Category : Other Churches

(CT) Evangelical Giving Goes Up, Despite Economic Woes

The annual State of Giving report from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) found giving to ministries increased more in 2021 than it had any year out of the last 10. Inflation and the pandemic both raised real concerns for ministry leaders trying to make ends meet, but evangelicals responded to the crises with generosity.

The ECFA survey of about 1,800 members found they received more than $19 billion in donations in 2021. Adjusting for inflation, giving went up by about 3 percent. In the last 10 years, the increase has been closer to 2 percent.

“Contrary to what many expected, giving during the pandemic to ECFA members was strong,” Michael Martin, ECFA president and CEO, wrote in the report. “The findings we unveil emphasize the good work that ECFA members are doing to serve and expand their services in the face of inflation and other challenges.”

If Christians are excited and optimistic about the work of parachurch organizations, though, the numbers reveal a different story when it comes to megachurches. The ECFA surveyed 87 churches that belong to the financial accountability organization. Giving to those congregations dropped by 6.6 percent in 2021, following a decline of 1.1 percent the year before.

Read it all.

Posted in Evangelicals, Stewardship

(Wash. Post) Michael Gerson, Post columnist and Bush speechwriter on 9/11, dies at 58

Michael Gerson, a speechwriter for President George W. Bush who helped craft messages of grief and resolve after 9/11, then explored conservative politics and faith as a Washington Post columnist writing on issues as diverse as President Donald Trump’s disruptive grip on the GOP and his own struggles with depression, died Nov. 17 at a hospital in Washington. He was 58.

The cause of death was complications of cancer, said Peter Wehner, a longtime friend and former colleague.

After years of working as a writer for conservative and evangelical leaders, including Prison Fellowship Ministries founder and Watergate felon Charles Colson, Mr. Gerson joined the Bush campaign in 1999. Mr. Gerson, an evangelical Christian, wrote with an eye toward religious and moral imagery, and that approach melded well with Bush’s personality as a leader open about his own Christian faith.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Media, Politics in General

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Charles Simeon

O loving God, who orderest all things by thine unerring wisdom and unbounded love: Grant us in all things to see thy hand; that, following the example and teaching of thy servant Charles Simeon, we may walk with Christ in all simplicity, and serve thee with a quiet and contented mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Spirituality/Prayer

(CT) Died: Gordon Fee, Who Taught Evangelicals to Read the Bible ‘For All Its Worth’

Gordon Fee once told his students on the first day of a New Testament class at Wheaton College that they would—someday—come across a headline saying “Gordon Fee Is Dead.”

Then, instead of handing out the syllabus like a normal professor, he led the class in Charles Wesley’s hymn, “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.”

Fee, a widely influential New Testament teacher who believed that reading the Bible, teaching the Bible, and interpreting the Bible should bring people into an encounter with a living God, described himself as a “scholar on fire.” He died on Tuesday at the age of 88—although, as those who encountered him in the classroom or in his many books know, that’s not how he would have described it.

Fee co-wrote How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth with Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary colleague Douglas Stuart in the early 1980s. The book is now in its fourth edition and has sold around 1 million copies, becoming for many the standard text on the best way to approach Scripture. Fee also wrote a widely used handbook on biblical interpretation, several well-regarded commentaries on New Testament epistles, and groundbreaking academic research on the place of the Holy Spirit in the life and work of the Apostle Paul.

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Posted in Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Pentecostal, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) The Rev. Calvin Butts III, Pastor of Storied Black Church, Dies at 73

The Rev. Calvin Butts III, pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York, died Friday. He was 73.

The church, considered one of the most influential Black houses of worship in the nation, announced his death Friday morning.

“It is with profound sadness, we announce the passing of our beloved pastor, Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, who peacefully transitioned in the early morning of October 28, 2022,” the church said in a statement.

Mr. Butts served in Abyssinian’s ministry for 50 years, joining as an executive minister in 1972 and becoming its 20th pastor in 1989.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Baptists, Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CT) Evangelical Creation Care Expert Shares Lessons Learned from Global Tour

Can you give an example about how we have missed this message in Scripture?

The central passage I use is Colossians 1:15–20. It begins by speaking about Christ creating all things and ends with how the blood of Christ on the cross is redeeming all things. Most people read this redemption in terms of people. But if you zoom out and realize that the “all things” being redeemed are grammatically the same as the “all things” he has created, then you have a universal picture of redemption.

This is reinforced by Romans 8: how creation is waiting for the redemption that will come through the revealing of the children of God.

The church has sometimes struggled over the correct prioritizing of evangelism and social outreach. Does adding a third issue of creation care become too much for some?

Actually, it is the opposite. People working in poverty have realized for a number of years that they are on a treadmill and moving backwards. You cannot make progress in development and ministering to the poor if there are environmental problems that haven’t been addressed.

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Posted in Ecology, Evangelicals, Globalization, Religion & Culture

([London Times) Kallistos Ware–Gentle-voiced Oxford don and Greek Orthodox bishop who spread understanding of his faith in the English-speaking worl

The young Ware had entered a world of perpetual controversy, between different nations and ethnicities and between different shades of ideology. The remainder of his life was devoted to wrestling with these contradictions and helping others to do so.

Having won a King’s Scholarship to study classics at Magdalen College, Oxford, he took a double first and wrote a doctoral thesis on St Mark the Ascetic. At the same time he deepened his commitment to Orthodoxy. He loved Russian spirituality but was wary of being embroiled in Russian controversies. His wisest Russian mentors advised moving closer to the religious mainstream and joining the Greek church, into which he was received in 1958, later being elevated to the priesthood, tonsured as a monk and given the name Kallistos in 1966.

By that time he had been guided by Amphilochios Makris, a visionary monastic on Patmos, who said that care for the environment, especially trees, was a Christian duty. It was this monk, canonised in 2018, who advised the young Englishman that his future lay in teaching Orthodox Christianity in the West.

Ware faithfully carried out this mission during three decades as an Oxford lecturer, presenting arcane theological issues with clarity and humour.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Orthodox Church, Theology

(Church Times) Irish bishops express sympathy for bereaved after Creeslough explosion

Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Ireland have joined Pope Francis in offering prayers for those killed in an explosion in Creeslough, County Donegal, on Friday.

On Sunday, Irish police released the names of the ten people who were killed in the explosion. The victims included three children, among them Shauna Flanagan Garwe, who was five years old.

The blast destroyed a petrol station and a shop, and damaged surrounding buildings, in the village, which is in the north-western part of the Republic of Ireland.

On Saturday, the Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Revd John McDowell, and the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, released a statement with the bishop of Derry & Raphoe, in whose Church of Ireland diocese Creeslough is situated.

“On behalf of Church of Ireland people across this island, we wish to express our sympathy to all who have been bereaved,” the statement read. It continued: “Our hearts also go out to those who have been injured and to their families, along with the assurance of our prayers in the weeks to come.

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

(R U) Giorgia Meloni’s Politics And Faith: Meet The Woman Who Could Be Italy’s Next Leader

Pope Francis has been openly anti-populist, but the Italian people seem open to it now that the situation has gotten more dire economically as a result of COVID-19, rising inflation and an energy crisis triggered by Russia’s attack on Ukraine. The pope has been good about staying away from the morass of Italian politics, leaving it to the Italian bishops to exert influence.

As Vatican observer John Allen Jr. wrote in a recent Crux column: “Italian Catholics also have a commendable capacity to live with contradiction, reflecting a healthy sense of the complexities of things. Small case in point: I recently went to a local pharmacy for a Covid test, and I noticed a poor box to support the hospital founded by Padre Pio atop a shelf. Upon further inspection, it was the same shelf that offered the pharmacy’s collection of jumbo-sized boxes of condoms.”

Meloni is an embodiment of such contradictions. For example, she supports family values and other Catholic doctrines, but has a daughter, named Ginevra, with her boyfriend Andrea Giambruno, a journalist.

Allen said Italy is a place where “the sacred and the secular have been forced by bitter experience to work out a modus vivendi, for the most part respecting the legitimacy and autonomy of the other.”

Despite all these contradictions, Meloni is poised to be prime minister. Her campaign slogan may be “Ready” — but it remains to be seen if she, the majority of her countrymen and the world are ready to see her lead Italy.

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Posted in Europe, Italy, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Current) Marvin Olasky–A Wrinkle in Journalism History

As I began editing World thirty years ago I was proposing policies regarding poverty-fighting and related issues that became known as “compassionate conservatism.” The magazine reflected that viewpoint. Today, “national conservatism” or “Christian nationalism” has little room for compassion. As World resisted paranoid lines regarding vaccines, masks, and church closings—all part of a big government plot—our resistance became part of a larger conspiracy theory: World had gone woke.

American journalism history has valuable lessons on how to deal with conspiracy mongers. In 1955 wealthy William F. Buckley, Jr. started a magazine, National Review, that invigorated a conservative movement in disarray. Within a few years Buckley as editor had to fight off the John Birch Society, which asserted—among other oddities—that President Dwight Eisenhower was a Communist. Buckley said Birch founder and head Robert Welch inferred “subjective intention from objective consequences”: Because bad things had happened, U.S. policy makers must have intended them to happen.

John Birchers scrutinized book-buying decisions by local librarians and demanded that some books be removed. When National Review opposed the Birch campaign to impeach Earl Warren, the Supreme Court’s chief justice, many subscribers complained. When one donor said he had supported National Review financially and wanted it to support his concerns, Buckley said the magazine was “not for sale.”

Buckley owned the magazine and maintained his emphasis on independence even when the business side, led by publisher Bill Rusher, worried about reader and revenue loss. Rusher said a “substantial fraction” of readers “bled away” during 1962 and 1963. A direct mail campaign flopped as many on the mailing lists sided with the Birchers.

Buckley stuck with his principles and wrote to Barry Goldwater, “It is essential that we effect a clean break” with the Birch Society.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Media, Religion & Culture

Frederick Buechner RIP

Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology

(UMNS) Some large Texas Methodist churches vote on disaffiliation

Texas has long been a stronghold of The United Methodist Church in the U.S., boasting the most annual conferences (five) and ranking at the top in number of local churches and prevalence of megachurches.

But this summer has seen many traditionalist congregations in the state weighing whether to leave the denomination.

On Aug. 7, in votes taken within hours of one another, The Woodlands Methodist Church and Faithbridge — both large, traditionalist churches in suburban communities north of Houston — chose to disaffiliate.

The Woodlands Methodist is among the denomination’s very largest churches, ranking fourth in membership and second in worship attendance in 2018. The church is known for its ties to Good News, a longtime traditionalist caucus within The United Methodist Church that has opposed same-sex marriage and ordination of [non-celibate] LGBTQ people.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT op-ed) Julia Yost–New York’s Hottest Club Is the Roman Catholic Church

As senior churchmen seek to make Catholicism palatable to modernity, members of a small but significant scene are turning to the ancient faith in defiance of liberal pieties. The scene is often associated with “Dimes Square,” a downtown Manhattan neighborhood popular with a pandemic-weary Generation Z — or Zoomer — crowd, but it has spread across a network of podcasts and upstart publications. Its sensibility is more transgressive than progressive. Many of its denizens profess to be apolitical. Others hold outré opinions, whether sincerely or as fashion statements. Reactionary motifs are chic: Trump hats and “tradwife” frocks, monarchist and anti-feminist sentiments. Perhaps the ultimate expression of this contrarian aesthetic is its embrace of Catholicism.

Urban trends can shape a culture, as millennial Brooklyn did in its heyday. The Dimes Square scene is small, but its ascent highlights a culture-wide shift. Progressive morality, formulated in response to the remnants of America’s Christian culture, was once a vanguard. By 2020, the year of lockdowns and Black Lives Matter protests, progressivism had come to feel hegemonic in the social spaces occupied by young urban intellectuals. Traditional morality acquired a transgressive glamour. Disaffection with the progressive moral majority — combined with Catholicism’s historic ability to accommodate cultural subversion — has produced an in-your-face style of traditionalism. This is not your grandmother’s church — and whether the new faithful are performing an act of theater or not, they have the chance to revitalize the church for young, educated Americans.

Honor Levy, the fresh-out-of-Bennington writer who co-hosts the trendy podcast “Wet Brain,” recently converted to Catholicism and lets you know when she has unconfessed mortal sins on her conscience. The podcast’s beat is pop culture, literature, politics and religion — including practical tips for warding off demons. Dasha Nekrasova, a Catholic revert and actress with a recurring role on HBO’s “Succession,” is a co-host of the scene’s most popular podcast, “Red Scare.” On an episode during Lent this year, Ms. Nekrasova focused on esoteric Catholic topics such as sedevacantism, the ultra-traditionalist notion that the popes since the Second Vatican Council are illegitimate.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CT) Christianity Today Names Russell Moore Editor in Chief

We aspire at Christianity Today to advance the stories and ideas of the kingdom of God. The basic question that animates our work is What does it look like to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ in our time? We hope to be for a new generation what we were for Moore himself when he came across Christianity Today at the age of 15: a capacious and compelling vision of Christian life that opens a path through a fallen world and into the kingdom of God.

That’s why appointing Moore to this position is so important. As president and CEO, I have held the editor in chief position in stewardship for a brief time, but it needs someone to inhabit it fully, and Moore exhibits that way of following Jesus that is deeply rooted, beautifully orthodox, thoughtful and compassionate, and committed to serving the kingdom even at great cost to ourselves.

Significantly, we are also bringing longtime communications and publishing veteran Joy Allmond onto our team to serve as editorial chief of staff. One of the primary charges for Moore will be to continue advancing the Public Theology Project. Allmond will work alongside him to see that project flourish. With an extensive background at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Decision magazine, and Lifeway, Allmond will bring considerable editorial, executive, and interpersonal gifts to the smooth functioning of our publishing enterprise as well as forthcoming events and programs.

Ours is an era of great peril and great promise for the church. We are determined at Christianity Today to do everything we can to serve the church in a turbulent and divisive time, and to love the world God made. We were honored to bring Russell Moore onto the team a little over a year ago. Now we look forward to what he, Allmond, and our extraordinary editorial team can accomplish in the years ahead.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Media, Religion & Culture

(CT) With an Eye to Mission and Money, More Evangelical Universities Go Green

There are two reasons to put solar panels on the roofs of Calvin University.

One, renewable energy can provide power for the private Christian campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan, without adding to the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and nitrous oxide that are driving climate change.

Two, it will save the school some money.

At Calvin, the environmental reason is primary. The budgetary help is a bonus.

“I think taking care of the planet is a prerequisite to being a Christian,” Tim Fennema, vice president for administration and finance, told CT. “And as a Christian university, it’s something we want to do.”

Calvin is on a mission to be carbon neutral by 2057. The school got a little closer last month when it announced a partnership with the Indiana-based Sun FundED to come up with a plan to install solar arrays on university buildings, offsetting the high-carbon energy sources Calvin currently uses to heat, cool, and power the campus.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Evangelicals, Religion & Culture

(CT) Craig Keener–Ron Sider Was the Real Deal

Ron’s loyalty was to Scripture. He was no more radical than John Wesley or Charles Finney (and certainly far less radical than Saint Anthony and Saint Francis).

As I once pointed out to him, he was much more conciliatory than the biblical figures of Amos; Jeremiah; John the Baptist (Luke 3:11); and, most important of all, the Lord Jesus, who said we cannot be his disciples unless we surrender all our possessions (Luke 12:33; 14:33).

Although Ron was often associated with the evangelical Left, he remained consistently pro-life and insisted that the church should maintain biblical sexual ethics. I’m pretty sure that he and I didn’t always vote the same way, despite our agreement on ethics, but I never doubted that his vote was informed by his biblical conscience.

In conversation, I found him ready to embrace what he saw as the best solutions from either side of today’s (tragically polarized) political aisle, and he maintained contacts on both sides of that split. He always remained the consistent evangelical Anabaptist that he was—living simply and sacrificially and working on behalf of the needy. The 2013 book of essays dedicated in his honor is fittingly titled Following Jesus: Journeys in Radical Discipleship.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals

(CT) Ron Sider RIP, An Evangelical Who Pushed for Social Action

Ronald J. Sider, organizer of the evangelical left and author of ‘Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger,’ died on Wednesday at 82. His son told followers that Sider had suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest.

For nearly 50 years, Sider called evangelicals to care about the poor and see poverty as a moral issue. He argued for an expanded understanding of sin to include social structures that perpetuate inequality and injustice, and urged Christians to see how their salvation should compel them to care for their neighbors.

“Salvation is a lot more than just a new right relationship with God through forgiveness of sins. It’s a new, transformed lifestyle that you can see visible in the body of believers,” he said. “Sin is a biblical category. Given a careful reading of the world and the Bible and our giving patterns, how can we come to any other conclusion than to say that we are flatly disobeying what the God of the Bible says about the way he wants his people to care for the poor?”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London] Times) Andrew Atherstone–The Alpha Course will continue rebranding Christianity

The Christian faith always has direct social implications. It is not a privatised religion but overflows into practical action and community transformation. This is seen clearly in the Alpha movement, which has been putting on courses for 45 years. Alpha is a global phenomenon, one of the leading brands in Christian evangelisation, created at Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in central London. More than 28 million people have attended the course worldwide, nearly five million in the UK, and many have become Christians as a result. Alpha’s pioneer, the former barrister Nicky Gumbel, has won plaudits as a Billy Graham for the modern age.

Alpha’s ambition, expressed in its famous catchphrase, is to see not only “lives changed” but also “society transformed”. Alpha has matured over three decades, with frequent revision of Gumbel’s books and films, and this emphasis has become increasingly explicit. For example, he suggests that to pray “Your Kingdom Come” in the Lord’s Prayer is to pray for the nation to be transformed in the areas of politics, economics, social justice, crime and education. Drawing lessons from church history, he praises John Wesley, the father of Methodism, as not only a preacher by also “a prophet of social righteousness”. Gumbel’s other heroes include campaigners such as William Wilberforce, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Questions of Life, the core Alpha text, has sold more than 1.7 million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than 40 languages. Recent editions reveal a great leap forward in the maturing of Gumbel’s social theology. “We experience the Holy Spirit not just so that we have a warm feeling in our hearts,” he declares, “but so that we go out and make a difference to our world.” Another of his popular paperbacks, The Heart of Revival, was published in the late 1990s, when many churches were excitedly looking for evidence of “revival”. Gumbel wrote: “True and lasting revival changes not only human hearts but also communities and institutions. Love for God and love for neighbour go hand in hand.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Adult Education, Atonement, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology

Archbishop of Canterbury welcomes Head of Orthodox Church of Ukraine to Lambeth Palace

The Archbishop of Canterbury welcomed the Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, His Beatitude Metropolitan Epifaniy, to Lambeth Palace..[yesterday].

The Archbishop invited His Beatitude and His Eminence Archbishop Yevstratiy Zoria, Archbishop of Chernihiv and Nizhyn, to express his solidarity with the people of Ukraine and to spend time in conversation, prayer and worship.

The two leaders held a meeting with Archbishop Justin before attending the midday Eucharist in the Crypt Chapel at Lambeth Palace. During the Eucharist, Archbishop Justin knelt to receive a blessing from Metropolitan Epifaniy.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Orthodox Church, Ukraine

(FT) War costs Russia its influence with Ukraine’s Orthodox believers

The Sunday sermon that Metropolitan Longin, a senior bishop in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, aimed at Moscow’s patriarch Kirill in early June did not hold back.

Previously Longin had prayed at every service for the blessing of Kirill — the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, his own church’s spiritual parent.

But now Longin lambasted Kirill for “the people dying and the blood being spilled, for bombing our monasteries and churches [and] for the blessing you have given the bloodshed” in a speech condemning the Russian churchman’s support for president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“You will answer to the Lord God for every mother’s tear and freshly dug grave,” Longin said. “You have wounded the entire Ukrainian Orthodox world and brought us pain. Don’t try to justify it.”

The broadside at Kirill shows the upheaval in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, one of the country’s largest religious organisations and — before the war — a Russian cultural bastion. Now the church’s largely Russian-speaking priests and parishioners are rejecting Russia, demonstrating how a new Ukrainian identity is taking root even among people Moscow claims are part of a “brother nation”.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

John Stott’s regular morning prayer for Trinity Sunday

Almighty and everlasting God,
Creator and Sustainer of the universe,
I worship you.

Lord Jesus Christ,
Savior and Lord of the world,
I worship you.

Holy Spirit,
Sanctifier of the people of God,
I worship you.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Lord Jesus Christ, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you.

Holy Spirit, I pray that this day your fruit will ripen my life:

Love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control.

Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity,
Three persons in one God,
have mercy upon me. Amen.

–Ted Schroder, John Stott: A summary of his teaching (Manchester: Piquant Publishing, 2021) pp.7-8

Posted in Church History, Evangelicals, Spirituality/Prayer, The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

(LR) Half of Americans Rule Out Pentecostal Churches

Most Americans are open to a variety of denominations of Christian churches, including many people of other faiths or no faith at all.

Americans have a wide range of opinions and impressions about Christian denominations, but most won’t rule out a church based on its denomination, according to a new study from Lifeway Research. From a list of nine denominational terms— Assemblies of God, Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Southern Baptist, and nondenominational—more Americans rule out Pentecostal than any other denomination. Just over half of Americans (51%) say a church with Pentecostal in the name is not for them.

But for each of the other denominations in the study, most Americans say a specific religious label in the name of a church is not an automatic deterrent for them. Americans are most open to nondenominational and Baptist churches.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Sociology

(CNN) The evangelical church faces a ‘state of emergency’ over the pandemic and politics, Andy Stanley says

When you hear about something like the Southern Baptists report, do you get concerned about what the evangelical church will look like in, say, 10 years if current trends continue?
No, I don’t worry about it. And I don’t worry about it because of the way the church started. The deck wasn’t just stacked against them. There wasn’t even a deck. It’s Jesus and a group of teenagers and 20-year-olds, and he says, I’m going to start something new. And it won’t end with my death. This is for the world. And it’s forever. It’s until the end of this age.
One of the best books I’ve read recently is called “Bullies and Saints.” The author takes in all the embarrassing parts of Christianity through the years, and he says all these things are true. All these things are embarrassing, he said, But Christianity has a built-in self-correction ethic. When things go awry, reformers come along and correct it.
Do you think the White evangelical world can self-correct in this country?
Yes, most white evangelicals are not extreme. You sell things in the extremes. You raise money in the extremes. You get elected in the extremes, but most people can’t live in the extremes unless you have one of those jobs where the only way you’re going get paid is by ginning up fear.
Most people in the middle are like, ‘Hey, I just need to get my kid to school and get them home safely. And I just need to keep my job and pay the bills.’ Most white evangelicals are not how they are presented in culture. And neither are people on the other side.

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

(Church Times) Patriarch Kirill escapes EU sanctions thanks to Orbán’s intervention

Patrtriarch Kirill of Moscow has been removed from an EU-sanctions list of Kremlin-associates after a last-minute intervention by the government in Hungary. The intervention took place during a meeting of EU member-state ambassadors in Brussels on Thursday.

Hungary’s move surprised diplomats: ambassadors believed that consensus on the package’s provisions — the EU’s latest response to Russian aggression in Ukraine — had been reached at an extraordinary summit of EU heads of state on Monday. Diplomats assumed that the Thursday meeting was merely to formalising the agreement and make technical arrangements for the imposition of the new, wider sanctions.

For some hours, however, the whole list of sanctioned individuals was in doubt, as Hungary’s representative refused to accept the package unless Patriarch Kirill’s name was removed.

The sanctions package, the EU’s sixth in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, covered both personal measures against leading figures in the Russian regime (freezing their assets and banning them from travel in the EU), and corporate moves to severely restrict imports of Russian oil to the EU single market.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(RNS) Ukrainian Orthodox primate: ‘We are called to stop this evil’

You invited all Orthodox Christians to reject Moscow’s spiritual yoke. Are you specifically addressing those 400 Russian Orthodox priests in Ukraine who have called for a church tribunal against Patriarch Kirill?

It doesn’t relate only to those priests. This is for all those in the Russian Orthodox Church. In Ukraine, it is the one state institution that has a connection to Moscow. That’s why I call all Orthodox people to unite around Kyiv, because the spiritual part of it is very important. Putin very successfully uses the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine. But we see that gradually Ukrainian people understand all this.

According to the latest poll taken at the beginning of March, before the atrocities in Bucha were revealed, 70% of Ukraine was Orthodox Christian. Among them, 52% support (the Orthodox Church) of Ukraine. Only 4% support the Russian Orthodox Church. Last year in December, they had the support of 15%.

That’s why I am convinced that eventually we will all be in one local Orthodox Church of Ukraine. As long as we have the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, it creates some illusion for Putin. He had an illusion before the full-scale invasion that in three, four days he will capture all Ukraine. He thought Ukraine would accept him, meet him with flowers, but it didn’t happen. Every parish in Ukraine has to have a free choice.

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Posted in Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Russia, Ukraine

(Scotsman) Church of Scotland General Assembly 2022: Kirk says ministers can conduct same-sex marriages

The General Assembly voted by 274 to 136 to approve a change in church law to allow the move, but ministers who do not want to conduct such weddings will not have to.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Scotland, Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Poor nations must have access to Covid vaccine, African faith leaders argue

Prominent faith leaders in Africa, including Anglican and Roman Catholic archbishops, have implored the world’s governments to support a People’s Vaccine movement, to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people have protection against the Covid-19 virus.

On the eve of the global Covid-19 summit of world leaders convened by President Biden, 45 faith leaders issued a joint People Vaccine Alliance statement, calling for an “immediate action to address the massive inequities in the global pandemic response”.

The statement, issued on Thursday, says: “We are one global family, where our problems are tightly interconnected. However, we know the greatest impediment to people getting their vaccinations, tests, and treatment is inequity.

“World leaders must renew their approach to tackling the response to the global pandemic by treating Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatment — not as commodities but as public goods, which all people have the right to access. We encourage world leaders to unite and stand in solidarity with people from low-income countries by supporting a People’s Vaccine.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Africa, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic

(CC) Timothy Jones interviews Rowan Williams–Eastern wisdom for Western Christians

At the outset of his Confessions we see his renowned prayer that “our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” That affirms what you’ve been saying about seeing ourselves as unfinished: even at the beginning of his spiritual autobiography he tees that recognition up.

He does. Because if we see ourselves as finished, if there’s nothing more to long for, it’s as if we are blocking off a pathway toward the deep source of our being, which is God.

If we try to imagine ourselves standing on our own internal foundation, being in ourselves solid, grounded individuals, the truth is we are going to be very disappointed—because the truth is beneath and beyond. Our life opens up to the generous and creative gift of God.

Perhaps no period has riveted so much attention to confessional, personal narratives as ours has. Augustine seemed prescient in this. For him, identity was “storied,” as someone put it.

Our identity is something that always grows. What Augustine doesn’t like is the idea that somehow there’s a moment of static perfection and achievement, after which we can stop growing. Oddly enough, that’s why he’s so critical of the extreme ecclesiastical puritans of his day, the Donatists. What do they mean when they pray, “forgive us our trespasses”? Do they really not expect that they are going to be trespassing every day? So that’s part of the story: an interest in our own growth.

But Augustine looks at his life and experience and says, it’s not me who makes a story of this, ultimately. It is God who does that, because the witness of my life is God.

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Posted in --Rowan Williams, Anthropology, Church History, Orthodox Church, Theology

(The Critic) Sebastian Milbank–Rod Dreher comes home: The conscience of the New World is here in the Old

According to Daniel French there is an increasingly “underground” aspect to conservative Christian life in the UK — believers have woken up to the fact that the culture is against them, and in many cases even traditional religious leaders too.

Another of his UK allies, Dr James Orr, believes that Rod Dreher is destined to have a significant impact on our conservatism. “His insights are proving more salient with every week that passes, not only for Christians but for all those who are beginning to feel the consequences of rejecting the West’s Christian inheritance.

“As hyper-progressivism continues to colonise the UK public square with neuralgic imports from the US culture wars, I predict that more and more people in the UK will start to take Dreher’s jeremiads seriously and pay attention to his constructive proposals.”

Whether or not James Orr is right, Dreher is interesting not just for who he is, but for what he represents. He stands at a newly emergent nexus of traditional European conservatism, English realism, and American romanticism and religiosity. With an increasingly sterile politics, caught between technocratic centrism and the hollow battles of the culture wars, there’s a desperate need for new ideas, and fresh approaches. This is a man worth listening to.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Books, Children, England / UK, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Orthodox Church, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(RNS) Jesus saved Beth Moore’s life. Twitter blew it up. A new memoir will tell the story.

For the past few years, Bible teacher and best-selling author Beth Moore has been one tweet away from disaster.

Moore, perhaps the best-known ex-Southern Baptist in the country, will recount her Twitter battles, her split with her former denomination and, more importantly, her lifelong journey with Jesus, in a new memoir titled “All My Knotted-Up Life,” due out from Tyndale in April 2023.

News of the memoir was first reported by Cathy Lynn Grossman of Publishers Weekly. Tyndale publisher Karen Watson told PW that the memoir will be a “southern literary reflection on an unlikely and winsomely remarkable life.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, America/U.S.A., Baptists, Books, Church History, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Women