Daily Archives: December 4, 2013

A Seminary Leader Testifies about When God came through As Finances Were Tested

You can imagine how my heart raced. I was told that the amount exceeded $500,000 ”“ an unheard of sum in those days. (It actually ended up being well above that ”“ but read on.) There was just one hitch: The man had insisted in his will that the money go only for the seminary education… [under conditions we could not honor].

Still, I didn’t want to let go of an obvious windfall. When the board finally met, they debated the pros and cons, and I made the case for it as best I could. But quietly, I did have my misgivings. When one of our trustees, a bishop, said, “This has the smell of sulphur about it,” I realized the die was cast: We could not accept the gift.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship, Theology

Detroit eligible for nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy filing, federal judge rules

A federal bankruptcy judge granted Detroit unprecedented powers Tuesday to shed billions of dollars in debt, including the ability to slash city employee pensions despite a state constitutional provision protecting them.

In approving the nation’s ­largest-ever municipal filing, Judge Steven Rhodes cleared the way for Detroit’s emergency manager to develop a plan to reorganize the city’s estimated $18 billion in debt. Beyond cutting worker pensions and retiree health benefits, the city could stiff bondholders and sell city assets such as its water and sewer authority and its priceless art collection.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, City Government, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

The Church Army Annual Report for 2013–a year of blessing

In their introduction to the Annual Report, Church Army Chair and Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, and Church Army Chief Executive, Mark Russell, said: “During this year under review, one of our main focuses has been the implementation of our DARE strategy which we launched in 2011; doing evangelism, advocating evangelism, resourcing evangelism and enabling evangelism. Therefore, our staff and evangelists have been working hard as they’ve endeavoured to convert this strategy into operational reality – particularly in relation to encouraging and challenging the wider church in evangelism.

“Yet, it is the individual lives changed that speak best of Church Army’s impact during 2012/2013. It is their names and faces, along with the statistics and finances, which will give you a real insight into our work. People like Jenny, from The Amber Project in Cardiff, who has struggled during her teenage years with self-harm but thanks to our support has found hope. Or Dot who lives on the deprived Flaxley Road housing estate in Selby and has come to faith through our Centre of Mission….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Jack Sharman–Three O’Clock in the Morning

The law convicts us of sin. It shows us that we are, all of us, judged; that we are, all of us, found wanting.

But the law also convicts us by a second device. Law paints the lines on the savage playing field of our sin: what the law condemns, it first describes. Rules encapsulate sport: without ever having played a round or been on the ice, you know from their rulebooks the respective natures of golf and hockey.

Thus, our readings for today, readings from which the contemporary reader is apt to flee.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Bloomberg) Raid on Nigerian Military Base Shows Boko Haram Threat Growing

An attack by suspected Islamist militants on a Nigerian air force base indicates the Boko Haram group retains its military capacity even after a seven-month offensive by government forces.

“It is a big deal, it shows the capability of Boko Haram is growing,” Murtala Touray, senior Africa analyst at IHS Country Risk in London, said today by phone. “For Boko Haram to plan this attack, it shows they are a force to be reckoned with, they can take on the Nigerian army.”

The pre-dawn raid took place yesterday in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, about 860 kilometers (535 miles) northeast of the capital, Abuja. Two air force personnel were wounded, 24 attackers were killed and three military aircraft and two helicopters were damaged, military spokesman Chris Olukolade said in a statement e-mailed to journalists….

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Notable and Quotable–Charles Spurgeon Writes his Parents on March 4, 1855

Dear Father,””Do not be grieved at the slanderous libel in this week’s Express. Of course, it is all a lie, without an atom of foundation; and while the whole of London is talking of me, and thousands are unable to get near the door, the opinion of a penny-a-liner is of little consequence.

I beseech you not to write: but if you can see Mr. Harvey, or some official, it might do good. A full reply on all points will appear next week.

I only fear for you; I do not like you to be grieved. For myself I WILL REJOICE; the devil is roused, the Church is awakening, and I am now counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake… Good ballast, father, good ballast; but, oh! remember what I have said before, and do not check me.

Last night, I could not sleep till morning light, but now my Master has cheered me; and I “hail reproach, and welcome shame.” Love to you all, especially to my dearest mother. I mean to come home April 16th. So amen.

Your affectionate son, C. H. Spurgeon.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, Church History, England / UK, History, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Archbishop Justin Welby Offers his Reflections on World AIDS Day

Recently I had the privilege of discussing the issue of HIV/AIDS with the Archbishops of Southern Africa and Burundi, and the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé. It was encouraging hearing how much has been achieved in the global response to HIV/AIDS, yet sobering to see what challenges remain.

Last year there were 35 million people living with HIV, according to UNAIDS. New infections are down by 33% since 2001 and new infections in children down by 52%. Millions more people can now access treatment so they can live full and active lives. As a result, AIDS-related deaths have reduced by 29% since 2005. This is a hugely significant advance. It makes clear that we have the means and must maintain the commitment, as a global community, to ensure that no one is left behind in the progress on prevention and treatment.

It was also inspiring hearing how churches in Burundi and Southern Africa are responding to HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Theology

(New Statesman) Rowan Williams–Why did C S Lewis write the Chronicles of Narnia?

…it is also important to recognise how much the themes of the Narnia books are interwoven with what he was thinking and writing in other contexts around the same time, and with material he had already published in the 1940s ”” as well as the fact that the first seeds of the actual Narnia narrative seem to have been sown as early as 1939. For example: his 1946 book, The Great Divorce, foreshadows many of the ideas in the Narnia stories ”” most particularly a theme that Lewis insists on more and more as his work develops, the impossibility of forcing any person to accept love and the monumental and excruciating difficulty of receiving love when you are wedded to a certain picture of yourself. It is this theme that emerges most clearly in his last (and greatest) imaginative work, the 1956 novel, Till We Have Faces. These issues are very much the issues that Lewis is trying to work out in a variety of imaginative idioms from the early 1940s onwards ”” the problems of self-deception above all, the lure of self-dramatising, the pain and challenge of encounter with divine truthfulness. What Narnia seeks to do, very ambitiously, is to translate these into terms that children can understand. And as to why Lewis decided to address such an audience, there is probably no very decisive answer except that he had a high view of children’s literature, a passion for myth and fantasy and a plain desire to communicate as widely as possible.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Books, Children, Church History, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Theology

([London] Times) C of E introduces a new App to allow Users to Worship on their Smartphones

Sunday Worship, available on Apple’s iPhone and iPad, offers full Bible readings for the main Sunday service, together with prayers, based on the Common Worship liturgies launched at the start of the millennium.

This follows two other apps published to support congregations in their prayer. An app for daily prayer reflections is already available and has been downloaded more than 50,000 times. There is also The Lectionary, which contains Bible readings for every service along with full details of feast days throughout the year and has been downloaded 9,000 times. The busiest day for downloads last year was the start of Lent, Ash Wednesday, in February when there were 416 downloads.

Read it all (subscription required).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Blogging & the Internet, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(NY Times) New Worries that Al Qaeda could establish a base in Syria

Intensifying sectarian and clan violence has presented new opportunities for jihadist groups across the Middle East and raised concerns among American intelligence and counterterrorism officials that militants aligned with Al Qaeda could establish a base in Syria capable of threatening Israel and Europe.

The new signs of an energized but fragmented jihadist threat, stretching from Mali and Libya in the west to Yemen in the east, have complicated the narrative of a weakened Al Qaeda that President Obama offered in May in a landmark speech heralding the end of the war on terrorism. The leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, raised warnings in an interview on CNN on Sunday when they said that Americans were “not safer” from terrorist attacks than in 2011.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Middle East, Syria, Terrorism, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John of Damascus

Confirm our minds, O Lord, in the mysteries of the true faith, set forth with power by thy servant John of Damascus; that we, with him, confessing Jesus to be true God and true Man, and singing the praises of the risen Lord, may, by the power of the resurrection, attain to eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for evermore.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day

Keep us, O Lord, while we tarry on this earth, in a serious seeking after thee, and in an affectionate walking with thee, every day of our lives; that when thou comest, we may be found not hiding our talent, nor serving the flesh, nor yet asleep with our lamp unfurnished, but waiting and longing for our Lord, our glorious God for ever and ever.

–Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Uphold me according to thy promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope!

–Psalm 119:16

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Greg Venables responds to the Pilling Report

Regarding the Pilling Report:

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
2 Timothy 3:12-13

En cuanto al informe de Pilling:

Es cierto que todos los que quieren llevar una vida piadosa en unión con Cristo Jesús sufrirán persecución; pero los malos y los engañadores irán de mal en peor, engañando y siendo engañados.
2 Timoteo 3:12-13

From here and here

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

Canon Phil Ashey: The Church of England's Bishops and the Pilling Report

The Pilling Report (PR) recently released in the Church of England, authorized by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, is no surprise. Despite assurances in advance from leading CofE spokesmen that the PR would contain no liturgies for blessing same sex civil partnerships, and that reports leaked to the contrary were sheer speculation, Recommendation 16 of the PR states clearly:

Recommendation 16. We believe that there can be circumstances where a priest, with the agreement of the relevant PCC, should be free to mark the formation of a permanent same sex relationship in a public service (emphasis added) but should be under no obligation to do so. Some of us do not believe that this can be extended to same sex marriage. (Paragraphs 120, 380-3) [Pilling Report Page 151]”

At GAFCON 2013, the 1358 delegates to this assembly adopted The Nairobi Communique which anticipated the direction of the PR when they wrote at Paragraph 5, page 2,

“We grieve that several national governments, aided by some church leaders, have claimed to redefine marriage and have turned same-sex marriage into a human rights issue. Human rights, we believe, are founded on a true understanding of human nature, which is that we are created in God’s image, male and female such that a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife (Matthew 19:6; Ephesians 5:31). We want to make clear that any civil partnership of a sexual nature does not receive the blessing of God. We continue to pray for and offer pastoral support to Christians struggling with same-sex temptation who remain celibate in obedience to Christ and affirm them in their faithfulness.”

The 31 Archbishops, 300 Bishops, 482 other clergy and 545 laity from 38 countries representing tens of millions of faithful Anglicans worldwide went on to make the following commitments, also in anticipation of the direction of the PR:…..

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE)

James Martin responds to Bill Keller's NY Times Op-ed–Beware: Non-Celibates Writing about Celibacy

Oh brother. More lazy stereotypes about celibates. Bill Keller’s op-ed today in The New York Times “Sex and the Single Priest” (ha ha) says that pretty much all celibate priests are lonely and that celibacy “surely played some role” in the sexual abuse crisis. By his own admission, Mr. Keller hasn’t been an active member of the church since around high school. But that’s not the problem with his piece: former Catholics have written perceptively about the church. The problem is that Keller’s article is based largely on the opinions of two priests who left the priesthood and a sister who left her order, and his own speculation about what the celibate life must be like. That’s like writing a piece on marriage and speaking only to divorced men and women. “Yeah,” some of them might say, “married life stinks.”

Maybe it would have been helpful to look at some actual data. Sure, there is some loneliness in the priesthood–and there are problems in married life too. But the picture that Mr. Keller paints is ridiculous. In the latest survey on priests from the Center for Applied Research on the Apostolate in 2009, 95 percent report they would “definitely or probably choose priesthood again,” up from 79 percent in 1970. Wow.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Media, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

Church of England Scheme launched for would-be vicars

Young people are being given a taste of life behind the dog collar with the launch of the Church of England Ministry Experience Scheme (CEMES), run by the Ministry Division.

The scheme, which began with a pilot phase…this September in four dioceses, is a one year programme of theological teaching, practical experience and personal development for young people aged 18-30 who are considering future ministry in the church. The scheme was set up to encourage more young people to consider being involved in ministry and focus on the nine criteria used in the selection of clergy.

The scheme is currently being run in the dioceses of Sodor and Man, Newcastle, Peterborough and the Stepney area of London. Ministry Division are working with 15 more dioceses interested in the scheme, with a view to provide a CEMES programme in every diocese.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology

(BBC Magazine) The man who carries a 25kg cross everywhere

Made out of wood and with a wheel at the bottom, Hamon has carried the cross throughout Britain and to remote parts of the world including Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. Over the last 26 years he has travelled over 5,000 miles.

“It started in a small way, Land’s End to Plymouth,” says Hamon. “A few months later, Plymouth to London and then round Ireland”¦ and then eventually London to Berlin, then Berlin to Moscow and Berlin to Paris and Slovakia and Hungary,” says Hamon.

As a Christian, Hamon first started walking with the cross after a close friend lost his faith.

Read it all.

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