Daily Archives: December 14, 2017

(Dallas News) Evangelical churches are embracing liturgy to make the megachurch more personal

Step into a worship service at Epiphany Church in Lower Greenville on a Sunday morning and you’ll smell incense, see candles and hear ancient prayers read in unison. Sermons align with the Revised Common Lectionary, and church activities are planned around the liturgical year.

All of these are trappings of a liturgical church, but Epiphany is not Catholic, Anglican or Eastern Orthodox. Epiphany is a start-up planted by an evangelical megachurch and its pastor, Kurtley Knight, a graduate of George Fox Evangelical Seminary. Epiphany is a new kind of hybrid: an evangelical church that orders its services around liturgical practices.

Liturgical practice is a growing trend among evangelical churches. Last month, one of the largest evangelical megachurches in Texas, The Village Church where more than 10,000 people attend every week, announced it would order worship around the church calendar, observing Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Evangelicals, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Theologian R C Sproul, RIP

When Reformed theologian and Ligonier Ministries founder R. C. Sproul was once asked what he wanted written on his tombstone, he replied cheekily, “I told you I was sick.”

That was in 2015, after the esteemed teacher and author’s health declined severely following a stroke. This December, the 78-year-old was hospitalized and was forced to rely on ventilator support to breathe during his 12-day stay, due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He died on Thursday.

“His tombstone wouldn’t be able to hold the words of what he’s meant to so many,” tweeted Kansas pastor Gabriel Hughes. “Well done, good and faithful servant. Now great is your reward.”

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Posted in Adult Education, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Theology

A Statement from the Global South Primates Regarding the Anglican Church in North America

5. Unfortunately, the TEC Standing Committee rejected the recommendation of the Primates to form the Pastoral Council. As a result, several dioceses and many individual parishes in both Canada and the United States transferred their allegiances to Anglican provinces in South America and Africa.

6. The Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) was founded in 2009 by former members of the Episcopal Church in the United States and the Anglican Church of Canada, many of whom were illegally deposed after disassociating themselves from the revisionist doctrinal and social teachings of The Episcopal Church.

7. In 2010, the Global South Primates meeting in Singapore welcomed the formation of the Anglican Church in North America as a faithful expression of Anglicanism.

“We were pleased to welcome two Communion Partner bishops from The Episcopal Church USA (TEC ) and acknowledge that with them there are many within TEC who do not accept their church’s innovations. We assure them of our loving and prayerful support. We are grateful that the recently formed Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is a faithful exp ression of Anglicanism. We welcomed them as partners in the Gospel and our hope is that all provinces will be in full communion with the clergy and people of the ACNA and the Communion Partners. GS 2010 Singapore.”

Due to this long and complex history of events and their consequences, many people do not understand how the faithful Anglicans who are currently in the Anglican Church in North America have struggled to keep the unity of the church, and at the same time remain faithful to the Anglican tradition. More than 650 priests and more than ten bishops who were originally ordained and consecrated within TEC were deposed. It became a necessity to form a body that keeps those faithful within the Anglican tradition, hence the Anglican Church in North America was formed, and welcomed as a valuable member of the Global South Anglicans.

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Global South Churches & Primates

(WSJ) In Somalia, an Overlooked Extremist Hotbed Simmers

Maimed in the war between Somalia’s government and al Qaeda’s affiliate al-Shabaab, the patients of De Martino Hospital prefer not to talk about what happened to them.

“Everybody’s afraid,” the hospital’s director, Abdi Ibrahim Jiya, said as he walked through a ward filled with recent arrivals. “If you complain and are for the government, you’re afraid of the Shabaab. And if you complain and are for the Shabaab, you’re afraid of the government.”

Such is the balance of fear in Somalia’s capital, a bustling city of three million people where, despite years of international military efforts to stamp out Islamic extremists, security remains elusive and government authority fleeting. In October, Mogadishu was hit by Africa’s deadliest terrorist attack—a truck bombing that killed more than 500 people.

Outside Mogadishu, things are worse. Al-Shabaab controls roughly 30% of the country’s territory, Somali government officials estimate. Alongside Taliban-held areas of Afghanistan, that is the world’s largest swath of real estate that remains under jihadist sway since the recent demise of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

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Posted in Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Somalia, Terrorism, Violence

(Economist Erasmus Blog) [Some] Evangelicals and Catholics react in different ways to the president’s proclamation about Jerusalem

Paula White, a megachurch pastor from Florida who is a member of the president’s faith advisory council, said: “Evangelicals are ecstatic, for Israel is to us a sacred place and the Jewish people are our dearest friends.” She has repeatedly hailed Mr Trump as a man uniquely sensitive to God’s “divine plan” and willing to take counsel from Christian leaders like herself as to how that plan should be helped along.

Those sentiments are typical of an inner circle of evangelicals that helped to bring Mr Trump to power and that has pressed him to keep his Israel-friendly promises.

Meanwhile Pope Francis spoke of his “deep concern” about the situation created by Mr Trump’s move, given the disruption of a delicate equilibrium in the governance of the sacred city and its holy sites. “I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations,” he said on December 6th. Some 13 leaders of Jerusalem’s traditional Christian communities, including the Orthodox and the Catholics who are guardians of the city’s holy places, warned of “increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land” as a likely result of Mr Trump’s initiative.

These contrasting reactions typify two utterly different schools of Christian theology.

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Posted in Evangelicals, Israel, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

(AI) University of Exeter to offer trauma response training for clergy

Ministers have supported hundreds of people in the UK after traumatic events like terrorist attacks, fires, flooding and revelations of child abuse. The new training will help them support large numbers of people in such circumstances.

Ministers who have worked with communities experiencing difficult situations have helped create the course, which is being run by Dr Christopher Southgate, from the University of Exeter

Clergy were trained in Exeter and Plymouth in November and further training will be held in Cumbria in January, with further courses around England within the next three years.

Dr Southgate said: “Events we have seen this year – the attack in Manchester and the fire in Grenfell Tower – make it clear that this training is very much needed. Horrific situations like this pose challenges for ministers which their current training doesn’t include. We hope this new course will help them feel prepared when their communities are traumatised.”

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Posted in Education, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

(TGC) Ed Shaw–Figuring Out Faithfulness with Same-Sex Attraction

There has been a recent avalanche of books from a biblical and traditional perspective on same-sex attraction. Each brings a different viewpoint, with many writing from their own experiences of same-sex attraction. Both of us also experience same-sex attraction; we’ve benefited immensely from the variety books on this topic and trust that the church has as well.

The latest addition is from Nate Collins in All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality. Collins—a partner associate at The Sight Ministry, a Christian organization based in Nashville that provides resources and support for individuals, families, and Christian organizations regarding LGBT issues—likewise writes out of experience and from a traditional, biblical approach.

But what justifies yet another book on these subjects? More books are justified by the other, more powerful cultural avalanche that has nearly buried us all—the new attitudes and approach to gender and sexuality created by the sexual revolution of the last 50 years. More recently, acceptance of same-sex marriage has slipped in the evangelical church through the influential books of James Brownson (at an academic level) and Matthew Vines(at a popular one).

In response, those of us coming from a traditional perspective have had a lot of rescue work to do. But both avalanches have left us with a new landscape where some differences of opinion have emerged among those who espouse a traditional view on same-sex attraction….


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Posted in Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology

Bob Mayo (the Vicar of St Stephens Shepherds Bush)–Reflections on a recent visit to America and the danger of cheap grace

I had occasion to spend 10 days in the USA before Advent. I learnt that in Oregon you can buy rifles in a supermarket and in Texas church ushers and sometimes the preacher may be wearing a pistol. I learnt that the Episcopal Church is not obsessed with finding a solution to the debate about same sex marriages. ‘Never mind sex’ I was told, ‘what about people in poverty? Economic issues are far more important’. America is not the land of mega churches: 75% of Americans worship in churches of less than 100. These churches are not full of Donald Trump supporters. People that I met were both embarrassed and hostile towards their President.

I was in Oregon for the launch of Professor Roger Newell [2017] new book Keine Gewalt! No Violence! The book outlines how the role played by the German Church in the 1940’s laid down the foundations for her part in the ending of the Cold War in the 1980’s. In the first half of the century the German church withdrew into pietism and individual spirituality leaving the political area to the Nazis. In the second half of the century the German church actively engaged in the civil society leading to the peaceful overthrow of Communism.

The underlying question in Roger’s book is how the Church relates to society. This question is especially relevant in the UK and USA with the Trump phenomenon on one side of the Atlantic and Brexit on the other. Being anti American is seen as the last acceptable form of racism but it is the American policies with which we disagree and not the people. The people are warm-hearted and, when I was there, asked me no end of times about whether I was having a ‘nice day’.

Read it all.

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

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

(C of E) Report from December House of Bishops

On Monday 11th and Tuesday 12th December the House of Bishops met at Lambeth Palace.

There was a varied agenda, including items on safeguarding, the importance of Black and Minority Ethnic clergy inclusion and representation, church planting, lessons learned from the appointment of the See of Sheffield, a review of the Crown Nominations Commission’s practices and the Anglican-Methodist Covenant.

Dame Moira Gibb and Sir Roger Singleton led a discussion on safeguarding that focused on survivors’ needs, with Q&As followed by group discussions. Dame Moira chaired the independent review into the Bishop Peter Ball case and Sir Roger, former Government adviser on Safeguarding, is currently working with the National Team.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John of the Cross

Judge eternal, throned in splendor, who gavest Juan de la Cruz strength of purpose and mystical faith that sustained him even through the dark night of the soul: Shed thy light on all who love thee, in unity with Jesus Christ our Savior; who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory

O God of hope, fill us, we beseech thee, with all joy and peace in believing, that we may abound in hope by the power of thy Holy Spirit, and show forth our thankfulness to thee in trustful and courageous lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: Services of Praise and Prayer for Occasional Use in Churches (New York: Oxford University Press, 1933)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who conquers shall not be hurt by the second death.’

–Revelation 2:8-11

Posted in Theology: Scripture