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Controversial state sex-ed event cancelled

April 29, 2015 --

By Christian News Northwest
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A state-funded, teen-oriented conference on sexuality that drew a large and vocal outcry from concerned Christians a year ago suddenly won’t return this month to this coastal city, and its opponents are giving credit to God.

But they also are quick to credit a Portland TV station for its help as well.

“I think God has something to do with the fact that we were successful in stopping this,” said Jim Welsh, a Nehalem resident who helped organize a protest of almost 100 church representatives last April of the annual Oregon Adolescent Sexuality Conference, and who was readying a much larger protest — likely involving hundreds — for this year’s event.

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Portland charity quick on Nepal aid

April 27, 2015 --

By Mercy Corps
Portland based relief organization,

Our team in Nepal today is quickly prepping emergency supply kits for survivors of yesterday’s deadly earthquake. Each kit will supply a family with items like clean water, clothing, cooking utensils, towels and hygiene supplies to meet their daily needs.

We are also working to provide tarps and shelter kits in the next days to people who’ve lost their homes and have no safe shelter.

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Only 1% of priest abuse accusations found credible

April 24, 2015 --

Catholic-League-American
By Catholic League for Religious & Civil Rights

Bill Donohue comments on the results of the latest annual survey of clergy sexual abuse conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate:

Never before has there been better news about clergy sexual abuse, and never have the media been more quiet about it.

– Between July 1, 2013 and June 30, 2014, there were 294 credible accusations of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest or deacon.
– The time period extended back to the 1920s.
– Exactly two were made in 2014. The 2014 figure means that .68 percent of the accusations were deemed credible.
– As usual, the vast majority of the accusations were found to be unsubstantiated or proven false.
– As usual, most of the alleged offenders—74 percent—were deceased, already removed from ministry, already laicized, or missing.
– As usual, most of the alleged victims—75 percent—were male.
– As usual, most—71 percent—were postpubescent; only 20 percent were prepubescent (there was no identifiable age for 9 percent).
– As usual, three-quarters of the alleged sexual abuse took place between 1960 and 1984; as usual, the most common time period was 1975-1979.

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Should we expect to be persecuted?

April 22, 2015 --

By Randy Alcorn
Eternal Perspectives Ministries, Sandy Oregon

Please visit his blog

Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18). Peter said, “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).

In spite of these promises, many Christians seem shocked and outraged when they have to face these very trials. Social media is filled with complaints about political issues and how the world fails to recognize Christians’ rights.

As Americans we’ve been slow to accept the extent to which Bible-believing Christ-followers have become socially unacceptable. Though we should work to hold onto our religious liberties, it’s likely they’ll continue to erode. But cheer up! Opposition is nothing new for God’s people, and historically the church’s greatest advances have come at the lowest ebb of its popularity.

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A plan to fight NW church decline

April 20, 2015 --

By Cameron Crabtree
NW Baptist Convention

Photo Caption: John March Clifton spoke at a series of Legacy Church presentations held around the Northwest Baptist Convention to discuss revitalization efforts for declining churches.

Churches in the Northwest facing serious decline and possible closure may have renewed opportunities for ministry impact through “Legacy Church Planting,” a joint effort of the Northwest Baptist Convention and the North American Mission Board.

Legacy church planting is the name given to helping a dying church regain a ministry footing in a community by renewing its commitment to gospel outreach, but it also usually involves new leadership and changes in governance and decision making.

“All these changes and all these things you do in revitalization should be seen as an act of worship,” said John Mark Clifton, NAMB strategist for church revitalization.

Clifton joined Gary Irby, the Northwest Baptist Convention’s director of church planting resources, and various NWBC regional staff members for a series of presentations across the Northwest in February to discuss revitalization options for declining churches.

It’s a timely and necessary initiative, Clifton urged. Even with the high profile emphasis on church planting from the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board – seeking to start more than 1,000 churches annually in North America, primarily in metro areas — the net gain of churches is much lower since about 900 Southern Baptist churches close each year, according to Clifton.

“(That) doesn’t keep up with the growth of the population.” Clifton observed. Most of the churches closing are older than 20 years and in metro areas, he added.

The national revitalization effort – aimed at trying to affect about 250 churches annually, Clifton said — is not aimed at trying to turn so-called “small churches” – Clifton prefers to call them “normative” — into churches with large attendance numbers. Rather, it’s to help them “become healthy and contextual” in their communities, he said.

“A church which attracts fewer than 200 people per weekend is normative in Southern Baptist life,” said Clifton, who is also pastor of Wornall Road Baptist Church in Kansas City, MO. The well-known megachurches in North America, those that attract more than 1,500 people per weekend and which garner so much media attention, are the exception. “It’s been that way since the first century and throughout Christian history,” he suggested.

During his series of presentations to Northwest Baptist church leaders, Clifton suggested eight tell-tale signs of a dying church: valuing the process of decision making more than its outcomes, valuing church preferences over needs of unreached people, inability to pass on leadership to the next generation, ceasing – often gradually — to be part of a community’s fabric, growing dependent upon programs and pastoral personalities for growth or stability, blaming the community for lack of response to its ministry efforts, anesthetizing the “pain of death” with activities and maintaining outdated structures, and confusing care of the facility with care for the church.

Part of the solution for overcoming such dire straits is found in the biblical admonition to the church at Ephesus found in Revelation 2, Clifton emphasized.

“Passion for the glory of God motivates our legacy church planting,” he said. “This is not the self-serving nostalgia of remembering the past for the sake of our own edification through control and a desire to return to a ‘better time,’ but a remembering of the legacy of missions and ministry that first birthed this dying church and a brokenness to see that return once again.”

Expectations inherent amid changing cultural forces have been hard on many Southern Baptist churches, Clifton mentioned. “When Southern Baptists were at their strongest, people weren’t asking, ‘How do I do church?’” By the 1980s, reliance on preacher personalities and the program-based “paradigm began not to work,” he added.

Unfortunately, he said, many churches in such situations turn “inward” and, thus, begin a further decline.

“Rather than becoming generous with their resources, churches who are dying have misplaced their joy,” he observed. “They have embraced an idol rather than what they found in the gospel. When a church ceases over a period of time to make disciples who make disciples and realize community transformation, that church will die. You don’t have a right to exist as a church and not produce fruit – disciples who make disciples and better the community as a result.”

The old real estate axiom – “location, location, location” — applies to many revitalization efforts.

“It’s best when the facility is located in a neighborhood that can sustain participation either by walking or easy transportation access,” said Clifton. “You can’t ‘legacy plant’ if there’s no neighborhood to reach. What’s lacking in our cities are strong, vibrant neighborhood churches.

Clifton noted the pace of revitalization efforts is slow, 4-8 years in most cases. “There has to be a relationship that’s built and an ‘on ramp’ that needs to be built and that takes time,” he said. “It’s the opposite of traditional church planting in which a lot has to happen in a short amount of time.”

That will require a greater number of “high capacity leaders” willing to go into harder situations and love people who are already there while establishing a new basis for ministry in  community, he said.

One key to helping pastors in those situations is a network for personal and professional support, Clifton said.

“Pastors and ministry leaders need safe environments for pastors to begin to deal with factors necessary for the personal and professional growth,” said Clifton. “The success rate of church planting goes up immeasurably when they are in a support network. The same is true for guys who are going to do this.”

Typically, legacy church planting means one of five options: closing and giving the property to become the campus of another church, closing and giving the property to a new church, merging with a new church, sharing space with a new church (with a merger as a later possibility) or replanting with remaining members using a replant strategy.

Go to www.nwbaptistplanting.com/legacy to learn more about legacy church planting.

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Ex-Disney director producing new drama series

April 17, 2015 --

withleevirginiaFrom WithLeeInVirginia.com,

Bob Garner, a well-known former Disney producer and director who has worked with Star Wars creator George Lucas and actress Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music), is producing a “behind the scenes” mini-documentary for With Lee In Virginia, a family-friendly Christian audio drama CD that is set during the Civil War and will be released this summer.

Photo: Disney producer Bob Garner, left, with Bill Heid in the studio for the recording of “With Lee In Virginia.”

The project was recorded last week in Hollywood and is the third audio theater CD from Executive Producer Bill Heid and Heirloom Audio Productions.

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Christian pioneer statue could be removed

April 15, 2015 --

By Christian News Northwest
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Those concerned Christians who still hope an Oregon pioneer missionary can remain a symbol of the state in the nation’s capital now have only one option left — persuade the state’s legislators.

And time is running out. Anticipating recommendations from a special study commission appointed by the governor last year, state lawmakers have al-ready drafted legislation authorizing two new statues to be placed in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol.

Despite opposition voiced in public hearings by Christians who fear the state’s spiritual heritage is being rapidly diminished, the Statuary Hall Study Commission in late January recommended the statues of missionary Jason Lee and pre-statehood leader John McLoughlin be replaced with new historic figures.

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The pope turns up heat on climate change

April 13, 2015 --

Krattenmaker-tomBy Tom Krattenmaker
 Award-winning Portland-based writer
Recent book: The Evangelicals you Don’t Know
Tom’s article also featured on USA Today

It comes as bad news to many that Pope Francis’ tenure at the Vatican might be short. But there are probably some Catholics in this country who gave a silent cheer when Francis intimated recently that “the Lord has placed me here for a short time” — especially the surprisingly numerous Catholics who are leaders in the Republican Party.

Francis had already antagonized monied interests in the GOP with his populist admonitions against economic inequality and the excesses of capitalism. Now, in the run-up to this summer’s greatly anticipated encyclical on climate change, the pontiff is making things even more awkward for Catholic Republicans.

If you’re a progressive and you like a little schadenfreude with your politics, you’re probably enjoying the obvious squirming that many high-profile Republicans are doing when the climate issue comes up. Outright denial seems to have been replaced by the currently favored “I’m not a scientist” talking point, which seems at best a stalling tactic.

Francis is not a scientist either, but that has not stopped him from leaning on something very close to scientific consensus and speaking confidently about global warming as a reality with dire moral implications — especially for the poor and vulnerable who are at the heart of Catholic social teaching.

Pulls no punches

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Media bias in religious liberty poll

April 10, 2015 --

Catholic-League-American
By Catholic League for Religious & Civil Rights

In January, an AP-GfK poll found that 57 percent agreed that “wedding-related businesses with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to same-sex couples.” Today, a Reuters/Ipsos poll was released that tapped the following questions:

“Businesses should not be allowed to discriminate (by refusing services or a job) because of their religious beliefs.” 59 percent agreed and 24 percent disagreed.

“Businesses should have the right not to hire certain people or groups based on the employer’s religious beliefs.” 56 percent disagreed and 26 percent agreed.

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Police reformer pastor wins Oregon award

April 8, 2015 --

pstr

By Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon

EMO honors Rev. T. Allen Bethel as “Ecumenist of the Year”

The Rev. T. Allen Bethel, senior pastor of Maranatha Church, will be named “Ecumenist of the Year” on May 7, 2015, at the Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon (EMO) Annual Community Awards & Celebration Dinner. The award is presented in recognition of leadership and commitment to fostering the love of Christ through ecumenical dialogue, witness and ministry.

Bethel is being honored for his outstanding work in ecumenical dialogue, community ministry and public policy advocacy. In addition to serving as senior pastor of Marantha Church for over 15 years, Bethel is the president of the Albina Ministerial Alliance (AMA), the largest ecumenical organization of churches and ministers in north and northeast Portland. AMA’s Coalition for Justice and Police Reform works to assure oversight to the Portland Police Bureau. In 2005, the Coalition called for and helped to obtain a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the patterns and policies of the Portland Police Department regarding lethal force. The Coalition continues to meet, hold vigils, and call for more open investigations of deadly force shootings by the Portland Police Department. Bethel also serves on the faculty of North Portland Bible College and Warner Pacific College, and he has led mission teams to Haiti and St. Kitts.

Read the full article and discuss it »
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