New Birth Missionary Baptist Church & Other Churches Change Practices, Educate Due to Coronavirus…

Hello World,

I was already a bit of a germaphobe anyway, but I felt kind of bad about the fact that I generally don’t like to touch people’s hands unless I know them like that. But now, I don’t care if we’re in church, I’m waving “Hey” from a safe distance and blowing air-kisses. And on top of that, I’m putting on hand sanitizer like it’s lotion.  Finally, if you look like you may be sick with anything, I’m giving you the screw face and heading in the opposite direction. Don’t judge me unless you’re Jesus. This  coronavirus is something serious – so serious that President Trump jammed up already heavy traffic on a Friday afternoon no less here in the A to meet with Centers of Disease Control (CDC) officials to discuss the outbreak.

And likewise, churches, one of the many places where large numbers of people gather on a regular basis, are responding as they should. According to The Christian Post, local pastor Jamal Bryant of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church recently met with his church about how they are responding to the issue.

“You’ll notice that we have, proactively here at your church, as of Sunday we now have at every exit, every entrance, we now have hand sanitizing stations because we want to be mindful and we want to be proactive,” he said.

The megachurch pastor also urged his church to start checking more frequently on their older adult family members since they are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

“This is where we have to start functioning and operating as family,” he told his church.

Read more HERE. 

Catholic churches in Atlanta are changing the way they conduct communion. According to CBS46, this statement below came from the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Given the ongoing concern over COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, we have decided to suspend distribution of the Precious Blood for the time being. We feel we would eventually have to take this action and hope that taking it early will allay any fears people have now and demonstrate our concern for the health and safety of our congregations.

Individual pastors can decide whether or not to suspend the exchange of peace. Many pastors have already taken these precautions to prevent the spread of flu in their communities.

Read more HERE.

And finally if you want to just stay home and not even go to church, that’s an option for some churches…Pastor Andy Stanley, who leads North Point Community Church, Buckhead Church, Browns Bridge Church, Gwinnett Church, Woodstock City Church, and Decatur City Church, disseminated a letter titled “Permission to stay home!” to his members, according to WSB-TV.

“If you’ve been exposed to a person with the coronavirus or the flu or have recently traveled to a CDC Level 2 or 3 country (China, Iran, Italy, South Korea, Hong Kong, or Japan), please take a couple of Sundays off. If you or your family members are experiencing or have recently experienced symptoms associated with the flu or the common cold (fever, persistent cough, headache, chills, or unexplained rash), we ask that you take a couple of Sundays off as well,” Stanley said in his email.

Read more HERE.

And on the other hand, some religious leaders have taken a bizarre approach to the coronavirus issue…Reportedly, former televangelist Jim Bakker is selling a fake coronavirus cure…SMHH (Shake My Holy Head)….From The Huffington Post, check out this headline — “New York AG Warns Televangelist Jim Bakker To Stop Selling Fake Coronavirus Cure.” An article excerpt is below.

The New York attorney general’s office has ordered disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker to stop misleading consumers about a fake cure for coronavirus.

Lisa Landau, chief of the AG’s Health Care Bureau, sent a cease and desist letter to Bakker on Thursday threatening legal action if he fails to stop touting his “Silver Solution” as an effective treatment for the deadly virus. Landau wrote that she was “extremely concerned” about his latest promotion because there is no specific medicine to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus.

“Any representation on the Jim Bakker Show that its Silver Solution products are effective at combatting and/or treating the 2019 novel coronavirus violates New York law,” the letter warned.

Read more HERE.

Click HERE for the latest from the CDC about coronavirus here in the United States.

How do you feel about these churches’ responses to coronavirus? (I’m not even getting into what Jim Bakker is doing…Wow…)  How are you changing your behavior? (This is some Walking Dead stuff, right?)

Any thoughts?

Christianity Today Remembers Billy Graham’s Altar Calls…

Zondervan Publishing Releases New Book 'A Prophet With Honor: The Billy Graham Story'

Hello World,

The world lost one of its greatest evangelists when Billy Graham passed last Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 99 years old in his North Carolina home. He wasn’t perfect, but none can claim that accolade except for the Trinity. And through his worldwide ministry, Graham faithfully pointed to the Trinity for most of his life. As this blog is entitled “After the Altar Call,” I was intrigued when I saw this article about Graham “Billy Graham’s Altar Calls Were More Than Moments of Decision” by David Neff, a former editor of Christianity Today on its website. If you’ve ever wondered why I named this blog “After the Altar Call” beyond the About Jacqueline J. Holness page where I explain my reasoning, read this article. Below is an excerpt:

“First appeared on christianitytoday.com”

An evangelist came to town when I was just a freshman in high school. He needed an organist. So my pastor made arrangements for me to help out.

“When I get to the end of my sermon,” the evangelist told me, “I’ll start to move my fingers like this.” He wriggled his fingers like a mass of night crawlers in a bait can. That was the cue, he explained, for me to begin to play some comin’-to-Jesus music very softly and tenderly—and to gradually increase the volume as he turned up the emotional pitch of his invitation.

I had sat through many altar calls before. But now that I was part of the team, I learned just how well engineered these invitations were. We carefully followed a precisely formulated sequence designed to move people out of their seats and down the aisles.

In 1969, Billy Graham came to Angels Stadium in Anaheim, California, when I was a fresh-out-of-college youth pastor. I decided to take a dozen or so teens to hear Graham preach.

When we eventually found our seats, Ethel Waters was giving her testimony just before singing her trademark tune, “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” I remember very little about Billy Graham’s sermon, but his altar call burned itself into my memory.

Read the rest at christianitytoday.com.

Also, Zondervan Publishing released “A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story,” by William Martin, Ph.D., Harvard,on Feb. 20. Graham himself requested Martin, the Harry and Hazel Chavanne Emeritus Professor of Religion and Public Policy in the Department of Sociology at Rice University in Houston, Texas, for the project. Graham granted Martin unprecedented access to the Billy Graham archives and team members, lending this work the authenticity and transparency of no other.

“As I have written in this book, I have constantly examined what I have said in an effort to make sure that I was neither shading the truth in Graham’s or his associates’ favor out of gratitude for their helpfulness, nor taking an inappropriately negative slant as a way of emphasizing that I had not been taken in by slick manipulation,” Martin writes. “But since Billy Graham and his associates – like all humankind – have weaknesses, I determined not to gloss those over.”

Martin begins the work with a short introduction to evangelicalism and the revivalist movement starting with John Cotton’s messages to the settlers of New England in the 1600s. Other names to follow include Solomon Stoddard, Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield through to Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday, and Mordecai Ham, the evangelist under whom Graham came to faith in Christ as a teenage boy in 1934.

Fans of Graham’s autobiography “Just As I Am,” will recognize many of the names, places and events chronicled here, but “A Prophet with Honor” goes further behind the scenes to explain the conditions that made it possible for Graham to achieve his spectacular success and to reveal how sometimes he succeeded in spite of himself.

As Graham explained when approaching Martin about writing the book, “There are no conditions. It’s your book. I don’t even have to read it. I want you to be critical. There are some things that need criticizing.”

Despite Graham’s humble expectations of a biography that would reveal his true self – warts and all – Martin came away from his research with the overwhelming sense that despite his flaws, Graham was a man of rare integrity. Martin concludes that there will likely never be another like him. “Unless and until that happens, William Franklin Graham, Jr., can safely be regarded as the best who ever lived at what he did – ‘a workman,’ as Scripture says, ‘who needed not to be ashamed.'”

Any thoughts?

Former Christian Post Reporter Nicola A. Menzie Solicits Support for New Magazine!

nicola-menzie

Hello World,

As you may or may not know, I came of age in the 90s otherwise known as the golden age of black entertainment (although there are some shows out now that are giving me hope that black entertainment is enjoying a resurgence). One of my favorite shows back in the 90s was “Living Single,” which was about brand new adults making their way in  NYC (basically a black “Friends” before there was “Friends). I watched the show just about the time that I was making my way as a brand new adult in the A.

