Nearly a Third of Episcopal Parishes Expected to Close

A new study of the state of the 2.3 million Episcopal Church in America has found that a third of the 6,825 parishes in the U.S. have an average Sunday attendance of 40 or less and one of the main reasons cited for the decline is the consecration of an openly homosexual bishop in 2003.

Virtueonline (VOL) is reporting that their study of the state of the Episcopal Church in the U.S. reveals a church in steep decline. In addition to low attendance at a third of all parishes, more than 2,000 consist of congregations of aging parishioners in their mid-60′s where little or no chance of a turnaround is seen for the foreseeable future.  The church is experiencing a dearth of young people and those being trained in the church’s liberal seminaries will “have no message that is discernibly different from the prevailing culture,” VOL reports.

“VOL believes that the figure of 2.3 million Episcopalians, regularly stated by TEC [The Episcopal Church] leaders and officials, does not reveal the true state of church attendance. More than two-thirds of this figure have either died, left the church, or attend twice a year, along with tens of thousands still on church rolls who have never been (and should be) removed.”

What this means is that within the next three to five years, more than 2,000 churches will be forced to close or merge, regardless of their financial health, simply because there are not enough people to keep the doors open.

As a result, hundreds of clergy will be forced into early retirement or to take up a second job just to keep their doors open for the few parishioners they have left…

The above and more here.


Can you Pray for me Father?

Being an Emergency Services Chaplain (one of the many hats I wear) I’ve seen this sort of thing play itself out far too often:

Only if you can prove you are a Catholic. Going by this story.

I posted earlier this year about a woman who continued to blog after her husband attempted to kill himself in front of her. Now around 9 months later she is writing about what happened when she needed spiritual help at the hospital in the leadup to his death.

In the immediate After… I was willing to believe in anything. one of the first things I did, the morning After, while Tony was unconscious in the ICU, was to visit our local catholic church, to arrange for a priest to come and perform Last Rites. Why…? Well, Tony was Catholic. Not practicing Catholic, but Catholic enough that our son was baptised. And I remembered, when Tony’s nan was in her last hours, he held her hand and recited the Lord’s Prayer, over and over, to bring her comfort. I think I wanted to bring the same comfort to him. The priest attended the hospital, only after checking that it was ‘OK’- I was not Catholic, and while our son was baptised at this church, we weren’t technically part of the parish. That stung, and still does.. that we had to meet some official requirement,s for prayer to be given. Despite me asking him to, the priest didn’t wait for me to perform Last Rites. Tony’s mum, and a friend of ours, where there, both baptised Catholics…. I guess that was enough. That stings too.

She goes on to say that the local pastor was there for them, did pray for them both without her having to prove anything.

Reading some of her posts is heartbreaking.

This excerpt makes me wonder what Jesus would do if He was the Catholic priest. Jesus wouldn’t ask her to prove anything except her grasping for Him, I believe.

And I can tell you, it’s not only Catholic Priests who are guilty of such neglect. I’ve seen those in desperate need being discarded and ignored all because of denominational prejudice. There really is a time and a place for everything, but when representing Jesus Christ in a crisis, bringing His healing presence into the situation is all that matters… and all that will be remembered! Pharisees remain alive and well, even today.


Prof NT Wright at the 2011 Sarum Theological Lectures

Which was organised by Sarum College. The Dioceses of Salisbury has:

The 40-minute interview, a lively discussion on key current issues of the Bible, modern culture and international politics, has been divided into eight clips and uploaded to YouTube.

Topics discussed include ‘Politics from a Christian point of view’, ‘The anniversary of the King James Bible’ and ‘The capture of Osama bin Laden’.

Dr Kings said, “It was a joy to welcome Professor Wright, one of our top scholars, and have such a lively, intelligent, wide-ranging discussion. We hope you enjoy listening to the clips, think carefully about what’s being said, and have a look in the Bible for yourself.”

Dr DeLashmutt said, “I really enjoyed being part of a conversation with the two Bishops. It’s not often you see this sort of thing happening in a recording studio, and I think a lot of people would be interested to listen in. Sarum College would love to do this again sometime.”

Further clips are planned…

Heres are all the links (audio YouTube) if you wish to have a listen:

More here.



An Icon of the Beheading of John the Baptist

Via An Reader’s Guide to Orthodox Icons:

The 29th of August commemorates the Beheading of John the Baptist and Forerunner of Christ. Above is an icon of The Head of St John the Forerunner (Глава Cв Иоанна Предтечи), a type of icon which flourished within the Russian Empire during the 19th century.

A few other examples of this icon can be found here, here, here, and here (all images hosted on the Cirota forum).


Please Help the Police Catch this Facebook Racist (Child Killer?)

This is the front page article today on our national Sunday newspaper here is South Africa… It is shocking beyond words!

This is the Facebook picture that has sparked a police investigation. The police are asking members of the public who can identify the man in this picture – which may have been manipulated – to come forward to assist them in their investigation. We have obscured the child’s face to protect his identity, but child advocacy groups are concerned about the youngster’s well being

Pray the police catch this evil racist, and soon!

The Hawks have launched an investigation into an image on Facebook in which a white man with a rifle poses over the apparently lifeless body of a black child – like a hunter celebrating his kill.

The undated picture is on the social networking site in the profile of a user called “Eugene Terrorblanche”, a play on the name of the murdered leader of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB). As of yesterday, “Terrorblanche” had 590 “friends”.

While it is not known if the photograph is genuine or has been manipulated, a child protection charity has expressed concern for the well being of the youngster.

The search is now on for the person or persons responsible for the picture, for whoever created the user profile and for those who have seen the photograph but failed to report it.

The authorities have suggested that everyone party to the posting – including those who have seen the picture – could face prosecution and, if convicted, a jail sentence.

This is regardless of whether the picture is faked.

Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa’s spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, said his boss had ordered an “immediate investigation” and called on the man in the picture – or anyone who recognised him – to come forward to assist in the probe.

Mnisi said: “If, indeed, it reflects a real incident, those responsible must be severely punished.”

The investigation was sparked when the Sunday Times presented the link to the site to the authorities.

Child advocacy groups said the production and dissemination of the picture violated several laws, including the Children’s Act, the Films and Publications Act and the Criminal Procedure Act.

Hawks spokesman Colonel McIntosh Polela said “no words can describe the disgust I’m feeling”, while Kidz Clinics advocacy manager Germaine Vogel called the picture “abominable”…

The director of Women + Men Against Child Abuse, Miranda Jordan, said she found it “incredibly disturbing” not knowing whether the child in the picture was hurt or dead.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing … this is sickening and disgusting. Is this child hurt? Is he dead? Who would take this kind of picture?

“This hate image incites racism that almost all South Africans have fought so hard to eradicate,” shesaid.

Those who commented favourably on the image could be charged and held accountable, she said.

“Anyone living in South Africa who has viewed this image of an abused child and has not reported it can be charged under the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, which stipulates that, as a witness to the abuse of a child, you must report it to your nearest police station.”

Experts said it would be difficult to confirm the photo’s authenticity, but the authorities were hopeful someone would recognise the adult in the image…

There’s more here.

UPDATE:  Facebook racist lashed here.