Category : Pentecostal

(The Monthly) James Boice–What do we know about the Australian prime minister’s Pentecostalism?

The unsurprising truth is that an informed understanding of the PM’s political career is impossible without considering his religion….

On October 28, 2018, as Scott Morrison’s nascent prime ministership was descending into unholy chaos in the wake of the Wentworth by-election, one of the pastors of Horizon Church, Jackson Moore, preached an unusually frank sermon entitled “Stand and Watch God Fight”. Moore invoked one of the favourite Pentecostal passages, Ephesians 6:13, to call his congregation to put on “the full armour of God”. His theme was that the true follower of Christ must be ready for the “perfect storm” when everything will seem lost and “the Enemy” appears triumphant. What is asked of the believer when the Evil One seems to be in control? Just to “stand firm and see the deliverance”. The only possibility of defeat comes from succumbing to the Enemy’s attempt to “intimidate” and “distract”. If a believer resists Satan’s assault, God fights not just with you but for you.

The polls suggest that Scott Morrison will not survive his perfect storm. But if he pulls off a victory so improbable, there is little doubt that he will also believe that the miracle came because God delivered him victory.

If for no other reason than this dangerous delusion, Australians deserve to know more about what the leader of our country believes. Pentecostalism might not be a cult, but in terms of what ordinary people have been told about its true teachings, it may as well be. Those charged with scrutinising our politicians should put aside the national discomfort about discussing religion, and do what they would if a political leader subscribed to any other little-known ideology. Morrison must be made to tell us more about the faith that has shaped his life: What does he really think of the Devil?

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Australia / NZ, Pentecostal, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Theology

(GR) Julia Duin–When profiling ADF’s Kristin Waggoner, why not include facts about her Pentecostal roots?

There’s so much good in this story, as the details are the result of hours of observation by a keen-eyed reporter. It’s the stuff that got left out that drives me batty.

The story talks a lot about Waggoner’s friendship with Stutzman but doesn’t mention how Waggoner honed her craft through years of working in a law firm here in Seattle, where she got her fill of the liberal politics in this ultra-blue state.

I learned the details of her religious upbringing in Ken McIntyre’s Daily Signal piece where we learn Waggoner is the daughter of an Assemblies of God minister, Clint Behrends, who is on staff of Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell, a Seattle suburb. She attended an Assemblies of God college in nearby Kirkland; clerked for a Washington Supreme Court judge, then spent 15 years with Ellis, Li & ­­­­­McKinstry, a Seattle law firm that includes many Christian lawyers. And ever since moving to Arizona to work with ADF in 2014, her star has gone straight up.

We also learn her husband is a lawyer and that they have three kids. Most importantly, she is a Pentecostal Christian. That’s what growing up in the rather moderate Assemblies of God means. Thinking back to 2008, when another female Pentecostal, Sarah Palin, climbed onto the national stage as the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate, reporters hadn’t a clue how to cover her church. Not much has changed.

I don’t know whether the Post reporter didn’t grasp Waggoner’s beliefs enough to ask her about them or whether she did include those details but an editor took them out. But if this woman’s faith renders her unflappable amidst some tough high-profile cases, not to mention the personal toll of overseeing dozens of lawyers working on similar cases while staying married with three kids, then we should know more about it.

Once again, what is the logic – in terms of journalism basics – for omitting this kind of core information?

Read it all.

Posted in Law & Legal Issues, Media, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

(RNS) US Assemblies of God elects first woman executive in more than a century

The top U.S. board of the Assemblies of God has unanimously elected its first woman general secretary in the Pentecostal denomination’s more than 100-year history.

The Rev. Donna L. Barrett, the lead pastor of an Independence, Ohio, church, will fill the unexpired term of James T. Bradford, the denomination announced Monday (April 23). Bradford resigned earlier this month to serve as senior pastor at Central Assembly, a flagship church of the denomination in Springfield, Mo.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

(Economist 1843) Can religion solve El Salvador’s gang problem?

El Salvador is a country of volcanoes dotted with coffee plantations and valleys filled with sugarcane fields. It is also a country of barbed-wire fences, security guards with guns, and neighbourhoods where visitors must roll down the car windows so that the gangs’ teenage postes can see who goes in and out. The Colonia Dina is one such neighbourhood, a jumble of working-class houses decorated with plants and Christmas lights, and sheet-metal shacks surrounded by rubbish and muddy chickens.

At the bottom of a hill under a drooping almond tree stands the Eben-Ezer church, a yellow concrete building barely distinguishable from the houses on either side. A small congregation gathers three times a week in a high-ceilinged sanctuary with rows of plastic chairs, a platform for the rock band that accompanies the Pentecostal service, a podium for the pastors and little else. Down a staircase in the back left corner, in rooms normally used for Bible study, former gang members bake bread by day and sleep on thin mattresses on the floor by night.

At first glance, the church’s leaders make an odd couple. Nelson Moz is Eben-Ezer’s official pastor, a baby-faced man in his 50s with glasses and a thick moustache. Early last year, he opened his doors to Wilfredo Gómez, a 41-year-old gangster-turned-preacher with twinkling eyes and a mystical church named the Last Trumpet. The two pastors acknowledge that they’re trying to do what many consider impossible: spirit away members of El Salvador’s powerful gangs. But they believe this is the country’s only hope.

Read it all.

Posted in --El Salvador, Pentecostal, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture

(CH) Festus Iyorah–Why are young Nigerians abandoning the R Catholic Church for Pentecostalism?

Susan Onyedika was born 22 years ago into a Catholic family in Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling commercial city. When she was a child, she took part in the Block Rosary Crusade (where an image of the Virgin Mary visits family homes), as well as catechism classes in her parish. But as she matured into a teenager she started having doubts about the faith she had practised from childhood. In her secondary school, she met Pentecostal Christians and began to compare their beliefs with those of Catholics.

“I needed more spiritually,” she tells me. “I needed to understand the Scriptures. They [the Catholic Church] don’t break down the Bible for you. They don’t pray the way most Pentecostals pray.

“I also had issues with praying through Mary because I feel that you can reach God directly, you can talk to him directly. You don’t have to go through someone to intercede for you.”

Susan joined her secondary school fellowship without telling her parents or siblings. “They didn’t know I joined the Pentecostals,” she remembers. “They were not aware. Just my close friends were.”

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Nigeria, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Economist Erasmus Blog on a little noticed case involving a prisoner gardener, religion and the law

The case concerns Barry Trayhorn, a man who was employed as gardener in an English prison, HMP Littlehey…, with 1,200 inmates, including sex offenders and young offenders. Although it wasn’t his job to do so, he liked to preach in the prison chapel, sometimes rather spontaneously. In another part of his life he is a Pentecostal minister.

In May 2014, for example, he read aloud a passage from Saint Paul’s letter to the Corinthians which lists the wrongdoers who will be denied entry to the kingdom of God, including idol-worshippers, adulterers, and people described as arsenokoitai. (Scholars dispute the word’s exact meaning: it could refer to boy-prostitutes, to child-abusers, to practitioners of anal intercourse regardless of gender, or else generically to any sexual activity between men.) The claimant was of the latter persuasion and according to several people present, delivered this view rather stridently. The prison’s full-time chaplains agreed that he should have presented the passage more gently and “contextually”. Several prisoners complained, and disciplinary action against the zealous gardener was started; this prompted him to take sick leave and eventually quit the job.

In a ruling on August 1st, the Employment Appeal Tribunal dismissed his contention that he had been unfairly treated because of his religious views. It found that a lower court had been completely correct in reaching a similar conclusion.

Read it all.

Posted in England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Pastoral Theology, Pentecostal, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology: Scripture

(ARDA) David Briggs–Is there a point of no return for the resurgence of mainline Protestantism?

New research suggests that not only is there no end in sight, but there are few signs of hope for revival in rapidly aging, shrinking groups such as the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Consider these findings from two of the largest surveys of U.S. congregations:

Ӣ In just the last five years, the percentage of mainline Protestant congregations where more than one-fifth are ages 18 to 35 has decreased dramatically. In 2010, some 4.8 percent of mainline congregations reported having that large a proportion of young adults in the pews; by 2015, just 1.3 percent reported that high a percentage, according to initial findings from the 2015 Faith Communities Today (FACT) survey.
Ӣ Children made up just 16 percent of regular attenders in mainline Protestant congregations, compared to an average of 29 percent in other Christian traditions, according to a new analysis of the 2012 wave of the National Congregations Study (NCS).
”¢ Mainline Protestants recorded a nearly 30 percent decline ”“ from 24 percent in 1998 to 17 percent in 2012 ”“ in the proportion of its members filling U.S. pews, the NCS study found.
Ӣ In the 2005 FACT survey, a little more than half of mainline churches said fewer than 100 people on average were at weekend worship; in 2015, nearly two-thirds attracted less than 100 worshippers. Sociologist David Roozen, a FACT study director, reported the findings at the annual meeting of the Religious Research Association.

How serious are the numbers?

“It might already be beyond that point” where a significant recovery is possible, said Duke University sociologist Mark Chaves, NCS director and author of “American Religion: Contemporary Trends.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Children, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Sociology, Theology

(Economist) Why a more flexible, practical brand of Christianity is thriving

In the past migrating religious groups either merged into their host societies or else pickled the culture of the old country in aspic. Thanks to technology, today’s roaming worshippers have no such dilemma; a Nigerian or Brazilian in transit can adapt while maintaining contact with home. Globally dispersed Pentecostal churches meet both those needs. An outlying branch of the RCCG can offer job advice and a way to keep links with home. Global charismatic movements act as transmission belts along which ideas and worship styles can travel quickly. “A hymn can be composed in one continent and sung in another a few days later,” says Allan Anderson of Birmingham University.

Like water, charismatic religion takes the path of least resistance. Philip Jenkins, a scholar of global Christianity, cites several little-noticed examples. Dubai is now a bastion of Pentecostal-style worship, among migrants; the Muslim authorities do not mind as long as local Emiratis are not proselytised. Thanks to a shared language, Brazilian neo-Pentecostal churches do well in Angola and Mozambique. And though Filipino Christianity is almost entirely Catholic, the export variety, adapted to the diaspora’s needs, is intensely charismatic, offering a combination of mysticism and practical advice. One movement, El Shaddai, claims 8m members across the world. Worshippers at its Manila base wave their passports in the air as they pray for successful travels.

Politically, too, Pentecostal churches tend to be pragmatic rather than consistently conservative. Brazil’s globally successful Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG) initially resisted the rise of the centre-left Workers’ Party, but went on to back its presidential candidates, including Dilma Rousseff, the incumbent.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Globalization, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

Archbishop Justin Welby on being filled with the Holy Spirit

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, speaks of his experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit as a 19-year-old new Christian.

In this video message, which was filmed for the centenary celebrations of the Elim Pentecostal family of churches, and shown during their 100th anniversary event in London on Saturday 31 October, Justin Welby says that he was “overwhelmed by the love of God” as he read John 3:16 two weeks after becoming a Christian.

Read it all and enjoy the video.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

(CSM) A top Nigerian export: fervent Pentecostal Christianity

The roads that wind north from Lagos, Nigeria, toward the headquarters of the Winners’ Chapel mega-church are lined with unusual testaments to Nigerians’ religious fervor.

There’s the Amazing Grace Hair Salon and the No King But God Driving School, My God Is Able Furniture Makers and God’s Grace Multipurpose Hall. And wedged between these omnipotently styled businesses are the churches themselves, hundreds of them, carrying on tenaciously in a sweltering tin shack or a room balanced atop a gas station, in the parking lot of a half-finished shopping mall or perched on stilts above Lagos’s thick, viscous lagoon.

