Category : Pastoral Care

Thursday Food for Thought–Aristides on the Early Christians

But the Christians, O King, while they went about and made search, have found the truth; and as we learned from their writings, they have come nearer to truth and genuine knowledge than the rest of the nations. For they know and trust in God, the Creator of heaven and of earth, in whom and from whom are all things, to whom there is no other god as companion, from whom they received commandments which they engraved upon their minds and observe in hope and expectation of the world which is to come. Wherefore they do not commit adultery nor fornication, nor bear false witness, nor embezzle what is held in pledge, nor covet what is not theirs. They honour father and mother, and show kindness to those near to them; and whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly. They do not worship idols (made) in the image of man; and whatsoever they would not that others should do unto them, they do not to others; and of the food which is consecrated to idols they do not eat, for they are pure. And their oppressors they appease (lit: comfort) and make them their friends; they do good to their enemies; and their women, O King, are pure as virgins, and their daughters are modest; and their men keep themselves from every unlawful union and from all uncleanness, in the hope of a recompense to come in the other world.

Further, if one or other of them have bondmen and bondwomen or children, through love towards them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction. They do not worship strange gods, and they go their way in all modesty and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; for they do not call them brethren after the flesh, but brethren after the spirit and in God. And whenever one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them according to his ability gives heed to him and carefully sees to his burial. And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity, and if it is possible to redeem him they set him free. And if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food. They observe the precepts of their Messiah with much care, living justly and soberly as the Lord their God commanded them. Every morning and every hour they give thanks and praise to God for His loving-kindnesses toward them; and for their food and their drink they offer thanksgiving to Him. And if any righteous man among them passes from the world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God; and they escort his body as if he were setting out from one place to another near. And when a child has been born to one of them, they give thanks to God; and if moreover it happen to die in childhood, they give thanks to God the more, as for one who has passed through the world without sins. And further if they see that any one of them dies in his ungodliness or in his sins, for him they grieve bitterly, and sorrow as for one who goes to meet his doom.

Such, O King, is the commandment of the law of the Christians, and such is their manner of life. As men who know God, they ask from Him petitions which are fitting for Him to grant and for them to receive. And thus they employ their whole lifetime. And since they know the loving-kindnesses of God toward them, behold! for their sake the glorious things which are in the world flow forth to view. And verily, they are those who found the truth when they went about and made search for it; and from what we considered, we learned that they alone come near to a knowledge of the truth. And they do not proclaim in the ears of the multitude the kind deeds they do, but are careful that no one should notice them; and they conceal their giving just as he who finds a treasure and conceals it. And they strive to be righteous as those who expect to behold their Messiah, and to receive from Him with great glory the promises made concerning them. And as for their words and their precepts, O King, and their glorying in their worship, and the hope of earning according to the work of each one of them their recompense which they look for in another world,-you may learn about these from their writings. It is enough for us to have shortly informed your Majesty concerning the conduct and the truth of the Christians. For great indeed, and wonderful is their doctrine to him who will search into it and reflect upon it. And verily, this is a new people, and there is something divine (lit: “a divine admixture”) in the midst of them.

The Apology of Aristides, XV-XVI

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

An update on the situation in the ACNA diocese of the Upper Midwest

Earlier this month, Archbishop Beach announced that, at the request of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest, the Province would undertake oversight of the independent investigation into allegations of abuse within the diocese, ensure that pastoral care for survivors is offered, and conduct a review of diocesan structures and processes. Below are some recent developments in that unfolding situation:

Executive Committee expresses sorrow, calls for prayer, and approves formation of Provincial Response Team

Meeting on Monday, July 26, 2021 the Executive Committee of the Anglican Church in North America responded to the concerns raised by survivors of abuse in the Diocese of the Upper Midwest. The members of the Committee expressed “deep sorrow for all survivors who have suffered harm and pain as a result of abuse and/or misconduct and for their families and loved ones,” approved the formation of a Provincial Response Team, and called for “prayer for healing and justice for all affected by this tragic situation, for wisdom for those dealing with it, and for a spirit of grace, humility, and repentance throughout our Church.”

The Executive Committee is the Anglican Church in North America’s Board of Directors and is made up of clergy and laity elected from across the Province. Read more from the Executive Committee here.

Archbishop Beach appoints Bishops Miller and Atkinson to assist Diocese

Read it all and please note the diocesan website is there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

(RNS) With more than a million children orphaned by COVID19, faith-based groups look to mobilize support

More than a million children around the world may have been orphaned by COVID-19, losing one or both parents to the disease or related causes.

Another estimated 500,000 lost a grandparent or another relative who cared for them.

The numbers are from a new study by researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others that highlight another grim reality in the sweeping devastation caused by the ongoing pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Care

(The Big Issue) When the Archbishop of Canterbury sold The Big Issue

JW: I come from a family of both parents being alcoholic and my mother stopped drinking half a century ago and never went back. My father died of it. What happens if vendors who struggled with a similar thing go back on the booze or the drugs?

LW: For me, personally, I understand if people slip up because I’ve learned addiction is not so black and white as I thought it was. I’ve been quite lucky in life. I did a lot of my silly stuff when I was younger and I haven’t really got any addictions, except maybe to chicken. I don’t mind if my vendors fall, it’s about getting back on the horse. That is what I try and teach them. As a guy who has failed quite a lot in life, I teach people to get off your high horse in life and get yourself a pony – when you fall off it doesn’t hurt as much.

JW: I couldn’t agree more, I think that’s really good. I shall use that!

LW: I’ll be honest, you doing this is really going to help me get my voice out there. We really need to change the way we think as a society.

JW: We need to change the way we think, we really do.

LW: We’ve spoken about this and it’s in your book [Reimagining Britain]. We don’t want to go back to normal because normal didn’t work, did it? We want to have a better life now and we’ve got a chance of starting something.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(AP) Black community has new option for health care: the church

Every Sunday at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, the Rev. Joseph Jackson Jr. praises the Lord before his congregation. But since last fall he’s been praising something else his Black community needs: the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We want to continue to encourage our people to get out, get your shots. I got both of mine,” Jackson said to applause at the church in Milwaukee on a recent Sunday.

Members of Black communities across the U.S. have disproportionately fallen sick or died from the virus, so some church leaders are using their influence and trusted reputations to fight back by preaching from the pulpit, phoning people to encourage vaccinations, and hosting testing clinics and vaccination events in church buildings.

Some want to extend their efforts beyond the fight against COVID-19 and give their flocks a place to seek health care for other ailments at a place they trust — the church.

“We can’t go back to normal because we died in our normal,” Debra Fraser-Howze, the founder of Choose Healthy Life, told The Associated Press. “We have health disparities that were so serious that one pandemic virtually wiped us out more than anybody else. We can’t allow for that to happen again.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

(CC) Samuel Wells on one man’s question in one group on one particular day–“Where’s my love to go now?…Tell me That”

So I took a risk, and said, gently, “Imagine eternity from God’s point of view. Imagine God having all that love pent up like you have right now. But the difference is, God’s got that love all pent up potentially forever. God’s like you. God’s thinking, ‘Where’s my love to go?’ So God creates the universe. But God’s got still more love to give. So God creates life, and makes humanity, and calls a special people. But that’s still not enough. God’s got yet more love to give. So God comes among us as a tiny baby. God’s question ‘Where is my love to go?’ is perhaps the most important one of all time. Half the answer is the crea­tion of the universe. The other half is the incarnation. On Christmas Day we find out why the universe was created. It was created for us to be the place where God’s love could go.”

In case I hadn’t made myself clear, I added one more suggestion. “So when you ask yourself, ‘Where’s my love to go?’ you’re getting an insight into the very heart of God.”

The pandemic has been about many things, but one above all: powerlessness. It’s been an intensification of life’s fragilities and limitations. We’ve felt fearful, lonely, and disappointed. Where is our love to go? We’ve not been getting an easy answer to this question. We’re getting something else instead: the discovery of what it’s like to be God, who asked the same question and came among us to complete the answer. What the pandemic’s given us is an opportunity to dwell in the very heart of God.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

(WSJ) Anna Broadway–How Some Churches Leave Singles Behind

Touch played a significant role in Jesus ’ ministry too. That he let a woman kiss his feet shocked the Pharisees, but he defended her actions as an appropriate response to forgiveness. Later, Jesus even invited Thomas to touch his wounds. Jesus’ example shows that our bodies are part of how we’re meant to commune with God and each other. How then do Christians balance love’s call to extend safety and welcome?

At Christ Church East Bay in Berkeley, Calif., the Rev. Jonathan St. Clair told me in an email that they encourage vaccinated singles to sit with families or other solo attendees. Ms. Kaiser hopes to do something similar with some of the other widows at her church. Reality SF, a church in San Francisco, took this one step further: Leading up to Easter, it urged the majority-single congregation to form Holy Week pods.

Longer-term use of pods could help singles feel more included in their churches. For most Christian singles I have interviewed, commitment in relationships proved elusive outside marriage; only Catholic priests consistently reported a sense of commitment within a community. Why should so few Christian singles find that?

Singles have the same needs as married people; we simply have different ways to meet them. By giving singles a committed group with which to sit, hug and maybe even eat, pods could help us participate more equally in God’s family.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture

Quigg Lawrence on the Extraordinary story of Archbp Ben Kwashi’s Healing

During surgery, Dr. Madge Ellis found the cancer had spread to Ben’s liver and he was, shockingly, Stage 4. Ben definitely would have died had the Holy Spirit not rather miraculously told us to invite him to come here for treatment.

7 months and 12 brutal rounds of chemo later, Ben is healthy.

Ben’s levels of CEA (protein “tumor markers”) are within the normal range. In layman’s terms, the chemo was effective and Ben appears posed to have a much longer life!

Annette and I have been honored to share our home and our lives with them. We will never, ever forget them. They are dear to us.

++Ben and Mama taught us many things in the last 7 months. They are beautiful reflections of Jesus, they are wise, they are joyful.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Nigeria, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Spirituality/Prayer, Travel

Jimmy Bailey–When The Church “Bears One Another’s Burdens”

A few months later, my son James woke up on a Sunday morning with a mild fever. I took his siblings to church, and my wife, Beth, stayed home to care for him. By the time we returned, his fever had spiked severely and his heart rate was high enough for the urgent care center to refer us to the emergency room. The E.R. physicians determined it was serious enough for him to be admitted overnight, and I was scared. Within a matter of hours, however, our church family was bearing this burden with us. We heard from four members of the clergy, including Jeff and his wife, Kristin. I vividly remember sitting in my car at the MUSC parking garage praying over the phone with Marc Boutan, and feeling so comforted by his words and support. Our phones were lighting up with text messages, emails, calls, and social media notifications from our church family, who were bearing this burden with us and lifting us in prayer. I remember a non-St. Philip’s friend saying, “You have a great hospital and friends who pray for you––that’s a great team.” James quickly returned to good health.

Later in the year, I began to suffer from a mysterious illness with symptoms that eluded diagnosis for a long 87 days. The physical pain ebbed and flowed, but the uncertainty was constant and taxed me mentally. I tried to keep this situation under wraps, mainly because I didn’t want my children to worry. However, solutions continued to elude my medical team and I couldn’t bear this burden alone.

I looked to my church family for help, and St. Philip’s wrapped its arms around me and hugged tight. The men in my Bible study prayed for me and checked in constantly. Every member of our clergy prayed with me. Hundreds of you prayed for me in your own Bible studies. Occasionally, total strangers introduced themselves and said they learned about my situation during prayer requests at a Bible study, and wanted me to know they were praying for me, too. During a December service (I think Christmas Eve), while serving communion, Martha Vetter leaned down, took some extra time, and prayed vigorously for me, my family, my doctors, and for healing. My eyes filled with tears of appreciation for this love and compassion, and for her willingness to bear my burden with me, along with so many of you.

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Hospital chaplains at the core of coronavirus care

The coronavirus has swept away any idea that chaplains are optional extras or “genteel outsiders”, the president of the College of Healthcare Chaplains, Dr Simon Harrison, has said.

“In the first wave of the virus, there was a bit of the ‘Perhaps the chaplaincy should stay away for a bit until we get over this,’” Dr Harrison, who is also lead chaplain at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, said on Monday. “That has long passed.”

Staff support is significantly more embedded into the infrastructure, to the extent that some trusts have newly recruited dedicated staff chaplains.

The impact of the virus on chaplaincy teams themselves has also heightened the sense of being part of the hospital team. All were now hands-on and very busy, Dr Harrison said.

