The pastor of a North Carolina church that the Charlotte Fire Department says was intentionally set ablaze in an arson attack on Wednesday, said his congregation has forgiven whoever is responsible, even though police say it could be a hate crime.
Pastor Mannix Kinsey of Briar Creek Road Baptist Church, a primarily black church in East Charlotte, helplessly watched part of his church burn down early Wednesday as 75 local firefighters struggled for an hour to get it under control.
After last Wednesday night's Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston ended with nine people losing their lives in a violent act of racial hatred, over 100 worshipers gathered in the very same room just one week later to continue the church's Wednesday night tradition.
Interim pastor Norvel Goff Sr., who's standing in for slain Rev. Clementa Pinckney, said that while Wednesday night Bible studies would never be the same for members of the church, he believed that faith had brought the 100-strong crowd to the same basement room only a week later to continue worshipping the Lord.
"This territory belongs to God," Goff told the crowd at the Bible study, as quoted by CNN. "Bible study will continue. But because of what happened, we will never be the same." more >>
The nine Bible study attenders murdered in Charleston were targeted for their race but they can rightly be honored as Christian martyrs, slain in their church while examining God's Word and offering hospitality to the disturbed visitor who became their killer.
Martyrs are typically pictured by Americans as only fearless, exotic people overseas, or long ago, targeted by powerful rulers or invaders, like ISIS, Stalin, Mao, or in ancient Rome by depraved emperors. But the Charleston martyrs were ordinary people, meeting routinely in their church, in supposed relative safety, doubtless never anticipating they would die violently, much less together, on a quiet evening in their beautiful city.
Likely their witness and example, broadcast globally, amplified further by the amazing worship at their reopened church, will contribute to many, many over the years and decades heeding the Gospel and meeting the Charleston martyrs in Heaven. Perhaps some redeemed souls already have. more >>
Former and founding pastor of the Richmond Outreach Center megachurch in Richmond, Virginia, Geronimo "Pastor G" Aguilar, who a prosecutor said ran a "tax-free harem," was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting two sisters in Fort Worth and Grapevine, Texas, nearly 20 years ago when they were both younger than 14 years old.
A report from the Star-Telegram said a jury in Tarrant County spent less than four hours deliberating before convicting Aguilar, 45, on all seven counts of an indictment that included two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Aguilar was also convicted of three counts of sexual assault of a child younger than 17, and two counts of indecency with a child, according to WTVR. Each of these second-degree felonies, carry a maximum sentences of 20 years. more >>
The family of late singer Whitney Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, has filed a lawsuit against her boyfriend, Nick Gordon, who they claim physically and emotionally abused the actress and stole from her prior to her being found unresponsive in a bathtub on Jan. 31. On Wednesday, Brown's aunt announced that she has been taken off life support and is under hospice care.
Bedelia Hargrove, Brown's court-appointed conservator, filed a civil complaint against Gordon in Georgia's Fulton County Superior Court yesterday.
Boston marathon bomber Dzokhkar Tsarnaev broke his silence and offered prayers and an apology to his victims just moments before receiving the death sentence on Wednesday. Many of the victims and their family members, however, were not moved to forgive Tsarnaev after hearing him speak for the first time.
In his first public statement during the months-long trial, the convicted Tsarnaev apologized for the pain, suffering, and "irreparable damage" he caused to the victims and loved ones of those he conspired to kill on April 13, 2013. Following the unexpected apology, Boston bombing survivors said during a press conference that Tsarnaev lacked empathy, with one even describing the convicted terrorist's speech as "Oscar-worthy."
"I regret having ever wanted to hear him speak because what he said showed no remorse, no regret, and no empathy for what he's done to our lives," said Lynn Julian who lives one block from the Boston Marathon finish line where two bombs detonated. more >>