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Sunday Mental Health Break–One Voice – The Wailin’ Jennys

Listen to it all.

Posted in * General Interest, Music

Disappearing churches: Downtown Charleston, South Carolina, congregations cope with big changes

The Greater Macedonia Church building on Alexander Street in downtown Charlesston is for sale. So is the Mount Carmel AME Church building on Rutledge Avenue. The old Zion-Olivet Presbyterian Church at the end of Cannon Street sits empty.

The congregation of Plymouth Congregational Church has relocated to the West Ashley area of Charleston. Shiloh AME Church is moving, too.

The Charleston peninsula is losing churches, even as new residents stream into the three-county metropolitan area.

Other religious institutions downtown are managing to hang on, even thrive, in this dynamic period of change.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * South Carolina, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Boko Haram raids village in Nigeria, steals food and medical supplies

Boko Haram Islamists raided a village in northeast Nigeria, in the latest rampage to steal food and medical supplies, as fears grew of more attacks, locals and security personnel said on Sunday.

Scores of fighters loyal to the faction headed by Abu Musab Al-Barnawi stormed Sabon Garin Kimba, some 140km southwest of the Borno state capital Maiduguri.

The jihadists were dressed in military uniform and arrived in a pick-up in Nigerian army colours at about 18:00 on Friday, according to the civilian militia assisting troops.

The raid is significant as no civilians were killed or injured.

Read it all.

Posted in Nigeria, Terrorism

South Carolina Men’s Basketball beats Florida to make the first Final Four in Team History

Posted in * South Carolina, Men, Sports, Young Adults

A Statement of solidarity from the City of Westminster Interfaith Leaders

1. We are members of Pathways, a group of faith leaders and representatives in St John’s Wood and Marylebone in the City of Westminster, who regularly meet together to foster good relations between our communities and to work on matters of mutual concern.

2. Fundamental to all our religions is the message of peace. We believe that human beings have a duty to work for peace and seek to build good relations with their neighbours.

3. We deplore the attack which took place in and around the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday. Anyone claiming a religious motive justifies an attack of this nature has repudiated the tenets of their faith.

4. We wish to express our sympathy and solidarity with those who have suffered and also those who are bereaved. We will pray for them in our churches, mosques and synagogues.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Guardian) Carol Birch–Reject the cruelty of a me-first age that renders lonely people invisible

A staple of self-help dogma is that to protect ourselves from negativity we should give up our more needy friends. Surround yourself with positive people, we are told. Back off from the emotional drains, the sad saps; they really must not be allowed to bring you down. And so those most in need of a friend are abandoned.

Jo Cox, the MP murdered last year, initiated a cross-party campaign to tackle the problem of loneliness. Now her family and some MPs are taking this forward. Research for the Jo Cox Commission published last week shows that almost three-quarters of older people in the UK are lonely. Quite apart from the huge strain this puts on the health service (chronic loneliness is as bad for the health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day), the weight of untold sadness is enormous. As well as highlighting how the government’s massive underfunding of social care causes older people’s isolation, the campaign encourages people to get involved with “befriending” services: to knock on a door, pick up a phone, join the forgotten army of volunteers and good neighbours.

This is badly needed. It’s important, however, not to underestimate the scale of the problem. “Happy to chat” badges will not work for an unreachable demographic: the painfully shy, the stiff, the awkward, the unprepossessing, the unhappy young. Loneliness is common among students, the ones who don’t click with anyone during freshers’ week and thereafter walk alone. They are the naturally introverted, uprooted, changing, alienated. People sleepwalk into loneliness on social media, deluded into thinking the size of their following means they’re connected.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Mozarabic Sacramentary

Grant us, O Lord, to rejoice in beholding the bliss of the heavenly Jerusalem; that as she is the home and mother of the multitude of the saints, we also may be counted worthy to have our portion within her; through thine only begotten Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Posted in Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

“Though our iniquities testify against us,
act, O Lord, for thy name’s sake;
for our backslidings are many,
we have sinned against thee.
O thou hope of Israel,
its savior in time of trouble,
why shouldst thou be like a stranger in the land,
like a wayfarer who turns aside to tarry for a night?
Why shouldst thou be like a man confused,
like a mighty man who cannot save?
Yet thou, O Lord, art in the midst of us,
and we are called by thy name;
leave us not.”

–Jeremiah 14:7-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(NBC) Powerful+Heartwarming-A Marine Who Lost His Legs In Afghanistan Graduates from Police Acadmy

Posted in Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Police/Fire, War in Afghanistan

(Eleanor Parker) A medieval song about the Annunciation

Gabriel, from heaven’s king
Sent to the maid sweet,
Brought her blissful tidings,
And fair he did her greet:
“Hail be thou, full of grace aright,
For God’s Son, this heaven’s light,
For man’s love
Will man become
And take
Flesh of thee, maiden bright,
Mankind free for to make
From sin and devil’s might.”

Gently him did answer
The gentle maiden then:
“In what way can I bear
A child without a man?”
The angel said, “Fear thee naught;
Through the Holy Ghost shall be wrought
This same thing
Of which tiding
I bring.
All mankind will be bought [redeemed]
Through thy sweet childing,
And out of torment brought.”

When the maiden understood
And the angel’s words heard,
Gently with a gentle mind
To the angel she answered:
“Our Lord’s serving maiden iwis [indeed]
I am, who here above is.
Concerning me
Fulfilled shall be
Thy saw, [your words]
That I, since his will it is,
A maiden, without law, [i.e. outside the law of nature]
Of mother will have the bliss.”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology: Scripture

Forward in Faith welcomes reference to the Independent Reviewer

Forward in Faith welcomes today’s statement from the Archbishops that they have asked the Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, to address the concerns that have arisen in the Church following recent events relating to the See of Sheffield.

We are grateful for their formal statement that, as Archbishops, Primates and Metropolitans, they reaffirm their commitment, and that of the House of Bishops, to its Declaration and to the Five Guiding Principles.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE)

Professor Markus Bockmuehl–Seeking to Understand Temptation (Matthew 4:1-11)

So why should anyone in their right mind pray, “lead us not into temptation”? Ours is a postChristian society that smells and fears insensitivity far more than it smells or fears evil, and which finds Christian morality no longer just irrelevant but positively offensive. Shouldn’t we should just rewrite the whole thing? “We affirm and celebrate the rich diversity of temptation; deliver us from attempts to resist it, because they are moralizing and exclusive.” To rephrase things like that would certainly spare us the open knives of Christianity’s cultured despisers.

In fact, even for Christians it seems tricky and difficult to know what it means to pray about temptation – particularly when we too often feel pretty clueless as to what it might
be. Is it something to do with food and dieting? With binge shopping or binge holidays? Or with sex? Or ambition for success? The ancient Christian author St Augustine captures
something of this difficulty even for those who might seem morally serious, when he admits that he used to pray that God would give him sexual chastity – “just not yet!”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) MPs join row over Llandaff election

Welsh MPs have joined a growing campaign to challenge the method of appointing the next Bishop of Llandaff, in the wake of the rejection of the Dean of St Albans, the Very Revd Dr Jeffrey John, despite unanimous support from Llandaff representatives in the electoral college.

An open letter from the MPs to the Church in Wales College of Bishops was co-ordinated by Madeleine Moon, MP for Bridgend. The letter, signed by nine MPs, suggests that the process has been “flawed” and has produced “con­­siderable disharmony, anger, and confusion”. It refers to allegations of homophobic com­ments made at the electoral college, and recom­mends a pause in the process and a new elec­tion, “open to past and new can­­didates”, to produce an “open and transparent decision”.

The Bishops produced a shortlist of candidates at a meeting last week, which does not include any of those discussed by the electoral college in February, thus excluding Dr John, who received the unanimous support of the 12 Llandaff representatives. At the weekend, Dr John accused the Bishops of “anti-gay discrimination”.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Wales

(The Church in Wales) The Assistant Bishop of Llandaff steps down

In his statement, Bishop David paid tribute to Dr Morgan and the Diocese of Llandaff. He said, “It has been the greatest privilege to be Assistant Bishop of Llandaff these past eight years, a diocese which serves the beating heart of South Wales, teaming with life and hope. It has also been the greatest privilege to have worked with Dr Barry Morgan, the former Archbishop of Wales, and share in his very personable ministry, whose hallmark has been a remarkable reaching out to the lost and forsaken and those on the margins of society, making them feel truly welcome in the name of Christ.

“Though the weeks since Dr Morgan retired have been full and fulfilling, increasingly I realise it is time to hand over the baton to the newly appointed Bishop of Llandaff, so he or she can run free, enabling the Church which I have cherished these past years to flourish. I therefore intend to finish my time as Assistant Bishop on Easter Day 2017, just before the Sacred Synod approves our new bishop. I do so with the greatest gratitude for all the faithful parish priests and people here, whose marvellous ministry I am daily humbled by. I pray that you are given the bishop you so richly deserve, one who, in the words of Cardinal Basil Hume, simply comes to where people are and takes them to places they never dreamt of going.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of Wales

A Joint statement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on the Bishop of Sheffield

From here:

“The recent events surrounding the nomination of Bishop Philip North as Bishop of Sheffield, including his withdrawal from the process, have understandably raised great concern amongst many in the Church of England. The status of the House of Bishops Declaration of June 2014 has been questioned by some and its meaning has also been challenged.

“We have therefore written to Sir Philip Mawer, the Independent Reviewer under the Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, (Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations) 2014, to address the concerns that have arisen in the Church following these recent events. We attach our letter to Sir Philip, in which we reaffirm clearly our commitment, and the commitment of the House of Bishops, to its Declaration, to the principles contained in it, and to the overriding principle of mutual flourishing.

“Finally, in this period of Lent, as part of our preparation for the glorious celebration of the extraordinary grace of God in the events of Holy Week and Easter, we call on all those in the Church to pray openly for the flourishing of those with whom they disagree, to demonstrate the mutual love which we are called to share and to proclaim confidently in word and deed that in Christ we find our true identities, and the overcoming of those things which in ourselves we find so divisive.”

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Theology