Jim Bolin, founding and senior pastor of Trinity Chapel in Powder Springs, Ga., has stepped down from his position due to "inappropriate consensual sexual conduct with an adult woman." Members of the charismatic-Pentecostal church, which claims a congregation of 7,000 people, were informed on Sunday during an emotional, 90-minute service in which church officials explained the immediate future plans of the church while remaining vague in describing Bolin's falling.
Donald M. Walker, the state administrative bishop for the Church of God (Cleveland), tearfully read a letter from Bolin that began: "I have sinned against God." In his writing, the founding pastor took "full responsibility and blame" for his actions but provided no additional details. "Today you see what a wrong choice has caused," Bolin wrote. "Please learn from this."
The 56-year-old Bolin has agreed to remain inactive in ministry throughout a two-year restoration process overseen by Church of God officials. In his place, Bolin's 32-year-old son, Jason, who is the church's executive pastor, will serve as senior pastor.
"I think the church will be stronger than ever," said one member of the congregation, which gave several standing ovations to show its support for Walker and Jason Bolin, and its forgiveness of the founding pastor. "Jim Bolin was my hero. But he is also human and I forgive him. It's been a tough week, but it's over. There's a new week ahead." [ajc.com, 12/14/08] read more
A study last year by economics professor David Beckworth showed that during each recession cycle between 1968 and 2004, the rate of growth among evangelical churches grew by 50 percent, while mainline Protestant churches continued their steady decline. With the economy sinking, more churches are now verifying this trend and seeing remarkable growth.
"It's a wonderful time, a great evangelistic opportunity for us," said A.R. Bernard, founder and senior pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York. "When people are shaken to the core, it can open doors."
The key, many pastors say, is staying relevant with the average churchgoer's biggest concern today-which means offering more insight, guidance and hands-on assistance on money matters. To that extent, churches nationwide have begun financial management classes and opened food pantries, while pastors are delivering more sermons on what the economic downturn means.
"We need to leverage this moment, because every Christian revival in this country's history has come off a period of rampant greed and fear," said Seventh Day Adventist televangelist Don MacKintosh. "That's what we're in today-the time of fear and greed." [nytimes.com, 12/13/08] read more
QUOTE: "Rich Cizik has been a pioneer in the ‘new evangelical' movement and a real hero, especially to the next generation of young believers. The agenda of the evangelical world is deeper and wider because of Rich Cizik. ... Pioneers sometimes get into trouble and even pay a price for their explorations into new territories. But in the new moral center that is now visible, Rich's prophetic voice and leadership will continue to be heard and felt." -Jim Wallis, founder and president of the Christian social justice ministry Sojourners [christianpost.com, 12/13/08] read more
Richard Cizik, the longtime Washington lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), resigned Thursday after mentioning in a National Public Radio interview that he believed in civil unions for gay couples.
During a Dec. 2 interview on Terry Gross' Fresh Air, Cizik also said he supported Barack Obama during the Virginia primaries and was "shifting" on gay marriage: "I'm shifting, I have to admit. In other words, I would willingly say I believe in civil unions. I don't officially support redefining marriage from its traditional definition, I don't think."
In a letter to board members, NAE President Leith Anderson said Cizik's comments "did not appropriately represent the values and convictions of NAE and our constituents." Although Cizik apologized and affirmed the NAE's values, Anderson said there had been "a loss of trust in his credibility as a spokesperson among leaders and constituents."
Anderson said Cizik's resignation, which became effective immediately, was a mutual agreement. "But it was a reluctant mutuality," the New York Times reported. "He was reluctant to resign, and I was reluctant to see him resign."
Anderson added that the NAE's position "on marriage, abortion and other biblical values is long, clear and unchanged."
During Cizik's 28 years with the NAE, the organization, which represents 50 denominations with 450,000 churches, broadened its political agenda to oppose genocide in Darfur and promote "creation care." Because of Cizik's advocacy against global warming, in 2007 two-dozen prominent evangelicals, including Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, called on the NAE to silence or fire Cizik. They claimed he was using "the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time"-abortion and sexual immorality.
"It was time for him to go," Tom Minnery, a Focus on the Family senior vice president, told the Associated Press. "He no longer represents the view of evangelicalism. He has not represented those views for some time." [charismamag.com, 12/12/08] read more
Weeks after being removed from his church's Hour of Power television program, Robert A. Schuller has resigned as senior pastor of Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Although Schuller sent an official letter more than two weeks ago, word of his resignation did not surface until last weekend.
In an announcement posted on the Garden Grove, Calif., church's Web site, the ministry said it had accepted Schuller's resignation and would launch a search for a new pastor. In the meantime, Juan Carlos Ortiz, founder of the Cathedral's Hispanic ministry and a popular charismatic author in the 1970s, will act as senior pastor, while he and executive pastor Jim Poit will lead the pastoral staff.
"Robert continues to be a valued and long-standing member of the Classis of the Reformed Church in America," the announcement said. "It is expected that Robert will make an announcement soon regarding plans for his new ministry. The leadership and congregation wishes him all the best as his plans unfold."
In October, Schuller's father, Crystal Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller, removed his son as host of the church's Hour of Power TV show. At the time, the elder Schuller said he and his son had been struggling with different visions for the ministry's future and that it became necessary for the two to part ways.
"No longer will the Hour of Power be the voice and face of just one or two individuals," Robert H. Schuller said. Since then, Hour of Power has recorded several shows featuring guest ministers such as Lee Strobel and Bill Hybels.
Robert A. Schuller, 54, served as senior pastor of the church since 2006, when his 82-year-old father also appointed him host of Hour of Power. According to Crystal Cathedral spokesman Michael Nason, the younger Schuller remains in good standing with his denomination. "He remains a pastor within the Reformed Church of America," he said, adding that the congregation hopes to have a new senior pastor within six to 15 months. [latimes.com, 12/14/08; ocregister, 12/14/08] read more
A handful of Detroit churches issued a new strategy for the hurting
auto industry this past Sunday, calling it "God's Bailout Plan." At
Greater Grace Temple, the city's largest church, Bishop Charles H.
Ellis III prayed for and anointed hundreds of assembly line workers,
executives and car salesman in a service dedicated to auto industry
workers whose jobs are on the line. The Pentecostal pastor even had a
trio of Chevrolet, Ford and Chrysler sport utility vehicles onstage
with him during his sermon, which was called "A Hybrid Hope" and
bookended by such songs as "I'm Looking for a Miracle" and "We're Gonna
"We have never seen as midnight an hour as we
face this coming week," said Ellis, alluding to Congress' imminent
decision on whether to offer Detroit's major carmakers enough financial
assistance to stay afloat. "I don't know what's going to happen, but we
need prayer. When it's all said and done, we're all in this thing
The city's Roman Catholic churches got in on
the act, distributing a four-page letter from Cardinal Adam Maida
offering advice on how to celebrate the Christmas season while facing
the tough economic conditions. "Things in Michigan will probably never
be the same," wrote Maida. "[But] at this darkest time of the year, we
proclaim that Christ is our light and Christ is our hope."
[nytimes.com, 12/7/08] read more
A convicted-murderer-turned-Pentecostal-preacher is the subject of a
lawsuit aimed at restoring what he believes is his right to preach to
Howard Thompson Jr. was ordained a
Pentecostal minister at the New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) eight years
ago. He preached weekly worship services at the maximum-security
facility until prison officials issued a blanket ban last year on all
preaching by inmates, according to the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU), which filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of Thompson on
The NJSP administrator and the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections are both named in the suit.
"Prisoners do not forfeit their fundamental right to religious liberty
at the prison gate," said Daniel Mach, legal director for the ACLU
Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief. "The prison's absolute ban
on inmate preaching clearly violates the law and Mr. Thompson's right
to practice his faith."
As a preacher at Sunday services,
a teacher in weekly Bible studies, and the founder of the prison choir,
Thompson's religious activities have reportedly never caused any
security incidents since he was incarcerated in 1986 for robbery and
murder. The prison's chaplaincy staff has supported Thompson's
preaching since the 1990s when he was asked to fill in for a sick
"I have a religious calling to minister to my
fellow inmates, and I've done so honestly, effectively and without
incident for years," Thompson said. "All I want is to have my religious
liberty restored and to be able to continue working with men who want
to renew their lives through the study and practice of their faith."
Last year, an ACLU-backed lawsuit challenging similar restrictions on
prisoner preaching in Rhode Island successfully overturned a statewide
"Ours is a country where people are free to express
their religious viewpoints without having to fear repercussions," said
Edward Barocas, legal director of the ACLU of New Jersey. "The New
Jersey State Prison may not deny its prisoners their most basic
constitutional rights." [charismamag.com, 12/5/08] read more
Oxford University Press' latest edition of its Junior Dictionary includes some culturally relevant additions such as MP3 player, blog and biodegradable. But it's the ones these words are replacing that have academics and clergy alike up in arms.
For its new release the British publisher omitted words such as minister, chapel, sin, altar, disciple and devil, as well as dozens of terms it believed were outdated because of their predominantly rural use. By nature of the product, the dictionary is restricted in size (10,000 words), meaning words are regularly being culled and replaced. The latest round of edits, according to Oxford representatives, reflect a modern, multifaith, multicultural society.
"When you look back at older versions of dictionaries, there were lots of examples of flowers for instance," said Vineeta Gupta, head of children's dictionaries at Oxford University Press. "That was because many children lived in semirural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed. We are also much more multicultural. People don't go to church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism, which is why some words such as Pentecost or Whitsun would have been in 20 years ago but not now."
Such reasoning isn't working for many in the academic world, who were equally concerned about the loss of British heritage as with the spirituality of future generations. "We have a certain Christian narrative which has given meaning to us over the last 2,000 years. To say it is all relative and replaceable is questionable," said professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment at Buckingham University. "The word selections are a very interesting reflection of the way childhood is going, moving away from our spiritual background and the natural world and toward the world that information technology creates for us." [telegraph.co.uk, 12/8/08] read more
Conservative Anglicans living in North America took a first step last
Wednesday toward forming a denomination separate from the Episcopal
Church, the U.S. branch of Anglicanism that has been teetering on the
verge of a split since it ordained an openly gay bishop in 2003.
During a news conference in Wheaton, Ill., leaders of the Common Cause
Partnership (CCP), a conservative group comprised of Anglican
associations worldwide, unveiled a provisional constitution and the
first set of canons for the new Anglican Church in North America
Leaders said the rival denomination represents 700 congregations, or roughly 100,000 people, in the U.S. and Canada.
"The purpose of the province is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and
His transforming love in the United States, Canada and beyond,” said
Bishop Robert Duncan, moderator of the CCP.
whom Episcopal Church leaders deposed from his position as bishop of
the diocese of Pittsburgh in September, will serve as the interim
leader of the ACNA. His diocese defected from the Episcopal Church in
October to align with Latin America's Southern Cone based in Argentina.
The ACNA's formation poses the biggest threat yet to the unity of the
England-based Anglican Communion, which boasts roughly 77 million
members worldwide. Dozens of conservative congregations have defected
from the Episcopal Church to align with bishops in Latin America and
Africa amid concerns that the American branch of Anglicanism was
breaking with orthodox Christianity by embracing gay bishops and
blessing same-sex unions.
If the global Anglican
Communion were to approve the formation of a new American branch, it
could lead to further defections.
The new ACNA
denomination already includes the breakaway dioceses of Pittsburgh,
Forth Worth, Texas; Quincy, Ill.; and San Joaquin, Calif.—which each
represent dozens of churches. Conservative Anglicans who left the
Episcopal Church in the 1970s following changes to the Book of Common
Prayer and the ordination of women are also among the new
The Rev. Charles Robertson,
canon for the Episcopal Church's presiding bishop, Katherine Jefferts
Schiori, told the New York Times on Wednesday that there is room for
diverse perspectives within the church. "We regret that some have felt
the need to depart from the diversity of our common life in Christ,” he
Robertson added that the Episcopal Church, the
Anglican Church of Canada and La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico are "the
official, recognized presence of the Anglican Communion in North
But Duncan said Anglicanism is experiencing a
sort of revolution. "We're going through Reformation times, and in
Reformation times things aren't neat and clean,” he told the Times. "In
Reformation times, new structures are emerging.”
leaders expect seven Anglican primates to approve the new denomination.
Many of those leaders, including the archbishops of Nigeria, Uganda,
Rwanda and the Southern Cone, participated in a first-ever Global
Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in July, where the
primates signed a declaration proclaiming a new era for global
On Friday, several of the GAFCON leaders
met to present the provision constitution of the North American branch
to the Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. A spokesperson
for Williams said on Thursday that the conservative American leaders
had not begun to create a new church, Agence France-Presse reported.
"There are clear guidelines set out in the Anglican Consultative
Council Reports ... detailing the steps necessary for the amendments of
existing provincial constitutions and the creation of new provinces,”
the spokesperson said.
"Once begun, any of these
processes will take years to complete. In relation to the recent
announcement from the meeting of the Common Cause Partnership in
Chicago, the process has not yet begun.”
Rev. Peter Frank said the new denomination would proceed with or
without the approval of the archbishop or the Anglican Consultative
Council. Duncan spokesman the Rev. Peter Frank said the new
denomination would proceed with or without the approval of the
archbishop or the Anglican Consultative Council, the group responsible
for sanctioning new jurisdictions.
leaders of the largest Anglican provinces are a great place to start,
and they're on board with this,” Frank told Charisma. "We also know
that we're past the point where some committee in England is going to
be able to unilaterally decide who's Anglican and who's not. So that's
where we're starting, with the support and the encouragement given to
us by Anglican leaders around the world.”
Howell, executive director of CCP-affiliated Forward in Faith North
America, said many conservative Anglicans had been praying for the
formation of a new church for decades. "Instead of focusing on things
that divide us, we as orthodox Anglicans are focusing on the things
that unite us,” he said.
Cynthia Brust, communications
director for the Anglican Mission in the Americas, which is also part
of the CCP, said that Wednesday marked "the beginning of the healing of
the Anglican Communion.”
"The main component to me is the mission focus,” Brust said. "We will be driven by mission, not structure.”
The CCP links eight conservative Anglican organizations across the
globe, including the American Anglican Council, the Anglican Coalition
in Canada, the Anglican Communion Network, the Anglican Mission in the
Americas, the Anglican Network in Canada, the Convocation of Anglicans
in North America, Forward in Faith North America and the Reformed
Episcopal Church, as well as the bishops and congregations linked with
dioceses in Kenya, Uganda and the Southern Cone.
Despite their shared theological conservatism, the groups hold
divergent views on significant issues such as liturgical practices and
the ordination of women. Frank said the new denomination will encourage
mutual submission while "doing all we can to give each other freedom to
follow our convictions.”
The ACNA plans to hold an
assembly next summer in Texas, where congregations that choose to align
with the denomination will ratify the provisional constitution.
[charismamag.com, 12/5/08] read more
Leaders of the Canadian ministry evangelist Todd Bentley founded a
decade ago say the one-time revivalist is "intent" on divorcing his
wife and is yet to begin a restoration process.
six-page letter to ministry supporters, the board of Fresh Fire
Ministries (FFM) released more details about the circumstances that led
to Bentley’s departure in August from the Lakeland, Fla., revival
meetings he led for four months.
"Todd Bentley has
demonstrated himself unfaithful to his wife by entering into a
relationship with another woman while still legally married," the board
said in its statement. "Todd has yet to enter into a clear system of
accountability with the leaders he identified that would be involved in
such a process."
The leaders claim Bentley, 32, has no
biblical grounds for leaving his wife, Shonnah, and their three
children, and that the nature of his relationship with his children’s
former nanny is "that of adultery."
separation from Shonnah was initiated completely by Todd and he has not
seen her or the children since the last week in July," they stated.
"It also needs to be clarified that Shonnah has in no way initiated
this divorce and has no present intention to do so at any time in the
future. She is understandably hurt by Todd’s infidelity, but is not
asking or pressing for a divorce."
On Tuesday, Bentley
said there had been no sexual immorality between him and the former
nanny. He claimed that for two years no "spark or interest" in the
former staff member existed, and that the two developed only an
emotional relationship several weeks after July 1, when Bentley filed
He admitted, however, that the budding relationship was "absolutely" bad timing.
"I would call it an inappropriate relationship, in the sense that it
was too soon, too quick, and should’ve never happened the way that it
happened," Bentley said. "Emotionally, she had stepped in to comfort me
as a friend would.
"But I never left my wife to be with
another woman," he said. "There was nothing premeditated or
inappropriate in my heart. I had never even entertained the idea that I
liked this girl. It never went there."
Claiming to have
gone through years of counseling with his wife, Bentley said he is
divorcing her over "irreconcilable differences."
denied disconnecting from his children and told Charisma he is in
constant phone contact with them and plans to see them as soon as he
sorts out issues with his visa.
Bentley said FFM let him
review the letter before they made it public and that he was unhappy
with portions of it. He said he felt the letter implied that the
breakup of his marriage could be blamed on his relationship with his
former nanny and the pressures of leading daily nonstop revival
meetings in Lakeland.
"I have the utmost respect for my
team in Canada and we have had a lot of years together," he said.
"[But] I’m not in agreement with my board on this. The point is, [the
former nanny] wasn’t the cause. And I don’t want to blame Lakeland. I
want to blame a bad marriage."
Bentley said he is willing
to take 100 percent responsibility for his actions and that he readily
admits he’s guilty of doing a lot of things wrong over the years. "In a
lot of ways, the ministry has been my mistress," he said. "That did
destroy my marriage. That I have to take responsibility for."
The FFM leaders said they had been on an "emotional rollercoaster" for
several months before releasing the statement, seeking to persuade
Bentley to abandon his relationship with the former nanny, return to
his wife and children, and quickly embrace a process of counseling and
In the letter, the board thanked leaders
of other ministries who have reportedly tried to help implement a
process of restoration for Bentley. "But what we have come to realize
is that ultimately, the buck stops with the FFM board of directors,"
they said. "No one knows Todd better, or has more access to all the
facts from both sides than we do."
Ministries’ founder Rick Joyner announced in October that he would be
leading a team to help restore Bentley and would be assisted by Revival
Alliance member Bill Johnson and Texas pastor Jack Deere, along with
pastors John Arnott and Ché Ahn serving as advisers.
Bentley said he is still involved at an emotional level with his former
nanny and soon plans to move to Joyner’s headquarters in Fort Mill,
S.C., to "fully embrace a healing and restoration process."
Joyner confirmed that the process could begin as early as January. He
did not confirm if abandoning his relationship with the nanny was a
precondition Bentley would need to agree to before entering a healing
process led by Joyner.
Joyner did express disappointment
with FFM’s recent statement about Bentley and said he tried to persuade
them not to send the letter in its current form.
is almost always another side to a story, as there is to many of the
things they presented in this letter," Joyner said. "Sometimes the
truth is found somewhere between the two sides, but if we’re going to
ever get to real healing and reconciliation I don’t think this kind of
The FFM board said they decided to send
the letter to supporters after spending months of silence "in deference
to [the] leaders" involved in trying to lead Bentley through a
restoration process. "We struggled for a while with the question of how
to satisfy two important obligations—that of honoring Todd, while
believing for his restoration, and at the same time, our obligation to
be completely honest and open with you."
experienced a moral failing, the FFM leaders said the Lakeland Revival
he led was an authentic move of God. "Through the weakness and failure
of man, the enemy seeks to defame and discredit what God has done,"
they said. "[But] Lakeland was and is an authentic move of God. God
poured Himself out in Florida and through the Internet and television
around the world."
FFM is in the process of restructuring
its ministries with assistance from Johnson’s church in Redding,
Calif., and Joyner’s ministry in South Carolina.
letter also stated that Bentley has officially resigned and that the
Abbottsford, British Columbia-based FFM is searching for another
leader. "We love Todd dearly, [and] it is our deep desire that our
brother should be restored," they said.
us make it clear, that although what Todd has done is inexcusable, it
is not unforgiveable. We do not judge him unworthy of a second, third
or even fourth chance." [charismamag.com, 12/4/08] read more