Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fewer New Zealanders going to church

According to the census, more than half of New Zealanders consider themselves Christians. So why are so many churches struggling?

The Church is still a cornerstone for the faithful but it appears that for increasing numbers of Pakeha New Zealanders it's a relic from the past with regular church-going having fallen by half since the 1960s.

Massey University's Associate Professor Peter Lineham studies the trends and he says a large proportion of Pakeha New Zealanders are opting out of church.

However migrant Christians from the Pacific Islands, Asia and South Africa are filling many of the gaps in the country's churches.

"Sometime in the future the Presbyterian and the Methodist churches in New Zealand could be predominatly non-European or non-Pakeha," says Reverend Kevin Ward of Knox College.

Another contributing factor in the decline is the ageing of the mainstream churches' flock, with nearly 60% of their members over 60-years-old.

At the last census, Anglicans totalled around 555,000, that's down 5%. Catholics totalled 508,000, up nearly 5%. Presbyterians numbers are just over 400,000, down 7%.

"It's very clear who's faring best. The Catholics of the mainstream denominations are faring best," says Lineham.

However the Catholic Church is struggling to find new priests, and for all the churches upkeep is increasingly difficult.

Relative newcomers, the born again Pentecostal Christians are the fastest growing Christian group, although that growth is also slowing.

"I think it's very true to say that there is a real hunger for spiritual things in New Zealand today," says Phillip Godsiffe of Elim Cathedral of Hope.

Source: ONE News
Nov 24, 2008 7:54 PM

Monday, November 17, 2008

Church Stolen!

BBC News reports: A 200-year-old church building has disappeared from a village in central Russia, officials from the Russian Orthodox Church say.

The building had stood near the village of Komarovo since 1809.

It was intact in July but some time in early October thieves made off with it brick by brick, they said.

Local prosecutors had been informed and an investigation was under way, a spokesman for the local Russian Orthodox Church said.

The disappearance of the Church of the Resurrection, some 300 km (186 miles) north-east of Moscow, was not immediately noticed.


That last line made me wonder, how long would it take before someone noticed that our church was missing?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sign of things to come?

A self-proclaimed gay anarchist group stormed into Mount Hope Church in Lansing,MI. The Eaton County Sheriff’s office was called in and is investigating.

Reports say that protesters were outside the church beating on buckets and using megaphones to shout “Jesus is a homo” as church-goers went in for morning services. According to those reports, half of the protesting group was dressed to blend in with the church-goers and entered the church.

Once inside they reportedly pulled fire alarms, handed out pamphlets and yelled at parishioners. They also were said to have stormed the pulpit and held up a large rainbow colored flag that read “It’s Okay To Be Gay! Bash Back”.

Catholic League President, Bill Donohue, fired back on Tuesday saying "This is astounding. This is a Nazi like tactic to go into a church on a Sunday and disrupt service. I don't care whether it's pro-gay, anti-gay; it has no legitimate role to play in a democracy, which is exactly why we've asked Mike Cox, Michigan’s Attorney General to investigate."

A statement on Bash Back’s web site stated:
“The Mount Hope Church is a deplorable, anti-queer mega-church in Lansing, Michigan. The church works to institutionalize transphobia and homophobia through several repulsive projects including organized “ex-gay” conferences and so-called “hell houses”, which depict queers, trannies and womyn who seek abortions as the horrors. Mt. Hope is complicit in the repression of queers in Michigan and beyond.”

Mount Hope Church was contacted for a response, but they could not comment due to the ongoing police investigation. It did issue the following response:
"The leadership of Mount Hope Church does not attempt to identify the church as antihomosexual, anti-choice, or right wing. The church does take the Bible at face value and believes what the Bible says to be the truth. According to the Bible, Mount Hope Church believes homosexuality to be a sin, just as fornication, stealing, drunkenness, and lying are sins. No sin greater than the next."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Happy Pastors...

Where Do America's Happiest People Work?
Career isn't the only factor in determining someone's overall happiness, but it's certainly a major contributor. So, what kind of jobs do the happiest people in the U.S. have? And, what about these jobs contributes to overall happiness in life? A University of Chicago study, "Job Satisfaction in the United States," offers some insight.

The study says the occupations where people report being happy overall, not just in terms of job satisfaction, involve helping others, technical and scientific expertise, or creativity.

Tom W. Smith, director of the General Social Survey at the National Opinion Research Center at UC, elaborates: "Happiness is determined by how much satisfaction you get from all domains of life, and work is an important domain, so it's one of the major components of overall happiness."

According to the study, the top occupations in general happiness are:

1. Clergy
Job Description: Conduct religious worship and perform spiritual functions associated with beliefs and practices of religious faith or denomination.

Very happy: 67.2%
Median salary*: $44,102

2. Firefighters
Job Description: Control and extinguish fires, protect life and property and conduct rescue efforts.

Very happy: 57.2%
Median salary: $45,553