Category : * Christian Life / Church Life

(Express & Star) New deacons ready for new challenges and next steps ahead

Rachel Homer, Val Houghton and Norman Jevons have joined seven other candidates in taking on the roles as part of a new training pathway aimed at those who see their vocation as being non-stipendiary (voluntary) ministers to churches in their local area.

Rachel Homer will serve in the Halas Team, covering churches in Halesowen, Val Houghton will serve in the benefice of Brierley Hill and Norman Jevons will be part of two areas, serving in the benefice of Darby End and Netherton and the benefice of Dudley Wood and Cradley Heath.

All those being ordained have already been involved in some kind of lay ministry within their parish and were nominated by their incumbents to be part of the two-year training scheme and are currently at the start of their second year of this.

They will continue training while also working in their parishes as a curate, with all three talking about their pride at taking on their new roles.

Read it all.

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

(NYT) Esau McCaulley–How the Faith That Arose From the Cotton Fields Challenges Me

The validity of Black Christianity, then, arose from the millions of lives it made viable and even joyful despite the difficult circumstances that have marked our sojourn in this country.

Sometimes the path of intellectual development leads us home to the beginning of things. I remained a Christian not simply because of what the faith might be able to do in the world but because of what it might do in me.

My mother recently purchased about an acre of land on the plantation where many of the Black Bones lived and died. She got it for around $500 because it was the slave burial site. Their bodies, never finding rest on land owned by others, now repose on land purchased by their descendants. We hold it in trust for them as their due. If the hope of Christians is true and there is a indeed a resurrection of the dead, they will emerge from those graves as free people, and their last moments on this side of the new creation will be spent on their own soil. That is a hope worthy of my allegiance.

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Posted in Church History, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology

Eleanor Parker–Four Medieval Texts for Michaelmas

[From Aelfric]

Truly, the angels whom God has appointed as guardians for his chosen never leave his presence, because God is everywhere, and wherever the angels fly they are ever in his presence, and enjoy his glory. They take news of our words and deeds to the Almighty, although to him nothing is hidden; as the Archangel Raphael said to the man of God, Tobias, “When you prayed, I offered your prayers before God.”

The Old Testament tells us that archangels are set over every nation, above the other angels, so that they may protect the peoples, as Moses, in the fifth book of the Old Testament, reveals in these words: “When the high God separated and scattered the offspring of Adam, he set the boundaries of the peoples according to the numbers of his angels”. The prophet Daniel agrees with this in his prophecy: a certain angel of God spoke to Daniel concerning the archangel who guided the Persians, and said, “The archangel came to me, the leader of the Greek people, and none was my helper but Michael, leader of the Hebrews. Even now Michael, one of the foremost of the leaders, came to support me, and I remained there with the king of the Persians.” With these words, when he said that Michael came to help him, it is shown what great care the archangels take in their authority over mankind.

Now it is to be believed that the archangel Michael has care of Christian people, who was the leader of the Hebrew people while they believed in God; and that he manifested himself when he built himself a church among a faithful people on the mount Gargano, as we read before. It is arranged by God’s dispensation that the glorious angel of heaven is continually the helper of Christians on earth and their advocate in heaven before Almighty God, who lives and reigns for ever in eternity. Amen.

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Posted in Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Michael and All Angels

O everlasting God, who hast ordained and constituted the ministries of angels and men in a wonderful order: Mercifully grant that, as thy holy angels always serve and worship thee in heaven, so by thy appointment they may help and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Robert Leighton

Grant, O Lord, that I may be so ravished in the wonder and love of Thee that I may forget myself and all things; may feel neither prosperity nor adversity; may not fear to suffer all the pain in the world rather than be parted and pulled away from Thee. O let me find Thee more inwardly and verily present with me than I am with myself; and make me most circumspect how I do use myself in the presence of Thee, my holy Lord. Lord, I desire nothing neither in myself nor in any creature, save only to know and execute Thy blessed will; saying alway in my heart, Lord, what wouldst Thou have me to do? Transform my will into Thine.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(World) Depraved hearts–One murder in rural Mississippi underscores the nation’s struggle to contain violent crime

Hours passed. Authorities believe the trio dropped the girls off, then made their way down Highway 61, not far behind Troy Morris. Morris, meanwhile, had pulled over and tried to report his flat tire to the mail service. When that didn’t work, he called Troop M, his highway patrol substation. While he was talking with the dispatcher, a vehicle turned around and stopped beside Morris’ truck. It was the three young men. Norman and Washington remained inside while the driver, Damion Whittley, stepped out and walked up to Morris’ window. Investigators believe he asked for a cigarette or a light. It’s likely Morris had both. He was fond of smoking.

When Whittley walked back to his vehicle, he got a gun. Whatever happened next left Morris dead. Life as they’d known it vanished for the other three men, too, right along with their tail lights as they sped off into the night.

No one can say for sure whether Morris knew Whittley or if Whittley knew him. Most folks around town assumed the motive was robbery. But according to Mark Cochran, owner of Blackwell Hauling, the company that contracted for the postal service, the trucks carried only packages and letters. “No money,” Cochran ­maintains. “Everybody knows that.”

Whatever the motive, Morris’ death was a deeply felt loss, especially at his workplace. Just as calls for defunding police began wreaking havoc on officer recruitment and retention, Troop M lost a career patrolman, a supervisor with 28 years of experience. It also lost a dispatcher. In her last exchange with him that night, the ­dispatcher heard Morris talking with his killer. It was too much. She quit.

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Rural/Town Life, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Paula and Eustochium

Compel us, O God, to attend diligently to thy Word, as didst thy faithful servants Paula and Eustochium, that, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, we may find it profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness; and that thereby we may be made wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Salisbury Book of Occasional Offices

O Lord Jesus Christ, who hadst compassion on the widow of Nain, and didst say unto her, Weep not: Comfort, we beseech thee, the hearts of those who mourn the loss of their beloved, and when thou comest in thy kingdom, wipe away all tears from their eyes; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Archbishops’ Council is retraumatising us, says group of abuse survivors

Ten survivors of church-based abuse have written to the Archbishops’ Council criticising their treatment after the Independent Safeguarding Board (ISB) was disbanded.

On Sunday evening, a letter was sent to the council by ten of the 12 people who had been awaiting a review of their cases by the ISB when it was disbanded without warning (News, 21 June). They write: “In the period since you closed the ISB we have been left in uncertainty and distress.”

The group criticise the announcement on 14 September that Kevin Crompton had been appointed as an “interim commissioner of independent reviews”….They say that the council’s handling of the situation has caused “harm” to members of the group.

“We have no forum through which to raise these concerns. Collectively, we believe that the harm these decisions have caused needs to be independently assessed and we have asked an expert clinical psychologist to complete this work as a matter of urgency.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

Thomas Traherne for his Feast Day–‘The Cross is the abyss of Wonders’

The Cross is the abyss of wonders, the centre of desires, the school of virtues, the house of wisdom, the throne of love, the theatre of joys, and the place of sorrows; It is the root of happiness, and the gate of Heaven.

Of all the things in Heaven and Earth it is the most peculiar. It is the most exalted of all objects. It is an Ensign lifted up for all nations, to it shall the Gentiles seek, His rest shall be glorious: the dispersed of Judah shall be gathered together to it, from the four corners of the earth. If Love be the weight of the Soul, and its object the centre, all eyes and hearts may convert and turn unto this Object: cleave unto this centre, and by it enter into rest. There we might see all nations assembled with their eyes and hearts upon it. There we may see God’s goodness, wisdom and power: yea His mercy and anger displayed. There we may see man’s sin and infinite value. His hope and fear, his misery and happiness. There we might see the Rock of Ages, and the Joys of Heaven. There we may see a Man loving all the world, and a God dying for mankind. There we may see all types and ceremonies, figures and prophecies. And all kingdoms adoring a malefactor: An innocent malefactor, yet the greatest in the world. There we may see the most distant things in Eternity united: all mysteries at once couched together and explained. The only reason why this Glorious Object is so publicly admired by Churches and Kingdoms, and so little thought of by particular men, is because it is truly the most glorious: It is the Rock of Comforts and the Fountain of Joys. It is the only supreme and sovereign spectacle in all Worlds. It is a Well of Life beneath in which we may see the face of Heaven above: and the only mirror, wherein all things appear in their proper colours: that is, sprinkled in the blood of our Lord and Saviour.

The Cross of Christ is the Jacob’s ladder by which we ascend into the highest heavens. There we see joyful Patriarchs, expecting Saints, Prophets ministering Apostles publishing, and Doctors teaching, all Nations concentering, and Angels praising. That Cross is a tree set on fire with invisible flame, that Illuminateth all the world. The flame is Love: the Love in His bosom who died on it. In the light of which we see how to possess all the things in Heaven and Earth after His similitude. For He that suffered on it was the Son of God as you are: tho’ He seemed only a mortal man. He had acquaintance and relations as you have, but He was a lover of Men and Angels. Was he not the Son of God; and Heir of the whole world? To this poor, bleeding, naked Man did all the corn and wine, and oil, and gold and silver in the world minister in an invisible manner, even as He was exposed lying and dying upon the Cross.

Centuries of Meditations 1:58-60

Posted in Christology, Church History, Soteriology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Thomas Traherne

Creator of wonder and majesty, who didst inspire thy poet Thomas Traherne with mystical insight to see thy glory in the natural world and in the faces of men and women around us: Help us to know thee in thy creation and in our neighbors, and to understand our obligations to both, that we may ever grow into the people thou hast created us to be; through our Savior Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, in everlasting light. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

Lord, who hast warned us that without thee we can do nothing; and by thy holy apostle hast taught us that in thy strength we can do all things: So take and possess us, that our weakness may be transformed by thy power; that we be no longer our own, but thine; that it be not we who live, but thou who livest in us; who now reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, world without end.

Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(Telegraph) A Quarter of Cornish churches fail to offer a Sunday service

More than a quarter of churches in Cornwall are failing to offer a Sunday service, analysis by The Telegraph has revealed.

Across 287 churches in the county, 78 had no forms of Sunday worship advertised on the last weekend of September – a total of 27 per cent.

Of those that did, just 114 advertised that Communion was being offered, considered by many Christians to be the most important sacrament.

Responding to the data, the Rev Marcus Walker, chairman of the campaign group, Save The Parish, said: “It can come as no shock to anybody that if you reduce the number of priests, you reduce the number of services; if you reduce the number of services you reduce the number of people going to church.

“The Church of England has hundreds of millions of pounds to throw at pet causes. Now is the time to put that money back where it was supposed to be spent: parish ministry.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CH) Master of language: Lancelot Andrewes

The top translator and overseer of the KJV translation, Lancelot Andrewes was perhaps the most brilliant man of his age, and one of the most pious. A man of high ecclesiastical office during both Elizabeth’s and James’s reigns, bishop in three different cities under James, Andrewes is still highly enough regarded in the Church of England to merit his own minor feast on the church calendar.

Though Andrewes never wrote “literature,” modern writers as diverse as T. S. Eliot and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. have called him one of the great literary writers in English. His sermons feel too stiff and artificial and are clotted with too many Latin phrases to appeal to most today, but they are also filled with strikingly beautiful passages. Eliot, a great modern poet in his own right, took a section of an Andrewes sermon and started one of his own poems with it (“The Journey of the Magi”):

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year for a journey,
and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.

Andrewes served not only as the leader of the First Westminster Company of Translators, which translated Genesis – 2 Kings, but also as general editor of the whole project. He very likely, as Benson Bobrick suggests, drafted the final form of “such celebrated passages as the Creation and Fall; Abraham and Isaac; the Exodus; David’s laments for Saul, Jonathan, and Absalom; and Elijah’s encounter with the ‘still small voice.’”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Language

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Lancelot Andrewes

Almighty God, who gavest thy servant Lancelot Andrewes the gift of thy holy Spirit and made him a man of prayer and a faithful pastor of thy people: Perfect in us what is lacking of thy gifts, of faith, to increase it, of hope, to establish it, of love, to kindle it, that we may live in the life of thy grace and glory; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the day from New Every Morning

O Spirit of the living God, who dost sanctify the lives of thy people, and dost build them up into a holy temple for thy habitation: Grant us so to know thy indwelling presence that we may be set free from lesser desires, and by thy grace may be conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord.

New Every Morning (The Prayer Book Of The Daily Broadcast Service) [BBC, 1900]

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(Spectator) Dan Hitchens–Inside the fastest growing – and shrinking – churches in the UK

Thriving churches, Hayward says, ‘are very intentional about what they do. They are very clear in their beliefs’ – particularly about the urgency of accepting Christ, since one’s eternal destiny is at stake. ‘Rather than, “Well, everybody here believes something, and we’re not really sure what, but we can always put on an event and maybe somebody will come along.”’

A week after my visit to the Pentecostals, I attend a service at a United Reformed Church – which is the fastest-declining of any UK-wide church. The service is led by the Moderator of the URC, the Revd Dr Tessa Henry-Robinson, described by her church as ‘a womanist practical theologian’ who has a particular focus on ‘uplifting ethnically-minoritised women and communities’. The URC itself, according to its website, ‘is not rigid in the expression of its beliefs, and embraces a wide variety of opinions’.

The Gospel reading is about forgiveness: a ‘contentious’ subject, Dr Henry-Robinson concedes in her sermon, but ‘we can begin almost immediately by asking forgiveness for how we buy into containing and using God’. Such as? Pronouns, apparently. ‘I am not asking people to be on the same journey, but I am trying to be intentional about not using “he” or “she” or “it” or “they” to identify God… not limiting our language in identifying a God that is limitless.’

The trade-off is that so limitless a God may also be too fuzzy to see clearly. At the back of the Elim church is a cross, a reminder of Jesus’s saving death. At the back of the URC church is a stained-glass depiction of a tree with tongues of fire in it, a general image of life and renewal.

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology, Parish Ministry, Theology

(CT) J.D. Greear: Tim Keller’s Friendship Transformed My Preaching

I’m grateful for the humor infused into our friendship. But I’m also grateful for the ways Tim Keller encouraged me. One such occurrence was at the conclusion of a conference when I was walking him out of the venue. As we made our way toward the exit, he stopped. When I turned around and walked back to him, this six-foot-five man extended his arm, pulled me in, and said, “You’re doing really good work here.” It was the most awkward, most affirming hug I’d ever received.

Yet, what’s equally important to the humor and the encouragement is the way Tim Keller shaped me as a preacher. Before I encountered him years ago, my messages were heavy on how-tos and performance. Do this. Become that. But in every single sermon I preach today, I strive to direct people to worship Jesus and adore him more as opposed to inspiring them to work harder as Christians.

I believe Tim was quoting D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones when he said, “There ought to come a time in every message where the pen goes down and the eyes go up and you stop saying, ‘Oh my God, look at all the things I have to do for you. And you start saying, ‘Oh my God, look at all the things you’ve done for me.’”

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Sergius

O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty might be rich: Deliver us, we pray thee, from an inordinate love of this world, that inspired by the devotion of thy servant Sergius of Moscow, we may serve thee with singleness of heart, and attain to the riches of the age to come; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the day from the Church of England

O Lord, we beseech you mercifully to hear the prayers
of your people who call upon you;
and grant that they may both perceive and know
what things they ought to do,
and also may have grace and power faithfully to fulfil them;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for the day from the ACNA prayerbook

O Lord, you have taught us that without love, all our deeds are worth nothing: Send your Holy Spirit and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of charity, the true bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whoever lives is counted dead before you; grant this for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Anglican environmental chair warns against climate denial

Most Churches in the Anglican Communion are tackling the realities of the climate crisis every day, a global audience has heard. But the overwhelming nature of the crisis, and the attendant denial and cynicism, have hugely undermined efforts to act for change, the chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, the Rt Revd Julio Murray Thompson, has said.

Bishop Thompson, a former Primate of Central America, was addressing participants from around the world in webinars on the Lambeth Call on the Environment and Sustainable Development (News, 11 August): part of a structured series on how each of the calls — specific requests determined at last year’s Lambeth Conference — is progressing.

A key part of the [partial 2022] Lambeth [gathering] Declaration was the acknowledgement: “We contribute to the problem. We contribute to the solution. We are both local and global. We connect with one another, share our experiences, and can leverage our networks and Anglican identity to mobilise for action. We do not speak from just one position but from many. We do not only speak to others; we speak also to ourselves.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Climate Change, Weather, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Philander Chase

Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith We give thee heartfelt thanks for the pioneering spirit of thy servant Philander Chase, and for his zeal in opening new frontiers for the ministry of thy Church. Grant us grace to minister in Christ’s name in every place, led by bold witnesses to the Gospel of the Prince of Peace, even Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Euchologium Anglicanum

Cleanse our minds, O Lord, we beseech thee, of all anxious thoughts for ourselves, that we may learn not to trust in the abundance of what we have, save as tokens of thy goodness and grace, but that we may commit ourselves in faith to thy keeping, and devote all our energy of soul, mind and body to the work of thy kingdom and the furthering of the purposes of thy divine righteousness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Dilute climate policies at world’s peril, PM Sunak is told

The Government’s decision to row back on its green commitments is shameful and short-sighted, the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, has said.

In a speech on Wednesday afternoon, the Prime Minister announced plans to delay Net Zero targets, although he said that he still wished to meet the deadline of 2050. Measures an­­nounced included delaying by five years a ban on new petrol and diesel cars and delaying phasing out gas boilers.

If the country continued to im­­pose existing targets, he said, “we risk losing the consent of the British people and the resulting backlash will not just be against specific pol­icies, but against the wider mission itself.”

Bishop Usher, the C of E’s lead bishop for the environment, posted on social media on Wednesday morning, after news had leaked that Mr Sunak intended to water down the targets: “It will be another shame­­ful day if [the Government] rows back on its Net Zero policies. Shortsighted, it will erode credibility at home & abroad. This isn’t the time to seek political advantage with games. Leadership and action are needed, not delay and procrastina­­tion.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Matthew

We thank thee, heavenly Father, for the witness of thine apostle and evangelist Matthew to the Gospel of thy Son our Savior; and we pray that, after his example, we may with ready wills and hearts obey the calling of our Lord to follow him; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Austrian Church Order of 1571

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who dost feed the birds and clothe the flowers, and who carest for us as a father for his children: We beseech thee of thy tender goodness to save us from distrust and vain self-concern; that with unwavering faith we may cast our every care on thee, and live in daily obedience to thy will; through thy beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

The Latest Edition of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

The ADOSC Has Launched at CofC

We recently shared that an Anglican campus ministry was newly launched at The College of Charleston. This new ministry has a name, Campus Communion. Curious about ways to partner with Campus Communion or how to stay in the loop? Make sure you subscribe to the newsletter from Taylor Daniel, ADOSC campus minister. You can read his first full update here and don’t forget, subscribe!

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Media, Parish Ministry

(BBC) Quobna Cugoano: London church honours Ghanaian-born freed slave and abolitionist

Artist Che Lovelace was on his way to the coast on the Caribbean island of Trinidad to collect mud to use in carnival celebrations when he received a message that a church in the UK wanted him to create an artwork to commemorate the life of an African man he had never heard of.

Quobna Ottobah Cugoano was a respected abolitionist in 18th Century Britain – but, despite his significant role in the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, his story is not that well-known.

Cugoano was born in the Gold Coast, today’s Ghana. He was enslaved when he was 13 – captured with about 20 others as they were playing in a field.

His destination was the sugar plantations of the Caribbean island of Grenada. On board the ship taking him across the Atlantic Ocean, there was, as Cugoano writes, “nothing to be heard but the rattling of chains, smacking of whips, and the groans and cries of our fellow-men.”

Read it all.

Posted in Art, Church History, Church of England, Ghana, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture