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(Anglican Diocese of SC) South Carolina Supreme Court denies Petition for Writ of Prohibition by The Episcopal Church

The South Carolina Supreme Court announced yesterday that it has denied the Petition for a Writ of Prohibition submitted on February 21st by The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopal Church in South Carolina (TECSC), which sought to prevent Judge Edgar W. Dickson from ruling on the Diocese’s and parishes motion to clarify the Supreme Court’s earlier ruling. If granted, the petition would have prevented Judge Dickson from ruling on the case as he has indicated he was about to do. The Supreme Court’s order succinctly states: “Petitioners seek a Writ of Prohibition to prevent the circuit court from clarifying this Court’s decision in Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of S.C. v. Episcopal Church, 412 S.C. 211, 806 S.E. 2d 82 (2017). The petition is denied.”

This ruling by the Supreme Court allows Judge Dickson to proceed with clarifying the Court’s earlier August 2017 ruling, which was comprised of five separate opinions. That situation is unprecedented in the history of the court. This open-ended denial of the petition by the Supreme Court places no restrictions upon the appropriateness of Judge Dickson’s work in interpreting the meaning of the original ruling.

Ironically, this ruling comes almost exactly a year after TEC and TECSC filed a similar Petition with the high court for a Writ of Mandamus meant to force Judge Dickson to rule in the case. The Mandamus Petition asked the Supreme Court to require the Circuit Court to interpret the Supreme Court’s August 2, 2017 ruling favorably for TEC and TECSC. That petition was also denied by the Supreme Court in July of last year.

As before, the Prohibition Petition was an attempt to end run Judge Dickson’s exercise of his discretion in interpreting the August 2, 2017 decision in a manner that may differ from TEC and TECSC’s interpretation.

The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina welcomes this decision by the South Carolina Supreme Court affirming that the Circuit Court is the proper venue to resolve the many uncertain issues arising from the August 2, 2017 decision.

The Rev. Marcus Kaiser, President of the diocesan Standing Committee observed, “In this time, our focus is on caring for our people and praying for a world deeply rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, we are profoundly grateful that the Supreme Court has denied the request for a Writ of Prohibition, and hope this ruling helps move things along. We pray for Judge Dickson and the complex issues he has to deal with, even as we continue to focus on concerns far more pressing to most people.”

The brief in support of the motion by the Diocese to dismiss this Petition can be found on the Diocesan website, along with further background on the earlier Petition for Mandamus. The August 2, 2017, ruling by the Supreme Court may also be found here.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Stewardship, TEC Conflicts: South Carolina

(The Hill) New Jersey high school baseball coach, 30, dies of coronavirus after being released from the hospital

A 30-year-old high school baseball coach in New Jersey died Monday from the coronavirus after being discharged from the hospital.

News of Ben Luderer’s death was shared by Cliffside Park superintendent Michael Romagnino in a letter to families.

Read it all.

Posted in Uncategorized

(Local Paper) With 210 new coronavirus patients, South Carolina records 1,293 total cases and 26 deaths

South Carolina officials recorded hundreds more positive coronavirus cases Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,293 cases and 26 deaths.

The new numbers include 210 new positive test results, more than the state has announced in a single day since recording its first case March 6. Forty-eight of the newly identified patients live in Charleston County, according to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Four more patients died after contracting COVID-19. They were elderly residents of Anderson, Beaufort, Lee and Richland counties, DHEC said.

“Every day that we unfortunately have to report these losses is a reminder of how serious this situation is and the obligation we all have to help prevent the loss of additional South Carolinians,” said DHEC medical consultant Dr. Brannon Traxler. “Social distancing and staying home can help save lives.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

(NYT) If You Have Coronavirus Symptoms, Assume You Have the Illness, Even if You Test Negative

This is a real patient’s story. In fact, it is a lot of people’s story — at least some version of it. Across the world, people with signs and symptoms of Covid-19 are testing negative and wondering what it means. They are not showing up in the statistics, and they are left in limbo about what to do next.

The problem may be with the test. Current coronavirus tests may have a particularly high rate of missing infections. The good news is that the tests appear to be highly specific: If your test comes back positive, it is almost certain you have the infection.

The most common test to detect the coronavirus involves a process known as reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR, a jumble of words that describes a method capable of detecting virus particles that are generally present in respiratory secretions during the beginning of an infection. From a technical standpoint, under ideal conditions, these tests can detect small amounts of viral RNA.

In the real world, though, the experience can be quite different, and the virus can be missed. The best the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can say is that if you test negative, “you probably were not infected at the time your specimen was collected.” The key word there is “probably.”

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine

(Reformed Blogmatics) Renewing theological anthropology

In his contribution to The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology, Reinhard Hütter describes two approaches to the Christian life. One approach views God as standing behind the human being, with the world lying before him as his ultimate field of engagement. The other approach views the human being as standing before God, with the world coming to him as a gift from God’s fatherly hand in order that it, along with the human being, might ultimately be ordered to God.

In too many cases, contemporary Reformed and evangelical approaches to anthropology exhibit the former approach rather than the latter. Renewing theological anthropology will, above all, require recovering the latter approach, which locates human beings where they should be located: a little lower than the angels, over the animals, in Christ, in the presence of God, from whom and through whom and to whom are all things (Rom 11:36).

This, in the end, is the awe and wonder of what it means to be human. “What is man?” The psalmist asks. Following Scripture, the Westminster Shorter Catechism answers: man is the creature whose chief end it is “to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Stat News) Navigating the Covid-19 pandemic: We’re just clambering into a life raft. Dry land is far away

Imagine you are in a small boat far, far from shore. A surprise storm capsizes the boat and tosses you into the sea. You try to tame your panic, somehow find the boat’s flimsy but still floating life raft, and struggle into it. You catch your breath, look around, and try to think what to do next. Thinking clearly is hard to do after a near-drowning experience.

You do, though, realize two important things: First, the raft is saving your life for the moment and you need to stay in it until you have a better plan. Second, the raft is not a viable long-term option and you need to get to land.

In April 2020, the storm is the Covid-19 pandemic, the life raft is the combination of intense measures we are using to slow the spread of the virus, and dry land is the end to the pandemic.

Read it all.

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

Local Paper Editorial: Stay home, South Carolina. Together, we can get through the coronavirus pandemic

Assume that everyone you see is infected with the coronavirus.

If you absolutely must leave home, keep your distance from others. And limit where and how often you go.

Don’t touch anything you don’t have to outside your home. Don’t touch your face unless you just washed your hands.

Assume that you are one of the many people with symptomless COVID-19. Cough into your elbow, not your hands. If you don’t feel well, stay home….

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

A Graph of Current Coronavirus Cases in South Carolina

Posted in * South Carolina, Health & Medicine

A Prayer for the Feast Day of F.D. Maurice

Almighty God, who hast restored our human nature to heavenly glory through the perfect obedience of our Savior Jesus Christ: Keep alive in thy Church, we beseech thee, a passion for justice and truth; that we, like thy servant Federick Denison Maurice, may work and pray for the triumph of the kingdom of thy Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer

Richard of Chichester’s Prayer (in the Post below) in Music–Bob Chilcott – A Thanksgiving (King’s Singers & Concordia Choir)

Listen to it all and the composer’s website is there [I first learned of this through Preston Trombly].

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from Richard of Chichester

Thanks be to thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which thou hast given us, for all the pains and insults which thou hast borne for us. O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may we know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, now and for evermore.

Posted in Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Bible Readings

But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them.

–Mark 10:14-16

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(CT) Most Pastors Bracing for Months of Socially Distant Ministry

A new survey by Barna Research found over the course of just a week, most church leaders went from thinking they’d be back to meeting as usual in late or March or April (52%), to projecting the changes would extend to May or longer (68%).

“There is this realism that’s setting in,” said David Kinnaman, Barna Group president.

But while most pastors are realistic, they’re also optimistic, according to Kinnaman. “One of the cool things about pastors we’ve learned over the years is that they are by job description and by disposition more upbeat, positive, hope-filled people,” he said. “So they are often pretty capable of putting a good face in a tough situation, and they, like other leaders, are going to face a lot of tough decisions in the coming weeks as the crisis continues.”

Though most had already called off normal activities at church, pastors also implemented swift changes in policies around smaller group meetings over the past several days.

The percentage who still allow the church building to be used for “small meetings and gatherings” has dropped by about half (from 18% to 8%), according to Barna’s Church Pulse survey, hearing from 434 Protestant senior pastors and executive pastors in the US. A plurality say the church staff will be working remotely for the foreseeable future (up from 25% to 40%).

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Health & Medicine, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology

(9 Marks) Colton Corter–4 Reflections after Listening to 18 Hours of Sermons in America’s Biggest Churches

1. The gospel at best assumed; most of the time, it’s entirely absent.

Let me begin with the most important observation: in 36 sermons, the good news of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection was unclear 36 times. Often, some or all of these facets of the Christian gospel were left out. “No gospel” became a common note. (Here’s an answer to the question you’re probably asking: What content is necessary in order to communicate the gospel?)

I don’t mean to say various elements of the gospel weren’t occasionally mentioned; they were. Todd Mullins (Christ Fellowship Church) mentions in his sermon series, “What Do You See Next?, that faith is believing in what Jesus did for you—carrying the cross, rising from the dead, etc. But none of those elements are articulated or explained. It’s unclear exactly why we need Jesus to do anything for us. Furthermore, it’s unclear exactly what he did by doing the things Mullins mentions. Isolated phrases here and there without much reference to how the Bible puts them together was the norm.

In his sermon, “The Robe of Righteousness,” Robert Morris (Gateway Church) provides a happy exception. He mentions the doctrine of imputation, stating that we aren’t worthy of God and are in need of a “balancing (of our) . . . account.” Morris goes on to say that in the gospel we get Jesus’ assets while Jesus receives our debts. That’s as close to the gospel that any of these sermons gets—and even in this instance, the true things Morris mentions are isolated from the rest of the truths that make up the gospel message. (Neither God’s holy judgment, sin, nor repentance is mentioned.)

But here’s what’s even more disheartening: in his next sermon, Morris says the Jesus who accomplished all this for us “lays down all his divinity” (“The Ring of Authority). Conspicuously missing from Morris’ explanation of what he calls “substitutionary, propitiatory, blood-bought salvation” is the response one must have to this message in order to be saved, which leads us to our next observation.

2. Repentance rarely comes across as something urgent and necessary; instead, it’s either optional or not worth mentioning at all.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Christology, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

A paper from the London College of Bishops:The Eucharist in a time of Physical Distancing

Consistent with this position, we offer several options for parishes as long as the current physical distancing restrictions apply:

  1. Some parish churches may wish temporarily to suspend the celebration of Holy Communion until they are able to meet together in person again. We are already having to cease the practice of public Baptism for the duration due to the restrictions placed upon us, and so a church may choose to do the same with the other dominical sacrament. As one incumbent put it recently: “We will take this opportunity to fast from the Sacrament while we feast on the Word.”
  1. To ensure congregational involvement, where a parish church wishes to continue to celebrate the eucharist within the current advice issued by the London College of Bishops, and only the priest can be present, it should, whenever possible, be livestreamed, so that others can at least (as Cranmer put it) “see with our eyes” even if they cannot “smell with our noses, touch with our hands and taste with our mouths.” This enables the kind of spiritual reception that is at the heart of the sacrament, even if physical partaking is not possible.
  1. If that is not feasible, at the very least, it should be clearly advertised in the parish and among the congregation when the Holy Communion is to be celebrated in the home of the priest, with or without the presence of another member of that household. Such public advertising is insisted on in the ‘Exhortations’ in the BCP that are inserted between the Prayer for the Church Militant and the Confession. This way, others can be invited to pray and perhaps read the Scriptures at that time, so that the service takes place within some kind of extended communal act of worship in that parish, even if dispersed, and does not become merely a private act of devotion. Some prayers that would enable people to take part in such a celebration might be prepared.

Read it all.

Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology

The Latest Edition of the Diocese of South Carolina Enewsletter

Leftover supplies donated by The Anglican Diocese of South Carolina for Hurricane relief last year including 120 N95 respirators, 130 Tyvek suits and five boxes of exam gloves were donated to the Medical University of South Carolina this week. Hats off to Stephen Haynsworth, Diocesan Disaster Preparedness and Relief Coordinator, and Bill Anderson who took the supplies to the hospital.

Read it all.

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

(NYT) Restrictions Are Slowing Coronavirus Infections, New Data Suggest

Harsh measures, including stay-at-home orders and restaurant closures, are contributing to rapid drops in the numbers of fevers — a signal symptom of most coronavirus infections — recorded in states across the country, according to intriguing new data produced by a medical technology firm.

At least 248 million Americans in at least 29 states have been told to stay at home. It had seemed nearly impossible for public health officials to know how effective this measure and others have been in slowing the coronavirus.

But the new data offer evidence, in real time, that tight social-distancing restrictions may be working, potentially reducing hospital overcrowding and lowering death rates, experts said.

The company, Kinsa Health, which produces internet-connected thermometers, first created a national map of fever levels on March 22 and was able to spot the trend within a day. Since then, data from the health departments of New York State and Washington State have buttressed the finding, making it clear that social distancing is saving lives.

Read it all.

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

John Donne’s Batter My Heart for his Feast Day

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to’another due,
Labor to’admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly’I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me,’untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you’enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

–Holy Sonnet XIV

Posted in Church History, Poetry & Literature, Theology

(CH) John Donne–Thanksgiving in the Midst of Fear

These poems speak, as [Philip] Yancey says, to “the guilt and fear and helpless faith that marked [Donne’s] darkest days.” They also answer one of the toughest questions we can face, “In the midst of plague times, how can we give thanks?”

Here are the three poems excerpted by Yancey, with his clarifying revisions of Donne’s eighteenth-century language…

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Poetry & Literature, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Donne

Almighty God, the root and fountain of all being: Open our eyes to see, with thy servant John Donne, that whatsoever hath any being is a mirror in which we may behold thee; 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, Spirituality/Prayer

A Prayer to Begin the Day from the Scottish Prayer Book

O God, who by the cross and passion of thy Son Jesus Christ didst save and deliver mankind: Grant that by steadfast faith in the merits of that holy sacrifice we may find help and salvation, and may triumph in the power of his victory; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Posted in Lent, Spirituality/Prayer

From the Morning Scripture Readings

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From whence does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, he who keeps you will not slumber.

–Psalm 121:1-3

Posted in Theology: Scripture

(Al Mohler) Obedience to God and Love of Neighbor in the Face of a Coronavirus: A Christian’s Mandate

But then, quite unexpectedly, Jesus said, “The second greatest commandment is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We should note that Jesus drew this from the book of Leviticus 19:18. The very same Book of Leviticus that included the quarantine of the diseased.

Love of neighbor means that we would not do anything to compromise, weaken, or endanger our neighbor—and that certainly includes our neighbor’s physical health. Applying all of these passages—Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Matthew, and Romans—we come to understand that faithfulness today means full and unwavering compliance with all rightful orders seeking to control the spread of COVID-19.

Interestingly, the command to “love your neighbor” ends with two words of enormous significance: “as yourself.” We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. Often, we are told to not think about ourselves—that true virtue is found in self-sacrifice and having no regard for our own lives. That is true, but in this command from the words of Jesus himself, we are told to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Actually, endangering ourselves also endangers others. We regard our own lives, so we must regard the lives of others. We protect our lives, so we protect the lives of others. In the context of this pandemic, if we do not comply with the government’s guidelines and fall ill, then someone will have to take care of us. We will tie up resources, time, and put others at risk of catching what could be for some people a deadly virus. Furthermore, we are not able to contribute to the commonweal—to the larger community.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Pastoral Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Stat News) Biotech VC Bob Nelsen called it right on the coronavirus. Now he has thoughts on therapeutics — and masks

How do we get through this pandemic?

Social distancing is number one; contact tracing and antibody testing are number two; and therapeutics in the fall are number three. And then vaccines. We’re going to be fine. And I know this because the Chinese are asking me all kinds of questions about business stuff that I don’t want to answer because we’re in the middle of a pandemic.

Read it all.

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

Some Very encouraging news on Steve Wood

Posted in * South Carolina, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Health & Medicine

(60 minutes) “Beyond Anything I’ve Seen In My Career”: Doctors On The Front Lines Describe Surge In Coronavirus Patients

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan is chief of critical care at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, one of 23 hospitals in the Northwell Health System.

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: I have 18 beds in one ICU full of people on ventilators, completely sedated unable to open their eyes or interact or talk to their families. And we are feeding them through tubes, and we are completely keeping them paralyzed so that we can properly ventilate them. It’s our sickest patients, and they’re in every single room of our ICU.

The pictures in our story were shot for us by hospital staff. By the end of this past week, New York City hospitals admitted more than 5,000 COVID-19 patients. At Northwell Health hospitals, about a third of COVID-19 patients go to intensive care, often suddenly.

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: Very quickly, within hours. They walk into the hospital, talking, or into an urgent care. And 12 hours later they’re on a ventilator, fighting for their life.

Scott Pelley: Is that unusual?

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: Very unusual. Very unusual. We don’t see that course in progression like this with any other disease that we deal with.

Scott Pelley: How long are they staying in the ICU?

Dr. Mangala Narasimhan: Much longer than our normal patients are. Normal patients, we have three or four days of ICU stay and they leave. These patients, and this is consistent with China and with what Italy is seeing, take about two weeks on a ventilator before they can come off, if they come off.

Read or watch it all (video highly recommended as it will have more impact).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

(Time) Tom Wright–Christianity Offers No Answers About the Coronavirus. It’s Not Supposed To

The point of lament, woven thus into the fabric of the biblical tradition, is not just that it’s an outlet for our frustration, sorrow, loneliness and sheer inability to understand what is happening or why. The mystery of the biblical story is that God also laments. Some Christians like to think of God as above all that, knowing everything, in charge of everything, calm and unaffected by the troubles in his world. That’s not the picture we get in the Bible.

God was grieved to his heart, Genesis declares, over the violent wickedness of his human creatures. He was devastated when his own bride, the people of Israel, turned away from him. And when God came back to his people in person—the story of Jesus is meaningless unless that’s what it’s about—he wept at the tomb of his friend. St. Paul speaks of the Holy Spirit “groaning” within us, as we ourselves groan within the pain of the whole creation. The ancient doctrine of the Trinity teaches us to recognize the One God in the tears of Jesus and the anguish of the Spirit.

Read it all.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Theodicy

Uplifting music–so needed–from South Africa

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, South Africa

(NYT) Coronavirus Slowdown in Seattle Suggests Restrictions Are Working

The Seattle area, home of the first known coronavirus case in the United States and the place where the virus claimed 37 of its first 50 victims, is now seeing evidence that strict containment strategies, imposed in the earliest days of the outbreak, are beginning to pay off — at least for now.

Deaths are not rising as fast as they are in other states. Dramatic declines in street traffic show that people are staying home. Hospitals have so far not been overwhelmed. And preliminary statistical models provided to public officials in Washington State suggest that the spread of the virus has slowed in the Seattle area in recent days.

While each infected person was spreading the virus to an average of 2.7 other people earlier in March, that number appears to have dropped, with one projection suggesting that it was now down to 1.4.

The researchers who are preparing the latest projections, led by the Institute for Disease Modeling, a private research group in Bellevue, Wash., have been watching a variety of data points since the onset of the outbreak. They include tens of thousands of coronavirus test results, deaths, and mobility information — including traffic patterns and the movements of anonymous Facebook users — to estimate the rate at which coronavirus patients are spreading the disease to others.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Health & Medicine, Urban/City Life and Issues

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Innocent of Alaska

Holy Immortal One, who didst bless thy people by calling Innocent from leading thy Church in Russia to be an apostle and light to the people of Alaska, and to proclaim the dispensation and grace of God: Guide our steps, that as he didst labor humbly in danger and hardship, we may witness to the Gospel of Christ wherever we are led, and serve thee as gladly in privation as in power; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, to the ages of ages. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Spirituality/Prayer