Category : * Christian Life / Church Life

Daniel Westberg, Professor of Ethics and Moral Theology at Nashotah House, RIP

Fr. Westberg’s most recent book was Renewing Moral Theology: Christian Ethics as Action, Character and Grace (InterVarsity Press, 2015).  He co-authored Preaching the Lectionary (3rd ed.; Liturgical Press, 2006) with the late Professor Reginald Fuller.

It was exceedingly gratifying to have served as Fr. Westberg’s dean for ten and colleague at Nashotah House for twelve years.  Dan had a brilliant mind and keen sense of humor.  He had a quiet demeanor–a gentle man and a gentleman.  As a professor, he was a friend and mentor who spent time with his students and truly cared about their spiritual as well as their intellectual formation.  But, above all, he was a godly man who truly lived the faith he proclaimed.  Dan’s tragic death is a great loss for Nashotah House.  He will be missed by all who knew him, but especially by his wife Lisa, his father, a brother and three sisters, four adult children, and three grandchildren who survive him.

We commend our brother into the loving arms of God.  May he rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon him.  Our prayers go out for Lisa and Dan’s family.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Death / Burial / Funerals, Seminary / Theological Education

(WSJ) David Hollinger–Christian Missionaries Against Colonialism

Critics of Christian missionaries often write them off as pawns of imperialism, destroying native cultures as they spread their religion and their racist beliefs. There’s a grain of truth to this: Protestant missionaries throughout American history did promote colonialism and prejudice. But then upon returning home many did the opposite. Men and women sent abroad to make the world look more like the U.S. wound up, paradoxically, trying to make the U.S. look more like the world.

During the first half of the 20th century, American missionaries began developing relatively generous attitudes toward the people they had been taught to regard as heathen and backward, if not inferior. Deep and sustained immersion in foreign communities challenged inherited stereotypes. Missionaries and their children eventually became some of the most conspicuous opponents of colonialism and racism.

As early as the 1920s missionaries were telling their sponsors back home that they wanted to cut back on preaching and focus instead on social service. This idea sharply divided the community of faith. Fundamentalists treated any weakening of the program of conversion as heresy. Yet the better-educated liberals who later came to be known as “mainline Protestants” voiced increasing respect for Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and other faiths. These Congregationalists, Methodists and ecumenical groups applied their cosmopolitanism to national and world affairs. The women’s missionary boards were persistent critics of Jim Crow at home and colonialism abroad.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Missions

([London] Times) Help 4 British missionaries kidnapped in Nigerian delta, Archbp Welby urged

The Archbishop of Canterbury was urged yesterday to personally intervene to help secure the release of four British missionaries kidnapped in Nigeria.

The Most Rev Justin Welby has previously negotiated the release of hostages in the Niger Delta where David Donovan, a former GP from Cambridge, his wife, Shirley, and two other volunteers were kidnapped last week.

Authorities fear they have been moved outside the police search area as one of the groups seeking independence for the region pledged to help the government security agencies rescue the missionaries.

Mr and Mrs Donovan, both 57, have run a Christian charity providing medical services in Nigeria for 14 years. The other hostages were named by police as “Alana” and “Tyan”.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Foreign Relations, Missions, Nigeria, Politics in General

(New Yorker) Jill Lepore–What Do We Do With Our Dead?

Throughout the nineteen-forties, most American cemeteries were subject to the same racially restrictive covenants as housing, and were just as resistant to integration, even after courts deemed this practice a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Black graves were more likely to be unmarked, their occupants buried in the old ways, a traditional “homegoing.” In the fifties, consumer conformity drove the conventions of burial; the rising cost of dying outpaced the rising cost of living. Black funeral directors sold the same wares. “Negro undertakers gross more than $120 million for 150,000 funerals each year,” Ebony reported in 1953, in an article titled “Death Is Big Business.” “If a person drives a Cadillac, why should he have a Pontiac funeral?” one funeral director asked Jessica Mitford, as she reported in “The American Way of Death,” in 1963. What sounded like a hoax worthy of Barnum had become by then the way a great many Americans buried their dead—on satin sheets in stainless-steel caskets, with hymns piped in their crypts through high-fidelity stereo, beneath vast, manicured lawns. “The desirable crypts are now in the new air-conditioned section,” another funeral director told Mitford when she updated the book.

There were, nevertheless, dissenters, a cadaver counterculture. In 1971, the “Last Whole Earth Catalog” offered instructions for a “Do-It-Yourself Burial” that you could arrange for fifty dollars. Cremation is generally cheaper than burial, and it makes a certain sense if you have no intention of maintaining the geraniums on the family plot. Long forbidden in the Jewish and Muslim faiths, and disparaged by Christians, it slowly became more acceptable. By 1980, the cremation rate in the United States, which had been virtually zero, had risen to nearly ten per cent. For people with no religious faith, cremation proved particularly appealing. (That number is growing, fast: one in three younger millennials has either never or rarely attended a religious service.) In the Gilded Age, the rich were the ones who wanted to be cremated; in the Second Gilded Age, cremation is the only kind of end the poor can afford. Stagnant wages and the financial crisis of 2008 appear to have accelerated the flames: people who’d lost their homes could hardly afford mahogany coffins. In 2013, Time declared cremation “the new American way of death.”

Ashes scatter. In 2016, for the first time, more than half the American dead were cremated, marking a change to the landscape of every city and town—tombstones uncarved, graveyards abandoned—and a weakening of the ties that bind the living to the dead. The dead are a people and the past is a place that half of Americans no longer visit, except to topple stones.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(Inquirer) Pew: Almost half of Philadelphia’s 839 sacred spaces have new congregations – or none

Philadelphia has 839 historic sacred spaces — churches, temples, and mosques — or one for every 1,900 residents. That’s a lot of big, beautiful buildings facing uncertain futures.

The Pew Charitable Trusts decided to inventory the city’s current and former houses of worship, and released a report Wednesday on the lay of the laity’s land, looking at the vulnerabilities these structures face — from physical deterioration to changing neighborhoods and shrinking attendance.

“You hear a lot of anecdotes but we didn’t know how many were still standing, what condition they were in, how they were being used, and their impact on civic life,” said Larry Eichel, director of the Philadelphia research initiative at Pew.

Despite dwindling religious participation, most of the city’s sacred spaces — 83 percent — are still used for religious purposes. Nearly half are no longer used by the building’s original congregation.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Henry Martyn

O God of the nations, who didst give to thy faithful servant Henry Martyn a brilliant mind, a loving heart, and a gift for languages, that he might translate the Scriptures and other holy writings for the peoples of India and Persia: Inspire in us, we beseech thee, a love like his, eager to commit both life and talents to thee who gavest them; 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, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the South African Prayer Book

O Almighty God, who by thy holy apostle hast taught us to set our affection on things above: Grant us so to labour in this life as ever to be mindful of our citizenship in those heavenly places whither our Saviour Christ is gone before; to whom with thee, O Father, and thee, O Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

(AI) A Pastoral Letter from the bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church on women’s order

The bishops of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) met at Church of Holy Communion, Dallas, Texas on October 2, 2017, for prayer, fellowship, planning for the renewal and planting of Reformed Episcopal parishes, and discussion of other matters concerning the church. Reformed Episcopal bishops from Canada, England, Croatia, Germany, and Brazil were present by teleconference call.

Among the topics discussed was the recent statement issued by the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), regarding the ordination of women. This statement arose from the conclave held in Victoria, British Columbia, September 5-7, 2017, and represents the first attempt by the ACNA College of Bishops, since the completion of the study by the Task Force on Holy Orders, to address the differing positions on this issue among the dioceses of the ACNA.

Because the Reformed Episcopal bishops in North America are members of the ACNA College of Bishops, the release of the statement has prompted questions among REC clergy and laity about the impact it may have on the Reformed Episcopal Church’s understanding of Holy Orders. Consequently, the bishops have deemed it wise to issue a pastoral letter to the REC family of churches, to clarify our position and allay any fears about the direction of our church.

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology

A Statement from Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu and Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster over abuse allocations against the Late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey

Statement from Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu and Bishop of Chester. Dr Peter Forster

“We can confirm that we have supported the police on an investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults by the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey. The allegations date from 1974 onwards when he was Bishop of Chester and from 1981 while he was retired and living in Blackburn diocese. Bishop Whitsey died in 1987.

“We are deeply sorry and apologise to those individuals who have come forward to share their account of abuse by a bishop in the Church of England who was in a position of power and authority. We appreciate that it is very difficult for individuals to come forward and to give their account. Sexual abuse is a heinous crime – and is an absolute and shameful breach of trust. We acknowledge that for survivors, the effects of sexual abuse are lifelong. We are offering pastoral support to all those who have come forward and continue to hold them all in our prayers.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

(Guardian) Former bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey, investigated over abuse allegations

The former bishop of Chester, Victor Whitsey, is being investigated 30 years after his death over allegations of sexual abuse in the latest scandal involving high-profile figures in the Church of England.

A lawyer representing four of the alleged victims has claimed the abuse was covered up by the C of E and has called for a independent review.

The allegations date from the late 1970s when Whitsey was bishop of Chester, and in the 1980s after he had retired and was living in the diocese of Blackburn.

The C of E said it had supported a police investigation into allegations of sexual offences against children and adults. The police told the church that, had Whitsey still been alive, he would have been interviewed in relation to 10 allegations. Whitsey died in 1987.

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Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops

Church of England reaches more than a million on social media every month

More than a million people are being reached every month with the Christian message on social media, a year after the Church of England adopted a new digital approach, new figures show.

Videos, podcasts, blogs and images including prayers are reaching an online audience of 1.2 million a month through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, according to the statistics from the Church of England digital project.

During Christmas 1.5 million were reached through the Church’s award-winning #JoyToTheWorld campaign featuring short films. A further 2.5 million were reached during Lent, the season before Easter, through the #LiveLent project.

The report has been released as new Mission Statistics showed average Sunday attendance over October 2016 at Church of England services stood at 780,000 people, a lower figure than in 2015, in line with a long-term trend.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Luke

Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son: Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Irish Prayer Book

Almighty and merciful God, who in days of old didst give to this land the benediction of thy holy Church: Withdraw not, we pray thee, thy favour from us, but so correct what is amiss, and supply what is lacking, that we may more and more bring forth fruit to thy glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

Church of England publishes a Statement on mediation with survivor Gilo

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

(CM) Myron Harrington Chimes in on the Anglican/Episcopal Dispute and the Supreme Court in South Carolina

That [SC Supreme Court] decision has been articulated in past editions of this paper so I will not go into the details. Unfathomable and unimaginable, however, is how that decision came about. A travesty of justice has occurred! Judicial integrity was not broken; it was fractured — perhaps beyond — repair by the actions of one justice. We now have a Supreme Court whose integrity, as a whole, must be questioned.

I could accept this decision if it had been properly adjudicated by our Supreme Court with no bias, as they are sworn to do. However, this was not the case, as one of the justices failed to recuse herself because of her deep affiliation and vested interest with one side, to include membership in a body that’s avowed mission has been to destroy the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina and defrock its bishop. The other sitting justices, if they knew of her ties to The Episcopal Church, should have taken immediate action to remove her. And if not, when they discovered her egregious breach of trust and confidence, they should have acted in good faith to dismiss her opinion or call for a rehearing with justices with no ties to the case.

I am a proud Citadel graduate, a retired Marine Corps Officer, a veteran of Vietnam and Beirut. My life has been about service to my God, country, family and others. Duty, Honor, Respect and Integrity have been my guiding principles.

To see our state’s most respected court have such an obvious breach of the values I stand for and fought for is troubling — not only for the case with which I’m concerned but for their future as the last word in justice and integrity.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina