Daily Archives: September 3, 2013

(RNS) Massachusetts Supreme Court to hear challenge to Pledge of Allegiance

Massachusetts’ highest court on Wednesday (Sept. 4) will consider whether the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance is a violation of students’ rights.

Since the addition of the phrase “under God” in 1954, the pledge has been challenged repeatedly as a violation of the separation of church and state. In 2004, one case reached the Supreme Court, but ultimately failed, as have all previous challenges.

But the current case before the state’s Supreme Judicial Court, Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District, is different because lawyers for the plaintiffs, an anonymous atheist couple, won’t be arguing about federal law but rather that the compulsory recitation of the pledge violates the state’s equal rights laws. They argue that the daily recitation of the pledge is a violation of their guarantee of equal protection under those laws.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, History, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture

Kendall Harmon's Sermon from Sunday–The Guests, The Host and the Unseen (Luke 14:7-14)

Listen to it all if you so desire.

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Middle East, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Poverty, Preaching / Homiletics, Syria, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Daily Mail) In Southern Egypt, Muslims attack a Coptic church and topple a cross

Fresh video has emerged from Egypt showing the storming of a Coptic church, apparently proving claims that supporters of former President Mohammed Morsi have been laying waste to Christian churches.

The shocking footage shows a Muslim mob storming the church in the southern Egyptian city of Sohag, smashing furniture and walls and torching cars as they go.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Coptic Church, Egypt, Foreign Relations, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Violence

(NY Times On Religion) A Chicago Church Sees Justice in Land’s Bounty

In retirement, …[Juanita O’Neal] bought some acreage in the flatlands 60 miles south of Chicago and plunged her hands back into the soil. On a recent Saturday morning, like all the Saturday mornings of the summer, she had driven with a contingent of black farmers to sell their bounty at a market sponsored by one of Chicago’s most formidable black churches, Trinity United Church of Christ.

“I can’t correct the past,” said Ms. O’Neal, 68. “I can’t blame anyone for the past. I have to take the accountability. But if my grandparents are looking down on me, they’re saying, ”˜Good job.’ ”

The collaboration with Ms. O’Neal and a half-dozen other black farmers from an area known as Pembroke Township fulfills two missions for Trinity’s leaders.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Energy, Natural Resources, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Church of England and the Methodist Church moving closer to unity

The Joint Implementation Commission (JIC) of the Church of England and Methodist Church in Britain has called for “Church leaders and decision-making bodies to make the Covenant a priority in order to bring our Churches closer together in mission and holiness.”

In a major Report published this week the JIC calls on both Churches to consider the impact that the 10-year-old Anglican Methodist Covenant has made on their relationship; to rejoice in the progress that has been made; and to face together the challenges of mission.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Methodist, Other Churches

Diocese of Sydney's Landmark Darling Point mansion on the market for $25 million

Ever wanted to live in a landmark gothic mansion? Now’s your chance … if you have a spare $25 million.

Home to seven Anglican archbishops over more than a century, one of the city’s largest private estates – it’s a nifty 6216sq m – is up for grabs.

The historic Bishopscourt at 11 Greenoaks Ave, Darling Point, would be a nice piece of business for the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney, which paid just 6750 pounds for the propery in 1910.

After decades of speculation both inside and outside the church, the Synod of the Anglican Diocese finally authorised the sale in 2012 with a five-year “sale window” option.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Zimbabwe: Anglican Church Starts Massive Reconstruction

THE Anglican Church of the Province of Central Africa (CPCA), which inherited a huge debt and dilapidated infrastructure from excommunicated Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, has embarked on a massive rebuilding exercise.

The church’s infrastructure collapsed after it was forcibly occupied by Kunonga until last year when the wrangle ended.

CPCA Bishop Chad Gandiya said the church had started a massive reconstruction exercise to repair the damage that was caused by five years of total neglect.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Church of Central Africa, Zimbabwe

The 2012 TEC General Ordination Question on Holy Scripture

LIMITED RESOURCES: A printed one-volume annotated Bible and a printed 1979 Book of
Common Prayer but no electronic or Internet resources.

Throughout history, communities have maintained their identity by passing on their traditions (stories, laws, songs, prayers, etc.) from one generation to the next. One of the tasks of a priest specified in the ordination rite is to be a teacher, an educator who passes on and interprets the tradition. The following texts are from the propers for education in the BCP (931):
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

In no more than 750 words, taking into account the historical, literary, and theological background of each passage, briefly identify the important highlights of the tradition ”“ the
community’s “story” — to be passed on to the following generations of the community to which the passage is addressed. (NOTE: Your answer should demonstrate an understanding of the historical, literary and theological contexts of these passages. It should not include a detailed exegesis of the texts.)

In no more than 750 words, briefly summarize at least two biblical traditions that you consider most important to be passed on to the next generation in The Episcopal Church, drawing on the material you have presented in Part 1 and any other relevant biblical texts. Provide a rationale for each of your choices, including an example of a situation in the contemporary church where this tradition would be especially pertinent and useful.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(USA Today) Senators McCain and Graham express optimism on Obama Syria plan

McCain and Graham have jointly expressed concerns that a military strike should be part of a broader strategy in Syria, not simply a random attack to punish the regime.

After meeting with Obama Monday, they both said they believed the White House is developing a strategy that would weaken the regime of President Bashar Assad and boost Syrian opposition forces ”” though they said Obama has more work to do to explain this plan.

“We still have significant concerns,” McCain said, “but we believe there is in formulation a strategy to upgrade the capabilities of the Free Syrian Army and to degrade the capabilities of Bashar Assad. Before this meeting, we had not had that indication.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Iran, Middle East, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, Syria, Theology, Violence

(CT) David Neff–Real Martyrs Don't Murder

The early martyrs talked about battles, warfare, and victory, but all of their “combat language” was spiritualized as they peaceably emulated Jesus’ sacrifice. That’s not always the case today. New Year’s Day 2011, a car bomb killed about 20 worshipers at a Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt. Despite Christian leaders’ pleas that the violence should stop with these deaths, local Christians ransacked a mosque, burning its holy books.

Notre Dame University professor Candida Moss uses that anecdote to introduce her new book, The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom (HarperOne). She believes that the “violent” response of Christians sprang from seeing themselves as a persecuted minority, a perspective that she believes grew out of a flawed understanding of church history. Moss wants to undermine the martyrdom “mythology” that feeds this sense of persecution. But she goes beyond the pale when she writes, “The rhetoric of persecution legitimates and condones retributive violence.”

The martyr tradition does nothing of the sort. This is why Egyptian Christian leaders argued against a violent response. The authentic martyr tradition emulates Jesus, who remained silent, “like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb” (Isa. 53:7, RSV).

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Books, Church History, Violence

Praise to Begin the Day

O Thou in whom all things live, who commandest us to seek thee, and art ever ready to be found: To know thee is life, to serve thee is freedom, to praise thee is our souls’ joy. We bless thee and adore thee, we worship thee and magnify thee, we give thanks to thee for thy great glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Saint Augustine

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

O LORD, I love the habitation of thy house, and the place where thy glory dwells.

–Psalm 26:8

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for Labor Day (V)

O Almighty God and Heavenly Father, who by thy divine providence has appointed for each of us our work in life, and hast commanded us that we should not be slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving thee; help us always to remember that our work is thy appointment, and to do it heartily as unto thee. Preserve us from slothfulness, and make us to live with loins girded and lamps burning, that whensoever our Lord may come, we may be found striving earnestly to finish the work that thou hast given us to do; through the same Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer for Labor Day (IV)

O God, who givest to every man his work and through his labours dost accomplish thy purposes upon earth: Grant thy blessing, we beseech thee, to those who are engaged in the industries and commerce of this land. Defend them from injustice and oppression; give them the due reward of their labours; and deepen within them the spirit of humble and unselfish service, according to the pattern of thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

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