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(FB) Charles Lehman–The Curious Case of America’s Suicide Crisis

To the extent that we know what works, suicide prevention efforts face legislative and funding limitations. Singer pointed to research on “comprehensive community-based suicide prevention,” including support for community “gatekeepers,” which was shown to reduce teen suicide rates, in particular in rural communities. But rates crept back up when the program was defunded. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has called for expanded suicide assessment and intervention training for medical professionals, which was required by just nine states as of 2018.

But the bigger problem is that there is a great deal that we do not know about preventing suicide. Andrews said that there is a lack of consensus around what works best, or even what works at all.

“One of the reasons that we don’t understand it really well is that understanding, the research, the amount of time and effort we put into understanding changes in the suicide rate, is abysmal,” he said.

Dr. Jill Harkavy-Friedman, vice president of research for the AFSP, made a similar call for more funding, both for suicide research and suicide prevention.

“Until we scale up intervention efforts at the community, state, and national levels, we will likely continue to see an increase in suicides in the United States,” she said. “As a nation, we need to significantly increase our investment in the science, education, and advocacy, in order to expand effective suicide prevention efforts. The lives of millions of Americans depend on it.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Suicide

(AP) No handshakes: Viral outbreak spooks Asian places of worship

In a popular Catholic church in the Philippines, nearly half of the pews were empty for Sunday Mass. The few hundred worshippers who showed up were asked to refrain from shaking others’ hands or holding them during prayers to prevent the spread of the virus that started in China.

In Hong Kong, Cardinal John Hon Tong, wearing a mask, announced the suspension of public Masses for two weeks and urged churchgoers to instead watch them online.

Buddhist temples, Christian churches and Muslim mosques have been ordered closed since Jan. 29 in mainland China, where the new coronavirus strain was first detected in the central city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Mosques have canceled weekly Friday prayers since January under an order to avoid “collective religious activities.”

Religious leaders should encourage Muslims to “trust the party” and avoid crowds, the Communist Party-controlled body that oversees China’s officially authorized mosques said in a statement.

The restrictions and dwindling crowds in religiously diverse places of worship underscore the extent of the scare over the outbreak that has permeated many aspects of life in the hard-hit Asian region.

Read it all.

Posted in Asia, China, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture

Prayers for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina This Day

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from E B Pusey

O God, fountain of love, pour thy love into our souls, that we may love those whom thou lovest with the love thou givest us, and think and speak of them tenderly, meekly, lovingly; and so loving our brethren and sisters for thy sake, may grow in thy love, and dwelling in love may dwell in thee; for Jesus Christ’s sake.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!

–Psalm 66:11

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CTV) ‘Extremely rare’ sighting of a lynx litter caught on camera by Hydro worker

A Manitoba Hydro worker stumbled across an “extremely rare” sight while traveling the highways in rural Manitoba – a mother lynx and her litter.

Sean Kirchmann, a Hydro employee, was on his way to Grand Rapids, Man., when he noticed some small feline heads poking out of the trees near the highway.

“One by one, the mother came out followed by her kittens, gingerly crossing through the ditch and then at the side of the road,” said Bruce Owen, the spokesperson for Manitoba Hydro.

Read it all and do NOT miss the video.

Posted in Animals, Canada, Photos/Photography

(NYT) They Documented the Coronavirus Crisis in Wuhan. Then They Vanished.

The beige van squatted outside of a Wuhan hospital, its side and back doors ajar. Fang Bin, a local clothing salesman, peered inside as he walked past. He groaned: “So many dead.” He counted five, six, seven, eight body bags. “This is too many.”

That moment, in a 40-minute video about the coronavirus outbreak that has devastated China, propelled Mr. Fang to internet fame. Then, less than two weeks later, he disappeared.

Days earlier, another prominent video blogger in Wuhan, Chen Qiushi, had also gone missing. Mr. Chen’s friends and family said they believed he had been forcibly quarantined.

Before their disappearances, Mr. Fang and Mr. Chen had recorded dozens of videos from Wuhan, streaming unfiltered and often heartbreaking images from the center of the outbreak. Long lines outside hospitals. Feeble patients. Agonized relatives….

Read it all.

Posted in Blogging & the Internet, China, Health & Medicine

(CCD) During Epidemic, Chinese Believers Hold on to Faith through Family Worship

During the outbreak of Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19), all on-site gatherings of churches have been suspended, but Jesus’ work in the hearts of believers has been not. The epidemic seems to separate the believers, but the inseparable love between each other in the Lord continues through their family worship sessions.

As a sister puts it, even though we can’t go to church, God’s love never leaves us. At home, we confess our sins to God and ask for his forgiveness and mercy. We read the Bible to help with our spiritual growth, and share spiritual resources with our brothers and sisters. We encourage each other and pray together, waiting for God’s blessings.

The children of God, some as families, others as individuals, worship God at home in various ways, even when they are not able to gather together….

Read it all.

Posted in Asia, China, Other Churches, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Thomas Bray

O God of compassion, who didst open the eyes of thy servant Thomas Bray to see the needs of the Church in the New World, and didst lead him to found societies to meet those needs: Make the Church in this land diligent at all times to propagate the Gospel among those who have not received it, and to promote the spread of Christian knowledge; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Archbishop Edward White Benson

O Lord, take away from us all coldness, all wanderings of the thoughts, and fix our souls upon Thee and Thy love, O merciful Lord and Saviour, in this our hour of prayer.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Then let us no more pass judgment on one another, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself; but it is unclean for any one who thinks it unclean. If your brother is being injured by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not let what you eat cause the ruin of one for whom Christ died. So do not let your good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit; he who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for any one to make others fall by what he eats; it is right not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that makes your brother stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God; happy is he who has no reason to judge himself for what he approves. But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

–Romans 14:13-23

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(1st Things) Peter J. Leithart reviews Tom Wright’s new Book ‘History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology’

Christians confess a meta-paradox: This broken signpost is where God reveals himself, where heaven is present on earth. Here God suffers the ultimate injustice, his beauty effaced. Here the God who is love is crushed by brute force. Here Truth is drowned out by Pilate’s scoffing question and the shouts of the mob. Because Jesus rose from the dead, though, this broken signpost becomes the source of universal renewal: fresh springs of justice, new depths of beauty, a kind of powerless power, a freedom that isn’t limited by chains or imprisonment, a social body of mutual edification. New creation emerges out of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, as the ordinary lives of ordinary followers of Jesus become a “natural” revelation of the presence and power of God.

The church’s confession is contestable and contested, and Wright won’t permit a retreat into fideism. Once we refuse to foreclose the possibility of resurrection and new creation from the outset, we can treat Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, Pentecost, and the church’s history as “historical” phenomena, subject to historical investigation and confirmation. Jesus the rejected stone becomes the chief cornerstone of a renewed natural theology.

Wright’s wide-ranging book is primarily about the two topics of his title, history and eschatology. On both, his central arguments are convincing. “Natural theology” should attend to history, and since Jesus is a historical figure, it needs to attend to him. Wright is also correct that New Testament eschatology is about the renovation, not the removal, of creation. Jesus, Wright knows, shakes natural theologians, and every other sort of theologian, out of our slumbers. Once we admit the Gospels into the historical record and really grasp Jesus’s apocalyptic prophecies, we’ll see more than we’ve dreamt of, a strange world where the sky cracks, veils tear, and gravestones roll away.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Eschatology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Gzero) Will Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir finally face justice?

Sudan’s former strongman president, Omar al-Bashir, has spent years evading justice for alleged war crimes committed almost two decades ago. But the ex-dictator now seems set to face the music after Sudan’s transitional government said that it would hand the 76-year-old over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges including an allegation of genocide. Here’s what you need to know about Omar al-Bashir and the events that led him here.

The wily and brutal Omar al-Bashir assumed power in Sudan in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, and quickly ramped up the Arab-dominated government’s long-running war against black and Christian separatists in the country’s oil rich South. Al-Bashir, who was ousted by mass protests against his longstanding autocracy last year, has been wanted by the top international court since 2009 over mass atrocities committed by government militia in the western region of Darfur, where 300,000 people were killed and almost 3 million were displaced.

Since being pushed from power, Al-Bashir has been sentenced by a Sudanese court to two years in a correctional facility on corruption charges (in Sudan people over the age of 70 can’t serve jail terms) but his years of alleged crimes against humanity have not been reckoned with.

Read it all.

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Sudan

(ESPN FC) Manchester City to appeal 2-year UEFA competition ban for FFP (financial fair play) violations

Manchester City will appeal UEFA’s decision to ban the club for two seasons from European competition — including the Champions League — after the governing body found them guilty of breaching financial fair play rules.

UEFA announced on Friday that the reigning Premier League champions will be excluded from the Champions League for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 campaigns and have also been fined €30 million ($33 million) for “overstating its sponsorship revenue in its accounts” and failing “to cooperate in the investigation,” according to findings by the UEFA Adjudicatory Chamber.

In response, City said they were “disappointed but not surprised” by the ruling and gave notice of their intention to lodge an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Sources have told ESPN that City believe UEFA’s process has been flawed and that they remain confident they will be cleared of any wrongdoing once their appeal is heard by an independent body. Sources have told ESPN that, until then, the club will go about their business “as usual.”

Read it all.

Posted in Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Law & Legal Issues, Men, Sports

(Church Times) Locust plague in East Africa prompts plea for help

Aa parts of East Africa face the worst plague of locusts for decades, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has made a plea for international help. It described the situation as “unprecedented” and “devastating”.

At the same time, the Christian relief and development agency Tearfund, which works with hundreds of rural self-help groups in the region, has urged people to pray for an end to the crisis.

In Kenya, the insect swarms are the worst for 70 years, destroying staple food supplies and farmers’ livelihoods. In Somalia, where the invasion is the worst for a quarter of a century, a state of national emergency has been declared. This week, locusts were reported to have reached Uganda. Tanzania and South Sudan have been added to a watch list.

In Ethiopia, the influx is the worst for 25 years. Tearfund’s Emergency Officer, Tewodros Ketsela, said: “The region is already struggling after several poor harvests, due to either drought or excess rain. As such, farmers are particularly vulnerable to this new threat. Anyone who is fortunate enough to have food reserves will have to use them up earlier than expected.

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Animals, Dieting/Food/Nutrition

([London] Times) Oversized vicarages send wrong message to the poor, warns rector

Plush vicarages put off working class Christians claims a priest as the Church of England warns of a “serious threat” to its future in poorer areas.

In a debate about struggling to reach people on low-income backgrounds, Rev Canon Chris Tebbutt, rector of Canford Magna, Salisbury, said he had forged much better relationships with his community after giving up a seven-bedroom “manor house” to live in a new local development.

“Clergy housing is a hugely important factor for mission and evangelism,” he said. “Inappropriate housing sends out totally the wrong message to the community.” The vicarage is now occupied by an archdeacon, he added.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Housing/Real Estate Market, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Stewardship

Church of England backs sports ministry

Sports and fitness activities are to be championed as part of plans by the Church of England to reach more people with the message of the Christian faith and promote the wellbeing of communities, it is announced…[yesterday].

Seven dioceses across the country in areas such as Birmingham, Gloucestershire, Kent, Lancashire, Norfolk and Surrey, are to take part in pilot projects to include sport and wellbeing into their mission.

The dioceses hope to help provide a range of different activities from personal fitness classes to holiday football clubs, outdoor pursuits and even sports quizzes. In the Diocese of Gloucester, the Church of England is planning to develop a network of sport and wellbeing centres with participants invited to explore and respond to the Christian faith.

In Lancashire, in the Diocese of Blackburn, sports quizzes are already arranged for churches by the group Christians in Sport and churches have been active in setting up holiday sports schemes and personal fitness classes.

Training for lay and ordained leaders in sports and wellbeing ministry is being provided as part of the programme by Ridley Hall, the Anglican theological college in Cambridge.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Religion & Culture, Sports

(VR) Pope Benedict XVI–Saints Cyril and Methodius: evangelizing civilization

The spirit and example of Cyril and Methodius is not only to be praised as a piece of a bygone age.

“For the peoples of Europe,” said Poe Benedict, “these two great saints remind us that their unity” – the unity of Europe – “will be more solid if it is based on common Christian roots.” The Pope identified Christianity as a central and defining element in Europe’s complex history, and discussed how the Christian faith has shaped the culture of the Old Continent, saying that this faith, “is intertwined with its history,” to such a point that the history of Europe is not comprehensible without reference to the events that marked the first great period of evangelization, and the centuries in which Christianity assumed a growing role.

The Pope went on to discuss how, in the present day, Europeans are called to commit themselves to creating the conditions for a deep, cohesive and effective cooperation among peoples – a cooperation that cannot be based on an appeal to purely economic interests, but must rather rely on those authentic human goods​​, which have their foundation in universal moral law written on the heart of every man.

“It is important, therefore,” said Pope Benedict, “that Europe also grow in the spiritual dimension, in keeping with the best angels of the history,” of Europe’s peoples.

Read and or listen to it all.

Posted in Church History, Evangelism and Church Growth

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Cyril and his brother Methodius

Almighty and everlasting God, who by the power of the Holy Spirit didst move thy servant Cyril and his brother Methodius to bring the light of the Gospel to a hostile and divided people: Overcome, we pray thee, by the love of Christ, all bitterness and contention among us, and make us one united family under the banner of the Prince of Peace; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the thought of Saint Augustine

God, our Father, Who dost call us to prayer, and wilt grant our petitions, if only, when we pray, we purpose in all things amendment of life: hear us, as we cry to Thee in our darkness, and stretch forth Thy right hand to help and deliver us; hold out Thy light before us; recall us from our wanderings; guide us and restore us to ourselves and to Thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

–Frederick B. Macnutt, The prayer manual for private devotions or public use on divers occasions: Compiled from all sources ancient, medieval, and modern (A.R. Mowbray, 1951)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of him who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be subject, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

–Romans 13:1-7

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Jon Kuhrt–Why do churches manage people badly?

The church frequently has to respond to the scandal and upset created by safeguarding failures and other cases of serious malpractice. As we all know, these scandals powerfully undermine the integrity of the church’s witness.

One key factor in ecclesiastical failures that is frequently downplayed is the poor state of basic ‘human resources’ practices. The “bad fruit” (Matthew 7.17) that is exposed has not emerged from nowhere. It grows in dysfunctional settings, where clear expectations are not established, proper structures are not in place, and where robust action is not taken against those who ignore requirements. Often there is a basic problem of poor management.

But management is not a concept that sits well within the church. The phrase “managerialism” is often used as code for all that the church does wrong. Theologians will say that the clergy are called to be priests, pastors, and preachers, not CEOs of mini-corporations.

Yet, over the past 20 years, in working for and with many churches and Christian organisations, I have consistently seen the bitter cost of this kind of attitude. Whether it is curates, youth workers, choirmasters, administrators, caretakers, or others, time and again I have seen the problems and sadness it causes.

Read it all.

Posted in Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology

The Archbishop of Canterbury pays tribute to the Archbishop of York at what would have been the latter’s final General Synod

Archbishop Justin Welby praised the Archbishop of York who is currently travelling in the Pacific. He said: “He (John Sentamu) has gone to visit parts of the world which are suffering the effects of climate change right now. He has gone typically to respond to an invitation for him to go and preach and be alongside those who are suffering: a pattern of his life throughout his ministry.”

The Archbishop continued: “Speaking about Sentamu when he’s not here is both dangerous but also deeply liberating for it means we can show our gratitude, thanks and love for him without him being able to stop us.”

Recalling the Archbishop of York’s work on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, Archbishop Justin added that “he has said that he himself was stopped at least eight times by the police”. The Archbishop of Canterbury continued: “To honour his memory, his lifelong, bitter cruel and wicked experience of institutional racism which has existed and does exist within the Church of England we must be dedicated to actions not just words.”

Read it all.

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

Church of England General Synod approves Channel Islands legislation

The report, published in October 2019, includes a recommendation for Episcopal oversight of the Islands to be transferred to the Bishop of Salisbury.

Members of Synod, including the Dean of Guernsey and the Bishop of Winchester, spoke in favour of the motion. The Dean of Guernsey said the motion had widespread support in the Islands.

The General Synod of The Church of England has approved recommendations by the Archbishop’s Commission on the relationship of the Channel Islands to the wider Church of England.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE)

(AP) More US firms are boosting faith-based support for employees

It has become standard practice for U.S. corporations to assure employees of support regardless of their race, gender or sexual orientation. There’s now an intensifying push to ensure that companies are similarly supportive and inclusive when it comes to employees’ religious beliefs.

One barometer: More than 20% of the Fortune 100 have established faith-based employee resource groups, according to an AP examination and there’s a high-powered conference taking place this week in Washington aimed at expanding those ranks.

“Corporate America is at a tipping point toward giving religion similar attention to that given the other major diversity categories,” says Brian Grim, founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation that’s co-hosting the conference along with the Catholic University of America’s Busch School of Business.

A few companies have long-established faith-in-the-workplace programs, such as Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, which deploys a team of more than 90 chaplains to comfort and counsel employees at its plants and offices. That program began in 2000.

Read it all.

Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Religion & Culture

(Church Times) General Synod accepts that ‘serious money’ must be found for abuse survivors

Calls for “proper” and “just” redress for survivors of clerical abuse, with “serious money”, were made in an emotional debate on safeguarding in the General Synod on Wednesday morning.

The Synod voted unanimously for an amended motion to endorse the response of the Archbishops’ Council to the recommendations made by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

The amendment, brought by the next lead Bishop of safeguarding, the Bishop of Huddersfield, Dr Jonathan Gibbs, asked that the original motion be reinforced by “concrete actions”. Earlier attempts to strengthen it had foundered (News, 7 February). Dr Gibbs’s amendment also urged the National Safeguarding Steering Group to commit to a “fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress for survivors” and to update the Synod on the progress on the IICSA recommendations not later than 2021.

Redress was a small phrase with large implications, Dr Gibbs said. “It will mean serious money [and] changes in ways we handle claims and complaints.” Safeguarding responses must be “shaped by the righteousness and compassion of God’s Kingdom, not by the short-term and short-sighted financial and reputational interests of the Church,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Stewardship, Theology, Violence

(Economist) Latin America’s new war of religion

Under the banner of “religion and traditional (ecclesiastical) privileges”, in 1858 Mexican Conservatives rose in arms against a Liberal constitution which declared freedom of worship and ended a rule preventing Catholic church property from being transferred to anyone else. After a three-year war, the liberal principles of religious toleration and the separation of church and state triumphed. In the following decades they spread across Latin America. Now, it seems, this 19th-century political battle has to be fought all over again.

The new blurring of the divide between spiritual and temporal realms owes much to the rise of evangelical Protestantism. Although 69% of Latin Americans were still Catholics in 2014, 19% were Protestants (26% in Brazil and more than 40% in three Central American countries), says a Pew poll. The number of Protestants is likely to have risen since then. Most are Pentecostals.

Read it all.

Posted in Latin America & Caribbean, Religion & Culture

(C of E) Overwhelming support for General Synod safeguarding motion

General Synod voted unanimously today to endorse the Church’s response to the five recommendations from IICSA and urged its national safeguarding steering group to work towards a more fully survivor-centred approach to safeguarding, including arrangements for redress for survivors.

The debate was opened by the lead bishop for safeguarding, Bishop Peter Hancock who shared personal reflections on his time as lead bishop along with outlining the Church’s response to the IICSA recommendations. The Bishop of Huddersfield, Jonathan Gibbs, takes over as lead safeguarding bishop in April.

Read it all and please note the links to the various speeches.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Absalom Jones

Set us free, O heavenly Father, from every bond of prejudice and fear: that, honoring the steadfast courage of thy servants Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, we may show forth in our lives the reconciling love and true freedom of the children of God, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Daily Prayer

Lord, if our hearts be hard, or choked with tares, send, we pray thee, thine angels, even if it be thine angel of sorrow, to plough and harrow and cleanse the unfruitful ground; for thy mercy’s sake.

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

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer