Category : Other Churches

(NYT) Can the Roman Catholic Church ‘Evolve’ on L.G.B.T. Rights?

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

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(GR) Julia Duin–When profiling ADF’s Kristin Waggoner, why not include facts about her Pentecostal roots?

There’s so much good in this story, as the details are the result of hours of observation by a keen-eyed reporter. It’s the stuff that got left out that drives me batty.

The story talks a lot about Waggoner’s friendship with Stutzman but doesn’t mention how Waggoner honed her craft through years of working in a law firm here in Seattle, where she got her fill of the liberal politics in this ultra-blue state.

I learned the details of her religious upbringing in Ken McIntyre’s Daily Signal piece where we learn Waggoner is the daughter of an Assemblies of God minister, Clint Behrends, who is on staff of Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell, a Seattle suburb. She attended an Assemblies of God college in nearby Kirkland; clerked for a Washington Supreme Court judge, then spent 15 years with Ellis, Li & ­­­­­McKinstry, a Seattle law firm that includes many Christian lawyers. And ever since moving to Arizona to work with ADF in 2014, her star has gone straight up.

We also learn her husband is a lawyer and that they have three kids. Most importantly, she is a Pentecostal Christian. That’s what growing up in the rather moderate Assemblies of God means. Thinking back to 2008, when another female Pentecostal, Sarah Palin, climbed onto the national stage as the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate, reporters hadn’t a clue how to cover her church. Not much has changed.

I don’t know whether the Post reporter didn’t grasp Waggoner’s beliefs enough to ask her about them or whether she did include those details but an editor took them out. But if this woman’s faith renders her unflappable amidst some tough high-profile cases, not to mention the personal toll of overseeing dozens of lawyers working on similar cases while staying married with three kids, then we should know more about it.

Once again, what is the logic – in terms of journalism basics – for omitting this kind of core information?

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Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Media, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

Fulcrum Response to GAFCON 2018

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, GAFCON

(NYT Op-ed) Fred Rogers and the Loveliness of the Little Good

Once, as Tom Junod described in a profile for Esquire, Rogers met a 14-year-old boy whose cerebral palsy left him sometimes unable to walk or talk. Rogers asked the boy to pray for him.

The boy was thunderstruck. He had been the object of prayers many times, but nobody had asked him to pray for another. He said he would try since Mister Rogers must be close to God and if Mister Rogers liked him he must be O.K.

Junod complimented Rogers on cleverly boosting the boy’s self-esteem, but Rogers didn’t look at the situation that way at all: “Oh, heavens no, Tom! I didn’t ask him for his prayers for him; I asked for me. I asked him because I think that anyone who has gone through challenges like that must be very close to God. I asked him because I wanted his intercession.”

And here is the radicalism that infused that show: that the child is closer to God than the adult; that the sick are closer than the healthy; that the poor are closer than the rich and the marginalized closer than the celebrated.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ministry of the Ordained, Presbyterian

(Star-Tribune) Minnesota’s mainline Christian denominations face unprecedented declines

For 100 years, Lutherans in this farming community on the Minnesota prairie have come to one church to share life’s milestones.

They have been baptized, confirmed and married at La Salle Lutheran. Their grandparents, parents and siblings lie in the church cemetery next door.

But the old friends who gathered here early one recent Sunday never imagined that they would one day be marking the death of their own church.

When La Salle Lutheran locks its doors in August, it will become the latest casualty among fragile Minnesota churches either closing, merging or praying for a miracle. Steep drops in church attendance, aging congregations, and cultural shifts away from organized religion have left most of Minnesota’s mainline Christian denominations facing unprecedented declines.

“Sunday used to be set aside for church: that’s what families did,” said Donna Schultz, 74, a church member since grade school at La Salle, in southwest Minnesota. “Now our children have moved away. The grandkids have volleyball, dance on weekends. People are busy with other things….”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Lutheran, Methodist, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, United Church of Christ

(WSJ) Adam O’Neal–Taking an honest look Inside the Christian group to which Amy Coney Barrett’s belongs

Judge Amy Coney Barrett could be President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court—a prospect that thrills many conservatives. A former Antonin Scalia clerk and Notre Dame professor, Judge Barrett, 46, seems an ideal choice. Yet her religious beliefs could lead to a contentious confirmation process. Would it be a risk to pick her?

Last year President Trump nominated Ms. Barrett for a seat on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Several Democratic senators pondered whether an “orthodox Catholic” would have dual loyalties. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said during Ms. Barrett’s hearing. “That’s of concern.”

Video of Mrs. Feinstein’s religious test quickly spread, provoking outrage from thousands of Americans. Yet a New York Times news story suggested she and her colleagues hadn’t gone far enough: The nominee’s “membership in a small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise never came up at the hearing, and might have led to even more intense questioning.”

Richard Painter, a law professor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Minnesota, loved the article. He recently tweeted the link, adding his own comment on People of Praise: “A religious group in which members take an oath of loyalty to each other and are supervised by a male ‘head’ or female ‘handmaiden.’ That looks like a cult.” As nonbigots do, Mr. Painter then added, “don’t even try playing the ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ card.”

It’s easy to make People of Praise sound terrifying. Isn’t there a TV show and novel about these “handmaid” people? Do Americans really want a cultist on the Supreme Court? Despite such insinuations from “resistance” conspiracy theorists, understanding the group requires more than a couple of tweets….

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate, Supreme Court

(NPR) For A Church Defined By Tradition, Changing Catholic Doctrine Can Present A Problem

GJELTEN: Like other Catholic leaders, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki aims for a balance – serving his flock while also defending the faith. His emphasis is on what he calls the truth of church teachings over the years.

JEROME LISTECKI: To be consistent to that is important. Why – because when you start to push yourself away from that, that’s when you lose the uniqueness. If we’re supposed to be like everybody else in the secular world, then we’re not going to be the Catholic church.

GJELTEN: In fact, U.S. Catholics may already be less Catholic than they used to be. Fifty years ago, about half of all Catholic children in the U.S. were educated in Catholic schools. Now it’s less than 20 percent.

GAUTIER: It suggests a gradual social change occurring.

GJELTEN: Mary Gautier of Georgetown University.

GAUTIER: The American Catholic church I think is assimilating ever further into American popular culture.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NCR) First report by Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission in 13 years considers authority, role of laity

The official commission for dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches has published its first document in 13 years, focusing on how each global institution can learn from the other in balancing exercise of ecclesial authority at the local, regional and worldwide levels.

Among the considerations in the 68-page report, released July 2, are questions of how the Catholic Church might learn from the Anglican experience to empower local church leaders to act more independently from Rome at times, and to give more governing authority to consultative bodies such as the Synod of Bishops.

“The Roman Catholic Church can learn from the culture of open and frank debate that exists at all levels of the Anglican Communion,” the members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission state in one of the conclusions of their document, titled: “Walking Together on the Way: Learning to Be the Church — Local, Regional, Universal.”

“The Anglican practice of granting a deliberative role to synods and of investing authority in regional instruments of communion indicates that the Synod of Bishops could be granted a deliberative role and further suggests the need for the Roman Catholic Church to articulate more clearly the authority of episcopal conferences,” the document continues.

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Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Featured (Sticky), Roman Catholic

(NPR) Southern Baptist Head Urges Evangelicals To Avoid Political Ideology Amid Crossroads

While the vice president talked about the importance of prayer and the moment he accepted Jesus Christ as his savior, Greear noted that the Southern Baptists’ identity should not be intertwined with a conservative or Republican ideology.

“There are certain things on the Republican platform that Republicans have championed that evangelical Christians have identified [with]. However, we need to decouple the identity of the church from particular political platforms about which there can be disagreement,” he told Morning Edition host Rachel Martin.

Asked about those Christians who have sought to distance themselves from that political identity by shedding the “evangelical” label, Greear urges caution.

“What we need is not a change in label, what we need is a change of heart, a change in values,” he says.

Evangelicals, he says, have “got to be committed to living out the faith and listening to criticism, even from people on the outside.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(CC) Bobby Ross Jr–Wissam Al-Aethawi’s long road from Baghdad

The story of Al-Aethawi’s unlikely journey from Baghdad to Dearborn goes back to 1979.

That was the year Saddam Hussein rose to power — and the year Al-Aethawi was born to a poor family who lived in a mud house with steel sheets as the roof. In the winter, rain dripped on the young boy, his sisters and parents as they slept.

Each Friday, Al-Aethawi went to a neighborhood mosque to pray.

But he never felt comfortable with a religion he believed called him to hate people he didn’t know and offered no hope after his 4-year-old sister, Amina, died of food poisoning in 1996.

Wissam Al-Aethawi, right, enjoys fellowship with Steve Spiceland after preaching at the Sunset Church of Christ in Taylor, Mich. (PHOTO BY BOBBY ROSS JR.)References to Bible verses in American novels that Al-Aethawi read piqued his curiosity, as did Tom Cruise picking up a Gideon Bible and reading from Job 3:14 in the movie “Mission: Impossible.”

At the massive Al-Mutanabbi flea market in Baghdad in 1997, Al-Aethawi — then an engineering student at the University of Baghdad — bought the Gospel of John….

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Iraq, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

(LA Times) ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’: The documentary that shows how Mister Rogers made goodness desirable

It had a simple set and minimal production values. As a host, it employed an ordained Presbyterian minister whose flashiest move was changing into a cardigan sweater. A likely candidate for legendary television success “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” was not.

Yet for more than 30 years, Fred Rogers’ Pittsburgh-based public television half-hour was a small-screen powerhouse, entrancing generations of wee fans and even influencing public policy. Not bad for a man who believed “love is at the root of everything … love or the lack of it.”

Although Rogers died in 2003 at age 74, the excellent “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is the first documentary on him, and Morgan Neville is the ideal filmmaker to do the job.

A documentary veteran who won the Oscar for the entrancing “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” Neville is an experienced professional who knows what questions to ask and, working with editors Jeff Malmberg and Aaron Wickenden, how to assemble the answers.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Movies & Television, Pastoral Theology, Presbyterian, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CBC) Graham Singh is saving a Montreal church by first closing the doors, then opening them wider than ever

In 2015, Singh took over a beautiful, ornate church in the centre of Montreal’s bustling downtown. St. James the Apostle had a leaky roof, an uneven foundation, and its books were in rough shape.

With the bishop’s blessing, he became the pastor of the church. And then he closed it down. He closed it down for nine months, giving the existing congregation of about 30 a list of other Anglican churches they could attend.

He emptied the church of its pews and got rid of the choir. He changed the name from the old St. James the Apostle to the new and more modern St. Jax.

Singh started toward his ultimate goal of changing the building from an Anglican church — to a multi-faith community centre.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

(PD) Gerard Bradley–The city of Philadelphia’s recent decision about Catholic Social Services: Learning to Live with Same-Sex Marriage?

The everyday challenge of Obergefell is whether those of us who hold the “decent and honorable religious” conviction that it is impossible for two persons of the same sex to marry will be accorded the legal and social space we need in order to live in accord with our convictions. The question at hand is whether we will instead be forced to contradict our convictions in word and deed, day in and day out. Chief Justice Roberts wrote in Obergefell:

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples.

Just so.

Catholic Social Services vs. the City of Philadelphia

Last week (on May 16), Catholic Social Services and several foster care parents sued the city of Philadelphia to settle one of those “hard questions.” CSS was recently ranked by the city as the second best of the twenty-eight agencies with which it contracts for foster care placement and support. Its record of finding homes for difficult-to-place children is unsurpassed. On March 15 of this year the city announced that it was nonetheless suspending referrals to CSS. Because the city monopolizes these referrals, its decision was tantamount to closing down CSS’s foster care operation.

The hanging offense? Even though CSS avers in its complaint (prepared by lawyers from the Becket Fund, the great religious liberty firm) that it has never received a complaint from a same-sex couple, it does adhere to Church teaching about marriage. The complaint makes clear enough that CSS would conscientiously refuse to do the work prescribed by law to certify a same-sex “married” couple as foster parents. CSS would, however, refer them to other agencies that would.

Philadelphia is trying to drive these “decent and honorable” people from the field. The mayor is quoted in the CSS complaint as declaring that “we cannot use taxpayer dollars to fund organizations that discriminate against” people in same-sex marriages. “It’s just not right.” The city council professed to be shocked—shocked!—to discover that some contracting agencies have policies, rooted in religious beliefs, that prohibit placement of children with “LGBTQ people.” But the Catholic Church’s position on marriage is no secret. The CSS complaint even points out that the “City has been aware of Catholic Social Services’ religious beliefs for years.” For example, the city waived repeatedly for CSS the obligation of city contractors to provide benefits to same-sex spouses of employees.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Supreme Court, Urban/City Life and Issues

Covenant Seminary Statement On Marriage And Sexuality

As bible scholars committed to the inerrancy of Scripture, Covenant Seminary faculty are regularly asked to speak at churches and conferences, considering it a duty and privilege to share the truth and authority of the Bible in all areas of life. We believe that the unchanging veracity of Scripture is always relevant and has the inherent power to influence culture and lead people to the light of Jesus Christ.

In the last ten years, there has been a dramatic change in society’s views and perspectives on questions related to human sexuality. In light of this reality, Covenant Seminary faculty believes it vital to offer a Scriptural view of sexuality whenever possible to serve the church and offer the hope of the Gospel to anyone who may be seeking it.

As the denominational seminary for the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), we gladly uphold the inerrancy of Scripture, the Westminster standards, and the sanctity of marriage as being between one man and one woman. Our faculty firmly believes that God’s intent for sexuality, laid down in creation and reaffirmed by our Lord, is that it be expressed in marriage between a man and a woman (Gen. 1-2; Matt. 19:4-5). Outside of this context, sexual activity is sinful—whether heterosexual or homosexual—and requires wise pastoral care and discipline when committed by those in the church.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Christian Today) Could sexuality be a thorn in the side of the Anglican-Methodist unity pact?

What is perhaps a more pressing question is what would happen to the Anglican-Methodist Covenant were either church to change its opposition to gay marriage. Would a sudden change by the Methodist Conference in 2019 or 2020 scupper the long proposed deal…?

It certainly might make the strong conservative base on the Church of England’s ruling general synod less enthusiastic.

But difference in teaching on sexuality is not officially a block on sharing ministry.

The Church of England is already in direct ‘communion’ with its sister Anglican churches in Scotland and the US. This means that priests in both churches are recognised as such by the Church of England and so they can, as long as the local bishop agrees, come and minister in CofE parishes.

Both the Episcopal Church in the US and the Scottish Episcopal Church permit same-sex marriage, and while they faced sanctions from the wider Anglican Communion, they remain in communion with the CofE.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Same-sex blessings, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture