Category : Ministry of the Ordained

Heartrending story from the local paper–After his son is fatally shot and he’s wounded, Mount Pleasant pastor finds hope

Sophia Grace talks about him every day. Daddy wasn’t great at braiding her hair, she recently said to her mother, but he tried his best. She tells people he’s in heaven now.

The rest of the family talks about Bryan Cooke all the time, too.

On his cellphone, Mike Cooke found a voicemail his son had left him in October. He didn’t listen to it before his son’s death, and he still hasn’t. The message — to hear his son call him “Pops” again — is a gift he anticipates opening.

Lynda Cooke also saved a voicemail from her son. She plays it over and over, memorizing his laughter. She prefers to hear his voice when she can slip out alone to the dock behind their home.

The Matipan Avenue residence the Cookes were working on is now home to Alecia Wright, 47, who lives with her sister and disabled mother. Their lives are peaceful, but they feel for the Cooke family.

With the shooting in mind, Wright hung a sign with a cross on the front door that reads: “Bless our home and all who enter.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(CC) Samuel Wells–A pastor’s job isn’t to make bad things seem better

Years ago I was asked to do the funeral of a woman whom I hadn’t known but who’d lived in the parish where I was vicar. It was a sad story. The woman, who was in her seventies, had a particularly painful wasting disease. The pain became so great that one night she stepped out of bed, put on slippers and a dressing gown, let herself into the back garden, climbed the fence, walked into the local lake, and drowned herself.

I listened to her widower tell me the story, and at the funeral I talked about the things we knew and the things we didn’t know. I said we didn’t know what anguish was going through her mind, but we did know how deeply she was loved and will be missed. I said we didn’t know what could bring her to such despair, but we did know that her life was beautiful and that those who knew her loved her and would always cherish what she meant to them.

A week later I paid a visit to the widower to see how he was doing and show him I was thinking of him. I was fully prepared for him to say how beautiful the funeral was, and there was always a chance he might say how well I’d spoken.

He didn’t. He looked straight at me, head still and unblinking, and told me, “What you said was completely wrong. You said, ‘We don’t know what was going through her head when she got out of bed and walked down to the lake.’ That’s not true. I know exactly what she was thinking. She’d tried before, and afterwards she told me what it was like. I know what she was thinking. I told you that when you came to see me last time. But you weren’t listening, were you? Maybe you didn’t want to listen.” His tone was more weary than angry, as if I was just one of a series of people who hadn’t really listened, either to her or to him.

I learned something that day that’s stayed with me. If something is awful for somebody else—if I’m in a conversation with a person who is considering suicide, or doesn’t know how they can go on, or is living in the aftermath of a loved one taking their own life—my role is not to make things better.

Read it all.

Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Diocese of South Carolina) Kate Norris–Confessions of an Ordinand

Unlike so many, I have been well supported, as a woman and as a person called to ministry. I am grateful and realize what a rare gift that is. Though there are many women who have felt called to ordained ministry in the Anglican Church of North America; many whom the Episcopate has confirmed, I follow many pastors whose families rejected or misunderstood their call and many women who were refused fair discernment of their gifts whether because of theological belief or personal bias. To be honest, I wrestled with whether to join the Anglican Church of North America because of their disagreements over women’s ordination. However, those God surrounded me with encouraged me.

There is no perfect church. There is one form of opposition or another everywhere. I felt called to bloom where I was planted. Archbishop Duncan also encouraged me saying the fact that there is room for difference among orthodox Christians in the ACNA is a good sign. Usually denominational leadership kicks you out if you don’t agree with them. Not so here. I appreciate that. It seems to ring true with the way family goes this side of heaven: it’s messy. It took me a long time to own my call but now I feel settled assurance that God has in fact called me. I am willing to stand in this expression of the body of Christ for as long as it is possible.

The ordination began with my presenters surrounding me saying they affirmed my call. The Kate at the beginning of seminary (13 years ago!) would have been filled with self-doubt wondering if this was what she wanted or felt called to do. The Lord has been patient and thorough, leaving no stone unturned taking a self-doubting know-it-all into the depths of his death and rebirth and bringing the graciousness of his counselors, teachers, and pastors to come alongside. Knowing his forgiveness and love in my pain kept my feet from running out the door when time came for my vows. This is the God I want others to know. In the way he has made me to share, I will by his grace.

I spent the day before confessing. The Lord had pointed out areas of resentment by reminding me that his love “believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, and rejoices with the truth.” He opened my eyes to see that kind of long-suffering love throughout the ordination service. He had bigger things afoot. He was confirming the accord between the Diocese of South Carolina and the Anglican Church in North America, which had happened the week before. As I stood in the circle of presenters before my ordaining bishop, Bishop Hobby, I knew the Lord had been long-suffering with me, patient with me, enduring all things with me. He made me able to step into my small part of his big and growing family and his grace would sustain me. Only that.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

An article from Stuff about Wellington, New Zealand’s, new Cathedral Dean David Rowe

Rowe is not expected to take up his post at Wellington Cathedral until July. But it would appear that, in the 19 months since he signed the letter, he may have changed his stance.

In a letter to Bishop of Wellington Justin Duckworth after his appointment, he acknowledged concern about the signing of the 2016 letter, and said he was on a “journey and not in a fixed position” on the gay blessing issue.

Duckworth said on Wednesday that Rowe, who has ministered previously in New Zealand, and has a son and daughter-in-law working as priests in Whanganui, was well aware of Wellington Anglicans’ stance on gay blessings, and had taken the job happy and accepting of it.

“I would say he is not fixed in his position, and is trying to work out what he believes and what God is saying … he is trying to work out what he believes.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

Michael Ridgill–The Rev. John Foster: Friend, Mentor, Co-Laborer, RIP

He started the C.S. Lewis Ministry Center at St. Bartholomew’s, Hartsville, as an outreach to college students and to provide a place for them to feel at home away from home. He started, taught and recruited instructors for a new S.A.T. Preparation course for high school students He coordinated with the diocese seeking ways to serve and reach those in the community and John was always willing to try new ideas. Out of this a Water Bottle Ministry was born….

Read it all (page 12).

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Christian Today) Bishop Paul Richardson on IICSA–Senior clergy don’t need MBAs to deal with abuse

Cathedral deans should not need an MBA to enable them to handle cases of abuse or run a cathedral. An MBA does not increase skills in pastoral care or liturgy; it doesn’t improve preaching and teaching or raise awareness of how to relate a cathedral to the local community or improve the quality of music. A cathedral does need staff trained in accountancy whose voices are heard but it is too common in Britain today to think that accountants are the best people to run hospitals or other organisations.

Finally what are we to say about abuse and the theology of forgiveness? Linda Woodhead claims that ‘a faulty doctrine of forgiveness was used by abusers to salve their consciences, by officials to move on without dealing with the problem, and by parishioners to marginalise “unchristian” victims and whistleblowers’.

Quite honestly, I have never come across this theology of forgiveness. If someone in confession confesses to a serious sin such as abuse or murder the confessor will normally make absolution conditional on the penitent reporting to the police. This is why forcing clergy to reveal what is told to them in confession is huge mistake. Catholic clergy will never break the seal of the confessional but the threat that attempts will be made to make them do so will stop penitents being frank.

As well as sending the penitent to the police, confessors will also point out that God’s forgiveness does not rule out the need for legal penalties or, where appropriate, reparation to victims. Knowing that a pattern of abuse is almost impossible to break, bishops are not being kind or forgiving in moving abusive clergy to another parish. Allowing the law to take its course and then providing some kind of care and counselling for the perpetrator but not a future opportunity of ministry may be the kindest policy.

All this could have been learnt from Jason Berry’s reporting 30 years ago.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–What does an Easter Church Really Look like? (John 20:19-31)

You can listen directly here and download the mp3 there.

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

(The ARDA) David Briggs–Tradition bound? Many Orthodox parishes struggle with change

It is not as if congregational leaders do not recognize the necessity for change. In a major new study, 7 percent of parishes reported things are fine just the way they are.

Among other congregations:

• Thirty-nine percent of parishes reported they were making the necessary changes to ensure a bright future for the congregation.
• Thirty-two percent of parishes said they need to change to increase their vitality and viability, but the parish does not seem to realize it or does not want to make the necessary changes.
• Twenty-two percent said, “We are slowly changing but not fast enough, nor significantly enough.”

“More than half feel they are too bound to Orthodox tradition,” said study leader Alexei Krindatch, research coordinator with the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. “But they cannot change.”

The top two obstacles to change? More than half of parishes reported a lack of resources, particularly energy and finances. Forty-four percent said their congregations lacked a unifying vision or direction.

The unresolved stresses on congregations are taking a toll.

Read it all.

Posted in Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Orthodox Church, Parish Ministry

Kendall Harmon’s 2018 Maundy Thursday Sermon

You can listen directly here and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Atonement, Christology, Holy Week, Ministry of the Ordained, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theodicy, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Bishop of Sheffield’s Easter 2018 Sermon

We’ve just heard how, when the women arrive at the empty tomb, early on the first day of the week, hoping to anoint the dead body of Jesus, they’re shocked to find the tomb open and a young man sitting inside, dressed in white.  This angel speaks to them: ’Do not be alarmed.  You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified.  He has been raised.  He is not here: look there is the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples – and Peter – that he is going ahead of you to Galilee: there you will see him, just as he told you’.

Go and tell his disciples, and Peter.  It’s those two words ‘and Peter’ that catch my attention.  Why are they added?  You won’t find them on the lips of the angel in the version of this story told by Matthew, Luke or John.  Why do they matter to Mark?  Well, I think there are two reasons, both of which might encourage us this morning as we celebrate afresh our Lord’s resurrection from the dead: the first reason has to do with what the Risen Lord wants for Peter; the second, with what he wants from Peter.

Let me say something about what the Lord might want for Peter to start with.  This is the first reference to Peter in the Gospel of Mark since the moment about 48 hours before, when the cock had crowed a second time and he had broken down and wept.  Our last glimpse of Peter is of his sobbing remorse at the realisation that he had indeed denied Jesus, as his Master had prophesied that he would.  This is a more catastrophic fall from grace than that of any Australian cricketer: as the curtain falls on his active participation in the Gospel story, Peter has failed.

So those two words ‘and Peter’ on the lips of the angel are full of hope.  They suggest that the Risen Jesus, far from having given up on Peter, far from having written him off, is intent on // re-establishing // a relationship with him.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) [Bishop of Chichester] Martin Warner–Safeguarding: what we got wrong, and the steps we are taking to put it right

The diocese of Chichester was used as a case study for inquiring into child sexual abuse in the Church of England. Some have wished to claim immunity from our failings, regarding us an aberration and unlike more “normal” dioceses.

More careful consideration, however, suggests that what happened here was characterised by attitudes that were not unknown elsewhere.

If, for example, we look at the case of one highly manipulative offender, Roy Cotton, factors emerge at an early stage that might account for why no effective disciplinary action was taken against him.

First, academic snobbery: Cotton was an Oxbridge graduate. Second, social snobbery: he worked in an independent preparatory school before ordination.

Third, manipulating episcopal patronage: he was exempted from selection scrutiny and spent only one term in training. After being ordained in his home diocese and serving a curacy there, he moved to Chichester with a glowing reference from his bishop, and subsequently moved from one parish to another with apparent ease.

Fourth, at the end of his ministry in Chichester, he was dealt with leniently in old age because of illness and infirmity….

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(CC) Heath Carter–The formation of Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the best known and least understood Americans of the 20th century. Fifty years after his assassination, the contrast between his life and memory could hardly be more stark. In the eyes of countless white Americans, King died a communist villain. He has been resurrected as a loveable mascot for an ever-improving American way.

On the January holiday that commemorates his life and legacy, we hear little about King’s strident opposition to racial and economic inequality at home, not to mention his vociferous denunciation of American imperialism abroad. Instead attention is directed to selective snippets from his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and especially this line: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Ripped out of context, this one sentence might seem to suggest that King was a cheerleader for colorblind liberalism, seeking only formal, not actual, equality.

But King was far more radical than that. He had democratic socialist sympathies and fought doggedly for a more egalitarian distribution of wealth. The fact that his ties to the progressive labor movement have been scrubbed from the typical story is all the more amazing given that the reason he was in Memphis when gunned down there in April 1968 was to stand with striking sanitation workers.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

Jeff Miller’s Easter Sermon for 2018–Seeing is Believing: A Call to think Carefully through the evidence for Easter (John 20:1-10)

You may download it there or listen to it directly there from Saint Philip’s, Charleston, South Carolina.

Posted in * South Carolina, Christology, Easter, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Mark Lawrence’s 2018 Palm Sunday Sermon-The Crown of Thorns and Jesus as the deliverer from Shame

You can listen directly here and download the mp3 there.

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