Category : Pastoral Theology

(Guardian) Church of England reviews its handling of sexual abuse case

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(CEN) Civil partnership changes to become law next month

MPs were told that there are over three million opposite-sex couples that cohabit but choose not to marry for personal reasons. While these couples support a million children, they do not have the security or legal protection that married couples or civil partners enjoy.

The instrument extends civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples in England and Wales, by amending the definition of civil partnerships and the eligibility criteria for registering as civil partners in the 2004 Act, to remove the same-sex requirement.

It also amends Part 5 of the 2004 Act so that certain opposite-sex relationships formed in other countries, which are not marriages, can be recognised as civil partnerships in England and Wales.

The instrument also provides specific protections for religious organisations and persons acting on their behalf. The religious protections recognise the potential for diversity of religious views in this area, particularly whilst some religious organisations may choose not to be involved in any civil partnerships, others may be content to host only civil partnerships between same-sex couples, and others may prefer only to be involved in civil partnerships between opposite-sex couples, the paper explains.

The instrument also introduces a new ‘non-compulsion’ clause so that religious organisations and persons acting on their behalf cannot be compelled to do specified acts (such as allowing religious premises to be used for civil partnerships, or participating in civil partnerships on religious premises), where either the organisation, or the person, does not wish to do so.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Theology, Women

(CC) Jason Micheli reviews David Zahl’s new book: Politics, parenting, and other secular things we put our faith in

Seculosity shines its light upon on the conditional “if/then” construction of the promises seculosities make. If you eat organic and sustainably sourced food, then you will be enough. In the language of the apostle Paul and Martin Luther, the oughts and shoulds of seculosities pledge the very same promise that is at the heart of any religion based only on law. The promise is predicated entirely on our performance. Seculosities ultimately lead to exhaustion because we can never measure up to their ever-shifting standard of performance. They also lead to judgmentalism: the fact that we ourselves fall short of the standard doesn’t stop us from pointing out how others fall short.

By the conclusion of the book, readers are in on the joke of the subtitle “and What to Do about It.” Doing is exactly our problem. We’re busy producing, earning, climbing, proving, striving, and performing. We’re chasing our enoughness “into every corner of our lives, driving everyone around us—and ourselves—crazy.” The law is inscribed, Paul says, not just on tablets of stone but on every heart.

The remedy is to be found not in another exhortation about something we must do but in the proclamation of something that has been done for us. The conclusion of Seculosity is a contemporary companion to Luther’s thesis in the Heidelberg Disputation: “The law says, ‘do this,’ and it is never done. Grace says, ‘believe in this,’ and everything is already done.”

In other words, relief from all our replacement religions just might be found in the opposite of religion—the promise of the gospel. Unlike religions of law, Zahl argues, Christianity does not instruct us in how to construct our enoughness. The language of earning is antithetical to the gospel. Christianity rather invites us to receive our enoughness, which is Christ’s own enoughness, as sheer gift. Our Christian activities are the organic fruit of our enoughness, not the stuff by which we earn it.

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Posted in Books, Christology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

Archbishop Justin Welby gives the ‘Thought For The Day’ on mental health

Good communities are places where mental health issues do not prevent people from having authentic and honest relationships. Good communities are able to hold pain, honour and acknowledge it, whilst putting it within the wider story of God and His hope for His people.

Christians believe we have a saviour, a rescuer, who knows intimately what it means to suffer. Amidst all the brokenness, Christ weeps with us. In his resurrection, I believe Christ restores us. Not necessarily in the way we expected, but he makes us whole in a way that makes sense.

It is my prayer today that anyone who is walking in darkness knows this: you are not alone. You are truly valued and deeply loved. Reaching out and talking to someone can be the first step back into the light.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Charles Simeon as described by (Bishop of Calcutta) Daniel Wilson

He stood for many years alone, he was long opposed, ridiculed, shunned, his doctrines were misrepresented, his little peculiarities of voice and manner were satirized, disturbances were frequently raised in his church or he was a person not taken into account, nor considered in the light of a regular clergyman in the church.

–as quoted in William Carus, Memoirs of the Life of the Rev. Charles Simeon (New York: Robert Carter, 1848), p.39

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(CT’s The Exchange) Another Way for Immigration Reform? How Evangelicals Can Help Lead It

As I speak in evangelical churches on a regular basis, I find most evangelicals are desperate for an approach to immigration that respects biblical principles. That means keeping families together whenever possible, being fair to taxpayers and insisting that our government fulfill its God-ordained responsibility to secure our borders and protect citizens from harm.

It also means respecting the law – the point on which evangelicals feel most conflicted. While they don’t like raids and mass deportation, amnesty – which means dismissing and forgiving the violation of U.S. law – is also a non-starter.

The solution lies in the middle.

This week in Washington, D.C., the Evangelical Immigration Table unveiled an Evangelical Call for Restitution-Based Immigration Reform.

Dozens of the most prominent evangelical leaders in the country – leaders of evangelical denominations, presidents of Christian colleges and seminaries and pastors of prominent churches – voiced their support for a process that would require undocumented immigrants to get right with the law by paying a significant fine.

If they could pass a criminal background check and meet other requirements, they would be given the opportunity to gradually earn permanent legal status. Most immigrants I know would be thrilled to make things right and stay lawfully with their families.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CNN) Meet Belfast’s ‘dementia-friendly barber’

In his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Lenny White gathers up his supplies for the day: a red, white and blue striped barber pole, hair clippers and a table-top jukebox — all the makings of a pop-up barbershop, catered to a very special group of clients.

White is known as the “dementia-friendly barber.” Along with his assistant, Jonathan Wray, he visits care homes across Northern Ireland to cut the hair of men living with dementia.

“When these men come into the room,” White said, “they think they are coming into the barbershop, which they really are. It is Lenny’s Barbershop, but it’s not on the Main Street. It’s in their living accommodations in the care home setting.”

White accomplishes that feeling by replicating a traditional barbershop, down to the music playing on the jukebox, from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Elvis Presley.

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Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship

(David Ould) Was the recent Newcastle Synod Decision A “Stitch-Up”?

The FAOC set about the task of considering the topic of human sexuality. A number of additional people were added to the core group and they were sent copious amounts of reading to begin their work. But the FAOC never met, let alone produced the promised “theological and biblical resource” on human sexuality. So it was a great surprise to many in synod that the two human sexuality bills arrived as private bills introduced by the chair of the FAOC when the FAOC had no report to deliver to inform those debates (as was its mandate) nor, it appeared, had even met once to consider the matter.

One member of synod reports what happened during the debate (the events of which have been corroborated by a number of sources also present):

On the floor of Synod the Dean had the question put to her. “Why did this bill not come to us via the Faith and Order Commission?” She paused, turned to Bishop Peter, and then replied haltingly (with some confusion in her voice), “I understand that the Faith and Order Commission has been disbanded.”

Surprise has been expressed to davidould.net that even the chair of the FAOC didn’t know whether the body had been disbanded or not.

And so the synod considered the matter. More than one person that we have spoken to have expressed a similar opinion on the mind of synod; that they are deferential to the bishop and will consider something that he approves of as something that should be approved. So it was with these two bills. While proposed by the Dean, they were understood by many to have the Bishop’s clear backing. As one synod member put it to us, “the Dean is the Bishop’s agent for getting things done”. It may have been a private bill but the implication was that this was “official” and “from the leadership of the diocese”.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Shelly Rambo–How Christian theology and practice are being shaped by trauma studies

Psychological trauma is not a new phenomenon, but it is newly studied. Flagged by pioneering psychoanalysts at the end of the 19th century as a wound of the psyche, the term trauma is a modern way of describing how violence impacts us psychologically and emotionally. Sigmund Freud noted that veterans of World War I did not simply recall the violence they had endured in the war but were reliving it in the present. That observation defied existing theories of time and experience. The veterans’ failure to delineate between then and now signaled to early theorists of trauma that the timeline of how we interpret experiences is profoundly shattered in cases of overwhelming violence.

In 1983, the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) entered the psychiatric diagnostic manual. Judith Herman’s 1992 book Trauma and Recovery brought trauma to further public attention by noting the similarities between the experiences of combat veterans and those of sexual abuse survivors. Studies of second-generation Holocaust survivors inaugurated collaborative work across disciplines and generated what is now referred to as trauma theory. These works widened the scope of study from an exclusively psychological framework to literary, historical, and philosophical accounts of experience, and they moved from the interpersonal to the collective realm. For example, Toni Morrison in her novel Beloved provides a specter of the unaddressed trauma of chattel slavery in the figure of a dead child whose ghost returns to tell truths about the past. Morrison understood that cycles of violence play out across generations. The wounds do not simply go away.

Experiences of pain, loss, and suffering are part of human experience, and in time many are able to integrate the suffering into their lives. But trauma refers to an experience in which the process of integration becomes stuck. Pastoral theologian Carrie Doehring identifies trauma as “a bio-psycho-spiritual response to overwhelming life events.” In traumatic response, there is a breakdown of multiple systems that we rely on to protect us from harm and to process harm. In these cases, our systems are not simply slow to integrate the impact; they fail to integrate it. Trauma marks a “new normal” in that there is no possibility of the person returning to who they were before. A radical break has occurred between the old self and the new one.

The therapeutic challenge facing someone who has experienced trauma remains that of integrating the experience into their life.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Violence

(Devon Live) Yoga teacher barred from using church hall because classes are ‘not compatible with Christian beliefs’

A Devon yoga teacher says she was “very surprised” to be told she could not use a local church hall for classes due to religious reasons.

Yoga teacher Atsuko Kato, 54, said she was told that yoga was “not compatible with Christian beliefs”.

Atsuko, who has been teaching yoga for 25 years – including one class attended by a local vicar – says she doesn’t understand why it is an issue.

But the church at the centre of the row says yoga cannot be allowed because it does not acknowledge that “there is only one God and that…Jesus Christ is God himself”.

Yoga originated in Northern India and has connections to both Hinduism and Buddhism.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(MW) Millennials like Emma Watson aren’t necessarily ‘single’ — they’re ‘self-partnered’

Move over, conscious uncoupling — a new star-powered relationship status is in vogue.

Emma Watson — the actress best known for growing up on-screen as Hermione Granger in the “Harry Potter” movies — got personal about turning 30 in a cover story for British Vogue’s December issue.

“I never believed the whole ‘I’m happy single’ spiel,” she’s quoted as saying in the story. “It took me a long time, but I’m happy.”

She continues: ‘I call it being self-partnered.’

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology, Young Adults

(BNG) Two Letters about the Controversy at Riverside Church over the Departure of the Senior Minister Amy Butler

(We previously noted this story on the blog there).

You can find the first there and the second in response here.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(UMNS) Bishop Kenneth H. Carter reflects on the journey to the United Methodist General Conference in 2020

UM News: What do you make of the responses to the special General Conference both in the U.S. and the central conferences?

Carter: I preached in three successive churches the next three weeks in Florida — Ft. Myers, Clearwater, Jupiter. And I found increasingly that many people felt like they needed to create a counternarrative, to say, but that’s not who I am, or that’s not who our church is in the U.S.

Now many people were in favor of the outcome. Many traditionalists were. I found that they needed a great deal of, at times, pastoral care. They just felt like they were the object of this response, this emotionally intensive response.

And then many LGBTQ persons and some who talked to me were wondering: Do I have a future in the church? Can I go through the candidacy process for ministry?

UM News: I’ve heard from a number of Africans who feel like they’re being blamed for what happened. But of course, Africans are about a third of the voters. What are you hearing?

Carter: So some of the African leaders have talked to me about a couple of things. One, just that their experience is that the U.S. church at times exports its divisions into the African context. The second thing they sometimes say is that they are more than one-issue people. The connection is important in Africa because, for many African leaders and people, mission is not ideological. It’s life and death.

It’s whether you have water or a hospital or access to education for a girl or child. And so that conversation is maturing. I would say the strength of the African relationship to the United States (and I wrote about this in the summer) is the incredible missional partnerships that exist between annual conferences of the U.S. and Africa, and they’re mutual.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Methodist, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology

(Boston Globe) As his Alzheimer’s looms, Charles and Pam Ogletree take one last walk in love

What she now wants most is to keep him close: to care for him at home for as long as she can manage.

For the moment, it seems within her grasp. Most of the time, he is easygoing, though there are restless mornings when he paces through the house, flipping switches on and off, trying to escape an unease he cannot name.

Pam knows how quickly things can change. There was a time, late last year, when she thought she might have to let him go, to live in a place with more support, after his symptoms took a brief aggressive turn. Cooking dinner in their kitchen one evening last December, on a day when she could tell he was unsettled, she was startled when he pushed her, knocking over a jar, and then swung a hand at her when she asked him to stop. Alarmed, she called 911.

The responding officers spoke quietly to Charles, calmly asking him to come with them to the hospital. He resisted and was physically combative. In the hallway, overcome by fear and guilt, Pam could not bear to watch as the officers restrained her husband. At Cambridge Hospital, where he was confused but calm, they spent four days in the emergency room, waiting for a bed to open up at McLean Hospital in Belmont. Doctors there adjusted his medication, and the aggression disappeared, allowing him to go home again.

It felt to Pam like a reprieve, and she tried, in its wake, to anchor herself even more firmly in the present.

They still pray together many mornings, Pam kneeling on a sofa cushion on the floor in the living room while Charles sits and listens on the couch beside her. He no longer pipes up with addenda to her prayers, but he seems attentive, even calmed by what she says.

In the beginning, she prayed for him to get better. Now she prays more often for acceptance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology

(PBS) Youth suicide rates are on the rise in the U.S.

Suicides are on the rise among young Americans of all races, part of a grim national trend that has contributed to lower life expectancy overall, according to new federal data. But a separate study suggests that there are racial disparities in youth suicidal behavior, due in great part because some children lack access to vital resources.

While suicide was the 10th most common cause of death among Americans of all ages in 2017, it was the second leading cause of death among young Americans age 15 to 24, according to new data released [last] Thursday from the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And no racial or ethnic group has been spared in this rising rate, said Sally Curtin, a statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics who has studied these suicide trends for years and served as the report’s lead author.

“The community at large needs to pay attention and figure out what’s going on, what’s driving these trends,” she said.

According to Heather Kelly, a clinical psychologist with the American Psychological Association, there is an urgent need for more research to seek out evidence-based ways to prevent suicide and help those who struggle with thoughts of self-harm, especially among veterans, the LGBTQ community, youth and young adults.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Stress, Suicide, Teens / Youth, Theology, Young Adults

(WSJ) The New Parental Obsession: Checking Kids’ Grades Online

Teachers report mixed feelings about online grade books. Sean Riley, a high-school teacher in Seattle, said students and parents can become so focused on the metrics that they lose sight of the bigger picture. “It starts to turn learning into a series of tasks to be completed instead of a process of exercises to learn more,” he said.

Obsessive grade-checking is also symptomatic of the desire, peculiar to a generation that has grown up with everything just a swipe away, to receive instant gratification. Mr. Riley said this can lead to anxiety and disappointment in some students.

The upside is when students use the information to advocate for themselves.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Science & Technology, Theology

(NYT) Why a judge says she gave Amber Guyger a Bible, a hug and hope of redemption

At the end of the trial, after the jury had been dismissed, Judge Kemp came down from the bench to offer her condolences to Mr. Jean’s parents, as is her habit when a family has lost a loved one. “I told them that they raised a remarkable son in Botham,” she said.

Next, she said, she stopped by the defense table to offer a word of encouragement to Ms. Guyger. “I said to her, ‘Ms. Guyger, Brandt Jean has forgiven you,’” Judge Kemp recalled, referring to Botham Jean’s brother. “‘Now please forgive yourself so that you can live a productive life when you get out of prison.’”

What followed, she said, was an exchange whose equivalent she could not remember in her decades as a lawyer and her nearly five years on the bench.

“She asked me if I thought her life could have purpose,” Judge Kemp recalled. “I said, ‘I know that it can.’ She said, ‘I don’t know where to start, I don’t have a Bible.’” Judge Kemp said she thought of the Bible in her chambers. “I said, ‘Well, hold on, I’ll get you a Bible.’”

She came back out and, together, they read John 3:16, a passage about redemption.

That is when Ms. Guyger did something that caught the judge off guard: She asked for a hug.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Theology

(RNS) Pastor and Mental Health Advocate Jarrid Wilson Dies by Suicide

Wilson shared openly about his own mental health challenges in his most recent book, Love Is Oxygen: How God Can Give You Life and Change Your World, and blog posts. He blogged earlier this summer that he had dealt with “severe depression throughout most of my life and contemplated suicide on multiple occasions.”

On social media, he regularly encouraged others dealing with similar challenges with messages like, “I’m a Christian who also struggles with depression. This exists, and it’s okay to admit it.”

Breaking down the stigma of mental illness is one of the goals of Anthem of Hope, the nonprofit the pastor founded with his wife, Juli, in 2016. Anthem of Hope creates resources for the church to assist those dealing with depression, anxiety, self-harm, addiction and suicide.

Eaton said Wilson wanted to especially help those who were dealing with suicidal thoughts.

“Tragically, Jarrid took his own life,” Eaton said.

“Over the years, I have found that people speak out about what they struggle with the most,” Eaton added.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

Mediation Between the Historic Diocese of South Carolina and the new TEC Diocese has been rescheduled for September 26th

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, Theology

A Statement from Gafcon Australia about the recent Developments on the Diocese of Wangaratta

The Board of Gafcon Australia expresses its dismay over the decision of Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta to make provision for the blessing of same-sex marriages. We believe this has torn the fabric of our communion within the Anglican Church of Australia.

This decision is contrary to the teaching of Scripture about the nature of human sexuality and marriage. It is also contrary to the doctrinal position of the Anglican Church of Australia.

General Synod has repeatedly affirmed that marriage is a lifelong exclusive union between a man and a woman. The Bible does not allow the blessing of any sexual relationship which is not marriage between a man and a woman.

Contrary to the views expressed by Bishop Parkes, the Anglican Church of Australia has always been a church that confesses its faith. Every deacon, priest and bishop has declared their faith and pledged their commitment to our doctrine at their ordination. This confession includes adherence to the Holy Scriptures, the Creeds, the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of Religion. Bishops are required to “correct and set aside teaching that is contrary to the mind of Christ”.

The resolution in Wangaratta is emblematic of a move in the Anglican Church of Australia away from our doctrine.

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Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Susan Pfeil–Laying My Church to Rest

A year after my brother’s death, I returned as a guest to our family home. I stayed in my childhood bedroom, but my relationship to this room and my old house had begun to change. From the bedroom window, I looked out over the front fields and gardens and realized that it was just a matter of time before the maintenance of this house and grounds would require too much expense and sheer physical labor for my sister-in-law to manage. Eventually she would be forced to sell it, probably to developers. We dreaded the idea that they would probably tear it down, divide up the land, and build houses one after another on this special spot. Now memories of growing up in this home feel more precious than ever, as I am conscious of how my separation from this family home has begun.

I also returned as a guest to another building: the church sanctuary in which I once served. Returning after eight months, I was still in a fallow time, waiting for a new season in which to balance my vocational gifts. Faith leaders from the past 15 years were invited to join together for community worship and thanksgiving. Their new pastor graciously invited me to speak at the service.

This was the first time I had returned to the pulpit since Christmas Day 2016. I felt close to tears as I looked out over a large gathering. As I spoke, I sensed that I was beginning to let go of a deep sense of loss of my role in this church. While my role had changed, my pastoral identity was still alive and strong. I remembered in those moments that pastoral identity was not limited to a role or roles in a church, but rather, it is a way of life, a way of thinking about life.

I felt as if I were standing with Moses before a burning bush, with my shoes off, when Moses asked, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Ex. 3:11). God replied, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on the mountain” (v. 12). Moses was promised God’s presence through whatever trials he might encounter, but he was not exempt from the changes and separations that he would have to endure. Could I ask for more than Moses? After eight long months, it was time to put on my shoes again.

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

GAFCON Tanzania Launches 7th Branch

WE, THEREFORE, HEREBY STATE AS FOLLOWS:
1. That today, we have inaugurated a Gafcon Branch and those who attended the meeting are hereby constituted as an Interim Branch Council.

2. That, we re-affirm the position of the Anglican Church of Tanzania, that marriage is between one man and one woman in a life-long commitment, in accordance with Scripture and as affirmed by the Lambeth Conference 1998 Resolution I.10.

3. That, we re-affirm our subscription to the Jerusalem Statement and Declaration. We further commit to uphold the orthodox view of Scripture as the inspired Word of God, fully and finally authoritative for all matters of faith and conduct, and to faithfully maintain biblical doctrine, particularly as found in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer…

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Tanzania, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Guardian) Hundreds of clergy facing hardship despite vast C of E wealth

Hundreds of clergy are in financial hardship, with some resorting to credit cards or even a high-interest payday lender, despite the Church of England sitting on a multibillion-pound investment fund.

Some vicars are tens of thousands of pounds in debt, with many struggling to survive – especially those supporting families – and relying on charity handouts to make ends meet, the Guardian has learned.

Clergy Support Trust – a centuries-old charity which supports destitute Anglican vicars, assistant or associate priests, curates-in-training and chaplains – gave £1.8m worth of grants to 459 clergy last year.

Analysis last year found that 217 individuals who had applied to the charity for help had personal unsecured debts of £5,000 or more, totalling nearly £3m. The figures, based on a combination of grant application data over a 20-month period, do not include mortgages or student loans. Of the 217, 41% had debts of between £5,000 and £10,000, 44% between £10,000 and £20,000, and 15% over £20,000. Four applicants had debts in excess of £50,000.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Stewardship

The Archbp of Sydney Responds to a vote by the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta

From there:

The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has issued a statement in response to a vote by the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta to authorise a service to bless civil marriages. The Bishop of Wangaratta has claimed this service would allow for a blessing of same-sex unions and that he personally intends to use it for that purpose.

Archbishop Davies said “It is highly regrettable that clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Wangaratta have chosen to follow their Bishop rather than the clear words of Scripture concerning God’s design for human sexuality (Matt 19:4-12).

The doctrine of our Church is not determined by 67 members of a regional synod in Victoria nor is it changed by what they may purport to authorise.

Time and time again, the General Synod has affirmed the biblical view of marriage as the doctrine of our Church. To bless that which is contrary to Scripture cannot, therefore, be permissible under our church law.

The circumstances of this event are reminiscent of the actions of the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada in 2003. It is now universally acknowledged that those events were the beginning of the ‘tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion’.

Moreover, to claim the authority of our Church to carry out a service of blessing contrary to the biblical view of marriage and the doctrine of our Church will certainly fracture the Anglican Church of Australia.”

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church of Australia, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(AFM) USAF Orders Stand-Down to Combat Rising Suicide Rate

Air Force units will stand down for one day this summer to address the rising problem of suicides, which Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said is “an adversary that is killing more of our airmen than any enemy on the planet.”

As of the end of July, 79 suicides had occurred in the Air Force in 2019 —nearly as many as were recorded last year in about half the time. The service saw about 100 suicides per year in each of the last five years.

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright told airmen this week he believes suicide is the biggest problem the service faces.

“Let’s take a moment and breathe and spend a little time on our airmen and their resiliency, and make sure we’re not missing anything when it comes to suicide and suicide awareness,” Wright told Air Force Magazine during a visit to Tinker AFB, Okla., this week.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Military / Armed Forces, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Suicide, Theology

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) Martin Sewell: “Shabby and shambolic” – the CofE still conspires against truth and justice in historic sexual abuse

In a church that has nominally (if belatedly) embraced “Transparency and Accountability”, rejected clergy deference and pledged to “put the interests of the victim first”, it is surely not asking too much for a full and frank response to be issued to these important and prima facie legitimate concerns about the way the review is being handled. One of the problem areas also identified by the survivors lawyers at IICSA is the Church of England’s “Byzantine procedures”.

In this case, it is by no means clear who is driving the decision to limit the terms of the review. Is it the Archbishops, the House of Bishops, the Archbishops’ Council, the National Safeguarding Team, the National Safeguarding Supervisory Group, the acting National Safeguarding Director, the incoming National Safeguarding Director, the Lead Safeguarding Bishop, or the Secretary General of the Archbishops’ Council and Secretary General of the General Synod? Is the decision administrative or executive, individual or collective? One only has to list the potential decision-makers to illustrate the lawyer’s point. Grappling with this organisation and its confusing structures is extraordinarily difficult for an aggrieved individual. It should not be like this.

It is therefore legitimate to pose three simple and direct questions:

1) Who in the Church of England has the power to change these decisions?

2) Who will accept responsibility for not changing them if we want to challenge these matters in detail at the next meeting of the General Synod?

3) How do we change the decision-maker if access to justice is denied?

I do, of course, refer to justice to accused and accuser alike, which can only emerge from fair and independent process. In short, if the shabby and shambolic behaviour continues, who carries the can?

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Stewardship, Theology, Violence

(CT Pastors) Todd Wilson–How Can So Many Pastors Be Godly and Dysfunctional at the Same Time?

When we talk about spiritual formation, we’re talking about the process whereby a person moves toward maturity in Christ by the power of the Spirit. Spiritual formation is, as Paul puts it in Colossians 1, all about becoming complete in Christ.

“Him we proclaim,” Paul writes, “warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (vv. 28–29, ESV).

You might say that the telos, or “goal,” of spiritual formation is to be teleios, or “complete,” in Christ.

We, as pastors, will have a hard time getting to this telos without taking more seriously our bodies, without taking more seriously our brains, and without taking more seriously our interpersonal communion, being known by one another and by our Lord and Maker. “For now we see in a mirror dimly,” Scripture says, “but then face to face. Now [we] know in part; then [we] shall know fully, even as [we] have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12, ESV).

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Posted in Anthropology, Pastoral Theology

(Church Society) Lee Gatiss–What is Spiritual Abuse?

The Church of England has some very helpful online resources for safeguarding. They even have some courses that can be taken by anyone involved in church at their Safeguarding Portal, and you can get “badges” and certificates to prove you’ve passed the course if that is of use in your context. I got a couple of foundational certificates and also did two very helpful and informative training courses on modern slavery and human trafficking, while looking into this recently.

Whilst checking out some of these very well-presented resources, I was struck by the definition given of “spiritual abuse” — something which has sadly become topical of late, and something which many of us are now wrestling with, and trying to understand or come to terms with. It starts by admitting that unlike physical abuse, sexual abuse, or modern slavery for example, “spiritual abuse” is not a category of abuse recognised in statutory guidance. It is a matter for great concern, however, both within and outside faith communities, including the Church of England. It was, for example, discussed and defined in Protecting All God’s Children (2010), a Church of England document which can be found online here. There it is said that:

“Within faith communities, harm can also be caused by the inappropriate use of religious belief or practice. This can include the misuse of the authority of leadership or penitential discipline, oppressive teaching, or intrusive healing and deliverance ministries. Any of these could result in children experiencing physical, emotional or sexual harm. If such inappropriate behaviour becomes harmful, it should be referred for investigation in co-operation with the appropriate statutory agencies. Careful teaching, supervision and mentoring of those entrusted with the pastoral care of children should help to prevent harm occurring in this way. Other forms of spiritual harm include the denial to children of the right to faith or the opportunity to grow in the knowledge and love of God.”

This I think was the working definition in the case of the Revd Tim Davis who, it was reported in 2018, subjected a 15 year old boy to intense prayer and Bible sessions in his bedroom. The teenager described the mentoring he received as “awful” and all-consuming, but never felt able to challenge the minister. Davis was found guilty of “conduct unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk of holy orders through the abuse of spiritual power and authority.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(Guardian) John Marsden on the ‘toxic’ parenting pandemic: ‘I’ve never seen this level of anxiety’

[John] Marsden says that this contemporary crop of teenagers is outperforming generations past in terms of academic achievement, political engagement and so on – but he is fearful about their emotional health, borne out by statistics on the prevalence of mental health issues among the young.

“The scale of the problem is massive. The issue of emotional damage is pandemic,” he tells the Guardian. “The level of anxiety is something I’ve never seen before, and I don’t know how it can be improved.”

Marsden says that much of the anxiety among parents and children springs from concern that the world is a dangerous place, with traditional “safe” authority figures no longer to be trusted. That, coupled with an infantilisation of children as pure, helpless creatures, leads parents to cosset and fret over their offspring, and demand much of the same from educational institutions.

“Part of that is a fear, in particular, of physical injury,” he says. “Of course, all reasonable parents are concerned about physical injury to a child, but if that overrides everything else then what you have instead is a kind of slow death by emotional damage which is so awful to witness.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Books, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

(PD) Jane Robbins–Are There Cracks in the Edifice of Transgender Ideology?

yet these descriptions—cult, social contagion, ideology—fail to capture the uniqueness and enormity of what is happening with the transgender movement. Past and current cults have seduced their victims into losing all sense of reality and embracing bizarre and dangerous beliefs; social contagions and mass crazes have affected large groups of seemingly intelligent individuals; ideologies have taken hold that have altered societies and cost lives. But now we are facing something different.

Previous cultish or similar social phenomena have generally been limited to some degree by time, space, or eventual return of the senses. But Western civilization is now gripped by a cultural cyclone that is blowing through such limitations with totalitarian force. Transgenderism has shaken the foundations of all we know to be true. Scientific knowledge is rejected and medical practice co-opted in service of a new “reality”—that “gender” is independent of sex, that males and females of any age, even young children, are entitled to their own transgender self-identification based only on their feelings, and that literally every individual and every segment of society must bow to their chosen identity at risk of losing reputation, livelihood, and even freedom itself.

Remarkably, this revolution is happening without any credible scientific evidence to support it. The concept of changing one’s biological sex is, of course, nonsense, as sex is determined by unalterable chromosomes. An individual can change his hormone levels and undergo surgery to better imitate the opposite sex, but a male on the day of his conception will remain a male on the day of his death. And as discussed below, the idea that there is a real personal trait called “gender” that challenges or invalidates the identity significance of biological sex is equally fallacious. But the absence of genuine evidence is simply ignored, and faux “evidence” is created to validate the mania.

So far. But there are signs of cracks in the grand edifice of transgenderism. As Dr. Malcolm warned in Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way.” So does reality. At some point it will reassert itself, and we will ask how this ever could have happened.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, Sexuality, Theology