Pope Francis is set to open the "Complementarity of Man and Woman" conference at the Vatican on Nov.17-19, which is dedicated to traditional marriage and is set to feature speakers from various Christian churches, as well as from Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Taoism and Sikhism. Russell D. Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said that he accepted the invitation in order to bear witness to what evangelicals believe about marriage.
While noting that the different religious traditions who will be speaking have "real and ongoing differences on soteriology and ecclesiology," Moore noted on his website that he is "willing to go anywhere, when asked, to bear witness to what we as evangelical Protestants believe about marriage and the gospel, especially in times in which marriage is culturally imperiled."
Catholic News Service reported that the event will feature more than 30 speakers representing 23 countries, and will aim to "examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society." more >>
Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas, successfully raised the $7.8 million the congregation was required to pay Presbyterian Church (USA) by Monday's deadline to keep its property.
In October 2013, a supermajority of the congregation voted to end their affiliation with PCUSA and join the smaller, more conservative Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians.
"The funds for the settlement were raised entirely by the generous giving of the congregation of Highland Park Presbyterian Church. HPPC did not take on any debt to pay the settlement," Zack House, a spokesman for the church, told The Christian Post. more >>
Authors of the recently released Next: Pastoral Succession That Works say the book was written after discovering that Christian leaders and churches are often looking for resources to help them with the process of finding a successor for the lead pastor, and that most pastors do not have a plan in place.
"The culture has recently shifted. Pastors are both willing to think about their own succession and also are looking for resources to help them, their families, and their boards to wisely handle their preparation," Warren Bird, research director for the Leadership Network, told The Christian Post.
"We tried to balance the book with a brief biblical foundation that affirms ways good leaders plan ahead, with numerous real-life specific stories, and with solid research." more >>
Thirteen regional congregations, primarily in the western region of the U.S., met for the first time at their churches on Sunday after learning on Friday that by the end of the year, they would no longer be under the umbrella of Seattle-based Mars Hill Church, once led by founder Mark Driscoll. For one local lead pastor at the Portland campus, who has been with the megachurch since 1999, the process and decision to dissolve made by its elders has been a difficult but exhilarating time.
"As we have made the decision to spread out in local churches I am sad to see Mars Hill go," Tim Smith, lead pastor at Mars Hill Portland and who sits on the board of elders, told The Christian Post on Monday. "God has used both Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church in incredible ways, in thousands of people's lives and for sure in my own life in significant ways. And so it's hard to see that go, but it's also exciting and hopeful in that it results in planting more churches which has always been something that's important to us."
While Mars Hill communications director Justin Dean confided to CP that it's too early to know each church's plans, he said, "The majority of our churches are choosing to continue as autonomous independent churches, rather than completely close down, which is exciting for us as it's our desire to see as many of these churches continue as possible." more >>
Roman Catholic Church bishops from the Province of Acapulco in Mexico are urging families to hold on to hope as authorities continue searching for the 43 students kidnapped by drug cartel gunmen. Many of the students are feared to have been massacred, and even burned alive.
"United in pain and suffering, we greet you so you can feel our comfort and our hope, along with feelings of sympathy for the disappearance and death of your children, on Sept. 26, in the city of Iguala," reads the statement by the bishops from the Archdiocese of Acapulco, published by Fides News Agency on Monday.
"We encourage you to continue to look ahead. You have to keep walking because God always has good things for his children. Have hope because hope pushes to keep fighting, to continue to live with dignity, to continue working for a better world," the statement added. more >>
The Seattle-based megachurch Mars Hill, once led by pastor Mark Driscoll, has begun the process of dissolving, and its 13 regional congregations have been asked to either go independent, merge with another church, or disband entirely, announced Dave Bruskas, the church's teaching pastor while in transition, at noon on Friday.
Although Driscoll was not mentioned in the "Local Mission, Local Churches" blogpost on the church's website released as a letter to Mars Hill by Bruskas, the normally outspoken pastor resigned on Oct. 14 from the multi-city megachurch he and his wife helped found 18 years ago after a series of calls were made for him to step down from ministry due to his admitted "divisive" leadership style.
In the letter, Bruskas writes that the elders recognize that the "reorganization plan is a significant and complex undertaking on many fronts; however, our goal is to have the process completed by January 1, 2015." more >>