Category : Diocesan News

Will Willimon's wonderful story of an angry Duke University student parent

From here:

[Will] Willimon once preached about an encounter he had with the father of a graduating student. The father called his office and exploded over the phone. “I hold you personally responsible for this,” he yelled at Willimon. The father was angry because his graduate-school-bound daughter had decided (in the father’s words) “to throw it all away and go and do mission work in Haiti with the Presbyterian church.” The father screamed, “Isn’t that absurd! She has a bachelor of science degree from Duke University, and she is going to dig ditches in Haiti! I hold you responsible for this!”

Willimon, not easily intimidated, asked him, “Why me?” The father replied, “You ingratiated yourself and filled her with all this religion stuff.” Dr. Willimon was quick to reply, “Sir, weren’t you the one who had her baptized?” “Well, well, well, yes,” the father stumbled. “And didn’t you take her to Sunday school when she was a little girl?” “Well, well, yes.” “And didn’t you allow your daughter to go on those youth group ski trips to Colorado when she was in high school?” “Yes, but what does that have to do with anything?” replied the father, becoming more and more aggravated. “Sir,” Willimon concluded, “you are the reason she is throwing it all away. You introduced her to Jesus. Not me!” “But,” said the father, “all we wanted was a Presbyterian.” Willimon replied, “Well, sorry sir, you messed up. You’ve gone and made a disciple.”

–shared by my coworker Craige Borrett in the morning sermon and one of my favorite Willimon stories

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Children, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Haiti, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Young Adults

The Amazing Ministry of the Lamb Institute in Honduras

Last night we attended the Lamb Institute annual dinner on James Island, South Carolina. It was moving, inspiring and thrilling to hear one of God’s special servants, Suzie McCall, share what God has been, is and will be doing there.

“LAMB is a Christ-centered, multifaceted ministry based in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. We seek to share the hope found in Christ Jesus as we care for, educate, protect, and empower those suffering extreme poverty, abuse, and exploitation in Honduras. LAMB was founded in 1999 by lifelong missionary, Suzy McCall, as a training school for Hondurans called to world mission.

Today, LAMB operates an elementary school for children in one of the most violent and poverty stricken areas of Tegucigalpa, a large youth outreach program, a growing microcredit program with over 300 small business owners, a safe house for victims of human trafficking, multiple community programs, and a residential home outside the city for over 70 children who came from situations of abuse and neglect.”

Please visit their website and consider supporting them in the future.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Central America, Children, Education, Health & Medicine, Honduras, Missions, Poverty

(WSJ) David Howard–Taking the Gospel to the Yukpa, as a 14 yr old I was taken by guerillas

Guerrilla activity stopped the missionary work among the Yukpa for more than three decades. But since the early 2000s, several Colombian believers have re-established contact with the tribe and discovered a number of strong believers. They built two schools and a church, and work is proceeding again on a Yukpa Bible.

The events of Aug. 3, 1966, were a defining moment in my life. I was certain we would be killed in those awful moments, yet I joyfully looked forward to seeing the face of Jesus. When it didn’t happen, it gave me a larger purpose in life””to live for Him. The next year, I chose as my “life verse” Paul’s words in Philippians 1:21: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Ernest’s legacy is one of a faithful servant. He selflessly served others his entire life. Yet the Yukpa were closest to his heart. Three times he ventured out to live among them; and in the end, he gave his life for them. The “Daily Light,” a classic devotional book from which we read at his gravesite, had this Scripture from Revelation 2:10 for Aug. 3: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Children, Colombia, Evangelism and Church Growth, Marriage & Family, Missions, Parish Ministry, South America, Teens / Youth, Theology

(LA Times) Why this West Point graduate cried during his commencement

The tears streamed down Alix Idrache’s face. In the photograph, the streaks reach almost to the high collar of his gray dress uniform.

The moment, captured by a military photographer Saturday during commencement exercises at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., marked the culmination of a journey that began in 2009, when Idrache came to Maryland from his native Haiti, barely able to speak English.

Now 24, he graduated at the top of his class in physics, was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army, and is headed to Alabama to train as a helicopter pilot.

Read it all and absolutely, positively do not miss the picture.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Caribbean, Defense, National Security, Military, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Haiti, Theology, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–Oil slump may deepen as US shale fights Opec to a standstill

The US shale industry has failed to crack as expected. North Sea oil drillers and high-cost producers off the coast of Africa are in dire straits, but America’s “flexi-frackers” remain largely unruffled.

One starts to glimpse the extraordinary possibility that the US oil industry could be the last one standing in a long and bitter price war for global market share, or may at least emerge as an energy superpower with greater political staying-power than Opec.

It is 10 months since the global crude market buckled, turning into a full-blown rout in November when Saudi Arabia abandoned its role as the oil world’s “Federal Reserve” and opted instead to drive out competitors.

If the purpose was to choke the US “tight oil” industry before it becomes an existential threat – and to choke solar power in the process – it risks going badly awry, though perhaps they had no choice. “There was a strong expectation that the US system would crash. It hasn’t,” said Atul Arya, from IHS.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Middle East, Politics in General, Saudi Arabia, South America, Theology, Venezuela

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Theodore Holly

Most gracious God, by the calling of thy servant James Theodore Holly thou gavest us our first bishop of African-American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led thy people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom thou callest from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Church History, Haiti, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) Falling Oil Prices Test OPEC Unity

“The upcoming OPEC meeting is going to be the most difficult one during this century,” said Mohammad al-Sabban, a former senior adviser to Mr. Naimi. “It seems that OPEC has forgotten how to cooperate.”

Within the group, officials are increasingly worried its divisions contribute to weaker prices. “If OPEC fails to reach an agreement,” one OPEC official said, “oil prices will keep on falling….”

A collective move to cut output could boost prices, but it would also rob OPEC members of revenue. It is unclear how long such vulnerable OPEC economies as Venezuela and Nigeria could afford to limit production without reopening the spigots.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Middle East, Politics in General, South America, Theology, Venezuela

Congratulations to Colombia who go on to the World Cup Quarterfinals

James Rodriguez wow; just wow.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Colombia, Men, South America, Sports, Uruguay

A Prayer for the Feast Day of James Theodore Holly

Most gracious God, by the calling of thy servant James Theodore Holly thou gavest us our first bishop of African-American heritage. In his quest for life and freedom, he led thy people from bondage into a new land and established the Church in Haiti. Grant that, inspired by his testimony, we may overcome our prejudice and honor those whom thou callest from every family, language, people, and nation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Church History, Haiti, Spirituality/Prayer

(First Things) Timothy George–A Tale of Two Demons

On Pentecost Sunday all hell broke loose in Rome. Following Mass that day, the unpredictable Pope Francis laid hands on a demon-possessed man from Mexico and prayed for him. The YouTube video of this encounter was flashed around the world, and the story caught fire: Is Pope Francis an exorcist? The Holy Father’s Vatican handlers were quick to deny such. The pope simply offered a prayer of deliverance for the distraught man, it was said. Exorcism in the Catholic Church is a sacramental, a sacred act producing a spiritual effect, which must be done according to the officially prescribed Rite of Exorcism. And yet what the pope did on Pentecost Sunday in St. Peter’s Square was more than a simple prayer for someone to get better. It looked for all the world like a real act of spiritual warfare.

Timothy GeorgeThe scene now shifts to South America, the continent where Jorge Mario Bergoglio was born and has spent most of his life. The place: All Saints Church, in Steenrijk, Curaçao, in the Anglican Diocese of Venezuela. The date: May 12, 2013, one week before the pope’s exorcism-like event in Rome. The preacher: The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of The Episcopal Church (formerly known as ECUSA). When she was elected to her post in 2006, Father Richard John Neuhaus described it as an occasion of great sadness. His reaction reflected neither personal animus nor schadenfreudlich glee. Rather, he saw her accession to this high office as likely to deepen the pain and division within the Christian community. Sadly, he was right.

In Venezuela, Bishop Katharine also confronted a demon””the one found in her sermon text for the day, Acts 16:16-24. This is Luke’s account of Paul’s exorcism of a manic slave girl in Philippi. The bishop’s sermon was really a polemic against what she called, in postmodernist lingo, “discounting and devaluing difference.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Episcopal Church (TEC), Europe, Italy, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Presiding Bishop, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, South America, Venezuela

Amnesty International says Tens of thousands face eviction from Haiti camps

Some dodge the stones and bottles thrown at their tents in the dead of night, others watch helplessly as their tarpaulin shelters, huddled in camps sprawled across the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince, are destroyed with knives and sticks.

Rights group Amnesty International has collected dozens of such testimonies from Haitians who have been kicked out of makeshift camps set up by those left homeless by the January 2010 earthquake. Many camp residents have moved out, but just over 320,000 Haitians still live in them.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, Caribbean, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Haiti, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Poverty

(AP) Plans to rebuild Haiti's cathedral begin to form

Almost three years after an earthquake toppled the Roman Catholic and Episcopal cathedrals in Haiti’s capital, visions for their resurrection have started to take shape as officials from both churches begin considering proposals to rebuild them.

A six-member panel led by the dean of the University of Miami’s School of Architecture met this week in South Florida to choose the winner of a design competition that sought ideas for rebuilding the Notre Dame de l’Assomption Cathedral.

Meanwhile, Episcopal Church officials have selected a Virginia-based architectural firm to design a new Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Episcopal Church (TEC), Haiti, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Urban/City Life and Issues

(AP) Islam making inroads in Haiti since devastating 2010 earthquake

School teacher Darlene Derosier lost her home in the 2010 earthquake that devastated her country. Her husband died a month later after suffering what she said was emotional trauma from the quake. She and her two daughters now live in tents outside Haiti’s capital, surrounded by thousands of others made homeless and desperate by the disaster.

What has helped pull her through all the grief, she said, has been her faith, but not of the Catholic, Protestant or even Voodoo variety that have predominated in this island country. Instead, she has converted to a new religion here, Islam, and built a small neighborhood mosque out of cinderblocks and plywood, where about 60 Muslims pray daily.

Islam has won a growing number of followers in this impoverished country, especially after the catastrophe two years ago that killed about 300,000 people and left millions more homeless.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Caribbean, Haiti, Islam, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

The Orthodox Church’s Muscle Helped Propel President’s Rivals to Victory in Georgia

As sharply contested parliamentary voting approached in Georgia last week, the country’s Orthodox patriarch implemented his own peculiar pre-election ritual: He arranged for an airplane carrying icons and holy relics to circle over Georgian airspace while priests prayed over the country’s future, in an updated version of an ancient practice employed ahead of enemy invasions and other calamities.

It was a revealing gesture from Georgia’s church, which exerts a profound but mostly behind the scenes influence on political life. The elections brought an end to the eight-year dominance of President Mikheil Saakashvili and his team ”” as well as their sometimes aggressive push to introduce Western ways to this conservative society. That quest drove Mr. Saakashvili’s government into occasional conflicts with the church, which worsened as the country approached a highly competitive election.

“They hoped, I think, that in the critical moment the patriarch would back them, which apparently was wrong,” said Levan Abashidze, a religious scholar. Instead the church repeatedly stated its neutrality in the race, he said, sending a signal to voters that it was not endorsing the government.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, --Eastern Europe, Europe, Georgia, Orthodox Church, Other Churches, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

WCC and Latin American churches express hope for Colombia peace talks

A public statement applauding steps toward peace talks in Colombia was issued recently by representatives of churches and ecumenical organizations that form the Peace Commission of the Evangelical Council (CEDECOL), the Ecumenical Network in Colombia and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI).

The statement, released on 28 August and responding to an announcement that the Colombian government and the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia ”“ People’s Army) were working on a proposal to start peace talks, expressed thankfulness to God and hope for a more peaceful future in the country, which has been wracked by decades of conflict. The peace talks are scheduled to begin 8 October in Norway and may also include the National Liberation Army (ELN).

“The people of Colombia deserve peace with justice,” Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), said in response to the ecumenical statement and the potential for peace talks. “As an ecumenical community, we ask all WCC member churches to pray that the process of peace talks will proceed as soon as possible.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Colombia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, South America, Theology, Violence