PODCAST: Pastor John Ortberg Resigns (Urban Christian News 7.30.2020)

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According to Religion News Service, John Ortberg, popular Christian author and speaker, has resigned as pastor of Menlo Church, a megachurch congregation outside of San Francisco. His resignation is effective Sunday (Aug. 2). Ortberg said in a statement, “I have considered my 17 years as pastor here to be the greatest joy I’ve had in ministry. But this has been a difficult time for parents, volunteers, staff and others, and I believe that the unity needed for Menlo to flourish will be best served by my leaving.” In November, Ortberg was placed on leave after Menlo Church elders learned he allowed a volunteer who had admitted being attracted to children to work with kids at the church and in the community. Ortberg had first learned of the volunteer’s admission in July 2018. He did not inform other church leaders or the youth sports team that the volunteer coached. Church leaders did not learn of his actions until Daniel Lavery, Ortberg’s daughter who identifies as a transgender man, sent an email blowing the whistle. The pastor returned to the pulpit this spring after the elders hired a lawyer to conduct an inquiry into the matter. But controversy at the church flared up again after Lavery revealed that the volunteer in question was her younger brother and the pastor’s youngest son, a fact that had been withheld from the congregation. Lavery, former friends of the Ortberg family and other critics of the decision have called in recent weeks for the pastor to step down. No specific allegations of misconduct on the part of Ortberg’s youngest son have been made.

According to The Associated Press, Herman Cain, former Republican presidential candidate and former CEO of a major pizza chain who went on to become an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, has died of complications from the coronavirus. He was 74. A post on Cain’s Twitter account Thursday announced the death. Cain had been ill with the virus for several weeks. It’s not clear when or where he was infected, but he was hospitalized less than two weeks after attending Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June. Cain had been co-chair of Black Voices for Trump. “We knew when he was first hospitalized with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight,” read an article posted on the Twitter account. In a condolence tweet Thursday, Trump described Cain as “a Powerful Voice of Freedom and all that is good.” Trump wrote, “Herman had an incredible career and was adored by everyone that ever met him, especially me. He was a very special man, an American Patriot, and great friend.”

According to Baptist Press, Grace Community Church congregants in Sun Valley gathered indoors and sang hymns on Sunday, defying California regulations that aim to limit the spread of coronavirus. Pastor John MacArthur said from the pulpit, “This is a very special day in the life of our church family. It is for us a return to what we love the most, the fellowship of the saints and the worship of our Lord.” A video stream of the service posted on the church’s Facebook page shows people singing and sitting near each other, many without masks. MacArthur said the congregation has galvanized behind Grace Community Church. Those outside the church have not. “Many people don’t understand why we would do this. We understand that. We understand that the world does not understand the importance of the church,” MacArthur said. Sunday’s service was held amid a new round of closures that are in effect in California as coronavirus cases have surged during the summer.

According to The Associated Press, John Lewis was celebrated as an American hero during his funeral Thursday as former President Barack Obama and others called on people to follow Lewis’ example and fight injustice. Three former presidents joined in the eulogies at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church after nearly a week of mourning that took the civil rights icon from his birthplace in Alabama to the nation’s capital of Washington to his final resting place in his home of Atlanta. Lewis was “a man of pure joy and unbreakable perseverance,” Obama said during a fiery speech in which he hearkened back to Lewis’ legacy and connected it to the ongoing fight against those who are “doing their darndest to discourage people from voting.” Obama said, “He as much as anyone in our history brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideals. And some day when we do finish that long journey towards freedom, when we do form a more perfect union, whether it’s years from now or decades or even if it takes another two centuries, John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America.” Former President George W. Bush said Lewis preached the Gospel and lived its ideals, “insisting that hate and fear had to be answered with love and hope.” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi recalled how Lewis’ body was lying in state at the U.S. Capitol earlier this week, and a double rainbow appeared. She said, “There was this double rainbow over the casket. He was telling us, ‘I’m home in heaven, I’m home in heaven.’ We always knew he worked on the side of angels, and now he is with them.” Lewis died July 17 at the age of 80.

According to PEOPLE Magazine, The 9-year-old girl in Florida has been identified by her family after health officials reported her as the youngest person in state die from the novel coronavirus. Kimora “Kimmie” Lynum passed away from coronavirus complications after she went down for a nap on July 17, her mother Mikasha Young-Holmes told local news station WCJB. The young girl started feeling ill on July 11 and was brought to a local hospital days later, Young-Holmes said. Though her daughter’s temperature was 103 degrees, Kimmie was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and sent home, according to the mom. Kimmie was not tested for coronavirus while they were at the hospital. Days after returning home, Young-Holmes said Kimmie asked to take a nap one afternoon and never woke up. “I was shaking her, yelling at her. I was just trying to bring her back. I tried, I tried everything I could to bring her back.” Young-Holmes said her daughter was tested for coronavirus only after she was pronounced dead. Her cousin Dejeon Cain said Kimmie did not have any preexisting health issues that would make her more susceptible to coronavirus.

According to PEOPLE Magazine, Matthew McConaughey can now add “author” to his impressive resume. The Oscar-winning actor announced on social media Wednesday that he is releasing his first memoir, Greenlights, inspired by personal writings he’s penned throughout his life. “So, ever since I learned to write, I’ve been keeping a journal, writing down anything that turned me on, turned me off, made me laugh, made me cry, made me question, or kept me up at night,” McConaughey said in an Instagram video on Wednesday. “Two years ago, I worked up the courage to take all of those journals off into solitary confinement just to see what the hell I had. And I returned with a book.” He continued, “This is my sights and seens, nices and means, successes and failures. Stories, people, places, prayers, prescribes, and a whole lot of bumper stickers. It’s called Greenlights because its a story about how I have, and we all can catch more of them in this life we’re living. We don’t like the red and yellow lights because they take up our time, right? But when we realize that they all eventually turn green, that’s when they reveal their rhyme. That’s when life’s a poem and we start getting what we want and what we need. I call that the honey hole, a little place called heaven on Earth.”

According to CBS News, Oprah Winfrey has dedicated the cover of the latest issue of her magazine to Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old EMT who was killed by police in Kentucky on March 13. It is the first time in its 20-year history that an O magazine cover has not featured Winfrey. The magazine has in the past featured other people on the cover alongside Winfrey. But the new cover features a solo shot of Taylor in a Louisville EMS shirt, which was recreated by 24-year-old artist Alexis Franklin. In an article for the magazine, Winfrey explains her decision: “Breonna Taylor. She was just like me. She was just like you. And like everyone who dies unexpectedly, she had plans. Plans for a future filled with responsibility and work and friends and laughter.” Winfrey writes that she recently spoke to Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, who said: “I can’t stop seeing her face. Her smile. It’s what I miss most about her. I still can’t grasp the concept of her being gone. It feels so surreal. I’m still waiting for her to come through the door.”

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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!