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Archive for the tag “pastor”

Father K. Brewster Hastings: In Memoriam

I have known The Rev. K. Brewster Hastings for many years.  He was an Anglican Christian priest, the rector of Saint Anne’s Church in Abington, PA, and my pastor for the several years I spent as a parishioner there.  Tragically, after heart surgery to repair a heart valve, he passed away suddenly (see here) aged only 55.

Fr. Hastings was more that just my priest.  He was a novelist (see here).  He did my premarital counseling.  He preached the homily at my wedding.  We worked together on the Templeton Committee.  He was my friend.  We shared a similar sense of humor, love for serving the church, bookish interests in theology and philosophy, and a fashion sense that would fit in well in English academia.  We were allies fighting the good fight to preserve, protect, and advance traditional Anglicanism.

Although Fr. Hastings was my pastor and friend, he was even more than that.  I met Fr. Hastings as I was entering into adulthood and in the process of maturing my Christian faith accordingly.  God placed Fr. Hastings into my life at just the right moment.  Fr. Hastings understood me.  He could speak “my language.”  He was the perfect person for me who could speak God’s Word into my life in a way I could hear and accept at a time when I needed it.  I tend to intellectualize everything, including my faith, and while Fr. Hastings could meet me there, he also had a faith that was much deeper than simply intellectualized faith.  It was in this way Fr. Hastings could help me progress.  He could relate to intellectualizing faith, but also to moving it to the next level.

One of the areas of ministry Fr. Hastings focused upon was healing.  One of his gifts was his way of penetrating someone’s problems and drawing God out from them.  When I told him about my struggles – whether that was emotional struggles or struggles with friends and family or with my career or marriage or what have you – he could meet me there.  Not just meet me there, but able to fully invest himself and go with me, into the depths, and validate the struggles and being a conduit of God’s grace and mercy.  Fr. Hastings was loving, but that love was not simply soft and Milquetoast.  He could be stern and offer discipline or correction when needed, but it never seemed like a punishment.

Fr. Hastings’ prayers were powerful.  His faith was deep and penetrating.  He looked, of course, to the Bible, but also to the lives of the Saints through the centuries.  He always could find wisdom from the teaching of the Church to apply to one’s life.  Through his ministry, Fr. Hastings was instrumental in taking my faith to much deeper and more profound place.  He helped me learn to pray.  He helped me learn how to read the Bible more effectively.  He helped me understand that praying and theology and liturgy were more than just doing something spiritual and/or asking for things and/or knowing things.

One recent event sticks out for me.  Although I have not been a member of St. Anne’s for a number of years, I could still call Fr. Hastings when I needed him.  Two summers ago, for various reasons, I was experiencing a dark night of the soul as never before.  I sat on my deck at 9:00pm in the middle of the summer and called him and, as he always did, he spoke to me about whatever it was I needed to discuss.  For over an hour we spoke, prayed, and cried, and he helped me through it and, because he was a great pastor, was sure to follow up with me.  I will be forever thankful for him that night.

So, it is with a heavy heart that I say good bye to you Fr. Hastings, my good Father in God.  Thank you for your friendship.  Thank you for your teaching.  Thank you for helping me learn to pray and read the Bible and worship.  Thank you for helping take my faith from just knowing and doing and believing to a faith that is much deeper, profound, visceral, exposed, and vulnerable.  You have helped me know God in new and deeper ways.  You have forever changed my life.  I thank God for you and your blessing on my life is incalculable.  May God bless you, have mercy on you, have grace upon you, and usher you into your greater glory and heavenly reward due to, and found only in, God’s presence.

Requiesce in pace

Court’s Determination of Church’s Voting Membership Upheld

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In Fairfield Pentecostal Church v. Johnson, (LA App., June 3, 2015), a Louisiana state appeals court upheld a trial court’s decision determining a church’s voting membership for purposes of a special vote on whether to dismiss the pastor, saying in part:

The trial court determined at the hearing that none of the members on the original roll had been disfellowshipped; and it allowed another list of members gathered in November 2013 by Reverend Franks, who had kept no roll since his installment in 2010, to be counted toward the membership roll. In order to prevent the solicitation of new members for purposes of litigation, the trial court limited the membership to these two lists. We can think of no more equitable solution.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

7th Circuit Keeps RLUIPA Suit Against Chicago Alive

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In World Outreach Conference v. City of Chicago, (7th Cir., June 1, 2015), the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals breathed new life into a RLUIPA case that has been in litigation for 9 years. The court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to the city of Chicago as to claims against the city for damages because of delays in granting licenses to World Outreach so it could operate a former YMCA building for its religious purposes. World Outreach argued it lost some $591,000 that it could have made by housing Hurricane Katrina evacuees in the building. The court’s opinion by Judge Posner included comments about the power of aldermen in Chicago politics.  Judge Cudahy concurred with one of the shortest and most cryptic opinions ever:

Unfortunately; and I think the opinion must be stamped with a large “MAYBE.”

(See prior related posting.) RLUIPA Defense blog reports on the decision”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Connecticut Legislature Makes Religious Exemption From Vaccination Requirements Marginally More Difficult

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“On Tuesday, the Connecticut General Assembly gave final passage to HB 6949 (full text) and sent it to the governor for his signature.  The bill places additional procedural requirements on parents seeking to exempt their children on religious grounds from vaccination requirements.  As reported by WNPR:

Currently, [parents or guardians] must simply present a statement that the immunization would be contrary to the child’s religious beliefs. But under the bill which cleared the Senate Tuesday, such statements must be submitted annually and officially “acknowledged” by a notary public, attorney, judge, family support magistrate, court clerk, deputy clerk or justice of the peace.

However another bill pending in the legislature would, if enacted, require the notarized statements be submitted only when the child enters kindergarten and when he or she enters 7th grade.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Oregon Tax Court Says Rectory Not Tax-Exempt

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Astoria v. Clatsop County Assessor, (OR Tax Ct., May 6, 2015), an Oregon Tax Court magistrate held that a residential structure located 1.5 miles from the church used as a church rectory did not qualify for a property tax exemption “because the evidence shows the rectory is not reasonably necessary to carry out the religious aims of the church…”  The court said in part:

Although [the parish priest] does write sermons and homilies at the rectory, those duties do not require close physical proximity to the church…. The other uses of the rectory have no direct connection to the church; they certainly do not require a rectory in close proximity to the church. There was generalized testimony about the availability of guest bedrooms for visiting priests, deacons, and seminarians, but no specific testimony or other evidence that such officials have stayed at the subject property and, if so, how many and how often they were there….

Forbes reports on the decision.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Church Sues Over Zoning Restrictions That Are Forcing It To Move

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“The San Diego Reader reports on a lawsuit filed May 28 by the San Diego Christian Worship Center against the city challenging zoning restrictions that will force the church to relocate in September.  The city granted the church a 5-year conditional use permit in 2010, and the church made $700,000 of improvements to its site. In 2014 the city changed the zoning in the area to “prime industrial,” which does not allow churches, and the city says it will not renew the conditional use permit. The church lacks the resources to find a new building. Apparently the complaint contends that the new zoning designation, which excludes instructional studios and entertainment venues as well as churches, amounts to a prior restraint on First Amendment expression.  The church also claims– presumably invoking RLUIPA– that the cost of preparing an application every 5 years to renew its conditional use permit imposes a substantial burden on its exercise of religion.  It will cost $50,000 to $100,000 to prepare the application, which must include an environmental impact statement. ”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Supreme Court Rules Against Abercrombie In Title VII Religious Accommodation Case

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, Inc., (Sup. Ct., June 1, 2015), the U.S. Supreme Court today reversed the 10th Circuit’s holding on when employers must offer a reasonable accommodation for an employee’s religious practices.  The 10th Circuit had held that Abercrombie & Fitch did not violate Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act when it failed to reasonably accommodate Samantha Elauf’s need to wear a headscarf because Elauf had not informed the company that she wore the hijab for religious reasons and would need an accommodation. (See prior posting.)  In an opinion by Justice Scalia, 7 justices held:

Motive and knowledge are separate concepts. An employer who has actual knowledge of the need for an accommodation does not violate Title VII by refusing to hire an applicant if avoiding that accommodation is not his motive. Conversely, an employer who acts with the motive of avoiding accommodation may violate Title VII even if he has no more than an unsubstantiated suspicion that accommodation would be needed.

Thus, the rule for disparate-treatment claims based on a failure to accommodate a religious practice is straightforward: An employer may not make an applicant’s religious practice, confirmed or otherwise, a factor in employment decisions….

A request for accommodation, or the employer’s certainty that the practice exists, may make it easier to infer motive, but is not a necessary condition of liability.

Justice Alito concurred only in the judgment, urging a different test for liability.  He concluded that Abercrombie is liable only if it had knowledge that Elauf wore her headscarf for religious reasons, but that there was sufficient evidence that Abercrombie had such knowledge that the court should not have granted summary judgment to defendants.

Justice Thomas dissented, arguing that Abercrombie’s actions did not amount to disparate treatment (or intentional discrimination):

Abercrombie refused to create an exception to its neutral Look Policy for Samantha Elauf ’s religious practice of wearing a headscarf…. In doing so, it did not treat religious practices less favorably than similar secular practices, but instead remained neutral with regard to religious practices. To be sure, the effects of Abercrombie’s neutral Look Policy, absent an accommodation, fall more harshly on those who wear headscarves as an aspect of their faith. But that is a classic case of an alleged disparate impact.

Politico reports on the decision.”


District Court Applies Hobby Lobby To Auto Dealership

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“In Holland v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (D WV, May 29, 2015), a West Virginia federal district court, applying the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, issued a permanent injunction barring federal authorities from enforcing the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage requirement, as in effect June 30, 2014, against a West Virginia auto dealership. The complaint (full text) in the case was brought by Joe Holland Chevrolet, Inc., a closely-held corporation, and its 91% owner who became a born-again Christian in 1996. Joe Holland objects to providing coverage for Plan B and ella, contraceptives that he considers abortifacients. Charleston Daily Mail reports on the decision. Liberty Institute issued a press release on the decision.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Suit Challenges Middle School Field Trip To Christian Sports Complex

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

“The American Humanist Association announced yesterday that it had filed a lawsuit against the Joplin, Missouri public school system challenging a middle-school field trip to a Christian sports complex.  The complaint (full text) in Doe v. Huff, (WD MO, filed 5/27/2015), alleges that the middle school’s policy of scheduling student field trips to Victory Ministry and Sports Complex violates the Establishment Clause.  The suit seeks an injunction and punitive damages.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

Court Defers To Ecclesiastical Decision In Church Control Lawsuit

This is from religionclause.blogspot.com which you can find here:

Kim v. The True Church Members of the Holy Hill Community Church, (Cal. App., May 21, 2015), involves a dispute between two factions of a Los Angeles congregation that was part of a presbytery of the Korean American Presbytery Church.  The congregation owns valuable property on Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard.  The dispute involved attempts by one faction to excommunicate members of the other and an attempt to withdraw the congregation from the parent church body.  The California state appeals court affirmed the trial court’s decision deferring to the determination by the parent body of the congregation.”

You can learn more about this issue here.

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