Category : Urban/City Life and Issues

Disappearing churches: Downtown Charleston, South Carolina, congregations cope with big changes

The Greater Macedonia Church building on Alexander Street in downtown Charlesston is for sale. So is the Mount Carmel AME Church building on Rutledge Avenue. The old Zion-Olivet Presbyterian Church at the end of Cannon Street sits empty.

The congregation of Plymouth Congregational Church has relocated to the West Ashley area of Charleston. Shiloh AME Church is moving, too.

The Charleston peninsula is losing churches, even as new residents stream into the three-county metropolitan area.

Other religious institutions downtown are managing to hang on, even thrive, in this dynamic period of change.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * South Carolina, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Statement of solidarity from the City of Westminster Interfaith Leaders

1. We are members of Pathways, a group of faith leaders and representatives in St John’s Wood and Marylebone in the City of Westminster, who regularly meet together to foster good relations between our communities and to work on matters of mutual concern.

2. Fundamental to all our religions is the message of peace. We believe that human beings have a duty to work for peace and seek to build good relations with their neighbours.

3. We deplore the attack which took place in and around the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday. Anyone claiming a religious motive justifies an attack of this nature has repudiated the tenets of their faith.

4. We wish to express our sympathy and solidarity with those who have suffered and also those who are bereaved. We will pray for them in our churches, mosques and synagogues.

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Posted in England / UK, Inter-Faith Relations, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Mark Woods–Pray for Westminster: the injured, the bereaved and the traumatised

We always knew, if we had any sense, that this was coming. Outrages in France, Belgium and Germany last year were uncomfortably close to home, though at least they were on the other side of the Channel. But Britain has always been just as much of a target for terror, and it’s only the skill of our intelligence services that has kept us safe so far.

Now that illusion of invulnerability, if it existed, has been shattered. We do not know for certain at the moment who’s behind this horror. But that it’s some kind of terror attack at the heart of our democracy appears certain.

It’s very tempting, when such things happen, to look immediately at the big picture. This is Westminster, the Mother of Parliaments. It has a huge symbolic value. Whoever did this could hardly have struck at a more significant target.

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Posted in England / UK, Spirituality/Prayer, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Vancouver Sun) When churches become marijuana dispensaries

It was probably inevitable, especially on the cannabis-loving West Coast.

A Christian church has been turned into a marijuana dispensary.

The quaint building that used to house Shawnigan United Church on Vancouver Island has now been “re-christened” the Green Tree Medicinal Dispensary.

There is symbolic power in the transformation. And, depending on your tastes, the metaphorical shift is positive or negative.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anthropology, Canada, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Tel) Charles Moore–Even Catholics like me will miss the C of E's droll prince, Richard Chartres

Bishop Chartres has had a very untypical episcopacy. The congregations of his diocese have grown. He has opened a new theological college to train future priests. He has never closed a single church. How has he done it? By a clever combination of being traditional and up-to-date.

Traditional because he regards the inherited liturgy, buildings and public role of the Church of England not as burdens but advantages which can draw people to God. I asked him to be the Ecclesiastical Patron of the Rectory Society, which I set up to foster interest in every sort of parsonage. He blessed our tenth anniversary service….

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Bp Richard Chartres' Valedictory Sermon–“Master, now you are dismissing your servant”

One of the authentic prophets of our time is Jean Vanier whose friendship with a person with severe learning disabilities was the foundation for the L’Arche communities. The first one opened in 1964 in France and L’Arche communities are now present in many different countries. By living in intentional community with people some of whom have serious learning difficulties, and some of whom have other challenges, living with diversity and difference, we open ourselves up to grow and be transformed. I know that is true because I received my earliest call to genuine priesthood through my brother, who had very severe learning difficulties but a genius for love.

Jean Vanier’s work is a prophetic word for the church today. We are not called to be a church of warring sects like those which the great 17th century Anglican theologian Sir Thomas Browne denounced as “heads that are disposed unto schism and ”¦. naturally indisposed for a community” but “do subdivide and mince themselves almost into atoms”.

Members of the Church of England say that they are “part of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church” which Jesus intended. The Great and Coming church is ahead of us. We must never forget our role in realising Christ’s prayer for this one church. We must cherish our Christian friends and never forget what Pope John Paul II said to Archbishop Runcie, “affective collegiality is the basis of effective collegiality”. We should seek partnerships in the gospel at whatever level we are working. We should seek alliances in the wider household of faith in building a servant community whose attractiveness pagans will not be able to deny. Thank God for the gracious presence here tonight of so many Christian friends from other communions.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, History, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

Remembering Sam Shoemaker on his Feast Day (II)–His Obituary in the New York Times, Nov. 2, 1963

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

NYT: These Booths Are Made For Talking: Soothers Hit the Streets

A week after the presidential election, while walking through the farmers’ market in Union Square, I came across a young woman giving out free hugs to strangers. I gladly accepted one. Balm.

A day later, a friend told me that a Lutheran pastor on the Upper East Side has been dispensing free counsel on the sidewalk on Tuesday mornings while sitting in a wooden booth that he had made to the exact specifications of Lucy’s in the comic strip “Peanuts,” complete with a sign reading, “Spiritual Help, 5 cents. The pastor is in.” (Nickels are provided.)

Street preachers. Huggers without portfolio. If stores and restaurants can pop up, why can’t the helping professions?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Post-Gazette) A trinity of partners: Trinity School for Ministry blends several traditions

Students from multiple states and countries come here, attracted to a school that aims to be an “evangelical seminary in the Anglican tradition” ”” that is, blending the piety and urgent sense of mission that characterize evangelicals with the time-tested liturgy and sacramental tradition associated with Episcopal Church and its Anglican counterpart.

“This is really the place” for that blend, said Jim Hearn, a doctoral student from California, who joined an Anglican congregation through the influence of his wife and a trip to Israel.

Now Trinity is celebrating its 40th year, and while the mission remains the same, it’s being defined in new ways. The school says it has about 285 students, either full-time, part-time or on-line.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Episcopal Church (TEC), Executive Council, Religion & Culture, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(AJ) In Edmonton, Anglicans help city mobilize against poverty

A collaborative anti-poverty initiative co-chaired by Jane Alexander, bishop of Edmonton, will receive $2.4 million in funding from the city over the next two years””and the diocese is undertaking a slew of its own projects to support it.

Alexander says she was thrilled when Edmonton City Council unanimously approved funding for the EndPovertyEdmonton Implementation Road Map, a citywide initiative of which she is co-chair, December 13.

“You know, it’s a tough year for everybody economy-wise, and we were asking for a lot of money, and they gave us every penny we asked for”¦We couldn’t believe it,” she says.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Canada, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(NPR's FA) Muslim NYPD Chaplain On Faith, Fear And Getting Stopped By Airport Security

KHALID LATIF: You know, I think a lot of Muslims are very scared, and I think they’re valid in that fear. The reality, unfortunately, is such that even leading into the elections we saw a gross increase in anti-Muslim bias and incidents. In New York City, where I live, leading into the elections, just in a matter of weeks you had two imams – religious leaders of a Muslim community in Queens – who were shot in the back of their head and passed away subsequently. Following afternoon prayers, a 60-year-old woman of Bengali descent was walking home one evening in Queens as well with her husband who is asthmatic, and she had moved a few blocks ahead of him to get home quicker to get dinner ready. And he said later at a press conference that I was at that he heard her screaming and came upon her and found her stabbed and had eventually succumbed to the wounds just a couple of blocks away from their home. There was two mothers strolling their babies in Brooklyn who had been assaulted. A woman wearing a headscarf in Midtown Manhattan had been set on fire. These were all things that happened prior to the election.

Post the election, you know, I think what hit me hard, being at New York University, we have various prayer rooms that Muslim students use on our campus. And the day after the election in our school of engineering in Brooklyn, Muslim students walked into their prayer room to find the entrance with the word Trump written across it and an exclamation point. About a week later, there was Jewish students who on their dorm room door found swastikas, the words make America great again, white pride, make America white again on their doorways. And these were realities that I think evoked a lot of different emotions understandably.

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Other Faiths, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues

(ACNS) Egyptian Anglicans in peace building partnership with Bibliotheca Alexandrina

The Anglican Episcopal Diocese of Egypt has announced a landmark partnership with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria Library) to advance co-operation in the art, science, culture, peace-building, dialogue and the combating of extremism. The Bibliotheca Alexandrina is a modern organisation designed to “recapture the spirit” of the ancient library of Alexandria ”“ one of the world’s earliest such institution.

The original library was founded by Ptolemy I in 288 BC; and suffered numerous attacks before disappearing in the seventh century. Julius Caesar is said to have set fire to it during a civil war in 48 BC; it was attacked by Aurelian between AD 270 and 275; the Coptic Pope Theophilus outlawed it as a pagan temple in 391; and there are claims that it was destroyed during the Muslim conquest of Egypt in 642.

The modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina was opened in October 2002 and has shelf-space for eight million books. It was created “to recapture the spirit of the original Library of Alexandria as a centre for learning, dialogue, and rationality,” Archbishop Mouneer said. Alexandria, on the Mediterranean coast was chosen by Alexander the Great to be the capital of his empire in 320 BC. “It soon became the most powerful and influential city in the region,” Archbishop Mouneer said, adding that the original library “functioned as an academy, research centre, and library,” he said that “the great thinkers of the age flocked to Alexandria to study and exchange ideas.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Books, Egypt, History, Middle East, The Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Urban/City Life and Issues

Perspective from the Pages of History

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * General Interest, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., History, Photos/Photography, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Local Paper) Speaker at Ecumenical Service: America must be just to be great

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump remembers representing the family of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black male who was fatally shot in February 2012 in Sanford, Florida.

The shooter, George Zimmerman, was a neighborhood watch volunteer who was found not guilty in a high-profile murder trial.

The verdict, among others Crump has seen, has left minority communities feeling like second-class citizens, he said Sunday at Morris Street Baptist Church.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Ecumenical Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

"Clutching the blood-stained Bible she had with her" A local paper story on Roof Trials end

Clutching the blood-stained Bible she had with her when Dylann Roof executed nine family and friends around her, Felicia Sanders told the self-avowed white supremacist in court Wednesday that she still forgives him for his actions. They have scarred her life but haven’t shaken her faith.

Addressing Roof the day after a jury sentenced him to death, Sanders said the mass shooting that killed nine black worshippers at Emanuel AME Church in June 2015 has left her unable to hear a balloon pop or an acorn fall without being startled. She can no longer shut her eyes when she prays.

But she will carry on, she told him, and continue to follow the words of God still clear in the battered Bible she cherishes.

“I brought my Bible to the courtroom … shot up,” she said. “It reminds me of the blood Jesus shed for me and you, Dylann Roof.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Capital Punishment, Christology, Law & Legal Issues, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence