Daily Archives: February 18, 2021

(LA Times) Black people still aren’t getting COVID vaccines. This pastor isn’t having it

The pandemic has forced churches across California to keep their doors shut for much of the last year. For some, that has meant losing loyal congregants who lack internet service and, therefore, have been unable to watch sermons online. For others, the shift to streaming solely on social media has allowed them to actually expand their congregations.

City of Refuge is one the churches that has grown and Jones has used the opportunity to speak to more people about the dangers of COVID-19 and the safety of vaccines. In fact, the biggest reason he wanted to get vaccinated was to set an example for his congregation of 20,000, and for the hundreds of others who also now watch him online every Sunday.

Too many members are reluctant to get vaccinated, he said, despite the risks they face. They insist that the vaccines are “evil,” he said, and that the coronavirus was manufactured and that Donald Trump had something to do with it.

“It’s just the same old conspiracy stories. There’s no proof for any of that,” said Jones, 71, who also happens to be the brother of model and actress Grace Jones. “So what I do is I go in and say, where’s the proof? Let’s talk reality.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(RNS) Dallas faith groups help shelter homeless Texans during deep freeze

Some communities urged residents to boil water before drinking, and Texas officials are not sure when power outages will end, according to local news reports from Dallas. The Weather Channel reported 17 people had died due to the storm.

The Rev. Wayne Walker of OurCalling, a Dallas-based homeless ministry, said his organization had been providing shelter at its building but became too crowded during the deep freeze. There was not enough space for people to stay warm while still keeping socially distanced.

One Dallas homeless shelter, where about 250 people were staying, temporarily lost power due to the storm, reported The Dallas Morning News. The city has also been relying on local hotels to provide winter shelter for the homeless during the pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in Climate Change, Weather, Parish Ministry

(The Bakersfield Californian) Churches strive to maintain Ash Wednesday tradition, even as they bend it for safety’s sake

It was another sign of the times Wednesday as two Anglican priests sprinkled ashes over the heads of the faithful without the congregants having to get out of their cars.

Beginning at 7 a.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of Trinity Anglican Church in southwest Bakersfield, a drive-thru format was used to minimize physical contact during the early-morning observance of Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

“We’ve never done this before, but with COVID, God is letting us try something different this year,” said the Rev. Karl Dietze, pastor at Trinity.

He didn’t really know whether anyone would even show up for the unusual Ash Wednesday rite, but Dietze said it was worth a try.

“We’re trying to do ministry and keep people safe at the same time,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lent, Parish Ministry

(NYT) To Plug a Pension Gap, This City Rented Its Streets. To Itself.

The City of Tucson, Ariz., decided last year to pay rent on five golf courses and a zoo — to itself. In California, West Covina agreed to pay rent on its own streets. And in Flagstaff, Ariz., a new lease agreement covers libraries, fire stations and even City Hall.

They are risky financial arrangements born of desperation, adopted to fulfill ballooning pension payments that the cities can no longer afford. Starved of cash by the pandemic, cities are essentially using their own property as collateral of sorts to raise money to pay for their workers’ pensions.

It works like this: The city creates a dummy corporation to hold assets and then rents them. The corporation then issues bonds and sends the proceeds back to the city, which sends the cash to its pension fund to cover its shortfall. These bonds attract investors — who are desperate for yield in a world of near-zero interest rates — by offering a rate of return that’s slightly higher than similar financial assets. In turn, the pension fund invests the money raised by those bonds in other assets that are expected to generate a higher return over time.

If they can pull off the strategy, cities issuing these bonds can reduce their pension bills by an amount that’s the difference between what they earn and what they pay out. But as with any strategy based on long-term assumptions, there is risk.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., City Government, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General

(RC World) Ron Rittgers for Luther’s Feast Day–Martin Luther’s Reformation Of Love

Viewing Luther’s central problem as an inability to fulfill the two great commandments helps to account for why he spends so much time in Reformation manifestos like The Freedom of the Christian on love of neighbor. He believed that his evangelical theology enabled one to truly love the neighbor as one received unmerited divine love through loving trust in God, which fulfilled the first commandment (LW 29:186). A big chunk of The Freedom of the Christian is given over to a consideration of neighbor-love. As Luther reflected on the Christ hymn in Philippians 2, he asserted, “…the good things [i.e., faith and righteousness] we have from God should flow from one to the other and be common to all, so that everyone should ‘put on’ his neighbor and so conduct himself toward him as if he himself were in the other’s place. From Christ the good things have flowed and are flowing into us. He has so “put on” us and acted for us as if he had been what we are. From us they should flow to those who have need of them… This is true love and the genuine rule of a Christian life. Love is true and genuine where there is true and genuine faith” (LW 31: 371).

Luther posited a radical solution to a traditional problem. He argued that the way to enable fallen human beings like us to love God and neighbor is to assure us of God’s prior unconditional love for us in Christ, which frees us from our perceived need and ability to make ourselves lovable to God through our own efforts. Luther argued that once we experience the inflowing of this radical love into our hearts and lives, this love itself moves us to love God with childlike trust and to love our neighbor as we ourselves have been loved. At its best and at its heart, the Reformation was all about this reformation of love.

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Posted in Church History, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Martin Luther

O God, our refuge and our strength, who didst raise up thy servant Martin Luther to reform and renew thy Church in the light of thy word: Defend and purify the Church in our own day and grant that, through faith, we may boldly proclaim the riches of thy grace, which thou hast made known in Jesus Christ our Savior, who, with thee and the Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to begin the day from Prayers for the Christian Year

O Lord our God, who art of purer eyes than to behold iniquity: Have mercy upon us, we beseech thee, for our sins accuse us, and we are troubled by them and put to shame. We have done wrong to ourselves in ignorance, and to our brethren in willfulness, and by our selfish and faithless ways have grieved thy Holy Spirit. Forgive us, we humbly pray thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Prayers for the Christian Year (SCM, 1964)

Posted in Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples; but it is because the LORD loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

–Deuteronomy 7:6-8

Posted in Theology: Scripture