Category : Ministry of the Ordained

(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

(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

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

(Barna) The Aging of America’s Pastors

Pastors are getting older, and this has important implications for the future of the church. In partnership with Pepperdine University, Barna conducted a major study into how today’s faith leaders are navigating life and leadership in an age of complexity. The State of Pastors study—revealed at a Pepperdine event earlier this year—examined the shifting demographic of faith leaders, and the cultural forces responsible for the dramatic changes.

When George Barna published his 1992 findings in Today’s Pastors, the median age of Protestant clergy was 44 years old. One in three pastors was under the age of 40, and one in four was over 55. Just 6 percent were 65 or older. Twenty-five years later, the average age is 54. Only one in seven pastors is under 40, and half are over 55. The percentage of church leaders 65 and older has nearly tripled, meaning there are now more pastors in the oldest age bracket than there are leaders younger than 40.

The upward climb did not begin in the 1990s. In 1968, 55 percent of all Protestant clergy were under the age of 45—that is, the majority of all church leaders were in their 20s, 30s and early 40’s. In 2017, just 22 percent are under 45.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sociology

Please Pray for the Diocese of South Carolina Clergy Day

[Aug 2]

Dear Fellow Clergy,

As noted in today’s earlier email the South Carolina Supreme Court released a divided ruling in our case. You may read the ruling here.

The Bishop is calling for a clergy day this coming Wednesday, August 9 beginning at 1:30 p.m. in St. Paul’s Church in Summerville.  Legal counsel will be present to discuss the ruling and its possible implications.  We request that all who are able make it a priority to attend….

While we released a statement to the press this afternoon, 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.

In Christ’s service,

 

(The Rev.) Canon Jim Lewis

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

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

(CT) Haddon Robinson RIP, Champion of Biblical Preaching

In his books, classes, and radio instruction, Robinson taught that sermons should be guided by the biblical text and focus on one idea or theme.

Christianity Today featured Robinson—formerly the senior editor of a fellow CT site, PreachingToday.com—in a 2002 article on the neglected craft of expository preaching:

Robinson has been teaching students about expository preaching for decades. His classic (and recently updated) tome Biblical Preaching, which is used in more than 150 seminaries and Bible colleges, has become the go-to text for aspiring expositors.

“The number of preachers who really begin with the text and let it govern the sermon is relatively small,” laments Robinson. “Today, the danger is that some preachers will read the latest psychology book into the text. They’re not driven by a great theology but, instead, by the social sciences.”

In addition to Biblical Preaching, Robinson wrote more than a dozen books on the topic and regularly taught through radio ministries Discover the Word and Our Daily Bread. He warned preachers about veering into heresy with biblical application; distracting the congregation with sermon illustrations; or ostracizing parts of the audience with tone.

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, Evangelicals, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics

(DurhamRegion) Canadian Anglican Minister offers spiritual advice, fruit punch following the model of Peanuts

A Saskatoon pastor is taking a page out of Charles Schultz’s classic “Peanuts” comic strip by offering spiritual advice and a glass of fruit punch at a roadside stand in his neighbourhood.

Mark Kleiner of Christ Church Anglican church says the stand is part of a parish initiative to participate more in the community.

He tells CTV Saskatoon they want a minister “that engages with the people around us.”

The stand is strikingly similar to the one where Lucy often counsels Charlie Brown in the “Peanuts” comics.

An overhead sign on the booth promises spiritual help for five cents, while another sign on the front of it reads: “The pastor is IN.”

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

William Reed Huntington for his Feast Day–Twenty Years of a New York Rectorship, A Sermon from 1903

My aim has been to set forth God in Christ as the highest attainable good of the soul. I have taught, or tried to teach, the doctrine of a divine friendship made possible through the Incarnation of God’s Son. I have seemed to find in the simple Creed which tells of a Word made flesh and dwelling among us, not a key which readily unlocks all the closed doors of this mysterious house our souls inhabit, but one to which more bolts yield than yield to any other key that the busy, searching intellect of man has found. The warrant for this belief in “God-with-us” I have sought, and, at least to my own thinking, found, in Holy Scripture, in history and in human nature. The Christ of the Gospels has been the centre of all my theologizing and the authority for all my teachings. If I speak of history as one of the warrants of faith, it is because of the discernible presence in its pages of the Son of Man steadily at work, century by century, building up the walls of his fair City. If I speak of human nature as another one of these warrants, it is because I observe in human nature capacities and desires, sympathies and affections, such as only a humanized God, a God whose being is at some point tangent to our own, can meet and satisfy. In a word, to get away from metaphysical abstractions, and to stick close to personality, to use the filial and brotherly vocabulary in all my speech and to avoid, as far as possible, a philosophical phraseology, which, while it may overawe, can scarcely enlighten, has been my steadfast aim. For, after all, the most cultured congregations are human; and thoughts which cannot be expressed in the words our mothers taught us, may as well be held in reserve, so far as preaching is concerned. Prattle about the Infinite and the Absolute is an easy accomplishment for men who have been to college; but what people need to be persuaded of is that they have a Father in heaven, Who knows them and Who may, in some measure, by them be known; Who loves them and Who may, in some measure, by them be loved.

If to this doctrine of “God in Christ” I have not, in my teaching, linked as closely as some would have liked to see me do, a philosophy of sacramental grace, it has not been from any disposition to undervalue the place of sacraments in religion, but rather from a reluctance to narrow to one channel a stream which so very evidently flows through many.

These last twenty years, be it candidly confessed, have been a rather arduous time for preachers. Not only have they had to encounter far greater difficulty than of old in getting a hearing, because of the increased number of voices in the world, but, even when listened to, they have been almost as men under trial upon the charge of concealing their real beliefs….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Preaching / Homiletics

Australian Anglican Church won’t licence reinstated clergymen

Two Anglican clergymen controversially returned to Holy Orders after being defrocked for their roles in covering up historic cases of child sex abuse, are unlikely to minister again.

Former Bishop of Grafton Keith Slater and Grafton Deacon Rev Pat Comben have been returned to Holy Orders this year after attempts to “depose” them in 2015.

The pair were found to have acted inappropriately to victims of the notorious North Coast Children’s Home who came to them seeking redress for past abuses.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Snakes+Ladders) A homily to remember by Jessica Martin

She turned her eyes towards him for the first time… — & he was looking at her with all the Power & Keenness, which she beleived no other eyes than his, possessed…. — It was a silent, but a very powerful Dialogue; — on his side, Supplication, on her’s acceptance . — Still, a little nearer — and a hand taken and pressed — [and her name, spoken] — bursting forth in the fullness of exquisite feeling — and all Suspense & Indecision were over. — They were re-united. They were restored to all that had been lost.

Only — it wasn’t like that, quite, — was it? Perfect happiness, the same writer observed, even in memory, is not common. Yet how the soul yearns for that moment, for the overplus of bliss that comes when you turn, blinded by tears, and your beloved that you thought lost for ever is there before you speaking your name, and you say, ‘How could it ever have been otherwise? My life has been a dream until now. How was it that I did not know that you were there all the time?’

The dying woman who, in Winchester, in the relentlessly rainy spring of 1817, wrote that scene of fulfilment beyond loss, was of course Jane Austen. We mark the bicentenary of her death this year at the time and place of her dying. Some among you will recognise the encounter as being from the close of her last novel Persuasion, but some will not know it — because she discarded the draft….

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture