Daily Archives: February 11, 2016

(ARDA) David Briggs–Is there a point of no return for the resurgence of mainline Protestantism?

New research suggests that not only is there no end in sight, but there are few signs of hope for revival in rapidly aging, shrinking groups such as the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Consider these findings from two of the largest surveys of U.S. congregations:

Ӣ In just the last five years, the percentage of mainline Protestant congregations where more than one-fifth are ages 18 to 35 has decreased dramatically. In 2010, some 4.8 percent of mainline congregations reported having that large a proportion of young adults in the pews; by 2015, just 1.3 percent reported that high a percentage, according to initial findings from the 2015 Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey.
Ӣ Children made up just 16 percent of regular attenders in mainline Protestant congregations, compared to an average of 29 percent in other Christian traditions, according to a new analysis of the 2012 wave of the National Congregations Study (NCS).
”¢ Mainline Protestants recorded a nearly 30 percent decline ”“ from 24 percent in 1998 to 17 percent in 2012 ”“ in the proportion of its members filling U.S. pews, the NCS study found.
Ӣ In the 2005 FACT survey, a little more than half of mainline churches said fewer than 100 people on average were at weekend worship; in 2015, nearly two-thirds attracted less than 100 worshippers. Sociologist David Roozen, a FACT study director, reported the findings at the annual meeting of the Religious Research Association.

How serious are the numbers?

“It might already be beyond that point” where a significant recovery is possible, said Duke University sociologist Mark Chaves, NCS director and author of “American Religion: Contemporary Trends.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

An Episcopal Priest in Chehalis, Washington responds to the Primates Gathering

Last month, the archbishops of the Anglican Communion voted to temporarily kick the American branch of the Communion, the Episcopal Church, out of its international association to a degree for its acceptance of gays and lesbians.
Two-thirds of the 37 leaders of the Communion voted for the censorship, suspending the Episcopal Church from voting and decision-making for the next three years.
While the decision is said to have derived from the Episcopal Church’s decision in July of last year to allow its priests to perform same-sex marriages, Father Joe Mikel, priest at St. Timothy Episcopal Church in Chehalis, agrees with the Episcopal Church’s acceptance.
“If you’re gay, a lesbian, transgender human being, do I throw you on the ash heap of life?” Mikel asked. “Are they human beings? Do they need love? Do they long for inclusion and forgiveness ”¦ just like me?”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Statements & Letters: Primates, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, TEC Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(C of E Comm Blog) William Nye: Renewal and Reform ”“ some thoughts

First of all, what is R&R? I would describe it as a set of initiatives and activities intended to improve the support that the national church institutions can give to the Church proper (the Church in the dioceses, parishes, schools etc) in its work of mission. It’s coming from the National Church Institutions because it’s about things that those institutions (the Church Commissioners, the General Synod, the Archbishops’ Council etc) can do. But it comes from the national church institutions in response to what the dioceses said when members and staff from Church House asked what they wanted, to help the Church for the future. And because it’s a response, it’s not a national plan or a national strategy for the Church.

Secondly, what’s it for? This bit’s easy. For me, the purpose of R&R is to contribute to turning around the decades-long decline in the Church: a decline which we all know is there, on almost any measure we choose to look at ”“ but also a decline which we know can be reversed, because in many places there are hopeful signs of how it can be done. R&R can only be a contribution, because the Church exists in the parishes, not in Synods or Councils. But Synods and Councils can contribute ”“ and they can help work towards a hopeful future, in which we once again have a growing Church, with more people coming to faith, with more people deepening their faith and living Christian lives, and the Church doing more good for this country.

Thirdly, why now? If the question is “why not before now?”, I can’t answer that. If it’s “why do we have to do it now?”, that’s because our Church is shrinking fast, and it could start diminishing faster at any moment without action. Only the Church of England has a national mission to be a Church for everyone, in every community. Other denominations have shrunk and withdrawn from great swathes of the country.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Achbp Justin Welby–'The Generational Struggle' – ending religiously justified violence

We must overcome this upsurge in religiously justified violence, which by its nature, in all of the great world faith traditions, perverts and abandons its original host by exempting itself from ethical principles, and caring nothing for human life.

Theologically, we need to start by accepting first that we live out what we are facing in the world, in every area of our lives, as fallen human beings in a fallen world. As Christians, I believe profoundly we must recapture and rename the theology of the Fall. The effect of the Fall is that we are consumed by fear of the other, and we cannot name things well. In Genesis chapter 1, Adam and Eve, before the Fall, name everything. And they are not afraid of each other. By the time they fall, they are incapable of seeing each other transparently.

We need, therefore, to name and develop truth, as part of the theological narrative of reconciliation, not merely to condemn violence. I’m often asked, if there’s some terrible event, to say something in 140 characters on Twitter or a couple of sentences on Facebook that adequately and completely describes a bomb explosion that has killed 200 people. It’s absurd. How do we name truth? Condemning violence by itself is not good enough; there must be something positive that we can say.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Violence

(ABC Nightline) Unabomber Ted Kaczynski's Brother, Sister-in-Law Recall Turning Him in to FBI

“I’d thought about the families that were bombed. There was one in which the package arrived to the man’s home and his little 2-year-old daughter was there. She was almost in the room when he opened the package. Luckily she left, and his wife left. And then he died,” Patrik told ABC News’ Byron Pitts. “And there were others. And so I spent those days thinking about those people.”

Between 1978 and 1995, Kaczynski placed or mailed 16 bombs that killed three people and injured 23 others, according to authorities.

In 1995, before he was identified as the Unabomber, he demanded newspapers to publish a long manuscript he had written, saying the killings would continue otherwise. Both the New York Times and Washington Post published the 35,000-word manifesto later that year at the recommendation of the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI.

A professor of philosophy, Patrik recognized familiar sounding ideas in the manuscript from letters her husband David Kaczynski had received from his older brother Ted, including a 23-page essay in which he raged against the modern world. In the essay, Ted wrote phrases such as, “Technology has already made it impossible for us to live as physically independent beings.”

Read it all (or watch the video which is recommended).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Marriage & Family, Mental Illness, Psychology, Terrorism, Theodicy, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Fanny Crosby

O God, the blessed assurance of all who trust in thee: We give thee thanks for thy servant Fanny Crosby, who, though blind from infancy, beheld thy glory with great clarity of vision and spent her life giving voice to thy people’s heartfelt praise; and we pray that we, inspired by her words and example, may rejoice to sing of thy love, praising our Savior all the day long; who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God in perfect harmony, now and for ever. Amen

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Prayers for the Christian Year

O Lord our God, who art of purer eyes than to behold iniquity: Have mercy upon us, we beseech thee, for our sins accuse us, and we are troubled by them and put to shame. We have done wrong to ourselves in ignorance, and to our brethren in willfulness, and by our selfish and faithless ways have grieved thy Holy Spirit. Forgive us, we humbly pray thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.

–Psalm 37:3-5

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Fire, Lord, Not the Junk Heap; An Ash Wednesday Reflection from Bishop Mark Lawrence

The famous radio personality and early pioneer of television, Arthur Godfrey, grew up in an era very different from today. It was a time when a boy could wander down to the blacksmith shop on a lazy afternoon and watch the smithy work at his anvil and forge. It was a favorite past time of the young Godfrey. Sometimes he would watch the blacksmith sorting the scrap metal. The man would pick up a piece of metal from a holding bin, turn it this way and that in his large hands, then either toss it into the fire to be softened and hammered into some useful tool, or thrown into a junk heap to be discarded. From this experience Arthur forged a simple prayer which he used all his life. Whenever seized by his own sense of sin or some personal moral failure he would pray””“The fire, Lord, not the junk-heap.” It is a prayer that captures two essential dimensions of Ash Wednesday and Lent”” a prayer for pardon and a prayer for purity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology