Category : Religion & Culture

(Express+Star) Bishops looking forward to reopening churches for socially-distanced private prayer

Places of worship will be allowed to reopen for individual prayer from Monday, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick announced last week.

The ruling around individual prayer means a single person or household can enter a place of worship to pray on their own, but not as part of a group, led prayer or communal act.

They also must ensure they are socially distanced from other individuals and households.

The announcement excludes services, evensong, informal prayer meetings, mass, Jummah and Kirtan, as well as baptisms and weddings.

Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester and Rev. Michael Ipgrave, Bishop of Lichfield, have both welcomed the decision by the government, but also voiced a note of caution going forward.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer

(NYT Op-ed) Issac Bailey–I’m Finally an Angry Black Man

You see, for a long time I was one of the “good blacks,” whom white friends and colleagues and associates and neighbors could turn to in order to be reassured that they weren’t racist, that America really had made a lot of racial progress since its founding, that I was an example of that progress because of the success I had attained after all I had faced and overcome.

For a long time, I wasn’t an angry black man even after growing up in an underfunded school that was still segregated four decades after Brown v. Board of Education in the heart of the Deep South.

I wasn’t angry even when I watched my oldest brother, my hero, be taken away in handcuffs for murdering a white man when I was a 9-year-old boy. He served 32 years, upending our family forever. Guilt is what I felt instead of anger. It’s akin to the guilt white liberals who go overboard in their efforts feel and are often guided by as they try to appease black people because of the racial harm they know black people have suffered since before this country’s founding.

Mine was a black guilt, a guilt stemming from the knowledge that my black brother had irreparably hurt a poor white family, guilt that helped persuade me to try to make it up to white people as best I could.

That’s why for a long time in my writings, I was more likely to focus on all the white people who didn’t yell “Nigger!” out their windows as they drove by as I jogged along Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach, S.C., instead of those who did. That’s why I spent nearly two decades in a mostly white evangelical church. That’s why I tried to thread the needle on the Confederate flag, speaking forthrightly about its origins, but carefully so as not to upset my white friends and colleagues who revered a symbol of the idea that black people should forever be enslaved by white people.

Still, for a long time, none of that turned me into an angry black man….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, History, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Northern Echo) Durham Cathedral remains closed despite measures being eased

AS churches up and down the country prepare to open for private prayer next week, but one cathedral is remaining closed until staff can unsure the building is safe.

Durham Cathedral is remaining closed due to the operational complexities involved in preparing a building of this scale for reopening, the cathedral will not reopen for private prayer on June 15, but it aspires to do so at a later point this month.

At present, cathedral clergy and staff are working hard to ensure the building is safe for staff, volunteers and members of the public to return to, at this stage for private prayer and quiet reflection only.

The Cathedral believes it is of the utmost importance that everyone onsite feels confident, safe and protected and we need to take the time to get this right….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Wa Po) State Department rebukes China as one of the worst abusers of religious freedom

A State Department official singled out China on Wednesday as one of the world’s worst offenders of religious freedom, saying it backslid the most last year as thousands more people of faith were subjected to imprisonment and forced labor.

The accusation by Sam Brownback, the ambassador of international religious freedom, represented the latest salvo in an exchange of recriminations between Washington and Beijing. In recent months, tensions have grown as the two countries have sparred over the coronavirus, Hong Kong, press freedoms and trade. China has accused the United States of hypocrisy amid nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd and other African Americans who have died in police custody, and the Trump administration’s response to massive demonstrations.

The State Department used Wednesday’s annual Report on International Religious Freedom to increase the crescendo of criticism of China, which has been designated a “country of particular concern” on religious freedom since 1999.

Read it all.

Posted in China, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

Bp Mark Lawrence–Standing in the Breach

To stand in the breach, to kneel in the place prayer is to hold all of this in our hearts before God: the young marching in peaceful protest; a looter and burglar fleeing the scene of violence perpetrated by his companion in crime; and all the George Floyds and David Dorns of the world . It is not only to stand in the breach, it is to have one’s heart enlarged. In the words of Edwin Corley, intercession “… is the principle by which praying people allow their own spiritual hearts to become enlarged enough to take on [through prayer] the care of others.” To share in the compassion of Jesus Christ for this world where so many people are like sheep without shepherds. To ask God’s Spirit to address our own “…feelings that have become calloused and remote for most of the people around [us].” May God work in us a deep feeling of love and compassion for His people. So we lift up those suffering from the Covid-19; those working for a vaccine and cure; those burying their loved ones either from the pandemic, the street violence or the normal stuff of life; for those who have lost their business and jobs from quarantine or fire, rioting and looting; for those who continue to suffer the weight of racial injustice; for police officers who risk their lives in their daily round of duty; and those for whom the killing of George Floyd makes the world feel less safe. That may sound almost like a litany. It is—or at least a prayer list. We pray for the light of Christ to come into our darkened world, and after this week of prayer and fasting to show each of us what the next step is, so we might fulfill the promise of our Lord. “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CEN) Bishops take the knee

Bishops across the country led Anglicans in ‘taking the knee’ to mark the death of American George Floyd and to highlight injustice in British society.

The Bishop of Leicester, the Rt Rev Martyn Snow, led others in kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time that a US police officer knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck.

Bishop Snow said: “I am deeply shocked by the appalling brutality we have seen against black people in America and I stand alongside those who are suffering and peacefully calling for urgent change, as well as committing to make changes in our own lives and the institutions we are part of.

“Structural and systemic racial prejudice exists across societies and institutions and we must act to change that, as well as addressing our own unconscious biases that lead us to discriminate against others.” Earlier this year he led the General Synod in a vote to apologise for racism in the Church.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(ES) Christopher Rogers–The Church of England faltered when our country needed spiritual guidance

While we can stream services, and are still able to help people through our food banks, most priests and churchgoers have been feeling impotent and frustrated over the last few months. Those feelings have bubbled over into anger about priests not being able to be in our church buildings, streaming from there rather than from our kitchen tables — as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, did on Easter Day.

This article is not about that debate, and indeed we are now back at our altars. Don’t get me wrong — it raised important questions, and I took part in it. It was however a brittle debate, with a lack of charity on both sides. And that is not the voice the country wanted or needed to hear in the midst of a national crisis. Rather than speaking to the nation, we spoke to ourselves. And that was a major failing as the established church. Job, early on in his proverbial sufferings, is told: “Your words have supported those who were stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees. But now it has come to you, and you are impatient; it touches you, and you are dismayed.” That is the Church of England right now.

The reason for our failure is a lack of confidence. We have so much to say at a time like this — about how to cope with death, how prayer can give structure to our days, about the nature of sacrifice for the good of one another, how love conquers death. We are saying these things in our parishes and putting it into action. But we shot ourselves in the foot when it came to the kind of spiritual guidance the country needed. Some were saying those things, including Justin Welby, but they weren’t heard because of the white noise we were also producing by our internal fractiousness.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Economist) A nine-year-old aims to be the youngest chess grandmaster ever

There are plenty of reasons why Tanitoluwa Adewumi captured the world’s attention in March 2019 after winning the New York State chess championship in his age group. Nine-year-old “Tani” was living in a Manhattan homeless shelter. And he was a refugee. Tani’s family had fled northern Nigeria and sought asylum in America in 2017 after being threatened by Boko Haram, a jihadist group. Oh, one more thing: when Tani took home the state championship trophy, he had been playing for only a year. It is little wonder his inspiring story is already the subject of three books (the first was published on April 14th) and a film.

But the story doesn’t end there. Tani is getting better. Chess players are ranked by the United States Chess Federation and the World Chess Federation using the Elo system. Named after Arpad Elo, a Hungarian-American physics professor and chess enthusiast, Elo ratings are based on a player’s performance in matches, and the skill level of their opponents, according to a mathematical formula. A beginner typically scores 800, an average player 1500 and a professional 2200. Grandmasters score above 2500. After his win a year ago, Tani was rated at 1587, or 20th among eight-year-olds in America. Today he is rated at 2059, number three among players his age, and on track to be number one.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(NPR) ‘Breathe, Pray, Meditate’: Born From Resistance, Black Churches Now Leading In Crises

As her church distributed masks and hand sanitizer as it does each Friday, the Rev. Traci Blackmon said that black churches “have always been on the bottom rung ladder of all of this.”

“We’ve always had to figure out how to take care of our community, to take care of our neighborhoods and take care of our seniors, even when the economy is booming,” said Blackmon, associate general minister of justice at the United Church of Christ, who leads a church in Florissant, Mo. “So in some ways, we’re ahead of the game with this, because we know how to survive with less, because we’ve always had to survive.”

She said that “the way we are accustomed to being governed in this country is being challenged in ways that it has not been challenged in recent history before.”

“So I think it is all erupting and that makes this moment very different because we are in this moment partly created by a lack of leadership,” she added. “And now we have to navigate this moment without leadership.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(NYT) The Last Anointing

Beyond the glass lay a man, unconscious in the electric blue light, shrouded in tubes. His family was not allowed to visit. His body could not be touched.

Father Ryan Connors stood at the door watching, his Roman collar barely visible beneath his face shield.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, he had gone to the bedsides of Covid-19 patients across the Boston area to perform one of the oldest religious rituals for the dying: the Roman Catholic practice commonly called last rites.

For centuries, priests have physically anointed the dying with oil to heal body and soul, if not in this life, in the next. Many Catholics have spent their entire lives trusting that in their most difficult hours a priest, and through him God, would come to their aid.

On this Tuesday morning, in the intensive care unit at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, west of the city, all that Father Connors knew about the patient was his name, and that his family had called for a priest.

He had a clear plastic bag with a cotton ball containing a few drops of holy oil. He carried a photocopy of pages from a liturgical book.

At 10:18 a.m., he slid open the door. He walked over to the bed, careful to avoid the tubes on the ground.

He stretched out his hand, and began to pray….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

Bishop Mark Lawrence offers some Thoughts on our Current Cultural Moment of National Unrest–Groanings too Deep for Words

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Ed Stetzer’s The Exchange) Race, Gospel, and Justice: An Interview with Esau McCaulley in 4 Parts

We have all been stirred by the events surrounding the death of George Floyd as well as the protests happening across the country. I wrote, “George Floyd, a Central Park 911 Call, and All the Places Without Cameras,” last week. Over the weekend, I invited John Richards to write a guest post, “Letter From a Quarantined Home: Expressing Disappointment with Some of My White Brothers and Sisters in Christ.”
To better understand the reaction to his death, to think about how we can respond as believers to the protests, and to consdider how we should address looting and riots, I interviewed my colleague and friend Esau McCaulley. The following multi-part series will walk us through that important interview. You can listen to that interview on my Moody Radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, right here. Or, we will post the interview in several parts here.

Read it all (and make sure to catch all 4 parts).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Archbishop Foley Beach Calls for a Week of Prayer and Fasting for the USA starting today

Consider what we have experienced in recent days and weeks:

  • Another senseless killing by a police officer of an unarmed black man, George Floyd.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people participating in peaceful protests.
  • The unleashing of a spirit of lawlessness where rioting, violence, destruction of businesses and properties (mostly minority owned), unbridled theft, personal assaults on bystanders, store owners, the elderly, and police officers.
  • Covid-19 closing whole countries down, reportedly killing over 100,000 people in the U.S., over 7,000 in Canada, and over 10,000 in Mexico, and creating an economic calamity with tens of millions of people unemployed across North America.
  • Numerous businesses and churches have had to close down and many will not reopen.
  • Incredible generosity of strangers helping strangers in the midst of calamity.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(CT) George Floyd Left a Gospel Legacy in Houston

Ngwolo and fellow leaders met Floyd in 2010. He was a towering 6-foot-6 guest who showed up at a benefit concert they put on for the Third Ward. From the start, Big Floyd made his priorities clear.

“He said, ‘I love what you’re doing. The neighborhood need it, the community need it, and if y’all about God’s business, then that’s my business,’” said Corey Paul Davis, a Christian hip-hop artist who attended Resurrection Houston. “He said, ‘Whatever y’all need, wherever y’all need to go, tell ’em Floyd said y’all good. I got y’all.’”

The church expanded its involvement in the area, holding Bible studies and helping out with groceries and rides to doctor’s appointments. Floyd didn’t just provide access and protection; he lent a helping hand as the church put on services, three-on-three basketball tournaments, barbecues, and community baptisms.

“He helped push the baptism tub over, understanding that people were going to make a decision of faith and get baptized right there in the middle of the projects. He thought that was amazing,” said Ronnie Lillard, who performs under the name Reconcile. “The things that he would say to young men always referenced that God trumps street culture. I think he wanted to see young men put guns down and have Jesus instead of the streets.”

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

A statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in response to events in the United States of America

From there:

“Recent events in the United States of America have once again drawn public attention to the ongoing evil of white supremacy. Systemic racism continues to cause incalculable harm across the world. Our hearts weep for the suffering caused – for those who have lost their lives, those who have experienced persecution, those who live in fear. God’s justice and love for all creation demands that this evil is properly confronted and tackled. Let us be clear: racism is an affront to God. It is born out of ignorance, and must be eradicated. We all bear the responsibility and must play our part to eliminate this scourge on humanity.

“As Dr Martin Luther King Jr said, ‘In a real sense, we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Therefore, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’

“We pray that God’s abounding wisdom, compassion and love will guide leaders across the world to forge a better society.”

Posted in --Justin Welby, America/U.S.A., Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(RNS) US Roman Catholic bishops, Southern Baptists, grieve death of George Floyd, call for justice, condemn abuse of police power

Leaders from two of the largest faith groups in the United States issued statements lamenting the death of George Floyd and calling for an end to racial inequality.

“We are broken-hearted, sickened, and outraged to watch another video of an African American man being killed before our very eyes,” wrote a group of U.S. Catholic bishops who head committees for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “What’s more astounding is that this is happening within mere weeks of several other such occurrences. This is the latest wake-up call that needs to be answered by each of us in a spirit of determined conversion.”

Bishops drafting the letter include Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez of Philadelphia, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, and Bishop Joseph N. Perry, auxiliary bishop of Chicago, and numerous others.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(CT) Dennis Edwards–The Revolution Will Not Be Videoed: What Paul and Silas might have said about George Floyd and…

For years, black and brown people have been doing the same as Paul in calling out injustice. The apostle Paul’s demands to the magistrates foreshadows Mamie Till’s bold move to have the body of her lynched son, Emmett, open for viewing. She wanted America to see what was allowed to happen to her son. White Christians have blamed victims of violence, waiting for some dirt on the victim to be dug up. White Christians have minimized the actions of the perpetrators by imagining there must be “another side to the story.” Perhaps even worse is the relegation of injustice to the actions of a few bad characters rather than the failings of an entire system and a worldview that vilifies non-whiteness.

The Revolution Is Really About Love

In that Acts 16 story, the magistrates apologize. They also ask Paul and Silas to leave the city. But before the apostles leave, they meet with the newly forming Christian community in Lydia’s house to encourage and admonish them. Surely this church, which now included a jailer, understood how power worked in Philippi and began their own revolution. Judging from what Paul wrote to that church sometime later (from prison!) they were to learn that the revolution means being like Jesus, considering others as more important than yourself (Phil. 2:3–4). The revolution means laying aside privilege in service to others (Phil. 2:5–11). Perhaps white Christian America can be motivated by that.

It is possible to be, like Jesus, angry at injustice while demonstrating and calling for love. In the many times over the years that I’ve been asked to speak about racial injustice, people expect me to end the message with hope. For some reason, those most vulnerable to oppression are the same ones who are supposed to give white people hope. Yet I do think about what moving forward means, especially since my wife and I have adult children and three grandsons. We think about a revolution for them. A revolution of love.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Some Acna Bps on the Minneapolis Tragedy–“What happened to George [Floyd] is an affront to God because his status as an image-bearer was not respected”

What happened to George is an affront to God because his status as an image-bearer was not respected. He was treated in a way that denied his basic humanity. Our lament is real. But our lament is not limited to George and his family. We mourn alongside the wider Black community for whom this tragedy awakens memories of their own traumas and the larger history of systemic oppression that still plagues this country.

George’s death is not merely the most recent evidence that proves racism exists against Black people in this country. But it is a vivid manifestation of the ongoing devaluation of black life. At the root of all racism is a heretical anthropology that devalues the Imago Dei in us all. The gospel reveals that all are equally created, sinful, and equally in the need of the saving work of Christ. The racism we lament is not just interpersonal. It exists in the implicit and explicit customs and attitudes that do disproportionate harm to ethnic minorities in the country. In other words, too often racial bias has been combined with political power to create inequalities that still need to be eradicated.

As bishops in the ACNA, we commit ourselves to stand alongside those in the Black community as they contend for a just society, not as some attempt to transform America into the kingdom of God, but as a manifestation of neighborly love and bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ. We confess that too often ethnic minorities have felt like contending for biblical justice has been a burden that they bear alone.

In the end, our hope is not in our efforts but in the shed blood of Jesus that reconciles God to humanity and humans to each other. Our hope is that our churches become places where the power of the gospel to bring together the nations of the earth (Rev 7:9) is seen in our life together as disciples.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Independent) James Pacey–‘I’m a hospital chaplain working during the coronavirus crisis – it’s the funerals that are the hardest’

There is no typical day in the life of a vicar. Before the pandemic, an average day might consist of morning prayer, a midweek eucharist service, catching up with emails, visiting our community café, doing some admin, going on home visits and a meeting or two in the evening. Vicars are often described as being “paid not to work” – what that means is, although you might have a lot on, you’re available and around. You should never be too “busy” for people – I think that’s a damaging, corporate word.

Since the pandemic, the workload has been consistent, but different. At the moment, my time is split between three days in the parish and three days across two hospitals in Nottingham. I can’t physically be with my congregation right now, but all of the admin, preparation for worship, meetings and pastoral stuff goes on – it’s just moved online. I’ve had to become an expert in livestreaming and Zoom, which takes time, and mentally it takes up a lot more headspace. Celebrating the eucharist from behind the altar and looking out at loads of empty seats is still a very odd thing.

One of the things I’m finding most difficult is that I love people and I love being alongside them – to physically not be with them during this time is hard. I’m also careful to protect my own mental health: when you’re in the parish or the vicarage, you feel like you’re always “on”, but vicars are also human. In the past I’d disappear into town if I needed a break, settle into a coffeeshop and write my sermon; just being in a different place was mentally uplifting. Now, that’s not possible.

But it’s strange; even though we’re far apart, we’ve never felt so united as a congregation.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture

(PA) On Pentecost, Pope to take part in online service with UK church leaders for first time

Pope Francis is to take part in an online service alongside senior UK church leaders, including the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, for the first time.

He is set to call on people to turn away from the “selfish pursuit of success without caring for those left behind” and to be united in facing the “pandemics of the virus and of hunger, war, contempt for life and indifference to others”.

His special message is to mark Pentecost Sunday, the day Christians celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church.

The virtual service is the finale of this year’s global prayer movement, called Thy Kingdom Come, which is usually filled with mass gatherings and outdoor celebrations involving 65 different denominations and traditions.

It has had to be adapted due to the pandemic so people can take part in their homes.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pentecost, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

(Church Times) ‘Failing’ welfare state needs investment, reports think tank

The Covid-19 crisis has exposed “deep failings” in the UK’s welfare system, which is equally unprepared to deal with “decades of disruption” ahead, a report from a left-wing think tank warns.

The think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), has launched a year-long review of the welfare state, which, it says, must be reformed to deal with the impending threats of climate and environmental breakdown, further pandemics, and a rapidly ageing population. The task group is to be led by the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, and the former Conservative Cabinet minister Lord Heseltine.

The IPPR report, Decades of Disruption: New social risks and the future of the welfare state, published on Monday, states that the Government was too slow to introduce emergency measures to the welfare system and had excluded key groups such as people on zero-hours contracts, who are not entitled to sick pay. The Government should have increased the base Universal Credit payments, and failed to reward unpaid care hours provided during the crisis, it says.

The lead author and IPPR Senior Research Fellow, Harry Quilter-Pinner, said: “Covid-19 is just one of many shocks our society faces in the decades to come. . . The lesson from Covid-19 is clear: we cannot wait for shocks to overwhelm us but must instead ‘future-proof’ our welfare state so we are ready next time.

Read it all.

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

(C of E) 1,000 answered calls for help in Shropshire town

In a Shropshire town, a young church member’s idea to help people with shopping has seen more than 1,000 answered calls for practical support for the vulnerable and isolated.

Shifnal Help launched the week before lockdown as St Andrew’s Church, brought together a community partnership to launch an emergency phone line for local people who were self-isolating. Two months later, today it now operates a helpline six days a week offering support, medication collection and delivery, shopping and other key tasks – with the local pub becoming a food donations hub.

Shifnal Vicar, The Revd Preb Chris Thorpe reveals: “It all started with one young mum from church called Elizabeth, who posted an offer to help people with shopping!”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

Archbp John Sentamu: Carers who risk their lives need funding, not applause

“I feel like a Roman gladiator in the ring, clapped by cheering crowds as I risk death.” These words from a brave care worker stopped me in my tracks. I heard them through my work with the Living Wage Foundation. This person, who asked to remain anonymous, does vital work on a zero-hours contract, paid just £8.72 an hour. The clapping on a Thursday is a kind gesture – but it won’t pay the rent.

The fate of the country is in the hands of people like this brave care worker. It is just morally wrong for them to face infection and potential death and to do it for poverty pay. Almost half of all care workers are earning below the foundation’s Real Living Wage.

For me this is simply unacceptable. And while so many of us across the country take to our doorsteps every Thursday at 8pm to clap for carers and other key workers, this week my prayer is that we begin to show real compassion and protect our key workers – whether British, European or even former refugees – who are the most at-risk group when it comes to catching Covid-19.

They are literally risking their lives for us, day in, day out, and they do it for a wage that means they struggle to stay afloat financially.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture

(Yorkshire Post) How Church can keep the faith in online era

…as Stephen Cottrell, the incoming Archbishop of York, becomes tasked with looking at the CoE’s vision and strategy for the decade ahead, his starting point should be on how the use of all buildings can be maximised as places of worship and the focal point of the varied communities that they strive to serve.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Religion & Culture

A S Haley–Texas Supreme Court Repudiates ECUSA’s Sophistries

In a comprehensive and unanimous thirty-page decision filed Friday morning, May 22, the Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bishop Jack L. Iker and reversed the Court of Appeals’ earlier decision to the effect that ECUSA’s rump diocese, and not Bishop Iker’s diocese, controlled the Texas corporation which holds title to the properties of those parishes which in 2008 voted to withdraw their diocese from the unaffiliated and unincorporated association that historically has been called the (Protestant) Episcopal Church in the United States of America.

The decision is as straightforward an application of “neutral principles of law” (espoused by the U.S. Supreme Court in Jones v. Wolf) as one could find among the courts to which ECUSA has presented its “hierarchical church” sophistries. It repudiates those sophistries in a succinct passage (pp. 24-25):

In sum, TEC’s determinations as to which faction is the true diocese loyal to the church and which congregants are in good standing are ecclesiastical determinations to which the courts must defer. But applying neutral principles to the organizational documents, the question of property ownership is not entwined with or settled by those determinations. The Fort Worth Diocese’s identity depends on what its documents say. To that end, the Diocesan Constitution and Canons provided who could make amendments and under what circumstances; none of those circumstances incorporate or rely on an ecclesiastical determination by the national church; and nothing in the diocese’s or national church’s documents precluded amendments rescinding an accession to or affiliation with TEC. Applying neutral principles of law, we hold that the majority faction is the Fort Worth Diocese and parishes and missions in union with that faction hold equitable title to the disputed property under the Diocesan Trust.

The opinion then makes short shrift of ECUSA’s remaining arguments. It demolishes ECUSA’s Dennis Canon, first by holding that a beneficiary like ECUSA cannot declare a trust in its favor in Texas on property that it does not own, and second by holding that even if the Dennis Canon could be said to create a trust in ECUSA’s favor, the Canon does not, as Texas law specifies, make the trust “expressly irrevocable”. Thus it was well within the power of Bishop Iker’s Fort Worth Diocese to revoke any such trust, which it did by a diocesan canon adopted in 1989 — to which ECUSA never objected in the twenty years following that act.

The Texas Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals’ holding that ECUSA could not assert title to the parishes’ properties by way of any “constructive” trust (a creation of the law to prevent a wrongdoer’s “unjust enrichment”), or by the ancient doctrines of estoppel or trespass-to-try-title, or by accusing Bishop Iker and his fellow trustees of the diocesan corporation of breaches of fiduciary obligation allegedly owed to ECUSA. Each of those claims would involve the civil courts unconstitutionally in disputes over religious doctrine.

In conclusion, the Court affirmed the judgment of the Court of Appeals on the grounds last noted, reversed its principal holding that as an ecclesiastical matter, ECUSA got to say which corporation under Texas civil law was the entity which held the parishes’ property in trust, and reinstated the trial court’s judgment that Bishop Iker’s corporation was in law the trustee of the properties of the parishes in his diocese.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Analysis, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(Star-Telegram) TX court favors classical group in Episcopal Church Fort Worth-area property dispute

One group calling itself the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth has won a decisive legal battle in a fight over which religious organization has control of church property.

But whether the war is over between these two religious organizations, both of which claim the title of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, is still being decided.

Both groups seek ownership of about $100 million in church property in a 24-county area….

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

Texas Supreme Court Makes Major Ruling in the Episcopal Church case in Fort Worth

The court of appeals declined TEC’s constructive-trust claim because such relief would require the court “to delve into the mysteries of faith,” impermissibly entangling the court in a dispute over religious doctrine.We agree with the analysis.’

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

William Witt–Renewal Past and Present

There is a focus on spiritual formation and worship at Trinity now that echoes the spiritual seriousness of the earlier charismatic and Evangelical renewal movements, although the approach is perhaps more distinctly Anglican. Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and weekly Eucharist are at the center of the school’s worship life. Trinity’s faculty find themselves among successors to that earlier movement in academic theology: Biblical studies center on biblical theology; systematic theology and church history focus on the creedal core of trinitarian theology, christology, and the church as not only regenerated individuals, but the corporate community of the body of Christ gathered to worship the Triune God in Word and sacrament. TSM carries on the “Chicago Call” by hosting “The Robert E. Webber Center for an Ancient Evangelical Future.”

The current crop of students were not yet born at the height of the charismatic and Evangelical renewal movements of the 1970’s, and many of them were raised in Evangelical homes where what once was renewal is now “just the way things have always been done.” While the renewal movements of the 1970’s were in some ways responses to the cultural uncertainties of the 1960’s, the counter-cultural youth movement, and too placid mainline churches, the generation that attends seminary now faces a very different culture characterized by post-modern pluralism, the prevalence of social media, and a dominant secularism in which skepticism about religious faith is a given assumption.

What form renewal will take for the current generation is not evident. While today’s students are not dismissive of the charismatic and Evangelical renewal movements of their parents’ generation, many come to seminary with what is perhaps more of a concern for spiritual and theological depth. Some of our students come to us after doing undergraduate work at such Evangelical strongholds as Moody Bible Institute or Wheaton College, and they are looking for a liturgical church more rooted in the church’s tradition. Students express keen interest in biblical languages and theological exegesis. They write theses on the church fathers. They enthusiastically participate in the seminary’s liturgical life, and they pray for one another on campus and in each other’s homes. They willingly join in the worship and community of local churches, and take courses in church planting. Trinity’s students form deep friendships with fellow students and faculty that continue after they graduate. I have every reason to believe that this current generation of students will be the leaders of a new renewal movement in the church that may look somewhat different from the renewal movements of my own generation, but I pray will be the needed missional response in the presence of a now increasingly secular and post-Christian culture.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Church History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(Barna) 30% of Pastors Are Ready to Resume Physical Worship Services But Others Remain Uncertain

This [past] week, nearly all U.S. church leaders (96%) express confidence in their church’s survival rate despite current disruptions. A quarter (25%) is confident, with another seven in 10 (71%) stating they are “very” confident in this scenario. Three percent remain unsure, and a single percent doubts their church doors will reopen again.

What makes the majority of pastors so sure their church will reopen again? Three in five (60%) believe their people are excited and anxious to return to church. One-quarter attributes this confidence to their current financial standing, with 21 percent saying their finances have remained stable during the crisis and another 4 percent voicing optimism that their finances will recover. One in 10 (11%) believes that God will not allow their church to close.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(Belfast Telegraph) Religious leaders call limited reopening for Northern Ireland’s churches a sign of hope

Religious leaders have welcomed the announcement that churches can reopen for private prayer as lockdown restrictions ease.

Drive-in services will also be permitted, providing social distancing is maintained and those attending do not get out of their cars.

The leaders of the Church of Ireland, Methodist Church in Ireland, Catholic Church, Presbyterian Church in Ireland and the Irish Council of Churches all expressed their appreciation for the careful preparation that preceded the announcement, which included consultation with them.

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Religion & Culture