Sunday, January 4, 2009

Economic Recovery Does Not Look Good

The idea that the U.S. economy is going to recover in the next six months is given little credence at a gathering of top academic economists over the weekend.

A pickup sometime after June is still the Federal Reserve's quasi-official forecast. And leading institutional forecasters surveyed by the Blue Chip Economic Indicators are optimistic.

But that forecast seemed woefully out of touch to many experts who spoke at the annual meeting of the American Economics Association.

One expert said he was worried that current programs are simply keeping the financial sector on life support and did not seem to curing the underlying problems.


[from - Top Stories – Sponsored by: CyberTrader]

Central Church Ownership - Two Edged Sword

Tomorrow the California Supreme Court will render its decision on a series of cases regarding the secession of several parishes from the Episcopal Church. Needless to say, it’s a nail-biter for everyone.

Anglican Cumudgeon has been covering this saga in detail (he doesn’t do it any other way). You will find an interesting comment from the Anglican blogger Baby Blue, who has had front row seats to the so-far successful secession of parishes in Virginia:

"The other problem that the remaining parishes in The Episcopal Church have if this ruling goes in favor of the Diocese is that no lay person in their right mind is going to invest in a parish that the laity have no control over. If the bishop 'owns' the church, what’s the sense in investing in the property? Tell the bishop to take care of it, and when children get hit by cars in the parking lot on Sunday morning, let the bishop get sued instead."

The blogger goes on to say, "There’s a lot of responsibility that goes with owning property and these bishops - thinking it’s a political action - have no idea what a hornets nest they are stirring up. So, if the People lose this ruling, the The Episcopla Church bishops have far more of a problem on their hands than parishes departing over heretical doctrine. Send all the bills to the bishop - the properties are now his problem."

What do you think? Is central ownership of property a two-edged sword for the central church?

In a broad sense, any central church is a final destination for the liabilities of its parishes/local churches when the property is held centrally. Those liabilities include tort/personal injury liabilities such as Baby Blue mentions, but they also include any indebtedness that the church holds. In most cases those liabilities are dispensed with at the local level, but sometimes they move “up the line.”

Those who give and are conscious of a lack of control at the local level will reduce their giving accordingly. The best way to avoid that problem is to have healthy “give and take” between the denomination and its local churches. But that’s what’s broken down in The Episcopal Church, spectacularly so.

The wise central church must take a “know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em” mentality. For example, it may be expedient for a large local church with a high debt load and insufficient cash flow to be “cut loose” from the central church.

Irrespective of how this decision comes out, The Episcopal Church’s demographics fortell of a world with empty parishes and reduced income. Under those circumstances, they’ll wish they had the money they wasted on litigation.

What say you? (Click "comments" below.)

[from Positive Infinity]

The Security Role of Church Ushers & Greeters

Church leaders, no matter what the size or location of the church, have a responsiblity to develop plans and processes that help ensure the safety and security of members, visitors and church property. This is made more challenging by the fact that criminals and those who are intent upon violence may target church buildings, congregations and individual church members.

In addition, church buildings have the same risks as other buildings about safety and security problems related to natural disasters, fires, mechanical and electrical failures and safety hazards.

One of the key components of a church security program is observant and responsive greeters, ushers and deacons. These frontline roles are often the first people to see or hear problems, and often have access to all parts of the building before, during and after the service. But sadly, many greeters and ushers receieve little or no training related to the role they can play in observing, getting help quickly and providing leadership in an emergency situation.

Church Security Concerns: The Role of Greeters and Ushers is a free, 24 page PDF document, which can be copied for use in church security training. It provides a well-balanced, realistic approach that can help the meeters and greeters of churches feel more confident and be more effective in situations of concern as well as in emergencies. This document has been useful for pastors, church security teams and greeter/usher teams, as well as being a great resource for distribution by law enforcement organizations.

- The role of greeters and ushers in the area of church security (with or without a formal security team).
- Awareness and response
- Potential security concerns and options for action
- A security self-evaluation checklist

This security information is a great addition to your church manual and should be part of the orientation training for all greeters, ushers, deacons and church leadership.

CLICK HERE to request your FREE PDF copy.

Wisconsin Congregation Breaks With Episcopal Church

A Wisconsin congregation has decided to leave the Episcopal Church to join a more conservative branch of the world Anglican Communion.

St. Edmund's Episcopal Church of Elm Grove is joining the new Anglican Church in North America. Milwaukee's Episcopal Bishop Steven Miller says he is disappointed by the announcement. He adds that members can leave a parish, but parishes cannot leave the diocese. That makes the future of St. Edmund's uncertain, since Miller says the diocese owns the church property.

St. Edmund's spokeswoman Marsha Ohlgart says the 125-member congregation is aware of the conflict. She says it owns the land and rectory but is uncertain about the church.

[Associated Press]

Fasting - Your Vision

God has given you a vision, a divine dream for your life. When you fast, you open up the blessings and opportunities He has provided for you to pursue that dream. As you fast, pray for God's direction and guidance. Focus your faith on your dream and God will show you how you can turn your vision into a reality. Begin pursuing your divine dream today and make the rewards of fasting part of your lifestyle.

Today's Prayer

Dear God, what a mighty and awesome creation you have made.

As I sit here and hear the wind blow, I am reminded of your power. Like the wind gently ushers refreshing breezes, so you refresh my spirit. Like stormy winds blow hard, clearing the air and drying the puddles after the rain, so rushes in your comfort, drying my tears and clearing my mind. Like the strong winds of a hurricane command my attention, so your Spirit convicts my heart when I am thinking or doing the wrong thing. Like a brisk wind invigorates my senses, so your Holy Spirit revives and inspires my soul.

Thank you, God, for all you have given, all you do, and for your great love for me. You truly are awesome and I look up to you, my Heavenly Father and Creator, from whence cometh my help.

In Jesus name I offer my praise to you. Amen.