HOW FAITH VARIES BY CHURCH SIZE
GOOD NEWS... GOOD WORKS:
MEGACHURCHES: GOOD FOR YOUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH?— Page 15
AN INTERVIEW WITH MARTYN LEWIS PAGE 9
TOGETHERNESS AND TRUTH
Shoeboxes bursting with joy
‘We don’t do God!’ Really? THE SUNDAY TIMES review by Rod Liddle: how much did Tony Blair’s faith influence his political decisions? A fellow muscular Christian offers an eccentric glimpse into the PM’s spiritual life There have been suggestions that our former prime minister wished that this book had not been written and even attempted to stop it from being published. I don’t know if that’s true or not. The relationship between God and Tony Blair has always seemed to be one of mutual respect and perhaps even affection. Certainly, from this book, you get the feeling that God definitely believed in Blair even when many others may have doubted Him, and fully understood the prime minister’s decision to keep the Almighty as a sort of backstairs adviser, maybe one step below Philip Gould, rather than suffer ridicule by wheeling him out in public too often. It is entirely to God’s credit that, unlike so many other former luminaries of new Labour, he has not rushed into print with damaging reminiscences and retro¬spective denunciations of colleagues. Full report: Page 2
Dave Vann Samaritan’s Purse UK
OVERSEEING ONE of the UK’s largest annual children’s appeals – Operation Christmas Child – we know a thing or two about volunteering at Samaritan’s Purse UK. Each year, from September to December, around 8,000 volunteers - young and old, part-timers and full-timers, churchgoers and church-stay-away-ers – each give their time to make Operation Christmas Child happen. Since 1990, Operation Christmas Child has been organising the collection of gift-filled shoeboxes and transporting these for distribution to children who are experiencing hardship through poverty, disease, war or famine in a range of countries around the world. Last year the efforts of all the volunteers meant that over 1.2m
children in some of the poorest parts of Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia received gift-filled shoeboxes, many for the first time. For some volunteers their involvement included a trip to one of the 13 countries where Operation Christmas Child operates and the chance to deliver shoeboxes in person to needy children. “Once you start with Operation Christmas Child, you don’t want to stop!” exclaims 53-year old Carol Hall. Her involvement with the shoebox appeal began 16 years ago, when she offered to help sort shoeboxes in a nearby warehouse. Today she is the Area Co-ordinator for south Tyneside, overseeing an operation that last year worked with 68 schools, 40 churches, 16 community groups and 15 workplaces to
send over 11,500 shoeboxes overseas. “It’s amazing how many people you meet from different walks of life,” Carol, who is known locally as ‘the shoebox lady’, explains. “A lot of people who come into the warehouse aren’t Christians, but they see the difference they can make in the life of a child.” Kate Tiplady was 35 weeks pregnant when she began volunteering with Operation Christmas Child in November 2008. Having recently relocated to Coventry to be closer to her family, her Mum suggested she help pack shoeboxes at a nearby processing centre while she waited for her son to be born. As she packed shoeboxes for disadvantaged kids alongside other Christian volunteers, her percep-
tion of the Christian faith began to change. “I had always thought Christians were dull and strict,” Kate explains, “but the people I met were full of joy and hope.” Kate so enjoyed helping with Operation Christmas Child in 2008 that she has already planned to take time off to help again this year. She has even started to gather toys, stationery supplies and other ‘fillers’ for shoeboxes. What’s more, Kate’s experience of volunteering with Operation Christmas Child has acted as bridge into a place she never thought she would find herself in – church. Since the birth of her son, Kate has been attending a local church every week, helping out in the crèche and enjoying family lunches after the services. As Kate explains, the change she has undergone in her life has been nothing short of miraculous: “Samaritan’s Purse has opened my eyes and my heart to God, which I never really thought was possible.” Through simple acts of volunteering – like collecting gifts, packing shoeboxes, driving a van, presenting in schools – people from all walks of life are being touched by their involvement with Operation Christmas Child These are people who are learning that most valuable – and Biblical – lesson of life. That it is more blessed to give, than to receive. Whether it’s churches finding a new way to connect with their community, schools discovering how they can teach children the value of giving, or families who simply find joy in wrapping, packing and sending a shoebox to a child in need – there is something for everyone with Operation Christmas Child. To get involved, either as a volunteer or as a ‘shoeboxer’ – someone who fills a shoebox for an individual child, please visit www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk or phone 020 8559 1180.
Over one million volunteering opportunities in the UK DO-IT.ORG.UK is the first and only UK-wide volunteering database. Created and managed by YouthNet and launched by the Prime Minister in 2000, do-it.org.uk uses new media technology to connect people,
www.thechristiantimes.org communities and organisations and inspire positive change. Today, do-it.org.uk holds almost one million volunteering opportunities. Website visitors simply enter their postcode and their area of in-
The Cabinet Office is actively encouraging their staff to get out into their local community and volunteer. terest, find an opportunity that excites them and then apply online. Thousands of volunteering opportunities are added to do-it.org.uk each month, by major charities such as the National Trust and Oxfam, public sector organisations and over 300 volunteer centres. These opportunities are uploaded via two bespoke products, both developed by YouthNet: the Online Poster System (which allows organisations to add/edit their opportunities online) and V-Base (a volunteering management software product, which also facilitates uploading opportunities). Both of these products continue to be updated and improved in response to feedback from partners. In 2008, do-it.org.uk launched an alerting service which allows registered users to receive new opportunities direct to their inbox. Website users also have the option to subscribe to a monthly email newsletter which keeps them up-to-date with volunteering news and opportunities. However, the impact of doit.org.uk is not limited to a single URL. Syndication of the do-it.org.uk volunteering database means the opportunities now appear on almost 30 other websites, including the National Trust, Directgov, DEFRA and vinspired. Syndication allows doit.org.uk to bring volunteering to greater numbers of people than ever before. Website visitors also are encouraged to discuss their volunteering experiences with each other, through the on-site volunteering blogs and via the do-it.org.uk profiles on MySpace and Facebook. Every year, do-it.org.uk users participate in their Volunteer Satisfaction Survey. According to the latest results, 41% of those who registered their interest on doit.org.uk went on to start a volunteering opportunity. Furthermore, four in ten (38%) respondents - and 51% of 16 to 25-year-olds - said they would have been unlikely to volunteer if it hadn’t been for do-it.org.uk. Through technical innovation and working in partnership, doit.org.uk has become the gateway to volunteering for a diverse and everincreasing online audience - an audience who will, as a result of using do-it.org.uk, continue to make an impact and improve our society.
Did Darwin Kill God? Reasons To Believe (RTB) scholars see the increasing focus on evolution as an opportunity for pastors — Page 4
Tullian Tchividjian New Coral Ridge pastor moves against members who want him fired. — Page 7
Enigmatic India: More than cricket, curries or call centres! A lookn at the strategic and highly effective mission work carried out by Mission India. — Page 13
Cecil Murphy: The man behind the words. — Page 15
Church and State
Now ‘doing’ God? Blair’s Religious Belief and Its Consequences By John Burton and Eileen McCabe
THE SUNDAY TIMES review by Rod Liddle: how much did Tony Blair’s faith influence his political decisions? A fellow muscular Christian offers an eccentric glimpse into the PM’s spiritual life There have been suggestions that our former prime
minister wished that this book had not been written and even attempted to stop it from being published. I don’t know if that’s true or not. The relationship between God and Tony Blair has always seemed to be one of mutual respect and perhaps even affection.
Certainly, from this book, you get the feeling that God definitely believed in Blair even when many others may have doubted Him, and fully understood the prime minister’s decision to keep the Almighty as a sort of backstairs adviser, maybe one step
President & ‘doing’ God
The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Not backing down from his convictions of faith, President Obama on February 5 fulfilled another of his campaign promises by expanding on former President Bush's faith-based initiatives. Obama created a new office named "the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships" with the issuance of an executive order. Obama made a concerted effort to assure his secular followers on the left that his faith-based program is different from Bush's much criticised one. Obama seemed to take pains to distinguish his effort from Bush's, noting that secular groups would also be covered under the office. "The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another — or even reli-
gious groups over secular groups.... It will simply be to work on behalf of those organisations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state." And Obama has offered religious leaders an unusually prominent role in his administration by convening an advisory council for the White House faith-based office that's dominated by clergy and heads of religious groups. Since President Obama entered the White House, there has quite a bit of speculation both about his spirituality and his use of a BlackBerry. It turns out the two issues are linked. Obama's Faith Via BlackBerry
Mr. Obama revealed in an interview with ABC News that he starts every morning by reviewing a "devotional" he receives on his BlackBerry from his Faith and Neighborhood Initiatives Director Joshua DuBois. The message includes Christian passages and scripture and sometimes quotes from other faiths to reflect on, the president said. On top of that, Mr. Obama said he prays every night before going to bed. "When you're in this job, I think that every president whose had it is constantly humbled by the degree to which there are a lot of issues out there, and the notion that one person alone can solve all these problems I think you're cured of that illusion very quickly," the president said.
The Christian Times
below Philip Gould, rather than suffer ridicule by wheeling him out in public too often. It is entirely to God’s credit that, unlike so many other former luminaries of new Labour, he has not rushed into print with damaging reminiscences and retro¬spective denunciations of colleagues. John Burton was Blair’s friend and constituency agent for some 25 years and a fellow “muscular” Christian; Eileen McCabe is a television journalist based in the northeast. Together they have taken Alastair Campbell’s famous remark “We don’t do God” (made to a Vanity Fair journalist) and suggested: au contraire. Blair’s religious convictions, inspired by two Christian socialists, John Macmurray and Peter Thomson, were the bedrock of his conviction politics, apparently. It was God who inspired him to see the world in strictly Manichean terms of good v evil — with Tony always somehow on the side of good. Burton also suggests that Blair’s “third way”, his communitarian belief and the conviction that with rights came responsibilities had their genesis in Christian teaching. Perhaps, but when it comes to specifics things are a little different. There is nothing in God’s earliest political work, “The Bible”, to suggest that it might be a good idea to invade Iraq, for example, or that racing cars should be exempt from the ban on tobacco advertising; it seems as if Blair’s influence upon God’s political development was rather greater than vice versa. By way of exchange, God seemed to give Blair the certitude that he was always right — even, crucially, when he was palpably wrong. This is not a very good book, nor is it particularly revelatory about either of its pro-
United Church of Christ when Wright retired last year.
EVEN BEFORE Barack Obama was elected president, religious figures loomed large in his political career. The greatest threat to his presidential campaign came not from another candidate but from his longtime pastor, Jeremiah Wright, whose controversial sermons prompted questions about Obama's judgment in associating with him. After Election Day, the first big controversy of the Obama era was the presidentelect's invitation to evangelical preacher Rick Warren, an opponent of abortion rights and gay marriage, to give the opening prayer at his inauguration.
One of two Muslims on President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Eboo Patel represents a younger face of American Islam. Patel's Interfaith Youth Core works to facilitate interfaith bridge-building among young people by involving them in service projects around the globe.
Obama's 10 Most Important Faith Leaders
The Rev. Rick Warren, Pastor and Founder of Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif.
The Rev. Joel Hunter, Pastor of Northland Church in Longwood, Fla.
A confidant of George W. Bush, evangelical megapastor Rick Warren has forged a surprisingly close relationship with President Obama. Obama made repeated appearances at Warren's Saddleback Church before the last election. And he sparked outcry among gay rights activists and his liberal base by inviting Warren to give the benediction at his inauguration.
A megachurch pastor based near Orlando, Hunter was among the evangelical leaders whom Obama courted on the campaign trail last year. Hunter delivered the benediction at the Democratic National Convention.
Douglas Kmiec, Pepperdine University Law School Professor
Progressive evangelical Jim Wallis has been a political oddity ever since he landed in Washington more than 35 years ago. Lobbying for poverty relief and against war, Wallis was at odds with Christian right leaders who claimed to speak for evangelical America.
We Don't Do God by John Burton and Eileen McCabe. Continuum £12.99 pp256
Canada, which has 700,000 members. And President Obama selected Watkins as the first woman ever to give the sermon at the National Prayer Service, held the day after the presidential inauguration.
Eboo Patel Founder and Executive Director of the Interfaith Youth Core
"This is something where you just hope that you are aligning your work with His purposes and that you're attuned to the needs of the people you're there to serve." "I've got a lot of stuff on my plate, and I need guidance all the time," he said.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, President and Executive Director of Sojourners
tagonists. The best bits come from the patently likeable and extraordinarily devoted Burton, and usually involve Labour party spin doctors trying desperately to keep Blair from going to church, talking about God, praying, etc. There is a lovely anecdote about the prime minister taking part in a procession of the cross between two churches in his constituency. A newish Labour PR minder was sent to prevent “at all costs” Blair being photographed anywhere near a cross. Blair dutifully agreed to walk right at the back of the procession — but even this wasn’t enough for the spin monkey. “Couldn’t we have the procession without the cross?” he asked, in all seriousness. Blair was, throughout his term as prime minister, a high Anglican with definite leanings towards the church of Rome, Burton argues — a disposition perhaps influenced by his wife, Cherie. But even though Blair fervently disagreed with abortion, from a Christian perspective, on every vote in 10 years he voted with the pro-choice lobby and against his apparent beliefs. Elsewhere there is the usual Blairite stuff about Gordon Brown being as mad as a box of frogs, “sniping and building a separate empire”, “consumed by ambition and envy” and “insecure and inadequate”. Burton even wonders if it was “Christian charity” that stopped the prime minister from sacking his colleague and former friend, but then discounts the idea. It was something altogether more pragmatic than that — a worry that the party might be split. God’s role in Blair’s premiership was, in truth, rarely decisive.
A top White House lawyer for Ronald Reagan, Douglas Kmiec is an unlikely supporter of Barack Obama— which makes him the president's most important Roman Catholic booster. Kmiec's close ties to the church—he's a former dean of Catholic University's law school.
David Saperstein, Director and Counsel of Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Otis Moss Jr., Pastor Emeritus of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland
Longtime Washington operator David Saperstein has a penchant for strange-bedfellow alliances. He partnered with conservative evangelicals—whom he disagrees with on abortion and gay marriage—to help pass the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act.
A former associate of Martin Luther King Jr., Otis Moss may be President Obama's closest remaining tie to the black church tradition that brought him to Christianity in Chicago in the 1980s. Moss's son, Otis Moss III, replaced Obama's controversial former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, at Chicago's Trinity
The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, Senior Pastor of Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston
The Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell was a confidant of President George W. Bush, presiding over his daughter Jenna's wedding last year. By that time, though, he had already endorsed Barack Obama for president.
Bishop. T. D. Jakes, Pastor of the Potter's House Church in Dallas
Though he didn't endorse Obama, Jakes's kind words for the White House hopeful drew criticism from some conservative ministers. Jakes participated in prayer calls with Obama during the campaign and delivered the sermon at a private service with Obama on the morning of his inauguration.
Should political leaders ‘hide’ their faith or be free to practice their faith? The Rev. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
She's the first woman to lead a mainline Protestant denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and
Is there a place in government for personal faith and conviction? Please send your comments to: email@example.com
The Christian Times
Qatar Christians Celebrate Consecration of New Church By Robert Williams Christian Post Correspondent
THE CHRISTIAN community in Qatar celebrates the opening of the new Mar Thoma Church in Doha last Thursday, 11 June witnessed by more than one thousand faithful. The place of worship is the latest addition to the Inter-Denominational Church Complex, (IDCC) in Mesaimeer, in the southern suburbs of Doha, the capital of Qatar. Inaugurated as the second church in the country on April this year, the IDCC is to host churches for Malabar Orthodox, Syro Malabar, Mar Thoma, Church of South India (CSI), Pentecost and other evangelical groups. The complex of churches is spread over an area of 4800 square metres. The churches are being consecrated one by one.
Rain Unable to Damper th 40 Ichthus Festival THE ICHTHUS Festival concluded its 40th year with sounds of praise despite having faced another year of rain and storms. "The weather has never bothered us," pastor Jeff Hurst, who brought a group of teens from his church in Richmond, Ky., to join the thousands gathered for the June 10-11 festival. "It is part of Ichthus," he told a local NBC affiliate. Since Wednesday, young believers from around the nation had been gathering and camping out on the 111-acre Ichthus Farm in Wilmore, Ky., where they were joined by Christian music artists including Delirious?, Skillet, Israel Houghton, Kutless, Sanctus Real, Hawk Nelson, Fireflight, Stellar Kart, and more. In all, more than 111 bands performed on 7 stages to continue an annual tradition that started in 1970 as a Christian reply and alter-
native to the 1969 Woodstock festival of upstate New York. On Saturday, when the Ichthus Festival concluded, attendants marked the festival’s 40th anniversary with a look back at its founders, including the late Dr. Bob Lyon, who was given the vision for the festival in 1969 as a professor at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore. When the ministry behind the festival, Ichthus Ministries, began in 1970 through the insight and creativity of Lyon and a group of concerned students at Asbury Theological Seminary, its intent was to offer the youth of America an alternative to the lifestyle and music choices which surrounded them in secular society. “Woodstock was kind of a counter-culture movement, and Ichthus was kind of the countercounter-culture movement,” festi-
val director Jeff James recalled recently in an interview. Today, one of James' goals is to create a generation of young people who see themselves and their creativity as a value added in everyday American culture. Aside from music, Ichthus featured inspirational speakers including Shane Claiborne of The Simple Way, Eric Samuel Timm of No One Underground, best-selling author Justin Lookadoo, and Pete Hise, founding and lead pastor of Quest Community Church in Lexington, Ky. Also part of the movement is “Mission Ichthus,” which has established opportunities for young believers to engage in the heart of Jesus’ mission – to do “to the least of these.” The three-day outreach, held prior to the festival, invited participants to be “others focused” and expand the Ichthus experience
by being “doers of the Word and not hearers only.” “So much of the church has been about either criticizing or condemning the existing culture rather than being a positive influence,” James noted to a reporter for The Jessamine Journal. "[W]e don’t condemn culture, but we’re talking about the value of culture and God’s value on human culture," he added. Currently, the festival’s stated vision is to present worship, performance, and teaching events to propel students’ spiritual quest; to partner with other ministries to reach and mentor students; and to promote communities of faith to grow and invest in youth ministry. This year, festival sponsors included Christian organizations such as SkyAngel, K-Love, Air1 and Compassion as well as secular companies such as Pepsi and Scion.
The consecration of Mar Thoma church was presided over by Metropolitan Joseph Mar Thoma, leader of the Marthoma church. Mar Thoma Church is a Christian denomination based in Kerala, India. It is one of the seven churches founded by St. Thomas, the apostle and disciple of Jesus Christ. The church is in communion with the Anglican and Independent Syro-Malabar Churches. The metropolitan Joseph Mar Thoma thanked the Qatari emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa alThani for allowing them “to consecrate the Church.” He also urged the audience, “to remember the contributions and sacrifices of those who worked hard to make the worship place a reality”. The first Christian church to open in the country was St. Mary’s Catholic Church, inaugurated on March 16, 2008 in the same city.
Strict Islamic laws had previously barred the country’s Christian community from public prayer and religious services. In 2005, however, pro-Western ruler Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani granted permission for the construction of Christian churches, in a move to open up and demonstrate an Islam tolerant of other religions. On 22 May, St Thomas SyroMalabar Church, the largest among the IDCC members, was consecrated first at Mesaimeer, in the presence of thousands of faithful. In Qatar, natives account for only 200,000 of its 900,000 population according to Times Online. As estimated 150,000 Christians of all denominations live in the emirate. About two third of them are Catholic expatriate workers from the Philippines, India and other Asian nations. Saudi Arabia remains the only Gulf state still to ban churches.
Barrow church knocked down to make way for new homes A LANDMARK building is being knocked down THE FORMER methodist church in Marsh Street, Barrow, is being demolished to make way for eight, three-bedroom terraced houses. The clearance is being carried out by Cliff Hindle Plant Hire. Boss Clifford Hindle said the demolition is proceeding carefully because the building is close to housing and parts of it are rotten. The red-brick church opened in Barrow’s boom years in 1875. But it closed in the 1950s when its congregation dwindled. It was used for storage but then it was bought by Barrow businessman Ray Steele of RS Properties. He succeeded in getting planning permission for eight
terraced homes on the site. Mr Steele says he is now looking for a builder to buy the site. Older, two-bedroom houses in Marsh Street are priced at around £60,000, he says. “These will be three bedroom and new,” he said. He says it is difficult to say how much the new homes will cost because of the uncertainties in the housing market. He says he may consider selling the site to a housing association to develop. Some work has to start within a year or the planning permission will expire. Mr Steele says the new homes
would be well-built, upmarket and designed better than existing houses in Marsh Street. Yesterday we told how another former church in Furness could be knocked down. A planning application to build two houses on the grounds of the former gospel church in Duke Street, Askam, has been submitted to Barrow Borough Council. The church closed about five years ago and has not been used since. The application to the council has been made by Nathan Shepherd, who owns the land and lives next door to the church.
may indeed conflict, but not when properly understood and correctly applied. God’s truth always ultimately coheres. Scripture instructs readers to take the message of general revelation seriously (Psalm 19; Romans 1). And the created order illustrates the need for the specificity and completeness of special revelation’s message (in the Bible). In other words, general revelation points toward special revelation and provides a rational context for accepting it. Ultimately divine revelation is one unity. It is appropriate to distinguish between its two forms, but they should never be separated.
Did Darwin Kill God? A Celebration of Creation THIS YEAR’S global celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s book, On the Origins of Species, and the 200th anniversary of his birth might seem like cause for alarm, but Reasons To Believe (RTB) scholars see the increasing focus on evolution as an opportunity for pastors. Congregations can be inspired to celebrate their Creator and share the good news with others. RTB is a science-faith think tank where scientists and researchers show why science supplies much stronger support for biblical creation than for the theory of biological evolution. Darwin-day events scheduled throughout 2009 make this an unprecedented opportunity for reaching out to the secular community. Astronomer Hugh Ross, Ph.D., founder and president of RTB; biochemist Fazale (Fuz) Rana, Ph.D., vice president, research and apologetics; and philosopher/theologian Kenneth Samples, senior re-
search scholar are leading authorities on science/faith issues and have written on related topics. Patti Townley-Covert, RTB’s executive editor, asked them questions with which many Christians struggle. Is it true, as many Christians believe, that all scientists are atheists? HR: No. Surveys conducted in 1914 and 1996 of scientists listed in American Men and Women of Science both revealed that about 40 percent of scientists believed in God and an afterlife. My experience speaking on hundreds of university campuses for more than 20 years convinces me that these findings are still true. Often, the higher the scientific caliber and productivity of the institution’s faculty, the more likely followers of Jesus Christ can be found among them. One RTB board member, David Rogstad, is the astrophysicist who led the Jet
Propulsion Laboratory effort that saved the Galileo mission to Jupiter and its moons from a communications disaster. Lynn Carta, a research biologist, hosted a seminar series on creation models for biology for Caltech faculty and graduate students. Today, she heads up one of the nation’s largest evolutionary biology labs. Michael Strauss, a particle physicist at the University of Oklahoma, speaks extensively on the scientific evidence for the Christian faith. Henry “Fritz” Schaeffer, a chemist who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize four times, has addressed audiences on more than 100 campuses concerning the scientific case for Christianity. Atheistic scientists tend to be more publicly vocal about their beliefs than theistic scientists. However, hundreds of Ph.D. scientists take active roles, especially on secular university campuses.
Bible can be so compelling that this connection can be used to lead science-minded people to faith in Jesus. KS: In historic Christian theology, revelation refers to God’s personal self-disclosure to His creatures. He took the initiative to actively and decisively reveal himself in two ways: through general revelation (the knowledge of God that comes via the created order), and special revelation (the knowledge of God that comes via redemptive history). Christian theologians sometimes call this dual view of revelation the “two-books theory.” God is the author of both the figurative book of nature (God’s world) and the literal book of Scripture (God’s written Word). These two forms of revelation from the same infinitely perfect God mutually reinforce and complement one another. The biblical worldview considers all truth to be God’s Explain how the relation- truth. Human interpretations ship between nature and the of the two sources of revelation
How does one go about responsibly interpreting Scripture, especially as related to issues of creation? KS: As a written propositional revelation, the Bible must be responsibly and objectively interpreted. Protestant evangelicals utilize what is known as the “historicalgrammatical method.” Discovering a text’s original meaning and intent requires a credible interpreter to carefully (1) examine the grammar, (2) determine the genre of literature being used, (3) investigate the text’s cultural and historical setting, and (4) study both the immediate and wider contexts affecting the given passage. Responsible biblical interpretation also involves allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. A passage must be analyzed in light of other passages on the same theme. Many sections in the Bible (both Old and New Testament) address the doctrine of creation, and all of them reveal important information. What exegetical difficulties are there in interpreting the Genesis creation days as 24-hour periods? KS: There are challenges with all of the proposed creation-day viewpoints. However, the view known as the calendar day, or 24-hour day view, has real exegetical weaknesses. Difficulties include: 1. The creation days (e.g., references to “evening and morning”) cannot be normal calendar (or solar) days if the Sun and Moon were not created until creation day four. Proposing that God supernaturally provided a light that preceded the creation of the Sun turns days one through three into abnormal days that are definitely unlike calendar days. 2. Evening and morning references are inconsistent with the strict rendering of a 24-hour day. (For example the biblical Sabbath is measured from sundown to sundown or evening to evening.) 3. The events of creation day six are too numerous and momentous to have reasonably transpired in a mere 24hour day. Adam seems to have engaged in activities that involved more of a career-type devotion than a mere few hours work in the afternoon. Naming or classifying the animal kingdom could have occupied his time for decades. Maintaining the Garden and developing a loving relationship with his wife would also have transpired over a time. 4. Given the parallel structure of the creation days, if the
seventh day is a long period of time, then so are the previous days. (The seventh day involves the consummation of history, which obviously has not yet taken place.) 5. The Hebrew word for “day” (yÃ´m) does not mean a 24-hour period in every context in Genesis (see Genesis 2:4). All of these objections are exegetical in nature. In other words, they have nothing to do with one’s view of modern science. In fact, ancient Jews and Christians raised some of these points. In Mark 10:6 Jesus states that Adam and Eve were made at the “beginning of creation” not billions of years after the beginning. Explain? HR: Mark 10:6 says, “But, at the beginning of creation God made them male and female.” It does not specify exactly who he’s referring to when he says “God made them male and female.” This reference could be to all humanity not just Adam and Eve. Notice that this verse does not say at “the beginning of the creation of the Earth” or “the beginning of the creation of the universe.” Mark 10:7–9 specifies only that marriage is being established: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” The larger context confirms this identification of marriage. Mark 10:2–12 simply sets the context for marriage and divorce. A parallel passage (Matthew 19:4–8) validates this interpretation. There, Jesus declares, “At the beginning the Creator made them male and female,” and “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” Does Darwin’s theory hold any credibility that should concern Christians? HR: No. When biologists declare that evolution is a proven fact, they typically mean that overwhelming evidence exists that life has been present on earth for about 3.8 billion years and that life has progressed over that time from exclusively simple unicellular forms to the large-bodied complex species we see today. These ideas are entirely consistent with the biblical creation accounts, all of which teach a chronology of creation that begins with exclusively simple life forms and proceeds progressively toward more complex life. The Darwinian claim that natural mechanisms can generate macroevolutionary advances within the time scales permitted by the fossil record has never been demonstrated. Experiments performed on bacteria (the most efficient natural evolvers) confirm the inadequacy of natural processes to explain the history of life on earth. Biblical creation does a far better job of explaining the origin and history of life and that should give every Christian good reason to celebrate.
The Christian Times
How Does My DNA Work? Babu G. Ranganathan
HAVE YOU ever asked yourself how you got your nose, eyes, ears, fingers, toes, and everything else? How did your DNA bring all this about? Before we answer that question we need to know just a few simple things about DNA. DNA is the abbreviated name for the genetic code and it is exactly that - a code. It is a molecular string of chemical information. DNA is located in the nucleus of our cells and is made up of smaller molecules
called nucleic acids. These smaller molecules in DNA are arranged in a sequence, just like the letters in a sentence. The sequence of these nucleic acids tells the cells of our body how to build our nose, eyes, hands, feet, and everything else. If the sequence for a particular trait isn't in our genetic code, then our bodies won't build it. If the sequence for producing wings is not in the genetic code of an animal then that animal will not develop wings regardless of the environment. The material our body uses to build new cells comes from the food we eat. Food is not just for energy. Food is also the "lumber" and "bricks" the body uses to build new cells. When a cell multiplies, it makes more cells of the same size. The only way to do this is by getting new material and that new material comes from food. When food is digested and broken down to its basic amino acids, the various amino acids are then rearranged in a certain sequence to form cells that make up the various tissues and organs. What sequence these amino acids come together in is determined by the sequence of the molecules in DNA. Thus, when you feed your dog a T-Bone steak, your dog's DNA will make sure that steak is digested and rearranged to form the various parts of your dog, but when you eat the same steak, your DNA will make sure that the steak is digested and rearranged to form human parts. When scientists study genes, they are studying segments of the DNA molecule.
No one has shown that DNA can come into existence by chance! It takes DNA to get DNA! In other words, there must already exist DNA to direct the formation of more DNA. Yes, it is true that the individual molecules which make up DNA have been shown to be able to come into existence by chance. But, it has never been shown that those individual molecules can come together into a sequence by chance to form the genetic code. The mathematical odds of even the simplest DNA molecule coming into existence by chance is comparable to a
monkey typing the sequence of all the letters and words in a dictionary by randomly hitting keys on a computer keyboard. Genetic information, like any other information, doesn't happen by chance. Therefore, it's far more logical to believe that the genetic similarities between all forms of life are because of a common Designer or Genetic Engineer (God) who designed similar functions for similar purposes in all the various forms of life. Micro-evolution, or variations within a biological kind such as the varieties of dogs, cats, horses, and cows, is science but not macro-evolution. Macro-evolution, variations across kinds, is not science but faith. The genes exist in all species for micro-evolution but not for macro-evolution, and there is no scientific evidence that random genetic mutations caused by natural forces such as radiation can or will generate entirely new genes for entirely new traits. Another problem for macro-evolution is the issue of survival of the fittest. How can a partially evolved species be fit for survival? A partially evolved trait or organ that is not completely one or the other will be a liability to a species, not a survival asset. Science cannot prove the existence of God but neither can science prove that we are here by chance. Both sides of the evolution/intelligent design controversy should have opportunity to present their scientific arguments to students. No one is being forced to believe in God so there is no real violation of separation of church and state.
The Christian Times
Exciting New Cross-Curricular Venture At St John’s Nottingham “My experience of training in pastoral counselling” Karin Voth Harman
ONE OF the persistent questions in my life has been ‘How does the Christian story of salvation and redemption – the work of God in our lives – square with various psychological explanations of human growth and development?’ I’ve been most fortunate to have found a place in which to explore this question in different, often new and innovative, ways. I’ve been a student on the one year ‘Post Graduate Certificate in Pastoral Counselling’ at St. John’s College, a theological college accredited by The University of Nottingham. St. John’s has been running a ‘Pastoral Counselling’ course for many years, but the course they now offer under this title has been newly conceived by the senior course tutor, Dr. Christine Stevens. The course is taught by experienced Gestalt therapists and by creative theologians from the St. John’s faculty. They aim not to present a ready made version of
‘Christian counselling,’ but to set up a dialogue between the ideas and practice of one kind of psychotherapy – Gestalt – with various ideas about the nature of human persons, the nature of God, suffering and evil bandied about by theologians. Why Gestalt rather than other types of counselling? Gestalt is a method which began in the 1940s and 50s as various practitioners became disillusioned with and broke away from classical Freudian psychoanalysis. It has been influenced and informed, over the decades, by a eclectic mix of ideas from modern physics, phenomenology (noticing things!), systems and field theory, theatre and expressive movement work, Martin Buber’s ‘I – Thou’ dialogic – and many other sources. It is therefore, rather uniquely amongst possible psychotherapies, already in dialogue with other disciplines, and thus is rather more open to dialogue with Christianity and pastoral concerns. For me, one of the most interesting places where Gestalt and Christian theology connect is in
their conception of the self, for Gestalt doesn’t really think of the ‘self ’ as a discrete unit. It views selfhood as being formed in the network of relationships that create, reinforce, and sustain each individual. Furthermore ‘self ’ is more of a verb than a noun in Gestalt – an ongoing and constantly changing process. This view of the self is one which is emphasized by ‘Trinitarian Theology’ which focuses on the implications of the belief that we are made in the image of a triune God. One such theologian is Leroy Howe, who argues that societies (like ours) which have replaced the biblical ideal with a focus on individual self-fulfillment risk eventual disaster for ‘human beings are created for community and nothing accomplished by way of individual fulfillment and aggrandizement can fully compensate us for the misery suffered when the structures supportive of genuine community are compromised.’ Whereas some schools of counselling would prioritize individual self-fulfillment, Gestalt
would tend to agree that real health and wholeness depends upon the strength of the supportive community. Because of its social emphasis, Gestalt is a particularly useful method to use in therapeutic groups, or in the analysis of institutions. For this reason it seems a particularly apt framework within which to consider ‘pastoral counselling’ which of course often occurs in group settings or under the auspices of an institution. The St John’s course consists of twenty days of teaching, in residential two or four day slots spread throughout the year. There are teaching sessions on Gestalt, on Theology, and on issues to do with pastoral counselling. There are small group sessions in which there are many opportunities to practise skills, counselling demonstrations by the tutors, and time for one on one discussion with tutors, as well as time given to writing in a reflective journal. Thus the learning occurs in a variety of styles and format. The most challenging session for me has been the daily ‘group process’ in which we explore what it’s like
for each person to be in the whole group – without any agenda set by the tutor. It’s been interesting to find myself, and watch most of the others as well, moving from positions of extreme discomfort to relative ease as we’ve learned to trust one another. Each day on the course begins and ends with a short worship service led by members of the group. These provide a very valuable frame in which to hold the rather intense activities of each day’s learning. I have been deeply moved by the variety of gifts which my fellow students have brought to these services – we’ve had everything from shaping clay whilst meditating on ‘potter passages’ of Scripture to Ignatian visualization to prayers led by all singing/dancing power point. Learning and worshipping with this group – all of whom were strangers to me nine months ago, has been the most valuable experience of ‘church’ I’ve ever had. The course has been a huge challenge on many levels. Intellectually I’ve found the exploration of Gestalt and of a more sophisticated theology than I’m
Karin Voth Harman writes about pastoral counselling training at St John’s Nottingham
used to – and the opportunity to bring these together in essays – hugely stimulating. The challenge to learn and develop emotionally has been even more compelling and I’ve been so grateful for the opportunity to try out different ways of ‘being’—both on my own and in groups – and to receive support and feedback as I change. There’s been a change in my understanding of God as well, as I’ve looked again at messages internalized through many years of a church up-bringing. Worshipping with Christians who hail from a fairly wide variety of theological perspectives and have markedly diverse stylistic preferences, has given me a new picture of what church can be.
The St. John’s course is very demanding and ideal for those who are, or want to be, engaged in transformative work within the wide life of the Church, and who sense a need, not only for new skills, but for new ways of being with people; this course sets up a supportive structure in which real change is able to occur. For those considering a career in counselling, the one year course at St. John’s can now be extended into a further two year Diploma course at the end of which the hours and training necessary for accreditation from the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists would be attained. To find out more contact St John’s on 0115 925 1117 email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Christian Times
Orthodox Anglican Leader: Choice is Between Life and Death Lillian Kwon Christian Post Reporter
Pakistani High Commissioner tells Demonstrating Christians “we’re working to end persecution.” PAKISTANI CHRISTIANS staged a protest outside the Pakistani High Commission in Knightsbridge against the country’s infamous Blasphemy Law on Friday (10th July 2009). The event was covered by UK and Asian news channels and drew a response from the Pakistani High Commission. High Commissioner, H. E. Wajid Shamsul Hasan came outside to offer a statement,
sharing his “deep regret” at the way the law has been used to oppress members of Pakistan’s 2.8 million-strong Christian population. The event was arranged by the charity CLAAS, which supports and campaigns for persecuted Christians in Pakistan. It follows a major attack in the village of Bahmani Wala Kasur in June. Local Christians were accused of blaspheming against the
Prophet and breaking the law. Local Muslims were encouraged by a radical Iman to kill the Christians, and around 100 houses were burned down or demolished, with many more ransacked. The law states that anyone found guilty of defaming the Prophet Mohammed may be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. In recent years, hundreds of Christians have been arrested, tortured or
been driven from their homes, based on the single testimony of a Muslim neighbour. In the past ten years 892 people have been accused of blasphemy under this law and 25 have arbitrarily been killed. The key demand from demonstrators was for the Parliament to instate promised legislation from former President Benazir Bhutto, that any suspected case must be investigated by a magistrate
before any charges may be pressed. The High Commissioner told demonstrators that he shared their concern at the abuses of the law - originally drafted in 1860 to protect India’s Muslim minority by Islamist extremists - and that the current government were urgently seeking to make amendments.. “I was hugely heartened by the response from the
High Commission” commented Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK*, and organiser of Friday’s protest. “This is a hugely discriminatory piece of legislation, originally drafted to protect the sensibilities of a religious minority. It’s a sad irony it has become a tool of oppression itself.” To contact The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) Email: email@example.com
THE HEAD of the newly established Anglican Church in North America released an open letter to the entire Anglican Communion, contrasting the recent actions of his orthodox body to that of The Episcopal Church. In the letter, ACNA Archbishop the Most Rev. Robert Duncan compared the two bodies to two cities – one of which is the City of God and the other of which is the City of the World. "Both cities are in crisis, but one operates from received values and behaviors, while the other attempts to re-make the world to its own revolutionary tastes," he wrote. Duncan, obviously, referred to the ACNA – comprised of conservative Anglicans in the United States and Canada who broke from The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada – as the body of believers who "embraced the values and behaviors familiar to Christians in every age" during their inaugural assembly last month in Bedford, Texas. The Episcopal Church, meanwhile, "blessed the values and behaviors of a re-defined Christianity," including "confusing received understandings of Scriptural truth" and "enabling a revisionist anthropology," during its General Convention in Anaheim, Calif., this month, Duncan noted. "There are times in the history of God’s people when the prevailing values and behaviors of those then in control of rival cities symbolizes a choice to be made by all of God’s people. For Anglicans such a moment has certainly arrived," he wrote. "The cities symbolizing the present choice are Bedford, Texas, and Anaheim, California." In July, Episcopal leaders approved resolutions that open the denomination's ordination process to all individuals, including practicing homosexuals, and also call for the development of theological and liturgical resources around the blessing of same-sex unions. Although the Episcopal presiding bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, said they are still committed to the wider Anglican Communion – which had urged U.S. Episcopalians not to
The Most Rev. Robert Duncan, archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America, is seen here at a press conference during the ACNA inaugural assembly on June 24, 2009.
pass any gay-affirming legislation – and clarified that the resolutions did not rescind an earlier ban on gay ordination and does not authorize public rites for the blessing of samesex unions, orthodox Anglicans say The Episcopal Church has gone too far. Earlier, Anglicans disaffected by what they argue is The Episcopal Church's departure from Scripture and traditional Anglicanism established their own conservative province in an attempt to distance themselves from the U.S. body and stay aligned with the global Anglican Communion. "For Anglican Christians, for the Instruments of Unity (Communion), for interdependent Provinces, for ordinary believers, there is a choice to be made," Duncan stated in his letter. "The choice is between two religions, two roads, two cities, two sets of conflicting values and behaviors. In Deuteronomy, chapter 30, Moses sets the choice as between blessing and curse, life and death. For contemporary Anglicanism the present choice is this stark." The Rev. Mark Harris, an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Delaware, interpreted the letter as saying the ACNA is an instrument of life and a blessing while The Episcopal Church is an instrument of death and a curse. Harris says Duncan's letter makes it impossible to consider a worldwide Anglican Communion in which both The Episcopal Church and the ACNA exist together and are both recognized as provinces in North America. The ACNA has not received formal recognition from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the spiritual leader of the global communion, but nine of the communion's 38 provinces indicated support for the ACNA.
The Christian Times
Congregational Coup? New Coral Ridge pastor moves against members who want him fired FORT LAUDERDALE - Internal divisions at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church burst into the open this past weekend as six members were ordered to stay off the premises. This August, senior pastor Tullian Tchividjian sent out a letter informing the congregation of 2,200 that six members—including the daughter of renowned founding pastor D. James Kennedy—have been banned from the megachurch property and all church functions. The church sent the six a letter on Aug. 4, saying that if they step onto church property, they will be considered trespassers. A second letter on Thursday, signed by Tchividjian, gave the rationale: "No church government can tolerate such an insurrection from those who will not listen to admonition, refuse all counsel, and will stop at nothing until they have overthrown legitimate authority and replaced it with their own." Church officials also visited the choir rehearsal on Wednesday night, telling the singers that if any of them signed the petition, they should consider resigning from the group. "I told them that it's not proper to be a worship leader standing behind this pastor while disparaging him," said Bill Ashcraft, a member of the church's governing board who also spoke at the meeting. "You can have differences of opinion. But
it has to be done more politely than has happened here." The letter marks the latest response in an ongoing feud between Tchividjian, who is the grandson of famed evangelist Billy Graham, and a small group of members attempting to oust the new pastor. The dissidents claim Tchividjian purposefully displaced longtime Coral Ridge staff members with staff from his former church, New City Church in Margate, Fla., which merged with the megachurch upon Tchividjian's hiring. In a couple of letters and petitions sent out in recent weeks, the group also accused their new pastor of downplaying Kennedy's evangelistic models and conservative political bent, selling church property to compensate for "budget shortfalls," making services more "seeker-friendly" and tweaking the church authority structure. Under the leadership of Kennedy, the former pastor who died in 2007, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church was a forerunner to modern evangelical megachurches and a fiercely conservative voice on social issues like homosexuality and abortion in the mostly liberal, Democratic city of Fort Lauderdale. Graham's grandson, Tullian Tchividjian (pronounced TUH'lee-uhn chuh-VI'-dee-uhn), took over earlier this year as its pastor. But some Kennedy loyalists, including his daughter Jennifer
Kennedy Cassidy, are upset with the direction Tchividjian is taking the church and have called for his ouster. Tchividjian cuts a far different image from Kennedy. His hair is spiky, his beard sometimes scruffy, his skin tan. He has forgone wearing a choir robe at services, as Kennedy had. And while he has shown no sign of theological differences with Kennedy, he has rejected politics as
Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy speaks during the funeral for her father, Dr. D. James Kennedy. She is one of six Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church members who has been banned from church property. (Sun Sentinel photo/Joe Cavaretta / September 13, 2007)
Christian Journalism – a Strategic Mission Field Michael Huggins
HISTORICALLY BRITAIN was part of Christendom, but what of today? These last 60 years have witnessed Christian foundations of society being eroded by an increasing secular humanistic legislative agenda that brazenly over-rides Christian values. In highlighting the immense power of the press and the myth of its neutrality, Frankie Schaeffer exposed in 1982 the escalating religious commitment within powerful elements of journalism to Secular Humanism, adding “It is time for journalism to become a Christian mission field. Time for Christian writers to transform this monolithic system from within and restore truth to the machinery of the press. Time for more Christians to be in journalism school and fewer in Bible school. Time for those Christians in the media to stand up and push their own agenda with conviction.” (1) Today all occupations are potential mission fields, as, for example, many Korean and South American churches recognise through their disciplined TEE programmes for their church members that involve a commitment lasting several years. (2) In
contrast, the dwindling influence of our churches is because, despite all our activities and forms of worship, we still too often fail to disciple our people, especially students, into mature faithful workers for Jesus who are able to prayerfully seek the mind of Christ on the issues they confront. In 1983 Os Guinness expressed concern that: “ the tools the Church could have once put at their disposal have grown rusty or have been mislaid. What often happens is that the Christians wake up to some incident or issue and suddenly realize they need to analyze what is going on. Then, having no tools of their own, they lean across and borrow the tools nearest. “They don’t realize that, in their haste, they are borrowing not an isolated tool but a whole philosophic toolbox laden with tools which have their own particular bias to every problem (a Trojan horse in the toolbox, if you like). Rarely - and this is all that matters to us - is it constantly or coherently Christian. “When Christians use tools for analysis….the tools shape the user. Their recent failure to think critically about culture has made Christians uniquely susceptible to this.” (3) I am convinced that Christianity was never meant to be some
comfortable malleable option that fails to openly challenge society’s priorities at all levels. Our salvation cost our Saviour. There is a cost to following Him. There is a price to be paid. It cost His first disciples. It cost those who brought the faith to these Isles. It cost our early and later reformers. It costs today’s church, leaders like Bishop Nazir Ali, who have the courage to make a Biblical stand here in 21st century Britain.. There is a cost to be faced too for Christians involved in journalism. The purposes of God go beyond evangelism. There is an urgent need to train up disciples, workers for Jesus in all walks of life too, for the application and obedience to Christ’s teaching has to be the seal of discipleship as Secular Humanism and Islam seek to impose their vicious versions of morality on society - even using the very organisms of state to impose their ideologies upon us. (1) Frankie Schaeffer, A Time for Anger – Myth of Neutrality in the Media, 1982 (2) For example: SEAN International, Omega Discipleship Ministries, BEE, (3) Os Guinness, The Gravedigger File, 1983; Fit Bodies, Fat Minds 1994,
Vicar fights Swansea lap dancing club application Anne Thomas Christiantoday
A vicar in Swansea is fighting plans for a new lap dancing club and has called for the council to refuse the club’s application. Fantasy Lounge submitted its plans to the council last month hoping to convert a derelict warehouse into an adult club. The vicar of St Mary's in Swansea, Andrew Vessey, believes that the club would be an “inappropriate” use of space, and has told the council it has the chance to show it has standards. He said: “What people do with their own money and time is up to them, but when it’s clearly open to
the public in a city centre that has already got quite enough venues, there is a concern by those of us who have standards and ideals that this is inappropriate. “It's an inappropriate use of space and inappropriate use of the female body.” According to ThisisSouthWales.co.uk he said the club would be degrading and was purely about making money. “Many of them are not doing this for fun, but because they have to for money. I think there comes a point where the public needs to be protected from people. It’s simply about making money. There must be a point where we say
enough is enough.” "There must be a point where we say enough is enough. "People who seem to be dependent on that kind of stimulus have got plenty of outlets already. "We have a fine city and we have some great traditions here, by way of enterprise and creativity. "Do we want Swansea to be synonymous as a place to watch lap dancing? "There's already a plethora of nightclubs in Swansea.
He concluded: “There must come a point where public concerns about standards have to be listened to.”
the most important way to change the country, while Kennedy was extremely active in politics as an influential Christian broadcaster. Cassidy and five other members recently circulated a letter with a petition urging a meeting to consider the firing of Tchividjian, indicating he had misled them in their search for a new pastor. Dissenters at the church have been vague in their criticism of Tchividjian's leadership. Their letter called him "a disaster" who has shown "a complete lack of respect" and made "grievous missteps." They lament the merger with Tchividjian's former church, the far smaller New City Presbyterian, saying "their staff has taken complete control." "We were told many things that all sounded good at the time, but in fact those soothing words have largely proven empty and it keeps getting worse," the dissenters wrote. "They range from preferences bordering on the mundane to violations of ethical standards that have guarded the purity of the church for decades." In a town hall meeting on July 31, however, Tchividjian and several Coral Ridge staff members refuted each of those claims and reinforced the leadership's intent to further the church's original vision initiated by Kennedy. Tchividjian denied any budget shortfall, stated that only 15 of the 70-plus staff
members were from his previous church and added that he was in fact making contemporary services more traditional. In his recent letter, Tchividjian informed the church that its leadership would be forming a judicial commission to provide the six dissidents a formal hearing where they can "give an account for the controversy their actions have created. … No church government can tolerate such an insurrection from those who will not listen to admonition, refuse all counsel, and will stop at nothing until they have overthrown legitimate authority and replaced it with their own." Those words didn't surprise at least one of the six. "Quite honestly, we expected this," said longtime Coral Ridge member Jim Filosa, who, along with his wife, has also been ordered to stop sending accusatory letters to the congregation. "Tullian won't leave without a fight, and neither will we. … If he had come in humbly and done changes gradually, I think he would have been more accepted. Instead, it's been an attitude more like, 'Here I am—if you don't like me, there's the door.'" Several comments on Twitter and other blogs shows varied response Pastor Randall Knuth says “This is exactly how the devil works in destroying the witness of the church in American society today.
Wales’ first Cathedral Camp opens in Brecon A GROUP of 13 young people from around the world are camping at the historic cathedral in Brecon this week to help revamp the building and learn more about heritage conservation. The group, from as far afield as Japan, will spend the week painting railings, re-painting the crypt, wax polishing the chapter and choir stalls, and making a survey of the graveyard as part of Wales’ first ever Cathedral Camp. The work they are doing, which also includes serving at events hosted by the cathedral for the Brecon Jazz Festival, will count towards medals of attainment such as the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Cathedral architect Geoffrey Worsley will also be joining the youngsters during the week, giving them a unique opportunity to undertake skilled work normally reserved for specialists, including servicing monuments, re-guilding the bishop’s throne, and re-pointing the 17th century gravestones that make up the floor inside the cathedral.
The camp is run by Cathedral Camps, a charity that enables young people to play a part in preserving the architectural heritage of Britain. Although the charity has been running Cathedral Camps for more than a quarter of a century, this is the first time that such a camp has been held in Wales. Cathedral Camps project manager, Ruth Coates said, “Each camp brings young people the chance to work towards satisfying goals while gaining knowledge of the historical and cultural importance of the buildings. The team at Brecon is being led by 21-year-old geography graduate Liz Barker and includes only one Welsh volunteer and speaker, 19year-old Dan Jones from St Asaph. “I have done several Cathedral Camps before, including at St Albans and Worcester, and I know how much the work we do is appreciated by the cathedral staff,” said Ms Barker. “We work full days but it’s great fun and we learn a lot about the work involved in conserving ancient buildings.”
Satan has tried time and again to destroy the church and unfortunately does so from within. I do not know the issues. Whatever they maybe, let us all join together in prayer for this congregation and its leadership on all sides of the issues. May the Holy Spirit infiltrate the humanness of Coral Ridge, enable individuals to put aside personal agendas, repent of wrong doings, and enable all be to sit down and together work out differences in the spirit of true Christian love”. Another blogger said “I have friends on both sides of the fence and it grieves me to see the hurt they are going through. I think that Tullian, the Coral Ridge people and the City Church folks need to stay off the blogs about it. They are making this a public affair by doing so and dragging all Christians into the fray. I think Tullian is a young man that is passionate about God. But I have say that I think that he and the leadership went overboard in their reaction to these people. Many of them tried to contact Tullian and he ignored their communications until it blew up. Now we have this. The blogs are full of Coral Ridge members that are divided and angry with each other. I can't see that Tullian made the situation any better with this latest action. Will take a long time to heal from this. I doubt that Dr. Kennedy would have wanted all this blow up to happen
Senior Pastor Tchividjian
after his death. Keep praying for this church and it's members. We all need to carry this burden in our prayers” Pastor Dan Gabriel wrote “To those who believe an article such as this should not appear, you may want to reconsider that opinion. It should cover as many aspects of ministry today as possible, both negative and positive, so that the reader may be educated and enlightened. An article on a high profile situation such as this can only be an asset to the Body of Christ in order to strengthen our discernment. As far as this being carnal, wasn't the situation in Acts 15 about the fight and split in ministry between Paul and Barnabas a "carnal" event? Yet the Holy Ghost saw fit to keep that situation in the Bible for our good”. We all pray and believe that the great work at Coral Bridge will be healed and God’s humble spirit will sweep on his people.
Bible Society raising £1.8 million for heritage centre Anne Thomas Christiantoday
The Bible Society has launched a project to transform a disused church into a new Bible heritage centre in north Wales. It is looking to raise £1.8 million for the centre, which it hopes will boost tourism and take the Bible Society back to its Welsh roots. The Bible heritage centre will be based at St Beuno's Church in Llanycil, close to the place where the idea for the Bible Society first came about. It was in 1800 that a 15-yearold girl walked 25 miles across the Welsh mountains to nearby Bala just to get her own copy of the Bible. Mary Jones bought the Bible from Methodist preacher the Rev Thomas Carlisle after saving for six
years. Bible Society raising £1.8 million for heritage centre Enlarge this picture Enlarge this picture He was so touched by her determination to have her own Bible that he later helped to establish the Bible Society, now an international organisation helping people around the world to hear or read God's word in their own language. The renovation project was launched at the National Eisteddfod of Wales on Monday. Bible Society’s Welsh Development Officer, Watcyn James said, "This will be a beautiful place for people of all faiths and no faith at all to come and learn more about the rich history here. It will be a place to discuss and to celebrate the culture."
The Christian Times
The Christian Times 2 Good news... good works: An Interview with Martyn Lewis THE MEETING was bound to happen one day. We just did not see it coming. As the editor of The Christian Times shared the vision and ethos of propagating “good news” during a syndicated BBC Radio interview that happened before its launch last month, the inevitable happened. Almost simultaneously, many of the journalists kept mentioning the name; Martyn Lewis. “This sounds like what Martyn propagated many years ago,” they all seemed to say. That was the acknowledgement that triggered a frantic Google search for his contacts. And they were not too difficult to find. Contact made. Appointment secured. We looked forward to our meeting with Martyn, a former ITN and then BBC newscaster who ran many of the nation’s major stories before resigning in 1999, including the death of Princess Diana in 1997. The beautiful, sunlit morning finally arrived and here we are in Martyn’s Central London home. Naturally, the discussion started from our curiosity about his wellknown statements on “good news” in the media. Martyn went on to explain. “It came out of two speeches I made in 1993, first in America and later at the Royal Society for Arts. Basically, I was not arguing that news bulletins should be filled with light, trivial, happy stories that are commonly associated with positive news, but when we judge the priorities for what goes into news bulletins, we should analyse and report on the positive things that are happening in society
Martyn founded in 1995. YouthNet functions as an online resource that “guides and supports young people, enabling them to make educated life choices, participate in society and achieve their ambitions. YouthNet has two main resources, TheSite.org, which is an online guide to life issues and do-it.org.uk, “the UK’s most comprehensive volunteering website.” A third resource, Lifetracks.com, aimed at helping young people towards training and employment, will be launched soon. Martyn shamelessly admits that a lot of what he has been able to do in the charity sector benefitted from the profile he had on television. “If you’ve got a profile like I had,” he advised, “you might as well use it to do something useful.” Giving something back to the community, we can say, is a hallmark of Martyn’s life. He had a word for everyone involved (or thinking of getting involved) in works of charity: “What’s the point of reinventing the wheel? Do not duplicate what is out there already. If you are looking to set up a charity, see what already exists and consider if you can help them, rather than set up a new one. Existing charities should also welcome new people with money and ideas who can make a real difference, and not be threatened by them.” We can all be a part of society’s “good news” by giving a portion of our time to the community in which we live. Even if these good works do not make the headlines on national TV, an email from a grateful heart or the smile of a senior citizen will make the effort worthwhile. And you might get nominated for the annual “Queens Award for Voluntary service.” Martyn was awarded a CBE in 1997 for his exemplary work in the charity sector. It was a great pleasure to have him speak to The Christian Times. For more details about finding a volunteer opportunity close to you, please visit www.do-it.org.uk and search through the 1,000,000+ opportunities available. To nominate someone for The Queens Award, visit www.queensawardvoluntary.gov.uk. Also visit www.youthnet.org for more details about the online resource for young people.
...television news is dominated by negative stories and we need to alter the balance a bit, perhaps by 10 or 15%
Edited by Israel Emmanuel alongside the negative.” Martyn’s explanation did more than resonate with our thinking. It also helped to clarify how positive journalism can work in a realistic sense. “Some have tried to start just a “good news” paper, but good news on its own does not work. People want to know everything that is happening around them, like a mirror held up to the world. My argument was that television news is dominated by negative stories and we need to alter the balance a bit, perhaps by 10 or 15%.” Martyn’s conviction was strong as he explained how news, whether positive or negative, affects people’s thinking and how they live their lives. “If we feed society with a remorseless diet of negative stories without acknowledging some of the great things that are happening in the world, people will remain depressed and they will lose focus.” Martyn admitted with a tone of thankfulness that he had enjoyed his thirty-two years of broadcasting. However, he believes that “there is a greater appetite for positive news as long as you run it alongside the negative news.” Sadly, mainstream journalism is not yet prepared to admit this fact because negative news, it is believed, is a better headline and makes more commercial sense. A “proper” function of journalists,
therefore, is to question what everyone does. Such scepticism, almost to the point of cynicism, skews facts towards negativism, which in Martyn’s view, is unfair. “There are ways in which a better balance can be achieved.” Martyn went on to narrate some amazing attempts made in Canada to achieve a better balance. The editors of the Vancouver Sun and The Toronto Star, while admitting that dramatic negative headlines is in the commercial interest of their operations, required their journalists “to incorporate into the body of their reports stories of what people or organisations are doing to tackle the problem represented by the negative headline.” What a terrific idea! A story about drug dealing in society, for instance, may make the headlines, but alongside this can run a report on what some in the community are doing to tackle the problem of drugs. Those who want the negative headline will get it and those want the encouragement of “good news” will also get it. “This puts the truth of what is happening in proper perspective.” Martyn’s passion for “good news”, it seems, is probably rooted in the fabric of his experience in the charity sector. In 1983, he got involved with the Hospice movement when he was asked to advise
some people who were setting up a new charity, Help The Hospices. It was a chance for him to say “Thank You” for the care his mother-in-law had received from an organisation that operated hospice principles during the last few years of her life. Martyn was able to use his influence at ITN to produce a promotional video for the charity, which made other hospice charities to contact him for support. Reflecting on this experience, Martyn noted, “The Hospice movement used to be associated only to death and dying and nobody really wanted to get involved, but I think I was one of the first celebrities to demonstrate that this is a cause worth supporting.” “That [my involvement with the Hospice movement] was the start of my charity involvement, which, in a sense was an antidote to the negativity of the television news. Contrary to what people thought, I found that hospices offered the highest standard of care you will find anywhere. They were places of warmth, hope, friendship and happiness.” Since Martyn’s involvement with the movement, there has been almost 100% increase in the number of hospices around the country, from 144 to 270, most of them non-governmental charities
supported hugely by people in the community. Evidently, Martyn was immensely impressed by the level of volunteering that made the hospices work so well. “Every hospice has at least a hundred volunteers and many have hundreds. I think they are the most powerful force of good, because it’s people in a community, working for that community to help people in the community, which I think is fantastic.” Martyn was later asked to help with another charity aimed at helping disadvantaged, young people. “It was a very successful charity with over 90% success rate. We were able to help hundreds of young people at the edge of crime and drugs back into education, jobs and into society.” An email Martyn received from a beneficiary of the programme just a week before summed up his appreciation for being a part of Drive For Youth. He was visibly moved as he read: “I thought of the difference DFY had made to my life and if I am honest, there is no way I can see myself in the position I am now if it wasn’t for DFY.” Unfortunately, DFY had to close in 1998 because of a shortfall in funding, but before it closed, the programme had helped 3,000 young people.
The DFY experience was a foundation for YouthNet, which
Baptist nurse says she forgives assailant after kidnap ordeal A nurse in Scotland, Magdaline Makola, who spent ten days tied up and locked away the boot of a car seven months ago, says she has forgiven her assailant and prays for him regularly. An active Christian, Ms Makola, aged 38, had been snatched from her home in Livingston, West Lothian, by Justice Ngema, aged 35. According to the Scotsman newspaper, Mr Ngema used her bank cards to fund a Christmas shopping spree while she lay shivering in sub-zero temperatures. Police eventually located the car in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, after Ms Makola managed to make a small gap in the tape across her mouth and shouted for help when she heard footsteps outside. Doctors found that her fingers were white and lifeless, her wrists, ankles and feet were cut, and she was suffering from dehydration that had affected her kidneys and circulation. The court that heard the case this week, and decided to imprison the assailant for eight years, said that if Magdaline Makola had remained in the boot for another 12 to 24 hours, her "life would have been in real danger". Ngema was sentenced on Wednesday 21 July 2009. Judge Lord Menzies told Mr Ngema that he had put Ms Makola through a "truly dreadful physical and mental ordeal on a young woman who had done you no harm at all". Magdaline Makola, who is an active Baptist, explained that her faith had helped her survive the ordeal. She declared: "At one point I started to panic but I thought if I was going to die I should try to be peaceful so I just kept praying." "I feel no anger" she added. "I just hope that he repents over this. In those eight years he still has time to change his life."
Cycle To Copenhagen To Rally At Un-Climate Change Talks FROM THE 9-16 December 2009, a Christian Aid team of 50 cyclists will take to the road and ride 140 miles from London to Copenhagen to highlight the start of the UN climate change summit and raise vital funds for Christian Aid projects in the developing world. With three days cycling between 25 and 65 miles a day, the bike ride is open to all levels of cycling fitness. The group will leave London on the morning of 9 December, cycling through the English countryside to Harwich and, after the ferry ride, through the Danish islands to Copen-
hagen. Participants will cycle for no more than six hours a day and there will be two free days in the Danish capital before the group returns to the UK. In Copenhagen, the cyclists will have the chance to make their ‘green’ presence count by joining thousands of climate change campaigners from all over the world at a mass rally calling for a fair and effective deal to combat climate change and to help the millions in the poorest countries already suffering the effects of climate change. “Cyclists have always been at the forefront of the green
money to help some the world’s poorest people,” said Alison Gregory of Christian Aid. The cost of the trip is £875 per person which you can either pay yourself or raise in sponsorship as part of a commitment to raise £1,900 for Christian Aid. There is also an initial £99 registration fee. The price includes all accommodation, the ferry, transport back from Copenhagen and most meals. Participants will get full support from Christian Aid’s dedicated events team with lots of training, preparation and fundraising advice and a free Christian Aid Tshirt. For a brochure, the full itinerary, route profile, registration form and fundraising tips log on to movement. This an amazing heard at the crucial climate www.christianaid.org.uk/even opportunity to make a real dif- change talks in Copenhagen ts call 020 7523 2248 or email ference by making your voice and at the same time raising firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Christian Times
Newfrontiers Church plant in Belfast AGAINST a backdrop of increasing national financial fragility, Belfast is undergoing a significant renewal. The dockside, famous as the building place of the Titanic in 1912, is undergoing a huge redevelopment that will form a foundation for the future of the city. Over recent years, major investment has been made into the regeneration of the city centre, creating employment opportunities and future homes for residents of Belfast. Alongside this muchneeded facelift for the city, churches are also reporting the beginnings of a deep spiritual renewal. Historically Belfast has been known for its tumultuous Christian past, but churches are increasingly striving to reach a peaceful unity in the city. Five months ago, David Capener and his young family moved from Norfolk to plant a church in the centre of Belfast. Both David and his wife Trish, who is from Belfast, felt God call them to church planting. ‘We both had a real love for Belfast and Northern Ireland and figured that maybe one day we would
end up back there, but didn’t anticipate it would be to plant a church! I very clearly remember the moment that God called us both to church planting. At the end of a service at our local church, the speaker asked for a response for people who felt God was calling them to church planting. I just knew that I had to respond, and I didn't know it at the time but so did Trish. It was a really defining moment in our lives.’ ‘We have always said that wherever God called us, we would go. So when the call to church planting and our love and passion for Belfast came together we just knew that God had spoken. We had been attending a Newfrontiers church and really felt aligned to their church planting strategy, so after a period of training in a Newfrontiers church plant in Norfolk, we moved to Belfast in February 2009.’ David is calling the church Redeemer Central; ‘I think our vision is best summed up by the church’s name. We want to be a Christ-centred church building a Christ-centred city. We love this city with a passion
Mary Fallon & Jane Nyirenda at Euthini
and we believe that as a church we have a responsibility to model a better city, the city to come (Revelation 21:2). In doing so we long to see all aspects of city life redeemed – from the office of the CEO to the mum at the school gate.’ Redeemer Central has a vision to plant further congregations around the city and in the major towns and cities of Northern Ireland. Although there are many churches in Belfast, David believes that Redeemer Central will also benefit the community. His passion is to build a church that is deeply founded on the grace of God. ‘This will transform lives, when people begin to realise that their salvation really has nothing to do with their own efforts, and everything to do with Jesus. Dead religion is rubbish. Grace really is amazing! There are some fantastic churches here in Northern Ireland, many of whom have been so helpful and welcoming to us. It’s just great to be here working alongside them.’ For more information, visit www.belfastchurchplant.com
Photo: Mary Fallon.
An Overseas Holiday With A Difference – Seeing Christian Aid Help People To Help Themselves A GROUP of six tourists who recently travelled to Malawi on holiday have returned to Britain inspired by the projects they have seen run by local charities and churches and funded by Christian Aid. The trip was organized by Saddle Skedaddle, a tour company that has set up a partnership with Christian Aid and offers ethical holidays that enable people to relax and see some classic tourist sights but also view the work of the charity. Mary Fallon, a retired teacher from Brixham, Devon, was among the group to go on the first holiday of this collaboration. She said: ‘This trip has shown me how much Christian Aid’s partners empower people to change the things that keep them in poverty. Now I’m back in Brixham, I’m telling everyone about the wonderful people we met and the work we saw.’ In the village of Euthini, in northern Malawi, Mary saw the benefits of the Kabiya Dam that had been paid for by a Christian Aid partner. ‘As a farmer’s daughter and a keen gardener, I was overjoyed to see how the dam was changing people’s lives,’ she said. Another traveller, a London social worker who asked not to be named, said: ‘I thought the project was wonderful. It’s very simple and it just worked.’
Arriving along dusty, potholed roads, the visitors were given a traditional welcome from villagers – and the women danced and ululated (sang a welcome). Mary joined in and was partnered by a woman called Jane. As the group was shown around the village’s cooperative land plots, they learned how 160 farmers benefit from the dam. The local river had been drying up every year, often resulting in a drought. This had left mothers and fathers struggling to feed their families. Now there is water enough for three crops of maize a year instead of one. The maize takes three months to grow. The beans are then sown a month later between the maize - they take two months to mature. Tomatoes are planted next they take six weeks and then Chinese cabbage, which is ready in just four weeks. There is now food all year round thanks to one small dam. In addition, good quality compost is made from the maize stalks and goat droppings. The dam has transformed the lives of the families in the community. If the rains don’t come at the right time, their crops don’t wither and they don’t have to go hungry. Mothers like Jane can earn extra money from selling some of their produce and so can now buy school uniforms and other things their family
need. ‘I could see how Christian Aid had empowered the people of Euthini,’ said Mary. Mary is a long time activist with the charity: a volunteer teacher, Christian Aid collector and general organiser. ‘At times I feel I am treading a lonely path with so many retired people around me putting their energies into beach holidaying and taking well earned rests from the hassle of life,’ she said. ‘I had not flown since 2005, I needed renewal and Malawi was carbon well spent. The joy of meeting these local people will stay with me and inspire me to continue to help end poverty.’ The social worker agreed: ‘It was a truly wonderful project and very inspiring. It was great: the welcome and talking to the people.’ She makes a contribution to Christian Aid every month by direct debit and so the chance to see how the money was used meant a great deal to her: ‘I’m very grateful that the opportunity was there and that I was able to take advantage of it,’ she said. The next supporter tour is taking visitors to India from November 22 to December 5. Further details can be obtained from email@example.com or by phoning 0191 265 1110.
The Christian Times
Cameron calls for removal of Christian peace activist THE CONSERVATIVE Party leader, David Cameron, has suggested that a Tory government would forcibly remove the Christian peace activist Brian Haw from Parliament Square, where he has staged a continuous peaceful protest since 2001. Haw has survived several attempts to evict him, including legislation in which the government accidentally left a loophole which allowed him to stay. In 2007, the tents of Haw's supporters were raided and removed by police. But the Tory leader yesterday told Sky News that Haw and the peaceful camp should be removed, implying that a Tory government would introduce legislation to
make this happen. “I am all in favour of free speech and the right to demonstrate and the right to protest” said Cameron, “But I think there are moments when our Parliament Square does look like a pretty poor place, with shanty town tents and the rest of it”. He added that “I am all for demonstrations but my argument is 'enough is enough'”. His comments are likely to attract criticism from civil liberties campaigners at a time when the Conservatives are seeking to present themselves as the party of civil liberties in contrast to Labour's commitment to identity cards.
Haw, an active Christian and former carpenter, began his protest in 2001 in opposition to sanctions on Iraq. He has since campaigned against the invasion of both Iraq and Afghanistan. He won the Channel 4 award for Most Inspiring Political Figure in 2007. A number of MPs have recently argued that protests in Parliament Square make it visually unappealing and give a bad impression to tourists. Others suggest that the presence of protests outside Parliament sends a positive message, telling tourists that Britain is a country that welcomes free speech and open debate.
Church of England hires first-ever investment director THE CHURCH Commissioners for England has appointed Tom Joy as its first director of investment to manage all of the Church of England’s property and other assets worth a total of £4.4bn. Joy (pictured), who will report to the first church estates commissioner, Andreas Whittam Smith, and the secretary to the commissioners, Andrew Brown, has been hired to advise the assets committee on the strategic development of the Church’s multi-asset investment portfolio in light of the increasing complexity of the financial markets. He joins from RMB Asset, where he was chief investment officer for six years, and will take up his post in October. COE faces further criticism on investments Meanwhile, the Church of England has come under further fire for its £2.5m investment in mining company Vedanta, which is planning a project on an Indian mountain considered sacred by the local people. Last week, a coalition of international development charities at-
tacked the Church of England for its investment and urged it to pressurise Vedanta to stop its plans. It faces more criticism this week with the Guardian newspaper reporting that Vedanta will supply bauxite it mines to a subsidiary involved in the production of metal for weapons. Meredith Alexander, head of trade and corporates at ActionAid, said: “This is just another reason why investors should take a hard look at their holdings in Vedanta. The Church of England, for example, state they will not invest in defence companies. Vedanta’s involvement in missile production surely makes their investment even more controversial.” A CofE spokesperson said that the CofE's current ethical policy on investments does exclude companies that made armaments, but this did not render Vedanta uninvestable. “Vedanta does not make armaments. There is a distinction on where it is in the supply chain. But our shareholding is still under consideration and we are meeting sen-
ior management of Vedanta to discuss our concerns.” The Church of England has asked The Guardian for evidence it has gathered on Vedanta.
Bible read set to raise the roof Members of a church congregation are reading the words of the bible continuously over three days to help raise £100,000 for a new church roof. Fifty adults and 20 children are taking part in the 72-hour Biblothon at St Mary's Church, Shenley Church End, Milton Keynes. Reverend Mike Morris, vicar of St Mary's, began reading the first of the 773,692 words on Tuesday evening. Those taking part will read the bible in 15-minute slots.
Desmond Tutu mends fences with President Zuma By Ecumenical News International
NOBEL PEACE Prize Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who strongly opposed Jacob Zuma becoming president of South Africa, says he should be given a chance to prove himself in office - writes Munyaradzi Makoni. "The people of South Africa overwhelmingly supported a particular party [the African National Congress] in recent democratic elections. This party and its president should be given the chance to prove their mettle in government," said Tutu in a statement made available to Ecumenical News International as Zuma was to mark his first 100 days in office. Tutu met Zuma for an hour-long meeting behind closed doors in Pretoria, the South African administrative capital, on 6 August 2009, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town said in his statement released
after the meeting. The Arch, as Tutu is known, was preparing to leave for Washington DC to accept his latest award, the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, from U.S. President Barack Obama on 12 August. "The family is very proud of him, he is very spiritual and humble," his wife, Leah Tutu, told the Sowetan newspaper. "He bears no grudges, he can fight with a person today and tomorrow he will forgive them." Tutu once questioned Zuma's fitness to hold office, insisting he should stand trial for corruption charges to avoid "the cloud" of suspicion hanging over him. Before his election in April, corruption charges against Zuma were dropped. Tutu's comment that Zuma should still have faced the charges in court drew strong criticism from Zuma's supporters.
When Zuma was inaugurated as president, Tutu did not attend despite being invited. A number of media reports have noted that while there has been much criticism about his credentials for office, Zuma has reached out to his critics, unlike his predecessor, former president Thabo Mbeki, who shunned many people not fully on his side. "I am guided only by my love for, and loyalty toward, the country of my birth," said Archbishop Tutu. President Zuma told the South African Times newspaper that Archbishop Tutu had "prayed" and talked about "critical matters" facing the country. In remarks after the meeting Zuma dismissed interpretations he had been "singled out" by Tutu, whom he noted had also at times been critical of former presidents Mandela and Mbeki when he believed it was warranted.
"The archbishop took the initiative. We talked about what happened before and we discussed that at length. It is in the African style of leadership, and I commend him for it," Zuma said. Tutu, who along with people such as former president Nelson Mandela is one of the anti- apartheid icons, said he and Zuma discussed a variety of issues, including "the lawlessness and destruction of property by organised workers" that has become a "national disease". [With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Conference of European Churches.]
The Christian Times
Skateboarding and the church? Stephen Maughan
THERE WAS a video on YouTube a couple of years ago showing an angry Australian Catholic priest confronting a gang of skateboarders outside his church. The priest shouted abuse at the youths when they refused to leave the Church property. At the time this divided opinion, with many feeling that although his tone and language got a little out of hand, they sympathised with his stance against the local troublemakers who filmed his angry reaction. Providing amusement for a gang of bored teenage skateboarders might seem to be of little interest to a local church. In fact the only connection with skateboarding you might expect is to see a “no skateboarding” sign up on the church property. However, according to one enterprising man, Stuart Ladd, a church should be more than just “bible study and prayer groups” and needs to seek new ways to interact with the local youth, who, like it or not, are
the very future of the church. Mr Ladd, 33, grew up in a small village and remembers the limited opportunitieses for him and his friends to practice skateboarding when he was young, and he wanted to make a difference for the youth of his local town, Crowborough in Sussex. With town council support he leads a skateboard association to improve facilities at the town's small skate park, and since 2006 he has organised a popular skateboard competition held each summer, which itself is sponsored by his local church, Crowborough Community Church. 'Being involved in a local church it really gave me the courage to do it. “ Mr. Ladd explains over a cappuccino at a local cafe, “I just had a real passion to do it and the energy for it.” It soon becomes obvious that Mr. Ladd is deeply passionate about the skateboard competition, but I'm more interested in how exactly his
church is involved in the skateboard competition? “The church is brilliant because without them it wouldn't have happened”, he excitedly tells me. Some people may question the value of a church being involved in a skateboard competition, I tell him, and they may not necessarily see a link between a church, and well, skateboarding teenagers. “I think it's a good point, but I think what a church is a group of people who are interested in all sorts of things, and people from all different backgrounds. So on things like this it all comes together because people within the church have got involved. Someone designs the flyers and poster, someone else prints them all, someone does publicity, so there are all these talents being put to really good use.” Skateboarding is seen, at least among the young, as something cool and for many of them let's admit it church does tend to have an image
problem. “Yes, I think people can have a wrong idea of what a church is and how it should be involved in the local community” For Mr. Ladd this means a church should go to the old people's home, run soup kitchens for the homeless, and be there for the needy, but it should also be there to get the Christian message out by all means possible. Mr. Ladd, who himself has been skateboarding for 21 years, is an enthusiastic Skateboarder and wanted to combine this with his Christian faith. Aside from the skateboarding itself, a short Christian message is shared “Just before the prizes are given”, and last year Mr. Ladd shared how he became a Christian, which he admits “Felt a little like being in the stocks”. He talks about the need to challenge people's perceptions of young teenagers as troublemakers, which is also backed up by the Church pastor, Jerry
Townhill, who explains “we tend to go on a lot about the negative - kids hanging around the streets and being a nuisance and so on - so this is an opportunity to give a more positive picture.” As for the church itself, the pastor tells me it is a great way of “getting our name in front of a lot of people who wouldn't otherwise give church much thought.”. More than that, it seems the church skateboarding competition is accepted among young people and skaters because Mr. Ladd himself is respected and admired not only a skateboarder himself, but as a passionate campaigner for skateboarding within the local area, who happens to be a Christian. In being so not only do young skateboarders accept him as a Christian, but as his church organises a skateboard competition, in turn their ideas about what a church is will be challenged. Mr Ladd has now had a 5 year plan approved by the local council to transform the
town's skate park into a more professional, flood lit, concrete skate park. He has funding and support from the local police and town council. He meets young skateboarders on a monthly basis to run through his plans. Still most of all it is the support of his local church that gives him the motivation and the drive needed to do all this. “I think if it wasn't for my Christian faith I wouldn't be doing this. I would still be into skating, but I wouldn’t be doing the competitions or be involved in the skate park because being involved in a local church and having the encouragement of others around me from the church really made a difference. A good church and a bit of faith to put a vision into reality.” Churches are often sneered upon when they try to launch into youth culture, how many times have you honestly seen the cool school kids heading to the Church Disco on Friday nights? How many of us
cringe when the local church attempts to reach today's youth with flashy slogans and youth language. It's great the effort is there, but teenagers can spot pretentiousness a mile off. What does a church know about skateboarding? Well, nothing on it's own but as Mr. Ladd puts it “A church is a group of people all with different interests and talents”, and some of these may well include skateboarding. Young people aren't going to be impressed with a Church trying to attach itself to their unique youth culture (I've seen the slogan sk8 4 Jesus which makes no sense to the average passer-by, Christian or not), and they certainly won't be impressed by a middle aged man fumble and rather embarrassing trying to attach himself and church onto their culture. What they are impressed by are things a church should be – honest, supportive, approachable, understanding, and committed. Stuart Ladd and the Crowborough community Church can
AS A student, it never occurred to Dave Glover that one meeting would prove life transforming. He recalls the event that is moving him on today, 35 years later with a developing ministry in Latvia.
continuing his involvement with the outreach in Latvia which has developed under his directorship. He notes, ‘Serving as UK Director heightened my awareness of OAC evangelism
pull of holding a respectable skateboard competition without any jeering, because the founder himself, aside from being a Christian, is dedicated to both skateboarding and providing an outlet for the kids energy. Ask him to organise a church ballet competition , and he'd be hopeless. Christians have interest and hobbies, and a Church should encourage these to interact with the local community, and to build a positive outlook for the local church to have a direct impact on people's life, or as Jerry Townhil would put it the competition is also “a way of serving the local community by putting on a quality event that attracts young people and their families.”, and few can find fault with that, no matter what their belief. Stephen MAUGHAN is a freelance journalist and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and his wesite is: spmaughan.snappages.com
art and Ceinwen Burnside who felt called to establish this ministry. Their three daughters also participate, using their varied gifts to present Christ through sketchboard illustrations, puppetry and high impact visual
Moving on – from Lebanon to Latvia
‘OAC Ministries (Open Air Campaigners) evangelists spoke about their work. I thought, “I like what they’re doing. I’d like to be doing that myself.”’ At the time, he was studying at Lebanon Missionary Bible Training College in Berwick-upon-Tweed. As soon as he completed his studies, Dave trained with OAC to become an evangelist. He explains, ‘The training really enabled me to communicate the Gospel in interesting and attractive ways. It opened all kinds of doors of opportunities for me to share with people of different backgrounds and ages.’ This year marks his tenth year as National Director of OAC in UK. Dave is moving on by stepping down as Director at the end of the year, but
around the world. That’s why it is important to encourage travel for effective world outreach. Creative evangelism tools are relevant to all cultures. ‘Yet it’s more than just innovative tools, it’s a mindset. To communicate the Good News of Jesus means engaging with people in completely varied circumstances. Many of us go to schools, prisons and ships. I’ve preached in remote African villages to full churches at midnight with the illumination of a single candle. Closer to home, I’ve taken part in sport days where I’ve spoken about my faith.’ Now as Chairman of the Board of Directors in Latvia, Dave is encouraging the growing ministry of national workers. Under his directorship, OAC trained and equipped Stu-
object lessons. In Riga local believers conduct evangelism, with teams forming in other areas too. Riga officials have just granted permission for open air work. Already, large crowds are being drawn and people are responding favourably. This July, Dave Glover went to Latvia to take part in a Vision Day and Camp as well as open air meetings. He sums up, ‘OAC has been central to my incredible journey as an evangelist. Our links will remain strong as I will be involved with training young evangelists. My sole ambition is to remain faithful to the original call of “presenting Christ by all means everywhere.”’ For more information, please contact OAC at www.oacgb.org.uk or Tel. 0191 268 4320
The Christian Times
Scientists agree that primary school curriculum needs revising
Enigmatic India: more than cricket, curries or call centres! THE WORD India will conjure up many images or impressions for people here in the UK. If you carried out a Family Fortunes style survey: ‘We asked a hundred people to name something to do with India’, you would probably get a whole variety of answers! Cricket, curries and call centres might be some people’s response, but the breadth of answers would reflect the diversity, variety and extremes that India most certainly seems to create. Many say you really have to
experience the ‘sights, sounds and smells’ of India to begin appreciating and understanding this country. A country that is crazy and chaotic yet, starkly spiritual and stunningly beautiful! It can almost imperceptibly get in your blood and under your skin - so much so that many have fallen head over heels in love with the nation, the people and everything it offers. But India remains an enigma to many of us; the extremes of wealth and poverty; the spiritual intensity contrasting with secular and western
humanism; the caste system; the traffic; and the sheer volume of people everywhere. And yet, within this cacophony of history, culture and social extremes, there are many Indians who have committed their lives to God’s greater purposes. One of India’s other ‘Enigma’s (best kept secrets) is the strategic and highly effective mission work carried out by Mission India. The team of Indian nationals, around 360 in total, are engaged in the training and equipping of hundreds of partner organisations,
church by way of assisting India’s own Christians in the planting of reproducing churches through these programmes, and this in turn has positively and powerfully impacted communities, where many of us would tend to ‘pass by on the other side’. India’s Christians are rising to the challenge; they know the culture, customs, languages and dangers – yet they commit to reaching their nation for Jesus. Many in India believe the country is ‘ripe for harvest’, and we can assist in this tremendous work of mission and outreach. This September there are some special regional meetings in the UK where Mission India’s Co-Director of India Ministries, Kamala, will be sharing her own remarkable story (having come from a Dalit background) and bringing the latest news of what God is doing in India. You can discover more about Mission India and these special meetings on the website: www.missionindia.org.uk
churches, denominational groups and mission agencies, who themselves deliver one or more of three highly effective programmes into villages, rural areas or slums. These programmes (Children’s Bible Clubs, Adult Literacy Classes and Church Planting projects) have reached literally millions of children, young people and adults with the good news of Jesus, resulting in new churches being planted. For the past 30 years Mis- Tim Cutting sion India has served the Indian Mission India - UK Director
General Office (01435) 863036
Quakers endorse same-sex marriage BRITAIN'S QUAKERS have this morning agreed to carry out samesex marriages on the same basis as marriages for opposite-sex couples. The decision came after an intense week of debate and reflection at the Quakers' Yearly Meeting in York. Emotions ran high in the discussions and several people of various views were visibly in tears. Many participants hugged each other and expressed delight as the decision was reached. Quakers are now likely to face a difficult time with the law, which currently offers same-sex couples only civil partnerships, in which no religious element is allowed.
The statement agreed by the Religious Society of Friends, as Quakers are otherwise known, comes 22 years after they began formal consideration of the issue. The Quakers agreed this morning that they would “treat same-sex committed relationships in the same way as opposite-sex marriages, reaffirming our central insight that marriage is the Lord's work and we are but witnesses” They further declared that “the question of legal recognition by the state is secondary”. Quaker samesex marriages will now be “prepared, celebrated, witnessed, recorded and reported to the state
in the same way as opposite-sex marriages”. Only a few Friends expressed outright opposition to homosexuality during the discussions, although others argued that the word “marriage” could apply only to a relationship between a man and a woman. One participant accused the Meeting of considering “a radical experiment in social engineering” before walking out of the hall. However, several Quakers said that their views had shifted during the week's discernment and many were keen to emphasise that both experience and theology backed up the case for same-sex marriages.
The Religious Society of Friends will now rewrite the marriage section of Quaker Faith and Practice, their “book of Christian discipline”, to reflect the change. Symon Hill, associate director of the thinktank Ekklesia, who is himself a Quaker, welcomed the decision. He said “I trust this decision will inspire people of all faiths and none who are working for the inclusion of gay, lesbian and bisexual people”. He added that “As with other churches, this has not been an easy process for Quakers. I hope that others will have the courage to fol-
low this lead and speak up for the radical inclusivity of Christ. As Christians, we are called to stand with those on the margins who are denied equality”. The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said that “The Quakers’ decision to open up marriage to same-sex couples on exactly the same basis as heterosexual couples, is an honourable, courageous, trailblazing decision”.
What is the biblical position on same-sex marriage? Leave your comments online at: www.thechristiantimes.org
TWENTY-SIX of the UK’s top scientists and science educators including among them three Nobel laureates; Richard Dawkins, former professor for the public understanding of science at the University of Oxford; TV presenter Adam Hart Davis; and science education experts James Williams and the Rev Professor Michael Reiss, have called on the Government to make vital changes to the new science curriculum proposed for primary schools in England. The new curriculum, which has been proposed by a government commissioned review, was put out to a public consultation which closed last week. The government will now consider the responses made and make final decisions about the content of the curriculum in the autumn. A joint letter has been written to Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families which seeks a number of changes. Amongst these are the requirement for the curriculum to cover evolution and natural selection and to make reference to the sense of fulfillment that scientific endeavour can inspire and the use of science in equipping pupils to engage in important public discussions about scientific issues. The letter was organised by the British Humanist Association which "promotes a rounded curriculum including good science education as part of its educational mission", and its signatory includes a leading Anglican science educator. The Rev Professor Michael Reiss came to prominence last year when ambiguous comments he made about creationism in science classrooms (he advocated engaging with children to encourage them
towards a scientific view, not "teaching creationism") led to him being removed from his post as Director of Education at the Royal Society - the nation's leading professional scientific body. Reiss was attacked at the time by the atheist proselytiser Richard Dawkins, but the former Oxford Professor later apologised for implying that it was inappropriate to have an Anglican priest as one of the UK's most senior science education advisers. Yesterday, the Rev Professor Reiss reaffirmed on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme his view that evolution needed to be mentioned explicitly in the curriculum. But he said that he was "encouraged" by Dawn Primarolo, government Minister for Children and Young People, who directly acknowledged the importance of evolutionary thinking to a range of subjects. She said that the aim of Ed Balls' draft document was to ensure that particular topics were explored across a spectrum of subjects, rather than 'pigeon-holed' in one. Nevertheless, the Rev Professor Reiss said he hoped that explicit references would be made to evolution. Andrew Copson, BHA Director of Education, commented on the scientists' letter: "Science is not only key to understanding the world around us, but it is also vital for democratic citizenship. Without an understanding of key concepts people can not properly engage with public debates around the scientific and technological topics which will directly affect their lives. The primary curriculum needs to prepare children for this reality."
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Wootton Bassett Lindsey Mann
Is it time to let priests marry? Paul Taylor and Simon Donohue
NO, they shouldn't marry, says Dr Robert Aston, a former medical officer for Bolton and Wigan: "THE fact that our priests are celibate is something that the great majority of us find of tremendous value," says Dr Aston. "Our priests are fathers. They have given themselves totally to us without reservation. "That is the essential thing - total self-giving, service, dedication and loyalty to their own people and through their own people to God." To Dr Aston, 64, the concept of self-denial is a basic Christian principle, and "we as Christians are expected to take up the Cross and follow God, our Lord, and we do that by total self-giving according to our state in life." But how can a priest plausibly minister to families if he
never has a family of his own? "I can understand people thinking that," says Dr Aston, of Horwich, Bolton. "But you don't have to be in a particular position yourself to be able to advise others. That's what we expect of lawyers, doctors, all professional people. We don't expect them to be in the same condition as ourselves. In many ways, independence, impartiality and fairness can sometimes be better." Should the rules of the church alter with the changing times? "St Paul in the New Testament refers to celibacy as being a desirable state, so we are talking of a tradition which goes right back to the origins of Christianity," says Dr Aston. "Should truth bend with the fashions of time? I would hope the church would not bend to passing fashions or strong public opinions or democratic process in the form of pressure groups."
Is there a discussion among Catholics as to whether the priesthood should be celibate? "All things are discussed and have been discussed not just by modern Catholics but throughout the history of the Church. Don't just look at celibacy, look at anything within the Church," he replies. There are, of course, some Catholic priests who do have families - priests who have come to Catholicism from an Anglican ministry, and been permitted to bring their families with them into the Catholic priesthood. Where do they stand in this argument? "I would regard them as dedicated people who have given lifetimes of services within their own community," says Dr Aston. "I speak as a former Church of England member myself. I was brought up CofE and became Catholic in my twenties. These are people who had terrible pangs of
Christian Aid unveils radical public response to anti-poverty initiative CHRISTIAN AID has announced the results of the public response to the key question it has been asking in its 'pOVERty' campaign - with an overwhelming 90 per cent believing poverty really can be eradicated. "That's great news," says the respected international churches' development agency, which works for social justice with people of all faiths and none across the world. But what do people believe is the most important step to take towards eradicat-
ing poverty? That was what the agency asked. This is what the public said in response: 24 per cent say: End corrupt governments. 22 per cent say: Make international trade rules fairer. 21 per cent say: Improve access to education and health services. 14 per cent say: Halt climate change 8 per cent say: Increase aid to poor countries. 5 per cent say: Curb tax dodging by multinationals.
Christian Aid is urging more people to respond to the survey and the results here: http://povertyover.chris-
tianaid.org.uk/po Its aim is to raise public awareness of the issues that have to be tackled if poverty is truly to be made history and resources and action channelled to push governments and corporations - among others - to take the necessary steps for change. A change analyst told Ekklesia this week that a major part of this task is combatting a certain fatalism and 'fashionable cyncism' toward the genuine possibility of eliminating poverty and grotesque inequality in the world. You can also buy Christian Aid gifts and support present aid online.
conscience in not being able to accept the way their own church was going and have sought communion with the Catholic church. There has been a pastoral awareness within the Catholic church of the needs of these people, and an exception made, out of compassion." YES they should marry, says the Rev Michael Gaine: AT the age of 79 and having served for the vast majority of his life as a Catholic priest, the Rev Gaine admits that his one regret is never having had a wife and family. "Perhaps that is something I have missed out on," he says. "I think that I could have done my job just as well with a family." Rev Gaine has campaigned for 20 years now on the subject of the ordination of married priests - or priests who might one day go on to become married - and says that it has been a frustrating battle for him against both
senior bishops and the might of Rome itself. He has now disbanded his campaign group, the Movement for the Ordination Of Married Priests, and says that the Roman Catholic church might be inflicting damage upon itself by failing to modernise. "Twenty years ago, when I first started out on this campaign, it was suggested that lay people within the church simply would not accept the idea of priests who were not celibate. "I now think that many lay people within the church wouldn't mind so much at all. "I have written any number of articles to senior people stressing the spiritual, historical and psychological reasons why it makes sense, but to no avail." Rev Gaine, who served as a teacher at a Catholic college in Liverpool and was a secretary to two prominent north west bishops, says that there
are good practical reasons why the ordination of married priests would be good for the church today. "The number of clergy is declining substantially," he says. "When I first became a priest, there were many, many priests and they tended to live together in a presbytery. "That meant that there was companionship and support for priests. "Today I fear that many priests are working alone in communities where they can be quite isolated. "Allowing married priests would alleviate that problem of isolation and help to increase the number of people seeking ordination." Rev Gaine says his situation is all the more frustrating given the way the Roman Catholic Church has permitted married priests who have converted from the Anglican church into the fold. "Those people tend to work in hospitals and prisons and other institutions rather than within parishes, but they are still celebrating mass," he points out. "It seems to suggest double standards that we have married men leading mass in some parts of the church, but we still do not allow the ordination of men who do not wish to remain celibate into the priesthood."
country. Servicemen salute, but so do children and teenagers. To see fourteen and fifteen year old boys weeping over the death of total strangers is both poignant and remarkable. Then there is the noise, or the lack of it. As the cars make their slow progress through the town not a single sound is heard. Absolute silence as each person among such a large crowd is left with their own thoughts. And then, applause. Not rapturous noisy cheering and shouting, but genuine heartfelt clapping, because the people don’t have words, they don’t really have actions, apart from a few putting flowers on the roof of one of the hearses. Whatever they have or do, one thing is certain, they have great, big, wonderful hearts. Each time there is to be a “repatriation” the Mayor of Wooton Bassett, Councillor Steve Bucknell, announces it though the town’s website and the population is mobilized. Previous plans are scrapped as the people make the effort to tell the loved ones of the fallen that their sacrifice is appreciated. They are also saying that whatever we may think of the war we respect our soldiers and will show it. It may not be enough to take away the disaster of losing a young man from among the family, but it does show that some one cares enough to say thanks and “God speed”. What a town. What a place. What a population. It proves that there are people who do have some perspective when it comes to death and the proper manner to deal with it. Our soldiers may not have Stevie Wonder to sing at their funeral. The minister may not be as famous as Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. The likelihood of the funeral being televised is next to zero. But they have something much more important than that.. the words of Jesus Christ, spoken nearly 2,000 years ago, “Greater love has no man than this, than a man lay down his life for his friends.” Our fallen have the commendation of the people of the greatest town in our nation, Wooton Bassett, and also of the Saviour of mankind. I know which is preferable.
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munion in a bid to reduce the risk of infection. Blandford and Langton Parochial Church Councils issued a joint statement calling for understanding in the face of the pandemic. “It is clear that we are in the middle of a situation which is difficult for all concerned, especially those who are suffering from the effects of the virus,” he said. “This inevitably causes disruption to the way of life we have established and enjoy, and whilst we will endeavour to maintain ‘normal service’, it is important to accept the reality that some normal aspects of church life may have to change in the coming months.” Ministers have made a plea to parishioners not to embrace during The Peace – SWINE FLU fears mean that Church has followed other a symbolic embrace or handcommunion wine will not be churches in offering only shake among members of the given at church services. consecrated bread to parish- congregation. Blandford Forum Parish ioners taking Holy Com-
Blandford churches ban communion wine in fears over swine flu By Timothy John
I WAS somewhat disappointed when a friend called me a sanctimonious “***” for whingeing about shallow celeb worship. He doesn’t actually know he called me such a thing because he was generalizing on his home page on Facebook. However, I do have a problem with the mass outpouring of public grief which followed firstly, the death of Jade Goody and then, far more, that of Michael Jackson. My difficulty with it all is that there is a serious lack of perspective and, it seems to me, that people almost enjoy the grief and misdirected emotion that goes with the death of a famous person. On television the “Di-effect” was discussed. The term “icon” was used of Jackson on numerous occasions. Reports of suicide among some of Jackson’s fans, even if exaggerated, were part of a greater problem. During the past few weeks there have also been reports of a large number of our armed forces being killed in the line of duty. The sad thing is that most of us could not even name one of them. Many of us are saddened when we hear of it on the news, but it is fleeting as we await the latest sports results, the next instalment of our beloved soaps or what is happening on Big Brother. However, there is a place in this great country of ours where they continually honour the fallen heroes. The name of the town is Wootton Bassett and it is in the county of Wiltshire. I have to admit that I have never been there. I possibly never will. But this town is my favourite place on this earth. It would be a real delight to live there and be among such people. The town happens to be near to RAF Lyneham where the dead bodies of our fallen soldiers are flown from Afghanistan. They are then transported by hearse though this quiet market town to a hospital in Oxford for postmortem. And the town becomes even quieter as the cortege drives through. Hundreds, even thousands of the local people deliberately come out and line the streets as a mark of respect to these real men who have laid down their lives in service to their
Instead, worshipers have received a light-hearted invitation to exchange a “holy wave” to show their fellowship. Clergy have been advised to minimise contact in prayer sessions and to be wary of entering close proximity with their parishioners. The edict extends to the traditional end-ofservice handshake between clergy and congregation. Ministers are encouraging visitors to use an alcoholbased hand wash placed at the entrance to each of the churches in the benefice. Worshippers with the virus are being asked to stay away from churches and to contact clergy by phone and email in a bid to halt the spread of infection. The parochial church councils have published a specially written prayer for those who have fallen ill with the disease.
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RIGHT ANGLE News and views with Christian Times columnist Andrew Halloway
CHRISTIAN YOUTH WORKER RESIGNS OVER ‘C-CARDS’
How Faith Varies by Church Size Megachurches: good for your spiritual health?
IN JUNE it was reported that the Government is giving away free condoms to boys as young as twelve, which effectively endorses and encourages under-age sex. Outraged by this blatant abuse of our country’s children, a Christian working for Nottinghamshire’s youth services has taken a stand by resigning from his job. When the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families announced its ‘C-card’ programme, it posed a dilemma for Russell Hocking from Worksop, who realised that the condoms would start to be distributed at the youth centre where he worked. The ‘C-card’ is a condom ‘credit card’ that allows boys to receive free condoms at sports fields, youth clubs, barber shops – anywhere that boys congregate – to ‘spare them the embarrassment’ of visiting sexual health clinics or GPs’ surgeries, or facing a shop assistant at a chemist’s counter. Russell, who attends a Pentecostal church in nearby Retford, was working part-time as a Youth Support Worker, in addition to his work as a Special Education Needs Teaching Assistant, so that his A NEW REPORT from The Barna wife, Rachelle, could stay at home Group, based on interviews with more than 3,000 adults in the USA, to educate their son. shows that congregational size is related to the nature of a congregation’s religious beliefs, religious behavior and demographic profile. There are clearly significant differences between the smallest and largest of Protestant churches in terms of the theological beliefs of adherents. Russell Hocking from Worksop
Russell says, “It was also a job that offered good career prospects, and my line manager liked me and told me that I'm one of the best staff members she ever had. But I felt that I had to resign over this Ccard initiative.” In his letter of resignation, Russell wrote: “Since the UK Department for Children, Schools and Families has launched the 'Ccard' initiative, allowing even young boys under the legal age of consent to receive free condoms at centres such as ours, a sense of personal conviction compels me to give up my job here. “I cannot act against my conscience and participate in the implementation of this new policy – one that further erodes the Biblebased foundations on which our great nation has been established, tramples all over the rights and responsibilities of the vast majority of parents in this country, and encourages children to break the law. “The age of consent in this country is 16, and for very good reason. And yet the very people entrusted with law-making are condoning, encouraging and promoting schemes which not only break the law, but put our children's future in jeopardy. “And writing as the father of a young boy, I must add that if taking rights of morality away from parents and handing them over to youth workers is unacceptable for Rachelle and me, we must surely consider this unacceptable for other parents.” Russell is to be commended for his courageous and sacrificial stance, which serves as an example to Christians everywhere: it’s high time that we stop just moaning about this Government’s policies that sexualise our young people at an ever younger (witness their recent plans to introduce sex education to kids as young as five) and start protesting publicly and voting accordingly.
The survey results discovered the following:
On 17 indicators of religious belief and behavior examined in the research there were statistically significant differences between churches of 100 or fewer adult attenders and churches of 1000 or more adult attenders. The only item tested in which there was not a distinction was whether the church attender had prayed during the past week. On all 9 of the belief statements tested, attenders of large churches were more likely than those engaged in a small or mid-sized congregation to give an orthodox biblical response – e.g., the Bible is totally accurate in all the principles it teaches, Satan is not merely symbolic but exists, Jesus led a sinless life, God is the all-knowing, allpowerful creator of the world who still rules the universe, etc. On seven of the eight behavioral measures, attenders of large churches were substantially more likely than those of small churches to be active. (These included behaviors such as attending church in the past week, reading the Bible in the past week, volunteering at their church in the past week, etc.) The average difference related to these seven behaviors was 17 percentage points. There were significant differences on six of the ten demographic attributes examined. Specifically, larger churches were more likely to have college graduates (a 22 percentage point difference between those who attend churches of 100 adults or less and those who attend congregations with 1000 or more adults), affluent attenders, and children under 18 living in their home. Adults attending Protestant mega-churches were also more likely to be registered to vote and to be registered as a Republican (a 16point gap compared to adults attending churches of up to 100 adults). Those who attend small churches were more likely to homeschool their children. Young adults were somewhat more likely to attend megachurches than to affiliate with a congregation of any other size. In
Cecil Murphy: The Man Behind The Words By Israel Emmanuel
contrast, adults in their sixties or older were less likely to attend a church of 500 or more attenders than to regularly participate in a smaller church. Overall, the profile of demographics, beliefs and religious behaviors was strikingly similar between congregations of 500 to 999 adult attenders and that of congregations drawing 1000 or more adults. Similarly, congregations with fewer than 50 adults were generally similar regarding most indicators to congregations with 50 to 100 attenders. The point at which congregational belief profiles were mostly likely to diverge was when churches reached the 200-adult range. Those who attend churches of 1000 or more adults are significantly different from the congregations of those attending churches of as many as 200 adults in relation to six out of the 10 belief statements explored. The religious beliefs and behaviors of people who attend house churches, which average about 20 adults in attendance, are more similar to the results for large conventional churches (i.e., more than 500 adults) than they are to the outcomes among those who attend small conventional churches (i.e., less than 50 adults). Despite the substantial attention focused on Protestant megachurches, such congregations draw about 9% of adults who frequent a Protestant church. In contrast, 41% of adults attending a Protestant church associate with a congregation of 100 or fewer adults. An additional 23% can be found at churches of 101 to 200 adults, 18% associate with bodies of 201 to 499 adults, and 9% can be found in churches of 500 to 999 adults. Because the study did not examine the point in life or the church at which a particular theological perspective was embraced by respondents, the research results do not mean that larger churches are more likely to provide congregants with conservative biblical views. The research also discovered that the patterns are different among Catholic adults, who are more likely to attend megachurches than are their Protestant counterparts. On the question of The Bible beings totally accurate in all the principles it teaches, 75% of attendees of 1000+ congregation agrees contrasting 60% of congregants of 1-100 churches. This divide was also visible when asked if Satan/devil is a living being not just a symbol of evil, 51% of the 1000+ agree in contrast to 30% of the 1-100 congregation.
Those who dedicate their time and energy to the crafting of words directly or indirectly influence the lives of us all. From presidential speeches to widescreen blockbusters, the skills of writers occupy a significant place in the fabric of society, oftentimes behind the scene. Some write just for a living, while others have a deep sense of calling to their chosen vocation. Cecil Murphey falls in the latter category. He has been writing fulltime for over 25 years and has more than 100 books published, many of which are bestsellers, and over 600 articles. Cecil is known all across the United States, and rightly so, as “The Man Behind The Words.” You might have read some of his books. Think Big and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, are two wellknown titles in the UK. Not only did I read these books, I remember selling many copies of both
titles while working in a Christian bookshop in the early 90’s. What I did not know was that Cec was the man behind those impacting words. Another bestseller you may be aware of is 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death & Life. This book has sold close to 3 million copies and is in 25 languages. It has also been optioned for film. Such is the success Cec enjoys as a writer. Cec is not only devoted to stimulating people’s minds and nourishing their souls through writing, he is also keen to help others who sense a call to do the same. He speaks regularly at Writers’ Conferences across the United States and will be in the UK for one day only to inspire those who want to get started in writing. Make it a date to meet Cec at Jurys Inn, Croydon, on Saturday, 12 September (10am – 5pm). If you are called to be a crafter of words that will inspire the souls of men, you will be glad you did.
For more information about the forthcoming Writers’ Seminar with Cecil Murphey, visit www.bookswithamision.org. For more information about Cecil Murphey, visit www.themanbehindthewords.com
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The Olympics and Christians in Sport
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An opportunity of a lifetime for a legacy beyond our lifetimes “The Church in Britain is approaching a once in a lifetime opportunity”, said David Wilson in an interview for Christians in Sport’s quarterly magazine. If this has grabbed your attention then you may also be tempted to think it’s an inflated claim from someone excitedly banging their organizational drum! However with over 10 years of experience linking churches into major sporting events David is well placed to make such a comment. Recently appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of More Than Gold; the coordinating body to link the Christian community into the 2012 Olympics, David is clear on the role that churches have played in global sporting event such as this. “By being involved, churches typically viewed as irrelevant have raised their standing within the community immensely.” David is keen to be specific about what this looks like ‘on the ground’: His prerequisite of all prerequisites is to underpin everything by prayer, from that starting point he explains “anyone in a church pew can kick a ball
with a child, serve a cup of cold water, host an athlete’s family member, talk to someone about how well or badly their team played. This is not complicated stuff. It is simply engaging and doing what Paul modeled for us by becoming all things to all men so that we might win them for Christ. We need to get out of the pews to win the millions of sports fans to Christ and capitalise on the synergy of this once in a lifetime event” A crucial factor that makes London 2012 such an opportunity is the repeated emphasis on ‘legacy’. As Lord Coe has often explained, the success of 2012 will not be measured primarily through the 16 days of the Olympics and Paralympics themselves, but in the impact generated at a community level through increased participation in sport. Putting it plainly Coe stated in a BBC interview “we want fewer couch potatoes and more participants”! This is what particularly excites us at Christians in Sport. We aim to help people connect their sport to a vibrant relationship with the living God and so to reach
the world of sport for Christ. Millions of new participants in sport in the build up to and beyond the Olympics means that our mission field is getting bigger and bigger. But before we get too carried away with such grand visions, let me be specific about what this looks like on the ground. Parys Edwards is a former hockey player and now Triathlete living in London, she explains what it means to be part of Christians in Sport; “They encourage me to Pray, Play, Say – that is to commit to praying for the people who I’m in contact with through sport. When I compete, to try and do it in a way that honors God, and when there’s an opportunity then to say something of the great news about Jesus Christ”. Parys operates at the elite level of amateur sport, but it’s not just for those at the topend. A recent government study found that 32% of adults had played sport four times in the last four weeks. That means a third of all adults regularly participate in some form of sport, and those figures are even bigger for students and young people. Just think of what this
means in your church family, if you’re at all representative of the UK as a whole then a large proportion of your congregation are already ‘in the world of sport’. Perhaps this describes you, your spouse, your children – have you considered the impact this could have? Christians in Sport aim to support Christians throughout the UK to make this impact by providing brilliant resources, networking Christians in the world of sport together, and putting on excellent guest events to give those who don’t yet know Christ a chance to find out about the Christian faith for themselves. Parys describes what such an event is like; “It was a multi-media sport quiz in London, with a short talk at the end of the evening. Those I train with know me and trust me so when I said ‘hey why don’t you come to this?’ They said ‘why not?’ The evening was great fun and it sparked a lot of good conversations and planted seeds. It’s not always like this but I had a friend who came along and on the back of the quiz came to an Alpha course.” Of course that’s just a snap shot of one person’s
story, but with 2012 approaching and through partnering with More than Gold, it’s a story we hope will be told over and over again; We want to partner with individuals, churches, and networks to put on 2012 such events by 2012. If you could be involved in working towards this and if you could connect in others, then maybe just maybe this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity will make an
impact in thousands of peoples lives and leave a legacy that will last well beyond our lifetimes. Pete Nicholas works for Christians in Sport and is heading up their engagement with the 2012 Olympics and their partnership with More than Gold. For more information please visit www.christiansinsport.org.uk
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