30 March, 2007
A sign in front of Corinth Baptist Church says "Welcome to Canada," which has prompted both questions and controversy for this small rural congregation. The story began almost a year ago when the church was denied a building permit by the city of Corinth to add on to the current church building for Sunday School room and office space. After a number of frustrating appeals the church finally gave up fighting the Corinth City Council and looked above for help...to Canada.
"We donated all of our land to the city of Kentville, Nova Scotia in Canada, so our church property is now Canadian soil." Said Rev. Chris Carter, the church's pastor. "We fenced in the property and posted a Canadian flag outside of our church."
When the idea was suggested by Carter and the board of deacons it was well received by congregation.
"We were sick and tired of the city council here in Corinth telling us that we couldn't build on to our property." Said Alice McAffey, a life-long member of the church. "Now, I'm proud to be a member of a Canadian church where we are free to build however we want."
Each Sunday non-regular church members who wish to visit must present a valid passport that is checked by one of the deacons on duty at the front gate of the church. Those who do not have passports cannot enter the church grounds but may listen through a remote transmitter outside of the "territory."
But despite the church's enthusiasm over their newfound identity, the legality of their claim is being challenged.
"This is totally absurd!" Said Corinth Mayor Harry Fordice. "They just can't donate American land to another country and suddenly expect it to become foreign soil. I don't know what they're thinking."
"I'm not familiar with any donation of land that's been made to us." Said Richard Sussex, Mayor of Kentville, Nova Scotia. "No one has mentioned anything to me at all, and I'm fairly certain that laws in both the United States and Canada forbid such a thing."
But, regardless of criticism, Carter and his congregation continue to refer to themselves as a "Canadian Church" and have filed for a building permit with the city of Kentville to allow them to build on to their church.
"We're going to start building as soon as we get all the paperwork in order." Said Carter.
When asked what might happen if the permit was not granted by Kentville, Carter replied, "We're already considering that. We're thinking that Ethiopia might be a good option."
29 March, 2007
Some missionaries go to Africa, others to South America, and others to various parts of Asia. For James DeLaney his mission field is wherever Delta Airlines is going.
DeLaney always had the desire to become a missionary, but never felt called to any one particular country. But five years ago while he was checking his email he received a notice of weekly specials from Delta Airlines informing him that he could fly from Atlanta to London for only $350 round trip. Without hesitation he purchased the flight, and thus he entered his "mission field."
"Since that day five years ago I've flown every week, sometimes multiple times." Said DeLaney. "Once we're airborne and at our cruising altitude I try to strike up a conversation with the person in the seat next to me which will hopefully lead to an opportunity to share the gospel. Some people are very receptive, while others are resistant. But I never stop trying."
On average DeLaney flies a total of 25,000 miles per month, which usually includes at least one international flight, sometimes two.
"Whatever is on sale with Delta is what I fly." He said. "Last week I flew to Prague on a great deal. Next week I'm off to Johannesburg, South Africa. That flight is great. We fly almost 20 hours. During that long of a flight people are really eager to talk, even if they do think I'm a 'religious nut.' What's really great though is if we have some rough turbulence. Now that's when I can really get a hold on some nervous passenger and say 'Do you know where you'd go if this plane crashed right now?'"
Ever since beginning his work on the 'mission field' five years ago DeLaney has shared his vision with churches around the country, and has managed to raise enough support to keep him airborne almost year-round.
"I've got churches all over the United States supporting me." He said. "I take my flights and then rest for a few days wherever I am, and take in a couple of sights. Then I'm back in the friendly skies. I usually try to fly first or business class when I can, because those people need the gospel too."
Despite the grueling pace of his work, DeLaney says that he has no plans to slow down.
"There is such a great need out there." Said DeLaney. "The Altlanta-Paris flight is one of the toughest to get to know people on. I'm planning on focusing on that route next year at least once a month, flying business class, of course. Those rich Parisians are so hard-hearted to the gospel, and I feel it is my calling to press them hard."
28 March, 2007
The First Assembly of God in Kissimmee, Florida had a problem. Many of the church's youth had been having behavioral problems at home and at school. Children were rebelling against their parents, and many were getting suspended for fights and the use of foul language. The parents were becoming discouraged and turned to the church's pastor, Adrian Jackson, for help.
"In all my years of ministry I've never seen such a bad youth group." Said Jackson. "A church always has its problem kids that come and go, but over the past two years we've just seen a consistent string of problems from our kids in this church. Out of some 30 kids in our church's youth program about 25 of them just stay in trouble either at home or at school."
To resolve the problem Jackson came up with an idea that he felt certain would work.
"These kids needed a 'reality check.'" He said. "They needed to have the Devil literally scared out of them."
The solution; hold a 'mock rapture' and make the kids think they've all been 'left behind.'
"The plan was great." Said Karen Henderson, who had a daughter in the youth group. "While the youth were in Sunday School almost every member of the congregation arranged a set of empty clothes in the church's worship center to make it look like we'd been raptured. A couple of us agreed to play the part of those 'left behind.' I got to do that, which was great."
"My part was to excuse myself from Sunday School a few minutes early and meet the rest of the congregation down at Starbucks around the corner." Said youth Sunday School teacher, Brian Parks. "I made up some excuse about having to 'take care of a few things' before worship."
After Brian left the classroom the kids waited in the room for about 10 minutes until they heard screaming in the distance. Running into the church's worship center they found aisle after aisle of empty clothes with Henderson and a few others running hysterically around the room screaming "They're gone! They're gone! We're left behind!"
"I just burst into tears." Said 13-year-old Susan Raymond. "We all did. It was, like, the scariest thing I have ever been in. We thought all of us had been left behind."
Thinking that they had all been 'left behind,' all of the kids got down on their knees and began praying. About fifteen minutes later the congregation returned from Starbucks to see the sobbing, terrified faces of their youth group.
"I flung open the back doors of the worship center and yelled out 'Surprise!'" Said Jackson. "We all started coming back in, and, I tell you, those kids looked shocked."
The results of the mock rapture have been varied. While about three of the church's youth have become more devout, several have had to begin going to therapy citing intense nightmares and panic attacks. A number of the kids have even gotten worse in their behavior.
"Overall, I had hoped for better results." Said Jackson. "Perhaps next time we'll try something a little stronger, like a mock Day of Judgment, or something where one of us will dress up like Jesus and cast people into the Lake of Fire."
27 March, 2007
While the Episcopal Church in the United States has come under fire in recent years from Anglican Churches in Africa because of "theological liberalism," the Episcopal Church fired their own accusations back today citing "lack of racial diversity" among African Anglican Churches. One diocese in particular, that of the Mbale region in Uganda, under the direction of bishop Matthias Twinomundjuni, has become the particular target of the criticism.
"These Anglican churches in East Africa have been heavily attacking us for years now." Said the Rev. Elizabeth Gunn-Hughes, of St. Paul Episcopal Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. "Mr. Twinomundjuni has been one of those leading critics, but as the old saying goes, 'People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.'"
The criticism is centered around the fact that there is 'virtually no racial diversity' in Rev. Twinomundjuni's diocese.
"If one examines the Mbale diocese, one finds virtually no persons of other races than black African in the parishes." Said Gunn-Hughes. "I think this is just appalling. They can criticize us all they want, but they're allowed to go merrily along with what they do, ignoring the minorities in their communities."
Twinomundjuni was quick to respond.
"I received a letter from this woman pastor, and I laughed at first, but later realized that she was serious. Anyone is welcome to come to one of our congregations at any time. The only reason we have almost no peoples of other races in our churches is because there are almost no peoples of other races who live in the Mbale region. It is very difficult to get people to come if they don't live in the region."
But Twinomundjuni's defense was dismissed as "double talk."
"He can make excuses, but we make a difference." Said Gunn-Hughes. "We reach out to the marginalized and downtrodden in the Episcopal Church, U.S.A. We don't turn people away from our church because of their race. That's what makes us different."
26 March, 2007
For Lena Korikova the memories of years past are still fresh and painful. But despite the suffering she endured she feels it is important to talk about her experiences.
"It's hard to speak about what happened to me and to my friends." She said. "We suffered great persecution for our beliefs. I still remember how things were so many years ago. You couldn't trust anyone. Your friends, your neighbors, those closest to you, you never knew if they were going to report you or turn you in for something. You never knew who was listening in on your conversations or who was, perhaps, watching you on some hidden camera."
Among a number of things Korikova had to keep secret were her Christian books and tapes that she dearly cherished.
"I was always terrified that they would show up at my door one day and start looking through my books and my music." Said Korikova. "I had some things that I knew would get me in trouble. I kept them hidden, or had different covers on the fronts of them taped on, but they could have been easily removed. I just prayed every day they would not find me out."
She also told stories of what happened to others who were found out.
"I remember waking up one morning only to discover that my dear friend was gone." She said. "She had been 'sent away,' they told me, because she was a 'problem.' They had caught her with her books and music, meeting secretly with others like herself. I never saw her again, and to this day I don't know what happened to her."
Such was life for Korikova during her years at Pensacola Christian College
where she and others who held to Reformed and Calvinistic beliefs struggled each day to survive and to not be found out.
"I had a copy of Calvin's Insitutes of the Christian Religion, but I knew that I could let no one know." She said. "So I covered them with brown paper and wrote 'Charles Finney's Systematic Theology' on the outside. Thankfully no one ever looked inside. I also had tapes of sermons by James Montgomery Boice which I labeled with different titles so that people would not know. One day my roommate borrowed one of the tapes, but thankfully she thought it was a mistake. She brought back the tape and told me, 'I think someone copied over this sermon.' I thanked her and told her I'd take care of it. That was a close call."
After graduating from P.C.C. in 1996 Korikova returned to her native Russia to serve in a Christian ministry to orphans in her native town of Tula. Four years earlier she had been recruited by a group from P.C.C. who was searching for international students from Russia just after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
"I tell stories of things that happened when I was a student and the older generation here in Russia cannot believe that it is true." She said. "They say things like 'How can this be true about America?' and 'I thought America was a free country.' But I tell them only the truth about what happened. Life was very hard, and I was scared."
Today, Korikova is happy in her ministry, but she still struggles with feelings of what happened to her.
"I know those days are over, but they still haunt me even today. I still look around suspiciously when I read some of my books, wondering who is watching me, wondering if someone is going to report me to the authorities and I'll be called into Dean of Students' office."
23 March, 2007
From the Vatican came a new directive on Thursday that many hope will bolster the faith of Roman Catholics worldwide. Though the number of Catholics around the world stands at over one billion, there has been a growing concern over the lack of "firm commitment to the faith." Many Catholics attend mass infrequently, and even fewer regularly attend confession. So in an effort to increase interest in the faith the Roman Catholic Church will begin experimenting with Pre-Confession cards in a number of parishes around the world.
"The concept is a very simple one." Said Fr. Giralamo Francisco, a Vatican spokesperson. "Parishioners may now confess their sins in advance and avoid the problems of trying to make it to confession."
In about 2 minutes, and for a "small fee" a parishioner can simply go online and fill out a short questionnaire stating which sins he or she wishes to confess in advance. Once pre-confessed, he or she is given penance to do and, after a "small fee" is paid, the parishioner will be able to download and print out his or her pre-confession card. The parishioner then keeps the card and simply punches out or scratches out one of the spaces when a sin is committed.
"Cards will be available in amounts of 5, 10, 20, & 25." Said Francisco. "There will be a 'small fee' for the cards, but the higher amount that one buys the lower cost it will be per confessed sin."
If the idea is received well the Vatican hopes to explore more opportunities for "simplifying the faith."
"We've also toyed with the idea of shipping holy water directly to people's front door, and even Eucharist delivery for a 'small fee' of course." Said Francisco. "We believe that the practice of the faith should not be a hindrance to one's faith."
22 March, 2007
Known for his large and impressive church building, the Crystal Cathedral and his weekly television program The Hour of Power, the Reverend Robert Schuller has achieved world fame over the course of his preaching career. But during that same career Schuller has come under fire for his "lack of firm theological convictions."
"Schuller claims to be from Dutch Reformed roots, yet everything in his theology speaks to the contrary." Said Pastor Mark Horten of Orange Parks Presbyterian Church in Garden Grove. "It would just be nice if he would make some definitive statement of what he actually believes."
So on Wednesday, Schuller did just that.
"They've been pushing me for years now to state what I believe in; to put down on paper in a concrete fashion what defines who I am and what I stand for." Said Schuller. "So I'm going to do that right now. I believe in Green Eggs and Ham."
The extremely popular Dr. Seuss book features a character by the name of Sam I Am who, throughout the book, tries to persuade an unnamed character to eat "green eggs and ham." After numerous refusals the character finally concedes at the end only to realize that he, indeed, likes "green eggs and ham."
Schuller's choice of a children's book as his "personal statement of faith" struck many as "odd." But Schuller refused to further articulate as to what his choice meant.
"I offer no more explanation." Said Schuller. "I believe in Sam I Am, I believe in green eggs and ham."
"This doesn't surprise me one bit." Said Horten. "When you believe in nothing, anything will do."
Other's, though, were less critical of Schuller's "stance for the gospel."
"I think it's wonderful and child-like!" Said the Rev. Elizabeth Hamilton of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Garden Grove. "The Rev. Schuller's choice of Green Eggs and Ham shows an unwaivering stance for the gospel. What a beautiful picture of simple faith."
21 March, 2007
It is an unusual combination of religion and business. Yesterday Ford Motor Company C.E.O. Alan Mulally along with the Reverend Rick Warren announced plans to produce a special edition of Ford's popular Fiesta for 2008, called the Purpose-Driven Car. Based on the popular book by Warren, the car will be Ford's most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle on the market getting an average of 40 miles per gallon.
"It's time people started thinking about their driving habits." Said Warren at the press conference. "Each day millions of people drive in this country without really thinking about where they're going in life."
While Warren's comments during the press conference often highlighted the car's religious significance, Mulally was hesitant to state anything about the partnership other than the business benefits.
"We are glad to work together on this exciting business venture." Said Mulally. "We want people from all walks of life to feel comfortable when they drive, no matter what one's religion may be."
Still, Warren hopes the Purpose-Drive Car will "make an impact" for the gospel.
"This car will be a place of worship, and a place of fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism." Said Warren. "If you feel like you're just driving nowhere in life, then the Ford Fiesta Purpose-Driven Edition is for you! I hope this car really makes an impact...well...not literally."
20 March, 2007
The results of a recent study were released Monday regarding the drug Ritalin. Ritalin is often used to treat people with ADHD (Attention Deficit/ Hyper-Activity Disorder), but last year it caught the attention of researchers in the world of theology. A study group was formed at Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, to see if Ritalin would have the same calming effect on "hyper-calvinism."
"We took ten volunteers from among our students who were hyper-calvinists." Said the program's director, Ergun Caner. "These students were then safely administered the drug Ritalin for 6 months."
The ten students were sought out through an ad in the school's newspaper asking the question, "Do you believe God is sovereign in salvation? Then come to the Student Center at 5PM tomorrow for a special celebration!"
At the beginning of the study the students were asked only two questions to determine if they were "hyper-calvinists."
"Do you choose God, or does God choose you?"
"Did Jesus die for everyone or only the elect?"
After six months of being on Ritalin the students were asked the same two questions. For all ten students none of their responses changed.
"We're back to square one now as to how we're going to deal with the growing problem of hyper-calvinism here at Liberty." Said a disappointed Caner. "This hyper-calvinism problem is just out of control!"
"I think one of the problems was that they don't understand the difference between Calvinism and hyper-calvinism." Said Liberty student Alex Ferguson. "I'm a Calvinist. I still believe in evangelism and preaching the gospel to all people."
On top of the disappointing results of the research, Liberty University now faces another problem. The parents of those students involved in the research are furious at the school.
"My son was led to believe he was participating in a study to see if he could 'concentrate and think more clearly.'" Said one parent. "They never told him they were trying to change his theology with a bunch of pills."
"This probably wasn't our best idea." Said Caner. "We'll make good on this with these parents, but this still doesn't fix our hyper-calvinism problem. I just wish there was something out there that could help."
19 March, 2007
"Times are changing and so are we."
That's the opinion of Mark Levy, pastor of Fresh Winds Church of God. For some time now Levy's church of 500 has moved away from many of the traditional elements of worship into new approaches. One of those approaches is doing away with the word "amen" and replacing it with a new more "relevant" phrase - "boo-yeah."
"We're here to worship today, boo-yeah?" Levy enthusiastically asks his congregation. "Boo-Yeah!" they all respond in unison.
Throughout the church's worship time "amen" is consistently replaced. Praise and Worship songs are changed. After prayers the one praying will say "And all God's people said..." to which the congregation replies appropriately. "Amen" is even replaced in the Scripture readings Levy uses.
As Levy begins his sermon Deuteronomy 27:16 appears on the church's overhead projector;
"Cursed is the man who dishonors his father or his mother." Then all the people shall say, "Boo-Yeah!"
"We're just keeping with the times." Said Levy. "The word 'amen' has become so old and outdated. People don't want to walk around saying 'amen' anymore. We need something that really grabs people's attention, something powerful. I truly think that 'boo-yeah' is our own modern day 'amen.'"
16 March, 2007
Known as one of the most liberal scholars in modern times, former Bishop of Newark, John Shelby Spong, is an unashamed opponent to the basic fundamentals of Christianity. Many of his books including Why Christianity Must Change or Die, and The Bible Verses Homosexuality, challenge traditional views of the Bible. In short, Spong has denied the inerrancy of the Bible, the literal resurrection of Jesus, theism, the miraculous while advocating a break from traditional theism and morals. But in a recent statement Spong shocked the Christian world by finding "several things" in the Bible that he actually believes are true.
"I can, indeed, after a long search say that there are a few things in the Bible I actually believe." Said Spong. "There's not many of them, I'll admit, but there are some."
Spong went on to further articulate the facts found in the Bible he believes to be true;
- There is an actual place called Jerusalem
- Wine does exist
- City walls did exist in ancient times
- The city of Bethlehem is real
- There is such a thing as dust
Excited about the new development, Robert Shuller expressed his delight over Spong's statements.
"This is a tremendous development!" Said Shuller. "It's great to see the progress the good Bishop has made. Hopefully the fundamentalist community will come around and begin to appreciate him."
14 March, 2007
COLUMBIA PARK, MICHIGAN
The youth of 15th Avenue Church of God have felt a deep conviction for some time now. Last year during the church's annual missions conference almost all of the church students went forward at the end of the week to commit to serving in missions during the next year. Now they are hoping to live up to that promise.
"We want to do what's right and fulfill that promise that we made." Said 15 year-old Megan Porter. "We promised to devote time this year to spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth, and now we're going to do just that."
Over the Christmas holidays the students who had made the pledge got together with the church's youth pastor, Mark O'Neil to decide on possible places to go.
"I wanted this to be their call." Said O'Neil. "Things like this really work best if they come from the hearts of those who serve. So I told them that I would back them 100%, no matter what they chose, and that the church would pay for their trip completely."
O'Neil suggested a number of places to the students such as working in an orphanage in Mexico, serving in a soup kitchen in New York, or even venturing out to work with native peoples in the Canadian wilderness. But the students already had a place that they were passionate about. And so with little debate the students reached a unanimous decision. This year all 18 of the students will give up their regular Spring Break plans to spread the gospel at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
"We're so excited about serving down there!" Said an enthusiastic Stewart Conner. "We really think that we can make a difference in the lives of the people we're going to serve."
"We've been really training a lot for this trip." Said Porter. "We've been doing some role-playing down at the mall like standing in line and talking about the new Newsboys album out loud so that people will know we listen to Christian music."
The students say that they also plan to 'witness' to people as they ride the various rides at Walt Disney World's four main parks by praying silently to themselves before meals, wearing Jars of Clay t-shirts and by saying 'Thank the Lord that's over with' after scary rides.
"We know that this time down there is going to be blessed." Said Conner. "We don't want people to pity us or think we're somehow super-spiritual because we're making sacrifices. I mean, sure it will be hard giving up our Spring Break and all that, but this is what we've committed to do, and we're going to stick to our word."
The church will be putting up the cost of $1200.00 for each student to fly all of the students down to Orlando, put them up in one of the Disney resorts and purchase them 6 day passes to all of the parks.
"I was hoping for something a little bit more cross-cultural for these kids, but if these kids learn to share the gospel through this experience it will be worth it." Said O'Neil. "We've already had many of our other kids show a tremendous interest in becoming involved with missions for next year, so that's already a positive result."
13 March, 2007
With the immense popularity of the hit television series Lost, the Trinity Broadcasting Network is hoping to capitalize upon the show with its own similar concept, Saved.
The series stars Kirk Cameron, most well-known for his role as Buck Williams in the Left Behind movies. The story is about a group of "wild" business men and women headed back to the United States from a business trip to Tokyo. Suddenly their plane undergoes severe turbulence that tears it apart. The group crashes on to a deserted island in the Pacific Ocean, and miraculously almost everyone survives.
Thinking that they are the only ones on the island the group begins to look for ways to escape or get rescued. Little do they know that they are not alone. Soon they discover that there are "others" on the island too. They encounter a group of young missionaries who had crashed on the island ten years earlier led by Bubba Jones (Kirk Cameron). Tensions mount as the group of missionaries try desperately to convert the worldly-minded group of business people.
"We're just so excited about this new show." Said TBN co-founder Jan Crouch. "We just want to give all those fans out there who love Lost an alternative. We just know this will be a big big big fat blessing to everyone who watches it."
"I'm excited about this new role." Said Cameron. "To have the opportunity to get back into acting after such a long absence just thrills me."
The show begins this fall on TBN and will run after Jesse Duplantis on Tuesday nights.
12 March, 2007
The members of Lake Vista Baptist Church like punctuality. But recently the church has gone through some tensions with their new pastor. Rev. Charles "Chuck" Waggoner joined the congregation 6 months ago and the people immediately took to him.
"He was great when he first came." Said Maggie Crimm, the church's pianist. "He visited people, and his sermons were great. But around Christmas time things just started getting out of hand."
The trouble began when Waggoner's sermons began getting longer and longer, often going past noon.
"We were getting out at 12:10 and sometimes 12:15!" Said Crimm. "We'd all go down to Alice's Cafe to eat lunch and there were no tables available because all the Methodists and Lutherans were already there! By the time we got a table, ate and got home we'd already missed some of the football game!"
"The service begins at 11:00 and ends at at 12:00!" Said Bill Horton, the church's head deacon. "We give the preacher 25 minutes to preach, and if he can't say everything he needs to say in that amount of time then he don't need to say nothing at all!"
"I just get going sometimes and lose track of time." Said Waggoner. "I suppose I'm just engrossed in what I'm preaching about. I get passionate sometimes."
In an attempt to rectify the situation people began "dropping hints" when Waggoner would go too long.
"Several of us would set our watch alarms for noon so that they'd all go off at the same time." Said Crimm. "But that didn't seem to work. Then several people started pretending to have coughing fits hoping to distract him, but it was no use."
To hopefully solve the situation the church has invested in a new product that is taking the evangelical world by storm.
Pastor Blaster attaches discretely to a pastors leg. The remote control is then given to a member of the congregation who monitors the length of the sermon. The monitor is then able to deliver a light electrical shock if the preacher begins to go over time.
"I've agreed to do this, but it bothers me." Said Waggoner. "I don't like the idea of someone out there having the ability to shock me."
In addition to being able to shock a pastor who goes overtime, the Pastor Blaster can also be used on pastors who have a tendency to "meddle."
"We don't need no meddling, long-winded preachers." Said Horton. "We're excited about putting this thing to work next Sunday."
09 March, 2007
Fed-Vis Glasses allow you to see the arguments for FV theology clearly and easily without all of the the hassle of having to read numerous books just to grasp the basic ideas.
If you've found FV theology hard, then Fed-Vis Glasses are for you. Buy them for yourself or for your poor, simple Presbyterian friend who can't seem to see what you see from Scripture.
08 March, 2007
After weeks of meetings and theological discussions at the National Ecumenical Council of American Churches in New York, leaders from 37 denominations found an issue they could agree upon: "Presbyterian" is the most difficult denominational name to spell. The issue was put to a general vote late Monday night after three days of discussion and debate. The vote passed overwhelmingly 313 to 12 with 2 abstaining from the vote in protest.
"We hail this as a major step in eccumenical relations," said Rev. Larry Britton of Way of Life Church, Baton Rouge, LA. "It's time for us as Christians to show the world that we can indeed find things we agree upon. I think this was an important step."
The purpose of the conference, which began three weeks earlier, was two-fold. The delegates, sent by their various denominations, would enter into dialogue with other delagates regarding various theological and social issues. The delegates were to also seek ways in which denominations could work together in various capacities, such as world missions, and community development. But as the days of the conference passed it became clear that issues such as abortion, homosexuality and ordination of women were causing a great amount of division among the delegates.
Sean Mallory, a lay leader from the First United Methodist Church in Hillsboro, North Dakota stated, "There were difficult times at first, but I think we have shown the world that we are one people. We may have issues that we disagree upon, but we do have some common beliefs and goals."
The Council went on to vote for the second and third most difficult denominations to spell. The results were Episcopalian and Pentecostal respectively.
05 March, 2007
The famous Trinity Church, St. Paul's Chapel, is no stranger to "creative celebrations" during their weekly Eucharist services. A number of years ago they began celebrating a "Clown Eucharist" in which all of the participants dress up as clowns in order to be "fools for Christ's sake." More recently they began what is called a "hip-hop mass" where all worship music is in the R&B style and the participants "break it down" during the service.
Now, in an effort to broaden their spectrum of worship styles, the church has planned to begin holding an annual "Chicken Eucharist."
"We're very excited about this new development." Said Rector, Rev. Dr. James Herbert. "Many people who have lived in the city here all of their lives have never seen a live chicken! That's a significant part of creation that's being ignored, and we want to celebrate the goodness of Chickens."
During the mass Herbert plans to have live chickens running free in the church. In addition, all of the participants will wear chicken outfits. Furthermore, there will be no spoken words during the service, rather the participants will "cluck."
"We're a lot like Chickens." Said Herbert. "They desire to run free, but they're behind fences. They so want to break out of their captivity, and they have wings, but they just can't fly. We too have fences that we put up, fences of intolerance and hate, and sometimes we want to fly over them, but our wings aren't strong enough. We need the Master Farmer to come and help us 'fly the coop.'"
In addition to the live chickens and the costumes, the elements of the Eucharist will be altered to grain and water. The service will end with a recessional of all of the participants flapping around the room and clucking as they exit the church.
The church plans to hold the special service later this fall in protest of national chicken restaurant chains who allegedly mistreat chickens.
"We're standing up for these chickens." Said Herbert. "We're going to show the world that we're serious about being identified with this beautiful part of life."
02 March, 2007
The desire to make the Bible accessible to all kinds of people has brought some "unusual" versions in the past. Notably, there was Clarence Jordan's Cotton Patch Version that paraphrased certain parts of the Bible in a folksy, grass-roots style. More recently there was the movement to "translate" the Bible into ebonics. Now, in an attempt to further see the Scriptures made readable to all kinds of people, Zondervan Publishing is proposing that the Bible be 'translated' into "Engrish."
"Engrish," as it is known, is essentially English that has been translated from another language, often by a non-native English speaker, and usually very poorly. This is most commonly seen on signs and the packaging of products from China and Japan.
"Engrish is becoming very popular." Said Kurt James, editor in charge of researching the possibility of the translation. "For the longest time Engrish has been nothing but the target of humor and ridicule. Now, we here at Zondervan want to show the world that Engrish is legitimate."
Zondervan estimates that the process would take approximately 7-10 years of intense work to accomplish. It would involve first translating the Bible into Mandarin Chinese from the original Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. Then, a group of 12-16 year-old Chinese students would be brought in to attempt to translate the entire Bible back into English, thus resulting in an Engrish version.
"We've already been involved developing a prototype of what the Bible would be like, and we're very excited about the results." Said James. "We've worked for the past 6 months translating 1 Corinthians into Mandarin Chinese and then having the students translate it back again. It turned out better than what we had hoped for!"
If approved Zondervan plans to invest some $3.5 million dollars to see the project through to its completion.
"We want this translation to be spread far and wide." Said James. "I'd like to see an Extreme Teen Engrish Bible or possibly a Women's Engrish Study Bible. We just want to see Engrish speakers everywhere be able to enjoy the Scriptures in a way that they can understand."
01 March, 2007
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"Okay, let's imagine a dead man laying on the floor in your house for a moment. I know it's a gross thought, but let's just pretend. Well, you're not too fond of him being there so you scream out 'get up!' but unfortunately he doesn't move. You've got quite a mess on your hands don't you? So you play him some Kenny G...nothing happens...You show him some Thomas Kincade pictures... nothing...You put on your Riverdance CD...nothing. The problem is that he's dead, and no matter what you do he's not going to get up and walk away! Just as a dead man cannot get up and walk, so a man (or woman) who is 'dead in sins and trespasses' cannot respond to the call of the gospel unless he (or she) is first made alive. So how are we going to get that dead man to get up and walk off of Grandma Fanny's antique rug? It's going to take a miracle."
Note: Cartoon is a parody of "The 5th Wave" by Richard Tennant, copyright 2001 by Richard Tennant