Here come the Houstons!

 

news.com.au reports…

“Hillsong Church founder and leader Brian Houston has relived the day he discovered Hillsong’s nasty secret — that his father was a paedophile — and has again defended his decision not to tell police about it.

Houston, 61, speaks in detail about his actions on that day, why he did not report his father, and how his struggle with the revelation saw him spiral into depression and sleeping pill dependency.

“He was a paedophile. My dad was a paedophile. I can say it now. I have sort of come to grips with it now. But I do sort of find myself carrying the can for stuff that had nothing to do with me,” Brian Houston tells Inside Story in an interview to air on Thursday night.

“This was not my crime. I didn’t do this. I hate paedophilia. And I mean it. I hate paedophilia with a passion.”

Houston’s father, William Francis ‘Frank’ Houston, who co-founded Hillsong with his son, in 2000 confessed to sexually abusing a boy in New Zealand 30 years earlier.

Brian Houston dismissed him immediately from the church, and by 2007 more claims against his father had emerged.

Frank Houston died in 2004. In 2014, Brian Houston admitted to a Sydney hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that his father was guilty of other cases of sexual abuse against children.

Reliving the day he found out the awful truth, Brian Houston says his heart shattered.

“I was meeting with one of my colleagues and he told me someone had rung into the Church office and made a complaint that, 30 years before, my father had abused a boy,” he says.

“At first I thought, ‘That’s immoral.’ Within a split second I thought, ‘That’s criminal.’ And I was just stunned, shattered.”

Brian Houston’s wife, Bobbie, tells of Brian taking her to lunch in Sydney, saying he had “something terrible” to tell her.

“My heart sunk — I thought he was going to tell me he had an affair — which now is almost laughable — but he told me. I don’t remember his words. I just know I was stunned. I was stunned,” she says.

Recounting his struggle to deal with the truth about his father, Brian Houston says “the dad that I knew, right up to really his dying day, was a totally different person than what now the world knows was an evil side of him”.

“I was never at any time in any way exposed to that, so it’s still hard to reconcile.

“At first I felt very sad and very disappointed, and obviously I felt terribly sad for the victim, because there’s no doubt about it, my father’s violated him and done irreparable damage to his life.

“I felt it was my moral duty to face up to it with my own father. Hopefully anyone who is slightly human can think about that.”

In 2015 the Royal Commission found Brian Houston had failed to alert the police about allegations his father had sexually assaulted children, and had a conflict of interest when he assumed responsibility for dealing with the accusations.

Brian Houston had previously told the Commission he did not go to police because “rightly or wrongly I genuinely believed that I would be pre-empting the victim if I were to just call the police at that point”.

“I had to confront my own father — my hero — we didn’t cover it up.

“We did tell people straight away. We did take his credentials away. He never did preach again and we did oversee and ensure that he was never put in a position to be close to kids to be able to do that again.

“What we didn’t do is report it to the police.

“When he (the victim) came forward he was 36 or 37 years old. And he was very adamant he didn’t want to involve the police. He didn’t want the church authorities involved, or the police authorities involved.

“And so he was brittle and I think because of that I didn’t see the police as an option.”

Brian Houston concedes the true extent of this father’s crimes may have gone with Frank Houston to his grave.

“Of course it’s come out since then (the initial complaint) that there were others as well.

“And I don’t think we know to this day the full extent of it — I don’t know the full extent of it — I think I would be aware of about six, but listen, I have no idea — it could be much bigger than that, I just don’t know.”

Inside Story host Leila McKinnon says the comments are part of a wide-ranging interview in which “nothing was off limits” with Brian Houston’s and his wife.

It encompasses the rise of Hillsong — a phenomenon that began in Sydney’s Hills district and, more than 30 years on, has a presence in 15 countries, and asks questions about its finances, its converts, its success and its beliefs — including claims it’s a cult (to which Houston responds: “Cults hold people against their will, hold their minds, try to divide families those sorts of things … at Hillsong. People come, people go — no one has to do anything.”)

McKinnon says: “All the questions and scandals were addressed, and I think he (Houston) has answered in an upfront way, and from here we have left it for people to make up their own minds.”

“The fact is they (the Houstons) haven’t done a lot of media — they largely speak to their own congregations — which means this may be a side to them we haven’t seen before,” she said.”

From http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/brian-houston-speaks-out-on-dealing-with-hillsongs-nasty-secret/news-story/bb55a4cb18302fff871f52f1b92cba55

 

 

mUmBRELLA reports…

“….In the 7:30pm slot, Inside Story’s piece on Hillsong founders Brian and Bobbie Houston drew 499,000 followed by RTA on 517,000 viewers but was beaten by I’m A Celebrity and also Seven’s Home and Away which had 753,000 viewers….”

http://mumbrella.com.au/tens-im-celebrity-pulls-791000-viewers-win-quiet-thursday-night-346110

 

Church carries pastor

 

Nairobi News reports…

“Photos of a Tanzanian preacher delivering a sermon while literally riding of the backs of a section of his congregation have received widespread criticism on social media.

In some of these images, the preacher is seen standing on the backs of three people who are kneeling on all fours as he delivers his sermon.

There is also an image showing the “man of God” taking a piggyback ride on the back of yet another congregant while delivering the sermon to an attentive congregation that includes children.

According to media reports, the preacher claims it is not in order for him to deliver the sermon “while standing on the ground”.

This is the latest incident in a series of bizarre behaviour and extravagant lifestyles of African men of the cloth.

In July last year, photos of a South Africa preacher by the man Pastor Penuel Mnguni ordering members of his congregation to eat live snakes, were widely circulated on social media.

The pastor was also said to be known for stomping on his congregation as well as making them strip naked as part of his healing method

A few weeks later, enraged residents of Pretoria burned down the church following the reports.

Early last month, another pastor from Malawian, only known as “Prophet Shepherd Bushiri”, took to social media to flaunt his newly-acquired jet estimated to cost Sh 3.7 billion.”

From http://nairobinews.nation.co.ke/news/pastor-delivers-sermon-riding-backs-congregants/

Church people can’t park

Pic:Kimberly Santiago/northjersey.com

 

The Montclair Times reports…

“Residents from Seymour Street and Roosevelt Place have long had issues with people attending events at the Wellmont Theater, citing increased noise as patrons walk back to their cars at night and an overall burden upon the limited parking spaces on their blocks.

Yet, for all the late-night rock concerts and dance parties, some residents allege that it’s been congregants of a Sunday church service at the venue who have been disregarding the area’s parking restrictions and causing a weekly headache for local tenants.

Hillsong’s church began 30 years ago in Sydney, Australia, according to Carl Lentz, a pastor of the Montclair chapter. Hillsong NYC followed, with services currently hosted at Irving Plaza. Crossing the Hudson a little more than two years ago, it found another home in the Wellmont Theater.

Lentz said that Hillsong draws 1,000 attendees to its Sunday events in the Wellmont, with some congregants commuting as long as two hours from where they live. Of course not all of them are taking their own cars, but with that many people, there’s bound to be a dearth of available parking spaces in the area, and the issue for some who live nearby had been not so much the sheer magnitude of automobiles, but where they were parked.

“Living downtown by the Wellmont, anytime there’s a concert, it gets a little hairy. Even with the dinner crowd, you can’t find parking, as we all know,” said Kimberly Santiago, a resident of Seymour Street. “Everyone deals with it. It’s one of the pros and cons of living here. But on Sundays, it’s been, for maybe about a year or so, that the guests that come to the Hillsong NYC event, it’s not just that there’s no parking. They park in areas that are not legal spots.”

Santiago noted that she had observed cars blocking driveways and crosswalks, parked on the curb, lining the sides of the South Willow Parking Lot making it difficult for other cars to pass, and in permit-only spaces.

“There’s a lot on Plymouth [Street] across from the library where you could park along the wall, along the building there. They park right behind those cars,” she said. “It takes you about five minutes to kind of wiggle your car out.”

When asked how she could be sure that Hillsong’s congregants were the source of the problem, Santiago said she watched people leave the Wellmont after the services and walk back to the offending cars.

Feeling as though the Montclair Police Department and parking enforcement were not taking steps to dissuade the errant parkers, she and several of her neighbors started a petition a month ago.

With signatures spanning two apartment buildings in the area, and following the advice of a fellow resident, Santiago raised the issue with the Township Council.

“I was receiving a number of emails,” said 3rd Ward Council member Sean Spiller, who then reached out to Township Manager Timothy Stafford and Tina Iordamlis, project administrator for the municipal Parking Utility, seeking a solution that would be agreeable to the church and residents.

