Sunday, October 27, 2013

The 3 - October 27, 2013

This week's edition of "The 3", my week-in-review feature, focuses on a high-profile religious ceremony involving the royal baby that could remind people to focus on the importance of dedicating children to the Lord and raising them in Christian teaching.  Also, violence in Egypt continues to be of concern to Coptic Christians there, and a wedding attack is an instance in which individual people, instead of church buildings, were targeted.  And, the top story involves 4 key words at the end of an Air Force Academy oath that have been made, or declared to be, optional.

3 - Archbishop of Canterbury christens royal baby, Prince George

A traditional religious ceremony made world news this week as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the head of the Anglican church worldwide, baptized the 3-month-old royal baby, who was christened and ritually welcomed into the Church of England as Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge, in a private ceremony for close family and friends.  The website, had this report.

The ceremony took place in the Chapel Royal of St. James’s Palace as a small scarlet-and-gold-clad choir sang hymns.

The ceremony was short, less than 45 minutes, and took place in private, as is typical for royal christenings. Not typical was the venue: Most royal babies, including William, Charles and the queen, were christened in the Music Room of Buckingham Palace. The last royal baby to be christened in the Chapel Royal was Princess Beatrice, William’s cousin, in 1988.

For the service, the duke and duchess chose two hymns, two lessons and two anthems, the palace said. The hymns were Breathe on Me, Breath of God and Be Thou My Vision.  The lessons were from the Gospels of Luke and John and were read by Pippa Middleton and Prince Harry.

According to the report, baptism is especially important to British royals: Since the monarch is the head of the Church of England, eventually Prince George will take on that role, so it’s critical that he be raised as an Anglican.

The Archbishop had said in public remarks several days before the ceremony that he planned to baptize the baby with a few drops of water, rather than the immersion custom of some Protestant faiths. Welby also said he hoped Prince George’s christening and the attention it attracted would be good for the Anglican church and inspire other parents to do the same with their newborns.   Even for those who do not embrace the concept of infant baptism, we can admit that this does create a sacred moment and can illustrate the importance of dedicating children to the Lord and pledging to raise them in the teachings of the Scriptures.

2 - Wedding attack in Egypt highlights dangers to church in the nation

There is still concern in Egypt over the safety of Christians there, and Christianity Today reports on an attack on a wedding in the industrial neighborhood of Cairo known as Wassaq this past Sunday. The wedding party stood outside the church, eagerly awaiting the ceremonious arrival of the bride. But instead, drive-by shooters killed four people, including two children and the groom's mother. 18 were injured.

The piece points out that the attack was significant for being one of the first to target Egypt's Christians specifically, versus the now-common attacks on their church buildings.

Mina Magdy, general coordinator for the Maspero Youth Union, a mostly Coptic revolutionary group formed in response to church burnings in 2011 after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, said that, "Since the revolution, this is the first instance Coptic people were targeted randomly in a church, with weapons."

Since then, sectarian incidents have escalated, most severely in the period following the violent dispersal of pro-Morsi sit-ins after the military responded to massive demonstrations to remove the Islamist president from power.  Human Rights Watch documented 42 attacks on churches and numerous assaults on shops and homes.
And, as CT points out, Coptic Christians are conflicted.   The government is being challenged for failing to protect the church, but the Copts have been supportive of the military government, so any sign of protest against it would be interpreted by supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood as a decline in support for the Brotherhood's opponents.  Magdy explains: "We called for a demonstration against the government, but many pro-Brotherhood sites on social media interpreted this as our protest against the so-called coup, saying Christians also are against it.

"So we told people not to come, and held only a symbolic demonstration instead."

Michael Nabil, a Coptic accountant explains it succinctly, saying, "We should push the government to give us our rights. But we should have protested earlier because the attacked churches have not been rebuilt, despite promises.

"Most Copts are accepting the rule of the military so as to avoid the rule of the Brotherhood."

We continue to be reminded of the plight of believers in Egypt and in other tumultuous areas around the world, where Christians are endangered because of their faith practices.  And, in some cases, such as Egypt and Nigeria, the government is being challenged to provide Christians with the level of protection they need - that's not to say that officials are not committed, but there are a number of mitigating factors that prevent the level of security that some Christians would desire or feel they deserve.

1 - Air Force Academy makes "So Help Me, God" optional at end of oath

It was expected that this week the Air Force Academy would change its policy toward the 4 words, "So Help Me, God", at the end of the cadets' oath.  According to the Air Force Times, the Superintendent of the Academy, Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, in announcing that it will now be optional for cadets to recite “So Help Me, God” at the end of its honor oath, said, “Here at the academy, we work to build a culture of dignity and respect, and that respect includes the ability of our cadets, airmen and civilian airmen to freely practice and exercise their religious preference — or not. So, in the spirit of respect, cadets may or may not choose to finish the honor oath with ‘so help me God.’ ”

This was apparently in response to a protest by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, headed by Mikey Wienstein, himself an Academy graduate. He said the academy’s decision isn’t enough.

The Air Force Academy took the cowardly route,” Weinstein said after the announcement. “From our perspective, it still creates a tremendous amount of unconstitutional turmoil ... for anyone who is a religious objector.”

Weinstein pledged earlier in the week to bring a lawsuit against the academy if the religious language is not dropped entirely from the oath.

The phrase appears in several oaths sworn by military service members and federal government employees, such as Navy midshipmen, newly commissioned Army officers, civilian federal employees, justices and judges, senators and congressmen, and presidents.

The Christian Post reports that the American Center for Law and Justice wrote a letter to the Academy this week, stating the AFA did not discriminate against students who did not believe in God and also did not deny commission to students who currently did not include "so help me God" in their oaths.  It warned that appeasing the MRFF might cause the school to "become unwitting pawns in Mr. Weinstein's strategy to eviscerate religious freedom in the Armed Forces" and suggested that he was receiving a disproportionate amount of attention as an alumnus of the school.  

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The 3 - October 20, 2013

This week's edition of "The 3" turns our attention to the Christmas season and again to the ways that students are allowed to incorporate the religious traditions of the season into their performances.   Also, stellar performances and numerous honors were part of the Dove Awards show this past Tuesday in Nashville. And, the top story involves concerns by Christian and pro-family leaders about the deal to end the partial government shutdown, raise the debt ceiling, continue to fund the Affordable Care Act.

3 - Major volley in "war on Christmas" yields concessions

I want to say that I do not care for the term, "war on Christmas", and on an annual basis, it seems that I think that perhaps I can come up with a better phrase to use to describe the religious freedom issues the occur during the latter part of the year.   And, this year, over 2 months before Christmas, a controversy arose in Wausau, Wisconsin about the content of a Christmas program.

According to a report by The Christian Post, Phillip Buch, director of Wausau West High School's choral programs since 1981, told the Wausau Daily Herald that local school district administrators had given him three restricting options for Christmas music: include five secular, nonreligious songs for every faith-based carol; hold a concert without any Christmas music; or postpone concerts in December.

Since his elite choir, the 20-member Master Singers, is invited to sing at "nearly a dozen holiday concerts each year," Buch called these demands unacceptable. Due to the new restrictions, he disbanded the group on Oct. 4.  The director is quoted as saying that, "We sing for nursing homes, grade schools and businesses. To do that without Christmas music doesn't make sense."

In an Oct. 7 statement, Kathleen Williams, Wausau superintendent of schools, argued that "district legal counsel" suggested alternatives to ensure that Master Singers concerts adhered to the law.   She later disputed that a ratio had been established.
The Alliance Defending Freedom became involved and assured the school board that the Constitution does not prohibit the singing of Christmas carols by public school groups. They sent a letter that stated, "We write to explain that every federal court to examine the issue has determined that including Christmas carols and other religious music in school choir programs fully complies with the First Amendment."

ADF's Rory Gray told The Christian Post that after the suspension of the Master Singers, "the school board is facing a public outcry of massive proportions," He added that the rule seemed confusing because the school district said they had received no complaints. "I can't think of another case where a school district decided on its own that there's a problem with holiday concerts," Gray said.

At a well-attended meeting of the school board, the body voted unanimously to begin a performance review of Superintendent Williams, according to the Daily Herald. Pat McKee, a member of the board, suggested that it waive a clause in Williams' contract that would require her to pay $6,000 if she were to resign without giving the board 90 days notice.   The Master Singers resumed practice last Tuesday.

This is yet another in an ongoing series of incidents that have been precipitated by a misunderstanding of what is called the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.   Officials who are often intimidated and think they may be violating the Constitution by including religious material end up denying free expression of time-honored religious traditions, which are incorporated into the celebration of holidays.

2 - Dove Awards spotlight best in Christian music 

The 44th Annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards were handed out this past Tuesday night at Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena in Nashville in celebration of what is called "Gospel and Christian music’s biggest night."   Here is the press release from the Gospel Music Association's website.

The top winner was Matt Redman, who won Song of the Year for "10,000 Reasons", which was also tapped in several other categories.   Redman won 6 awards, followed by TobyMac and Jason Crabb with 4. Tasha Cobbs and producer Wayne Haun scored 3 each. Chris Tomlin, Tamela Mann and Lecrae won 2 Doves.

TobyMac was named as Artist of the Year and his album, "Eye On It" won Pop/Contemporary Album. Jason Crabb won for Inspirational Album of the Year for "Love is Stronger".

The Male and Female Vocalist and Group of the Year award were eliminated this year, and Performancen awards were added in the categories of Contemporary Christian, Southern Gospel, and Gospel.    Christian music newcomer Tasha Cobbs won for Gospel Performance for "Break Every Chain", Jason Crabb won Southern Gospel Performance for “What The Blood is For," and Matt Redman won in the Contemporary Christian category for "10,000 Reasons".

For King and Country took the New Artist of the Year Dove Award.

UP, formerly the Gospel Music Channel, or GMC, surprised Mandisa by honoring her with their “Uplift Someone”. The ‘Uplift Someone’ award embodies the organization’s core values of uplifting and inspiring others and recognizes an artist who through the message of their music and acts of positivity and kindness, has encouraged people across the nation and truly changed lives.

Highlights of the evening included a variety of different live performances.  Tributes to Billy Graham were given by Michael W. Smith and the Newsboys.   Vocalists Karen Peck, Daily & Vincent, Signature Sound and the Isaacs honored Bill Gaither and his music in a collaboration of “He Touched Me.”

The entire pre-show and behind-the-scenes footage were seen live on The broadcast is set to air Monday, October 21st at 7:00pm on UP.  For more information, visit

1 - Government shutdown, debt ceiling deal reached - pro-life leaders call for protections

As Congressional negotiations were underway to try to end the government shutdown and deal with the debt ceiling, pro-life leaders continued to express their concern over provisions in the Affordable Care Act, which was the linchpin issue driving the process which led to the government shutdown.  According to CitizenLink, representatives of over 40 groups had sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, asking him to protect people from being forced pay for abortions — specifically, in any deals he would make with the White House regarding funding the government. They urged Boehner to include provisions of the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (HCCRA), which had been introduced in March.  Without the provisions in H.R. 940, the letter states, millions of Americans will be “unknowingly enrolled in health care plans that include elective abortion coverage”; these plans with charge enrollees an “abortion surcharge” of at least $1 a month.

The letter continues: “Regulations further contain a ‘secrecy clause’ to conceal the existence of the ‘abortion surcharge’ until the moment of enrollment...This surcharge is only disclosed in the fine print, without itemization in the monthly premium, and is never disclosed again.”  These advocates also mentioned the dangers of the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate, which requires most businesses and nonprofits to offer potential abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health plans.

Well, on Wednesday, after the deal to reopen the portion of the government that had been shut down and to raise the debt ceiling, pro-life, pro-family advocates spoke out again in a letter to the Speaker, saying, according to another piece on the CitizenLink website, that Americans deserve better than another “Washington deal” and “political gamesmanship”:
The latest deal offers no meaningful relief from Obamacare. No defunding of the law, no delay of the law or even the individual mandate, no protection of conscience or an end to abortion subsidies. No elimination of the unlawful exchange subsidies for members of Congress and their staffs. So while Washington is taking care of politically connected special interests, Americans around the country will continue to be exposed to the harmful effects of Obamacare. Make no mistake, a vote for a deal like this is a vote to move forward with Obamacare.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, is quoted by CitizenLink as saying that, “While the ACA’s bad medicine is already evident in rising healthcare premiums and faulty exchanges, the most far-reaching and irreversible damage to America’s First Freedom, the freedom to live according to the dictates of your faith, has yet to be realized in its totality...We will continue to fight for the freedoms of Americans, rather than protect the Washington establishment as Congress takes up future spending bills.”

Pro-family and Christian leaders are calling for conscience protections under the health care law, which are important to people of faith.  By forcing people to pay for abortions with their tax dollars, the Act is violating the deeply-held religious beliefs of a significant number of Americans.  Even though lawmakers had originally agreed to fund the entire government with the exception of the implementation of Obamacare and survey data confirms the majority of Americans are opposed to the law, the health care law because a side issue rather than a central focus during the days that parts of the government were shut down.   And, with the faulty rollout of the health care exchanges, Obamacare opponents had a golden opportunity to continue to point out to the American people their concerns about the law.  Their voices became less prominent as the focus shifted, but that doesn't negate the valid points that pro-life, pro-family leaders make about this law, which many find objectionable.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The 3 - October 13, 2013

This week's edition of my week-in-review feature includes news about a series of gatherings across the nation involving students going to their local football stadiums to be inspired.   Also, U.S. officials, including military leaders began to deal with the shortage of Catholic chaplains available to perform Mass and other rituals due to the government shutdown. And, the top story involves a gathering in Washington that featured a number of high-profile leaders, including a number of current and former governmental officials who are Christians.

3 - "Fields of Faith" attracts students to football fields nationwide

Across America this past week, thousands of students were scheduled to gather at football fields to celebrate the annual event known as "Fields of Faith", sponsored by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, encouraging students to engage with the Bible and follow Jesus Christ.

FCA National Director of Communications Mickey Seward told The Christian Post on Thursday that 439 Fields of Faith gatherings across 37 states had been registered, though not all of them took place Wednesday.  By Sunday, that number was closing in on 450 in 38 states.  The events are designed to bring young people together at local athletic fields or gymnasiums for a time of worship, Bible reading and testimony sharing.  Montgomery was one of the locations for an FCA Fields of Faith event on Wednesday night, and Dothan will host an event on the 23rd of this month.

The Post reports that Fields of Faith began in 2002 when Jeff Martin, the Oklahoma Fellowship of Christian Athletes area director, asked God what he should do with his frustration over the spiritual battles facing the young "spectator generation," according to the event's website. Martin found his answer in the biblical story of King Josiah, a young king of Judah who led a spiritual shift in his nation when he gathered his people, read the scriptures to them and had them pledge to keep God's commands.

More than 6,000 students across Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas gathered for the first Fields of Faith in 2002. In 2012, more than 170,000 people in 37 states participated in the event nationwide.   Participants were being asked to share their photos via social media and to use the hashtag #fieldsoffaith on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.  The Fields of Faith website is

2 - Budget shutdown hits Catholics' ability to participate in Mass, rituals

Recent guest on The Meeting House, former Congressman Bob Beauprez, Editor-in-Chief of the website, A Line of Sight, writes:
...Catholic priests denied the opportunity to celebrate Mass, even as volunteers, leaves me speechless. Read below from the general counsel of the Archdiocese for Military Services as he explains priests that defy the governments orders may even face arrest.
(Hear Beauprez's commentary as part of this interview.)

According to Catholic News Service, some civilian Catholic chaplains, unable to perform religious duties at U.S. military bases during the first weekend of the federal government shutdown, were getting back on the job as the shutdown continued into its second week.

"We're now being told priests can return to work," John Schlageter, general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, said Oct. 9.

However, only general services priests, because they work for the military, are returning.  Contract priests whose contracts were not appropriated prior to the Oct. 1 shutdown were unable to perform their ministry at that time.

Schlageter, in an Oct. 7 telephone interview with Catholic News Service, said he did not know whether the return of some priests to work was a result of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's declaration Oct. 6 that far more civilian Defense Department employees would be considered "essential" and return to their jobs -- or the reaction to Schlageter's own Oct. 3 op-ed article about the shutdown adversely affecting the ability of civilian chaplains to minister at military bases with no resident Catholic chaplain.

He said the op-ed piece had gotten coverage or publication by The Washington Post,, and the Fox News Channel.

The House passed a concurrent resolution to authorize the return of civilian Catholic chaplains to their military ministry. "I think the House resolution -- (with a vote of) 400 to 1 -- speaks for itself," Schlageter said.   Family Research Council reports that after a week of pressure from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), other Senate Republicans, and the grassroots, Senate Democrats joined the House in calling on the Secretary of Defense to allow contracted chaplains to minister to men and women in uniform. FRC states, "it is even more important that DOD recognize the role religious support staff play in supporting the 'morale and well-being' of our members of the Armed Forces and their families."

The military archdiocese estimated that about 50 civilian chaplains were unable to conduct services on bases the weekend of Oct. 5-6 because of the shutdown. "Almost all GS (general services) priests and most contract priests were unable to work Sunday," Schlageter said. "We do have situations of door-lock, signs that said, 'No Catholic services this weekend.'"

Schlageter is quoted as saying that, "We're starting to get news from overseas bases where there was not (chaplain) coverage...It seems in many of the situations, private resolutions were found."  He added some priests celebrated Mass off base and invited the military congregants to attend.

1 - Values Voter Summit attracts Christians, conservatives to educate and motivate on issues

Friday morning, the Values Voter Summit, got off to a blazing start with some high-profile speakers who are in the mix in the national discussion over the 2016 elections.  The lead sponsor and organizer of the event is the Family Research Council.  According to a report at

A still partially shutdown government couldn't stop the enthusiasm of conservatives from across America as over 2,000 registered attendees gathered here at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.  Senator Lee reminded the audience that the government's biggest ally is found in the family. "To be truly pro-growth, we must be pro-family," he said.  Senator Cruz implored President Obama hear the people on ObamaCare, noting, "The fundamental problem in Washington is that Washington is not listening to the American people." Senator Paul took on the global persecution of Christians saying, "American tax dollars should never be spent to prop up a war on Christianity. But that's what's happening now across the globe. As Christians, we should take a stand and fight against any of your tax dollars funding any persecution of Christians."
Senator Rubio cautioned the audience that, "We can't stop talking about the importance of our values and our culture. We can't stop talking about them because the moral well-being of our people is directly linked to their economic well-being." Senator Scott challenged us that in order to restore America, "we must first get back to fiscal sanity." Mark Levin urged us to "embrace the Constitution, embrace our history [...] listen to George Mason, and Madison, and Franklin, and the others, and take our country back." Dr Ben Carson capped off the morning by exhorting attendees that " it's time - it's really time for the people - we, the people of America, to stop being afraid of the government and to put it in its place."
Other speakers included former Vice-Presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, former Presidential candidate and former Senator Rick Santorum, former Arkansas governor and former Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, and more.

The Christian Post reported on the results of a straw poll taken Saturday afternoon, in which Texas Senator Ted Cruz took first place, while neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson took the top vice presidential spot, and religious freedom was considered the most important political issue.   Cruz took 42% of the vote in the Presidential poll, with Carson and Santorum essentially tied for second with about 13% each.  Carson won 21% in the VP straw poll, with Cruz at 17%.

FRC President Tony Perkins said, "Values voters are looking for those who will refuse to be bound by the 'can't mentality' of the establishment and will challenge the status quo...In short, values voters, many of whom did not fully engage in the last election, are looking for a leader that will inspire them by challenging President Obama and speak clearly and directly to the challenges facing America."

On the question of the most important issue for Values Voters, responders ranked "Religious Freedom" as number one. Perkins called it an "umbrella issue for other issues such as marriage, parental rights, and 'Obamacare.'" The pro-life cause ranked number two, followed closely by opposition to Obama's health care law.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

The 3 - October 6, 2013

This week on "The 3", my week-in-review feature, more awareness of the plight of a well-known sportscaster who apparently lost his job after it was "discovered" that he made comments in support of traditional marriage during a political campaign.  Also, a pastor who was a pioneer in worship style and worship music, passed away this week.  And, the top story involves a tragedy on the highway involving a group of senior citizens who were celebrating a happy occasion - now one-third of their group and two other people are dead in a fiery interstate crash.

3 - Christian sportscaster sues for religious discrimination

The controversy has been growing since the termination of a former SMU and NFL football star who served for years as a commentator in ABC television's college football studio show.  In early September, after just one week on the air, Craig James was fired from a stint on Fox Sports Southwest.  According to legal advocacy group Liberty Institute, which is representing James in a lawsuit to get his job back, a former supervisor of James is quoted by the Dallas Morning News as saying, “We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department. He couldn’t say those things here.”

What things?  Well, not anything that he said on the air during his incredibly brief time with Fox.   No, it was apparently for comments made during a debate in the campaign for U.S. Senate, a seat for which James ran, along with the eventual winner Ted Cruz.  James was asked – as all political candidates usually are – about his views on same-sex marriage and homosexuality. As a Christian, James expressed his deeply held religious beliefs concerning marriage.

Religion Today quotes Jeff Mateer of Liberty as saying that the lawsuit is not just about Craig James and Fox Sports. "It's really about an attitude in corporate America and whether corporate America can somehow impose, in their view, some sort of political correctness," Mateer said. "But really what it comes down to is: Can people of faith act on and believe a certain thing? Can they express a biblical belief about marriage?" Liberty Institute sent a letter demanding that James be rehired, but it was ignored. Consequently, a lawsuit was filed in Collin County, northeast of Dallas. A hearing will be held early next month.

This past week, in an exclusive interview with, James is quoted as saying, “This isn’t about me individually. People might not care for me as a broadcaster. This is about what has happened to a religious individual in America. It’s given me a sense of responsibility for others who may be in my same position who may not be in a position to stand up and fight.” He told Ben Shapiro, writing for the website, that he would not stop fighting until he got answers from Fox Sports about their alleged discrimination. The Blaze website also picked up on the story.

So, this past week may have marked a turning point in the amount of visibility of the case, as James and Liberty Institute are continuing to highlight this series of events as an instance of religious discrimination.   A number of Christian organizations have rallied to Mr. James' side in his quest to either get his job back or at least to receive some honest answers.   Right now, Fox Sports has issued some contradictory statements, and their current position is that "he wasn't a good fit", even though he was spoken of in glowing terms after he was hired.   And, unlike Chris Broussard of ESPN, who made comments about homosexuality on-air but was not fired, James' comments were made off-the-air.  Furthermore, his comments and personal opinions are consistent with the mainstream views of evangelical Christianity.

2 - Legendary Chuck Smith dies of cancer at age 86

On Thursday, according to The Christian Post, a posting on the Calvary Chapel website read, "Our beloved Pastor Chuck went home to be with the Lord around 3:00 o'clock this morning. He passed into eternity peacefully in his sleep. We rejoice that he has moved out of his worn out tent and into his heavenly body. On behalf of the family, his children, and Kay, they are so appreciative of all your love, prayers and support."

Pastor Chuck Smith, who founded Calvary Chapel, which expanded to encompass a number of affiliate churches all across America, was 86 years old and had been suffering from lung cancer.  The church stated that its services Sunday morning "will center on his homecoming." The family is planning a private memorial service, along with a larger public service to be announced in the days ahead.

Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, was impacted by Pastor Chuck, and wrote for The Christian Post: 

In 1965, years before we met, Chuck was the pastor of a small church in Newport Beach. He and his wife, Kay, would drive around the streets of Newport and Laguna Beach and watch the passing parade of young people, many of whom were on drugs and, quite literally and figuratively, lost. At first, Chuck became mad at the sight of them, lamenting what a waste of human potential they represented. But Kay's reaction was much different, and it convicted her young husband.

"You know, they are so desperately in need of Jesus," she said to him one day.

Chuck and Kay began to witness to some of the very hippies stumbling by and before long, his church was filled with them. Calvary Chapel quickly outgrew their space and decided to build a new facility.
Out of Calvary Chapel grew the so-called "Jesus movement", which included the foundations of Maranatha! Music, the early purveyors of what is now referred to as "Praise and Worship" music.  Brad Christerson, a Biola University sociologist, is quoted at the Christianity Today website, "His impact can be seen in every church service that has electric guitar-driven worship, hip casually-dressed pastors, and 40-minute sermons consisting of verse-by-verse Bible expositions peppered with pop-culture references and counterculture slang."

According to Wikipedia, quoting a CCM Magazine article, Calvary Chapel was home to more than 15 musical groups that were representative of the Jesus people movement. Some of the early Maranatha! recording artists were the Sweet Comfort Band, Love Song, Chuck Girard, Children of the Day, The Way, Debby Kerner, Mustard Seed Faith, and Daniel Amos. The label's first release was a various artists compilation entitled The Everlastin' Living Jesus Music Concert, in 1971.   The label released 20 albums in the Praise! series, and a variety of other releases.   The music aspect of Calvary Chapel, led by Chuck Smith, has had a profound impact on the church.   And, his radio broadcast, "The Word for Today" is one of the early pioneers in daily radio broadcasting, dating all the way back to the 70's.

1 - Church bus crash with 18-wheeler results in the loss of 8 lives

A bus carrying 18 members of the "Young at Heart" seniors group from Front Street Baptist Church in Statesville, North Carolina apparently lost its front left tire as the group was returning from a gospel jubilee in Gatlinburg this past Wednesday.  According to a story in the Charlotte Observer, the bus appeared to lose its tire as it traveled near Mile Marker 423 on Interstate 40 in Jefferson County, Tennessee, sending it skidding across a 10-yard-wide grass median and through a four-cabled restraining device and into oncoming traffic.  Investigators have found gouge marks from the rim of the bus wheel in the left lane of I-40 leading into the median, said Sgt. Bill Miller of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.   6 people on the bus lost their lives, including the driver of the bus, as well as the driver of a tractor-trailer and a Chevrolet Tahoe with which the bus collided.   The oldest victim was 95 years old!

The 12 survivors of the crash were taken to a hospital in Knoxville, and soon thereafter, the pastor and youth pastor of the church made the journey from Statesville, which is about 30 miles north of Charlotte, to the hospital in Knoxville.  Pastor Tim Stutts set out for Knoxville to minister to his flock after receiving word of the crash.  He described them as a tight-knit group of seniors who enjoyed traveling together. They were known for taking part in the church’s various missions and for visiting nursing homes and other churches to share the gospel with a zeal that belied their years, he said.

He told the Observer that he talked to each of the survivors, including those in critical condition.  He said they were devastated, and one of their first questions was about the others of the bus.  Stutts said the church grieves for their loss but celebrates their arrival in heaven.

The pastor relates that since the accident, condolences have poured into the Statesville church by the hundreds, from as far away as Asia.

Because of the government shutdown, the National Transportation Safety Board did not send anyone to investigate the accident.

This is an incident that I am sure certainly hits home for churches who frequently utilize bus transportation for seniors groups or youth groups.   And, while we celebrate the ability to travel, it's a reminder to make sure that we are taking as many precautions as we can.