Category : T19 Categories

A Wendell Berry Poem for a Monday

(My thanks to Jon Sweeney).

Posted in Poetry & Literature

(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

(ABC Aus.) Ilana Pardes–“Draw me after you, let us run”: The poetry, sensuality and relentless artistry of the Song of Songs

This collection of love poems revolves around a dialogue between two young lovers: the Shulamite, as the beloved is called, and her nameless lover. There is something utterly refreshing in the frank celebration of love that is found in the passionate exchanges of the two. Nowhere else in the Bible are bodily parts — hair, nose, eyes, lips, tongue, breasts, thighs — set on a pedestal; nowhere else are the sensual pleasures of love — tastes, colours, sounds and perfumes — relished with such joy; nowhere else is sexual desire spelled out with so much verve.

And yet sexuality is never blatant in the Song. Instead we find a nuanced combination of audacity, innocence and decorum, made possible by a spectacular metaphoric web that allows the two lovers to be direct and indirect at once.

Both lovers are masters of metaphor. If much of the love poetry of antiquity (and beyond) sets male lovers on stage as the agents of courting, here we find a strikingly egalitarian amorous dialogue between two virtuoso speakers who woo each other while juggling a plethora of metaphors and similes from different realms. They liken each other to roses, trees, gazelles, doves, goats, the moon, the sun, a crimson thread, perfumes, gold, precious stones, locks, walls and towers. No figure of speech seems to suffice in depicting love.

Read it all.

Posted in Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) ‘The 20th century was Augustinian’–James K. A. Smith tells Madeleine Davies why the Early Church theologian still matters

“My hunch is that if people know anything about St Augustine, their picture is probably overwhelmingly negative,” Professor James K. A. Smith says, occupying a booth in the foyer of a South Kensington hotel. He suspects that they think of the fourth-century Bishop of Hippo as “the inventor of the doctrine of Original Sin . . . the champion of celibacy, and the generator of a particularly narrow doctrine of sexual ethics”.

If there is one misconception that he hopes that his new book will correct, it is the idea of an angry dogmatist: “When you really spend time with Augustine he is remarkably vulnerable, humble, and very much imagines himself as a co-pilgrim with people, rather than sitting up on this dais, sort of announcing and denouncing.”

Augustine is, he writes, less a judge than an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor.

With a titular nod to Kerouac, On the Road with Saint Augustine offers the reader “an invitation to journey with an ancient African who will surprise you by the extent to which he knows you”.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Books, Church History, Theology

(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

(Economist) Drawing the line between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel

One reason debate over Israel gets heated is that both sides question each other’s motives. Supporters of Israel note that anti-Semites often cloak their prejudice in criticism of the Jewish state. They say some views—like saying that Israel should not exist—are by definition anti-Semitic. Pro-Palestinian advocates retort that charges of Jew-hatred are intended to silence them.

Such mistrust has grown in Britain and America, as anti-Semitism has resurfaced at both political extremes. On the left, legislators in America have accused pro-Israel colleagues of dual loyalty, and implied that Jewish money bought Republican support for Israel. In 2012 Jeremy Corbyn, now the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, defended a mural depicting hook-nosed bankers.

The right has used similar innuendo, often by linking liberals to George Soros, a Jewish investor. Muddying matters more, Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has also denounced Mr Soros. In America right-wing anti-Semitism also takes a more explicit, occasionally violent form. In 2017 marchers in Virginia chanted “Jews will not replace us.” And in 2018 a shooter at a synagogue in Pittsburgh killed 11 people.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Judaism, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Violence

A Haaretz Article on Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky

On October 15, 1906, Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky, the Jewish-born, rabbinical school-trained, former Anglican bishop of Shanghai, died in Tokyo, after a lengthy illness, at age 75. Apart from the novelty interest of a converted Jew becoming a church official and serving in the exotic East, Schereschewsky is remembered for having produced a much-respected translation into Mandarin Chinese of the Hebrew Bible, among other sacred texts, which became the standard 20th-century translation.

Samuel Schereschewsky was born on May 6, 1831, in Tauroggen, a Jewish shtetl in the Russian empire, in what is today southwest Lithuania. Both of his parents ”“ the former Rosa Salvatha, of Sephardi-Jewish heritage, and Samuel Joseph Schereschewsky ”“ died when he was very young. Samuel was apparently raised by a much older half-brother, a timber merchant who was the product of his father’s first marriage.

At age 15, he left his brother’s home, and held jobs as a glazier and as a Hebrew tutor before entering the rabbinical seminary in Zhytomir, in Ukraine.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Missions

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Samuel Isaac Joseph Schereschewsky

O God, who in thy providence didst call Joseph Schereschewsky from his home in Eastern Europe to the ministry of this Church, and didst send him as a missionary to China, upholding him in his infirmity, that he might translate the holy Scriptures into languages of that land: Lead us, we pray thee, to commit our lives and talents to thee, in the confidence that when thou givest thy servants any work to do, thou dost also supply the strength to do it; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

(America) One man, two churches: John Henry Newman’s legacy lives on for both Catholics and Anglicans

What is the significance of the Anglican Communion including John Henry Newman on its liturgical calendar?

John Henry Newman has been commemorated in the liturgical calendar of the Church of England for a number of years. There is no central sanctorale for the entire Anglican Communion, but he is also commemorated in the calendars of other provinces, among them the U.S., Canada and Australia. The Churches of the Anglican Communion do not have a tradition of canonization as it is understood in the Catholic Church, but they do have liturgical calendars that mark and honor the lives and legacy of holy men and women, including many from the period after the Reformation.

As someone who was an important figure in the development of the life of the Church of England in the 19th century, as well as a figure of prayer, holiness and dedication to Christ, Newman is an example of godly life. As is most common with commemorations of holy men and women the date of his commemoration in the Church of England calendar is Aug. 11, the date of his death.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Roman Catholic

(Sightings) Peter Sherlock–Religious Discrimination: The Australian Debate

Most submissions in response to the consultation draft of the bill agree that discrimination on the basis of religious belief—or its absence—should be prohibited. In this respect, the bill simply gives effect to article 18 of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights, that everyone should have a right “to manifest … religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.” Moreover, in Australia, the national Constitution was written in the 1890s with a view to preventing religious interference in the making of laws. While Parliament still opens each day with the Lord’s Prayer, there arguably is a need for legislative protections against religious discrimination.

Several submissions, however, indicate significant opposition to the bill as it stands because its religious protections would facilitate other forms of discrimination. This includes, for the first time in modern Australia, the introduction of religious exemptions in discrimination legislation covering race and disability, paralleling those in sex discrimination legislation. Furthermore, the bill does not go far enough for some religious groups, who argue it would open them up to what the Catholic Church has described as “lawfare” in relation to employment practices at faith-based schools or agencies. The Sydney Anglican submission, for its part, dramatically argues that, as it is presently drafted, the bill would force the church to make its campsites available for hire for satanic black masses.

All the same, the debate surrounding the bill has largely overlooked two aspects of religious liberty. The first is religious harassment. This is a concept found in other discrimination laws, such as measures to define and prosecute sexual harassment. What will happen when conflicting religious beliefs and behaviors come into contact, including not only religious speech but religious dress, sounds, or rituals? How can the rights of people of no religion be protected? What are the limits of accommodation and respect?

The second regards the nature of power. We can glimpse this point in a unique provision of the bill: companies with a turnover greater than $50,000,000 would be prohibited from preventing its employees from expressing religious views that discriminate against others unless it can prove that such expression would lead to serious financial harm for the company. Discrimination which may lead to the harm of others is acceptable, in other words, unless it is going to cost a business a great deal of money. In modern Australia, money equals power; the widow and her mite would appear to have no protections whatsoever.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Australia / NZ, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(NPR) ‘Illegal Superstition’: China Jails Muslims For Practicing Islam, Relatives Say

This August, Aibota Zhanibek received a surprising call in Kazakhstan from a relative through Chinese chat app WeChat. It was about her sister, Kunekai Zhanibek.

Aibota, 35, a Kazakh citizen born in China, knew that Kunekai, 33, had been held for about seven months in a detention camp in China’s Shawan county, in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. For six of those months, Kunekai was forced to make towels and carpets for no pay, Aibota says. On the call, Aibota was told that Kunekai had been released and assigned a job in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

That was the good news. But the relative also told Aibota Zhanibek that her 65-year-old mother, Nurzhada Zhumakhan, had been sentenced in June to 20 years in Urumqi’s No. 2 Women’s Prison. According to a verdict sent to Zhanibek ‘s relatives, Zhumakhan was guilty of “illegally using superstition to break the rule of law” and “gathering chaos to disrupt social order.”

As Muslim Kazakhs, Zhanibek’s mother and sister are among the targets of a sprawling security operation by Chinese authorities.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Religion & Culture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from New Every Morning

O Spirit of the living God, who dost sanctify the lives of thy people, and dost build them up into a holy temple for thy habitation: Grant us so to know thy indwelling presence that we may be set free from lesser desires, and by thy grace may be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–New Every Morning (The Prayer Book Of The Daily Broadcast Service) [BBC, 1900]

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(Atlantic) Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore

Experiments like this one have given social engineering a bad name. Nevertheless, Americans are imposing a kind of nepreryvka on ourselves—not because a Communist tyrant thinks it’s a good idea but because the contemporary economy demands it. The hours in which we work, rest, and socialize are becoming ever more desynchronized.

Whereas we once shared the same temporal rhythms—five days on, two days off, federal holidays, thank-God-it’s-Fridays—our weeks are now shaped by the unpredictable dictates of our employers. Nearly a fifth of Americans hold jobs with nonstandard or variable hours. They may work seasonally, on rotating shifts, or in the gig economy driving for Uber or delivering for Postmates. Meanwhile, more people on the upper end of the pay scale are working long hours. Combine the people who have unpredictable workweeks with those who have prolonged ones, and you get a good third of the American labor force.

The personalization of time may seem like a petty concern, and indeed some people consider it liberating to set their own hours or spend their “free” time reaching for the brass ring. But the consequences could be debilitating for the U.S. in the same way they once were for the U.S.S.R. A calendar is more than the organization of days and months. It’s the blueprint for a shared life.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

The Seventh Trumpet: Communiqué from the 7th Global South Conference, Cairo 2019

8. The Global South Primates also elected a new Steering Committee: the Most Revd. Justin Badi of South Sudan as Chairman, the Most Revd. Tito Zavala of Chile as Vice-Chairman, the Most Revd. Samuel Manhkin of Bangladesh as Hon. Secretary, the Most Revd. Foley Beach (ACNA) as Treasurer and three Ordinary Members, the Most Revd. Stephen Than Myint Oo of Myanmar, the Most Revd. Masimango Katanda Zacharie of Congo and the Most Revd. James Richard Wong Yin Song of the Indian Ocean.

9. We also thanked the Primates on the current Global South Primates Steering Committee (GSPSC) who are retiring in 2020: the Rt. Revd. Dr Mouneer Anis (Chairman), the Most Revd. Nicholas Okoh (Vice-Chairman), the Most Revd. Stanley Ntagali (Hon. Secretary) and the Most Revd. Ng Moon Hing (Treasurer). We expressed our deepest appreciation to Bishop Mouneer Anis for his hard work and leadership at this Conference and his continuing role as Chairman of GSPSC until he retires.

10. We were inspired by the times of worship and prayer. The Bible Studies on the theme, led by the Most Revd Dr Glenn Davies (Sydney), the Most Revd. James Wong (Indian Ocean) and the Most Revd. Justin Badi (South Sudan) challenged us to avoid being led by the spirit of the age, and instead to be transformed by His Spirit and to learn to discern and do the will of God.

11. We were challenged by Dr Os Guinness to be prepared for the challenges which Global South Churches will face with modernity and the shifts that come with it.

12. There were lively discussions on the role of women. The need for a greater role by women in the leadership and ministry of the Church were shared by representatives from various Provinces, even as concerns were expressed on how these roles need to fit into the religious culture of each society.

13. Concerns were also expressed on whether our Anglican Churches are in touch with the younger generations and connecting well with their spiritual needs and aspirations.

14. Issues regarding creation care, refugees, social and economic justice and political transition were also raised during this forum on women and youth. It is hoped that future conferences will see a higher number of participation from women and youth leaders from our Provinces.

Read it all.

Posted in Global South Churches & Primates

Saturday Food for Thought from Thomas Merton

Posted in Church History, Theology

(PR FactTank) In the U.S. and Western Europe, people say they accept Muslims, but opinions are divided on Islam

At the same time, there is no consensus on whether Islam fits into these societies. Across Western Europe, people are split on Islam’s compatibility with their country’s culture and values, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. And in the U.S., public opinion remains about evenly divided on whether Islam is part of mainstream American society and if Islam is compatible with democracy, according to a 2017 poll.

The vast majority of non-Muslim Americans (89%) say they would be willing to accept Muslims as neighbors, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The same survey finds that most people (79%) say they would be willing to accept Muslims as members of their family.

In Western Europe, most people also say they would be willing to accept Muslim neighbors. However, Europeans are less likely than Americans to say they would be willing to accept Muslims as family members. While about two-thirds of non-Muslim French people (66%) say they would accept a Muslim in their family, just over half of British (53%), Austrian (54%) and German (55%) adults say this. Italians are the least likely in Europe to say they would be willing to accept a Muslim family member (43%).

The vast majority of people across 15 countries in Western Europe and in the United States say they would be willing to accept Muslims as neighbors. Slightly lower shares on both sides of the Atlantic say they would be willing to accept a Muslim as a family member.

Read it all.

Posted in Islam, Religion & Culture, Sociology

A Lovely Only a Game Profile of Joe Frazier, originally from Beaufort, South Carolina

On April 7, 1971, just one month after his win over Ali, Frazier became the first African American man to speak before the state legislature in Columbia, South Carolina.

“It was an extraordinary event,” Kram Jr. says. “He reached out and tried to implore the members of that assembly to be open to bringing the races together. And, indeed, he wanted to.”

Frazier told the legislature that not much had changed since he left Beaufort, about 140 miles south of the state capital.

“We must save our people, and when I say our people, I mean white and black,” Frazier said in his address. “We need to quit thinking who’s living next door, who’s driving a big car, who’s my little daughter going to play with, who is she going to sit next to in school.”

Read (or listen to) it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Race/Race Relations, Sports

A Prayer to Begin the Day adapted from Jeremy Taylor

O LORD Jesus Christ, who hast deigned to be made like unto men; the sharer of our sorrows, the companion of our journeys, the light of our ignorance, the remedy of our infirmity: So fill us with thy Spirit, and endue us with thy grace, that as thou has been made like unto us, we may grow more like unto thee; for thy mercy’s sake.

Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) John Garvey: John Henry Newman–A New Saint for the Age of Loneliness

I spend a lot of time with young adults in my job, and the results don’t surprise me. I often observe young couples out on dates, looking at their cellphones rather than each other. I see students walking while wearing earbuds, oblivious to passersby. Others spend hours alone watching movies on Netflix or playing videogames. The digital culture in which young people live pushes them toward a kind of solipsism that must contribute to their loneliness.

“No one, man nor woman, can stand alone; we are so constituted by nature,” Newman writes, noting our need to cultivate genuine relations of friendship. Social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter connect people, but it’s a different sort of connection than friendship. The self one presents on Facebook is inauthentic, someone living an idealized life unlike one’s daily reality. Interaction online is more akin to Kabuki theater than genuine human relations.

When young people do connect face to face, it’s often superficial, thanks in part to dating and hookup apps like Tinder and Bumble. Cigna’s study found that 43% of participants feel their relationships are not meaningful. Little wonder, if relationships are formed when two people decide to swipe right on their phones.

Cardinal Newman never married, but warm, sincere, and lasting friendships—the kind that we so seldom form through digital interactions—gave his life richness. He cultivated them with his neighbors in Oxford and, after his conversion to Catholicism, at the Birmingham Oratory. He sustained them in his correspondence, some 20,000 letters filling 32 volumes.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), Roman Catholic

(Catholic Herald) Heretic of the week: John Nelson Darby

Darby also originated a brand of eschatology call Dispensationalism, which holds that true Christians shall be raptured before the events leading up to the Second Coming and Last Judgment. He preached his Gospel throughout Britain, the United States, Canada, and even Australia and New Zealand.

While Darby’s views on ecclesiology gained few followers in America, his Dispensationalism has been a big hit among Evangelicals ever since, among other things injecting the whole idea of “the Rapture” into American pop culture and spawning the Left Behind series of novels and films. Alas, before he died the movement broke into two sections – one of which he chose and remained in until he died.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Eschatology

(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

(Church Times) This is how to honour the referendum: Welby clarifies Bishops’ statement

A binary “winner-takes-all” approach to Brexit does not honour the result of the 2016 Referendum, the Archbishop of Canterbury said this week.

Archbishop Welby has written to clarify the College of Bishops’ statement, issued two weeks ago. He repeats his view that a no-deal Brexit would be a “moral failure”, an expression that attracted “intense criticism”, he reveals.

The College of Bishops produced a statement a fortnight ago which included the sentence: “In writing, we affirm our respect for the June 2016 Referendum, and our belief that the result should be honoured” (News, 4 October).

Archbishop Welby argues, in response to criticism of the statement, in the Church Times and elsewhere: “To honour or respect the 2016 Referendum result is not to sign up to Brexit at any cost.

“Honouring the result means no more than paying proper attention to an outcome that saw 52 per cent of those who voted favouring leave, but 48 per cent favouring remain.”

He goes on: “It does not mean that the Bishops have aligned themselves with any particular political party, faction, or wing within a party.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(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

Anglican Bishop Christopher Omotunde cautions Nigerians against living fake lives

Omotunde, in his sermon entitled, “It Will Get To Your Turn One Day,” stressed that human beings must repent and turn to God before the end comes.

The cleric decried the prevailing moral laxity in the society where many had elevated inordinate acquisition of wealth as a way of life.

“The most unfortunate thing in life is that man does not remember that he will die one day and what are we pursuing in this world?

“Remember how short your days are; whoever that does not remember the day he will die is the most foolish person in life.

“Whatever you are pursuing in this world, you are pursuing vanity because when you die, you cannot take anything away. Why do you continue to live a fake life, an empty life.

“You must repent to escape the wrath of God and the best time to do that is now.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Philip the Deacon

Holy God, no one is excluded from thy love; and thy truth transformeth the minds of all who seek thee: As thy servant Philip was led to embrace the fullness of thy salvation and to bring the stranger to Baptism, so grant unto us all the grace to be heralds of the Gospel, proclaiming thy love in Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

Lord of all power and might, fill our lives with the joy of thy Word and the courage of thine apostles, that having caught the vision of thy Kingdom we may proclaim it with power and a glad heart, to the salvation of men’s souls and the creation of a better order more conformed to the pattern of thy Kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

Church Leaders meet Secretary of State on Northern Ireland political impasse

From here:

“As the leaders all of the main Churches in Northern Ireland, we met in Armagh last evening with the Secretary of State to highlight our strong concerns regarding the continued Stormont impasse. We discussed with him the urgent need for the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to address issues such as welfare reform mitigations, health and education policy, as well as the urgent economic and wider issues surrounding Brexit. In particular we conveyed our strongly held and shared conviction that the devolved institutions need to be restored before the 21 October to avoid unacceptably wide–ranging abortion legislation being imposed on Northern Ireland. The protection and the dignity of all human life is of vital importance, both women and unborn children – both lives matter.

“We believe that our Northern Ireland political parties have it in their own hands to do something about this. They all need to take risks, especially for the most vulnerable in society, and make the compromises necessary to find an accommodation that will restore the devolved institutions.”

Posted in Church of Ireland, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina Hosts International Partners

The Rev. Fred Ochieng, Vicar of Emmanuel Church in the Shaurimoyo Parish in the Anglican Diocese of Maseno South, Kisumu-Kenya, invited those present to take steps to form relationships with brothers and sisters in his area. “Pray for us,” he said. “Be our friend. Relationships are more important than anything. Consider coming for a mission. Be a sender. Consider supporting us financially.” Ochieng stressed that while his congregation is seeking to be self-sustaining, they need assistance to move in that direction. He invited attendees to support theological training for their clergy. “Support one of our clergy to go to (the theological training in) Marsabit.”

Thirteen guests spoke that evening including

Bishop Probal Dutta, Bishop of Grace Trust, India
The Rev. John Chol Daau, Episcopal Church of South Sudan
Bishop Daniel Wario Qampicha, Diocese of Marsabit, Kenya
Bishop Stephen Kaziimba, Diocese of Mityana, Uganda
Bishop Seth Ndayirukiye, Bishop of Matana, Burundi
Bishop Francis Matui, Bishop of Makueni, Kenya
The Rev. Bernard Bisoke Balikenga, Provincial Youth Coordinator, Anglican Church of the Congo
Bishop Johnson Gakumba, Diocese of Northern Uganda
The Rev. Fred Ochieng Onyango, Vicar, Emmanuel Church, Shaurimoyo Parish in the Anglican Diocese of Maseno South, Kisumu-Kenya
The Rev. Canon Dr. Rebecca Nyegenye, Provost of All Saints Cathedral, Kampala, Uganda
Bishop George Kasangaki, Diocese of Masindi-Kitara, Uganda
Bishop Joseph Kibucwa, Diocese of Kirinyaga, Kenya

“I’ve got to give our bishop credit,” said the Rev. Gary Beson, Rector of St. Timothy’s, Cane Bay, after the evening presentation. “He’s really emphasized ‘Biblical Anglicanism for a Global Age.’ (My wife) Sue and I were having dinner with Fred (the Rev. Fred Ochieng of Kenya ) and Qampicha (The Bishop of the Diocese of Marsabit, Kenya) the other night. They said, ‘There’s not another diocese in the US as interested in what’s going on in the world as you are.’”

Read it all and note that the full audio presentation is available (and do enjoy the pictures).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Globalization, Missions

(CT) At the Upcoming Amazon Synod, Roman Catholic Leaders Are Discussing Married Priests, Female Church Leadership, and Climate Change

Right now, the Roman Catholic Church leaders are in the midst of a three-week long meeting discussing the future of their ministry in the Amazon. Among the issues the synod is investigating are how church leaders should respond to chronic priest shortages, the role of women in official church leadership, and environmental degradation.

Under the previous popes, John Paul II and Benedict the XVI, synods—or meetings convening all of the top brass of the Catholic church—were largely symbolic, says Christopher White, the national correspondent for the Catholic publication Crux. Not so with Pope Francis.

“His two synods on the family wrestled with, among other issues, communion. And in the end, after two synods and two years of deliberation, Pope Francis issued a document that allowed for a cautious opening to communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, which did move forward the Church’s pastoral teaching on that particular issue,” said White.

White suggested that the Amazon synod may conclude with similar progress.

“Among the many issues that they’re going to be discussing in Rome over the next three weeks is perhaps relaxing the celibacy requirement for priests because there is such a shortage of priests in the particular region of the Amazon. And they’re grappling with what to do about it,” he said.

White joined digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss the real or symbolic importance of synods, what makes the Amazon region particularly vexing to the Church, and why Protestants should stay abreast of an important Catholic meeting.Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology