Daily Archives: September 13, 2009

Tenacious civil rights advocate follows his new life's path to change hearts

What time is it?” the preacher asks.

“Preaching time!” comes the collective response.

“What time is it?” he repeats.

“Preaching time!!” they answer, louder.

“What time is it?”

“Preaching time!!!”

“Gospel means ‘good news,’ and there’s no better news than the Book of John,” the Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III begins, steering the congregation at Charity Missionary Baptist Church to Chapter 9, Verses 18-25, which recount the story of the blind man made to see.

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

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Baptists, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

Sunday Telegraph: Britain in moral crisis, warns Bishop of Rochester

The Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali said that the rejection of Christian values is having a damaging effect on the country.

Speaking at his farewell service, he expressed particular concern at the breakdown of the family and at growing calls for the legalisation of assisted suicide.

Although he is stepping down as bishop, he vowed to continue to speak out on important issues and to fight for a return to Christian principles.

“I believe that the Christian faith is necessary for the life of our country,” he said.

“We need to get away from the constant making of moral decisions by opinion poll.

“We are facing a crisis about affirming the dignity of human purpose.

Read it all.

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

Lord Carey’s tribute to Bishop Michael Nazir Ali

Lord Carey paid this tribute during the service ( not verbatim):

“I want to express my thanks to Bishop Michael for his magnificent ministry as a Diocesan Bishop. But I want to focus on his national and international roles. Ask the average informed person in England which bishops they can name, and they will probably name two who come from outside these islands ”“ Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Rochester.

They have both touched a nerve with the British public. They ask questions from a much more critical perspective ”“ they are outspoken, brave and controversial. Michael speaks out of conviction and is not afraid to speak his mind. This has led him to receive his share of opprobrium and even death threats. He has also been outspoken in the House of Bishops. His clear mind undergirded by scholarship has also been a great resource to the General Synod. In the debates on Liturgy I asked Michael to guide us through the complex theological issues. Who can forget the magisterial debate he had with Professor Anthony Thiselton on the translation of the preposition ”˜ek. He was the first to identify problems and with him there was no pulling of punches.

His views on the damage done by The Episcopal Church in consecrating Gene Robinson as a bishop were applauded by many, including me. Though ignored by urban elites, he earned the right to be a critical friend of Islam. His contribution after 9/11 was invaluable when he put forward a number of ideas to open up dialogue with Muslim scholars. In 1988 ( for which Michael was study secretary) the Anglican Communion began to take dialogue with Islam seriously ”“ and in his new post following Lambeth as General Secretary of Church Mission Society he was best placed to do that. In his new post he reminded us that dialogue was not an end in itself ”“ and called for reciprocity and the freedom to change beliefs that are denied to so many Christians.

Read it all.

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

Graham Kings: There are many ways of being Conservative; some more enlightened than others

“By plotting a graph of the expansion of the monasteries throughout the Middle Ages we might easily have concluded that nine-tenths of the British people were celibates today.” John V Taylor’s wisdom, in his prophetic, ecological gem Enough is Enough, is worth remembering concerning any future predictions, not least the growth of Islam in the west. None of us knows what is round the corner.

Another shrewd attitude towards the past and the future is that taken by Zhou Enlai, the Chinese prime minister who died in 1975. When asked how he assessed the French Revolution, replied, “It’s a little too early to judge.”

Are Anglican conservatives in the Anglican communion turning their attention away from issues of sexuality to the threat of Islam? From reading articles and comments and taking part in various private discussions, this seems to me too simplistic an analysis. Perceptions on both these subjects may interweave and are likely to feature in future comment and campaign.

Read it all.

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

Star-Ledger–Churches pray for health reform, differ on details

“God of grace and God of glory,” prayed the Rev. Cynthia Hale during a national conference call Aug. 19 on health care reform, “É We believe that it is your will that every man, woman, boy and girl receive quality health care in America.”

On that point, no religious leader would contest Hale, pastor at Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga., who offered the prayer at the kickoff of an effort by the faith community to mobilize religious support for the ideals of health care reform favored by President Obama.

From the pulpits and through public statements, religious leaders have been weighing in on various elements of what they say is a crucial moral issue. Catholic bishops in New Jersey, in letters to the state’s members of Congress, have lobbied against possible inclusion of abortion coverage in any federal health care plan, a possibility Obama dismissed in his prime-time speech Wednesday. The Episcopal Church USA passed a resolution favoring a single-payer system, while some Catholic bishops in the Midwest have publicly opposed any massive government effort.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Episcopal Church (TEC), Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Senate, TEC Bishops

Creating a Soundtrack for Shakespeare

ON a recent humid Sunday, 26 members of the Harmonium Choral Society shuffled into Grace Episcopal Church here and dropped their belongings among the pews. As they stood in a scattered group, they locked gazes, stretched their arms skyward and hissed at one another.

That was a warm-up for a three-hour session that would culminate in the recording of three minutes of original music, created on the spot, to be woven into the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey’s production of “Hamlet,” which is running in Madison through Oct. 11. Music previously recorded by the group would be used at other points in the play.

Bonnie J. Monte, the Shakespeare Theater’s artistic director, approached Harmonium’s director, Anne Matlack, about a collaboration after she heard the singers at a First Night event in Morristown last year.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Parishes, Theatre/Drama/Plays

Frank Limehouse: Rats in the Cellar

Jesus was fiercely determined that we might see the truth about our condition, not so we would despair, but so we would flee to him for refuge and cleansing. This is what the gospel is all about. The truth will set you free.

It simply breaks my spirit when I hear people who should know better insist that this teaching of original sin and the universally diseased human heart is an insult to human dignity, when in fact it is curiously liberating because it throws us entirely on the dependence of God’s grace. And God’s grace gives new life!

There’s an old legend that pre-dates the story of the princes and the frog. It has a simple but sound theological allegory: The ballad tells of how a handsome night found coiling around a tree in a dismal forest, a loathsome serpent-like-dragon breathing out poison; and how, undeterred by its hideousness and foulness, the knight cast his arms around it and kissed it on the mouth. The thing resisted him fiercely, but the knight persisted, and finally the beast changed into a fair lady, and he won his bride. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Being loved when you don’t deserve it is the most transforming thing in the world.

Who are the most humble people in the world? Are they not those who have looked within and recognized their own foulness, yet who have felt the love of God when they didn’t deserve it? Is it any wonder that the atoning sacrifice of Jesus’ blood is most cherished by those who have searched their hearts and found them in desperate need of cleansing?

Who are the most humble before other sinners? Who are the most patient and kind before other peoples’ flaws and weaknesses? Who are the most compassionate and ready to forgive other people? Are they not the ones who see the truth about their own condition and have come to know the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as long as our hearts have a beat, and as long as vermin breathe, we will struggle. But beloved simply keep to the old gospel. There are no new theories for us, no newly found places of refuge. Keep to the old gospel of Jesus and his love. It is the one thing needful, exactly suited to our necessities. May God draw reluctant hearts, and now give doubting souls courage to believe for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, TEC Parishes

Notable and Quotable

On the eighth anniversary of the terrorist strikes, the Coast Guard incident served as an unwelcome reminder of two facts of life in the capital: Homeland security authorities continue to bear an occasional, unnerving likeness to Keystone Kops, and the cable-news-driven, minute-by-minute news cycle has a unique ability to sow mass confusion and misinformation.

Dana Milbank in today’s Washington Post

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Media, Terrorism, The U.S. Government

RNS: 'Back to Church Sunday' Emphasizes Communal Effort to Get People in the Door

In an interview, Outreach founder and chief executive Scott Evans said a recent study by Southern Baptist-affiliated Lifeway Research sparked the campaign. The study found that “82 percent of people who don’t go to church would be somewhat likely to go if invited but that only 2 percent of people who do go to church had invited someone,” he said. Outreach, Evans said, is “equipping people to be inviters.”

Eric Abel, the vice president of marketing for Outreach, said the organization works with about 17,000 churches; most of the interest in the back-to-church campaign is coming from evangelical or nondenominational churches.

According to Evans, there have been more than 1,000 requests for the tool kits. Outreach’s Web site allows people to record how many people they’ve invited to church; the count is up to nearly 700,000.

In Great Britain, Back to Church Sunday, which is Sept. 27 this year, was started in 2004 by the Anglican Diocese of Manchester. Anglican churches in New Zealand and Canada picked up the idea, and British Baptist, Methodist and United Reform churches are taking part.

Although the Back to Church Sunday campaign in the United States is generating buzz on Facebook, many mainline Protestant churches were staging fall welcomes long before there was electricity, much less computers. Concord Presbyterian Church in Statesville, N.C., is holding its 234th homecoming celebration on Sept. 20 — the congregation was founded in 1775 — with guest speakers and musicians.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Other Churches, Parish Ministry