Fire delays resurrection

 

The Adelaide Advertiser reports…

A fire during an Easter play at an Aberfoyle Park church forced the performance to end on a cliffhanger last night — so the cast resurrected Jesus and completed the show in the car park.

The blaze started in an office at Our Saviour Lutheran Church during the play, just before 8.30pm, forcing the evacuation of about 200 people.

Play organiser Verena Johnson said the congregation pleaded with the cast to finish the performance after firefighters brought the blaze under control.

“We had just finished a big musical number and before the final scene we were told there was a fire and it wasn’t a drill and we had to leave,’’ Ms Johnson said.

“We were all a bit stunned because we were all caught up in the play.

“Outside, the crowd was saying, ‘We don’t know how (the play) ends’ so we did the last scene in the carpark. We couldn’t finish (the Easter play) without the resurrection — that’s what it’s all about. So the show did go on.”

Flames spread into the roof space as firefighters arrived. Initial reports suggested the fire was caused by an electrical fault.

“I’ve been doing plays here for 20 years and I’ve never had anything like this happen before. The really good thing is we saved the video (of the play.)’’

From http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/adelaide-church-fire-during-easter-play-leaves-audience-hanging-so-cast-perform-final-scene-in-car-park/story-fni6uo1m-1226889484084

Pastor accused of embezzlement

 

MLive reports…

“The former pastor of a large Hudsonville area church is accused of using church funds to pay for a European cruise and Colorado vacation, a court probable cause affidavit shows.

Gary Petersen, 62, is expected to be charged in Hudsonville District Court with two counts of embezzlement, involving less than $20,000.

Petersen, the former pastor of Wellspring Community Church, is expected to be arraigned April 23. He resigned from the church in September.

He founded Wellspring about 18 years ago in his home. Years later, the church was built on Bauer Road in the Hudsonville area.

In court documents, Ottawa County sheriff’s detectives allege Petersen opened an American Express credit card through Costco Club in 2006.

The card was in the name of Wellspring Church, but Petersen was the only one authorized to use it and the church’s financial committee did not know it existed, police said.

Charges made on the card were paid by Wellspring through the church’s Fifth Third Bank account, police said.

Detectives allege Petersen went on a Costa Pacifica cruise in December 2010 with his wife and another couple and put $1,416 on the American Express card. The cruise was out of Rome.

Then, in summer 2012, Petersen charged $1,568 on the card for a lodging upgrade during a vacation in Avon, Colorado.

According to the affidavit, Petersen was in Colorado at the Sheraton Mountain Vista Resort and staying there through a gift by another person.

But after they got to the Sheraton Mountain resort, Petersen believed the accommodations were too small and wanted to upgrade. The person who gave the gift told Petersen it would be at Petersen’s expense, detectives said.

Police allege Petersen managed to hide the credit card by making online web payments or voice payments from the church’s Fifth Third account.

“These payments were not made by check, which would have required that they be authorized by signing members of the Finance Committee,” a detective testified for the affidavit.

“The existence of the American Express credit card was hidden from the Finance Committee by dividing the expenditures over other expense categories,” he testified.

Wellspring Community Church leaders say his departure in September was unrelated to the alleged embezzlement, but rather because of an issue involving “moral failure.”

Petersen is now a pastor at The Rock Church in Grandville.

His attorney, Chris Brigman, declined comment Wednesday, April 16.

Wellspring Community Church issued the following statement:

“It came to light through an external audit of the Wellspring Church financial records that former pastor Gary Petersen had been using church money for personal expenditures. Ottawa County authorities have investigated the financial improprieties and have decided to file criminal charges, which is what brings this matter into the public eye at this time.

“The Wellspring Church Board of Elders and Deacons has cooperated with authorities throughout this investigation. The greatest desire and intention of Wellspring Church is to move forward and to keep its focus on Christ with the ongoing ministry of the church. We ask others to respect the privacy of this matter and not to engage the interests of those who only wish to highlight the moral failures of a Christian leader.”

From http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/04/former_hudsonville_church_past.html

Church Militant TV host returns to Australia/NZ

Church Militant TV video

 

Detroit Free Press reported in February 2012…

“….For much of his life, Michael Voris of Ferndale was a lukewarm Catholic, someone who usually just went through the motions at church.

But after the sudden death of his brother in 2003 from a heart attack and the death of his mother from stomach cancer the following year, the former TV reporter became a changed man.

“Her dying really kind of started to wake me up,” Voris recalled. “You have to face mortality. And then the questions came pouring in: What is the meaning of life? Who are we as human beings? Is there life after death? Those are fundamental questions everyone has to look for.”

Voris found those answers in the Catholic Church. In 2006, he formed St. Michael’s Media, a Catholic TV production company and studio in Ferndale. And in 2008, he helped launch Real Catholic TV. Today, the never-married 50-year-old is consumed by his passion to promote what he considers the one true faith. Working up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, Voris is on a burning mission to save Catholicism and America by trying to warn the public about what he sees as a decline of morality in society.

But it’s a vision that has rubbed some the wrong way. His critics said his remarks, at times, promote division and extremism. Catholic officials from Pennsylvania to Spain to Detroit have warned people that he doesn’t speak for the Catholic Church. The Archdiocese of Detroit released two public statements on Voris, saying in December that the TV station was not permitted to have the word “Catholic” in its title. After receiving complaints from Voris’ supporters, it sent out a second release last month reiterating its stance.

But Voris and his supporters said it’s their critics who violate the core teachings of the church. They’re not surprised by the attacks because they see them as part of an effort to water down the faith.

“Chaos has run through the church for the last 40 to 50 years,” Voris said. “For people who are faithful Catholics, it’s a source of great sorrow. It’s definitely broken.”

The tension between the two sides reflects an intense debate among Catholics over how to stem the number of Catholics leaving the faith. Liberals argue that people are leaving because the church is too strict and outdated, but conservatives such as Voris say the opposite is true.

Voris said the church’s liberal tilt in the years after the 1960s reforms of the Second Vatican led to declining mass attendance and the decline of morality in the West. In his videos — which on YouTube have drawn more than 10 million views — Voris criticizes everything from abortion (comparing it to a holocaust) to contraception to liberal Catholics who promote feminism and homosexuality. In one of his more controversial videos, Voris said:

“The only way to run a country is by benevolent dictatorship, a Catholic monarch who protects his people from themselves and bestows on them what they need, not necessarily what they want.”

After an uproar, Voris apologized, saying that he misspoke but he stands by his larger point, which is that a society needs strong morals in order to survive.

Last April, the diocese in Scranton, Pa., banned him from speaking in its facilities after it received complaints about his comments on other faiths.

In response to the criticism, Voris told the Free Press:

“Current culture doesn’t let things be said plainspokenly. It’s … political correctness. Anything somebody takes offense at, whether it’s true or not, seems to be out of bounds.”

Despite the controversy, Voris travels the world to promote the Catholic faith. He has done shows in Nigeria, the Philippines, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and Germany and has upcoming trips to New Zealand and Australia.

Voris’ efforts are financed by Marc Brammer, a business developer for Moody’s who lives in South Bend, Ind., and is a member of Opus Dei, a somewhat controversial group known for its traditional views….”

From http://www.freep.com/article/20120213/NEWS05/202130357/Views-on-provocative-Real-Catholic-TV-station-anger-Detroit-archdiocese-and-others

 

Flashback 2012

 

vorisdownunder.com reports…

Tour schedule May 6-15th

Sydney: Tuesday 6th of May 7:30pm: Melkite Catholic Centre, 80 Waterloo road, Greenacre.

             Wednesday 7th of May 7:30pm: Melkite Catholic Centre, 80 Waterloo road, Greenacre.

Wagga Wagga: Friday 9th of May 7pm: Mary MacKillop College, 231 Gurwood Street, Wagga Wagga.

Melbourne: Saturday 10th of May 6pm: Ramada Encore Hotel, 50-52 McCrae St, Dandenong.

             Sunday 11th of May 4pm: Ramada Encore Hotel, 50-52 McCrae St, Dandenong.

Albury: Tuesday 13th of May 7pm: TBC

            Wednesday 14th of May 7pm: TBC

Brisbane: Thursday 15th of May 7:30pm: The Colmslie Hotel, Wynnum Rd, Morningside.

From http://vorisdownunder.com/

 

Lady Apostle bewitched

 

The Daily Mail reports…

“A Nigerian ‘witch-hunter’ who claims any child who cries is a ‘servant of Satan’ could be banned from the UK following calls to Home Secretary Theresa May that she is a risk to youngsters.

Campaigners are urging for Helen Ukpabio, known as ‘Lady Apostle’, to be deported and banned from returning to the UK on the grounds her preaches are harmful to the public.

The born-again Christian Pentecostal preacher, who founded the controversial African Evangelical franchise Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministries in Nigeria, is thought to currently be in the UK.

It’s understood she flew into London where she has been holding a number of church services to promote her belief in witchcraft and offer help to those ‘under threat’ from the wizardry.

A poster advertising one of Ms Ukpabio’s most recent talks – which was cancelled after the venue was leaked online – claims to offer help to people who are under ‘witchcraft attack, ancestral spirit attack or mermaid spirit attack’ and claims to help ‘disconnect’ them.

However, campaigners have warned her controversial views are dangerous to children – including the belief that ‘if a child under the age of two screams in the night, cries and is always feverish with deteriorating health, he or she is a servant of Satan’.

The Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN), the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) have now written to the Home Secretary in an attempt to get Ms Ukpabio deported under the Immigration Act 1971 – on the grounds her presence here is not conducive to the public good.

In a letter to Ms May, the campaigners warn: ‘Whilst the Government has moved swiftly to block entry to the UK for Islamic preachers whose presence is considered as harmful to the public good, there have been no cases of Christian pastors facing such measures.’

The groups are hoping the pastor will be banned from returning to the UK once she has completed her final tour.

Gary Foxcroft, of the WHRIN said Ms Ukpabio was one of a number of preachers who regularly travelled to the UK.

He told the Independent: ‘The fundamental problem is that churches need to be regulated. Anyone can set up a church tomorrow in their own garden shed with no commitment to child protection or making their accounts transparent or any theological training.’

Bob Churchill, of the IHEU, also told the newspaper: ‘It is important that the UK authorities send a message to the world that branding children, or anyone, as a witch is beyond the pale.’

From http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2604932/Nigerian-witch-hunter-claims-child-cries-servant-Satan-banned-UK-fears-risk-youngsters.html

Another pastor lost to suicide

The High Point Enterprise reports…

“A High Point congregation is mourning the death of its senior pastor, who took his own life over the weekend.

Pastor Robert McKeehan, the senior pastor of Community Bible Church, died Friday evening, and news of the 42-year-old pastor’s suicide sent waves of shock and grief through the body of the Johnson Street church.

“As you can imagine, there’s been a lot of grief and a lot of numbness,” said Richard Curtis, chairman of Community Bible’s elder board. “We’re sad, of course — we’re going to be poorer for the loss — but we’re also trying to help people understand that even though this is not the path we would’ve chosen, God is sovereign, and we’re still going to praise and worship our God.”

During an emotional service Sunday morning, church leaders tried to make biblical sense of how a pastor could take his own life. “The reality is we can never understand exactly how and why that happened,” Curtis said. “Just like those they lead, pastors are human and subject to all the same trials, emotions and struggles.”

Rob Black, pastor of adult ministries, spoke during the service and pointed the congregation to Deuteronomy 29:29, which says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and our children forever.”

“Why Robert took his own life is always going to be one of the secret things,” Curtis explained. “What God has revealed to us, however, is the promise we hold onto in Romans 8:28 — ‘We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.’ God has proven that to our church in the past when we’ve had difficult times, so we know that certainty will again prove true as we move beyond the question of why.”

Following the service, other pastors on the church’s staff made themselves available to parishioners who wanted to talk about McKeehan’s death, Curtis said. Active and former elders did likewise. “Many of them came back from trips they were on for spring break so they could be there for our people,” he said.

Out of respect for McKeehan’s family, church leaders said they would not publicly discuss the specifics of the pastor’s death.

McKeehan and his family — his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children, John and Scarlett — came to Community Bible Church in November 2010. According to Curtis, the new senior pastor quickly felt at home with his new congregation.

“He was an incredibly gifted teacher of God’s word,” he said. “The vision of our church is broken people becoming whole in Christ, and Robert was the type of pastor who related that well to our congregation. They knew he lived out that statement. They knew he needed Christ to make him whole, and they knew they could look to him as someone who could understand and help them.”

According to Curtis, it will be a few weeks before Community Bible begins the process of seeking a new senior pastor. The church currently has seven other pastors on staff who will lead the congregation in the interim, and all of the church’s various ministries — from a drug and alcohol recovery center to a community-wide men’s Bible study to a unique ministry partnership with Parkview Village Elementary Expressive Arts — are expected to continue, Curtis said.

Meanwhile, condolences and messages of support from other area churches and individuals continue to pour in at the church.
“We very much appreciate the support we are receiving from the community,” Curtis said.

“I think it is testimony to how many people and churches Robert had touched. That is one of the most positive things he brought to (the church) and something we are committed to continuing.”

From http://www.hpe.com/news/x27233637/Pastors-death-stuns-congregation

 

 

*In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free suicide prevention service available to anyone in suicidal crisis. If you need help, please dial:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

In Australia, the Lifeline number is 13 11 14.

Pastor blames gays for Valparaíso fire

 

The Washington Blade reports…

“A Chilean pastor has blamed forest fires near the city of Valparaíso on the discussion of a bill which would allow for same-sex civil unions.

Pastor Javier Soto made the comments on his Facebook page, posting photos of the blaze and labelling it a ‘punishment’ from God over the bill.

According to the Washington Blade, he said: “Chile is being punished.

“The order is: Put an end to the civil unions bill.

“This will continue if the opposite is done.”

Juan Pablo Fuentealba Álvarez of the Chilean It Gets Better Foundation, told the Blade: “It is evident that the forest fires in the Valparaíso Region of Chile, as with any other natural catastrophe, have nothing to do with the legalization of marriage between people of the same sex.

“We call for an end to hate, which only leads to more discrimination and prejudices. We invite you to open our mind and our heart towards an inclusive society that celebrates diversity.

“Evangelical pastor Javier Soto confuses religious issues with civil and social matters, which we understand can exist in perfect harmony, provided they respect each other.”

The fires, which broke out in the city on Saturday, have so far killed 12 people, and forced more than 10,000 to flee their homes.

A bill allowing for same-sex civil unions is currently progressing through the Chilean Senate, and recently re-elected President Michelle Bachelet has said that marriage equality is a priority issue.”

From http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/04/14/chile-pastor-blames-deadly-forest-fire-on-same-sex-unions-bill/

 

Pic:Washington Blade/Facebook

A Chilean pastor on Sunday said God sparked a massive forest fire in the coastal city of Valparaíso over the weekend because of a bill that would allow same-sex couples in the South American country to enter into civil unions.

Pastor Javier Soto posted two pictures of the blaze that ravaged several areas of the country’s third largest city on his Facebook page.

One picture contains the headline “the order is to put an ‘end’ to the civil unions bill” above a banner that reads “Chile is being punished.” A second post with the same image of the fire raging Valparaíso reads “The order is: Put an end to the civil unions bill. This will continue if the opposite is done.”

Soto, who is based in Viña del Mar, a resort city adjacent to Valparaíso, has repeatedly blasted members of the Chilean Senate who earlier this year voted to allow debate on the civil unions bill.

President Michelle Bachelet, who took office last month, is among those who support the measure.

- See more at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/04/14/pastor-blames-massive-chilean-forest-fire-civil-unions-bill/#sthash.GhrU0RCv.dpuf

A Chilean pastor on Sunday said God sparked a massive forest fire in the coastal city of Valparaíso over the weekend because of a bill that would allow same-sex couples in the South American country to enter into civil unions.

Pastor Javier Soto posted two pictures of the blaze that ravaged several areas of the country’s third largest city on his Facebook page.

One picture contains the headline “the order is to put an ‘end’ to the civil unions bill” above a banner that reads “Chile is being punished.” A second post with the same image of the fire raging Valparaíso reads “The order is: Put an end to the civil unions bill. This will continue if the opposite is done.”

Soto, who is based in Viña del Mar, a resort city adjacent to Valparaíso, has repeatedly blasted members of the Chilean Senate who earlier this year voted to allow debate on the civil unions bill.

President Michelle Bachelet, who took office last month, is among those who support the measure.

- See more at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/04/14/pastor-blames-massive-chilean-forest-fire-civil-unions-bill/#sthash.GhrU0RCv.dpuf

A Chilean pastor on Sunday said God sparked a massive forest fire in the coastal city of Valparaíso over the weekend because of a bill that would allow same-sex couples in the South American country to enter into civil unions.

Pastor Javier Soto posted two pictures of the blaze that ravaged several areas of the country’s third largest city on his Facebook page.

One picture contains the headline “the order is to put an ‘end’ to the civil unions bill” above a banner that reads “Chile is being punished.” A second post with the same image of the fire raging Valparaíso reads “The order is: Put an end to the civil unions bill. This will continue if the opposite is done.”

Soto, who is based in Viña del Mar, a resort city adjacent to Valparaíso, has repeatedly blasted members of the Chilean Senate who earlier this year voted to allow debate on the civil unions bill.

President Michelle Bachelet, who took office last month, is among those who support the measure.

- See more at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/04/14/pastor-blames-massive-chilean-forest-fire-civil-unions-bill/#sthash.GhrU0RCv.dpuf

A Chilean pastor on Sunday said God sparked a massive forest fire in the coastal city of Valparaíso over the weekend because of a bill that would allow same-sex couples in the South American country to enter into civil unions.

Pastor Javier Soto posted two pictures of the blaze that ravaged several areas of the country’s third largest city on his Facebook page.

One picture contains the headline “the order is to put an ‘end’ to the civil unions bill” above a banner that reads “Chile is being punished.” A second post with the same image of the fire raging Valparaíso reads “The order is: Put an end to the civil unions bill. This will continue if the opposite is done.”

Soto, who is based in Viña del Mar, a resort city adjacent to Valparaíso, has repeatedly blasted members of the Chilean Senate who earlier this year voted to allow debate on the civil unions bill.

President Michelle Bachelet, who took office last month, is among those who support the measure.

- See more at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/04/14/pastor-blames-massive-chilean-forest-fire-civil-unions-bill/#sthash.GhrU0RCv.dpuf

A Chilean pastor on Sunday said God sparked a massive forest fire in the coastal city of Valparaíso over the weekend because of a bill that would allow same-sex couples in the South American country to enter into civil unions.

Pastor Javier Soto posted two pictures of the blaze that ravaged several areas of the country’s third largest city on his Facebook page.

One picture contains the headline “the order is to put an ‘end’ to the civil unions bill” above a banner that reads “Chile is being punished.” A second post with the same image of the fire raging Valparaíso reads “The order is: Put an end to the civil unions bill. This will continue if the opposite is done.”

Soto, who is based in Viña del Mar, a resort city adjacent to Valparaíso, has repeatedly blasted members of the Chilean Senate who earlier this year voted to allow debate on the civil unions bill.

President Michelle Bachelet, who took office last month, is among those who support the measure.

- See more at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/04/14/pastor-blames-massive-chilean-forest-fire-civil-unions-bill/#sthash.GhrU0RCv.dpuf

Mooned by John Hagee

 

The New York Daily News reports…

“….Bestselling author and televangelist Pastor John Hagee claims the four blood moons that will soon appear in the skies over America are evidence of a future “world-shaking event.”

The blood moons are part of a tetrad, a set of complete and consecutive lunar eclipses that will begin on April 15 and continue in roughly six-month intervals until October 2015.

According to NASA, seeing four complete lunar eclipses in a row is very rare. The skies were tetrad-free from 1600 to 1900. But in the 21st century, there will be many.

What’s even stranger is that Americans have a front row seat.

“The most unique thing about the 2014-2015 tetrad is that all of them are visible for all or parts of the USA,” NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak told CNN.

Hagee, founder of Texas’ Cornerstone Church, thinks this is no coincidence. For him, it’s a sign of the end times.

The 73-year-old preacher has been preparing for the tetrad for years. He released a book about the blood moons last October and will go in depth about his speculations during a special TV event on April 15 on the Global Evangelism Television channel.

He points to Acts 2:19-20, which reads, “And I will show wonders in Heaven above and signs in the Earth beneath, the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

In sermons to his flock, Hagee said that each of the blood moons happens on a religiously significant day.

The April 15 event happens during Passover. On Oct. 8, the blood moon will occur during the Feast of Tabernacles. Another blood moon will occur during Passover on April 4, 2015. The last will happen on Sept. 28, 2015, another Feast ot the Tabernacles.

For proof of his theory, Hagee finds connections between past tetrads and important events in the life of the Jewish people.

In 1493, a tetrad occurred while the Jews were being expelled from Spain. Another tetrad occurred in 1949, soon after the state of Israel was founded. The last tetrad happened in 1967, during the Six-Day War between Arabs and Israelis.

“Just as in biblical times, God is controlling the sun, the moon, and the stars to send our generation a signal that something big is about to happen. The question is: Are we watching and listening to His message?” Hagee writes in his book.

The pastor has sparked controversy in the past for comments he’s made about a wide range of topics — from homosexuality to Islam.

In 2008, Hagee was criticized for suggesting that Hurricane Katrina was a result of God’s wrath toward the city of New Orleans for planning a rally for gays and lesbians…..”

From http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/televangelist-claims-blood-moons-sign-world-shaking-event-article-1.1754601