Category : Pastoral Theology

(CL) Southeastern’s Karen Swallow Prior: Why the Pro-Life Movement Must Prioritize Nuance, Education and the Imagination Post-Roe

Yet even though she is grateful that Roe has been overturned, Prior cautioned Christians against being hasty with how they move forward, saying that Roe’s absence gives us a unique opportunity to create beneficial legislation.

“For example,” said Prior, “we need to learn the difference between between intervening in the case of an ectopic pregnancy, which is going to be fatal to both mother and child and an abortion.” Because Roe was the law of the land for so long, Christians haven’t had to think through how the answer to such questions will impact the laws we create—but now in some states we have new opportunities.

Said Prior, “We’re going to have to educate ourselves quickly and thoughtfully and not just rush to put legislation in place that would be disastrous or uninformed or medically irresponsible. Of course, we want all of these laws to protect all of the human lives involved, but that’s not something that happens quickly and overnight. We have to really understand what it means to be pro-life and how to apply that in principle.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(World) Erin Hawley and Kristen Waggoner on the historic Dobbs decision–A victory for life and the Constitution

The U.S. Supreme Court’s courageous decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is a win for life and the Constitution. That historic ruling finally reverses the court’s disastrous opinion in Roe v. Wade—a decision that made up a constitutional right to abortion and resulted in the deaths of more than 60 million unborn children. Because of the court’s ruling in Dobbs, states may now fully protect unborn life.

The Mississippi law at issue in the case, the Gestational Age Act, protects unborn children and the health of their pregnant mothers based on the latest science. It protects unborn life after 15 weeks of gestational age—a point in time when babies can move and stretch, hiccup, and quite likely feel pain. It permits abortions to save the life of the mother or for severe fetal abnormalities. Despite the modesty of Mississippi’s law, the lower courts struck it down because no matter what science showed, or how strong a state’s interest in protecting unborn life was, under the Roe regime, states may not protect life until viability—about 22 weeks of gestational age.

Dobbs is a win for life. Fifty years of scientific progress and innovation establish what the Bible has always taught: Life begins at conception. Ultrasound technology allows expectant parents to see the truth of Psalm 139: Children are fearfully and wonderfully made from the very beginning.

Under Roe v. Wade, moreover, the United States has been an extreme outlier in abortion law and policy. As the chief justice noted during oral arguments, the United States is one of only six nations, including China and North Korea, that allow elective abortions through all nine months of pregnancy. The Washington Post recently ranked the United States as the fourth most liberal abortion country in the world. Most countries do not allow elective abortions at all, and 75 percent protect life after 12 weeks of gestation.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Supreme Court, Theology

ACNA announces that Bishop Atkinson has been inhibited

Three bishops have signed a Presentment alleging Bishop Atkinson of the Via Apostolica Missionary District has violated Title IV Canon 2 of the Anglican Church in North America. Bishop Atkinson has been inhibited from ministry pending the outcome of the Title IV process.

The Presentment and Inhibition came after a unanimous recommendation from the Provincial Investigative Team tasked with looking into allegations against Bishop Atkinson of misconduct brought to the Archbishop’s attention.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(ABC Aus.) Mark Thompson–I contend that twelve bishops did defy the will of the Australian General Synod on marriage and sexual ethics

In a recent opinion piece, Matthew Anstey provided an account of the recent debate in the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia over the meaning of marriage. While this piece largely elaborated the Archbishop of Brisbane’s recent letter to his clergy, it contained such egregious errors of fact and attribution of motive that it calls for a response.

At the General Synod last month, two statements were presented formally at the request of the Diocese of Sydney, though both those statements had been extensively workshopped with members of the synod outside of Sydney — laypeople, clergy, and bishops, women and men, same-sex attracted people and other-sex attracted people. Their final form was greatly improved by this extensive interaction. Both of these statements were reaffirmations of a determination to live according to the teaching of Christ as it is given to us in the Bible.

When each statement was put to the vote, the vote was taken in houses (laity, clergy, bishops). This is an entirely legitimate procedure. There are obvious disadvantages of such a procedure, since it means that the measure must pass in each of the three houses in order to pass overall. There are also very obvious advantages, particularly since the order of voting ensures that laity or clergy are free to vote prior to, and therefore without direction from, the bishops.

In the case of the first statement, specifically affirming the biblical teaching about marriage, the house of laity approved the statement (63/47) as did the house of clergy (70/39), but the house of bishops (which only contains the presiding bishop in each diocese, not every bishop of a diocese) narrowly voted to reject the statement (12/10 with 2 abstentions). This created consternation among many since the synod as a whole had voted so very clearly in support of it (without the bishops 133/86). The twelve bishops who voted against the statement had declined to listen to a very clear majority of the synod.

Read it all.

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

(CT) Mark Fugitt–Pastors in the Valley of Death Row

In 2015, The Week highlighted the psychological impact of witnessing executions. They profiled reporter and spokesperson Michelle Lyons, who spent a decade watching 278 executions. Lyons reported a wearing down over time as she got to know the inmates.

In their survey of San Quentin State Prison employees, many reported anxiety and said they “felt estranged or detached from other people.” Data published by The American Journal of Psychiatry also showed that witnessing an execution had a strong psychological impact on journalists—and could “cause symptoms of dissociative disorder… in the weeks following.”

These journalists often had no close connection to the condemned and actively tried to remain detached throughout the process. They also had no physical contact with the individual, and yet they still showed the same signs of social detachment afterwards.

This means that without the proper care, spiritual advisers will see an impact in the very area that is most required of their ministry: connecting with people. Ironically, that sense of human connection—which causes them pain in watching their parishioner executed—is the very thing that could undermine their ability to be effective in that role in the future.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Capital Punishment, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Theology

(CT) Russell Moore on the SBC Report on Sexual Abuse–This Is the Southern Baptist Apocalypse

Someone asked me a few weeks ago what I expected from the third-party investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee. I said I didn’t expect to be surprised at all. How could I be? I lived through years with that entity. I was the one who called for such an investigation in the first place.

And yet, as I read the report, I found that I could not swipe the screen to the next page because my hands were shaking with rage. That’s because, as dark a view as I had of the SBC Executive Committee, the investigation uncovers a reality far more evil and systemic than I imagined it could be.

The conclusions of the report are so massive as to almost defy summation. It corroborates and details charges of deception, stonewalling, and intimidation of victims and those calling for reform. It includes written conversations among top Executive Committee staff and their lawyers that display the sort of inhumanity one could hardly have scripted for villains in a television crime drama. It documents callous cover-ups by some SBC leaders and credible allegations of sexually predatory behavior by some leaders themselves, including former SBC president Johnny Hunt (who was one of the only figures in SBC life who seemed to be respected across all of the typical divides).

And then there is the documented mistreatment by the Executive Committee of a sexual abuse survivor, whose own story of her abuse was altered to make it seem that her abuse was a consensual “affair”—resulting, as the report corroborates, in years of living hell for her.

For years, leaders in the Executive Committee said a database—to prevent sexual predators from quietly moving from one church to another, to a new set of victims—had been thoroughly investigated and found to be legally impossible, given Baptist church autonomy. My mouth fell open when I read documented proof in the report that these very people not only knew how to have a database, they already had one.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(Lifeway) 5 Areas of Life as a Pastor You Can’t Ignore

As you’re reading this, you probably have a commitment hanging over your head or a relentless deadline that won’t stop nagging you. Chances are, you’re tired. You’re a human being, not a human doing. But the Father loves your being more than your doing.

Some recent findings from Lifeway Research’s Greatest Needs of Pastors study show half of U.S. Protestant pastors say they need to focus on time management. Slightly more (55%) believe over-commitment is an issue they need to address.

Based on these findings, most of us in ministry need this reminder: If you never close another gap in your leadership, if you never take your game up a notch, God’s love for you remains full, like a gas tank that never empties no matter how far you drive. Former Lifeway president Jimmy Draper said, “God did not call us first to His service, He called us first to Himself.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(IFS) Leonard Sax–Does the Word ‘Gentleman’ Still Mean Anything Today? Here’s Why It Should

Boys are not born knowing what it means to be a gentleman. They must be taught. My concern is that in our current era, many parents have little idea what to say to their son on this topic. So the boy looks to the Internet, and what he finds there is Bruno Mars and Drake, Eminem and Akon, or John Mayer boasting about his collection of pornography.

I have visited more than 460 schools over the past 21 years, and I have found that most boys are hungry to have a conversation about what it means to be a good man. I have led those discussions with boys, where I suggest the following definitions as a starting point for conversation:

  • A gentleman governs his passions rather than being governed by them. As Supreme Allied Commander during the Second World War, Dwight D. Eisenhower would quote Proverbs 16:32: “Greater is he who can rule his own spirit than he who takes a city,” a verse his mother had taught him in childhood.
  • A gentleman never strikes a woman, not even in self-defense.
  • A gentleman never touches a woman without her consent.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Men, Pastoral Theology

(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

After 800 years, Church of England apologizes to Jews for laws that led to expulsion

The Church of England on Sunday apologized for anti-Jewish laws that were passed 800 years ago and eventually led to the expulsion of Jews from the kingdom for hundreds of years.

A special service held at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford was attended by Britain’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and representatives of Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to mark the Synod of Oxford, passed in 1222.

The synod forbade social interactions between Jews and Christians, placed a specific tithe on Jews, and required them to wear an identifying badge. They were also banned from some professions and from building new synagogues. The decrees were followed by more anti-Jewish laws, and eventually the mass expulsion of England’s 3,000 Jews of the time in 1290.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Judaism, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(Tish Warren via NYT) Tim Keller for Holy Week–How a Cancer Diagnosis Makes Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Mean More

How has cancer and this encounter with your own mortality changed how you see your life and how you see death?

On an emotional level, we really do deny the fact that we’re mortal and our time is limited. The day after my diagnosis, one of the words I put down in my journal was “focus.” What are the most important things for you to be spending your time doing? I had not been focused.

The second change was you realize that there’s one sense in which if you believe in God, it’s a mental abstraction. You believe with your head. I came to realize that the experiential side of my faith really needed to strengthen or I wasn’t going to be able to handle this.

It’s one thing to believe God loves you, another thing to actually feel his love. It’s one thing to believe he’s present with you. It’s another to actually experience his presence. So the two things I wrote down in my journal: one was focus and the other one was “Know the Lord.” My experience of his presence and his love was going to have to double, triple, quintuple or I wouldn’t make it.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Easter, Eschatology, Health & Medicine, Holy Week, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Church Times) Parishes navigate obstacles to help refugees arriving in UK

Churches across the UK are continuing their efforts to assist refugees from the war in Ukraine.

The latest figures from the United Nations show that almost 4.3 million people have left Ukraine since the outbreak of war. The International Organization for Migration says that 7.1 million are displaced within the country.

In rural North Yorkshire, the Rector of the Whorlton Benefice, the Revd Dr Robert Opala, has been involved in helping several Ukrainian families find sanctuary.

Dr Opala, who is originally from Poland, has been working with the Middlesbrough-based charity Investing in People and Culture, which has facilitated the connections needed for refugees to apply for a visa under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The application process, Dr Opala said, has proved “difficult and complicated”, and has created “a lot of frustration and even anger”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Military / Armed Forces, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Russia, Ukraine, Uncategorized

The C of E announces a New deputy lead bishop for safeguarding

The Bishop of Birkenhead, Julie Conalty, has been appointed a deputy lead bishop for safeguarding with a focus on survivor engagement. She takes over from the Bishop of Southampton, Debbie Sellin.

Bishop Julie said: “It is a huge privilege to take on this role and to work for and alongside survivors. I won’t always get it right, but I am committed to the making the Church of England safer and to creating a better safeguarding culture. When meeting and speaking with individual survivors of Church-context abuse, I am often struck by how much grace is shown to me and I have found their insight and challenge to be invaluable. We, the Church, need to listen more and to respond with equal grace – only then will we make the changes that are needed.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(FT Magazine) ‘We packed fast’: those who left Ukraine, in their own words

Anastasia and Sonia arrived from Dnipro in central Ukraine. Hosted by the Świderski family

Anastasia says:
“My sister called me at 6am, February 24, and asked me if I am alive. I was shocked because I didn’t know what was happening at all, I didn’t listen to the news. My daughter was supposed to have a concert in the kindergarten that day, and she’d just woken up. We never watch the news on television, but after she called we turned it on to see what she was talking about. We saw that they started shooting and bombing all over Ukraine. I was shocked and didn’t know how to react. I started crying. We called a relative that has connections with the army and asked what to do, and she said that we have to leave the city.”

Marcin says:
“It was mostly my wife’s initiative [and] when Anastasia came to us, she asked why we are doing this, and it’s hard to explain. It’s something that feels so natural to us. Maybe because of ­historical reasons, that we thought that in the past, as a nation, we were abandoned during the war. So right now we feel this natural solidarity with this other country that is kind of in the same position — that there is an aggressor, and the rest of the world can’t really intervene, or they don’t want to. And I think that this is something that we as Polish people feel quite familiar with . . . There was no calculation. We didn’t even think it through that well.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Immigration, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Pastoral Theology, Poland, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine, Violence

CT Talks to Uche Anizor–Help! I’ve Stopped Caring About God.

How would you distinguish between apathy and close cousins like depression, despondency, and what might be called “dry spells”?

It’s important to note that I’m not using the term apathy in a clinical sense, but instead as it pertains to the things Christians purportedly value, the things of God. There is overlap between this kind of spiritual apathy and depression. But there are certain characteristics unique to each. Depression relates to things like suicidal ideation and a pervasive lack of energy or motivation in every area of life.

Apathy, however, tends to be more selective. With the young men I’ve mentored, they are not apathetic about everything. They might be quite excited about gaming, or their girlfriends, or the LA Lakers. Depression tends to be more pervasive, and it might require therapy or other forms of treatment that wouldn’t necessarily apply to apathy.

As for despondency, I define it as a deep sadness, or bewilderment, especially as it pertains to the things of God. If we’re dealing with despondency rather than apathy, what the despondent person needs most is to be comforted.

With dry spells, or what we might call the dark night of the soul, we’re dealing with something that is good and divinely orchestrated. God intends it for our good. The person going through the dry spell just needs help to persevere through it and press into God.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Ad Clerum on Retirement from Pittsburgh interim ACNA Bishop Martyn Minns

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Retirement is a serious business in the Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion), in a country in which there are minimal or non-existent pensions and inadequate healthcare for senior citizens. It is a particular challenge for clergy, who must often fend for themselves. Mandatory retirement age is 70, and to be sure that everyone was fully aware, and birth certificates have not been lost, each bishop’s retirement date is published every year. Shortly before my 70th birthday, Angela and I were called forward at a meeting of the Provincial Synod and we were each given a one-time cash payment of $1000 as our pension. I tried to object, knowing that for many of the poorer bishops this was a substantial amount of money. I was sure they could make better use of it than I could, but I was told, quite firmly, that was not an option. We expressed our heartfelt thanks and thought again about the importance of preparation for retirement.

The first and perhaps most important question is, “What are we retiring to?” Not “What are we retiring from?” Bishop Dave Bena, a dear friend and mentor, has retired a number of times. He retired from military service (he served with distinction as a Marine and then in the US Air Force), and he retired as the suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, as my suffragan bishop in CANA, and most recently as the assistant bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word. He is something of an expert on retirement! But he spells it “retire-ment,” declaring that it is an opportunity to change tires and start a new journey.

One of the great blessings of ordained ministry is that while our particular place of service may change, our call to Gospel ministry remains unchanged – it is a lifelong call.

Read it all (quoted by yours truly at the conclusion to my Lenten teaching on a Christian theology of vocation, KSH).

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Church of Nigeria, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Jeremy Morris reviews Lord Carey’s memoir ‘The Truth Will Set You Free’

Given the continuing controversy over these matters, and also over the handling of the allegation against the long-dead George Bell (on which Carey also has much to say), most readers will be tempted to skim through the early chapters, which deal mostly with Carey’s involvement post-retirement with the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, and the World Faiths Development Dialogue.

That is a pity, because Carey was deeply involved in these matters, and casts an interesting light on the tensions that bedevil those who want to assert the continuing importance of faith in international relations and economic development. Given his own background as the first truly working-class archbishop in many centuries, and not a product of public school and Oxbridge, his participation in these circles is testimony to an extraordinary career — something perhaps not always appreciated by his critics. He gives little sense here of any lack of confidence.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, Church of England (CoE), Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CT) Sexual Harassment Went Unchecked at Christianity Today

For more than a dozen years, Christianity Today failed to hold two ministry leaders accountable for sexual harassment at its Carol Stream, Illinois, office.

A number of women reported demeaning, inappropriate, and offensive behavior by former editor in chief Mark Galli and former advertising director Olatokunbo Olawoye. But their behavior was not checked and the men were not disciplined, according to an external assessment of the ministry’s culture released Tuesday.

The report identified a pair of problems at the flagship magazine of American evangelicalism: a poor process for “reporting, investigating, and resolving harassment allegations” and a culture of unconscious sexism that can be “inhospitable to women.” CT has made the assessment public.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

Saturday Mental Health Break–Ben Rector – The Men That Drive Me Places

Mkes sure to listen to it all. More than once.

Posted in Anthropology, Language, Music, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Bishop Lawrence Looks Back on 14-Year Episcopacy in the Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

Do you have any final thoughts on the state of the Church? State of the diocese?

I would say that if we prevail, if the parishes prevail in this lawsuit, I think there will be an explosiveness of energy that we’re capable of experiencing. I think it can unleash a great season of missional and ministry ventures that has been put on hold. And along with that, we’ve been on hold because of COVID so most people don’t know where they will be on the far side of that.

If you had one book, not the Bible, you think every person, laity and clergy read, what would it be?

One book? I’m not sure I think in those terms. But if I could only have three books for the rest of my life in addition to the Bible, I’d say a good Introduction to the Old Testament, an Introduction to the New Testament and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. I would hope everyone could read The Confessions of St. Augustine before they die, but I’m not going to say that I want everyone to read that.

What’s the hardest thing about being the bishop?
For me, the hardest thing about being a bishop is not being rooted in a congregation.

You see, there are different styles of teaching and preaching. The kind of teaching I like best is expository teaching through the Bible or a book of the Bible, teaching a sequential class in a congregation on theology, basic Christian theology, or teaching a class on the history of the Church in England or history of the Anglican Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

(Prospect) Alice Goodman–Clerical life: Curing clergy burnout

The model and justification of most holidays taken by clergy is Jesus’s custom of going to a deserted place to pray. “He did it: you should too.” From the earliest centuries, Christianity had its contemplative side; these stories are its foundation.

Before that, though, there’s the account of the flight of the Prophet Elijah from the vengeance of Jezebel in the 19th chapter of the first book of Kings. This is the model of clergy burnout. An angel gives him a hot cake baked on a stone, and lets him sleep. Then, when he wakes, he is offered another cake, and sleeps again. Only after that does he go up to the mountain of God where the Lord speaks to him, not in the sound of gale or earthquake, but in sheer silence, the echoing silence when the wind and the earthquake have passed. In that silence, God tells Elijah that there will be a new king, and also that there will be a new prophet, because more people have been faithful than Elijah is willing to credit.

That’s a favourite story of mine, as is the one told by the reclusive 19th-century Hasidic sage Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, better known as the Kotzker Rebbe. It concerns the sacred goat whose horns reached up to the heavens. As he walked through the world, the goat heard a poor old man crying. “Why do you weep?” asked the goat. “Because I have lost my snuffbox.” “Cut a bit from one of my horns,” said the goat, “Take what you need to make a new one.” You can guess what happened next. There are more poor folk in the world who have lost their snuff boxes than you can count.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Stress, Theology

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (I)-the importance of soul surgery

We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.

Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)

Posted in Church History, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(Church Times) Wymondham vicar and churchwardens defy Bishop of Norwich as being ‘unethical’

The Vicar and churchwardens of Wymondham Abbey have complained of “unrelenting” pressure exerted by the diocese of Norwich, accusing the diocese of “unremitting criticism of a church community doing its best in very difficult times”.

Their statement, published on the Abbey’s website on Monday of last week, is a defiant response to directions issued to them by the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, after a visitation of the benefice of Wymondham with Silfield and Spooner Row (News, 19 November 2021).

Bishop Usher ordered Ms Relf-Pennington to apologise without reservation to those who had brought complaints against her, after the report spoke of multiple problems in the benefice, including her “authoritarian style”, the termination of a longstanding choral tradition, and the non-payment of parish share.

In their response, Ms Relf-Pennington and the churchwardens write: “We have been harassed. For three years the pressure here has been unrelenting. We believe the intention has been to break the vicar, break the PCC people and to break the worshipping community: all this for the preferences of Bishop Graham Usher and Bishop Alan Winton to the detriment of the whole of the parish and indeed to the whole of the town.” The behaviour of the Bishops was “unethical, immoral and self-serving”, they write.

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

(Church Times) House of Bishops announces move to increase ethnic diversity at meetings

At least ten clergy of UK minority-ethnic / global-majority heritage (UKME / GMH) will be present at meetings of the House of Bishops within months, after its Standing Committee agreed a plan to address its lack of ethnic diversity.

Of the 53 places in the House of Bishops, only four are currently occupied by UKME/GMH bishops. Under plans agreed by the Standing Committee of the House on Thursday it will “ensure that at least 10 can be present, either as members as of right; as suffragan bishops appointed as participant observers, or as priests elected as participant observers”, a statement from Church House said.

“In addition to the four existing UKME/GMH members of the House, the plan will involve three further suffragans (two of whom were recently nominated as bishops) being invited to join the House as participant observers. There would also be three priests elected by serving UKME/GMH clergy.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology

(Guardian) Winchester college society was cult-like, finds report into child abuse

A cult-like evangelical Christian society at a leading private school allowed a powerful and charismatic barrister to groom and sadistically abuse boys with impunity, an investigation has found.

Members of the Christian Forum at Winchester college “showed signs of what would today be described as radicalisation”, said a 197-page review commissioned by the elite school into abuse carried out by John Smyth QC.

The school’s then headteacher, John Thorn, was informed of the abuse in 1982 but did not report it to police. Smyth moved to Zimbabwe, where he abused “as many as 90 boys, possibly resulting in the death of one”, the report said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Plough) Erika J. Ahern–Divorce Wrecks Children’s Lives Too

Just after Christmas 2021, Honor Jones, a senior editor at the Atlantic, published “How I Demolished My Life: A Home-Improvement Story.” It’s a self-portrait of a mother who, while wrangling with kitchen renovation plans, decides she doesn’t want a new kitchen.

She wants a divorce.

Jones spends the next three thousand perfectly manicured words trying to justify her decision to break up her family. She displays all the self-congratulatory bravado of middle-aged white women who read Henrik Ibsen’s Doll’s House or Oscar Wilde’s A Picture of Dorian Gray for a high school literature class and then imagine themselves forever in the role of Brave Protestor of Victorian Oppression.

Jones describes her marriage, which produced three children who are still young, as her cage. Her imperfect suburban home is, to her, an icon of her imprisonment.

She doesn’t like the “chaos” of her house and, even with the help of sensible Luba, her hired cleaning woman, she finds the lived-in quality of a home with children irksome.

Read it all.

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

(ACNA) Firm Hired To Investigate Allegations Of Misconduct In Upper Midwest

Husch Blackwell LLP has been elected to serve as the firm contracted to investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct and mishandling in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest. Husch Blackwell is a national firm and the team engaged for this investigation is based out of their Chicago, Illinois office.

In late June 2021, the Anglican Church in North America was notified that there had been an erosion of trust in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest due to allegations that the Diocese mishandled accusations of sexual misconduct. On July 10, Archbishop Foley Beach announced the Province’s acceptance of a request from the Diocese to take on oversight of the investigation and called for the formation of a Provincial Response Team. The Province is a separate legal entity from the Diocese of the Upper Midwest.

The Provincial Response Team (PRT) of experienced men and women, laity and clergy, began building a process to contract a third-party investigative firm that is trauma-informed, properly experienced, and capable of competently investigating this matter.

The PRT developed a set of criteria, with input from some of the alleged survivors, to vet potential firms. The PRT then began the process of engaging potential investigators based upon those criteria, contacting eleven firms. Out of those contacted, the PRT determined two firms sufficiently met the selection criteria. All alleged survivors known to us were sent the names of these two firms and a summary description of each and were asked to vote or to indicate no preference. These votes, along with the vote of each member of the PRT, resulted in the selection and subsequent engagement of Husch Blackwell. The Province is grateful for the time and energy the other firms gave to us as the PRT considered them.

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(LR) Your Pastor Cares When You Don’t Care

Pastors face unique difficulties inherent in their career, but what are their greatest needs? Pastors themselves say they’re most concerned about seeing their churchgoers grow spiritually and making connections with those outside of their churches.

After speaking directly with pastors to gather their perspectives on their ministry and personal challenges, Lifeway Research surveyed 1,000 US pastors for the 2022 Greatest Needs of Pastors study to discover what they see as their most pressing issues.

“The pre-existing challenges of ministry were amplified by COVID, and it’s important we lean in and listen closely to pastors,” said Ben Mandrell, president of Lifeway Christian Resources. “This project has shed light on critical needs they have and will point the way forward in how we partner with them to fuel their ministries and improve their health in multiple areas.”

Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said his team began the study by speaking with more than 200 pastors, asking them to think beyond the current pandemic-related struggles and share some of the enduring needs of pastors and their churches today.

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Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

Aelred of Rievaulx for his Feast Day–What Friendship is

10. What statement about friendship can be more sublime, more true, more valuable than this: it has been proved that friendship must begin in Christ, continue with Christ, and be perfected by Christ. Come, now: propose what in your opinion should be the first question about friendship.

IVO. I think we should first discuss what friendship is, lest we appear to be painting on a void, not knowing what should guide and organize our talk.

11. AELRED. Is Cicero’s definition not an adequate beginningfor you? “Friendship is agreement in things human and divine, with good will and charity.”

12. IVO. If his definition suffices for you, it’s good enough for me.

–Aelred of Rievaulx Spiritual Friendship I.10-12 (Lawrence C. Braceland, tr., Marsha L. Dutton ed., Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2010), p.57

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Pastoral Theology, Theology

One of the best stories from this week for your encouragement–(NBC) UPS Driver Delivers Touching Tribute To New Mom

“New mom Jessica Kitchel was still recovering from a c-section and feeling a little down when a U.P.S. driver delivered a package to her Georgia home. Dallen Harrell, a new dad himself, left a simple, heartfelt message wishing them well with their newborn.”

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Posted in * General Interest, Anthropology, Children, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology