Margaret A. Carpenter, Charles G. Carpenter, Frances L. Elmore, Eleanor Horres, John Kwist, Margaret S. Kwist, Barbara G. Mann, David W. Mann, Warren M. Mersereau, Dolores J. Miller, Robert B. Pinkerton, M. Jaquelin Simons, Mrs. Benjamin Bosworth Smith, John L. Wilder and Virginia C. Wilder. The clergy who were named are the Rev. Colton M. Smith and the Rev. Roger W. Smith.
This was disclosed yesterday and is posted here for people's awareness as well as for people's prayers--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * South Carolina
You'll build a great church, pastor, if you ever learn how to communicate.
Listening to that sermon was like drinking from a fire hydrant.
I'm so disappointed! I wanted you to give God all the glory. And you missed it!
Your preaching is too intellectual.
Your preaching is too practical.
You don't talk enough about social justice.
You talk about social justice too much.
Your preaching is over people's heads.
Your preaching isn't deep enough. Give us meat, not milk.
...Some of these criticisms surprised me. Some felt unfair. A few hurt. Some were well-deserved (especially the "fire hydrant" comment). Occasionally they roll off, but the fact I remember so many of them proves they stick. Every experienced preacher could add to the list. Personal criticism is one of the job hazards of Christian ministry.
It's also one of the great benefits....
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A new study from Grey Matter Research (Phoenix, Arizona) shows widespread confusion and ignorance regarding official membership in churches and other local places of worship.
The research was conducted among 441 American adults who attend a local church or place of worship once a month or more. The study asked people whether their place of worship offers “any kind of official membership in the organization, or not.” Among all worship-goers, 48% say such official membership is offered, 33% believe it is not, and 19% are not sure.
While some denominations and individual congregations have no official form of membership, most of the largest religious bodies do. All of the ten largest denominations in the U.S. (as measured by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies) measure some form of official membership: Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, United Methodist Church, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Assemblies of God, Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, Episcopal Church, and National Baptist Convention USA.
Even so, among people who attend one of these top ten denominations, just 44% say their church offers official membership, while 39% believe it does not, and 17% are unsure.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A. * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
We are a nation of believers. Mostly. A Gallup poll last year found that 91 percent of Americans believed in God or some universal spirit. Yet a more recent poll by WIN-Gallup International and published by Religion News Service found that the number of Americans who say they are "religious" dropped from 73 percent in 2005 to 60 percent today. And in that poll, 5 percent of Americans said they are atheists, up from 1 percent in 2005.
Believing in God doesn't necessarily translate to belonging to an organized religion. And parents who do not belong to a religious institution, as well as those who don't believe in a higher power, are faced with a difficult question: How do they instill spirituality and faith in the children?
Kara E. Powell, assistant professor of youth and family ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., says parents need to make themselves available to talk about spirituality and religion at home. They should be extra diligent in making faith a topic that can be discussed so that children won't be confused or ashamed about any observations or questions they might have. Even if there is no organized religion in the home, she says, religious holidays such as Easter and Hanukkah and their rituals can be one of the entry points into the discussion.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Books Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Theology Theology: Scripture
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A Marine is a best-practice warrior who models the highest levels of what military training can accomplish.
The Marines are by no means the only people who take such transformative experiences seriously. Colleges and seminaries talk a lot about this process, each claiming that it turns out world class leaders. There are businesses (Starbucks comes to mind) that believe that their profitability depends on turning employees into best-practice sales representatives.
How about churches and their goal of making of devoted followers of Jesus? What does the difference look like there?
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After spending the past nine months debating questions of affiliation, members of Holy Trinity Anglican Church, a congregation in the northern suburbs of Colorado Springs, affirmed the recommendations of its pastor and leadership team, voting 82-6 to end their affiliation with the Anglican Mission in the Americas and to become part of PEAR USA (the North American Missionary District of Province de L’Eglise Anglicane au Rwanda).
The July 22 vote followed a lively, hour-long discussion involving dozens of parishioners. The discussion reflected the parishioners’ backgrounds in the Episcopal Church (about half), evangelical, and Protestant churches. One member supported his arguments with references to apostolic succession and the restoration of Charles I to the English throne, while another plainly said, “I didn’t grow up Episcopalian, or Anglican, so I don’t have a background in church hierarchy.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of Rwanda Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: Colorado * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
Monday, July 09, 2012
Dear Bishop Lawrence:
Just prior to our vestry meeting this evening we learned that the House of Bishops approved the Same Sex Blessing Resolution A049 (as Amended in Committee). We, the vestry of Christ-St. Paul’s agree with the Standing Committee of our Diocese that the House of Bishop’s approval, and the expected approval tomorrow of the House of Deputies, is “contrary to the unequivocal mandate of Holy Scripture, the historic Christian faith, Anglican doctrine, and the pronouncements of the four instruments of Anglican unity.”
We believe the actions of this General Convention require the Diocese of South Carolina to respond to the overwhelmingly approved resolution at our 2009 Special Convention authorizing “ the Bishop and Standing Committee to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, the Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions “ We therefore urge you and our Deputies to this convention to publicly separate us as a Diocese from these actions.
For our parish this decision brings significant pastoral problems. Already, long standing members have begun withdrawing from the parish. There is a growing despair and loss of confidence because our Diocesan leadership has not followed through with the called for withdrawal. The continued “persistent movement of the General Convention away from orthodox Christianity “ is a significant hindrance to our mission and ministry. It is imperative that we “not walk” with them down this road.
As our Bishop, we want you to know that you have our love, our prayers, and support. We are blessed to be a part of the Diocese, and to be under your leadership. It is our heartfelt desire to remain so. However, not separating ourselves more completely from TEC as a Diocese leaves very few options open for us. We strongly encourage action to clearly separate us from this drift away from our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Word.
Our prayers tonight have been offered for you, our deputation and our Diocese.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
Christ-St. Paul’s Parish
Yonges Island, SC
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * South Carolina * Theology Anthropology Ethics / Moral Theology Theology: Scripture
The house lights go down. Spinning, multicolored lights sweep the auditorium. A rock band launches into a rousing opening song. "Ignore everyone else, this time is just about you and Jesus," proclaims the lead singer. The music changes to a slow dance tune, and the people sing about falling in love with Jesus. A guitarist sporting skinny jeans and a soul patch closes the worship set with a prayer, beginning, "Hey God …" The spotlight then falls on the speaker, who tells entertaining stories, cracks a few jokes, and assures everyone that "God is not mad at you. He loves you unconditionally."
After worship, some members of the church sign up for the next mission trip, while others decide to join a small group where they can receive support on their faith journey. If you ask the people here why they go to church or what they value about their faith, they'll say something like, "Having faith helps me deal with my problems."
Fifty or sixty years ago, these now-commonplace elements of American church life were regularly found in youth groups but rarely in worship services and adult activities. What happened? Beginning in the 1930s and '40s, Christian teenagers and youth leaders staged a quiet revolution in American church life that led to what can properly be called the juvenilization of American Christianity. Juvenilization is the process by which the religious beliefs, practices, and developmental characteristics of adolescents become accepted as appropriate for adults. It began with the praiseworthy goal of adapting the faith to appeal to the young, which in fact revitalized American Christianity. But it has sometimes ended with both youth and adults embracing immature versions of the faith. In any case, white evangelicals led the way.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Youth Ministry * Culture-Watch Psychology Religion & Culture Teens / Youth * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals
Many years ago I was the warden—the senior layperson—of a small suburban Episcopal church in northern Virginia. During that time, the bishop assigned to our parish an elderly priest, in some kind of distress and in need of a parish, to serve as an assistant pastor. I never knew the nature of his problem. We just welcomed him into the church, treated him as one of us, and ministered to him, just as we ministered to one another. He was with us for a year. On his last Sunday, he was assigned the sermon. As he finished, he looked out over the congregation and with a smile on his face quietly concluded, “Always show more kindness than seems necessary, because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know.” That sentence hit me with a special force that has remained with me for four decades. His lesson was clear: Kindness is not just about being nice; it’s about recognizing another human being who deserves care and respect.
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There is a revolution taking place in the way traditional congregations hire, manage and compensate their staff. Some of it is healthy and overdue, some of it is painful and short-sighted.
As traditional congregations entered the 21st century, they walked into a perfect storm of factors negatively impacting staffing. Attractional, programmatic congregational life was waning in many settings. Missional leadership required a set of skills and a mentality that was foreign to those who had been trained and taught in another era. The Great Recession put unprecedented strain on church operating budgets. Scapegoating among congregational leaders seeking to explain a suddenly clear pattern of plateau and decline became the norm.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Economics, Politics Economy The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--
Bishop Timothy Clarke, head of the First Church of God, a large African-American church with a television ministry in Columbus, Ohio, was perhaps most typical. He felt compelled to address the president’s comments at a Wednesday evening service and again Sunday morning. He was responding to an outpouring of calls, emails and text messages from members of his congregation after the president’s remarks.
What did he hear from churchgoers? “No church or group is monolithic. Some were powerfully agitated and disappointed. Others were curious — why now? to what end? Others were hurt. And others, to be honest, told me it’s not an issue and they don’t have a problem with it.”
What did the bishop tell his congregation? He opposes gay marriage. It is not just a social issue, he said, but a religious one for those who follow the Bible. “The spiritual issue is ground in the word of God.”
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family Religion & Culture Sexuality --Civil Unions & Partnerships * Economics, Politics Politics in General Office of the President President Barack Obama
England's Catholic jurisdiction for former Anglicans has received a $250,000 donation from Pope Benedict XVI, prompting an expression of thanks from its top cleric.
“I am very grateful to the Holy Father for his generosity and support,” said Monsignor Keith Newton, head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, in a May 1 statement....
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Archbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI
We released some new research yesterday at LifeWay Research showing 84% of Protestant pastors disagree that eternal life can be obtained through religions other than Christianity. That view is generally called "universalism" or "pluralism" (though technically not the same thing, they are often used interchangeably and relate to one another). So, based on this data, Protestant pastors are overwhelmingly not pluralist/universalist.
However, the same cannot be said of their church members. When presented with the same statement, just 48 percent of adults who attend a Protestant church once a month or more disagree strongly and 9 percent disagree somewhat.
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Our deliberations confirmed the relevance of our mission, yielded possible solutions and strategies to be further explored and also revealed some urgent needs which must be addressed, in order to properly execute The church’s Mission. Three major objectives were identified that need to be immediately pursued:-
1. Greater interaction of the church with the immediate and wider communities, leading to an expansion of the membership of the congregation.
2. Attracting more youth and young adults into the membership of the church and reversing the tendency of our young adults leaving Ascension for membership in other churches.
3. Expansion & enhancement of the physical facilities of the church to adequately meet the needs of the present and future congregation.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Ecclesiology Pastoral Theology
Q. The Episcopal Church is often at the forefront of hot topic issues; given that we all have opinions on these issues, which do you view as the most serious issue facing the Church and how does/will your opinion impact the diocese in its response to the issue?
People are leaving the pews, evangelization is carrying a poor connotation and theChurch seems to be conforming to society rather than conforming society. These are theRead it all. Then take a look all the finalists for Episcopal Bishop of Western Louisiana and their answers to questions as the election approaches on April 21.
dangerous things happening in congregations and I believe the most serious issues facing the Church. We know right from wrong, but most of us make a choice to live somewhere in between in the decisions we make. Our mission of bringing Christ to the world is diminished when we are viewed by those outside our Church to be a people who frustrate the mission with our own internal arguments; our own misunderstanding of what is right and what is wrong. My hope for the future of our children is that being drawn into the family of God, the ills of the world will be dealt with in a swift manner that will put down the desires of the Evil One and give us strength to walk the way of the Via Dolorosa.
Issues focused around sexuality, social justice, and Church politics seem to be most often referred to when someone is claiming a position to extol. These are certainly issues that easily flare up and lend themselves to heated discussion. Addressing same-sex relationships, how we care for those who live in the margins of society, or bishops and dioceses moving from one association to another, and the Church’s handling of that movement, many times evoke distances in thought that seem impossible to bridge. When we begin to flare over issues that we believe to be unfair, it is the Church which is called to stand up for those who are persecuted. I believe this stems from our desire as the children of God, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
In living out our call to love our neighbor as ourselves and to respect the dignity of every human being as we vow in our baptismal covenant, we truly desire to make all things “right” with humanity. Controversies in our Church arise when we attempt to make all things right by making all things “okay.” Our Church is known for accepting people as they are, and that is a good thing. We do not do Christ’s ministry justice, however, when we leave them where they are....
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology
Church leadership in the 21st century involves making numerous decisions about the future of ministry, frequently against a backdrop of rapid change and poorly understood but increasingly challenging circumstances.
For example, at the beginning of the 21st century, a number of churches are either in decline or (by contrast) are experiencing significant numerical growth.
Churches are facing major decisions as to whether to sustain or expand their present facilities, continue to minister in the same way, relocate to another community, disband or even sell their property and facilities.
Austerity measures and declining budgets further compound these issues.
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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 Blogging & the Internet --Social Networking History Religion & Culture Science & Technology * Theology Pastoral Theology
On Wednesday, the 26-strong choir of St James the Great will sing for the congregation as they have always done during Holy Week.
But this week they will do so a mile down the road in St Anne’s Roman Catholic church, their new home.
Led by Fr Ian Grieves, the priest at St James in Darlington for 23 years, 58 parishioners will formally join the Ordinariate, the body set up by the Pope for disaffected Anglicans.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Religion News & Commentary Ecumenical Relations Other Churches Roman Catholic
For Gene Edward Veith Jr., provost and professor of literature at Patrick Henry College, Martin Luther's doctrine of vocation undergirds a truly Christian theology of the family. Vocation, as he describes it, is "the way God works through human beings." In his latest book, Family Vocation: God's Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood (Crossway), Veith looks to Luther's ideals of loving and serving our neighbor, and to his view of the family as a "holy order" unto itself. Coauthored with daughter Mary J. Moerbe, a deaconess in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the book applies Luther's understanding to the various family vocations (marriage, parenthood, and childhood) and the "offices" within those vocations (husband, wife, father, mother, and child). Author and Her.meneutics blog contributor Caryn Rivadeneira spoke with father and daughter about Luther's vision of family life....
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Children Marriage & Family Religion & Culture * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Lutheran * Theology Pastoral Theology
The German Church’s accommodation of the Nazi regime reveals an appalling failure of basic Christian preaching and teaching. In [Edmund] Schlink’s understanding the failure of the churches was not so much caused by the persecution as revealed by it. “The forces outside the church showed up what was real in the life of these churches, and what was only an empty shell” (p. 100).
By God’s grace an astonishing renewal of the Church occurred as well. “The renewal began when the Church recognized the enemy’s attack as the hand of God … and when resistance to injustice became at the same time an act of repentance and of submission to the mighty hand of God” (p. 100). As the contrast with anti-Christian propaganda became more intense “the Church’s ears were re-opened to the Word of God. … But at the same time God’s Word challenged us, questioned the reality of our own religion, and forced us to recognize God simply and solely in His Word...."
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[Many of the frequent quotes on hears among Methodists these days] ...in some way, [are] responses to the question, “Can young people save the Church?”
Whether vocalized or not, this question permeates United Methodist dialogue about membership decline, denominational vitality and the state of young people in an ever-changing world. Many of our conversations about these topics are well-intentioned attempts to answer this question.
But the question of whether or not young people can save the Church is not effective, because it is based on inaccurate assumptions about young people and membership decline.
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Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture Teens / Youth Young Adults * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Methodist
Part one is here and part two is there. You are encouraged to take the time to listen to (suffer through?) it all.
Please note--these are both audio files. The time begins with a short Q and A to introduce me to those present before the questions shift to the subject at hand. Note, too that Bishop Kee Sloan of Alabama was invited by the Dean, Frank Limehouse, to come, which he (graciously) chose to do. During the time, Dean Limehouse invited Bishop Sloan to speak, and he chose to do so. This covers a wide range of recent events/developments and will be of broad interest to many blog readers--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal - Anglican: Analysis - Anglican: Commentary Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Data * By Kendall Sermons & Teachings * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Stewardship * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues * Theology Christology Ecclesiology Ethics / Moral Theology
First please go here and reread the necessary procedures for a petition nomination. Observe especially the following:
"A petition should come after a prayerful discernment about the preliminary slate and as a way to strengthen the slate," advises Dean [George] Werner.Now see what you make of Lionel Diemel's take on this matter.
A nomination by petition requires ten signatures from individuals representing at least three parishes. Four of those signing must be canonically resident clergy, and of the six lay communicants in good standing in parishes of the diocese, three must be deputies to the Diocesan Convention. The petition must also include the consent signature of the person being nominated.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Theology Pastoral Theology
Churchwardenship must be one of the strangest voluntary occupations you could imagine, since it is partly intensely practical and partly quietly spiritual. I inhabit a world of aumbries, risk assessments, blocked drains, corporals, coffee mornings, quinquennial architect’s reports, vestments, child protection policies, intercessions rotas, gluten-free wafers, ‘open gardens’ and altar frontals. In the course of a week I may telephone an undertaker, polish the paten and chalice, write a Statement of Need in preparation for a Faculty application, deal with a query concerning property in the village owned by the diocese (of which I am perforce a trustee), check the communion wine hasn’t gone off, and assist the vicar on Sunday to serve the bread and wine, with as much reverence and discretion as I can muster.
I act as a sober usher at funerals, remove plastic flowers from grave sides and lock the church at night. I am partly preoccupied with centuries-old ritual and partly with how to raise £15,000 a year (just to stand still, without spending anything on maintenance, let alone improvements) in a village of 265 souls. And always, at the back of my mind, are pressing anxieties about the future: how we can attract sufficient numbers of the young or youngish, who won’t write us off as a weird relict sect but who understandably look for better facilities, visual aids and a more diverse liturgy?
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary England / UK
Speaking at Washington National Cathedral on Jan. 27, [Bishop Mariann] Budde said the diocese will emphasize congregational renewal and revitalization. The bishop said she intends to hire a new diocesan staff person responsible for congregational leadership and development.
She also announced a new diocesan initiative to begin in March called People of the Way, which will help congregations enhance their spiritual formation practices. This initiative will draw from Brian McLaren’s Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices (Thomas Nelson, 2010).
While “the Episcopal Church is a jewel on the spectrum of Christianity,” today its “spiritual muscles” are “a bit out of shape,” Budde said. “The undeniable reality is that our church is not thriving. … I want to turn the trends of decline around.”
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Evangelism and Church Growth Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * Culture-Watch Books Religion & Culture
His family bullied him. The one person who treated him well was Anna Milles, the family housekeeper. She loved him and told him Bible stories, and taught him to pray. “She told him of Calvary and the Empty Tomb and spoke of the Lord Jesus as the risen Redeemer who could be a Friend.” [Later 7th Earl of Shaftesbury] Ashley believed because of her witness and later said, “God be praised for her and her loving faithfulness; we shall meet… in the House where there are many mansions.” Ashley’s choice for Christ became the determining fact of his life.
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Four churchwardens have resigned from a small rural parish in Kent in a long-running saga in which the diocesan bishop was forced to intervene.
In their extraordinary joint letter of resignation the four churchwardens accuse their rector, Dr David Attwood, of “poor personal relationships with several leading parishioners” and of being “extremely verbally aggressive” on a visit to one former churchwarden.
The four — Penelope Bell, Trevor Champ, Roger Flint and Michael Moore — say that when he arrived in 2002, having overcome an original rejection, the three parishes of Sundridge, Ide Hill and Toys Hill near Sevenoaks were thriving, with growing congregations and healthy finances.
Read it all (requires subscription).
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Pastoral Care * Theology Pastoral Theology
When my mother, a youthful 88, poured her last cup of tea as president of her local Anglican Church women’s organization last year after 19 years at the helm, the group also went into retirement.
Many of its former members had died or were in nursing homes by then, and there was no one able or willing to take on the rigours of making sandwiches for funerals and organizing fundraising bazaars. After more than a century, the organization that had been home to generations of volunteers was no more.
It is a story being played out across the country, especially in smaller communities with older populations. Church ladies are, literally, a dying breed, and if you have ever watched them at work, or enjoyed the occasional cup of tea offered by one, you will share in a nostalgia and admiration of their generosity and work ethic.
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You can find the speakers and agenda here. You all know enough about a conference like this to know that there is much more to it than simply the presentations. Please pray for the speakers travel and ministry here (a number are serving in Sunday worship after the conference locally), the time to develop new friendships and renew old ones, for the Bishop and his wife Allison in their hosting capacity, and especially for the the Rev. Jeffrey Miller of Beaufort, who has the huge responsibility of coordinating it all--KSH.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Church of England (CoE) CoE Bishops Church of Nigeria Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained * South Carolina * Theology
Please note that what follows is the cover letter written to Bishop Daniel first, and this is then followed by the full letter to all the bishops--KSH.
Dear Bishop Daniel:
As a lay person and retired college president (3 church-related liberal arts colleges over 24 years), I read with care your letter representing the Bishops of Province IV. After spending time in prayer, I have written an open letter to the Bishops of Province IV. I am hopeful that you will forward this letter to the other Bishops as an example of one lay person's assessment of what is happening in and to our Diocese of South Carolina. I know that Bishop Lawrence is deeply sensitive to the impact of what is happening in The Episcopal Church on the laity of our diocese.
