Daily Archives: February 26, 2019

(UMNS) 2019 General Conference passes Traditional Plan, upholding Christian standards for parish leaders

After hours of delaying tactics by opponents, the United Methodist General Conference 2019 delegates passed The Traditional Plan 438 to 384.

A last-ditch effort to bring the One Church Plan back was defeated in the morning and was followed by efforts to amend the Traditional Plan to address constitutionality issues raised by the Judicial Council, the church’s top court.

The Rev. Tim McClendon, South Carolina, called for a vote on the entire Traditional plan, which affirms the church’s current bans on ordaining [non-celibate] LGBTQ clergy and officiating at or hosting same-sex marriage.

When the vote was announced and flashed on the screen, the room erupted in singing, “This is My Story” from observers. Some delegates gathered in a circle and joined in with the singing.

The delegates on the floor and people in the bleachers went into a call and response, chanting in protest of the vote.

A handful of observers unhappy with the day’s legislative results tried to gain entrance to the plenary floor, but security officers blocked them and eventually moved them through turnstiles farther away from the doors. The protesters continued to chant their demand to be admitted.

Bishop Scott Jones of the Texas Conference said the vote resolves a long-standing debate about how the church “can best accomplish our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

“This decision is consistent with our denomination’s historic stance on human sexuality, outlined in the Book of Discipline since 1972,” Jones said.

“We will continue to welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer persons to our churches and affirm their sacred worth. I pray we, as a denomination, can now move forward, working with each other in the spirit of Christian love and joining together as one. We are stronger together in serving God’s mission as a diverse body of Christ,” Jones said.

Read it all.

Posted in Methodist, Sexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

(GMA) After a month-long fast, church pays off $100,000 in debt for 34 college students

A group of 34 college seniors set to graduate in May had their student debts paid off thanks to a local church that raised more than $100,000 during a month-long fast.

Mya Thompson, a senior at Howard University, was one of the 34 students at the Washington, D.C., college who had their debts erased thanks to Alfred Street Baptist Church in nearby Alexandria, Virginia.

“I was overwhelmed and excited,” Thompson, 25, said about the surprise. “I’ve always applied for a scholarship but I’d never received one and it was kind of like, ‘Wow, I finally got chosen.'”

Thompson is a single mother of a 6-year-old son and works an overnight shift as a call taker for 911 emergency services, in addition to her college classes. She received $2,500, the amount she needed to pay off to Howard in order to graduate.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Christian Today) David Baker–We need to be aware of the pervasive impact of ‘The ‘cult of relentless negativity” all around us

Hear it on the radio when pointlessly adversarial interviews are staged with two opposite views – because a negative clash is deemed more likely to engage listeners than a reasoned debate. All it does is leave both interviewees looking foolish – and the presenter as righteous ring-master. Hear it when interviewers constantly interrupt or harangue their interviewees, leaving an impression that the person being interviewed is stupid or inept.

Watch it on television when news reporters conclude their package with a phrase such as ‘But critics will say…’ without naming anyone, or indeed offering any evidence they have even spoken to such ‘critics’. And there’s that other lazy, negative journalistic sign-off – ‘But many questions remain unanswered’ – leaving the impression that whatever person or event has just been reported on, there’s probably some sort of cover-up or incompetence yet to be exposed.

Observe it in politics in the nastiness between Democrats and Republicans in the US. See it likewise in Britain: witness the way people on both sides of the Brexit debate have spoken of the other. Or hear Labour MP John McDonnell who said he could never, ever be friends with a Tory – as though they are to be regarded as some separate species of human.

And sadly, of course, the cult of relentless negativity is in the church too. Read Angela Tilby’s likening of Anglican evangelicals to Labour’s hard-left ‘Momentum’ grouping in last week’s Church Times. Why undertake any serious comment when you can just smear a whole group in this way? Meanwhile an ‘inclusive’ and influential Anglican website carries an article in which every member of the Church of England’s ‘Living in Love and Faith’ sexuality project is declared ‘guilty’ on six counts (yes, six!) of ‘evil’ by the writer, namely ‘prejudice, silence, ignorance, fear, hypocrisy, prejudice and misuse of power’. Quite some indictment!

More conservative Christians can be the same. There are websites purporting to offer objective comment on Anglicanism which seem dedicated, relentlessly, to reporting and reinforcing a 100 per cent negative view. One wonders what it does to those who churn the stuff out. Some of the loudest online critics of the Church of England have alienated potential allies by relentlessly disparaging anyone who does not see things exactly as they do. How easy it is, as the puritan Richard Baxter observed, ‘to tear our brethren as heretics before we understand them’.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Language, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(CT) Why Christians of All People Should Get Their Vaccines

When it comes to the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, a combination of studies involving millions of subjects find that the chance of benefit is incredibly high. This has translated to ever-decreasing rates of measles, mumps, and rubella, along with decreased death and disability from these diseases, worldwide. Meanwhile, the risk of harm is demonstrably low. About one in six children have a low-grade fever or rash the day of the shot. Seizures resulting from a fever—which are scary but harmless—occur generally at rates of 1 or 2 per 1,000 vaccine doses.

More serious reactions (such as thrombocytopenia, which is similar to ITP) occur less frequently. Even then, they are still less frequent than complications brought on by measles, mumps, or rubella. And when the risks of a vaccine outweigh the benefits—such as in the case of RotaShield, meant to treat diarrhea in young children—public health officials usually step in to pull the product.

What about those artificial components? Aluminum and formaldehyde occur naturally in our bodies or in the environment at concentrations higher than those in vaccines. Research continues to demonstrate that an infant’s body can safely handle the amount of aluminum found in vaccines. In the case of autism, studies with larger and larger sample sizes demonstrate no link between autism and vaccines, despite otherwise compelling stories from individuals who see a connection between the two.

The scientific evidence overwhelmingly suggests that vaccines carry a high chance of benefiting us and an incredibly low chance of harming us. The more effective a health intervention is in saving lives, the more morally responsible it is for a community to promote it.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, Theology

(Telegraph) Thirty six per cent of Anglican congregations have no parishioners under 16-years-old

Thirty six per cent of Anglican congregations have no parishioners under 16-years-old, the Church of England has revealed.

Describing the situation as “shocking” Canon Mark Russell, chief executive of the Church Army, told the Church’s General Synod that only six per cent of Anglican churches have more than 25 under 16-year-olds.

The new figures came during the Synod debate on the future of youth evangelism in England, in which the Church agreed to prioritise recruiting more youth workers and being inclusive of LGBT teenagers.

Lucy Gorman, a parishioner from the Diocese of York, said diversity and inclusion is an issue within the Church’s recruitment problem, adding: “When one in 25 young people identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual we need to speak into the silence and connect with them to include them in the life of the Church.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–Living with God in a Humpty-Dumpty World (Genesis 45)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Photini

O Almighty God, whose most blessed Son didst reveal to the Samaritan woman that He is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the World; grant us to drink of the well that springeth up to everlasting life that we may worship Thee in spirit and in truth through thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Knox’s Book of Common Order

LET thy mighty hand, O Lord God, and outstretched arm be our defence; thy mercy and loving-kindness in Jesus Christ, thy dear Son, our salvation; thy all-true word, our instruction; the grace of the life-giving Spirit, our comfort and consolation, unto the end and in the end.

Daily Prayer, Eric Milner-White and G. W. Briggs, eds. (London: Penguin Books 1959 edition of the 1941 original)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.

–Psalm 121:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture