Category : Pastoral Care

NYT:”As Church Shifts, a Cardinal Welcomes Gays; They Embrace a ‘Miracle’”

The word “pilgrimage” usually evokes visions of far-off, exotic places, but for some 100 gay and lesbian Catholics and their families, a pilgrimage to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart here on a recent Sunday was more like a homecoming.

The doors to the cathedral were opened to them, and they were welcomed personally by the leader of the Archdiocese of Newark, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin. They were seated on folding chairs at the cathedral’s center, in front of the altar in the towering sanctuary, under the blue-tinted glow of stained glass.

“I am Joseph, your brother,” Cardinal Tobin told the group, which included lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics from around New York and the five dioceses in New Jersey. “I am your brother, as a disciple of Jesus. I am your brother, as a sinner who finds mercy with the Lord.”

The welcoming of a group of openly gay people to Mass by a leader of Cardinal Tobin’s standing in the Roman Catholic Church in this country would have been unthinkable even five years ago. But Cardinal Tobin, whom Pope Francis appointed to Newark last year, is among a small but growing group of bishops changing how the American church relates to its gay members. They are seeking to be more inclusive and signaling to subordinate priests that they should do the same.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(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

(CT) Sunday Bobai Agang–The Greatest Threat to the Church Isn’t Islam—It’s Us

I appreciate our Christian patriotic interest in guarding the Christian faith from being supplanted by Islam. However, the church should not allow that concern to distract it from keeping its house in order. God does not call us to compete with Islam. Rather, he calls us to holy living. “It is written, ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1 Pet. 1:16). As it is, the Christian faith in Nigeria is suffering public disgrace and disrepute because of our lack of self-control, ungodly living, and compromised integrity.

Jesus declared that he is the truth, the way to eternal life (John 14:6). Christians can be confident in our salvation by faith in our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ; we have nothing to fear. Our source of power and authority is God, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Eph. 1:18–20). We are given power and authority to combat satanic and demonic oppression, to destroy the works of the flesh, to heal obsession with material things, and to create just structures and systems that guarantee human flourishing. By the power and authority God has vested in us, we have nothing to fear and no excuse for failure. We have in us what we need to create fertile environments for social and spiritual transformation, in Nigeria and around the world.

The fear of an Islamization agenda is very real, but it must not be allowed to distract us from our primary concern: Christlikeness, holy living, hard work, and moral integrity. If we are concerned about the spread of Islam, let us be equally concerned about the lack of Christian public integrity and witness in our society. We must not allow fearmongering or conspiracy theories to prevent us from recognizing the true threat.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Islam, Nigeria, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture

(CEN) The Bp of Chichester appoints a LGBTI liaison officer

A Bishop’s Liaison Officer for the LGBTI Community has been appointed by the Bishop of Chichester to ‘build bridges.’

The aim of the post is to identify what ministry among this community ‘might look like if it is to be more effective’ and to provide the bishops and parishes with up to date information about the pastoral needs of LGBTI people.

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, announced the appointment of the Rev Andrew Woodward, Priest in Charge of St Mary’s Kemp Town and Rural Dean of Brighton, as the first holder of the post.

Mr Woodward will help the church to ‘build bridges and enable pastoral support for a substantial group of people who feel the Church is alienated from them. Many feel they are tolerated but not included.’

Read it all (may require subsciption).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

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

(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

Churches and the qtn of Security: Beware of the siege mentality

What surprised me, however, was not that churches suffer from hate crime ”” we have known this anecdotally for years, but do not have the research statistics to prove it ”” but the response of churches, the police, and other statutory authorities to how to tackle and best protect churches.

Almost all the applications were for the installation of CCTV in and around the church. There seems to be a common thought that CCTV stops crimes because it is a deterrent to offenders. This is simply not true. CCTV is a useful tool: it is most effective at providing evidence after an offence, and in assisting the police in identifying offenders. It does not, however, prevent the crime, especially when it comes to the types of crimes which most often occur in churches.

Theft, violence, and disturbances in churches are usually committed by people who are under the influence of a substance such as alcohol or drugs, or are suffering from a mental-health episode. These types of offenders do not care or recognise that they are being recorded by CCTV at the time of the offence. Therefore, the decision to put CCTV into a church should be looked at carefully, and those making the decision need to recognise its limitations.

Read it all from Nick Tolson in the Church Times.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

The Archbishop of York gets busy in the kitchen as he begins his 21 Deanery mission

The Archbishop of York swapped his mitre for a toque blanche when he visited a Michelin-starred eatery in North Yorkshire.

Dr John Sentamu was invited into the kitchen of The Star Inn at Harome near Helmsley by chef Andrew Pern as part of the mission in the deanery of Northern Ryedale.

Dr Sentamu, a keen cook, enjoyed a tour of the kitchen and tried his hand at creating a pheasant dish.

The visit comes as Dr Sentamu embarks on a mission to join all 21 deaneries in the Diocese of York over weekends throughout 2017 and 2018.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture

The Bishop of London writes a letter of support to the Bishop of Berlin

A message of support to the Bishop of Berlin
Dear Brother in Christ,

I was praying for you and the people of Berlin earlier this morning. As the Bishop of a City which has also experienced terrorism, my heart goes out to the bereaved and injured. This attack on hospitable Germany is felt deeply here.

The dead and injured will be remembered in your Cathedral of St Paul’s in these last days of Advent.

With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel.

+ Richard

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO DD FSA
Bishop of London (Found there).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Europe, Germany, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Guardian) Meet the vicar who’s swapping the sacristy for the surgery

For rector Sarah Lunn, it’s only a stone’s throw from the small sandstone church of St James to the purpose-built surgery in the tiny Cumbrian village of Temple Sowerby where she often meets troubled parishioners referred to her by one of two GPs.

Lunn, who looks after 12 agricultural parishes nestling between the Lake District fells and the Pennines from her home base at Long Marton, is not at the surgery to talk to patients about Jesus, but simply to listen to whatever they feel they need to get off their chest ”“ and at the same time take the pressure off struggling local primary health services.

The GP practice run by doctors Jo Thompson and Helen Jervis is up against it ”“ like many others in Cumbria ”“ because it is two doctors down and can’t attract anyone else to replace them, despite the beauty of the area.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology

Lucy Winkett–What if in Advent the wall that normally separates actors and audience is dissolved?

…something of my own stuckness was softened by the comments this week of the theatre director Alexander Zeldin. His new play is now on at the National Theatre in London and soon to be on in Birmingham. “In this political moment” he said “it is important to feel life strongly”. He is not offering policy proposals but he is contributing to the conversation by amplifying the stories of people, in the few weeks before Christmas, who are in temporary accommodation. In one scene, a son is washing his mother’s hair in the kitchen sink with washing up liquid ”“ and drying it with a filthy tea towel ”“ that on one review night made the audience gasp. The scenes like this are made much more powerful by the fact that there is no special theatre lighting in this production. As the audience, we are in the kitchen, not watching people in the kitchen. The fourth wall that normally separates actors and audience has been dissolved.

In Advent, much of the theological imagery turns on the themes of light brightening the darkness and the anticipation of God becoming a child, vulnerable to the vagaries of human politics and power. Taking our cue from the play, it might be that we need to change the lighting when illuminating the stories of people who are vulnerable and in need of support

Read it allfrom the BBC.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theatre/Drama/Plays, Theology

(AA) Anglicans worldwide raise awareness on World AIDS Day 2016

ecognising progress in many countries, the Archbishop said: “The big challenge now is to eliminate HIV/AIDS where it strikes most fiercely and most remorselessly ”“ which is amongst the poor and those in places of great difficulty.”

Acknowledging the key role of faith responses, he said: “The Anglican Communion has been involved for decades in enabling communities to face the threat of AIDS, to support the victims of AIDS, families and others affected directly and indirectly. The clinical evidence is that it is through community-based initiatives, and the churches are among the best to do it, that it is tackled most efficiently and effectively.”

Reflecting on the stigmatising of people living with HIV, Archbishop Justin Welby said: “Faith based communities challenge that ostracism when they see in every single person someone made in the image of God, someone loved by God, and therefore someone who should be loved by each one of us.”

Read it all (and watch the video).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(CT's The Local Church) These Churches Fought Domestic Poverty with the Gospel””and It Worked

In August, Christianity Today partnered with Deidox Films to debut The Ordinance, a documentary exploring churches’ efforts to fight predatory payday lenders. Many church leaders recognize the shameful practices of these lenders and seek to meet the needs of their church members while also fighting for justice on a legislative level. On the other side of the same coin, however, are churches attempting to fight poverty and prevent the situations that lead people to accept these loans.

In recent years, several Christian organizations have developed programs providing microloans, savings groups, and economic education in international contexts. But how much do we know about empowering our own communities? With racial and economic tensions exacerbated in recent years, the local church has a key role to play in bringing about reconciliation. Organizations like The Chalmers Center, whose founders wrote the bestselling When Helping Hurts, have recognized the vast needs in the United States and are now working to equip churches to meet economic and spiritual needs in their communities.

“As Chalmers worked to empower grassroots churches in Africa, Asia, and Latin America to help the poor help themselves, we became acutely aware of the same need to address poverty holistically in our own nation,” said John Mark Bowers, the Curriculum Specialist at The Chalmers Center. “After publishing When Helping Hurts, we heard from even more churches that were hungry for tools to help them walk alongside people across economic lines right here in the United States. Thus, the birth of an IDAs [Individual Development Accounts] pilot””out of which came Faith & Finances, and later, Work Life.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Personal Finance, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology