*Rev. John J. Hunter, as seen in the 2005 photo above, was recently transferred to Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in San Francisco from First AME in L.A. after an eight-year tenure marred by a sexual harassment lawsuit, a federal tax investigation and the questionable use of church credit cards.
But members of the new church weren’t too thrilled to have him and rejected the reverend. In fact, the congregation’s current leaders went as far as generating a resolution to ban him from leading.
They said the assignment could “impair the legacy, reputation, relationships and goodwill” of the church in the community.
When Hunter, cloaked in his white pastor robe and carrying his Bible, showed up at the church Nov. 4 ready to preach, church officials said, they confronted him in the foyer and demanded that he produce the signed declaration from Bishop T. Larry Kirkland stating his new assignment.
Hunter did not have a copy of the declaration and church officials blocked him from taking the pulpit.
The rejection — unheard of in the AME denomination — pits the small, 650-member congregation against the executive orders of Kirkland and has many churchgoers questioning the ramifications of their protest.
Now it looks like he’s a pastor without a congregation to lead.
Read/learn more at LA Times.
*First African Methodist Episcopal Church of Los Angeles celebrated the inauguration of its new pastor, Rev. J. Edgar Boyd.
The preacher delivered his first sermon as head pastor Sunday morning, igniting a new excitement in the congregation.
Addressing worshipers, a seemingly nervous Boyd used parables to talk about forgiveness, says the L.A. Times. But to the thousands in the packed room, the message was clear: A new leader was at the helm to restore the image of the oldest black pulpit in Los Angeles.
“Holding grudges cripples the soul,” Boyd said. “It makes you weak… The time has come to cleanse us and welcome us in the favors of God.”
A week ago, Bishop T. Larry Kirkland unexpectedly reassigned the former pastor, John J. Hunter, after a controversial eight years that included a sexual harassment lawsuit, a federal tax investigation and questionable use of church credit cards.
Check out the full article here.
*In an interview with Charisma News, Bishop Harry Jackson got real; talking about the progress of the church. He went hard in the paint about the growing scarcity of Christian followers and the need to recruit.
Charisma News: You were one of the pastors instrumental in the efforts for racial reconciliation [that] started in Sanford, Fla., after the Trayvon Martin incident. How do you think those efforts are going?
Jackson: I am very impressed with several of the local pastors from Sanford. One of the pastors I’m most impressed with is Pastor Derrick Gay, who is actually helping as a younger guy, to navigate the waters of relationships. Reconciliation is all about people getting to know each other and working toward a common goal. I think it’s going very well. You’re going to find that it’s going to be a national success story in the years ahead.
Charisma News: How do you think God is moving in this country right now?
Jackson: I see God, first, creating a separation between light and dark that I hope will bring a unity within the church, allowing us to rise up and respond in strength to what looks like a rising tide of anti-Christian thinking in our nation. There are many examples of it. The pro-abortion movement is growing stronger; the anti-traditional marriage movement is growing stronger, and, overall, an anti-church, anti-faith movement is manifesting itself in the country. Those movements, or those attacks, are starting to wake us up now.
Read the full interview here.
*A West Virginia preacher who followed his father into the rare practice of handling snakes to prove faith in God died after being bitten during an outdoor service involving the reptiles, reports the Associated Press.
Mark Randall “Mack” Wolford, 44 — whose own father died in 1983 after suffering a fatal bite — had been bitten before and survived. But he died last week after witnesses say a timber rattler bit him on the thigh. Wolford’s sister and a freelance photographer told media outlets it happened during a Sunday service at Panther State Forest.
Lauren Pond, a freelance photojournalist from Washington, D.C., didn’t immediately return messages Thursday but told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph she was among 25 people at the service. She saw Wolford bitten but said congregants were unfazed.
“I don’t think anyone necessarily expected it,” she told the newspaper, “but they’ve dealt with it before so it’s not such a huge shock, maybe.”
Bluefield Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Becky Ritter said Thursday that Wolford was a patient and died Monday, but that federal privacy laws prevented her from releasing additional information.
Officials at the Cravens-Shires Funeral Home also declined to answer questions, saying the family had asked that the cause of death be withheld. Several relatives did not answer email and telephone messages.
Read/learn more here.
*Charred pages from hymn books nestle in the grass around the burned shell of what once was the century-old Branches United Methodist Mission in Florida City.
Fire investigators now suspect arson in the devastating early morning blaze on May 24 — Pentecost Sunday — that destroyed the church sanctuary and adjacent playground.
But the emotional toll on visitors’ faces — even as everyone vowed to rebuild — tells the real story.
Eddie Velez, 25, doesn’t look like a man who cries, but on this day, as the smell of burned wood and brush still permeates the air, he has to catch himself.
“It’s sad to walk by and see this,” he says, clutching a scrap of burned paper. “I’m so used to see this as a happy place — the kids here playing. It’s tough. Give me a second.”
Read the full article here