Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Ukraine's Christians Standing in the Gap; Vitality in Multisite Church Model; On Monastic Papacies...more

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Ukraine's Christians Standing in the Gap for Peace
Ukraine's acting president Oleksandr Turchynov, a man of deep faith and prayer, is in the center of the storm in Ukraine, but he's not alone.

Turchynov is seeking an increase in the country's armed services as he has called on parliament to turn Ukraine's interior ministry troops into a national guard to defend the nation against aggression...

Survey Finds Growth, Vitality in Multisite Church Model
The vast majority of multisite churches are growing, according to a new study, and they are seeing more involvement from lay people and newcomers after they open an additional location.

Nearly one in 10 U.S. Protestants attends a congregation with multiple campuses, according to findings released Tuesday (March 11) in the “Leadership Network/Generis Multisite Church Scorecard.”

The report cites new data from the National Congregations Study, which found there were 8,000 multisite churches in the U.S. in 2012 — up from 5,000 in 2010 — including churches with more than one gathering on the same campus. Churches that have created worship space in a separate setting now exist in almost every state, several Canadian provinces and dozens of other countries...

On Monastic Papacies
On the one-year anniversary of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, I felt a great silence within me. I had felt that same silence a year earlier, but then it was coupled with fear. I saw the pictures of the lightning bolt above St. Peter’s, and wondered if it was a sign that something momentous and mysterious had happened. Was this resignation God’s will? But then things stabilized, and the conclave began, as did the speculations.

I had dinner one evening with friends who were all playing the papabile game. It was a typical set of names, each signifying what we thought the Church needed, and many reflected a desire for deep continuity with Benedict, such as Scola, or Ouellet, or even Dolan. But a beloved Dominican colleague turned our conversation in a more interesting direction. He asked all of us about papal names. Not who the next Pope would be, but what name would be chosen. This was a more important question because it elevated our conversation from the very human question of “which man” to the more contemplative question of “whose man”? Everyone played this game too (I said “Gregory”), but our Dominican friend shook his head and smiled: “I think the next Pope will choose the name Francis.” We all laughed because of the almost slapstick way in which the mendicant rivalries of Dominicans and Franciscans play out in our circles. But he was serious. In praying for the conclave, this Dominican monk said he had a distinct vision, and the name just came to him. We all immediately said “O’Malley!”—thinking we were still playing at papal betting, I suppose—but the monk shook his head, and gently but firmly reiterated that he had no sense of who the man would be, only that his papal name would be Francis. I think we were all momentarily stunned by this private revelation. Could it be true? It was something to store away in the heart. What did it mean?

It got me thinking about names...


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