“There is a lot of fatigue and ongoing anxiety among chaplains, but collegiality is at an all-time high. Staff support feels like the direction of travel for so many more.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Chaplain mobilises churches and community to identify more than 1,000 over 80s for Covid-19 vaccination

The Revd Andy Dovey, Lead for Chaplaincy and Spiritual Care at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust in south London, reached out to churches and faith groups in the area to raise awareness of the availability of the vaccine.

It came as NHS teams across the country booked appointments for the most vulnerable people in our society, including those over 80 who were already coming in to hospital for outpatient appointments,

“The response has been amazing,” he said.

“I am really grateful to the community of churches that have pulled together to support our congregations in these difficult times.”

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

The Incredible story of what Saint John did to recover a convert who lapsed from the faith

Listen to a tale, which is not a mere tale, but a narrative concerning John the apostle, which has been handed down and treasured up in memory. For when, after the tyrant’s death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, he went away upon their invitation to the neighboring territories of the Gentiles, to appoint bishops in some places, in other places to set in order whole churches, elsewhere to choose to the ministry some one of those that were pointed out by the Spirit.
7. When he had come to one of the cities not far away (the name of which is given by some ), and had consoled the brethren in other matters, he finally turned to the bishop that had been appointed, and seeing a youth of powerful physique, of pleasing appearance, and of ardent temperament, he said, ‘This one I commit to you in all earnestness in the presence of the Church and with Christ as witness.’ And when the bishop had accepted the charge and had promised all, he repeated the same injunction with an appeal to the same witnesses, and then departed for Ephesus.

8. But the presbyter taking home the youth committed to him, reared, kept, cherished, and finally baptized him. After this he relaxed his stricter care and watchfulness, with the idea that in putting upon him the seal of the Lord he had given him a perfect protection.

9. But some youths of his own age, idle and dissolute, and accustomed to evil practices, corrupted him when he was thus prematurely freed from restraint. At first they enticed him by costly entertainments; then, when they went forth at night for robbery, they took him with them, and finally they demanded that he should unite with them in some greater crime.

10. He gradually became accustomed to such practices, and on account of the positiveness of his character, leaving the right path, and taking the bit in his teeth like a hard-mouthed and powerful horse, he rushed the more violently down into the depths.

11. And finally despairing of salvation in God, he no longer meditated what was insignificant, but having committed some great crime, since he was now lost once for all, he expected to suffer a like fate with the rest. Taking them, therefore, and forming a band of robbers, he became a bold bandit-chief, the most violent, most bloody, most cruel of them all.

12. Time passed, and some necessity having arisen, they sent for John. But he, when he had set in order the other matters on account of which he had come, said, ‘Come, O bishop, restore us the deposit which both I and Christ committed to you, the church, over which you preside, being witness.’

13. But the bishop was at first confounded, thinking that he was falsely charged in regard to money which he had not received, and he could neither believe the accusation respecting what he had not, nor could he disbelieve John. But when he said, ‘I demand the young man and the soul of the brother,’ the old man, groaning deeply and at the same time bursting into tears, said, ‘He is dead.’ ‘How and what kind of death?’ ‘He is dead to God,’ he said; ‘for he turned wicked and abandoned, and at last a robber. And now, instead of the church, he haunts the mountain with a band like himself.’

14. But the Apostle rent his clothes, and beating his head with great lamentation, he said, ‘A fine guard I left for a brother’s soul! But let a horse be brought me, and let some one show me the way.’ He rode away from the church just as he was, and coming to the place, he was taken prisoner by the robbers’ outpost.

15. He, however, neither fled nor made entreaty, but cried out, ‘For this did I come; lead me to your captain.’

16. The latter, meanwhile, was waiting, armed as he was. But when he recognized John approaching, he turned in shame to flee.

17. But John, forgetting his age, pursued him with all his might, crying out, ‘Why, my son, do you flee from me, your own father, unarmed, aged? Pity me, my son; fear not; you have still hope of life. I will give account to Christ for you. If need be, I will willingly endure your death as the Lord suffered death for us. For you will I give up my life. Stand, believe; Christ has sent me.’

18. And he, when he heard, first stopped and looked down; then he threw away his arms, and then trembled and wept bitterly. And when the old man approached, he embraced him, making confession with lamentations as he was able, baptizing himself a second time with tears, and concealing only his right hand.

19. But John, pledging himself, and assuring him on oath that he would find forgiveness with the Saviour, besought him, fell upon his knees, kissed his right hand itself as if now purified by repentance, and led him back to the church. And making intercession for him with copious prayers, and struggling together with him in continual fastings, and subduing his mind by various utterances, he did not depart, as they say, until he had restored him to the church, furnishing a great example of true repentance and a great proof of regeneration, a trophy of a visible resurrection.

(From Eusebius which may be found there [III.23]).

Posted in Church History, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Government guidance for services: count them in, keep it short, and beware ‘consumables’

From 4 July, incumbents will be responsible for determining how many people can safely attend public worship in their churches, based on a risk assessment of the capacity and ventilation of the building, the Government has said.

The guidance, published on Monday and effective from 4 July, was drawn up by the Places of Worship Taskforce, which includes faith leaders and government ministers. It has legal status under the Health and Safety and Equality Acts.

No maximum number is specified for people attending for general worship, which includes led prayers, devotions, or meditations. The guidance confirms, however, that a maximum of 30 people are permitted to attend weddings, funerals, and other “life-cycle” services, such as baptisms, regardless of the size of the building, unless this takes place during routine communal worship (News, 26 June).

It states: “Limits for communal worship should be decided locally on the basis of the capacity of the place of worship following a risk assessment. The number of people permitted to enter the place of worship at any one time should be limited, so that a safe distance of at least two metres, or one metre with risk mitigation (where two metres is not viable) between households.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Politics in General, Stewardship

(CT) They’re Not From the US. But They’re Ministering to the Nation’s Soldiers

Agravel road in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Thumps of artillery become background noise as units practice on the nearby range. A few wisecracks start off the morning, along with some last instructions before the ruck march. Then Cornelius Muasa’s voice rises over the soldiers’ to ask a blessing on their day’s tasks, the chaplain carefully articulating the English words that are challenging after his native Kenyan tongue of Kikamba.

Growing up as a stuttering pastor’s kid in Africa, Muasa never imagined he would one day be serving God in the American military. But the Lord led him from a Kenyan church to a United States seminary to discover a global calling and a burden for soldiers.

Muasa is one of many foreign-born evangelical chaplains whose experiences have equipped them to minister to the growing diversity of the US and the American military. Nineteen percent of US Army chaplains and 10 percent of Navy chaplains were born outside the US, according to military spokesmen (The Air Force did not respond to CT’s request for data). These include Buddhists from East Asia, Roman Catholics from Europe, Muslims from Africa, and many evangelical Christians like Muasa from around the world.

Diversity drew Muasa to this ministry, and it’s why he loves it. There are about 1.3 million active-duty personnel in the US military, and the service members are more diverse than they’ve ever been—16 percent black, 16 percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian, and about 5 percent who are immigrants to America.

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Amid a Pandemic, Black and Latino Churches Offer Prayer, Hope — and Testing

Ten days in May. Twenty-four churches around New York City. Nearly 20,000 coronavirus tests.

Over the past few weeks, churches serving communities of color have been transformed overnight into mini-clinics offering free coronavirus tests to all comers. The initiative, a partnership of the churches, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office and Northwell Health, is an effort to expand testing among black and Hispanic citizens, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Black and Latino New Yorkers have succumbed to Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, at twice the rate of whites, a result of entrenched economic and health disparities, denser housing and a higher risk of exposure on the job.

Participants were asked to preregister by phone, but walk-ins were accommodated so long as they lined up six feet apart and wore masks. Among those who sought testing on a cool, sunny Wednesday in May were two teenage brothers who recently went to a hospital to take home their 50-year-old father, only to find he had died of the virus.

“We were expecting him to be released and were texting with him,” said one brother, who identified himself only as Angel.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NYT) The Last Anointing

Beyond the glass lay a man, unconscious in the electric blue light, shrouded in tubes. His family was not allowed to visit. His body could not be touched.

Father Ryan Connors stood at the door watching, his Roman collar barely visible beneath his face shield.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, he had gone to the bedsides of Covid-19 patients across the Boston area to perform one of the oldest religious rituals for the dying: the Roman Catholic practice commonly called last rites.

For centuries, priests have physically anointed the dying with oil to heal body and soul, if not in this life, in the next. Many Catholics have spent their entire lives trusting that in their most difficult hours a priest, and through him God, would come to their aid.

On this Tuesday morning, in the intensive care unit at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, west of the city, all that Father Connors knew about the patient was his name, and that his family had called for a priest.

He had a clear plastic bag with a cotton ball containing a few drops of holy oil. He carried a photocopy of pages from a liturgical book.

At 10:18 a.m., he slid open the door. He walked over to the bed, careful to avoid the tubes on the ground.

He stretched out his hand, and began to pray….

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

(C of E) 1,000 answered calls for help in Shropshire town

In a Shropshire town, a young church member’s idea to help people with shopping has seen more than 1,000 answered calls for practical support for the vulnerable and isolated.

Shifnal Help launched the week before lockdown as St Andrew’s Church, brought together a community partnership to launch an emergency phone line for local people who were self-isolating. Two months later, today it now operates a helpline six days a week offering support, medication collection and delivery, shopping and other key tasks – with the local pub becoming a food donations hub.

Shifnal Vicar, The Revd Preb Chris Thorpe reveals: “It all started with one young mum from church called Elizabeth, who posted an offer to help people with shopping!”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

Preparing for Pentecost: Reflections on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit with Bishop Mark Lawrence

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

American Hero Burnell Cotlon–one of the ordinary people helping to hold our country together in this difficult time

Take the time to watch it all.

Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Care, Urban/City Life and Issues

(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.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

(Christian Today) New Christian coalition launched to support the bereaved

A new coalition of Christian organisations has been launched to support churches of all denominations in caring for the bereaved.

Loss and HOPE was launched last week at Lambeth Palace, the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, in recognition of an increasing openness in society to speak about death and bereavement.

The coalition brings together the Ataloss.org website with the Church of England, Care for the Family and HOPE Together.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby said: “Over the last few years in this country, there has been a real opening up of conversations about bereavement in our society.

“We’re beginning to realise the huge impact that losing a loved one can have on every area of a person’s life. As a result, increasing numbers of people are likely to reach out for help to process loss – and this is presenting the Church with a special opportunity for outreach to our communities.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

(FT) Behind closed doors: modern slavery in Kensington, featuring the C of E parish Saint John’s, Notting Hill

….the domestic worker from Mindanao in the southern Philippines ended two years of overwork, underpayment and underfeeding by slipping through a throng of people and into the street. As she headed between the elegant Victorian apartment blocks of Harrington Road, she asked for God’s help.

“As I’m walking, I’m praying, ‘Lord, bring me to your people,’” Canuday recalls.

Her prayer was answered. After a little more than two miles, Canuday, a slight, round-faced woman who is now 50, heard Filipino religious music coming from a west London church. When she followed it, she found herself at a service being conducted in Tagalog, the country’s most widely spoken language.

Members of the congregation sat her down, gave her coffee and food and offered reassurance. Today, Canuday remembers the event as an act of divine providence. “God took me to beside people who took care of me,” she says. “They said, ‘Don’t worry; don’t worry — relax.’”

Canuday’s reception at St John’s, Notting Hill — a prominent Gothic-revival building that houses London’s only Tagalog-language Church of England congregation — represented a rare nugget of good fortune for an overseas worker fleeing an abusive employer in the UK.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Violence, Women

(CT) Polyamory: Pastors’ Next Sexual Frontier

How would you respond to Tyler, Amanda, and Jon? How would you counsel Tyler’s parents to respond? Tyler’s parents’ pastor advised them to first listen to their son rather than trying to preach at him, so after Tyler came out to them, they set up a time to simply connect and listen. Though they were clear they did not affirm Tyler’s choice, they did affirm their love for Tyler, Amanda, and their grandkids. They made a point to keep their weekly Thursday afternoon “dates” with their grandkids and stay a part of their lives. Because of this, Tyler has maintained his relationship with his parents, and though his relationship choices are unbiblical, they have been able to communicate their love and care for him and his family. Amanda’s mother responded differently. Decades earlier, her relationship with Amanda’s father had ended when he had proposed a polyamorous relationship and then left when she wasn’t open to it. Amanda’s choice reopened her mother’s unhealed wounds. Feeling angry and betrayed, Amanda’s mother effectively broke off the relationship with her daughter. When children choose less than God’s best for their relationships, affirming both grace and truth is a difficult but necessary balance for parents to maintain.

Another important pastoral step is to distinguish elements of polyamory that are in violation of God’s will from elements that are simply culturally unfamiliar to us. When we want to lovingly call people to repentance, we should be precise about what needs repentance and what relationships or elements can and should be sanctified in Christ. For example, the notion of kinship in polyamory is a secular echo of the way Scripture calls the church to function as a new family. In cultures that idolize individualism (but actually isolate individuals), polyamory’s focus on relationship, care, and affection can have a powerful pull. And in churches that idolize marriage and the nuclear family, polyamory’s focus on hospitality and community can be an attractive alternative. We can acknowledge that many of the elements that draw people to polyamory—deep relationships, care for others, hospitality, and community—are good things.

But Scripture does clearly connect sex, marriage, and monogamy in ways that are violated in polyamorous relationships. In the example above, Amanda and Tyler both need to be called to repentance for the way they have committed adultery. A pastoral approach would commend them for their desire to have other adults contribute to the life of their family but point them to the church—not a polyamorous relationship—as the place where God intends for that to happen.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in --Polyamory, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Jon Kuhrt–Why do churches manage people badly?

The church frequently has to respond to the scandal and upset created by safeguarding failures and other cases of serious malpractice. As we all know, these scandals powerfully undermine the integrity of the church’s witness.

One key factor in ecclesiastical failures that is frequently downplayed is the poor state of basic ‘human resources’ practices. The “bad fruit” (Matthew 7.17) that is exposed has not emerged from nowhere. It grows in dysfunctional settings, where clear expectations are not established, proper structures are not in place, and where robust action is not taken against those who ignore requirements. Often there is a basic problem of poor management.

But management is not a concept that sits well within the church. The phrase “managerialism” is often used as code for all that the church does wrong. Theologians will say that the clergy are called to be priests, pastors, and preachers, not CEOs of mini-corporations.

Yet, over the past 20 years, in working for and with many churches and Christian organisations, I have consistently seen the bitter cost of this kind of attitude. Whether it is curates, youth workers, choirmasters, administrators, caretakers, or others, time and again I have seen the problems and sadness it causes.

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Being Human: Gender, Sexuality, Fulfillment
A Ridley Institute Offering
January 10-11

In order for a Christian to faithfully respond to the challenging topics of sexuality and gender, one must engage and understand Scripture’s teaching on these matters. This two-part course will help to increase the Church’s understanding and compassion towards those experiencing same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria, so all may be cared for in love and truth. We will create space for Christians to learn and talk about these challenging topics together, so that voices may be heard, questions addressed, and the Church encouraged to live faithfully today.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

(CT) Kay Warren: Moms of Kids with Mental Illness Need Christ and Community

With all the advocacy and educational work that you do on mental health issues, why was doing a retreat for moms a priority?

After Matthew died, I talked to hundreds of parents who have kids with mental illness. And it slowly began to dawn on me that not only did parents not have enough support, they didn’t have good community.

There are a lot of reasons for that. There’s stigma and discrimination against people living with mental illness. In the Christian community, there’s a standard that we feel like we have to measure up to—you know, perfect marriages, perfect families, always “things are good, things are good.” And when your life isn’t good, you end up hiding how difficult your life really is.

When there is serious mental illness, there can be extreme chaos, violence, or threats of violence. There is extreme dysfunction. There can be homelessness, substance abuse, and a sense of helplessness. And so parents don’t have a place where they can really say, “This is what my life is like.” And I just kept thinking, what can I do, what can I do? How can I help make a place for others, particularly moms, where they can be real, where they can tell their story, where they can find community?

Then a really good friend—you!—said early this year, “Have you ever thought about doing a retreat for moms?” And my response was “Uh, no, but I will.” It became crystal clear to me that that was exactly what I was supposed to do.

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Posted in Children, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Mental Illness, Pastoral Care, Psychology

(CNN) Meet Belfast’s ‘dementia-friendly barber’

In his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Lenny White gathers up his supplies for the day: a red, white and blue striped barber pole, hair clippers and a table-top jukebox — all the makings of a pop-up barbershop, catered to a very special group of clients.

White is known as the “dementia-friendly barber.” Along with his assistant, Jonathan Wray, he visits care homes across Northern Ireland to cut the hair of men living with dementia.

“When these men come into the room,” White said, “they think they are coming into the barbershop, which they really are. It is Lenny’s Barbershop, but it’s not on the Main Street. It’s in their living accommodations in the care home setting.”

White accomplishes that feeling by replicating a traditional barbershop, down to the music playing on the jukebox, from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to Elvis Presley.

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Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship

(CC) When the opioid crisis shows up at our church’s doorstep

The incarnation of God in Christ is God’s confirmation that the bodies of all people are holy. As Paul wrote, they are temples. Our congregation seeks to minister to people in a holistic way, in body, mind, and soul, by providing food and clothes as well as through community organizing, worship, and faith formation.

The challenge for all of us in this ministry comes in taking seriously Jesus’ model of reaching out to people we might fear to touch. People who are addicted to drugs certainly fit the category of modern lepers. It did give me pause during my training to learn that rescue breathing was part of the emergency response, and that if I did not use a rescue breathing mask or barrier mask, I would be at risk of absorbing some of the residue of the drugs.

Our Sunday morning worship services include people who live on the street. Our members are divided about whether or not that is a good thing. For various security reasons, police have recommended that we restrict entrance to people known to be part of the congregation. I can’t imagine doing that. It would be giving in to fear and effectively profiling those who come and worship with us. We choose not to lock our doors to keep anyone out.

Am I afraid that someone might come in and harm us? I’d be lying if I said I was not. We’ve seen people become belligerent at our Sunday dinners, often under the influence of drugs. News reports regularly remind us that the worship hour of any faith is not guaranteed to be sanctuary. Our goal is to be as prepared as we can be, and at the same time as emotionally, spiritually, and physically open as we can be—for all our neighbors. Christ calls us to operate more out of preposterous love than destructive fear. Jim or someone like him will come back one of these nights. We want to be ready to help.

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Posted in Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care

(Church Society) Lee Gatiss–What is Spiritual Abuse?

The Church of England has some very helpful online resources for safeguarding. They even have some courses that can be taken by anyone involved in church at their Safeguarding Portal, and you can get “badges” and certificates to prove you’ve passed the course if that is of use in your context. I got a couple of foundational certificates and also did two very helpful and informative training courses on modern slavery and human trafficking, while looking into this recently.

Whilst checking out some of these very well-presented resources, I was struck by the definition given of “spiritual abuse” — something which has sadly become topical of late, and something which many of us are now wrestling with, and trying to understand or come to terms with. It starts by admitting that unlike physical abuse, sexual abuse, or modern slavery for example, “spiritual abuse” is not a category of abuse recognised in statutory guidance. It is a matter for great concern, however, both within and outside faith communities, including the Church of England. It was, for example, discussed and defined in Protecting All God’s Children (2010), a Church of England document which can be found online here. There it is said that:

“Within faith communities, harm can also be caused by the inappropriate use of religious belief or practice. This can include the misuse of the authority of leadership or penitential discipline, oppressive teaching, or intrusive healing and deliverance ministries. Any of these could result in children experiencing physical, emotional or sexual harm. If such inappropriate behaviour becomes harmful, it should be referred for investigation in co-operation with the appropriate statutory agencies. Careful teaching, supervision and mentoring of those entrusted with the pastoral care of children should help to prevent harm occurring in this way. Other forms of spiritual harm include the denial to children of the right to faith or the opportunity to grow in the knowledge and love of God.”

This I think was the working definition in the case of the Revd Tim Davis who, it was reported in 2018, subjected a 15 year old boy to intense prayer and Bible sessions in his bedroom. The teenager described the mentoring he received as “awful” and all-consuming, but never felt able to challenge the minister. Davis was found guilty of “conduct unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk of holy orders through the abuse of spiritual power and authority.”

Read it all.

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

(CEN) Clergy Care Covenant divides Church of England General Synod

Speaking during the debate, the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, spoke about the covenant’s potential impact on clergy terms of service.

“The proposals in here do suggest that you would have to amend the Terms of Service Measure.

“When the ordinal, which is what we signed up to, is replaced by role descriptions, when capability becomes micro-management, and when licensing services become places where we spell out all the things we are going to do for our clergy, then worry, because our most litigious clergy, and there are a minority of them, will say, ‘At my licensing service you promised to do this so I’m taking you to an employment tribunal’. “I don’t think the covenant will help us, I think the covenant is actually a bad mechanism is order to build good practice.

“If we must do it, we must do it, but I think there’s a worry… moving away from common tenure and moving towards employment and contract culture.

Read it all (subscription).

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, Theology