Category : Stewardship

(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

(NYT) Pastor’s Exit Exposes Cultural Rifts at a Leading liberal Parish–NYC’s Riverside Church

Dr. Butler’s supporters said she lost her job because she had spoken out about sexual harassment and she had complained in particular about an incident in which a former member of the church’s governing council left a bottle of wine and a T-shirt on her desk, both with labels that read “Sweet Bitch.”

They said she had pursued better treatment for women and minorities, with the aim of fixing a difficult environment that had led some church employees to complain and even quit. Her persistence strained an increasingly fractured relationship between her and the church’s lay leaders, her supporters said.

“There is absolutely no doubt that sexism played a role,” said the Rev. Kevin Wright, who had been recruited by Dr. Butler in 2015 and served as executive minister for programs before leaving last year. “I don’t understand how anyone could think anything different.”

But her opponents said her dismissal was being misconstrued, and pointed to the governing council’s significant misgivings about changes she made to the church staff and programming and spending priorities. Her philosophy and leadership style, they said, collided with a church whose culture remained deeply traditional, despite its politics.

They cited an episode that occurred in May as the final straw.

Dr. Butler was traveling to a conference in Minneapolis with two church employees and a congregant when she brought them to a sex shop during a break, according to two people affiliated with the church.

Read it all and please note there are three stories about this in the New York Post who first broke the story.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Church Times) Hattie Williams talks to Paul Handley about covering the IICSA hearings

“Hattie Williams, senior reporter at the Church Times, has covered the proceedings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church from the beginning. She talks to Paul Handley, Editor, about the experience, and what she thinks the Church can learn.” Listen to it all (slightly under 17 minutes).

Posted in Anthropology, CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Teens / Youth, Theology, Violence

(CNN) This church will pay off about $4 million in medical debt in its community. Here’s how it happened

After Northview revealed their plan to help relieve medical debt in their community, even more people reached out to donate — something that Executive Pastor Jason Pongratz told CNN had never happened before.
The church has now raised $30,000, the most in church history. But how do you take that and alleviate a few million dollars in debt?

That’s where RIP Medical Debt comes in. RIP Medical Debt was founded in 2014, and they’ve helped more than 250,000 people get out of debt, basically by buying back debt for pennies on the dollar. Yes, you can buy debt.

CEO Craig Antico broke it down like this: When people don’t pay debt, after a while it gets placed with collection agencies, and the debt accumulates. RIP is able to buy the debt at a reduced rate from hospitals, doctors, and even investors — who typically purchase debt at reduced rates, say 15%, and will require the debtor to pay them maybe 30%, turning a profit for the investor.

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(CT) Evangelicals Can Help at the Border. They Just Can’t Do It Alone.

Leaders like San Antonio pastor Max Lucado have urged Christians to pray and act. “This is a mess. A humanitarian, heartbreaking mess. As we are wondering what can be done, let’s do what we are called to do,” he wrote in a lament for CT. “Let’s pray. Let’s lament. Let’s groan.” (You can read a collection of six Christian leaders’ prayers for the border here.)

Grief over the conditions at the border has compelled many evangelical Christians to act, but they prefer to work directly with evangelical mercy ministries.

However, in these moments when the law stands between Christians and acts of mercy—like not being able to drop off donations at a detention center—they can be uncomfortable with idea of supporting government aid or state humanitarian efforts, said Kathryn Freeman, director of public policy for the Texas Baptists’ Christian Life Commission.

“Even for Christians who tend to be leery of government intervention,” Freeman said, to get the diapers and wipes to the children in custody, “the reality is that Congress has to take that up and do it.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Foreign Relations, Health & Medicine, Immigration, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

(Guardian) Time Is Now thousands march in London for urgent climate action

Campaigners, religious leaders and people of various faiths, led by the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams proceeded along Whitehall on a “walk of witness”.

Williams said he was proud the UK was taking the climate crisis seriously. “I compare it with the great struggle 200 years ago with ending the slave trade. Parliament took an option that wasn’t easy, it must have felt risky at the time facing massive entrenched global culture – and things changed,” he said.

At least 195 MPs who met campaigners were encouraged to mark their constituency with a pin on a large map of the UK before being taken by rickshaw to speak to their constituents.

At 2pm the thousands present rang alarm clocks, mobile phone alarms and sirens, and cheered loudly to symbolise “the time is now”.

Jane Alexander, a primary school headteacher from London, brought five pupils from her school, North Harringay primary, to the lobby. She said: “Our children may be too young to vote but they are not too young to have their voices heard.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

Church of England announces up to £155m investment in mission and ministry over the next three years

The proposals include:

Investment in recruiting and training new ministers – helping dioceses to meet the Church-wide goal of increasing the number of ordinands by 50%; and providing funds towards the costs of an increased number of curates;

Supporting dioceses in making strategic investment in change programmes designed to grow worshipping communities.

The continuation of specific funding to help dioceses to support mission in communities where income levels are low, places of greatest financial need.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(AI) New TEC Diocese in South Carolina sues TEC’s insurance company for alleged wrongful payment of claims to parishes of the Historic Diocese of South Carolina

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship

(CNBC) Charitable contributions take a hit following tax reform

After years of strong growth, total charitable giving rose just 0.7% in 2018, according to a new report on philanthropy by Giving USA. When adjusted for inflation, total giving declined 1.7%.

Last year was the first time the impact of the new tax law, which eliminated or sharply reduced the benefits of charitable giving for many would-be donors, could be measured.

Altogether, individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations donated an estimated $427.71 billion to U.S. charities in 2018, Giving USA said. But giving by individuals fell, while contributions from foundations and corporations rose.

“We certainly do have a pretty stark picture that tax reform took effect and charitable giving declined,” said Laura MacDonald, the president of Benefactor Group and vice chair of the Giving USA foundation board. However, a volatile stock market, which took a dive near the end of the year, may have also played a role, she said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Personal Finance & Investing, Politics in General, Stewardship, Taxes

(NYT) Man Accused of Burning Louisiana Churches Is Charged With Hate Crimes

A Louisiana man accused of setting fire to three churches this past spring has been charged in an indictment with federal hate crimes, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

In an indictment that was returned this month but first unsealed on Wednesday, the Justice Department accused the man, Holden Matthews, of intentional damage to religious property — which the government classifies as a hate crime — and using fire to commit a felony.

Mr. Matthews, who was arrested in April, had already been charged with hate crimes by a local prosecutor, and the federal indictment came as little surprise. But federal prosecutors used the six-count indictment to suggest their theory of a motive for the fires: “the religious character” of the properties where they were set. They did not elaborate.

“Attacks against an individual or group because of their religious beliefs will not be tolerated in the Western District of Louisiana,” David C. Joseph, the United States attorney for the area, said in a statement. “Churches are vital places of worship and fellowship for our citizens and bind us together as a community. Our freedom to safely congregate in these churches and exercise our religious beliefs must be jealously guarded.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Police/Fire, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Albert Mohler) Would You Trade Eternal Life For A Ferrari? The False Gospel of Prosperity Theology

Edward Luce, the American Editor for the Financial Times, penned [an] article [in the Financial Times in April], which chronicles his visit to Lakewood Church, the most significant temple to the prosperity gospel in America. Luce marshals all his prowess and analytical skill to craft this insightful article—a story that explores the friction between the prosperity gospel of Joel Osteen and the historic, orthodox Christian faith.

Luce’s report not only details what is present in prosperity theology, but what is absent. He attended a men’s support meeting and wrote, “Optimism, hope, destiny, harvest, bounty—these are Lakewood’s buzzwords. Prosperity too.” Then, he reveals the glaring absence of crucial theological terms: “Words that are rarely heard include guilt, shame, sin, penance and hell. Lakewood is not the kind of church that troubles your conscience.” The supervisor of the men’s support group said to Luce, “If you want to feel bad, Lakewood is not the place for you. Most people want to leave church feeling better than when they went in.”

This statement distills the essential message of prosperity theology—a theology not centered on God and his glory, but an anthropocentric psychological message aimed at making individuals merely feel better about themselves.

Indeed, self-promotion undergirds the success of the prosperity gospel. All meaning and significance in the universe revolves around the self. Thus, meaning and identity have shifted away from the self-revealing, self-existing God and towards the self-important, self-worshiping individual whom God loves.

God certainly loves us. Indeed, the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” The prosperity gospel, however, shifts the impetus of that love away from the praise and glory of the Creatortowards the praise and glory of the creature. Luce captures this sentiment in his report, noting that Osteen said, “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a computer, your face would be the screen saver.”

Osteen has reversed the entire theological order of biblical Christianity—an order that begins with the supreme priority, glory, and holiness of God.

Read it all (and please note you need an FT subscription to read the Luce article).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

The Bishop of Salisbury welcomes the Government’s commitment to “net zero” emissions by 2050

The Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment has welcomed the news that the government has set a stricter target on climate change. The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury said: “This announcement is very welcome, and the UK is setting an example by making this commitment to address the global climate emergency.”

“But commitment alone is meaningless unless it is backed up by relentless action, which must remain our priority in the coming decades.

“If we are to achieve Net Zero the government’s response to the recent recommendations from the Climate Change Committee will be crucial.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(CC) C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler–What pastors get paid, and when it’s not enough

In recent months, schoolteachers in various parts of the country have gone on strike, protesting (among other things) their low salaries. In 2017, the average elementary and middle school teacher in the United States made $60,900 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For many clergypersons, that figure looks pretty good since the average clergy salary is $50,800. But unlike most teachers, clergy are not in a position to strike for higher wages.

Salaries of teachers and clergy range above and below these means, of course; but regardless of re­gional variations or demographic contexts, teacher salaries tend to be higher than clergy salaries.

Salaries of teachers and clergy range above and below these means, of course; but regardless of re­gional variations or demographic contexts, teacher salaries tend to be higher than clergy salaries.

Calls for higher wages are voiced not only by teachers in poorer states but also by those in places where teacher incomes are well above the national average. In some high-priced urban settings and coastal states, the relatively low salary of teachers makes it difficult for schools to attract teachers. For clergy too, whatever the setting, their relatively low salary is often an issue of economic survival.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

An article from ENS on the proposed Changed Budgetary formula discussed at the partial ACC Meeting

A new formula for setting the level of financial commitments from the Anglican Communion’s provinces approved May 4 by the Anglican Consultative Council has the potential to greatly increase the amount of money expected from The Episcopal Church.

Anglican Communion Chief Operating Officer David White acknowledged that the new annual formula, which is based on the number “active bishops” in a province multiplied by their average salary (including housing costs) multiplied by 10%, produces “the most extreme case of potential impact” for The Episcopal Church….

Historically, the Church of England (at 41.4% of the total income) and The Episcopal Church (at 21.9%) have been the two largest contributors to what is known as the Inter-Anglican Budget. General Convention has budgeted $1.15 million as its total 2019-2021 contribution (line 412 here).

White’s budget report says the ACC’s unrestricted spending budget in 2019 is about $2.3 million. “Given the consistent excess of ambition over resources,” the report says the budget needs a 5% annual increase in money available for unrestricted spending, as opposed to money contributed for specific programs.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Consultative Council, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship

(Local Paper front page) South Carolina’s treasured dolphins tangle with human threats. Their future is uncertain.

That leaping dolphin, one of the most beloved animals of the South Carolina coast, might be dying off in front of our eyes.

Nobody knows how many are really out there. More dolphins are dying tangled up in yards of crab pot lines and other marine gear. They are backing away from their usual behaviors as beachgoers and boaters crowd them.

The local population of the sea mammals is smaller than many people realize. Some people think the waters around Charleston are home to thousands of dolphins, said Lauren Rust of the Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network.

But the last survey by a federal team was done more than a decade ago, in 2008. It found only 350 living in Charleston area waters.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Animals, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Stewardship

(Reuters) Shell to leave leading U.S. refining lobby over climate disagreement

Royal Dutch Shell Plc on Tuesday became the first major oil and gas company to announce plans to leave a leading U.S. refining lobby due to disagreement on climate policies.

In its first review of its association with 19 key industry groups, the company said it had found “material misalignment” over climate policy with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and would quit the body in 2020.

The review is part of Shell’s drive to increase transparency and show investors it is in line with the 2015 Paris climate agreement’s goals to limit global warming by reducing carbon emissions to a net zero by the end of the century….

Shell’s review was welcomed by Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement for the Church of England Pensions Board, which invests in Shell and led discussions with the company over its climate policy.

“This is an industry first,” Matthews said.

“With this review Shell have set the benchmark for best practice on corporate climate lobbying not just within oil and gas but across all industries. The challenge now is for others to follow suit.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(CBS) A 13-year-old Nevada boy sells his Xbox and does yard work to buy his single mom a car

A single mom from Nevada said she was in “complete shock” after her 13-year-old son gave her a grand gift she never expected from a boy his age. Krystal Preston posted the heartwarming story on her Facebook, sharing that her son, William Rabillo, surprised her with a car.

“I have no words right now that can express how I am feeling at this moment,” the mom wrote. “The last couple weeks have literally been hell filled with so many tears, anger, confusion and heart ache. Today I got the shock of my life.”

Preston said her son, who had been busy mowing lawns and cleaning yards, turned into a “money making machine” recently. That’s why she didn’t question the teen when he said he had a job to go do. When he came back home, Preston realized this time was different.

“William came home and said, ‘Mom I bought you a car,'” Preston wrote. “I of course laughed and told him, ‘Ya right!'”

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Marriage & Family, Stewardship

(RNS) After Cyclone Idai disaster, church organizations mobilize to help devastated Africans

When Cyclone Idai struck the Southeast Africa coast last week, it swept away everything in its path, including churches, schools and homes in the Mozambican port city of Beira and beyond.

By Sunday, the number of confirmed deaths caused by the storm in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, already surpassing 700, continued to rise as churches, Christian relief organizations and agencies raced to aid the three countries most affected by the tropical storm.

After causing extensive flooding as a tropical storm, the cyclone — traveling at a speed of up to 177 kilometers (106 miles) an hour — made landfall on the Mozambican coast on March 14 and continued inland. On Saturday, agencies reported that the number of deaths had reached nearly 750 and was expected to rise in the three countries.

Last week, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said the number of deaths in his country could reach 1,000. Initial government estimates said nearly 1.8 million people were affected by the floods — including 900,000 children, according to UNICEF….

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Zimbabwe

(Gallup) Most Americans Support Reducing Fossil Fuel Use

While the future of the Green New Deal proposed in Congress is uncertain, most Americans support the general idea of dramatically reducing the country’s use of fossil fuels over the next two decades as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. Six in 10 U.S. adults say they would “strongly favor” (27%) or “favor” (33%) policies with this energy goal, while fewer than four in 10 say they would “oppose” (19%) or “strongly oppose” (17%) them.

Support for rapidly slashing the country’s use of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal is significantly higher among Democrats (80%) and independents (60%) than among Republicans (37%).

These data are from Gallup’s annual Environment poll, conducted March 1-10.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sociology, Stewardship

Letter to the Clergy in the Historic Diocese of SC about the latest attempted Maneuver by the brand new TEC Diocese in SC in the ongoing Legal Skirmish

From there:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As most of you are now aware, late on Wednesday afternoon, TECinSC notified Judge Dickson and our legal counsel by email that they had filed a petition for a writ of mandamus with the South Carolina Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rule and precedents (quoted below) make clear its intended proper use is to compel a “ministerial act” that is normative for an “officer” when no other remedy is available (i.e. requiring the county treasurer to collect taxes).

Several observations can be made concerning this current petition.

  1. Judge Dickson (contrary to the accusations of judicial failings in this petition) is rightly exercising his duties as a judge and due process is moving forward. This is not the situation envisioned for the use of a mandamus.
  2. The clear motivation is concern for how Judge Dickson might shortly rule. If the matters before him were as clear and simple to discern as TECinSC again asserts, they would not be attempting such a desperate attempt to avoid a ruling by Judge Dickson.
  3. It is not believed that a single justice could or would, for a matter this significant, grant a writ. And in principle, Justice Hearn has recused herself from this case. The likelihood of this petition being granted should be quite low.
  4. The possibility of this being offensive to Judge Dickson is understandably significant. This is a serious criticism of his judicial competence, as exercised in this case.
  5. This might have other unintended consequences with the Supreme Court, by elevating the case to require their attention.

While an unpredictable turn of events, given its attempted misuse of judicial procedure, it is anticipated that this is only a temporary detour. Legal counsel is responding today with a reply to the assertions made in this petition. Because the nature of the petition itself presumes relatively prompt action, it is not expected that this matter will linger as long as others have more recently.

In the meantime, it continues apt to commend Judge Dickson and the Supreme Court Justices to our prayers that they might indeed, in all their decisions, courageously pursue what true justice demands. Please also keep the legal counsel of the Diocese and its parishes in your prayers. The continued and unexpected demands of this litigation are considerable and they merit our prayerful support.

Lenten blessings,

–(The Rev. Canon) Jim Lewis is Canon to the Ordinary for the Diocese of South Carolina

(Photo: Canon Jim Lewis (left) with Bishop Mark Lawrence)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

(Post-Gazette) Pittsburgh Area Jewish group creates relief fund following massacre of Muslim faithful in New Zealand

With the shock still fresh and hearts still mending some five months after the Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Squirrel Hill, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has set up a relief fund to help the Muslim community in the wake of another deadly hate crime.

The group is soliciting donations to the New Zealand Attack Emergency Relief Fund following Friday’s terror attack at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that killed 50 people and injured dozens more.

“Show New Zealand and the world how we are all stronger together,” the federation said on its website.

The Jewish Federation is the charitable organization for the Jewish community around the world and has aided many people in crisis — from the earthquake in Haiti to the wildfires in California.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Islam, Judaism, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Terrorism, Violence

(CT) Seventh Circuit rules Clergy Housing Allowance is constitutional

The October 2017 decision by Wisconsin district judge Judge Barbara Crabb had been a victory for the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), which “jeopardized the benefit for clergy in Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin … and many predicted similar consequences nationwide,” wrote CT’s sister publication, Church Law & Tax(CLT) in an analysis.

In today’s ruling, a panel of three judges again refuted the claims of FFRF attorneys, deciding that the allowance passes muster according to two related Supreme Court rulings, Town of Greece v. Galloway and Lemon v. Kurtzman.

“FFRF claims Section 107(2) renders unto God that which is Caesar’s,” wrote circuit judge Michael Brennan. “But this tax provision falls into the play between the joints of the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause: neither commanded by the former, nor proscribed by the latter.”

The FFRF told the Associated Press it is reviewing its options.

CT previously reported how the FFRF challenged the same tax break in 2012 with the same initial success, but ultimately lost on appeal in November 2014. Today’s ruling was essentially a rematch over whether the tax benefit unfairly benefits religious Americans.

“This ruling is a victory not just for my church but for the needy South Side Chicago community we serve,” said Chicago Embassy Church pastor Chris Butler in a Becket press release. He intervened in the case because his church “can’t afford to pay him a full salary, but it offers him a small housing allowance, so he can afford to live near his church and the community he serves,” noted Becket, which represented a group of pastors appealing the FFRF’s initial victory.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes

(Yorkshire Post) Church of England vows to act on climate change

The Church of England recognises “the escalating threat to God’s creation from global warming” and is to step up its efforts to combat climate change.

The Church’s governing body, the General Synod, voted in favour of a motion on Friday which called for dioceses to focus on reducing their environmental impact.

The Synod voted overwhelmingly for the motion, with 279 supporting it, three opposing and four abstaining.

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, introduced the motion, saying: “Climate change cannot be a matter of indifference for any of us and we cannot underestimate the seriousness of this….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship

(GMA) After a month-long fast, church pays off $100,000 in debt for 34 college students

A group of 34 college seniors set to graduate in May had their student debts paid off thanks to a local church that raised more than $100,000 during a month-long fast.

Mya Thompson, a senior at Howard University, was one of the 34 students at the Washington, D.C., college who had their debts erased thanks to Alfred Street Baptist Church in nearby Alexandria, Virginia.

“I was overwhelmed and excited,” Thompson, 25, said about the surprise. “I’ve always applied for a scholarship but I’d never received one and it was kind of like, ‘Wow, I finally got chosen.'”

Thompson is a single mother of a 6-year-old son and works an overnight shift as a call taker for 911 emergency services, in addition to her college classes. She received $2,500, the amount she needed to pay off to Howard in order to graduate.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(CT) Why Christians of All People Should Get Their Vaccines

When it comes to the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, a combination of studies involving millions of subjects find that the chance of benefit is incredibly high. This has translated to ever-decreasing rates of measles, mumps, and rubella, along with decreased death and disability from these diseases, worldwide. Meanwhile, the risk of harm is demonstrably low. About one in six children have a low-grade fever or rash the day of the shot. Seizures resulting from a fever—which are scary but harmless—occur generally at rates of 1 or 2 per 1,000 vaccine doses.

More serious reactions (such as thrombocytopenia, which is similar to ITP) occur less frequently. Even then, they are still less frequent than complications brought on by measles, mumps, or rubella. And when the risks of a vaccine outweigh the benefits—such as in the case of RotaShield, meant to treat diarrhea in young children—public health officials usually step in to pull the product.

What about those artificial components? Aluminum and formaldehyde occur naturally in our bodies or in the environment at concentrations higher than those in vaccines. Research continues to demonstrate that an infant’s body can safely handle the amount of aluminum found in vaccines. In the case of autism, studies with larger and larger sample sizes demonstrate no link between autism and vaccines, despite otherwise compelling stories from individuals who see a connection between the two.

The scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that vaccines carry a high chance of benefiting us and an incredibly low chance of harming us. The more effective a health intervention is in saving lives, the more morally responsible it is for a community to promote it.

Read it all.

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

(Local Paper) Berkeley County church fixes hundreds of homes, spreads Gospel through repair ministry

In Goose Creek, Carnes Crossroads is bringing 4,500 new homes to a community that also features coffee shops, an ice cream parlor and a pretzel store. In Moncks Corner, developers are planning a 250-unit subdivision on Stony Landing Road.

But several miles north in the county, in communities like Bonneau, St. Stephen and Alvin, many residents live in dilapidated trailers where rain trickles through cracked ceilings into living rooms.

Many homeowners choose between maintenance or paying the electric bill.

That’s when Hope Repair steps in.

For the past nine years, the ministry — operated by Pointe North Church in Moncks Corner — has repaired more than 600 Berkeley County homes for residents who couldn’t afford to repair cracked floors or holes in roofs.

“We believe we ought to spread the Gospel everywhere,” said David Ensor, an associate pastor at the church. “There is such a critical need to help our brothers and sisters in Berkeley County. Especially when you get to the upper part of the county.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Stewardship

Church of England invests £35 million in new Christian communities

The Church of England is to fund a bold series of projects to spread the Christian faith – from a new congregation in a nightclub area to a weekday church – as part of a £35 million investment in mission, it was announced today.

The Church of England is to fund a bold series of projects to spread the Christian faith – from a new congregation in a nightclub area to a weekday church – as part of a £35 million investment in mission, it was announced today.

The biggest investment so far by the Church of England’s Renewal and Reform programme is intended to help it reach tens of thousands of people including in city centres, outer estates and rural areas.

The grants will pioneer new types of churches – which may be far from the traditional image – along with outreach by the Church of England, from a social media pastor to work with school and community choirs.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

Bishop Graham Dudley responds to climate concerns raised by World Economic Forum

“It is significant that the threats posed by climate change have been recognised by the world’s top economic experts.

“While this report serves to strengthen calls for urgent action to protect and sustain God’s creation, it also highlights the peril of inactivity and delay, which particularly places the economically poorest people in our world at risk of devastating consequences.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Climate Change, Weather, CoE Bishops, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(ITV) Community spirit strong as thousands raised to replace stolen lead from church tower

Parishioners of a church in the New Forest have raised thousands of pounds to replace lead stolen from its bell tower.

Thieves scaled 35 feet to the top of St George’s Church in Damerham to steal the lead which had inscriptions etched into it dating back to the 18th Century.

The church says the generosity and goodwill of parishioners has more than outweighed the upset of the theft.

Read it all and consider watching the video also.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry, Stewardship

John Stott on the Call to be Stewards of Time

Certainly wise people know that time is a precious commodity. All of us have the same amount of time at our disposal, with sixty minutes in every hour and twentyfour hours in every day. None of us can stretch time. But wise people use it to the fullest possible advantage. They know that time is passing, and also that the days are evil. So they seize each fleeting opportunity while it is there. For once it has passed, even the wisest people cannot recover it. Somebody once advertised as follows: ‘LOST, yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, two golden hours, each set withsixty diamond minutes. No reward offered, for they are gone for ever’[Horace Mann]. By contrast, Jonathan Edwards, the philosopher-theologian who became God’s instrument in the ‘Great Awakening’ in America in 1734–5, wrote in the seventieth of his famous Resolutions just before his twentieth birthday: ‘Resolved: Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.’ He was a wiseman, for the first sign of wisdom which Paul gives here is a disciplined use of time.

–John Stott, The Message of Ephesians (Bible Speaks Today) [Downer’s Grove, Ill. IVP Academic, 1984), p.117, to be quoted in my adult ed class

Posted in Evangelicals, Stewardship, Theology, Theology: Scripture