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Prayer vigil brings solace after Dallas police shooting

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By Tonya Andris
Inside The Pew

DALLAS – Mourners of all faiths converged on Thanksgiving Square in Dallas on Friday to pray for the city and individuals directly impacted by the attack on Dallas and Dallas Area Rapid Transportation (DART) police officers. The attack, called the deadliest attack on U.S. law enforcement since 9-11, left five officers dead and seven other officers and two civilians injured.

During his closing prayer, Bishop T.D. Jakes asked for spiritual guidance and asked for men and women to gain courage to take on other people’s burdens.

“If we agree, we can turn this nation around. Our country is laying on the edge of destruction, but just because it is on the edge doesn’t mean it has to fall over. Let that which unites us be greater than that which divides us.

“We were made from one blood. We have different skins. We have different styles. We have different philosophical ideologies, but by one blood that you made all men.”

Local and national leadership, Jakes said, should resemble the same love, compassion, and wisdom of the Almighty.

More hugs

One man in attendance wore his feelings for everyone to see. An unidentified man wore a shirt that read, “Free Hugs.” During an interview with a FOX 4 Dallas reporter, he said “This is what this city needs right now.” He wasn’t alone, as you can see from this video posted on Twitter by Kristen Hampton from WBTV in Charlotte, N.C.

Billy Graham team arrives in Dallas

ASSIST News Services reported Friday the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team has been deployed to Dallas less thanBilly Graham RR 24 hours after the mass shooting.

“It’s hard to know what to say in the face of all of the violence we’ve seen in recent days. Our hearts are broken,” said Jack Munday, international director of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team in a Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Rapid Response Team news release.

“Please pray for this entire situation, stretching from Minneapolis to Baton Rouge to Dallas. We’re sending chaplains into Dallas to offer a ministry of presence to a community in crisis.”

Michael Ireland of ASSIST News contributed to this report.

Photos

Main: Crowd gathers in Thanksgiving Square in Dallas for the Interfaith Prayer Vigil on Friday. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Campos.

Copyright © 2016 Inside The Pew. All rights reserved.

 

 

Registration under way for free youth pastor summit in Tulsa, Houston

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By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

In Tulsa, Okla., and Houston: Student Leadership University will hold its annual Youth Pastor Summit in Tulsa on April 7 andlogo in Houston on April 8. Registration is free. Visit http://www.slulead.com/ to register.

In Dallas: Paul Quinn College and the 10th District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church will partner together to play host to a job fair on Wednesday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the campus of the college, 3837 Simpson Stuart Road. There is no cost to either employers or future employees. Contact Kelsel Thompson at kthompson@pqc.edu for more additional information.

In Baton Rouge, La.: More than 500 faith leaders from across Louisiana will descend on the state Capitol Building on April 1 for a Faith Day at the Capitol rally to demand Governor Bobby Jindal and state legislative leaders to provide leadership to secure passage of legislation that will curb the high mass incarceration rates in the state. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world. The rally is slated to run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.; a press conference will follow. Visit www.piconetwork.org.

In Dallas: Save April 15 at 11:30 a.m. on the calendar! Hope Mansion, a nonprofit organization in Cedar Hill that helps womenTracey Mitchell ages 18-35 who experience crisis pregnancies, has planned its Extraordinary HOPE women’s luncheon with guest speaker Tracey Mitchell (author of Downside Up). The conference to will take place at The Tower Club in Thanksgiving Tower, 1601 Elm St. in Dallas. Tickets are $30 per person; $240 for table of eight. Contact Jennifer Wulff, luncheon chair, at info@hopemansion.org.

In Shreveport, La.: Centenary College of Louisiana’s World House for Environmental Sustainability, in cooperation with community partner Shreveport Green, will host Chad Pregracke, CNN Hero of the Year for 2013, Thursday, April 3. The Living Lands and Waters founder and president will deliver a convocation at 11:10 a.m. and a workshop-styled lecture at 4 p.m. in Kilpatrick Auditorium. Both events are free and open to the public. Visit www.centenary.edu.

In Katy, Texas: The Katy Christian Women’s Connection will hold a fashion show luncheon on Thursday, April 17 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Golf Club at Cinco Ranch, 23030 Cinco Ranch Blvd. Cost is $18 per person. Take a sneak peek at the latest fashions from La Centerra’s. The guest speaker is Oklahoma native Deborah Cerkovnik. Deadline for reservations is noon on Monday, April 14. Email katyCWC@gmail.com for more information.

Christian nonprofit and events roundups are run weekly. To get your event listed, contact Jacob Trimmer at pewnews@aol.com.

Opinion: Why your single moms ministry won’t grow

By Jennifer Maggio
Special to Inside The Pew

The Life of a Single Mom Ministriesexists so that no single mom walks alone, regardless of race, socio-economic status, or story. Our passion is to see single mothers connected to the house of God, thriving and flourishing to live the life He intended. One way we do that is by helping churches establish long-term, healthy single moms support groups or ministries.
I consider it an honor and privilege to work beside some of largest churches and nonprofits in the world. In doing so, I have found some things that may hinder your single moms’ ministry from growing and I wanted to share them with you (and hope we have your permission to be brutally honest):
  1. Ministering only to single moms within your church will prohibit your ministry from growing. Sixty-seven percent of single moms are outside your church walls, so be sure to welcome in the community.
  2. Failing to provide a free meal and free childcare will hinder growth within your ministry. Single moms are busy and often do not have the time or money to provide childcare themselves for a Bible study. In addition, providing a meal is a great way to bless the moms and their children. (Read the book, The Church and the Single Mom by Jennifer Maggio, for ways to provide this at little to no cost.)
  3. Your meetings drone on and on. We suggest meetings to last only 90 mintues. Single moms are busy and need to be able to plan their schedule for themselves and their children.
  4. You are trying to integrate a single mom’s group on a Wednesday night or Sunday morning service. Weekday meetings are extremely hard for single parents who are juggling full-time jobs, soccer practice, second jobs, homework, and night classes. Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights are, by far, the best nights for single moms to get out. (No homework for kids, no night-time classes, no work the next day, etc).
  5. You are afraid to change. I once heard a dynamic speaker say, “When women’s ministries turn into women’s miseries, it is time for a change.” The same is true for single moms ministries. Your church may have been doing the same thing for single moms, the same way, for 15 years. It may be time to shake it up a bit. Have some fun. Have some giggles. Give your ministry a face lift.
  6. You need to plan an “event” to get the single moms in your church and community excited. There is no better way to attract some new faces (and regain some old ones) than to have a single moms’ conference, night of beauty, night of worship, game night, or something similar.
  7. Your leadership isn’t diversified. In order to reach all single moms from all backgrounds and stories, it is important that the key leaders and volunteers within the ministry are diversified. For example, if you have exclusively 40-something divorcees in leadership positions, do not be surprised if teen moms aren’t interested. We all want to know that someone understands our story. And when a new single mom walks into your ministry, she wants to see someone in the room who looks like her. It is a simple, but true statement.
  8. The ministry leader for your single moms ministry needs equipping. Maybe she’s tired and needs some more volunteers. Maybe she was never properly trained on how to lead women. Maybe there is a wonderful teacher waiting to “bud”, but she hasn’t found her voice yet and needs some encouragement on how to do that. Or … .maybe the wrong leader is leading within the ministry. Maybe her time has drawn to a close and God is moving her into a new season of life. This last fact cannot be determined without great prayer, but it is crucial in the survival and thriving of your single moms’ ministry. Sometimes as ministry leaders who are desperate for workers (the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…), we don’t diligently seek God about who the right person is for the job. Consequently, we have some misplaced leaders within single moms’ ministries who really need to be replaced. When done properly, this is beautiful for all involved, as it frees the current leader to fulfill the role God called her to, and it allows the new leader to also fulfill her role.
Jennifer Maggio is considered one of the nation’s leading authorities on single parent issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who travels the country sharing her own riveting story. She has been featured on countless radio and television programs, and founded The Life of a Single Mom Ministries, to equip the body of Christ on how to best meet the needs of single parent families. For more information on running an effective single moms ministry, please visit http://www.thelifeofasinglemom.com.
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Christian songstress gets personal on forthcoming release

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By Donald Lee
Special to Inside The Pew

Two minutes, 6 seconds.

That is the climactic point in the song “Even Me” by up-and-coming Gospel sensation Anita Jarrell-Robertson. Though virtue springs forth from the very beginning of the song, the second minute and sixth second of that track sets the tone for a soon-to-be-released album that is certain to command rave reviews.

Jarrell-Robertson said what the listener hears at that point in the song is her pouring out her soul before the Lord. The intensity of that moment was birthed from her deliverance from a dark place in her heart.

“That’s the part where I accepted His healing and deliverance,” said Jarrell-Robertson, who is a Dallas native but now lives in Baton Rouge, La., with her family.

“I was literally sitting in my closet; that’s where I pray. I was in my master bedroom walk-in closet. I don’t want anybody to freak out about that,” a tickled Jarrell-Robertson said about her prayer closet being as much literal as it is metaphoric. “It is a walk-in closet, and I had my Bible, my journal, a pen and my ‘Steps’ book, a book that walks you through reconciliation with Christ.”

What Jarrell-Robertson said next is quite revealing.

“I was wrestling with a decision to cheat on my husband, and I wasn’t quite sure how to pull it off,” she said as she explains further how “Even Me” came about.

“I just wanted to make him mad. It wasn’t that he was cheating or anything. It was trivial things,” she said, adding that she had those thoughts even though there was never another man in the picture. “He didn’t wash the dishes enough; he didn’t help me enough with the kids; he didn’t date me enough; he didn’t talk to me the way that I wanted him to talk to me all the time. But he’s actually the most faithful man I’ve ever been with.

“So, out of anger and hatred, I was going to cheat,” Jarrell-Robertson said. “What slowed my progress was I thought about my children and I didn’t know how to look them in the eye and tell them that I had cheated on their father. I really didn’t have a good reason. I knew that if I’d have made that choice to do that, I knew that I could potentially damage their destiny. I grew up with that kind of dysfunction as a preacher’s kid: Hearing one thing said and seeing something else done.”

At that point, Jarrell-Robertson began to see that her inner-being had become as a land ravaged by drought. What was going on within her was much bigger than the “little things” that she didn’t like about her husband, Jesse.

“After about 20 minutes or so of just weeping in despair, just frustrated about the condition of my soul, I just asked God to help me,” she said. “And He gave me this song. I believe His answer to my prayer was this song. This was the first time that I really internalized the message of the cross for myself verses making sure that everyone else on the planet got the Gospel, literally.”

Jarrell-Robertson said she was so inspired by Isaiah 44:3 that the passage of scripture became a verse in “Even Me.”

The scripture, as does a stanza in the song, said, For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring …

“I was just done; I was broken; I was finished,” a humbled Jarrell-Robertson said. “That was the best thing that could ever happen to me. Little did I know, the song would end up on a CD somewhere.”

And “Even Me” is by no means the only song on the Maxi single worth listening to. There are three other tracks, including “Future Generations,” “Never Forget Your Maker” and “On My Way,” that are phenomenal.

Jarrell-Robertson wrote, arranged, and performed every song on the project.

“Future Generations” and “Never Forget Your Maker” were written when the couple’s daughter Jessica, 6, was undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. She is now healed.

“On My Way” was written when Jarrell-Robertson’s father was dying in the hospital. The Lord Jesus let her know her father was on his way to heaven.

The album, which is also titled “Even Me,” will be released in September, and will include six additional tracks.

Donald Lee is an author and freelance journalist. He can be reached at donaldj_lee@yahoo.com. To book Anita Jarrell-Robertson, call (866) 486-5810 or visit her website at http://www.anitaworships.com.

Through workshops, Kathy Burrell mentors gospel artists

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Kathy Burrell has been involved with music since she was a little girl growing up in Houston. Along with her siblings, who includes younger sister and gospel megastar Kim Burrell, the quartet learned to spread the gospel through their melodic voices.

Now, Kathy Burrell, an award-winning songwriter, is taking her years of experience in the gospel music circuit and teaching it

Lake Charles mayor Randy Roach, left, and Kathy Burrell during the announcement that Burrell's "The Sound of a New Music Workshop" is coming to Lake Charles, La., in April.

to others who desire to break into the business.

Through her own production company – YourWeh Music – Kathy is touring the southwest and south to stage “The Sound of a New Music” workshops.  The two-day event allows Kathy to provide one-on-one mentoring to aspiring gospel artists. The first day includes a musician showcase, where individuals perform before Kathy and a group of highly regarded clinicians in gospel music. On the second day, a business forum is held where Kathy and the clinicians teach music; provide answers to burning questions; and teach participant how to conduct business in the gospel industry.

Kathy Burrell – The Sound of a New Music Workshop in Port Arthur, Texas

“It is my passion for the kingdom of God that allows me to do this,” Kathy Burrell shared with Inside The Pew. “Nobody grabbed me and my sister and told us anything. I had to learn the hard way.

“I am able to give them those tools before they bump their head. It is an honor and a privilege to do this.”

In 2009, Kathy joined the songwriting ranks with “Yes To Your Will,” a ballad sung by Kim Burrell. The song was nominated

Kathy Burrell is accomplished singer and songwriter.

for a Grammy Award.  Kathy also penned several songs for Kim’s revered “The Love Album;” which was nominated for a Grammy in 2011. Kim took home the Stellar Award’s female vocalist of the year and contemporary female of the year honors in January. Kim mentioned in her acceptance speech that her sister, Kathy, was the power behind the success of “The Love Album” because Kathy wrote most of the songs on the release.

In addition, in February, “Sweeter,” written by Kathy and recorded by Kim earned a Dove Award nomination.

The workshops will make stops in Louisiana later in April and in June. The workshop is slated for 7:30 p.m. on April 20 and April 21 in Leesville and 7:30 p.m. on April 27 and 10 a.m. on April 28 in Lake Charles; June 1 and June 2 in Baton Rouge, and June 15 and 16 in New Orleans. According to Burrell’s website, the locations for these events will be determined.

Kathy Burrell said “The Sound of a New Music” workshops are coordinated through her company, YourWeh Music Productions.

Burrell’s slate also includes the “Woman Be Thou Empowered” conference on May 17 to May 19 at Solid Rock Baptist Church, 1337 East Fifth St., in Port Arthur. The theme of the women’s event is women behind the front line.

Mary Motley, a gospel singer who performs in southeast Texas, attended the Port Arthur workshop on Feb. 24 and Feb. 25.  She said Kathy Burrell made her feel appreciated. By attending the workshop, Motley said she can perfect her talent.

“Kathy is real, and a down-to-earth artist; she is just like me,” said Motley, who has been singing since she was 4 years old. “She has never had the attitude that she is up there and I am down there. I feel she will be instrumental in my career and others who want to get into gospel music. Kathy respected me and my craft.”

Motley said the greatest asset Kathy can provide to up-and-coming artist is the truth about what the recording entails because Kathy Burrell has been around professional gospel music for quite some time.

“Go experience it because I feel I have found a friend for life. Don’t get offended, because she is tough. Come with an open mind and don’t come with your heart on your sleeve.”

To register for a “The Sound of a New Music” workshop or the “Woman Be Thou Empowered” conference, visit www.kathyburrell.com.

Muse: Color me white

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE, La. – When I was a little boy growing up in Amite, La., I can remember the first time I went to school. From day one, it was hard for me. The black kids had to sit at the back of the bus and in the back of the class room. As a kid, I didn’t know what was going on, but I do know that we were treated very badly in and out of the classroom.

The white kids would laugh at us. The black kids were last at everything in school. Sitting in that classroom was one of the

Grelan Muse Sr.

hardest things we had to endure. Fear was a reality for the black kids, for we never knew what was going to happen from day to day. It was difficult to learn in that environment. For some of us, our grades began to suffer, and so we were placed in special education studies. We were looked at as the unlearned kids.

I can recall my siblings and me tell our mother how bad we were being treated. I still recall the pain I felt sitting at the table as I cried to my mother about what was happening at school. As a 6 year old, it was hard to understand why. Day in and day out we went to school feeling this way, being called the “N-word” all the time. I just didn’t understand.

When I got home from school one day, I asked my mother if we had some white paint. She wanted to know why I needed the paint. I told her I wanted to make my skin white so I would not endure the pain of being ridiculed. There were days when I cried because I felt worthless. Sadly, I was starting to hate myself for being black.

At this point, my mother sat me down. She picked up the Bible on the coffee table, and we read scriptures, specifically Matthew 5:44 and John 13:34-35. In Matthew, Christ said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (KJV). He echoes this in John: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another./By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (KJV).

My mother asked us to do what Jesus said to love your enemies’ and she gave us a song to sing. The name of the song was, “I’ve Got The Love of Jesus.” When my siblings and I went back to school, we prayed and the song reined my heart and mind. I was able to overcome this situation in the name of Jesus; I still hear that song in my heart. In any situation you might experience, God will empower you to overcome. He will give you joy to overcome.

Grelan Muse Sr. is founder of Inside The Pew (@pewtalk) and founder of Emanuel and The Mainline Ministries (@EMM4Christ). To respond to this column, email him at pewnews@aol.com.

Spreading the word: Christian news for the masses

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Special to Inside The Pew

Editor’s note: This is the first story that ran in the premiere online edition of Inside The Pew on March 3, 2009.

He wanted a means for Christians to effectively communicate with one another.

She had a desire to help future journalists hone their skills.

These two ideas serve as the backdrop in creating www.insidethepew.net. The Web site caters to the Christian communities of Southeast and North Texas, and South Louisiana.

Now in its third week of existence, the site is gaining in popularity. It has been featured in the following publications: The Port Arthur News, Hammond Daily Star, Baton Rouge Advocate, and Christian News Wire.

“I have encountered a lot of positive feedback on The Pew,” Tonya Whitaker, who serves as managing editor, said. “The churches have been helpful and more than willing to get us their news.”

The Pew all started one day with a phone conversation between Pastor Grelan Muse Sr., founder of Emanuel and The Mainline Ministries Inc., a registered nonprofit organization based in Baton Rouge, La., and Whitaker, a newspaper copy editor and writer.

“I told Tonya I always wanted to start a religion newspaper,” Muse said. “She said she had been thinking about beginning a newspaper to help train future journalists for quite a while. However, she told me that it would be a better idea to start a religion news Web site. I am glad she suggested this because with the Web, we can reach a greater number of people.

“I asked her how soon it would be to make this dream a reality. She said, ‘Sooner than you think.’”

After months of planning and both dodging hurricanes (Muse’s Baton Rouge was hit with Gustav, while Whitaker’s Port Arthur, Texas, was impacted by Ike), he appointed the 10-year newspaper journalist managing editor. She will oversee the content of the site, train interns and staff development.

“Tonya is intelligent, smart and her greatness is yet to come,” Muse said. “She has the ability and the skills for the job and to be a great leader.”

Whitaker got her first experience covering church-related news as a staff writer for The Orange Leader in August 2005. She had the opportunity to write stories on how churches in Orange helped Hurricane Katrina evacuees who came to the area fleeing the deadly storm.

“Faith-based news is usually relegated to one page on Saturday in newspapers,” Whitaker said. “I want to provide an avenue for churches and ministries to tell of the good deeds they do in His name. I want all types, shapes and forms of religion news covered.”

Whitaker said another portion of the Web site is to allow individuals who are not from the journalism field and have an interest in writing to volunteer. In addition, in the future, she wants to implement an internship for students who are journalism majors in college and high school students interested in pursuing it at the undergraduate level.

“I am excited to see my aspirations come to light,” she said. “I thank Pastor Muse for the opportunity.”

Individuals interested in lending their talents to writing and editing are encouraged to send a resume and writing samples to Whitaker at pewnews@aol.com. For more information on Emanuel and The Mainline Ministries, visit emmnetwork.org.