Thursday, December 30, 2010
Thu Dec 30, 10:19 am ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The pancake chain that sued a church for using its nickname without permission appears to have flipped its legal strategy.
The International House of Pancakes restaurant chain, known as IHOP, has ended its trademark infringement lawsuit against the International House of Prayer, citing "on-going mediation discussions" with the church.
Read it all
Friday, December 24, 2010
St. George's Anglican Church to retain property following historic settlement with The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
HELMETTA, NJ:New Precedent Set in Episcopal Church Property Settlement Wars. St. George's Anglican Church to retain property following historic settlement with The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey
By David W. Virtue, www.virtueonline.org,December 23, 2010
In a landmark decision, the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey has settled out of court with St. George's Helmetta allowing the parish to leave the Episcopal Church, keep its property and join with another Anglican jurisdiction.
Details are sketchy, but it is understood from a source that a down payment of $30,000 was made by the parish with periodic payments to be made over the next several years.
NJ Bishop George Councell, a liberal, has shown himself to be gracious in demonstrating that deals can be cut without expensive litigation costs. VOL was told by a source that his chancellor and Episcopal leaders at church headquarters in New York City were not supportive of his actions, but he stood up to them and settled with the parish.
The parish will retain all its church buildings and tangible property with complete independence from The Episcopal Church (TEC). The congregation has affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) under Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) under Archbishop Robert Duncan.
In early January and February of 2008, the Episcopal congregation, known as St. George's Church in Helmetta, NJ, cut its ties to TEC and the Diocese of New Jersey over theological differences.
Fr. William Guerard, St. George's parish priest, however, maintained an amicable relationship with Bishop Councell throughout the division.
The priest transferred to CANA as an ordained Anglican priest without being required to renounce his ordination vows - unlike many other Anglican clergy from other dioceses who have left TEC for CANA and other Anglican jurisdictions.
Beginning in January, 2009, St. George's Anglican Church began negotiations with the Diocese of New Jersey which ended in an agreed monetary settlement.
Reflecting on the settlement, Fr. Guerard said, "Our constant prayer throughout these two years has been for God's will to be done. We are all thankful that this has been accomplished peacefully, and we pray it will set a precedent for other churches going through similar situations.
"Let us return to the work of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus our Savior who has come to bring us light, peace, and salvation."
"We are extremely grateful that the congregation of St. George's Anglican Church is able to retain its property. This is an incredible blessing and witness to others that Christians can resolve these matters amicably. We are also thankful that the church has been able to maintain a cordial relationship with the Diocese of New Jersey. I trust and pray that St. George's Anglican Church will continue to serve the Lord through mission and ministry for many years to come," said CANA Missionary Bishop Martyn Minns.
Final sale of St. George's church property took place on Tuesday, November 23, 2010.
Bishop Councell was unavailable for comment.
CANA is a founding member of the Anglican Church in North America, an Anglican province that includes over 600 congregations.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Thanks to Kendall Harmon of Titusonenine for this
by Rick Ezell of Intervarsity Press.
Healthy and growing churches pay close attention not only to their members but also to those who are not yet a part of the flock. New people are the lifeblood of a growing church. We want to ensure that nothing impairs or cuts off the flow of new people to the church.
Pastors need to be aware of five significant facts about first-time guests looking for a church home.
1. Visitors make up their minds regarding a new church in the first ten minutes of their visit. Often, before first-time guests have sung a song, viewed a well-produced video or heard a well-crafted sermon, they have made up their mind whether or not to return. But far more time and energy is spent on planning the worship service than on preparing for greeting and welcoming first-time guests. The church's ability to connect with these guests is not dependent on the pastor but on the front line of people who represent your church.
Are parking attendants in place?
Is there appropriate signage?
Are your ushers and greeters welcoming?
Is the environment you take for granted user-friendly?
2. Most church members aren't friendly. Churches claim to be friendly. But the truth is that most church members are friendly to each other, but not to guests.
Observe your members. Do they greet guests with the same intensity and concern before and after the worship service as they do during a formal time of greeting in the worship service?
Do the three minutes before and after the service demonstrate whether church members really care about visitors?
Encourage your most gregarious and welcoming members to be unofficial greeters before and after each service.
Don't make promises you can't keep. My wife attended "The Friendly Baptist Church," but no one spoke to her before the service, and the information-booth attendant was anything but friendly.
3. Church guests are highly consumer-oriented. If Target doesn't have what I need, I just head to K-Mart. If you don't have adequate parking or your people are unaccepting and unfriendly, guests will look at another church. Or worse yet, they may give up their search altogether. Pastors and church leaders need to look at their churches through the eyes of a first-time guest. Many retail outlets use the service of one or more "mystery shoppers" to analyze and critique their customer service. Churches would be well served to utilize a similar service.
4. The church is in the hospitality business. Though our ultimate purpose is spiritual, hospitality is important. Church members can extend hospitality to guests by offering to sit with them during the church service, giving them a tour of the church facilities, inviting them to lunch after service, or connecting with them later in the week.
5. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Are you consciously working to remove barriers that make it difficult for guests to find their way around and to feel at home with your people?
Do newcomers have all the information they need without having to ask any embarrassing questions?
Are your greeters and ushers on the job, attending to details and anticipating needs before they are expressed?
You may be the most skilled preacher and your church may have excellent small groups or the best children's ministry in the city. Your first-time guests will never know unless they make a second or third visit. Will they come back? It all depends on the impression you're making. Make it the right one the first time.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Hat-tip to Steve Wood of St Andrew's Anglican Church, Mt. Pleasant SC and his "Trading Grain" blog for this encouraging article.
By James P. Allen of Rivervalley Christian Church
The time has come for ministerial jealousy to cease. There should be no spirit of competition between denominations and certainly not between churches of similar doctrinal persuasions. In 1900 there were 27 churches for every 10,000 people in America, but today there are less than 11 churches for every 10,000 people. The only hope for America is for us to plant new churches within every neighborhood and every sub culture. Let's consider some of the other reasons why we need to plant new churches.
NEW CONGREGATIONS ARE MORE EVANGELISTIC
Bruce McNicol of Interest Ministries is quoted in the magazine "Christianity Today" as saying, "Among evangelical churches, those under three years old will win ten people to Christ per year for every hundred church members; those 3 to 15 years old will win five people per year. After age 15, the number drops to three per year."
Lyle Schaller, in his book 44 Questions For Church Planters, writes, "...new churches are more likely to reach more people and to grow in size than are long-established parishes. Perhaps the simplest explanation of this pattern is that new congregations are organized around evangelism and reaching people not actively involved in the life of any worshipping community. By contrast, powerful internal institutional pressures tend to encourage long-established churches to allocate most of their resources to the care of members. One result is that the vast majority of new congregations in the United States reach their peak in size during the first two or three decades of their existence and then remain on a plateau in size or begin to shrink in numbers."
New congregations have a higher level of commitment toward evangelism. They realize that their survival as a church depends on constantly reaching new people.
NEW CONGREGATIONS ARE A BLESSING TO ESTABLISHED CHURCHES
One fallacy that Satan would instill in the minds of established churches is that a new church starting in their area will hurt their attendance and income. Fear is one of the first tactics the enemy will use against Christians to keep them from doing what God wants them to do. Losing church members to new congregations is a common fear expressed, but one that should quickly be dispelled.
No church is going to be effective in reaching the entire community. Just as a radio station will not reach all people and must target a particular group to gain an audience; churches will always be more effective reaching one target group. The exciting thing about starting new churches is that they are often able to reach people that have been unreached by all other existing efforts of established churches.
Another fact that should expel fear of loss is a testimony of a church that has started neighboring churches. Dan Betzer, a pastor in Fort Myers, Florida related at a minister's retreat in Monroe, Louisiana, the story of how his church mothered its first church. With a growing desire to see an Assemblies of God church across the river from Fort Myers, Dan prayed for God to send someone to pastor this new church. After months of prayer, a young man walked into his office who said the Lord had called him to pastor a new church across the river. Dan hired this young preacher and placed him on his staff for a short period, so the people of the church could get to know him and develop confidence in him.
On his last day with them, Dan allowed him to preach the morning service. The planned altar call was for everyone who was being led of the Lord to become a part of the new church to rise from his or her seat and walk out the door with the new pastor. Dan had thought that maybe 35 people would become a part of the new church, but to his amazement, 135 people followed the new pastor out of the building. Half of the choir left, one deacon left and many other tithers. As they were walking out Dan said he was calculating the tithes that were leaving and realized that $5,000.00 a week was walking out the door. He was devastated and walked around the rest of the day in shock.
All fear left him by the next Sunday. He looked around the church and it seemed just as full as the week before, the choir was full again and within a couple of months the income was back to where it was before the new church started. Dan went on to explain how God will bless those churches that will follow His leading and give as He directs them to give.
Peter Wagner said, "Some are reluctant to start new churches for fear of harming those churches that are currently located in the target community. They feel that doing so could create undesirable competition between brothers and sisters in Christ. I mention here that in more cases than not, a new church in the community tends to raise the religious interest of the people in general and if handled properly can be a benefit to existing churches. That which blesses the kingdom of God as a whole also blesses the churches that truly are a part of the Kingdom." He went on to site that in the town of Ewa, Hawaii a Southern Baptist church was planted. This church plant raised the spiritual level so high that the Roman Catholic Church witnessed a 100% attendance growth and the local Congregational church saw an attendance increase of 155%. Lyle Schaller has made a similar observation about planting a new congregation in the midst of existing congregations of the same denomination. He said, "Contrary to conventional wisdom, congregations usually benefit from intradenominational competition. While it is impossible to isolate one factor as being decisive, the presence of two or more congregations with the same denominational affiliation usually results in a higher level of congregational health and vitality than if one congregation has a denominational monopoly in that community."
Brad Boydston, a church planter with the Covenant Church said, "As strange as it might sound, one of the best places to start a Covenant church is where one or more already exists. A new Covenant church will raise the visibility of the existing church and will in turn receive the support and encouragement of the established congregation." After interviewing various church planters, we have determined that the new church is able to keep one in ten they are able to reach. The other nine out of that ten often start going to, or return to, other congregations.
NEW CONGREGATIONS RAISE UP NEW LEADERS
Many established congregations have a lack of room for more leaders. Although most pastors struggle with finding adequate leadership to minister to their local congregations, there are often many people who feel their ministry gifts are not needed in their church.
Planting new churches spurs opportunities of ministry to people who want to be better used of the Lord in ministering. How often do we witness churches with several people called to preach sitting quietly on the pews of established churches, because they have not been given opportunity to use their gift? Perhaps one of the reasons this problem exists is because God has not called many of our present preachers to pastor established churches, but to go out and plant new churches.
NEW CHURCHES REACH OTHER CULTURES
It has been said many times that the United States is the melting pot of the world. Today over 60% of our nation is composed of other cultures than white Anglo-Saxon. If we are going to be effective in reaching America, we should realize that establishing new church plants is the only way we will reach all types of people.
Many speculate that the unchurched population of the United States is exceeding the 70% mark. No longer can we be referred to as a Christian nation. Every major cultic group has targeted the United States as their mission field. The largest Muslim mosque is not in the Middle East somewhere, but in California. Brazil is the only country in the world that receives more missionaries than the United States. Now countries we have reached through our missionary efforts are sending Christian missionaries back to reach us. Without doubt, we should continue sending missionaries to the unreached people groups in the world, but America now needs our attention. It is time we start sending missionaries to the unreached cultures in our own cities.
Friday, December 17, 2010
From Baby-Blue Online -- Thanks Mary Ailes for sharing this. If anyone from TEC Pgh is interested in pursuing a similar course here, please contact me ASAP
As the next round of litigation is heating up in Virginia on the fate of nine church properties, a coalition of prayerful Episcopalians and Anglicans is forming to pray and seek ways to find an amicable settlement between the The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and nine Anglican churches. "Virginia Laity for a Win-Win Settlement" has all ready launched their website called "Seeking Common Ground in Common Prayer" that aims to provide helpful information, encouragement, and insight on how the different sides in the Virginia litigation between the Episcopal Church/Diocese of Virginia and nine Anglican churches that voted to separate from The Episcopal Church four years might approach a "win-win" settlement.
Virginia Laity for a Win-Win Settlement are "Virginian lay members of Episcopal and Anglican parishes who believe that the current litigation between the Anglican District of Virginia, the Diocese of Virginia and The Episcopal Church (TEC) must end," they write at Seeking Common Prayer in Common Prayer. The organizers of the website/blog are Kathryn Peyton, a member of St Francis Episcopal Church in Great Falls, and Dan Van Ness, a member of Truro Church in Fairfax.
What are some of the reasons why a win-win settlement is the best alternative to prolonged and costly litigation? From the blog:
There are lots of reasons for looking for a win-win settlement:
1. Litigation costs money we could be spending on mission.
2. Litigation turns people into enemies. We all have heard of situations where a dispute between neighbors divided the neighborhood when the case went to court, or when families were split apart by a bitter divorce. The same thing can happen in parishes as we have learned in the four places where there are both Episcopal and ADV congregations.
3. Litigation between Christians causes scandal. 1 Cor 6:7 says, “The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already.” As former Secretary of State James A Baker has said, “Squabbling over church assets is the wrong way to resolve this impasse. The predictable result of continuing this battle will be public conflict without end in sight, to the utter dismay of most Episcopalians.”
4. Win-win settlement allows creative solutions. Courts must apply the law and the result can be unsatisfactory. For example, some of the pieces of property in dispute have multiple deeds. It is possible that a judge or jury would determine that the wording of the deeds means some parcels belong to one side and others belong to the other. Furthermore, in negotiating a win-win settlement it is possible to find solutions to problems created by the separation that aren’t even part of the litigation (like figuring out how to deal with the conflicting claims to be part of the Anglican Communion).
5. Win-win settlement is faster. If there is a trial for this second phase of the litigation it is possible there will be no judgment until Summer 2011. The appeal process took an additional 18 months in the first phase, so litigation may not be over until 2013 or later. While we might need the help of a mediator to do it, negotiation could produce a win-win settlement by Spring 2011.
Here at the Cafe we are very excited by the forming of this coalition and pray that it will flourish. To God be the glory.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
The first picture is of the billboard sponsored by the Catholic League near an exit of the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City.
The second picture is of the billboard sponsored by American Atheists near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in North Bergen, NJ.
By Robert Smith, NPR 12/11/10
Holidays are time for traditions, and one of the biggest American traditions this time of year is arguing about religion.
Some years, a community is torn over a manger on the lawn in front of city hall or a missing menorah.
This year, the season's biggest religious controversy is in an unlikely place: the Lincoln Tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York.
For the last three weeks, New Jersey commuters entering the tunnel have had to sit in traffic and contemplate the sight of a billboard with a picture of a nativity scene, a star and three wise men. Its message: "You know it's a myth," courtesy of a group called American Atheists.
Drivers can mull over this challenge for the few minutes of purgatory it takes to cross under the Hudson River. Once they make it through the tunnel into New York, however, they'll encounter another billboard, this one from the Catholic League.
It's the same nativity scene, but this time with a retort: "You know it's real."
Saturday, December 4, 2010
An interesting thing happened to me this afternoon. I logged on the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh of the Episcopal Church USA's website and tried to find the Diocesan Resource Center. After a rather convoluted search, I found the Resource Center webpage. I tried to access the on-line resources catalog to find a certain DVD. I was denied access because the webpage has now become password protected. And behold, guess what, I was not informed of the new requirement nor was I invited to submit a password. As a former member of the Resource Board, we were assured by the Rev. Lou Hays prior to our voting to approve the move the Resource Center from St. Peter's Brentwood to St. Paul's Mt. Lebanon that parishes from both sides of the re-alignment would have equal access to the resources since most, if not all, of the resources were acquired prior to 2008, many by the expenditure of diocesan funds. It was this assurance from Fr. Hays that persuaded me to vote in the affirmative for the move. Oh well, denied access.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
My friend and colleague Tom Prichard, mentioned in the article, founded Sudan Sunrise and worked alongside Manute Bol
From the Living Church December 5, 2010 Issue
When Manute Bol died at age 47 in June 2010, the former NBA star from South Sudan was doing the thing he loved best: helping his beloved people of South Sudan.
“A Tribute to Manute Bol,” held at The Catholic University of America on Nov. 9, found friends and colleagues remembering the 7-foot-7 giant-hearted Dinka who inspired college students to make a difference for the world and raising money to complete his dream of building 41 schools in Sudan.
The tribute was sponsored by Sudan Sunrise, a nonprofit, nondenominational Christian ministry that began as a network of Americans partnering with South Sudanese Christians who were committed to helping Darfurian Muslims.
In 1991, Manute saw Sudan on television for the first time. The NBA video Manute Bol: Basketball Warrior quoted basketball’s star blocker: “The Sudan government was killing my people. I say no, this cannot be right. I have to do something.”
He returned to Sudan and to overflowing refugee camps, where he saw a war-devastated land. The Dinka warrior said in an interview with Sports Illustrated years later, “God guided me to America and gave me a good job. But he also gave me a heart so I would look back.”
Speakers at the tribute, including former teammate Charles Barkley in a recorded message, all mentioned the Sudanese ball player’s generosity. Manute’s earnings playing for Washington, Golden State, Philadelphia, and Miami — and even after his basketball career was over — provided relief and support for the victims of the National Islamic Front regime’s genocidal jihad. The basketball player saved probably thousands of lives.
In 1991 he heard about hundreds of “Lost Boys” returning to Sudan from Ethiopia, where they had fled three years before. They were cut off and being starved by Sudanese government troops. Manute hired helicopters to fly food and medicine to them and to bring in journalists who tell the Lost Boys’ story to the outside world. Through his Ring True Foundation, Bol also helped the former Lost Boys when they were resettled in the United States.
Manute was honored for his compassion not just toward his own fellow South Sudanese, but also toward Darfurians. Although Darfurian troops killed 250 of his family members, he believed that they had been manipulated and lied to by Khartoum. His ability to forgive was a powerful testimony. Manute joined other South Sudanese Christians in reaching out to Darfurians.
He also joined advocacy efforts to end the genocide in Darfur, as well as efforts for reconciliation among all of Sudan’s marginalized people, through his partnership with Sudan Sunrise. Manute and the others believed that only true forgiveness, which does not excuse or deny wrongdoing, but still chooses to forgive, brings freedom to both parties.
Sudan Sunrise quotes Manute as saying that “the key to peace is education.” His project with Sudan Sunrise to raise funds and build desperately needed schools in South Sudan will contribute to reconciliation between Christians, Muslims, and followers of traditional religion by bringing children together for an education.
Manute’s Darfurian friend, Dr. Abdelgabar Adam, responded to his vision of reconciliation. Now 200 Darfurian university students have volunteered to help build the schools. The Rev. Tom Prichard, founder and executive director of Sudan Sunrise, said it’s a two-man job to create compressed-earth bricks for the schools. For each brick, one Christian and one Muslim have worked together.
Manute used his fame to raise awareness about what was happening in Sudan. He told Congress, the State Department, and audiences across the country that 10,000 people were dying every day in South Sudan and other areas of conflict. He gave the State Department photos that he had taken in the refugee camps.
Speaker John Zogby exhorted the Catholic University students attending the tribute to be like Manute in their care for the poor and defenseless of the world.
Despite Manute’s tremendous physical pain — severe, crippling arthritis and other illnesses, exacerbated by a near-fatal car accident in 2004 — he had a great sense of humor. One speaker who had the corner on funny “Manute stories” was Chuck Douglas, assistant general manager for the Washington Bullets (now Wizards). Douglas told how he was assigned by the general manager, Bob Ferry, to “help” Manute with adjusting to life in America when his culture shock was at a maximum.
Douglas said Manute had one day told him that he wanted “an electric train.” He drove Manute to the toy store, an excursion that was magical in itself for the Dinka. But when he showed Manute the electric trains, his friend protested that was not what he wanted. He wanted an electric train that was pushed around to clean the house. Douglas, just out of college himself, finally figured out that Manute wanted a vacuum cleaner.
The tributes to Manute, shared by those who loved him for his humor, his generous spirit, and his perseverance, introduced the Sudanese Christian Dinka basketball player to a crowd of college students who may have only known him as a name in the NBA.
The evening was an invitation to share in the work that Manute started by completing his 41 schools in Sudan. It was also an invitation to share in the faith, courage, and kindness that made Manute who he was. Manute would have liked that.
Faith J.H. McDonnell, in Washington
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Some of you may be aware by now that Apple has removed the Manhattan Declaration iPhone/iPad application from the iTunes Store. This happened some time over the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Manhattan Declaration app was accepted by Apple and rated as a 4+, meaning it contained no objectionable material. Yet Apple pulled the app shortly after a small but very vocal protest by those who favor gay marriage and abortion.
We are urging Apple to restore the App, and have written to Steve Jobs. We will update you with developments as they arise.
Immediate updates will be sent via Facebook and Twitter. Stay tuned for more...
Dr. Robert George
Dr. Timothy George