Monthly Archives: August 2015

Open Thread: What has changed in the last decade?

Thanks to commenters David Keller and David Handy for suggesting this topic:
David Keller writes:

“I was looking for something in an office cabinet yesterday and found a picture of the Vestry of Christ Church Greenville, SC in 2002. Of the 14 vestry members, 4 are left at CC. Five are at St. Paul’s Anglican, my church, including the Junior Warden in that picture and the next Junior Warden. The Senior Warden is at a PCA Church, but his daughter is on the vestry at St. Paul’s and he visits St Paul’s regularly. Two are at “mega” (very orthodox) independent churches. One is now a Methodist. One is deceased”

What has happened for you and those you know in the last decade or so? What general lessons are there from this time, and how has God used it?

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life

Lent & Beyond: Prayer for South Carolina on Monday August 31st

The upcoming hearing of the appeal by TEC and its local agents against the first instance decision in favor of the Diocese of South Carolina is due to start on September 23rd. T19 will be posting prayers for the Diocese of South Carolina and its legal team as well as for the Court, judges and all involved as the hearing date approaches and encourages intercession for the people of God and His mission in South Carolina during this time.
1 Chronicles 27:25 (AMP)
Over the king’s treasuries was Azmaveth son of Adiel; and over the treasuries in the country, cities, villages, and towers or forts was Jonathan son of Uzziah;

Azmaveth”“strong as death
Adiel”“the witness of the Lord
Jonathan”“Yahweh has given
Uzziah”“Yahweh has helped

Our Father in heaven,
Your witness, Your help, Your gifts are the treasures of the Diocese of South Carolina.
We thank You for the bounty of Your treasuries.
You are the Lord of life, our Creator, and You overcome death.
Be present to the Diocese of South Carolina during the ongoing litigation, we pray.
Amen.

Please pray it all and there are more prayers for South Carolina here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Andrew Symes: Mission strategy to middle England: doubt, diffidence and detachment?

..Most people in middle England seem to like the idea of God but can’t believe in the God of the Bible; they like peace and gentleness, prayer not preaching, concerts and carols in beautiful buildings but not dogma or worship; they like being in a club but not an army or a school. According to this churchwarden, catering for these needs, rather than preaching the Gospel so people encounter Christ, repent and believe, is what most churches should aim for in terms of mission strategy. This idea is similar to those of influential sociologist Linda Woodhead, who is often quoted as saying that the Church of England should reflect the religious and cultural views of the majority (for example here).

How many clergy and even Bishops share this idea of mission, proposed in a lead article in the Church Times, as creating communities of hurting doubters, attracted to a romanticized Jesus but distrustful of the Bible, and turned off by stories of healing, change and church growth? It might sound nice for a vicar’s message to be “I have doubts about God but I really care about you ”“ let me sit with you and search with you”, but a) does that conform to ordination commitments? b) is it Christian? and c) will it reach the nation for Christ?

In response, a Confessing Church needs to say that authentic Christianity, and therefore the only hope for Church and nation, is the opposite of these sentiments. Instead of glorifying doubt about God and exalting our own ability to seek the truth, we should surely doubt ourselves, and trust in revealed Truth even if we can’t articulate immediate answers to the thorny theological problems? Instead of being embarrassed and diffident about what we believe, agreeing with those who say “how could God allow”¦?” and “our view of God is like that of the blind men touching an elephant”*, shouldn’t Christians be saying that the way we manage life with our own weaknesses and the world’s suffering is only through confident faith in Christ’s work in the past, present and future?

Read it all

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Helen Costa: Want to blame social media? Think ISIS, not Virginia

..the case of 41-year-old Vester Flanagan, the former on-air reporter at WDBJ-7, who gunned down his one-time colleagues, the “dark side of instant sharing,” as Wired described the tragedy, appears to have as much to do with an old school desire to “make it” on mainstream media than it does the scourge of social that some have blamed in the hours since the tragedy. Overlooked in the disgust over the Virginia gunman’s video posts of the shooting is the fact that both Twitter and Facebook suspended Flanagan’s account soon after he shared his video. CBS Evening News, along with several mainstream news sites, however, broadcast the footage. While CBS was the only network that made the decision to show Flanagan’s video, CNN was one of several cable channels to broadcast the on-air footage taken by the slain cameraman most of the day ”” which was, in all likelihood, Flanagan’s intent.

Contrast this with members of the Islamic State and other terrorists who have used social media to distribute shocking materials of bloodthirsty acts in order to gain notoriety and followers. Supporters of Islamic State have as many as 90,000 accounts on Twitter. The group is so good at harnessing social media that the United States’ counter-strategy pales in comparison. In a June memo obtained by the New York Times, State Department official Richard Stengel described Islamic State’s social media dominance: “When it comes to the external message, our narrative is being trumped by ISIL’s.”

Yet for members of Islamic State, social media is the most meaningful outlet for building their base.

Read it all

Posted in * Culture-Watch, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet

The Church of England Pensions Board issues £100 million of bonds to fund clergy retirement housing

The Church of England Pensions Board (“the Board”) today announced that it has issued £100 million of bonds, giving it access to long-term finance to purchase additional retirement properties, which will secure the future of clergy housing in retirement.

The bonds are repayable in tranches between 2038 and 2048 and were issued through a special purpose vehicle, CHARM Finance plc. £70 million of the bonds were placed immediately, and the remaining £30 million retained to provide quick access to the capital markets if required in the future.

Read it all

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

John Lloyd: Why $40 oil is killing Iraq, Venezuela and others, but not Russia

In Canada, now a major oil producer from Alberta’s tar sands, polls are jumping about nervously, as Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper seemed up in April, then down in July. Harper has been in power since 2006, so “regime fatigue” is judged to be a large factor in the public’s ambivalence toward him. The fall in the price of the commodity that accounts for a quarter of the country’s export revenue and nearly 10 percent of its GDP is not his fault ”” but it’s happened on his watch. This will only aggravate the fatigue. Elections are in October; a credible critique of Harper’s economic policy at a time of falling revenues could tip it for the opposition.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari doesn’t have to face an election soon ”” he just won one. But like other leaders from oil-producing nations, he does have to cope with a price slump in the commodity, which comprises 80 percent of the government’s revenue. It has meant civil servants in most states are owed months of pay; capital projects have been frozen; and an already restive and divided country shows more signs of revolt.

The turmoil is felt by countries throughout the Middle East ”” by those desperately reliant on oil revenue (Iraq, Syria and Libya) and those with vast riches (Saudi Arabia).

And yet the Russian Federation, and Scotland buck this trend. Their leaders are the Teflon Kids of the oil slump: Hit by sliding prices but not public scorn.

Read it all

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources

(CT) A New School Year Starts, and Many Seminarians Are Staying Put

Seminary students have a reputation for taking theology seriously. But would they relocate from, say, New York City to Mississippi for a better doctrinal fit?

“Seminarians are not relocating to go to seminary,” said Ligon Duncan, president of the Jackson, Mississippi”“based Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS). “Many are choosing to attend regional institutions with which they have less theological affinity in order to stay in the same city.”

That’s one key reason why RTS has formed a new partnership with Redeemer City to City, a church-planting network founded in 2001 by Tim Keller. Now RTS students based in New York won’t have to choose between a local school and a Reformed one. (It also has six other extension campuses.)

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(GC) Tim Keller on the Disappearing Umbrella over Devout Christians

What does this mean for conservative Christians? Keller uses the analogy of an umbrella:

So what’s happening is the roof has come off for the devout. The devout had a kind of a shelter, an umbrella. You couldn’t be all that caustic toward traditional classic Christian teaching and truth. I spoke on Friday morning to the American Bible Society’s board. American Bible Society does a lot of polling about the Bible. The use of the Bible, reading the Bible, attitudes toward the Bible. They said that actually the number of people who are devout Bible readers is not changing that much.

What is changing is for the first time in history a growing group of people who think the Bible is bad, it’s dangerous, it’s regressive, it’s a bad cultural force, that was just never there. It was very tiny. And that’s because the middle ground has shifted, so it is more identified with the more secular, the less religious, and it’s less identified now with the more devout.

Later, he explains what the loss of this umbrella means for the devout:

The roof came off. That is, you had the devout, you had the secular, and you had that middle ground that made it hard to speak disrespectfully of traditional values. That middle ground now has not so much gone secular, but they more identified with this side. They are identified with expressive individualism, and so they don’t want to tell anybody how to live their lives.

And so what that means now of course is that the devout suddenly realize that they are out there, that the umbrella is gone, and they are taking a lot of flak for their views, just public flak.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(WSJ) Fethullah Gulen–Muslims Must Combat the Extremist Cancer

Terrorism is a multifaceted problem, so the solutions should address the political, economic, social and religious layers. Approaches that reduce the problem to religion do a disservice to at-risk youth and the world at large. The international community would do well to realize that Muslims are the primary victims of terrorism””both literally and symbolically””and they can help marginalize terrorists and prevent recruitment. That’s why governments should avoid statements and actions that result in the alienation of Muslims.

