Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How Are Denominations Doing?

The 77th annual edition of the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches, long a highly regarded chronicler of growth and financial trends of religious institutions, records a slight but startling decline in membership of the nation's largest Christian communions.

Membership in the Roman Catholic Church declined 0.59 percent and the Southern Baptist Convention declined 0.24 percent, according to the 2009 edition of the Yearbook, edited by the National Council of Churches and published by Abingdon. The figures indicate that the Catholic church lost 398,000 members since the appearance of the 2008 Yearbook. Southern Baptists lost nearly 40,000 members. Both membership figures were compiled by the churches in 2007 and reported to the Yearbook in 2008. The 2009 Yearbook also includes an essay by the editor, the Rev. Dr. Eileen W. Lindner, on the various ways churches count their members. Neither figure is earth-shattering given the size of the churches. Roman Catholics comprise the nation's largest church with a membership of 67,117,016, and Southern Baptists rank second in the nation at 16,266,920. But this year's reported decline raises eyebrows because Catholic and Southern Baptist membership has grown dependably over the years. Now they join virtually every mainline church in reporting a membership decline...

Here is the breakdown of the largest 25 church groups in the US: (You can read more here)

- The Roman Catholic Church, 67,117,06 members, down 0.59 percent. (Ranked 1)
- The Southern Baptist Convention, 16,266,920 members, down 0.24 percent. (Ranked 2)
- The United Methodist Church, 7,931,733 members, down 0.80 percent. (Ranked 3)
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5,873,408 members, up 1.63 percent .(Ranked 4)
- The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no change reported. (Ranked 5)
- National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., 5,000,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 6)
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,709,956 members, down 1.35 percent. (Ranked 7)
- National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., 3,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 8)
- Presbyterian Church (USA), 2,941,412 members, down 2.79 percent (Ranked 9)
- Assemblies of God, 2,863,265 members, up 0.96 percent. (Ranked 10)
- African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 11)
- National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 11)
- Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., 2,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 11)
- The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,383,084 members, down 1.44 percent. (Ranked 14)
- The Episcopal Church, 2,116,749 members, down 1.76 percent. (Ranked 15)
- Churches of Christ, 1,639,495 members, no change reported. (Ranked 16)
- Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 17)
- Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no change reported. (Ranked 17)
- The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,400,000 members, down 3.01 percent. (Ranked 19)
- American Baptist Churches in the USA, 1,358,351, down 0.94 percent. (Ranked 20)
- Baptist Bible Fellowship International, 1,200,000, no change reported. (Ranked 21)
- United Church of Christ, 1,145,281 members, down 6.01 percent. (Ranked 22)
- Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1,092,169 members, up 2.12 percent (Ranked 23)
- Christian Churches and Churches of Christ, 1,071,616 members, no change reported. (Ranked 24)
- Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.), 1,053,642 members, up 2.04 percent. (Ranked 25)

[from MMI Weblog by Todd Rhoades]

Beware of Deception

Galatians 6:7-8: "Don't be misled -- you can not mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from their sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit." (NLT)

The first few words of this passage brought a challenge to my heart. I must be alert to the tactics of the enemy and not allow him to mislead me. The Bible declares that he is a predator (walking about as a roaring lion) and he is always seeking to lead me away from my walk with Christ.

Satan will use any and all means to mislead my heart so that I will have a broken relationship with God rather than a healthy and maturing relationship. I must be alert and awake to the tricks of the enemy and not allow the flesh to be in charge of my life.

We open ourself to deception if we think that we can disobey God and not suffer the consequences or that we can ignore God and still receive His blessings. We are opening the door to deception when we live with only this present world and what it has to offer as our major desire and priority. The Bible declares that this world will pass away but he that does the will of the Father will abide forever. I want to walk with eternity in my view and realize that only what I do for Christ will last.

Make sure that you are investing in eternal things that will produce a harvest of eternal blessings and rewards. The best way to defeat deception is to keep your heart open to God. An open heart toward God allows His Spirit the freedom to minister direction and correction to our lives. Ask Him to help you develop an open heart which lead you down the path of spiritual maturity which will ultimately place you in His presence for all of eternity.

[from Heart for America by michael]

Grand Bahamas Centennial Crusade

This year the Church of God of Prophecy celebrates their 100th year of existence in the Bahamas. Recently, they hosted their Grand Bahamas Centennial Crusade which was held at the Community at Heart Tabernacle on Coral Road, Freeport.

The week long crusade was held under the theme "We've Come This Far by Faith" with much anticipation people from everywhere flocked the church house nightly and the excitement grew as the nights went on.

The special guest speaker for the week was Dr. Bishop Robert Jones of Kingston Jamaica, who is also a pastor of the Church of God of Prophecy. Each night Bishop Jones encouraged those in attendance with a quick and powerful word with precision and clarity. With topics such as "In My Time," "Engaging God;" "Closure-Guilt and For-giveness" There was no doubt that this man was hearing from God during the week.

Many accepted the Lord, received the Holy Spirit and brought closure to personal situations in their lives. No one left the church house disappointed as the Lord showed up nightly pouring out of His Spirit and meeting the needs of crowds of hungry and thirsty souls.

The National Overseers of the Church of God Of Prophecy, Bahamas Bishop Dr. Elgarnet. B. Rahming was also at this great Crusade nightly and welcomed those visiting. Also on hand were Bishop Cleophas Capron, District Overseer, Bishop Rudolph Arthur, National Field Director, Rev. Steve Dean Administrative Assistant to Bishop Arthur Knowles, District Overseer of Church of God.

The Word for the week was accompanied by great musical renditions by, The Remnant, Glenda Stubbs, Charo Charles, Peter Gray, Hattie Williams, Annamae Delva. the Church of God District Choir and Praise Team, the Centennial Praise Team. The Boyz and special guest the Interdenominational Mass Choir.

Coordinators of the Crusade were: Pastor Steven Cefort, Minister Cecil Bethel and Minister Barbara Gray.

[from The Freeport News]

WALL-E: Best Animated Feature and Best Spiritual Film of 2008

Disney’s "WALL-E" has been recognized as last year’s best movie for families, the best spiritual movie, and now the best feature-length animation.

The robot romance blockbuster won the Academy Award for animated feature on Sunday, beating out doggy hero flick “Bolt” and martial arts tale “Kung Fu Panda.” It had also been nominated for five other Academy Awards, including original screenplay, original score, original song, sound editing, and sound mixing.
"Creative seeds are sown in the oddest of places,” said director Andrew Stanton upon receiving the Oscar.

”WALL-E” tells the story of a garbage collecting robot who has been left on an abandoned earth to clean up the mess in a “distant, but not so unrealistic future” where the planet has become covered with trash from products sold by the powerful multi-national Buy N Large corporation. Though very much alone, WALL-E eventually falls in love with an advanced, feminine probe robot named EVE who lands on the planet, and follows her into outer space on an adventure.

“WALL-E not only does what Andrew Stanton says is the essence of the movie, directly quoting Jesus in John 15:13 of the New Testament, ‘No greater love hath a man than that he lay down his life for his friends,’” stated a review by faith-based media ministry Movieguide, which earlier this month selected “WALL-E” as the best movie for families in 2008. “It also clearly manifests Christian acts of compassion, kindness, respect, and all the other cardinal virtues throughout the story.”

In addition to Movieguide, multi-faith site http://www.beliefnet.com/ also declared “WALL-E” at the top of its annual list, recently dubbing it the “Best Spiritual Film of 2008” out of a pool of films that “are bound to touch your soul in some way.”

Film judge Sr. Rose Pacatte called the movie "Disney's best film ever in terms of its themes of the consequences of soulless consumerism and the need – the hunger for truth, beauty, and goodness that we all share.”

“Spirituality is living our beliefs in relationship with God and others,” Pacatte added. “The word God was not present, but the reality was in WALL-E."

Walt Disney Pictures released “WALL-E” in the United States and Canada on June 27, 2008. After a $63 million opening weekend, the movie went on to gross $533 million worldwide. The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on Nov. 18, 2008.

[By Josh Kimball - Christian Post Reporter]