Daily Archives: August 10, 2014

(Time Magazine) Atheist “Churches” Gain Popularity””Even in the Bible Belt

On a clear, Sunny July morning, as churchgoers all around Houston take to their pews, dozens of nonbelievers are finding seats inside a meeting room in a corporate conference center on the city’s west side to listen to a sermon about losing faith. But first there’s the weekly “community moment””“remarks on a chosen topic delivered by the group’s executive director, this time focused on how we’re hardwired to read sensationalized news”“as well as announcements about an upcoming secular summer camp. In between, a musician sings softly of Albert Einstein.

The men speaking before the assembled gathering”“executive director Mike Aus, who regularly leads the group, and Jerry DeWitt, a visitor who heads a similar gathering in Louisiana”“are both deeply familiar with the idea of Sunday ritual. Just a few years ago, they were Christian ministers active in the pulpit. Today they’re both nonbelievers leading secular Sunday services.

This is Houston Oasis, a church that’s not a church. It was started in September 2012…

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Atheism, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(WRAL) Man charged in slaying of Durham, NC, Anglican priest

A man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Kent Torrey Hinkson, a missing Anglican priest from Durham whose body was found late Saturday in a state park in Orange County.

Authorities said Sunday that Matthew Reed, 36, was being held at the Orange County jail. Reed has a first court appearance Monday. They did not say whether the suspect knew the victim.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Death / Burial / Funerals, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry

(AP) In Greek crisis, Orthodox priest buys inmates their freedom

Germany made headlines this week by letting Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One chief, pay $100 million to end his bribery trial. In Greek justice, money talks in a different way: Some inmates jailed for minor offenses are allowed to buy their freedom, at an average rate of five euros per day.

With the rich at a clear advantage, Greek Orthodox priest Gervasios Raptopoulos has devoted his life to paying off the prison terms of penniless inmates.

The soft-spoken 83-year-old has helped more than 15,000 convicts secure their freedom over nearly four decades, according to records kept by his charity. The Greek rules apply only to people convicted of offenses that carry a maximum five-year sentence, such as petty fraud, bodily harm, weapons possession, illegal logging, resisting arrest and minor drugs offenses.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Greece, Ministry of the Ordained, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Prison/Prison Ministry, Theology

(The Australian) At last, Anglican Church sorry for decades of abuse

Australian and British child sex victims have finally been vindicated after years of cover-up by the Anglican Church, with an ­official admission that one of its most senior clergymen was a pedophile who had been ­“allowed’’ to abuse children.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu has written to victims of the late Robert Waddington ”” a ­former Queensland headmaster who later ran hundreds of Anglican schools in Britain ”” saying he was “deeply ashamed’’ the church had not listened and acted on complaints of child sex abuse.

The extraordinary admission follows a year-long inquiry into Waddington, the former dean of Manchester who died in 2007, and the mishandling of abuse allegations in 1999, 2003 and 2005 against him from former choirboys and students in England and Australia.

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

([London] Times) Tim Montgomerie–Rescue the Christians ”“ and then keep going

The Christ Church congregation listened in silence as Canon Andrew White talked about one of his parishioners who had been visiting Mosul when Isis overran it. After the jihadis had robbed this widow of her life savings they forced her wedding ring from her fingers. She was lucky. The ring came off. People with stickier rings have had their fingers chopped in half, then been ordered to flee to save their lives.

Many haven’t saved theirs. On his Facebook page Andrew White told of a Christian family of eight who had been shot through their faces after refusing to renounce their faith. A photo that was too horrific for him to publish captured the blood-soaked scene and the family Bible on the couch ”” still open but never to be read by them again. Elsewhere in Mosul there is a park where the heads of children who’ve been cut in half are put on a stick to warn others that anyone, however young, who refuses to convert to Islam will be put to the sword.

Mr White didn’t stay in Guildford for long. He keeps returning to the most dangerous place on earth and his explanation is simple: you can’t abandon the people you love. It is to the enormous shame of Britain and America that we did not live by the Andrew White principle. America stayed in Germany and South Korea for decades to help to ensure they became the stable nations that they are today. Iraq needed a similar level of commitment. It didn’t get it.

Read it all (if you click on the picture it enlarges).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Islam, Office of the President, Other Faiths, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, President George Bush, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(Archbp Cranmer Bog) None dare call it evil – except Archbishop Justin Welby

Our politicians are at last speaking about the terror, torture, mass murder and genocide being meted out upon Christians and other minorities by the Islamic State in Iraq. Their assessment of the situation ranges from “completely unacceptable” to “barbaric”. Cardinal Vincent Nichols astutely calls it “a persecution of immense proportions”. The Archbishop of Canterbury calls it “evil”. And not only is it evil, but “part of an evil pattern around the world where Christians and other minorities are being killed and persecuted for their faith”. And he refers specifically to Northern Nigeria, Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that his subject is radical Islam and the malignant Saudi-backed Salafist strain.

Archbishop Justin knows a thing or two about evil: he has stared it in the face down the barrel of a gun while trying to bring peace and reconciliation to the warlords, bandits and murderous thugs of Africa. When you expect to die and phone your wife to say goodbye, you may begin to grasp what it is to agonise, grieve and suffer because of evil.

Archbishop Justin says that this “evil pattern around the world” is brutally violating people’s right to freedom of religion and belief. It is, in fact, killing them for their faith in Jesus Christ. It is persecuting them for heresy, apostasy and infidelity to the temporal objectives and literal truths revealed by Mohammed. The Salafi-Jihadists or Jihadi-Salafists who agitate for a caliphate may constitute less than 0.5 percent of the world’s 1.9 billion Muslims, but that still numbers them around 10 million – sufficient to establish an evil pattern of hard-line Islamisation around the world.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

(New World) Cardinal Francis George–The war that didn't end all wars

The 1918 Treaty of Versailles did restore independence to the Polish nation and created the League of Nations, which was blessed by Pope Benedict when he permitted the Catholic Union of International Studies to establish permanent relations with it. He urged the league to call for an end of slavery in Africa and Muslim countries and to send aid to people in Russia dying from famine because of the civil war there in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution. All this helps to explain why, 85 years later, Cardinal Ratzinger took the name of Benedict XVI, calling his predecessor “the courageous prophet of peace.”

Another pope again calls the world to peace. Pope Francis asks us to pray daily for an end to the various armed conflicts and wars in the Middle East and in Africa. The danger is always, as the world should have learned in 1914, that a small dispute can escalate into a general conflict that ignites the world.

Pope Francis called the presidents of Israel and Palestine to the Vatican to pray for peace, but this gesture seems to have been stillborn in the midst of the outbreak of hostilities in Gaza and the rocket attacks on Israel. The self-proclaimed Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria has told all Christians to leave or be killed. The Eucharist that was celebrated for 1,600 years in Mosul is no longer prayed there. The churches are destroyed and Christian families have fled. The persecution of Christians in parts of Africa continues unabated, and their protection is not a high priority for the western powers. As, united with Pope Francis, we remember our persecuted brothers and sisters in prayer each day, we pray for ourselves as well, that we may become peacemakers in our day and in our homes and country. Let the remembrance of the outbreak of the First World War be the occasion for intensified prayer for peace. God bless you.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, History, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer, Violence

A Prayer to Begin the Day

O God, who hast given us not the spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of adoption into thy family: Grant us the witness of thy Spirit within our hearts, testifying that we are thy children; and give us that fellowship with the sufferings of Christ which shall end in our being glorified with him; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Henry Alford

Posted in Uncategorized

From the Morning Bible Readings

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

–Mark 4:35-41

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

(The Christian Century) Philip Jenkins–Leaving Nineveh: The last days of Christians in Mosul

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Inter-Faith Relations, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

Saint Michael's, Charleston, SC–Testimonies from Confirmands: Catherine Bowen

I started going at the the beginning of 2005, I had only gone to Pine Grove United Methodist a couple of Sundays, when I fell at work and broke my neck. I broke C-2. While I was laying in the floor, waiting for the ambulance to arrive, I felt a sense of warmth and peace, and a feeling that God would take care of me. I was very calm, even though I was in extreme pain.

I was told by my neurosurgeon that when people break C-2 they normally die instantly or become quadriplegics, I was neither! His remark was GOD is not finished with you yet!!!!! The people at church showered me and Jim with love, food, offers of rides to the dr, anything that they could do for us. It was amazing.

Read it all (page 9).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology

Church of Ireland Bishop Harold Miller issues a plea as the Iraq horror escalates

The Church of Ireland Bishop of Down and Dromore, Harold Miller, called for a united effort to help Christians in the war-torn country.

“It’s really very important for the world at large to be supportive of Christians in Iraq,” he said. “Christianity has been in Iraq for a very long time and what I have observed is that people are now being beheaded for their faith.

“The main Christian town has had most Christians expelled from it, like they did with Jewish people during the Nazi era.

“They are marking the houses of all the Christians with the letter ‘N’ because it comes from following Jesus of Nazareth. It’s profoundly shocking.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of Ireland, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

(WTVD) Third search party gathers in effort to find missing Durham, N.C., area Anglican Minister

Most people spend their Saturdays relaxing, especially when the weather looks grim. However, people driving through Durham’s Woodcroft Shopping Center saw a small group of dedicated volunteers handing out copies of a police missing person message.

The handbills have two pictures of Kent Torrey Hickson, the 71-year-old Anglican priest who’s been missing since Monday.

Hickson’s son-in-law Maurice Perry told ABC11, “We’ve searched around his house, searched around where the car was found. And now, looking between the bank where he was last seen and where the car was found.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CT Gleanings) Acts 29 Removes Mars Hill, Asks Mark Driscoll To Step Down and Seek Help

Hoping that “the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored,” the Acts 29 church planting network founded by Mark Driscoll has removed the Seattle pastor and his Mars Hill megachurch from membership.

“It is our conviction that the nature of the accusations against Mark, most of which have been confirmed by him, make it untenable and unhelpful to keep Mark and Mars Hill in our network,” said Acts 29 in an online statement signed by Matt Chandler and other board members of the network of 500 churches.

Acts 29 came to the drastic decision “with deep sorrow,” according to the statement. “In taking this action, our prayer is that it will encourage the leadership of Mars Hill to respond in a distinctive and godly manner so that the name of Christ will not continue to be dishonored.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Books, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology