Category : Ministry of the Ordained

Benedict XVI’s 2013 Ash Wednesday Homily

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin a new Lenten journey, a journey that extends over forty days and leads us towards the joy of Easter, to victory of Life over death. Following the ancient Roman tradition of Lenten stations, we are gathered for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The tradition says that the first statio took place in the Basilica of Saint Sabina on the Aventine Hill. Circumstances suggested we gather in St. Peter’s Basilica. Tonight there are many of us gathered around the tomb of the Apostle Peter, to also ask him to pray for the path of the Church going forward at this particular moment in time, to renew our faith in the Supreme Pastor, Christ the Lord. For me it is also a good opportunity to thank everyone, especially the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, as I prepare to conclude the Petrine ministry, and I ask you for a special remembrance in your prayer.

The readings that have just been proclaimed offer us ideas which, by the grace of God, we are called to transform into a concrete attitude and behaviour during Lent. First of all the Church proposes the powerful appeal which the prophet Joel addresses to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning” (2.12). Please note the phrase “with all your heart,” which means from the very core of our thoughts and feelings, from the roots of our decisions, choices and actions, with a gesture of total and radical freedom. But is this return to God possible? Yes, because there is a force that does not reside in our hearts, but that emanates from the heart of God and the power of His mercy. The prophet says: “return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment” (v. 13). It is possible to return to the Lord, it is a ‘grace’, because it is the work of God and the fruit of faith that we entrust to His mercy. But this return to God becomes a reality in our lives only when the grace of God penetrates and moves our innermost core, gifting us the power that “rends the heart”.

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Posted in Lent, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic, Theology

Three Meditations for Ash Wednesday from Bishop Mark Lawrence

The Rt. Rev. Mark Lawrence–both a Trinity School for Ministry alumnus, and Board of Trustees member–led the faculty and residential student body several years ago in a day of meditation and quiet reflection, beginning with the Ash Wednesday service of Holy Communion and the imposition of ashes.

Principally focusing on John 12:32, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (ESV), Bp. Lawrence related how this verse addresses why suffering so often draws people in varying ways to the foot of the cross. He also shared his own personal experience of seeking the Truth as a young man.

Audio recordings may be listened to here.

Posted in Adult Education, Lent, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

The Latest Enewsletter from the Diocese of South Carolina


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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Adult Education, Evangelism and Church Growth, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon-A Careful look at the Healing Ministry of Jesus (Mark 1:29-31)

You can listen directly here and download the mp3 there(and the reference at the end should be Revelation 12:10 not Revelation 12:8).

Posted in * By Kendall, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

(C of E) Mental health in English communities a leading concern for clergy, survey finds

Mental health problems in local communities are now one of the biggest social issues Church of England clergy encounter, according to new research.

A survey of more than 1,000 senior clergy has found that the proportion reporting that mental health is a ‘major’ or ‘significant’ problem in their local area increased sharply from 40% in 2011 to 60% in 2017.

Mental health is second only to loneliness as a key concern, with more than three quarters, or 76%, of clergy reporting that loneliness was a major or significant problem in their local communities, a rise of 18 percentage points on 2011.

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Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture

Sue Jones announced as the 8th Dean of Liverpool

We can announce today that the next Dean of Liverpool will be Revd Canon Dr Sue Jones. Sue comes to Liverpool Cathedral from the Diocese of Derby where she currently serves as Director of Mission and Ministry.

Welsh-born Sue, a vastly experienced priest, is the first woman to hold the post of Dean here. She comes with plenty of cathedral experience having served as Acting Dean at Derby Cathedral and prior to that Dean of Bangor. We are expecting that Sue will bring a fresh style of Leadership that will continue to help our cathedral grow and serve Liverpool, our diocese and the surrounding region.

Sue said “when I came to be interviewed for this role I was struck by how suited Liverpool Cathedral is for the city. Its imposing physical stature is matched by the strong desire to serve the community. A people-centred cathedral called to serve the people is a place that I felt God wanted me to be. I am proud to follow in the footsteps of illustrious predecessors stretching back to Dean Dwelly. I am looking forward to starting properly in the summer, working with the talented teams of volunteers, staff and clergy to continue the important work of the Cathedral”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(NPR) Amid #MeToo, Evangelicals Grapple With Misconduct In Their Own Churches

In the Andy Savage case, Jules Woodson alleged in her blog post that the senior pastors in whom she had confided did not discipline Savage adequately or report him to the authorities and even threw a going away party for him when he moved to another community.

Kelly Rosati of Focus on the Family insists it’s important to separate the evangelical belief about distinctive gender roles in the church from the exploitation of power differentials between a pastor and his flock.

“What you saw in that [Andy Savage] incident was a conflating of those two issues,” she says, “and a failure to understand that what one person might describe as a sexual incident is really about those other things, power and abuse and violation.”

The reaction among evangelical women to the #MeToo movement, Rosati says, suggests it may be a watershed moment for them that will end up “shaking out the ground a little bit in the evangelical community.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(ACNS) Canon Michael Jackson–The Diaconate – Renewing an Ancient Ministry

Some provinces of the Anglican Communion have been reticent about restoring the vocational diaconate. The most frequent objection is that ordained deacons clericalise lay ministry and in any case lay people can do anything that deacons can. Also, bishops and priests are already deacons, so a separate order is redundant.

But part from ignoring the historical roots of the diaconate, this approach negates the purpose of ordination. Deacons are officially commissioned to a leadership role by the Church, to which they make a lifetime commitment. A leading deacon in the US-based Episcopal Church, Susanne Watson Epting, has put it this way: “Even though ordained, [the deacon’s] primary identity remains baptismal and our ordination charges and vows serve only to expand, enhance, and urge us on in animating and exemplifying the diakonia to which all the baptised were called.” Experience with the renewed diaconate has amply fulfilled this assertion.

As for bishops and priests already being deacons, there are those, including myself, who turn the argument on its head. The Church should return to its original practice, end sequential ordination and abolish the transitional diaconate, which serves little purpose and inhibits the ministry of the vocational deacon. Food for thought!

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology

Kendall Harmon’s Sunday Sermon-The God who Works at the Bottom of the Drain (Jonah 3, Mark 1)

You can listen directly here and download the mp3 there.

Posted in * By Kendall, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology: Scripture

Phillips Brooks on Phillips Brooks Feast Day

Courage…is the indispensable requisite of any true ministry…. If you are afraid of men and a slave to their opinion, go and do something else. Go make shoes to fit them. Go even and paint pictures you know are bad but will suit their bad taste. But do not keep on all of your life preaching sermons which shall not say what God sent you to declare, but what they hire you to say. Be courageous. Be independent.

—-Phillips Brooks, Lectures on Preaching, the 1877 Yale Lectures (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1969), p. 59

Posted in Church History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Andrew Carey–The problem of of defining ‘spiritual abuse’

Spiritual abuse is a thorny and difficult subject.

The recent case in Oxford Diocese was a clear-cut example of spiritual abuse. An Abingdon Vicar took an intense interest in mentoring a teenage boy to the extent of moving into the family home and ordering him to stop an adolescent relationship.

This kind of spiritual ‘mentoring’ in which a priest manipulated a young life under the guise of prayer and counselling resembles ‘heavy shepherding’ — one of the charismatic movement’s worst episodes. But even at the time this was not a very widespread phenomenon in Anglican circles and this kind of controlling behaviour has always been thought to be the preserve of new cults rather than established churches.

But according to an ‘online survey’ (two words that always raise alarm bells for me) conducted by academics from Bournemouth University on behalf of the Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) a very high number of Christians have personally experienced spiritual abuse.

Of 1,591 responses, 1,002 said they had personally experienced spiritual abuse. This is too high a number to be believable and there must be widespread caution about the survey. In fact, all it is really useful for is to make the point that more research would be extremely valuable with a wider and more representative sample of Christians.

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Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(RNS) Clergy: Stressed Out Anglican Priests Turn To Trade Unions For Support

“It was isolated, insatiably demanding, and I was, on the whole, working without close colleagues.” The role is, “for many, quite overwhelming and exhausting…” [Archbp Justin Welby] said.

This kind of pressure may well explain why increasing numbers of his priests in the Church of England are seeking help outside the church for their problems. Faced with demanding congregations, rarely being off duty, piles of paperwork and disciplinary procedures they often feel are unfair, priests are turning instead to trade unions for support.

According to one of Britain’s largest unions, Unite, there has been a rapid increase in the past year in the number of Anglican parish priests, or vicars, joining its specialist faith worker branch. Almost 1,500 priests plus a few rabbis and imams joined the union last year — an increase of 16 per cent in 12 months.

The Anglican vicars are joining despite not having the usual British employment rights, because they are termed “officeholders” and cannot take their complaints to an employment tribunal. And while they cannot pursue rights they don’t have as members of Unite, they can seek counsel and support there from others familiar with their travails.

According to Rev Peter Hobson, who is head of the priests’ Unite branch, Church of England Clergy Advocates, vicars are turning to the union because they are under pressure from all sides – from the people in the pews and from their bishops.

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

(AJ) Canadian Anglican ex-priest receives 22-month conditional sentence for theft

Noah Njegovan, a former priest in the diocese of Brandon, who pleaded guilty in December to stealing more than $190,000 from the diocese, was handed down a 22-month conditional sentence Tuesday morning, January 9, by Justice John Menzies of the Court of Queen’s Bench in Brandon, Man.

Under the terms of his sentence, Njegovan will be confined to his home for 12 months—only allowed to leave the house for work, medical emergencies and four hours each Saturday to obtain necessities—and under a curfew of 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. for the remaining 10 months of his sentence. He will have a criminal record for theft over $5,000.

“This is commonly known as ‘house arrest,’ with very strict curfew and supervision conditions,” said Diocese of Brandon Bishop William G. Cliff in a letter to his diocese January 9. “Mr. Njegovan will be able to go to work and will have four hours per week for necessary maintenance. Otherwise, he must remain at his home and at any time, be able to prove to police that he is there. Should the police check on him and he is not there, he will finish the rest of his sentence in a provincial institution.”

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

(Chicago Tribune) Chicago-area clergy defend housing allowance as it faces legal challenge

Chicago clergy are fighting a federal judge’s recent ruling that tax-free housing allowances for clergy violate the separation of church and state.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago will be asked to weigh in on the challenge to the so-called parsonage allowance — an Internal Revenue Service benefit that allows clergy to exclude from their tax returns the compensation earmarked for mortgage payments, rent, utility bills or maintenance costs.

The ministerial tax break has been on the books for more than 60 years and is cited by many houses of worship, particularly smaller, independent ones, as an important financial underpinning to carrying out their mission.

But it has become the latest target of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a self-proclaimed guardian of church-state separation based in Madison, Wis., that challenged the tax break, and won, in a Wisconsin court.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Taxes

(Telegraph) More than 1,000 churchgoers complain of spiritual abuse

[Some] Church-goers at mainstream churches have said they are being “spiritually abused” by leaders.

Research showed that more than 1,000 British Christians said they had experienced the abuse, which usually involves members invoking God’s will or religious texts in order to punish or control and coerce a worshipper.

Two thirds of respondents to the survey carried out by Dr Lisa Oakley of the National Centre for Post Qualifying Social Work at Bournemouth University said they had experienced spiritual abuse in the past.

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Posted in Anthropology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology