Category : Death / Burial / Funerals

Bp of Kensington Graham Tomlin–Thoughts on Hope in Grenfell

In our community over the past few days we have been through a range of emotions that we rarely experience so close together. Even now as we meet and pray, there are people here in this church, in the surrounding streets wondering how to make sense of this.

How do you put into words what people here have experienced, the story of the past few days?

First there was Shock. As we woke up on Wednesday morning, there was that numb feeling, incredulity that something like this could happen in our modern, C21st sophisticated city. Looking up at the Tower and imagining what the people in there was going through was almost unbearable and so hard to even imagine how awful that must be.

Then there was Compassion. Alongside the tragedy, one of the remarkable things has been to see the amazing outpouring of compassion in this community over the past couple of days.

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Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Marriage & Family, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Diocese of Europe) Tributes to Bishop Geoffrey Rowell RIP

I experienced him as unfailingly kind, warm and hospitable. He stayed at our home in Belgium on a number of occasions. I recall with affection long conversations over a bottle of whisky late into the night. When I was appointed his successor, he was wonderfully encouraging and helpful. Geoffrey valued highly his friendship with his clergy, and those of us who served as his priests and deacons will miss him dearly.

For 12 years as Diocesan Bishop, Geoffrey embodied the Diocese in Europe in his own character and personality. He managed to remain a serious academic whilst also carrying out a demanding pastoral ministry. He was a great ambassador for a traditional, catholic, Anglicanism. He maintained an enviable quantity and quality of correspondence with ecumenical partners and friends. He travelled with remarkable energy and stamina. He inspired loyal devotion in those who worked most closely with him.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals

Bp Martin of Chichester Pays Tribute to Geoffrey Rowell

Geoffrey’s long association with the diocese of Chichester has been characterised by the generosity with which he shared his gifts of holiness, learning, and personal friendship. We shall miss his presence, his imaginative understanding of the past and of traditions that enrich our own, his humour, his hospitality, and his encouragement of younger scholars, lay and ordained, and the enthusiasm with which he helped them identify the value of their hopes and plans.

Geoffrey died as he had lived: in the rhythm of liturgical prayer, and fortified by the sacramental life that is the mark of a catholic Christian.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Uncategorized

The Rt. Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Rowell RIP

The Bishop of Chichester today (Trinity Sunday) asked parishes in his Diocese to remember the soul of Bishop Geoffrey, who died earlier today.

Bishop Geoffrey was an assistant bishop in the Diocese and Bishop Martin had been able to spend some time with him in recent days.

+Geoffrey was previously Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe in the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe from 2001.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals, Seminary / Theological Education

Remembering D-Day (III)–The Poem “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, History, Military / Armed Forces

ESPN: Whats in a Name: This is a must not miss story–deeply touching

Posted in Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Sports, Violence

Cremation (3)-Kendall Harmon: Cremation: Have we Thought it Through?

I have to confess surprise and disappointment over most of the discussion about cremation in today’s church. As someone who speaks in churches on the whole topic of God’s final and complete arrangements with us (eschatology), it is a subject which I raise with some regularity, and it often produces some of the largest response. At a MINIMUM my plea, to follow Paul in Romans, is for each person to make up his or her own mind. In other words, think it through. What I regularly find with contemporary Christians is that they have no problem with cremation, but when I raise objections they cannot answer them. So please understand that I am writing this to encourage you think against me in the body of Christ. Cremation is a matter on which Christians differ with one another, but that difference is to be an encouragement to us to think more deeply about the subject. (I just wrote “we will gladly do the burial either way” and then I looked at it a long time and realized that “gladly” might be misconstrued! We will surely do your burial no matter what you decide).

Often the cremation question is formulated backwards. The question should be why should Christians do anything other than bodily burial? I wish to press this question by noting that it can be shown that as secularization increases, cremation increases. This ought at least to give us pause.

Bodily Burial should be preferred for at least three reasons. (1) Bodily burial best allows for honest grief. This is the least important reason, but it matters a lot in our culture which for the most part STILL lives into Ernest Becker’s book title THE DENIAL OF DEATH. In such a culture, it is all the more important to enable people honestly to face up to the reality of death. The whole practice of the “death industry” is in the other direction.

Think about it. A coffin looks like a person–the same size, etc. When it is lifted it FEELS like a person, and the weightiness suggests the weight of the gift of life God gave. When it is lowered into the ground it feels like we are burying a person-same weight, height, etc. Cremation takes us away from these things–an urn is not the same size or weight as a person, etc. Also, the whole symbolism of the pall (the white linen cloth placed over the coffin) as the resurrection body is altogether lost without a coffin.

(2) The whole symbolism of cremation is exactly backwards. Christians believe in bodily resurrection. They should therefore respect the body in every possible way–how does cremation achieve this? The images for hell are: destruction, punishment, and exclusion. Fire is a key element of the scriptural teaching (there is no evidence, by the way, for Gehenna as a garbage dump, as is continually alleged in the literature). If you say a prayer over a body in an English Crematorium as my doctoral supervisor Geoffrey Rowell did, you actually look into the fire as the body is disposed of. LOOKING INTO THE FIRE? What kind of symbol for resurrection is that?
In contrast, in bodily burial, we look to the Lord, we look to the future, and we confess our faith in God who will make a new heaven and a new earth.

(3) The whole structure of Christian theology ought to challenge us here as well. Creation-fall-redemption-glorification is a profoundly earth-affirming and bodily faith structure. We were made of the earth and given bodies in creation, Christ took on full-bodiedness in the incarnation and was fully bodily resurrected, and we await one day our new and glorified bodies. Certainly our belief in the resurrection of the body is a factor here, but there is more: the whole sacramental approach to life and faith is in view. Bodily Burial is an affirmation of our bodily creation, an affirmation of our bodily redemption, and a proper anticipation of our bodily glorification.

By the way, does anyone have a guess as to why most americans choose cremation? I find it often comes down to money. Cremation is usually less expensive. This speaks volumes about our culture.

We are not to be conformed to the spirit of this world. Apart from compelling reasons to the contrary, why should we depart from the norm of Christian practice through the centuries? The ball is in the court of those who wish to defend cremation, not the other way around.

–Dr. Kendall S. Harmon is Canon Theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and convenor of this blog

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

Cremation (2)–Msgr. Charles Pope: Concerns about Cremation: Some Very Strange Practices Are Emerging

Cremation is certainly here to stay. And I do not doubt there are sound pastoral reasons for its use. However, the norms of the Church insist that cremated remains be treated with the same respect as the body. And just as we would not scatter body parts in the woods, or divide up limbs and torsos to distribute to family members, or put fingers into resin and wear them as earrings, neither should we do this with cremated remains. These ARE the remains of a human being and they are to be buried or placed in a mausoleum with the same respect due the uncremated body.

I think pastors are going to have to teach more explicitly on this matter and that bishops may need to issues norms that will help to prevent problems. One helpful norm might be to refuse to celebrate a funeral Mass until proper burial is scheduled. I am unclear if a pastor alone can do this, but surely a diocese must also have an increasingly firm and clear policy of which people are widely informed.

Simply permitting cremation without well-thought-out policies has proven to be a mistake. I pray that a post like this may provoke thought from all of us in the Church as to how to deal pastorally with a situation that is degrading quickly. We must do some teaching, but we also must not cooperate with bad practices.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture

Cremation (1)–A Post-Gazette Article: Once rare, cremation is becoming the new norm

Cremations outnumbered burials in the United States for the first time on record in 2015, the most recent figures available, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. That year, cremations accounted for 49 percent of deaths compared with burials at 45 percent.

Patrick Lanigan, a former board member of the association and owner of a funeral home and crematory in East Pittsburgh, said that while a minority of clients who opt for cremation shun formal rituals, about three-quarters also do have such traditions as a church funeral, viewing or memorial service.

“Some people like the simplicity of it,” he said. “Sometimes it’s convenient when services are postponed for long periods of time. Sometimes it’s personal preference: Some people don’t want to be buried in the ground.”

The highest cremation rates are in more socially and religiously liberal states, accounting for three in four deaths in Oregon and Washington state. The lowest rates are in more conservative Bible Belt and Appalachian states such as Mississippi (21 percent) and West Virginia (32 percent).

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of the Martyrs of Uganda

O God, by whose providence the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church: Grant that we who remember before thee the blessed martyrs of Uganda, may, like them, be steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ, to whom they gave obedience even unto death, and by their sacrifice brought forth a plentiful harvest; 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, Church of Uganda, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer

Ugandan Anglican Church Takes Responsibility For Late Recognition of Female Martyr

The Anglican Church has taken full responsibility for the late recognition of Princess Catherine Nalumansi Kalala, the only female Martyr in the country.

Kalala is believed to have been killed in the early 1880s in Lubiri for her Anglican faith. Despite this, little is known about Kalala.

Esau Bbosa, Assistant Vicar at the Namugongo Anglican Shrine and Supervisor of the Martyrs Day Celebrations, says Kalala was never recognised because of the laxity of the Anglican Church towards martyrs.

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Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Uganda

(The Goodbook) Vaughan Roberts on assisted dying, dignity and dependence

How should Christians bring our perspective into the public debates about assisted dying?

Well for a start, we need to make sure that we are involved in these discussions, even if it’s just closer to home—in our offices, in our communities, among our friends, as well as in the national debate. We’ve got good news to share—so let’s get engaged. So much of this discussion assumes that some lives are just not worth living—and Christians need to say, no, every life has dignity.

Second, we’ve also got something important to say about suffering. Our culture can’t cope with suffering—it wants to reduce suffering as much as possible and at all costs. Christians say suffering is bad—it’s a result of the fall—but God can be wonderfully at work in and through it.

And third, I think one key assumption underlying the argument for assisted suicide is that there’s just nothing worse than being dependent on others. But a Christian worldview says that actually our dependence on God and on one another is fundamental to our humanity. It’s a good thing! Illnesses brings that dependence to the fore, and that can be mutually very uplifting—for the carer and the one being cared for—even in the midst of very hard times. My father found the loss of independence the hardest aspect of his illness to cope with. At the very end of his life he was paralysed and unable to speak. Those last few days were intensely sad and yet also, in a strange way, profoundly beautiful. He had given so much to us and now we in the family had the privilege of caring for him, stroking and kissing him, singing his favourite hymns and praying. Such dependence is not undignified. This is being human.

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Books, Children, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Theology

(Tel.) The Right Reverend Keith Sutton, Bishop of Lichfield, RIP

The Right Reverend Keith Sutton, who has died aged 82, was Bishop of Lichfield from 1984-2003 and before that spent five years as suffragan Bishop of Kingston in Southwark diocese.

He was one of the Church of England’s most highly regarded leaders, combining considerable intellectual gifts with a warm, attractive personality.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Death / Burial / Funerals

In Pictures: The US Observes Memorial Day 2017

Take the time to look at them all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Military / Armed Forces, Photos/Photography

Music For Memorial Day (II): American Soldier by Toby Keith

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Military / Armed Forces, Music