Just as faculty members and deans debate intellectual issues in higher education with a fervor that might ignore the needs of students, I worry that clergy and bishops debate theological issues with a fervor that might ignore the needs of parishioners. I hope that as you meet with Bishop Lawrence that you will hold in your thoughts and heart that there are people in every pew in every Episcopal church in our country and world who are hurting, confused, frightened, and desperate for a message of hope, love and reconciliation.
You and all the Bishops in Province IV, including Bishop Lawrence, will be in my and many laypersons' minds, hearts, and prayers this coming week.
Proactive Transition Management
A strategic plan is worthless – unless there first is a strategic vision. John Naisbett
The ability to embrace new ideas, routinely challenge old ones, and live with paradox will be the effective leader's premier trait. Tom Peters
December 7, 2011
An Open Letter to the Bishops of Province 4
I am puzzled intellectually, offended emotionally, and disappointed spiritually in your letter to Bishop Lawrence requesting a meeting based on the fact that you “determined that it is our duty as bishops of this province to address these concerns in direct communication with you, as Jesus exhorts his followers in Matthew's Gospel (18:15-20), and in accord with our ordination vows regarding the unity and governance of the church.”
Matthew 18:15-20 NIV
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. 19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
I am puzzled intellectually because you did the exact opposite of Jesus’ advice as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. You did not send one Bishop to talk to our Bishop. You did not send two or three Bishops. You sent a message from all the Bishops of Province 4 and published the letter on the Internet for all to see. While I have not attended seminary (I’m a retired college president from three church-related liberal arts colleges over 24 years), I did review several writers about this passage from Ignatius (c 110) to Chrysostom (c 380) to Augustine to Matthew Henry to B.W. Johnson and to David Lose and Karl Jacobson who preached on this text on September 4, 2011 when this passage was the Gospel Lesson in the Lectionary. Throughout my reading, the central meaning of Jesus’ parable, to seek reconciliation and unity, seems to have escaped you. Why did you choose this Scripture passage to set the context of your letter? What were you hoping to accomplish? Why did you violate the very passage you quoted by going viral with your letter on the Internet? I am puzzled.
I am also offended emotionally. Violating Jesus’ advice and going viral is offensive to those of us who see our Bishop as a man of great faith and integrity. The tone of your letter, while claiming to be collegial is every bit as confrontational and accusatory in the same passive-aggressive manner as the Pharisees who tried to build a case against Jesus. By going viral, you have tried to put Bishop Lawrence in a box and that is disingenuous on your part. Fortunately, Bishop Lawrence is a Godly man whose deep and abiding commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer, as described in the Bible and affirmed in the canons, rituals, and prayer book of the Anglican Communion will give him the insight tempered with humility and love to address your questions. Matthew Henry captured my sentiments beautifully when he wrote on Matthew 18:15-20, “When we come together, to worship God in a dependence upon the Spirit and grace of Christ as Mediator for assistance, and upon his merit and righteousness as Mediator for acceptance, having an actual regard to him as our Way to the Father, and our Advocate with the Father, then we are met together in his name.”
Finally, I am disappointed spiritually. Four years ago, when my wife and I moved to Georgetown, South Carolina, we joined Prince George Winyah Episcopal Church. Our faith has grown exponentially with a priest who is a marvelous teacher and preacher and with a congregation devoted to the Word and eager to grow in grace and love. While we may not agree on every issue facing Prince George or The Episcopal Church, we feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in the midst of our congregation and we are growing closer to Jesus every day. Knowing Bishop Lawrence’s fervent desire for our Diocese to have just a small space to stand on our orthodox principles and interpretation of the life, ministry, and word of Jesus Christ, I am spiritually disappointed that The Episcopal Church seems to lack the largess, love, and commitment to true unity in diversity to allow us to remain both true to a Biblically-based orthodox faith and to communion with Province 4 and The Episcopal Church USA. Why are you so intent to punish brothers and sisters who are proclaiming the “Good News” of a Savior who died for our sins on a cross so that all might be victorious over death? Why do you want to characterize as “sin” our Bishop’s attempt to protect this orthodox faith in a world that is becoming increasingly and disturbingly secular and even anti-Christian? Why will you not provide a place in TEC for a Diocese that appears to be so consistent in its orthodoxy faith and practice with the rest of the Anglican Communion?
As you approach your visit with our Bishop, I and many others in our Diocese of South Carolina, will be praying for you and for Bishop Lawrence. We will be praying that you come in a spirit of love, seeking understanding of our deep and abiding orthodox faith, looking for reconciliation, affirmation and unity amidst diversity. For you will indeed be gathered in His name. To that end, I close with comments made as recently as this fall by David Lose at Luther Seminary when addressing Matthew 18:15-20.
“Authentic community is hard to come by. It's work. But it's worth it. Because when you find it, it's like discovering a little bit of heaven on earth; that is, it's like experiencing the reality of God's communal fellowship and existence in your midst. And, as Jesus promises, when you gather in this way -- with honesty and integrity, even when it's hard -- amazing things can happen because Jesus is with you, right there, in your very midst, forming and being formed by your communal sharing.” David Lose
Welcome to South Carolina. May God’s blessings of faith and intellect be among you. May Christ’s love and reconciliation abide with you.
Peter T. Mitchell
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Conflicts TEC Conflicts: South Carolina TEC Polity & Canons * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Ministry of the Laity * Theology
(Alert blog readers are asked to note where the author of this article teaches--KSH).
A recent study on youth and discipleship by Slavic theologian Jana Struková suggests that the key to this sort of formation is in renewing a sense of Christianity as a vocation. A vocation is a calling, a "voicing" of the gospel into language that speaks directly to the reader or listener. As Martin Luther argued, the gospel is nothing until I hear it addressed to me; once my ears are trained to hear it, I can begin responding, "working with words" to live out an answer to its call.
Reframing Hollinger's concept of acculturation as vocation shows us that gospel words are irreplaceable in the formation of Christian youth. If they are brought up constantly hearing God's loving address, they will grow to love the gospel like they love their friends and family. And this is not just due to the nostalgic familiarity of the "big black book on the shelf." No, it is the message, the content—the very voice of God in the words of Scripture—that inspires devotion. The challenge of Christian education, according to the early 20th-century theorist George Albert Coe, is to "lead each one to adopt" the words and teachings of the faith "as his very own desire, purpose, and practice."
How well are we meeting this challenge? A quick survey of adult classes and Sunday sermons does not paint a pretty picture....
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Church History Church Year / Liturgical Seasons Liturgy, Music, Worship Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Preaching / Homiletics * Culture-Watch Children Media Religion & Culture * Theology Pastoral Theology
The basic problem, Gallup told me in 2004, is that far too many clergy "simply fail to take discipleship seriously. They assume that because people say they believe something, that this means they will live out those beliefs in daily life...."
Far too many pastors, he lamented, seem afraid to ask tough questions.
"America is a churched nation, for the most part. Most Americans are either going to church or they used to go to church," said Gallup. "At some point we need to start focusing more attention on what is happening or not happening in those churches. ... Are our people learning the basics? Is their faith making a difference in their lives? Is their faith attractive to other people? "These are the kinds of questions we must be willing to ask."
Read it all (emphasis mine).
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity * Culture-Watch Media Religion & Culture * International News & Commentary America/U.S.A.
It is critical for church leadership to challenge believers to be in the Word of God, consistently growing in their knowledge of the Scriptures. One way to do that is to teach and encourage study of the Scriptures in the context of the grand narrative of redemption. I try to read the Bible in the way it unfolds. The Bible is not a series of isolated morality tales. Instead, by looking at it as a whole through a Christ-centered lens, I read the Scriptures with the whole story of redemption in mind....
Churches today face some big challenges. One of the greatest is the evangelical angst occurring in North America. Evangelicals in our country are just not sure of who they are or where they're going.
Perhaps what evangelicals need most right now is a strategy for biblical literacy. We need to reengage the biblical narrative and immerse ourselves in consistent study. It will help us be more gracious and winsome in the way we communicate. It will help us have a clearer view on controversial issues. It will help us to understand and communicate a clear Gospel as laid out in the Scriptures -- a Gospel of the cross and of the Kingdom. The Word of God is essential to where we are right now.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry Adult Education Ministry of the Laity Ministry of the Ordained Youth Ministry * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches * Theology Theology: Scripture
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