Category : Stewardship

Wednesday Encouragement–After being bullied for his sneakers, teen donates shoes to those in need

Kyler Nipper started the nonprofit Kyler’s Kicks to make sure others with limited means can have a new pair of shoes. It’s a struggle Kyler knows all too well. The 14-year-old lives in a shelter with his family and says he was bullied and attacked for his worn-out sneakers

Watch it all from NBC.

Posted in Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Children, Education, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Stewardship

(America) How parishes can tackle the U.S. church’s money crisis

For the Catholic Church, this means starting with our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. But the road to the financial health of a parish also means seeing financial resources as a spiritual issue, and encouraging parishioners to contribute, as Christian disciples, relative to their means. We recommend three steps to get started.

Preach and teach about money more. The Bible has some great wisdom on how to handle money, and Jesus had more to say about it than any other issue. The pulpit needs to be leveraged to give parishioners insight on money and how giving can be an act of faith. Beyond the pulpit, parishes can host courses to help people get out of debt and more skillfully manage their money.

Talk about money more but ask for it less. Incessant, guilt-tinged “asks” for causes ranging from busted boilers to leaky roofs create the impression that all the church talks about is money. These asks take the form of second collections, special appeals, sales in the lobby and, of course, raffles, bake sales and bingo. These fundraisers create confusion, and parishes should wean themselves off of them. At Mass, pass the offering basket once, and, barring an extraordinary event, ask for additional financial support no more than once a year.

Lead by example. The Gospels say that people followed Jesus because he spoke as one having authority. Church leaders can speak with authority about money when we ourselves are giving at a sacrificial level through our gifts of time, talent or, when possible, financial resources. Our credibility is further enhanced when we are good stewards of the money we receive in offerings, honoring parish budgets, avoiding unnecessary debt and eliminating unneeded expenses.

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Stewardship

(FT) Half of UK universities commit to divesting from fossil fuels

Half the UK’s universities have pledged to sell their shares in fossil fuel companies after a years-long campaign involving protests, hunger strikes and petitions by students worried about climate change.

Some 78 of the UK’s 154 public universities have committed to at least partially divest from fossil fuels, including University College London, York, Liverpool and Exeter, which all said they would ditch oil and gas stocks last year.

According to People & Planet, the group that co-ordinated the students, £12.4bn of endowments across the higher education sector have dumped at least some fossil fuel stocks.

The divestment by universities is the latest sign of the growing influence of young climate activists. Last year, youth-led climate strikes took place across the world, inspired by teenager Greta Thunberg.

Read it all.

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

(GR) Terry Mattingly–After decades of fighting, United Methodists avoid a visit from Ghost of the Episcopal Future?

Wait a minute. The crucial language that the “practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” was just approved this past February? That hasn’t been the language in church discipline documents for many years before 2019 and affirmed in multiple votes?

But here is the most crucial point. What, precisely, are the “fundamental differences” that the United Methodists involved in these negotiations — leaders from left and right — cited as the cause of the upcoming ecclesiastical divorce? Was it really LGBTQ issues, period?

Consider this commentary from David French (an evangelical Presbyterian) of The Dispatch:

The secular media will cast the divide primarily in the terms it understands — as focused on “LGBT issues” — but that’s incomplete. The true fracturing point between Mainline and Evangelical churches is over the authority and interpretation of scripture. The debate over LGBT issues is a consequence of the underlying dispute, not its primary cause. …

Thus, at heart, the disagreement between the Evangelical and Mainline branches of Christianity isn’t over issues — even hot-button cultural and political issues — but rather over theology. Indeed, the very first clause of the United Methodist Church’s nine-page separation plan states that church members “have fundamental differences regarding their understanding and interpretation of Scripture, theology and practice.”

Ah, there’s the rub. Who wants to put “Scripture, theology and practice” in a news report — especially at NBC Out and similar structures in other newsrooms — when you can blame the whole denominational war over conservatives refusing to evolve on LGBTQ issues?

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Media, Methodist, Religion & Culture, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Central Florida, TEC Conflicts: Central New York, TEC Conflicts: Colorado, TEC Conflicts: Connecticut, TEC Conflicts: Florida, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth, TEC Conflicts: Georgia, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles, TEC Conflicts: Milwaukee, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, TEC Conflicts: Ohio, TEC Conflicts: Pennsylvania, TEC Conflicts: Pittsburgh, TEC Conflicts: Quincy, TEC Conflicts: Rio Grande, TEC Conflicts: San Diego, TEC Conflicts: San Joaquin, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, TEC Conflicts: Tennessee, TEC Conflicts: Virginia, TEC Departing Parishes, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NBC) Man pays utility bills for 36 families about to lose heat over the holidays

Decades ago when Mike Esmond was raising his young family, they struggled to pay their heating bill.

One winter, their gas was shut off and the family of five was stuck without heat during a record cold winter.

“It was the coldest winter Pensacola ever had,” Esmond recalled to TODAY on Thursday, saying temperatures had been in the single digits. “We didn’t have any heat. Our windows had ice and icicles on it.”

Decades later, he was reminded of that very cold Christmas as he opened his gas and water bill earlier this month. He noticed the due date was Dec. 26.

“That made something pop into my mind, that people have to pay these bills by Dec. 26,” he said. “If they don’t pay them, they’re going to be disconnected, and they’re not going have gas or water for the holidays.”

As that realization dawned on him, Esmond decided to take action. Now a 73-year-old successful business owner, he was in a comfortable position to help….

Read it all.

Posted in Stewardship

(NPR) Powered By Faith, Religious Groups Emerge As A Conduit For A Just Solar Boom

Minnesota winters are long, brutal and gray. Minneapolis resident Keith Dent has endured 38 of them. But over the last several years, he’s experienced what he calls a “reintroduction to the sun.”

In 2017, Dent helped install, and later subscribed to a massive community solar garden mounted atop Shiloh Temple — a majority black church in north Minneapolis. Today, the 630-panel array provides Shiloh itself, the nearby Masjid An-Nur Mosque and 29 local households with green energy.

The Shiloh project is among hundreds of community solar gardens cropping up nationwide working to solve an obstacle many face when trying to go green: the cost of installing rooftop panels, which for a typical household, runs north of $10,000. The project is also among a growing cluster of initiatives affiliated with faith-based institutions seeking to advance their missions of justice by bringing renewable energy to low income communities.

Dent says his utility bills have dropped noticeably since he first subscribed; “That extra $30 or $40 a month? That’s groceries, that’s gas, that’s ballet shoes,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

The November/December 2019 edition of the Eco-Congregation Ireland newsletter is out

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Church of Ireland, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Telegraph) Cathedrals across Britain are selling historic fixtures and fittings to cover maintenance costs

Cathedrals across Britain are selling their historic fixtures and fittings to cover maintenance costs, it has emerged.

Newcastle’s St Nicholas Cathedral, which dates back to the 1400s, is to sell 35 of its Victorian-era oak pews to raise money ahead of a £6m renovation.

Project chiefs say the decoratively carved benches, made in the 1880s, could become garden furniture or be used in hotels and restaurants.

They will be sold on a first come, first served basis for upwards of £450 and it is hoped the sales will raise up to £20,000.

Read it all.

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

The Episcopal Diocese Of Fort Worth V. The Episcopal Church Case as Heard before the Texas Supreme Court Today

Read it all and you may watch the whole video also (a little over 43 1/2 minutes). You may also find the case documents here.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: Fort Worth

(MW) Fewer Americans are donating to charity — and it may have nothing to do with money

Fewer Americans are giving money to charity, and their relationship with God may have something to do with it.

The share of U.S. adults who donated to charity dropped significantly between 2000 and 2016, according to an analysis released this month from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Vanguard Charitable.

By 2016, just over half — 53% — of Americans gave money to charity, down from 66% in 2000. That figure held mostly steady until the Great Recession. Then it started to drop off and took a dive after 2010, said report co-author Una Osili, associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly School.

The decline amounts to 20 million fewer households donating to charity in 2016 (the most recent year for which data was available) versus 2000, researchers said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Sociology, Stewardship

(CNN) Grandmother who texted the wrong teen for Thanksgiving shared her fourth holiday with him

Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton are a pair of unlikely friends. All it took to bring them together was a couple of texts to the wrong number.

Dench meant to text her grandson to invite him to her 2016 Thanksgiving dinner, but she reached Hinton instead. Then she doubled down on the invitation, and he showed up to her house for a plate full of turkey.
This year, the pals reunited for their fourth Thanksgiving feast together. This time, Dench didn’t have to host.
With their partners, local news crews and a house teeming with family members, the pair reminisced about how much things had changed since their first Thanksgiving — and how their friendship had grown.
“I’m just ecstatic that I have a new friend,” she told CNN affiliates KTVK and KPHO, on scene to document the friendly feast. “Of course, not new anymore.”

Read it all.

Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Marriage & Family, Stewardship

(NBC) Churches across the country come together to pay off medical debt

The nonprofit RIP Medical Debt buys up and forgives medical debt using donations — with much of those funds coming from faith-based organizations. Kyra Taylor was overwhelmed with medical debt until Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor stepped in. She had an emotional reunion with the congregation that saved her life, calling their intervention a “miracle.”

Watch it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Personal Finance & Investing, Stewardship

(SA) The Diocese of Bristol and Swindon declares a climate emergency

The Diocese of Bristol and Swindon has declared a climate emergency after a unanimous vote at its last meeting.

In response to the emergency, the Diocese aims to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and has an ambitious policy to help achieve this goal.

It is the first diocese in the Church of England to announce this aim, with others expected to do so over the coming months.

Bishop of Bristol Viv Faull said: “Care for God’s creation is key to our Christian faith. Climate change hits our poorest global neighbours first and worst, exacerbating migration, conflict over resources and the spread of disease.

“As Christians we are driven to urgent action by love for our neighbour, our world and our creator God. Many of us are already involved in activity to halt the destruction of God’s creation and bring about climate justice….”

Read it all.

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

The Anglican Diocese of Queensland struggles with Mind-Bending Insurance Premium Increases

Under law, our insurance premiums are not due until 14 days after we have received notice of the new premiums. As of this date we have not officially received notice. However the following applies:

• Our current premiums for ISR work out at about 15 cents for every $100 insured compared to a national average of around 30 cents for every $100 insured; a reasonable insurance rate would therefore be about double our current premiums.

• Our new premiums for ISR are likely to be around $900,000 which represents 72 cents in the $100. This represents an increase of about 4.5 times our previous premiums. It also comes with an increased excess.

• It is not possible for individual ministry units to take out policies; only an incorporated body having ownership of the property can take out insurance. This means that only the schools, the aged care facilities, Anglicare NQ and the Corporation of the Diocesan Synod of North Queensland can take out property insurance.

• Heritage buildings must be repaired if damaged, but if substantially or totally destroyed they can be demolished rather than replaced.

• Properties that are leased by the Diocese usually require property insurance as part of the Tenancy contract: currently we lease out approximately 25 houses, one church hall and the offices, shop and house at St Johns Cairns which are leased to Anglicare NQ.

• The two stores (Kowanyama and Pompuraaw) need to be insured as ongoing businesses.

• Removal of debris only insurance is not going to be made available to us.

• We are legally and morally obliged to insure people and other people’s property, but we are not legally obliged to insure our own property.

It is also absolutely clear that we cannot pay insurance of $900,000; and that ministry units are not in a position to increase their insurance premiums by over four times. In the end we are here to carry out the Great Commission and the Great Commandments: we are not here to maintain buildings. Yearly premiums of $900,000 would lead to the effective end of financial support for any ministry.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship

(AI) Trinity School for Ministry expands campus, purchases local church

In the small town of Ambridge, PA, a renewal is taking place. Storefronts are being updated, old buildings are being refurbished to house new tenants, and new sidewalks have been poured. Trinity School for Ministry has a desire to support this renewal in a way that is helpful to the town and also helps to build community. To that end, Trinity School for Ministry is thrilled to announce that we have just purchased the Presbyterian Church of Ambridge, located just a few blocks from Trinity’s campus. “When the pastor from the church approached me to inquire whether we would be interested in buying the church, I knew that I had to explore this option,” stated the Very Rev. Dr. Henry L. Thompson, III (Laurie), Dean and President of Trinity School for Ministry. “We knew we needed a larger chapel/meeting space and we had been praying that God would help us to discern whether or not to build a brand new building,” Thompson added. “We received our answer— not surprisingly, this existing church met every one of my criteria that I had identified for a new building. God has given us such a tremendous gift.”

Opened in 1976, Trinity has a long history of working with the Ambridge and surrounding communities. Of interest is the fact that Trinity’s current chapel was a Presbyterian church, and when Trinity purchased it, half of the congregation began attending down the street at the church that was just purchased. “We feel like God has taken us full circle,” said Thompson, “and once again we are able to put new life into an older building.”

The recently purchased building will allow Trinity to move forward into the future as its residential student population continues to grow and its partnerships reach even further globally.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Housing/Real Estate Market, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

(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.

Read it all.

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

(BBC) The shareholders fighting to make oil firms greener

They can also convince firms to stop lobbying that is “inconsistent” with the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce the risks and impacts of climate change globally.

One of the most successful activist groups has been Climate Action 100+, a global network of institutional investors that targets the world’s 100 largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters.

Its 370 members, which have $35tn (£27tn) of assets under management, include well-known names such as Aberdeen Standard, the Church of England Pensions Board and HSBC Global Asset Management.

In March, the group, working with others, forced the oil giant Shell to make a legally binding commitment to use a broader definition of greenhouse gas emissions in its carbon-reduction targets.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship, Stock Market

(EJ) ‘Back to earth’: Edmonton church groups exploring growing interest of green burials

[John] Matthews is also chair of the north-side Christ Church Polar Lake Cemetery, one of only a few in Edmonton currently offering plots for the green practice. He said his church was approached about two years ago by a resident interested in having a green burial, or what Matthews calls a “traditional burial,” and so they decided to provide the option.

Four speakers took to the podium during the seminar at St. Stephen the Martyr/St. Faith Anglican Church on Alberta Avenue to explore some of the spiritual considerations and challenges with natural burials. It’s about opening the door for conversation and not being scared to talk about the inevitable, Matthews said.

“The whole idea is to get death out of the closet and to confront it directly,” he said. “The more you put it aside … that’s going to prolong the grieving process or impede it really to its proper completion.”

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ecology, Eschatology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(NPR) With Plans To Pay Slavery Reparations, Two Seminaries Prompt A Broader Debate

Among elite U.S. universities, Harvard, Yale, Brown, and Georgetown have all admitted in recent years that at one time they benefited financially from the slave trade. But two Protestant seminaries have now gone a step further, saying that in recognition of their own connections to racism they have a Christian duty to pay reparations.

Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., the flagship institution of the U.S. Episcopal Church, announced in September that it has set aside $1.7 million for a reparations fund, given that enslaved persons once worked on its campus and that the school participated in racial segregation even after slavery ended.

Earlier this month, Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J., followed suit with an announcement of a $27 million endowed fund for reparations, from which $1.1 million would be dispersed annually.

“As a theology school, we use the language of confession to acknowledge our complicity with slavery,” says M. Craig Barnes, the Princeton seminary president. In its announcement, the seminary said a historical audit, while showing that the school never itself owned slaves, nonetheless made clear that it “benefited from the slave economy, both through investments in Southern banks … and from donors who profited from slavery.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

(Chicago Tribune) Nearly 6,000 Chicagoans to get letters this holiday season saying their unpaid medical debt is forgiven. Learn about the group behind the gifts

For Chicagoans struggling to make ends meet, the daily act of checking the mail can be anxiety-inducing. Aside from birthday cards and holiday letters, there isn’t often much good news, but there never seems to be any shortage of bills or debt collection attempts.

Soon, when bright yellow envelopes appear in thousands of mailboxes around Cook County with the words “RIP Medical Debt” on each one, recipients might assume it’s yet another bill. In reality, those envelopes contain the opposite, a potentially life-changing gift.

A network of area churches this summer banded together to take on the debt collection system that profits “on the backs of poor people”; to help restore bad credit marred by medical debt; and to inspire joy, said the organizers, the Rev. Otis Moss III and the Rev. Traci Blackmon. As a result, Moss said they’ve wiped out more than $5.3 million in medical debt, and they soon plan to send letters to nearly 6,000 Cook County residents with a no-strings-attached message: “May you have a beautiful, wonderful holiday. Your debt has been forgiven. Enjoy Thanksgiving.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance & Investing, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC) Church of Scotland considers selling half Aberdeen’s churches

Almost half of Aberdeen’s churches are being considered for sale as part of a “once in a generation” review.

The 10-year plan recommends 15 buildings for disposal, with 15 being retained and the future of a further three under consideration.

The Church of Scotland report said it aimed “to reshape the church estate”.

Rev Scott Rennie, planning convener for the Presbytery, said there were “many more” church buildings than needed and that “difficult choices” lay ahead.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Church History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Economist) The root of all fun Cash–strapped English cathedrals become temples of enjoyment

Durham is not among the eight cathedrals that charge an entrance fee. But the 700,000 people who visit every year are urged, in multilingual signs, to make a contribution of at least £3 ($3.70). This year-old appeal has increased visitor offerings by a third. Well-informed and polyglot guides explain the cathedral’s history and drive home its need for money. But with a payroll of 131 full-time-equivalent staff, supported by 750 volunteers, and a creaking fabric to maintain, neither the contributions of visitors nor the amounts offered by worshippers are anything like enough to cover running costs. Nor can an exhibition of medieval treasures, costing £7.50 to view, or a shop or a café, fill the gap. Only by ever more ingenious devices, ranging from cultural and recreational events to corporate sponsorship and flashy appeals to fund specific repairs, are cathedrals managing to stay in business.

Andrew Tremlett, the dean of Durham cathedral, reckons his institution has kept the right balance between ancient dignity and 21st-century opportunism. When the “Avengers” film was being shot, the 350 people involved were required to fall silent several times a day when services were held. Whatever the disruption to worshippers, the filming enabled 150m people to enjoy footage of the ancient stonework.

Other cathedrals have dreamed up even more eccentric ways to make use of the vast, numinous spaces under their control. An injunction by Archbishop Justin Welby, the head of the Anglican church, to “have fun in cathedrals” is being taken very literally. As a summer attraction, Rochester cathedral tucked a miniature golf course inside its soaring Norman arches. In Norwich, a helter-skelter was installed. This supposedly allowed visitors a closer look at a cleverly sculpted roof, but it was mainly a bit of entertainment, for grown-ups as well as children. Lichfield cathedral won higher marks for a light show entitled “Space, God, the Universe and Everything”, which involved transforming the entire floor into a lunar landscape.

Read it all.

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

Historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina recent Legal Developments (I)–Diocesan Statement

From there:

On Thursday, September 20 District Court Judge Richard M. Gergel ruled in favor of The Episcopal Church (TEC) and its local diocese, The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), in a federal trademark case. In the 73-page decision, Judge Gergel issued an injunction preventing the Diocese and parishes in union with it from using the names and seal of the diocese. These are: “Diocese of South Carolina”; “The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina”; “The Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina” and The Diocesan Seal.

“We’re disappointed, of course,” said the Rev. Marcus Kaiser, Rector of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Sumter, who serves as the President of the Standing Committee, which also serves as the Diocese’s Board of Directors. “But changing our name doesn’t change who we are, or who we’ve ever been. It simply changes the name under which we operate.”

The Standing Committee met Friday morning and unanimously voted to adopt the name “The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina.” Although Counsel for both the Diocese and the Parishes who are studying the order believe it likely will be appealed, even erroneous orders still must be obeyed. “I am grateful,” noted Bishop Lawrence, “for the faithful response of our Standing Committee, the diocesan staff, and legal team in seeking to comply with this order. We work not in fear, for as St. Paul has reminded us, God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind.”

On August 28th , in one of two state cases regarding the ownership of parish and diocesan property, Judge Edgar Dickson issued an order adverse to TEC and TECSC. He rejected their request to dismiss the diocese and parish claims to recover the value of improvements to parish and diocesan real property under the Betterments Statute if it is decided that TEC has title to those properties. He also stated that he had yet to rule on motions before him concerning the question of whether the five separate opinions of the Supreme Court found that there has been any Diocesan or Parish loss of property.“The Court…recognizes that were it to rule against the Defendants [TEC and TECSC] on some or all of those motions, this betterments action could become moot….” “…the Court will consider, for purposes of ruling on the motion to dismiss only, that the betterments action is ripe.”

The state cases were ordered to be mediated by Judge Dickson which will be held on September 26th. That mediation, which had been scheduled for earlier this month, was postponed due to Hurricane Dorian.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(NYT) For Churches, a Temptation to Sell

“With every real-estate cycle, developers will systemically call on religious institutions because their sites are soft,” Ms. Friedman said.

In a way, it’s an odd time for churches to disappear. The number of congregations in New York is actually increasing, according to census records. There were 1,426 congregations in Brooklyn in 2010, up from 959 in 2000, records show, with large gains in Manhattan and Queens, too. And the 2020 census is expected to show more growth, religious leaders predict.

But small mosques and storefront churches account for a lot of the uptick. Older and highly visible institutions that once served Episcopalians and Lutherans, for example, are indeed closing. And dozens of Catholic churches, facing low attendance, have also gone dark in the past 15 years.

“Every time we turn around, another is being sold,” Gilford T. Monrose, who directs the Office of Faith-Based and Clergy Initiatives on behalf of Eric L. Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President.

Concerned that the borough is losing an important source of community services, Mr. Monrose has been working over the past few years to get churches to consider affordable housing as a lifeline.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Church Times) Good Money Week: Using money for good

“In the present state of mankind,” John Wesley declared in his celebrated 18th-century sermon on the use of money, “it is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends.”

Rightly used, he said, money could feed the hungry, provide drink for the thirsty, clothe the naked, and provide shelter for the stranger. “It may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!”

He warned against excessive spending, however, and condemned the exploitation of workers. He called on Christians to be generous in their financial giving, and recognised that money could be misused.

The right use of money has been a Christian concern since the early days of the Church, and, between then and now, both the institution and individuals, in their earning, hoarding, or spending of money, have fallen short of the ideals taught. Today, no doubt, Wesley would be a leading campaigner against the consumer society, drawing attention to how irresponsible and excessive consumption has led to environmental degradation.

Churches and faith investors have, for many years, done their best to align their investments with acceptable beliefs and ethics, and, despite good returns promised, have avoided buying shares in, for example, arms companies, and the tobacco and gambling industries. They have monitored businesses in which they invest closely to ensure they are not exploiting the vulnerable or despoiling the planet.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market

Mediation between the historic Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and the New TEC Diocese results in Impasse

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

Mediation Between the Historic Diocese of South Carolina and the new TEC Diocese has been rescheduled for September 26th

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, Theology

(Guardian) Hundreds of clergy facing hardship despite vast C of E wealth

Hundreds of clergy are in financial hardship, with some resorting to credit cards or even a high-interest payday lender, despite the Church of England sitting on a multibillion-pound investment fund.

Some vicars are tens of thousands of pounds in debt, with many struggling to survive – especially those supporting families – and relying on charity handouts to make ends meet, the Guardian has learned.

Clergy Support Trust – a centuries-old charity which supports destitute Anglican vicars, assistant or associate priests, curates-in-training and chaplains – gave £1.8m worth of grants to 459 clergy last year.

Analysis last year found that 217 individuals who had applied to the charity for help had personal unsecured debts of £5,000 or more, totalling nearly £3m. The figures, based on a combination of grant application data over a 20-month period, do not include mortgages or student loans. Of the 217, 41% had debts of between £5,000 and £10,000, 44% between £10,000 and £20,000, and 15% over £20,000. Four applicants had debts in excess of £50,000.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance & Investing, Stewardship

(Item) Judge: If it comes to that, Historic South Carolina diocese has right to money for property upgrades

A total of 28 parishes, including two in Sumter County, have been involved in the diocese’s legal battle over their right to properties with the national church. The two Sumter parishes are Church of the Holy Comforter, 213 N. Main St., and The Church of the Holy Cross in Stateburg.

After the U.S. Supreme Court denied a diocese petition for a hearing last year, the case is now back at the circuit court where it originated, Lewis said.

The statute describes the process for payback for improvements, but Lewis said he wasn’t sure on the process.

He said the judge’s ruling this week is definitely a “win” for the breakaway diocese, if it lost control of the parishes.

“From our perspective, it would mean, if we lost control of the property because of this trust interest, then The Episcopal Church doesn’t get all this property for free,” Lewis said. “They will have to pay for it in some fashion.”

Currently, Dickson of the circuit court has the responsibility of interpreting a 2017 state Supreme Court 3-2 ruling with five different opinions in it.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

South Carolina Circuit Court Rules in Favor of historic Diocese on Betterments Statute

From there:

Orangeburg, S.C. (August 28, 2019) – In a follow up to the July 23 hearing on the Motion to Dismiss filed by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC) regarding the Betterments Statute claim filed by the Diocese of South Carolina (Diocese), Judge Edgar W. Dickson ruled late yesterday that he is denying TEC and TECSC’s motion. Counsel for the Diocese has been asked to submit a proposed order reflecting that decision by September 6th.

The Betterments Statute provides that a party who makes good faith improvements to property they believe they own, may be compensated for the value of those improvements, if a court makes a final determination that another party is the true owner. Many of the parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina can trace their unbroken history back to the colonial era of the state. During that entire time, there has never been any question of their unencumbered title to property or legal identity. All have proceeded throughout their history with the maintaining and improving of their properties in the good faith belief of their ownership of them.

The Betterments claim was filed in late 2017 because of the timing requirements for filing such an action. The complaint asks that the court stay any proceedings on the merits of that claim until the issue of property ownership is finally decided. The issue of property ownership is before Judge Dickson on motions filed by both sides after the case was remitted back to the Circuit Court from the Supreme Court. These are still under consideration by the Circuit Court. Yesterday’s ruling means that if Judge Dickson rules TEC/TECSC does have a trust interest in any parish property, then those parishes have claims against TEC/TECSC for the value of the improvements made in good faith to those properties since they were created.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship