Special to Inside The Pew

Worcester, Penn. – Christian History Institute (CHI), publisher of Christian History magazine, announces its latestcatholic-reformation-christian-history issue, titled: The Catholic Reformation – Art, piety and the fight for renewal.  The issue is the fourth and final in a series of four, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation period, beginning in October of 1517.

This issue, #122, contains ten in-depth articles that explore responses to the Reformation within the Catholic Church and two related Protestant movements (the Arminius challenge to Calvin’s reform movement and the Puritan’s movement in America). The issue brings to a conclusion the editor’s four-issue series commemorating the 500th anniversary of the European Reformation period, generally considered to have begun with the publication of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, in protest.

The issue’s contributing authors (see content link below) examine responses by both Catholic Church insiders and evangelicals. While Catholic piety and discipline reactions spawned numerous formal orders, including the 1540 formation of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), they also encouraged underground “justification by faith” movements which have remarkably experienced revival in modern times. Both responses, in spite of papal reluctance, lead to the Council of Trent, started in 1545 and lasting until the end of 1563.

In addition to exploring Europe’s Thirty Years’ War and its stamp on the relationship between the church and state, contributing authors explore how Protestant rejection of church statuary and images resulted in an art explosion as an expression of Catholic Church doctrine. Set upon a stage of Protestant reforms, the Council of Trent did more to clarify and affirm Catholic Church doctrines rather than to be a move toward actual reform.

“As I immersed myself in the Catholic Reformation, I encountered a cast of characters and events seeking an answer to the same question that troubled Protestants: Something has gone wrong here—how can we fix it?,” said CH managing editor, Jennifer Woodruff Tait. In service of that question, [Catholic] religious leaders dialogued with Protestants, rooted out heretics, and eventually convened the Council of Trent, which forged a uniquely Catholic way of reform. If you are a Protestant, reading this issue will require you to think differently about what reform looked like in the sixteenth century, where it happened, how, and why.”

CH issue 122, contains 10 feature articles; a special bonus time-line chronology pull-out; an archive of rare and beautiful art-work & photos; a ‘letters to the editor’ section and an extensive reading list compiled by the CH editorial staff. The magazine is available on-line and can be conveniently read, on screen at: www.christianhistoryinstitute.org.

The entire CH archive collection of 122 issues can be searched, along with books and study-guides, using the website’s robust search engine feature. The website, combined with a magazine subscription is offered at no-cost as a study resource for the home & homeschoolers, church libraries, middle/high schools, as well as to colleges & universities. It is the mission of CHI donors and staff to make this resource as widely and freely available as possible (donations gratefully accepted).

The following articles can be accessed on-line at: What’s Inside?

Articles in issue #122, titled: The Catholic Reformation – Art, piety and the fight for renewal, include:

Helping Souls –  How religious orders of the sixteenth century pursued reform and holiness
author:  Katie M. Benjamin, a Th.D. candidate at Duke University working in Reformation history and theology.

The Road Not Taken – Evangelical Catholics worked for reform without leaving their mother church
author: Edwin Woodruff Tait, managing editor, Christian History

Picturing Saints – What Catholic piety in the Sixteenth century looked and felt like
Virginia C. Raguin, Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the College of the Holy Cross and author of Stained Glass: Radiant Art and Art, Piety, and Destruction in the Christian West, 1500–1700.

The Persistent Council – Catholic reform came to a head at the Council of Trent
Martin J. Lohrmann, assistant professor of Lutheran confessions and heritage at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa; author of Book of Harmony; and coeditor of a volume in the Reformation Commentary on Scripture series.

A Renewed and Global Faith – After Trent, changes were in the air
Thomas Worcester, S.J., professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross, the author of Seventeenth-Century Cultural Discourse, and the editor of the Cambridge Companion to the Jesuits.

Reasons of State – The Thirty Years’ War: Europe’s last religious war
Roger G. Robins, associate professor in the Center for Global Communication Strategies at the University of Tokyo.

Defender of God’s Justice – Arminius questioned some aspects of Reformed faith, but he never meant to launch a movement
William den Boer, postdoctoral researcher in church history at the Theological University of Kampen and the author of God’s Twofold Love: The Theology of Jacob Arminius (1559–1609).

Coming to America – The Puritans left us a profound, ambiguous legacy
Malcolm Foley, Ph.D. student in the history of Christianity at Baylor University.

Remaking the World – Five men with very different ideas on the reform of Sixteenth-century Catholicism
Edwin and Jennifer Woodruff Tait – Edwin Woodruff Tait is contributing editor at Christian History. Jennifer Woodruff Tait is managing editor at Christian History.

The Ecumenical Dilemma – Protestants and Catholics share their experiences from the Reformation until the present day – with John W. O’Malley, S.J., Paul Rorem, Ernest Freeman, John Armstrong, and Thomas A. Baima.

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

Recounts from Christian missionaries show the transforming power of God’s word. This is exactly what Dr. Erickgabon-central-africa-jesus-film Schenkel conveys in his upcoming release, Everyone, Everywhere.

Schenkel, executive director of Jesus Film Project®, shares his personal journey in ministry since graduating from Harvard College in 1974 and the subsequent global impact of the film “JESUS” since its release in 1979.

The “JESUS” film, envisioned by Bill Bright, co-founder of Cru, and was produced in cooperation with The Genesis Project. “JESUS” is the most watched film according to Guinness Book of World Records and, as of this year, is available in 1,500 languages with the latest translation in Daasanach. Jesus Film Project continues to carry out Bright’s vision of showing this film to people in every country of the world.

The missionary has witnessed numerous miraculous occurrences as a result of both his and others’ commitments to sharing the Gospel around the world and working toward fulfilling the Great Commission through various mediums throughout the years including “JESUS” film screenings and the latest tools and films available through the Jesus Film Project app.

“This book is an invitation to join the most exciting, the most compassionate, the most significant movement in theerick-schenkel-everyone-everywhere world,” Schenkel said. “It is written primarily for people who are presently followers of Jesus Christ, but I dare to hope that some who are not His followers will be drawn to the beauty and the importance of the realities it presents.”

Through Everyone, Everywhere, which is set for release on May 23, Schenkel sheds light on the history of evangelism throughout the centuries and the varying branches of the Christian faith. He points out that though each of these sects might have had different beliefs on certain aspects, fundamentally everyone who has professed a belief in Christ has been tasked with the same thing – to spread the Gospel.

“We followers of Jesus Christ share one history,” Schenkel said. “We are involved in one mission. We must also remember that simply taking to oneself the name of Jesus Christ — regardless of what one’s devotional practice may be — is in itself a radical step.  In much of the world, there is nothing to be gained in this life by claiming to be a Christian. In fact, confessing Christ can be dangerous, regardless of the church one attends — or fails to attend.  …  Just taking the name of Jesus can get you killed.”

Throughout the book, Schenkel shares stories of missionaries, pastors and others in ministry work around the world who passionately share the message of Christ, despite the risks. From nations where sharing the Gospel of Jesus is illegal such as China and Middle Eastern countries to areas where Christianity is exploding including Korea, Vietnam and parts of Africa and Latin America, Schenkel explores how the message of Christ is indeed reaching the nations. He also talks about the fact that though the United States and other westernized countries still play a role in spreading the Gospel, the saving grace of Jesus is now being spread “from everyone, to everywhere.”

“Never has there been the possibility of inter-related global movements of Jesus followers like we see beginning to happen today,” he said. “I am convinced that we live at the most exciting moment in the history of the church.”

Learn more about Everyone, Everywhere, visit the  Jesus Film website.

Photos (top to bottom)

Residents of the central African country of Gabon view a showing of the JESUS Film.

Dr. Erick Schenkel, author of Everyone, Everywhere

Images courtesy of the Jesus Film Project®

© 2017 Inside The Pew

By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

First Presbyterian Church of Houston has unveiled Project Flourish, a creative invitation to the community to helpproject flourish first presbyterian church of houston bring fresh ideas to the issues that face a major metropolitan city like Houston.

According to the church’s May 2 announcement, it has set aside $250,000 for a social-entrepreneurship contest that seeks to grow new creative ideas from the community and mobilize Houstonians to seek city-wide renewal and transformational change.

“Every neighborhood in Houston is home to people who care deeply about our city—and we believe God has a heart to see Houston continually renewed and flourishing,” said Jim Birchfield, Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church. “We want to see our city thrive—by offering $250,000 in seed money for creative proposals to that end, we truly want to work with individuals and teams who are seeking the good of the city.”

Individuals and teams who reside within 50 miles of downtown Houston are encouraged to apply through the Project Flourish website.

Applications are open to both for-profit and non-profit ideas, and will continue to be accepted through September 10th. Applications will be reviewed and semi-finalists will be invited into a six-week “acceleration” process designed to refine their proposal and receive consulting support, mentorship, and expertise from FPC congregants. At the conclusion of the six-week acceleration process, semi-finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges, supporters and prospective investors who will have the job of awarding funding from the $250,000 pool.

“We are looking for fresh solutions with truly innovative approaches to go after some of the greatest problems we face as a city,” said Austin Hermann, FPC’s Director of Ministry Empowerment. “We are looking for individuals and teams who have ideas in their earlier conceptual stages of development but have some clear traction and proven attempts at implementation. Judges will want to see evidence of market testing, research, and problem understanding.”

Established in 1839, First Presbyterian Church of Houston was the first church to organize and build in Houston. Today its congregation continues to worship and serve from its location in the heart of the city’s museum district. Committed to providing opportunities to Gather, Grow and Go, the FPC Houston community continues to impact Houston and beyond through multiple worship styles, biblical teaching and strategic opportunities to serve through both local and global mission ministry opportunities. Compelled by the love of Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, FPC Houston is committed to carry the gospel to Houston and to the world.

To apply with your idea, or to learn more visit http://projectflourish.org/.

Project Flourish is a direct result of Vision 2020, the plan by which FPC Houston has committed to fulfill its mission: “Compelled by the love of Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we carry the gospel to Houston and the world.”   

© 2017 Inside The Pew

 

By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

For seven Super Bowls, Nita Belles has brought attention to the troubling occurrence of human trafficking that takes in-our-backyard-human-traffickingplace during major sporting events. And this year is no different.

Millions are awaiting the big game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons, scheduled to take place in Houston, Texas, the host city of Super Bowl 51, on Sunday, February 5, 2017, but as in previous years, human trafficking is a real concern to many, especially Nita Belles.

Belles is the founder of In Our Backyard (IOB) — http://inourbackyard.org/ — and Jan. 28 she officially announced the launch of the “Convenience Stores Against Trafficking” (CSAT) initiative. She did so during her appearance as keynote speaker at “Vulnerable: A Conference on the Issues of Gender, Race, Poverty & Human Trafficking,” held at South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main St. in Houston. The free conference kicked off at 1 p.m.

“The Houston Super Bowl was the right time to launch the campaign,” Belles said. “Houston was very accepting and welcoming of the program. Greater Houston Retailers Association put CSAT materials and training out to 1,900 convenience stores.”

IOB will also work with local law enforcement and other groups responding to the anticipated increased sex trade activity in the Houston area. Days before the launch of the initiative, on Jan. 24, KTRK-TV, the ABC-affiliate in Houston, reported a 21-year-old woman — who said she was brought to Houston specifically for sex trafficking at the Super Bowl — was raped in downtown Houston by a pimp. According to the report, a Good Samaritan rescued the woman and took her to Ben Taub Hospital for treatment.

In addition, Belles said her organization have unveiled a major social media drive aiming to boost awareness of human trafficking during the events surrounding the February 5th game. The anti-human trafficking campaigner said she hopes for a quarter of a million shares of the new Thunderclap video, “Link Arms Across America,” during the first quarter. The short awareness message features former victims holding signs of things they were told by their traffickers.

“Thousands of women, children, and even some men across the country are caught up in the horrors of sex trafficking, convinced that there is no way out, and convenience stores can be a first line of help for these victims,” Belles said. “Businesses like these can be heroes in this fight; we’re so glad for their support.”

Since founding IOB in 2006, Belles has become widely recognized as a leading voice in the fight against human trafficking. A frequent speaker to law enforcement, medical, civic and community groups, she has also been an adviser on anti-trafficking legislation to legislators in several states and authored the authoritative book “In Our Backyard: Human Trafficking in America and What We Can Do to Stop It.”

“Human trafficking happens 24/7, 365 days a year, in every zip code in America,” Belles said. “But working together, we can bring an end to this atrocity.”

Belles said volunteers are being recruited for the event to help canvas convenience stores in the Houston area. Visit the IOB website (http://inourbackyard.org/) to sign up.

© 2017 Inside The Pew

Special to Inside The Pew

The Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank has been able to continue its feeding mission with the help of a nearly $1.4 million FEMA grant.

The grant reimburses expenses to dispose of debris, clean and disinfect property and equipment and restoregreater baton rouge food bank refrigeration and freezing at the Choctaw Drive distribution facility damaged in the August flooding event. It also provides the food bank with a temporary facility to support its essential community service.

The nonprofit stores food at the distribution facility that faith-based and community groups then distribute to pantries, meal sites, homes, shelters and soup kitchens in the Baton Rouge area.

The funds were made available through FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program. The program reimburses expenses to eligible local and state government and certain private nonprofit entities in 26 designated parishes to repair or replace disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure.

The 26 designated parishes eligible for PA funding are Acadia, Ascension, Assumption, Avoyelles, Cameron, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Evangeline, Iberia, Iberville, Jefferson Davis, Lafayette, Livingston, Point Coupee, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Landry, St. Martin, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Vermilion, Washington, West Baton Rouge, and West Feliciana.

FEMA typically reimburses 75 percent of eligible PA expenses. However, applicants will be reimbursed 90 percent of eligible PA expenses given the magnitude of the August floods. The federal portion is paid directly to the state, which then disburses the funds to the applicants.