Category : Parish Ministry

A Prayer to Begin the Day from The Prayer Manual

Almighty God, Whose Son Jesus Christ came to cast fire upon the earth: grant that by the prayers of Thy faithful people a fire of burning zeal may be kindled and pass from heart to heart, that the light of Thy Church may shine forth bright and clear to all mankind; through the same Thy Son 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 Evangelism and Church Growth, Spirituality/Prayer

(Church Times) Visit England report: sharp drop in visitor numbers to churches and cathedrals

Visitor numbers at churches and cathedrals fell significantly last year, “largely driven” by a drop in visitors to St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey, a report by Visit England states.

The report Visitor Attraction Trends in England 2016, published last week, recorded a two-per-cent rise in the number of visitors to English sites in general in 2016 compared with 2015. But the number of visitors to places of worship dropped by eight per cent.

The sharp drop came as a surprise: between 2014 and 2015 there was a decline of less than one per cent in visitors to the cathedrals and churches monitored by Visit England.

No single reason has emerged as to why churches and cathedrals could be struggling to attract visitors. The fear of terrorism, rising entry fees, a post-London Olympics lull, and different ways of counting have all been suggested.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Parish Ministry

(Archbp Cranmer Blog) The black Christian who converts white supremacists by loving them

Whenever white supremacists march to proclaim their Europid purity and superior cranial virtue, they are usually met with an equal and opposite force of scorn and condemnation: protest meets counter-protest; hate meets hate. The result so often is violence and injury, if not death. You can quibble over whether neo-Nazis or Antifa are the more extreme; whether to be anti-black is more evil than those who are anti whoever offends them. Ultimately, it is angry people railing against more angry people; man throwing Molotov cocktails at man; woman spitting venom at woman. And so hate stokes hate; punching and kicking breeds window-smashing and car-burning. The bigots, racists and phobes can shout their disgust, but ‘We the people’ can break bones, too: just “punch a Nazi in the mouth” or ransack his house because “property destruction does not equate to violence“. To hate is to curse, and persecution is murder.

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you‘ (Mt 5:44).

There is a black Christian musician by the name of Daryl Davis. He has spent three decades befriending members of Ku Klux Klan, and hundreds have abandoned their white supremacist views because of him. He doesn’t set out to convert them: he goes to their rallies, has dinner with them, listens to them, and talks to them. Instead of protesting and yelling, he gets to know them, and asks: “How can you hate me when you don’t even know me? Look at me and tell me to my face why you should lynch me.”

And, of course, they can’t: over time, the white supremacists look into the black man’s eyes, and they see an equal human person.

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

(NPR) In Germany, Churchgoers Are Encouraged To Tweet From The Pews

In Germany this year, the Protestant church is celebrating 500 years since Martin Luther brought about the Reformation. Today, as the number of churchgoers dwindles, the clergy is turning to new media to appeal to those with little time to attend worship in person.

In the eastern city of Magdeburg, the monotone peal of a single church bell calls a modest flock of parishioners to evening prayers at the Walloon Reformed Church of St. Augustine.

As the faithful file into a High Gothic church where Martin Luther once delivered a sermon, most fumble around in handbags and pockets, looking for their cellphones.

But instead of dutifully switching off their phones and putting them away on this Friday evening, these 40 or so churchgoers take a pew and bow their heads over their lit-up devices as if they were prayer books.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(TLC) Cameron Nations–The future of the Episcopal Church’s clergy

Of all full-time clergy in TEC, 55.4 percent are older than 55, and almost 80 percent of all full-time clergy in TEC are older than 45….Particularly noteworthy are the figures for Millennial clergy, which, depending on where you want to place the cutoff in your definition of Millennial, comprise roughly 6 percent of all full-time clergy in TEC.

Only 20 percent of full-time clergy younger than 45 equals 100 percent of a problem for a denomination struggling to grow and thrive in the decades to come.

If you were to think, Well, at least we have experience going for us, you would be a little off target. The average age of ordinands has held pretty steady at about 50 years of age according to recent CPG Annual Reports (which are different than the Compensation Report). That means that a significant amount of those in the older age brackets are no more seasoned in ministry than many of their younger colleagues; they were ordained later in life.

Read it all and follow the footnotes.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Christian Today) Thousands of people are turning out to hear free choral music around Britain

The ancient church music has been around for centuries – but is getting a new audience due to a new website set up to enable people to find choral evensong services at cathedrals, colleges and churches anywhere in Britain and Ireland.

The website is now receiving about 8,500 unique visitors a month, and 11,500 visits a month, and that number is rising. There are now 481 churches, chapels and cathedrals with their own pages on the website, and the number keeps growing.

And the effect on congregations is staggering.

One poorly-attended church in London found attendance shot up from 10 people to nearly 200 at one evensong alone.Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

(Timeout) Things you only know if you’re a London parish priest: a profile of the Rev Niall Weir

The church has got London covered

‘Every inch of the UK has its own parish church and I think that’s rather wonderful. Being a parish priest has taught me the value of longevity. St Paul’s West Hackney has been here since 1824: five years before the first London bobby appeared on the beat, before the NHS, before state schools, and we intend to stay!’

Priests aren’t all po-faced

‘I appeared in drag on a calendar one year that was made by some local sex workers. Each one of them appeared as a female icon and I dressed up as Dame Edna. I think I scrub up rather well, but my children were very embarrassed….’

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NBC) Wonderful Story–Man Travels 10,000 Miles to Return Flag to Fallen Soldier’s Family

During World War II, Marvin Strombo found a flag on the body of a fallen Japanese soldier. 73 years later, the 93-year-old veteran is bringing it back to that man’s family.

Watch it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Japan, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces

In a New Yorker Article on Dying, [the late] Cory Taylor says so much if you are listening

No, I haven’t become religious; that is, I haven’t experienced a late conversion to a particular faith. If that means I’m going straight to hell when I die, then so be it. One of my problems with religion has always been the idea that the righteous are saved and the rest are condemned. Isn’t that the ultimate logic of religion’s “us” and “them” paradigm?

Perhaps it’s a case of not missing what you have never had. I had no religious instruction growing up. I knew a few Bible stories from a brief period of attendance at Sunday school, but these seemed on a level with fairy tales, if less interesting. Their sanctimoniousness put me off. I preferred the darker tones of the Brothers Grimm, who presented a world where there was no redemption, where bad things happened for no reason, and nobody was punished. Even now I prefer that view of reality. I don’t think God has a plan for us. I think we’re a species with godlike pretensions but an animal nature, and that, of all of the animals that have ever walked the earth, we are by far the most dangerous.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

(NYT) Dr. Ruth Pfau, a German-born medical missionary who was hailed as the “Mother Teresa of Pakistan” dies at age 87

Dr. Pfau, who had converted to Roman Catholicism and become a nun, discovered her calling to help lepers coincidentally.

In 1960, she was waylaid in Pakistan by a passport foul-up en route to a posting in India by her Roman Catholic order, the Society of Daughters of the Heart of Mary. By chance, she visited a leper colony in Karachi, where she met one of the thousands of Pakistani patients afflicted with the disease.

“He must have been my age — I was at this time not yet 30 — and he crawled on hands and feet into this dispensary, acting as if this was quite normal,” she told the BBC in 2010, “as if someone has to crawl there through that slime and dirt on hands and feet, like a dog.”

The encounter stunned her.

“I could not believe that humans could live in such conditions,” she told the Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune in 2014. “That one visit, the sights I saw during it, made me make a key life decision.”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Missions, Pakistan

Kendall Harmon’s Sermon Facing into the SC Supreme Court Decision: “But if Not” (Daniel 3)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there. There are a few verbal slip ups which I could do without, alas, for example the reference should be Matthew 7 when I talk about the two kinds of houses. In the section on the Church in Uganda, I inadvertently fail to mention the name of Archbishop Janani Luwum and instead reference the man who had him killed. Fortunately I at least get Archbishop Luwum correct in the prayer at the end–KSH.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture

The Rev. David Booman Preaches into the South Carolina Supreme Court Decision–How Do We Live, In Such a Time as This?

There’s a scene in the Lord of the Rings, where the hero, Frodo Baggins, is in a very dark place. He and his friends are on a quest to destroy a magic ring. And yet, they’re being relentlessly hunted by hordes of evil creatures, and so their prospects looks dim.

At one point they pause to rest, and Frodo, exhausted and discouraged, says to his friend Gandalf. ‘I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.’ And Gandalf responds, ‘So do all who live to see such times. But it is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

As you probably know, 10 days ago the Supreme Court of SC ruled that 29 churches of our diocese must give our property to the National Church—about 500 million dollars worth. And so while this ruling will certainly be appealed, a day may come when our staff will arrive at work and the locks will have been changed. This has happened in other churches around our country.

And so make no mistake, we’ve lost a major battle in this conflict. Some have used the imagery of the Exodus. We’ve left Egypt, we’ve come to the Red Sea, but now we can hear the chariots of Pharaoh behind us. And unless God intervenes in a mighty way, our future will be radically different than we thought.

Read it all and you may find the audio links there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(CC) Samuel Wells–What two pastors from novels taught me about incarnational presence

God is most fully disclosed at times of our greatest distress and despair. Those people who have gotten themselves into a mess (as we all do, more frequently than we care to admit) might be called troubled. Two novels, George Eliot’s Adam Bede (Oxford University Press) and Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites (Picador), offer narrative accounts of pastoral presence that have helped me discern what it means to be present incarnationally with troubled people—ministry that is attentive to presence, attention, mystery, delight, participation, partnership, enjoyment, and glory.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CT Pastors) Ryan Hoselton–Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Answer to Political Turmoil: Preach!

Many today remember Bonhoeffer for his radical Christian discipleship and sacrificial involvement in the German resistance movement against Hitler. However, few know him for what he believed was most central to his life and ministry: nourishing the body of Christ through the proclamation of the Word. Bonhoeffer cared deeply for the spiritual life and health of the local church, serving in various pastoral roles in Germany, Spain, England, and America. He even wrote his doctoral thesis—Sanctorum Communio—on the church as a holy community.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Germany, Pastoral Theology, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Mathhew Hennessey: The Priesthood Is a Heroic Vocation, as the case of St. Maximilian Kolbe reminds us

Catholics around the world will celebrate the feast day of St. Maximilian Kolbe on Monday. His story is one the church’s finest, though too few people—Christian or not—have heard it.

Kolbe was born to a German father and Polish mother in 1894. He entered the seminary at 13 and was ordained a priest in 1918. With a special devotion to the Virgin Mary and a talent for writing and publishing, the bearded, bespectacled Franciscan founded monasteries and media outlets in Poland and Japan during the 1930s.

When Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, German forces arrested Kolbe. Although he refused to sign a document giving him the privileges of German citizenship, he was released after three months. His monastery continued to issue anti-Nazi publications. It was shut down in 1941, and Kolbe was arrested again. Eventually he was taken to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Germany, Poland