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(SBS) Melbourne Anglican budget hit by redress

The Anglican Diocese of Melbourne expects to pay up to $21 million over the next decade to people sexually abused as children by clergy but it’s confident it will be able to honour the redress payments.

Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier says the diocese’s budget will be significantly affected by the cost of redress.

The diocese’s redress liability has been estimated at between $12.2 million and $21 million.

Addressing the annual Melbourne synod or parliament on Wednesday night, Archbishop Freier said the Anglican diocese’s budget situation was tight.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Australia, Stewardship

(Bloomberg Quint) Almost Half of U.S. Births Happen Outside Marriage, Signaling Cultural Shift

An increasing number of births happen outside of marriage, signaling cultural and economic shifts that are here to stay, according to a new report from the United Nations.

Forty percent of all births in the U.S. now occur outside of wedlock, up from 10 percent in 1970, according to an annual report released on Wednesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the largest international provider of sexual and reproductive health services. That number is even higher in the European Union.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Marriage & Family

(NC Register) Dwight Longenecker–What’s Wrong With a Drive-Thru Parish?

In our town, for instance, we have one church that offers traditional liturgy influenced heavily by the Anglican tradition. They enjoy a beautiful building, excellent servers, fine music. Then we have the Franciscan parish with gospel music, a strong emphasis on peace and justice, lively preaching and involvement with the poor.

Across town we have a couple of typical American suburban parishes — easygoing contemporary music, large and active congregations, busy youth work, Life Teen Mass, a huge CCD program. On the other side of town a parish offers the Extraordinary Form every week — indeed, every day. The parish school is thriving and a busy, enthusiastic traditionalist crowd fills the pews.

So people church-shop.

It is a reality.

Church-shopping has its strengths and weaknesses. The downside is that we lose the natural diversity of a natural local community that has been part of Church understanding for eons. People are scattered and it’s hard to get them together. On the other hand, if people church-shop they are more likely to end up in a church they like and more likely to be committed to that congregation and ministry. Or so the theory goes. In fact, I have noticed something else creeping in which makes my job as a pastor even more difficult.

The church-shopping has started to disintegrate. Not only do people church-shop in order to find a church community to which they want to belong, but they church-shop from week to week.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Henry Martyn

O God of the nations, who didst give to thy faithful servant Henry Martyn a brilliant mind, a loving heart, and a gift for languages, that he might translate the Scriptures and other holy writings for the peoples of India and Persia: Inspire in us, we beseech thee, a love like his, eager to commit both life and talents to thee who gavest them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Missions, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Pastor’s Prayerbook

Jesus, our Master, do thou meet us while we walk in the way and long to reach the heavenly country; so that, following thy light, we may keep the way of righteousness, and never wander away into the darkness of this world’s night, while thou, who art the Way, the Truth, and the Light art shining within us; for thy mercy’s sake.

–Robert W. Rodenmayer, ed., The Pastor’s Prayerbook: Selected and arranged for various occasions (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed there for three days. And from there we made a circuit and arrived at Rhe’gium; and after one day a south wind sprang up, and on the second day we came to Pute’oli. There we found brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. And the brethren there, when they heard of us, came as far as the Forum of Ap’pius and Three Taverns to meet us. On seeing them Paul thanked God and took courage.

–Acts 28: 12-15

Posted in Theology: Scripture

John Stackhouse–Eminent Scientist Stephen Hawking Concludes God Doesn’t Exist—Again

The God of the Christian Bible could certainly have created the world through the Big Bang. And, as many theologians and scientists have agreed ever since Darwin published The Origin of Species, God could have supervised evolution to achieve God’s purposes in creation. What Darwin and Hawking seem to have concluded is merely that there is no convincing scientific proof of God performing a miracle at the start of the cosmos or at the genesis of each new kind of creature. But that conclusion isn’t much of an argument against God’s existence.

“We can’t find sure proof that God was definitely there” is hardly proof that God wasn’t there.

No, this final book of Hawking’s will persuade only those who don’t understand the problem. And it’s not a scientific problem, but the problem of evil: However the universe was formed, and however we ourselves got here as human beings, is there better reason than not to believe in God, and particularly the God of the Bible?

I have offered my best answer to that here, among the many other replies available. As Christmas approaches once more, this would be a good season to give that question, along with the interesting ones Professor Hawking was indeed qualified to answer, the attention it deserves.

Read it all.

Posted in Apologetics, Science & Technology, Theology

Archbp Welby speaks on religious intolerance+prejudice in the House of Lords

We have just heard the noble Lord, Lord Hain, set out many of the incidents at temples and gurdwaras, the abuse of people in the street and so on.
Freedom of belief and freedom of speech are fragile plants that need to be intertwined if they are to flourish. They are both menaced by the chill that comes from constraining their expression, except when freedom of speech is promoting hatred. They easily wither, as I have found in many of our churches across the 165 countries of the Anglican communion. We stand against that, through the Commonwealth and the United Nations, but it is the call of religious leaders to bring them together and stand up for them.
Free speech may well be robust, even humorous, as I discovered recently, when a friend of Mr Blobby described me in terms that I cannot use in this House. More politely, I and those on these Benches are often described as those who believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden. That kind of bluntness is good and proper. However, for it to work, there must be a context of what the noble Lord, Lord Sacks, describes in his books as a “culture of civility”. Today’s multifaith society means that we live in a context of diverse religious practice. For some, this is welcome and enriching—I put myself among them—while others find it strange and threatening. Whatever your views on that, it is clear that debate in Britain across a range of issues risks losing the gains we have made in the post-war period: gains of civility and respect. If you watch the news, read a newspaper or go on social media—let alone stand up against right-wing, fascist and other extremist activity, as the noble Lord, Lord Hain, has done throughout his life—you will know that there is a notable absence of genuine dialogue and listening to different views.

I also wonder that, for all our rich Christian heritage in this country, as seen in our laws, practices and many of our values, the breadth of view which we tolerate has become less and less wide. There are many Christians with whom I disagree on the expression of their views in particular areas. There is a long history of Christians disagreeing with each other: Lambeth Palace has a prison for this. It has not been in recent use, although I am from time to time tempted. However, even where I disagree, I want to uphold the right of these people to say things that are neither fashionable nor conventional today. That has certainly been examined in the Supreme Court recently, through the Ashers case. Again, although there might be things in that case that I would question, it is a thoughtful, erudite and profound examination of the intertwining of freedom of belief and freedom of expression.

There is an attitude—I think this is the underlying issue we face—that there are no absolutes, except the statement that there are no absolutes. That is an absolute. We are told that to criticise that statement that there are no absolutes is, in fact, to be an extremist. ​Certainly, as a Christian who believes in the love of God found in Jesus Christ, I have what some people would call absolute views. But almost every day I meet people who do not share those views. I thank God for those encounters, and for the people themselves, who deepen and enrich my understanding.

Jesus criticised directly, bluntly and forcefully, and was criticised himself. He answered his critics, yet he loved them. It is the last bit that we are missing. Love in that context is not a warm and cuddly feeling. What it means in practice is accepting that the other has as valuable a place as me and is fully part of the national fabric. This may be what is behind the trouble that the noble Lord, Lord Hain, explained so carefully: the sense that the people who are attacked, diminished and marginalised are, in some way, not considered to be fully British. Anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, anti-Hindu, anti-Sikh or other attacks have as a presupposition that only “my sort of person” is welcome here. Those who attack them require not just integration but assimilation, so that no difference is seen, but clearly that is impossible and the prospect of it is diminishing. Most religious belief demands a loyalty beyond country or group—a loyalty to ultimate truth. It says there are absolutes, and we should rejoice at them and listen to the narrative. Competitive narratives encourage developing traditions, secular or sacred.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Religion & Culture

An Alabama School goes the extra mile to acknowledge their custodian

Eugene Hinton can’t control his emotions after walking into the gym at an elementary school in Alabama.

He thought he was going to clean up a spill and instead got an awesome surprise from the kids and their teachers….

Read it all and watch the video.

Posted in Children, Education, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(CEN) Some Church of England Bishops reignite Church disputes over sexuality

They say that people must not ‘lose sight of our common, shared humanity’ and they call out‘the need for the church to offer a coherent, single ethic’.

“We are convinced that it is essential for LLFto clearly articulate and explore the traditional teaching of the Anglican Communion,” they said.

They outlined three key demands: that sexual intercourse only take place in married settings, that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman and outside of that abstinence was the only stance the Church should recognise.

If Church leaders adopt these three positions, they can ensure church unity, they claim.

They add: “Our recent Anglican experience has made clear that our deep differences in this area make ‘walking together on the way’ not only a challenge ecumenically but within existing denominational structures.

“We therefore think it essential that, as part of providing teaching and learning, LLF must also help us consider the implications of these differences for our common life.”

But they acknowledge that adopting this position will be difficult for many, but any change of teaching or liturgy would also be difficult for others.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CT) Debunking the Myth that 81% of Evangelicals Voted for Donald Trump

The fact remains that many evangelical Trump voters were reluctant supporters. They voted according to their political values while choosing someone they thought could actually win. In doing so, they secured several key promises from the Trump campaign. As CNN religion reporter Daniel Burke said, “They backed the right candidate during the election. And now they’re reaping the dividends. … The president has delivered on the campaign promises he made [to evangelicals].”

Yet this close association with a thrice-married adulterer with a history of disturbing comments about women, immigrants, and more leads to the uncomfortable question evangelicals will probably wrestle with for years to come: Was it worth it?

Notably, about 1 in 3 American evangelicals by belief today is a person of color, whose views get overlooked in discussions about how white evangelicals voted. Overall, of those with an opinion, 3 out of 4 evangelicals by belief recognized that the 2016 election revealed political divides within the church that have existed for a long time. Yet even in the midst of so many divisions today, statistics continue to show that evangelicalism is growing numerically across the globe. The movement is succeeding despite our best efforts.

And our research may encourage those who fear the church’s reputation is beyond salvaging: Only 1 in 3 non-evangelicals told us that they see evangelicals as “too closely aligned with President Trump.” And only 1 in 4 told us their perception of evangelicals has worsened since the election.

Read it all.

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

Posted in America/U.S.A., Evangelicals, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture

(IIHS) Crashes rise in first states to begin legalized retail sales of recreational marijuana

Crashes are up by as much as 6 percent in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with neighboring states that haven’t legalized marijuana for recreational use, new research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) shows. The findings come as campaigns to decriminalize marijuana gain traction with voters and legislators in the U.S., and Canada begins allowing recreational use of marijuana this month.

The two new studies will be presented today at the Combating Alcohol- and Drug-Impaired Driving summit, hosted by IIHS and HLDI at the Vehicle Research Center. The summit brings together highway safety and law enforcement experts to discuss the prevalence and associated risk of alcohol- and drug-impaired driving, as well as strategies to combat impaired driving.

Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older with voter approval in November 2012. Retail sales began in January 2014 in Colorado and in July 2014 in Washington. Oregon voters approved legalized recreational marijuana in November 2014, and sales started in October 2015. Nevada voters approved recreational marijuana in November 2016, and retail sales began in July 2017.

HLDI analysts estimate that the frequency of collision claims per insured vehicle year rose a combined 6 percent following the start of retail sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, compared with the control states of Idaho, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. The combined-state analysis is based on collision loss data from January 2012 through October 2017.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, State Government, Theology, Travel

(CT Pastors) J Todd Billings and Stephen Shaffer–The Loneliness of the Pastor-Theologian

In many congregations, the discipline of theology is simply not valued. Congregations may like having a “smart pastor,” but they are unsure how his or her interest makes a difference in the church’s ministry. Theological study is often viewed with suspicion, a particular brand of nerdiness—the Baptist minister is a Spurgeon fan, the Catholic priest roots for Aquinas, and the Reformed pastor wears Jonathan Edwards t-shirts. Theology is all well and good—as long as it does not keep pastors from more important tasks.

In fact, with so many people to care for, sermons to write, skills to master, who can justify the slow work of reading theology (let alone reflecting or writing theologically)? There is no room for the church father Athanasius when marriages are falling apart, people are on hospice, and membership is shrinking.

It’s no wonder that so many pastors who feel the tug of theological reflection abandon it after a few months or a few years in the pastorate. So how can those with a vision and sense a calling to do theological work keep this vision and calling alive as they serve the local church?

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Saint Luke

Almighty God, who didst inspire thy servant Luke the physician to set forth in the Gospel the love and healing power of thy Son: Graciously continue in thy Church the like love and power to heal, to the praise and glory of thy Name; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Frank Colquhoun

O Heavenly Father, who hast taught us to show forth thy praise in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs: So fill us, we pray thee, with thy Spirit that we may make melody to thee both in our hearts and with our lives, evermore giving thee thanks for all things, in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer