Category : Parish Ministry

An NBC story for Veterans Day 2017–‘A Soldier’s Child’ Foundation Helps Children Cope With Military Losses

The foundation was started nearly 10 years ago by Daryl Mackin, a retired Navy cook, after his 8-year-old neighbor’s father was killed in battle.

Watch it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces

The Latest Enewsletter from the Diocese of South Carolina

Read it all.

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

(Church Times) ‘Underfunded’ [C of E] theological training facing ‘collapse’

The people responsible for training the next generation of Anglican clergy — the principals of theological colleges and courses — have said that the system is in crisis.

Just as the Church of England seeks to expand the number of ordinands by 50 per cent, the leaders of the theological education institutions (TEIs) have told this paper that the training process is “totally underfunded”, “starved of funds”, and “quite likely to collapse”.

The Principal of St Augustine’s College, Kent (until 2015, the South East Institute of Theological Education), the Revd Dr Alan Gregory, said in reply an enquiry: “I agree that the financial situation is a critical one. We are like the story of the donkey whose feed was reduced until he dropped down dead. We are almost in the position of the donkey every year.”

Finding funds for clergy training has never been easy, and there is a historical element to the crisis, as too many training institutions have chased too few candidates for ordination. But a new move this year has caused more uncertainty, handing funding decisions from the Archbishops’ Council to the dioceses.

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

Church of England Cathedrals attract record numbers at Christmas

Christmas attendance at services in cathedrals last year reached its highest figure since records began, statistics published today show. A one year rise of 5%, meant that 131,000 people came to cathedrals to worship last Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Increased attendances were also recorded at services in Advent with 635,000 coming to worship during the busy pre-Christmas build-up. Average weekly attendances at services on a Sunday also increased to 18,700.

Meanwhile, over 10 million people visited cathedrals and Westminster Abbey with half donating or paying for entry.

The Rt Revd John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, and lead bishop for cathedrals and church buildings, said: “Behind these figures lie stories of worship, learning, exploring faith and spirituality and encountering God at times of joy and despair.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

New Bishop of Ripon has today been announced as Dr Helen-Ann Hartley

The Rt Rev Dr Helen-Ann Hartley has been announced by 10 Downing Street today as the next Suffragan (Area) Bishop of Ripon, in the Anglican Diocese of Leeds.
Bishop Helen-Ann, who is 44, is at present Bishop of Waikato in New Zealand, an office she has held since 2014. At the time she was the first woman priest ordained in the Church of England to become a bishop. She succeeds Bishop James Bell who retired earlier this year.

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

First step towards Covenant for Church of England Clergy Well-being

Plans for a new deal between clergy and the wider Church of England – modelled on the ideas behind the Military Covenant – have taken a step forward after a panel was established to begin drafting.

The Church of England’s Appointments Committee has set up a group, made up of members of General Synod, both lay and ordained, alongside others with expertise in areas such as health and education, to draw up a Covenant for Clergy Well-being.

It is being produced in response to a vote in the General Synod in July of this year after a debate which heard of the impact of stress, isolation and loneliness on clergy’s lives and ministries.

The debate heard how the Military Covenant recognises that the nation relies on the sacrificial service of those in the armed forces and in return has a duty to support and value them in practical ways.

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

(Baltimore Sun) Maryland churches ponder security in wake of Texas shooting: ‘This evil can happen anywhere’

The Rev. Alvin C. Hathaway says it’s the duty of any church to do all it can to ensure the safety of its congregants, so he has long had security cameras in place throughout Union Baptist Church in West Baltimore.

But after yet another mass shooting left 26 people dead at a Texas church Sunday — the worst such incident at a place of worship in American history — the church and community leader is feeling a special urgency.

Hathaway was hard at work Monday on an email to other local religious leaders to urge action across denominational lines on matters of security.

“It’s tragic to think that this anger, this violence, is now invading our sacred spaces, the places where we try to foster peace and reflection, especially in a country that espouses religious freedom,” he says. “But this is clearly a fact of life now. We must think about security over and against our freedoms.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Violence

Mediation Update–Both the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina+the new Episcopal Church Diocese in SC announce its recessed until early December

Both “sides” involved have stated the mediation with Senior U.S. District Judge Joseph F. Anderson Jr. has been recessed until December 4-5, 2017.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Katherine Jefferts Schori, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(America) Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry–Are Christians really supposed to be communists? A response to David Bentley Hart

Here’s the rub: The fact that I can know that God does not want me to give up all worldly goods because I support a child is precisely why I cannot rest easy. The fact that my vocation is perfectly acceptable to God is why Jesus’ thunderous words still apply to me. Jesus’ dramatic, hyperbolic words are a reminder that even while maintaining my vocation as a petit bourgeois, I can always be more radical in how I love and how I give to my fellow man. “Fearful it is to fall in the hands of the living God,” Kierkegaard reminds us in the same passage I quoted above. And how reassuring it would be for petit bourgeois Christians like myself to tell ourselves that the way Jesus preaches is for the others, for those who go into the desert.

To put it simply: poverty sine glosa is not the only way for the Christian. But that reminder should always be followed up by the always urgent reminder that we could still do with a lot less glosa and a lot more poverty.

Jesus’ hyperbole is there to remind us that we can always do more. “Let the dead bury their dead,” Christ commands us! We cannot take that to mean that all Christians everywhere should fail to pay respect to deceased loved ones. But neither can we—and this attitude is much more common, much more destructive—simply wave a magic wand of “Well, that’s hyperbole” and turn this fiery admonition into some bland platitude about detachment from worldliness. How much of my attachment to my family is a genuine expression of Christian charity, and how much is rote habit, social pressure, mere convenience that draws me away from Christ? The hyperbole is too strong for me to rest easy. How many “good Catholic” parents bemoan the decline in priests until Junior announces that he is going to the seminary and they won’t have grandchildren? Let the dead bury their dead.

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Posted in Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Stewardship, Theology: Scripture

(Christianity Today) the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting raises important qtns about security in places of worship

Violent incidents in churches are on the rise, including high-profile shootings in sanctuaries. In September, a shooter killed one person and injured seven others after Sunday worship at Burnette Chapel Church of Christ outside Nashville.

“The prevailing problem is denial,” said [church security expert Carl] Chinn. “People think, ‘It won’t happen here.’ If they were following the news, they would know it’s happening at small churches in small towns and big churches in big cities.

“The denial is worse in churches because we believe God will protect us,” he told CT. “I believe God will protect us … but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to be intentional about security.”

Chinn previously reported that 2015 marked a record year for violence on religious property or involving senior pastors, with 248 incidents and 76 deaths.

“I don’t know how many wakeup calls it will take,” he said.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Violence

(NYT) Sutherland Springs, Texas Church Shooting Leaves at Least 26 Dead, Officials Say

A gunman clad in all black, with a ballistic vest strapped to his chest and a military-style rifle in his hands, opened fire on parishioners at a Sunday service at a small Baptist church in rural Texas, killing at least 26 people and turning this tiny town east of San Antonio into the scene of the country’s newest mass horror.

The gunman was identified as Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation was continuing. Mr. Kelley, who lived in New Braunfels, Tex., died shortly after the attack.

He had served in the Air Force at a base in New Mexico but was court-martialed in 2012 on charges of assaulting his wife and child. He was sentenced to 12 months’ confinement and received a “bad conduct” discharge in 2014, according to Ann Stefanek, the chief of Air Force media operations.

The motive for the attack was unclear on Sunday, but the grisly nature of it could not have been clearer: Families gathered in pews, clutching Bibles and praying to the Lord, were murdered in cold blood on the spot.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Violence

Local Paper Editorial–End South Carolina Anglican/Episcopal church dispute with mediation

The Diocese of South Carolina has called that…ruling into question because of state Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn’s involvement in the Episcopal Church. In fairness, the motion for a rehearing should be granted, and Justice Hearn should recuse herself. But the rehearing request has yet to be acted on.

The purpose of mediation beginning Monday is to determine how to implement the August decision as amicably as possible. Even so, it still offers an opportunity for the disaffected church groups to preclude further legal battles over the valuable and historic properties in question.

Neither the Diocese nor the Episcopal Church in South Carolina may ever bridge the spiritual and philosophical divides that caused their separation. Nor need they do so. Both groups are free to worship as they see fit — a principle enshrined in the Constitution.

But an agreement should be reached that lets the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina part ways while remaining in the churches they have called home for so many generations.

Failure to do so would do further harm to the Christian spirit of unity and goodwill that ought to bring Lowcountry churches together rather than tear them apart. Reaching a mediated accord could avoid years of additional lawsuits and appeals and divisions among friends and neighbors.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(NYT Op-ed) David Bentley Hart–Are Christians Supposed to Be Communists?

After all, the New Testament’s condemnations of personal wealth are fairly unremitting and remarkably stark: Matthew 6:19-20, for instance (“Do not store up treasures for yourself on the earth”), or Luke 6:24-25 (“But alas for you who are rich, for you have your comfort”) or James 5:1-6 (“Come now, you who are rich, weep, howling out at the miseries that are coming for you”). While there are always clergy members and theologians swift to assure us that the New Testament condemns not wealth but its abuse, not a single verse (unless subjected to absurdly forced readings) confirms the claim.

I came to the conclusion that koinonia often refers to a precise set of practices within the early Christian communities, a special social arrangement — the very one described in Acts — that was integral to the new life in Christ. When, for instance, the Letter to the Hebrews instructs believers not to neglect koinonia, or the First Letter to Timothy exhorts them to become koinonikoi, this is no mere recommendation of personal generosity, but an invocation of a very specific form of communal life.

As best we can tell, local churches in the Roman world of the apostolic age were essentially small communes, self-sustaining but also able to share resources with one another when need dictated. This delicate web of communes constituted a kind of counter-empire within the empire, one founded upon charity rather than force — or, better, a kingdom not of this world but present within the world nonetheless, encompassing a radically different understanding of society and property.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Personal Finance, Stewardship, Theology: Scripture

(TGC) How America’s Largest White Presbyterian Church Became Multiethnic

Within 20 years, Hope was the largest church in Memphis, regularly drawing 7,000 worshipers each weekend. But in a city that was nearly 60 percent black, less than 1 percent of them were African American.

At first, Hope reflected its neighborhood. The city to Hope’s south—Germantown—was 93 percent white in 2000, and 90 percent white in 2010. But its county—Shelby—fell from 47 percent white in 2000 to 41 percent white in 2010. And Cordova, the small suburb where Hope sits, dropped from nearly all white in 1988 to 68 percent white in 2010.

So Strickland and Morris set out to do what had never successfully been done before—to convert a white megachurch into a multiracial congregation.

They’re doing it.

Today, one out of five people who attends Hope is black. Of the 106 staff, 18 are nonwhite—including the senior pastor. The congregation sings hymns, contemporary Christian, and black gospel. Members work in predominantly black, underresourced neighborhoods in north Memphis together through Hope’s community development corporation. They attend biannual three-day urban plunges and regularly spend eight weeks eating dinner with someone of another ethnicity.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Presbyterian, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of All the Faithful Departed

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of thy Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as thy children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and ever. Amen

Posted in Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Death / Burial / Funerals, Spirituality/Prayer