Daily Archives: March 15, 2011

Churches in Japan Devastated by Earthquake

Christians in Japan are looking for survivors and assessing damage to church buildings after Friday’s (March 11) devastating earthquake and tsunami.
The National Police Agency announced that as of Monday about 1,800 people have died and 2,400 are missing. The death toll may eventually reach more than 10,000, according to police.

Churches and Christians in northeastern Japan, the most heavily affected area, are still out of contact days after the disaster.

Studies estimate that 2 percent of Japanese are Christian, with the vast majority practicing Buddhism and the indigenous Shinto religion.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Japan, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Update 2 from the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (The Anglican Communion in Japan)

The earthquake/tsunami affected areas include the dioceses of Tohoku and Kita Kanto, and a very small area of the Diocese of Yokohama in Chiba prefecture.

The Diocese of Tohoku covers the prefectures of Aomori, Akita, Miyagi, Yamagata, and Fukushima, and the last three have been hit hard, particularly Miyagi prefecture. Membership of diocese of Tohoku is about 1,500 people and there are 29 churches, chapels and missionary stations. Its Cathedral is in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Japan

(UMNS) Church mergers take time, energy, work

When two congregations with declining membership and attendance merge, the resulting church must make changes, says a member of the rebirth team for a merged church in Winona, Minn.

Corwin Osterloh believes the two churches have much more work to do.

“Two congregations with declining membership are still going down the same path,” said Osterloh, a member of Central United Methodist Church, which merged in July 2010 with McKinley United Methodist Church.

“We really started talking about the fact that what we were doing wasn’t working.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Methodist, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry

Work starts on 4,000-seater new All Saints’ Cathedral in Kampala

The construction of a 4,000 seater All Saints’ Cathedral in Kampala has commenced and it is set to be complete by December 2012, to coincide with the All Saints’ Church centennial celebrations.
The construction of the cathedral is expected to cost Shs26 billion. A fundraising drive was launched in 2009.

While launching the project yesterday, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Henry Luke Orombi, encouraged Christians to continue contributing towards the project generously reminding them that it is going towards construction of a church which is a house of prayer.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Uganda

(Post-Gazette) Peter Beinart sees young American Jews divided over Israel

Last June, writer and political scientist Peter Beinart launched a broadside at the American Jewish community, accusing it of forsaking its own liberal democratic values in blind support of Israel’s rightward lurch, and in the process creating a generation of young Jews who feel no attachment to the Jewish state.

“The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment,” published in the New York Review of Books, made a lot of waves and fueled a wider argument about when, and whether, American Jews should speak out against Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The discussion will continue 7 p.m. Thursday [in the Pittsburgh area]…His topic: “Is the love affair over? Young American Jews and Israel.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Young Adults

(SMH) Michael Duffy: Voluntary euthanasia – is there a slippery slope?

Voluntary euthanasia is in the news again.

At last week’s state election health forum, organised by The Sydney Morning Herald, we heard how 61-year-old Loredana Alessio-Mulhall, suffering from MS, intends flying to the Netherlands to end her life. This, of course, is illegal in Australia. Indeed, next month a man named David Mathers goes on trial in Sydney for the alleged murder of an old, sick friend. I cannot discuss that case for legal reasons, but there are a few facts about voluntary euthanasia worth putting on the record.

More than 80 per cent of Australians in opinion polls say they’d like to see voluntary euthanasia legalised. This issue is nearly unique because a majority of politicians, normally so keen to follow public opinion, refuse to change the law. One of the biggest arguments they use is that to do so would lead to a “slippery slope”. {But is the argument valid?]

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

Stanley Hauerwas–The Place of the Church: Locality and Catholicity

I am a Texan, which has its own problems, but it is the South which has left its mark on me. I am all too well aware of the perversities of the so-called “local church.” But you do not avoid the perversities of place by escaping to some alleged universal. You can only avoid the perversities of place by being the church of Jesus Christ which, as I now hope to show, the Church of England has by God’s good grace done.

In Conflict and the Practice of Christian Faith: The Anglican Experiment, Bruce Kaye provides a fascinating account of Anglicanism that puts flesh on [Rowan] Williams’s suggestive comments about the relation of Christology and locality by focusing on the Anglican Communion.

Kaye’s title rightly suggests that he does not mean to restrict his analysis only to the Anglican Communion, but rather he uses the Anglican Communion to illumine what he takes to be the essential character of the church catholic. That character is determined by our belief that Jesus of Nazareth is the incarnate Son of God making possible and necessary the invitation to all humanity, without distinction of race or circumstance, to respond to the gospel.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Ecclesiology, Theology

(NPR) Japan Triggers Shift In U.S. Nuclear Debate

The nuclear power industry had been experiencing something of a rebirth in the United States, following decades of doubt. That’s been put at risk by the crisis unfolding at a nuclear power plant in Japan in the wake of a devastating quake and tsunami there.

With that situation still in flux, attention should remain focused on dealing with the immediate safety issues in Japan, says Jim Owen, a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, an association of electric utility companies.

“There will be plenty of time later on for a, hopefully, thoughtful dialogue,” Owen says.

But officials in Owen’s industry recognize that problems in Japan are bound to have repercussions when it comes to nuclear policy in the U.S.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Japan, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government

Mere Anglicanism 2011: Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali speaks about the Anglican Communion

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Theology

(RNS) Fed Up with Hollywood, Churches Make Their Own Films

This year’s Oscars may have been passed out, but for some churches across the country the major motion picture season is just getting started.

Frustrated with the movies Hollywood has been releasing, more and more congregations are making their own feature films.

One is Friends Church here in Yorba Linda, a Quaker congregation with an evangelical megachurch worship style where members are finishing production on a film called “Not Today.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Movies & Television, Religion & Culture

In Minnesota, Episcopalians take up malaria fight

Austin Ihiekwe knows firsthand just how deadly malaria can be. He grew up in Nigeria and watched as his baby brother died from the mosquito-borne disease even though his parents could afford medicine and were diligent in treating their children.

“In the rainy season, all kids had malaria, every month or every other month,” said Ihiekwe, 67, of Cottage Grove. “But the availability of medicine is not universal. Some could afford it, some could not.” And the medicines didn’t always prevent the disease.

From Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday, Ihiekwe and members of Christ Episcopal Church in Woodbury are raising money to buy 364 insecticide-treated mosquito nets to be sent to Africa. The 364 nets represent one for each member of the congregation. The effort is part of a larger mission project during Lent involving Episcopal churches statewide and their nearly 20,000 members, said Brian Prior, bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Health & Medicine, Lent, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, TEC Bishops, TEC Parishes

Phil Ashey–True repentance – Gracious Pain

Dear Friends in Christ,

Often what appears as repentance is really an attempt to minimize the pain we feel as we face the consequences of our own actions.

Take for example the story in Numbers 14 about the people of Israel, their rebellion against Moses’ leadership and their refusal to enter the Promised Land. You know the story – disregarding the exhortations of Joshua and Caleb to have faith in God and take possession of the land (Numbers 14:6-9), the people caved in to the fears of the other 10 spies who said that the land and its people would devour and destroy Israel (Num. 13:31-14:3). They considered stoning Moses, Aaron, Joshua and Caleb, choosing a new leader and going back to Egypt (Numbers 14:4, 10). But for the gracious intercession of Moses on their behalf, God would have struck the people of Israel with a plague and destroyed them. Instead, in response to Moses’ plea, God stayed his hand of execution and forgave them (Numbers 14:20). Nevertheless, he required the people to face the consequences of their rebellion, faithlessness, and intent to murder Moses: God required this unfaithful generation to wander in the desert and not to enter the Promised Land for 40 years – “one year for each of the forty days you explored the land.” (Numbers 14: 21-35).
The ten spies who spread the bad report about the land were struck down by a plague – only Joshua and Caleb were spared because of their faithfulness and witness. When the people heard this they appeared to repent. They mourned bitterly. They felt remorse for their actions and attitudes. They even confessed their sin!

But even in the midst of such heartfelt emotion and confession, they were already to repeat their rebellion in what seemed to them to be obedience to God….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(Patch) A Look back at Oxford, Connecticut's, Tory Clergyman

The Episcopal churches of the Naugatuck Valley share a unique and historic clergyman. The Rev. Richard Mansfield served as minister to a circuit that extended from West Haven to Waterbury, nearly 60 miles.

Mansfield’s father, Jonathan, was a deacon in the New Haven Congregational Church. The son studied to become a Congregational clergyman. He finished all the required studies for admission to Yale College (now Yale University) at age 11. College rules required him to wait until he was 14 before admission. He graduated in 1841 with first honors of his class. This earned him a prize that led to his conversion to Episcopalian.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, TEC Parishes

In North Carolina, an Episcopal Church brings a Lenten focus on forgiveness

St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Chelsea is embarking on a 40-day Lenten celebration of forgiveness and freedom.

Rev. John Mark Ford, St. Catherine’s rector, decided to breach the Lent season with a specific focus on forgiveness.

“I want to introduce my congregation to the unburdening ourselves of some of the things that grind on us and keep us beaten down, things the church and God have offered to relieve us of,” Ford said. “I wanted to do this through this Lent series.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Episcopal Church (TEC), Lent, Pastoral Theology, TEC Parishes, Theology

Oliver Thomas–America's churches can help change the world

Consider the issues that most threaten humanity’s common future: global terrorism, climate change, overpopulation, and the political and social unrest caused by economic disparity. These problems transcend national boundaries and beg for international solutions. Yet political leaders have generally been unwilling or unable to find solutions.

So here’s where churches come in. Or should.

Religious leaders are the goad or conscience of a society. From the ancient Hebrew prophets to Jesus, Mohammed, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., we count on our spiritual leaders and communities for moral guidance. Conversely, people have been known to engage in horrendously immoral behavior if their religious leaders tell them it’s OK. Witness the shameful role religion has played in propping up the Confederacy, Nazi Germany or global terrorism. Simply put, religion matters. If not to the so-called new atheists, at least to ordinary folk….

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Lord our God, grant us, we beseech thee, patience in troubles, humility in comforts, constancy in temptations, and victory over all our spiritual foes. Grant us sorrow for our sins, thankfulness for thy benefits, fear of thy judgment, love of thy mercies, and mindfulness of thy presence; now and for evermore.

–John Cosin (1594-1672)

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.”

–John 2:13-17

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

( BBC) Meltdown alert at Japan reactor

Technicians are battling to stabilise a third reactor at a quake-stricken Japanese nuclear plant that has been rocked by a second blast in three days.

Sea water is being pumped into reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after its fuel rods were fully exposed twice.

International nuclear watchdogs said there was no sign of a meltdown but one minister said a melting of rods was “highly likely” to be happening.

Read it all.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Japan

(UMNS) Missionaries in Japan cope with quake’s toll

In Tokyo, the Rev. Claudia Genung Yamamoto, a United Methodist missionary, discarded her planned Sunday sermon text at West Tokyo Union Church, where she has served as pastor for nearly 17 years.

Instead of speaking about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, she focused on Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Japan, Methodist, Missions, Other Churches

Uwe Siemon-Netto–Did Christians contribute to Muslim hostility?

As Congress is considering the extent of Islamic extremism in America, scholars on both sides of the Atlantic wonder whether the liberal Protestant theology of the last two centuries must share some blame for the violence committed by Muslim radicals….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

In El Paso, St. Francis pastor elected bishop in ACNA

For the Rev. Cannon Felix Orji, pastor of St. Francis on the Hill on El Paso’s Westside, the news that he had been elected bishop for the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, or CANA, came as a big surprise.

He didn’t even know he was a candidate.

The last time he learned he was a candidate for bishop, he removed his name from consideration.

“I’ve not been a contender for the position,” Orji told El Paso Inc. “My interest in ministry is to serve the church and to preach the gospel, not to become a big shot. I’ve not really been interested in being a bishop.

“However, this time they did not want to talk to me because they didn’t want me to wriggle out of it again. But I’m delighted.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ministry of the Ordained, Nigeria, Parish Ministry

(Kentnews) Anglicans leave Church of England for Rome

Churches have seen their congregations decimated this week after dissident Anglican priests and their parishioners turned to Rome.

Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of the exodus in both Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells as worshippers opted instead to celebrate their first mass at Catholic churches.

In Tunbridge Wells, Father Ed Tomlinson led 70 worshipers to join St Anselm’s Roman Catholic Church in Pembury leaving a congregation of just 15 at his former church St Barnabas.

Meanwhile, Father Ivan Aquilina took 40 parishioners with him to St Thomas’ Roman Catholic Church in Sevenoaks leaving 50 at the town’s St John the Baptist Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Reuters Slideshow–Japan from above

Check it out.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, Japan