The First Baptist Church of Hammond in Indiana has chosen its new pastor to replace former leader Jack Schaap, who is facing sentencing for engaging in a sexual affair with a minor.
John Wilkerson was voted in by 94 percent of First Baptist Church members to lead the 15,000-strong congregation. He will officially begin serving on Feb. 17, and will seek to continue the healing and rebuilding process as the community seeks to distance itself from former pastor Schaap, according to FBC Hammond.
According to the church's website, Wilkerson graduated from Hyles-Anderson school in 1989 and taught at the church's City Baptist Schools before moving on to teach at a Baptist school in Long Beach, Calif. He then became a principal of Calvary Christian School in Baton Rouge, La., in 1993, before returning to California in 2000 to become the pastor of First Baptist Church of Long Beach. There he oversaw the church as its congregation almost double its size, from 849 to 1,700 people, and led services in English, Korean and Spanish, reaching out to the broader community. more >>
First Baptist Church in Hammond, Ind., has responded to former pastor Jack Schaap's claims that it was depression and church-related stress that led him to an affair with a 16-year-old girl. Church representatives say such conditions do not excuse "sinful actions."
"Yes he was under a tremendous amount of stress such as anyone who runs an international ministry, however this does not excuse his behavior," Eddie Wilson, spokesperson for FBC Hammond, shared with The Christian Post on Tuesday.
"He was a gifted leader who led the church to start many new ministries, and the church experienced growth under his leadership, but this does not give anyone the right to justify sinful actions," Wilson added. more >>
Jack Schaap, former pastor of First Baptist Church in Hammond, Ind., has requested in a new court filing that he be given the minimum 10-year sentence for his sexual relationship with a teen girl from his church. He blamed the affair on stress and depression.
Schaap, 55, was under great stress, exhausted and depressed at the time of the relationship, says a sentencing memorandum filed in U.S. District Court in Hammond by the megachurch pastor's attorney, Paul Stracci.
"Unfortunately, for a four-week period during the summer of 2012, he acted in a manner contrary to the entire balance of his life by engaging in sexual activity with a young woman with whom he had only recently come to counsel," Stracci wrote in the memorandum, according to The Associated Press. more >>
An Indiana Senate Education Committee chairman has said that he will not be pushing to introduce creationism in public schools, but is changing his strategy by writing up a proposal to allow students to ask more questions of their teachers on various subjects – including evolution.
"I would refer to it as truth in education, so students could question what teachers are teaching them and try to make sure it's true what they're teaching," Republican Sen. Dennis Kruse said on Tuesday, as reported by The Republic.
During the 2012 campaign season, he proposed that teachers be allowed to teach creationism, a Bible-based theory that God literally created the earth. The bill was not successful, as House Speaker Brian Bosma rejected it, but Kruse is now writing a draft from the state's legislative services agency that would at least allow evolution to be questioned. more >>
A Democratic precinct committeeman has said that Obamacare forces pro-life health care workers into "slavery" because the federal mandate forces them to choose between their morals and their career.
"Slaves do not have a right to refuse to do work that violates their religion," said Woodrow Wilcox, who is also a delegate to the state convention of Democrats. "Under Obamacare, the Obama administration is threatening pro-life health care workers with punishment if they do not participate in abortion, euthanasia, or other objectionable services because of their religious beliefs."
Wilcox's remarks came during a "Stand Up for Religious Freedom" rally held Oct. 20 in Crown Point, Ind., just one of several such rallies simultaneously held across the nation. more >>
Several Mennonite pastors have initiated the Election Day Communion campaign, which calls on churches in the U.S. to deliver a special communion on Nov. 6, the date of the 2012 presidential elections, to remind Christians of their unity under Christ.
The purpose of the nationwide campaign, according to its official website, is to remind Christians that "the Church [is] being the Church on Election Day, gathering at the Lord's Table to remember, to practice, to give thanks for, and to proclaim its allegiance to Christ."
The campaign began due to "a concern that Christians in the United States are being shaped more by the tactics and ideologies of political parties than by their identity in and allegiance to Jesus," according to the Election Day Communion website. more >>