The United Methodist Church had its largest amount of funds donated online in a single-day during the #GivingTuesday observance, the denomination's leaders report.
About $6.5 million was donated to UMC missions on the Tuesday after the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to the UMC General Board of Global Ministries. The idea of putting a focus on "giving" rather than "shopping" on the day after Cyber Monday and three days after Black Friday appears to have gained momentum this year thanks to social media.
A Baptist pastor has been criticized by some in the Jewish community for putting up a sign at his church in North Palm Beach, Fla., that reads: "Christmas – easier to spell than Hanukkah." It has since been taken down.
Pastor Mike Butzberger of Lighthouse Baptist Church said, according to WPTV TV/NewsChannel 5, that he has been putting up a different slogan in front of his church every week for 15 years, aiming for something "encouraging, inspiring, informative and occasionally for the purpose of making them smile."
He revealed, however, that some did not take well to what was supposed to be a humorous message, and had asked for the sign to be taken down. more >>
A columnist with the Fox News channel has compared the head of the Roman Catholic Church to President Barack Obama.
Adam Shaw, news editor at Fox, wrote in a column posted on the news channel's website on Wednesday that Pope Francis bears a strong resemblance to Obama in a negative manner.
"Pope Francis is undergoing a popularity surge comparable to the way Barack Obama was greeted by the world in 2008. And just as President Obama has been a disappointment for America, Pope Francis will prove a disaster for the Catholic Church," wrote Shaw. more >>
A town in Kansas has installed "prayer phone booths" throughout its city to encourage residents to take time to kneel and pray throughout their day. The booths come equipped with a lowering kneel bar and instructions so passerby may use the device properly, and one local media outlet has noted that the booths' presence in inner city areas is proportional to the decrease in crime rate.
Citizens of Kansas City reportedly lobbied city council for the "prayer booths" to be placed around the city on public park space as "public service monuments of arts and counseling to the people of Kansas City." Since their installment a couple months ago, the prayer booths have reportedly been used 100,000 times per week. According to Topeka News, some of the booths were installed in inner city areas with high crime rates several years ago, and city data confirms that crime has reportedly reduced in those areas in a proportionate manner to the number of people using the prayer booths.
"It is therapeutic, that is how we lobbied them through city council," local pastor Reverend Miles Collier told Topeka News in a recent interview. "We said these prayer booths are not just for Christians, but for any person to take a break to close their eyes, ask out loud for what they need in life and just take a break from it all. It is like having a free counseling session." more >>
WASHINGTON – In a presentation of his new book at the Family Research Council, biblical theologian Wayne Grudem argued that poor countries can become rich only by producing their own prosperity, and that the free market is not only the economic answer, but in tune with the Bible's moral teachings.
"Every nation that has escaped poverty has done so by producing its own prosperity," said Grudem, professor of theology and biblical studies at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona. Perhaps best known for his book Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Grudem presented the key themes in his new book The Poverty of Nations: A Sustainable Solution. The very first of his 79 factors to help nations escape poverty in "a free market economy."
"My personal interest in this topic is motivated by Galatians 2:10, where Paul says in talking about the consistency of his teaching with that of the Jerusalem apostles, he said 'only, they would have us remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do,'" Grudem explained. But he cautioned that before leaders of poor countries should act to make their countries richer, they should investigate the causes of wealth and poverty. more >>
"Preachers of L.A.," the faith-based Oxygen network reality show that Christians seem to love to hate but apparently like to watch in record numbers, has led to online discussions about various hot-button issues. One topic in particular featured in the docu-series that elicited strong responses is "shacking up," or the state of an unmarried couple living together as if they are husband and wife. The situation suggests that a shacking couple is a couple having sex, or facing the temptation to have sex. But is "shacking" even mentioned in the Bible?
In the Oct. 16 airing of episode 2 of "Preachers of L.A." ("Acceptance"), gospel recording artist and former pastor Deitrick Haddon and his fiancée, Dominique dine with Bishop Ron Gibson and his wife, LaVette, for the purposes, according to Haddon, of getting wisdom from the long-time married couple. Despite beginning amicably, the meeting quickly turns south as Bishop Gibson states that "a shaky suspect engagement is indicative of a shaky and suspect marriage." Cutting to the chase, Gibson asks Haddon, "Are you guys shacking?" Haddon, offended by Gibson's question, declares that shacking up isn't in the Bible. Watch a brief clip of the exchange below.
Sammy Lopez, lead pastor of Mighty Fortress Christian Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas, weighed in on Twitter during the noted "Preachers of L.A." episode, dismissing Haddon's suggestion that "shacking" is not in the Bible. more >>