Monthly Archives: July 2015

[Economist] Ebola vaccine proves successful in clinical trial

The current outbreak of Ebola fever, in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which has killed more than 11,000 people, has dropped out of the news as it has been brought under control. But, though new cases are now measured in dozens, rather than hundreds, a week, the disease has not been stamped out””and a new epidemic could flare up somewhere else at any time. A vaccine against the virus responsible would be of enormous value. And a paper just published in the Lancet suggests one is now available.

This vaccine, developed by the Public Health Agency of Canada, and called rVSV-ZEBOV, smuggles one of the Ebola virus’s coat proteins into a person’s body in a Trojan horse called a vesicular stomatitis virus. This is a horse and cattle virus, and does not cause human illness, but its presence is enough to activate the immune system. This then learns to recognise and react to the Ebola coat protein””and thus, the vaccine’s inventors hope, to clobber Ebola, should it arrive in the vaccinated person’s body.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Debussy: Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Music

Al Mohler: The dangerous calling of Christian missions

In the life of Paul, we find that following Christ means being exposed to dangers. Also like Paul, we must not shirk or avoid these dangers ”” we must embrace them. We embrace them because we know that gaining the world but losing our soul is a futile transaction. We embrace them because we know whatever dangers and trials we may face, Christ is worth them all. We embrace them because we have a resurrection hope which places our hopes for comfort, security, and peace not in this life but in the life to come.

This world is indeed a dangerous place ”” Jesus told us that it would be so. With the rise of both militant Islam and the velocity of secularization in the West, Christians cannot afford to remain silent and cease proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. In times like this we must follow the example of men and women like William Carey, John Paton, Bill Wallace, Lottie Moon, and Hudson Taylor. We must remember the words of Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

This is, as the late Carl F.H. Henry advised, a time for evangelical demonstration. Our words of support for the missionary cause are meaningless if we do not produce a new generation of bold, courageous, and committed Christian missionaries. Let us make our convictions clear and commitments firm, even in the face of hostility and danger. Evangelical Christians must take our stand for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, who alone has made atonement for our sins. In a day of hostility and danger, we must point to the only gospel that offers salvation.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Missions

[Premier] Nicky Gumbel and the evangelisation of the nation

One of our archdeacons said that: ”˜An empty church is like the empty palace of a long-forgotten king and people walk past and say, “The king is dead.”’ That’s why when, for example, St Peter’s, Brighton, which was known as the unofficial cathedral of Brighton, was going to close, we said: ”˜Please don’t close it. Please allow us to go there.’ And thankfully the Bishop of Chichester invited us to send a team there.

What is it that allows these church plants to fly?

I think a lot of people are unchurched, but there are also a lot of people who are ”˜de-churched’. They’ve got a faith of some kind, but they’re looking for a church where they feel at home…There are quite a few people who like to have a relaxed, informal style. They like contemporary worship, a message that hopefully is practical for their life, and somewhere they can receive prayer and community. And it seems that those people are coming back to church.

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

Bp Graham Kings: Owing A Debt to Owen Chadwick (1916-2015)

On learning of the death of Owen Chadwick, I was moved to tears. Immediately, I jotted down how much we were in his debt as a friend of scholars, mentor to many, pithy and witty writer, faithful priest, brilliant preacher, diligent professor, supervisor and administrator, with a vast hinterland of history and culture.

He was Master of Selwyn College, Cambridge for 27 years from 1956. When I read New Testament studies as a postgraduate there in 1979-1980, he gave me a small, inspiring grant to study the Catholic, Orthodox, and Reformed churches in Yugoslavia during the summer vacation.

I begin by considering his obituaries and his writing of history, and then will remember his own words on secularization and on the role of friendship in scholarship

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

[BBC] Does the government really want to ban WhatsApp, iMessage and Skype?

Eight hundred million people around the world use WhatsApp to communicate, we learned this week from its owners, Facebook.

Yet this is the messaging service which could soon be banned by the British government because its use of encryption makes it too private for the security services to access. That at least was the story repeated in several newspapers in recent weeks, and frequently denied by Downing Street.

But this morning even the Financial Times seemed to back it up. In an article about the battle between governments and corporations over access to encrypted messages it says this: “David Cameron, UK prime minister, has proposed a complete ban on strong encryption ‘to ensure that terrorists do not have a safe space in which to communicate’.”

WhatsApp is just one of the services that uses strong encryption for their messages, along with Apple’s iMessage and Skype’s internet calls. Both the US and UK governments have expressed growing concerns that criminals and terrorists are making use of such services to communicate, knowing that they are completely private.

So does the prime minister really want to ban them?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Carey Nieuwhof: The Problem With Incremental Change

So you want to bring about change but you’re afraid of the pushback that you know the change will create?

Totally understand that.

So you’re tempted to do what many leaders have done. Instead of bringing about the deep or radical change you know needs to happen, you decide to introduce change incrementally.

Rather than remove the furniture you know needs to go, you move it an inch a week, hoping nobody will notice.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis

CofE: Finance Statistics for 2013 released

Introduction
Finance Statistics 2013 contains information provided by parishes in their annual finance returns.

In the autumn of 2008 the recession hit the economy. For the charitable sector as a whole there was a noticeable decline in income [1]. Parishes were protected during 2009-13 by the dedicated giving of donors, and donor income has increased at the same rate since 2007. However, the increase in donations has not matched the rate of inflation (Tables 3 and 4).

Financial Overview
The past ten years saw income exceed expenditure every year until 2008, with a maximum surplus of £60 million in 2007. This was followed by three years where expenditure was greater than income, with a maximum deficit of £21 million in 2010. Parishes have responded well in curtailing expenditure, with the result that in 2013 there was a surplus of £33 million (Table 1).

Read it all [pdf] and the ever optimistic blurb from the CofE Press Office is here and here [pdf]. CofE Statistics for Mission in 2013 may be found here [pdf]

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

Sydney: Two ways to launch

In a double launch at Moore College in June, Phillip Jensen began a new ministry venture and his friends and colleagues launched a book in his honour.

It is no surprise that Two Ways Ministries, named after the internationally successful gospel tract Two Ways to Live that Mr Jensen authored in 1978, has a dual purpose.

“Its aim is to raise up a new generation of gospel-centred preachers through training ministry workers, and to model preaching in churches and conferences, both local and international,” Mr Jensen said.

The former bishop of Wollongong, Al Stewart, is a preaching consultant in the new ministry.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

Diocese of Egypt: Residential Course for Training Lay Ministers at All Saints Cathedral Begins

On Monday, the 13th of July, a training course for the lay ministers of the various churches of the Diocese started at All Saints Cathedral-Zamalek, and will be running for the next four days. This course comes as a part of our dedication to the training and preparing of leaders in the church.

The four-day training includes the following topics:

Ministry, The Call, History of the Anglican Church, Structure of the Church, Nature of the Church: Catholic and Reformed, Anglican Way of Theology, Anglican Worship, and The Church and Contemporary Issues.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

[Guardian] Dying for Christianity: millions at risk amid rise in persecution across the globe

According to David Alton, a crossbench peer who campaigns on religious freedom, “some assessments claim that as many as 200 million Christians in over 60 countries around the world face some degree of restriction, discrimination or outright persecution”. That is about one in 10 of the 2.2 billion Christians in the world. Christianity remains the faith with the most adherents.

“Whatever the real figures the scale is enormous. From Syria, Iraq, Iran and Egypt to North Korea, China, Vietnam and Laos, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, from Cuba, Colombia and Mexico to Eritrea, Nigeria and Sudan, Christians face serious violations of religious freedom,” Alton said. Persecution ranged from murder, rape and torture to repressive laws, discrimination and social exclusion.

One consequence was “a form of religio-ethnic cleansing of Christian communities”, said John Pontifex of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), a Catholic campaign group that monitors persecution. “The persecution of Christians is at a level we’ve not seen for many, many years and the main impact is the migration of Christian people. There are huge swaths of the world which are now experiencing a very sharp decline in the number of Christians.”

In the past 15 months, a number of egregious attacks have highlighted the targeting of Christians by Islamic extremists in the Middle East and Africa. They include:

Read it all and there is more information linked here

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Religious Freedom / Persecution

Update from the Dean of Nepal

Dear brothers and sisters-in-Christ,

Thank you so much for mobilising prayers and strong financial support towards the relief work in Nepal over the last 3 months. You have given the people in one of the worse hit areas a sense of hope in the midst of this very trying time.

I am pleased to inform you that through ACROSS, our partners, and the Deanery of Nepal we have, over the last 3 months, sent 7 medical teams (from ACROSS & St John’s St Margaret’s Church) to Kathmandu and the district of Dhading (Tawal, Choke & Laba village); as well as contributed 2,000 tarpaulins and 1,700 bundles of zinc sheets for temporary shelters for 3,700 families; 500 blankets; 1.5 tonnes of used clothing; water filtration devices and 20 tonnes of rice and food supplies. I wish to also highlight that in the midst of this crisis and relief work, Bishop Rennis travelled to Nepal to ordain 3 local pastors to the Diaconate in Kathmandu.

While it was reported that “Nepal is on the mend” (Straits Times, 25 July 2015), many are in fact still living in temporary shelters and children are attending classes in make shift shelters. This state of living conditions is made even more difficult with the current monsoons which has already caused multiple landslides and flooding. With 530,000 homes and 4,300 schools destroyed in the country, the rebuilding work ahead of us is mammoth. But with God nothing is impossible.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, The Anglican Church in South East Asia

[Church Times] NSKK supports Security Bills protests

Two new Bills that undermine the specifically pacifist constitution in Japan have been passed by the lower house of its parliament, despite huge public protests. If they become law, they could mean that Japanese troops would be sent overseas to fight for the first time since 1945.

The Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, backed the two Bills, saying that it was necessary to expand the part played by the military. A doctrine of “collective self-defence” was used ”” even though opinion polls showed that more than half the Japanese public opposed them.

The Anglican Church in Japan, Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK), added its support to the protests in a public letter to Mr Abe, calling for the immediate withdrawal of the new Bills, which have still to pass through the upper house of Japan’s parliament.

In the letter, bishops and other church leaders wrote:…

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Japan

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Ignatius of Loyola

O God, by whose grace thy servant Ignatius, enkindled with the fire of thy love, became a burning and a shining light in thy Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline, and may ever walk before thee as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from John Wesley

O Lord, take thou full possession of my heart, raise there thy throne, and command there as thou dost in heaven. Being created by thee, let me live to thee. Being created for thee, let me ever act for thy glory. Being redeemed by thee, let me render to thee what is thine, and let my spirit ever cleave to thee alone; for thy name’s sake.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer