Posted by Kendall Harmon

Pushing back against a cultural tide of growing acceptance of transgender people, Southern Baptists adopted a statement affirming the creation of “two distinct and complementary sexes.”

The resolution was passed overwhelmingly Tuesday (June 10) as some 5,000 people attended the annual meeting of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination and elected as president the Rev. Ronnie Floyd, pastor of a northwest Arkansas megachurch.

The delegates, known as “messengers,” affirmed “God’s good design that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & MedicineReligion & CultureSexuality* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted June 11, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California, urged his fellow Southern Baptist pastors to draw close to others when they are suffering. He said a small group of men were on the scene within half an hour to comfort him when Matthew died. They were the same people he met with in their times of crises.

“The more intense the pain, the fewer words you should use,” he said. “You need to show up and shut up.”

As Warren closed his sermon, he knelt before the crowd and invited pastors to come forward for prayer if they were suffering with someone who is mentally ill or if they were facing other problems.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyPsychologyStressSuicideReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted June 10, 2014 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Southern Baptist Convention is the largest Protestant denomination in America and has been since around 1960 when it bypassed Methodism in this category. Riding the wave of the post-World War II evangelical boom, Southern Baptists long ago moved beyond their old confines south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Southern Baptist churches are now located in all of the fifty states. Led today by the Reverend Fred Luter, their first African-American president, Southern Baptists have become one of the most ethnically diverse and multilingual denominations in the country.

But all is not well in the Southern Baptist Zion. For some years now, annual church statistics have shown that the SBC is losing members. Although there are still more than 46,000 congregations affiliated with the SBC, total membership has fallen by upwards of one million since 2005—from 16.6 million members in that year to 15.7 million members in 2013. The loss of membership is reflected in another disturbing decline: the downward spiral of baptisms. The number of baptisms in the SBC has plummeted from an all-time high of 419,000 in the year 1999 to a low of 310,368 in 2013. That is the smallest number of baptisms since 1948 when Baptist president Harry Truman was in the White House.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted June 2, 2014 at 6:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Fellowship at Two Rivers divested itself Sunday of a Donelson campus exponentially larger than the former megachurch needs, voting to sell its 220,000-square-foot building and 37.5-acre grounds to the Catholic Diocese of Nashville.

The diocese will pay $12.5 million and move operations from the Catholic Center at 2400 21st Ave. S., spokesman Rick Musacchio said. He said the relatively small center has forced the diocese to spread programs among locations across the city.

The vote, taken after a morning sermon stressing that every Christian — not just the biblical "superheroes" — has the power to enact change, was nearly unanimous. Only one obvious "no" hand went up.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsRoman Catholic* Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 2, 2014 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For several years, membership in Southern Baptist churches has been in decline. The American denomination hit its peak in 2005 with 16.6 million members, and since then, communities have seen a steady drop, hitting 15.8 million members in 2012. That's nearly one million members lost in roughly a decade—a period during which the overall U.S. population grew by more than 18 million.

But arguably, the more significant decline is happening within church communities: They're not performing as many baptisms anymore. The top baptismal year was 1999; since then, the ritual has become more and more infrequent, dropping by about 25 percent.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted May 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) today wrapped up its Leadership Summit about human sexuality. The atmosphere at the summit was frank and unsettling at times, occasionally punctuated with slightly nervous laughter.

Summit attendees heard sermons, panel discussions, speeches, and academic presentations, including a data-driven talk Tuesday by Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas. Regnerus reported younger Americans at large have rejected biblical sexual ethics, but all is not lost.

“Among the 18- to 39-year-old pack, you thought you were losing them all on the culture-wars issues,” Regnerus said. “I don’t think you really are.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyPsychologyReligion & CultureSexuality--Civil Unions & PartnershipsYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyAnthropologyChristologyEthics / Moral TheologySoteriologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted April 24, 2014 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Sunday mornings at All Souls Charlottesville are fairly common for an Anglican congregation.

The Book of Common Prayer and the Revised Common Lectionary are standard, creeds are spoken together, the Eucharist is the central focus of the liturgy and the minister blesses the congregation before it scatters back into the world.

But the Charlottesville, Va., congregation isn’t an Episcopal church. It’s Baptist — in fact it’s a plant of the Baptist General Association of Virginia and is celebrating its fifth anniversary in 2014.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship--Book of Common PrayerParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

7 Comments
Posted April 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After speaking [with Vyacheslav Nesteruk, president of the Baptist Union of Ukraine] on a number of points of mutual interest, we discussed specific prayer requests. Brother Nesteruk specifically asked Southern Baptists to pray for the following:

-- That there would be no war in Ukraine, but peace.

-- That there would be a sense of peace in the hearts of Ukrainian people, rather than a sense of unrest or anxiety.

-- For the economic situation, as sanctions imposed by Russia have already begun making life difficult in Ukraine.

-- Most of all, that people would be open to the Gospel and actively seek the Gospel during these troubled times.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryEuropeRussiaUkraine* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted March 29, 2014 at 9:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is the revivalist style of at least some members of the New Calvinism punctuated by constant references to Jonathan Edwards and the rise of charismatic Calvinism that has many Old School Presbyterians concerned. Piper side-stepped the main issue between the two camps: from an Old-School perspective the New Calvinism smacks of the evangelical revivalism of a D. L. Moody, or, more to the point, the baseball-player-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday (insert Mark Driscoll reference here). Sunday once called the novelist Sinclair Lewis “Satan’s cohort” in response to Lewis’s 1927 satirical novel Elmer Gantry, whose main character—a hypocritical evangelist—was modeled on Sunday’s flamboyant style.

That older coalition of Congregationalists, Baptists, and New School Presbyterians combined dispensationalism, celebrity revivalism, and fundamentalism—the very traits that Old School Presbyterians disliked then and now. It is not without some irony that Piper acknowledged the important role of Westminster Seminary while not even mentioning that it was the epicenter of Old School Presbyterianism with its anti-revivalist and cessationist stance (at the end of his lecture Piper got a laugh when he said, “you don’t even want to know my eschatology.” Indeed!).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsPresbyterianReformed* Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[ Robert Nash]... participated in a delegation of American scholars to Iran led by Conscience International founder James Jennings.

The purpose was to meet with Iranian counterparts to discuss a wide range of topics and to make arrangements for future academic exchanges. The visit was made possible by recent diplomatic breakthroughs between Iran’s more moderate government and the United States.

Nash said he arrived home Jan. 26 encouraged that there are government and university officials in Iran who seem inclined to build on improved relations with the United States.

“I was surprised at the number of officials in the Iranian government that were trained and educated in American universities, with PhDs from places like UCLA, Boston University, Notre Dame — one after another,” he said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIran* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

2 Comments
Posted February 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“In the western section of the diocese,” the Rev. John Stark Ravenscroft told North Carolina Episcopalians in 1825, “the prospect (of advancing the faith) is very discouraging, though not without hope.”

“Spiritual destitution” is how Bishop Levi Silliman Ives characterized our region’s religious landscape 19 years later, though the physical landscape was “beautiful and striking, far beyond my powers of description.”

Methodists, Baptists and Presbyterians had made great spiritual progress in Western North Carolina as early as the 18th century. Samuel Edney, head of the Methodist church’s Swannanoa circuit, established the first camp meeting west of the Blue Ridge in what is now Edneyvillle in the 1790s; in 1797, the Rev. George Newton turned Asheville’s Union Hill Academy into a Presbyterian school named after him. The French Broad Baptist Church was organized in Henderson County in 1780, and regional churches formed the French Broad Baptist Association in 1807.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsLutheranMethodistPresbyterianUnited Church of Christ

5 Comments
Posted November 4, 2013 at 11:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[A family of Syrian refugees]...briefly described their life in Syria as farmers on fertile land that produced crops like barley, tomatoes and potatoes in good supply. Theirs was a good life, and they had been happy there.

But the good life disappeared. The people living in the area were soon surrounded by government forces commanded by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and supplies were cut off. The family’s teenage daughter demonstrated how troops intentionally trampled the crops, cutting off residents’ food supply.

The family fled to Jordan several months ago.

The family’s 14-year-old son described the chilling experience on June 1, 2012, when soldiers opened fire and bullets struck him in the leg and tore through the tendon of his then 6-year-old brother’s leg behind the knee. The older brother had thrown himself onto his younger sibling to protect him from further harm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 13, 2013 at 12:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By his own admission, San Antonio youth minister Gavin Rogers has a knack for making his parents worry.

In 2012, as minister to youth and families at Trinity Baptist Church, he observed Lent by living as a homeless person, dodging cops, sleeping under bridges and wrestling with hunger.

Rogers, 31, has pushed the envelope of parental stress again, this time by making a five-day visit to Egypt just a few weeks after violent, deadly riots swept over the nation.

“When I told my parents about the homeless journey, my mom was really worried,” Rogers said. “With this one, my dad wasn’t too happy.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryYouth Ministry* Culture-WatchGlobalizationReligion & CultureViolence* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

0 Comments
Posted October 4, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Tensions ran high at a north Charlotte church Sunday morning as members protested Pastor Andrew Rollinson’s leadership, saying he was fired nearly three months ago but refuses to leave.

“Rollinson must go!” about a dozen people chanted outside Morningstar Baptist Church at 5623 Phillips St. “When? Today!”

Rollinson said he has no intention of leaving the church. He said the members who fired him did not follow church bylaws, and therefore the decision is invalid. He did not say how the members violated the bylaws.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/07/21/4179928/members-of-charlotte-church-protest.htmlRead it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Steve Bass, the North American Mission Board's vice president for the West region, echoed Wilson's concerns and promised the prayers of Southern Baptists.

"Many of these are younger men who represent families," said Bass, who lives in Phoenix and served for 15 years as the executive director of the Arizona convention before coming to NAMB in 2011. "We lost 19 great people, but we have immediately impacted families as well. Those children are never going to get away from this. That's when your heart goes out to them. Obviously our prayers are for them. I'm sure our churches in the area will be reaching out to those families the best they can."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted July 2, 2013 at 1:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Denominationalism is not dead but, increasingly, it’s only one of several options for organizing the church in America,” explained Baptist historian Bill Leonard, the James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and professor of church history at Wake Forest School of Divinity.

Increasing pluralism in the United States and the decreasing influence of Protestantism are forcing denominational leaders to ask hard questions about identity, viability and relevance.

Pluralism, “which Baptists helped put into place,” is becoming more normative, Leonard said. The rise of the “nones”—people with no connection to organized religion— also plays into the challenges denominations face.

Gone are the days when communities formulated policy and activities around the church. “We are living through the death rattle of the Protestant privilege,” Leonard said.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsDisciples of ChristEvangelicalsLutheranMethodistPentecostalPresbyterianRoman CatholicUnited Church of Christ

6 Comments
Posted June 15, 2013 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Southern Baptist from Spartanburg with no political experience walked the halls of Capitol Hill on Wednesday with his wife, lobbying Congress to support immigration reform as a moral issue.

Jim Goodroe, director of missions for the Spartanburg County Baptist Network, has ministered to the immigrant community of Spartanburg for the last 12 years. His wife, Nancy, teaches young children who don’t speak English as a first language.

The Goodroes are well-versed on visas and green cards and the struggles involved in migrating to a foreign country. But the political arena is a new world to them.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 15, 2013 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Evangelism is a huge focus of Southern Baptist life and some non-Calvinists worry that the belief in predestination is incompatible with spreading the gospel.

"People involved will always say, 'If you believe in Calvinism, you don't believe in evangelism. If you believe everything is predetermined, why even bother to preach the gospel?" Kidd said. "But as it turns out, Calvinists have never acted that way in the Southern Baptist Convention."

On Friday, a special advisory committee to SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page issued a statement meant to bring the two sides together and chart a way forward.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyAnthropologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted June 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"We're beginning a new sermon series that is scaring me to death," pastor Jay Dennis said on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008, from the pulpit of First Baptist Church at the Mall.

The series was titled "Sex and the Saint." For six Sundays, Dennis addressed what God says in His Word about sex. His goal: to combat a "stronghold" in the congregation that destroys Christian families and harms teenagers, singles and even children -- the stronghold of sexual sin.

Dennis candidly conceded to the congregation that he would be criticized and misunderstood, that he would receive angry letters and emails, and that he fully expected to find himself in a spiritual battle.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPornography* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted June 6, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

First, we need to recognize that some doctrines are more important than other doctrines. All Christians recognize this to some extent. For example, the doctrine of the return of Jesus Christ, the second coming, is much more important than the question of whether Christ will return before or after the tribulation. If you deny the second coming of Christ, it calls into question whether you are a Christian. But Christians have always disagreed about the exact timing of Christ’s return. So which doctrines are more important and which are less important?

One way to think about this issue is to distinguish between three levels of doctrines. First level doctrines include those a person has to believe in order to be a Christian. These include things like the inspiration of Scripture, the divinity of Jesus Christ, the humanity of Christ, the sacrificial death of Christ for our sins, and his bodily resurrection. Now I am not saying that every Christian understands these doctrines fully. But if a person rejects these doctrines, can they really be a Christian in any historic sense?

Second level doctrines include those which are important because they promote the health of the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducation* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* Theology

2 Comments
Posted May 13, 2013 at 11:25 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After 87 years, the University Baptist Church of Coral Gables, Fla., recently shed its name for something it felt was more forward looking - Christ Journey.

It was following the lede of First Baptist Church of Perrine, Fla., which dropped the name it had held for 89 years in favor of Christ Fellowship.

Coral Baptist Church of Coral Springs, Fla., relaunched itself in 2006 as Church By the Glades.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted May 12, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Paige Patterson made the recommendation to the board to end tenure at Southwestern, one of six seminaries affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Following Patterson's recommendation, Charles E. (Eddie) Miller, a trustee from Nevada and director of missions for the Sierra Baptist Association in Reno, made a motion stating, "Believing that the majority of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary agree in principle with the cessation of tenure for this institution, I move that the Bylaws and Policies Committee bring revisions to cease future extension of tenure to the fall 2013 trustee meeting."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologySeminary / Theological Education

0 Comments
Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaders of Catholic and Reformed churches have signed an agreement to recognize each other’s sacraments of baptism, a public step toward unity among groups that are often divided by doctrine.

“Baptism establishes the bond of unity existing among all who are part of Christ’s body and is therefore the sacramental basis for our efforts to move towards visible unity,” reads the “Common Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Baptism.”

The document was signed, after seven years of discussion, at a worship service Tuesday (Jan. 29) at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin, Texas, which opened the annual meeting of Christian Churches Together in the USA, an ecumenical network created in 2001.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesBaptistsRoman Catholic* TheologySacramental TheologyBaptism

3 Comments
Posted February 4, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Baptists, communion and wine are words rarely used together. But they will be the next four Sundays as First Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, hosts an Episcopal parish for worship while the latter’s building undergoes renovations.

The joint services will include Anglican rituals of preparation for the bread and wine used in the Eucharist. Grape juice will be offered at two stations for Baptists.

Rather than eyebrows or complaints, the news instead raised questions in the American Baptist congregation about why grape juice is used in the Lord’s Supper at all, said Pastor Rodney Kennedy, a former Southern Baptist from Louisiana.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesBaptists

1 Comments
Posted January 26, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You see, the CNN team seems to think that there is such a thing as a Southern Baptist tradition (there are many, quite frankly) and even a Southern Baptist theology (there is no one such approach to doctrine; ask Bill Clinton about that). The elder Stanley is held up as a prime example of the old Southern Baptist way and then Andy becomes the brave young leader who steps away from that frozen orthodoxy and finds his own way.

Truth is, Baptists and members of similar free-church flocks always evolve from generation to generation with millions of churchgoers flocking to the hot new preachers and the emerging super congregations that rise and fall in power year after year, decade after decade. One generation always creates its own new tradition and then outvotes the older generation by moving on to something new. In these evolving structures only the living saints get to vote.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals

0 Comments
Posted November 21, 2012 at 7:10 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A $69.40 offering by a group of homeless Christians in Vermont reminds a local Baptist leader of the widow's two mites that Jesus commended in the Gospels.

Terry Dorsett, director of the Green Mountain Baptist Association, has a new perception of the homeless because of the gift to the association's mission offering for starting new churches and meeting church financial emergencies. Dorsett has asked the financially able among the association's 35 churches to match the donation.

"I think we tend to think of homeless people just as being a bunch of addicts and people with problems," Dorsett said. "And then while that does describe many homeless people, there's a whole subculture of homeless Christians who obviously don't have those problems and they're just trying to live for the Lord in a different lifestyle setting than most of us might choose.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchPovertyReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyAnthropologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 30, 2012 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"We are facing more obstacles than we ever have before, but this is no surprise. This believer represents the very first person who wants to be baptized in this place. Satan's not just going to give that up easily," [John]Costa said.

For [Aaron] Juergens, that's no reason to quit, but encouragement to persevere, even in sickness and freezing temperatures atop a mountain.

"I'm up there, wearing six jackets and three gloves and five socks and I really just kind of want to sit in a bed," he said. "But then you think about those people (who haven't heard yet). If we turn around, who is going to come next? I mean, how many people have turned around? The world is getting smaller. The day is coming when everybody is going to have no excuse whatsoever for not hearing. There's no excuse for turning back.

"We keep going."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissions* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentarySouth America* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologySoteriology

2 Comments
Posted August 28, 2012 at 7:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The influx of foreign-born people into North America gives Southern Baptist churches a unique opportunity to reach the nations, a veteran International Mission Board worker said at the 2012 Send North America Conference.

Most churches, though, are failing to take advantage of the opportunity, he said at the conference sponsored by the North American Mission Board.

"We need to look at some other models and methods when we start churches among people groups," IMB representative Bryan Galloway said during a conference breakout session on "Reaching the Nations in North America." "We're just not doing that."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyEcclesiologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted August 7, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 1986, he was invited to take over Franklin Avenue Baptist Church [in New Orleans]. Under him, its congregation grew from a couple of dozen people to 7,000 — the largest Southern Baptist church in Louisiana. Then Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, destroying the sanctuary.

"It would have been easy for Fred Luter to have said, 'I think God's calling me elsewhere,' " says Russell Moore, dean of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. "And he could have gone to a very comfortable pastorate anywhere in the country.

"And yet, he stayed," Moore says. "And he stood with the people of New Orleans and said, 'We'll be back, we'll rebuild' — and became a spiritual anchor."

Read (or better listen to) it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted June 21, 2012 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Leaving the hospital three months [after an accident]...he soon walked on crutches down the aisle of Greater Mt. Carmel and committed himself to the Lord.

"I immediately started a street ministry because ... I was so shocked by my relationship with Christ, I wanted everybody in my neighborhood, all my partners ... to know the God that I knew," Luter said. "So every Saturday at 12 noon I'd be preaching on different streets of the Lower Ninth Ward and sharing Christ. And that's how, as they say, that's how it all began."

The first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention is amazed at how God has blessed his ministry, opening doors previously closed to those from Luter's side of town.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 20, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In the service lay a story of black Christians and white Jews who once shared a kind of promised land, a peacefully integrated section of Indianapolis called Southside. Its decades of harmony were a rebuke to the Southern-style racial divisions that characterized Indiana for much of the 20th century, from the Ku Klux Klan’s heyday in the interwar years to George Wallace’s popularity with the state’s voters in the 1960s.

Upward mobility, Interstate 70 and the construction of a football stadium hollowed out the neighborhood starting in the late 1960s, scattering its residents and severing bonds of commerce and friendship. But in the last four years, an anthropology professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Susan B. Hyatt, has set about finding former Southsiders and restoring those ties through social events and reciprocal worship services at South Calvary and the Etz Chaim Sephardic synagogue.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted April 11, 2012 at 4:39 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A respected Baptist academic has called upon churches to ensure they are a welcoming home for Britain's ageing population.

Dr Roy Kearsley, of South Wales Baptist College, admitted that ageing was a challenge for church, mission and pastoral care.

He said that recent headlines about poor levels of care for older people in Britain were "disturbing" and indicative of a "social and spiritual crisis".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 2, 2012 at 7:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Debt can limit a person's generosity -- and a church's.

Travis Smalley arrived at the Cincinnati-area Lakota Hills Baptist Church six years ago with a vision to plant churches locally, nationally and internationally. But just in Ohio, with just one Southern Baptist church for every 17,868 people, Smalley knew Lakota Hills couldn't reach everyone.

Yet Smalley's passion to start churches ran up against a major roadblock -- lack of funds.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the OrdainedStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal Finance* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted March 28, 2012 at 6:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon



Watch it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchDrugs/Drug AddictionUrban/City Life and Issues* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth Africa* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyPastoral TheologySoteriology

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Posted March 6, 2012 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Meet the Rev. Fred Luter Jr., pastor of New Orleans's 4,500-member Franklin Avenue Baptist Church—and the man who this spring will likely become the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He announced last month that he was putting himself in the running, and the convention's movers and shakers seem almost unanimous in their support.

The SBC was born in 1845 after Baptists from the Northern states refused to appoint slaveholders to missionary posts, and the Southern states decided to break off. Like many Protestant denominations in America that split over the issue of slavery, the Baptists remained separate long after the Civil War. Though the leadership of the SBC supported an end to segregation even before Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the denomination's churches in many cases remained hotbeds of racial animus.

It wasn't until 1995 that the SBC issued a resolution on racial reconciliation....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted March 2, 2012 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Three reasons for observing some form of Lenten practice suggest themselves, in ascending importance.

One: we need to live in community with the larger body of Christ. Since the vast majority of Christians practice some form of Lenten observance, joining them in some way is a good step toward solidarity of faith and ministry. This is also an important witness to others, answering Jesus' prayer, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me" (John 17:23).

Two: we cannot fully appreciate Jesus' resurrection unless we have experienced something of his sufferings. A fast of some sort is an appropriate means of spiritual identification with our Lord's suffering for us.

Three: we need a period each year for intentional spiritual introspection and contemplation....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsLent* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted February 22, 2012 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

St. Philip's Episcopal Church, an architecturally important and beloved part of downtown Germanton for generations, may be torn apart, moved and rebuilt to house a congregation in Carrboro that needs a place to worship.

Germanton Baptist Church, which sits next to the Episcopal church, is buying the land from the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, said the Rev. Jeff Stephens of the Baptist church.

"Our church is experiencing significant growth," said Stephens, who came to the church in January 2011. "And for the Episcopal diocese to approach us about purchasing the property is an exciting opportunity because we are in desperate need of some room to grow."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Parishes* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Economics, PoliticsEconomyHousing/Real Estate Market* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted February 10, 2012 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Seven influential megachurch pastors took part in live unscripted discussions on different approaches to ministry in the second round of The Elephant Room – an event billed as "conversations you never thought you'd hear" from pastors.

Held in Aurora, Ill., and broadcast to over 70 locations around the U.S., the discussions were mediated by James MacDonald of Chicago's Harvest Bible Chapel and Mark Driscoll of Seattle's Mars Hill Church.

With nondenominational churches growing across the county, the role of denominations and church networks was the first topic discussed.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsDisciples of ChristEvangelicalsLutheranMethodistPentecostalPresbyterianReformed* TheologyEcclesiology

20 Comments
Posted January 27, 2012 at 8:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In recent years, [Richard] Land has numbered himself among those who describe Mormonism as a kind of fourth Abrahamic tradition, a new faith that has reinterpreted the past under the guidance of its own prophet and its own scriptures. In this case, he said, "Joseph Smith is like Mohammad and The Book of Mormon is like the Koran." Mormons believe they have restored true Christianity, while Trinitarian churches reject this claim that they have lost the faith.

Thus, it's not surprising that a new LifeWay Research survey of 1,000 liberal and conservative Protestant clergy in America found that 75 percent disagreed with this statement: "I personally consider Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) to be Christians." The surprise was that 48 percent of mainline Protestant pastors strongly agreed that Mormons are not Christians.

Meanwhile, the Vatican in 2001 addressed the issue of "whether the baptism conferred by the community The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, called Mormons in the vernacular, is valid."

The response from the late Pope John Paul II was blunt: "Negative."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicalsOther FaithsMormons* TheologyChristologyThe Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit

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Posted October 25, 2011 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I share these two experiences alongside a comment I came across years ago: every church and every member of the clergy, over a span of time, needs to belong to a denomination. I serve as a district superintendent, and I am aware of the church's imperfections, and my own. I watch over 69 local churches and a few assorted institutions within our geographical boundaries, and we are at work on the development of a new church plant and the development of a missional church network. At any given time about 3-5 of these churches are in real crisis: they are in need of outside intervention, mediation, conflict resolution and spiritual guidance. A denomination, at its best, provides a framework for the protection of the clergy in a workplace and supervision of even the most powerful clergy leaders. In addition, a denomination works out the implications of a missional strategy in an area that is more nuanced than simply whatever the market can bear.

I share these experiences at a time when there is much rhetoric around moving energy, resources and attention to the local church. I love the local church. It is the basic context for the mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world. At the same time, the local church will, on occasion, be stronger as it accomplishes mission that is beyond its own capacity, and as it is accountable to a wisdom that is outside its own day to day movements.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchPsychologyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spending* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsDisciples of ChristLutheranMethodistPentecostalPresbyterianReformedRoman CatholicUnited Church of Christ* TheologyEcclesiologyPastoral Theology

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Posted October 17, 2011 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What's in a name? As Shakespeare has it, a rose by any other name smells the same. But in the case of America's largest Protestant denomination, changing the name could change everything.

A week ago, Southern Baptist Convention President Bryant Wright told his organization's executive committee in Nashville that he had appointed a task force to study a possible name change. Abandoning the 166-year-old identifier, he argued, would help the group thrive both in America and internationally.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I regard the atheist group's attack on the Bible the same way I view fringe Christian organizations that pull similar stunts. It is nothing more than a crass and pathetic attempt to gain publicity. As such, it really should be ignored.

However, if you compare the news coverage this has garnered with the media attention given Christian groups that have held similar events, the terms hypocrisy and double-standard immediately come to mind.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMediaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

3 Comments
Posted September 21, 2011 at 6:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For over a decade from his pulpit here at Oak Hill Baptist in North Mississippi, the Rev. Michael O. Minor has waged war against obesity and bad health. In the Delta this may seem akin to waging war against humidity, but Mr. Minor has the air of the salesman he once was, and the animated persistence to match.

Years into his war, he is beginning to claim victories.

The National Baptist Convention, which represents some seven million people in nearly 10,000 churches, is ramping up a far-reaching health campaign devised by Mr. Minor, which aims to have a “health ambassador” in every member church by September 2012. The goals of the program, the most ambitious of its kind, will be demanding but concrete, said the Rev. George W. Waddles Sr., the president of the convention’s Congress of Christian Education.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionHealth & Medicine* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

2 Comments
Posted August 23, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in North Charleston is a little like a small city, focused on nurturing a sense of community, delivering services and worshipping God.

Where most churches offer Bible study sessions that attract perhaps a couple of dozen people who meet in a classroom, Mount Moriah fills its 800-seat sanctuary Wednesday nights with people who want to learn about the Scriptures. Bible study becomes a mini-service....

Membership has surpassed 4,000 (with perhaps 3,200 considered active members), and its sanctuary no longer can accommodate everyone who comes to worship. A spillover room with a big video screen is regularly used.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* South Carolina

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Posted July 12, 2011 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Baptisms fell to their lowest number in 60 years among Southern Baptists, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

The new numbers are a sign that the denomination is in trouble, Baptist leaders say.

“This is not a blip,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “This is a trend. And, the trend is one of decline.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

5 Comments
Posted June 17, 2011 at 4:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Each of the 90 federal historic sites in the United States has its appeal. But for all their cultural value, the sites don’t change much. A studious tour given by a park ranger. A plaque to read. Another note in a travel journal.

But this week, one of the sites held the sort of electric charge usually not found among dusty period chairs and explanatory dioramas.

Inside the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church — the place where Martin Luther King Jr. was both baptized and eulogized — a new, meticulous renovation underscored the weight of one of the most significant social movements in modern America.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, WorshipParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted April 25, 2011 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Peter John Gomes (rhymes with homes) was born in Boston on May 22, 1942, the only child of Peter Lobo and Orissa White Gomes. His father, born in the Cape Verde Islands off Africa’s west coast, was a cranberry bog worker. His mother was a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music. Peter grew up in Plymouth with literature, piano lessons and expectations that he would become a minister. He was active in the Baptist Church and preached his first sermon at 12.

He worked as a houseman to help pay for his education. After graduation from Plymouth High School in 1961, he attended Bates College in Lewiston, Me., a co-educational liberal arts school founded by abolitionists in 1855. He majored in history and received a bachelor’s degree in 1965, then earned a bachelor of divinity degree at Harvard in 1968 and was ordained a Baptist minister....

In clerical collar and vestments, he was a figure of homiletic power in the pulpit, hammering out the cadences in a rich baritone that The New Yorker called a blend of James Earl Jones and John Houseman. In class, he was a New England patrician: the broad shoulders, the high forehead and spectacles that tilted up when he held his head high, the watch-chain at the vest and a handkerchief fluffed at the breast pocket.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

3 Comments
Posted March 1, 2011 at 5:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Zion Baptist Church on Sunday was loaded and hot, nearly every pew full.

This by itself is not unusual for a Sunday, but seeing white and black worshippers sitting side by side was a little different.

"(First Baptist Church) Pastor (Tom) Bayes and I had talked about how Sunday mornings were one of the most segregated times in America," said Pastor Samuel Duren of Zion Baptist. "We don't feel like that has to be that way, and so we decided to join the worship services."

Zion Baptist, a predominantly black church, and First Baptist, a predominantly white church, are separated by only a few blocks, but the two had never really come together until recently.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchRace/Race RelationsReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

1 Comments
Posted February 23, 2011 at 5:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At the same time mainstream denominations lose thousands of members per year, churches such as Crosspoint are growing rapidly — 15 percent of all U.S. churches identified themselves as nondenominational this year, up from 5 percent a decade ago. A third dropped out of major denominations at some point.

Their members are attracted by worship style, particular church missions or friends in the congregation.

"They no longer see the denomination as anything that has relevance to them," said Scott Thumma, a religion sociology professor at Hartford Seminary in Hartford, Conn. He's compiling a list of nondenominational churches for the 2010 Religious Congregations and Membership Study. "The whole complexion of organized religion is in flux."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsDisciples of ChristEvangelicalsLutheranMethodistOrthodox ChurchPentecostalPresbyterianRoman CatholicUnited Church of Christ

8 Comments
Posted January 5, 2011 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"To continue playing the game of 'ain't it awful what they have done to Christmas' may be a cop-out," argued [the Rev. Rick] Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions. "After all, we contribute to the commercialization of Christmas. We are a part of the supposed problem of abuse that the Christmas season has experienced.

"A revitalization of Christmas will not come from Wall Street, Main Street, the malls or the halls of Congress and the state legislature. The chatter of talking heads on news programs will not make this a reality."

It would help if churches offered constructive advice. That's why it was significant that, just before Dec. 25, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service published several commentaries by Lance and others raising unusually practical questions about how members of America's largest non-Catholic flock can fine-tune future Christmas plans.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

3 Comments
Posted January 3, 2011 at 7:27 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Two decades after declaring victory in the war over biblical inerrancy, Southern Baptists are battling about booze.

Seeking to remain relevant in today's culture, many Baptists have abandoned former taboos against social activities like dancing and going to movies. Now some are questioning the denomination's historic position of abstaining from alcohol, prompting others to draw a line.

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina recently passed a motion to "study a policy of the social use of alcohol" related to funding of church plants, employment of personnel and nomination of persons to committees and boards of trustees.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchAlcohol/DrinkingReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

4 Comments
Posted January 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a recent article in Christianity Today, a pastor is quoted as saying, “A funeral is like a North Star in the sky, by which a navigator knows where his ship is and how to adjust its direction and get to the destination. At a funeral, you get these coordinates to position yourself in life.” I wholeheartedly agree.

We live in a culture that has forgotten the concept of the brevity of life. Many of us can go for months and even years without attending a funeral and being faced with ultimate issues. But the church is the community of the resurrected Christ- therefore; we say loudly that while death is a reality for all people, it does not triumph because Christ has overcome the grave. Therefore, the understanding of eternity in Christ should teach us how to live well and how to die well.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / FuneralsMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyPastoral Theology

1 Comments
Posted December 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Our role in Iraq has also been to help win the hearts and minds of Iraqis through humanitarian missions and establishing local relationships with religious leaders. One such local leader is the Rev. Canon Andrew White.

Canon White is the rector (pastor) of St. George's Church of Baghdad, the only Anglican Church in the country, established during the time when Iraq was a British territory. Canon White, also titled the vicar of Baghdad by the Church of England, plays an important role as a peace ambassador in the Middle East. He has been kidnapped. He has been beaten. He has lain on a floor with body parts scattered around him. Yet, he faithfully continues to preach and works for peace in one of the most dangerous places in the world today. He faces such persecution because he is one of the few vocal Christians in the city working for the good of Iraq.

Given Canon White's persecution in Baghdad, I have reflected on what the situation would be like if it were reversed. What would the situation be like for those who are not the religious majority of a country?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMilitary / Armed ForcesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralCity GovernmentTerrorism* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslam

3 Comments
Posted October 15, 2010 at 6:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Parish ministry can be a lonely vocation. The “set-apartness” of the pastoral role, the effects of geographical isolation, and the time demands of congregational life can all conspire to make the parish feel like what the old spiritual calls “the lonesome valley.” And yet Jesus walked that same lonesome valley, and, through him, even the loneliness of ministry can become a source of beauty and communion. Hear Jeremy Troxler, director of the Thriving Rural Communities initiative, discuss the loneliness of rural, and all, ministry.

If you have the capacity and interest you can download this presentation via Itunes following the link here.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryMinistry of the Ordained* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsDisciples of ChristLutheranMethodistPresbyterianRoman Catholic

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Posted October 13, 2010 at 6:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

KIM LAWTON, correspondent: About 20 minutes outside New Orleans, worshippers gather at First Baptist Church in Chalmette, the largest city in St. Bernard Parish. It’s a pretty typical Southern Baptist Sunday morning service.

REV JOHN DEE JEFFRIES (Preaching at First Baptist Church, Chalmette, Louisiana): Lord, what’s going on? Lord, why?

LAWTON: But that belies the incredible journey this congregation has made since Hurricane Katrina. More than half of the churches in St. Bernard Parish still haven’t come back, and most of them probably never will. First Baptist is not only back, but reinventing itself to help a community still struggling to recover.

Read it all

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPastoral Care* Culture-WatchHurricane KatrinaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted August 28, 2010 at 2:26 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

My grandfather was the Reverend Calvin Titus Perkins, known by all as C.T. He was a Southern Baptist evangelist—a traveling preacher in Oklahoma, the former Indian Territory. He arrived, when he was a very young boy and it was a very young state, in a covered wagon. That famous dry Oklahoma dust seems embedded in the few black-and-white photos I've seen of him and his unkempt, unsmiling siblings. Several of them went on to drink and divorce. He was a man of passion but also a lover of order, a believer in rules. The bare bones Calvinism that flourished on the frontier offered him not only a faith but a way beyond the chaos and poverty he knew as a child.

When I left home at 18 for Brown University—in part because it was farther from Oklahoma than any other school that accepted me—my grandfather epitomized what I felt I had to escape from. His was a small, closed world defined by judgment. I was throwing myself toward possibility, toward life with a liberating small "l." The Eternal Life that all his theology drove toward was really about the avoidance of death and damnation. As I grew older, this threat utterly lost its sense for me. How could every Catholic and Jew, every atheist in China and every northern Baptist in Chicago, for that matter—every non-Southern Baptist—be damned? Could God be so petty, and heaven so small?

The meanness of the God C.T. preached was contradicted, more poi gnantly, in his own person, though he would never have seen this in himself, nor did I have the words for many years to describe it. He was funny and smart and large-hearted.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

4 Comments
Posted July 28, 2010 at 2:17 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the oil continues to spill in the Gulf of Mexico, what to do about off-shore drilling and the regulation of the oil industry is cause for debate in Congress and among coastal residents. Now add to this another dimension: religion.

The Southern Baptist Convention has used notably strong language to call on the government — and its own congregation — to work to prevent such a crisis again.

In a resolution, the Convention called on the government "to act determinatively and with undeterred resolve to end this crisis ... to ensure full corporate accountability for damages, clean-up and restoration ... and to ensure that government and private industry are not again caught without planning for such possibilities."

Dr. Russell Moore helped pass that resolution....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources--The 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

12 Comments
Posted June 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[Russell] Moore served as chairman of the resolutions committee this past week in Orlando when Southern Baptists gathered for their annual national meeting. Thus, in addition to dealing with scores of internal SBC issues, the convention expressed its concerns about the unfolding catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

Noting that the Bible teaches that those who harm the vulnerable should be held accountable, the convention called on "governing authorities to act determinatively and with undeterred resolve to end this crisis; to fortify our coastal defenses; to ensure full corporate accountability for damages, clean-up, and restoration; to ensure that government and private industry are not again caught without planning for such possibilities; and to promote future energy policies based on prudence, conservation, accountability, and safety."

It urged Southern Baptist churches to recruit waves of volunteers for clean-up crews, just as they did after hurricane Katrina.

The resolution stressed that "our God-given dominion over the creation is not unlimited, as though we were gods and not creatures, so therefore, all persons and all industries are then accountable to higher standards than to profit alone."

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEnergy, Natural Resources--The 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Southern Baptist Convention President Johnny Hunt urged members of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination to move beyond their comfort zones as they seek new ways to evangelize and combat declining baptism rates.

“I’m tired of having my membership in a convention that’s declining,” he said in a presidential address on the opening day of the Southern Baptists’ annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday (June 15).

“I’m tired of not putting the priority in reaching teenagers for Jesus Christ. I’m tired of being hammered over and over again about money instead of the mission in Jesus’ name. Let’s get a compelling vision that people would want to give more money to.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

1 Comments
Posted June 16, 2010 at 1:11 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Denominations appear to have fallen on difficult times. Theological controversies over core Christian beliefs have weakened some denominations. Others have succumbed to classic liberalism. A handful of denominations have reaffirmed their commitment to theological orthodoxy, but even many once-growing conservative denominations have experienced difficult days. All in all, membership in 23 of the 25 largest Christian denominations is declining (the exceptions being the Assemblies of God and the Church of God).

The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) found that the percentage of Americans who self-identify as Christians decreased from 86 percent in a 1990 study to 76 percent in 2008. Much of the loss does seem located in large mainline denominations. At the same time, the ARIS indicated that nondenominational churches have steadily grown since 2001—and that self-identified evangelicals have increased in number. But it seems that denominations have not shared in the growth.

According to many church leaders, denominations are not fading away—they are actually inhibiting growth. I have heard many pastors denounce denominations as hindering more than helping their churches' mission. Others carp at wasteful spending, bureaucratic ineffectiveness, or structural redundancies; these objections seem to have gained adherents in an economic climate of pinching every penny. Loyalty to a denomination has declined and in some cases disappeared.

Meanwhile, many of the better-known churches in America today have no denominational affiliation....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicalsLutheranMethodistPresbyterian

4 Comments
Posted June 12, 2010 at 10:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Paul McCusker has spent the last 25 years working for Focus on the Family. A former Baptist-turned-Anglican-turned Catholic, McCusker has served as executive producer for the organization’s award-winning audio dramas, such as “The Chronicles of Narnia,” and the recent Audie Award-nominated “The Screwtape Letters,” as well as the children’s radio program “Adventures in Odyssey.” McCusker serves as director of creative content for Focus on the Family.

He spoke with Register senior writer Tim Drake about his life and work from his office in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in southwest Pennsylvania, in Uniontown, but I grew up in Bowie, Md., just east of Washington, D.C., and spent my formative years there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal* Culture-WatchPoetry & LiteratureReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicalsRoman Catholic

1 Comments
Posted June 3, 2010 at 5:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Grace Baptist Church in Springfield, Tenn., was in tough straits two years ago.

The church had gone 12 months without a pastor. Sunday morning attendance hovered around 120. And, in 2008, the Southern Baptist congregation baptized only three people.

That changed last year when a new pastor and a new approach to ministry led to 53 baptisms and 200 new people showing up on Sundays.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

1 Comments
Posted May 21, 2010 at 1:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Feb. 3, Ergun Caner, president of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, in Lynchburg, Va., focused attention on a Southern Baptist controversy when he called Jerry Rankin, the president of the denomination’s International Mission Board, a liar. Dr. Caner has since apologized for his language, but he still maintains that the “Camel Method,” a strategy Dr. Rankin endorses for preaching Christianity to Muslims, is deceitful.

Instead of talking about the Jesus of the New Testament, missionaries using the Camel Method point Muslims to the Koran, where in the third chapter, or sura, an infant named Isa — Arabic for Jesus — is born. Missionaries have found that by starting with the Koran’s Jesus story, they can make inroads with Muslims who reject the Bible out of hand. But according to Dr. Caner, whose attack on Dr. Rankin came in a weekly Southern Baptist podcast, the idea that the Koran can contain the seeds of Christian faith is “an absolute, fundamental deception.”

David Garrison, a missionary who edited a book on the Camel Method by Kevin Greeson, the method’s developer, defends the use of the Koran as a path to Jesus. “You aren’t criticizing Muhammad or any other prophets,” Dr. Garrison said, “just raising Jesus up.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeMissionsParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryAsiaMalaysia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted March 13, 2010 at 10:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If turning around a declining church were easy, more declining churches would be reversing course.

And if Christians in the United States think turning around a church is difficult, think of trying it in the Church of England, where tradition reaches back hundreds of years and hierarchical structure often hamstrings changes local congregations want to make.

But Bob and Mary Hopkins believe fresh expressions—a term they prefer over “revitalizing a congregation”—can come even to Anglican churches in the United Kingdom.

Although they began—and continue—as church planters in urban settings with Anglican Church Planting Initiatives, from 1998 to 2005, the Hopkins served on the leadership team of St. Thomas’ Church in Sheffield, which grew to 1,500 in attendance, primarily reaching young adults with emerging culture interests.

They acknowledge cultural differences between the United Kingdom and the United States, but they emphasize that differences favor American churches. According to the Hopkins, culture in the United Kingdom is more influenced by secular atheism and is further into an era being called post-Christendom. The Brits have fewer megachurches and a greater percentage of smaller congregations. In addition, their congregations are attended by older people—average age 61—with fewer financial resources.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

1 Comments
Posted February 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Southern Baptists need to repent of their pride, boasting and disunity and return to God and His vision.

That was the sobering call Dr. Ronnie Floyd made Monday as he presented a highly anticipated report charting out a new course for the nation's largest Protestant denomination.

"We (task force) have been gripped by the reality of the lost condition of our world and about our condition as a denomination, but through this journey we have also been set on fire by the call of God to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ," Floyd, chairman of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, stated in a progress report. "Surely Southern Baptists can agree that we need a new and compelling vision for the future."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* TheologySoteriology

7 Comments
Posted February 24, 2010 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Omar Hammami had every right to flash his magnetic smile. He had just been elected president of his sophomore class. He was dating a luminous blonde, one of the most sought-after girls in school. He was a star in the gifted-student program, with visions of becoming a surgeon. For a 15-year-old, he had remarkable charisma.

Despite the name he acquired from his father, an immigrant from Syria, Hammami was every bit as Alabaman as his mother, a warm, plain-spoken woman who sprinkles her conversation with blandishments like “sugar” and “darlin’.” Brought up a Southern Baptist, Omar went to Bible camp as a boy and sang “Away in a Manger” on Christmas Eve. As a teenager, his passions veered between Shakespeare and Kurt Cobain, soccer and Nintendo. In the thick of his adolescence, he was fearless, raucously funny, rebellious, contrarian. “It felt cool just to be with him,” his best friend at the time, Trey Gunter, said recently. “You knew he was going to be a leader.”

A decade later, Hammami has fulfilled that promise in the most unimaginable way. Some 8,500 miles from Alabama, on the eastern edge of Africa, he has become a key figure in one of the world’s most ruthless Islamist insurgencies. That guerrilla army, known as the Shabab, is fighting to overthrow the fragile American-backed Somali government. The rebels are known for beheading political enemies, chopping off the hands of thieves and stoning women accused of adultery. With help from Al Qaeda, they have managed to turn Somalia into an ever more popular destination for jihadis from around the world.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & CultureTeens / YouthViolence* International News & CommentaryAfricaSomaliaAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastEgypt* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslam

6 Comments
Posted February 7, 2010 at 5:44 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Dressed in Sunday church finery and fashionable hats, these devout Baptist women looked decades younger than their ages, 70s and 80s — evidence, it seemed, of virtuous living.

The group of a half-dozen or so gathers every Sunday after church to talk about their shared bonds: faith in Jesus, and memories of long-ago journeys from sleepy Southern country towns to the big city with its smokestacks and sirens.

“We fellowship,” said Gloria Davis, a native of the Mississippi Delta, “and we remember the days.”

These women were part of one of the nation’s most important periods, the Great Migration, the mass trek of blacks going north for jobs and the hope of civil rights. It has been more than a half-century since the peak of migration to Chicago.

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchDieting/Food/NutritionHistoryRace/Race RelationsReligion & CultureWomen* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted January 22, 2010 at 12:27 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What time is it?" the preacher asks.

"Preaching time!" comes the collective response.

"What time is it?" he repeats.

"Preaching time!!" they answer, louder.

"What time is it?"

"Preaching time!!!"

"Gospel means 'good news,' and there's no better news than the Book of John," the Rev. Nelson B. Rivers III begins, steering the congregation at Charity Missionary Baptist Church to Chapter 9, Verses 18-25, which recount the story of the blind man made to see.

Read it all from the Faith and Values section of the local paper.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted September 13, 2009 at 2:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Word came recently that the Episcopal Church national convention plans to affirm gay and lesbian clergy. Some celebrated, while others recoiled. The public pondered.

From the sidelines I say, “Hooray for the steady progress of God's holy spirit.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention * Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsLutheranMethodistPresbyterianSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)

8 Comments
Posted August 1, 2009 at 11:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Decades of painful conservative-moderate fights. Stagnant baptism rates. Membership malaise. Surveying the state of the Southern Baptist Convention, seminary president Danny Akin can sum it all up in just six words.

"Business as usual," he said, "is not working."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

1 Comments
Posted June 11, 2009 at 4:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The times demand Christian courage. These days, courage means that preachers and Christian leaders must set an agenda for biblical confrontation, and not shrink from dealing with the full range of issues related to homosexuality. We must talk about what the Bible teaches about gender–what it means to be a man or a woman. We must talk about God’s gift of sex and the covenant of marriage. And we must talk honestly about what homosexuality is, and why God has condemned this sin as an abomination in His sight.

Courage is far too rare in many Christian circles. This explains the surrender of so many denominations, seminaries, and churches to the homosexual agenda. But no surrender on this issue would have been possible, if the authority of Scripture had not already been undermined.

And yet, even as courage is required, the times call for another Christian virtue as well–compassion. The tragic fact is that every congregation is almost certain to include persons struggling with homosexual desire or even involved in homosexual acts. Outside the walls of the church, homosexuals are waiting to see if the Christian church has anything more to say, after we declare that homosexuality is a sin.

Liberal churches have redefined compassion to mean that the church changes its message to meet modern demands. They argue that to tell a homosexual he is a sinner is uncompassionate and intolerant. This is like arguing that a physician is intolerant because he tells a patient she has cancer. But, in the culture of political correctness, this argument holds a powerful attraction.

Biblical Christians know that compassion requires telling the truth, and refusing to call sin something sinless. To hide or deny the sinfulness of sin is to lie, and there is no compassion in such a deadly deception. True compassion demands speaking the truth in love–and there is the problem. Far too often, our courage is more evident than our compassion.

--Dr. Albert Mohler



Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsSexuality Debate (Other denominations and faiths)* TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted May 19, 2009 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Young evangelical leaders on Tuesday announced a national initiative to enlist Christians online and in schools and churches to make a moral case for nuclear disarmament.

"I know when most people think of the elimination of nuclear weapons, they think of tie-dyed activists," said Tyler Wigg Stevenson, a 31-year-old Baptist pastor.

Stevenson, who outlined his Two Futures Project during a religious conference in Austin, said many under-40 evangelicals see nuclear disarmament as consistent with their values agenda.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsEvangelicals

8 Comments
Posted May 1, 2009 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“The principle pain in hearing is that we just don’t want to hear some things,” [Fred] Craddock said. “We avoid things we don’t want to hear because they might disturb us.”

One of those things, Craddock implied, is the verbal sharing of one’s faith, a practice he said many have abandoned by letting others’ distasteful misuse and distortion of evangelism silence their own witness.

Too many Christians buy into the idea that a vocal witness is not important and “words don’t mean anything,” Craddock said, when the truth is that “words mean everything.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

1 Comments
Posted March 29, 2009 at 2:24 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Southern Baptist Convention, which is launching a new national campaign to bring unbelievers to Jesus, is up against a major obstacle: motivating its own members to evangelize.

But it may be the only effective way to reach people, according to a survey of 15,173 people by LifeWay Research, a Christian research firm.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

3 Comments
Posted March 26, 2009 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Metropolitan Baptist Church was bursting out of its home.

From a group of freed slaves in Civil War-era Washington, Metropolitan Baptist had grown into a modern-day megachurch and community service powerhouse. In 2006, construction began on the congregation's dream complex in Largo, Md. — a $30 million campus with a 3,000-seat church, an education center and an 1,100-car parking lot.

Last year, the congregation sold its church in Washington. Preparations began for the move to what leaders had taken to calling "God's land in Largo."

But on Oct. 20, their plans were abruptly put on hold.

The Rev. H. Beecher Hicks learned that financing for the project had dried up. Construction stopped. And the congregation found that it was homeless — reduced to renting space and struggling to find new financing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

1 Comments
Posted March 17, 2009 at 5:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President-elect Barack Obama and his family attended services this morning at one of the oldest historically black churches in Washington, thrilling a congregation that sang, clapped and prayed through a 90-minute celebration of spirit and Scripture.

It was supposed to be a surprise visit at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, but it seemed anything but. Hundreds of parishioners began lining up early this morning, hoping to get a spot in the pews for what their pastor had earlier said would be a very "special" day.

The pastor, Derrick Harkins, focused his sermon on how God prepares people for challenging situations. He told Obama: "Let me step aside with you, Mr. President elect . . . perhaps, perhaps, just perhaps, you are where you are for such a time."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

3 Comments
Posted January 18, 2009 at 2:07 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There is now a more detailed schedule available via this parish newsletter on page 2.

Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal- Anglican: Latest NewsAnglican ProvincesAnglican Church of TanzaniaChurch of NigeriaCommon Cause PartnershipEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsIslamSecularism* South Carolina* Theology

4 Comments
Posted January 13, 2009 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If there is to be peace on earth and good will toward men, we must finally believe in the ultimate morality of the universe, and believe that all reality hinges on moral foundations. Something must remind us of this as we once again stand in the Christmas season and think of the Easter season simultaneously, for the two somehow go together. Christ came to show us the way. Men love darkness rather than the light, and they crucified him, and there on Good Friday on the cross it was still dark, but then Easter came, and Easter is an eternal reminder of the fact that the truth-crushed earth will rise again. Easter justifies Carlyle in saying, “No lie can live forever.” And so this is our faith, as we continue to hope for peace on earth and good will toward men: let us know that in the process we have cosmic companionship.

In 1963, on a sweltering August afternoon, we stood in Washington, D.C., and talked to the nation about many things. Toward the end of that afternoon, I tried to talk to the nation about a dream that I had had, and I must confess to you today that not long after talking about that dream I started seeing it turn into a nightmare....but in spite of that I close today by saying I still have a dream, because, you know, you can't give up in life. If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream....

I still have a dream today that one day the lamb and the lion will lie down together and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid. I still have a dream today that one day every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill will be made low, the rough places will be made smooth and the crooked places straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. I still have a dream that with this faith we will be able to adjourn the councils of despair and bring new light into the dark chambers of pessimism. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when there will be peace on earth and good will toward men. It will be a glorious day, the morning stars will sing together, and the sons of God will shout for joy.

Read it carefully and read it all.



Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch HistoryChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmasParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchRace/Race Relations* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted December 25, 2008 at 11:35 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

LUCKY SEVERSON: If something seems odd or unusual about these worshippers, maybe it’s the diversity, all the different colors and nationalities of their faces. This is the Wilcrest Baptist Church in Houston, and Pastor Rodney Woo couldn’t be more proud of the cultural and racial mix of his congregation.

Pastor RODNEY WOO (Wilcrest Baptist Church, Houston, TX): I think my main passion is to get people ready for heaven. I think a lot of our people are going to go into culture shock when they get to heaven, and they get to sit next to somebody that they didn’t maybe sit with while they were here on earth. So we’re trying to get them acclimated a little bit.

SEVERSON: Assuming Pastor Woo is right, there are a lot of congregations that need to get acclimated. A recent study found that only 7 percent of churches in the US are integrated. This comes as no surprise to Ohio State sociology professor Korie Edwards, author of the book “The Elusive Dream”.

Professor KORIE EDWARDS (Sociology Department, Ohio State University and Author, “The Elusive Dream”): We’re segregated in housing. Even the job market is segregated, and we end up going to churches with people who look like us.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchRace/Race Relations* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

2 Comments
Posted December 20, 2008 at 1:46 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The strange part of ...[the New York Times] account is the statement that this move "threatens the fragile unity of the Anglican Communion." That fragile unity was shattered by the actions of more liberal churches in North America to bless same-sex unions, ordain homosexual ministers, and elect an openly-homosexual bishop. The lack of unity is what has prompted the establishment of this new denomination.

Indeed, this division among the Anglicans and related national churches can be traced directly back to the Anglican Communion's failure to establish and maintain doctrinal boundaries and a clear affirmation of biblical authority. Liberals and conservatives have been increasingly at odds over a host of issues related to biblical authority.

The action of the American church, the Episcopal Church USA, to elect and consecrate an openly-homosexual man as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 set the stage for what now appears to be a schism in the church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalCommon Cause Partnership--Proposed Formation of a new North American ProvinceEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC ConflictsSexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)Same-sex blessings* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

2 Comments
Posted December 11, 2008 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One weekday morning in 1981, when he was new to Baltimore, Arnold Graf descended into the basement of the Enon Baptist Church. The steps took him into the midst of 60 skeptics. They were the black ministers whom Mr. Graf, a white Jew, was trying to persuade to join him in community organizing.

Even among a loquacious crowd of preachers, conversation stilled at Mr. Graf’s arrival. “I don’t know if we should be talking about this stuff with an outsider here,” one minister said, as Mr. Graf recently recalled the meeting.

Then the Rev. Vernon N. Dobson, one of Baltimore’s legendary civil rights leaders, replied. Alone among the dozens of ministers, he was already a member of Mr. Graf’s group, Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development. Alone among them, Mr. Dobson had already gotten to know Mr. Graf during the organizer’s brief months in the city.

“He’s with me,” Mr. Dobson said. “And who’s blacker than me here? The man is my brother.”

Read the whole article.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchRace/Race Relations* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther ChurchesBaptistsOther FaithsJudaism

0 Comments
Posted September 6, 2008 at 8:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered 45 years ago today, established the Baptist preacher as a modern-day prophet, according to scholars contacted by EthicsDaily.com.

Delivered Aug. 28, 1963, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the speech is widely regarded as one of the most important addresses in American history. Scholars in 1999 voted it the best political speech of the 20th century.

"Dr. King's 1963 words yet ring powerful and prophetic 40 years after his voice was tragically silenced in 1968," said Wendell Griffen, a Baptist minister and former judge on the Arkansas Court of Appeals. "The power of the words lies in their hopeful urgency."

Bill Tillman, T.B. Maston Professor of Christian Ethics at Hardin-Simmons University's Logsdon School of Theology, said King met at least a couple of criteria for recognition as a prophet.

"One of the criteria, not being accepted in his own land, marks the response of many Christians, and sad to say many Baptist Christians, to King," Tillman said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch History* Culture-WatchRace/Race Relations* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted August 28, 2008 at 8:57 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Heading into the final week of August 2005, the Rev. Louis Adams had a verse from Nehemiah much in mind. In the passage, the prophet described Jerusalem in ruins, its gates burned by invaders. Then he declared, “Come, let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.” Mr. Adams and his congregants in the Holy Ground Baptist Church here had spent three years and $125,000 buying and rebuilding a dilapidated church in the Lower Ninth Ward. Once their labors were done, they would no longer have to worship as weekend tenants of the Care Bear Daycare Center. They would no longer be sojourners.

The pews, the altar, the baptismal pool were already installed in their new home. The kitchen and the social hall were complete. All that was left was to lay the cedar planks of the floor, then tack down the carpet. On the third Sunday of September, Holy Ground’s members would march into a sanctuary of their own.

Before then, of course, Hurricane Katrina struck and Holy Ground sat deep in floodwater. A house across the street, which had been swept off its foundation, had smashed into one corner of the church.

And so began a story of destruction and dispossession, of natural disaster and human failure, that has yet to end, even as the third anniversary of the disaster approaches.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHurricane KatrinaReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

1 Comments
Posted August 26, 2008 at 10:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A LEADING Georgian churchman this week described the situation in his country as “appalling”, despite some signs of a Russian withdrawal.

Archbishop Malkhaz Songula­shvili, of the Georgian Evangelical Baptist Church returned to Georgia on Sunday to reports of looting and rape by Russian troops.

He said that the Georgian people feel “humiliated and devastated” by the situation, and he believed many displaced people could die if they did not receive food and shelter before winter.

“I cannot believe what I am seeing on TV footage: Russian soldiers are plundering villages and taking truck­loads of goods, even people’s clothes. They’re taking everything, and there are reports of rape, and people being kidnapped for ransom, by South Ossetians backed by Russian troops.”

The Archbishop estimates that about 60,000 people have fled to the capital Tbilisi, where they are being housed in hospitals and schools, often with little medical or food supplies.

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryEuropeRepublic of Georgia* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

4 Comments
Posted August 22, 2008 at 4:09 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The first Indaba followed on from the Bible Study which today consisted of only five of us, a Bishop from Connecticut, North America, who is our facilitator, and three Indian bishops. It was a good experience, in which I was encouraged to participate fully. It was humbling to hear the answer to the question - set in the context of the story of Jesus walking on the water and saying to the disciples in the boat, ‘I am, do not be afraid’ – what are the things that bring fear to Christians in your own context? ‘Waiting for the church to be burnt for the third time’, ‘Waiting for an excuse to be attacked.’ And not just for being a minority religion, but for being linked to the West. For these brothers from India expressing faith in ‘I am’ rather than living in fear was inspiring.

And the Indaba group? Well, so far, it’s what it said on the packing. We set some ground rules and then in quietness answered three questions. We then moved into two conversations in different pairs and then formed a group of five in which we explored in more detail the question, ‘Who am I as an Anglican bishop?’ At this point I might have felt left out, but not only was I was fully included but the group immediately offered to ordain me to the episcopacy there and then, and were already improvising for a bishop’s staff and Episcopal ring! Of course I resisted. What followed was not significantly different to the conversation I might have with my Team Leader colleagues, or indeed all Regional Ministers.

We then took our one sentence back and with the other small groups within the larger group, shared findings noting points of convergence and divergence.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalLambeth 2008* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical RelationsOther ChurchesBaptists

3 Comments
Posted July 22, 2008 at 8:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Watch it all--very encouraging.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted May 29, 2008 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Sudan Interior Church North and Sudan Interior Church South have reunited to form one convention.

First constituted in 1963, the Sudan Interior Church (SIC) divided during the Second Sudanese Civil War from 1983 to 2005, during which more than two million people died and an estimated four million Sudanese were displaced.

Baptist congregations were founded in several Sudanese refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. "The scattering of the church necessitated the development of a second administrative center based in Nairobi, Kenya." said Elijah Brown, who has studied the state of the church in Sudan, and who is a member of the Baptist World Alliance Commission on Freedom and Justice. "The installation of SIC-South was a pragmatic attempt to minister to a dispersed church divided by warring factions."

Brown said SIC "leaders insist that the church itself was not split, but administratively rearranged for a limited timeframe to further effective ministry."

Read it all.




Filed under: * International News & CommentaryAfrica* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

0 Comments
Posted April 18, 2008 at 4:19 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Perhaps the only thing worse than Al Gore's tedious 90-minute slide presentation on global warming is the same presentation interspersed with slides quoting from Scripture. But that's just what the audience of 2,500 at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant paid $35 a head to see on Jan. 31.

Mr. Gore, a featured speaker at the gathering here, was introduced as a "prophet." Like all prophets, he "is not welcome in his hometown," at least according to Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center of Ethics in Nashville. Mr. Parham noted with disappointment that the people of that city failed to "recognize" Mr. Gore's recent Nobel Prize victory. Talk about a cross to bear.

Mr. Gore's presentation was officially closed to the media, because, according to a Covenant spokesman, the former vice president didn't want the slides of those Bible passages "getting out on the Internet." What would his friends in the secular blogosphere think about the fact that he said "In the beginning, God created Heaven and earth" as a picture of our planet from space was displayed? Or that he used the story of Noah to explain why we should work to save more endangered species?

But in Atlanta, Mr. Gore was preaching to the converted. Welcome to what might have been the largest gathering yet of the so-called religious left. A self-described "informal alliance of more than 30 racially, geographically, and theologically diverse Baptist organizations," the three-day celebration demonstrated how difficult it will be for religious liberals to unite, let alone get under the same tent with secular liberals and become a political force.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

3 Comments
Posted February 8, 2008 at 12:15 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon


Religion and Hollywood normally don't sound like mix well -- but a Baptist church in Shreveport hopes it will be a good fit.

And Summer Grove Baptist -- which built its sanctuary out of an old shopping mall -- doesn't always go by the book.

The church is thinking about selling part of its property to a new film institute and studio. They would exist side-by-side -- with the film studio making "family friendly" films with a Christian message.

The congregation votes on the idea next Sunday.

Summer Grove, which moved into the old South Park Mall three years ago, is considering a proposal by the Louisiana Film Institute and Fountain Bridge Studios to buy part of the mall. It's talking about paying the church approximately $2 million a year over 30 years.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMovies & TelevisionReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

1 Comments
Posted January 24, 2008 at 5:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After the fourth death in a week, Keith Troy decided enough was enough.

Midway through Sunday services on Nov. 25, he looked out at his congregation and made an announcement.

Would all the men please rise.

Would the deacons and associate ministers please assemble in the aisles with paper and pencil.

Would every man write down his name and a phone number where he could be reached.

Too many church men were dying of preventable illnesses related to poor health, Troy told the stunned congregation at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, a predominantly black church of about 4,500 members, including about 900 men.

So their pastor of 24 years issued a simple order: every man in the congregation will see a doctor in the next three months. If they can’t afford it, the church will help pay. If transportation is a problem, someone from the church will drive them.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

6 Comments
Posted January 4, 2008 at 4:49 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When he climbed out of the car at Fort Robinson that morning in June 1972, Mike Huckabee found himself surrounded by 1,200 other high school juniors, each a leader in his Arkansas home town, each primed for an election. Several were carrying posters touting their platforms. Others were handing out cards.

Then as now, Huckabee didn't have the campaign apparatus of his peers. The 16-year-old arrived at Boys State, a prestigious and civic-minded youth camp run by the American Legion, from the small southwest Arkansas town of Hope with nothing but a suitcase and a gift for oratory.

By week's end he was its brightest star, elected governor in a landslide. He left Boys State with a network of high-achieving new friends who were eager to hitch their futures to his. And he'd soon have a letter from Gov. Dale Bumpers encouraging him to consider a career in public service.

It was a heady triumph for a teenager who already harbored big ambitions. But it wasn't enough -- not yet -- to lure him from his chosen path: preaching the word of God.

Three days after Boys State, Huckabee and two buddies from Hope piled into a car and headed to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, where they joined 80,000 other teenagers at Explo '72, the first worldwide gathering of evangelical youth. Time magazine dubbed it "the Jesus Woodstock." There, Huckabee spent six days learning from the Rev. Billy Graham and Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, how to lead others to the Lord.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsUS Presidential Election 2008* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

3 Comments
Posted December 15, 2007 at 4:57 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In August 1980, as the conservative Christian movement was first transforming American politics, Ronald Reagan stood before a Dallas stadium full of 15,000 foot-stomping, hand-clapping evangelicals and pledged his fealty to the Bible. “All the complex and horrendous questions confronting us at home and worldwide have their answer in that single book,” said Mr. Reagan, the Republican presidential nominee.

Assisting with logistics for the event was a young seminary dropout named Mike Huckabee. “It was the genesis for the whole movement,” Mr. Huckabee recalled of those early days.

Now Mr. Huckabee is running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, his campaign shaped by his two decades as an evangelical pastor and broadcaster. While he says he is running based on his career in the Arkansas governor’s mansion, not the pulpit, he has grounded his views on issues like abortion and immigration in Scripture, rallied members of the clergy for support, benefited from the anti-Mormon sentiment dogging a political rival and relied on the down-to-earth style he honed in the pulpit to help catapult him in the polls.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsUS Presidential Election 2008* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted December 6, 2007 at 8:47 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In 2005, a Republican state senator named Jim Holt introduced a bill to deny public benefits to Arkansas' soaring population of illegal immigrants. Holt, a Southern Baptist minister, figured it was a rock-solid conservative idea -- a matter, he said, "of right and wrong."

Arkansas' governor at the time was also a professed conservative, and also a Southern Baptist minister. But Mike Huckabee had only scorn for his fellow Republican's proposal.

Huckabee called the bill "race-baiting" and "demagoguery," and argued that the denial of health services could harm innocent children. The bill, Huckabee said, did not conform with his take on Christian values.

"I drink a different kind of Jesus juice," Huckabee said.

Today, Huckabee is seeking the Republican nomination for president, and voters nationwide are getting to know a different kind of candidate: He is the Southern preacher who favors droll wit over brimstone sermonizing, a rock 'n' roll bass player who believes in creationism, with an Oprah-ready story about a 110-pound weight loss that probably saved his life.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsUS Presidential Election 2008* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

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Posted December 3, 2007 at 4:39 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The more telling SBC statistic is baptisms, which have been declining. And the SBC annual meeting, held in June in San Antonio, drew the same kind of relatively small, definitely graying crowd that the more moderate BGCT drew in Amarillo.

One problem struggling denominations have in common is infighting. Whether it's over gay clergy (United Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans), or biblical inerrancy and women in the pulpit (Baptists), it's still fighting.

Fighting — especially when it seems to be as much about power as principle — is lousy advertising.

Another shared problem is competition from the many independent churches that have sprung up, unencumbered by denominational requirements or politics, and often offering stirring worship and relevant programming for young families.

Baptists, with their loose organizational structure, face the added problem of post-denominationalism within the ranks.

Many Baptist churches have dropped "Baptist" from their name, seeing it as a turnoff to potential members. And some bigger churches are doing for themselves what Baptist churches have traditionally done together through state conventions and the denomination

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Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptistsLutheranMethodist

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Posted November 11, 2007 at 4:38 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Westboro Baptist Church, the Topeka, Kan., congregation recently slapped with a multimillion-dollar judgment by a Baltimore jury for picketing the 2006 funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, has been disavowed by leading Baptists around the country.

Although the 75-member church led by the Rev. Fred Phelps uses the name "Baptist," it is an independent congregation not affiliated with any known Baptist convention or association.

"It's a little bit frustrating," said a ministry official at First Baptist Church of Topeka, who asked that his name not be used.

"People want to know why Baptists allow it," the First Baptist official said. "Every church is locally autonomous, and anybody can call themselves 'Baptist' if they want to."

Speaking of the Westboro congregation, he said, "Their views don't reflect anything at all of our church."

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists


Posted November 3, 2007 at 8:10 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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