• Looking into the lectionary 2 days ago

    14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Proper 9 – July 5, 2015

    14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Proper 9 – July 5, 2015

    by Jill Duffield
    2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10, Psalm 48, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13 These two stories, while not parables in the traditional sense, are parables for ministry when you put them together. These two stories should be read frequently by followers of Jesus Christ and perhaps by pastors in particular. These two stories – one of Jesus’ rejection by those who knew him best and one of instructions for those who would do Jesus’ work – have much to offer us as we go on the Way. In Mark, Jesus’ unwelcomed visit… continue reading...
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  • Book Reviews 3 days ago

    Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family and Church

    Blessed Are the Crazy: Breaking the Silence About Mental Illness, Family and Church

    by Sarah Griffith Lund Chalice Press, St. Louis. 112 pages REVIEWED BY LAURA CUNNINGHAM The title of Sarah Griffith Lund’s spiritual autobiography, testimony and powerful theological insight about mental illness was enough to earn it a spot on my download list. I’m not sure what I expected, but her personal, pastoral and theological description of what she calls “crazy in the blood” moved this book to a permanent place on my pastoral shelf. Lund was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and is a graduate of two Presbyterian… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Reporting 4 days ago

    Presbyterian Mission Agency responds to defamation lawsuit brought by Roger Dermody

    Presbyterian Mission Agency responds to defamation lawsuit brought by Roger Dermody

    by Leslie Scanlon
    Lawyers for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are contending that a state court judge in Kentucky should issue a summary judgment to end a lawsuit brought by Roger Dermody, the denomination’s former deputy executive director for mission, because the claims involved in the lawsuit involve “quintessential matters of faith and polity.” The response contends that the court should apply “the Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine and Ministerial Exception” and “must avoid infringing upon the Church’s First Amendment rights and dismiss this case.” The PC(USA) is a religious institution; Dermody is a minister; and… continue reading...
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Anglican head expresses concern about Episcopal vote on gay marriage

CANTERBURY, England (RNS) Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, head of the Anglican Communion, has expressed deep concern about the stress that the Episcopal Church’s vote on gay marriage might cause to some in the 80 million-member worldwide Anglican Communion. The Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday (July 1) to let gay couples marry in the church’s religious ceremonies, reinforcing its support for same-sex nuptials days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. Among the changes to church laws on marriage, gender-specific language will be dropped. “Husband” and “wife” will be replaced with “the couple.” The Episcopal Church, part of the Anglican Communion, became in 2012 the largest U.S. denomination to approve a liturgy for clergy to use in blessing same-sex unions. The move by the Episcopal Church contrasts with the position of the Church of England, which secured an exemption in law from ever having to perform a gay marriage … [Read more...]

After fires, killings, black churches debate the best ways to protect themselves

(RNS) The leader of the National Baptist Convention, USA, says his member churches should “do everything that is humanly possible” to protect themselves — even if it means hiring armed guards. But the head of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion denomination would rather churches call 911 if necessary. After nine people were fatally shot at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., and more than half a dozen black churches have burned, officials of mostly black denominations are taking different — and sometimes contradictory — approaches as they try to prepare for a safer future. More than 1,000 people took part in a Department of Homeland Security webinar Wednesday (July 1) that emphasized measures to prepare for a range of crises. The Rev. Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-chair of the National African American Clergy Network, tuned in to the webinar and heard advice on how congregations should connect with first responders. “Some churches are doing that,” she said. … [Read more...]

Yet you shall be different

r-hoch.jpg

A charge to the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary graduating class of 2015 Guest commentary by Robert Hoch Today is a day of completion. Of degrees earned. Of privileges and responsibilities accrued. Of strengths confirmed. And yet for your charge, rather than reaffirming your significant achievement, I am moved instead to share with you two modern day parables, not about strength, but rather of strength won out of weakness, of wisdom out of folly, and hope out of despair. “I am his hands; he is my eyes,” says Jia Haixia of his friend, Jia Wenqi. Together they suggest the first modern day parable, these two men from a small village in northeastern China: two disabled men, one blind, the other a double amputee. They work together. “We are good partners,” they say of one another. Their work? Planting a forest. One imagines, perhaps, something less ambitious for two disabled men, something with a faster pay-off – they get a small income from the local government … [Read more...]

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Proper 9 – July 5, 2015

Jill Duffield

2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10, Psalm 48, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13 These two stories, while not parables in the traditional sense, are parables for ministry when you put them together. These two stories should be read frequently by followers of Jesus Christ and perhaps by pastors in particular. These two stories – one of Jesus’ rejection by those who knew him best and one of instructions for those who would do Jesus’ work – have much to offer us as we go on the Way. In Mark, Jesus’ unwelcomed visit to his hometown comes about midway in his ministry. He has had much success and the disciples have witnessed it. He has healed and taught, cast out demons and resurrected a little girl from the dead. Word has gotten out, and even in the absence of social media, the crowds have grown. At this point in the narrative one can imagine that the disciples are pleased to be associated with such a celebrated healer, teacher and prophet. They are insiders, close to the one others clamor to … [Read more...]

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to help churches recently damage/destroyed by fire

LOUISVILLE (PNS) Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), in collaboration with its ecumenical partners, is working to assist the churches recently damaged by fire. Over a two week period, seven churches with predominantly black membership burned in Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Ohio and Florida. Investigators speculate lightening may have been involved in a few, but arson has not been ruled out. The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is still investigating. The multiple fires occurred after the June 17 shootings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., where nine people died. Authorities say it’s too early in the investigation to draw any conclusions between the shootings and the church fires. In a joint statement released on July 1, PC(USA) leaders urged everyone to offer prayers and financial support to the churches. “As Christians we live in hope of a Beloved Community where racism and other evils that … [Read more...]

J. Herbert Nelson, II preaches on the Charleston 9 and race and violence in the U.S.

J. Herbert Nelson II

Sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II on Tuesday, June 30, 2015 on the occasion of remembering the Charleston 9 and embracing the issue of race in the United States. The worship service was held in the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Listen to the audio here and watch a short clip here: “What We Are Contending With” “For we are not contending with flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Today we remember the horrid incident in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC almost two weeks ago.  The funerals continue even today which serve as a constant reminder that even the Church of Jesus Christ is not necessarily a safe place in our society. However, it seems that signs of hope are beginning. Dylan Roof, suspect in the killing of the nine who were attending … [Read more...]