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(CT) Ed Stetzer–The Church and Mental Health: What Do the Numbers Tell Us?

Most of us know someone who is in counseling, on medication, or has even taken his or her own life as a result of a mental illness. There are many difficult issues for Christians to talk about, and mental health would certainly be near the top of that list.

Yet, this is a conversation the Church needs to have. Suicide may be one of the most complex and demanding topics of all. Over the past few years, the discussion has felt forced, especially when the event is connected to high-profile suicides of prominent Christian leaders or their family members and close associates.

While the circumstances in these situations are varied, the question of mental health always comes up; and when we talk about mental illness and suicide, it immediately creates a unique challenge for believers. The question is “Why?” Why is it uniquely challenging for us to address issues often associated with mental illness?

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Mental Illness, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Uncategorized

(AI) Anglican Province of Tanzania reaffirms its impaired communion with The Episcopal Church (TEC)

The primate of Tanzania, the Most Rev. Jacob Chimeledya, has affirmed his province’s break with the Episcopal Church of the USA. In September 2017 the Task Force on the Study of Marriage formed by the 78th General Convention which met in Salt Lake City in 2015, wrote to the primates of the Anglican Communion and other pan-Anglican bodies asking for their views on proposals to change the church’s teaching on holy matrimony.

In an undated letter released by the Task Force, Archbishop Chimeledya stated: “From now onward be informed that we are not having any church partnership. Please do not write me back on this matter.”

The 78th General Convention endorsed new liturgies for same-sex couples wishing to marry in church. It also approved changing the church’s canons governing marriage, making them gender neutral by substituting the terms “man and woman” with “couple.” However, clergy were also given the right to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage, with the promise they would incur no penalty, while bishops were given the right to refuse to allow the services to take place in their diocese.

The compromise meant that same-sex weddings are permitted with the full blessing of the church in places like Washington, Los Angeles and New York, but are forbidden in more conservative parts of the church, like Dallas, Albany and Orlando.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Episcopal Church (TEC)

(NPR) April Is A Cruel Month For This Columbine Teacher And Survivor

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, History, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Wash Post) Michael Gerson–Perhaps the recent Wheaton gathering will provide an alternative narrative to that of the (so-called) Trump evangelicals

Enter the group that met at Wheaton, which included some of the most prominent pastors, theologians and writers of the evangelical world. Many are disturbed by the identification of their faith with a certain kind of white-grievance populism, which cuts them off from the best of their history, from their nonwhite neighbors, from the next generation and from predominately nonwhite global evangelicalism.

But the stated goal of the leaders who gathered at Wheaton is not to push a politicized faith in a different political direction. It is to provide an alternative evangelical narrative — a more positive model of social engagement than the anger, resentment and desperation of many Trump evangelical leaders.

People like me can point out the naivete and political self-sabotage of the president’s evangelicals. But the groundwork for a new narrative will ultimately be theological, which makes the Wheaton consultation strategically significant. Many political views and denominational traditions were represented in the room. But any thinker who takes the authority of the Bible seriously must wrestle with the meaning and implications of one idea: the kingdom of God.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CEN) Hungarian Premier in new ‘Christian Europe’ controversy

Hungary’s ‘strong man’ premier Viktor Orban’s sweeping electoral victory heralds deeper confrontation with EU – and increased anxiety for Christians across Europe who deplore his equating ‘Christian Europe’ with anti-Muslim and antirefugee sentiment.

Orban’s ethno-nationalist election campaign centred on antimigrant rhetoric, declaring Islam and EU “enemies of Christian Hungary”. Justifying Hungary’s border fence as a “bulwark of Western Christian civilisation”, Orban poses as “defender of Christian Europe” against Muslim settlement and what he deems EU imposed multi-culturalism.

Pledged to build with Poland an anti-Brussels coalition of Central European states, Orban (pictured on the right) sees himself as inheritor of Hungary’s 16th and 17th century resistance to Islamic expansion against Christian Europe. Significantly, Pope Francis I immediately rejected Orban’s ‘defender of Christian Europe’ claims with a post-election message urging Catholics to care for migrants “as much as caring for the unborn”, and a Vatican video featuring a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan with a message of Christian compassion.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Hungary, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) PM Theresa May apologises to Windrush British citizens

After pressure from campaigners, the Prime Minister was forced into a U-turn this week after she initially refused to meet Caribbean leaders to discuss the plight of the “Windrush generation” — a reference to the ship Empire Windrush, which, in 1948, brought workers from the West Indies to Britain — who face deportation despite living in Britain for decades…

Thousands of people from the Caribbean, including children who travelled under their parent’s passport, made their home in Britain between 1948 and 1971. Owing to a lack of paperwork, many children of the Windrush generation have struggled to prove that they are in the UK legally, and have faced the prospect of deportation and the suspension of benefits or access to health services.

In a meeting on Tuesday, Theresa May apologised to the 12 Caribbean heads of government for the treatment of the Windrush citizens, and promised that no one would be deported.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Caribbean, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Religion & Culture

(Dallas News) After landing troubled Southwest plane, pilot Tammie Jo Shults hugged passengers, texted ‘God is good’

It seems that nearly everyone in Boerne[,Texas,] has a Tammie Jo story, and taken together, they paint a picture of a woman almost too impossibly caring, too impossibly devoted to her community. But, they say, that’s why she was a role model long before she landed that damaged jetliner.

Longtime friend and fellow church member Staci Thompson said a deep Christian faith has guided the way Shults lives.

Shults has taught nearly every grade level of Sunday school at their church. She’s volunteered at a school for at-risk kids and turned a cottage on her family’s property into a temporary home for victims of Hurricane Rita and widows.

“She would tell you everything she has she’s been given from God, so she wants to share it,” Thompson said.

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Posted in Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture, Travel

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–‘I’ve been doing Thought for the Day for thirty years but I never thought that in 2018 I would still have to speak about antisemitism’

It’s happened because of the rise of political extremism on the right and left, and because of populist politics that plays on people’s fears, seeking scapegoats to blame for social ills. For a thousand years Jews have been targeted as scapegoats, because they were a minority and because they were different. But difference is what makes us human. And a society that has no room for difference has no room for humanity.

The appearance of antisemitism is always an early warning sign of a dangerous dysfunction within a culture, because the hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews.

At the end of his life, Moses told the Israelites: don’t hate an Egyptian because you were strangers in his land. It’s an odd sentence. The Egyptians had oppressed and enslaved the Israelites. So why did Moses say, don’t hate.

Because if the people continued to hate, Moses would have taken the Israelites out of Egypt, but failed to take Egypt out of the Israelites. They would still be slaves, not physically but mentally. Moses knew that to be free you have to let go of hate. Wherever there is hate, freedom dies. Which is why we, especially leaders, have to take a stand against the corrosive power of hate.

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Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

O true light, which lightenest every man that cometh into this world, lighten my eyes that I sleep not in death.
O fire that ever burnest and never failest, I am lukewarm, yes, cold: kindle my heart that it may be on fire with love of thee.
O King of heaven and earth, rich in mercy, I am poor and needy; then help me, O my God, and out of the treasury of thy goodness enrich my soul.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

So he led forth his people with joy,
his chosen ones with singing.
And he gave them the lands of the nations;
and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil,
to the end that they should keep his statutes,
and observe his laws.
Praise the Lord!

–Psalm 105:43-45

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT Gleanings) Remembering Bob Buford, the Christian Leader’s Leader

A businessman, philanthropist, management coach, and inspirational author, the late Bob Buford worked behind the scenes to build a legacy that quietly extends to some of the most prominent figures, organizations, and megachurches in American Christianity today.

Buford, who died Wednesday at age 78, was a leader’s leader. It’s no wonder that he founded an organization simply called Leadership Network, designed to bring together Christian leaders and help them make their ministries more effective and innovative.

Buford was a friend to Peter Drucker and helped introduce the famous management guru’s thinking to the church. A Texas native and former cable TV executive, Buford was committed to serving fellow Christians in ministry, always asking, “What can we do to be more useful to you?” and happy to have his fruit “grow on other people’s trees.”

Ed Stetzer, executive director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, explains on his CT blog the impact of one of the most influential but least known chuch leaders.

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Posted in Evangelicals

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Two Brownswood Parishes in the Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth are merging this Sunday

Sunday will mark the first meeting of a new congregation in Brownwood, but not a new church. The Church of the Good Shepherd and St John’s Anglican Church will unite as a single congregation at the St John’s location on Main Street.

The move has been discussed several times by both parishes, and now seemed only right, according to Good Shepherd representative Bonnie Dillard. “We contacted St John’s to try to work out merging, because we are two smaller churches, and we would have always liked to have been bigger.” Dillard also said “We are ready to have more people to work with, and more money to do things with in our community.”

St John’s Senior Warden Jimmy Henry said the move was “not only something that was needed, but desired and people are excited about it.”

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Parish Ministry

(CC) Samuel Wells–A pastor’s job isn’t to make bad things seem better

Years ago I was asked to do the funeral of a woman whom I hadn’t known but who’d lived in the parish where I was vicar. It was a sad story. The woman, who was in her seventies, had a particularly painful wasting disease. The pain became so great that one night she stepped out of bed, put on slippers and a dressing gown, let herself into the back garden, climbed the fence, walked into the local lake, and drowned herself.

I listened to her widower tell me the story, and at the funeral I talked about the things we knew and the things we didn’t know. I said we didn’t know what anguish was going through her mind, but we did know how deeply she was loved and will be missed. I said we didn’t know what could bring her to such despair, but we did know that her life was beautiful and that those who knew her loved her and would always cherish what she meant to them.

A week later I paid a visit to the widower to see how he was doing and show him I was thinking of him. I was fully prepared for him to say how beautiful the funeral was, and there was always a chance he might say how well I’d spoken.

He didn’t. He looked straight at me, head still and unblinking, and told me, “What you said was completely wrong. You said, ‘We don’t know what was going through her head when she got out of bed and walked down to the lake.’ That’s not true. I know exactly what she was thinking. She’d tried before, and afterwards she told me what it was like. I know what she was thinking. I told you that when you came to see me last time. But you weren’t listening, were you? Maybe you didn’t want to listen.” His tone was more weary than angry, as if I was just one of a series of people who hadn’t really listened, either to her or to him.

I learned something that day that’s stayed with me. If something is awful for somebody else—if I’m in a conversation with a person who is considering suicide, or doesn’t know how they can go on, or is living in the aftermath of a loved one taking their own life—my role is not to make things better.

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Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Wash Post) I have no fear of death’: Barbara Bush on faith and finality

Barbara Bush had spent an hour talking about legacy and family — about the Christmas dance where she met the man who’d become her husband, about being “the enforcer” of a family that included two former U.S. presidents.

Then, in a flash, she was talking about death.

It was 2013 and Bush was 88 at the time of the interview, part of a C-Span series focusing on first ladies. She wore a pink blazer and her trademark faux pearls — and spoke with a mixture of grace and bluntness that her family and the American people had come to instantly recognize over the past four decades.

“I’m a huge believer in a loving God,” she said. “And I have no fear of death, which is a huge comfort because we’re getting darned close.

“And I don’t have a fear of death for my precious George or for myself because I know that there is a great God.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Religion & Culture