Daily Archives: March 28, 2015

WCC General Secretary inviting special prayers for Peace in the Middle East Tomorrow

In all of these tragedies, the religious and ethnic minorities continue to be the most vulnerable communities. Among them are the Christians, our sisters and brothers in the Lord. They face the present danger of extermination or exile from their own region, a catastrophic assault on Christian life and witness in those lands. Many churches and Christians around the world have offered signs of solidarity and sympathy through prayer vigils, humanitarian assistance and advocacy for just peace. Despite these efforts, so many still feel powerless and incapable of making any impact and change. Yet we know that we worship a God of hope, in whom there is always cross, always resurrection. As Christians we are called to live in the hope Christ gives us and make this our witness in times of deep pain and strife.

During this Lenten season, the World Council of Churches invites its member churches and Christians worldwide to offer special prayers on Sunday, March 29 for all people affected by these wars. We ask these prayers especially for the countries of Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt, where the indigenous Christian presence and witness have been continuous since the incarnation of our Lord, and from where the Good News has spread all over the world.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ecumenical Relations, Holy Week, Middle East, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Violence

Anglican Future Conference: A David Ould Interview with Anglican Church Historian Ashley Null

It’s 40 great minutes. I loved this conversation, I hope you will too as you learn along with me from our friend about the heart of Anglican theology.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church History, Theology

The Address by Archbishop Eliud Wabukala at the Launch of FCA Australia

Firstly, in the developing world, and I speak especially of my own continent of Africa, we have great need for partnership with you in discipleship training at all levels, especially as we see the secular challenges to Christian faith and life you are so familiar with now impacting Africa through a globalized media, particularly in its rapidly growing cities. We also need to stand alongside and speak out for those believers who are suffering so terribly at the hands of Islamic radicals and there is always the need for humanitarian and development initiatives by which we demonstrate the love of God to those in extreme material need.

Secondly, in the developed world, we need your partnership as we seek to stand with and strengthen Churches to maintain a faithful and winsome Christian witness in societies where their Christian heritage has become little more than an ornament. In North America, the cultural captivity of the established Anglican Churches became so bad that a fundamental realignment was necessary and we thank God for the emergence and growth of the GAFCON sponsored Anglican Church of North America.

Now we are seeing the same struggle developing in the Church of England, the Mother Church of the Communion itself, and the most recent sign of this is the crisis developing after a parish church in central London was made available for a Muslim prayer service earlier this month. The vicar not only joined in, but also covered up the cross and other Christian symbols in the church. Here we have a warning that controversies about gender and sexuality reflect a deeper problem. Now we are seeing the core Christian commitment to the uniqueness of Jesus as Lord and Saviour is being called into question.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Church of Kenya, Anglican Provinces, Global South Churches & Primates

(Telegraph) Christopher Howse–Mozarabic chant in deepest Suffolk

I found myself in St Edmundsbury Cathedral last week just before they were to sing Evensong. So I stayed, and I’m glad I did.

Apart from anything else, a good way to appreciate a building is to see it put to the use it was designed for. As the church of St James, it was completed at the beginning of the 16th century by John Wastell, the designer of Bell Harry, the great tower of Canterbury Cathedral. As the cathedral of the diocese centred on Bury St Edmunds, it was not finished until 2005.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

Earlier this week–Archbishop Welby asks government about Nigeria's presidential election

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of (1) the prospects for a free and fair Presidential election in Nigeria in 2015, and (2) progress made by the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission towards minimising the possibility of electoral fraud. [HL5761]

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The British Government is closely following developments ahead of Nigeria’s presidential and gubernatorial elections on 28 March and 11 April respectively. This vote will set Nigeria’s course for the next five years and beyond and as Africa’s largest democracy its impact will be felt well beyond its borders. It is vital the elections go ahead without any further delay on 28 March.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Foreign Relations, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Nigerian Christians may back a Muslim candidate in upcoming presidential elections

Under the shadow of Boko Haram violence, Nigerians head to the polls Saturday (March 28) to elect a president and a deputy in a vote observers say is critical for the country’s stability and economic progress.

In a twist that might have been difficult to predict, many Christians in Nigeria’s north are backing a Muslim candidate to lead their country away from the brink of violence and chaos.

Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim from the north and the leader of the All Progressives Congress party, is challenging the leadership of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south who heads the ruling People’s Democratic Party.

Some Nigerians fear that another term for Jonathan would mean institutionalization of corruption and emergence of more Muslim extremist groups in addition to Boko Haram. And they are willing to pin their hopes on a Muslim candidate.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology

(CT) George Yancey–What Christianophobia Looks Like in America

Laws that disparately impact Christians can protect others from Christian attempts to take over society. If these laws are couched in terms of religious neutrality””like the “all comers” policies for student organizations””then those with Christianophobia can endorse them without worry about being stigmatized as bigoted. (There is a similar phenomenon noted in race/ethnicity scholarship. Public policy measures that seem racially neutral can work to the disadvantage of people of color. Restrictive immigration policies are theoretically racially neutral, but disproportionally affect Hispanic Americans.)

This helps to crystallize the current conflict in our society between conservative Christians and those with hatred towards them. Christians face economically, educationally, and socially powerful individuals who seek to drive them from the public square. Many with Christianophobia are convinced that conservative Christians will drag our society back into the Dark Ages and must be stopped with any measure that cannot be defined as overt religious bigotry.

An important challenge Christians have is to convince such individuals that they have the same rights to influence the public square as anyone else. Learning how to communicate, and hopefully find ways to co-exist, with them will help determine whether there will be a persistent cultural conflict or if a truce is possible.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(FP) David Rothkopf–How have we arrived at the most dangerous moment in history of the Middle East?

Just because the Middle East’s descent into chaos is hardly the fault of the Obama administration, that doesn’t mean its policies in the region are not an egregious failure.

The situation in the region is unprecedented. For the first time since the World Wars, virtually every country from Libya to Afghanistan is involved in a military conflict. (Oman seems to be the exception.) The degree of chaos, uncertainty, and complexity among the twisted and often contradictory alliances and enmities is mind-boggling. America and its allies are fighting alongside Iran to combat the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria but in Yemen, the United States and many of those same regional partners are collaborating to push back Iranian-backed Houthi forces. Israel and Saudi Arabia are closely aligned in their concerns about Iran while historical divisions between the two remain great. Iran supports Bashar al-Assad in Syria; the United States and Western allies deplore his policies but tolerate his presence while some of the rebel forces we are supporting in the fight against the Islamic State in that country seek his (long overdue) removal. The United States wants the states of the region to stand up for their own interests ”” just not in Libya or when they don’t get America’s permission first.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Theology, Violence

The Local Community's once a Year Flowertown Festival Happening this Weekend

Pete and Evelyn Richards’ children and grandchildren would like them to slow down, but for the Jeffersonville, Ga., couple, it’s not spring unless they sell their wares at Summerville’s Flowertown Festival.

“Our family thinks we should retire but we would miss it too much, so as long as the Lord lets us work, we’ll continue,” said Evelyn Richards.

The couple, both in their 80s, is among more than 200 crafters who display their work each year at the Summerville Family YMCA’s event. They make flowers and other tchotchkes from seashells found on the beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Read it all and check out the 26 photos available there.

Posted in * South Carolina

BBC Live Coverage–Nigeria votes

Key Points

Millions of Nigerians voting in closely fought poll
President Goodluck Jonathan faces Gen Muhammadu Buhari
Jonathan is Christian southerner, Buhari a Muslim northerner
Delays due to problems with biometric voter cards

Follow it and pray for the election today.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Nigeria, Politics in General

An Unbelievably Cute Mammal With Teddy Bear Face Rediscovered–the Lli Pika

Posted in * General Interest, Animals, Photos/Photography

(NYT) Nigeria Votes in Sharply Contested Presidential Election

The most sharply contested election in Nigeria’s post-independence history wound down to a tense conclusion on Saturday amid fears that a polarized electorate would clash regardless of the outcome in a country split on religious, ethnic and sectional lines.

There appeared to be little middle ground between partisans of the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south hated in the north for mismanaging a bloody Islamist insurgency at steep cost, and his challenger, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler, a northerner and a belated democratic convert whose Muslim faith and authoritarian past are feared in the south.

Voters on Saturday morning crowded around registration stations here in the north’s largest city, a packed metropolis of more than five million, as hitches in the process added to the tension. Election officials were more than two hours late in some places, and malfunctioning electronic registration machines ”” a new system designed to limit endemic fraud ”” stymied voters in others.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Nigeria, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Theology, Violence

#NigeriaDecides; Picture of 117 Year Old Grandpa Getting Accredited In Gombe Today

This is just a wonderful picture.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Aging / the Elderly, Nigeria, Photos/Photography, Politics in General

A Prayer to Begin the Day from E.B. Pusey

Lift up our souls, O Lord, to the pure, serene light of thy presence; that there we may breathe freely, there repose in thy love, there may be at rest from ourselves, and from thence return, arrayed in thy peace, to do and bear what shall please thee; for thy holy name’s sake.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ”˜Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

–Jeremiah 31:27-34

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Bishop Mike Hill–"The Church of England"… stands "at a critical moment in history"

…the challenge to be a Church with a mission to the nation grows more complex as society and communities change, and the size, strength and make-up of our churches also change.

50 years ago churches largely reflected the demographics of their context; today they are markedly different. Put simply, churches have not successfully retained young people as they move into adulthood.

Numbers attending Church of England services have declined at an average rate of 1% a year in recent decades. In any given week, less than 2% of the overall population attend our churches. In some areas, particularly outer estates and the inner city, this is less than 1%. The age profile of our membership is now significantly older than that of the population.

As I said in my Synod address in December, the harsh truth is that there is a massive cultural gap between what we do in our churches and the subcultures amongst whom we dwell.

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

(NPR) As Nigeria Votes, The Specter Of Boko Haram Hangs Over The Election

In the past six years, Boko Haram has terrorized the northeast region and burned down entire communities, killing thousands of people and abducting many more, including more than 200 missing schoolgirls.

The people driven from their homes are posing a challenge for Nigeria’s electoral commission. The U.N. Secretary General’s special representative for West Africa and high representative for Nigeria, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, says displaced people must be allowed to vote.

“These elections must be inclusive,” Chambas says. “I got the assurance of the electoral commissioner that all efforts would be made to ensure that Nigerians internally displaced, as a result of Boko Haram terrorist activity, are not denied their franchise.”

Nigeria is also grappling with a new biometric, voter ID card-reading system, which had hiccups during dry runs ahead of Saturday’s vote.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Nigeria, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Terrorism, Theology

(First Things) Peter Leithart–Islam, Denominations, and Global Christianity

Philip Jenkins’s contribution to The Globalization of Christianity (edited by Gordon Heath and Steven Studebaker) offers sobering and exciting news by turns.

On the sobering side, he describes the statistical stagnation of Christianity, and compares it to the spread of Islam. For the past century, Christianity has held steady at 1/3 of the human population. It’s grown, of course, but it has not grown as a proportion of the world’s population.

Islam has. “In 1900, the 200 to 220 million Muslims then living comprised some 12 or 13 percent of humanity, compared to 22.5 percent today, and a projected figure of 27.3 percent by 2050. Put another way, Christians in 1900 outnumbered Muslims by 2.8 to 1. Today that figure is 1.3 to 1, and by 2050 it should be 1.3 to 1. Put another way, there are four times as many Christians alive as there were in 1900; but over the same period, Muslims have grown at least seven-fold” (21).

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Global South Churches & Primates, Globalization, History, Islam, Missions, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Church Times) Changes in training prompt resignation and protest letter

In her letter, Dr [Sarah] Coakley writes that she agrees “wholeheartedly with all the goals and aspirations” of the report, which envisions a 50 per cent increase in ordinations by 2020.

But she goes on to warn that devolution to the dioceses will be “profoundly undermining of all these good goals. . . Indeed, since there is no theology of ministry articulated in the report itself, one can hardly expect one to emerge in the course of individual bishops making decisions about ‘flexible pathways’, or taking on over-50s candidates without a BAP.

“Further, as the report itself acknowledges (but does not resolve), a huge set of problems can be envisaged about how to deploy clergy around the country in places of greatest need or effective pastoral abandonment, given the new plan for the financial support of clergy training.”

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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