Saturday, August 23, 2014

Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy

From The Atlantic-

For someone seeking a full-time job as a church pastor, Justin Barringer would seem to have the perfect résumé. He’s a seminary grad, an author and book editor, and a former missionary to China and Greece. But despite applying to nearly a hundred jobs over the course of two years, Barringer, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, could not secure a full-time, salaried church position.

So he splits his time among three jobs, working as a freelance editor, an employee at a nonprofit for the homeless, and a part-time assistant pastor at a United Methodist Church. “I am not mad at the church,” Barringer says. “However, I wish someone had advised me against taking on so much debt in order to be trained for ministry.”


For example, the Episcopal Church has reported that the retirement rate of its clergy exceeds the ordination rate by 43 percent. And last year, an article from an official publication of the Presbyterian Church wondered if full-time pastors are becoming an "endangered species."

More here-

What Pope Francis really said about the crisis in Iraq

From Vox-

As my colleague Max Fisher noted yesterday, Pope Francis recently commented on US military actions against ISIS. The question put to Francis was straightforward: "do you approve [of] the American bombing?" This is obviously tricky for Francis to answer, given his continued commitment to peace and his condemnation of war and violence. But Francis' answer surprised people. Here's what he said:

Thanks for such a clear question. In these cases where there is an unjust aggression, I can only say this: it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underline the verb: stop. I do not say bomb, make war, I say stop by some means. With what means can they be stopped? These have to be evaluated. To stop the unjust aggressor is licit.

Francis said that stopping an aggressor who is acting unjustly is a licit, or lawful, thing to do. It's important to note that calling an activity lawful is not the same as endorsing that activity, or encouraging it. Saying something is lawful is simply to say it is permissible. It is not saying it is desirable. Notably, Pope Francis reiterated that the emphasis of his statement was on the word "stop" — which, as he clarified, need not be achieved by bombs or wars.

More here-

Young people appear less interested in organized worship

From Nevada-

Call them the None of the Above Generation … religiously speaking.

Not godless, per se. Perhaps even God-fearing. Just not eager to wear a label other than that of secular individualist.

Such is the trend among Millennials — described most often as those born after 1980 — if polls during the past few years are on target.

In 2012, a Pew Research Center study found that young adults are less religious than any other age group, with nearly a third declining to affiliate with any organized religion. They’re also less devout than previous generations were at the same point in their lives.

In April, the American Bible Society sounded an alarm when it released its annual “State of the Bible” survey. Among the findings, percentagewise, about Millennials compared with adults overall: They are less likely to consider the Bible sacred literature (64 percent versus 79 percent); to “believe the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to lead a meaningful life” (35 percent versus 50 percent); or even read the Bible (26 percent versus 39 percent).

More here-

Women priests are a gift to the church

From Danbury CT-

A number of years ago, in a different community where I served as a priest, I was able to lead a study on the then-popular book "The Shack" by William Young.

Rather than having it at my church, where some might feel uncomfortable, we held it at the local public library. There were, in fact, people from different beliefs present in that setting.

One woman whom I had never met before was being exceptionally critical of "the church," because women could not hold positions of authority. I explained to her that while that was true in some traditions, it was not true in the Episcopal Church.

More here-

Friday, August 22, 2014

Senator to lead third church

From West Virginia-

To say Sen. John Unger has many irons in the fire could be an understatement.

Unger, D-Jefferson, serves as Senate majority leader and as pastor of two Eastern Panhandle churches. Beginning Sunday, he’ll officially become pastor of a third congregation. All churches represent separate denominations — Lutheran, Episcopalian and United Methodist.

That makes for a busy Sunday.

“At 8 a.m., I have the Episcopal service, then at 9:30 is the service at the Lutheran church, then 11:30 is the service at Bolivar United Methodist Church,” Unger said.

While several pastors may preside over different churches or offer several services each week, no one in Unger’s research has led three different congregations. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has entered into full communion agreements with the Episcopal and United Methodist churches. That means congregations may share clergy, worship together and serve in the community together while maintaining their identity.

- See more at:

Smartphones at weddings: Should couples ask guests to document their big day on social media?

From The Globe and Mail-

If they forgot, the bridesmaids and groomsmen could always check their socks.

On the bottom of this customized, polka-dot hosiery, bride and groom Lauren and Ryan Cohen had printed some vital information for their wedding this past June: #RyLovesLoLo. It was the hashtag the couple had picked for their nuptials – “Lolo” being Lauren’s nickname. Guests were encouraged to amass snapshots and videos to post to social media under this hashtag, documenting for the busy bride and groom how their big day was unfolding in “real time,” as the bride put it.

More here-

Congo Anglicans re-elect Henri Isingoma as Primate

From Anglican News-

Congo Anglicans have re-elected the Most Revd Henri Isingoma as Primate of the Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo, giving him the mandate to lead the church there for another five years.

In an exclusive interview with ACNS today, Archbishop Isingoma said the re-election gives him an opportunity to continue with the various activities, projects and policies meant to develop the church.

“For instance, we need to revisit our Church’s constitution and adapt it to the realities on the ground,” he said. “We also need to work on restoring and promoting good relationships with other churches in the Anglican Communion and other denominations.”

More here-

We Need More Than Liturgy

From Christianity Today-

I’ll give another example. This time I’ll pick on my own communion, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA). Its bishops recently approved a new liturgy highlighting an older rite that calls congregants to recognize any unfinished business and to ask and grant forgiveness of one another before Communion. I find this a wonderful retrieval, as it beautifully captures the stress Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians gives to waiting for and discerning each other as the Body of Christ. But does this not require ACNA’s leaders to make peace with the Episcopal Church it departed from, often in very unhappy circumstances? If not, why not? How can the confession rite form the denomination from here on out, especially if its applicability is already considered conditional? Are these good and just forms, and will decision-makers hold themselves accountable to the people?

More here-

'Some are too traumatised to speak': Bishop pleads for South Sudan

From The Church Times-

WOMEN in South Sudan are crying "day and night, their children are dying at their hands", while their leaders put their personal interests first, a South Sudanese bishop said on Wednesday.

The Assistant Bishop of Juba, the Rt Revd Fraser Yugu, was one of eight senior clerics from South Sudan in the UK this week, under the aegis of the Barnabas Fund, to launch the United Christian Emergency Committee for South Sudan (UCEC), a cross-denominational group seeking to tackle the humanitarian and leadership crises.

An appeal from UCEC on Wednesday warned that: "Our future is being undermined as our children are being devastated." Its programme includes humanitarian relief, reconciliation, and the establishment of a college to train "responsible leaders".

More here-

Diocese: No ALS challenge

From Ohio-

A Roman Catholic diocese in Ohio is discouraging its 113 schools from participating in the ice bucket challenge to benefit the ALS Association, saying the group’s funding of embryonic stem cell research is “in direct conflict with Catholic teaching.”

Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, told the schools in a letter Tuesday to “immediately cease” any plans to raise funds for the association or to instead direct donations to another organization that combats ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease that causes paralysis and almost certain death.

The Catholic Church relates the use of embryonic stem cells in research to abortion and says it violates the sanctity of human life. The use of adult stem cells in research is not forbidden by Catholic teaching.

More here-

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Being at One With Desmond Tutu

From Huffington-

It's almost like being on the side of the angels, claiming kinship-by-association with Desmond Tutu. Ever since the retired Anglican bishop, South African social activist, Nobel laureate and all-around pretty saintly gentleman came out in favor of this writer's cause, Death with Dignity, it's been a cause for celebration. Bishop Tutu's eloquent statement, published in The Guardian of July 12, was prompted by a bill currently under consideration by Britain's House of Lords - which has now gone farther than many had expected and may indeed become the law of the land in the Mother Country.

More here-

Requiescat: Bishop Wissemann

From The Living Church-

The Rt. Rev. Douglas Fisher, ninth Bishop of Western Massachusetts, announces the death of the diocese’s sixth bishop, the Rt. Rev. Andrew Frederick Wissemann, on Wednesday:

Bishop Wissemann served the people of this diocese with clarity of purpose and compassion during his eight-year episcopate. “A soft-spoken, self-effacing, scholarly man whose genuineness and sympathy were immediately apparent to all, he was, by gift and temperament, more inclined toward the pastoral model of a bishop than the lordly,” wrote diocesan historian Richard Nunley.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Church of Uganda top leaders meet

From Uganda-

The Provincial Assembly of Anglican Church in Uganda meets today (wednesday) at Nkoyoyo Hall at Uganda Christian University Mukono.

The meeting to be chaired by the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rt. Rev. Stanley Ntagali is under the theme “Be Transformed by the Renewal of your Mind.”  The Speaker of Parliament,  Rebecca Kadaga is expected to preside over the opening.
The Provincial Assembly is the supreme governing body for the Church of Uganda and meets every after two years.
It is the legislative body consisting of Houses of Laity, Clergy, Bishops, with each diocese sending representatives to each House. 

More here-

Anambra calms Anglicans protesting against church demolition

From Nigeria-

FOLLOWING the protest march organised by the Anglican church faithful in Onitsha on Monday, Anambra State government has called for calm, just as the police warned the community against violence.

   Anglican communion faithful had earlier given a seven-day ultimatum to Governor Willie Obiano (pictured) to rebuild their multi-million naira church building allegedly demolished by suspected agents of the state government late Monday night. They claimed that the demolished house has passed its roofing stage.

More here-

I'll have the ecumenical salad, please

From National Catholic Reporter-

Seated in the very last row at St. James Episcopal Cathedral in Chicago, I was able to hide my tears while watching my former colleague and good friend join the procession for his ordination to the diaconate. In January, he will become a priest in the U.S. branch of the Anglican church.
Yes, they were tears of happiness for him, and I was bursting with pride. Bryan is a brilliant scholar, a deeply spiritual person with the self-awareness and humility needed to be a good pastor, and the organizational skills to be a good administrator. He had worked hard to get to this moment, and I'm confident will continue to work hard to serve God and the church.

But my tears were also ones of sadness, because Bryan also attended a Catholic seminary earlier in his life and worked for a number of Catholic publications and organizations. For all the reasons he will make an excellent Episcopal priest, he could have been a great Catholic one.

More here-

The West must face the evil that has revealed itself in the Iraq genocide

From The Telegraph-

A beautiful mosaic of ancient religions, cultures and languages in the Middle East is being systematically destroyed. Until now, the world has watched mutely. When Muslims were threatened with genocide in Bosnia, the international community acted in concert to prevent the campaign against them developing into a full-scale pogrom. I went there myself, as part of an effort to bring relief supplies to all those who were affected. I was also present when millions of Afghan refugees poured into Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of that country. Once again, Western countries, Christian, Islamic and secular organisations were at the forefront of bringing relief to these people.

For years now the Christian, Mandaean, Yazidi and other ancient communities of Iraq, have been harried, bombed, exiled and massacred without anyone batting so much as an eyelid. Churches have been bombed, clergy kidnapped and murdered, shops and homes attacked and destroyed. This persecution has now been elevated to genocide by the advent of Isis. People are being beheaded, crucified, shot in cold blood and exiled to a waterless desert simply because of their religious beliefs.

More here-

Applications accepted for Episcopal Church delegates at 2015 United Nations meeting

From ENS-

Applications are being accepted for a provincial delegate and up to 20 churchwide delegates to represent The Episcopal Church at the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York City, March 9-20, 2015.

The provincial delegate and the churchwide delegates will be able to attend the official UNCSW proceedings at the UN and will represent The Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion in their advocacy at the UN, including joint advocacy with the group Ecumenical Women.

The 2015 UNCSW theme is a review of progress made in the implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Program for Action, 20 years after its adoption at the Fourth World Conference for Women in 1995.

More here-


From Religion Dispatches-

Around 2009 I started spending a lot of time around nuns. I was finishing a thesis for my masters over at NYU and the topic was how Catholic nuns used social media. I started traveling around the country to meet with nuns who blogged and tweeted.

Despite having gone to an all-girls Catholic high school I had just as many stereotypes of Catholic sisters as anyone does. But the nuns I met on the road began to shatter those stereotypes. They weren’t these stuffy, ruler-wielding automatons. They were independent bad-asses. And each of these bad-ass nuns led to another bad-ass nun. I would come back home from some of these trips and share their stories at dinner parties and people were just so surprised. They’d never heard of nuns doing so many amazing things. In fact, they hadn’t heard that much about nuns at all. That’s when I knew there were stories here that needed to be told.

More here-

Episcopal Church Sells Property of Breakaway Congregation to Baptist Group

 From Connecticut-

The Episcopal Church has sold off to a Baptist church a property once used by a congregation that broke away from the denomination over theological differences.

The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut sold the property formerly called Bishop Seabury Episcopal of Groton to a local Baptist church.

Stedfast Baptist Church, a congregation also located in Groton, purchased the property and last Friday made it their new home according to an Episcopal Church in Connecticut press release.

Bishop Seabury Anglican formerly owned the property, having left the Episcopal Church over the denomination's increasingly liberal theology, including on the issue of homosexuality.

More here-

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Vatican cricket team brace themselves for match at St Peter's

From The UK-

Vatican priests will be swapping their cassocks for cricket whites when they come to Brighton for a historic match.

Vatican-based St Peter’s Cricket Club will be playing their Brighton-based cricketing namesakes as part of a tour of England which will also see them challenge teams of royals, military chaplains and writers.

David Corney, chairman of the Preston Park-based St Peter’s Cricket Club, said the match next month will be the “most exciting event” in the club’s 131 year history.

More here-

Demolished property: Anambra community, Anglican Church’s feud deepens

From Nigeria-

The feud between Nkwelle-Ezunaka Community and Ebenezer Anglican Church over the ownership of Oyolu Oze Primary School, Oyolu Oze, Nkwelle-Ezunaka in Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State worsened yesterday, with both parties making different demands on each other.

Speaking after the general meeting of Nkelle-Ezunaka Community, the President-General, Elder Chris Eluemune, asked the Anglican Communion to immediately halt rebuilding of the school, which sparked off the crisis.

But members of Anglican Communion under Oyi Archdeaconry, who embarked on a protest in their thousands over the demolition, issued a seven-day ultimatum for rebuilding of the school.
However, Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State has intervened in the crisis, urging the parties to allow a six-man committee he set up to investigate their claims to conclude its assignment and submit a report for the government to act upon.

More here-

Trinity Wall Street Adds Northern Haiti As New Mission & Service Location

From Haiti-

Located in a pocket of wealth in New York City, Trinity Church is known for its affluent parishioners and its rich portfolio of real estate and stock investments. However, one aspect of the church that is at times overshadowed by its well-endowed members is their tradition of philanthropy and charity – one that will soon benefit a community in Haiti.

The Episcopalian church added the northern region of the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti as a fifth Mission & Service location, Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper announced on July 30. Following the recommendation of a team who visited Cap-Haïtien earlier this year, the parish’s Faith in Action Committee and Grants Board selected Cap-Haïtien for a mission partnership.

More here-

Pope lifts beatification ban on Salvadoran Oscar Romero

From The BBC-

For years, the Roman Catholic Church blocked the process because of concerns that he had Marxist ideas.

An outspoken critic of the military regime during El Salvador's bloody civil war, Archbishop Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass in 1980.

Beatification, or declaring a person "blessed", is the necessary prelude to full sainthood.

The bishop was one of the main proponents of Liberation Theology - an interpretation of Christian faith through the perspective of the poor.

More here-

Monday, August 18, 2014

"...and the child will be healed." -- A sermon for the 10th Sunday after Pentecost

Sermon from the Cathedral in St. Louis yesterday-

OK, everybody take a deep breath.

I mean it. Take a deep breath.

And let it out.

Let’s try that again.

Everybody take a deep breath.

Let it out.

God is here.

God is here.

And that means right here, right now, in the middle of everything that has happened this past week, in the middle of everything that is happening all around us as we gather, this can be the eye of the storm. For this moment, right now, we can take a deep breath, 

More here-

St. Augustine’s University Taking First Steps Down Road to Recovery

From North Carolina-

St. Augustine’s University is regrouping after a particularly difficult academic year. Some of the challenges the small historically Black university faced included a $3 million drop in net tuition revenue, the firing of its previous president and a federal investigation of allegations that the university provided false information on a federal grant proposal.

Just 100 days into his new job, Interim President Everett Ward announced a series of tough but proactive steps the university is taking to get back on the road to recovery, last Monday.

In an interview with Diverse, Ward harkened back to the three objectives he committed to on April 23, when he was hired.

More here-

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Islamic extremism and the hypocrisy of the Church of England

From The Spectator UK-

The Church of England has written to David Cameron accusing him of lacking ‘a coherent or comprehensive approach to Islamic extremism as it is developing across the globe’. The letter, signed by the the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, and approved by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also reportedly accuses the PM of turning his back on Christians slaughtered or made homeless in northern Iraq – and wonders why Cameron has chosen to concentrate on the plight of the Yazidis instead.

These criticisms are spot on. But I’m surprised that the C of E has had the brass neck to make them.

More here-

Diocese of Truro facing £1m shortfall

From The BBC-

The Diocese of Truro is facing a shortfall of more than £1m in the next financial year, a bishop has said.

It comes as new figures revealed Anglican churchgoers in Cornwall currently donate 20% less than those in any other diocese in England.

People in the county give about £5.80 per week, compared with a national average of £8.40.

The Bishop of St Germans said unless urgent action was taken, such a level of debt was unsustainable.

More here-

Two NYC churches provide rare relief to the weary masses

From Telegram-

St. Paul's Chapel, the tour guide explained to the guests in its sun-dappled churchyard Monday, was built in 1766, making it the oldest building in continuous use in Manhattan. George Washington prayed there. When the twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed across the street in 2001, the chapel suffered not even a broken window.

And then the guide, Zev Baranov, relayed the most remarkable thing about St. Paul's, at least from the point of view of 20 tourists who had just completed a two-hour walking tour of lower Manhattan on a hot summer's day.

"Bathrooms are in this church; there are three of them, and they are free to use," he said, to some relieved nods. "And then you can see the inside of the church, too."

More here-

Ferguson's mounting racial and economic stress set stage for turmoil

From The LA Times-

The Rev. Steven Lawler, rector of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Ferguson, really saw the change in 2008, when visits to his food pantry soared. They haven't gone down since.

"I know there are places where an economic recovery's happening," he said. "But in the places where people are most stressed, there hasn't been a recovery."

Still, as Lawler and others note, Ferguson has some things going for it. Its pleasant, old downtown has seen a revival in recent years, with a busy Saturday farmers market and a new craft brewery. It still has middle-class neighborhoods of historic homes. The headquarters of a Fortune 500 company, Emerson Electric Co., sits on a serene campus just up the hill from the gas station that looters burned Sunday night.

more here-