Category : Stewardship
(NBC) A Powerful example of how one parish choir director made a huge difference–Opera student raises $40,000 in performance for college tuition
Dioceses may struggle to cope financially with the national target of adding 50 per cent to the number of ordinands by 2020, a Church Times survey suggests.
A questionnaire sent to diocesan secretaries and directors of ordinands discovered that, although all seemed to support the target, all but one of those who responded were concerned, or very concerned, about how this might be financed. One wrote: “The desire is there, but not the funding.” Some are undermining the strategy by capping the number of people recommended for training.
Financial anxiety is focused on the cost of training, but also what happens after training: many dioceses will struggle to support and house an increased number of assistant curates, and are warning ordinands that they will not be able to return. Other dioceses are looking for cheaper training pathways, or hoping for an influx of self-supporting (i.e. non-stipendiary) clergy.
Churches are pioneering text giving in an effort to encourage cashless congregations to donate electronically.
One parish of six churches around Rugeley, in the Midlands, is launching the scheme on Sunday, with others set to follow suit.
“People carry less change,” said team rector, the Revd Dr David Evans, “so this gives them a way of giving that’s firmly 21st century and it’s a way that most people pay for these things these days if they are not using cash.”
Dr Evans won’t be throwing the collection plate away just yet, as “regular members expect to give” that way. But instead of there being one moment to give, there will now be three.
Inspiring Story from the front page of the local paper–Recovering addict gives hundreds of coats, hot meals to needy
Wanda Lopez grew tired of seeing children shivering at the bus stops.
She set aside a couple thousand dollars and purchased hundreds of brand-new coats. With the help of local organizations, she assembled 250 hot meals, 200 turkeys and boxes of canned food, and put it all out on display Friday in a North Charleston parking lot.
Lopez worried the frigid rain would keep people away. But within hours, all of the food and most of the clothes were gone.
“This is blowing my mind,” Lopez said. “So many people need hats, coats, gloves, boxed food. Basic things.”
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) December 9, 2017
And so goes the drumbeat of commercialism: more, more, more.
All the while we Christians are called to answer Advent’s hushed invitation for less, less, less. To clear out our closets and turn off our phones, to resist the click-and-procure in favor of the wait-and-wonder. What a challenge it is to make space for the other, for the divine. Filling sets off all our bells and whistles; emptying requires discernment and allows for quiet.
Americans prefer the former. We have so much self-storage space, the Self Storage Association once pointed out, it is physically possible that every American could stand at the same time under the canopy of self-storage roofing.
I’ve been reflecting on the art of gift giving — what it can do for us, at its best, and what it neglects to do at its hastiest. The more you put in, the more you get out.
My neighbor recently showed me her favorite Christmas picture book, Holly Hobbie’s 2007 charmer “Toot & Puddle: Let It Snow,” in which a pair of best friends — who happen to be pigs — struggle to determine the perfect gifts for each other. Puddle labors in his attic, painting an image of the twosome in the woods. Toot, meanwhile, spends “every spare minute in his workshop in the basement” building a sled on wheels — one that will work with or without snow.
“He knew that the best present was usually something you made yourself, a one-of-a-kind thingamajig, not just a whatsit anyone could buy in a store,” Hobbie writes.
Indeed, the sweetest gifts require a commodity more precious than treasure: time.
Evangelical leaders have raised concerns that the current reform bills in the House and Senate would reduce the incentives that compel givers to donate to churches and other nonprofits.
Currently, taxpayers must itemize their deductions in order to take advantage of the tax breaks for charitable giving. Since the proposed GOP tax reforms would increase the standard deduction, fewer Americans are expected to itemize as a result—dropping from 30 percent of taxpayers to just 5 percent, according to the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.
Doubling the standard deduction means 30 million Americans would no longer benefit from a deduction for their charitable giving, a change that is predicted to reduce giving by $13 billion annually, according to Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Minnesota’s Jack Carlson is making sure kids with physical challenges can still experience the freedom of riding a bike. Boyd Huppert of KARE in Minneapolis reports….
What was that South Carolina Betterment Statute that Bishop Mark Lawrence referred to in his recent letter?
One of the good things about blogs is you can learn things from them which you can learn nowhere else. This past week is a case in point. In his letter of last weekend the Bishop said:
All parties to the case have previously discussed the timetable for a filing under the Betterments Statute. Legal counsel can give you best directions for how to proceed with that process (my emphasis).
And just what it this “Betterments Statute”? You can find it there and please note carefully its wording which includes among other sections the following:
SECTION 27-27-10. Recovery for improvements made in good faith.
After final judgment in favor of the plaintiff in an action to recover lands and tenements, if the defendant has purchased or acquired the lands and tenements recovered in such action or taken a lease thereof or those under whom he holds have purchased or acquired a title to such lands and tenements or taken a lease thereof, supposing at the time of such purchase or acquisition such title to be good in fee or such lease to convey and secure the title and interest therein expressed, such defendant shall be entitled to recover of the plaintiff in such action the full value of all improvements made upon such land by such defendant or those under whom he claims, in the manner provided in this chapter….
SECTION 27-27-30. Proceedings subsequent to judgment to recover value of improvements.
The defendant in such action shall, within forty-eight hours after such judgment or during the term of the court in which it shall be rendered, file in the office of the clerk of the court in which such judgment was rendered a complaint against the plaintiff for so much money as the lands and tenements are so made better. The filing of such complaint shall be sufficient notice to the defendant in such complaint to appear and defend against it. All subsequent proceedings shall be had in accordance with the practice prescribed in this Code for actions generally….
SECTION 27-27-40. Stay of judgment in first action; special verdict for betterments.
The court, on the entry of such action, shall stay all proceedings upon the judgment obtained in the prior action, except the recovery of such lands, until the sale of the lands recovered as provided in Section 27-27-60. The final judgment shall be upon a special verdict by a jury, under the direction of the court, stating the value of the lands and tenements without the improvements put thereon in good faith by the defendant in the prior action and the value thereof with improvements. The defendant in the prior action shall be entitled for such betterments to a verdict for the value thereof, as of the date when the lands were recovered from him and interest on such verdict from such date.
It is with the weight of decision but conviction of heart and mind that I write to tell you the Standing Committee, after prayerful deliberation, and with my full support, has voted unanimously to proceed with a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. I remind you that this long process first began with our stand for Gospel truth—holding firmly to the faith once delivered to the saints. All too soon, we were thrust us into a battle for Religious Freedom. As Justice Kitteridge has aptly stated about the State Supreme Court’s recent denial for rehearing “…to disallow a full court from considering the rehearing petitions is deeply troubling and, in my opinion, raises constitutional implications as the Court has blocked a fair and meaningful merits review of the rehearing petitions.” So we have before us our commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ to which we are unwaveringly wedded; a civil concern for religious freedom for ourselves and others; and a public duty to petition for constitutional due process to be upheld. Any of these might justify taking the next step down this legal road. Together they make a three-fold cord not easily broken.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) November 22, 2017
A S Haley on the Latest South Carolina Supreme Court Decisions–A Triumph of Injustice and Irresponsibility
If evidence were needed to demonstrate the fecklessness of the justices who are responsible for the mess the South Carolina Supreme Court has made of its church property law in this proceeding, the latest pair of rulings on the petitions would suffice, all on their own. Consider the following facts:
1. There was never any decision of a majority of the Court in the case. In five separately written opinions, only two Justices (including Justice Hearn, herself an Episcopalian) agreed on reversing the decision below in order to hand all of the disputed church property to the Episcopal Church and its Potemkin diocese in South Carolina. Two Justices agreed on letting the decision below stand, albeit for different reasons. And the fifth — Chief Justice Beatty — simply punted by saying he would enforce a Dennis Canon trust (but not for the reasons stated by Justices Hearn and Pleicones) only against those parishes who had “acceded” to the national canons. (Never mind that virtually no parish had ever done so since the Canon’s adoption in 1979, or that any such involuntary trust would have to be revocable at will under South Carolina law.)
2. All five of the Justices misunderstood the motion to recuse Justice Kaye Hearn. They appear to have regarded it as wholly independent of the motion for a rehearing, when it was not. The reason is that granting the request for a rehearing would have accomplished the same things requested again in the motion to recuse: the Justices would have been able to decide the case anew. Their prior opinions would be replaced by any new ones written on rehearing, and Justice Hearn’s prior opinion would no longer be of any account. But they treated the motion to recuse just one Justice as a request to do all these things independently of any rehearing, which makes no sense, and appeared to congratulate themselves on their unanimity in striking down a straw man.
3. Thus they each (including Justice Hearn herself!) ruled that the motion to recuse came too late, since the full Court had already rendered its non-decision in the case. The motion to recuse, however, was aimed only at her future participation in the case; the past is water under the bridge, and could be corrected, if at all, only by granting a rehearing. (For her part, Justice Hearn mooted the motion to recuse by announcing on her own that she would not participate in further proceedings in the case.)
4. But not before voting to deny the motion to recuse!
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) November 22, 2017
Bishop Mark Lawrence’s Letter to the Diocese of South Carolina following the recent SC Supreme Court Decisions
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Today legal counsel for the Diocese received written notification that both our motions for Recusal and for Rehearing were denied by the State Supreme Court. The former was denied 5-0. The latter was denied 2-2 with Justice Hearn abstaining and no fifth justice appointed to fill the vacancy.
For those parishes that are parties to the litigation, I encourage you, at this stage, to consult with your parish chancellor. All parties to the case have previously discussed the timetable for a filing under the Betterments Statute. Legal counsel can give you best directions for how to proceed with that process. Our press release for this evening can be found here.
As you will remember, we began our week with our Annual Clergy Conference reflecting together on the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 and 12:9-10. Now this final ruling from the South Carolina Supreme Court coming as it does at the very end of the week presses us once again with the need to find comfort, strength, and courage from the Lord through these words of Holy Scripture. May I encourage you to revisit them—I believe they were prophetic in their timing for us. Meanwhile please know that I have spoken with our lead counsel, Mr. Alan Runyan, Fr. David Thurlow, President of the Standing Committee, as well as with Canon Lewis. A Standing Committee meeting has been called for this Tuesday morning, November 21, 2017.
I will write further to you and to the diocese once I have met with the Standing Committee and have more thoroughly examined the options before us. For now we will continue to stand forthright for the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and in the faith once delivered to the saints!
Please continue to hold our Diocesan Leadership and Legal Counsel in your prayers.
Your brother in Christ,
–(The Rt. Rev.) Mark Lawrence, 14th Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina
Bp Mark Lawrence’s Letter 2 the Diocese of #SouthCarolina following the recent SC Supreme Court Decisions #religion #law #Anglican #ministry #bettermentstatute #ethics #stewardship #episcopal https://t.co/b3HbqP7IMK pic.twitter.com/M551dIkn46
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) November 20, 2017
As he does every Sunday, the Rt. Rev. Council Nedd II, an Anglican rector, put on his collar and robes to offer Mass at his central Pennsylvania church. Now, he is considering wearing something else with his religious vestments: his handgun.
As a Pennsylvania state constable, Dr. Nedd can bring his gun just about everywhere—to the grocery store, to the park and to synagogues and other houses of worship, where he often acts as security. His church was the one place where he went unarmed.
“Weapons do not belong in church,” he said. But, as a bishop, he has “a responsibility to protect the flock,” he added.
Dr. Nedd said he didn’t bring his weapon to church this Sunday, but plans to in the future.
Statement by the Rev. Canon Jim Lewis:
“Friday’s brief illustrates well two essential problems with the current ruling of the Court. Because there is no legal consensus among the Justices, the ruling as it stands is, as stated in the brief, a “recipe for endless litigation.” As a consequence of misapplying neutral principles of law as intended by the U.S. Supreme Court, it violates rather than preserves, the First Amendment protections of religious liberty they are meant to ensure. Resolving these significant issues merits rehearing by the Court.”
The Diocese also provided the following list of additional details from Friday’s filed Brief:
- “For over 300 years, since before the Founding of this Nation, members of the Respondent’s congregations contributed land, money and labor in reliance on settled South Carolina law – only to have this Court divest them of their property based on a canon unilaterally adopted centuries later by a national denomination. This outcome was possible only because the Court fashioned a new rule of law solely for this case, and this denomination. But that rule of law departs from this court’s precedents and imposes special burdens on religious associations relative to secular ones. Those burdens violate the First Amendment.” [p. 1]
- “Amici believe strongly that churches freely associated with each other can also freely choose to disassociate. And the exercise of that freedom should not come at the price of the tools for ministry established by local sacrifice… ” [p. 4]
- “… the Court’s fractured decision leaves church property law in this state in utter confusion…. This confusion is a recipe for endless litigation.” [p. 2]
- The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Jones vs. Wolf established the use of neutral principles of law to settle church property disputes… “A court applying a neutral principles approach can only apply state law as it normally would; any other approach would be the opposite of neutral principles.” [p. 9]
- As the Court has done in this case, “Giving legal effect to trusts declared in denominational documents is not even mere deference. It is giving denominations power to rewrite civil property law.” [p. 14] and that is in violation of the free exercise of religion.
- “If that conception of “neutral principles” is correct, then no church can join a denomination without jeopardizing its property.” [p. 16]
- “Any denomination could pass a retroactive internal rule that would appropriate congregants gifts and church property.” … “Without secure property ownership, many rounds of future litigation are inevitable.” [p. 18]
- “If ownership no longer turns on publicly recorded deeds and trust instruments, but on the meaning of internal church rules and relationships, no one can know for certain who owns church property.” [p. 18]
- “Moreover, the Court’s ruling could eviscerate otherwise clear titles” and harm “the rights of insurers and lenders” all with “not a single justice agreeing as to exactly how State title and property law apply in this dispute.” [p. 19]
Read it all and please take the time to read the full brief.
The likelihood that the church’s revenue will stagnate in coming years means it might want to think carefully about its priorities, Fraser Lawton, bishop of the diocese of Athabasca and a member of the financial management committee, said in a presentation to Council of General Synod (CoGS) Saturday, November 11.
“The trends as we go forward, looking ahead over a number of years, suggest that we need to be mindful of what appears to be a probability of declining income,” Lawton said. “It might be wise for us to think about what are the critical things…Why do we exist as General Synod? What is our purpose, what is the priority in terms of funding?”
More than 90% of General Synod’s net income comes from the dioceses, Lawton said, but almost all of them are “having some conversations” about their own financial future. Given this, he said, “if everything continues as is, the day is going to come when we’re going to have to make some very hard decisions.”
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.