This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to Religion News Service, Brian Houston, the founder of Hillsong, apologized Thursday for the leadership crisis at the global evangelical church’s New York outpost resulting from an adulterous affair carried on by its now former pastor, Carl Lentz. In a document that accompanied his letter of apology, Hillsong promised to institute sexual harassment training and a mechanism for anonymous reporting of misconduct. “We know that Hillsong East Coast has failed to be the kind of church it should be. On behalf of the Global Board and as Global Senior Pastor, I accept responsibility for these failings and apologize unreservedly,” Houston wrote in an email addressed to “Dear Church.” It is the first time that Houston, who started Hillsong in Australia in the 1980s with his wife, Bobbie, has apologized for a culture at the New York church that former volunteers have described as starstruck, catering to celebrity attendees who were treated “like royalty.” Another letter, from the New York law firm Zukerman Gore Brandeis & Crossman that conducted an investigation into what went wrong at Hillsong East Coast, was included in Houston’s email, explaining that “detailed report of Zukerman Gore will not be released to the public to protect the privacy and confidentiality of those involved.” In February, Houston announced that the investigation had been completed and had found “significant ways” the New York City megachurch “failed to reflect Hillsong global culture.”
According to Al.com, The Alabama Senate today passed a bill that would ban puberty-blocking, hormone medications, and surgeries as transgender treatments for people under age 19. The bill, passed by a vote of 23-4. It moves to the House of Representatives, which has a similar bill. Parents and advocates lobbied against the bill at a State House rally today. The Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics opposes the bill. In a position statement, the organization said surgeries are not done on minors and that puberty-blockers and hormones are used as part of an evidence-based standard of care. Democratic Sen. Bobby Singleton said the legislation would interfere with how families and medical professionals can help children struggling with gender dysphoria. Singleton predicted the law would be challenged in a federal court lawsuit like the abortion ban the Legislature passed in 2019. Republican Sen. Shay Shelnutt said he was not aware of the issue until the bill was presented to him more than a year ago. Shelnutt said, “I didn’t think this was going on in Alabama, had no idea. I’ve been educated since then. I just think it’s wrong for this to happen to children. Children aren’t mature enough to make this decision on on surgeries and drugs. The whole point is to protect kids.”
According to the Associated Press, Six Dr. Seuss books — including “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street” and “If I Ran the Zoo” — will stop being published because of racist and insensitive imagery, the business that preserves and protects the author’s legacy said Tuesday. “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press in a statement that coincided with the late author and illustrator’s birthday. It said, “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.”
According to the Signal Santa Clarita Valley, The Master’s University and Seminary officials announced Monday that the president of the university for the past year would be stepping down from his position. Sam Horn served as the TMUS president from 2020-21. He has been the third president of the university since 2019, after John Stead served as the interim head of the school from 2019-20, and John MacArthur had been in the position from 1985-2019. Officials from TMUS declined to comment to The Signal on Tuesday on the reason for Horn’s departure, but Corey Williams, a spokesman for the school, said the board of directors had received a resignation letter from Horn on Feb. 26. Williams said, “The board is meeting on Friday. They’re going to pick an interim president on Friday, and then they’re going to start the process of selecting a new president right after that.” In a statement issued on Monday, board members said they are grateful to Horn for leading the school during the COVID-19 pandemic and the reaffirmation of accreditation by the Western Senior College and University Commission.
According to Fox News, Millions of Americans are facing a housing crisis. More than 11 million families are behind on rent and mortgage payments due to financial hardships stemming from the pandemic, a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau revealed. Evictions and foreclosures are looming, the CFPB urged in its report, putting 10% of American families at risk for losing housing. The CFPB analyzed the housing market during the COVID-19 crisis and found nearly 2.1 million families are at least three months behind on mortgage payments while 8.8 million Americans are late on paying rent. What’s more, according to the report, homeowners are slated to owe nearly $90 billion in missed payments collectively – a historic record since the Great Recession, the last time this staggering number of families were behind on mortgage payments.
According to the Associated Press, After beating bone cancer, Hayley Arceneaux figures rocketing into orbit on SpaceX’s first private flight should be a piece of cosmic cake. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital announced Monday that the 29-year-old physician assistant — a former patient hired last spring — will launch later this year alongside a billionaire who’s using his purchased spaceflight as a charitable fundraiser. Arceneaux will become the youngest American in space — beating NASA record-holder Sally Ride by over two years — when she blasts off this fall with entrepreneur Jared Isaacman and two yet-to-be-chosen contest winners. Isaacman, who flies fighter jets for a hobby, considers her a perfect fit. Isaacman said last week, “It’s not all supposed to be about getting people excited to be astronauts someday, which is certainly cool. It’s also supposed to be about an inspiring message of what we can accomplish here on Earth.” He has two more crew members to select, and he plans to reveal them in March.
According to the Christian Post, Christian leaders Beth Moore and CeCe Winans have issued an urgent call to prayer after Elicia Brown, one of Winans’ backup singers and a member of the Living Proof Live Praise Team, suffered a brain aneurysm during rehearsal. In an Instagram post, Winans, a Grammy Award-winning Christian artist, asked her followers to pray for Brown, who she referred to as her “dear sister and background singer,” after the 40-year-old mother suffered a brain aneurysm last Wednesday. “[She is] currently in stable but critical condition in the ICU,” Winans wrote. “Thank you for believing with me for her complete healing and peace for Elicia and her family!” In a series of Instagram posts, Bible teacher Beth Moore also urged her followers to pray for Brown, using the hashtag #liciwakeup. She revealed that the singer was at a rehearsal in Nashville for a big award show when she suddenly experienced a “horrendous headache.” Moore explained: “Other symptoms came furiously and, thankfully, despite her insistence to the contrary, her friends rehearsing with her called for an ambulance. She lost consciousness on the way to the hospital and was in surgery within about half an hour after arriving. She had a large blood clot in her brain which was very carefully removed by a great team of surgeons. She is in ICU but stable.” Moore described Brown as a member of the Living Proof Ministries team, “the All-Campus-Favorite,” a talented singer, and a mother to a 5-year-old girl, YaYa.
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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!