Category : Pastoral Care

(CT) Skye Jethani–What an alcoholic pastor taught me about administering the presence of God

When Bill finally finished talking it felt like it was my turn to speak, to offer advice, to minister. I stayed silent. I could feel myself shrinking even more within my borrowed chaplain suit. Looking for an escape from the room and the awkwardness, I spoke timidly.

“Thank you for sharing so honestly,” I said. “I appreciate your advice.”

Bill looked away as I rose and moved for the door. Like everyone else in Bill’s life, I knew I’d be more comfortable once I didn’t have to look at him anymore, once he was invisible again. It wasn’t until I grabbed the door handle to exit that I remembered my calling. “In this room you represent the presence of God.” I was not there to represent the chaplaincy office of the hospital. I was not there to represent a young seminary student named Skye. I was there to incarnate the presence of God, if only for a few minutes, to an utterly broken man who had lost his dignity.

I looked back at Bill and was reminded of Peter’s encounter with the lame beggar at the Beautiful Gate. “I have no silver or gold,” the apostle said, “but what I do have I give to you” (Acts 3:6). I had no advice or wisdom for Bill, but I did have the presence of Jesus. I could give him that. I returned to my chair by his bed.

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Posted in Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

One of my favorite stories of the week–Jermaine Gresham helps out stranger at airport

On Wednesday, Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham helped a random stranger out at the airport.

Delilah Cassidy, an American Airlines passenger, had trouble when her bag came in over the weight limit.

She explained on Twitter that she had just gotten back from Europe and couldn’t pay the $50 the airline was trying to charge her because her cards were being declined, and the airline wouldn’t take cash.

Then a stranger stepped in to help Cassidy.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Pastoral Care, Sports, Travel

(C of E) Towards a Safer Church: Liturgical Resources

Safeguarding resources, for use in churches across the country, including Bible readings, prayers and suggested hymns, chosen in consultation with survivors, have been published…[yesterday].

Many of the resources are already in general use and are supplemented by new material, including prayers suggested by survivors. The materials, to support a variety of pastoral circumstances, range from a safeguarding prayer that could be used to conclude a day of safeguarding training, to a litany of penitence for past failures. They have been put together and published by the Church of England’s Liturgical Commission and commended by the House of Bishops. They will be updated by the Commission as new materials evolve.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–The Baptist Apocalypse

As a non-Baptist with a fellow Christian’s interest in evangelical battles, I’d like to tell a simple story that describes the Patterson scandal as an inflection point — after which Moore’s kind of Baptist will inevitably increase while Jeffress’s kind diminishes, as the “judgment” that Mohler describes leads to a general reckoning with the pull of sexism and racism within conservative-leaning churches.

But to assume that’s necessarily going to happen is to fall into the same inevitabilist trap that ensnares both arc-of-history progressives and providentalist Trump supporters. Instead it’s wiser to regard an era of exposure like this one as a test, which can be passed but also failed. A discredited “old guard” doesn’t automatically lose power; a chauvinism revealed doesn’t just evaporate. And the temptation to dismiss discomfiting revelations as fake news, to retreat back into ignorance and self-justification, is at least as powerful as the impulse to really reckon with the truth.

So the question posed by this age of revelation is simple: Now that you know something new and troubling and even terrible about your leaders or your institutions, what will you do with this knowledge?

For Baptists as for all of us, the direction of history after Trump will be determined not just by Providence’s challenge, but by our freely chosen answer.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Baptists, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Men, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence, Women

(CT Gleanings) Southern Baptist Women Launch Petition Against Paige Patterson

A growing group of Southern Baptist women called for Paige Patterson to be removed as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) on Sunday, due to what they claimed was his “unbiblical view of authority, womanhood, and sexuality.”

Patterson, one of the most influential leaders in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), has faced widespread criticism in recent weeks for old remarks, including a discussion of divorce in cases of abuse and multiple comments on women’s appearances.

“We cannot defend or support Dr. Patterson’s past remarks,” stated an open letter to SWBTS trustees, which grew from 100 to more than 1,000 signatories on Sunday night. “No one should.

“The fact that he has not fully repudiated his earlier counsel or apologized for his inappropriate words indicates that he continues to maintain positions that are at odds with Southern Baptists and, more importantly, the Bible’s elevated view of womanhood,” states the letter. “The [SBC] cannot allow the biblical view of leadership to be misused in such a way.”

The letter comes from scores of Southern Baptist women, including leaders such as: Karen Swallow Prior, a Liberty University professor and research fellow with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Convention; Lauren Chandler, an author, worship singer, and wife of The Village Church pastor Matt Chandler; Jennifer Lyell, a vice president at SBC-affiliated B&H Publishing Group; Amanda Jones, a Houston church planter and daughter of Bible teacher Beth Moore; and Mary DeMuth, an author, speaker, and victims’ advocate.

Read it all and there is more related material here.

Posted in Anthropology, Baptist, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Marriage & Family, Men, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence, Women

(San Antonio Express-News) Six months later, Sutherland Springs residents count their blessings

Sherri Pomeroy’s hair hung around her face. She took a deep, shaking breath and began to speak.

“Lu White. Robert Marshall. Karen Marshall. Annabelle. Bob Corrigan. Shani Corrigan. Peggy Warden. Dennis Johnson. Sara Johnson. Keith Braden. Joann Ward, with Emily and Brooke. Haley Krueger. Therese and Richard Rodriguez. Karla and Bryan Holcombe. Tara McNulty. Danny Holcombe, and Noah. Crystal Holcombe, with Greg and Emily and Megan. And Carlin Brite ‘Billy Bob’ Holcombe.”

Then 26 soft bell chimes.

And then silence.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Kate Bowler–What to Say When You Meet the Angel of Death at a Party

A tragedy is like a fault line. A life is split into a before and an after, and most of the time, the before was better. Few people will let you admit that out loud. Sometimes those who love you best will skip that first horrible step of saying: “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry this is happening to you.” Hope may prevent them from acknowledging how much has already been lost. But acknowledgment is also a mercy. It can be a smile or a simple “Oh, hon, what a year you’ve had.” It does not ask anything from me but makes a little space for me to stand there in that moment. Without it, I often feel like I am starring in a reality program about a woman who gets cancer and is very cheerful about it.

After acknowledgment must come love. This part is tricky because when friends and acquaintances begin pouring out praise, it can sound a little too much like a eulogy. I’ve had more than one kindly letter written about me in the past tense, when I need to be told who I might yet become.

But the impulse to offer encouragement is a perfect one. There is tremendous power in touch, in gifts and in affirmations when everything you knew about yourself might not be true anymore. I am a professor, but will I ever teach again? I’m a mom, but for how long? A friend knits me socks and another drops off cookies, and still another writes a funny email or takes me to a concert. These seemingly small efforts are anchors that hold me to the present, that keep me from floating away on thoughts of an unknown future. They say to me, like my sister Maria did on one very bad day: “Yes, the world is changed, dear heart, but do not be afraid. You are loved, you are loved. You will not disappear. I am here.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) A residential ministry deals with the sex offender registry

Baptist minister Glenn Burns calls the evening of April 7, 2016, the “crucifixion.” It was the toughest test of his 40-year career.

Burns leads a Christian social services ministry in northern Florida called the Good Samaritan Network. Until last April, the nonprofit was headquartered in the town of Woodville, just outside Tallahassee. Its food bank served 7,000 people a month. It also ran a thrift store and a home for women transitioning off the street from sex work. And it operated a Christian home for men reentering society after prison who had no other place to live. Many of them were on Florida’s registry of sex offenders.

It was that last program that got Burns in trouble. As in other states, Florida’s state-run registry puts the names, photos, and addresses of those convicted of sex crimes on a public website. In Woodville, a few neighbors had searched the site and found that 11 of the 16 men at Good Samaritan’s home for ex-offenders were on the list. They called the program to find out why it served people they thought were dangerous. There was a school less than a quarter of a mile away….

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(CEN) C of E General Synod to be asked to back rights of people with Down’s Syndrome

Next month’s General Synod will hear a call for the Government to improve the regulation of commercial providers of tests that determine a woman’s likelihood of having a child with Down’s Syndrome.

The call will come in a debate on ‘Valuing people with Down’s Syndrome’ on Saturday 10 February.

The Bishop of Carlisle will move a motion that encourages the Church to ensure that all parishes provide a ‘real welcome’ for people with the condition as well as their families.

Synod will be asked to ‘affirm the dignity and full humanity’ of people with the syndrome, but, reflecting the Church’s opposition to abortion, will call for ‘comprehensive, unbiased’information about it.

A background paper prepared for Synod members ahead of the 2.30pm debate notes that people with Down’s areliving longer than ever before, are receiving better healthcare and are experiencing better social inclusion.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–On the C of E and welcoming transgender people

What, then, should the House of Bishops have done? I think the statement they issued says some helpful and positive things, and I particularly appreciate the focus on the primacy of identity in Christ that is effected by the baptism of believers.

The emphasis is placed not on the past or future of the candidate alone but on their faith in Jesus Christ. The Affirmation [of Baptism] therefore gives priority to the original and authentic baptism of the individual, and the sacramental change it has effected, allowing someone who has undergone a serious and lasting change to re-dedicate their life and identity to Christ. The image of God, in which we are all made, transcends gender, race, and any other characteristic, and our shared identity as followers of Jesus is the unity which makes all one in Christ (Galatians 3.27-28)

 

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Church Times) Christina Beardsley–The (House of Bishops) decision not to provide a liturgy for trans people undermines the Church’s claim to welcome them

How much better, though, if the Church of England could authorise a form of prayer that busy clergy could take off the shelf when needed.

As well as being convenient for clergy and lay minsters, authorising a liturgy for trans people would also demonstrate that the Church was serious about the welcome mentioned in part one of the motion, aware of trans people’s specific needs, and willing to respond to their requests appropriately.

That was the basis of the Blackburn Motion and it passed by a huge majority in all three of Synod’s houses (Bishops, Clergy, and Laity) seven months ago. Since then, we have heard nothing, until last weekend when The Mail on Sunday leaked the story that the House of Bishops had decided that a liturgy for trans people should, in the Mail’s words, “be blocked”.

A hastily issued statement followed from the Church of England, in response to the leak, which insisted that it was welcoming to trans people, but would not be issuing a liturgy. Instead, clergy were advised to adapt the existing Affirmation of Baptismal Faith rite on these occasions and to be creative. Further guidance is promised later this week.

Like many trans people, I am deeply disappointed, and not a little angered, by this outcome. I’m sure that I will have further reflections once we hear the reasons for this decision, but here are my initial thoughts about what has happened and what we can learn from it….

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(C of E) Services to mark gender transition – House of Bishops response

Following the debate and vote at General Synod in July 2017 on Welcoming Transgender People, the House of Bishops has prayerfully considered whether a new nationally commended service might be prepared to mark a gender transition.

The Bishops are inviting clergy to use the existing rite Affirmation of Baptismal Faith. New guidance is also being prepared on the use of the service.

The paper discussing the decision is now available.

Read it all and follow all three links.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(CEN) Andrew Carey–The problem of of defining ‘spiritual abuse’

Spiritual abuse is a thorny and difficult subject.

The recent case in Oxford Diocese was a clear-cut example of spiritual abuse. An Abingdon Vicar took an intense interest in mentoring a teenage boy to the extent of moving into the family home and ordering him to stop an adolescent relationship.

This kind of spiritual ‘mentoring’ in which a priest manipulated a young life under the guise of prayer and counselling resembles ‘heavy shepherding’ — one of the charismatic movement’s worst episodes. But even at the time this was not a very widespread phenomenon in Anglican circles and this kind of controlling behaviour has always been thought to be the preserve of new cults rather than established churches.

But according to an ‘online survey’ (two words that always raise alarm bells for me) conducted by academics from Bournemouth University on behalf of the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) a very high number of Christians have personally experienced spiritual abuse.

Of 1,591 responses, 1,002 said they had personally experienced spiritual abuse. This is too high a number to be believable and there must be widespread caution about the survey. In fact, all it is really useful for is to make the point that more research would be extremely valuable with a wider and more representative sample of Christians.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(AI) University of Exeter to offer trauma response training for clergy

Ministers have supported hundreds of people in the UK after traumatic events like terrorist attacks, fires, flooding and revelations of child abuse. The new training will help them support large numbers of people in such circumstances.

Ministers who have worked with communities experiencing difficult situations have helped create the course, which is being run by Dr Christopher Southgate, from the University of Exeter

Clergy were trained in Exeter and Plymouth in November and further training will be held in Cumbria in January, with further courses around England within the next three years.

Dr Southgate said: “Events we have seen this year – the attack in Manchester and the fire in Grenfell Tower – make it clear that this training is very much needed. Horrific situations like this pose challenges for ministers which their current training doesn’t include. We hope this new course will help them feel prepared when their communities are traumatised.”

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Posted in Education, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

(Dio of London) Memory Café: How to Engage with Memory Loss and Build Community

The Vicar of a North London Church has published a new book sharing his experiences of running a Memory Café in his parish in the hope of encouraging other churches to do the same.

The Revd Steve Morris, Vicar of St Cuthbert’s Church in Wembley, established a memory café in May 2015 as a way to help tackle loneliness and isolation in his parish, and enable the church to play a central role in the heart of community life in Brent.

The memory café concept brings together isolated people from different backgrounds and faiths in a safe environment, allowing them to forge connections, share companionship, and keep mentally active and physically fit through chair aerobics and healthy eating projects. Such has been the success of the initiative that St Cuthbert’s have even assembled a memory café choir, which recently performed with the choir of the Metropolitan Police Service.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology