Daily Archives: February 13, 2015

Bishop Graham Kings: English Monk Who Encouraged the Ministry of Women

In Wolf Hall, we become enmeshed in the English Reformation and enthralled by the figure of Thomas Cromwell, who dissolved the monasteries. Four centuries earlier, the planting of Cistercian monasteries had been envisaged by an English genius, Stephen Harding, a 12th-century monk from Sherborne, Dorset, who wrote the two-page constitution of the new monastery in Cîteaux, France. He urged the founding of further houses, with annual visitations and a General Chapter.

He was the third Abbot at Cîteaux, and also the mentor of a young novice, Bernard, who was encouraged to set up the monastery at Clairvaux and matured into a major theologian and key figure in medieval Europe. One night, the novice Bernard did not complete his private Psalms and went to bed early. His Abbot asked in the morning: “Bernard, where, I ask, did you leave your Psalms yesterday after Compline, or to whom did you entrust them?” Bernard was astonished at this mystical insight, blushed and threw himself at Harding’s feet, asking for pardon.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History

Baltim Brew: I could have stopped Cook’s ordination, bishop says, but it wd have caused an uproar

..Sutton said he got to know Cook over the summer before her consecration. “Having worked with her for a couple of months,” he said he suspected she was drunk at a private dinner given two days before her scheduled ordination.

“At that moment something clicked. There was this, and there was her DUI in 2010,” he said, referring to her arrest for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia as well as drunk driving in Caroline County, Md.

He said he did the “only thing I could do, canonically” ”“ he shared his suspicions with Bishop Jefferts Schori, who had also attended the private dinner party with her husband.

“Clearly the presiding bishop agreed with my assessment that. . . we want to make sure that this is nipped in the bud before it becomes a problem,” Sutton said last night.

A Lavish Ceremony

But by all accounts, Heather Cook’s suspected alcoholism was not mentioned on September 6 when 10 bishops and nearly 1,000 worshippers participated at her ordination at the Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore.

During the lavish ceremony, Bishop Jefferts Schori spoke out the words: “If any of you know of any reason why we should not proceed, let it now be made known.”

With no objections made, Jefferts Schori then announced it was the will of the people for Cook to be made bishop. Sutton followed later with an official welcome to the new bishop.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

(St. Dig. News) Kenyan Anglican Church buys rice in preparation for looming famine

Following massive crop failure in most parts of Kirinyaga County due to inadequate short rains late last year, the Anglican Church is buying rice to mitigate the looming famine.

Diocesan Bishop Joseph Kibucwa said the church has so far spent Sh1 million in buying paddy rice from farmers at the Mwea Irrigation Scheme. The cleric said although the programme was started a bit late when the harvesting season was almost ending, the church has managed to secure some reasonable amount of the grain. ”We took some time studying the situation before arriving at this decision to buy the paddy rice and have it stored for use when the looming famine finally starts to bite our people,” Kibucwa said.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Ethics / Moral Theology, Kenya, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology

(UMNS) Methodist Church body proposes language change in its stance on Same-sex Unions

The United Methodist Church could have openly gay clergy and clergy could officiate at same-sex marriages if a proposal affirmed by a denomination-wide leadership body prevails.

The Connectional Table plans to draft legislation that members hope can be “a third way” in church’s long debate over homosexuality.

The body on Feb. 10 overwhelmingly affirmed a proposal to remove prohibitive language that makes it a chargeable offense under church law for clergy to be “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” or to officiate at same-sex weddings.

The action was not a formal vote, but the reported results of two hours of small-group discussions. The Connectional Table will take up proposed legislative language for an actual vote when it meets in May in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths), Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CC) Chris Coons–Why I went to seminary: A senator’s theological education

My decision to pursue a divinity degree surprised and even alienated a lot of my friends in the law school. My group of friends was very progressive, very accepting of everyone””everyone except, I learned, people of faith. A number of them stopped talking to me, and some acted like I had lost my mind. They were dismissive of divinity as a serious field of study. It was one of the first times I experienced some genuine intolerance as a person of faith, particularly from friends in the progressive community. It was a difficult and eye-opening experience.

Despite some resistance, I never doubted my choice. The next two years of my life were incredibly formative. After starting divinity school, I helped form a prayer group with a number of other law students who were also committed Christians, and it became a dominant feature in my social life. Although I had better formal instruction in the discipline, details, and doctrine of faith at the divinity school, I actually experienced my spiritual formation through interactions with my law school peers. They came from a broad range of cultural and political backgrounds””some were very conservative and some were progressive””but they were all struggling with the culture of law school and the same kinds of questions about our purpose. Why be a lawyer? Why be involved in service? Our discussions challenged my thinking and strengthened my faith.

If there’s one thing, more than any other, that came out of my formal training in scriptural analysis, it was a focus on humility””an insistence on humility””in asserting you know the will of God and understand the word of God.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Senate, Theology

(Chr Today) Sin but no devil: Church of England debates its baptismal liturgy

A new baptism service without mention of the devil was debated by members of the Church of England General Synod today

The synod, which sent the texts through to the next stage of the authorisation process, heard that the new texts are needed because the world has changed so much, even in the last 15 years.

Parents are turning up to have children baptised who have lost the language of Church, if they ever had it in the first place.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Baptism, Children, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(WSJ) Michael Ortiz–Distorting Christian History to Defend Islam

In an attempt to find a peaceful alternative for those in the Islamic world who advocate violence for political and religious goals, Christians in the West shouldn’t distort the history of Christianity, or stand idly by while others do so. Letting this version of events shape perceptions of Christian history invariably means a portrait of religion as a force of darkness, while science and technology will always be beacons of sanity and light.

The narrative portraying religious conviction as antithetical to reasoned comity among people and nations is easy enough to fall into. At the national prayer breakfast last week, for instance, President Obama compared the excesses of the Crusades and the Inquisition to the terrorism of today’s radical Islam. The president went on to condemn (rightly) those who advance their religious convictions with violence.

But what he and many others miss is the conviction that Western core values come from a faith in which God enters into human history precisely to save the world from the erring reason that fails, among other things, to recognize that terrorism is an affront to God and humanity.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Secularism, Theology, Violence

(Ch Times) At C of E General Synod, Cash requested to combat the ”˜doomsday machine’

Breaking the rules on borrowing from the future is necessary to stave off the “existential crisis” of ever-declining congregations, members of the General Synod were told this week.

The First Church Estates Commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, said on Tuesday that for 20 years the Church Commissioners had “religiously” maintained the value of their endowment, so that the same lump sum would always be available for future generations.

But the “doomsday machine”, by which C of E membership falls year on year as the deaths of older churchgoers is not matched by the arrival of younger people, meant that the Commissioners’ rule on intergenerational equity needed to be broken.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Theology

(CT) Grant Wacker–Billy Graham, Evangelical Patriarch

The story started at home, with the multiple ways Graham helped shape the movement’s internal culture. For one thing, he prompted evangelicals to shift their focus from the venial sins of cussing, smoking, drinking, dancing, and premarital sex to the mortal sins of greed, lust, racism, and, above all, faithlessness. Which is to say, he prompted evangelicals to shift their focus from moral misdemeanors to moral felonies. That did not mean that he started out that way. Nor did it mean that he ever winked at the misdemeanors, or got entirely beyond preaching about them himself. But it did mean that he helped evangelicals establish a sense of scale. In a closely related move, Graham also alerted evangelicals to the difference between core and peripheral doctrines. Not every doctrinal difference was worth going to the mat for. He brought many of them to appreciate, in other words, the philosopher William James’s dictum: “The art of wisdom is the art of knowing what to overlook.” Or at least, gaining a mature sense of which doctrines should”” and should not”” qualify as a test of fellowship.

Then, too, Graham helped evangelicals see that justice for everyone, regardless of social location, was not peripheral but central to evangelicals’ affirmations and obligations. He did not always lead the way as boldly as he might have done, even by his own lights, but he was rarely very far behind the movement’s shock troops, and far ahead of the great majority of his constituents. To be sure, Graham never retreated one inch from his conviction that enduring social change started with changed hearts. But if changed hands did not follow, hearts needed to go back into the shop for more work.

The preacher helped his co-workers both deploy and regulate their entrepreneurial impulses….

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Gelasian Sacramentary

O thou who hast taught us that we are most truly free when we lose our wills in thine: Help us to attain to this liberty by continual surrender unto thee; that walking in the way which thou hast prepared for us, we may find our life in doing thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Bible Readings

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to thee, when my heart is faint. Lead thou me to the rock that is higher than I; for thou art my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in thy tent for ever! Oh to be safe under the shelter of thy wings!

–Psalm 61:1-4

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

TEC Presiding Bishop–On Healing and Wholeness in the light of the tragic death of Thomas Palermo

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Death / Burial / Funerals, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Theology

(Washington Post) Manslaughter charge prompts Episcopal church to examine relationship with alcohol

With a history of sherries at church coffee hour and wine during Holy Communion, Episcopalians have long endured ”” and shared ”” jokes about their drinking. (For example: “wherever two or three are gathered, there’s a fifth.”) Yet the relationship is complicated.

The denomination stood out a century ago for saying alcoholism wasn’t an evil. And Episcopal clergy played a significant role in the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous.

So perhaps it was surprising that this week a top church leader said the case of Heather Cook ”” the Maryland bishop now accused of killing a cyclist while driving drunk ”” revealed Episcopalians’ “systemic denial about alcohol and other drug abuse.” Leaders will review church policies on drug and alcohol abuse for the first time in 30 years when they have their once-every-three-years meeting this summer.

One bishop is already proposing not drinking at the major gathering, and parishes are launching special worship services for people in recovery. Yet the Episcopal Church’s unusual history regarding drinking adds to the complexity of dealing with the issue.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Alcohol/Drinking, Alcoholism, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, Theology