Category : Parish Ministry

(CT) Most Pastors Bracing for Months of Socially Distant Ministry

A new survey by Barna Research found over the course of just a week, most church leaders went from thinking they’d be back to meeting as usual in late or March or April (52%), to projecting the changes would extend to May or longer (68%).

“There is this realism that’s setting in,” said David Kinnaman, Barna Group president.

But while most pastors are realistic, they’re also optimistic, according to Kinnaman. “One of the cool things about pastors we’ve learned over the years is that they are by job description and by disposition more upbeat, positive, hope-filled people,” he said. “So they are often pretty capable of putting a good face in a tough situation, and they, like other leaders, are going to face a lot of tough decisions in the coming weeks as the crisis continues.”

Though most had already called off normal activities at church, pastors also implemented swift changes in policies around smaller group meetings over the past several days.

The percentage who still allow the church building to be used for “small meetings and gatherings” has dropped by about half (from 18% to 8%), according to Barna’s Church Pulse survey, hearing from 434 Protestant senior pastors and executive pastors in the US. A plurality say the church staff will be working remotely for the foreseeable future (up from 25% to 40%).

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(9 Marks) Colton Corter–4 Reflections after Listening to 18 Hours of Sermons in America’s Biggest Churches

1. The gospel at best assumed; most of the time, it’s entirely absent.

Let me begin with the most important observation: in 36 sermons, the good news of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection was unclear 36 times. Often, some or all of these facets of the Christian gospel were left out. “No gospel” became a common note. (Here’s an answer to the question you’re probably asking: What content is necessary in order to communicate the gospel?)

I don’t mean to say various elements of the gospel weren’t occasionally mentioned; they were. Todd Mullins (Christ Fellowship Church) mentions in his sermon series, “What Do You See Next?, that faith is believing in what Jesus did for you—carrying the cross, rising from the dead, etc. But none of those elements are articulated or explained. It’s unclear exactly why we need Jesus to do anything for us. Furthermore, it’s unclear exactly what he did by doing the things Mullins mentions. Isolated phrases here and there without much reference to how the Bible puts them together was the norm.

In his sermon, “The Robe of Righteousness,” Robert Morris (Gateway Church) provides a happy exception. He mentions the doctrine of imputation, stating that we aren’t worthy of God and are in need of a “balancing (of our) . . . account.” Morris goes on to say that in the gospel we get Jesus’ assets while Jesus receives our debts. That’s as close to the gospel that any of these sermons gets—and even in this instance, the true things Morris mentions are isolated from the rest of the truths that make up the gospel message. (Neither God’s holy judgment, sin, nor repentance is mentioned.)

But here’s what’s even more disheartening: in his next sermon, Morris says the Jesus who accomplished all this for us “lays down all his divinity” (“The Ring of Authority). Conspicuously missing from Morris’ explanation of what he calls “substitutionary, propitiatory, blood-bought salvation” is the response one must have to this message in order to be saved, which leads us to our next observation.

2. Repentance rarely comes across as something urgent and necessary; instead, it’s either optional or not worth mentioning at all.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Christology, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Leftover supplies donated by The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina for Hurricane relief last year including 120 N95 respirators, 130 Tyvek suits and five boxes of exam gloves were donated to the Medical University of South Carolina this week. Hats off to Stephen Haynsworth, Diocesan Disaster Preparedness and Relief Coordinator, and Bill Anderson who took the supplies to the hospital.

Read it all.

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

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

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

(Item) Despite virtual services, Sumter South Carolina members still backing churches financially

Churches have had to adjust to the demands brought forth by the threat of the coronavirus. Along with having to livestream services with no congregations via social media, churches are having to find ways to make the opportunity of giving available to their congregations.

Many of the local churches are offering newfangled methods for their congregants to give as well as some of the tried-and-true methods.

“We’ve been very intentional about pushing people toward online giving,” said Joseph James, the pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church at 226 W. Liberty St. “We also have a giving app (on iPhones) that is available that we’re asking people to be using.”

James also pointed out that the older members of his congregation send their tithes and offerings through the mail.

“A large part of our congregation is 60 and over, and they are very conscientious about their giving,” he said.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

The Latest letter from the Archbishops to the Church of England on the Coronavirus Situation

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Stay home, protect the NHS and save lives

We are writing further to you given the rapidly changing nature of the situation in our country at present. We want to thank you for the ministry you are exercising and for the creative and imaginative ways in which you are responding to the crisis and showing the love and care of Christ to the communities we serve, particularly to the most vulnerable in our society.

As we move towards Passiontide, focussing on what Jesus did for us on the cross, more than ever this is brought into stark focus. We want to reiterate the advice we have already sent. The government is asking us to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. We call upon all our churches and church leaders, clergy and lay, to follow this advice.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Politics in General

(Church Times) Stephen Torr–The right way (and some wrong ways) to be the Church in a pandemic

FOR many people, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought and will bring seemingly meaningless destruction to their lives. To explain too much is to offer nothing of use to them and us.

In time to come, we can reflect on how this experience may change how we treat each other and creation. But for now, what the Church needs to be is a people who, empowered by the Spirit, can live with the paradox of simultaneously affirming the core testimony in word and deed, as well as offering our laments to God about the world’s pain. Anything else would be less than the honest and open relationship that God desires with us.

The practical challenges are many, if we take this seriously. We have had a day of prayer in which we put candles in our windows as a hope-filled reminder of Jesus, the light of the world. How might we do something that creates national space for lament as well?

We created hope-filled collects for people to pray; but where are the collects that are inspired by the psalms of lament and Book of Job — prayers that have teeth, and bring honest, raw language to God about what many feel as we try to work through this time.

In order to aid the world, the Church must embody an honest relationship with God and lead others to do the same. Senior leaders and all others in the Church must not overlook the lament genre, which has such an important place in scripture for just such times as these.

So, as we walk this road together, let us think afresh how we might enable a deeper, richer level of honesty with ourselves and with God, as we cling to the hope of the resurrection that reaches into eternity.

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Posted in Church of England, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Theology

(NBC) Coronavirus Pandemic Changes How The World Worships (with a helpful Rick Warren contribution)

Posted in Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

(NPR) ‘We Can’t Anoint The Sick’: Faith Leaders Seek New Approaches To Pastoral Care

Churches across America have managed to get around bans on public gathering by moving their worship services online, but technology provides only partial solutions.

In addition to presiding at services, religious leaders are expected to provide counseling, lead prayer groups and minister personally to people with special needs. For many, that aspect of their work has never been more important, or more difficult, at a time when communities are struggling to contain the coronavirus.

“A ‘high-five’ from across the room isn’t quite the same thing,” says Kathie Amidei, a pastoral associate at St. Anthony on the Lake Catholic Church outside Milwaukee, Wis. “If we are to be a conduit of God’s love, we have to figure out how to do that without the ways we’ve always done it.”

Some creativity is required. Faith Wilkerson, the pastor at Centenary United Methodist Church in Shady Side, Md., has been hosting a “drive-thru” opportunity each Sunday morning. Anyone with a prayer request or a desire for a blessing is invited to pull into the church parking lot. Wilkerson, assisted by lay volunteers, chats briefly at carside with the visitors and then prays with them, all the while staying at an appropriate distance.

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

A Look Back to 1918–Francis James Grimké–“Some Reflections: Growing Out of the Recent Epidemic of Influenza that Afflicted Our City”

So Jehovah sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even unto the time appointed; and there died of the people from Dan even unto Beersheba seventy thousand men. And when the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy it, Jehovah repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough; now stay thy hand.
—Samuel 24:15–16

We know now, perhaps, as we have never known before the meaning of the terms pestilence, plague, epidemic, since we have been passing through this terrible scourge of Spanish influenza, with its enormous death rate and its consequent wretchedness and misery. Every part of the land has felt its deadly touch—North, South, East and West—in the Army, in the Navy, among civilians, among all classes and conditions, rich and poor, high and low, white and black. Over the whole land it has thrown a gloom, and has stricken down such large numbers that it has been difficult to care for them properly, overcrowding all of our hospitals—and it has proven fatal in so many cases that it has been difficult at times to get coffins enough in which to place the dead, and men enough to dig graves fast enough in which to bury them. Our own beautiful city has suffered terribly from it, making it necessary, as a precautionary measure, to close the schools, theaters, churches, and to forbid all public gathering within doors as well as outdoors. At last, however, the scourge has been stayed, and we are permitted again to resume the public worship of God, and to open again the schools of our city.

Now that the worst is over, I have been thinking, as doubtless you have all been, of these calamitous weeks through which we have been passing—thinking of the large numbers that have been sick—the large numbers that have died, the many, many homes that have been made desolate—the many, many bleeding, sorrowing hearts that have been left behind, and I have been asking myself the question, What is the meaning of it all? What ought it to mean to us? Is it to come and go and we be no wiser, or better for it? Surely God had a purpose in it, and it is our duty to find out, as far as we may, what that purpose is, and try to profit by it.

Among the things which stand out in my own mind, as I have been thinking the whole matter over, are these…

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Posted in Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Theology

Please join me in continued Prayer for Steve Wood

Posted in * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

Latest letter from C of E’s Archbishops on how to Proceed given the pandemic and the Government’s instructions

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night, it is imperative that for the health of the nation and in order for the National Health Service itself to manage the increase in those
requiring medical help, the Church of England strictly observes the new guidelines on staying at home and only making journeys that are absolutely necessary, such as shopping for essential
items and to take daily exercise.

Our church buildings must now be closed not only for public worship, but for private prayer as well and this includes the priest or lay person offering prayer in church on their own. A notice
explaining this should be put on the church door (please find template attached). We must take a lead in showing our communities how we must behave in order to slow down the spread of
the Coronavirus.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Front page Local Paper) One church, many contacts

Here’s how one conference led to thousands of exposures to coronavirus at St. Andrew’s Church and beyond:

Thursday, March 5 to 7: Anglican Diocese of the Carolinas holds conference at All Saints Pawleys Island. Clergy and lay delegates from across South Carolina and North Carolina, plus a few from Kentucky and Tennessee, attend. About 150 people.

On the first night, clergy and spouses have dinner at an event venue in Pawleys Island. 50-60 people….

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Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

A Rowan Williams sermon on the life and ministry of Oscar Romero on Archbishop Romero’s Feast Day

And so his question to all those who have the freedom to speak in the Church and for the Church is ‘who do you really speak for?’ But if we take seriously the underlying theme of his words and witness, that question is also, ‘who do you really feel with?’ Are you immersed in the real life of the Body, or is your life in Christ seen only as having the same sentiments as the powerful? Sentir con la Iglesia in the sense in which the mature Romero learned those words is what will teach you how to speak on behalf of the Body. And we must make no mistake about what this can entail: Romero knew that this kind of ‘feeling with the Church’ could only mean taking risks with and for the Body of Christ – so that, as he later put it, in words that are still shocking and sobering, it would be ‘sad’ if priests in such a context were not being killed alongside their flock. As of course they were in El Salvador, again and again in those nightmare years.

But he never suggests that speaking on behalf of the Body is the responsibility of a spiritual elite. He never dramatised the role of the priest so as to play down the responsibility of the people. If every priest and bishop were silenced, he said, ‘each of you will have to be God’s microphone. Each of you will have to be a messenger, a prophet. The Church will always exist as long as even one baptized person is alive.’ Each part of the Body, because it shares the sufferings of the whole – and the hope and radiance of the whole – has authority to speak out of that common life in the crucified and risen Jesus.

So Romero’s question and challenge is addressed to all of us, not only those who have the privilege of some sort of public megaphone for their voices. The Church is maintained in truth; and the whole Church has to be a community where truth is told about the abuses of power and the cries of the vulnerable. Once again, if we are serious about sentir con la Iglesia, we ask not only who we are speaking for but whose voice still needs to be heard, in the Church and in society at large. The questions here are as grave as they were thirty years ago. In Salvador itself, the methods of repression familiar in Romero’s day were still common until very recently. We can at least celebrate the fact that the present head of state there has not only apologized for government collusion in Romero’s murder but has also spoken boldly on behalf of those whose environment and livelihood are threatened by the rapacity of the mining companies, who are set on a new round of exploitation in Salvador and whose critics have been abducted and butchered just as so many were three decades back. The skies are not clear: our own Anglican bishop in Salvador was attacked ten days ago by unknown enemies; but the signs of hope are there, and the will to defend the poor and heal the wounds.

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Posted in --El Salvador, Church History, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology

The Rector of Saint Philip’s, Charleston, SC writes his parish with perspective in a time of pandemic

Dear St. Philip’s Family,

This past week of social distancing has been a surreal and difficult experience for the majority of Americans. Many are beginning to think that if the coronavirus doesn’t get them, “Cabin Fever” will. Not since World War II or the polio epidemic of the 1940s and ’50s have the American people been so inconvenienced or threatened with long-term confinement and financial ruin. It reminds me of the following story shared by the Very Reverend Laurie Thompson, Dean of Trinity Seminary.

In a series of lectures on preaching, the late D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones recalled an incident from the bombings that took place in London during the fall of 1940. During that time the citizens of London were required to remain in underground bomb shelters for long periods of time while “the Blitz” was carried out by the German Luftwaffe. The experience of being confined in shelters was psychologically difficult, and many people struggled to cope with their sense of helplessness. He tells the story of one fireman who rushed out of a bomb shelter after the Luftwaffe had departed. Using two hammers, he began pounding on a steel pillar at the foundation of a public building. After the police arrived and stopped him, the fireman was asked why he was pounding on the pillar. He said, “I don’t know. I just felt I had to be doing something.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

(AP) As offerings dwindle, some churches fear for their future

As in-person worship services are canceled or downsized amid the coronavirus outbreak, some churches across the U.S. are bracing for a painful drop in weekly contributions and possible cutbacks in programs and staff.

One church leader, Bishop Paul Egensteiner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Metropolitan New York Synod, said some of the 190 churches in his region were unlikely to survive because of a two-pronged financial hit. Their offerings are dwindling, and they are losing income from tenants such as preschools which can no longer afford to rent church venues.

“As much as I’d like to help them, everybody’s reserves are taking a hit because of the stock market,” Egensteiner said,

At Friendship Baptist Church in Baltimore, a mostly African American congregation of about 1,100, the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr. bucked the cancellation trend by holding services last Sunday. But attendance was down by about 50%, and Gwynn said the day’s offering netted about $5,000 compared to a normal intake of about $15,000.

“It cuts into our ministry,” he said. “If this keeps up, we can’t fund all our outreach to help other people.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Economy, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

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

Places to Find Streaming Worship Services in The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina today

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology

(WSJ) Tevi Troy–A Minyan in the Time of Social Distancing

Losing a parent is always difficult, especially as important financial and religious arrangements must be made during a time of intense grief. A global pandemic doesn’t help. But when my mother died on March 3, my family still had no idea how difficult it would be to stay safe while still honoring her in the Jewish tradition.

The Jewish response to death is communal. The local community comes together to support the mourners, who open up their home for a week of shiva. During this time the kaddish, or Jewish prayer for the dead, is recited at services three times a day. The mourner then may leave the home but remains obligated to say the kaddish three times daily for 11 months. According to Jewish law, these obligations must be fulfilled in the presence of a minyan, or prayer quorum of 10 men over the age of 13.

The current coronavirus crisis creates a challenge for those wishing to adhere to these Jewish mourning customs, especially in light of Judaism’s prioritization of public and individual health over ritual obligation. In Maryland, where I live, synagogues closed their doors last weekend to services and other community activities. In New Jersey, communities could not have communal prayer services in the home or even outdoors. In the interest of safety, similar changes are occurring throughout the country.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Judaism, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture

(TLC Covenant) Ephraim Radner– Should We Live Stream Worship? Maybe Not.

The COVID-19 virus has churches scrambling. In many parts of the world, including North America, many churches have been closed to public worship. Bishops and clergy have been furiously sending out emails and instructions, plotting responses and strategizing about the days ahead. Lists of “10 Things To Do in Your Congregation” are making the rounds. From my observations, I can generalize about elements in these responses. There are outliers, of course, but not that many.

The first thing I see is the insistent call to comfort and be comforting. People are afraid and uncertain, we are told, and they need to be loved and assured. These directives are aimed mostly at clergy, but filter down from them: you can’t hug anybody anymore physically, but you should try to do it in other ways, maybe even “virtually.” Call people up; create email chains; issue little daily meditations of warmth and security. This falls into a kind of “motherly” mode. And with it comes another motherly aspect, which is the disciplinary call to behave: wash your hands; don’t get too close; obey the rules; remember that other people count; be kind; be responsible. All this represents an almost fierce maternalization of the church and especially of her leadership.

The second aspect of our moment’s ecclesial response to the COVID-19 pandemic is a corollary of the first. If bishop and clergy all become “Mom,” everybody else becomes “the kids.” Thus, with the church’s maternalization of leadership comes the Christian people’s infantilization. They’re scared, worried, need direction and hand-holding (well, only metaphorically). They also need to be told how to behave, how to be nice to others, how to organize their time well.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology

(Natl Cath Reporter) Pandemic response raises institutional stresses, new ways to be church

As the Catholic Church in the United States responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shock and awe of local churches suspending all public Masses for the foreseeable future draw a great deal of attention. But behind the scenes, the public health emergency has prompted additional layers of response that bring into focus how the church is intertwined with the wider society, reliant on revenue and served by people on payrolls.

“The church has a profound involvement in all this,” said Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where public Masses are suspended indefinitely though churches remain open. “Pope Francis puts it best. He wants a poor church for the poor, and it looks like his prayer is being answered.”

Wester’s archdiocese, which filed for bankruptcy in 2018, now faces the challenge shared by church administrators across the country of adopting action plans in response to the pandemic’s effects. This includes how best to support staff in chanceries, parishes and schools who are unable to come to work, possibly for months on end.

“It’s a work in progress, a fluid situation,” said Wester, who sent a personal letter to all chancery employees expressing his care and wishes for their safety. He characterized his message to them as, “Do what you need to do. … If you’re concerned, stay home.”

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Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic

(Reuters) ‘There are no funerals:’ Death in quarantine leaves nowhere to grieve

Struck down by coronavirus at the age of 83, the long life of Alfredo Visioli ended with a short ceremony at a graveyard near Cremona, his hometown in northern Italy.

“They buried him like that, without a funeral, without his loved ones, with just a blessing from the priest,” said his granddaughter Marta Manfredi who couldn’t attend. Like most of the old man’s family – like most of Italy – she was confined to her home.

“When all this is over,” she vows, “we will give him a real funeral.”

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Italy, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Congregations improvise ways to fight COVID-19’s isolation

On a normal Sunday, most of the 100 people filling the pews of the Rev. Lori Cornell’s congregation fit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s description of those at high risk for COVID-19.

So like the majority of churches in the greater Seattle area, Calvary Lutheran Church of Federal Way has suspended its worship services and is turning to technology not only for its weekly celebration of the Eucharist, but for all the pastoral and social contact an aging congregation depends on church for.

But with social distancing and electronic connections come challenges. Cornell is worried older members of her church may become lonesome.

“They have the potential to feel more isolated than ever, so we’re trying to be really mindful of that,” Cornell said. “My concern is for people whose lives very much count on the church and who find themselves often dependent on other people to get them places they need to go, like Bible study, church and other events.”

Her church’s leadership is using Facebook as a way to stay connected, with plans to post homespun sacred music created by church musicians, and leading video chats throughout the week.

For those not technically savvy, the phone has become an important tool, Cornell said.

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(NBC) Americans come together through faith while far apart

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

South Carolina Bp Mark Lawrence–Faithfulness in an Age of Pandemic

Greetings in the strong name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in whose fellowship we, by the grace of God, are most richly blessed and favored to abide. Peace, hope and love in Christ Jesus!

As the coronavirus COVID-19 has increased its spread we have all received from local, state and national authorities ever more restricting guidelines for gatherings and social distancing. There is something hauntingly biblical as the guidelines have narrowed from 100 to 50 and now to 10 persons for public gatherings. And, of course, we remember St. Paul’s teaching, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.” (Romans 13:1)

In the 12 plus years I have been your bishop, I have known my share of joyous hours as well as those heavy of heart. These last few days since cancelling our Diocesan Convention have fallen in both categories. Giving a further directive to our clergy yesterday to cancel on-site worship services for the next two weeks has been troubling to them and to me. However, it has also been quite encouraging—alive with possibilities. As I talked with our rectors in the Charleston deanery and with the deans of our diocese yesterday, I was heartened as they shared ideas and ways they are pastoring and caring for their parishioners during this season. What a godly and sacrificial group of clergy serve our congregations. Throughout this week, I will continue to have conference calls with the clergy in our deaneries to share ideas for ministry and support.

The church down through the centuries has faced many crises. During the Yellow Fever outbreak in Philadelphia in 1793 Christian clergy and laity distinguished themselves in caring for sick; the plagues that visited London and other cities and towns of Europe during the Middle Ages and later, became the things that saints were made of. During wars and rumors of war, on battlefields and through bombing raids, the church continued to gather, lifting high the cross of Christ. Missionary doctors and nurses, military chaplains, parish clergy, nuns, and mendicants, like St. Francis embracing confidently the leprous, caring for the sick and dying, have been hallmarks of our history that we as believers rightly celebrate.

Nevertheless, I suggest that faithfulness in an age of pandemic means a church united and confident enough not to meet, at least not in the buildings we normally call the church. To live out our faith in our homes and with our families offers us an opportunity to grow deeper in prayer and in the fruit of the Spirit. This time of social distancing, worshipping and keeping in touch with others online and through small group fellowships provide us an opportunity to cultivate the spiritual disciplines of silence, solitude, journaling and reading and mediating on Holy Scripture. Increasing our family time and personal devotions might make this the most fruitful and memorable Lent ever. For the busy parent with children out of school and restless, Brother Lawrence’s little classic, Practicing the Presence of God, might be just the perfect Lenten reading!

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry

A Jady Koch Sermon–Good Without God: Romans 5 1-11

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

No normal services in the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina for the next two weeks

Christ Saint Paul’stakes the health and well being of our parishioners seriously. With the unknown possibilities of the spread of the coronavirus, the Bishop and CSP leadership has decided for the next two weeks, not to hold our regular services and events.

But we do have new and innovative ways to stay connected to our families to share with you!…

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Science & Technology

(Vice) CDC Tells Morticians to Livestream Funerals

Even in grief, the rules of hand hygiene and social isolation apply.

That’s what thousands of funeral directors learned Monday when they joined a Facebook livestream to hear firsthand from the U.S. Centers for Disease, Control, and Prevention how coronavirus will change how Americans die and are buried.

The new disease, which has killed more than 6,500 people worldwide since it emerged in China in late 2019, has put an end to social gatherings around the world. In the United States, the CDC advised organizers to cancel or postpone any events of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks across the country. This extends to “large funerals,” said David Berendes, an epidemiologist with the CDC. (It also applies to weddings, which should also be canceled.)

Other countries are grappling with similar issues. In Italy, which has Europe’s largest elderly population, 300 people died on Monday alone, according to the New York Times. Morgues are overflowing and funerals are illegal after the country banned civil and religious ceremonies outright to stop the spread of the disease.

Berendes recommended digital solutions to the mortician’s dilemma: “If livestreaming and limiting events to immediate family is possible, we encourage that,” he said. For those who do visit funeral homes, Berendes recommends having hand sanitizer at the ready and staggering funeral services so that different families don’t overlap.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine

(NYT) A Sunday Without Worship: In Crisis, a Nation Asks, ‘What Is Community?

COLUMBIA, MD. — It was Sunday morning, and the vast parking lots of Bridgeway Community Church sat empty.

Instead of greeting thousands of worshipers, volunteers stood in the damp cold, ready to explain to anyone who might not have heard that services are now online only, at least until the threat of Covid-19 has passed.

Inside, the Missions Cafe was closed. The halls no longer resounded with congregants singing or children racing to Sunday school. For a church whose stated mission is to be a multicultural community “where people were sad they had to wait a week to come back,” waiting took on a whole new meaning.

This week, as the coronavirus has spread, one American ritual after another has vanished. March Madness is gone. No more morning gym workouts or lunches with co-workers. No more visits to grandparents in nursing homes. The Boston Marathon, held through war and weather since 1897, was postponed.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(ERLC) The church must be a refuge in the midst of fear

COVID-19 is a great opportunity for witness. Our communities are full of scared people. Depression, anxiety, and suicide are all likely to spike in the next few weeks. I can guarantee you of this: COVID-19 comes paired with a mental health epidemic. Bereft of community, the outdoors, work, and school, individuals and families will face an unprecedented assault on their minds. The Church must respond. We must make our services physically safe places, adopting a higher standard of hygiene than wider society, so that we can provide a refuge of mind and spirit to scared people.

Since COVID-19 is especially dangerous to elders, churches can seize the opportunity to deliver food and basic supplies to older people in their communities so that they don’t have to go out. This will save lives, minister to the spirits of these dear brothers and sisters, and be a witness to all of their watching neighbors.

Since COVID-19 will lead to school cancellations, Christian families can organize parent-shares for small groups of kids, and use these as opportunities for discipleship in the home, which has proven to have an immensely fruitful effect.

Since COVID-19 will cause many people to be afraid, Christians can, when appropriate, meet friends for dinner or coffee and talk about fear, and the God who casts out all fear. We can explain that we’re just as afraid as everyone else, that we aren’t really very brave people: but Christ died for us. Whom then shall we fear? COVID-19? Hardly.

Since shortages of basic commodities are a guarantee, Christians can set an example of community support. Our churches can pool masks, soap, and other supplies from members, distributing as needed. Our church supplies a week of masks to everyone who shows up on Sunday morning, while many of our church families, including my own family, have more-or-less resolved to share our supplies until there is nothing left. When they have two dollops of hand soap left, Christians give the first one away.

This is the witness of our ancestors in the faith since time immemorial; this is the path they have walked; this is how we love our neighbors. We love our neighbor as ourselves, even laying down our lives for them.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Hong Kong, Parish Ministry