Category : Parish Ministry

(PBS Newshour) Pope sends ‘signal’ by defrocking ex-cardinal for sexual abuse

Rev. James Martin:

But you know my faith in God hasn’t changed. It’s it’s my sort of disappointment and anger. You know certain people in the church at abusers certainly some of whom I know people who covered this up. But I think it’s also important to say that this happens in all sorts of institutions you know families schools places like that. But in the church what we need to do is really address that and be sort of forthright about it and be as transparent as possible so frankly I am really in favor of the release of these lists that have been happening that’s pretty controversial because it’s it’s necessary for transparency it’s necessary for us to understand how these things happen and enable us to move ahead and reconcile.

Hari Sreenivasan:

Well what are you looking for this week? What helps the church survive this?

Rev. James Martin:

This desire to confront it without any sort of fear. You know that you know we have of the truth the truth sets us free. I mean that that really should be kind of what we’re focused on.

Hari Sreenivasan:

You think the Pope’s doing enough?

Rev. James Martin:

I think the pope could always do more. I think that this meeting in the end of this week is really helpful it’s the heads of all the bishops conferences. There are still countries where bishops have said well it doesn’t happen in our country it doesn’t happen and are part of the world. And I think one of the reasons for this meeting is to teach in a sense those bishops the facts about sex abuse. So I think that’s a really good step forward.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

Prayers for the Diocese of South Carolina this day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

[Oxford] Bishop Stephen Croft–Rethinking Evangelism

Over 400 people assembled in the Vatican over three weeks. The initial work of the Synod was to listen to five-minute contributions from every part of the world. There was widespread agreement that we live in a time when the passing on of Christian faith is challenging and difficult everywhere.

There was widespread agreement around two further themes. The first is that the Church therefore needs to reflect more, not less, on the reasons for this and our response. The second is that as a Church we need to begin not with techniques or methods but with Christ: dwelling deeply, seeing the face of Christ afresh, exploring again the joy of the gospel.

There have been very significant shifts in our culture and the place of the church within our culture. We understand them only in part. But I believe more and more of the Church of England recognises now that technical solutions are not the answer. I have found more and more over the last three years that when I speak about church growth and how to do evangelism the energy leaves the room.

If I show even a hint of a downward sloping graph, I lose my audience completely. But when I speak of Christ and the wonder and character of Christ and the need to begin from a place of hope and love and nurture the Church as the Body of Christ in very simple ways, the energy levels rise and there is fresh hope and vision.

This is not because people are unwilling to face reality. I think our congregations and communities understand the reality of our situation very well indeed. I think we recognise together that technique or finance or strategies cannot of themselves “solve” the problem. We need as a Church to gather again around Jesus Christ and his gospel and find there renewal and healing and life for us and for the world. These convictions undergird the vision and call we are exploring in the Diocese of Oxford, to be a more Christ like Church for the sake of God’s world: more contemplative, more compassionate and more courageous.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

RNS profiles a Flourishing South Carolina United Methodist Church ahead of the upcoming Special General Conference

(Please note: you may find basic information about this meeting there–KSH).

In November, with the blessing of his leadership team, Kersey sent out a congregation-wide letter explaining the various plans that will be up for a vote at the special session and declaring his support for the Traditional Plan, which would keep LGBT restrictions in place.

Out of a membership of close to 5,000 people, Kersey said he received three emails from people who said they disagreed with him.

Martha Thompson, who chairs the church’s leadership team and is a delegate to the special session in St. Louis, said she welcomed the letter.

“This was new to a majority of our membership. So I was glad Jeff did it,” she said. “There were some who weren’t in favor. But the overwhelming majority of people I’ve spoken to were glad that he did it.”

Thompson cited the success of the monthlong Advent offering after the letter was sent as proof of the congregation’s support. The church raised $313,000 for that one offering — more than many small Methodist churches’ entire yearly budget.

Both Thompson and Kersey said they don’t want to exclude anyone.

Kersey said he recognizes that there are LGBT people attending the church and said he sees them like he sees everyone else — as people of sacred worth.

“On any given weekend here, we see people struggling with adultery, pornography, same-sex relationship,” he said. “We don’t ask questions. Everyone is welcome to come here with the understanding that we’ll share with them God’s best plan for their life, which is based on our understanding of Scripture.”

Read it all.

Posted in Methodist, Parish Ministry, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(NYT) Parkland: A Year After the School Shooting That Was Supposed to Change Everything

In a series of interviews, nine members of the Stoneman Douglas community — students, parents, police, teachers — reflected on the past 12 months.

They did not want to relive that day. They did not want to argue about politics. They did not want to talk about the gunman’s pending trial for capital murder.


This is what they wanted to do: mourn.

In all the activity of the past year, the March for Our Lives rally in Washington, the tour across the country registering voters, the investigations, the hearings, finishing senior year, getting into college — some said they hadn’t had time to take the measure of what they had lost. As Jammal Lemy, 21, a Stoneman Douglas alumnus-turned-activist explained it, “We just had so much going on.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, History, Teens / Youth, Violence

(CEN) Evangelism to take centre stage at February General Synod meeting

In an unusual move, this month’s General Synod will take the subject of evangelism as its theme.

In particular, Synod members will be asked to urge every diocese to launch new missions and ministries to housing estates up and down the country.

The ‘Estates Evangelism task group’is working on plans to extend the reach of each parish to ‘hard-to-reach’places. The Rev Helen Shannon, who sits on the task group, said that there needed to be changes made to clergy selection, deployment and training to implement a change in thinking.

She said the task group wanted estates ministry to be ‘part of every diocese’s budget’.

She pointed out that while most such parishes were made up of 500 dwellings, they constituted one-fifth of all parishes. “Fifty per cent of the population of England live in these areas,”she said.

A motion on Friday 22 February will hear the Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Rev Philip North, ask the Synod to ‘give thanks’to the Christian leadership offered from such communities. His motion calls for the establishment of a ‘serving, loving and worshipping community in every significant social housing estate in the country.’

But despite declining church numbers nationally, the secretary-general of the Archbishops’Council, William Nye, said the focus on evangelism emerged from a sense of urgency.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Gripped by Awed Amazement at the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:1-11)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

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

(Houston Chronicle) Abuse of Faith 20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reforms

Read it all.

Posted in Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

(FT) Britain’s burial crisis – and how to solve it

On a wet, windy Thursday in December, Bicester Village swarms with shoppers. The Oxfordshire retail complex receives about seven million visitors a year, lured by designer clothes at discount prices.

Across the road, there’s a sports field. Beyond that, in view of the shopping centre, is Bicester’s cemetery. It’s a pleasant, simple space: a long path runs through it, flanked by lines of trees. The oldest of the weathered gravestones I saw dated back to 1865.

Above ground, at least, the cemetery doesn’t look particularly crowded. But almost all the 5,000-plus plots are occupied. When it ran out of space in the past, it just kept growing. It took over one field, then another. To clear space for more graves, workers removed benches and dug up trees — a practice known in the burial industry as cramming.

Now, however, the cemetery has expanded as far as it can. As of last April — the most recent date for which Bicester council provides figures — it only has 36 unreserved burial plots left, and another 23 for cremated remains. In a town of 30,000-plus, that’s enough to get it through the next couple of years, provided there aren’t any severe flu outbreaks.

Bicester is not alone. At a time when, each year, 140,000 people in the UK still choose to be buried, cemeteries around the country are running out of space. In 2013, a BBC study found that a quarter of England’s local authorities — which oversee the overwhelming majority of cemeteries — expected those they managed to be full by 2023.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Eschatology, Religion & Culture

(GL) Carrie Boren Headington on Michael Green as a Hero of the Faith

“Excuse me. May I ask you a question? Is that man a preacher?” asked the nurse at the Oxford Radcliffe Hospital.

“Yes. Why do you ask?” I said.

“Well, after a long day, when all visitors have left, he gets out of bed and goes from room to room. I think he is preaching and praying with people. Frankly, we cannot keep him in bed at night. We say, ‘Mr. Green, you must rest and get back into bed.’ He did just have a heart attack you know. He politely agrees but in no more than five minutes he is back up with the IV machine in tow going from room to room. We cannot keep him down.”

I knew what compelled him. He had just called me (along with a stream of students) to his bedside, unsure if he would make it out of hospital this time. He said, “Whatever you do with your life Carrie, share the gospel at every turn. Tell everyone. This is the greatest thing you can do with your life. Follow Jesus, love Him and share Him.”

I went home that night and prayed, “Lord, please heal Michael Green. And if possible, may I please learn from him.” I knew I had met a modern-day Paul. I knew right away Michael Green was a man compelled by life in Jesus Christ! Compelled to share! Compelled by joy!

Two weeks later, Michael Green was back at our theological college, Wycliffe Hall, in perfect health. I knocked on his office door and there opened my soon-to-be mentor. Shorter in stature, eyes piercing and electric, smile wide, and palpable energy seeming about to combust. How to even describe this man… feet steady and deeply rooted in faith like a fully leafed live oak tree planted by streams of living water combined with the courageous, nimble posture of a boxer. A soldier with shoulders back, chin up, ready to defend with a low strong voice alongside a warmth, sense of humor, bubbling laugh that reached high pitch, and abounding joy.

He literally bounces when he walks. He is a man on mission.

I asked him if I could learn from him. Thankfully, he agreed and this began a mentorship that changed my life….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Theology: Evangelism & Mission

(Telegraph) Canon Michael Green, leading Evangelical theologian who taught Dr George Carey and whose adoption of charismatic forms of worship caused some surprise – obituary

Canon Michael Green, who has died aged 88, was in his time one of the Church of England’s leading Evangelicals and was known and valued worldwide as an outstanding preacher and teacher.

He had much in common with Billy Graham, the American evangelist, but had not quite the same charisma, and lacked an organisation that would mobilise huge crowds to hear him.

None the less, his influence was considerable since be combined evangelical gifts with those of a scholar and, besides training many future clergymen, one of whom, George Carey, became the Archbishop of Canterbury, he was, from 1975 to 1987 Rector of St Aldate’s – the most dynamic church in Oxford, attracting to its life several generations…

Read it all (registration).

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Evangelism and Church Growth

(WSJ) Quebec Muslims Seek to Transcend Trauma of Mosque Shooting That Took Six Lives

The attack, a rare mass shooting in Canada, shocked Quebec’s Muslim community and showed that the country wasn’t immune to the sometimes violent backlashes that have accompanied growing immigrant populations elsewhere.

Two years later, many are still trying to come to terms with what happened and their place in a province where tensions over religion and assimilation persist.

Those tensions revived in Quebec’s October election. The conservative Coalition Avenir Québec won the provincial vote after a campaign in which it pledged to curb immigration and make newcomers take tests to prove their knowledge of Canadian Quebec values and French language.

The new Quebec premier, François Legault has also promised to bar certain public servants—including teachers, police officers and judges—from wearing visible religious symbols, such as the Muslim head scarf and the kippah worn by some Jewish men, and sparked criticism last week when he suggested Islamophobia didn’t exist in the province. Mr. Legault’s office later said he misspoke.

“It’s a difficult time for Muslims in Quebec,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Islam, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NYT) A Canadian Preacher Who Doesn’t Believe in God

Although as a child, she claimed Jesus had taught her to skate, she never considered herself a devotee. Instead, she says she has always understood God obliquely, as love.

After graduating from college with an arts degree and in search of adventure, Ms. Vosper moved to the far north of Canada, where she was married and had a daughter. After her marriage broke down, she returned to Kingston as a single mother and enrolled in divinity school.

“I wanted to learn how to make the world a better place through it,” said Ms. Vosper, who is sprightly, with short salt-and-pepper hair, chunky glasses and a penchant for bubbling over with language.

By then, the United Church of Canada was propelled more by social justice than theology, according to Kevin Flatt, author of “After Evangelicalism: The 60s and the United Church.” The first church to ordain transgender ministers, its leadership supported abortion and same-sex union before either became legal in Canada.

Divinity school cemented her metaphorical views of God, Ms. Vosper says. But once she began preaching, she realized many congregants thought she was talking about an all-knowing, all-seeing spirit who answered prayers and called some to heaven and others to hell.

“I realized how little of what I said got through to anyone,” said Ms. Vosper….

Read it all.

Posted in Atheism, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

The Rev. Canon Dr Michael Green RIP

Here is the notice from Wycliffe Hall:

It is with great sadness that I pass on the news that Michael Green went to be with the Lord yesterday Wednesday 6th February at around 3pm at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
His passing was peaceful and he was surrounded by Rosemary and his immediate family (including his son, Tim who’d just managed to get there from SE Asia).
As we grieve with hope (1 Thess 4:13) we give thanks to the Lord for the privilege of being associated with such an amazing man of God and for his incredible legacy.
I’ve just spoken to Rosemary on the phone and prayed with her and she is feeling at peace and grateful for the many messages of support and love that she has received from around the world.
Details of the funeral/memorial service will be released in due course but for now lets continue to hold Rosemary and the immediate family in our prayers.

With love in Christ

Greg

The Revd Greg Downes
Director of Ministerial Training
Dean of the Wesley Centre for Missional Engagement

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

Douglas Groothuis–Apologetics in the Local Church

First, we should consider some objections to Christianity that need to be addressed. Then, we will look at ways of addressing them in the church.

Some issues concerning Christianity are perennial, such as the existence of God, the deity of Christ, and the reliability of the Bible. Of course, the

Gospel must always be explained and defended as the only answer to our estrangement from a holy God because of our sin.

Besides the timeless topics of apologetics, the church should also take up matters of contemporary concern, such as the LGBTQ philosophy and social movements. Many souls, particularly millennials, reject Christianity because of its endorsement of heterosexual monogamy as the norm for sexuality. Others try to warp Christianity to accommodate same-sex marriage, as well as Scripture’s teaching on such matters, alongside other unbiblical sexual arrangements. Great care must be taken with this carefully and prayerfully explained in order to remove obstacles to the Gospel. Gender is not a matter of choice, but a given category, rooted in our biology and status as creatures male or female (Genesis 1:26).

The rise of the “nones” needs to be discussed as well. Many Americans believe in God or some form of spirituality, but identify with no specific religious tradition and view involvement with a church or other religious organization as optional at best and soul-killing at worst. The percentage of Americans in this category is rising. Thus apologetics should address both worship and social transformation. There are no “nones” in the Kingdom of God.

If these are some of the topics that apologetics should address (and there are many more), how, then, should the church fulfill its apologetic calling? An Easter sermon should give some arguments for the historical reality of the resurrection, not just its spiritual significance. Messages related to Christmas can cite the evidence for the virgin birth and the trustworthiness of the Gospel accounts about the life of Jesus. A sermon series might address “Objections to Faith” or “Reasons to Believe.”

Second, the church’s educational ministry should not neglect apologetics at any level—from children to adults….

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Apologetics, Parish Ministry, Theology

(CC) Ryan Bonfiglio–It’s time to rethink our assumptions about where theological education happens

It’s time to rethink our assumptions about where theological education happens. Though much has changed since the Middle Ages, retrieving the cathedral model of learning has the potential not only to reinvigorate faith formation in congregations but to revitalize seminaries and divinity schools at this critical juncture of their evolution.

I see four benefits in making the church a viable site for seminary-level theological education. First, the cathedral model challenges us to rethink the very purpose of theological education. When we associate theological and biblical training with seminaries, it is hard not to think of theological education as a pathway to a professional degree. The M.Div. and related degrees are seen as the functional equivalent of a master’s of business administration degree or a master’s degree in nursing insofar as they prepare candidates, both in terms of skills and credentialing, to work in a particular profession. Prior to 1563, it would have been more natural to see theological education as an aspect of discipleship, not an act of professional credentialing.

This idea is hinted at in the final chapter of Luke’s Gospel in the story of two travelers meandering toward Emmaus on that first Easter afternoon. When Jesus approaches, they mistake him for a stranger and begin telling him about recent events in Jerusalem involving the crucifixion of a man from Nazareth and the rumor of an empty tomb. Eventually, Jesus interrupts. Then, in what must have been the greatest Sunday school lesson of all time, Jesus “interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures” (Luke 24:27).

What is striking about this story is that instead of directing these two travelers to quit their jobs and enroll in a theology course in another city, Jesus brings the teaching to them….

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

(Christian Today) Anglican churchgoers have ‘total lack of confidence’ in speaking about faith

Most Anglican churchgoers have a ‘total lack of confidence’ in speaking about faith ‘at all and with anyone’, according to a report for the Church of England’s General Synod.

The report from the Church’s Evangelism Task Group and Evangelism and Discipleship Team highlights research showing that while 70 per cent of churchgoers could think of someone they could invite to church, between 85 and 90 per cent of these said they had no intention of doing so.

‘The problem was not the worshipper’s local church but the main issue the research highlighted was a total lack of confidence in talking about faith at all and with anyone,’ the report says.

However, it says, ‘small behavioural changes’ from the 1 million Anglican churchgoers could make a huge difference.

‘If one additional person in 50 from our regular attenders invited someone to a church event and subsequently they started attending it would totally reverse our present decline. Nationally the church would grow by 16,000 people per year, offsetting the current net loss of 14,000,’ the report argues.

Read it all.

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

New Worshipping Community Impacting Lives for Christ on Fripp Island, South Carolina

Read it all (page 1).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Manche Masemola

From hre:

Gracious God, your servant, the martyr Manche Masemola, accepted baptism in her own blood; grant that we who have not resisted to the point of death, may fulfill our baptismal vocation, by loving and serving you to the end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, South Africa, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Karl Zinsmeister–What to Do With Empty Churches

Wander any large U.S. city and you’ll spot a serious mismatch. Majestic old houses of worship have only vestigial congregations. Without their endowments these cathedrals, chapels and synagogues couldn’t keep the lights on.

Meanwhile, those same cities have booming evangelical fellowships, traditional Catholic gatherings, Korean congregations, Spanish-language flocks and swelling numbers of Lubavitch Jews. These and other rising groups are too young to enjoy the inherited resources of shrunken assemblies. Instead they meet in auditoriums, theaters or strip malls. Some worship on Saturdays or at night, in sanctuaries rented from mainline churches.

In New York, Tim Keller’s Redeemer Church has congregations worshiping in a converted underground garage, a Salvation Army center, a college auditorium and other improvised locations. Falls Church Anglican in Virginia has for years convened in a public school and a suburban office building while struggling to erect its own sanctuary. In Los Angeles, one congregation of the Pacific Crossroads Church meets at Santa Monica High School, another gathers in a town recreation center, and a third rents a cathedral during off hours.

People of religious faith—whether in the new, energetic congregations or the waning ones—should be concerned. Even nonbelievers have a stake in resolving these physical incongruities.Read it all.

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

(NYT) Washington State Weighs New Option After Death: Human Composting

Katrina Spade, the founder and chief executive of Recompose, a Seattle company that hopes to build the first facility to use the new method and conduct funeral services based around it, said the movement toward cremation — now used in more than half of deaths in the nation — has led to an erosion of essential rituals. Remains are often just picked up from a crematory, she said, and that’s that.

“This is not simply a process to convert bodies to soil; it’s also about bringing ritual and some of that ceremony back,” Ms. Spade said.

Ms. Christian, the woman who is hoping recomposition will be an option after she dies, says she has long been uncomfortable with the other choices. She has ruled out burial. And she does not like the idea of cremation because of environmental costs — emissions and climate impacts of fossil fuels used in the burning process. But her friends remain divided on the issue.

“The vast majority are like, ‘That is so cool,’” she said. “And then the other response is, ‘Oh, gross.’”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Religion & Culture, Secularism

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (II)-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 Anthropology, Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(LT) Terry Mattingly: Many pastors clueless when swamped with sex, tech issues

Researchers contacted 410 senior ministers in 29 evangelical and mainline Protestant denominations, along with non-denominational congregations.

Pastors were asked about 18 issues, including marital infidelity, premarital sex, same-sex relationships, sexting, gender dysphoria and the use of pornography by husbands, wives, teens and young children. Among the findings:

  • Eighty percent of these Protestant pastors said they had been approached during the past year by church members or staff dealing with infidelity issues, and 73 percent had faced issues linked to pornography.
  • Seventy percent of the pastors said they dealt with serious “sexual brokenness” issues in their flock several times a year, with 22 percent saying this took place once a month or more.
  • Only one-third of the pastors said they felt “very qualified” to address the sexual issues being raised by their staff and church members.
  • Two-thirds of pastors “agree strongly” that the church should help people dealing with sexual sins. However, fewer than 1 in 4 said their churches openly discuss these issues in Bible studies, small groups, training for laity or support groups.
  • “Mainline” church pastors were much less likely (39 percent) to address “sexual health” issues than evangelical or conservative clergy (78 percent). Many clergy offer “pastoral counseling,” and that’s that.

Read it all.

Posted in Adult Education, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pornography, Science & Technology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Telegraph) Charles Moore–New allegations have rightly been thrown out, but justice has yet to be done for Bishop Bell

The Church does feel uneasy. It admits its processes were wrong. Its tone has changed. It recognises Bell’s greatness, which it previously ignored: Archbishop Welby has personally tweeted to support the building of a statue to Bell in Canterbury, a project frozen by Carol’s original allegation. But it still cannot face the obvious point that if it had applied the Carlile processes it admits it should have used it would never have found against Bell in the first place.

Trying to make some amends, the present Bishop of Chichester, Martin Warner, wrote to Bell’s niece last week, expressing his sorrow for having ignored the rights of the family. He added in a separate statement, however: “Bishop Bell cannot be proven guilty, nor can it be safely claimed that the original complainant has been discredited.” It reminds one of Pontius Pilate, who found no fault in Jesus, but condemned him all the same.

In our law and culture, if guilt cannot be proved, innocence must be presumed. To do this is not to “discredit” a complainant, who might not be lying, but might be mistaken about identity or confused in other ways. Memory plays strange tricks, especially about events alleged to have occurred 70 years ago.

Read it all.

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

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Back to Basics at the Synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:14-21)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

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

(CC) Nicholas Wolterstorff–On grief, and not theologizing about it

When Eric died, a big part of my own self was ripped out. My desires with respect to him, my commitments, my hopes, my expectations—they were no more. My expectation that he would be home for the summer was no more; my plan to attend his graduation was no more. For a month or so I caught myself still planning to do things with him, still expecting him to call. Eventually, the realization sunk in, all the way down, that he was dead. I had to learn to live around that gaping wound and with that grief. Grief was not just an additional component in my life. I had to live a new kind of life, one for which I had no practice.

When someone to whom we are attached dies or is destroyed, we are cast into grief. That tells us when grief befalls us, not what the thing itself is. Grief, I have come to think, is wanting the death or destruction of the loved one to be undone, while at the same time knowing it cannot be undone. Grief is wanting the loved one back when one knows he can’t come back. Tears and agitation are typical expressions of grief, but they are not the thing itself. My grief was wanting intensely for Eric to be alive when I knew that could not be.

It has to be wanting, not wishing. When I was a teenager, I wished to become a major-league baseball pitcher—one of the very best, a 20-game winner. I fantasized about it. But the fact that I have not become a baseball pitcher has caused me no grief whatsoever, since it wasn’t something I really wanted. I had no talent for baseball, and I took no steps toward becoming a pitcher. I wished, but I did not want. And one has to know, or be convinced, that what one wants is impossible. Otherwise, it is hope rather than grief that one experiences—perhaps worried, anxious hope, perhaps hope against hope, but hope. Grief is wanting with all your heart what you know or believe is impossible. The more intense the wanting, the more intense the grief.

In grief, wanting collides with knowing. I desperately wanted Eric to be alive, but I knew he was dead and could not be brought back to life. Grief is banging your head against the wall. If you are frightened, you can run away or hide; if you are angry, you can vent your rage. When you are in grief, there is nothing you can do, other than altering yourself by getting rid of the frustrated want or by repressing your awareness of it.

By virtue of wanting what you know or believe to be impossible, grief is irrational: it makes no sense to want what you know cannot be. In this way, too, grief is different from fear and anger. Some fear is irrational, as is some anger; but fear and anger are not inherently irrational. It makes good sense to be fearful when you are in danger; it makes good sense to be angry when you are insulted. Grief, by contrast, is inherently irrational.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Theodicy, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Joseph D’Souza–Why Human Dignity Is a Gospel Issue

While many of us have heard a one-dimensional gospel — the spiritual forgiveness of sin — the gospel Jesus preached did not dwell exclusively in the spiritual plane. He was not just restoring the spiritual being, but the whole human being. He said as much in his first public sermon, when he quoted the prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,” (Luke 4:18-19).

If you look at Jesus’s ministry — especially his healings — you’ll notice this thread running throughout: the leper who can now return to the city; the adulterous woman who is no longer condemned; the demon-possessed man who is no longer an outcast; the hated Samaritan who is now a hero.

In sum, Jesus was restoring people’s God-given human dignity — their Imago-Dei.

Coming from India, I am keenly aware of what happens when people are robbed of their dignity.

For example, as I write this, women in India are fighting for the right to enter a temple in Kerala. For centuries, women of menstruating age were barred from the site, but in September, the Supreme Court lifted the ban. Four months later, only a handful of women have managed to get in, and that under the cover of night and heavy security.

The story of the Dalits — whom you might have heard called “untouchables” — is another case of an entire people being robbed of their dignity.

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Posted in Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Archbishop Welby apologises for ‘mistakes’ in case of George Bell

Professor Andrew Chandler, Bishop Bell’s biographer, who has been campaigning to clear Bell’s name, said on Thursday evening that the statements “show that they are clinging to the wreckage of their old position as best they can.

“It is simply self-justification, but it does indicate that they will just maintain for the sake of consistency the views that got them into such trouble in the first place.”

He questioned why, in January of last year, the Church had issued a statement and commissioned a second investigation: “What today has really exposed is the ridiculousness of what has been going on, and the foolishness of people who have real power in the Church. . .

“Many people will say that the Church was trying to control, or retrieve control, of the narrative of Lord Carlile, to shut down the critics, and create a doubt in the public mind that Bell might be a serial offender of some kind.

“They have nothing to hide behind now. It looks like a highly calculating, politicised outfit indeed.”

While parts of the Archbishop’s statement were “meaningful, welcome, and appropriate”, the reference to the Church’s “dilemma” in weighing up a reputation against a serious allegation did not exist, Professor Chandler argued….

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(DM) Just one in ten babies is baptised into the Church of England with the numbers even lower in London at three in every 100, figures reveal

Only one in ten babies is baptised into the Church of England – and in London, the figure is even lower at three in every 100, a national breakdown of the Church’s strength has revealed.

The tiny minority of infants who are introduced to Christianity by the CofE in London is mirrored in other major cities.

In Birmingham, only 5 per cent of babies are christened by the Anglican church; in Bristol it’s 6 per cent; in Manchester 8 per cent; and in Nottingham 9 per cent.

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Posted in Baptism, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture