Category : Parish Ministry

(Chicago Tribune) Nearly 6,000 Chicagoans to get letters this holiday season saying their unpaid medical debt is forgiven. Learn about the group behind the gifts

For Chicagoans struggling to make ends meet, the daily act of checking the mail can be anxiety-inducing. Aside from birthday cards and holiday letters, there isn’t often much good news, but there never seems to be any shortage of bills or debt collection attempts.

Soon, when bright yellow envelopes appear in thousands of mailboxes around Cook County with the words “RIP Medical Debt” on each one, recipients might assume it’s yet another bill. In reality, those envelopes contain the opposite, a potentially life-changing gift.

A network of area churches this summer banded together to take on the debt collection system that profits “on the backs of poor people”; to help restore bad credit marred by medical debt; and to inspire joy, said the organizers, the Rev. Otis Moss III and the Rev. Traci Blackmon. As a result, Moss said they’ve wiped out more than $5.3 million in medical debt, and they soon plan to send letters to nearly 6,000 Cook County residents with a no-strings-attached message: “May you have a beautiful, wonderful holiday. Your debt has been forgiven. Enjoy Thanksgiving.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Urban/City Life and Issues

(UnHerd in 2018) Losing their religion: the priests who turned from God

Over the course of less than two decades, [Richard] Holloway moved from doubts over the uses to which religion can be put to a complete rejection of its divine origins. That path is one that many others have made and many more doubtless fear making. But what makes Holloway different is not merely that he made this journey whilst himself being a member of the clergy or that he wrote about it whilst doing so. What is different and significant about Holloway is that while he became disenchanted with traditional religion and while he became surer of its man-made nature he nevertheless saw that there remained something in religion, and the Christian story in particular, that deserved and needed to be saved.

In his 2012 memoir, Leaving Alexandria, he described with frankness not only the fundamentalism that had pushed him away from the church, but those few hopes he had still had left for it. His religion is now, he says, “pared away to almost nothing” 7, and he asks what he is left believing. ‘Was religion a lie? Not necessarily, but it was a mistake. Lies are just lies, but mistakes can be corrected and lessons can be learned from them. “The mistake’” he says,”‘was to think religion was more than human.”

Though he concludes that religion was a work of the human imagination he reiterates that that itself is not nothing. If it could be appreciated as other works of the human imagination are appreciated – so long as people did not fall over again into thinking it was more than that – if it could be appreciated like Shakespeare, and Proust, Elgar, Tolstoy, Gaugin or Nietzsche (to use Holloway’s list) and seen to have no more authority than them, then the uses of religion might still be for the good.

Read it all.

Posted in Atheism, Books, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture, Scottish Episcopal Church

(Church Times) Enquirers’ courses are attended mainly by churchgoers, statistics suggest

One third of Church of England churches run enquiry and “Christian basics” courses and two-thirds of these report that their courses are attended mainly by people who already go to church, new statistics suggest.

The figures have been collated for the first time at Church House, Westminster, in the Statistics for Mission 2018 report, published by the C of E’s Research and Statistics department.

Of the 13,003 churches that responded to this question, 34 per cent reported that they ran such courses (4400 churches). Of this group, 28 per cent ran courses that they had designed themselves; 28 per cent ran Alpha; 17 per cent ran the Pilgrim course; nine per cent ran Christianity Explored; and 30 per cent ran other courses, including Lent and confirmation classes.

Two-thirds (67 per cent) said that they were mainly attended by people who already attended church regularly. Ten per cent said that they were mainly attended by people who did not already attend regularly, and 19 per cent that they had equal numbers of church-goers and non-church-goers.

The Experiences of Ministry survey of 2011, completed by 2916 members of the clergy, found “an important association between the running of nurture courses and both forms of growth [spiritual and numerical]; growth is stronger when nurture courses are more frequently run.” Research by Dr Stephen Hunt published in 2001 found that 77 per cent of Alpha attendees were already churchgoers, although his sample size was small.

Read it all.

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

(Saint Philip’s, Charleston) Gloria Avent–Jesus is Always Calling

I share Dr. Moore’s love for books and movies which tell inspiring true stories of faith. They always contain the element of struggle and hardship overcome by courage and great effort. Each story is unique, with the common denominator being the individual’s relationship with God. Some of my favorites titles are Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Diebler Rose, God’s Smuggler by Brother Andrew with John and Elizabeth Sherrill, and Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot. All are stories of people who leave their own countries, like Gladys Aylward did, to go to another country to spread the gospel.

But what about another kind of calling, one in which one’s mission field is right where they are? How do we recognize that call? Jesus says to us, “Follow me.” How do we know where he is leading?

In Gladys Aylward’s story and many other missionary stories, there is usually a strong desire to do something. In Catherine Marshall’s classic autobiography, Beyond Ourselves, there were dramatic changes to her life’s circumstances that caused her to fervently seek the Lord out of a strong need for guidance (she went on to be a celebrated Christian writer, and her books have played an important role in discipling me). For many of us, we may feel a sense of dissatisfaction with our lives, a longing for something more (also one of Catherine Marshall’s book titles).

In any case, out of love, Jesus calls each of us with the voice of his Holy Spirit, to let us know that the Father has written a compelling story for our lives. As we learn to quiet our thoughts, ask for the Spirit’s leading, and listen for His voice, our unique stories truly begin to be written.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Missions, Parish Ministry

(CT) Gerald Sittser–The Early Church Thrived Amid Secularism and Shows How We Can, Too

As long as Christians assume we are still living in Christendom, the church will continue to decline in the West, no matter how ferociously Christians fight to maintain power and privilege. If anything, the harder Christians fight, the more precipitous the decline will be, for cultural power and privilege will come at an increasingly high price. Christians will either accommodate until the faith becomes almost unrecognizable, or they will isolate until their faith becomes virtually invisible.

Nothing short of a change of church culture will suffice—from a culture of entertainment, politics, personality, and program to a culture of discipleship. Such a radical change will require patience, steadiness, and purposefulness.

The good news is, we are not alone, and the story of early Christianity reminds us of this fact. Faithful Christians have gone before us, bearing witness to the truth of Christianity, the power of the gospel, and the high calling of discipleship. Calling out across the centuries, they tell us that it is possible now, as it was then, to live as faithful followers of Jesus the Lord in a culture that does not approve of it or reward it.

Two millennia ago, Jesus Christ—his incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension—set in motion a movement that turned the world upside down. He is the same Lord today. It can happen again.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Evangelism and Church Growth, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

Al Zadig’s Sunday Sermon–Overcoming Discouragement with Elijah

I love the story of Oklahoma native and former heavy-weight boxer James Quick Tillis as he recalls the day he moved to Chicago. “I get off the bus with two suitcases under my arms in downtown Chicago and stop in front of the Sears Tower. I put my suitcases down, look up at the Tower and say to myself, ‘I am going to conquer Chicago.’ It was my moment of glory! And then I looked down. My suitcases were stolen.”

You can read or listen to it all.

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

The Archbishop of Canterbury Visits the Diocese of Hereford

What are the challenges for a rural diocese like Herefordshire?

The Archbishop of Canterbury has spent the first day of his three-day visit to the diocese in the city centre, but he accepts the rural nature of Herefordshire throws up some challenges.

He said quite often the problems are hidden behind the beauty of one of the Church of England’s most rural dioceses.

“I think every diocese is challenging nowadays, I don’t suppose there was ever a time when they really weren’t,” The Most Reverend Justin Welby said.

“I think particularly now it is very challenging and every diocese has its own particular challenges.

“Obviously a rural diocese like Herefordshire you’re dealing with much smaller communities, the whole agricultural sector where the Church has always been very engaged for a thousand years.

“And often the problems in a rural diocese are hidden behind beautiful buildings, rolling hills, you know grazing cattle, yet they are as real.

“So yet the challenge of the Church to love and care for the communites is as great, but the capacity to do so is a big challenge.”

Read it all and enjoy all the pictures.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Parish Ministry

Anglican Blogger Mary Ailes RIP

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Blogging & the Internet, Death / Burial / Funerals

(Yorkshire Post) Former cancer research scientist takes top job at York Minster

York Minster has appointed a former cancer research scientist as its new Canon Precentor.

The Reverend Canon Dr Vicky Johnson will be charged with helping to deliver worship and music and will take up the post in January.

Currently serving as Residentiary Canon at Ely Cathedral, she will succeed York Minster’s Rev Canon Peter Moger, who is moving to a new role in the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Upon her arrival, Dr Johnson will lead the cathedral’s liturgy and music team, supporting the work of the director of music and the 48 choristers and 12 adult singers of the York Minster Choir.

She will also seek to develop music outreach in the community over the coming years.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(PD) Things Worth Dying For: The Nature of a Life Worth Living

Family, friends, honor, and integrity: These are natural loves. Throughout history, men and women have been willing to die for these loves. As Christians, though, we claim to be animated—first and foremost—by a supernatural love: love for God as our Creator and Jesus Christ as his Son. St. Polycarp, for all his caution and prudence, eventually did choose martyrdom rather than repudiate his Christian faith.

The issue at hand is this: Are we really willing to do the same; and if so, how must we live in a way that proves it? These aren’t theoretical questions. They’re brutally real. Right now Christians in many countries around the world are facing the choice of Jesus Christ or death. Last year the German novelist Martin Mosebach published an account of the 21 migrant workers in Libya who were kidnapped by Muslim extremists and executed for their faith. Twenty were Coptic Christians from Egypt. One was another African who refused to separate himself from his brothers in the faith.

The murder of those 21 Christians is captured on video. It’s hard to watch—not just because the act is barbaric, but also because, in our hearts, we fear that, faced with the same choice, we might betray our faith in order to save our lives. Put frankly, the martyrs, both ancient and modern, frighten us as much as they inspire us. And maybe this reaction makes perfect sense. Maybe it’s a version of the biblical principle that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of martyrdom is the beginning of an honest appraisal of our spiritual mediocrity.

So I think we should consider this fear for a moment, rather than repressing it, as we so often do.

The Christian men beheaded on the Libyan beach are not really so remote from us. The worry we naturally feel, that we might fail a similar test, is a concrete and urgent version of the anxiety we rightly feel when we think about coming before the judgment of God. If we’re honest about ourselves, we know that we’re likely to fail that test too. After all, we’re barely able to live up to the basic demands of the Ten Commandments. Many of us have trouble following even the minimal norms of a Catholic life: regular confession and Mass attendance, kindness to others, and a few minutes of daily prayer. If those very simple things are struggles, how can we possibly have the spiritual strength to face martyrdom? Or the judgment of a just God?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(BBC) Church of Scotland considers selling half Aberdeen’s churches

Almost half of Aberdeen’s churches are being considered for sale as part of a “once in a generation” review.

The 10-year plan recommends 15 buildings for disposal, with 15 being retained and the future of a further three under consideration.

The Church of Scotland report said it aimed “to reshape the church estate”.

Rev Scott Rennie, planning convener for the Presbytery, said there were “many more” church buildings than needed and that “difficult choices” lay ahead.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Economist) The root of all fun Cash–strapped English cathedrals become temples of enjoyment

Durham is not among the eight cathedrals that charge an entrance fee. But the 700,000 people who visit every year are urged, in multilingual signs, to make a contribution of at least £3 ($3.70). This year-old appeal has increased visitor offerings by a third. Well-informed and polyglot guides explain the cathedral’s history and drive home its need for money. But with a payroll of 131 full-time-equivalent staff, supported by 750 volunteers, and a creaking fabric to maintain, neither the contributions of visitors nor the amounts offered by worshippers are anything like enough to cover running costs. Nor can an exhibition of medieval treasures, costing £7.50 to view, or a shop or a café, fill the gap. Only by ever more ingenious devices, ranging from cultural and recreational events to corporate sponsorship and flashy appeals to fund specific repairs, are cathedrals managing to stay in business.

Andrew Tremlett, the dean of Durham cathedral, reckons his institution has kept the right balance between ancient dignity and 21st-century opportunism. When the “Avengers” film was being shot, the 350 people involved were required to fall silent several times a day when services were held. Whatever the disruption to worshippers, the filming enabled 150m people to enjoy footage of the ancient stonework.

Other cathedrals have dreamed up even more eccentric ways to make use of the vast, numinous spaces under their control. An injunction by Archbishop Justin Welby, the head of the Anglican church, to “have fun in cathedrals” is being taken very literally. As a summer attraction, Rochester cathedral tucked a miniature golf course inside its soaring Norman arches. In Norwich, a helter-skelter was installed. This supposedly allowed visitors a closer look at a cleverly sculpted roof, but it was mainly a bit of entertainment, for grown-ups as well as children. Lichfield cathedral won higher marks for a light show entitled “Space, God, the Universe and Everything”, which involved transforming the entire floor into a lunar landscape.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Entertainment, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Theology

(BBC) Holy tech! Churches try new ways to connect

Geraint Harries, a technology specialist, for St John the Evangelist in Lancashire, admits that when his parish first started using social media, it didn’t get it quite right.

“At first we didn’t really know what social media meant for the church and fell into the trap of simply chasing the number of likes and followers on our Facebook page,” he says.

But when a parishioner credited the Facebook page for her decision to return to the church, then he felt the strategy had started to work.

Weekly posts on the social media page of the church which simply asked “How can we pray for you today?” resonated with the woman going through a divorce last Christmas.

“Sometimes it can be daunting to turn up in person to a service so connecting online, more anonymously, can make it easier to take that first step into the building which happened here,” he adds.

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(Church Times) Fresh Expressions multiply — as redefined

Five years after the launch of a £2.1-million project, the diocese of Leicester is reporting that one-quarter (26 per cent) of people attending weekly worship do so at a Fresh Expression — up from one in nine in 2011.

It follows similar figures from the diocese of Carlisle (News, 6 September 2019). The research also highlights evolving definitions, the symbiotic relationship between “traditional” churches and fresh expressions, and the growth of unlicensed lay leadership.

Thousands of “fresh expressions of church” have been planted since the launch of the report Mission-shaped Church in 2004, and are defined by the ecumenical charity Fresh Expressions as a “new gathering or network that engages mainly with people who have never been to church”.

Research conducted by Leicester in partnership with the Church Army’s Research Unit (CARU), published this week in a report, God at Work, suggests that the number of fresh expressions has grown by 60 per cent since 2011, from 47 to 75. In total, 2959 people are attending, up from 1811 in 2011.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(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

Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina recent Legal Developments (I)–Diocesan Statement

From there:

On Thursday, September 20 District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel ruled in favor of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), in a federal trademark case. In the 73-page decision, Judge Gergel issued an injunction preventing the Diocese and parishes in union with it from using the names and seal of the diocese. These are: “Diocese of South Carolina”; “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”; “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina” and The Diocesan Seal.

“We’re disappointed, of course,” said the Rev. Marcus Kaiser, Rector of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Sumter, who serves as the President of the Standing Committee, which also serves as the Diocese’s Board of Directors. “But changing our name doesn’t change who we are, or who we’ve ever been. It simply changes the name under which we operate.”

The Standing Committee met Friday morning and unanimously voted to adopt the name “The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina.” Although Counsel for both the Diocese and the Parishes who are studying the order believe it likely will be appealed, even erroneous orders still must be obeyed. “I am grateful,” noted Bishop Lawrence, “for the faithful response of our Standing Committee, the diocesan staff, and legal team in seeking to comply with this order. We work not in fear, for as St. Paul has reminded us, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.”

On August 28th , in one of two state cases regarding the ownership of parish and diocesan property, Judge Edgar Dickson issued an order adverse to TEC and TECSC. He rejected their request to dismiss the diocese and parish claims to recover the value of improvements to parish and diocesan real property under the Betterments Statute if it is decided that TEC has title to those properties. He also stated that he had yet to rule on motions before him concerning the question of whether the five separate opinions of the Supreme Court found that there has been any Diocesan or Parish loss of property.“The Court…recognizes that were it to rule against the Defendants [TEC and TECSC] on some or all of those motions, this betterments action could become moot….” “…the Court will consider, for purposes of ruling on the motion to dismiss only, that the betterments action is ripe.”

The state cases were ordered to be mediated by Judge Dickson which will be held on September 26th. That mediation, which had been scheduled for earlier this month, was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(NYT) For Churches, a Temptation to Sell

“With every real-estate cycle, developers will systemically call on religious institutions because their sites are soft,” Ms. Friedman said.

In a way, it’s an odd time for churches to disappear. The number of congregations in New York is actually increasing, according to census records. There were 1,426 congregations in Brooklyn in 2010, up from 959 in 2000, records show, with large gains in Manhattan and Queens, too. And the 2020 census is expected to show more growth, religious leaders predict.

But small mosques and storefront churches account for a lot of the uptick. Older and highly visible institutions that once served Episcopalians and Lutherans, for example, are indeed closing. And dozens of Catholic churches, facing low attendance, have also gone dark in the past 15 years.

“Every time we turn around, another is being sold,” Gilford T. Monrose, who directs the Office of Faith-Based and Clergy Initiatives on behalf of Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President.

Concerned that the borough is losing an important source of community services, Mr. Monrose has been working over the past few years to get churches to consider affordable housing as a lifeline.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Sunday [London] Times) A Life in the Day interview: Peter Owen, the former drug taker turned Anglican priest

As a young child, I was adopted and my adopted father died when I was four. Every adopted person I’ve talked to says the same thing: we grow up with an empty space inside. Is that why I turned to God? I’m not sure. I wasn’t particularly religious before, but in my late twenties I became aware that I was surrounded by a feeling of patience. There was no “big moment” when I decided to go to theological college, but it somehow became clear to me that I should live my life as a parish priest and I was eventually ordained in 1992. And the only reason I could give for being a priest was that I was a broken man. Maybe that’s the only quality you need.

As a non-stipendiary priest, you don’t get paid. You get a house, but money has to be earned elsewhere. I’m supposed to spend two days a week as a priest and the rest of the time on my other stuff — writing or catching up with friends and family. I’m sure some people see my books or watch me on TV and think I’m rolling in cash. Definitely not! It makes things a bit easier but, financially, life is still tricky. That’s OK. I don’t need a big TV or a fancy car. I have a home and goldfinches in my garden. If I lust after anything, it’s chocolate peanuts.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Hour of our Death) Five Insights On Death And Dying From His Abysmal Sublimity Screwtape

Death as the Prime Evil (Not)

They, of course, do tend to regard death as the prime evil and survival as the greatest good. But that is because we have taught them to do so. . . . It is obvious that to Him [God] human birth is important chiefly as the qualification for human death, and death solely as the gate to that other kind of life.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Theology

Bishop Peter Beckwith RIP

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained

(CT) Botham Jean’s Brother’s Offer of Forgiveness Went Viral. His Mother’s Calls for Justice Should Too.

But many have likely missed footage from the rest of the family, including these words from Botham’s mother, Allison Jean.

“Forgiveness for us as Christians is a healing for us, but as my husband said, there are consequences. It does not mean that everything else we have suffered has to go unnoticed,” Mother Allison told the court.

What went unnoticed? According to Botham Jean’s mother, the crime scene was contaminated by Dallas police. High-ranking officials deleted evidence. Police officers turned off body cameras and vehicle cameras.

“You saw investigations that were marred with corruption,” Mother Allison said. “While we walk as Christians, we still have a responsibility to ensure that our city does what is right.”

Listening to the entire Jean family offers us a fuller picture of Christianity. In their words and posture towards Guyger and the criminal justice system, we hear calls for both forgiveness and justice. But if we elevate the words of one family member at the expense of another, we run the risk of distorting the gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Violence

(Church Times) Good Money Week: Using money for good

“In the present state of mankind,” John Wesley declared in his celebrated 18th-century sermon on the use of money, “it is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends.”

Rightly used, he said, money could feed the hungry, provide drink for the thirsty, clothe the naked, and provide shelter for the stranger. “It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!”

He warned against excessive spending, however, and condemned the exploitation of workers. He called on Christians to be generous in their financial giving, and recognised that money could be misused.

The right use of money has been a Christian concern since the early days of the Church, and, between then and now, both the institution and individuals, in their earning, hoarding, or spending of money, have fallen short of the ideals taught. Today, no doubt, Wesley would be a leading campaigner against the consumer society, drawing attention to how irresponsible and excessive consumption has led to environmental degradation.

Churches and faith investors have, for many years, done their best to align their investments with acceptable beliefs and ethics, and, despite good returns promised, have avoided buying shares in, for example, arms companies, and the tobacco and gambling industries. They have monitored businesses in which they invest closely to ensure they are not exploiting the vulnerable or despoiling the planet.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

(MSN) Two Nigerian Evangelicals Executed in Boko Haram Video

Islamic extremist group Boko Haram released a video last week showing the execution of two Christian aid workers in Nigeria, sources said.

Lawrence Duna Dacighir and Godfrey Ali Shikagham, both members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) in Plateau state, are shown kneeling while three masked, armed men stand behind them in a video posted September 22 on Boko Haram’s Amaq news agency site. The two young men, who had gone to Maiduguri to help build shelters for people displaced by Islamic extremist violence, are then shot from behind.

Speaking in the Hausa language, the middle one of the three terrorists says in the video that they have vowed to kill every Christian they capture in revenge for Muslims killed in past religious conflicts in Nigeria.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Nigeria, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(WSJ) A New Death Shakes a Univ. of Penn. Campus Rattled by Student Suicides

On a quiet Sunday afternoon at the University of Pennsylvania, a dozen students sat in a circle, turned to one another, and asked: “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”

The difficult practice, accompanied by uncomfortable giggles and prolonged eye contact, came toward the end of a four-hour training session in a technique known as active listening. Students are taught to ask the question, among others, with a gentle and direct tone. The method and question can help reduce the risk of suicide, training experts say.

With 14 student suicides in the past six years, this Ivy League university has been asking hard questions and has bolstered its mental-health resources. But the recent death by suicide of a high-profile mental-health administrator—Gregory Eells, executive director of Penn’s Counseling and Psychological Services program that provides therapy sessions for students—highlighted the complexity of the school’s continuing battle against suicide.

“On a symbolic level, Dr. Eells’s death hit harder. Because of his position, it’s a stronger message across the university than I think student deaths are in a weird, kind of bizarre way,” said Greg Callaghan, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly who had met with Dr. Eells about graduate student mental-health initiatives.

The U.S. suicide rate for nearly all ages increased from 1999 to 2017, according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the second-leading cause of death among Americans aged 10 to 34.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, Health & Medicine, Suicide, Young Adults

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–What if God is Better than We think? [The 2nd Sign: Jesus Heals An Official’s Son (John 4:46-54)]

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there (American history buffs will want to watch for a reference to the building of the Golden Gate Bridge).

Posted in * By Kendall, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) A remarkable ministry–Chris Sugden reviews ‘Michael Green Remembered’

Michael Green was decisive. He made decisions, sometimes impulsive, often intuitive, occasionally spur of the moment. And he encouraged thousands of people, many in their late teens and early 20s, to make the most important decision of their lives, to live for, with, and in the power of Jesus.

It is quite natural, that within nine months of his death in January 2019 at the age of 88, 35 people who had known him at various stages of life should, encouraged by his family and editor Julia Cameron, contribute to a book of remembrances that was formally launched at his memorial service in Coventry Cathedral, where he was a canon theologian, on 7 September.

Some will read this book to discover more about a valued friend and colleague in Christian ministry, and others because his combination of sharp apologetics and winsome evangelism won them to Christian discipleship and they want to find out about other phases of his life.It is not a book to be read end to end, but from which to pick out gems here and there.

And they abound….

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Mediation between the historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and the New TEC Diocese results in Impasse

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship

Visiting Friends from Oxford Days

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Photos/Photography, Travel

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon at Saint Helen’s, Bishopsgate: Wrestling with the biblical doctrine of hell

Listen to it all. Please note there are audio and video options and it can be downloaded. Be forewarned–it is NOT light bedtime listening–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, Church of England (CoE), Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings

(AM) Andrew Symes on the recently concluded Renew conference

Earlier in the Conference, Archbishop Ben had shared more of his background. His father had been brought to Christ and mentored by young missionaries from England, who made huge sacrifices by journeying to Nigeria in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of them died there, some within weeks of arrival; their love for the Lord and for the people made a huge impression on Kwashi senior and his son Ben who became an Archbishop and now General Secretary of Gafcon. “The gospel is the means of saving the world, and God has put it in our hands”, he said. “We must pass it on to the next generation with joy and conviction, hot and fresh”.

This for Kwashi is the central driving motivation for Gafcon. In the churches of the West, theological debate about the essentials of Christianity was “watering down the gospel, destroying faith, taking the church captive”. Gafcon as a series of conferences and a global movement has re-established faithful Anglicanism and provided structures for it to continue and thrive. Anglican groupings have emerged, clearly separated from ‘official’ structures which have embraced heresy, such as the thriving Church in North America, and now new initiatives in New Zealand, Scotland and Brazil. In Africa, those with an anti-gospel agenda “use money to play with people’s lives”, Kwashi warned, but those who identify with Gafcon “are not willing to be sold”.

The theme of the Renew Conference, attended by nearly 500 people from 270 churches, was “multiplying ministries in the light of eternity”. Certainly Ben Kwashi’s ministry in Nigeria, and his current additional responsibilities with Gafcon exemplify this. The truths of the future coming of Christ, and the destiny of all human beings, as a comfort for believers and motivation for mission were outlined in Bible expositions by other speakers. “We can cope with suffering, but not hopelessness”, said Andy Mason, reminding us from the gospel of Luke that the King has come, the King will come, it will be a shock, and we are told how to prepare. A particularly excellent systematic treatment of the subject of hell by Kendall Harmon from the ACNA Diocese of South Carolina explained why and how the loss of this uncomfortable teaching in churches has coincided with the rise of secularism in society, and how recovering a sober and biblical understanding of judgement is vital for the evangelistic project founded on love and concern for the lost.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology