Daily Archives: June 2, 2012

Kendall Harmon–An Old 2004 post on Preaching in the Episcopal Church

(I thought of this when I was reading the previously posted article. It is only very slightly edited from its orignial form as a post on the blog in 2004–KSH).

Andrew Adam covers an absolutely taboo topic with some helpful comments, including this truth:

One of the problems at the seminary level is that very few people preach a half-decent sermon in their first dozen, two dozen, perhaps hundred sermons. Overall, the standard of preaching in the Episcopal Church is pretty low, so some people preach sermons that aren’t nearly as bad as the average; but most folks need more than three or four practice sermons in seminary to make significant strides toward fluency and grace in preaching.

I [Kendall Harmon] would submit that the question ought to be why the Episcopal Church is not repenting over our pitiful preaching. Most Episcopal preachers today think they are terrific, and in most cases they aren’t good at all, or worse than that.

The Episcopal Church in my view has no outstanding preachers, zero, none, nada. It is why in a movement like Promise Keepers there are no ECUSANS who are part of the preaching program. Someone like T.D. Jakes ought to be considered a possible model for great preaching, yet in a diocese I know well when one of my friends mentioned him a bishop said : “Who is that?”

Preaching simply isn’t a priority in ECUSA, and our system gives us the fruit of that.

If you want to see what I consider a typical Episcopal sermon look at this.

Note: an openly heretical beginning invocation, he tells us mostly what he does NOT believe, but when it comes to being constructive, he is extremely weak. In terms of Scripture and the Tradition we have little. In terms of organization it is merely o.k. The application is pitiful if it is there at all.

Yet: if I gave this sermon to many ECUSANS I bet they would say it was pretty good. A lot of people in ECUSA consider that priest to be a solid preacher!

Good preaching has three parts: it is biblical, it is organized, and it applies the Bible to the lives of those listening. 90% of Episcopal sermons I listen to do not even meet those three criteria which is what is needed to GET OUT OF THE STARTING BLOCKS toward being a good sermon (never mind a great one).

Let me conclude with two points. We do have a few–a very few–preachers with potential. I think John Howe is a very good preacher, and Paul Zahl can be quite good when he is on. Among those slightly younger, Russell Levenson…[is a] good preacher…who may develop into [a] very good [one]….

But I would counsel those who want to learn of great preaching to drink heavily from better wells. Go listen to Tony Evans or T.D. Jakes or Jack Heyford for at least a year. If you want Anglicans listen to John Stott sermon tapes, or those of Michael Green.

And repent and pray for better preaching, and for better preachers, in ECUSA. Heaven knows we need them–KSH.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Bishops, Theology

John Wilson–Are American churches really suffering a crisis of bad preaching?

In his memoir “The Pastor” (2011), Eugene Peterson identifies one of the most serious threats to biblical preaching””a “pragmatic vocational embrace of American technology and consumerism that promised to rescue congregations from ineffective obscurity” but that “violated everything””scriptural, theological, experiential””that had formed my identity as a follower of Jesus and a pastor.”

The obsession with measurable “results,” the rebranded promise of some technique or strategy: Preachers are bombarded with this stuff every day (four keys to success, six marks of a healthy church, seven principles of growth). Many ignore it and get on with their work in “scripture, sermon, and sacrament.” Praise God for that.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly–Freedom of ”˜worship' vs. ”˜religion' continues to stir debate

With the sounds of protests echoing across campus, President Barack Obama knew his 2009 commencement address at the University of Notre Dame would have to mention the religious issues that divided his listeners.

“The ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt,” he said. “It is beyond our capacity as human beings to know with certainty what God has planned for us or what he asks of us.”

With this sweeping statement, Obama essentially argued that religious faith contains no rational content and, thus, offers no concrete guidance for public actions, noted Thomas Farr, director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University. This would shock America’s Founding Fathers or anyone else who has used religious doctrines and arguments in favor of human equality or in opposition to tyranny….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Religion & Culture

(SMH) James Grant–Politics no answer for Anglican malaise

It seems to me, from my now thirty years in Melbourne Diocese, that the hierarchy, supported by many of the clergy, have launched into politics and socio-economics, not because they are aflame with the Gospel, but as a last ditch attempt to find relevance in society. Hence the recent attack on the banks appears to be a natural extension of this process.

Unless Anglicanism can set out on the difficult journey of faith recovery, we can expect to hear more about ageing gracefully, the violence of Melbourne’s CBD, climate change and the evils of banking and gambling. But don’t expect to hear too much of Jesus ”“ nor of contentious moral issues. An Anglicanism of compassion without faith and sound doctrine is no longer a church but a socio-political organisation.

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

U.S. Ordinariate begins in Mobile

A Mobile man will be the first of thirty former Anglican priests to make history this summer.

Mobile Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi will ordain Matthew Venuti as the first member of the U.S. based Catholic Oridnariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Venuti is a former Episcopal priest.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Anglicans in Canada reach a settlement on parishes

Feuding local Anglicans have closed the book on a four-year legal dispute over ownership of three parishes, including one in St. Catharines.

The Anglican Network of Canada and Anglican Diocese of Niagara reached a negotiated settlement that saw the three congregations that split from the diocese in 2008 turn over the keys to the parish properties.

Read it all and there is more there as well.

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

Twitter Dynamos, Offering Word of God’s Love

Joyce Meyer, Max Lucado and Andy Stanley were not well known inside Twitter’s offices. But they had all built loyal ranks of followers well beyond their social networks ”” they were evangelical Christian leaders whose inspirational messages of God’s love perform about 30 times as well as Twitter messages from pop culture powerhouses like Lady Gaga.

Fifteen percent of adult Internet users in the United States are on Twitter, and about half of those use the network every day, according to a report published this week by the Pew Research Center. But Twitter is always looking for ways to add new users. And so, with this new insight, the company sent a senior executive, Claire Díaz-Ortiz, on a mission: to bring more religious leaders into the Twitter fold.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(NY Times Travel) 36 Hours in Oxford, England

Oxford is not a college town ”” it is the college town. Its namesake university’s 38 colleges are so steeped in scholarly history they make Harvard and Yale seem like baby-faced freshmen. To wit: Oxford’s New College was last considered “new” in the 14th century. (Even the obsolete term “New World” is newer.) Students here get into the act, many dressing in tweed coats, sometimes even with elbow patches, and ordering pints of cask ale at pubs that have been in business for nearly four-fifths of a millennium. But Oxford has a modern side, too: night spots blare house and electronic music; restaurants serve modern takes on local food and exotic ethnic cuisine; and comfortable boutique hotels and bed-and- breakfasts beat medieval lodging houses for comfort any day. (Just don’t ask for a place to hitch your horse.)

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Travel

(ACNS) 2012 Standing Committee Bulletin – Day 3

On the final day of the meeting Bishop Michael Doe presented a report on the future of the Anglican Communion’s representation at the United Nations in New York and Geneva.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques

(ACNS) 2012 Standing Committee Bulletin – Day 2

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Blandina and Her Companions

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we who keep the feast of the holy martyrs Blandina and her companions may be rooted and grounded in love of thee, and may endure the sufferings of this life for the glory that shall be revealed in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O Holy Ghost, giver of light and life, impart to us thoughts higher than our own thoughts, and prayers better than our own prayers, and powers beyond our own powers, that we may spend and be spent in the ways of love and goodness, after the perfect image of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

–1 Timothy 6:6-8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ACNS) 2012 Standing Committee Bulletin – Day 1

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, - Anglican: Primary Source, -- Reports & Communiques

(WSJ RTE Blog) Even Mediocre Job Growth Coming From the Wrong Places

Job growth was weak in May. Just as bad: the type of jobs the economy did manage to add….

…the job growth is coming entirely from workers getting part-time jobs. The number of Americans working full-time fell by 266,000 in May, erasing all the gains of the past three months. The total employment figure only rose because 618,000 more people got part-time jobs. Many of those people would rather be working full-time: The number of people classified as “part time for economic reasons” ”” meaning they’re working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job ”” rose by 245,000 to 8.1 million.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

(Time Magazine) Bubble on the Potomac

…the diversity of the Washington economy is an illusion, for each of its business sectors is to some degree a creature of the region’s single great industry–the federal government. According to a 2007 report by the Tax Foundation, for every dollar in taxes Washington sends to the federal government, it receives five in return. Fuller says that over the past 30 years, the federal government has spent $860 billion in the D.C. region, two-thirds of that since 9/11.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, House of Representatives, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, The U.S. Government

(ABC) Has the U.S. Declared (Cyber) War on Iran?

Said [Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta: “Well, there’s no question that if a cyber attack, you know, crippled our power grid in this country, took down our financial systems, took down our government systems, that that would constitute an act of war.”

The comment takes on added resonance given the scoop in David Sanger’s new book, “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power,” to be published by Crown on Tuesday and excerpted in today’s New York Times.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology