Harsh things happen in the world with numbing frequency. So when somebody does something kind and thoughtful, we really ought to celebrate it. Here is my cause for celebration: Last January I was in Florida to visit family and to preach and lecture at two churches. Along the way I lost a book: William Placher’s Jesus the Savior, which I had taken along to prepare for preaching in Lent.
I write this from a retreat center in Washington State. I'm on vacation,
supposedly. In reality I am still writing, worrying about my church
community and even instant messaging parishioners to ask how church
went. It's almost impossible for me to disengage.
The murder of abortion provider George Tiller prompts me to do something I do not like to do—venture into the issue of abortion. My hesitation is not because I do not have a position. I do. I believe that matters of reproductive rights and responsibilities are most appropriately left to the woman who is pregnant, her religious and moral conscience and her physician.
By one estimate 7,000 churches close down each year in the United States. A 2012 study predicted that 20 percent of the churches in Philadelphia would close within ten years. Many of these churches are architectural gems. Razing these buildings can be very expensive. A more satisfactory solution is to repurpose them, turning them into art and culture centers or housing units. The Mount Airy Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia is having 20 condominiums built on its property. The sanctuary will be leased back to the congregation for its continued use (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 4).