LISTEN: Rev. Dr. Edward V. Hill II dies at 52 (BCNN1 09/09/19)

Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to the LA Sentinel, More than 1,000 people were on hand to bid farewell to the Rev. Dr. Edward V. Hill II on Aug. 24th, at West Angeles Church of God in Christ. Hill, the pastor of Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church and Spirit of Zion Fellowship Church, passed away suddenly on August 12, at the age of 52. The ecumenical crowd contained a wide range of clergy and lay people, who wept, shouted, danced and rejoiced throughout the spirit-filled service, which included music by the combined choirs of Mount Zion and Spirit of Zion. The Rev. Dr. Melvin V. Wade Sr., pastor emeritus of Mount Moriah Baptist Church, and the Rev. Dr. Robert A. Williams, pastor of McCoy Memorial Baptist Church, officiated the service. The scores of tributes and resolutions from the faith community and elected officials illustrated Hill’s reach. Pastor Welton Pleasant II, president of the California State Baptist Convention, said, “We will miss the presence and work of Dr. E.V. Hill II. He embraced bapticostal. He had a legacy of humility.” The Rev. Clyde Romalaine, international bishop of South Africa, said, “Edward knew how to love. He was concerned about you. He was always the same. He didn’t change. He contended for the faith.” Bishop Kenneth C. Ulmer, pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church, described Hill as “a man full of the Holy Ghost. The Lord gives and takes away. He takes us from pain, heartache, and troubles. God brings us to a place prepared for us. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Hill’s son, Edward III, remembered his father as a “great role model, who gave so much love and support” to him. He closed his remarks by leading the congregation in one of his father’s favorite hymns, “I Need Thee Every Hour.”

According to the AP, Authorities on Sunday released a photograph showing the man who is allegedly responsible for the shooting rampage in western Texas that killed at least seven people – ranging in age from 15 to 57 – and wounded nearly two dozen others. The gunman who carried out the mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, has been identified as 36-year-old Seth Ator, two law enforcement officials told AP. Ator was shot and killed by police in the parking lot of the Cinergy movie theater in Odessa on Saturday afternoon. Police had previously said that the suspect was a white male in his 30s. About an hour before Ator was named, Odessa Police Chief Michael Gerke told reporters at a press conference that he would not reveal the shooter’s identity because he did not want to ‘give him any notoriety for what he did.’ Gerke said that authorities would eventually reveal the suspect’s name, though he refused to do it in a public forum. Texas Gov Greg Abbott also spoke at Sunday’s press conference and told affected residents: ‘All Texans stand with you.’ ‘As governor I have been to too many of these events. I am heartbroken by the crying of the people in the state of Texas. I am tired of the dying of the people of Texas. Too many Texans are in mourning. Too many Texans have lost their lives. The status quo in Texas is unacceptable, and action is needed. Words alone are inadequate. Words must be met with actions. We have been working on solutions. We must broaden our efforts and we must do so quickly.’

According to Daily Mail, The death toll from the devastating Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas will be ‘staggering’ with thousands still missing, officials have warned amid reports looters are ‘trying to shoot people’ in the scramble for food and water. Up to 70,000 are in need of ‘life-saving assistance’ while Great Abaco is said to be virtually uninhabitable, with bodies piled up and witnesses saying there is a ‘smell of death’ and bodies floating in the water. While the official death toll stands at 30, that number is expected to rise today and hundreds of body bags have been ordered. A massive international relief effort was ramped up as survivors revealed horrifying details of the aftermath of the 185mph, Category-5 storm. One of them, Alicia Cooke, broke down in tears as she revealed: ‘Everything is gone, people are starting to panic. Pillaging, looting, trying to shoot people for food and water. It’s just no way everyone’s going to get out.’ ‘No homes. No banks. No gas stations. No hardware stores. Everything is gone,’ she added. Desperate attempts are being made to evacuate people to the capital in Nassau, but efforts have been complicated by flooded runways at Grand Bahama International Airport. Addressing fears the death toll from the disaster will climb drastically, Bahamian Health Minister Duane Sands warned: ‘Let me say that I believe the number will be staggering.’ Some locals called the government’s initial official death toll a tragic underestimate. ‘This is our Katrina moment,’ Sands said Thursday. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said Dorian left ‘generational devastation’ and asked for prayers for the thousands of families affected.

According to The Christian Post, Declaring that the “Holy Ghost is just fed up with it,” controversial televangelist Benny Hinn, formerly one of the most aggressive proponents of the prosperity gospel, has for the first time in his career, delivered a full-throated rejection of the practice that made him and his family millions. The prosperity gospel teaches, among other things, that believers have a right to the blessings of health and wealth, and they can obtain these blessings through positive confessions of faith and the “sowing of seeds” through the faithful payments of tithes and offerings. Speaking to his followers during a Facebook Live broadcast on Monday night, Hinn, who has long been a lightning rod for criticism for his support of the theology, declared the Gospel “is not for sale.” “I’m sorry to say that prosperity has gone a little crazy and I’m correcting my own theology and you need to all know it. Because when I read the Bible now, I don’t see the Bible in the same eyes I saw 20 years ago,” Hinn said as his followers rejoiced. He continued: “I think it’s an offense to the Lord, it’s an offense to say give $1,000. I think it’s an offense to the Holy Spirit to place a price on the Gospel. I’m done with it. I will never again ask you to give $1,000 or whatever amount, because I think the Holy Ghost is just fed up with it. I think it hurts the Gospel, so I’m making this statement for the first time in my life and frankly, I don’t care what people think about me anymore. When they invite me to telethons I think they will not like me anymore. Because when you look at the word of God … if I hear one more time, break the back of debt with $1,000, I’m gonna rebuke them. I think that’s buying the Gospel. That’s buying the blessing. That’s grieving the Holy Spirit. … If you are not giving because you love Jesus, don’t bother giving,” Hinn argued. “I think giving has become such a gimmick; it’s making me sick to my stomach.” Hinn’s outright rejection of the prosperity gospel comes just two months after his nephew, Costi Hinn, revealed in his new book, God, Greed, and the (Prosperity) Gospel: How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies, how his family exploited millions around the world with the prosperity gospel and often traded so-called miracles for money.

According to the The Christian Post and Raw Story, On September 1, a woman only identified as “Octavia” went to police to tell them about a rape that occurred at the House of Hope Atlanta megachurch four years ago. She had kept the allegation to herself up until that point, but was prompted to go to police after she received a threatening letter in her mailbox, The Christian Post reports. According to Cobb County police officer C.B. Neill, the letter read, “Octavia Stop NOW or Else 83019.” It is unclear what the numbers refer to. The threat came after Octavia appeared on a popular online show where she claimed the rape occurred at the church after she was drugged. Also speaking to the Post was the show’s host, Larry Reid, who says Octavia told him that she was raped by a church staff member inside a home she was living in provided by the church during a rough patch in her life. In a note sent to Reid, Octavia said that the threats she’s received since doing the interview have convinced her to go back to keeping quiet. “I know how much bigger this all is but I’m not emotionally strong enough to keep it going. They made their point,” she wrote. “My mom is BEGGING me to let it go. I appreciate you bringing the light. There will be others I’m sure. I’m passing the torch.” Reid said that after Octavia told church officials about the rape, she was pressured into signing legal agreements that barred her from speaking about it publicly. He added that even he was tricked into signing one after he tried to report on a child the church’s pastor, E. Dewey Smith Jr., allegedly fathered out of wedlock. Pastor Smith is reportedly currently making child support payments for the child who was born in 2017. According to Reid, the woman who Pastor Smith fathered the child with and who subsequently sued him for child support was also threatened. The Christian Post reported that Reid said “one of the women” claimed she was recently “ran off the road while driving,” but it’s not clear which woman he was referring to.

According to US Weekly, Kevin Hart’s wife, Eniko Hart, gave a promising update on the stand-up comedian’s condition after a scary car accident left him hospitalized. “He’s great,” Eniko told TMZ on Monday, September 2, on her way to visit Kevin at the hospital. “He’s going to be just fine.” She continued, “He’s good. Everybody’s good, thank God. … He’s fine. He’s awake.” When asked whether the actor is back to laughing and joking yet, Eniko responded, “Nah.” Kevin sustained major back injuries after his 1970 Plymouth Barracuda veered off Mulholland Highway and landed in a ditch in the Calabasas neighborhood of Los Angeles just before 1 a.m. on Sunday, September 1. The “Upside” star was a passenger in the car at the time of the crash. He “left the scene to his nearby residence to get medical attention” before going to Northridge Hospital Medical Center in L.A., according to a police report obtained by Us Weekly. The driver of the vehicle, producer Jared Black, was also hospitalized with back injuries. He was not under the influence of alcohol at the time of the incident, according to police. Black’s fiancée, Rebecca Broxterman, who is Eniko’s personal trainer, was in the car too, but she managed to escape without any serious injuries. Kevin successfully underwent back surgery on Sunday night, according to multiple reports. He is expected to make a full recovery.

According to The Christian Post, A Tennessee man was recently dealt two sentences: freedom in Christ and life in prison. In a murder trial last Friday, defendant Danny Holmes opened with a 20-minute testimony where he confessed to killing a man three years ago and then he recounted his spiritual transformation in prison since then, the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal reported. Instrumental to his confession was the song “Redeemed” by Christian rock band Big Daddy Weave. He brought the lyrics in a notebook to court. Mike Weaver, the band’s eponymous lead singer, told CT he was “blown away” when he learned how God used his band’s music in Holmes’ life. “Over the last handful of years, so many stories have come from God using that song,” said Weaver, who lives north of Nashville in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, just 33 miles from the site of Holmes’ crime in Murfreesboro. “It is a message that is so dear to [God’s] heart.” The song emphasizes redemption and Christ’s work to free us from our past sins and past selves. The line that sealed the deal for Holmes came from the first verse: “Then you look at this prisoner and say to me, Son, stop fighting a fight that’s already been won.’” Holmes accepted his life sentence and vowed to serve the Lord and spread the gospel while behind bars. “I’m 30 years old, and I’ve been fighting for nothing all my life. I’ve been fighting for gangs,” Holmes said in court. “I ain’t never fought for anything that made sense. But I knew the Lord was telling me to fight for him this time. I just knew he was stirring in my spirit.” Weaver said he and “Redeemed” co-writer Benji Cowart intend to visit Holmes in prison.

According to Pitchfork, Rapper Kanye West is slated to release his new album, Jesus is King, next month. West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, posted a photo on Twitter of what appeared to be a track list and a release date of Sept. 27. The track list included “Water,” a song that West performed at his Coachella “Sunday Service” performance earlier this year. The rapper released his most recent album, ye, last year. He announced that he would release another album, Yandhi, in September 2018, but the project was postponed indefinitely. At his “Sunday Service” performances, West—along with a choir—has performed covers of West’s old songs and other church tunes.

According to Daily Mail, The EMT and firefighter father of the 16-year-old Texas girl who died in a car crash caused by country singer Kylie Rae Harris was the first responder at the accident scene, but had no idea that the victim he would be treating was his own daughter. Harris, 30, was killed in a three-car collision that also claimed the life of high school student Maria Cruz, 16, in Taos, New Mexico on September 4 at about 9pm. Maria was said to have been returning home from work that night when Harris, driving a black Chevrolet Equinox, clipped the back of a Chevrolet Avalanche and veered into the northbound lane, striking Maria’s white Jeep head on. Maria’s father, Pedro Cruz, a volunteer deputy fire chief for San Cristobal Fire, responded to the crash scene, without knowing that his daughter was one of the people involved.

According to CBS Sports, Former Oakland Raiders’ wide receiver Antonio Brown has reportedly cut a deal with the New England Patriots, hours after he was released from the Raiders, capping off months of bizarre drama. The NFL reports that the one-year deal with the Patriots is for $15 million, with a $9 million signing bonus. The Oakland Raiders announced Saturday morning that they released Antonio Brown hours after the star wide receiver posted a plea to be “released” on his Instagram feed. Trouble started between Brown and the team almost immediately after he signed a contract worth $50 million before the start of the season. He battled the Raiders management over his refusal to wear an NFL-approved helmet, and then missed most of training camp because of a cryotherapy machine mishap that left his feet frostbitten. He was fined more than $50,000 for the missed practices, over which he threatened to punch general manager Mike Mayock in the face during a swearing match. On Friday, head coach Jon Gruden said things were getting better and Brown was expected to be in the lineup Monday night for the team’s season opener against the Denver Broncos after fining Brown $200,000 and threatening to strip him of his $30 million signing bonus. Then on Saturday, Brown posted “You are gonna piss a lot of people off when you start doing what’s best for you,” followed by a comment: “I’m not mad at anyone. I’m just asking for the freedom to prove them all wrong.” The Raiders responded with a message of their own, tweeting, “The Raiders have released WR Antonio Brown from the team today.”

According to The Press Enterprise, The sister of Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard is accused of killing and robbing an 84-year-old woman at a Southern California casino, according to a local media report. The Press Enterprise reports that Kimesha Monae Williams, identified by a family member as Kawhi Leonard’s sister, is being held without bail over an alleged attack on Aug. 31. Williams and another woman identified as Candace Tai Townsel are reportedly accused by the Riverside County sheriff’s office of following 84-year-old Afaf Anis Assad into a bathroom at the Pechanga Resort Casino before breaking her skull and stealing her purse. Williams’ aunt, Denise Woodard, is said to have confirmed to the Press Enterprise that Leonard and Williams are siblings. “He didn’t have anything to do with this,” Woodard was quoted as saying of the NBA star. A Riverside County sheriff’s investigator is said to have cited the family’s “well off” financial status in asking a judge not to grant Williams bail. Leonard, who signed a $103 million contract with the Clippers over the summer, was not mentioned in the investigator’s court filing, and he has not been accused of any crime.

According to BET, the black entertainment network crowned Melvin Crispell, III winner of its ninth season of Sunday Best – BET’s inspirational singing competition. The season nine winner will receive a recording contract with RCA Inspiration, a cash prize of $50,000 and the title “Sunday Best.” In partnership with BET, Crispell’s debut single, “Not The End of Your Story” is available now via RCA Inspiration at all major digital retailers. Melvin Crispell III hails from a rich musical legacy. His father, world-renowned musician Melvin Crispell, Jr. composed and played on award-winning songs for some of gospel music’s biggest artists. His mother, Tunesha Crispell was a celebrated gospel singer whose voice was featured on several well-known choir recordings along with a critically acclaimed solo project. With the sudden death of his father at 16 followed by the untimely demise of his mother at 18, Melvin was able to overcome through his relationship with God and music and that the trauma was not the end of his story. Melvin hopes that winning “Sunday Best” will allow him to use his dynamic voice to lead others to a closer relationship with God and to carry on his family’s legacy while also creating his own.

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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!