Daily Archives: June 2, 2016

(Guardian) C of E in ageing clergy crisis with 25% of ministers aged over 60

The Church of England is facing a growing crisis of ageing clergy, with a quarter of its ministers aged over 60.

Although the number of people being ordained has increased in the past four years, new figures published by the church show that only 13% of its ministers are under the age of 40.

“While the number of stipendiary ordinations showed a welcome increase between 2012 and 2015, this is not sufficient to redress the gathering effect of clergy retirements predicted over the next 10 years,” said Julian Hubbard, the C of E’s director of ministry. “With 25% of stipendiary clergy aged 60 or over, at present rates of ordination this trend will have a material and growing impact on the number of those available to serve in ordained roles across the dioceses.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship, Theology, Young Adults

(NYT) Britain Is Losing Its Religion, or at Least Its Official One

In these times of flux and challenge, when Britain’s post-imperial place in a globalized world has rarely been so minutely scrutinized and the nation’s very identity can appear to be little more than a work in progress, pity the poor parish priest.

Ever since Henry VIII broke with papal authority in the 16th century, the Anglican Church has stood at the nation’s core. In towns and villages across the land, churches offered formal services and a deeper succor for those seeking life’s meaning or, perhaps, just companionship among the like-minded.

Still, at the highest levels ”” ecclesiastical as much as political ”” 26 Anglican bishops sit in the House of Lords, the upper house of Parliament, where they are known as the Lords Spiritual

Read it all.

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

(LA Times) History isnt a 'useless' major. It teaches critical thinking, something USA needs more of

Since the beginning of the Great Recession in 2007, the history major has lost significant market share in academia, declining from 2.2% of all undergraduate degrees to 1.7%. The graduating class of 2014, the most recent for which there are national data, included 9% fewer history majors than the previous year’s cohort, compounding a 2.8% decrease the year before that. The drop is most pronounced at large research universities and prestigious liberal arts colleges.

This is unfortunate ”” not just for those colleges, but for our economy and polity.

Of course it’s not just history. Students also are slighting other humanities disciplines including philosophy, literature, linguistics and languages. Overall, the core humanities disciplines constituted only 6.1% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2014, the lowest proportion since systematic data collection on college majors began in 1948.

Read it all from James Grossman.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Theology, Young Adults

(RNS) Reason Rally organizes the atheist vote

The steps of the Lincoln Memorial have seen civil rights demonstrations for decades, notably the 1963 March on Washington, in which African-Americans demanded civil and economic rights, but also in the 1990s as LGBT groups demanded an end to discrimination.

On Saturday (June 4), another group will gather at those same steps. Atheists, agnostics, humanists and other so-called religious nones are converging for the Reason Rally, which according to its website aims to be “the biggest gathering of nonreligious people in history.”

The rally’s main goal is to show that nonbelievers have the numbers, the clout and the organizational skills to be a voting bloc worth courting in the November election.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Atheism, History, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

Emanuel AME brings community together with prayer service, discusses collaboration w Charleston

The church has become a nexus of faith after the families of the victims forgave Roof after he was arrested, challenging the members to make sense of the tragedy for themselves and others.

“It is no secret that we have been walking through a valley,” Clark said at Wednesday’s prayer service. “And at times that valley has been so dark that we wondered if our light was able to shine. As we walk through our valley, the key is knowing that where we are today is not where we’re going to be tomorrow if we hold onto God’s unchanging hands.”

Her voice rose up and down, matching the strength and serenity of her words. Mayor John Tecklenburg played a soft song on the piano a few feet away.

“The key is knowing that despite our temporary discomforts, our trials, situations in life that we can’t explain and don’t understand, we’re so grateful to know a God who’s right there in the valley with us. And because he’s with us, we have no reason to fear.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Race/Race Relations, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Nearly 1/3 of US adults, abt 76 mill. people, are “struggling to get by” or “just getting by"

In the United States, nearly one-third of adults, about 76 million people, are either “struggling to get by” or “just getting by,” according to the third annual survey of households by the Federal Reserve Board.

That finding, dismal though it is, represents a mild improvement in general well-being last year, compared with the two years before. The improvement, however, was clearly too little to raise Americans’ spirits: The new survey, which was conducted in late 2015 and released last week, also shows that optimism about the future has tempered.

The Fed policy committee should take the survey to heart when it meets this month to decide whether to raise interest rates. Higher rates are a way to slow an economy that is at risk of overheating ”” a far-fetched proposition when tens of millions of Americans are barely hanging in there.

Read it all from the New York Times.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, Theology

(W Post) What happens when the military chaplain is shaken by war

The pre-war Pastor Matthew Williams had gone to seminary, was ordained and thought he understood why people suffer. “God allows suffering because this world is temporary,” is how he would have put it.

Then came two deployments as an Army chaplain, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Williams spent a year in an Afghanistan morgue unzipping body bags and “seeing your friends’ faces all blown apart.” He watched as most of the marriages he officiated for fellow soldiers fell apart. He felt the terror of being the only soldier who wasn’t armed when the mortars dropped and bullets flew.

This Memorial Day weekend, Williams is no longer an active-duty military chaplain nor a United Church of Christ minister. He is a guitar player on disability whose outlook on God, religion and suffering was transformed by post-traumatic stress.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Iraq War, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theodicy, Theology, War in Afghanistan

Church of England releases new ministry stats

The Church of England has released new Ministry Statistics giving trends in ministry over the period between 2012 and 2015.

The statistics show that total ordained ministry over the last 4 years has remained stable, with over 20,000 ordained people serving the church in various roles.

The number of stipendiary clergy has fallen from 8,300 to 8,000 between 2012 and 2015.

The proportion of stipendiary clergy who are women increased from 24% in 2012 to 27% in 2015. And 19% of senior staff in 2015 were women, up from 12% in 2012.

Read it all.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Blandina and Her Companions

Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that we who keep the feast of the holy martyrs Blandina and her companions may be rooted and grounded in love of thee, and may endure the sufferings of this life for the glory that shall be revealed in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who hast taught us by love to serve one another: Give us eyes of compassion for human suffering and need wherever it is found, and especially for that which lies nearest to our own doors; save us from neglecting life’s opportunities; and grant that while we have time we may do good to all men, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

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

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High; and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

–Psalm 50:14-15

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

[Robert Munday] Prof. John Webster, 1955-2016

The world lost the greatest theological mind whom most contemporaries have yet to discover when John Webster went to his eternal reward last week.
It has long been my contention, asserted in several posts on this blog over the years, that there are two ways to do systematic theology: Either you approach it as a speculative discipline grounded in philosophy, or else you view it as a dogmatic discipline grounded in Scripture. Which of these approaches you take makes all the difference.

Most academic theologians over the past two centuries have taken the former course. I, along with theologians such as John Webster, chose the road less traveled. Choosing the latter course doesn’t mean that you ignore philosophy. Webster’s dissertation was on Eberhart Jungle, a philosophical theologian. My own dissertation was an orthodox critique of Process Theology–itself grounded in the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead–and you don’t get any more philosophical than that.

But the difference comes in where you see theology as being grounded and what you see as its source of authority. It makes all the difference in your methodology and the conclusions to which you come.

Read it all

Posted in Theology

(Tel.) Universal cancer vaccine on horizon after genetic breakthrough

A universal cancer vaccine is on the horizon after scientists discovered how to rewire immune cells to fight any type of disease.

The potential new therapy involves injecting tiny particles of genetic code into the body which travel to the immune cells and teach them to recognise specific cancers.

Although scientists have shown previously that is it is possible to engineer immune cells outside the body so they can spot cancer it is the first time it has happened inside cells.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

(CEN) Jonathan Chaplin–Britain, the EU and the Common Good

…today, we witness a growing interdependence of nations in a globalising world and an increasing number of interconnected political challenges far exceeding the capacity of nation-states to handle them. Because the common good is increasingly trans-national, clinging to maximum sovereignty at the national level won’t always be the right way to promote the goals of justice, peace, freedom and solidarity, even within the UK.

To address these adequately, we need not only inter-governmental cooperation among independent nation states but also effective trans-national institutions.

I submit that the EU, for all its numerous failings and limitations, is one of these necessary institutions.

In the face of an increasing number of border-defying challenges such as security threats, structural and regional deprivation, environmental degradation, threats to peace on Europe’s eastern borders and the immense challenge of the refugee crisis on its southern borders, we need a robust authority with a remit for the common good across European public space.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Theology

(Sightings) Martin Marty–Two Religions Make News in the Baylor Scandal–Baptists+Football

The headlines stressed the demotion of Baylor’s now-former President and now-chancellor Kenneth Starr in the wake of gross sexual abuse incidents, patterns, and cover-ups at the school, and the suspension-with-intent-to-terminate of the football coach who was accused of mishandling and misrepresenting the occasions in which athletes misused and attacked Baylor women.

Whoever will check the sources (below) or others easily available to them will note that virtually all stories stressed that Baylor was a Christian, particularly a Baptist, university. The press doesn’t identify most other schools denominationally, unless the school name banners it””as in Southern Methodist University. Newswriters don’t say that Princeton is Presbyterian, etc.

But Baylor does not hide its official and traditional faith commitment, and puts it to work in many policies, such as compulsory chapel for students for a year or two. Let it be noted, as we will note, that some features of the commitment are strong: a “Top Ten” (in some measures) religion department, notable graduate programs, and not a few eminent scholars. But they are in the shadows cast by the scandal right now.

So, that’s one of the two religions. The other? Football, as it is supported and publicized endlessly, especially, as in Baylor’s case, under the working of the now-suspended head coach.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sports, Theology, Violence, Young Adults

(Gr) Houston Chronicle team shows (again) that it just doesn't 'get' the struggles at Baylor

How many Southern Baptists are there in the greater Houston area, out of a population of four to six million people?

This is not an easy question to answer, just poking around online. It doesn’t help, of course, that Texas Baptists are a rather divided bunch and things have been that way for several decades. But one thing is sure, there are hundreds of Southern Baptist congregations in the area and several of them are, even in Donald Trump terms, YYHHUUGGEE.

Now, the important journalism question ”“ when looking at Houston Chronicle coverage of Baylor University issues ”“ is whether there are any Southern Baptists, or even former Southern Baptists, who work on this newspaper’s copy desk or in its suite of management offices.

Can I get a witness?!? Is there anybody there who knows anything about events in recent Southern Baptist life and how they affect the news?

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Media, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sports, Theology, Violence, Young Adults