Category : Urban/City Life and Issues

Charleston, South Carolina, Named as the South’s Best City by Southern Living

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

(WSJ) Avi Schick–New York’s Bid to Control Religious Schools

Even ardent opponents of school choice accept that parents have the right to send their children to private schools. That may soon change in New York state, where education officials are preparing new guidelines to impose strict regulations on the instruction that religious and other private schools provide, while empowering local school districts to shutter those schools if they fail to meet state standards. The plan is not only ill-advised, it may end up costing the state billions in annual school aid to nonpublic schools.

Parents have had a legally recognized constitutional right to guide their children’s education for nearly a century. The Supreme Court’s 1925 decision in Pierce v. Society of Sisters established that children are “not mere creatures of the state” and that parents have the right to choose “schools where their children will receive appropriate mental and religious training.” Almost 50 years later, in Wisconsin v. Yoder , the court reaffirmed these rights, recognizing the “fundamental interest of parents, as contrasted with that of the State, to guide the religious future and education of their children.”

The trade-off has always been that parents, not the state, must foot the bill for private education. In New York the government saves billions annually because parents choose to send their children to religious or private schools. New York’s Jewish and Catholic schools alone educate 330,000 children, nearly 200,000 of whom attend New York City parochial schools.

Only a fraction of these savings finds its way back to New York’s nonpublic schools and students.

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

(C of E) New ideas to secure England’s cathedrals for the future

The paper from the Church of England’s Cathedrals Working Group sets out new ideas on how cathedrals could be governed and funded.

The proposals, emerging from seven months of meetings and discussions, aim to recognise and enhance the vital role that cathedrals play while building a robust framework for the future.

consultation on the recommendations opens today, seeking views from interested groups.

They range from recommendations on how the structure of Chapter – a cathedral’s traditional governing body – could be reformed to new financial auditing processes.

The Working Group was set up by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York after a small number of cathedrals highlighted challenges in governance and management.

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Posted in Church History, England / UK, History, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Urban/City Life and Issues

(ACNS) Six decades after it closed, a Bristol church will re-open as youth mission resource centre

A church in the centre of the west of England port city of Bristol is to re-open 65 years after it was closed. Once it re-opens in the Autumn, St Nicholas’ Church will focus on engaging with young people who don’t currently go to church, and will act as what the diocese is calling a “Resourcing Church”, serving the wider city and assisting future church plants. It will be led by the Revd Toby Flint, currently the Lead Pastor at London’s Holy Trinity Brompton, home of the Alpha Course and a significant participant in church plants.

Bristol is a young city – some 60 per cent of people in the city centre are aged between 15 and 29. “The new church’s particular focus will be on younger generations,” the Diocese of Bristol said. The diocese has set out three priorities in its vision: making disciples, growing leaders and engaging younger generations. The new St Nicholas will explore those three priorities as well as partnering with other churches and organisations for social action, including looking at ways to tackle homelessness, food poverty and youth unemployment.

“As Bristol becomes younger and more diverse, we want to make an impact on the city,” the Bishop of Swindon and acting Bishop of Bristol, Dr Lee Rayfield, said. “We are excited about how St Nicholas will grow the Church and bring about social transformation.

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

(CT) Michael Emerson offers 4 lessons we Can Learn from Birmingham for Martin Luther King Day

[Michael] Gilbreath (a CT editor at large) hearkens back to the 1963 Birmingham civil rights campaign, to the world of Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and other heroic Christian leaders. Today, we idolize these figures for leading a beleaguered people to the Promised Land. But as Birmingham Revolution makes clear, the civil rights movement was no slam dunk. Uncertainty, scarce resources, and outside hostility could have ground its progress to a halt.

The Birmingham campaign was pivotal. On the heels of defeat in Albany, Georgia, victory in Birmingham restored the movement’s momentum. Failure could have crippled it, by drying up funding, discrediting the nonviolent method, and validating fears that the leaders were—take your pick—extremists, rabble-rousers, too Christian, not Christian enough, too Southern, or insufficiently urban.

How—amid the noise and ambiguity, the internal struggles and self-doubts, the bone-deep weariness and constant fear of death—did the Birmingham leaders maintain their focus? And how might their example instruct the church today? Gilbreath gives four answers.

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

(CT) God, Guns, and Oil A Los Angeles church seeks the good of its neighborhood by confronting crime and environmental distress

For [Richard] Parks, shutting down the oil well is part of a bigger story of how the gospel is transforming the Exposition Park neighborhood. Members of Church of the Redeemer have tied their fate to the fate of the community. They want to see their neighbors flourish.

Shutting down oil wells or nuisance liquor stores, planting trees, tutoring kids, holding neighborhood Bible studies, and making friends with neighbors during a community service project are all part of how a neighborhood is reached with the gospel, Parks says.

“In the context of friendship—there are normal, natural opportunities to talk about our love for Jesus,” he said. “Our church is made up of people that our kids go to school with, our kids play soccer with, neighbors that we clean up trees with. That is how the gospel is going out in our community.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Evangelism & Mission, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Local Paper) Charleston, South Carolina, mayor reaches out to religious leaders to build relationships, promote good deeds

Shortly after Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg took office in 2016, he reached out to several pastors for counsel.

He had been thinking about how the city fared following 2015’s Emanuel AME Church massacre, about how a web of strong relationships helped Charleston shine during one of its darkest hours.

Tecklenburg hoped that this gathering of religious leaders not only would build on those relationships but also find new ways to promote good works.

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

(CEN) Scrap Cathedral entrance fees, Government review urges

A government review has recommended scrapping charging policies for entry to Cathedrals.

The review on ‘Cathedrals and Communities’ found that Chester Cathedral has reported increased profits since doing away with charging, while Durham Cathedral has pledged to keep its main space free to enter.

The report released by the Department of Communities and Local Government, explains that for lesser-known cathedrals, creating an active programme of events can increase visitors and income.

The report was the culmination of a year-long tour that saw the Minister for Faiths, Lord Bourne, visit all of England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals to better understand their continued importance both to local communities and wider society.

His report also recommends the use of crypts and naves for events, commending Sheffield cathedral, which transformed the space below the cathedral to help the city’s homeless.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Atlantic) Low-Income Communities Are Struggling to Support Churches

If there is ever a competition for the title of Busiest Minister in America, the smart money will be on Yoan Mora, senior pastor of Primera Iglesia Cristiana, a small but vibrant Spanish-speaking congregation in San Antonio, Texas. The weeks are nuts: worship services, classes, and meetings on Sundays; a radio program on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; prayer service and Bible study on Tuesdays; house church meetings in the southern reaches of the city each Thursday; a job-training program hosted at the church on Saturdays, plus other meetings scattered through the weekend.

Those are just his top-level duties. He still has to find time to write sermons, oversee church-building maintenance, teach small groups, manage budgets, and, most of all, be with people in all the ways pastors need to be with people: births, deaths, sicknesses, celebrations, life events big, medium, and small. Being a pastor is a full-time job, and then some.

But being a pastor is not Mora’s full-time job. Most of Mora’s weekday hours are devoted to his work as an accountant at a health-care clinic in the northeast part of town. He’s also trying to finish a master’s degree in theology.

Mora believes he was placed on this earth to pastor, so that’s what he plans on doing. But for now, he can’t make a living as a pastor because the congregation he serves is in an extremely low-income neighborhood. Pastor salaries are drawn from church budgets, which are drawn from the household budgets of congregants. So in a low-income area, even when a church grows, its budget does not expand so much as stretch. Primera Iglesia Cristiana can’t pay Mora much for all his efforts, so for the foreseeable future, he’ll hustle.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Personal Finance, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, Urban/City Life and Issues

BBC One’s London Fireworks 2018

Posted in England / UK, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Spectator) Melanie McDonagh–The new Bishop of London is a far cry from her predecessor

Very much in the mould then of another evangelical, the Archbishop of Canterbury. She’s also a former Chief Nursing Officer who worked in the Department of Health for five years and was educated in a comprehensive (the last, a very good thing). So, a far cry then from Richard Chartres, her bearded predecessor, who is both theologically learned and with a profound knowledge of Orthodox Christianity. I don’t think Prince Charles is going to be best friends with Sarah in quite the same way, somehow.

Very prudently, she refused to take sides on the fraught question of whether homosexual couples can marry in Church; she is, as it happens involved in the deliberations that the CofE is undertaking on the matter. As she said: ‘I am clear about teaching of the church…but I also want to reflect an inclusive response to this issue. I’m chairing one of the committees which is reflecting on our teaching and tradition on this issue, the aspect of it dealing with social and biological sciences. I can’t give a sense where this reflection is going to go, but it’s important to stress that everybody is loved by God.’ I got a strong sense from this cautiously worded response that she would be taking the discussion in the direction of liberalising gay marriage. Let’s see.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Urban/City Life and Issues

(BBC) The First female Bishop of London is appointed

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Church Times) Grenfell survivors express their grief and anger at St Paul’s memorial

The occasion marked six months to the day since a fire all but destroyed the residential building in White City, west London, killing 53 adults and 18 children, including an unborn baby (News, 15 June). A public inquiry, led by Sir Martin Moore-Bick, into the causes, building standards, and the Government’s response to the tragedy, is ongoing.

The families and friends of the victims, survivors, their families, and other community members most closely affected by the tragedy, were seated beneath the dome. Representatives of the faith communities, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, were seated together on a dais installed at the front of the cathedral.

In his address, the Bishop of Kensington, Dr Graham Tomlin, hoped that justice would be given to the community. “Today we ask why warnings were not heeded; why a community was left feeling neglected, uncared for, not listened to.

“Today we hold out hope that the public inquiry will get to the truth of all that led up to the fire at Grenfell Tower; that it will listen to the hopes, fears, and questions of those most directly affected by it; and we trust that the truth will bring justice, and that justice will enable true reconciliation and the eventual healing of the divides in our life together that this tragedy has revealed.”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

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.”

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

How One Anglican Congregation Asserted its First Amendment Rights amd Effected a Change in City Policy

The city’s policy did not expressly prohibit use of the park for religious activities or by religious groups. Instead, the city’s denial of the application was based on unchecked, arbitrary discretion – which is Constitutionally invalid.

Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, religious expression and speech are protected in traditional public forums such as public parks like that of Old Town Square in Fairfax. City restrictions on such freedoms are heavily scrutinized and must not discriminate against a particular viewpoint. Further, in traditional public forums, state actors cannot censor people or groups based on the content of their speech, except when there is a compelling state purpose and the restriction is both necessary and the wording narrowly tailored to achieve that purpose. Accordingly, the Supreme Court has ruled in other similar cases that in circumstances like these in which the forum is available to others and the event is open to the public, there is no Establishment Clause conflict. Additionally, in order for the state to require permits (i.e. approval) as a prerequisite for individuals or groups to engage in protected speech, it must follow very strict and objective criteria in decision making. To base such permits on vague discretion by officials making the individual decisions may be considered a prior restraint on protected speech and a violation of the First Amendment.

Fairfax City’s denial of Shepherd’s Heart’s application “was classic prior restraint, which is exactly what the Founders wanted to prevent when they drafted the First Amendment,” explained Gorman. “We used the Freedom of Information Act to get access to the city’s park policies. Even though they said it wasn’t allowed, there was nothing in writing to back it up. It was completely arbitrary.”

Gorman, feeling convinced of the Constitutional violation, contacted the Center for Religious Expression in Memphis, Tennessee who took on the case pro-bono.

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Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), City Government, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues