Category : Rural/Town Life

(CT) Go Where The Humans Are: What One Movement’s Small Town Task Force Has Learned about Church Planting So Far

“Is Vineyard committed to planting churches in small town America?” Five years later, I still can’t believe I asked the question. It was directed to Michael Gatlin, national coordinator of Multiply Vineyard, Vineyard’s church planting arm. The occasion was the Q&A session at our first Small Town USA conference. We had only met once before this conference. I braced for his answer and he answered in classic Gatlin style: “I thought we were supposed to go where the humans are. If there are humans in small towns, then they need churches. And if there are humans in metro areas, then we need to plant there.”

Go where the humans are. That answer has propelled us these past five years. So what have we learned?

Planters are hungry for someone to talk about small town planting.

Over the past five years, the Small Town USA team has written scores of blog articlesproduced 4-6 webinars annually, and led seminars in places as diverse as Mechanic Falls, Maine; Tomahawk, Wisconsin; and San Luis Obispo, California. We’ve hosted two national conferences. While attendance has been modest (75-100), we’ve been amazed that people flew from places like Colorado and drove from places like Minnesota and Missouri just to attend a conference in Ohio dedicated to planting in small towns. We’ve had at least 11 states represented at these events.

The conversation around small town planting took off enough in our movement that one concerned leader asked if Vineyard still cared about planting in large cities. Of course we do! Remember we “go where the humans are.” But so much of the church multiplication discussion has been from the large church and large city perspective (we’re talking to you, Atlanta, NYC, Chicago, and San Diego) that our small town planters have been left out.

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Posted in Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Rural/Town Life, Theology

(WSJ) In America Men, young adults and rural residents increasingly say college isn’t worth the cost

Americans are losing faith in the value of a college degree, with majorities of young adults, men and rural residents saying college isn’t worth the cost, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey shows.

The findings reflect an increase in public skepticism of higher education from just four years ago and highlight a growing divide in opinion falling along gender, educational, regional and partisan lines. They also carry political implications for universities, already under public pressure to rein in their costs and adjust curricula after decades of sharp tuition increases.

Overall, a slim plurality of Americans, 49%, believes earning a four-year degree will lead to a good job and higher lifetime earnings, compared with 47% who don’t, according to the poll of 1,200 people taken Aug. 5-9. That two-point margin narrowed from 13 points when the same question was asked four years earlier.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Personal Finance & Investing, Rural/Town Life, Young Adults

(Telegraph) Marijuana company buys entire California town for ‘hospitality destination’

One of the largest marijuana companies in the US has bought a California desert town, promising to turn it into a “cannabis-friendly hospitality destination.”

American Green Inc. said it is buying all 80 acres of Nipton, which includes its Old West-style hotel, a handful of houses, an RV park and a coffee shop.

The town’s current owner, Roxanne Lang, said the sale is still in escrow, but confirmed American Green is the buyer.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, Rural/Town Life

(PPH) Anthony Doerr, author of ‘All the Light We Cannot See,’ returns to Maine

At Bowdoin, Doerr majored in history because it gave him the flexibility to take classes across a range of subjects. Bowdoin allowed him to explore his curiosities and what it means to be human. He sought out subjects of interest – in science, sociology, architecture, astronomy and nutrition – but never took a creative writing class. He did submit a poem as part of an application for a poetry workshop, but was rejected.

Still, writing was central to his time at Bowdoin. He wrote for the college newspaper and other publications, and his history major required a thesis. That was his first experience at long-form writing, and it led directly to his career as a novelist and essayist. Being a writer, he said, was never a consideration as a kid. It all happened at Bowdoin.

“Growing up where I did, being a novelist was something I could not do. I never met a novelist. I thought novelists were dead or living in Paris,” he said. “But at Bowdoin, I got to write a thesis. I learned how to hash out a book and what it was like to build a longer project. It was only 90 pages, but it was a way to start putting together a big piece of research and larger blocks of text. It felt empowering as a 20-year-old.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Books, Education, Poetry & Literature, Rural/Town Life, Young Adults

Heroin, gang activity topics of police concern at community meeting in the town where we live in South Carolina

It came as a shock to some community members when Summerville [South Carolina] police officials revealed this month during a town hall meeting, meant to address racial profiling statistics, that gang and drug activity are instead the town’s top two problems, infiltrating the area like never before.

“(The) heroin epidemic (we’re) experiencing (is the) biggest we’ve seen since I’ve worked here,” said Capt. Doug Wright. “It’s creeping into families and destroying families.”

The meeting, which took place April 18, was the third of its kind since 2015 and one Louis Smith, founder of the Community Resource Center, helped police put together after reviewing all the department’s 2016 traffic stop reports.

Smith said he found no wrongdoing on officers’ part and praised them for staying honest, cooperating with his request and remaining transparent with the community.

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Posted in * South Carolina, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Rural/Town Life

£1 million social investment puts Church workers at heart of London estates

Estates in Old Street and Bethnal Green and their local church communities have been the first to benefit from missional workers living on-site, following the success of a pioneering bond. The Missional Housing Bond was developed by a partnership of churches and charities to allow church workers to live among the communities they serve, in spite of the rising rents in the capital.

Three years of work on the Missional Housing Bond have resulted in two successful rounds of crowdfunding raising close to £1 million of capital. This has enabled a partnership involving the Diocese of London to purchase two small flats near to Inspire London church in Old Street and St Peter’s church in Bethnal Green, both rapidly growing churches in an area of London where high levels of need and deprivation exist alongside some of the highest property values in the world.

The flats are made available at social rents to church missional workers who are not only on hand to help the life of their church, but also embed themselves in the life of the local area, helping the Church to fulfill its mission to local people.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Economy, England / UK, Housing/Real Estate Market, Parish Ministry, Rural/Town Life, Stewardship, Theology, Young Adults

2016 9/11 Stories (II)–LA Times: Shanksville, Pa., will never forget 9/11

Often not seen in pictures are stories of residents who manned the crash site in two-hour volunteer shifts to ensure it was respected and not vandalized. Using notebooks to keep track of the facts, they relayed to tourists and mourners alike how the hole smoldered and the crash left little wreckage above ground except scattered papers and pieces of engine and fabric.

“We were just neighbors and friends,” said long-time volunteer Chuck Wagner, 67, of Stonycreek Township.

They helped bring to fruition the Flight 93 National Memorial, which grew from barrels and a chain link fence holding small mementos into a stunning feat of architecture that embraces the beauty of nature and the resolve of mankind.

Former Gov. Tom Ridge remains in awe of the community’s effort in embracing its part of history.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Rural/Town Life, Terrorism

James Smith on Yuval Levin's "The Fractured Republic"–Hope in the Ruins

But Levin’s case is not a counsel of despair. Far from it. Nor does he simply dismiss our nostalgia. Instead, we need to learn from it: “To learn from nostalgia, we must let it guide us not merely toward ‘the way we were,’ but toward what was good about what we miss, and why.” Or, as we’ve suggested here before, we need to “remember forward.”

That endeavour informs the second, constructive half of The Fractured Republic. The diagnosis is important: the same mid-century developments we celebrate were Trojan horses that unleashed forces hostile to the institutions, habits, and practices that made them possible. More specifically, what crawled out of those horses were agents of individualism that devoured the mid-level institutions of society, leaving atomistic individuals fending for themselves and/or looking to a behemoth state to save us. The result has been “the collapse of the culture of solidarity.”

The creative way forward, then, is to recover a culture of solidarity in the face of atomistic individualism and an abstract state. But what distinguishes Levin’s proposal from the nostalgia of others is his almost Hegelian attentiveness to the contingencies of history. So we can’t just turn back the clock to consolidation. Riffing on Alexis de Tocqueville, Levin concedes that the “diffusion” that characterizes our society is “a ‘generative fact’ of our particular time. It can be channelled and directed, perhaps mitigated at the margins, but it cannot be meaningfully reversed, at least in the foreseeable future.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CEN, COL) Jeremy Moodey–Five reasons why Christians should consider voting Remain on 23 June

Our leaving the EU after 43 years of membership would in effect be a divorce. We entered into a contract when we acceded to the Treaty of Rome on 1 January 1973, and now we want to exit the contract. Divorce is a tragic reality in our modern world, and it happens for all sorts of reasons, but that does not make it God’s ideal. On the contrary, he wants us to do everything we can to honour the contracts we freely enter into. ”˜When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said’ (Numbers 30:2). The leave camp argues that the EU has morphed into an undemocratic monolith which is a totally different beast from the loose ”˜Common Market’ which we joined in 1973. But this a specious argument. As a nation we signed up to the rules of the club (including its voting rules and their amendment over the years) and we have put our name on those treaties (particularly Maastricht in 1992 and Lisbon in 2007) which created today’s EU. If a marriage is struggling, our first duty as Christians is to work to save it, not to rush headlong for the exit. So too should be our attitude to membership of the EU.

As I say, many Christians will take a different view from mine. But what is clear is that our membership of the European Union has a moral and theological dimension as well as an economic and political one. Christians must consider this dimension before they cast their vote on 23 June.

Read it all and it can be found elsewhere also.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Theology

official Scottish Episcopal Church Statement

The General Synod of the Scottish Episcopal Church has today passed a first reading of a change to its Canon on marriage (Canon 31). The change is to remove from the Canon the doctrinal statement regarding marriage that marriage is to be understood as a union “of one man and one woman.”

A first reading of the change is the first step in a process and does not represent a final decision. The proposed change now passes from the General Synod to the Church’s seven dioceses for discussion and comment in their Diocesan Synods in the coming year. The opinions from the dioceses will then be relayed back to the General Synod which will be invited to give a second reading of the Canon in June 2017. At that stage, for a second reading to be passed, it must achieve a majority of two thirds in the “houses” of bishops, clergy and laity within the General Synod. The change to the canon would include a conscience clause ensuring that clergy opposed to the change are not required to marry people of the same sex.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Rural/Town Life, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(BBC) Scottish Episcopal Church takes step toward same-sex marriage approval

The Scottish Episcopal Church’s General Synod has made the first steps of any Anglican Church in the UK towards allowing gay marriage in church.
The synod voted that a change to its Canon law governing marriage should be sent for discussion to the church’s seven dioceses.
A further vote will happen at next year’s synod.
The proposal would remove the doctrinal clause which states that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Rural/Town Life, Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(NYT) Southern Cities Split With States on Social Issues

For decades, the cultural gap between Southern cities and cities on the East and West Coasts has been narrowing to the point where the cultural riches of a place like Oxford, Miss. ”” with its literary scene and high end regional cuisine ”” are almost taken for granted.

But commerce and the Internet have pushed global sophistication into new frontiers. In Starkville, Miss., an unassuming college town that Oxford sophisticates deride with the ironic nickname “StarkVegas,” a coffee bar called Nine-twentynine serves an affogato prepared with espresso from Intelligentsia, the vaunted artisanal coffee brand.

With these cultural markers have come expressions of unblushing liberalism that would have been unthinkable a decade ago. In January, Bernie Sanders drew thousands to a rally in Birmingham, Ala. Last June, after the Supreme Court affirmed the right to same-sex marriage, the city government in Knoxville, Tenn., lit up a bridge in rainbow colors.

The result has been a kind of overlapping series of secessions, with states trying to safeguard themselves from national cultural trends and federal mandates, and cities increasingly trying to carve out their own places within the states.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Blogging & the Internet, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, History, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(L. Times) U of London Islamic students pull plug on talk by atheist who ”˜violated safe space’

A secular campaigner has told how she was heckled and shouted down by members of a student Islamic society who said that she was violating their “safe space”.

Maryam Namazie claimed that the Islamic society at Goldsmiths, University of London, where she was addressing the institution’s atheist group, tried to stop her talk going ahead by invoking a “no platform policy”.

When that failed, she said that Islamic students disrupted her speech and tried to intimidate her. One switched off the power to her computer as she showed a PowerPoint slide of a “Jesus and Mo” cartoon.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Islam, Other Faiths, Politics in General, Rural/Town Life, Theology, Young Adults

(NYT) A Small Indiana Town Scarred by a Trusted Doctor

On a spring evening last year, Debra Davidson flipped on the television to watch the local news. When an item came on about her longtime physician, she perked up and leaned forward. Then she screamed. Her husband rushed into the living room to see if everything was O.K.

Everything was not O.K. The report said that her cardiologist, Dr. Arvind Gandhi, had been sued by two former patients who accused him of performing unnecessary operations.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Psychology, Rural/Town Life, Theology

(PBS Blog) Race relations in U.S. at a low point in recent history, new poll suggests

In the year following the death of Michael Brown, America has seen its share of racial disquiet. The Aug. 9, 2014, shooting death of the black teenager at the hands of a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, sparked weeks of protest, and drew attention to a brand new civil rights campaign for the modern era: Black Lives Matter.

The organization, and the phrase itself, has been the center of controversy and tension since it gained nationwide attention last year. Candidates on the 2016 presidential campaign have stumbled while trying to find the perfect pitch in addressing its significance.

On the evening of June 17, 2015, America once again was forced to confront racial tensions with the mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, nearly a year after Brown’s death.

It is with this backdrop that PBS NewsHour and Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion conducted a survey of Americans that illustrates the contrast in opinions along racial lines about the opportunities available today for African Americans.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Housing/Real Estate Market, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence