Category : Urban/City Life and Issues

(Inquirer) Pew: Almost half of Philadelphia’s 839 sacred spaces have new congregations – or none

Philadelphia has 839 historic sacred spaces — churches, temples, and mosques — or one for every 1,900 residents. That’s a lot of big, beautiful buildings facing uncertain futures.

The Pew Charitable Trusts decided to inventory the city’s current and former houses of worship, and released a report Wednesday on the lay of the laity’s land, looking at the vulnerabilities these structures face — from physical deterioration to changing neighborhoods and shrinking attendance.

“You hear a lot of anecdotes but we didn’t know how many were still standing, what condition they were in, how they were being used, and their impact on civic life,” said Larry Eichel, director of the Philadelphia research initiative at Pew.

Despite dwindling religious participation, most of the city’s sacred spaces — 83 percent — are still used for religious purposes. Nearly half are no longer used by the building’s original congregation.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(TLC) At the Episcopal Church’s national Offices at 815, ‘Fear, Mistrust, Resentment’

The Episcopal Church Center has a workplace culture marked by “fear, mistrust and resentment,” according to staff and directors who answered a survey in the wake of a misconduct scandal and two high-level firings.

In the survey, released Sept. 15 at the House of Bishops meeting in Detroit, employees said they face expectations to avoid confrontation, withhold input, and strive to make good impressions, rather than do what’s right. Another theme: staff find it difficult to maintain personal integrity while working for the national church.

“I’m not sure I found a sadder finding, except for the score on people not feeling that they were well-respected,” said the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies.

Consultants from Human Synergistics, a human resources firm, shared the results with bishops gathered for their fall meeting and with members of the House of Deputies, who tuned in via webcast. Presenters laid bare how the workplace culture at 815 Second Avenue in New York City is exactly opposite of the collaborative, constructive one the employees say they want.

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Presiding Bishop, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Wa Post) 1 Picture of what happened to 2 people who met at the concert in Las Vegas before the shooting


Up-and-coming country star Luke Combs had just started his set on the smaller of the two festival stages when Kody Robertson, an auto parts salesman from Columbus, Ohio, squeezed in at the end of the bar next to Michelle Vo, an insurance agent from Los Angeles.

The 32-year-olds connected immediately. They joked about their mutual love of golf. He recommended new beers for her to try as she showed him the large floral tattoo covering much of her back. They realized that they were both staying at the Luxor.

A longtime country music fan, Robertson was in Vegas with a group of friends and told Vo about the fun they’d had at last year’s Route 91 Harvest festival. Vo replied that she’d only recently fallen for the genre; this was her first festival. She was here alone. By the time the night’s final act took the main stage, the fast friends had settled into a spot about 20 yards from the right side of the stage, nestled between a few cuddly married couples and a rambunctious bachelorette party.

Then the first shots were fired.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

Pray for Las Vegas

Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Spirituality/Prayer, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Economist) Reno, Nevada–Anti-vagrancy laws are not the best way to reduce homelessness

As the city’s fortunes have risen, so too have its rents, occupancy rates and house prices. Since 2012 the median price of a home has doubled; the average rental price jumped 17% between 2014 and 2016. In January the Reno Area Alliance for the Homeless counted nearly 4,000 people living in weekly motels, up from 2,560 in 2011. Those who cannot afford motels have moved into shelters or onto the street.

If the proposed ordinance to ban sleeping outside passes, Reno’s police officers will be directed to try persuading those living on the streets to move to shelters. If they have no space, the homeless living on the street will be left alone. But if they do, anyone living outside who refuses to move in after a warning might be arrested.

An arrest record makes it harder for a homeless person to find employment or housing in the future. Many studies suggest there are cheaper ways to tackle the problem. The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, a charity, found that the average costs associated with the incarceration and hospitalisation of a chronically homeless person are about triple what it would cost to provide a chronically homeless person with housing. Between 2007 and 2015, New Orleans reduced its homelessness rate by 85%, primarily by providing housing. Reno’s city government should take a look.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Poverty, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Big Issue) Lord Nicholas Henry Bourne of Aberystwyth–Homelessness Happens too Often; Cathedrals Can Help

“People end up homeless for many reasons, but all too often it’s because a single problem has spiralled out of control…”

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Stuff) Cathedral means more to Christchurch than to Anglican church, mayor says

The Christ Church Cathedral means more to the city than it does to the Anglican church, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says.

Dalziel made the comment in Cathedral Square during Sunday’s launch of an 8.4 metre-tall model of the People’s Steeple, built by United States master carpenter Marcus Brandt.

Brandt, who has the support of the Restore Christchurch Cathedral Group, wants to rebuild the collapsed Christ Church Cathedral spire in timber and hoist it into place using ropes, pullies and 500 volunteers.

Read it all.

Posted in Aotearoa, New Zealand & Polynesia, Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, Tornadoes, Hurricanes, etc., Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

Very sad local news–one dead, suspect shot by police following hostage situation at downtown Charleston SC restaurant

One person has died and a suspect has been transported to a hospital after holding multiple people hostage for hours inside Virginia’s on King restaurant, according to police.

Police say that the hostages are now free and safe.

Around 2:30 p.m., a loud boom, that did not necessarily sound like a gun shot, rang in the area. A person was transported out of Virginia’s on a stretcher. Shortly after, police began breaking down the perimeters and allowing people closer to the scene.

A shooting was first reported at 12:17 p.m. Thursday.

“This was not an act of terrorism,” said Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg. “This was not a hate crime. This was a tragic case of a disgruntled employee.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Police/Fire, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence

(Christian Today) Terror experts, politicians and church leaders to debate religious unity in UK cities

Senior politicians, terror experts and Christian leaders will come together for a major two-day conference discussing religious unity in British cities.

The shock of Brexit and the horror of terrorist attacks on London and Manchester have highlighted the need for Christians to take a leading role in transforming UK towns, said event organiser Roger Sutton.

Read it all.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Inter-Faith Relations, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Timeout) Things you only know if you’re a London parish priest: a profile of the Rev Niall Weir

The church has got London covered

‘Every inch of the UK has its own parish church and I think that’s rather wonderful. Being a parish priest has taught me the value of longevity. St Paul’s West Hackney has been here since 1824: five years before the first London bobby appeared on the beat, before the NHS, before state schools, and we intend to stay!’

Priests aren’t all po-faced

‘I appeared in drag on a calendar one year that was made by some local sex workers. Each one of them appeared as a female icon and I dressed up as Dame Edna. I think I scrub up rather well, but my children were very embarrassed….’

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WmTF) Chris Baker–Dog Collars, Tower Blocks and Nation-building

As the traumatic aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy continues to unfold, the rawness of the anger and grief of the victims of the disaster remans undimmed in the absence of obvious milestones to justice and restitution. A recent Guardian report has looked at the role of the faith communities in the vicinity of the tower since the very earliest hours of the tragedy. They not only co-ordinated emergency relief and ongoing needs such as bereavement and trauma counselling, but now act as a bridge of communication and outreach between local residents and the local authority. Churches and mosques are trusted as safe spaces to not only kick-start the very delicate task of reconciliation, but also in which to hear and hold the rawness of the pain and anger still swirling within the community. They have also offered quiet spaces where many people have come to simply reflect on what this has meant to them, and to remember in silent thought and prayer those who have died, been injured or made destitute.  They know as well that this is no quick fix response, but that they will need to be doing this for many years to come – they are in it for the long haul, long after the media circus has left. In addition, these churches and mosques have also been platforms for a determined denunciation at the corporate greed and inequality that contributes to the housing crisis on cities like London.

Key to the power of these responses has been the renewed visibility of religion and religious identity (already very strong in the North Kensington area) to the external world, especially the media and politicians. One of the most telling remarks from the Guardian piece came from local Methodist minister Mike Long, who said that until a month ago, he rarely wore a dog collar. However, at 4.30 on the morning of the fire he put it on and has never taken it off at any public engagement since. ‘Now’ he says, ‘my role is much more public and I need to be identifiable’.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WGBH) Boston Posters Produced to Fight Against abuse of Islamic citizens generates Discussion

The cartoon guide recommends that the bystander engage in non-confrontational behavior to diffuse a potentially unsafe situation for the person being harassed. It shows the bystander choosing to sit next to a woman in a hijab who initially appeared uncomfortable around a man leaning toward her on the bus.

The cartoon’s author, Maeril, encouraged onlookers to use the guide not only for diffusing Islamophobic harassment, but for any other type of harassment as well. Suzan El-Rayess, the civic engagement director at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, agreed.

“We encourage all of our fellow Bostonians to apply the approach in these posters to anyone targeted — whether Muslim, Latino or otherwise,” El-Rayess told the AP.

Elise Whitney, 28, thought that the poster may have the opposite intended effect and attract more unwanted attention toward hijab wearers.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Islam, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Guardian) Winchester in the spotlight: the city where Jane Austen died 200 years ago

Two hundred years ago on 18 July, one of the world’s most famous authors died in the Hampshire cathedral city of Winchester. Jane Austen was just 41 in 1817 and had been suffering from what is now known as Addison’s disease, a rare disorder of the adrenal glands. Austen had moved to Winchester for medical treatment, leaving her home in Chawton 17 miles away (now an Austen museum), where she wrote novels including Pride and Prejudice.

When she was buried in the north aisle of Winchester Cathedral, the inscription on her tomb made no mention of her novels, perhaps because they were published anonymously. A brass plate was later added which noted rather blandly that she was “known to many by her writings”.

Read it all and enjoy the pictures.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, History, Poetry & Literature, Urban/City Life and Issues

Charleston South Carolina named the No. 1 city in the U.S. again says Travel+Leisure magazine

Charleston is the nation’s No. 1 city again, and No. 2 in the world, according to the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine.

The recognition comes at a time when residents are increasingly worried about the city’s capacity to handle more visitors.

The results of this year’s survey were released Tuesday morning. Readers were asked to rate cities they had visited on sights/landmarks, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, shopping and value.

This is the fifth consecutive year the magazine’s readers have named Charleston the nation’s top city. Charleston was the top city in the world last year. This year San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, took the top global spot.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Travel, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Local Paper) Visitors laud Charleston airport tribute to Emanuel AME Church shooting victims

Surrounded by eloquent words and somber images, Rayna Kneuper Hall of Mount Pleasant moves among the exhibits at Charleston International Airport set up in memory to the nine victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting.

“It’s a beautiful tribute to the people and their families,” the part-time hospice worker said recently while showing the site to her friend’s 3-year-son, Edward Austin. “It’s so moving.”

She added, “It helps me remember the forgiveness and grace that the families showed as a natural reaction after the tragedy. … It made me so honored to be a Charlestonian.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, America/U.S.A., Church History, History, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues, Violence