Ocean Grove N.J., a one square mile town along the North Jersey seashore, is known for its state and national historic designation as having the largest aggregate of Victorian and early 20th century structures in America. Founded in 1869 during the holiness movement by a group of ministers and friends, its mission is to establish a permanent Christian camp meeting community with the purpose of providing opportunities for spiritual birth, growth, and renewal through worship, education, cultural, and recreational programs for persons of all ages in a Christian seaside setting.
While much has changed since its founding in 1869, much remains the same. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Christian ministry organization, owns all of the land in Ocean Grove and leases it to homeowners and businesses for 99-year renewable terms. It's still a dry town and the beach is still closed on Sunday mornings. 114 tents, which are occupied from May to September, continue to frame the Great Auditorium just as they have done since 1869.
However, a drive through the town of historic Victorian homes reveals more than latticed rooftops and widow's peaks. On many homes hang blue flags with yellow equal signs, which indicate support for same-sex couples being allowed to have civil union ceremonies on Camp Meeting Association property, such as the boardwalk pavilion. Historically, the pavilion has been used for bible studies, church services, gospel choir performances, and weddings. more >>
As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the legality of Proposition 8 on Tuesday, large scale rallies were held outside their pillared structure for and against the measure.
While the pro-traditional marriage marchers had based their operations at the National Mall, the pro-gay marriage supporters were using the United Methodist Building, an edifice constructed next to the Supreme Court back in the 1920s.
The United Methodist Building's allowance of usage by groups supportive of gay rights in general and gay marriage in particular may be in violation of its denomination's rules. more >>
A church in Ohio decided to honor Saint Valentine's Day by providing "walk-in weddings" for unmarried couples.
Trinity United Methodist Church of Youngstown married off eight couples and oversaw one vow renewal between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The Rev. Jerry Krueger, pastor at Trinity UMC, told The Christian Post that this was the first year the church had done this for St. Valentine's Day, stemming from an idea Krueger had gotten from a friend from Lubbock, Texas. more >>
Churches across the nation are preparing for Scout Sunday celebrations as they await the Boy Scouts of America's decision on whether or not it will allow openly gay members and leaders.
"Scout Sunday is an opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of the beginning of the Scouting program and for the Scouting family to recognize the contributions of young people and adults to Scouting," Deron Smith, BSA's Director of Public Relations, told The Christian Post in an emailed statement on Friday. "We encourage our chartered organizations and members to commemorate this date and Scouting's commitment to 'Duty to God.'"
The BSA's National Executive Board is scheduled to meet Monday, Feb. 4, through Wednesday, Feb. 6, and will likely vote on whether or not to allow gay members and leaders into the organization at that time. BSA officials told CP earlier this week that the ban on gay members will likely be overturned. more >>
WASHINGTON – An influential United Methodist pastor who delivered the sermon at the 57th Inaugural Prayer Service stated in his message that America needs a "compelling vision" that unites the country in a time of strong political partisanship.
Adam Hamilton, author and senior pastor at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., said on Tuesday morning to those gathered at the Washington National Cathedral, including President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden:
"To many Americans we can feel like a house divided that cannot stand," said Hamilton, regarding the apparent intractability of the current political climate at the federal level and the desperation to find a "common vision….that brings us all together." more >>
A prominent leader within the United Methodist Church believes that pagan origins for certain parts of the Christmas observance are a non-issue.
Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of Worship Resources with the General Board of Discipleship of the UMC, told The Christian Post that using older pagan symbols is not the same as worshipping as a pagan.
"The United Methodist Church has no ritual for Christmas with explicit pagan grounding," said Burton-Edwards, who also serves as an elder in the North Indiana Conference of the UMC. more >>