Monthly Archives: June 2013

(ACNS) Primate of Hong Kong Paul Kwong tells Anglicans to "do-it-yourself"

Archbishop Paul Kwong, who was recently re-elected for a second six-year term as Primate, has called Anglicans in Hong Kong to “do-it-yourself”*, to fulfil their own ministries rather than rely on external assistance.

The Church’s Echo Magazine revealed that, in a speech following his re-election, the Primate said he “deplored” the reliance on non-Anglican staff to perform ministerial work. This, he suggested, contravened the Anglican tradition of passing on faith from one generation to another.

“Those who come to the Anglican Church expect to be nurtured in the Anglican way by Anglicans,” Archbishop Kwong said. “”˜Nurturing’ not only is the duty of priests, but also that of every layperson. The Church is your family and you must assume your responsibility as a family member.”

Read it all.

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

(First Things On the Square Blog) Elizabeth Scalia–Gay Marriage: Whose Yes, Whose No?

I recently received the following message from a stranger: “So basically, the ”˜orthodox Catholic’ game you all play is just that . . . a game?” It was in reference to a Catholic man with whom I am friendly, and like very much. She had apparently read on social media that this man was planning to marry another man.

My friend had never “come out” to me, and””call me old-fashioned, or call me incurious””it had never occurred to me to ask, so the wedding plans were mildly surprising. But reading the email I thought, “Yes, so? What does this woman want me to do? Should I now hate him? Am I supposed to ”˜un-friend’ him (that ridiculous term) or even publicly denounce him in order to demonstrate sufficiently ”˜orthodox’ Catholic bona fides for her satisfaction? Is that what she wants?”

Well, I couldn’t do that….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(RNS) Philadelphia plans to cremate, bury 47 Gosnell bodies

Despite repeated requests from religious leaders and anti-abortion activists, city officials in Philadelphia plan to cremate and bury the 47 bodies from abortion provider Kermit Gosnell’s case.

In May, Gosnell was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder. He waived his rights to appeal but has 30 days to reconsider his decision.

Once the appeal period is over on Saturday, the city will follow its normal procedures by conducting cremation and burial, city spokesman Mark McDonald said. McDonald did not have information on when it would take place.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CC Blogs) Carol Merritt–How do you close a church? When do you start having the conversations?

My first congregation was located in a diminishing rural area, but after a year, we were growing. We began a youth group. Families and young members began attending. More people started commuting from the larger city to attend the church.

Then the local governing body put a minimum salary in place that was 10k above what I made. I applied for a grant that got me enough money for the next three years, but a struggle at the church arose between those who wanted to “go out with a bang” and those who wanted to hold onto the little bit in the bank account. There was an idea that having money in the bank was going to keep the church alive for an eternity. So I got a better job. (And yes, it was a better job at a more stable church. I don’t want to spiritualize it too much by saying it was God’s calling.)

When I look back, I’m sad about how it all went down. Not to overblow my importance, but it was as if the church didn’t buy the prescription medicine that they needed to live well, because it would cost too much.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(WSJ) Why Teenagers Need Peer Pressure

New studies on peer pressure suggest that teens””who often seem to follow each other like lemmings””may do so because their brains derive more pleasure from social acceptance than adult brains, and not because teens are less capable of making rational decisions.

And scientists say facing the influence of friends represents an important developmental step for teens on their way to becoming independent-thinking adults.

Peer pressure is often seen as a negative, and indeed it can coax kids into unhealthy behavior like smoking or speeding. But it can also lead to engagement in more useful social behaviors. If peers value doing well in school or excelling at sports, for instance, it might encourage kids to study or train harder. And both peer pressure and learning to resist it are important developmental steps to self-reliance, experts say.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Teens / Youth

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God in whom all fullness dwelleth, who givest without measure to them that ask; Give us faith to ask, and faith to receive, all that thy bounty giveth; that being filled with all thy fullness we may as thy faithful stewards impart thy gifts to all thy children; for Jesus Christ’s sake, Amen.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

–Acts 2:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Google pledges $5m to battle child pornography on the web

Google is to spend $5m (£3.1m) fighting child pornography and abuse, the company will announce today, after criticism that it is not doing enough to prevent the spread of harmful online imagery.

With a Whitehall summit on online protection set for…. [today], chaired by the Culture Secretary, Maria Miller, the internet giant has pledged to tackle child sex abuse images through “hashing” technology that gives each picture a web “fingerprint” that can be identified and removed.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Blogging & the Internet, Children, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Pornography, Theology

(SHNS) Terry Mattingly: A case for the common hymnal

There was a time when the faithful in the heavily Dutch corners of the Midwest would not have been able to sing along if the organist played the gospel classic “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.”

True, some may have recognized the hymn that Mahalia Jackson sang at the 1968 funeral of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., since this was the civil rights leader’s favorite: “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, let me stand. I am tired, I am weak, I am worn. Through the storm, through the night, lead me on to the light. Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home.”

But by 1987, this beloved African-American spiritual had been added to the Christian Reformed Church hymnal. A generation later, it has achieved the kind of stature that puts it in the core of the “In Death and Dying” pages of the church’s new “Lift Up Your Hearts” hymnal.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CT) Jen Michel–The Feel-Good Faith of Evangelicals

Think of how evangelicals may describe the Bible: unchanging, inerrant, authoritative, truth.

Well, “in the world we are entering, the concept of the Bible will be completely different,” said David Parker, theology professor at the University of Birmingham. Speaking recently at the Hay Festival in England, Parker predicted that technology will prompt personalized digital versions of the Scripture, “like an individual copy” of the Bible.

If Parker is right, we evangelicals might have some major questions. How would this editorial control affect our faith? Could it lead to an eventual erosion of sound doctrine? Would the capacity for changing our sacred texts ultimately diminish their authority?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

Peter Moore–My Muslim Encounter in London

While listening to a fiery preacher of the gospel I observed three young men in their thirties just to my right giggling at and mocking the preacher’s insistence that Jesus was who he claimed to be. Here was my opportunity.

They were Muslims, and soon we were talking about how Jesus could be both the Son of God and at the same time one with the Father. I asked them if they had read the Injeel, the Arabic word for the Gospels, since Mohammed said that Jesus was a prophet and that God had given us the Gospels. “Ah, but the Injeel has been corrupted,” they said. “But why if God is all powerful would he have allowed his word to be corrupted?” I asked them. No answer.

Our conversation ranged on a wide variety of subjects including Jihad (they insisted that those who interpreted Jidad violently were not “real” Muslims), suicide bombers (again they were not real Muslims), and whether those who followed Jesus caused wars or believed in turning the other cheek. When I turned my cheek and asked one of them to hit me, they all smiled (as did I), but they knew I meant it.
– See more at:

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Apologetics, Christology, England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Theology

(RNS) Study says gays find most U.S. faiths unfriendly

Gay Americans are much less religious than the general U.S. population, and about three in 10 of them say they have felt unwelcome in a house of worship, a new study shows.

The Pew Research Center’s study, released Thursday (June 13), details how gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans view many of the country’s prominent faiths: in a word, unfriendly.

The vast majority said Islam (84 percent); the Mormon church (83 percent); the Roman Catholic Church (79 percent); and evangelical churches (73 percent) were unfriendly. Jews and nonevangelical Protestants drew a more mixed reaction, with more than 40 percent considering them either unfriendly or neutral about gays and lesbians.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality

(All Africa) Men's fellowship of Anglican Cathedral in Kubwa Donates 3.5 million Naira to 3 widowers

Three male widowers were last Sunday empowered by the men’s fellowship of the Cathedral Church of St. Batholomew, Kubwa, with the sum of N3.5million to assist them in taking care of their families.

The President of the fellowship, Innocent Ekeopara, who spoke to our reporter, said the gesture is in line with the organisation’s mandate to empathise with members, who are faced with financial challenges.

He said the assumption that some men who lost their wives would not find it difficult in taking up the family responsibilities might be wrong especially when the woman was the bread winner before her demise.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Children, Church of Nigeria, Marriage & Family, Men, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Women

(Sightings) Martin Marty–Demographic Changes Impact Religious Institutions

Today census data reveals fewer lasting marriages, fewer marriages, more interfaith (and often religiously “diluting”) families, women adding work outside of the home to their work in the home, the mobility and the rootlessness that goes with this–all of these factors at odds with the traditional, habitual, reflexive identification of a people with a religious membership or involvement.

The heirs of the dwindling white majority can complain or explain, or they can accept the changes and help re-conceive religious commitment. The trends suggest opportunities for Hispanic Catholicism, Black Protestantism, and Asian faith with whatever affiliation. As for non-Hispanic whites, the trends are a wake-up call, occasions to discern opportunities, and to pursue the paths of God, as they see these, in an ever-changing America. The response begins with showing awareness, but that’s not all. We’ll continue to document changes.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture

(Wash. Post) University programs that train U.S. teachers get mediocre marks in first-ever ratings

The vast majority of the 1,430 education programs that prepare the nation’s K-12 teachers are mediocre, according to a first-ever ranking that immediately touched off a firestorm.

Released Tuesday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, a Washington-based advocacy group, the rankings are part of a $5 million project funded by major U.S. foundations. Education secretaries in 21 states have endorsed the report, but some universities and education experts quickly assailed the review as incomplete and inaccurate.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Education, Young Adults

(Globe and Mail) Omer El Akkad–Why privacy is the price of digital-age communication

The myth of perfectly secure communication is dying.

Since the revelations of widespread intelligence-agency eavesdropping on the digital communications of millions of people in the United States and around the world, governments and technology companies have been under immense pressure to explain exactly how pervasive the monitoring has become. Users of e-mail and social networks provided by the likes of Google Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have found themselves asking whether there are any means of keeping their data totally secure.

The short answer, it seems, is that there isn’t. And new revelations suggest that even the BlackBerry, touted by Research In Motion Ltd. as the most secure form of wireless communication in the market, could not clock the prying eyes of government.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

Fire destroys Anglican Church in the Diocese of Edmonton

A fire destroyed St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Morinville early Sunday, the second church fire in the town in nine months.

Morinville RCMP officers and about 20 volunteer fire fighters from Morinville and Legal responded to the blaze at 107th Street and 100th Avenue at 2:30 a.m. No one was injured. The cause is under investigation.

When Tracy Roulston, chief of the Legal fire department, and his five member crew arrived, he said the fire was “as big as they get.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Parish Ministry

(C of E) Tools for the 'S' curve of priestly ministry

Priests working through the ”˜S curve’ of change in their ministry should seek inspiration from 20th Century poet and priest RS Thomas and the film Of Gods and Men, suggests the book Moving on in Ministry. Being launched this week at the Seventh Annual Faith in Research conference at Church House, London, the book comprises essays focusing on transition and change by respected authors in their fields*.

Realising that development can slow down then speed up in an ”˜S’ shape , and can actually take place without moving to a new role, the book encourages priests to make reflective and practical responses to moving on in ministry. It begins with an essay by Tim Harle on the ”˜S Curve’, to help priests identify where they are in the process of accommodating the change they are experiencing; and also to help them “live comfortably out of control”.

Mark Pryce uses the poetry metaphors for priesthood of RS Thomas to analyse change, looking particularly at the “self-in-relation to God” and the “mystery of God disclosed or hidden in others”; Thomas’s poem The Moor, for example, is quoted from: “There were no prayers said. But stillness of the heart’s passions ”“ that was praise enough.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Books, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(WSJ) Pieter Cohen and Nicolaus Rasmussen–A Nation of Kids on Speed

Walk into any American high school and nearly one in five boys in the hallways will have a diagnosis of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 11% of all American children ages 4 to 17””over six million””have ADHD, a 16% increase since 2007. When you consider that in Britain roughly 3% of children have been similarly diagnosed, the figure is even more startling. Now comes worse news: In the U.S., being told that you have ADHD””and thus receiving some variety of amphetamine to treat it””has become more likely.

Last month, the American Psychiatric Association released the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders””the bible of mental health””and this latest version, known as DSM-5, outlines a new diagnostic paradigm for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Symptoms of ADHD remain the same in the new edition: “overlooks details,” “has difficulty remaining focused during lengthy reading,” “often fidgets with or taps hands” and so on. The difference is that in the previous version of the manual, the first symptoms of ADHD needed to be evident by age 7 for a diagnosis to be made. In DSM-5, if the symptoms turn up anytime before age 12, the ADHD diagnosis can be made.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Teens / Youth

(NY Times Op-ed) Tom Freidman–Egypt’s Perilous Drift

Egypt needs a revolution.

Wait, isn’t that what happened two years ago? Not really. It is now clear that what happened two years ago was more musical chairs than revolution. First the army, using the energy of the youth-led protesters in Tahrir Square, ousted Mubarak, and then the Muslim Brotherhood ousted the army, and now the opposition is trying to oust the Brotherhood. Each, though, is operating on the old majoritarian politics ”” winners take all, losers get nothing….

“The other day,” [Ahmed el-]Droubi said, “I was standing on a main intersection in downtown Cairo, where two one-way roads meet. As I stood there, I saw cars going both ways down both one-way streets ”” cars were coming and going in four different directions ”” and other cars were double-parked. I was standing next to a shop owner watching this. ”˜This is a complete mess,’ he said. ”˜No one has any civic responsibility. They each only care about themselves getting to where they are going.’ ”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Egypt, Foreign Relations, History, Middle East, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Bernard Mizeki

Almighty and everlasting God, who didst enkindle the flame of thy love in the heart of thy holy martyr Bernard Mizeki: Grant to us, thy humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Blessed Lord, who for our sakes wast content to bear sorrow and want and death: Grant to us such a measure of thy Spirit that we may follow thee in all self-denial and tenderness of soul. Help us by thy great love to succour the afflicted, to relieve the needy, to share the burdens of the heavy laden, and ever to see thee in all that are poor and destitute; for thy great mercy’s sake.

–B. F. Westcott (1825-1901)

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Hannah also prayed and said,

“My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in thy salvation.

“There is none holy like the Lord,
there is none besides thee;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.

“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones;
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,
and exalt the power of his anointed.”

–1 Samuel 2:1-10

Posted in Uncategorized

(BBC) Iran's President-elect Rouhani vows transparency on nuclear issue

In his first news conference since Friday’s election, Mr Rouhani described as “unfair” sanctions imposed on his country. He also said Tehran would not suspend uranium enrichment activities.

The West suspects Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its programme is entirely peaceful.

The UK said it hoped Mr Rouhani would act on his pledge to resolve the issue.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Iran, Middle East, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(CT) Alexandra Kuykendall–Is Fatherhood Fading Out? A Christian response to the boom in absent dads

…we live in a country where too many of us have broken relationships with Dad. In America, 1 in 3 kids live apart from their biological fathers. A recent Washington Post article addressed the dad dilemma with the eye-catching title: The new F-Word ”“ Father. In it, Kathleen Parker addresses a question being asked as we discuss the latest stats on America’s female breadwinners: In the evolving 21st-century economy, “what are men good for?”

Parker concludes:

Women have become more self-sufficient (a good thing) and, given that they still do the lion’s share of housework and child rearing, why, really, should they invite a man to the clutter? Because, simply, children need a father”¦ . Deep in the marrow of every human child burbles a question far more profound than those currently occupying coffee klatches: Who is my daddy? And sadly these days, where is he?

….[and] that’s unfortunately where the church often ends the conversation. We lament the shift in the family structure, express outrage at the latest statistics….[yet we cannot stop there].

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family, Men

(NC Reporter) Maureen Fiedler–Poverty, chastity, obedience: traditional vows for the 21st century

Suppose someone wants to live a life committed to the Gospel but does not want to live the three traditional vows — poverty, chastity and obedience — as they have usually been interpreted. Or maybe only one or two of those vows make sense to that person. Maybe someone wants to pronounce a new vow that speaks to the heart of his or her identity and call. Or maybe she or he wants to develop a new form of committed life without vows. All of these possibilities are already happening — and evolving.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Brad Wilcox–Daddy’s Home: Fatherhood transforms men. But only if they live with their kids.

The importance of physical proximity, when it comes to fatherhood, may help explain why the sociological story about fatherhood is remarkably similar to the biological story. Fatherhood is socially transformative for men””but only, once again, if they are living proximate to their children. By contrast, men who don’t live with their children, either because they never married the mother in the first place, or got divorced, often don’t look much different than childless men. Three findings illustrate the point:

1) Steering clear of the blues. Fathers who live with their children are significantly less likely to be depressed, and more likely to report they are satisfied with their lives, compared to childless men. But men who live apart from their children have levels of life satisfaction and depression that largely parallel those of their childless peers. In other words, men who don’t live with their children don’t benefit psychologically from fatherhood….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Children, Marriage & Family, Men, Sociology

UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks–How One question, asked in faith, has the power to change a life

Whenever we come close to despair, the strongest lifeline is to think like Joseph. That is how psychotherapist Viktor Frankl saved the lives of several of his fellow prisoners in Auschwitz, by helping them realise that they had a task to perform or a mission to fulfil that they could only do by surviving. This gave them the will to live. People who have suffered tragedy have often found meaning by alleviating the suffering of others. The grief may not disappear but it is redeemed. The adagio, with its intense sadness, is not the last movement of the symphony.

Seen through the eyes of faith life is not what Joseph Heller called it: “a trashbag of random coincidences blown open in a wind.” Each of us is here for a reason, to do something only we can do, and all the pain and heartbreak are bearable if we can discern God’s purpose or hear, however muffled, His call. As Nietzsche used to say, “He who has a strong enough Why can bear almost any How.”

In crisis, the wrong question to ask is, “What have I done to deserve this?” The right one is, “What am I now being summoned to do?” Each of us has a task. Every life has a purpose. We can bear the pain of the past when we discover the future we are called on to make.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Judaism, Other Faiths, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Representatives of 32 French chaplaincies and congregations hold annual Synod

Despite industrial action causing cancelled planes and trains in France delegates came for the 3 day event which included challenging Bible studies by Rev Dr Paul Vrolik, from the Aquitaine, on the life and fortunes of Jacob (see picture below). Dr Keith Clement gave a pan European setting to trends and developments as they affect Christians, and there were updates on Safeguarding, Communications and Environment news.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Europe, France, Parish Ministry

(Living Church) 2 Bishop Nominees in new Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest

Two priests are nominees to become bishop of the nascent Anglican Diocese of the Upper Midwest. The diocese in formation awaits approval by the Anglican Church in North America’s College of Bishops, which meets June 20-21 at Nashotah House Theological Seminary and Olympia Resort and Conference Center in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.

The nominees are the Very Rev. Robert S. Munday, former dean and president of Nashotah House, and the Rev. Stewart Ruch III, rector of Church of the Resurrection, Wheaton. Under the ACNA’s canons the bishops may appoint one of the two nominees as bishop or choose another person.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)