I am not sure if two posts in one week is newsworthy, but I do want to make you aware of a number of things from around the church that are newsworthy. Here are three from this week . . .
Prayer is primary
I am delighted that the Brethren in Christ in the U.S. continues to call the church to prayer and fasting during the first week of each year. Prayer is primary. Thank you for participating in the 2015 Week of Prayer and Fasting.
The United States is a mission field
For many years the Brethren in Christ have understood that the United States is a mission field and have therefore been intentional in attempting to extend the Kingdom of God through multiplication. In the early days we had a denominational home mission board and many people serving as missionaries in home missions. City Missions and mission churches were started in a number of cities around the country, and existing congregations were encouraged to reach outward beyond their walls. This was a centralized approach where primary responsibility was with the denomination.
Even when the board for home missions ceased to exist, the denomination continued to stress the importance of church planting, and denominational energies and efforts were directed to the task of starting new congregations. In recent years the task of church planting has decentralized and moved from the jurisdiction of the general church into the jurisdiction of each regional conference. This has included the strong encouragement to every congregation to take seriously the call to multiply ministry by starting new groups, new services, new sites, and new congregations.
I am delighted this emphasis continues and I encourage anyone interested in the critically important task of church planting to attend the upcoming BIC gathering on church planting. This event, on March 11-13 in York, Pa., is being hosted by the three Pennsylvania regional conferences (Allegheny, Atlantic, and Susquehanna). More information, including online registration, can be found here. I want to thank everyone who is involved in arranging this event and I look forward to attending.
Last Sunday I was privileged to be invited to the ordination service for Hank Johnson. Hank is one of the pastors at the Harrisburg (Pa.) BIC Church, a multi-ethnic congregation that is making a difference in the heart of the city.
Hank was ordained by Pauline Peifer, the bishop of the Atlantic Conference. It struck me as significant that our first female bishop was officiating at the first BIC U.S. ordination for an African American person. We do have other licensed African American persons, but Hank (as far as I know) is the first and only African American among our 232 ordained persons. This was the fifth ordination at which Pauline has officiated. I rejoice in what God is doing in us and through us and I pray that we will continue to tear down the barriers of gender and race.