But even in a country so devout, Canaanland stands out. The headquarters of one of the most powerful churches in Africa rambles out across 10,500 acres and includes not only a massive church ”“ the 50,000 seat Faith Tabernacle ”“ but a fully stocked company town complete with schools and a university, a bottled water processing plant, restaurants, shops, and residential neighborhoods. Every weekend, hundreds of bus loads of Nigerians, regally coiffed in vividly patterned, tailor-made suits and dresses, pour through its gates for Sunday service.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, Globalization, History, Nigeria, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

(CEN) Anglicans support Pentecostal church after Muslim attack

Malaysian Anglicans have rallied to the support of a Pentecostal church in Petaling Jaya after a Muslim mob disrupted worship services…[recently] and forced the congregation to take down a cross mounted on the church’s facade.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Malaysia, Muslim-Christian relations, Other Churches, Other Faiths, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Violence

Jon Zeiglar–Why I Am Becoming Anglican: a Brief Explanation for my Assemblies of God family

During this year past year, I made a very difficult decision to leave the only church I have known. I grew up in an Assemblies of God (AG) church. My family has been AG since the 1930s and is one of the oldest Pentecostal families in New Orleans. My father is an AG pastor and I have two brothers who are ordained AG ministers. I have held AG ministerial for a couple of years, but with the recent transition of the New Year (2015), my AG ministerial credentials have lapsed. God willing, I will be confirmed on January 25th into the Anglican Church by Bishop Todd Hunter at Holy Trinity in Costa Mesa.

I am not leaving with hurt, bitterness, or resentment. Quite the contrary, I maintain a deep love and respect for the church that taught me the name of Jesus. The last AG congregation I was a part of (in Pasadena, CA) was a wonderful group of people led by a theologically capable pastor that I appreciate greatly. I am excited about the direction of the AG (under George Wood) and I am confident that it will continue to thrive in the decades to come.

Because of my positive wishes toward my friends and family in the AG, I was not planning on sharing publicly my reasons for leaving. That is, I am not trying to convince people to leave the AG or even that it was a good idea for me to leave the AG. I actually want people to stay and make the AG even better. (I tried myself really hard to stay, and finally had to acknowledge that God was calling to the Anglican Church””or perhaps more accurately, God was making me into an Anglican). However, my friend (and fellow AG minister) Dan suggested that I give a public explanation for why I am leaving. His reasoning was that if people continue to leave silently, how will the AG address those issues which led to their exit from the church? I think Dan is right and so I am taking some time to explain how I became Anglican.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anglican Identity, Ecclesiology, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Theology

(Detroit News) Pentecostals will showcase 'a different side of Detroit'

Detroitis the destination this weekend for Pastor Stephen Shaw and more than a dozen members of his Alabama church.

They’re joining an estimated 7,000-10,000 visitors expected at the 99th annual convention for the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World Inc., which begins Saturday at Cobo Center.

The mission is to learn, pray, find fellowship and more. But for Shaw and others, it’s also an opportunity to lift the city with spiritual support.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Urban/City Life and Issues

(CC) Philip Jenkins on the Pentecostal Church–Astonishing Assemblies

The United States has spawned many Chris­tian de­­no­minations, some of which have gone on to thrive internationally. This year marks the centennial of one of the great success stories, the Assemblies of God. Not only have the Assemblies become a truly global church, but they have won far more followers outside their original homeland than within it.

The AG grew out of the famous Pentecostal revival that began on Los Angeles’s Azusa Street in 1906. In 1914, local congregations met in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to form the denomination. Mem­ber­ship reached only 50,000 by the 1920s, but then it proceeded to grow rapidly. The Assem­­blies of God in the United States reached 1 million members by 1971, rising to 3 million today. By comparison, the Episcopal Church since the 1960s has contracted from 3 million members to 2 million.

The church’s expansion in recent years is greater than we would think if we just counted signs explicitly using the Assemblies of God label. Many of the country’s thriving megachurches are affiliated with the AG, but use a more generic label. That practice is not intended to deceive but rather recognizes a popular sense that traditional denominational labels are divisive and sectarian. My own working rule is that mega­church signs should usually read “Com­munity Church (really Assem­blies of God).”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Globalization, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

Greg Goebel–now that I’m an Anglican am I Still Charismatic?

Having grown up in and pastored in the Pentecostal/Charismatic tradition, people often ask if I am still a charismatic, now that I’m an Anglican. Fortunately, to be Anglican does not require one to cease being charismatic, and I feel I’ve continued in that.

But being Anglican has changed my understanding of what it means to be charismatic. I tend to tell folks that I believe that most of the charismatic experience and renewal over the past century has been a move of the Holy Spirit, and has had a miraculously good effect. And yet at the same time, I tend to not agree with much of the theology and practice of the charismatic movement. When I share that, though, the reaction is often “Wait a minute. Can you do that? Can you be a charismatic who doesn’t wholly subscribe to charismatic practice or theology?”

I think so. Let me explain.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

(ACNS) Historic Anglican, Pentecostal consultation "a flying start"

An historic consultation took place between Anglicans and Pentecostals earlier this week at High Leigh in Hertfordshire.

Initiated by the Church of England’s Council for Christian Unity, it took forward resolutions passed at successive Lambeth Conferences, and bore out Archbishop Justin Welby’s recent call for greater interaction between the two traditions.

Nine Anglicans and eight Pentecostals gathered for two days of dialogue, prayer and worship to explore their similarities and differences, and to chart a way forward for enhanced partnership in mission.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Theology

Dwight Longnecker–Tony Palmer ”“ the New Face of Anglicanism?

The most remarkable thing about the Pope’s message to American Pentecostal leaders was not the cordial, open-armed welcome from the Holy Father to a group of separated brethren”“in their own way all the popes in the last fifty years have done the same. Okay”“the informal use of a cell phone video was pretty amazing, but the real news story in all of this is not so much the moving welcome from the Holy Father, but the appearance of Bishop Tony Palmer on the world stage as an “Anglican bishop”.

This has been missed by every other commentator because I think they are unaware of the huge shifts within the world of Anglicanism. To understand this one has to first understand historic Anglicanism. We all know it was started by King Henry VIII because he wanted a divorce and Pope Clement wouldn’t give him one. Well, it was more complicated than that, but the fact is, this crisis precipitated the foundation of the Anglican Church. In the centuries to follow wherever the English went they took their church with them. Thus we find the Anglican Communion all over the world in what were English colonies.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecclesiology, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology

NPR: For Snake-Handling Preacher, 10th Bite Proves Fatal

Pastor Jamie Coots, a 42-year-old Pentecostal preacher and third-generation snake handler from Middlesboro, Ky., spoke to NPR in October about his unusual way of leading church services.

“We sing, we preach, we testify, take up offerings, pray for the sick, you know, everything like everybody else does,” he said. “Just, every once in a while, snakes are handled.”

On Saturday night, Coots was handling three rattlesnakes at his small church, the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name, when one of them bit him on his right hand….
Read it all and there more comment at Christianity Today

Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Pentecostal

(BBC Mag.) An African Pentecostal Church now has over 700 parishes in the USA

One of Africa’s biggest Christian movements, the Redeemed Christian Church of God, is spreading across the US.

The Pentecostal movement started in Nigeria and opened its first American parish in Detroit in 1992.

Read it all and watch the whole thing.

Posted in * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Africa, America/U.S.A., Nigeria, Other Churches, Pentecostal

Dale Coulter– A Charismatic Invasion of Anglicanism?

The charismatic movement within the Church of England is a firmly established fixture. Several of the largest CoE churches are charismatic. The most well-known is Holy Trinity Brompton out of which the Alpha Course came and currently under the leadership of Nicky Gumbel. One of the newest theological colleges in London is St. Mellitus, which was formed by the bishop of London Richard Chartes, but also houses St. Paul’s Theological Centre from Holy Trinity Brompton. What is exciting about St. Mellitus is its combination of charismatic and Anglo-Catholic worship in a non-residential theological college. At St. Mellitus one will find highly liturgical services with incense and evangelical-charismatic services in which students raise hands and sing worship choruses. St. Mellitus tries to combine all the various emphases within Anglicanism rather than emphasizing one tradition over another. In a recent article for the Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore suggested that St. Mellitus may be the way forward for the Church of England, no small praise.

