Jul 15, 2014

Mental Illness and Spiritual Struggle

This morning in my role as a hospital chaplain, I was working with our psychiatry people on a case, and then when I checked my e-mail I found an article about the fact that some evangelical Christians see psychiatry as the enemy. Sadly I have to admit that among Christians there are probably people who are in both camps described in this quotation from that article (URL below):

Among evangelicals, you will find some who are very open to dealing with mental illness as a physiological reality, but you will also find others who think that there is no other value to be gained from listening to the world.

As will surprise no one, I want to urge us to abandon such either/or thinking. When I checked my mail, I saw the link to this article which I would urge you all to read: [click here]

In the article you will find this quotation from Tim Keller: We must beware of giving people the impression that through individual repentance for sin they should be able to undo their personal problems. Obviously, we should not go to the other unbiblical extreme of refusing to acknowledge personal responsibility for sinful behavior as well...While we can't fall into the reductionism of believing all problems are chemically based and require medication, we also cannot fall into the reductionism of believing all problems are simply a matter of lacking spiritual disciplines. Schizophrenia, bipolar depression, and a host of other psychological problems are rooted in physiological problems that call for medical treatment, not simple talk therapy.

My advice is that if you have a parishioner who needs counsel beyond your own training, do not refer them to a Christian counsellor who sees psychiatrists as the enemy, or a counsellor who tries to diagnose things they have no training to diagnose. I’ve seen terrible harm done by such well-meaning counsellors. Before I refer to any Christian counsellor, I would want to talk with them and learn about their training and whether they have a psychiatrist to whom they refer clients whose needs are beyond their expertise. If you hear blanket criticism of psychiatry, or that they never refer to a psychiatrist, you know you are dealing with an incompetent counsellor.

Now someone will want to cite the circumstance where a psychiatrist had a bias against people of faith and did harm that way. I’m sure that such persons exist too. But my contacts with psychiatrists in my 15 years in hospital chaplaincy has been with none of that kind. And there is a growing consensus (typified in the linked article) among evangelicals that psychiatrists are God’s gift, just as are other physicians.

How I pray that pastors will not compound the problem of mental illness by steering people away from the medical professionals who can help them. I know I grew up with a bias against psychiatry, and have listened to enough conversations to know that the bias is still around.

May 20, 2014

Building a Better Baby

by Mary-Elsie Wolfe

Since January 7, 2012, I have kept a newspaper article because its title caught my eye: Building a Better Baby. Even if the article had been about nurturing your baby, feeding your baby and creating an environment for your baby that preps him or her to the best advantages for health and growth, I would have read it with some trepidation—my children are now 8 and 10 and the mistakes that I made in their first five years are done. But, the article’s focus was the gains in science to create designer babies. It doesn’t talk only about eliminating those embryos having genes prone to different diseases, but also about manipulating the genes for height preference, eye colour, athletic ability or intelligence. Some of the yeah-sayers insist that parents make important decisions for their children all the time so this is just one more way parents can influence their lives. One prominent Oxford scholar wrote, “People who procreate are morally obliged to improve the species.” A geneticist appeased one couple by explaining that embryo screening allows for the best of the two people—that it can do what a 1000 natural conceptions could never do. However, according to the article, in 2007, researchers at Cornell University actually created the world’s first genetically modified human embryo. This development means we have the ability to alter babies even beyond the best of two people. But what are the ethics of actually designing one’s own baby? One woman talked about yearning for a daughter after having two sons; she seriously considered screening. But, she changed her mind at the last minute because “it felt too much like I was playing God.”

There is a wonderful grace in being known by God and being made by God’s hand. While the awesomeness of such a feat—that God himself has created every person from all time across the globe—is beyond us, I believe it is true. Psalm 139:13 in the NLT reads, “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb.” One of our greatest human needs is to be known. Only God has the intimate knowledge of our innermost being. Despite our tampering, only God, the great designer and creator, can build babies.

The truth is we cannot possibly have the capacity to understand who, at the embryonic stage, might be the next Stephen Hawking or Jake Barnett (if you haven’t yet heard this name Google him). I applaud the Catholic Organizations for Life and Family which called for a ban on PGD (screening) saying that it “inherently disrespects the dignity and worth of human life, since it is performed in order to select the most genetically perfect embryos while discarding those that are deemed undesirable.” Who can know the mind of God? Thousands of years ago, Samuel being led by God arrived at the house of Jesse to scope out possible kings. Samuel, when he saw one of the young men, was immediately impressed by his stature and presence. God responded to Samuel, "Don't judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The LORD doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

May 6, 2014

Ten Words that will Make or Break a Church (a belated Advent reflection)

by Matthew McEwan

When I worked in retail I was taught that customers are driven by a basic question informing their decision making. The question is contained in five simple little words. Just five words, and yet they make up a truly powerful question such that when the question is answered a retail associate can make an easy sale. Those five words are: what’s in it for me? If a customer understands a perceived benefit of owning some do-dad is greater than having some money in a wallet or bank account, the sale is a given. A consumer culture is based on this question and the message of advertising is that unless the latest and most recent version of something is purchased, we will remain incomplete and unfulfilled. A consumer culture is raised to ask: what’s in it for me?

When this simple little question is applied to a church, the results can be disastrous. A 90’s Christian rock band called “All Star United” did a song called “La La Land” with the haunting lines:

All the saints and martyrs alike, well they would have called a national strike
Demanded less pain, more personal gain, if only they’d known their rights
Well I take it very personally, I’ve got to know what’s in it for me
Ain’t it grand, when you’re living in La La Land

The question “What’s in it for me?” changes disciples into consumers, and when a consumer finds their perceived needs are not being met, it becomes easy to move from one church to another, like changing brands or retail stores. People evaluate a church based on what it can offer them rather than seeing the opportunities where they can serve in that church. “What’s in it for me?” can destroy a church.

A more redemptive statement to replace the destructive question “What’s in it for me?” is another five word phrase. These other five words are guaranteed to bless a church, and they can be found in the pages of Scripture. In Luke 1:38, Mary said to the angel Gabriel, “I am the Lord’s servant.” When people say to God, “I am the Lord’s servant” there is no room to ask, “What’s in it for me?” Jesus picked up a towel to wash the feet of his disciples, and he expects his followers to do the same. A church filled with people saying, “I am the Lord’s servant” is a church where you will see the “one-another’s” of the New Testament being practiced. A church filled with people saying, “I am the Lord’s servant” will be a church where people gather to serve rather than be served. A church filled with people saying, “I am the Lord’s servant” will be a church that is blessed.

Whenever I encounter this phrase in the Gospel of Luke, I’m reminded of the painting by Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859-1937) of “The Annunciation” (1898). In this painting, the angel Gabriel appears as brilliant light. In this painting we see no angelic wings, no halo, no cherub with a baby face but instead we are presented with an angel in the form of pure, brilliant light. The glory of the angel is ineffable and almost overwhelming , much like a glance at the sun. In contrast with the angel we find Mary and her surroundings painted in earth tones. Mary has no halo and the rug is dishevelled. Obviously the annunciation has come unannounced; were I expecting an angelic visitor, I might have straightened up the room! Mary’s body posture is reflective of her heart. She is in quiet submission and answering “Yes” to God’s plan. Like Mary, may we all answer with “I am the Lord’s servant.”

Apr 22, 2014

Wisdom: Blessings for Life and Ministry

by Beverly Kay

After coming away from a weekend around the table with the Study Commission on Doctrine; after looking at the areas of concern our pastor’s face daily in the front lines of ministry; after becoming more fully aware of the current financial needs of the FMCiC (or of our local church, or personal family); after praying over fellow ministers in the Family who are battling disease or broken bodies I have become keenly aware of our great need to ask God for wisdom.

As the Lord would have it, I find my own personal quiet times with Him have brought me to the Book of Proverbs. Today I carefully studied the principles for life found in the father’s admonition to find, gain, preserve; to hold tightly to Wisdom. As I looked into the face of Wisdom and its many benefits, I felt compelled to share my insights with my fellow followers that we might all be encouraged to understand the depth of our need, and the breadth of blessing that comes through this great gift of our God.

What is Wisdom? Its root is in the ability to be wise; to have good judgment, sound (full, complete council), to be prudent. Wisdom is the power to judge rightly based on full council of knowledge, experience, and understanding. It is following the soundest, surest, most beneficial course of action. In other words, as a Christ follower, to gain wisdom it takes time, perseverance, and determination to pursue and never settle for anything short of God’s very best course of action.

Why make the effort and take the time to pursue wisdom? Although this is far from exhaustive, looking at Proverbs chapter 3, verses 13 – 26 reveals that the list of blessings for our lives and ministries is great. Wisdom is (14) more profitable, yielding greater benefits than either silver or gold. Wisdom is (15) of greater value to our lives than rubies. Wisdom is (18) a tree of Life and a source of blessing to those who embrace, fully accepting its authority in our lives.

Wisdom is accompanied (13, 21) by understanding (insight), and discernment (the ability to separate and clearly recognize differences), and therefore are Life for us. Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge were in God, with God and used by God as He laid the foundation of the earth, gave order to the heavens, and separated the waters on the earth so that we might know good life on this planet (19, 20). Therefore it seems only logical that we will need them to safely journey through the troubles and trials, temptations and theories that we will face while we endeavor to do Kingdom work in a fallen world.

If we preserve sound judgment and discernment (protecting it, keeping it from corruption – 21) then our lives are blessed with safety (23), sure footing (23), rest (24) and peace (lack of fear – 17, 25) due to a confidence that is ours in the Lord (26), Who is at work through wisdom to keep our feet from being caught up in the snare (trap, danger, twisted truths) of the enemy. As a believer, this confidence can be sure because of the guarantee of all that is ours in Christ Jesus. Colossians chapter 2, verses 1-4 reveal to us that we “may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that we may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Paul wrestled in prayer for the believers that they would be unified by the complete understanding that can be ours as we are untied with Christ, us in Him and His Word (spoken, written, Holy Spirit illuminated) in us (John 15:7) Paul’s purpose was that “no one may deceive you by carefully crafted arguments.”

I must confess, my experience is limited; my knowledge incomplete; my understanding often restricted by my own bias. Only in Christ Jesus can we have fullness of understanding, and gain the deep treasures of wisdom. James reminds us that we can freely come, and ask God for wisdom, who gives generously to all without finding fault (James 1:5). God’s desire is that we would be mature and not lack no good thing necessary for living out the Life that we have in Christ. He wants us to discover the sure path, to never settle for anything less than His best response or course of action.

As we move forward in Life and in ministry, I pray that we will become workmen approved by God, who always seek to rightly handle the Word of Truth (II Timothy 2: 15, 16). That we would fully submit to its authority in our lives, being influenced through it by wisdom over the trends, godless chatter or carefully crafted arguments that would trip us up, cripple our faith and cause us to move and act based on fear rather than boldly walking in the confidence and blessings of godly wisdom. Be rich and abundantly fruitful in your walk with God, as you gain, preserve and walk in godly wisdom no matter what it is that you are facing or wrestling with these days in your journey with Jesus.

Apr 8, 2014

Focus on the Family

by Matthew McEwan

The birth of a child is an exciting time, and for my wife and I that’s how the year 2013 came to a close. Micah was born on his due date, December 31st at 2:30 PM. Expecting a child through the season of Advent and Christmas forced me to make alternative arrangements for both worship services and church and family events should our baby’s arrival have come early. I knew that Christmas Dinners and programs could continue without me, but for worship services a lay minister was willing to provide pulpit supply and for the Christmas Eve Communion Service I invited a retired minister (Rev. Arthur Perry) to join us and help serve the Lord’s Supper. While the world celebrated the close of one year and anticipated the dawn of a new year, my family and church family celebrated the safe arrival of Micah.

Leaving the hospital I was aware that the year 2013 could have ended quite differently for us and our story could have been one of sorrow. A hospital is one setting where Romans 12:15 (the people of God are to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn) is in effect with full force. When some people in a hospital are welcoming a new life into their family, at the same moment you can find others on a different floor saying goodbye. Even in the labour and delivery unit, there are some families saying goodbye even before they had the opportunity to say hello.

After the arrival of each of my children I’ve left the birthing unit with gladness, but I’ve also experienced sorrow after the loss of a miscarriage. When my wife suggested that we have a service or a time of prayer, I found that I had no available resources. Although services for dedication or infant baptism are common and easy to find, there are fewer services for times of sorrow. Following the miscarriage I worked with the Study Commission on Doctrine to create a service to help begin the healing process for those who are grieving the loss of a miscarriage or stillbirth. Example of a service can be found here: http://fmcic.ca/index.php/en/who-we-are/position-papers/4-who-we-are/position-papers/899-service-for-miscarriage-or-stillbirth.

It’s not just a miscarriage or still birth that can cause sorrow, but also issues of infertility. Couples facing infertility and childlessness need empathy and support, and the Church must be equipped to deal with that form of loss. Unfulfilled hopes and dreams of a family are not instantly healed with the possibility of adoption. For couples seeking emotional healing with regards to infertility, good pastoral care and even counselling are needed.

There are a few examples in Scripture of women dealing with infertility, but perhaps the most striking example is Elizabeth in the Gospel of Luke chapter 1. The Gospel begins with Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth being described as being honourable people who were “…righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly” (Luke 1:6). The next verse says that they were childless and in that cultural and historical context most would have assumed this couple’s barrenness was a form of God’s judgment. Like Job’s friends who accused Job of sin for the cause of his suffering, or the disciples asking Jesus about whose sin was to blame because a man was born blind in John chapter 9, the stigma of infertility was such that Elizabeth said on the birth of her miracle child, “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people” (Luke 1:25). This is a strange statement coming from Elizabeth since we’re told that even though she was righteous in God’s sight, her infertility was a source of disgrace among the people. While people today may not automatically equate infertility with sin or God’s judgment, couples facing childlessness still experience significant sorrow and grief much like the stories in Scripture whether one considers Sarah, Hannah or Elizabeth.

Again I return to Romans 12:15. It is easy for people in the Church to celebrate with a couple on the safe arrival of a new baby, but we are also called to mourn with those who mourn. Congregations that over-emphasize family ministry, family events and family programs may unintentionally make a couple mourning because of childlessness feel isolated. The Song of Songs presents a relationship between a man and a woman with no references to children. There is certainly a mystery to the sad reality that some who want children are unable to conceive, others may want a child yet experience a miscarriage, while still others choose to have an abortion. The challenge for the Church is not to understand this iniquity or even attempt to explain it, but simply rejoice with those who rejoice, and have awareness, empathy and sensitivity to be able to mourn with those who mourn.

Mar 18, 2014

Early Church and Women – Now that’s Missional

by Mary-Elsie Wolfe

As a movement, we have been talking increasingly over the last decade or so about being more missional—being more incarnational in our communities—becoming a more redeeming presence.

Historical and archeological research confirms that quest was met by the early church. We see that evidenced in the lives of women. Christianity in its pioneering stage attracted women because it offered what no other religion or society could. Anyone could follow Jesus, regardless of status, position or the sign of the covenant in circumcision. The numerous cults dating to Rome and Greece allowed for very limited—if any—roles for women. Likewise, Judaism restricted the role of women. Christianity did not. In Christianity, women were fully able to come alongside in faith as equal partners and were given opportunities no other venue offered.

In the first and second century, infanticide and abortion were commonly practiced in all regions. Women had little choice in the decision because “Roman law accorded the male head of family the literal power of life and death over his house-hold, including the right to order a female in the household to abort.” Methods of abortion were risky for the woman. Sometimes, poison was used in the uterus or orally but doses were determined by guess work that could kill both mother and child. The archaic methods of removing a child from the uterus involved techniques of force in a time before antibiotics, potentially causing early death. Among the women who survived this ordeal, some became infertile. Those who were not rendered infertile through abortions might also have been sterilised through antiquated forms of contraception or medicine. This was the world in which early Christians lived—but not so for early followers of Jesus

Rodney Stark cites emperor Valentenian’s written order to Pope Damasus I “requiring Christian missionaries to cease calling at the homes of pagan women.” Why? Because women out numbered men as early followers of Jesus.

Christians at the onset valued life. Valuing all life was imbedded in Christian culture from Jewish teaching. Not only that, but Christian women were more fertile having not been exposed to the same obstructions to their reproductive systems. Women found freedoms in the Christian community that they weren’t afforded elsewhere. In many Greco-Roman regions, women were forced into marriage at the age of twelve. Pagans were three times more likely to marry before the age of 13 according to Stark and impregnating young girls was not uncommon.

In contrast, nearly half of Christian women had not married by the age of 18. Not only were Christian widows allowed to remain single but their status was both respected and sanctioned. Conversely, some laws outside the faith fined women who were not married within two years of being widowed. Of course, the right of property would be lost in the marital commitment—a reason why historians conclude that many women of means were drawn to the early church.

Women were crucial to the early church. Men and women met together for worship in the homes of many of these women. Affluent women had homes large enough to fit growing churches. Lydia, Priscilla, Phoebe, Apphia and Nympha are mentioned as women of stature in the church. Phoebe was a leader who helped Paul and served as a deacon in the church. A deacon was understood to have “assisted at liturgical functions and administer the benevolent and charities of the church.” As Stark explains, it was perfectly natural for Paul that a woman hold that position; thus he commended Pheobe as a deaconess to the Romans.

Living Jesus in our community brings hope that might otherwise be obstructed by social norms. That’s why we want to be missional.

Mar 6, 2014

Our Church and Alcohol

by John Vlainic


Let me begin with the kind of church I long for. Everyone who comes soon learns that this people is about: 1) worshipping Jesus, 2) loving Him and everyone else (even enemies), 3) committing to a life-time of becoming more like Him, 4) building quality relationships with some fellow-Christians (in a more intimate context), 5) sharing His love with people “outside” the church, 6) supporting His church in time, energy, attitude, money (everything), and 7) being a counter-culture to the sick society around us. When it comes to the matter of use of alcohol, I dream of such a church where there are people (like me) who abstain from alcohol for good reasons, and where many (like many friends and acquaintances) use alcohol in limited, careful ways. All of us are against drunkenness.

I also dream of a church where we have agreed that alcohol will not be used in church properties or at whole-church gatherings (because of the range of convictions and needs among us about its use).


-The Bible on wine. “In the Bible, wine appears far more frequently as a vehicle of God's blessing than an occasion of human folly.” David Neff, citing author in book review at http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2013/september-web-only/bible-wine-tour.html .

-The Bible on convictions and membership “rules”. Think, for example, about whether there should be a rule about using meat that has been part of an idolatrous worship experience. Some Christians thought so, but Paul did not.

-John Wesley on alcohol, and his insistence that the identity of Methodists: “Let this be your many, noble, generous religions, equally remote from the meanness of superstition, which places religion in doing what God hath not enjoined, or abstaining from what he hath not forbidden.” (Advice to a People Called Methodist)

-An honest look at the whole history of the church re: alcohol. For 95% of our history, the church has been against drunkenness, and for care regarding alcohol. At one time, Yale historian David Underdown tells us, the Puritans of Dorchester adopted an unusual tactic to assist the town's poor: they opened a brewery. “Revivalist and founder of Methodism John Wesley expressed strong opinions on the best methods for brewing beer in the 18th century, as did Reformer Martin Luther in the 16th. And in the 19th century prominent Baptist pastor and evangelist Charles Spurgeon disallowed temperance meetings in his Metropolitan Tabernacle lest people think that abstinence somehow contributes to a person’s salvation. (in Article on Moody Bible Institute now allowing staff to use alcohol. Abstinence has been the rule at only one time – in recent history. See note about the Temperance movement below.)

-Taking into account the fact that today, large number of evangelicals (and Free Methodists) who do carefully use alcohol. A few years ago a National Association of Evangelicals survey found that 40% of evantelical leaders were sometimes using some alcohol. I.e, what is the body of Christ as a whole saying about this? That is, even today, after the temperance movement of the past century, the larger body of Christ is saying what the church did for almost 2000 years: we are against drunkenness, and very careful about alcohol. We have to conclude that all these people are living in sin, or that they are using their freedom in Christ in ways that are acceptable.

-Ongoing appreciation for the good in the Temperance movement. “The temperance movement reacted to a real social and medical problem. We should not dismiss it as a product of Victorian prudishness. But then a focus on reducing alcohol abuse morphed into the conviction that it was a sin for any person to take a drink, period. This was a simpler approach, but it is not biblical.” (Thomas S. Kidd, “How Evangelicals Lost Their Way on Alcohol

-Not wanting a “bait and switch” where people who start coming to church among us sense the 7 points above from day one, and do not suddenly learn, late in the membership process that there is another requirement: not using alcohol.

-A church of integrity where we all, especially leaders, practice what we say we are “for.” This means that today, EITHER the Bishop needs to start disciplining the pastors among us who sometimes use alcohol (and likewise, pastors need to discipline their members who use alcohol) OR we change the stance of the church.

-We reject “slippery slope” fear-based arguments against changing our stance. We remember that people who teach logic say that slippery slope arguments are logical fallacies! The problem with slippery slope reasoning is that it avoids engaging with the issue at hand, and instead puts attention on extreme hypotheticals. No evidence is given that such extreme hypotheticals will actually occur. (See, for example, .)

-We remember that in an earlier day, even while the FMC was against wedding rings, some younger ministerial candidates and lay people started using them even before the rules were changed – and it has NOT resulted in Free Methodists becoming a jewelry-obsessed people. Just look around at the next multi-denominational gathering!

-Concern for how to best help those who are mis-using alcohol. If there is a “rule” against any use (even a now-vague one), any move to help someone mis-using alcohol begins with shaming them (explicitly or tacitly) as a rebel and rule-breaker. Then we try to help them deal with the excess.

By contrast, if abstinence is not a rule, we begin with helping them re: their excess in something that we are not categorically condemning. Yes, they may end up abstainers (since they have problems with alcohol), but we don’t start with shame and condemnation.

Mar 5, 2014

Alcohol and the Church

by John Vlainic

Last evening I attended a Hamilton event (sponsored by the city's Public Health Department, the police, and school boards) on "What Can Parents Do To Prevent Underage Drinking - and How Alcohol Affects the Teenage Brain." The 2010 death of a city teen who died from alcohol poisoning had resulted in an inquest and recommendations and studies and now some actions and educational tools. It was so moving to hear his mother say a word to the gathering.

I was there trying to listen for any indicators from the health community re: whether we, as a faith group, do more good by having a "rule" against drinking (= recommending total abstinence) or by educating well, helping people to make their own decisions, and advocating great care with a dangerous substance.

I didn't get any "news-bite" things that could easily help us. But I did learn a great deal about the development of the teenage brain (this was the focus of the main speaker).

As you probably know, it is illegal in Ontario for someone under the age of 19 to drink alcohol or for their parents to provide it for them or to allow them to bring it into their home.

The main part of the evening was spent presenting 6 Research-based strategies to help parents to work with their teen/young adults regarding alcohol.

Again and again we heard about the process (well into the 20's) whereby the frontal lobe (where reasoning and the capacity to make thoughtful choices)of the young brain is being developed. Repeatedly we heard how parents who use "rules" or "tell" their teen/young adult what they MUST or MUST NOT do,DO NOT HELP the young person to develop their frontal lobe, their capacity to learn to work into decisions using reason.

The stress was on helping teens to develop the ability to make thoughtful decisions. This requires much more emphasis on benefits (to them and to people they love) than on bad consequences.

Again and again we heard how important it is to ask teens "judgment" questions rather than fact questions. I.e., "Tell me what you did today" is useless (we all know that), whereas "Tell me the most disgusting thing that happened at school today" or "Tell me the best thing that happened at school today" push them to evaluate and make judgments. The latter kind of questions help them to develop their frontal lobes (which are developing into their 20's).

We also heard that the appropriate sharing of "kernels of wisdom" can be helpful-if they are not presented as though we are exercising "authority" over them.

These things were shared by a lecturer from OISE at U of T (who doesn't drink at all, but whose wife does).

I left thinking that:

-we DO need to point our people to good information about alcohol's damaging effects on the developing brain and potential dangers to everyone

-having a "rule" (or even saying we "advocate" abstinence) probably does nothing overall to help our people to help their teens/young adults to develop their frontal lobes well (where the capacity to reason thoughtfully into a decision takes place)

-we need to take out the "Rule" part in our Manual and simply point to the responsibility of Christ-followers to educate themselves about the dangers of alcohol (especially to teens/young adults) and to help one another to come to responsible decisions about its use. There are good materials we can point people to. I would be OK with us saying a bit MORE about alcohol -- but not by way of a "rule" for our people.

. . . . . . Some thoughts from a man who doesn't drink alcohol at all (except a few molecules when receiving communion with my Anglican friends).