Daily Archives: August 10, 2008

Chuck Warnock: How Churches Might Face the Coming Crises

An earlier column talked about several converging crises–energy, economy and environment. Since then the price of gas has gone down! Proof that I was wrong. Not!

As a nation we are so shell-shocked by the energy crisis that we think a 10-cent reduction in the price of gas is a big break, forgetting that less than a year ago we were paying under $3 a gallon.

I see churches adapting to these three interrelated crises in several ways:

–Redefinition of “church.” Church will no longer be the place we go. Church will be the people we share faith with. Churches will still meet together for worship at a central time and location, but that will become secondary to the ministry performed during the week. Church buildings will become the resource hub in community ministry, like the old Celtic Christian abbeys. Church impact will replace church attendance as the new metric.

–Restructuring of church operations. Due to the high cost of fuel and a struggling economy, churches will become smaller, more agile and less expensive to operate than in the past. Churches will need to provide direct relief to individuals and families with meal programs, shelters, clothing, job training, and more.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Parish Ministry

A Magical Experience

Joe Hoagland was born with a rare heart condition that had forced him to spend much of his first three years of life in hospitals. After a series of open-heart surgeries, Joe seemed to be doing better, but the last surgery to repair a graft on his heart resulted in a stroke. The stroke put him in an eight-day coma and left him paralyzed on one side and unable to see out of one eye.

Worse still, the spunky toddler who had bravely battled his ailments until then became demoralized. His spirit seemingly broken, Joe sank into a deep depression. Afraid of his doctors and unwilling to participate in efforts at physical therapy, Joe grew listless, losing interest even in his favorite toys. Doctors advised [his mother] Deena to consider placing her son in a full-time center for rehabilitation and therapy. Deena refused.

Now, hoever, Joe Hoagland is fully functioning and healthy. How did he recover? Guess first and then read the rest of the story to get the answer (pages 4-5), and yes, this, too was quoted in this morning’s sermon.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Notable and Quotable

During his years as premier of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev denounced many of the policies and atrocities of Joseph Stalin. Once, as he censured Stalin in a public meeting, Khrushchev was interrupted by a shout from a heckler in the audience. “You were one of Stalin’s colleagues. Why didn’t you stop him?” “Who said that?” roared Khrushchev. An agonizing silence followed as nobody in the room dared move a muscle. Then Khrushchev replied quietly, “Now you know why.”

–Quoted by yours truly in this morning’s sermon on the gospel for today, Matthew 14:22-33

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

BBC: Church considers £1.2m shortfall

A £1.2m deficit in the recent Lambeth Conference’s budget will be discussed on Monday by the committee that manages the Church of England’s assets.

A boycott of the conference by more than a quarter of bishops over the issue of homosexuality is thought to be partly responsible.

The Church’s main executive body, the Archbishops’ Council, has already agreed to pay half the shortfall.

Now Church Commissioners will decide how to meet the rest of the costs.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Lambeth 2008

Craig Brown: The Sun Has Got His Hat On: A Summer Commentary by Dr Rowan Williams

What exactly do we mean when we say that the Sun has got his hat on? It is, to my mind, an immensely rich and in many ways hugely meaningful image, from which many useful issues not only have arisen, but will continue to arise. Some of these issues concern hats, and their role in today’s multicultural society; others concern the Sun, and its continuing importance and validity for all our citizens, regardless of race or creed, in this, the 21st century. I trust that a fuller exegesis of this remarkable lyric can and will offer a vast amount to, as it were, “chew on”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury

The Bishop of Minnesota offers more Lambeth Thoughts

I suppose some will argue that we did not do anything at the Lambeth Conference, but then, that is really the point. Many of us came to do something, whether to restate norms strongly, to break new ground, to create new forms and structures for the Anglican Communion, to force others to their knees in repentance and contrition, to make someone come to our way of seeing things, or to win over those we consider the others. Yet that is what happened at the last Lambeth Conference in 1998, and we walked away with a document that all of us have wanted to use as a club on the head of someone else, or a theological straight-jacket to confine another’s thinking. We left that conference with seething anger or smug self-righteousness. Like Naomi, in the book of Ruth at the time of the loss of all the men in her life, the loss of her present happiness and her future security, we wanted to say, “Call me not Naomi, call me mara,” (which means “bitter”). In 1998, we set up rules with the expectation of obedience, but we did not deepen what we have come to call “the bonds of affection” with the hope of commitment to God and to each other by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

There are times in the lives of us human beings when our drive to do something betrays our impatience, our strong wills, and our inability to listen to and be transformed by the Holy Spirit.

In preparation for this Lambeth Conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury reminded us repeatedly that we were not going to be doing any legislation, building any structures, voting anything into or out of existence. Archbishop Rowan invited us to come together to pray, to listen to scripture and to each other and to the movement of the Holy Spirit among us. He himself refrained from giving us a direction. Instead, he began with five meditations on the nature and dimensions of episcopacy and episcopal ministry, and in his Presidential Addresses he laid out a framework, describing how he sees us and the Anglican Communion-our cracks and warts, our behaviors and attitudes, and the wide range of our theological thinking on the issues du jour, namely homosexuality and incursions by one bishop or province into another bishop’s diocese and jurisdiction. Each day we met in bible study for an hour and a quarter, focusing on the great I AM passages in the gospel of St. John: living water, bread, shepherd, the way, the truth and the life, and the resurrection, to name a number of them. In our sharing, we talked about our personal lives and ministries, the different dimensions of our faith, the things we hold dear. We kept returning to the text, especially to the person of Jesus and how he spoke about himself and particularly how he treated others. Again and again, we saw him exercise the same patience and warmth and hospitality to those who were blind or deaf to him and his work, to those who found faith, and to those who tried repeatedly to trip him up and plot against him. He only withdrew when people started picking up rocks with which to stone him.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lambeth 2008, TEC Bishops

Andrew Brown: Dr Williams' contortions

The point that interests me is why he continues and whether what we see is peculiarly religious behaviour. It’s just possible that it is not. What the Archbishop is holding on to is the idea that we can’t have ideas alone. They are always part of a conversation within a particular community, and sometimes the things that we get from that community are more important than any particular idea. In his case, as a Christian, who believes that the church (in some sense) is a means for God’s purpose in the world, he has to think that connection with it is a vital part of what he is called to do.

Something like this has to be the position of anyone who is aware that they are part of any kind of intellectual and cultural tradition. Even when we disagree with old ideas, we do so in the belief that the people we admire and have learned from would agree with us if only they could have had our experiences. In some fairly limited areas this is actually more or less true. Scientists, for example, can be brought round by new experiments to change their minds about scientific facts, though on matters of the heart, or of politics, they can be just as stupid and illogical as everyone else.

But in those parts of life which aren’t susceptible to clear and simple demonstrations, we have to face the possibility that people we love and admire really can sincerely disagree with us. The only alternative ”“ though I agree that it is a very popular one ”“ is to demonise entirely everyone who disagrees. But anyone who is not prepared to do that may one day find themselves in a position almost as grotesque and as humiliating as Williams’, though not, perhaps, on this particular subject.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Finances and the Lambeth Conference 2008

(ACNS) The 2008 Lambeth Conference involved the participation of some 680 bishops and 3000 participants overall. From Cathedral to parishes and volunteers all over the UK, support for 2008 meeting was indeed generous.

With a budget of £5.6 million, and in common with previous Conferences, the projection of a deficit in the immediate period following the Conference was always recognised. For an international conference on this scale and taking into account the places from which the participants travelled, England continues to be the most economical place to hold such a gathering and a university campus the most financially viable.

Successful fund raising has been taking place as planned, before, during and following the Conference, including raising bursaries for the participation of almost 40% of the bishops from developing countries.

Bishops were notified of the current financial position during the conference, and the possibility raised with them that there might have to be further approaches for assistance with the costs of the Conference at this stage, the shortfall in funding is unclear as bills come in to be settled, but it is likely to be approaching £1 million.

The shortfall is being addressed as agreed by the continuing fund raising programme, and we are grateful for the assistance of the Archbishop’s Council of the Church of England in supporting the cash flow of the Conference company as the fundraising continues around the Communion.

The Revd Canon Kenneth Kearon
Secretary General, The Anglican Communion,
Director, The Lambeth Company

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Tim Rutten: In Edward's Admission of Affair, Old media dethroned

When John Edwards admitted Friday that he lied about his affair with filmmaker Rielle Hunter, a former employee of his campaign, he may have ended his public life but he certainly ratified an end to the era in which traditional media set the agenda for national political journalism.

From the start, the Edwards scandal has belonged entirely to the alternative and new media. The tabloid National Enquirer has done all the significant reporting on it — reporting that turns out to be largely correct — and bloggers and online commentators have refused to let the story sputter into oblivion.

Slate’s Mickey Kaus has been foremost among the latter, alternately analyzing and speculating on the Enquirer’s reporting and ridiculing the mainstream media for a fastidiousness that has seemed, from the start, wholly absurd. Like other commentators, he repeatedly alleged that a double standard that favored Democrats applied to the story. Like the Enquirer’s reporting, the special-treatment charge is largely true, as anyone who recalls the media frenzy over conservative commentator and former Cabinet secretary William Bennett’s high-stakes gambling would agree.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Media, Theology, US Presidential Election 2008

An LA Times Editorial: Adding to division

Bishops of the Anglican Communion, a confederation of churches with roots in the Church of England, held their once-a-decade meeting recently and managed to avert a long-predicted schism over homosexuality. Although 200 conservative bishops boycotted the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, other conservatives showed up and joined their liberal counterparts in soul-searching sessions inspired by the Zulu indaba, or tribal conference.

Still, tensions were evident between liberal bishops from North America and conservative ones from the “Global South.” The archbishop of Sudan demanded the resignation of Gene Robinson, the openly gay New Hampshire bishop whose ordination in 2003 was the casus belli of the crisis. A female bishop from the United States suggested that “many of our bishops come from places where it is culturally accepted to beat your wife.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, - Anglican: Analysis, Lambeth 2008