Violent extremism has no religion; there will always be people who manipulate faith texts. Just as Christians do not endorse Quran burnings or the actions of the Ku Klux Klan, and Buddhists do not endorse atrocities against Rohingya Muslims, mainstream Muslims do not endorse violence.

Muslims have historically added much to the flourishing of human civilization. Our greatest contributions were made in eras when the faith cherished mutual respect, freedom and justice. It may be immensely difficult to restore the blotted image of Islam, but Muslims can be beacons of peace and tranquility in their societies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, Islam, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(Barna) Scotland: Lessons for Effective Ministry in a Post-Christian Context

Can the Christian community flourish in a post-Christian context? This is the main question behind a landmark study of the state of faith and effective ministry in Scotland””the first of its kind for Barna Group outside of North America.

Despite levels of secularization that are much higher than in the U.S., the research findings from Scotland will likely strike American readers as familiar: increasing numbers of non-religious adults, declining church attendance numbers and fewer people engaged with the Bible. What is happening? And how can the trends revealed by the research help church leaders in America and beyond do more effective ministry in their own post-Christian context?

The yearlong research effort, commissioned by the Maclellan Foundation, examines the current state of the Christian faith in Scotland and identifies ministry approaches that seem to be working in this particular post-Christian context. While some of the trends revealed in the new report, Transforming Scotland, may paint an uncomfortable picture for church leaders, the research also shows surprising “countertrends” that refute traditional expectations of secularization, including best practices among growing churches.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Scotland, Sociology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter


Picture: River baptisms at Church of the Holy Cross, Bluffton SC
Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Baptism, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Chicago Cubs Ace Jake Arrieta pitchers no-hitter against the Dodgers last Night

Even after pitching his first career no-hitter, Jake Arrieta wasn’t too big to wear his PJs.

He threw the second no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers in 10 days, leading the Chicago Cubs to a 2-0 victory Sunday night.

Arrieta was lights-out on the mound, striking out a season-high 12. He was ready for lights out afterward, slipping into one-piece pajamas decorated with moustaches for the overnight flight home.

Fitting, since Arrieta had thought about throwing a no-hitter since he was a kid. His grandfather witnessed one of Nolan Ryan’s no-hitters in Texas.

Read it all from ESPN.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Men, Sports

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Aidan and Cuthbert of Lindisfarne

Everliving God, who didst call thy servants Aidan and Cuthbert to proclaim the Gospel in northern England and endued them with loving hearts and gentle spirits: Grant us grace to live as they did, in simplicity, humility and love for the poor; through Jesus Christ, who came among us as one who serves, and who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from John Calvin

My God, my Father and Preserver, who of thy goodness hast watched over me during the past night, and brought me to this day, grant also that I may spend it wholly in the worship and service of thy most holy deity. Let me not think, or say, or do a single thing which tends not to thy service and submission to thy will, that thus all my actions may aim at thy glory and the salvation of my brethren, while they are taught by my example to serve thee. And as thou art giving light to this world for the purposes of external life by the rays of the sun, so enlighten my mind by the effulgence of thy Spirit, that he may guide me in the way of thy righteousness. To whatever purpose I apply my mind, may the end which I ever propose to myself be thy honour and service. May I expect all happiness from thy grace and goodness only. Let me not attempt any thing whatever that is not pleasing to thee.

Grant also, that while I labour for the maintenance of this life, and care for the things which pertain to food and raiment, I may raise my mind above them to the blessed and heavenly life which thou hast promised to thy children. Be pleased also, in manifesting thyself to me as the protector of my soul as well as my body, to strengthen and fortify me against all the assaults of the devil, and deliver me from all the dangers which continually beset us in this life. But seeing it is a small thing to have begun, unless I also persevere, I therefore entreat of thee, O Lord, not only to be my guide and director for this day, but to keep me under thy protection to the very end of life, that thus my whole course may be performed under thy superintendence. As I ought to make progress, do thou add daily more and more to the gifts of thy grace until I wholly adhere to thy Son Jesus Christ, whom we justly regard as the true Sun, shining constantly in our minds. In order to my obtaining of thee these great and manifold blessings, forget, and out of thy infinite mercy, forgive my offences, as thou hast promised that thou wilt do to those who call upon thee in sincerity.

(Ps. 143:8.)””Grant that I may hear thy voice in the morning since I have hoped in thee. Show me the way in which I should walk, since I have lifted up my soul unto thee. Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord, I have fled unto thee. Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God. Let thy good Spirit conduct me to the land of uprightness.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture