Category : Urban/City Life and Issues
My favorite story from last week on a program matches immigrant and refugee families that are new to Pittsburgh
Today as I respond to the Call of Christ to a new ministry I recall my first calling to follow Christ; to know him and make him known to the world. In the words of St Augustine ‘For you I am your bishop but with you I am a Christian’. Whether in London, Salisbury, or Crediton, or London again, my calling is one and the same.
At the heart of Christianity is a relationship. Not a project or a structure or a theological debate but a relationship, a being known by name. As Mary stood weeping at the tomb it was only when Jesus called her by name ’Mary’ that she recognized him. Peter on the sea shore encountering Christ was asked by name, ‘Simon son of John do you love me?’ Our epistle reading tells us that we are chosen and loved not because of what we have done, but because of what God has done through Jesus Christ.
By chance today is International Nurses day – it is Florence Nightingale’s birthday. Florence was an epidemiologist, a statistician, a social reformer, theologian and nurse. She has inspired generations of nurses. At the heart of what she did was to use the ordinary skills we all possess and can use if we are brave enough, the skill to build human relationships. If we want to improve public health today, if we want to improve the life chances of those who are still left behind and failed by our education system, if we want to reduce the horrifyingly high number of young deaths from knife and gun crime occurring in this wonderful city, we have to build relationships, and if we want to see more people transformed by the love of God then we have to reach out, to build relationships.
After the Great Fire of 1666, the only statue to survive in this Cathedral unscathed was that of the poet John Donne who reminds us that no one is an island entire of itself; every one is a piece of the continent a part of the main.
And how should we establish such relationships? With compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience; bearing with one another, forgiving one another and above all clothed with love which binds everything together in unity.
"A church which is rooted in scripture and tradition but not afraid to reimagine the future. This is the sort of church and community that I believe the Lord has called me to assist in fostering, here in this Diocese. Will you join me?"
— St Paul's Cathedral (@StPaulsLondon) May 12, 2018
The Islington Sustainable Church Buildings Project is a partnership between Cloudesley (an Islington based charitable trust), the Diocese of London and the Islington Deanery. It is the first time these three partners have worked together so closely to deliver a joint project. It was initiated by Cloudesley’s Trustees as part of Cloudesley’s 500th anniversary year.
The Sustainable Church Buildings Project has four parts; environmental audits of 24 of Islington Deanery’s Church of England churches; Energy-saving Benchmarking carried out by the Diocese of London; a dedicated Cloudesley grant fund of £440,000; and a learning programme to raise awareness and understanding of environmental issues and how to apply this to their buildings.
As a result, Islington Church of England churches are now applying to Cloudesley for grants to undertake a variety of energy-efficiency measures, such as LED lighting, solar panels and draught-exclusion.
Rev’d Jess Swift, the Islington Area Dean, says:
“The Sustainable Church Buildings Project is brilliantly placed by being both visionary and inspirational in promoting environmental responsibility, and also facilitating churches into being able to take practical action. It has revitalised our churches’ commitment to prioritising global sustainability and their own local environmental impact. We are so grateful to be a part of this project.”
A minute’s silence will mark the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack, the government has announced.
Twenty-two people were killed and hundreds injured when Salman Abedi detonated a home-made bomb at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May.
All government buildings will observe the minute’s silence at 14:30 BST on 22 May. Other organisations may follow suit, the government said.
A service at Manchester Cathedral and a communal sing-along are also planned.
The Manchester Together – With One Voice event will take place on the same day and bring together choirs from the city and beyond.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) April 26, 2018
(Bloomberg View) Stephen Carter–The Ugly Coded Critique of Chick-Fil-A’s Christianity in a recent New Yorker article
If we look beyond the liberal West, we see that another Christian revolution, quite different from the one being called for in affluent American suburbs and upscale urban parishes, is already in progress. Worldwide, Christianity is actually moving toward supernaturalism and neo-orthodoxy, and in many ways toward the ancient world view expressed in the New Testament: a vision of Jesus as the embodiment of divine power, who overcomes the evil forces that inflict calamity and sickness upon the human race. In the global South (the areas that we often think of primarily as the Third World) huge and growing Christian populations – currently 480 million in Latin America, 360 million in Africa, and 313 million in Asia, compared with 260 million in North America – now make up what the Catholic scholar Walbert Buhlmann has called the Third Church, a form of Christianity as distinct as Protestantism or Orthodoxy, and one that is likely to become dominant in the faith. The revolution taking place in Africa, Asia, and Latin America is far more sweeping in its implications than any current shifts in North American religion, whether Catholic or Protestant. There is increasing tension between what one might call a liberal Northern Reformation and the surging Southern religious revolution, which one might equate with the Counter-Reformation, the internal Catholic reforms that took place at the same time as the Reformation — although in references to the past and the present the term “Counter-Reformation” misleadingly implies a simple reaction instead of a social and spiritual explosion. No matter what the terminology, however, an enormous rift seems inevitable.
Last year marked 500 years since the Protestant Reformation, but it’s not hard to see that the impact of the most significant Church split in history is still felt today. For instance, the World Christian Encyclopedia estimates that over 30,000 Christian denominations exist worldwide. Churches of all stripes practice their own flavor of ministry in cities across the United States, all based on particular interpretations of scripture and style. But what is the denominational makeup of each city in America? What are the most Catholic cities? Which areas have the greatest percentages of Baptist, or Lutheran or Pentecostal residents?
Over the years, Barna has been tracking denominational affiliation and publishing this data in our cities reports. In the infographic below, we list the top five cities for each of the main denominational categories and a few of the largest Protestant ones (specific denominational definitions below).
I was baptized in Central Methodist Church, so many decades ago. I remember Sunday school, attending services with my mother and grandmother. My mother had a glorious contralto and, a child prodigy trained as a concert pianist, sometimes played the immense pipe organ, with its 4 divisions, 28 stops, and 41 registers. In the 1960s, it was common for each service to see a thousand people or more, filling the sanctuary and its three balconies. Central was a prime posting for veteran ministers — only doctors of divinity reached the senior rank — and the choir was superb. I was confirmed there, age 13.
When I returned to Phoenix in 2000, I started attending Central again, this time with Susan. Getting a hundred people in the pews was a victory by that time. The quality of preaching was uneven, as individual ministers came and went (long gone from the days of a senior minister and others). But the music program was very strong under Don Morse. The core, including the corps of ushers, was committed. Important for us, Central still offered a traditional service, with the wonderful Methodist hymns. Christmas Eve could see five services in the soaring sanctuary, with luminarias in the courtyard. We continue to attend. When I lived in Charlotte, people would ask me if I had found “a church home.” No — in that hotbed of religion, the question irritated the secular me. “I have a bar home,” I would respond. But the truth was different. My church was here. It always was. Always will be.
But this year brought heartbreaking news. First, the music program was downgraded, with Morse and seemingly most of the choir gone. Finances were an issue; the church and Morse, who had already taken a pay freeze/cut, couldn’t come to terms. But respect also seemed an issue, the lay leaders wanting to downgrade his position to “choirmaster.” A botched remodel of the sanctuary was probably another cause, including the loss of the pipe organ and removal of two of the balconies. I don’t claim special insight. I spent many years in United Methodist choirs, but tried to avoid church politics whenever possible. Next came word that the sanctuary would only be used for special occasions. A traditional service would be held in the small Pioneer Chapel and a contemporary one in Kendall Hall.
— Tim Hoiland (@timhoiland) April 2, 2018
(Wash Post) Duke Kwon–The tragedy to communities when church buildings are demolished to make condos
I walk by a brown brick church in my neighborhood every day. On Sunday, the aging but still impressive building will be empty on Easter for the first time in a hundred years. And soon, the building will be converted into luxury condos.
While the impact of gentrification on affordable housing in D.C. and other cities has been a topic of ongoing study and debate, still underappreciated is its impact on a different sort of “housing” — namely, houses of worship. The issue is on my radar because I am the pastor of a church that met in that building until November.
For four years, Grace Meridian Hill was the sole tenant of 3431 13th Street NW, a 100-year-old building formerly owned by Mount Rona Missionary Baptist Church. In 2014, our landlord sold the property to developers. We recently learned the groundbreaking is scheduled for this week.
Although we grieved the loss of our home, our greater concern and lament is for the neighborhood and city. Numerous church properties within a few blocks have been sold to developers in the past few years, including Southern Bethany Baptist Church on Monroe Street NW, Iglesia Ni Cristo on Morton Street NW and Meridian Hill Baptist Church on 16th Street NW.
(Wash Post) Court in Metro’s ad ban case discusses Christmas shopping, beer-making monks, charitable giving
A central question before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit: Can Metro allow secular advertisers to promote Christmas shopping and charitable giving, but not the church?
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was unrelenting in questioning Metro’s lawyer, former solicitor general Donald B. Verrilli Jr., and stated unequivocally his view that the policy is “pure discrimination” in violation of the First Amendment.
Kavanaugh, who is on President Trump’s list of candidates for possible Supreme Court vacancies, made several references to recent high court opinions, including a 2017 ruling that sided with a Missouri church denied access to government grants meant for a secular purpose.
The two other judges on the panel — Judith W. Rogers and Robert L. Wilkins — pointed out that the archdiocese had acknowledged its ads were designed in part to promote religion, not just charitable giving.
The two stone churches near the foot of Broadway, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, have seen fire and calamity and the sweep of American history, and through it all have kept their doors wide open.
But in a sign of the times, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel both installed metal detectors this month. Visitors on their way to see Alexander Hamilton’s tomb in Trinity’s historic graveyard, or who want to sit in the pews at St. Paul’s where George Washington prayed and dust-covered rescue workers rested after 9/11 attacks, now have to pass through airport-style security checkpoints.
The metal detectors, installed March 1, will be there “until this world becomes a safer place,” said Trinity’s vicar, the Rev. Phillip Jackson.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) March 27, 2018
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) March 20, 2018
Even ardent opponents of school choice accept that parents have the right to send their children to private schools. That may soon change in New York state, where education officials are preparing new guidelines to impose strict regulations on the instruction that religious and other private schools provide, while empowering local school districts to shutter those schools if they fail to meet state standards. The plan is not only ill-advised, it may end up costing the state billions in annual school aid to nonpublic schools.
Parents have had a legally recognized constitutional right to guide their children’s education for nearly a century. The Supreme Court’s 1925 decision in Pierce v. Society of Sisters established that children are “not mere creatures of the state” and that parents have the right to choose “schools where their children will receive appropriate mental and religious training.” Almost 50 years later, in Wisconsin v. Yoder , the court reaffirmed these rights, recognizing the “fundamental interest of parents, as contrasted with that of the State, to guide the religious future and education of their children.”
The trade-off has always been that parents, not the state, must foot the bill for private education. In New York the government saves billions annually because parents choose to send their children to religious or private schools. New York’s Jewish and Catholic schools alone educate 330,000 children, nearly 200,000 of whom attend New York City parochial schools.
Only a fraction of these savings finds its way back to New York’s nonpublic schools and students.
The paper from the Church of England’s Cathedrals Working Group sets out new ideas on how cathedrals could be governed and funded.
The proposals, emerging from seven months of meetings and discussions, aim to recognise and enhance the vital role that cathedrals play while building a robust framework for the future.
A consultation on the recommendations opens today, seeking views from interested groups.
They range from recommendations on how the structure of Chapter – a cathedral’s traditional governing body – could be reformed to new financial auditing processes.
The Working Group was set up by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York after a small number of cathedrals highlighted challenges in governance and management.
A church in the centre of the west of England port city of Bristol is to re-open 65 years after it was closed. Once it re-opens in the Autumn, St Nicholas’ Church will focus on engaging with young people who don’t currently go to church, and will act as what the diocese is calling a “Resourcing Church”, serving the wider city and assisting future church plants. It will be led by the Revd Toby Flint, currently the Lead Pastor at London’s Holy Trinity Brompton, home of the Alpha Course and a significant participant in church plants.
Bristol is a young city – some 60 per cent of people in the city centre are aged between 15 and 29. “The new church’s particular focus will be on younger generations,” the Diocese of Bristol said. The diocese has set out three priorities in its vision: making disciples, growing leaders and engaging younger generations. The new St Nicholas will explore those three priorities as well as partnering with other churches and organisations for social action, including looking at ways to tackle homelessness, food poverty and youth unemployment.
“As Bristol becomes younger and more diverse, we want to make an impact on the city,” the Bishop of Swindon and acting Bishop of Bristol, Dr Lee Rayfield, said. “We are excited about how St Nicholas will grow the Church and bring about social transformation.
[Michael] Gilbreath (a CT editor at large) hearkens back to the 1963 Birmingham civil rights campaign, to the world of Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and other heroic Christian leaders. Today, we idolize these figures for leading a beleaguered people to the Promised Land. But as Birmingham Revolution makes clear, the civil rights movement was no slam dunk. Uncertainty, scarce resources, and outside hostility could have ground its progress to a halt.
The Birmingham campaign was pivotal. On the heels of defeat in Albany, Georgia, victory in Birmingham restored the movement’s momentum. Failure could have crippled it, by drying up funding, discrediting the nonviolent method, and validating fears that the leaders were—take your pick—extremists, rabble-rousers, too Christian, not Christian enough, too Southern, or insufficiently urban.
How—amid the noise and ambiguity, the internal struggles and self-doubts, the bone-deep weariness and constant fear of death—did the Birmingham leaders maintain their focus? And how might their example instruct the church today? Gilbreath gives four answers.
(CT) God, Guns, and Oil A Los Angeles church seeks the good of its neighborhood by confronting crime and environmental distress
For [Richard] Parks, shutting down the oil well is part of a bigger story of how the gospel is transforming the Exposition Park neighborhood. Members of Church of the Redeemer have tied their fate to the fate of the community. They want to see their neighbors flourish.
Shutting down oil wells or nuisance liquor stores, planting trees, tutoring kids, holding neighborhood Bible studies, and making friends with neighbors during a community service project are all part of how a neighborhood is reached with the gospel, Parks says.
“In the context of friendship—there are normal, natural opportunities to talk about our love for Jesus,” he said. “Our church is made up of people that our kids go to school with, our kids play soccer with, neighbors that we clean up trees with. That is how the gospel is going out in our community.”
(Local Paper) Charleston, South Carolina, mayor reaches out to religious leaders to build relationships, promote good deeds
Shortly after Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg took office in 2016, he reached out to several pastors for counsel.
He had been thinking about how the city fared following 2015’s Emanuel AME Church massacre, about how a web of strong relationships helped Charleston shine during one of its darkest hours.
Tecklenburg hoped that this gathering of religious leaders not only would build on those relationships but also find new ways to promote good works.
A government review has recommended scrapping charging policies for entry to Cathedrals.
The review on ‘Cathedrals and Communities’ found that Chester Cathedral has reported increased profits since doing away with charging, while Durham Cathedral has pledged to keep its main space free to enter.
The report released by the Department of Communities and Local Government, explains that for lesser-known cathedrals, creating an active programme of events can increase visitors and income.
The report was the culmination of a year-long tour that saw the Minister for Faiths, Lord Bourne, visit all of England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals to better understand their continued importance both to local communities and wider society.
His report also recommends the use of crypts and naves for events, commending Sheffield cathedral, which transformed the space below the cathedral to help the city’s homeless.
Read it all (requires subscription).
If there is ever a competition for the title of Busiest Minister in America, the smart money will be on Yoan Mora, senior pastor of Primera Iglesia Cristiana, a small but vibrant Spanish-speaking congregation in San Antonio, Texas. The weeks are nuts: worship services, classes, and meetings on Sundays; a radio program on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; prayer service and Bible study on Tuesdays; house church meetings in the southern reaches of the city each Thursday; a job-training program hosted at the church on Saturdays, plus other meetings scattered through the weekend.
Those are just his top-level duties. He still has to find time to write sermons, oversee church-building maintenance, teach small groups, manage budgets, and, most of all, be with people in all the ways pastors need to be with people: births, deaths, sicknesses, celebrations, life events big, medium, and small. Being a pastor is a full-time job, and then some.
But being a pastor is not Mora’s full-time job. Most of Mora’s weekday hours are devoted to his work as an accountant at a health-care clinic in the northeast part of town. He’s also trying to finish a master’s degree in theology.
Mora believes he was placed on this earth to pastor, so that’s what he plans on doing. But for now, he can’t make a living as a pastor because the congregation he serves is in an extremely low-income neighborhood. Pastor salaries are drawn from church budgets, which are drawn from the household budgets of congregants. So in a low-income area, even when a church grows, its budget does not expand so much as stretch. Primera Iglesia Cristiana can’t pay Mora much for all his efforts, so for the foreseeable future, he’ll hustle.
Very much in the mould then of another evangelical, the Archbishop of Canterbury. She’s also a former Chief Nursing Officer who worked in the Department of Health for five years and was educated in a comprehensive (the last, a very good thing). So, a far cry then from Richard Chartres, her bearded predecessor, who is both theologically learned and with a profound knowledge of Orthodox Christianity. I don’t think Prince Charles is going to be best friends with Sarah in quite the same way, somehow.
Very prudently, she refused to take sides on the fraught question of whether homosexual couples can marry in Church; she is, as it happens involved in the deliberations that the CofE is undertaking on the matter. As she said: ‘I am clear about teaching of the church…but I also want to reflect an inclusive response to this issue. I’m chairing one of the committees which is reflecting on our teaching and tradition on this issue, the aspect of it dealing with social and biological sciences. I can’t give a sense where this reflection is going to go, but it’s important to stress that everybody is loved by God.’ I got a strong sense from this cautiously worded response that she would be taking the discussion in the direction of liberalising gay marriage. Let’s see.
The occasion marked six months to the day since a fire all but destroyed the residential building in White City, west London, killing 53 adults and 18 children, including an unborn baby (News, 15 June). A public inquiry, led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, into the causes, building standards, and the Government’s response to the tragedy, is ongoing.
The families and friends of the victims, survivors, their families, and other community members most closely affected by the tragedy, were seated beneath the dome. Representatives of the faith communities, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, were seated together on a dais installed at the front of the cathedral.
In his address, the Bishop of Kensington, Dr Graham Tomlin, hoped that justice would be given to the community. “Today we ask why warnings were not heeded; why a community was left feeling neglected, uncared for, not listened to.
“Today we hold out hope that the public inquiry will get to the truth of all that led up to the fire at Grenfell Tower; that it will listen to the hopes, fears, and questions of those most directly affected by it; and we trust that the truth will bring justice, and that justice will enable true reconciliation and the eventual healing of the divides in our life together that this tragedy has revealed.”
Inspiring Story from the front page of the local paper–Recovering addict gives hundreds of coats, hot meals to needy
Wanda Lopez grew tired of seeing children shivering at the bus stops.
She set aside a couple thousand dollars and purchased hundreds of brand-new coats. With the help of local organizations, she assembled 250 hot meals, 200 turkeys and boxes of canned food, and put it all out on display Friday in a North Charleston parking lot.
Lopez worried the frigid rain would keep people away. But within hours, all of the food and most of the clothes were gone.
“This is blowing my mind,” Lopez said. “So many people need hats, coats, gloves, boxed food. Basic things.”
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) December 9, 2017
How One Anglican Congregation Asserted its First Amendment Rights amd Effected a Change in City Policy
The city’s policy did not expressly prohibit use of the park for religious activities or by religious groups. Instead, the city’s denial of the application was based on unchecked, arbitrary discretion – which is Constitutionally invalid.
Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, religious expression and speech are protected in traditional public forums such as public parks like that of Old Town Square in Fairfax. City restrictions on such freedoms are heavily scrutinized and must not discriminate against a particular viewpoint. Further, in traditional public forums, state actors cannot censor people or groups based on the content of their speech, except when there is a compelling state purpose and the restriction is both necessary and the wording narrowly tailored to achieve that purpose. Accordingly, the Supreme Court has ruled in other similar cases that in circumstances like these in which the forum is available to others and the event is open to the public, there is no Establishment Clause conflict. Additionally, in order for the state to require permits (i.e. approval) as a prerequisite for individuals or groups to engage in protected speech, it must follow very strict and objective criteria in decision making. To base such permits on vague discretion by officials making the individual decisions may be considered a prior restraint on protected speech and a violation of the First Amendment.
Fairfax City’s denial of Shepherd’s Heart’s application “was classic prior restraint, which is exactly what the Founders wanted to prevent when they drafted the First Amendment,” explained Gorman. “We used the Freedom of Information Act to get access to the city’s park policies. Even though they said it wasn’t allowed, there was nothing in writing to back it up. It was completely arbitrary.”
Gorman, feeling convinced of the Constitutional violation, contacted the Center for Religious Expression in Memphis, Tennessee who took on the case pro-bono.
(WBFO) In Buffalo, NY, Converting Episcopal Church of the Ascension into senior housing becomes confrontational
The fight over converting historic Ascension Church at Linwood Avenue and North Street into senior housing turned into something of a confrontation between Buffalo’s Preservation Board and its Planning Board during Monday’s Planning Board meeting.
The Episcopal Diocese and an affiliate want to convert the century-and-a-half-old church into 28 units of low-income senior housing, wading through regulations on three different levels of government and concern the rules for financing the project might change.
The project has been in the works for more than two years, as various approvals were sought and various design changes were made, shrinking the project and moving a new building.
Charles von Simson said it is still not worth building in his neighborhood and other residents agree.
Eight people were killed when a man drove 20 blocks down a bike path beside the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon before he crashed his pickup truck, jumped out with fake guns and was shot by a police officer, the authorities said.
Federal authorities were treating the incident as a terrorist attack and were taking the lead in the investigation, a senior law enforcement official said. Two law enforcement officials said that after the attacker got out of the truck, he was heard yelling, “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference, “Based on information we have at this moment, this was an act of terror, and a particularly cowardly act of terror aimed at innocent civilians.”
Read it all and join us in praying tonight for New York City.
A man drove 20 blocks down a bike path, crashed, jumped out with fake guns and was shot by police, authorities said https://t.co/2ipdU5x7No
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 31, 2017
Philadelphia has 839 historic sacred spaces — churches, temples, and mosques — or one for every 1,900 residents. That’s a lot of big, beautiful buildings facing uncertain futures.
The Pew Charitable Trusts decided to inventory the city’s current and former houses of worship, and released a report Wednesday on the lay of the laity’s land, looking at the vulnerabilities these structures face — from physical deterioration to changing neighborhoods and shrinking attendance.
“You hear a lot of anecdotes but we didn’t know how many were still standing, what condition they were in, how they were being used, and their impact on civic life,” said Larry Eichel, director of the Philadelphia research initiative at Pew.
Despite dwindling religious participation, most of the city’s sacred spaces — 83 percent — are still used for religious purposes. Nearly half are no longer used by the building’s original congregation.
The Episcopal Church Center has a workplace culture marked by “fear, mistrust and resentment,” according to staff and directors who answered a survey in the wake of a misconduct scandal and two high-level firings.
In the survey, released Sept. 15 at the House of Bishops meeting in Detroit, employees said they face expectations to avoid confrontation, withhold input, and strive to make good impressions, rather than do what’s right. Another theme: staff find it difficult to maintain personal integrity while working for the national church.
“I’m not sure I found a sadder finding, except for the score on people not feeling that they were well-respected,” said the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies.
Consultants from Human Synergistics, a human resources firm, shared the results with bishops gathered for their fall meeting and with members of the House of Deputies, who tuned in via webcast. Presenters laid bare how the workplace culture at 815 Second Avenue in New York City is exactly opposite of the collaborative, constructive one the employees say they want.