There has been a lot of attention paid lately to the alarming numbers of a decreasing membership in mainline Protestant denominations in the United States in recent years.
Denominations like The Episcopal Church and Presbyterian Church (USA) have annually reported losses in membership and attendance figures for their churches.
However, the denominations are not losing members at as high of rates as in 2013, according to their spokespeople. more >>
It started when Fox News broke the explosive story: "The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, or gender identity. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court."
The Houston Chronicle reported it began with Houston's new non-discrimination ordinance driven by Annise Parker, Houston's first openly lesbian mayor and approved by the city council in June.
A group of Houston pastors opposing the ordinance launched a petition drive that generated more than 50,000 signatures – far more than the 17,269 needed to put a referendum on the ballot. But in a controversial turn the city unexpectedly tossed out the petition in August over alleged "irregularities." The opponents of the non-discrimination bill (which originally included among other things that men could use women's restrooms and visa-versa – but that point was pulled early over the criticism) filed a lawsuit, and the city attorney responded by issuing the subpoenas against the pastors. more >>
There's a good piece by Andrew Walker in First Things on a popular international church network called Hillsong's apparent equivocation on marriage. At a recent New York press conference, the ministry's leader, Brian Houston, declined to answer whether the ministry affirms the biblical position. Instead, he stresses the church's need to stay "relevant."
Earlier this year the pastor of Hillsong's New York's congregation, the ultra hip Carl Lentz, shared similar views with CNN. His wife added: "It's not our place to tell anyone how they should live. That's their journey." Hmmm. If it's not the church's place to tell anyone how to live, then what is the church's purpose? Entertainment? Affirmation?
Socialization? And if it's not the church's role to counsel how to live, then who or what should? Perhaps it's the central message of our age that each autonomous individual chooses his/her own path without reference to others. more >>
Former leaders from Seattle-based Mars Hill Church may return to serve the congregation, now that Mark Driscoll, the megachurch's founder and former head pastor, has resigned, according to recent local news reports.
One former leader and member of Mars Hill who left because of Driscoll's leadership, Kevin Potts, told a news station that he is planning to return.
"Hopefully helping that church rebuild into something that glorifies Christ," said Potts to KING 5 Television in an interview posted Sunday. "I'm not exactly sure what's going to happen when I show up to church tomorrow morning … My purpose isn't to show up and say, 'Ha ha, Mark's gone, we won.'" more >>
Pope Francis beatified the late Pope Paul VI at the Closing Mass for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family on Sunday, describing him as a "courageous Christian" and a "tireless apostle." Paul VI, who was known for affirming the Roman Catholic Church's stance against contraception, has been credited for a miracle in California where he is said to have helped in the birth of an unborn child.
Catholic News Agency pointed out that the miracle occurred in the 1990s, where a mother asked a nun to pray for her using a photo of Pope Paul VI in response to news that her unborn child posed a danger to her life and his. After the prayers, the baby boy was born healthy.
Another requirement for beautification was fulfilled by the presentation of relics, in the form of two blood stained vests worn by Paul VI when he was attacked by a man with a bayonet in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, in 1970. more >>
Pastor Juan D. McFarland of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, was forced to relinquish his pulpit in shame by a local judge Thursday after delivering an incriminating confession that he has full blown AIDS, slept with female members inside the church, abused drugs and church money while declaring he would not leave the ministry in recent weeks.
After a colorful hearing attended by a majority of his now former congregants, McFarland was ordered by Montgomery Circuit Judge Charles Price, to quit the pulpit, return church property and stay away from the church he led for 24 years in a temporary injunction, according to al.com. Congregants celebrated the ruling with hugs, kisses and prayer. They asked the Lord to bless McFarland.
McFarland reportedly complied with Judge Price's order to return keys, bank accounts, and a Mercedes Benz to officials at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church before a 5 p.m. deadline Thursday according to WSFA. more >>