I identified with no one character more than the others, but I did feel a certain kinship with the character Khadijah James, who was portrayed by Queen Latifah. Khadijah was the editor and publisher of the upstart Flavor magazine and as such found herself on the brink of economic disaster a few times.

Queen Latifah in Living Single.

Queen Latifah in Living Single.

I didn’t have the courage to start my own magazine, but as a new journalist, who couldn’t find a job for a while, I worked with a woman who started her own magazine and saw the financial challenges of doing so up close. One of the highlights of working for this new magazine was meeting Diddy who was Puffy back then. It was so much fun, but most of all, I admired the drive of the woman who launched the magazine!

Well, now, I know of another brave woman who is endeavoring to start a new magazine, and I hope that you will support her in this much needed endeavor! Below is information from Nicola A. Menzie’s Kickstarter page! She needs $15,000 to launch the magazine and has until Jan. 22 to raise the entire amount or she doesn’t get any of it!

Hello. Welcome to the Kickstarter campaign for Issue No. 1 of Faithfully Magazine.

Faithfully Magazine is a News and Lifestyle publication that advocates for, celebrates and informs Christian Communities of Color by centering the conversations, issues and events they say are important to their faith and to their lives.

My name is Nicola A. Menzie and I am the founder and editor of Faithfully Magazine (faithfullymagazine.com). I live in New York City and have been writing, blogging, tweeting (and sometimes complaining) about happenings in Evangelical Christianity for the past eight years or so (five years professionally).

I’ve long been a believer, but entering the world of Evangelical Christianity as a member of the press was eye-opening. I soon learned the names, the quirks and the controversies that really set people off (like Osteen and Bell, “sowing seeds” and the prosperity gospel).

More than anything, I learned that Christian news media is saturated with the perspectives, voices and concerns of White Evangelicalism. And very few of their publications and websites have Christians of Color in decision-making roles or who contribute to their editorial direction.

HELP US PRINT THE PREMIERE ISSUE OF FAITHFULLY MAGAZINE 

Faithfully Magazine goes to press in January and we’re soliciting contributions from diverse writers, illustrations, photographers and other creatives for an impactful premiere issue. The goal right now is to publish the magazine as a quarterly, with this Kickstarter campaign being used to raise the necessary funds to produce Issue No. 1.

Some stories on deck for the full-color, 80-page premiere issue include:

  • Christians of Color sharing in their own words how they are moving forward under a Donald Trump presidency;
  • A diverse survey of responses on whether, due to the 2016 campaign, the term “Evangelical” should be dumped or redeemed;
  • A gripping feature on a former felon who came to faith in prison and still has to answer for his alleged crimes;
  • A revealing Q&A with rapper and pastor Trip Lee that includes his thoughts on the presidential election and how he cares for a faith community of both Trump and Clinton voters;
  • A sit-down with the husband-and-wife leaders of Crossover Church, a popular urban ministry that’s also a millennial magnet.

If you have some compelling content or story ideas, send me an email (namenzie @ gmail.com). We’re also looking to develop regular columns.

The image below is of a mock cover to give you an idea of our direction.

mock-cover

A LITTLE ABOUT ME

I was a staff reporter for The Christian Post for several years. Before that, I worked with companies like CBS News, AOL News and even Vibe.com — where I started out about 13 years ago as an editorial intern (yes, I love hip-hop). Most recently, I’ve written about Christians from diverse backgrounds strategizing to address police violence and African-American responses to Donald Trump. I’ve also interviewed the Christian activist who rocked a major conference and the pro-life movement with her remarks on Black Lives Matter. I also study Theology and am on course to (finally!) complete my Master of Divinity degree in 2017.

Below  is a video of Nicola discussing her vision for Faithfully Magazine

Join me in supporting Nicola! And please go to her Kickstarter page to find out how you can contribute AND what you will receive for your generous contribution!

Any thoughts?