For the past 12 years I’ve been pastor of a vibrant church in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. During my time there we doubled our attendance, spawned a new 200-soul congregation, built a new church and school, and doubled our tithe and offerings .
Recently I shifted into a job with the conference office, and like others there I began preaching each weekend in churches around the conference. Here in Ohio about 85% of our churches are below 100 in attendance on an average Sabbath, and half of those 30 or below.
The Mohaven Conference
The list of conference attendees reads like a veritable who’s who in 1970’s Adventism. They were no light weights! Represented were women such as Leona Running, Miriam Wood, Kit Watts, LaVonne Neff and Josephine Benton along with men such as Gerhard Hasel, Raoul Dederen, Frank Holbrook, Charles Scriven and James Spangenberg. The quality and depth of research presented by scholars such as Betty Sterling and Madelynn Halderman was impressive. (1)
The GOP has good reason to celebrate this week. Thanks to the enthusiasm of those who imbibed the spiked punch at the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh’s generalship has been grandly endorsed and the President of the United States has quietly conceded failure, as he assumed responsibility for the Democrats’ deafening defeats.
It’s not looking good for Eddie Lee Long-–Bishop of Atlanta’s 25,000 member New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Just last week, a penetrating spotlight was directed towards this mesmerizing messenger who dines with heads of state and celebrities. It took most by surprise when four young men alleged that their spiritual father had committed unspiritual incest.
PROLOG (given by a narrator)
We have all been told that in the hereafter there will be those who arrive in heaven without having heard the gospel message. This is a story about one such woman. She had lived her entire life in an isolated area of the country, an area that certain believers fled to in the final days of earth’s history. As our story opens the woman, Mary Jane, is sitting on her front porch, smoking a cigarette and worrying about some folks she had sheltered just the night before.
Recently I ran across a story that contained the headline, “Hole in Space”. It’s about the Herschel telescope’s discovery of a massive expanse in a nebula that appears to be empty of matter — the result, they surmise, of a young star spewing jets of gas that clear everything away.
The headline caught my eye because of a story it brought to mind from my childhood.
It was a great attention grabber: “Kirk Franklin’s X-Rated Secret.” It piqued my interest, and on Wednesday of that particular week I joined the tens of millions of viewers who tuned in to “Oprah.” During the Queen of Talk’s opening remarks, it soon became evident that this was to be a serious show. My analytical mind was soon to be disappointed when I discovered that “X” was not being used as a symbol for the Christian cross. This “X” stood for “explicit,” “excessive,” and “extreme.” This “X” stood for “censored,” “obscene,” and “crude.”