Iordamlis, Montclair Police Chief David Sabagh and Sergeant Stephanie Egnezzo appeared at a council meeting on Jan. 19 to brief Spiller’s colleagues on what was being done.

Sabagh told The Montclair Times that three weeks ago the MPD initiated a more fastidious observation of the area around the Wellmont, and seeing much of what Santiago had described in her complaints, issued tickets to illegally parked cars.

“It seemed to all be related to that church attending in the Wellmont, because it all occurred on Sundays, or Sunday mornings,” Sabagh said. “We’ve been talking to the people at the Wellmont to make other arrangements so this problem does not continue week after week.”

Lentz said that The Montclair Times’ inquiry was the first he had heard of the problem, and that the church utilized limited signage to direct its congregants toward parking spaces.

“Probably as people pull off Bloomfield [Avenue] to come in, we probably have just the lot behind the Wellmont where we’re allowed to have people park. That’d be it. Very minimal parking signs,” the pastor said.

But, with an official Hillsong logo marking a parking lot entrance, one might be given the notion that the lot behind the Wellmont has been reserved solely for Hillsong NYC.

Sabagh said, “I would imagine these signs could give the parishioners a false impression that they have full access to these lots. I certainly think it could be misleading and I’m sure that’s one of the issues that our parking division might be dealing with.”

Whether or not the Hillsong signage is confusing, a PDF that Santiago shared with the Township Council illustrated what one might consider a gratuitous disregard for common parking regulations in any municipality. One photograph showed a car parked in the blue-lined buffer zone to the left of a handicapped spot. In another, a car was parked in front of a fire hydrant.

Sean Striegle, a representative of Live Nation Entertainment, the Wellmont’s parent company, told The Montclair Times that he was unaware of issues relating to the theater regarding parking on Sunday mornings.

“I don’t think it’s any different from any other event,” said Striegle. “With growth there will always be hiccups, and with an increased amount of traffic and an increased amount of people visiting that section of Montclair, there will always be a learning curve. If there are issues regarding parking, or there are issues regarding the amount of people at a certain amount of time, or at a specific date, that is something we will be working on to alleviate, and reach the intended goal of improving everything for the town of Montclair.”

Striegle added that parking issues such as this are ultimately in the hands of each vehicle’s owner: “It’s their responsibility to abide by any posted laws.”

This past weekend, the Wellmont Theater had taken an active role in resolving the issue. Santiago said there were theater employees directing drivers, and “no parking” signage in the lots where the problems had previously existed.

“So far, so good. They were not parking on curbs, they weren’t blocking any driveways,” noted Santiago. “It was promising.”

From http://www.northjersey.com/news/transportation/montclair-church-reported-cause-of-parking-headache-for-residents-1.1507298?page=all

By the time Mark Driscoll gets to Phoenix

 

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports…

“Ex-Mars Hill Church pastor Mark Driscoll, whose Seattle megachurch imploded in 2014, is seeking to rise from the ashes in Phoenix with formation of The Trinity Church, equipped with “pastors of apostolic giving.”

“We open our Bibles to learn. We open our lives to love,” proclaims the church website.  Trinity Church is named after a church founded in the Seattle area by parents of Driscoll’s wife, Grace.

Its incorporation papers said Trinity Church would not have members. But Driscoll says now:  “Once the church is established, a class and process for spiritual church membership will be offered.”

Driscoll has both moved and moved to make  a quick comeback. It has been less than 16 months since he resigned as senior pastor at Mars Hill, which once had 15 “campuses” in five states, and barely 13 months since Mars Hill formally disbanded.

He quit at Mars Hill after an investigation sustained claims of bullying and abusive conduct lodged by 21 former pastors and church leaders.

At the time of Driscoll’s resignation, on Oct. 15, 2014, the church said in a statement:

“The investigation of formal charges against Mark Driscoll has revealed patterns of persistent sin in the three areas disclosed in the previous letter by the board of overseers.

“In I Timothy 5:20, it requires that an elder be rebuked for persistent sin. Our intention was to do this while providing a plan for his eventual restoration to leadership.”

The Mars Hill Church announced two weeks later that it was dissolving. But Driscoll had already made an appearance at the Gateway Conference in Texas, talking about how he had been persecuted and endured death threats and circling news helicopters in Seattle.

Since then, circumstances of Driscoll’s departure have been airbrushed. Introducing “Pastor Mark” at the Zion evangelical conference last month, pastor Jimmy Witcher made light of the 2014 implosion, saying of Driscoll:

“He was doing a tremendous job, and through some internal things that were going on there,  it became necessary for him to resign . . . And Pastor Mark had to go through a very difficult, kind of almost a public trial, with the media on his front lawn, helicopters flying overhead, his every move being discussed in blogs and on social media.”

The reality was far different.  Driscoll faced plagiarism allegations over his book “Real marriage,” for which he had received a $400,000 advance.

Questions were raised — and never answered — about the disposition of “church planting” donations supposedly earmarked for Ethiopia and India. Internal memos indicated the money was being spent in the United States.

Acts 29, a ‘church planting” network of 500 churches co-founded by Driscoll, removed both “Pastor Mark” and Mars Hill from membership.

Its directors wrote to Driscoll:

“Over the past three years, our board and network have been the recipients of countless shots and dozens of fires directly linked to you and what we consider ungodly and disqualifying behavior.

“We have both publicly and internally tried to support and give you the benefit of the doubt, even when multiple pastors in our network confirmed this behavior.”

They urged that Driscoll take a leave of absence from ministry.

He has not. Driscoll had a website up even before Mars Hill closed down, and was offering and marketing sermons.  As 2016 began, he was preaching on the topic “Overcoming Anxiety” at North Valley Community Church in Phoenix.

The new church lists four pastors providing “wise counsel,” two associate pastors, as well as a prayer team.

Driscoll preached a male-centric Gospel at Mars Hill, emphasizing the husband’s leadership role in marriage and the home, condemning homosexuality, and once claiming that feminism was producing a “pussified nation.”

The strictures of Trinity Church:

“Pray first

“The pedals on our bike are Bible teaching and relationships

“Loving relationships are the mark of good theology

“Fun is fundamental

“Build people up, don’t beat people up.” (The complaint from 21 ex-Mars Hill pastors and elders alleged exactly the opposite pattern of conduct at the church that Driscoll had cofounded in 1996.)

The list goes on to a final stricture:  “$ Vision requires provision.”

Warren Throckmorton, a Pennsylvania academic who writes for Patheos — and chronicled the 2014 unraveling — summed it up in an email:  “He’s baaack.”

From http://www.seattlepi.com/local/politics/article/The-Rev-Mark-Driscoll-unveils-new-Phoenix-church-6798946.php

Anti-gay church facing foreclosure

 

Christian Today reports…

“LGBT groups have raised funds to buy a New York City church previously known for its firm opposition to homosexuality.

Atlah Worldwide Church is to be sold in a public auction on the orders of a state judge after amounting more than $1m in unpaid bills and tax liens.

Two LGBT groups are raising funds in the hopes of buying the site which has displayed stridently anti-gay messages such as “Harlem is a sodomite free zone” and “Jesus would stone homos”.

A nearby LGBT-friendly church, Rivers of Living Water, hopes to turn the site in to a permanent venue for the parish.

However another group, the Ali Forney Center, is hoping to use the space to expand its homeless LGBT youth shelter.

“I think it would represent a real healing of a terrible wound that’s been in that neighborhood,” said Carl Siciliano, founder and executive director of the Ali Forney Center.

Siciliano said that every night the centre turns away about 170 to 200 youth who need shelter.

“Every bed we are able to obtain is precious,” said Siciliano. “And I have to say, it is a very rare thing for a local neighborhood [to ask] for a homeless youth housing program.”

The Ali Forney Center has raised over half of its $200,000 target and Rivers of Living Water has raised $18,000 on its fundraising page.

However Rev David Manning, former-pastor of Atlah church, has denied that the church owes any money.

“I think it’s just an uninformed move by people trying to do a land grab,” Manning said.

He added that he did not care that more than $100,000 had been raised by LGBT groups hoping to purchase the building.

“I don’t care what they do,” Manning said. “People do a lot of things.”

From http://www.christiantoday.com/article/lgbt.groups.raise.money.to.buy.new.york.church/78466.htm

Pat Mesiti up Goose Creek

 

Lance (Group Sects) writes…

Pat Mesiti has preached at a US church, days after a Sydney court heard allegations of domestic violence against the motivational speaker and former church minister.

Mesiti has pleaded not guilty to assault occasioning bodily harm and common assault after a New Year’s Eve incident in which Police allege the 56 year old was ‘heavily intoxicated and in a fit of rage over a family issue’.

He is required to comply with an interim protection order, preventing him from approaching his second wife Andrea within twelve hours of consuming alcohol or illicit drugs.

On January 24, Mesiti preached at the New Life Christian Fellowship Church in the Charleston suburb of Goose Creek in South Carolina.

 

Gays at the back of the Hill$ong bus

Flashback

 

The Daily Beast reports…

“….When Alex Pittaway’s youth pastor stood before a group of 800 evangelical Christian boys and men in Sydney and shouted, “Shirts off!” everybody listened. Boys as young as 13 and their leaders, some as old as 30, all ripped off shirts in a sign of godly macho solidarity. Someone jumped on stage and was shouted down, with jeers of “Go to the gym, mate!”

It wasn’t just pastor Scott “Sanga” Samways (the nickname is slang in Australia for a sausage sandwich) who utilized partial nudity as a church-approved bonding technique, Pittaway said. At youth group and Bible camp, or any time when men and women were separated, Alex remembers “a hell of a lot of homoerotic behaviour.”

For Alex—a closeted gay teen and member of Hillsong—the command was terrifying. Did the brothers in Christ slapping his back or complimenting his abs know he was gay? If someone knew, would he think Alex was “looking”?

Alex quit the church in 2008, after a traumatic coming out where he says he was referred by his youth pastor to counseling that proposed to make him straight—the kind of conversion therapy we now know is based on pseudoscience, as ineffectual as it is damaging.

For years, in fact, coming out to a Hillsong pastor landed a church member in just such an ‘ex-gay’ program. According to former members, Hillsong first helped congregants struggling with their sexuality pray their gay away in Exit Ministries, started by Frank Houston, or Mercy Ministries for lesbians; the church then outsourced the conversion work to Living Waters (self-shuttered in 2014) or Exodus (closed in 2013), or maybe an online course like Setting Captives Free (banned in the Apple Store in 2013). Self-proclaimed reformed gay, and former executive director of Exodus, Sy Rogers—who now identifies as transgender and is married to a woman—wrote books and tapes and would preach at Hillsong conferences about overcoming his gay demons. He’d tell the struggling faithful: “You gotta learn to bow down and obey and deal with it.” Rogers’s current ministry has moved away from the ex-gay message and though Rogers hasn’t said so publicly, Brian Houston told a blogger that Rogers probably regrets his involvement with Exodus.

But Hillsong doesn’t try to “fix” gay congregants anymore. Sometime around 2011, Houston distanced his church from conversion programs, and he now talks often about the “weight” the church bears when it comes to its treatment of gays and lesbians. “They feel like ‘maybe I’m gay’ and they go to a youth leader and they are rejected,” Brian said in a 2013 sermon. “At that moment a great hatred comes in. At that moment some of them have gone so far with the rejection and gone to parents who didn’t understand and ended up committing suicide. That’s the weight we live with.”

It should be said here that Alex, now an openly gay seminary student in Indiana, still thinks of Hillsong fondly, speaks of it warmly, and often catches himself humming the church tunes. He says that while he didn’t feel safe or comfortable trying to find God in a building where most of the people in it thought he was going to hell, for those who don’t define themselves by their sexuality, who can compartmentalize, it’s a fine place to “worship anonymously.”

Ben Fenlon, a three-year member of Hillsong’s London satellite, explained his reasons for quitting the church in a piece for the Huffington Post. He wrote, “I can’t worship at a church knowing that I am not fully accepted and considered equal to all those around me. Surrounded by people that might love me as a person but do not accept me as being gay; instead tolerate me. People who might tell me that being gay is okay, but on the inside are praying for me to let Jesus move in my life and change me. People who don’t recognise that any relationship that I have with a man is part of God’s plan and that it would be full of love, equal to any other.”

Alex told me about a gay friend who had been booted from his position in Hillsong’s children’s ministry after he came out and another who, after coming out to Hillsong leadership, was relieved of his duties as an usher. “He wasn’t even allowed to serve cups of coffee or help direct traffic in the parking lot,” he said. (Hillsong did not return requests for comment on these alleged incidents.)

“Gay people need to know that when they go to Hillsong, they have to go to the back of the bus.” Alex said. “Hillsong is hip and attractive and contemporary, but there’s certainly nothing contemporary about what LGBT people will face if they want to be a leader in the church or offer themselves up for service. That’s something [Hillsong] will have to be upfront with, and they haven’t been so far.”

To be fair, Hillsong’s task isn’t an easy one. How does an extremely conservative pentecostal church fight irrelevancy and attract those coveted millennials—a group that’s been running from churches and overwhelmingly supports gay marriage and equal rights for LGBT people—and maintain its tithing, if intolerant, base at the same time?

Hillsong has taken certain halting steps that place the church to the left of its conservative counterparts, some of which have labeled the Aussie megachurch as unbiblical, and say its leaders have sold out God’s word for a younger, more tolerant crowd. For example: Hillsong Leadership College recently removed homosexuality from the list of “sexual sins” in the student code of conduct. And some members have taken Pastor Carl Lentz’s stance—basically that homosexuality is a sin, OK, but no worse than any other, and he gets why everyone is always asking, but he’d rather not address it, because Jesus pretty much didn’t, and Hillsong loves everyone anyway—as a move in the right direction.

It’s not just conservative churches that are criticizing Hillsong’s stance. Anna Flowers, pastor at Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn—a “progressive, young and vibrant church” where she shares the pulpit with two lesbian pastors and one transgender male pastor—has tweeted about what she calls Hillsong’s false permissiveness. “not as hip as Hillsong Hipsters, but we actually love and accept everyone,” she said in one tweet. In another: “drives us NUTS when Hipster evang. churches fool ppl into thinking they are progressive.” Flowers tells me, “there are far more truly progressive churches than people realize. And sometimes churches look more progressive than they really are.”

I read as many of Lentz’s statements on the LGBT issue as I could find and he gave what I consider the most straightforward answer to Jonathan Merritt at Religion News Service in August of 2015:

“Our beliefs on biblical marriage and sexual morality have never changed at Hillsong church. Yet we stay open and desperate in our pursuit of the whosoevers.”

What that means in practical terms is that Hillsong wants anyone and everyone in the seats, but neither supports same-sex marriage nor allows LGBT people to serve in positions of leadership. As Brian Houston clarified last year, following the sacking of a choir director who announced his same-sex engagement to another member of the choir, acceptance of gays and lesbians extends only as far the the pew.

And for some, including Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly, the couple at the center of the choir controversy, that’s enough. For now at least.

Ben Gresham also still attends Hillsong in Sydney, despite a complicated past with the church, because he believes gay and lesbian members are key to helping the church move forward. “I try and speak to church pastors and leaders when I can and have had some encouraging discussions,” he said.

Gresham has told the story of coming out at Hillsong on his blog. After three years of ex-gay therapy, constant praying, even undergoing an exorcism, he realized he would never be straight. The thought of never being able to enter the kingdom of heaven, to marry a woman, to be the person Hillsong told him that God wanted him to be, led him to cut himself with a razor blade, and one night, to drive his speeding car nearly off the side of a highway. He considers the last-minute change of heart a miracle.

“For me, Hillsong still feels like home. It has been a source of harm for me in the past but continues to bring me much joy and help me grow in my faith, which is invaluable,” he said. “As a gay man and a Christian I would love to see Hillsong fully affirm and include its queer members. I hope it happens sooner rather than later but given my experience I remain doubtful.

“Hillsong is a big church and so it takes time to move it forward. I just wish they would move a bit faster.”

From http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/01/17/sex-abuse-gay-conversion-therapy-the-dark-past-of-justin-bieber-s-megachurch-hillsong.html

Pastor suggests Syrian refugees be destroyed

 

WIAT reports…

“An Alabama pastor made some controversial statements about Syrian refugees.

Pastor Ted Sessoms is the pastor of Arbor Springs Baptist Church in the Samantha community of Northport.

Sessoms recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Alabama Baptist Newspaper.

The letter say in part:

“I am against allowing the refugees the rights to America’s soil and my neighborhood. These are the same people that hate America, hate Christians and have vowed to take over the world by destroying our way of life. Perhaps our leaders should study the Old Testament when God gave specific instructions to destroy these people (even their women, children and animals). Why would He give such instructions? Because He knew the impact these idol worshippers of false gods would have on His people. It is not a matter of loving your neighbor. My neighbors are the people that value the same standards of life and way of life that I value.”

Wednesday night, we talked with Sessoms after a prayer meeting at his church. Sessoms tells us he stands by his statement.

“In this country we are under attack by terrorists and we don’t know who those folks are,” Sessoms said. “And so by allowing these refugees to come in and not know their background. But we certainly know their past is to hate Americans and hate Christianity.”

Sessoms says he wrote the letter to the Baptist newspaper to express his frustration with other Baptist leaders who have advocated for allowing refugees to enter the country.

The pastor says he’s not a racist and loves people. He just doesn’t believe the federal government should allow refugees in the country

Several people have shared their thoughts about Sessoms’ letter on the Church’s Facebook page.

“Your church members should be very proud to have a man such as you as pastor,” T. Anderson wrote. “Thanks again so much for writing what a lot of us are thinking.”

G. Fuller posted to the page, saying, “Your pastor’s words are hurtful and completely anti-Christ.”

Weigh in on the conversation on our Facebook page or in the comments below.”

From http://wiat.com/2016/01/27/alabama-pastor-sparks-controversy-with-letter-about-syrian-refugees/

Support for pastor accused of embezzlement

 

KOCO reports…

“Problems are growing for an Oklahoma City pastor accused of embezzlement. Velio Estrada was the leader of one of the city’s largest Hispanic congregations at El Tabernaculo de Fe.

Edwin Dubon has known him for more than 18 years and says he’s tired of hearing all the negative comments made against his friend.

“I don’t think he’s capable. I don’t think he’s done the things he’s accused of,” he said.

Dubon said that everything has an explanations, such as the poor records kept. He said that’s because he runs a small church with simple people who aren’t used to running a church like a business.

“You go to an American church and you have doctors and lawyers, business owners,” he said. “Most of the people who go to that church are waiters and roofers, not the owners, but the guys putting the roof on.”

Dubon said the legal battle with Oklahoma District Council of the Assemblies of God of the State of Oklahoma is taking a toll on Estrada.

Recently the bank filed a foreclosure notice regarding Estrada’s Edmond private estate.

According to the Oklahoma County Assessor’s Office, the home is worth about $475,000 and was titled under El Tabernaculo De Fe Inc.

Court documents list several people on the notice, which says more than $360,000 are owed on the home. Online county records also show there’s more than $24,000 owed on unpaid taxes for the last four years.

Dubon said this supports his claim that Estrada is innocent. “They say he has all that money. Why are they taking his house away if he had all that money?” he said.

A call to the attorney representing Estrada in the foreclosure case was not returned.”

From http://www.koco.com/news/friend-speaks-out-about-okc-pastor-accused-of-embezzlement/37653510

Creflo Dollar Highway

 

WSB reports…

“A state senator wants to rename part of Old National Highway after megachurch pastor Creflo Dollar.

Dollar’s church, World Changers Church International, has been a part of the College Park community for 30 years.

State Sen. Donzella James, D-Atlanta, introduced the proposal Monday. Dollar’s church is in her district.

James told Channel 2’s Matt Johnson that the pastor has done more good for the community than his reputation may suggest.

“I would love to see a Creflo Dollar Highway,” James said.

James is a strong supporter of Dollar. She says the leader of World Changers gets a bad reputation and deserves the honor after his years of service in the community.

“This is a church that’s doing things in the community to make things better,” James told Johnson.

James introduced Senate Resolution 805, which would dedicate Old National Highway between Highway 138 and Interstate 285 as the Creflo Dollar Highway.

Dollar made headlines last year when he and other church leaders asked followers at World Changers to raise $65 million for a top-of-the-line luxury Gulfstream G-650 jet.

James recently joined Dollar’s church but said she did this because her constituents asked for it.

“So many people have requested this, not even people who go to World Changers,” James told Johnson.

Disbelief was the reaction Johnson got from some people who live along Old National Highway as they said they’d rather see it dedicated to someone else.

“Oh Lord have mercy, good God almighty, Lord no,” one man told Johnson. “He’s not meeting the whole community needs in order for this right here to be named after him.”

“He might impact the people who go to his church but not like College Park or Old National as a community,” another person told Johnson.

Last year, James won approval to name a portion of Atlanta’s Spring Street as the new Gladys Knight Highway.”

From http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/state-senator-wants-road-renamed-after-creflo-doll/nqCJK/

 

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