Category : Ministry of the Laity

What the Rector of Redeemer, Orangeburg, South Carolina wrote his parish about the recent SC Supreme Court Ruling

Dear Members Of Our Redeemer Family,
I would guess that by now you’ve heard that the SC Supreme Court issued their ruling on the appeal of the 2014 Circuit Court opinion that awarded the Diocese of South Carolina full rights to continue as the Diocese and gave full ownership of the churches properties to the individual churches. According to the ruling which you can download by tapping or clicking here, it looks like we may have lost some of what we gained under the 2014 Circuit Court opinion.
As I understand it, part of the 2014 ruling has been reversed by a majority of justices, and another part remains as it because there was a 2-2 tie on that part. It appears that we [in Orangeburg] lost the right to keep our buildings.
I’m writing today to ask you to fear not. I assure you, we are going to be alright. I’m asking you not to start “what-iffing” and please don’t start anticipating what we are going to do from here on out. We really don’t have enough information yet to even be anxious. Additionally, I have a personal rule of life I follow which goes like this: “Never make policy out of something that hasn’t yet happened.”
Last night I got an email from Canon Jim Lewis saying that our legal team will appeal. Here’s part of that letter from Canon Lewis:
We want you to further know that our legal team is planning a motion for a rehearing.  There are multiple strong grounds for making that request and good reason to be hopeful about that outcome.  In the meantime, please appreciate that legal council is still reviewing the implications for what is a very complicated ruling.

While this ruling is disheartening, we are a long way from the conclusion of this fight for the Diocese and its Parishes.  Please keep the Diocese and its leadership in your prayers as they discern appropriate next steps.

Additionally, I would ask you to stay away from gossip on the subject. Facebook and the various church blogs are often little more than gossip. At best they are one person’s opinion. Opinions are just that – opinions; they are not fact.  The fact is, the sky is not falling. Another thing you might want to do is talk with Pinckney Thompson. Pinckney led the charge for us in 2014, and I believe that he’s got some great wisdom on the issue.
In any event, God is still God, and I know He’s in charge of our future. Whatever may transpire, we are going to be alright. That much you can take to the bank. All we need to be doing at this point is praying for God to take care of it, because the Lord knows we surely can’t.
My friend Chris Warner wrote these words to his congregation: 
Let me remind you; you don’t have to worry. Worry is optional misery! This court ruling is a situation that you cannot control. But you can control the amount you worry.
If you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you know the One who created your future. His promises about your future give life, not worry.
We clergy will have a special meeting next Wednesday, August 9 to hear from our lawyers and leadership. As soon as I get more information – reliable information – I’ll send it to you. Again – Please – Fear Not. This is not a time to worry. This is the time to pray. And pray with the assurance that God’s got it, and it’s going to turn out just fine.  Thanks.
God bless you, and See you Sunday!
–The Rev. John Burwell
Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina, Theology: Scripture

(Fulcrum) Southwark Cathedral and the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance

For some the Cathedral’s approach falls far, far short of what the church should do to welcome and celebrate same-sex couples.  From this perspective, if this is all that can be offered to gay and lesbian couples within the current law then it is, in truth, unjust and insulting.  If even this is not permitted by current teaching and guidance then all talk of “welcome” and “radical Christian inclusion” is simply pious, prelatical platitudes.

For a second group this solution represents an acceptable, even admirable, Anglican via media of legitimate pastoral accommodation and compromise for the sake of unity.  It should, therefore, be commended more widely (as apparently it is to enquiring parish clergy in Southwark dioceses).  It is a good example of what the Bishop of Chelmsford set out as his vision in his March Presidential Address to Diocesan Synod, leading to widespread concerns among evangelicals in the diocese:

Let me plain: LGBTI+ people are welcome in the churches of the Chelmsford diocese. They are welcome and we want to listen to them and work with them so as to find appropriate ways of expressing their love – for it is not good for human beings to be alone – in permanent, faithful, stable relationships. At the moment there is no consensus in the Church of England for those relationships to be formally blessed in Church, or for the Church of England to embrace same-sex marriage, but the current arrangements do welcome lay people and clergy into civil partnerships and there is no reason why prayers of thanksgiving for these relationships – perhaps a Eucharist – cannot be offered.  We do not want same-sex couples to be cut off from the Church, and we want those who come to us seeking God’s blessing for their love to receive the guidance, challenge and support of the Church.

For this to happen, however, it either needs to be clearly shown that such services are (as the Cathedral claims but Davie disputes) within the bishops’ guidance or that guidance needs to be adapted to enable this form of accommodation.

For a third group, however, as the widespread concern among evangelicals in Guildford and Southwark dioceses shows, such services clearly reject the spirit and probably the letter of the church’s current teaching and guidance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(WmTF) Chris Baker–Dog Collars, Tower Blocks and Nation-building

As the traumatic aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy continues to unfold, the rawness of the anger and grief of the victims of the disaster remans undimmed in the absence of obvious milestones to justice and restitution. A recent Guardian report has looked at the role of the faith communities in the vicinity of the tower since the very earliest hours of the tragedy. They not only co-ordinated emergency relief and ongoing needs such as bereavement and trauma counselling, but now act as a bridge of communication and outreach between local residents and the local authority. Churches and mosques are trusted as safe spaces to not only kick-start the very delicate task of reconciliation, but also in which to hear and hold the rawness of the pain and anger still swirling within the community. They have also offered quiet spaces where many people have come to simply reflect on what this has meant to them, and to remember in silent thought and prayer those who have died, been injured or made destitute.  They know as well that this is no quick fix response, but that they will need to be doing this for many years to come – they are in it for the long haul, long after the media circus has left. In addition, these churches and mosques have also been platforms for a determined denunciation at the corporate greed and inequality that contributes to the housing crisis on cities like London.

Key to the power of these responses has been the renewed visibility of religion and religious identity (already very strong in the North Kensington area) to the external world, especially the media and politicians. One of the most telling remarks from the Guardian piece came from local Methodist minister Mike Long, who said that until a month ago, he rarely wore a dog collar. However, at 4.30 on the morning of the fire he put it on and has never taken it off at any public engagement since. ‘Now’ he says, ‘my role is much more public and I need to be identifiable’.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Phil Ashey takes an in depth dive into the recent TEC Bp Jon Bruno decision and what it tells us: Questions about the corruption of a diocese

The Hearing Panel stated unequivocally that prior review and approval of the sale of church property by the Standing Committee “is a crucial part of the fabric and polity of the Church.” (Report at 57). And yet the specific findings recited in the Hearing Panel’s Report show that the Standing Committee did little, if anything, to investigate the legal ownership of St. James, to review any legal documentation for the sale, and to refer to its own minutes in doing so. If they had, they presumably would have discovered that the only properties transferred to Corp Sole were back in 2009, and did not include St. James. They would have discovered that a purported May 2014 quitclaim deed by the Diocese to Corp Sole was without any review by the Standing Committee. If they had followed Bishop Glasspool’s advice and consulted with another diocesan chancellor, they might have intervened and halted the sale. Nevertheless, they did not

These detailed findings in the Hearing Panel’s Report are troubling in the extreme, to say the least. Viewed as a whole, the findings strongly suggest that corruption and greed were systemic. They were not limited to Bishop Bruno himself. Key staff and leaders at the highest levels appear from the Report to have been complicit. The Standing Committee appears to have failed to properly review, let alone check, these problematic actions. Both laity and clergy close to the bishop were apparently involved.

How could the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles end up with so many people in positions of leadership who had lost their moral compass?

If the statement of the Diocesan spokesman and its webpage are any signs, the absence of conviction, humility and repentance is not promising.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Housing/Real Estate Market, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Stewardship, TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts: Los Angeles

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, - Anglican: Latest News, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(CT) Joy Beth Smith reviews Gina Dalfonzo’s book providing an insider’s perspective on the frustrations of long-term singleness in the Church

Somehow, despite many friends getting married, the single among us are still here, clinging to a community that seems to view us as more of a nuisance than a necessity. And we long for a place in the church—besides standing up at the altar while other people’s vows are being exchanged.

Gina Dalfonzo has lived this storyline as well, but a bit longer and with more grace than I have. As a lifelong single, she’s endured passive-aggressive advice, negligent married friends, hurtful generalizations, and the inevitable shaming that comes with prolonged singleness. The path just wide enough for one is familiar to her feet, though not always welcome. But bitterness has no place in Dalfonzo’s journey, and that alone is refreshing.

Her book, One by One: Welcoming the Singles in Your Church, is the result of extensive interviews, hours of research, and years of living the harsh realities the book describes. Dalfonzo highlights the experiences of others as she discusses the state of singleness, touching on everything from the stereotypes and stigmas of the unmarried to the hope we have for a unified church that seeks to celebrate every phase of life.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Young Adults

(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.

Read it all.

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

For Those of You in Lowcountry SC this weekend–Gloria Kwashi will B guest preacher on Sunday, Apr 30 at Christ St Pauls Yonges Island

Posted in * South Carolina, Church of Nigeria, Ministry of the Laity, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Evangelism and Church Growth, Media, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

Church of England Synod–GS2055 case studies to be discussed today by working groups released

Read it all the links are at the bottom of the page (p 1-7).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture

C of E Presentation from the Bp of Norwich+Bp of Willesden this morning

The Bishop of Willesden concluded by saying:

“We lack a consensus on what we mean by “good disagreement” – is it about process or is it about outcomes? I think that many who want change believe that it’s possible, on the basis of good disagreement, to have pluriformity of practice in the Church. Others don’t believe that it’s possible to live in that way because of the canonical and legal constraints of uniformity that exist in our Church.

We will find this debate a continuing source of disagreement because we haven’t coalesced around an end point. When we legislated for women to be bishops, even those opposed came to the view that the Church of England had to make it possible for women to be bishops in the Church of God according to our canons and formularies. In this debate, we haven’t even begun to find a place where we can coalesce. The Bishops’ Report acknowledges a place of starting. More conversation is needed. We don’t yet know the next stage – nor yet when and whether we can bring any further report to Synod. Please make the fullest possible use of the groups and the debate to enable those deliberations.”

Read it all and the presentations are below.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Tel) Bp David Walker warns of pain ahead of discussion of Report on Marriage+Same Sex Reltnshps

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, The Right Reverend David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, warned changes to the church’s authorised blessings are highly unlikely.

He said: “We know those numbers are just not there at the moment to change the law. We have a liturgy for marriage, we can’t change that without the majorities that would be required.”

However, The Right Reverend added: “What we have said is that we are committed to maximum freedom and I and many of the other bishops are very keen to explore the full extent of what that means. If we don’t change the law but everything else is up for grabs, everything else is up for conversation.

“There is an awful lot we can do which doesn’t actually require a change in the law and that is what I want to explore.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Phil Ashey–Church of England Bishop's Report–More Questions than Answers

The implication would seem to be that whatever might “directly and publicly” undermine the doctrine of marriage may be perfectly admissible if done “indirectly and privately.” The progressive wing of the Episcopal Church used that ploy for years, surreptitiously establishing facts on the ground, until it couldn’t be ignored any longer.”

Two years after TEC was threatened with discipline by the Primates at Dar Es Salaam in 2007, General Convention 2009 came up with an end run that did not directly change the teaching of Christian marriage as between one man and one woman. Instead, they enacted Resolution C056 which circumvented those boundaries in practice by authorizing bishops and clergy to provide a “generous pastoral approach to meet the needs of [LGBT] members of this Church.”

Within a mere six years the foundations of the Church’s teaching on marriage were so compromised by “facts on the ground” that TEC General Convention 2015 effectively revised the Prayer Book by simply passing a “marriage equality” canon eliminating any language limiting marriage as between one man and one woman. In fact, those “generous pastoral provisions” evolved into the liturgies of the Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(C of E Comm Blog) From Zumba to singing: combatting loneliness amongst older people

Monday morning and it’s a Zumba class for the over 50s at St Stephen’s Church, Westminster. This class is part of St Stephen’s Second Half Club, a weekly day of classes that looks to build community, keep people active in mind, body and spirit, and ultimately combat social isolation. St Stephen’s is one of two London churches, the other being St Paul’s, North Marylebone running a pilot of this programme.

It is well-known that loneliness is a serious concern, with over half of adults in England saying they experience feelings of loneliness.

Although there are many different ways Anglican churches are addressing loneliness in their communities, what is truly exciting about the Second Half Clubs is the partnership that they can create with other organisations looking to achieve the same goals.

Read it all from Joseph Friedrich.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Aging / the Elderly, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Music, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology

A BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme Segment on the House of Bps Report on marriage+same-sex reltnshps

On Friday the House of Bishops released a report saying the Church of England shouldn’t change its teaching on marriage but recommending that it reviews other aspects of how it treats LGBTI+ clergy and laity. The Rev Rachel Mann is critical of elements of the report and gives Martin Bashir her reaction to it….

([The Rev.] Canon Andy Lines is also interviewed about his perspective on the report).

The Bishops of Manchester and Maidstone respond to criticism that the Church has come up with a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ solution.

Listen to it all (begins approximately at 21:58 and ends about 35:42).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology, Theology: Scripture