Daily Archives: October 9, 2015

Closing a Hospital [the 58th Rural one to do so since 2010], and Fearing for the Future

The rooms in the intensive care unit are filled with folded-up walkers and moving boxes. In the lobby, plaques and portraits have been taken off the wall. By this weekend, the last patients will be discharged and Mercy Hospital Independence will close, joining dozens of rural hospitals around the country that have not been able to withstand the financial and demographic challenges buffeting them.

The hospital and its outpatient clinics, owned by the Mercy health care system in St. Louis, was where people in this city of 9,000 turned for everything from sore throats to emergency treatment after a car crash. Now, many say they are worried about what losing Mercy will mean not just for their own health, but for their community’s future.

Mercy will be the 58th rural hospital to close in the United States since 2010, according to one research program, and many more could soon join the list because of declining reimbursements, growing regulatory burdens and shrinking rural populations that result in an older, sicker pool of patients. The closings have accelerated over the last few years and have hit more midsize hospitals like Mercy, which was licensed for 75 beds, than smaller “critical access” hospitals, which are reimbursed at a higher rate by Medicare.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Health & Medicine

(WSJ) Bernard-Henri Lévy–At a Monastery in Sight of Islamic State

On a mountainside in Iraq’s Kurdish region, at the end of a road that winds through sparse olive trees, stands the fourth-century Mar Mattai monastery. It is Iraq’s oldest monastery, named for the hermit monk who retired here at the dawn of Christianity. The forces of Islamic State are a little more than two miles away. When the weather is clear on the plain of Nineveh, you can see the Islamic State front lines defending Mosul about a dozen miles in the distance.

The vast monastery perched high on Mount Alfaf is hewed from stone, its passages, stairways and terraces exposed to the sun and weather. In the courtyard on the ground level live two families who fled Mosul and the persecution of Christians there.

Four monks live at Mar Mattai. There should be several dozen to judge by the empty rooms along the esplanade. But only these four remain, clad in their black robes and caps embroidered with white crosses. In the Eastern Rite church on the upper level, the monks are standing in the crypt at the far end, their eyes closed, intoning one of the “chants of the Greek church” described by Chateaubriand in his 1811 “Record of a Journey From Paris to Jerusalem and Back.” He admired the Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy) with its notes “held by different voices, some bass, others treble, executing andante and mezza voce, the octave, fifth, and third.” Its beauty, he said, was enough to cure him of a fever.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, History, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Muslim-Christian relations, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture, Spirituality/Prayer, Syria, Terrorism

(MM) Peter Surran–How should Christians respond to atheists?

The interactions between atheists and Christians have been heated, particularly with the rise of the New Atheists in the early 2000s. Michael Bleiweiss, a physicist and atheist from Methuen, Massachusetts, describes the vehemence as a “backlash” due to “Christian militancy.” As some Christians have become more vocal and fervent in attacking evolution and in advocating on social issues, so some atheists have become more vocal in attacking the Christian faith.

Some on both sides have taken a different approach in debating their differences. For Christians, there’s a realization that polemical rhetoric rarely draws someone through the church door. For atheists, there’s a realization that they’re more able to combat stereotypes and change popular attitudes about atheists through dialogue.

A cordial and productive connection took place in an unlikely way. Hemant Mehta, an atheist, was selling his soul on eBay. Jim Henderson, an evangelical pastor, was the highest bidder (at $504). Henderson, who had been interested in finding out why people were turned off by the church, asked Mehta to attend 15 churches and report what he found.

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Posted in Uncategorized

(CC) Carol Merritt–Multicultural life together in the Presbyterian Church

When James Lee met with a core group of people to start a new church, the group began by reading the book of Acts, recalling how the Holy Spirit visited that other small gathering of disciples 2,000 years ago. Wind and fire swept through their pleading until people were blown into the crowded streets, speaking in different languages. Bound­aries of race, ethnicity, gender, and age could not stop the stories of God.

In much the same way, the Spirit disrupted Lee’s plans. Lee had been commissioned to start an African-American congregation in Austin, Texas, but after reading in Acts about a church that included all people, the group decided to plant a multicultural congregation. Their church was named New Covenant Pres­by­terian Church because Cove­nant Presbyterian Church helped to start the congregation, but that moniker took on new meaning. “If we were going to be the new covenant church, then we needed to be for everyone,” Lee said.

New Covenant is a place where many people feel comfortable””interracial couples whose families don’t identify with one ethnicity, Euro-American women who adopt African children, and His­-pan­ics who aren’t Mexican. Through this process, Lee has emerged as an expert in multicultural con­gregations in the Presby­terian Church (U.S.A.).

I asked Lee what people needed to know about planting multicultural churches. He pointed to relationships, context, and justice.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Interesting Resource–the Church of England's Science Missioner Blog

Welcome to the Science Missioner’s Science and Religion blog. The Science Missioner role exists to make connections between the church community and the local science community, to enable dialogue on matters of science and religion, and to help the church engage with some of the scientific issues that affect us all, such as global climate change and how to respond to the challenges it presents.

This blog is one aspect of that work. Here you will find a mix of things – sermons on science-related subjects, reflections on issues of science and faith, comment on scientific stories in the news, and more.

Check it out.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

Diocese of South Carolina Creates Flood Relief Fund

We ask that you keep the families of those who have lost loved ones, those who have suffered loss of property and all those harmed or who are assisting in the rescue and relief efforts following this historic flood in your prayers.

While we are grateful to God that the majority of our Diocese has come through the recent catastrophic storm unscathed, a few of our parishes and people suffered significant damage that will not be adequately covered by insurance. It is also a reality that additional flooding is expected and the recovery process will continue for some time. That there will be unmet needs is certain.

For those reasons, the Diocesan office is recommending the following possible responses to this disaster…

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * General Interest, * South Carolina, City Government, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, State Government, Weather

Church of England partners with Twitter to launch new “@ChurchLive” Service

The Church of England is partnering with Twitter UK to broadcast services across the world using mobile technology.

ChurchLive, was created in conjunction with Twitter UK as a way of showcasing a broad range of live church services to global audiences simply and accessibly through use of a smartphone. ChurchLive could be the first taste of Church for those unfamiliar with church services and an introduction to the best of worship, preaching and prayer. ChurchLive will also enable other people to rediscover church in a new way or for those in other countries to learn more about Church of England services.

Rev Arun Arora, Director of Communications for the Archbishops’ Council said: “This is a project designed to bring Church of England services from Malton to Miami, Middlesbrough to Milan and Manchester to Mumbai. Those who may not make it to church on a Sunday for all sorts of reasons will have the opportunity to be part of a service. The ability to join in worship shouldn’t be restricted to geographical constraint. We know that Periscope users are a global audience and we expect that there will be as many watching services broadcast via Periscope as are physically present at the services themselves.”

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) Hoxton church reaches out to technology sector

A Church on the corner of London’s tech hub is starting to build links with the industry. St John’s, Hoxton, is close to Old Street roundabout, often nicknamed Silicon Roundabout because of the proliferation of start-ups and technology firms in the area.

The Vicar, the Revd Graham Hunter, said that he had begun to try to bring Christian technologists together two years ago. “Being in Hoxton, and having Silicon Roundabout and Shoreditch right on the doorstep, I had this sense we needed to engage with that sector,” Mr Hunter said on Wednesday.

In 2013, he met two Christians who worked in the industry, and they began using St John’s to host a fortnightly gathering, Tech City Christians. “They wanted to network, and also pray for each other, and support one another in living out their faith in this sector; getting people to share their stories about what’s going well, and what their struggles are.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Saint Augustine

Almighty God, in whom we live and move and have our being, who hast made us for thyself, so that our hearts are restless till they rest in thee: Grant us purity of heart and strength of purpose, that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing thy will, no weakness from doing it; but that in thy light we may see light clearly, and in thy service find our perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to thy name; the upright shall dwell in thy presence.

–Psalm 140:13

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

A 2 year old girl cant wait to hug her Dad after being apart for 8 months Deployment

“She was excited. She spotted me from a couple rows back and she couldn’t contain herself. I wasn’t gonna tell her no.”

In a day filled with joy and emotion, Daniel Oglesby’s little girl stole the show when she broke away from the crowd and raced towards her daddy.

It was the first time father and daughter had seen each other in eight months, and despite still being in formation, Oglesby didn’t hesitate to give her a hug.

The crowd gave the pair applause while they waited to reunite with their returning soldiers.

Read it all and do not miss the video.

Posted in Uncategorized

(Leadership Journal) David Swanson–The Already-Exiled Church

The prelude to the 2008 recession is just one recent example. The Justice Department has found that banks charged higher fees and rates to minority borrowers and in some cases directed minority borrowers to “costlier subprime mortgages when white borrowers with similar credit risk profiles had received regular loans.” It’s not surprising that as a result, “blacks and Latinos were more than 70 percent more likely to lose their homes to foreclosure.”

Or consider the children and teenagers in our church who attend schools that are funded by property taxes, a system that provides little hope of improvement for schools located in the midst of relative poverty. These kids face educational futures determined largely by their Zip code.

Coming to grips with our new location as cultural outsiders has the potential to lead us toward a growing sympathy toward those who have always existed in this place. How did race, ethnicity, and culture become dividing lines more powerful than the gospel we hold in common? How could we be zealous for world missions and global justice while nurturing a blinding apathy toward our Christian neighbors?

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology