Seminary student from Slovakia visiting Modesto to learn about U.S. churches
Jozef Višnovský, a 27-year-old seminary student from Slovakia, has been checking out church life in the United States for the past three months. He’s attended services, Bible studies, staff meetings, youth events, even the women’s groups and quilting meetings at Calvary Lutheran Church in Modesto. Read more on Modesto Bee
Calvary ChurchBy Wanda “LuLu” Harris“Oh, What a Savior, oh hallelujah, his heart was broken on Calvary. His hands were nailed scarred, his side was riven, he gave his life’s blood for even me.” read more Read more on The Log Cabin Democrat
Denominational growth in America has reached a plateau and in many cases has declined, but one would get the wrong idea to think the evangelical church is dying in the United States. A recent study finds just the opposite.
Dallas-based Leadership Network, in cooperation with the director of LifeWay Research , has uncovered striking changes in the number and type of new churches started in the United States. These developments promise profound cultural implications for the future.
“While much of the North American church is in decline, a surprising number and increasingly diverse group of new churches are being started in innovative ways,” said Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research, the research arm of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. “These churches are causing many Americans to reconsider churches they have rejected and to re-think what church is. I anticipate that as cultures change, through the inevitable shift of time, migration, and other means, even more churches will be born that reach people from these new cultural contexts.”
The “State of Church Planting USA” study was based on interviews with more than 100 denominational leaders (representing dozens of different denominations), 200 church-planting churches and some 45 church planting networks (The four-part study including a podcast can be downloaded at www.leadnet.org/churchplanting). Stetzer headed up the project and reported that the results surprised him in many respects.
“Church planting has grown in its scope, diversity and impact,” Stetzer said. “North American churches, networks and denominations are making church planting a growing priority. Such emphases push the church closer toward a movement – where churches plant churches that plant churches across North America and the world.”
Dave Travis, managing director at Leadership Network, observed, “Most church-planting studies tend to look at either a very narrow slice of church planting or developments on a global scale. In commissioning this study, our goal was to review the current state of U.S. church-planting efforts and begin to assess what today’s reality means for the next generation of planters.”
Key findings of the six-months-long effort include the following:
1. Interest is growing rapidly. The pace of church planting has accelerated dramatically in recent years. For example, a simple Google search on the term “church planting” now returns over one million hits. And, while only two mainstream books were published on church planting from 1996 to 2002, no fewer than 10 have been released in the last five years, with several more on the horizon. Equally important, church planting has now become a preferred ministry option, not a consolation prize – denominations and individual churches report that many of their “best and brightest” leaders are pursuing church planting as a primary ministry focus.
2. Local churches and church planting networks are driving the charge. Historically, church planting has been a denominationally driven activity. Today, the picture is quite different – with much of the energy centered at the local level. Many of the country’s most vibrant congregations see church planting as one of their central purposes. “Church-planting networks” – loose affiliations of churches that may or may not be tied by denomination but do share a commitment to launching new, like-minded congregations – are also at the forefront of the movement. As a result, denominational offices are increasingly taking a subordinate role – equipping rather than directing local congregational efforts.
3. “Affinity” strategies dominate. Church planters once based their efforts on geography – the goal was to place new churches in “unserved” communities and areas. Today’s church planters are much more sophisticated. As Travis noted, “Through this study, we learned that most successful church planters today are specialists who emphasize a particular style of worship or a specific demographic. For example, they may exclusively plant house churches or ethnic churches – or perhaps build purpose-driven, seeker or missional churches. And the trend toward specialization is likely to continue as more tools and resources that serve specific types of planting strategies are developed.”
4. Survival and success are markedly greater than realized. Observers have long assumed that most church plants fail within the first year – as many as 80-90 percent, by some estimates. Research reveals a very different picture – suggesting that 68 percent of the roughly 4,000 churches planted each year are still functioning four years later. These baby churches may not yet be self-sufficient, but the congregations themselves are alive and many are thriving.
What do these results mean for the future of the U.S. church? According to Travis, “I am hopeful that this study and the growing number of outstanding church planting conferences and resources will inspire a new wave of planters in the years ahead. That would be very good news indeed. Launching vibrant new congregations is often a more feasible and more fruitful strategy than attempting to revitalize struggling congregations.”
Leadership Network has created four free reports that summarize different aspects of this groundbreaking study:
Church Planting Overview
Who Starts New Churches?
Funding New Churches
Improving the Health and Survivability of New Churches
All can be downloaded at www.leadnet.org/churchplanting. A 25-minute podcast interview of Dave Travis and Ed Stetzer is also available as a free download at www.leadnet.org/podcasts.
About LifeWay Research: LifeWay Research is a department of LifeWay Christian Resources and exists for the purpose of assisting and equipping church leaders with insight and advice that will lead to greater levels of church health and effectiveness. Additional studies can be found at www.lifewayresearch.com. Contact Chris Turner, media relations manager, LifeWay Christian Resources, to arrange an interview with Ed Stetzer, director of LifeWay Research.
About Leadership Network: Based in Dallas, Texas, Leadership Network is a non-profit public charity that fosters church innovation and growth in furtherance of its far-reaching mission to identify, connect and help high-capacity Christian leaders multiply their impact. Church planting is one of many areas in which the organization works. For more on Leadership Network, see www.leadnet.org , www.halftime.org and www.successtosignificance.com or contact Rick Long at 1.800.477.6698 x102 or rlong @ sourcepub.com.
Question by Dr. Blake: How long does it take to be confirmed in the U.S. Episcopal Church? And of what does it consist?
The question is as simple as it sounds. How long is the confirmation process in a U.S. Episcopal Church? Of what does the process consist (e.g., memorization, commitments, etc.)?
Answer by Dave P It will depend on your local church. Probably a few weeks or months of classes and an talk with a your priest. It will also depend on whether or not your church does confirmations at set times of the year or as an added part of any Sunday service. I didn’t have any memorization or test.
The Rev. Ian T. Douglas, a member of the Executive Council of the U.S. Episcopal Church, will deliver a guest sermon and take questions at a special African service Sept. 2 at St. Christopher’s Church.
The service, which is free and open to the public, begins at 10 a.m. at 625 Main St. Douglas hopes to raise awareness of the American church’s Millennium Development Goals, which strives to eradicate extreme poverty by 2015.
St. Christopher’s AIDS in Africa Committee is hosting the service, which will feature African drum music played by Issa Couliby of Providence, and African art. The service will use the Kenyan Book of Common Prayer.
The church’s AIDS in Africa Committee provides food, medical care, schooling and uniforms to more than 400 AIDS orphans in Kenya’s Kwiliba Parish.
Douglas is a passionate educator at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge. When not in the classroom he travels around the world promoting reconciliation in the Anglican Communion. The American church is a member of the communion.
He is a widely published author. His most recent book is “Understanding the Windsor Report: Two Leaders in the American Church Speak Across the Divide” with Paul Zahl.
Mexico’S Catholic Church And President Felipe Calderon Charge U.S. With Corruption
BY MICHAEL WEBSTER: Syndicated Investigative Reporter. March 10, 2009 at 12:01 AM PDT
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church in Mexico today chimed in and sided with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon on the controversial subject of U.S. government corruption and demanded that the U.S. government have a “change of attitude” that involves a “serious anti-corruption program to eliminate the protection that – from the highest levels of power to the businessmen and public servants – is provided the traffickers, whose impunity makes possible the commerce and consumption of drugs.”[SIC]
Last week we reported that Mexican President Calderon said that he blames U.S. “corruption” for hampering his nation’s efforts to combat violent drug cartels.
“Drug trafficking in the United States is fueled by the phenomenon of corruption on the part of the American authorities,” he said.
President Calderon also told the media that the main cause of Mexico’s drug gang problems was “having the world’s biggest consumer (of drugs) next to us.”
Corruption on both sides of the U.S. Mexican border runs deep and can be found in the highest levels of both the Mexican government as well as the U.S.
President Calderon also told reporters that “Drug trafficking in the United States is fuelled by the phenomenon of corruption on the part of the American authorities,” he said.
“It is not an exclusively Mexican problem, it is a common problem between Mexico and the United States,” he said.
The Mexican President said, “I want to know how many American officials have been prosecuted for this [corruption].”
The Mexican Government since the Calderon administration says there have been many high ranking Federal, State and City Officials arrested and openly exposed to the world and many Mexicans agree with their President and are asking why is the U.S. not doing the same?
It is rumored that the Mexican Government is close to naming names of American officials who profit and or benefit from the huge amounts of cash generated in their country and in the U.S. by Mexican Drug Cartels.
There seems to be no U.S. Government Agency immune from corruption, the FBI, DEA, CIA, IRS, DOD, National Guard, Federal Air Marshals, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs, U.S. Marshalls, ICE, Dept of Commerce, U.S. Justice, U.S. State, and even our state and federal Judiciary and others, many of which are answerable to the top U.S. Agency “Homeland Security” This powerful organization was created during the Bush administration and its power reaches around the world.
After describing the US military as vain and bewildered, the hierarchy of the Church indicated in its weekly publication that Mexico has recognized the serious problem of corruption among its authorities and public servants and demanded that the U.S. do the same and initiate actions to keep watchful and clean out the public institutions that contribute to narcotraffic.
The periodical characterized the attitude of the U.S. as hypocritical and having double standards for offering Mexico assistance in the drug war, but on the other hand, demonstrating that it has little ability to control the traffic of drugs and flow of money in its own country.
The publication, which reflects the Church’s position in Mexico, accused the U.S. of “having no intention of confronting the ‘addict culture’ in its own country or stopping the traffic of arms inside and outside its borders…”
The popular Catholic weekly publication asked the question, what is the U.S. doing at home in order to put an end to their own drug distribution networks and drug addict’s (which includes Mexican Drug Cartels and both Mexican and American gangs) and what are they going to do about the protection provided for highly placed drug traffickers and those who make a lot of money directly and indirectly from the trade besides just delivering puritanical and hypocritical speeches so characteristic of the U.S.
Information provided to the public by this and other reporters showed following a crash of a Gulfstream jet operated by the CIA allegedly for torture flights to Guantanamo and to other countries with loose torture laws. That particular aircraft it was found by rescue workers in Mexico to have contained 4 tons of high-grade Columbian cocaine.
With the raging war on drugs and terror authorities on both sides of the border are on the take. In a war that has cost billions of American tax dollars and a business that is believed by many to profit in the hundreds of billions, it is no wonder that officials from American street cops in the borders cities to the highest levels of both governments are benefiting financially from the illegal trade of smuggling drugs, humans, and terrorist into the U.S. via Mexican drug cartel smuggling routes that don’t end at the border but continue North, East and West throughout the U.S.A.
More U.S. officials and cops have been caught in criminal activities then ever before.
Customs supervisor Walter Golembiowski and Officer John Ajello face narcotics, bribery and conspiracy charges after they were arrested for helping smuggle drugs and contraband through New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
According to a CNN report the investigation has led to the indictment and prosecution of more than 20 people from distributors to overseas sources of supply and the seizure of more than 600 pounds of imported hashish and other drugs from the United States and France.
Some Mexican legislators claim there is already covert action taking place in Mexico by the Americans and has taken many different forms reflecting the diverse circumstances in which it is being used.
According to Mexican authorities the U.S. military is covertly operating in Mexico and ” have boots on the ground.” They are also accelerating training using U.S. Military, CIA, DEA, FBI and U.S. Police advisers.
According to a high-ranking Mexican official, who wants to remain anonymous, the U.S.- Mexican border is the primary focal point for military operations. There are U.S. Army Special Forces secret operation bases in Mexico.
Reports of federal agents and cops being involved in drug and other crimes like smuggling humans, drugs, guns and cash are becoming more routine.
Still many more believe the estimates of corruption among our own officials are much higher then are currently being reported. This situation is seriously hurting America.
According to Paul Joseph Watson of Prison Planet, the corporate media will report on lesser drug smuggling scandals involving cops and customs agents, but when it comes to gargantuan sprawling U.S. Government agencies like the CIA, the silence is deafening.
Still the Florida based Gulfstream II jet aircraft # N987SA which was forced to crash land in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula after it ran out of fuel was reported to have been used in at least three CIA “rendition” trips to Guantanamo Bay between 2003 and 2005.
Many Americans believe that the CIA run illegal arms to Central America and smuggled drugs back into the states during the Reagan Bush years.
Kevin Booth’s underground hit documentary “American Drug War” features footage of former DEA head Robert Bonner admitting that the CIA was involved in cocaine smuggling operations.
Former DEA agent Celle Castillo, says he personally witnessed CIA drug smuggling operations funneled through terrorists that were also involved in kidnappings and the training of death squads on behalf of the U.S. government.
Investigative reporter Gary Webb was instrumental in exposing CIA cocaine trafficking operations before his alleged suicide in 2004. In the YouTube clip below, Webb traces the history of Agency involvement in drug smuggling and its links to financing wars in Central America.
Judicial Watch reports that corruption among federal officers guarding the U.S.-Mexico border is so rampant that the U.S. Government created an internal web site devoted to recently convicted border agents and lie detector tests will be administered to ensure future applicants don’t already work for smuggling organizations.
The report further points out that the alarming growing number of agents with the Homeland Security agency in charge of protecting the U.S. from terrorists, drugs and illegal immigrants are collaborating with Mexican Drug Cartel operations allowing those same illegal immigrants, drugs, weapons and possibly terrorists into the country.
Mexican Drug Cartels use some of the same methods they use to attract Mexican officials to attract U.S. officials some of those tactics are used to also lure the American officials with women, sex and cash. In return, those hired to guard the border assure the safe passage of truckloads of illegal immigrants, drugs and other contraband into the United States. Some have even used their government-issued vehicles to shuttle illegal aliens from Mexico to safe houses north of the border.
Numerous low level border agents have been convicted for accepting bribes from Mexican smugglers in the last few years alone and investigations are pending against hundreds of others. One of the things that concerns the Mexicans is why are not the higher ups in the U.S. Government are not being exposed.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FORMER BORDER PATROL OFFICERS (NAFBPO )
“Drugstore jesus”, the highly anticipated new release from Bert Copple, will be the talk of the town in Erie, Pennsylvania the week before Christmas. Though Copple’s book will not be released until Christmas Day, the author’s hometown is opening their arms to the release of his book.
“I am so excited to be going home, not only for this awesome opportunity to share my book and testimony with my home town, but to visit with family and friends one last time before deploying to Iraq in 2005.”
The media coverage begins on Saturday, December 18, 2004, as both Copple and “Drugstore jesus” will be featured in an article by Robin Cuneo in the Erie Times News, Pennsylvania’s Newspaper of the Year. The article will be printed in the paper’s Faith section.
Copple will then be a guest on two radio morning shows on Thursday, December 23, 2004. The first, beginning at 8:18 a.m., will be with JET Radio 1400 AM, hosted by long-time radio veterans Jeff Johns and Randy Brewer. The interview segment is expected to run roughly twenty minutes. Copple will then switch to the FM dial as he will be a guest on the US 93.9 with host Carrie Leigh. The guest spot will start at 9 a.m.
“I’m looking forward to jumping back on the airwaves again,” said Copple, a former disc jockey and radio program manager. “There is just something so great about sharing your life and feeligs with a radio audience, and being able to hear how you have impacted someone’s life.” Copple will be giving away signed copies of his book during both radio appearances.
A release party and book signing for “Drugstore jesus” will then be held Thursday evening from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Erie Book Store, located at 137 East 13th Street. Refreshments will be served at this event. Following the release party, Copple will travel up Peach street to Borders for a book signing from 7 to 9 p.m. Borders is located off Interstate 79 at the Kearsarge exit near the Millcreek Mall.
The author-soldier homecoming will conclude on Sunday, December 26, 2004, when Copple serves as a guest speaker at the Flightpath Fellowship Church, 4749 MacMillen Drive, during their 11 a.m. service. His message will be based on his own personal testimony as well as a devotional from his book.
“Drugstore jesus” is a collection of Bert Copple’s journal entries over a twenty-one month period in which he quit his job, rededicated his life to Christ, lost sixty pounds, and enlisted in the United States Army to serve both God and country as a chaplain’s assistant. This book encourages it’s readers to rediscover their child-like faith, and to learn how a relationship with God can change their life.
The book, which starts with a short accounting of how Copple arrived at where he is today, is followed by 72 journal entries which provide insight into his spiritual walk and growth. Due to its structure, “Drugstore jesus” makes a perfect devotional for both young and old alike.
The foreword for the book is written by U.S. Army Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Karen Diefendorf, with an afterword by CJ Brooks.
Born in Conneaut, Ohio, Bert Copple was raised in Erie, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Gannon University with a B.A. in Communications. Currently he is working on his Masters of Divinity through Liberty University.
Stationed with the 3rd Squadron of the 7th U.S. Cavalry at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Copple and his Chaplain provide ministry and counseling to soldiers and spouses within the Squadron. Copple’s previous tour of duty was in Seoul, South Korea where he served as the chaplain assistant for the 25th Transportation Battalion.
Bert Copple resides in Savannah, Georgia with his wife, Stephanie.
To learn more about the book, or Copple’s ministry, visit his website at www.drugstorejesus.com.
The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, representing the Anglican Communion in North and Middle Georgia, today announced that it will break ground for its 93rd parish on March 19, at 10:00 a.m. The Right RevÂd J. Neil Alexander, Bishop of Atlanta and Fr. Tripp Norris, Rector of St. ColumbaÂs, will officiate the event. In recognition of the event, Bishop Alexander says, “I know I speak for every member of the Diocese of Atlanta in extending a warm and enthusiastic congratulations to the good people of St. Columba’s.Â He adds, ÂSt. Columba’s practice of Âradical hospitalityÂ and resulting growth will be the “gold standard” for starting new congregations in this diocese for year’s to come.”
St. ColumbaÂs new location will be located on 15.5 acres at 939 James Burgess Rd. in South Forsyth County, just 1.5 miles east of Old Atlanta Road and half a mile from Hwy 20 at the Chattahoochee River. The close proximity of St. ColumbaÂs to the tri-county area of Johns Creek makes the church convenient to residents of South Forsyth, Gwinnett and North Fulton counties.
To celebrate the occasion, the ground will be marked with white cording in the shape of a cross. The top of the corded cross will be placed where the future altar will be placed. St. ColumbaÂs invites the congregation and public to bring soil from their homes to mix with the soil of the future church home. The Bishop will bless the land and reveal the rendering of the new parish church. An English tea reception will follow the groundbreaking ceremony.
According to Fr. Norris, ÂThe last sixteen months have been an exciting journey for St. ColumbaÂs. We have been blessed with a very active, Spirit-filled, and growing congregation. Together, we have experienced many ÂfirstsÂ Â many new friendships, new ministries, new outreach programs, and soon, a new building! God has indeed called us here, and we couldnÂt have imagined a better beginning.Â
About Saint ColumbaÂs: Saint ColumbaÂs Church is one of the fastest growing Episcopal parishes in the United States. Since its first service on September 7, 2004, St. ColumbaÂs has been worshipping at South Forsyth Middle School located on Old Atlanta Road, where it will continue to meet until its new buildingÂs estimated completion date in December, 2005. St. ColumbaÂs has earned a reputation of friendliness as it fulfills its mission of radical hospitality to welcome all people. Even though new, St. ColumbaÂs is a church rich in tradition as Fr. Tripp Norris, St. ColumbaÂs Rector maintains the time-honored liturgical style worship and music carried down through the centuries.
About the Episcopal Church: The Episcopal Church has between two and three million members in about 7500 congregations across the United States and a few related dioceses outside the US. The Episcopal Church is a member of the world-wide Anglican Communion, with 94 million members across the globe. Episcopalians believe that the liturgy, our worship together, is the heart of our life, from which flow all of our ministries which seek to embrace the community and deepen our own awareness and connection to God in Jesus Christ.