Category : Stewardship

Alan Haley Analyzes what happened in the Oral Arguments Wednesday before the South Carolina Supreme Court in the TEC in SC/Anglican Diocese of SC Case

If anything remained clear at the conclusion, it was this: the current Justices will have to do the homework of looking carefully at all the documentary evidence in the record in order to feel comfortable with any final ruling they make. There has been too much legal bias and posturing in the past — like the claim that All Saints Waccamaw was no longer the law in South Carolina, when it clearly was; or like the claim that the Court was required to “defer” to the unilateral decisions by ECUSA in matters of property law (as opposed to religious doctrine).

The reason for much of that bias and posturing, it has to be said, should be laid at the feet of the now recused, but in 2017 highly partisan, Justice Kaye Hearn — aided and abetted by retired Justice Pleicones. Together, their unified front against (former) Chief Justice Toal seems to have deprived her of the command of the law and the authority she wielded to great effect in achieving the unanimous decision eight years before, in the All Saints Waccamaw case. They appear to have determined that she not be allowed to treat ECUSA in the same fashion again, and alas, if that was their goal, they succeeded. Fortunately, that success may not be lasting, if the current justices prove up to the evidentiary task before them.

Trying to make the Court’s work less burdensome, by having the parties pare down the record, Chief Justice Beatty admitted at the end, had been a mistake. The complex cannot be made simple in that way. There will be no easy out for this Court, and I predict we will have to wait a good many months for a consensus to emerge. Given the facts as we all know them from the history of the last twenty-odd years, there is no reason, in my humble opinion, why there should not be another 5-0 decision in this case.

Read it carefully and read it all and make sure to take the time to follow the links.

Posted in * South Carolina, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(Historic Anglican Diocese of SC) South Carolina Supreme Court hears TEC appeal from Judge Dickson’s interpretation of the 2017 Collective Opinions in Church Property Dispute

…[Wednesday] the South Carolina Supreme Court heard the appeal of Judge Edgar W. Dickson’s interpretation of the high court’s 2017 ruling. On June 19, 2020, South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Edgar W. Dickson granted the motion by the Plaintiffs (The Anglican Diocese of S.C. and Parishes) for clarification and other relief related to the August 2017 ruling of the South Carolina Supreme Court. That ruling had the rare character of consisting of five separate opinions (the “Collective Opinions”). Judge Dickson’s clarification determined that the disassociated parishes and The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina are, “affirmed as the title owners in fee simple absolute of their respective parish real properties.”

The Episcopal Church’s (TEC) arguments at that time that the Dennis Canon alone, or the Canon in conjunction with various pledges of allegiance and the like were sufficient to create a trust under South Carolina law were rejected. Judge Dickson’s ruling clarified the Collective Opinions, explaining that, “the Dennis Canon by itself does not create a legally cognizable trust, nor does it transfer title to property.” This affirmed that those congregations that followed state non-profit guidelines for their disassociation from TEC retained all their real and personal property.

TEC appealed this interpretation of the Courts 2017 collective opinions in July 2020, not on the basis of Judge Dickson’s legal arguments, but only on the assertion that he had no authority to provide any interpretation. Their argument is that his only possible role was to simply enforce what they assert the Court had ruled.

In today’s hearing, the justices were very active in their questioning. The time allotted to both sides legal counsel was exceeded because of the extensive questioning.

Read it all.

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

Yesterday’s Oral Arguments Before the South Carolina Supreme Court in the long running between the brand new TEC in SC dispute with the traditional Anglican Diocese of SC

Watch and listen to it all (about 1.5 hours). For some crucial background information, please see all the information and links provided there. The single most important thing constantly to remember about the original 2017 ruling is then Chief Justice Toal’s statement: ‘As I stated at the outset, this is unfortunately a difficult case leading us to five
different, strongly-held opinions…we all write separately
‘ (footnote 72). For those who wish to reread the 2017 SC Supreme Court decision please see there.

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

(NYT front page) A Slow-Motion Climate Disaster in Brazil: The Spread of Barren Land

CARNAÚBA DOS DANTAS, Brazil — The land has sustained the Dantas family for more than 150 years, bearing fields of cotton, beanstalks up to a grown man’s hip and, when it rained enough, a river that led to a waterfall.

But on a recent day, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees, the river had run dry, the crops would not grow and the family’s 30 remaining cattle were quickly consuming the last pool of water.

“Fifty years from now, there won’t be a soul living here,” said Inácio Batista Dantas, 80, balanced in a frayed hammock. “I tell my grandchildren that things are going to get very difficult.”

His granddaughter, Hellena, 16, listened in — and pushed back. She grew up here. “I plan to work this land,” she said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Brazil, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(C of E) Church opens “baby bank” lifeline as new parents struggle to make ends meet

A vital service offering support to new parents who are struggling to afford essentials for their babies is being run by a church.

The North Shields Baby Bank, based at St John’s Church Percy Main, in North Tyneside, has helped more than 60 families since its launch in the summer with items including nappies, wipes, clothing and baby formula.

Revd Lee Cleminson, Vicar of St John’s, said: “We’ve all heard of food banks and know what a valuable lifeline they are for people struggling.

“However, as a result of parents discreetly contacting the vicarage, asking for help, there was a clear need for a similar scheme which supplied basic baby items.

“One mother who came to the church for help explained that she was having to choose between charging her electric meter and buying nappies for her beautiful newborn baby boy.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Church Times) Faith groups were sidelined at COP26, says Bishop of Norwich

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, has criticised the Government for its lack of engagement with faith groups at the COP26 climate summit and urged it to make climate change a priority over the coming year.

Bishop Usher, who is the lead bishop on the environment, was at the UN talks in Glasgow which ended on Saturday, when countries had agreed to phase down coal use, end fossil-fuel subsidies, and come back next year to strengthen their commitments. But the promised financial support for poor and vulnerable nations remained lacking.

Bishop Usher said on Tuesday evening: “There was a powerful sense of solidarity across the faith groups and denominations at COP26. All faith traditions value the sanctity of creation, and before the summit many of us met at the Vatican to present our call to COP26 President Alok Sharma, where there was probably 85 per cent of the world’s population represented.

“In Glasgow, it was disappointing to see no space for faith groups at the summit. The Anglican Communion delegation struggled to find spaces to meet. It was a great shame the British Government didn’t put more emphasis on the role of faith communities.”

Bishop Usher applauded the efforts of Mr Sharma, however. He said: “I want to praise the commitment of Alok Sharma and his team, who have worked incredibly hard. The UK has the presidency of the COP for the next 12 months, and I would like to see them making use of this in the lead up to COP27 in Egypt.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(ABC Nightline) How an underwater solution in the Faroe Islands could combat climate change

‘ABC News’ Maggie Rulli travels to the Faroe Islands, where scientists believe that seaweed farming could be a solution to the climate crisis.’

Watch it all.

Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Norway, Science & Technology, Stewardship

‘We must now keep up the moral pressure so that pledges are urgently turned into measurable action’: Bishops respond to COP26

Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich and the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment, and Olivia Graham, the Bishop of Reading, have spoken at the conclusion of COP.

In a statement they said: “At COP we called for keeping global warming to below 1.5 degrees, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and securing finance for the world’s most vulnerable people who are already effected by climate breakdown.

“Progress was made in all these areas, plus cutting methane emissions and halting deforestation. We were particularly inspired to hear powerful testimonies from young people and representatives of indigenous peoples.

“We pay tribute to the work of Alok Sharma MP, the COP26 President, and his team.

“Negotiations always have some compromises and disappointments. These impact the world’s economically poorest the most. We must now keep up the moral pressure so that pledges are urgently turned into measurable action….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Science & Technology, Stewardship

A BBC Interview with Imogen Nay, Canon for Evangelism and Discipleship at Chelmsford Catherdral, on how the local church can make a big difference in combatting Climate Chnage

Read it all.(The interview starts from around 1:28:45 and last about 7 minutes.

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

(Church Times) COP26: Faith leaders ‘all on the same page’ about climate

The Anglican Communion is helping to give a voice to vulnerable communities during the COP26 summit in Glasgow, the Bishop of Reading, the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, has said.

Bishop Graham, a member of the Church of England’s environment working group, has been at the summit this week, among the many Christian people and organisations lobbying and praying in Glasgow.

“Leaders from all faiths are on the same page about climate chaos and environmental crises,” she said. “When we focus on something as big as this, our differences fall into perspective.

“With tens of millions of members across 165 countries, the Anglican Communion brings a global perspective to the conference that’s untainted by national interests. One of the many benefits of an Anglican presence here is giving voice to the plight of the small island states, which are already becoming slowly submerged by rising sea levels.”

Read it all.

Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, --Justin Welby, --Scotland, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(C of E) Church Commissioners among leading financial institutions to commit to actively tackle deforestation

More than 30 leading financial institutions, representing over US$ 8.7 trillion in assets under management, including the Church Commissioners for England, have committed to tackle agricultural commodity-driven deforestation as part of broader efforts to drive the global shift towards sustainable production and nature-based solutions.

Ending deforestation and implementing natural climate solutions could provide a third of the solution to achieving the Paris climate target, help halt and reverse biodiversity loss, and support human rights and food security.

With most deforestation driven by unsustainable production practices for palm oil, soy, cattle products and pulp and paper, resulting in more carbon emissions annually than the EU, action on these commodities is particularly urgent, which is the focus of the commitment made today.

Today’s commitment – to use best efforts to eliminate agricultural commodity-driven tropical deforestation from portfolios by 2025 – is clear evidence of the increasing awareness of the systemic risks and associated actions needed to address deforestation related to production of these commodities and accelerate the transition to sustainable commodity production.

Read it all.

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

(NYT) At Cop26 A pledge to end deforestation aims to protect ‘the lungs of our planet.’

In a sweeping accord aimed at protecting the world’s forests, which are crucial to absorbing carbon dioxide and slowing the rise in global warming, leaders of more than 100 countries gathered in Glasgow vowed on Tuesday to end deforestation by 2030.

President Biden said the United States would contribute billions to the global effort to protect the ecosystems that are vital for cleaning the air we breathe and the water we drink, and keeping the Earth’s climate in balance.

The pact — which includes countries like Brazil, Russia, China and the United States — encompasses about 85 percent of the world’s forests, officials said.

“These great teeming ecosystems — these cathedrals of nature,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain said in announcing the agreement, “are the lungs of our planet.”

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Stewardship

The Church of England launches consultation on plans to get to net zero carbon in just nine years as new Synod prepares to meet

The Church of England is to consult dioceses, cathedrals, national institutions, parishes, schools, and other interested parties on a proposed routemap to achieve net zero carbon by 2030, as papers are published for November’s inaugural meeting of a new General Synod.

The draft routemap, published among today’s General Synod papers, suggests how all parts of the Church of England can make changes together to achieve the ambitious target set by General Synod in 2020 to be net zero carbon 20 years ahead of the Government’s targets.

It includes recommendations for building maintenance, heating and the availability of specialist advice for each setting alongside how the central Church and dioceses can offer support.

The newly elected Synod will be formally inaugurated on Tuesday November 16 at the start of a two-day meeting.

Items on the agenda include a debate on the wealth gap in the UK and discussions about Church matters including the recent review of governance and the development of a new vision and strategy for the Church of England in the 2020s and beyond.

That includes an ambitious goal to double the number of children and young people in churches.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(Archbp Stephen Cottrell) Watching and praying in hope for a positive outcome at COP26

In 2015 there was Pope Francis’ papal encyclical Laudato Si and the Lambeth Declaration on climate change, not to mention only last month we saw for the first time the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Anglican Communion jointly warning of the urgency of environmental sustainability and its impact on the poor.

That impact was something I witnessed myself three years ago when travelling in a part of Northern Kenya where it hadn’t rained for 18 months. Seeing children waving empty plastic bottles at us, begging for water was one of the saddest things I have experienced. Every day the equivalent of 12 jumbo jets worth of people die because they do not have access to fresh water. This horror is only going to worsen without tackling the injustice of the climate crisis.

For me the challenge of the environmental emergency is captured in the Lord’s Prayer. We pray “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven.” If you look in the Book of Common Prayer you’ll notice it says “in earth, as it is in heaven.” Somewhere in the last hundred years or so “in earth as it is in heaven” has somehow changed to, “on earth as it is in heaven”. It was not an organized change by some church commission, it just happened.

We used to believe, and to know, that we lived in earth, that we were part of it, interdependent with it. And if we had a relationship with the earth it was to be its good stewards, living in it, and with it, and serving it. Then somewhere in the last couple of hundred years we moved to a position from living in the earth to living on the earth. And now I’m separate from the earth. The earth is mine, and I can do with it what I will. And from that, disaster upon disaster has flowed. We’ve been blind to the consequences of our actions, and we now live in a time where we must take action.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

A Strange Development in the Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth Property fracas–the Corporation of All Saints’ Fort Worth (TEC) files for bankruptcy

From the Anglican Diocese of Fort Worth:

A hearing scheduled for 11 a.m. today, Wednesday, Oct. 20, in the 141st District Court was abruptly canceled when a surprise bankruptcy filing was shared with the Court. However, it was not the plaintiff All Saints’ Episcopal Church but rather its corporation that submitted the filing. As our attorney’s letter (attached) makes clear, that corporation has never at any point been a party to the litigation now being concluded before the Court. Therefore, we are asking for another hearing date in order to proceed as originally planned with motions that were filed to compel the Plaintiffs to surrender property and funds awarded to the Defendants.

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

(VM News) Archdeacon Mark Ireland–Now is Not The Time to Cut Clergy Posts!

In a recent book (Making New Disciples, 2015) Mike Booker and I quoted a remarkable statistic that 40% of fresh expressions of church are led by lay people with no formal training or authorisation. However potential lay ministers need clergy with time to recognise their gifts, encourage their vocation and invest in their training and development. As an incumbent a major part of my time was spent discipling individuals and growing new leaders, but when I focused on that I never worked myself out of a job. Instead, the church grew and I was as busy as ever!

What’s more, freezing recruitment of parish clergy doesn’t make sense in spiritual terms.

We have been praying and working for a 50% increase in vocations. Just when God seems to be answering our prayers and the number of vocations is increasing, we should be prayerfully trusting God to provide the finance to enable us to deploy these priests. What other organisation would go to the trouble and expense of recruiting and training new staff, only to tell them at the end of their trainee post that there was no job for them?

Freezing recruitment also stifles the work of the Holy Spirit by hampering the growth of fresh expressions of church. Church plants sometimes grow to the size where they can no longer be sustained by volunteers. This is exactly the time when bold investment is needed to help the congregation transition to a paid priest. Such posts have potential to become self-supporting in time. However, if dioceses do not release funds at this point to pay a stipendiary priest the growth that the Spirit has given is I believe stifled and decline follows.

And it doesn’t make sense on financial grounds.

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Independent) From Chris Packham to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 7 people on what COP26 actually needs to achieve

“COP26 will bring leaders together from all around the world: my prayer is that this will be a microcosm of the leadership through partnership that is so urgently needed if we want to make real progress towards our climate goals.

“Climate change is an issue of justice and responsibility – we will need to persuade people to make harder choices that focus not just on financial return but social good, generating mutually beneficial results for people and planet.

“We need genuine agreement churches, business, communities and governments all need to work together against the common enemy of climate change and environmental and biodiversity degradation.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

([London] Times) More than 350 C of E churches at risk of closure by 2026

Hundreds of Church of England churches could be closed and sold or demolished in the next five years, with plans to make it “faster and easier” to dispose of them, charities and priests have warned.

A Church document says that as many as 368 churches have been earmarked for closure within the next two to five years, a rate of closure that would be up to eight times faster than before the pandemic.

It also proposes reducing the amount of consultation needed before closing a church, limiting the rights of local people to object or appeal, and reducing the input from heritage bodies.

Read it all (subscription required).

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

South Carolina Supreme Court sets hearing date for TEC’s appeal from Judge Dickson’s interpretation of the 2017 Collective Opinions in Church Property Dispute

The Diocese disassociated from The Episcopal Church in the fall of 2012, along with 80% of its congregations and members. That action was taken in response to attempts by TEC to remove the Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence as Diocesan Bishop. Litigation in this case began the following January. The Diocese and Parishes filed this action seeking a declaratory judgement to clarify the rights of the Diocese and its parishes. In February 2015, the Honorable Judge Diane Goodstein ruled that the Diocese and those parishes in union with it, “are the owners of their real personal and intellectual property and that [TEC and TECSC] have no legal, beneficial or equitable interest in the Diocese’s real, personal and intellectual property.” TEC and TECSC were permanently enjoined from using, assuming or adopting the marks of the Diocese.

Judge Goodstein’s ruling was appealed to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which ruled on August 2, 2017 in the form of five separate opinions. The lack of agreement among those five opinions required clarification. The Diocese and Parishes filed a Motion for Clarification on March 23, 2018.

In his ruling, Judge Dickson made several important conclusions of law. Chief among them was his ruling on the central issue of interpreting the Collective Opinions. As he noted in quoting former Chief Justice Toal, “The Court’s collective opinions in this matter give rise to great uncertainty, so that we have given little to no collective guidance in this case or in church property disputes like this going forward.” He concluded that, “This court must distill the five separate opinions, identify the court’s intent and produce a logical directive.”

With respect to parish property, the law of this case follows the precedent of All Saints Parish, Waccamaw (2009). In his deciding opinion, Chief Justice Beatty, “found that the Dennis Canon, standing alone, does not unequivocally convey an intention to transfer ownership of property to the national church…” In accordance with established South Carolina law, establishment of a trust interest must meet the standard of being “legally cognizable”. Judge Dickson concluded there is no evidence that any parish agreed to the Dennis Canon: “This court finds that no parish expressly acceded to the Dennis Canon” and “defendants failed to prove creation of a trust.” He further concluded, “TEC’s argument that their unilaterally drafted Dennis Canon created a trust under South Carolina law is rejected.”

Read it all and where necessary follow the links.

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

C of E Bishops join calls for emergency G7 meeting to tackle vaccine ‘hoarding’

The Bishops of the Church of England are backing calls for the leaders of the world’s richest countries to halt the “hoarding” of COVID-19 vaccines while billions of people around the world have yet to be jabbed.

Members of the College of Bishops, which is meeting in Oxford, voted unanimously to endorse a statement by two Anglican Communion bodies which demands an emergency meeting of the G7 to commit to vaccine equity.

It warns that potentially millions of vaccines stockpiled by wealthy countries could go to waste after passing their effective “use by” date rather than be shared with those in urgent need.

Earlier this year G7 leaders meeting in Cornwall promised to donate more than one billion doses of vaccine but it is estimated that less than 15 per cent of these have so far materialised.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Politics in General, Stewardship

Tuesday food for Thought from Hudson Taylor

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Missions, Stewardship, Theology

(CC) Bethany Sollereder–Climate change is here: How will we adapt?

For humans, we need to begin to create policies that open up our borders to climate refugees, to come up with new technologies that can grow more food on less land, and to help populations migrate away from coastal cities at risk of permanent flooding. For other life, we need to have frank discussions about human population levels (given expected lifestyles and lifespans) and ask what can be done to reduce human impact without imposing unrealistic or draconian measures. More generally, we need to change our views of environmental action from conserving what was to adapting to what is to be. If we instead continue with life as usual, the results will be devastating, especially for those who are already the poorest and most marginal in our world.

If we do give up thinking of ourselves as the masters over crea­tion and climate and see ourselves instead as part of God’s community of creatures on Earth, we again encounter the question of how we should understand our role and our responsibilities toward other life. A thoroughly Christian position might maintain that it is our duty to take up a self-sacrificial stance toward other life—like Jesus, who laid down his life for others, or like John the Baptist, who said of Jesus, “He must increase, I must decrease.” The central importance of humans in the Bible does not mean that humans should live like kings on the back of the rest of creation, looking always and only toward their own flourishing. The Christian model of rulership is just the opposite: the greatest is the one who serves and gives themself up for others.

For now, there is some good news: for the most part, we don’t have to fight over what we should do. The activities we should pursue if we are going to adapt well to climate change are largely the same as what we would do if we were trying to prevent climate change. The urgency of cutting down on carbon emissions remains. We should still plant more trees, use less stuff, eat less meat, and create less carbon dioxide. These actions will slow the rate of climate change, giving all creatures a chance to migrate and adapt to a new normal—and giving us time to invent new technologies that can help all other creatures live well in a new climate.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship

(WCAX) TEC Diocese of Vermont confronts financial squeeze

The Episcopal Diocese of Vermont is considering its next steps after a recent financial analysis revealed problems.

“Fewer people may mean fewer dollars coming in to those congregations and thus those congregations giving fewer dollars to support the dioceses,” said the Diocese’s Rev. Walter Brownridge. This is the flow of finances for the church in Vermont and he fears they will struggle to support their 45 congregations. “We knew we were facing some real challenges in a few years if we didn’t change course.”

There are less than 6,000 Episcopalians in the state, a number that is on the decline due to various reasons, including an aging demographic.

“I’m almost 80 myself and I’m not particularly unusual in our congregation, and there are a lot of parishes like this that are losing members due to attrition, to deaths, to people moving away,” said Glenn Sproul, a member of the All Saints Episcopal Church in South Burlington.

Read it all (part of summer break article catch-up).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Parishes

Joint statement on climate change by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch

In a joint statement, the Christian leaders have called on people to pray, in this Christian season of Creation, for world leaders ahead of COP26 this November. The statement reads: ‘We call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the earth and of people who are poor, examining their behaviour and pledging meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us.’

The joint declaration strikes a clear warning – ‘Today, we are paying the price…Tomorrow could be worse’ and concludes that: ‘This is a critical moment. Our children’s future and the future of our common home depend on it.’

Read it all.

Posted in Ecology, Ecumenical Relations, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

Tuesday Morning Encouragement–Restaurant Makes Special Chocolate For Blind Customer With Birthday Message in Braille

There may be a thousand ways to say, ‘Happy Birthday!’ but the sweetest of all may very well be a special chocolate message that was recently served up by an amazingly thoughtful restaurant staff.

Creating natal felicitations in warm liquid cocoa was nothing new at London’s Luciano by Gino D’Acampo restaurant, but for birthday girl Natalie Te Paa, who is totally blind, the best wishes were spelled out in Braille.

What gave the message an even greater meaning was that there was no advance planning involved. When the restaurant crew learned the dinner Te Paa was sharing with friend Claire Sara was a birthday celebration, they took it upon themselves to find and recreate the Braille translation that summed up their best wishes in well-chilled chocolate.

Te Paa could barely believe her fingertips as she traced over the raised confectionary dots.

Read it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Stewardship

Thursday Morning Encouragement–(NBC) Co-Workers Donate Organs To Each Other’s Spouses

“After Tia Wimbush and Susan Ellis connected over their husbands’ kidney failures and a long transplant waiting list — a serendipitous moment occurred. Tia and Susan realized they matched blood types for each other’s spouse. Several months later and after a smooth recovery, the pair say they are now family.”

Watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Stewardship

(Archbp Cranmer blog) ‘Key limiting factors’: the end of stipendiary parish ministry

Which is absolutely laudable: a church without a mission is just a monument in memory of the Messiah. And a parish-based innovation which is overseen by qualified parish clergy is welcome if it leads people to Christ. But church leaders who have not submitted to a “long, costly college-based training” will have little theology and poor (or no) formation. You end up with a Wesleyan model of church (conveniently forgetting that the Wesleys were steeped in theology and had a profound understanding of Anglican orthodoxy), with all the inherent dangers of error and heresy being lay-preached. Reading Against Heresies: On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis and writing tedious 5,000-word essays on the definition of ‘Applied Theology’ is what helps to qualify you to teach, preach and minister effectively. Some eager disciples yearn to get out into the community and ‘do stuff’, but that stuff is far better done when it is led by people whose skills have been honed, mettle tested, and vocation discerned.

And who are all these lay leaders waiting to be ‘released’? Are they all wealthy or self-employed with a lot of spare time on their hands and the ability to labour for nothing, like parliamentary candidates for the Conservative Party?

Or perhaps there are no lay leaders waiting and yearning to be ‘released’ – and certainly nothing like the army necessary to birth and nurture 10,000 church plants.

Isn’t it a curious vision for renewing and reinvigorating the Church of England that the strategy is apparently to inculcate a new generation with the theology of the Free Church: you don’t need knowledgeable priests, you don’t need beautiful buildings, and you don’t need rigorous qualifications in theology: these are key limiting factors to mission. All you need is a passion for Christ and the ability to lead a Bible study. The rest is otiose.

Now, when will someone write a paper on the key limiting factors in the House and College of Bishops?

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship, Theology

(NBC) Alabama teen donates hair for children in need

“Before heading to the U.S. Air Force Academy, 17-year-old Kieran Moïse needed a haircut. He donated his 19 inches of hair to children with hair loss, and he’s raised more than $35,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”

Watch it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Stewardship

(Bloomberg) California’s Drought Is So Bad That Almond Farmers Are Ripping Out Trees

Christine Gemperle is about to do what almond farmers fear the most: rip out her trees early.

Water is so scarce on her orchard in California’s Central Valley that she’s been forced to let a third of her acreage go dry. In the irrigated areas, the lush, supple trees are dewy in the early morning, providing some relief from the extreme heat. Walking over to the dry side, you can actually feel the temperature start to go up as you’re surrounded by the brittle, lifeless branches that look like they could crumble into dust.

“Farming’s very risky,” said Gemperle, who will undertake the arduous process of pulling out all her trees on the orchard this fall, replacing them with younger ones that don’t need as much moisture. It’s a tough decision. Almond trees are typically a 25-year investment, and if it weren’t for the drought, these trees could’ve made it through at least another growing season, if not two. Now, they’ll be ground up into mulch.

“I don’t think a lot of people understand just how risky this business is, and it’s a risk that’s associated with something you can’t control at all: The weather,” she said.

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Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ecology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Stewardship

C of E Church Commissioners report strong long-term investment performance

Continued strong long-term investment performance enabled the Church Commissioners to extend financial support to the Church of England during the pandemic

Church Commissioners also give confidence about maintaining distributions through this triennium and the next

Determined action on climate change continues whilst the Church Commissioners deepen its focus as Responsible Investors on twin pillars: Respect for People, Respect for the Planet

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Stock Market