In light of this recent history, Archbishop Justin Welby’s invitation to Chemin Neuf to be part of Lambeth Palace feels like a natural development, not an eruption. This move brings together Welby’s charismatic background, his interest in monastic spirituality and prayer, and his desire to foster ecumenical relations. Chemin Neuf is not only a Catholic Charismatic community, it has an ecumenical vocation and thus has many Protestant members, some of whom are part of the team at Lambeth. Thus it is a natural bridge between the charismatic, the Anglo-Catholic, and the ecumenical impulses within the CoE. In fact, as Graham Tomlin, the dean of St. Mellitus recently told me, one of the members of Chemin Neuf living at Lambeth is also a student at St. Mellitus.

If Pentecostalism is a form of Christian mysticism, then there is a natural affinity between it and Anglo-Catholicism, which has been the bearer of mysticism within the CoE. It also suggests that the Anglican charismatic movement could become a bridge between the Anglo-Catholic and evangelical sides of Anglicanism.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

(ABC Aus.) Tanya Riches–Why the media doesn't get Hillsong: Reflections of an Australn Pentecostal

It’s nice to be home in Australia for January, after completing two and a half years of a PhD program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Los Angeles. One perk of being in Sydney, aside from reconnecting with family and friends, is attending my home church – Hillsong. I grew up in the congregation, and returned in 2010 before relocating to the United States. It’s the thing I missed most while away. (Of course, an announcement was just made about a new Hillsong plant in Los Angeles in 2014 – so if I do end up in Pasadena for dissertation writing, I can worship there.)

Because the new-ish Manhattan Hillsong plant is going so well, there’s growing interest in the United States in the church. Mainstream specialists in religion and religious movements are increasingly turning their attention to global Pentecostalism (or in this specific case, Oceanian charismatic evangelicals who really don’t like “tags” being applied to them). This fuels more interest in Australia. Reactions to a plea from an Australian theologian, some remarks during a sermon by Hillsong leaders Joel and Julia A’Bell after a particularly libellous “expose” on Today Tonight, along with a few other coincidences, raised recurring themes for me, so I thought it might be appropriate to reflect a little on what it meant for me to grow up a “Hillsonger.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Australia / NZ, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecost, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

Clergy and Laity from ACNA partner with African American Pentecostal churches

his past month, clergy and laity from the Anglican Church in North America and Jubilee, a network of 12 African American Pentecostal churches centered in South Los Angeles, California, gathered to worship together at Penuel Missionary Baptist Church in LA. The Venerable Canon Dr. Jack Lumanog, Canon to the Archbishop, was the Keynote Speaker for these gatherings which were marked by exuberant praise and worship and the sharing of Holy Communion.

“It is a remarkable thing to see these dear brothers and sisters in Jubilee drawn to the Anglican Church in North America,” said Canon Lumanog. “Our life together as Anglican Christians must be dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit in order to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. What a joy it was to share in the joyful celebration with Jubilee! God is certainly on the move in our Province.”

Describing the time together, one attendee stated, “We were nourished by Word and sacrament and overwhelmed by God’s presence in our worship together,” while another said, “[M]y hope is renewed. I can begin to see the manifestation of a prayer being answered.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Pentecostal

(RNS) Assemblies of God defies denominational decline

The Assemblies of God, a denomination rooted in rural and small town America, appears to have leaped into the 21st century with dramatic results.

At its General Council meeting this week (Aug. 5-9), the denomination touted its formula for defying the seemingly irreversible decline of other religious groups: contemporary music, arts and high-tech quality communication, outreach to young people, immigrants and ethnic minorities.

The denomination reported a 1.8 percent increase in U.S. membership to 3 million adherents. Globally, the gain was 1.5 percent, to 66 million, making it the largest Pentecostal group in the world.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

(Bap. Stan.) Vicki Brown–Denominations””dying or transforming into something new?

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

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

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

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

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Evangelicals, History, Lutheran, Methodist, Other Churches, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ

Marvin Olasky talks to National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President Samuel Rodriguez

The strong support President Barack Obama received from Hispanic voters contributed mightily to his reelection. Samuel Rodriguez, 43, is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and, according to The Wall Street Journal, one of America’s seven most influential Hispanic leaders. He is also an ordained Assemblies of God pastor at New Season Christian Worship Center in Sacramento.

When you were growing up, how did your parents””both immigrants from Puerto Rico””teach you about U.S. history and values? My dad, a hard-working Mack truck worker, instilled in me a Calvinistic work ethic. He looked at me and said, “Any dream that you can have in this nation can come to pass if you have faith in Christ and if you have the spirit of entrepreneurship.” We as Americans are Plymouth Rock and Jamestown. That’s our DNA.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture

Jack Lumanog reflects about some recent developments among some North American Anglicans

Recently, I began communicating with a student at Fuller Seminary on the track for ordination. He has a new kind of church plant stirring in his heart. The Rev. Jamal Scarlett along with The Rev. Cameron Lemons are working together to plant The Grove Church of Lake Elsinore (CA). “Cameron and I started meeting together two years ago as we believed God was stirring our hearts toward multicultural ministry. I am Afro/Latino-American (Black Hispanic) and he is an Irish-American,” shared Rev. Scarlett.

When they met, they were both Southern Baptists. Cameron was a Youth Pastor at a local church and Jamal was a Worship Leader and Youth Pastor at another church. Over many coffee hours, they began a conversation about what it might look like to be a church that is multicultural. That is, a church that is not just multicolored, but sees diversity of culture as a ministry asset versus a liability. The desire was to be a church that reflected Revelation 7:9 where people of every nation, tongue and tribe worshiped and glorified the Lord together. Ultimately, this led to the call of planting The Grove Church with a missional imperative set on acts of kindness (feeding the hungry, caring for the lonely and the outcast) as well as seeking the restoration of all things, including reconciliation.

As these two pastors were praying for a vision for their church plant, they were led on a journey to Anglicanism.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Other Churches, Pentecostal, Theology

(Wash. Post) Julia Duin–Serpent-handling Pentecostal Pastor dies from rattlesnake bite

Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford was known all over Appalachia as a daring man of conviction. He believed that the Bible mandates that Christians handle serpents to test their faith in God ”” and that, if they are bitten, they trust in God alone to heal them.

He and other adherents cited Mark 16:17-18 as the reason for their practice: “And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

The son of a serpent handler who himself died in 1983 after being bitten, Wolford was trying to keep the practice alive, both in West Virginia, where it is legal, and in neighboring states where it is not. He was the kind of man reporters love: articulate, friendly and appreciative of media attention….

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Rural/Town Life

Julia Duin on a new generation of Internet-savvy Pentecostals

This year’s Easter service at the Tabernacle Church of God in La Follette, Tenn., will include many of the holiday’s traditional rituals, like Holy Communion and footwashing. There will also be some startling novelties.

“It will be filled with shouting, dancing, speaking in tongues, serpent handling and fire handling,” said its 21-year-old pastor, Andrew Hamblin. “We’ll celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ with a good old time.”

Since he opened its doors last fall, Mr. Hamblin’s small Pentecostal church, 39 miles north of Knoxville, has grown to almost 50 members, most of them in their 20s. Part of his strategy for expansion has been to use Facebook to publicize the daredevil spiritual exploits of his congregation.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal

(Christian Post) Pastors Debate 'Should Denominations Go Away?'

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

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

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

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Baptists, Disciples of Christ, Ecclesiology, Evangelicals, Lutheran, Methodist, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Reformed, Religion & Culture, Theology

(NPR) U.S. Hispanics Choose Churches Outside Catholicism

As their numbers grow, Latinos are not only changing where and how they worship; they’re also beginning to affect the larger Christian faith.

You can see evidence of that in the Assemblies of God, once a historically white, suburban Pentecostal denomination. When you walk into the denomination’s largest church, it’s sensory overload: The auditorium is jam-packed with hundreds of Latino worshipers singing in Spanish, swaying and dancing.

In little more than a decade, New Life Covenant Church in Chicago has grown from 68 people to more than 4,000 members; it had to abandon its old building and meet in Clemente High School. When you include the other churches New Life has started, its membership comes to some 12,000 people.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic