Does your pastor set a glowing example to his or her flock? Or does the herd tend to drift? A new website launched in Germany allows churchgoers to rate their “shepherd’s” performance on worship, youth work, work with seniors, credibility, and engagement with current issues.
“The idea behind Hirtenbarometer (“shepherd barometer”) is that pastoral work should be and often is qualitative,” one of the Web site’s founders, Andreas Hahn, said in an email interview. “We wanted to create ... an open platform for dialogue between priests and the members of congregations.”
New York-area residents are more spiritually active since 9/11, a new survey shows, but the uptick in faith may be a matter of coincidence rather than a religious response to the terrorist attacks.
The Barna Group found that 46 percent of people living in or near New York City reported attending worship services in the previous week in 2010, up from 31 percent in 2000. However, the upward trend didn’t kick in until after 2004, said David Kinnaman, Barna’s president.
For churches in Africa, the Old Testament has historically occupied a prominent place in theological thinking. “Our theology is constructed with the image of God in the Old Testament,” says Charles Klagba, theological consultant for the Ecumenical HIV and AIDS Initiative in Africa (EHAIA).
“It is for that reason the reaction of many churches on this continent to the epidemic is very much influenced by the belief that illness is a punishment for individual sins,” he says. “This theology is very vivid in the Old Testament. This interpretation has reinforced the stigma and hindered the ministry of the church to be competent.”
Deconstructing this theology and giving birth to an alternative approach that can give hope to people have been at the center of Klagba’s encounters with theologians, pastors and church leaders.
Two Presbytery Grants for Congregational Transformation of $50,000 have been awarded to Eastminster Presbytery in Northeast Ohio; and to five presbyteries in South Carolina (Charleston-Atlantic, Foothills, New Harmony, Providence, and Trinity). These mission program grants from the Evangelism and Church Growth ministry area of the General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC) were awarded by the Mission Development Resource Committee in their latest review cycle for this new grant program, designed to help presbyteries build capacity for continual transformation in their congregations.
A simple stove, some books, pictures and a video. These things might not seem like much, but that’s all it took to bring together two very different groups of people.
This June, 14 members of Marine View Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Wash., went on an annual mission trip to Guatemala. They worked with an organization called Hands for Peacemaking to install stoves in the homes of Mayan villagers.
Hands for Peacemaking was founded by a physician and his school teacher wife 25 years ago after the doctor worked in Guatemala as part of the National Guard. He fell in love with the people and the area and stayed to establish a clinic and a school. The organization has stayed in the same location working with 252 Mayan villages in the Santa Cruz/Barillas area in the northwest highlands of Guatemala.
“Refugee Resettlement: Faith Communities Making A Difference,” a CBS Television religion special about refugees who resettle in the United States, will be broadcast Sunday, Sept. 25 on the CBS Television Network.
John P. Blessington is the executive producer and Liz Kineke is the producer of the special is produced in cooperation with the National Council of Churches ― including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ― and a consortium of Roman Catholic organizations, The Islamic Society of North America, The Union of Reform Judaism and the New York Board of Rabbis.
Political issues affecting Tahiti and Fiji were highlighted at the Aug. 30-Sept. 4 commemoration in Samoa of the 50th anniversary of the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC).
During the meetings, Tahitian President Oscar Temaru appealed to the churches for help in his country’s fight for independence from France.
“My country used to be free, and my people used to be in charge of their destiny. That changed in the 19th century after the European discoverers reached our shores,” Temaru said. “This suppression dates back to 1880, but continues to the present day,” he said. Tahiti is part of French Polynesia, a protectorate of France.
At about the same time as the commemoration, the government of Fiji cancelled the annual meeting of the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma and then extended the crackdown by prohibiting any church meetings except Sunday worship and barring foreign travel, which meant that clergy were unable to attend the Samoa event.
Americans consider religious freedom a cornerstone of society, but fall short in their tolerance of Muslims, according to a poll released Sept. 6 that probes Americans’ attitudes toward immigrants and the nation’s safety 10 years after 9/11.
The “What It Means to Be American” poll found that a small majority (53 percent) say the country is safer now than before the 9/11 attacks. Attitudes toward Muslims, however, are far less straightforward.
More than 8 in 10 Americans say that self-proclaimed Christians who commit violence in the name of Christianity are not really Christians. By contrast, less than half (48 percent) say that self-proclaimed Muslims who commit acts of violence in the name of Islam are not really Muslims.
“Interestingly, we find that Americans basically have a double standard when it comes to evaluating religious violence,” said Robert P. Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute, which produced the survey with the Brookings Institution.
A new book from Presbyterian author Wendy Farley presents a powerful expression of Jesus Christ as experienced by those who are marginalized and persecuted in contemporary society. In Gathering Those Driven Away: A Theology of Incarnation, Farley speaks to gay and lesbian persons, women, racial minorities, and anyone else who has ever felt wounded by the church. Recognizing the ways in which those on the margins have been treated by the church, Farley compellingly argues that the doctrine of the incarnation is the basis for a radical inclusivity and defense of the preciousness of all human beings, especially those the church marginalizes.
After seven years of apparently futile corporate engagement with Caterpillar over its business practices in Israel/Palestine, the Mission Responsibility Through Investment committee is recommending that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) add the company to its divestment list.
MRTI is also recommending that the 220th General Assembly (2012) add Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard to the list.
The move toward divestment is the “logical conclusion to what the (General Assembly) asked us to do,” said the Rev. Brian Ellison, chairman of MRTI. The committee implements GA policies on socially responsible investing by engaging corporations in which the church owns stock.