Christian Churches – Hellven http://hellven.org/ Wed, 22 Jun 2022 04:18:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://hellven.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/cropped-icon-2-32x32.png Christian Churches – Hellven http://hellven.org/ 32 32 Nigeria not solving Christian-Muslim divide, bishop says https://hellven.org/nigeria-not-solving-christian-muslim-divide-bishop-says/ Wed, 22 Jun 2022 04:18:00 +0000 https://hellven.org/nigeria-not-solving-christian-muslim-divide-bishop-says/ Attacks on Christians, especially Catholics, are on the rise in this African country Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu points to blood on the ground after an attack by gunmen at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo town, southwestern Nigeria, on June 5. (Photo: AFP) Posted: Jun 22, 2022 04:18 GMT Updated: June 22, 2022 at […]]]>

Attacks on Christians, especially Catholics, are on the rise in this African country

Ondo State Governor Rotimi Akeredolu points to blood on the ground after an attack by gunmen at St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo town, southwestern Nigeria, on June 5. (Photo: AFP)

Posted: Jun 22, 2022 04:18 GMT

Updated: June 22, 2022 at 04:24 GMT

While the Catholic Church continues to play its role in helping Nigerians, the policies of the current government are obstructing a clear path to peace and reconciliation between Christians and Muslims, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto has said.

Addressing a virtual conference on peacebuilding, organized by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, Bishop Kukah said the rise in banditry and violence in Nigeria “took over and consumed a lot of the gains we made.”

“Just to let you know how little progress we have made, we still have a military general as chairman. And therefore, it is no wonder that this trip has proven to be a challenge and a source of great difficulty for our people,” he said on June 20.

Attacks against Christians, especially Catholics, have increased in the country. On June 5, gunmen entered St. Francis Xavier Church in Owo, killing at least 50 people and injuring dozens.

More recently, gunmen attacked worshipers on June 20 at St. Moses Catholic Church as well as a nearby Baptist church in the northern state of Kaduna, killing three people and kidnapping 40.

Bishop Kukah said Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s “military background and lack of disposition towards the principles of democracy and democratization” has eroded the gains of Christian-Muslim reconciliation, and “the country is far more divided than he never was.”

“It is a difficult journey, but our churches still have the moral authority to continue to lead our people to a land where freedom, justice and equity can take root”

“Because our Muslim president has never developed a sense of fairness – in terms of sharing power and developing an inclusive system – we are much worse off in terms of relationships than before the end of the war. military dictatorship,” the bishop said.

Many Nigerians, he explained, believed that the end of military rule “was going to mean freedom. And freedom was going to come with more food on the table”.

Instead, “people became quite desperate and discouraged” while others resorted to violence and kidnappings for ransom to make ends meet.

Buhari seized power in a military coup in December 1983 and ruled until 1985. The retired general won elections in 2015 and was re-elected in 2019.

“As I speak to you, two of my priests are being held captive,” Bishop Kukah said. “They have been in the hands of bandits for three weeks, along with two lay people. These are the realities the Church is facing, so it is increasingly difficult to confront these problems.”

Despite the challenges, Bishop Kukah said the Catholic Church plays a vital role in bringing hope to Nigerians and encourages them to continue to believe “there is no alternative to democracy.”

“It is a difficult journey, but our churches still have the moral authority to continue to lead our people to a land where freedom, justice and equity can take root,” the Bishop said.

“In truth, there is no substitute for commitment, there is no other way. Everyone in the history of mankind has found themselves around a table,” he said .

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The Synod votes to simplify and clarify the rela…… | News and reports https://hellven.org/the-synod-votes-to-simplify-and-clarify-the-rela-news-and-reports/ Fri, 17 Jun 2022 13:56:22 +0000 https://hellven.org/the-synod-votes-to-simplify-and-clarify-the-rela-news-and-reports/ What is the relationship between the Christian Reformed Church in North America in Canada and the Christian Reformed Church in North America in the United States? It is complicated. The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) is a unique denomination. But legally, it exists as two separate entities, one incorporated in Michigan, the other […]]]>

What is the relationship between the Christian Reformed Church in North America in Canada and the Christian Reformed Church in North America in the United States?

It is complicated.

The Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRC) is a unique denomination. But legally, it exists as two separate entities, one incorporated in Michigan, the other north of the border. Bound by faith and history, they carry out their work through joint ministerial agreements.

The way the two work in unison can be a bit confusing even to those in the churches.

“There is a lot of fog in the system, and it is difficult to understand what is expected and how we can move forward for the benefit of the church,” said Albert Postma, newly appointed Canadian Transition Executive Director.

The report of the Structure and Leadership Task Force (SALT) – presented for approval at CRCNA Synod 2022 and officially adopted on Wednesday, June 15 – will hopefully bring some clarity to the relationship and help Canadian churches to comply with recent changes to non-profit tax legislation. His recommendations to understand:

  • Clarify ecclesiastical, ecumenical and synodical responsibilities between countries.
  • Clarify governance responsibilities and interrelationships between boards and advisors in Canada and the United States.
  • Clarify administrative responsibilities between countries.
  • Clarify ministerial responsibilities between countries.
  • Affirm that interdepartmental agreements will be approved by the competent authorities.
  • Affirm the process for developing and overseeing interdepartmental agreements.

The task force also recommends adjustments to the leadership structure, including the creation of an office of corporate secretary.

Postma will be key to leading the denomination through the transitions ahead. Chris deWinter, who chaired the search team that recommended Postma for the job, believes Postma’s experience as a classroom renewal leader and pastor of a church in Ontario has made him a good builder of bridges. He describes Postma as a synthesizer and collaborator.

“Those are two sets of skills that we need right now, especially in the Canadian office and the work in progress,” deWinter said. “He’s able to pull all kinds of things together and collaborate with a team.”

Postma said he hopes the changes over the next few years will be more than bureaucratic. He really wants to help the denomination understand what it means to be a binational fellowship of churches and to clarify areas of independence and interdependence.

He believes there are advantages to being bi-national. Part of his job is to help local pastors see who they are.

“The big picture, the overall hope, and what I would like to work toward is that every church, church leader, and pastor be able to say they are better off because they are part of of this denomination,” Postma said. “I really think the Christian Reformed Church is a good denomination. It is worth investing. It is worth being part of it.

The discussions in which Postma engages are certainly not new. This is something that the CRCNA has struggling with for decades.

The Christian Reformed Church was first established in the United States in 1857, and although there have been a few churches that have been considered missionary outposts in Canada over the years, this is not that a large wave of immigration from the Netherlands to Canada after World War II that significant growth occurred in the country. American churches helped establish these churches.

Today there are about 250 CRC churches in Canada and about 850 in the United States. American citizens frequently pastor Canadian churches and many Canadian citizens pastor American churches. Legal changes to Canadian tax laws, requiring Canadian citizens to control charitable funds donated by Canadians, have prompted a review of the relationship across the border, which is also often troubled by cultural differences.

Bureaucratic structures sometimes led to difficulties in communication and cooperation.

“It’s easy to just feel like a burden and forget about some of the great things God is doing right now through us and in us,” Postma said. “I really hope we can’t forget these things.”

Churches share the gospel, disciple Christians, train leaders and welcome refugees. The American and Canadian churches work together through joint ministerial agreements that allow them to act as one while remaining within the legal parameters of their respective countries.

These agreements detail everything from the purpose and objectives of the ministry to resources, staff and budget. This may include congregational ministries such as faith formation, disability issues, pastoral church resources and safe church, and missions.

In the past, interdepartmental arrangements were a little “softer,” said Terry Veldboom, who worked for CRC in Canada for 35 years in various administrative and financial roles and recently completed a term as interim executive director. .

He said it has always been difficult to ensure that their agreements meet legal requirements and also facilitate coordinated ministry, but he believes the approved changes will help in both areas.

“Over the past year, we have established a new set of Joint Ministerial Agreements for all of our joint cross-border activities. They are much more detailed and solid,” he said.

Now that they have a good grasp of the adjusted Canadian legal and governance framework, Veldboom believes there are other issues that need to be addressed on a socio-political level. Cultural differences, for example, have often been a problem. CRC churches in Canada tend to be more concerned with social justice than those in the United States, he said.

As an example, he notes that in Canada, Indigenous issues are front and center, but are barely seen as a concern in the United States.

Can these differences be overcome?

“That’s the question of the hour,” Veldboom said.

He said there were plenty of arguments for sticking together and many believe the areas they have in common are greater than those that separate them.

In this sense, Veldboom views Postma’s appointment as positive. He believes Postma’s experience with local churches has given him an idea of ​​what things are like on the ground. At 38, Postma is also at an age where he can be seen as someone who can relate to both younger and older generations.

Veldboom and Postma hope that by properly addressing these differences, the CRCNA can emerge stronger and richer by intentionally examining differences in background or culture and what is essential for denominational unity.

“It’s painful, but sometimes the things that add challenge also give us the opportunity to experience those challenges and grow through them,” Postma said.

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Cambridge Safer Homes and Safer Community gift cards for firearms events yield record number of unwanted firearms https://hellven.org/cambridge-safer-homes-and-safer-community-gift-cards-for-firearms-events-yield-record-number-of-unwanted-firearms/ Wed, 15 Jun 2022 14:00:33 +0000 https://hellven.org/cambridge-safer-homes-and-safer-community-gift-cards-for-firearms-events-yield-record-number-of-unwanted-firearms/ A record 245 unwanted firearms were safely surrendered at seventh annual Cambridge Safer Homes, Safer Community Gift Cards for Guns event on Saturday, June 11 at Reservoir Church and Margaret Fuller House. Firearms that were returned included pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles, BB guns that resembled 9mm pistols, and a toy gun. Residents of Cambridge and […]]]>

A record 245 unwanted firearms were safely surrendered at seventh annual Cambridge Safer Homes, Safer Community Gift Cards for Guns event on Saturday, June 11 at Reservoir Church and Margaret Fuller House. Firearms that were returned included pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles, BB guns that resembled 9mm pistols, and a toy gun. Residents of Cambridge and as far away as New Hampshire also dropped off ammunition and various gun parts. This year’s turnout surpassed last year’s previous record of more than 150 weapons collected. Public safety officials and community volunteers have now collected more than 560 guns at events in Cambridge, distributed gun safety locks and shared detailed suicide prevention and safety information firearms.

The Cambridge Gun Gift Cards – part of the city’s initiative to reduce unintentional injuries at home and reduce the risk of suicide, domestic violence and street crime – are a collaboration of the City of Cambridge, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and over 60 faith-based and community organizations and businesses. Since 2013, the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office has helped 15 towns and villages across the county, and more than 1,890 unwanted weapons have been returned.

For Cambridge residents who were unable to participate last weekend and still wish to dispose of any unused firearms at home, please contact 617-349-6009. Appointments scheduled by Thursday, June 30, 2022 will continue to be eligible for grocery gift cards valued at $50-$200.

Attendees cited a wide range of reasons for attending this year’s event. A father said after seeing the recent shootings across the country, he wanted to make sure his son wouldn’t have access to a gun in his home. A widow said she found a gun in a bag while cleaning up her late husband’s belongings and wanted it removed from her home. An elderly man said he had owned a gun for decades but had never used it and wanted it safely destroyed.

Overall, more than 60 organizations helped make this weekend’s events possible through planning, participation, support and donations. The following Cambridge interfaith organizations and community partners collaborated on this important initiative: A Place to Heal Ministries, Abundant Life Church, Calvary Praise and Worship Center, Cambridgeport Baptist Church, Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, Christian Mission Holiness Church, Congregation Eitz Chayim , Christ Church , First Baptist Church, First Church in Cambridge Congregational, First Parish Cambridge, Friends Meeting Cambridge, Harvard Epworth United Methodist Church, Harvard Memorial Church, Islamic Society of Boston (ISB Cambridge), Journey Church, Kingdom Empowerment Center, Massachusetts Avenue Baptist Church, St. Paul Parish, Pentecostal Tabernacle, Reservoir Church, Rush AME Zion Church, Salvation Army, Cambridge Citadel, St. James Episcopal Church, St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Temple Beth Shalom, Union Baptist Church, Western Aven Baptist Church ue, Cambridge Community Foundation, Cambridge Community Centre, Cambridge Women’s Center, Cambridge YWCA, Community Art Center, East End House, Many Helping Hands, Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, My Brother’s Keeper Cambridge, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, The Loop Lab, Transition House, Tutoring Plus, YWCA Cambridge, CambridgeSide , Central Square BID, Harvard Square Business Association, Middle East Restaurant, Pemberton Market, Star Market/Shaw’s, Toscanini’s, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market, Cambridge Arts Council, Cambridge Council on Aging, Cambridge Domestic & Gender-Based Violence Prevention Initiative, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge Human Service Programs, Cambridge Peace Commission, Cambridge Police Department, Cambridge Public Health Department, Cambridge Public Works, Cambridge Veterans Services, The Office of Massachusetts State Representative Marjorie Decker, Massachusetts State Police and Middlesex Sheriff’s Office.

For more information on Cambridge’s Safer Homes, Safer Community initiative, please visit camb.ma/GiftCardsforGuns. If you or your organization would like to get involved in a future event (for example, donate gift cards, volunteer at the event, or help post flyers before an event), or if you live in a community who might be interested in hosting a similar event, please email Lori Lander of Many Helping Hands (lorilander@manyhelpinghands365.org), Jeremy Warnick of the Cambridge Police Department (jwarnick@cambridgepolice.org), or Kevin Maccioli of the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office (kmaccioli@sdm.state.ma.us).

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Saddleback’s successor cleared of arrogance allegations …… | News and reports https://hellven.org/saddlebacks-successor-cleared-of-arrogance-allegations-news-and-reports/ Mon, 13 Jun 2022 13:53:17 +0000 https://hellven.org/saddlebacks-successor-cleared-of-arrogance-allegations-news-and-reports/ Leaders of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church say a preliminary inquest cleared Warren’s recently announced successor, Andy Wood, of allegations of an authoritarian leadership style that demands unquestioning loyalty. Rick Warren, author of The goal-oriented life and one of the most influential voices in evangelical Christianity, plans to retire in September. He appointed San Francisco-area pastor […]]]>

Leaders of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church say a preliminary inquest cleared Warren’s recently announced successor, Andy Wood, of allegations of an authoritarian leadership style that demands unquestioning loyalty.

Rick Warren, author of The goal-oriented life and one of the most influential voices in evangelical Christianity, plans to retire in September. He appointed San Francisco-area pastor Andy Wood as his successor at Saddleback, a Southern California congregation that draws 25,000 people to worship services. Wood, 40, is currently the senior pastor of Echo Church, a multi-site congregation based in San Jose.

After the public announcement, a former Echo Church staffer commented on issues with Wood’s management on social media.

The allegations came as no surprise to Saddleback executives.

According to Saddleback’s statement on Sunday night, Wood had informed church elders of the former staffer’s claims during his interview and offered to show them videos of his meetings with the former staffer. The church asked the Vanderbloemen Search Group, which performed Wood’s initial background check, to do a follow-up examination.

“Our elders have now received a second preliminary report from the Vanderbloemen research group exonerating Pastor Wood of all allegations,” the church said in a letter to the congregation on Sunday, which was also sent to Religion New Service (RNS ).

The research firm received videos, emails and text recordings, as well as interviews that Echo collected in its review of Wood’s actions. He also conducted an additional interview, according to Saddleback’s letter.

“They have attempted to contact the former staff member and have yet to receive communication,” the church said.

Saddleback executives said they sent the letter because “we felt it was important for you to hear the facts about this from us now, rather than in the news or on social media.”

“Please stop for a moment and pray now,” church leaders asked the congregation. “Pray for clarity of truth and for wisdom.”

Wood, in a statement to RNS, said Echo “would welcome any current or former members of staff to share their experience working at Echo with Vanderbloemen as part of their investigation”, adding: “We want to do our utmost possible to help uncover the truth about these allegations.

According to the transition plan announced by the church, Wood and his wife Stacie will be interviewed by Warren and his wife, Kay, during services at Saddleback on June 19. The Woods will leave Echo Church at the end of June and begin directing Saddleback. September 12.

Scot McKnight, co-author of A church called Tov, who criticizes toxic church cultures, said large churches can create celebrity pastors who lead in problematic ways. He doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of the issues with Wood’s leadership, but expressed concern about what he heard. “Big churches attract big egos,” he said.

Founded in 2008 as South Bay Church, Echo now has 4 campuses and attracts approximately 3,000 people to weekly services. The church grew in part through merge with smaller and struggling congregations to create what is called a multi-site church.

“Church mergers have become one of the most effective strategies for struggling churches to thrive again, for growing churches to amplify their reach, and for church facilities to be better used to make advance the Gospel in an area”, according a section of the Echo Church website.

Wood is also organizing a leadership conferencewhich included last year Marc Driscollthe disgraced pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle who resigned in 2014 after a series of controversies involving allegations of bullying, plagiarism and abuse of power. Driscoll is now pastoring a church in Arizona.

Lance Hough, a former staffer at Echo’s Fremont campus, left the church last year citing an “unhealthy culture” in which he said Wood demanded unwavering loyalty. Hough was on the leadership team of Crossroads Church in Freemont when it merged with Echo.

This merger is billed as a “marriage merger” on Echo’s website, where “two growing churches realign with each other under a unified vision and new leadership.” The merger was meant to be a partnership, Hough said, but became more of a takeover.

“And as soon as our organization started functionally merging, they started systematically killing everything that made our church unique,” Hough said. He notes that the Crossroads pastor remained on staff and disagreed with his criticisms.

Hough said Wood was kind and friendly as a leader, but dismissed any questioning of how Echo was working out of hand. He worried that Wood would use the goodwill created by Saddleback and Warren to impose his own approach to the ministry, which Hough says is inherently unhealthy.

A graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wood planted a congregation known as Breakthrough Church during his seminary before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a flyer 2009 for Echo. According to this prospectus, among the church’s founding values ​​were healthy relationships and character-driven leadership.

“We believe that God is glorified in our midst when we make his love complete by showing sacrificial kindness to one another,” the prospectus states. “We believe the gospel calls us to place the goals and interests of others above our own.”

When he announced Wood as his successor, Warren said he considered about 100 potential candidates. He cited Wood’s experience in church planting as a plus, saying he had ‘already built a church in a very difficult place’ and had the skills to manage a complex mega-church. like Saddleback, which runs services in a dozen locations.

Warren also said character matters in a new pastor, mentioning the list of traits required for leaders in 1 Timothy 3.

“If you’re going to lead a church, those qualities are non-negotiable,” Warren said in a video featuring Wood. “And if you don’t have those qualities in your life, you are automatically disqualified from being a pastor and leading a church family.”

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125 years of Christian Church | News, Sports, Jobs https://hellven.org/125-years-of-christian-church-news-sports-jobs/ Sat, 11 Jun 2022 06:03:44 +0000 https://hellven.org/125-years-of-christian-church-news-sports-jobs/ ABOVE: The Fairmont Christian Church, located at 625 Johnson Street, celebrates its 125th anniversary this weekend. FAIRMONT– The Fairmont Christian Church will celebrate its 125th anniversary this weekend. The idea for the church began in 1895 and it has stood at its current location at 625 Johnson St. since 1989. Pastor […]]]>

ABOVE: The Fairmont Christian Church, located at 625 Johnson Street, celebrates its 125th anniversary this weekend.

FAIRMONT– The Fairmont Christian Church will celebrate its 125th anniversary this weekend. The idea for the church began in 1895 and it has stood at its current location at 625 Johnson St. since 1989.

Pastor Jacob Wurster has been with the church since November 2020. He succeeded the previous pastor of 20 years, Glenn Davis. Wurster previously served as a youth pastor at a church in the small community of Galesburg, Kansas.

Wurster shared that for the church’s 100th anniversary in 1995, a church member typed a book of its history.

“The church started in 1895 when a Christian missionary came to the area,” Würster said.

He noted that the same year, Immanuel Lutheran Church, now located at the north end of Fairmont, was also established.

While the desire to start a church began in 1895, Wurster said nothing really started until 1905 when another evangelist, CR Neel, came to town.

“He was the real proponent of making our church a thing. That’s when we found a lot of things,” Würster said.

The first official location was at the southeast corner of Elm Street and 3rd Street. Then they met at Daniel’s Hall until 1914, when they were forced to move because the Hall had to be transformed by the owner. The Haynic Theatre, later the Nicholas Theater and now the Fairmont Opera House, was in use on Sundays while the Park Street Church was being built.

The congregation left the Hall and moved to a church in Park Street, which they occupied for 23 years.

Around this time, the church actually moved into what is now the Red Rock Center for the Arts in Fairmont. The building was constructed in 1898 by a small group of Christian Science parishioners. In 1937, the church changed hands when it was purchased by the Fairmont Christian Church.

“We owned this building and used all parts of it. The top was for worship and the bottom was for Sunday school classes and things like that,” Wurster explained.

He said they eventually got out of that space and sold it in 1988 when they got an opportunity through a person named Jack Ballard and his church builders, called Mount Carmel Church Builders of Decatur, Georgia.

“Every year, their group built churches for free. They would ask us to cover all the extra costs and physical labor, but the majority of the big costs they would cover,” Würster said.

However, he said the result was usually a smaller building with a sanctuary and a few bathrooms.

“Throughout its time of construction, ours was the largest church they had ever built,” Würster said.

At the time the church was built on Johnson Street, Wurster said there was really nothing in that area except the hospital.

The inauguration took place on September 19, 1988 and the first service was held on January 29, 1989.

In the 33 years that the church has been in its present location, no significant work has been done. Wurster said the parking lot was originally gravel and is now a nice paved bitumen. Air conditioning was also added years ago as the original building did not have it. Projectors and sound systems were also added as technology advanced.

The Shrine shares the same room as the Fellowship Hall, which Wurster says proved beneficial during Covid when restrictions were in place as they were able to expand and use the entire room.

“Space has been used since 1989 for all sorts of different things,” Würster said.

About seven years ago, the Minnesota Valley Action Council began renting the youth group’s space at the church for a Head Start program. Wurster said the partnership helps both parties.

Although perhaps smaller in size, the church remained active. Wurster said the whole heart of the church reaches out to the community.

It offers a free dinner on Christmas Day year after year to the community. Last year was the first comeback after missing the last two due to Covid. Wurster said 157 people came last year.

This spring, the church held its first clothing swap. Wurster said nearly 100 people came to pick up clothes and then donated them to Twelve Baskets. They plan to do the clothing swap twice a year in the future.

“We have a great management team here. We work well together and see the big vision of what we’re trying to do and we’re ready to pitch in to make it happen.” Würster said.

The church will celebrate its 125th anniversary this Sunday. A regular worship service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Then there will be a catered meal for those who have made a reservation. At 1 p.m. there will be a celebration and worship service open to the public.

Wurster said they had a former pianist and former ministers returning for the celebration.

“It may not be as grand as our 100th was, but still just as significant,” Würster said.

He shared why he thinks it is important to mark the church’s anniversary.

“As I have returned to the book and seen all the amazing things we have been able to do, the tenacity of the church to stay relevant encourages me to move forward. Yes, 125 years, c “is a long time. My heart still says 125 years of our church’s existence. Not just being here, but reaching people and making Jesus known in our community,” Würster said.



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Supporting biblical sexual ethics in a sexualized word https://hellven.org/supporting-biblical-sexual-ethics-in-a-sexualized-word/ Wed, 08 Jun 2022 21:56:00 +0000 https://hellven.org/supporting-biblical-sexual-ethics-in-a-sexualized-word/ Getty Images The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission hosted a roundtable on Tuesday on how churches and Christian leaders should train their congregations regarding God’s purpose for human sexuality in an increasingly sexualized world. Hundreds have joined a virtual chat on Zoom explaining how Christian parents, ministry leaders and pastors must meet the […]]]>
Students, LGBT flag
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The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission hosted a roundtable on Tuesday on how churches and Christian leaders should train their congregations regarding God’s purpose for human sexuality in an increasingly sexualized world.

Hundreds have joined a virtual chat on Zoom explaining how Christian parents, ministry leaders and pastors must meet the challenges of the sexual revolution and how they can serve loved ones and community members who identify as LGBT.

ERLC is the public policy arm of America’s largest Protestant denomination.

Jason Thacker, research chair in technology ethics and director of the ERLC Research Institute, said he had connected in recent weeks with some local church pastors who were unsure how to handle situations where people within their congregations or people visiting their churches for the first time identify as LGBT.

“There are questions swirling around our culture, especially in light of Pride Month. …I think a lot of people when they hear about biblical sexual ethics and sexual revolution, our minds go in a thousand different directions. There are hundreds of questions being asked of us…especially among our pastors and ministry leaders,” Thacker said.

Several pastors who have come to Thacker have asked questions such as: “I have a foreign couple” or “I have someone who is attracted to the same sex” or “I have a question about someone who has made the transition and wants to become a member of the church.

Amid the discussion, Dean Inserra, the pastor of City Church in Tallahassee, Florida, said visitors often ask him if his church is LGBT.

When it comes to the topics of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, Inserra said it has seen many churches take one of two different approaches.

“One of the approaches is for the churches to give in to the culture. They take on the views of the culture. They just decide ‘love is love’, affirming, celebrating pride month, just l ‘total embrace of all things LGBT,’ he said.

“Or you see churches shutting up about it…because they know that often in this culture people will walk away if you talk about it even if they believe what the scriptures say about these relationships.”

Inserra is the author of 2022 bookPure: Why the Bible’s Plan for Sexuality Isn’t Outdated, Irrelevant, or Oppressive.

Inserra said the way he approaches these topics with his church is neither through avoidance nor through LGBT affirmation. He said it is important that all churches start discussing these topics in their regular teachings.

“For our church, we are going to talk about it because we have seen this kind of [remnant] it grows [with] people who really want to know what the Bible has to say and who are tired of the revolution they constantly see. And they’re trying to raise their kids to think about that in a way that they didn’t have to when they were in elementary school, middle school, and high school,” the pastor said.

“Not that we talk about it every week, but if you come to our church, especially if you’re a member, you’ll…know that we believe that God made marriage between a man and a woman, sex is reserved for this sacred union and we are not ashamed of it.

Inserra said it also hears many questions from people who may not be struggling with gender dysphoria or same-sex attraction, but are seeking answers from their church on how to address the issues. LGBT with their children.

“I’m not going to hand them this intense book on anthropology. And so we’re just going to talk to them and explain to them how they can navigate with their kids through these things that are going on right now,” Inserra said, saying her son in third grade had a classmate who was transgender and taking hormones.

“I didn’t think I was going to have to have the conversation about how we’re going to talk about it, how we’re going to treat this individual, how we’re going to respond, what name we’re going to use. What about the problem of pronouns? These are the questions people ask us: ‘How can I handle this? How can I teach this to my children? »

Earlier in the discussion, Katie McCoy, director of women’s ministries at the Baptist General Convention in Texas, holds a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology, shared what she believes is at the root of the cultural crisis facing many churches and ministry leaders.

“I think if we could boil it down to one thing, it’s a question of who we are, what our human identity is and what factors we use to construct it. When we talk about [these issues]we say identity is self-created as opposed to God-given identity,” McCoy said.

“The human body, according to our culture, is something that is fundamentally unrelated to human identity or at least incidental and that our sexuality can be without purpose or design that can guide us in how we use it. “

McCoy said what is taught from scripture in a biblical worldview is that “the body is a separate aspect of who we are.”

But she said the culture would say “the body is a divisible aspect of who we are,” and the body is something people can separate from their true selves and determine their own identity completely separate from the body.

“Some of the challenges that come with it are broad and far-reaching,” McCoy said. “I think of a few beings: the relationship between biological sex and gender, the relationship between gender identity and feelings, … your inner sense of who you are. What if it’s not aligned with your biological sex? McCoy continued.

“Some other challenges deal with the dominant ideas in our culture and how they affect the new ethics, the new morality that we see in business, education, medical practice. It reaches all of these different spheres of society.

McCoy said there was another challenge from “political forces at work to censor research, to indoctrinate children at a young age with specific views on gender and gender ideology.”

“Another challenge people have is ‘how can we help someone with gender dysphoria? — especially children? Medical wisdom says ‘you would agree with a person’s self-perception , and not try to question it. It’s something that is beyond doubt,” she said.

“And as a result of that approach, you have kids who are blocking puberty or doing things like hormone therapy or different socialization changes: changing their hairstyle, their clothes, their name.”

McCoy pointed out that some schools reintroduce children to their classmates as different genders.

“In some cases this is happening without the parents’ knowledge, certainly not their approval, and it’s just a step towards cross-sex hormones and surgical interventions – most of which have irreversible effects,” said McCoy.

Thacker said pastors and church leaders often behave as if issues of sexual ethics are not an issue affecting their churches. He argued that many people face issues of sexual ethics within the Church.

Andrew Walker, associate professor of Christian ethics and public theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, said culture is a compilation of many different forces “all of which put pressure on individuals and institutions.”

“Ideas have consequences,” said ERLC researcher Walker. “It’s something we tend to downplay. Ideas shape beliefs, beliefs shape behavior, behavior shapes expectations about what the law wants to prohibit or allow. … The dominant motif is this idea of ​​expressive individualism.

“I think if that’s the only category that’s going to define who we are as a civilization right now, it’s the primacy of self,” Walker said. “It is the idea that the self must understand that its fulfillment is linked to the release of any obligation that it does not create or consent to on its own ground.”

Complaining about sexual ethics issues is not the answer for Christians, according to Walker, because there is hope “to get us out of this mess.”

“Honestly, we can complain and talk about the seriousness of the situation, and it is,” he said. “But, I’m actually seeing glimmers of the age-old cracks in the foundation starting to appear because what we’re seeing is that human nature is not meant to be a load-bearing structure and entity like our society assumes. she can be.”

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Shootings reveal divisions over gun issue in religious communities https://hellven.org/shootings-reveal-divisions-over-gun-issue-in-religious-communities/ Sat, 04 Jun 2022 13:06:00 +0000 https://hellven.org/shootings-reveal-divisions-over-gun-issue-in-religious-communities/ After a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, several pastors across the country challenged their conservative counterparts with this question: Are you pro-life if you are you pro-gun? One such religious leader is the Reverend Steven Marsh, senior pastor of the Geneva Presbyterian Church […]]]>

After a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas on May 24, several pastors across the country challenged their conservative counterparts with this question: Are you pro-life if you are you pro-gun?

One such religious leader is the Reverend Steven Marsh, senior pastor of the Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, California. It was there that a gunman, who officials say was fueled by hatred against Taiwan, opened fire on May 15 during a luncheon hosted by members of the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Irvine, killing one and wounding five others.

“I’ve heard people tell me I’m not a Christian because I’m pro-choice,” Marsh said. “I ask these people: how can you be pro-life and not support the elimination of assault rifles? You can’t choose where you want to be pro-life.

Marsh’s emotional statement is a vignette in the larger narrative of a divided nation over how — or if — guns should be regulated. The religious community is not monolithic on this issue.

Believers fed up with years of failed gun control efforts and mourning the latest mass shooting victims point to what they say is hypocrisy – conservative Christians pushing to abolish abortion and granting unhindered access to firearms. Those who disagree argue that the real problem is sin and easy targets. It’s not guns, but “evil” in people and abortions that kill, they say.

These entrenched partisan divisions in the United States over abortion and gun rights are stark after high-profile massacres in New York, California, Texas and elsewhere as the country awaits a ruling from the state Supreme Court. States that could override the constitutional right to abortion.

According to 2017 Pew Research Center data analyzed for Christianity Today, 41% of white evangelicals own a gun compared to 30% of all Americans — the highest share of any religious group. The survey also shows that 74% of all gun owners in the United States agree that their right to gun ownership is essential to their sense of freedom. Most states also allow firearms in places of worship.

Author and Christian activist Shane Claiborne challenges the idea that the United States has a sin problem, but not a gun problem; he says he has both. Claiborne recently traveled to Uvalde to support the victims and to Houston to pray and protest at the National Rifle Association convention held days after the massacre.

He distributed leaflets saying “We can’t be pro-life and ignore gun violence” and asking “Are we going to choose the gun or the cross?” Claiborne said he was among those asked to leave the NRA’s Sunday prayer breakfast after he interrupted the program to call for prayers for Uvalde’s victims.

Claiborne wants to see laws change, including policies that would raise the age of gun ownership, limit magazine capacity, ban assault-type weapons and mandate training. He said laws can’t force people to love each other, but they can make it harder to take a life.

“We want to make it harder for people to kill other people, and we’re making it really easy right now,” Claiborne said.

Conservative pastors have said the mass shootings and other social harm are the result of an overall breakdown in moral values ​​and disregard for human life.

Pastor Tim Lee, an evangelist and former U.S. Marine who lost both his legs in the Vietnam War, was one of the guest speakers at the NRA prayer breakfast that Claiborne and others were asked to leave .

After the Uvalde shooting, Lee posted on his Facebook page, “It’s so heartbreaking. I’ve said it so many times – When children hear adults say it’s OK to kill babies (abortion), then all respect for human lives is gone.

The gun debate is deeply personal for Reverend Chineta Goodjoin. Her best friend, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, was one of nine people shot by Dylann Roof in June 2015 while sitting in prayer at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Goodjoin, who leads the New Hope Presbyterian Church in Anaheim, California, said believers must rise up in “righteous anger” to demand sensible gun regulation. When massacres occur in community spaces like churches, schools and supermarkets, it tests the resilience of an entire community, she said.

“How can you teach in schools when people are traumatized by gun violence? ” she says. “When a church is no longer a safe space, do I work to increase safety or strengthen people’s faith? The impact is like an epidemic that touches every fiber of our being.

But others, like the Reverend Russ Tenhoff, say it is simply not possible to “legislate security”.

“There are a lot of laws, but people who are lawless don’t obey them,” said Tenhoff, senior pastor of Mountainside Community Fellowship in Kingwood, West Virginia. “Murders will happen even without guns. We can never prevent gun violence.

As a gun safety officer who trains adults and children, Tenhoff says the solution is to “strengthen the schools,” which have become easy targets.

“We need to put one-way locks in schools, have metal detectors and an armed officer in every school,” he said.

For a Catholic pastor in Newtown, Conn., who a decade ago experienced the grief that now shrouds Uvalde, the lack of political will to enact gun legislation is unfathomable.

Monsignor Robert Weiss, who heads St. Rose Parish in Lima, presided over the funeral of eight victims who were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. He held an evening mass at his church the day after the shooting in Texas. .

“I guess I was silly to think Sandy Hook was going to change the world,” he said in a video recording from the service.

Weiss also questioned the consequences of individualism in America.

“Did our ancestors want for us?” He asked. “Living in a country where unborn babies are aborted, where children are murdered in school where they should be safe, where you can’t even go to the grocery store or church or the library and feel like you’ll be OK?”

Pastor Mike McBride, who leads the Way Christian Center in Berkeley, California, said those on different sides of the gun issue need to find common concerns to unite and work together on solutions.

McBride says many of those who are pro-guns also worry about accidental gun deaths, intimate partner violence and suicides.

“These shared concerns can be resolved with targeted strategies that don’t bog us down in the fight against the Second Amendment,” he said.

McBride suggests having listening campaigns in faith groups and neighborhoods – a “peace infrastructure” to combat violence.

Marsh, the pastor of Laguna Woods, says the shooting at his church and other recent massacres have inspired him to have “more serious conversations about this issue” in his community. He would like to see various religious communities organize marches in local government seats to push lawmakers to act.

“That’s enough,” he said. “We must stop using Christianity as a veneer to deny reality.”

___

Associated Press religious coverage receives support through the AP’s collaboration with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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35 Arkansas churches may quit UMC over gay debate https://hellven.org/35-arkansas-churches-may-quit-umc-over-gay-debate/ Wed, 01 Jun 2022 21:04:25 +0000 https://hellven.org/35-arkansas-churches-may-quit-umc-over-gay-debate/ The First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, displays LGBT rainbow decoration. | Getty Images Thirty-five congregations in Arkansas that belong to The United Methodist Church are in the process of discernment for possible disaffiliation from the mainline Protestant denomination over its ongoing debate over homosexuality. As the UMC Arkansas Conference begins holding its […]]]>
UMC, Methodist Church
The First United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, displays LGBT rainbow decoration. |

Thirty-five congregations in Arkansas that belong to The United Methodist Church are in the process of discernment for possible disaffiliation from the mainline Protestant denomination over its ongoing debate over homosexuality.

As the UMC Arkansas Conference begins holding its official annual meeting this week, 35 of its 634 member churches are involved in the disaffiliation process.

A conference spokeswoman confirmed the number of churches under discernment in an email to the Christian Post on Wednesday, adding that she was unsure of how many more will undergo the process in the near future, the calling it “pure speculation”.

The spokesman ordered CP to a video of Arkansas, Bishop Gary Mueller explaining options for congregations unsure whether they will remain in the denomination.

This included pointing out that the UMC Discipline Book still currently maintains a traditional stance on LGBT issues, including a ban on the blessing of same-sex unions and a ban on the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals.

The three options included staying with the denomination indefinitely, awaiting the results of the 2024 General Conference, or leaving under current standards for disaffiliation, which include a congregational vote, communication with conference leaders, and certain financial payments to the denomination.

“This is not a battle to be won, this is not a mixed martial arts cage match. This is a time of mourning and discernment,” the Bishop said. “We must respect the best intentions of others.”

On May 1, a theologically conservative alternative to the UMC known as the World Methodist Church was launched in response to the ongoing debate over LGBT issues in the denomination.

Since then, UMC churches, particularly in the United States, have announced their intention to disaffiliate from the mainline denomination to join the fledgling GMC.

The Wesleyan Covenant Association, a theologically conservative UMC group, recently said 107 UMC congregations in Florida have taken steps to try to join the GMC.

The WCA Florida Chapter said, “107 Methodist churches in Florida have chosen to initiate the process of leaving the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church…107 represent approximately 20 percent of the 560 United Methodist churches in the Florida Conference.

“This vast group of churches includes both large and small congregations as well as Anglo, African American, Latino Korean and other ethnic faith communities. These churches will align with the new Methodist Worldwide Church (“GMC”) which was launched on May 1, 2022.”

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Hagerman Christian Church pastor says he’s blown away by community support https://hellven.org/hagerman-christian-church-pastor-says-hes-blown-away-by-community-support/ Mon, 30 May 2022 22:18:00 +0000 https://hellven.org/hagerman-christian-church-pastor-says-hes-blown-away-by-community-support/ HAGERMAN, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) – On May 20, the Hagerman Christian Center caught fire. According to Pastor Isaac Tellez, however, it is what happened after the fire that is the real story. “What matters is that we all come together in times like this and we’re all there for each other,” Tellez said. Pastor Tellez says […]]]>

HAGERMAN, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) – On May 20, the Hagerman Christian Center caught fire. According to Pastor Isaac Tellez, however, it is what happened after the fire that is the real story.

“What matters is that we all come together in times like this and we’re all there for each other,” Tellez said.

Pastor Tellez says since the night of the fire he is grateful for all the support. Fire departments from Bliss to Jerome assisted Hagerman in battling the blaze.

Other churches in the area also offered their space for their services, including restaurants that donated food to firefighters.

“I believe this fire has caused all of us to focus on what is important, and what is important is the community. And we all work together and are together,” he said.

In the meantime, they will have their weekly services at American Legion Hall in Hagerman at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.

On June 9, they are looking for adult volunteers to help remove debris from the church before they can begin emptying the building.

“Gather anything resembling content, like benches and a sound system and screens in the sanctuary which is sheltered from the fire we need help bringing all this. The benches are heavy”, Tellez said.

He expects construction to take over a year.

“And this is the time when God is glorified. His sovereignty telling me “hey, I have everything under control, everything will be fine, trust me. And we have to trust him,” Tellez said.

Copyright 2022 KMVT/KSVT. All rights reserved.

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Turkish occupation of Cyprus destroys Christian culture https://hellven.org/turkish-occupation-of-cyprus-destroys-christian-culture/ Sat, 28 May 2022 14:00:46 +0000 https://hellven.org/turkish-occupation-of-cyprus-destroys-christian-culture/ 28/05/2022 Cyprus (International Christian Concern) – The Turkish invasion of the island of Cyprus led to the destruction of the ancient Christian and Cypriot culture. The NATO country has occupied the EU-member island nation since 1974. Some 40,000 Turkish troops remain in the northern part of the country after Turkey established the Turkish Republic of […]]]>

28/05/2022 Cyprus (International Christian Concern) – The Turkish invasion of the island of Cyprus led to the destruction of the ancient Christian and Cypriot culture. The NATO country has occupied the EU-member island nation since 1974. Some 40,000 Turkish troops remain in the northern part of the country after Turkey established the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

Cyprus was a Greek-majority nation with a deep Greek Orthodox and Christian heritage. Since the Turkish invasion, Greek Cypriots have fled their homes and churches in the north. Christian cemeteries and churches have been converted into mosques and various businesses while other religious monuments have been vandalized or destroyed.

Spyros Hadjigregoriou, a 90-year-old Greek Cypriot citizen, died in November 2021. Although he died in his native Cyprus, he was deprived of his last wish, to be buried in his native village of Gerolakkos. Hadjigregoriou, like many Cypriots, spent years trying to get permission to visit his native village and be allowed to be buried in his home. His requests have been regularly refused. He regularly advocated for peace and promoted community in his area. Hadjigregoriou visited the requested burial site and discovered that the majority of the headstones were no longer there, after years of neglect and vandalism.

For interviews, please contact press@persecution.org.

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