Church of England Attendance Up: What It Means for American Churches

Is God still dead in Europe? In the past few decades, report have shown that church attendance and membership are in steep decline in Europe.  However, last year a report confirmed stable church attendance among United Kingdom churches.    Now, the Church of England reports that attendance in cathedrals is up by 7% this year.

Is this just a Royal Wedding bump?

Not likely.  (The Royal Wedding was only a few weeks ago and Westminster Abbey is not a cathedral.) Certainly, excitement around the royal wedding and the televised wedding service could spark some people to get to church Sunday morning. However, it is unlikely the Royal Wedding will encourage a large increase in church attendance.

The Religion News Service reports that Rev. Lynda Barley, head of research and statistics of the Archbishops’ Council, said that non-Sunday church attendance was up 10% in 2010, and “steady growth” in the past decade.

Are traditional churches heading back from the bottom of decline? [Read more...]

Who invented God? Rowan Williams knows

… was the question a little six-year-old asked, but no one seemed to have an answer. Her father, Alex Renton (an atheist), was shocked that his daughter’s Scottish school would make the class answer the question. The girl, Lulu, looked to her father for an answer to the question.  He replied that they didn’t believe in God, but her father still wanted a religious answer for his daughter.

The dad wrote the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Presbyterians.  They didn’t reply. The Scottish Catholics wrote a long and complex answer.

Seeking more answers, he also sent a letter to the head of the Anglican Communion, who happens to be Rowan Williams (the same Rowan Williams who officiate the recent royal wedding). Rowan Williams replied:

[Read more...]

Ding Dong The Wicked bin Laden is Dead

Like you, I was captivated by the story of brave American special forces storming into the compound of a known terrorist who was responsible for coordinating the American attacks on September 11, 2001.  There was rejoicing in the streets. Cheering in this country and others.

Christians thanked God and held celebrations.  Osama bin Laden is dead! We killed him and all is well! Rejoicing was pronounced.

Really? Rejoicing in killing? Most likely, they rejoiced that closure had occurred.

But, did the killing of Osama bin Laden give closure to widows and families of September 11th saints? [Read more...]

UPDATE: Sean Hannity wrong on fellow pastor

UPDATE: Religion Dispatches and others have found the video of Wallace Charles Smith and his comments:

This speech is not a sermon in a church, but at Eastern University’s Windows on the World.  Windows on the World is a speaker series that features ideas, thoughts, and feelings of popular speakers. In the academic environment, Smith offered his thoughts that racism was not solved by the election of Obama.

Original post:

Wallace Charles Smith (a fellow American Baptist Churches pastor, my former seminary president, and fellow American Baptist Home Mission Society board director) was thrown into Sean Hannity’s cross hairs this week after President Obama attended Smith’s church on Easter. The Washington Post Reports:

The Rev. Wallace Charles Smith said the church has received more than 100 threats since Fox News channel’s Sean Hannity aired a tape Monday of a speech Smith gave in January 2010 at Eastern University in Saint Davids, Pa.

Shiloh Baptist Church in the District said it has received threatening phone calls and e-mails after an Easter visit from President Obama and a conservative television commentator’s subsequent playing of a videotape in which the pastor said that those espousing racial prejudice do so “under the protective cover of talk radio.”

What did Sean Hannity say that started all of this? It’s not what he said, but what he edited:

[Read more...]

Prayer for Good Friday

Prayer for Good Friday

O Christ, your life was no triumph, you carried a cross; may we walk along the same road as you.

O Christ, by your suffering you learned faithfulness; you became a source of eternal salvation for the whole human race.

O Christ, when threatened you did not retaliate; enable us to forgive to the very end.

O Christ, you see the pain of those who are exiled and abandoned; take their suffering upon yourself.

O Christ, when lies and worries try to separate us from you, your Holy Spirit is always with us.

O Christ, you are the happiness of those who follow you: enable us to live by your trust.

O Christ, our life is hidden with you in God; that is a joy that touches the depths of the soul.

Strengthen us, Eternal God, and we will wait in silence and peace until the light of the Resurrection rises upon us. Amen.

Prayer from Taize

Prayer for Maundy Thursday

Prayer for Maundy Thursday

Loving Provider,
you gather me in this upper room with your son,
to be fed by your love.
At that supper, Jesus told us to “love one another”
and I know that is the heart of his gift,
his sacrifice for me.
I ask that I might find the source of my own heart,
the meaning for my own life, in that Eucharist.
Guide me to the fullness of your love and life.
Amen.

Is Hell Dead?

Is Hell dead? Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins has generated a lot of chatter, fear, and public comments around the idea that Hell doesn’t exist. Time Magazine picked up the story and it landed on the front cover. Many believe his book is heretical and goes against traditional Christian theology on issues like heaven, hell, and salvation.  Bell is pretty clear about his theology, which he explained to his church.

This week, The Barna Group, a religious researching outfit, released a study on people’s understanding of heaven and hell.  Since about 75% of this country identifies themselves as “Christian” you would think there would be a strong unifying understanding about what Christians believe about how one “gets” to heaven.

The study found some surprising beliefs of this “Christian nation”: [Read more...]

What makes Holy Week so… Holy?

This past Palm Sunday kicked off a week, to most Christians, that represents an important time in the life of the Church: Holy Week.  The week before Easter is a special time in which Christians remember the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Is this week holier than all others?  Well, yes and no.

Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School of Samford University and an executive editor of Christianity Today,  helps us understand this week in light of its “holiness”:

[Read more...]

Shane Claiborne, please pay your taxes

Since the government didn’t shut down, all of us are required to send in our tax returns by April 18 (or file an extension). As much as I don’t really like paying more and more tax (who does?) every year I pray that I don’t own more. Usually, I over pay in fear of under paying, so I usually get a refund.

Recently, I came across Shane Claiborne‘s “Letter to the IRS“.  For those of you you do not know Shane, he is a fellow Eastern University alum, one of founders of The Simple Way in Philadelphia, a best-selling author, non-violent activist, and speaks on a variety of issues within Christianity.

For Shane, he believes in non-violent protest against injustice. So is the case with taxes. Shane wrote the IRS:

 

[Read more...]

Donald Trump: I am a Christian

As the 2012 presidential race heats up, many would-be candidates are launching and engaging in some serious presidential talk.  Mitt Romney just announced that he formed an exploratory committee. Fox News contributor, Mike Huckabee is making the rounds and giving his thoughts on traditional presidential debate topics.  Now, millionaire and reality TV show host, Donald Trump is testing the presidential waters.

Recently, Donald Trump sat down with Christian Broadcasting Network’s (CBN) David Brody and brought up something that he rarely talks about: his religion.

In this exclusive interview, Trump talks about his relationship with God, the church, the bible, being a Presbyterian, and his commitment to attending church.

Trump said: [Read more...]