Father Tarcey is a Franciscan whose ministry was at the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus (Selcuk Turkey), until his recent retirement, though he is remaining in community there. The House of the Virgin Mary is a pilgrimage site for Christians and Muslims alike and is seen by many as a place where miracles can occur especially healing and conception. Father Tarcey’s ministry is with anyone who is searching for something no matter their background. He is one of the most amazing witnesses to the Christian faith. He is full of the love of Christ as he touches in a very warm and sincere way the lives of those he comes in contact with. When I was primary caregiver for a close friend facing the challenges of lung cancer, he arrived in the hospital room one day bearing a statue of the Virgin Mary. Ironically my friend had just had a vision of the Virgin Mary that sustained her during hours of pain in the ICU. He knew my friend’s mother and traveled to be present with her and with her daughter, a ministry of presence. He prayed with us during that visit and through the months ahead. Through letters he has continued to be a real and tangible source of spiritual support for me. We, as Christians, should remember how meaningful a phone call or letter can be to a person who is going through a difficult time.
I benefit from my dialogues with Muslim friends here in Turkey because of the insight I gain into myself, my own culture, and my own Christian tradition. One Muslim friend recently set me thinking about the Last Supper. We were wondering together about the psychology of that event as the last meal of Jesus with his disciples. If you knew that a certain meal with someone special in your life was to be your last one together, what would be in your mind? How would you behave?Read more
Lebanon, the home of the Near East School of Theology, has seen some earth shattering events during the course of 2005. Assassinations of prominent Muslim and Christian leaders alike have shaken the reality of many Lebanese people. Dr Mary Mikhael describes these events very poignantly by saying, “Somehow as sad as all of these events were they have shown a certain high maturity among the Lebanese people of all religious communities. It seems all have learned a lesson the hard way. All seemed convinced that violence solves no problems. All have been persuaded that violence must be rejected at all times and by all people. Despite the disruption to lives, the recent events are something to be observed with a depth of thought. Liberty, independence and the sovereignty of a people are values to be protected by all and enjoyed by all.”
This year will be the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. August 6 is Hiroshima Day. It is also my birthday. Ever since I made this connection I have found this deeply troubling.Read more
Matthew 5:13-16: You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heavenRead more
Anniversaries are times to recall and appreciate history and relationships. It is a time to review where we have been and where we are going. Mission is an enterprise of going out of the doors of our churches and witnessing to the love of God through Jesus Christ among those we come into contact with. Sometimes that mission takes us next door. Sometimes that mission takes us to distant lands. Sometimes God calls us to places where another religion may be in the majority. In the case of the Middle East, mission was to the birthplace of Christianity itself. The Christians,Read more
Dear young people of the United Church of Christ:
We sometimes get letters from you in your Sunday School or confirmation classes or youth groups. We respect your teachers and advisers, who are volunteering to help you with your religious education and spiritual growth. We hope you realize how lucky you are -- and we’re sure they are lucky to have you as their students!
The family of Christians is so richly diverse! How can we be one? Politics, sociology, theology, ritual, language, calendar, music, scripture -- you name it, many of our Christian communities are polar opposites. What unites Christians? There doesn’t seem to be one common ground. Even Jesus’ disciples each had a different view of who he was. But we suspect there is something in every Christian group that can strengthen and inform the faith of others.Read more
We recently gave thanks for the life of Altan Unver (1939-2005), the creator of the Development Foundation of Turkey. Altan was both a student and then a teacher for a time at the historical Tarsus American College, started by our predecessor missionaries. An international participant in the work camp movement of the 1950s in North America and Europe, Altan ran work camps in Turkey. He actualized his vision of improving the agricultural practices and material lives of Turkey’s rural poor by establishing the highly successful Development Foundation of Turkey in 1969. Altan’s life work of service to the people of his country will live on in his pioneering NGO as well as in the efforts of relatives and friends inspired by his example.Read more
The member churches of the World Council of Churches (WCC) have been invited to make Sunday 24 April a day of memory of the Armenian genocide on its 90th anniversary.Read more