Category : Parish Ministry

Rowan Williams: Nativity is a powerful reminder of our own vulnerability and weakness

Dr Williams is chair of Christian Aid and called for support for its Christmas appeal as he said, ‘life doesn’t have to be like this. We can build a world with deeper justice, greater fairness, greater security for all.’

He said: ‘One of the most serious forms of powerlessness that anyone can experience is, of course, hunger. Take a country like South Sudan: after years of merciless and bloody civil war, food security has become a major question in South Sudan. This year, a famine was declared. Countless young people faced starvation. It’s not the only place in Africa, or indeed throughout the world, where this is a problem. Places like Burkina Faso are facing some of the same challenges.

‘But South Sudan is particularly vivid in my own memory: I visited there a couple of times in the last 10 years. I’ve seen what life is like in the refugee camps. I’ve seen the feeding programmes, combined with educational programmes, that many local churches and charities take up. The challenge is enormous, and it’s one that we are determined to face this Christmas, and to respond to. A gift of £10 will feed a family in South Sudan for a week. A gift of £40, for a month.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Rowan Williams, --South Sudan, Charities/Non-Profit Organizations, Christmas, Poverty, Stewardship

(NYT) Raphaël Louigene and his burial team, tending to Haiti’s Dead

Like the country itself, Burial Road stretches between those who have everything and those with nothing. Even modest funeral parlors offer elaborate services starting at $1,100 — far beyond the means of most Haitians, who live on $2 a day or less.

No matter how rich in love they may be, most people can’t pay those fees. And so, the bodies of their sons and mothers wait here so long that their faces melt, their skin unravels. They are stacked one atop another in gruesome, wet piles that resemble medieval paintings of purgatory.

The men who have finally come to their rescue aren’t friends or relatives. They don’t know their individual stories. But they recognize poverty.

“They didn’t have a chance,” says Raphaël Louigene, the burial team’s stocky, soft-spoken leader. “They spent their lives in misery, they died in misery.”

Mr. Louigene and the other men work for the St. Luke Foundation for Haiti, a charitable organization started in 2000 to help the country’s poorest.

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Haiti, Pastoral Theology, Poverty

(NBC) A Powerful example of how one parish choir director made a huge difference–Opera student raises $40,000 in performance for college tuition

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Education, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Stewardship, Young Adults

(Church Times) Church of England strategy to increase ordinands takes its toll on dioceses

Dioceses may struggle to cope financially with the national target of adding 50 per cent to the number of ordinands by 2020, a Church Times survey suggests.

A questionnaire sent to diocesan secretaries and directors of ordinands discovered that, although all seemed to support the target, all but one of those who responded were concerned, or very concerned, about how this might be financed. One wrote: “The desire is there, but not the funding.” Some are undermining the strategy by capping the number of people recommended for training.

Financial anxiety is focused on the cost of training, but also what happens after training: many dioceses will struggle to support and house an increased number of assistant curates, and are warning ordinands that they will not be able to return. Other dioceses are looking for cheaper training pathways, or hoping for an influx of self-supporting (i.e. non-stipendiary) clergy.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Stewardship

(Telegraph) Churches are pioneering text giving to encourage cashless congregations to donate

Churches are pioneering text giving in an effort to encourage cashless congregations to donate electronically.

One parish of six churches around Rugeley, in the Midlands, is launching the scheme on Sunday, with others set to follow suit.

“People carry less change,” said team rector, the Revd Dr David Evans, “so this gives them a way of giving that’s firmly 21st century and it’s a way that most people pay for these things these days if they are not using cash.”

Dr Evans won’t be throwing the collection plate away just yet, as “regular members expect to give” that way. But instead of there being one moment to give, there will now be three.

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Posted in England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(Christian Today) St Helen’s Bishopgate in split with local Anglican churches over sexuality

One of the largest evangelical churches in the country is withdrawing itself from relations with neighbouring Anglican churches over irreconcilable differences on their teaching on sexuality.

St Helen’s Bishopgate, which attracts nearly 2,000 worshippers across its four services each week, declared it was in ‘impaired relationship’ with fellow Church of England parishes in its deanery in central London.

William Taylor, rector of St Helen’s, cited ‘the widely publicised views held by certain members of the deanery chapter’ as reasons for the split.

‘We (the clergy, wardens and PCC of St Helen’s) no longer consider these church leaders who have ceased to ‘believe and uphold the Christian faith Church of England has received it’ to be ‘walking together’ with us in any meaningful partnership’, he told the area dean Rev Oliver Ross.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Inspiring Story from the front page of the local paper–Recovering addict gives hundreds of coats, hot meals to needy

Wanda Lopez grew tired of seeing children shivering at the bus stops.

She set aside a couple thousand dollars and purchased hundreds of brand-new coats. With the help of local organizations, she assembled 250 hot meals, 200 turkeys and boxes of canned food, and put it all out on display Friday in a North Charleston parking lot.

Lopez worried the frigid rain would keep people away. But within hours, all of the food and most of the clothes were gone.

“This is blowing my mind,” Lopez said. “So many people need hats, coats, gloves, boxed food. Basic things.”

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Posted in * South Carolina, Stewardship, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Church Times) ‘This is not a threat’: new Anglican Mission in England defends its first ordinations

Nine men will be ordained on Thursday as the first deacons and priests of the Anglican Mission in England (AMiE), the breakaway conservative Evangelical movement that seeks to plant Anglican churches in England but outside the Church of Eng­­land.

The nine are due to be ordained by the Rt Revd Andy Lines — who was con­­secrated missionary bishop earlier this year by the GAFCON-aligned Anglican Church in North America (News, 7 July) — at a service in a Baptist church in east London.

Until now, every clergyman as­­sociated with the AMiE has come from the C of E, or been ordained by Anglican bishops overseas. Bishop Lines, who is mission director of Crosslinks, a mission agency, had permission to officiate in the diocese of Southwark until he allowed it to lapse in June.

The nine men — eight will be ordained deacon, and one as priest — are the first not to have been trained by the C of E. All work in AMiE churches.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Newcastle Anglican Diocese had ‘do-nothing’ approach to child sex abuse claims, royal commission finds

The royal commission into child sexual abuse has found powerful paedophiles in the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle were operating under weak church leadership.

Thursday’s report follows another into the national Anglican Church which found that every church diocese in the country, bar one, had received complaints of child sexual abuse in the past 35 years.

The commission looked at alleged child abuse, bullying and cover-ups within the Newcastle diocese, producing a report of more than 400 pages just on the Newcastle Anglicans.

It has found former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Roger Herft’s response to abuse was “weak, ineffectual and noted a failure of leadership”.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Children, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence

How One Anglican Congregation Asserted its First Amendment Rights amd Effected a Change in City Policy

The city’s policy did not expressly prohibit use of the park for religious activities or by religious groups. Instead, the city’s denial of the application was based on unchecked, arbitrary discretion – which is Constitutionally invalid.

Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, religious expression and speech are protected in traditional public forums such as public parks like that of Old Town Square in Fairfax. City restrictions on such freedoms are heavily scrutinized and must not discriminate against a particular viewpoint. Further, in traditional public forums, state actors cannot censor people or groups based on the content of their speech, except when there is a compelling state purpose and the restriction is both necessary and the wording narrowly tailored to achieve that purpose. Accordingly, the Supreme Court has ruled in other similar cases that in circumstances like these in which the forum is available to others and the event is open to the public, there is no Establishment Clause conflict. Additionally, in order for the state to require permits (i.e. approval) as a prerequisite for individuals or groups to engage in protected speech, it must follow very strict and objective criteria in decision making. To base such permits on vague discretion by officials making the individual decisions may be considered a prior restraint on protected speech and a violation of the First Amendment.

Fairfax City’s denial of Shepherd’s Heart’s application “was classic prior restraint, which is exactly what the Founders wanted to prevent when they drafted the First Amendment,” explained Gorman. “We used the Freedom of Information Act to get access to the city’s park policies. Even though they said it wasn’t allowed, there was nothing in writing to back it up. It was completely arbitrary.”

Gorman, feeling convinced of the Constitutional violation, contacted the Center for Religious Expression in Memphis, Tennessee who took on the case pro-bono.

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(RNS) God and guns: Texas pastors undergo security training a month after Sutherland Springs massacre

Shooting holes in a “paper bad guy” during target practice? That’s easy.

Defending a house of worship against a real gunman? That’s a whole different story.

As he led a security training on Tuesday (Dec. 5) at a Dallas-area megachurch, Sgt. Mike Gurley warned against thinking that worshippers licensed to carry handguns can offer reliable protection.

“To assume they’re going to be effective in an active-shooter situation is comparable to giving me a set of golf clubs and expecting me to win the Masters,” the retired Dallas policeman told the crowd of 650 pastors and other church leaders.

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Posted in Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Violence

(CC) Ruth Everhart-18 ways churches can fight sexual assault in 2018

11. Invite a victims’ advocate to lead an adult education class or series…

14. Preach a sermon or series on biblical texts of terror, such as Tamar’s story…

16. Speak about sex from the pulpit in a frank and forthright manner without using code words or making inappropriate jokes.

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Posted in Men, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Violence, Women

(Guardian) Liam Beadle–Not even vicars have the patience of saints

The demands are many. A typical day for a member of the clergy begins with morning prayer, reading from the Bible and mentioning to God the needs of the whole community. They can then find themselves going from a lively school assembly to a visit to a bereaved parishioner to plan a funeral service. They may then attend a meeting to discuss repair works to a listed building, take a communion service in an old people’s home, liaise with organists to choose next month’s liturgical music, report a potential safeguarding concern, and in the evening chair a meeting of the parochial church council. No day is quite the same, which is one of the great things about being a vicar. But a schedule requiring such mental, spiritual and emotional agility can take its toll.

One of the things that is sometimes forgotten is that vicars are (or should be) theologians. It isn’t good enough for the vicar simply to have his or her opinions about God and the world. Theology is a serious academic discipline. So what the vicar says about God has to be doctrinally defensible. But it also has to be kind and accessible. Sometimes that seems like a tall order, which means tired clergy either retreat into well-worn platitudes or become regarded as ivory-tower intellectuals in a society increasingly suspicious of experts. It is exciting to be a person of study and prayer in a community, pointing to God and the possibility of new creation in an often weary world. It is also incredibly draining, and sometimes the pressure becomes a bit too much.

I don’t know the specifics of what made Thewlis write the letter to his congregation. But all the clergy I have spoken to know how it feels to want to write that sort of letter. In particular, he says he perceived a lack of warmth among the people he served. That can be very painful for the clergy, who have often moved significant distances to live in a community they don’t know very well, to do a hard job with a lot of public exposure. It doesn’t take more than a few people who are adept at finding fault, or who resent a new person in their community exercising leadership and making decisions, to feel vulnerable and isolated. A throwaway unkind comment or a hastily written angry email can eat away at a parish priest for days.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

Just a Reminder that the mediation Process between the Historic Diocese of South Carolina and the new TEC in SC Diocese started back today

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon–How will you live in hope as a Christian this Advent?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Advent, Eschatology, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Scripture