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(CT) Are Empty Pews an American Public Health Crisis?

Glass’s case might be a dramatic one, but it illustrates a documented pattern in our society: People find their social and personal lives improved—sometimes their lives are even physically saved—when they go to church often.

In 2019, Gallup reported that only 36 percent of Americans view organized religion with “a great deal of confidence,” down from 68 percent in 1975. The study’s authors speculate that this trend has been driven in part by the highly publicized moral failures and crimes of religious institutions and leaders.

The decline in confidence in churches has been accompanied by steep recent declines in both church membership and attendance. Barna Group found that 10 years ago, in 2011, 43 percent of Americans said they went to church every week. By February of 2020, that had dropped 14 percentage points to 29 percent.

But when Americans describe the reasons they seldom or never attend church, scandals don’t get top billing. Instead, people who think of themselves as Christians are more likely to say that they practice their faith in other ways (44 percent) or that there’s something they don’t like about the service (38 percent).

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(VM News) Archdeacon Mark Ireland–Now is Not The Time to Cut Clergy Posts!

In a recent book (Making New Disciples, 2015) Mike Booker and I quoted a remarkable statistic that 40% of fresh expressions of church are led by lay people with no formal training or authorisation. However potential lay ministers need clergy with time to recognise their gifts, encourage their vocation and invest in their training and development. As an incumbent a major part of my time was spent discipling individuals and growing new leaders, but when I focused on that I never worked myself out of a job. Instead, the church grew and I was as busy as ever!

What’s more, freezing recruitment of parish clergy doesn’t make sense in spiritual terms.

We have been praying and working for a 50% increase in vocations. Just when God seems to be answering our prayers and the number of vocations is increasing, we should be prayerfully trusting God to provide the finance to enable us to deploy these priests. What other organisation would go to the trouble and expense of recruiting and training new staff, only to tell them at the end of their trainee post that there was no job for them?

Freezing recruitment also stifles the work of the Holy Spirit by hampering the growth of fresh expressions of church. Church plants sometimes grow to the size where they can no longer be sustained by volunteers. This is exactly the time when bold investment is needed to help the congregation transition to a paid priest. Such posts have potential to become self-supporting in time. However, if dioceses do not release funds at this point to pay a stipendiary priest the growth that the Spirit has given is I believe stifled and decline follows.

And it doesn’t make sense on financial grounds.

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, England / UK, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship

(WSJ) Writer Liu Cixin On How His Visions Of The Future Collide With Reality

What is the biggest technological shift we’ll see in the future?

It’s definitely going to be artificial intelligence. I don’t think AI will overtake humans in the short term, but it will have a profound impact on society. Recently, I stayed at a hotel near Beijing, and I didn’t encounter a single human worker during my stay. From checking in to ordering takeout, there wasn’t a single human interaction, everything was done on apps and with AI-powered bots.

This is more and more common in China. I used to think that AI would displace simple and repetitive jobs, but now I think the opposite: It will replace more “senior” positions like doctors, lawyers, teachers and stock analysts. On the other hand, it’s the jobs that are more labor intensive that will be harder to replace. I renovated my house recently, and needed an electrician to rewire the entire living room. I really can’t see a situation where AI can replace that kind of a job in the short term.

But AI’s effect on people will be sweeping, and an issue we will have to grapple with in the very near future. We’re past the agricultural and industrial age and firmly stepped into the era of AI.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, China, Globalization, Poetry & Literature, Science & Technology

(Independent) From Chris Packham to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 7 people on what COP26 actually needs to achieve

“COP26 will bring leaders together from all around the world: my prayer is that this will be a microcosm of the leadership through partnership that is so urgently needed if we want to make real progress towards our climate goals.

“Climate change is an issue of justice and responsibility – we will need to persuade people to make harder choices that focus not just on financial return but social good, generating mutually beneficial results for people and planet.

“We need genuine agreement churches, business, communities and governments all need to work together against the common enemy of climate change and environmental and biodiversity degradation.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Stewardship

(Washington Post) Spanish prime minister vows to abolish prostitution, saying it ‘enslaves’ women

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has promised to abolish prostitution in the country, saying it “enslaves” women.

Speaking at a three-day congress of his ruling Socialist Workers’ Party on Sunday, Sánchez vowed to move ahead with a pledge to outlaw prostitution that was part of his leftist party’s election manifesto in 2019. The manifesto called prostitution “one of the cruelest aspects of the feminization of poverty and one of the worst forms of violence against women.”

Prostitution has boomed in Spain since the practice was decriminalized in 1995; a 2011 U.N. report cited Spain as the third-biggest capital of prostitution in the world, behind Thailand and Puerto Rico, and it has made a name for itself as the brothel of Europe. Recent estimates put revenue from Spain’s domestic sex trade at $26.5 billion a year, with as many as 300,000 people working in the industry.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Politics in General, Sexuality, Spain, Women

(Gallup) Americans Revert to Favoring Reduced Government Role

Americans have shifted back to favoring a more hands-off approach for government in addressing the nation’s problems after a rare endorsement of a more active role last year. Currently, 52% say the government is doing too many things that should be left to individuals and businesses, while 43% want the government to do more to solve the country’s problems. In contrast, a record-high 54% of U.S. adults last year said the government should do more to solve problems.

Gallup’s question on the proper government role is asked as part of its annual Governance survey, conducted Sept. 1-17 this year. The shift toward favoring a more active government role in 2020 was seen among Democrats and independents but not Republicans — likely a response to the coronavirus pandemic and in particular to then-President Donald Trump’s approach to handling it. Trump generally opposed government efforts designed to slow the spread of the virus, such as face mask requirements and business and school closures.

Last year marked only the second time in Gallup’s 29-year trend that at least half of Americans endorsed an active role for the government on this item. The other pro-government response came in the weeks after the 9/11 terror attacks amid heightened concern about terrorism and a surge in trust in government.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Politics in General

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 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

From the Morning Bible Readings

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory.

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

–1 Corinthians 15:41-50

Posted in Theology: Scripture

The Archbishop of York writes about his Friend, Sir David Amess, RIP

He and I did not see eye to eye on some political issues. But this didn’t matter. Or rather, the fact that it doesn’t matter matters hugely for the flourishing of our democracy. Disagreement wasn’t a cause of enmity or division. Disagreement didn’t mean separation. Yet it is precisely this that we see around us in so much of the trench warfare of current public and political discourse, the vitriolic and ever amplifying echo-chambers of social media now invading other areas of life.

How do we counter this?

David Amess was a kind man.

The word kind is related to the word kin. When we are kind to someone, it doesn’t mean we necessarily agree with them, or even like them, but that we recognise a kinship, a common humanity and treat them accordingly; or as we sometimes say, ‘treat them in kind.’

David’s robust kindness came from his Christian faith. He was a devout Christian, a Roman Catholic. But the idea that we human beings belong to one another and have a responsibility to each other is not self evident. Observation of our behaviour and attitudes shows us the opposite. Our worst desires can be seen everywhere, leading us to separation, fuelled by selfishness, and bearing fruit in hatefulness and the possession of each other.

The picture of humanity that God gives us in Jesus Christ offers something else. In this regard, perhaps the most radical words Jesus ever spoke are the ones most of us know and many of us say every day: ‘Our Father’. In saying these words we don’t just acknowledge we belong to God, we acknowledge our belonging to each other as kith and kin.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(WSJ) As Afghanistan Sinks Into Destitution, Some Sell Children to Survive

Desperate to feed her family, Saleha, a housecleaner here in western Afghanistan, has incurred such an insurmountable debt that the only way she sees out is to hand over her 3-year-old daughter, Najiba, to the man who lent her the money.

The debt is $550.

Saleha, a 40-year-old mother of six who goes by one name, earns 70 cents a day cleaning homes in a wealthier neighborhood of Herat. Her much older husband doesn’t have any work.

Such is the starkness of deepening poverty in Afghanistan, a humanitarian crisis that is worsening fast after the Taliban seized power on Aug. 15, prompting the U.S. to freeze $9 billion in Afghan central-bank assets and causing a halt in most foreign aid.

Read it all.

Posted in Afghanistan, America/U.S.A., Asia, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Poverty, War in Afghanistan

(CT CS) Is Texting the Next Big Thing for Churches?

“A simple ‘I love you! Thanks for getting up with the baby last night’ can do wonders for my mood,” says Carla Wiking in “How Texting Has Improved my Marriage.” Though she was initially resistant to embracing texting as more than a way to send succinct updates, Wiking now sees it as an important third party in her marriage. For Wiking, texting offers vital connection: “I feel appreciated and thought of, which can be extra nice on long lonely days caring for kids at home.” Because of its connective power, texting can smooth and soften in ways other mediums may not. “We aren’t simply better coordinated,” writes Wiking. “We feel more love and appreciation and joy. Who knew a tiny keyboard could do all that?”

Healthier marriages aren’t the only beneficiary of SMS (Short Message Service). Hannah Natanson reports in The Washington Post that texting has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on our healthcare system, lowering communication hurdles and increasing provider availability. Natanson notes that texting allows hospitals and doctors’ offices to gather more accurate patient history, and instant-response crisis text lines provide support for individuals facing acute mental-health crises.

The opportunity to text with medical professionals offers a life-changing difference for many people. Jeffrey Millstein, Anish Agarwal and Lillian Sun—a primary care physician, an ER physician, and a medical student—wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer that they “constantly combine hands-on care with digital technology” in their work with patients. Texting is growing to be the most accessible form of communication as “font size can be adjusted for those who are visually impaired, and voice commands through digital assistants such as Siri can be used if vision or finger dexterity are limitations.” All these features, especially when combined with texting’s ability to overcome language barriers via translations apps, make it easier to contact patients of every age, background, and income level.

Even while relationships and businesses benefit from this new touchpoint, people still want more texts. 75 percent of clients say that they would like to receive offers via SMS, but only 30 percent frequent businesses that offer this service.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Language, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Theology

(Local Paper) South Carolina Teacher survey shows educators struggled with school leadership, added work last year

A South Carolina teacher exit survey revealed many of the state’s educators struggled to find reasons to stay in their jobs last year because of concerns with school leadership, their workload and other COVID-related conditions.

Last month, the South Carolina Teacher Education Advancement Consortium released the results of a 2020-21 exit survey revealing why teachers in five school districts across the Midlands region decided to leave their jobs. The survey comes a year after the Center for Education Recruitment, Retention & Advancement found nearly 6,000 teachers left their jobs over the 2019-20 school year.

The survey, which was conducted anonymously, asked 224 teachers about their level of experience, reasons for leaving and plans going forward. Most respondents said a desire to move or take an early retirement were the top reasons they left their jobs. Some 14 percent indicated they were dissatisfied with the school administration and leadership.

The survey also asked teachers how the COVID-19 pandemic factored into their decision to leave. The results showed the consequences of the virus, including added workload, an inability to connect with students and a lack of support from the community, pushed more people out of their jobs than safety concerns surrounding the virus itself.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Education, Health & Medicine

(NYT) Threats, Resignations and 100 New Laws: Why Public Health Is in Crisis

As she leaves work, Dr. Allison Berry keeps a vigilant eye on her rearview mirror, watching the vehicles around her, weighing if she needs to take a more circuitous route home. She must make sure nobody finds out where she lives.

When the pandemic first hit the northern edge of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, Dr. Berry was a popular family physician and local health officer, trained in biostatistics and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University. She processed Covid-19 test kits in her garage and delivered supplies to people in quarantine, leading a mobilization that kept her counties with some of the fewest deaths in the nation.

But this summer, as a Delta variant wave pushed case numbers to alarming levels, Dr. Berry announced a mask mandate. In September, she ordered vaccination requirements for indoor dining.

By then, to many in the community, the enemy was not the virus. It was her.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine

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 Christina Rossetti

O Lord God of time and eternity, who makest us creatures of time that, when time is over, we may attain thy blessed eternity: With time, thy gift, give us also wisdom to redeem the time, lest our day of grace be lost; for our Lord Jesus’ sake.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

To thee, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in thee I trust,
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
Yea, let none that wait for thee be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know thy ways, O Lord;
teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me,
for thou art the God of my salvation;
for thee I wait all the day long.

–Psalm 25:1-4

Posted in Theology: Scripture

The Rector of Holy Cross Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, writes the parish

Dear Holy Cross Family,

I’m pleased to tell you that the Very Rev. Chip Edgar was elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina today during a special Electing Convention held at Christ Church in Mt. Pleasant. Pending approval by the Anglican Church in North America’s College of Bishops, who will meet in January 2022, Reverend Edgar will be in line to succeed Bishop Mark Lawrence who has served as the Diocesan Bishop since January of 2008.

You can read the official announcement from the Diocese HERE.

While it stings a bit that I was not selected, I’m thrilled that I will continue with my beloved Holy Cross. It is a joy and honor to be your Rector and I’m very hopeful about what’s ahead for us. The best is surely yet to come.

Given that this has been a long and taxing process, I’m excited to say that Catherine and I will be taking a few days vacation to recoup and pray. When we return, we’ll continue making disciples who make disciples of others.

–The Rev. Chris Warner is rector, Holy Cross, Sullivan’s Island, SC

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

A Prayer to Begin the Day from E. M. Goulburn

O Blessed Jesus, who hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, and hast consecrated us in baptism to be temples of the Holy Ghost: Make us, we beseech thee, both in body and soul, meet for thy dwelling place; that our hearts may be houses of prayer and praise, of pure desires and holy thoughts of thee, whose we are and whom we serve, and to whom be glory, now and for evermore.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens,
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his host!

Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them for ever and ever;
he fixed their bounds which cannot be passed.

–Psalm 148:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

Chip Edgar Elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

Today, during a special Electing Convention held at Christ Church in Mt. Pleasant, the Very Rev. Chip Edgar was elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. Pending approval by the Anglican Church in North America’s College of Bishops, who will meet in January 2022, Edgar will be in line to succeed Bishop Mark Lawrence who has served as the Diocesan Bishop since January of 2008.

“You have bestowed a trust in me and I promise I will do everything I possibly can to live in to that trust,” said Edgar, following the election. “I am deeply, deeply humbled.” Quoting Second Samuel he said, “Who am I that you have brought me this far? And who is my family?” I trust this is the Lord’s will for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina and this is the Lord’s will for me and for my family… I covet your prayers. From this point forward I covet your prayers. Thank you very much.”

Once consecrated as Bishop Coadjutor, in March of 2022, Edgar will, for a season, serve alongside Bishop Lawrence….

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley and Thomas Cranmer

Keep us, O Lord, constant in faith and zealous in witness, after the examples of thy servants Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, and Thomas Cranmer; that we may live in thy fear, die in thy favor, and rest in thy peace; for the sake of Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day for the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina

Almighty God, giver of every good gift: Look graciously on your Church, and so guide the minds of those who shall choose a Bishop for this Diocese that we may receive a faithful pastor who will preach the Gospel, care for your people, equip us for ministry, and lead us forth in fulfillment of the Great Commission; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

Now I know that the LORD will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand. Some boast of chariots, and some of horses; but we boast of the name of the LORD our God. They will collapse and fall; but we shall rise and stand upright. Give victory to the king, O LORD; answer us when we call.

–Psalm 20:6-9

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Washington Post front page) College students struggle with mental health as pandemic drags on

People handed flowers to strangers on campus this week, and wrote encouraging notes in chalk. Students played with baby goats and tail-wagging dogs brought in to comfort them. Classes were canceled Tuesday, pop-up counseling centers appeared in dorms and concerned parents brought cookies and hugs to campus.

It has been a week of grief and disbelief at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There have been reports of two deaths by suicide since the semester began, according to the university, and an attempted suicide last weekend that prompted an outpouring of sadness and worry.

The reasons behind any suicide are complex, and little is publicly known about these deaths. But the response on the Chapel Hill campus has been immediate and intense. And it has resonated nationally, coming at a time when many young people are feeling particularly burdened.

College students nationwide are more stressed — with the coronavirus pandemic adding loneliness, worry about illness, economic distress, relentless uncertainty and churn to a time of life that is already challenging for many. Demand for mental health services had already been high, but a recent study of college students found increased levels of anxiety and isolation during the pandemic.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Theology, Young Adults

Archbp Foley Beach writes about Michael Nazir-Ali’s decision to join the Roman Catholic Church

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecumenical Relations, GAFCON, Roman Catholic

(AP) New wind farms would dot US coastlines, including Carolinas, under Biden plan

Seven major offshore wind farms would be developed on the East and West coasts and in the Gulf of Mexico under a plan announced Wednesday by the Biden administration.

The projects are part of President Joe Biden’s plan to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030, generating enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said her department hopes to hold lease sales by 2025 off the coasts of Maine, New York and the mid-Atlantic, as well as the Carolinas, California, Oregon and the Gulf of Mexico. The projects are part of Biden’s plan to address global warming and could avoid about 78 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, while creating up to 77,000 jobs, officials said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Ecology, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, President Joe Biden, Science & Technology

(NYT front page)–Hopes Are Rising As Brutal Surge Starts To Recede

After a brutal summer surge, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, the coronavirus is again in retreat.

The United States is recording roughly 90,000 new infections a day, down more than 40 percent since August. Hospitalizations and deaths are falling, too.

The crisis is not over everywhere — the situation in Alaska is particularly dire — but nationally, the trend is clear, and hopes are rising that the worst is finally behind us.

Again.

Over the past two years, the pandemic has crashed over the country in waves, inundating hospitals and then receding, only to return after Americans let their guard down.

Read it all (the headline is from the print edition).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Teresa of Avila

O God, who by thy Holy Spirit didst move Teresa of Avila to manifest to thy Church the way of perfection: Grant us, we beseech thee, to be nourished by her excellent teaching, and enkindle within us a lively and unquenchable longing for true holiness; through Jesus Christ, the joy of loving hearts, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, for ever and ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Please pray for the Election Convention of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina tomorrow

From there:

We’re days away from our Electing Convention and have just a few reminders:

1) Only one delegate from each parish or mission will be seated inside the sanctuary with the clergy – this is in response to a request for social-distancing protocols. Remaining delegates will be seated outdoors under a tent with access to the live-streamed meeting.

2) The Convention will be live-streamed from this link.

2) Masks must be worn inside throughout the convention, except for those who are speaking from the podium microphone.

3) Following registration we will have a service of Holy Eucharist. After the election and brief response from our Bishop Coadjutor Elect, we will enjoy a celebratory luncheon on the grounds.

4) View the video below for an explanation of how votes are tabulated.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Parish Ministry