St Paul’s Full for Noon Eucharist

Ushers stand as the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles conducts the first service after St Paul's reopens its doors. Photograph: Paul Hackett/Reuters

If you’ve been following the ups and downs of Occupy London at St. Paul’s Cathedral, including the sad resignation of Giles Fraser as canon chancellor, this is a somewhat happy turn of events:

St Paul’s Cathedral reopened at midday in time for its normal daily lunchtime eucharist service, but this time with a congregation swelled by tourists, the curious and serried ranks of the media to number several hundred.

No special security measures were apparent, nor any obvious signs of health and safety concerns. Asked whether this was a normal-sized congregation for the service, staff giggled and shook their heads. The same question to the embattled dean, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, produced the reply that all was perfectly normal and they often had congregations this size.

via St Paul’s congregation swells to hundreds for first lunchtime service | UK news |

Women Bishops Coming to Church of England?

Alternate headline: “Church of England Edges Closer to 20th Century“:

The Church of England cleared another legislative hurdle to appointing women bishops, but traditionalist opponents warned on Monday the move was not a foregone conclusion. Some Anglican provinces already have women bishops, including Australia, the United States and Canada, but the ordination of women and homosexuals as bishops as well as same-sex marriages remain the most divisive issues facing the Anglican Communion, which has 77 million members worldwide. [via Church of England edges nearer to allowing women bishops | FaithWorld]

Meanwhile, Italian police detained a group of Catholics who were attempting to deliver a petition in favor of women clergy to the Vatican:

A group of Roman Catholic activists who think women should be ordained priests tried to deliver a petition to the Vatican on Monday but were blocked from entering St Peter’s Square and some were detailed by police. Witnesses said plainclothes Italian police stopped the group of about 15 demonstrators, including several women dressed in priest’s robes, and confiscated a banner reading “God is calling women to be priests.” [READ THE REST]

More Bad News for the (Mainline) Church

I spent some time last week with a group of mainline clergy.  They were truly great people who really wanted to change their churches.  I was speaking about preaching, and they wanted their preaching to be more relevant and contemporary.  But, they reported to me, they are handcuffed.  Their aging congregations simply will not abide change of any kind.

These clergy were in a predicament: their congregations are so small that to lose any of the old-timers virtually ensures closing the doors to the church, but without dramatic changes, the congregations are bound to continue their decline.  The question is, can these clergy both satisfy the elderly members and also reach out to new, younger members?

The answer seems to be no.

Hartford Seminary, an authoritative voice regarding trends in the American Church, has released a study about what happened in the forst decade of the millennium.  The news all around is not good, and it’s particularly bad for the mainline church.  In fact, the report, “A Decade of Change in American Congregations, 2000-2010” (PDF), suggests that the phrase to describe these congregations should be changed to oldline Christianity.

As seen in the above graphs, innovation in worship directly correlates to congregational health and vitality.

White churches in general, and oldline churches particularly are doing a horrible job at keep young adults interested in faith: [Read more...]

Working on Your Sermon?

If you’re preaching tomorrow, you might be looking for a little inspiration.  Well, let me recommend The Hardest Question, a lectionary-based website that I curate, along with my friends Russell Rathbun and David Schoenknecht.  This week’s posts are by Russell, on the week’s lectionary texts in the Gospel and the Psalm.  Plus, as always, Russell and I have video musings on the Gospel text: