Passion for Truth Ministries Pastor Jim Stanley, 40, who told his St. Charles, Missouri, congregation last summer that he didn't realize he had been arrested after a federal grand jury indicted him last June for defrauding investors, admitted in federal court Thursday that he cheated his elderly victims out of $3.3 million while making $570,000 for himself.
In a courtroom packed with supporters, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Staley, who owned a financial consulting form, pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud rather than taking his case to trial. He admitted that he cheated 16 investors, and his defense attorney, Scott Rosenblum, says his client was ashamed and "completely accepted responsibility." The attorney stressed that the crime "had nothing to do with his role as a pastor."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dianna Collins said some of the investors trusted Staley because he was a "nice religious man" who referred to several of them as "Grandma." more >>
As the rioting, looting and burning of homes and businesses that erupted earlier this week threatened to overshadow the weeks-long peaceful protests that have been ongoing in Baltimore, the word "thug" began rolling off of lips and popping up on social media accounts, including on those belonging to some Christians shocked by the violent scenes playing out on TV networks like CNN. However, one Baltimore pastor, recalling the Apostle Paul's transition from the persecutor Saul, warned against simply condemning "rioters as unsalvageable thugs."
"Resist the temptation to condemn rioters as unsalvageable thugs and instead pray that God would transform these Sauls into Pauls," Dan Hyun, lead pastor at The Village Church in Baltimore, tweeted just after midnight on Tuesday.
Hyun added the hashtag "#MyStory" at the end of his tweet, suggesting that his testimony bears semblance to the radical conversion of Paul, who, before changing his name, terrorized and imprisoned Christians in the Roman Empire. The devout Jew, who the Bible says was "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord," experienced a vision of Jesus and eventually became a believer himself. The Apostle Paul remains one of Christianity's most influential leaders and the New Testament's most prolific author. more >>
President Barack Obama's administration has warned that it will veto a proposed amendment that would require the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini and three other American citizens held prisoners in Iran before any final nuclear deal agreement is reached. The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents Abedini's family, called the admittance "despicable" and "outrageous."
"That is simply unbelievable. Refusing to discuss the Americans being held hostage by Iran at the bargaining table and rejecting any congressional attempt to make any deal with Iran contingent on the release of the Americans is unacceptable. It's quite frankly appalling," the law group wrote in an update on Thursday.
"This is despicable. This is outrageous. And it is an insult to the captive Americans and their families," it added. more >>
ORLANDO, Fla. — Megachurch pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter's House in Dallas, Texas, charged Wednesday that it's corporations and not elected officials that represent "the greatest hope" in effecting change and development in underserved communities across America. He said, however, that they need to "add a moral component to money" to make it happen.
"We need corporations to add a moral component to money," said Jakes, to a group of pastors and Christian leaders at the Reconciled Church Summit on Wednesday. The movement was launched in response to national protests against the killings by police of black men in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York, by Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland, televangelist James Robison, and Jakes in January.
"Starbucks is trying to do it. … If we can tie morality to money, to a purpose, to resources, we can really begin to change things. I don't really believe that the greatest hope is in the elected officials. I believe it is in the corporations and the business opportunities coming together," he continued. more >>
As angry rioters took to the streets of Baltimore this week and destroyed cars, injured 98 police officers, and burned homes and businesses, local pastors have spoken out against the violence and one even called the riots an attempt by Satan to take control of the city.
When the worst of the Baltimore riots went down on Monday, Michael Crawford, the pastor of Baltimore's Freedom Church who also serves as a church growth strategist for the Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network, was set to board an airplane headed for Florida but said he knew that God was calling him to remain in Baltimore and pray for the well-being of his city.
The pastor of a youthful and racially-diverse congregation located just a few blocks from the CVS pharmacy set on fire by rioters amid otherwise peaceful protests in Baltimore says it's time for white Christians to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism in America and to listen to those who are angry and hurting in order to help find meaningful solutions.
"There are deep systemic issues. There is no surface issue that's really the cause. There's some deep stuff that's been going on that's been going on for a lot of years," Joel Kurz, lead pastor of The Garden Church in Central/West Baltimore, told The Christian Post on Wednesday.
Some of those "deep systemic issues" are believed to have been at play when Baltimore police officers chased and arrested Freddie Gray and placed him inside a van on April 12. Gray, who was arrested for having a switchblade-like knife in his possession, was admitted to a hospital less than two hours later, and was dead by the end of the week. The 25-year-old died at the University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center where he had received surgery for his severely injured spinal cord and crushed voice box — injuries sustained while he was in police custody, according to The Baltimore Sun. Protesters had already taken to the streets the day before Gray's death, and when news of his passing came with no information on what might have befallen Gray during his arrest, their numbers swelled. more >>