In an age when a declining commitment to faith seems to be the national news, a tony resort town on the northwest coast of Florida is experiencing an Easter phenomenon that is just the opposite. An increasing number of vacationing and local Christians in the extremely affluent community have been showing up by the hundreds in flip-flops and bonnets for an informal Easter Sunday service just steps away from the beach.
The tradition, which began with a motley crew of vacationing Christians in 2005, evolved into a church in 2006 called Chapel on the Beach, which meets weekly in the Rosemary Beach Town Hall. But the real news is the exponential growth for the Easter resurrection service on the beach, which seems to be spontaneous.
"Most people when they come down on vacation are not thinking about attending Easter services but I truly believe a big majority of people that do come to our community for vacation, especially during this time of year want the Easter services," said Jon Laplante, Rosemary Beach resident and member of Chapel at the Beach for the last five years. "I think [it] is a huge testament to what's going on over here at the beach." more >>
Robert A. Schuller, who took over for his father for two years as the leader of the Crystal Cathedral, said during a leadership conference about pastoral succession this week that had his father simply let go of his responsibilities seven years ago, the church would still be in the hands of its own ministry.
"The Crystal Cathedral Ministries, the assets and the buildings, would still be in the hands of the ministries if my father would have simply walked away," said Schuller during the webcast hosted by Leadership Network on Tuesday. "When I accepted the role as the next senior pastor he had agreed to be an ambassador-at-large and raise funds for the endowment fund. He didn't do that. He became a sounding board for my sisters and other people that didn't particularly care for the new direction for whatever reason.
"There's no question in my mind whatsoever," he added, talking about the founding pastor of the church, his 86-year-old father, Robert H. Schuller, "had I been given the proper authority and all of the responsibility I had, and had my father simply turned to those that came to them and said, 'I don't have anything to do with that anymore' that it would have been a very, very successful transition because we did lots of things very right." more >>
As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the legality of Proposition 8 on Tuesday, large scale rallies were held outside their pillared structure for and against the measure.
While the pro-traditional marriage marchers had based their operations at the National Mall, the pro-gay marriage supporters were using the United Methodist Building, an edifice constructed next to the Supreme Court back in the 1920s.
The United Methodist Building's allowance of usage by groups supportive of gay rights in general and gay marriage in particular may be in violation of its denomination's rules. more >>
Well-known speaker and pastor Francis Chan said during a webcast on the subject of pastoral succession that Christian leaders need to focus on God's will in their lives when deciding to stay or leave a church.
"First of all, I think a key to transition is surrender," said Chan, during the Leadership Network hosted event. "A key to everything is surrender – to really come before the Lord and say, 'I will literally stay here as long as you want me to stay' or 'God, I will really go anywhere on the earth.'"
Succession is becoming a big issue in many churches. "In a very real sense, we're all interim pastors," stated the conference hosting organization Leadership Network, while addressing the target audience of church leaders and pastors. "At some point you will not hold the current position you find yourself in at your church. It is only temporary. And that means that there is a 100% chance that you or your church will be a part of a succession or transition." more >>
It was a warm spring weekend in March 2010, and I was in the middle of an adventurous trip to rural east India. I decided to visit a local church in Ranchi, Jharkhand that Sunday, but was told that there probably wouldn't be many people gathering in the morning and it might not be safe to venture out alone. There had been some recent persecution of Christians in that region, and many Ranchi residents were skeptical of whether the church congregation would turn out in large numbers.
Determined to check it out for myself, I set out for the Gossner Evangelical Lutheran Church – the most visible church in town – "early," at 7:00 a.m. As I approached the church property, I heard the singing of familiar hymns in a foreign language and soon saw crowds of people lining the streets. When I was finally able to enter the church gates, I was astonished to see hundreds of people waving palm branches, gripping their Bibles tightly, shouting "Hosanna, Yesu Masih ki jai!" ("Hosanna, Jesus be praised!") and singing "Nothing But the Blood of Jesus" – standard tune with Hindi lyrics.
I suddenly realized that it was Palm Sunday, and felt ashamed and embarrassed that I didn't even remember this significant date beforehand. I found out that the church's Palm Sunday gathering had started at 6:00 a.m. that morning and was scheduled to go on the entire day, with most of the crowd – who had come from all over the region – standing in the overflow area outdoors in 90-degree heat. more >>
A newly proclaimed movement in American Christianity that seeks to become global and desires a return to "the old church" was officially announced at a press briefing in Washington, D.C.
Known as "new church Believers," members of the movement gathered at a briefing at the National Press Building on Thursday morning.
"Jesus Christ made all things new. He cleansed us, defeated death and opened the way to eternal life. And yet the vessel that carries that new reality – the Christian church – often drifts toward the old, towards the comfortable familiarity of traditions and rituals drained of meaning," reads the new church Believers' website. "Let us raise the sails of a new church that captures again the wind of the Holy Spirit. Let us move as that 1st-century church moved, driven not by what we know, but by our surrender to the unknowable." more >>