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Heartrending story from the local paper–After his son is fatally shot and he’s wounded, Mount Pleasant pastor finds hope

Sophia Grace talks about him every day. Daddy wasn’t great at braiding her hair, she recently said to her mother, but he tried his best. She tells people he’s in heaven now.

The rest of the family talks about Bryan Cooke all the time, too.

On his cellphone, Mike Cooke found a voicemail his son had left him in October. He didn’t listen to it before his son’s death, and he still hasn’t. The message — to hear his son call him “Pops” again — is a gift he anticipates opening.

Lynda Cooke also saved a voicemail from her son. She plays it over and over, memorizing his laughter. She prefers to hear his voice when she can slip out alone to the dock behind their home.

The Matipan Avenue residence the Cookes were working on is now home to Alecia Wright, 47, who lives with her sister and disabled mother. Their lives are peaceful, but they feel for the Cooke family.

With the shooting in mind, Wright hung a sign with a cross on the front door that reads: “Bless our home and all who enter.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(ABC Aus.) World’s first female Anglican Archbishop calls on Anglicans to keep the faith amid rural church closures

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia

(WSJ) Barbara Bush Remembered as Tough, Loving Matriarch

Before more than 1,000 people, including four former presidents, at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, speakers lauded Mrs. Bush as a loving but steel-tough “enforcer” who steered a powerful family through trying times. She was the second woman in U.S. history to be the wife of one president and the mother of another.

“She called her style a benevolent dictatorship, but honestly, it wasn’t always benevolent,” her son Jeb Bush recalled. “There were no safe spaces or microaggressions allowed with Barbara Pierce Bush.”

Many also made note of her quick, sometimes biting, wit—a central characteristic that helped her resonate with everyday people across the political spectrum.

“She was the first lady of the greatest generation,” historian Jon Meacham said at the funeral, comparing her to Abigail Adams, the wife of America’s second president, John Adams, and mother of its sixth president, John Quincy Adams. Mr. Meacham wrote a book about President George H.W. Bush, to whom Mrs. Bush was married for 73 years.

Mrs. Bush died Tuesday at her home at age 92 with her husband at her side. Two days earlier, a family spokesman said in a statement that she was in failing health and had declined continued medical treatment to focus on “comfort care.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Office of the President

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Anselm

Almighty God, who didst raise up thy servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in thine eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide thy Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Easter from Henry Stobart (1824-1895)

Almighty God, Whose only-begotten Son, as at this time, did burst the bonds of death, because it was not possible that He should be holden of it, raise us, we pray Thee, from the death of sin unto the life of righteousness, that, at the last day, when He shall come again in glory, we may be quickened in our mortal bodies, through the same Spirit that quickened Him, who was the first-born from the dead, and is now alive fpr evermore; in whose name we beseech Thee to hear us, O merciful and gracious Lord.

–Henry Stobart, Daily Services For Christian Households (London:SPCK, 1867), p. 110

Posted in Easter, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

–Colossians 1:15-23

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(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

April 20 is the anniversary of the Columbine massacre. That day in 1999, two Littleton, Colo., high school students killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.

Reed was a teacher at Columbine High School school that day, and still is today. This week, she spoke to NPR from the same classroom she was teaching in before everything happened.

On April 20, 1999, she evacuated with her students as the fire alarm went off, a “Pavlovian” response, she says, to what they thought was a drill or a student playing a prank.

Reed remembers walking out into the sunshine of a beautiful day when kids ran by yelling, “They’ve got guns, they’ve got guns!”

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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