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Monday, October 30, 2006

A milestone for us


Umm... whatever. Experts say without all the Lamont blogging
this year, the Web could have collapsed from underuse. Photo by Matt Stoller.


Today we ran our 250th blog post - a minor milestone that shows where our cute little state has been over the past 19 months and where it is headed.

Back in the day, as a rookie blogger, we were writing a lot about the impending civil unions showdown in the State Senate - which wasn't much of a showdown! (We got creamed.) Oddly, this will probably prove to have been the best thing that ever happened to pro-family Christians in Connecticut. The shocks of early 2005 began to bring the Church together for solemn assemblies, and then regional and statewide prayer meetings. Throughout 2006 churches across the State have sensed a new vitality and a fresh confidence in God that He is about to send us not only a refreshing wave of the Spirit but a true outpouring that will effect transformation in our region.

It's to the point now where two or three blogs are created every second, and most blogs which are created never make it past their first post. But this blog continues to thrive and grow, and as I write this it's now ranked # 11 among Connecticut themed blogs by Technorati. (We can't compete with those busy Ned Lamont bloggers and social bookmarkers yet, but we seem to be the top religion-themed blog in the State. I suspect that FIC's Crosshairs is bigger than some of the left-wing blogs but there's no way to tell. When Peter Wolfgang and the FIC crew update Crosshairs, we'll get a clearer picture of the Connecticut blogosphere.)

For our part, I hope we'll be able to encourage the Church well into 2007 and beyond. Thanks to your support, it seems we may be starting to become a habit for some people.

More importantly, since we serve a God with Whom nothing is impossible, I know that all of our prayers for change in Connecticut are being heard, and I'm honored to help the Church spread the word about what He is doing among us.

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CT Newsnotes (October 30)

'Tis the season - no, not that season, the other one! Some things you might have missed:

Courant runs obligatory haunted house story. (Tolland)

Church runs Hell House - the one Christian event guaranteed to get media coverage every year! (Waterbury)

What a relief - it turns out vampires, ghosts and zombies are not real after all! (Not a Connecticut story but some of your workmates may look like zombies on Monday.)

Schools are beginning to ban an ancient and sinister children's game known as "tag." A professor from EastConn explains some of the game's horrors for us.

But despite the very obvious increase in the popularity of Halloween and the level of Halloween promotion) the light continues to shine in the darkness: the number of evangelical believers in the West has increased 50 % in the last four decades. Worldwide, that number has increased from 25 million to 325 million! (Read at Christian Post.) In a season when many are celebrating darkness, don't be discouraged - be a light!

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Christian Events in Connecticut This Week (Oct. 30 - Nov. 5)



A major strategic prayer event and the biggest Christian concert of the year are on tap for this week in Connecticut. Here's what's happening:

Thursday, November 2
***Connecticut Pastors' Prayer Summit (Kensington)

Friday, November 3
***New Canaan Society Men's Breakfast, with John Bell (Stamford)
***Mid Point Cafe, featuring the Siloam Band (Greenwich)

Saturday, November 4
***Rock the Sound (Bridgeport)


For additional details on these and other events, visit the CT Christian Events Calendar, powered by Google!

Want to submit an event? Write us at info@prayct.org.

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

What is hindering revival from coming?


Missionary Jonathan Goforth

Note from your loyal editor:
I was sent this message via an e-mail list and although I've never used the blog as a forwarding service, I thought it would be appropriate to pass this along to Pray CT readers, especially in light of the prayer meetings taking place this weekend. It's a word that demands something from us but failure to live it out has hindered revival.

Please pray for Connecticut this weekend and examine yourself - are you hindering the prophesied revival from coming?


"ALL HINDRANCES to REVIVAL in the CHURCH Are Due To SIN"
-by Jonathan Goforth.

[-Revivalist & Missionary in Manchuria and China, 1888-1935].

"Upon returning to China in the fall of 1901, after having recuperated from the harrowing effects of the Boxer Rebellion, I began to experience a growing dissatisfaction with the results of my missionary work.

In the early pioneering years I had buoyed myself with the assurance that a seed-time must always precede a harvest, and had, therefore, been content to persist in the apparently futile struggle. But now thirteen years had passed and the harvest seemed further away than ever. I felt sure there was something larger ahead of me, if I only had the vision to see what it was, and the faith to grasp it.

Restless and discontented, I was led to a more intensive study of the Scriptures. Every passage that had any bearing upon the price of, or the road to the enduement of power, became life and breath to me. There were a number of books on revival in my library. These I read over and over. So much did it become a burden on my mind that my wife began to fear that my mind would not stand it.

Of great inspiration to me were the reports of the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905, for they made me to know that revivals were not a thing of the past. Late in the fall of 1905 a pamphlet containing selections from Charles G. Finney's Autobiography and Revival Lectures were sent to me by a friend in India. It was the final something that set me on fire!

On the front page there was a statement to the effect that a farmer might just as well pray for a temporal harvest without fulfilling the laws of nature, as for Christians to expect a great ingathering of souls by simply asking for it, and without bothering to fulfill the laws governing the spiritual harvest.

"If Finney is right," I vowed, "then I am going to find out what those laws are, and obey them no matter what it costs!" Later a brother missionary loaned me the full "Autobiography of Finney." It is impossible to estimate all that book meant to me.

Now I began to see stirrings in the hearts of the people, so much so that a native evangelist said in an awed whisper, "Why the people are being moved on just as they were by Peter's sermon at Pentecost."

At one meeting as I spoke on "He bore our sins in His own body on the tree," conviction seemed to be written on every face and when I called for decisions, the whole audience stood up as a man crying, "We want to follow this Jesus Who died for us."

About this time our Foreign Mission Secretary asked me to visit the revival in Korea. Witnessing the Lord at work in the Korean revival was of incalculable significance in my life because it showed me at firsthand the boundless possibilities of the revival method. Korea made me feel, as it did many others, that Revival was God's plan for setting the world aflame.

The missionaries in Korea were just ordinary people. I did not notice any outstanding people among them. It was in prayer that they were different. Never have I been so conscious of the Divine Presence as I was in these Korean prayer meetings. Those missionaries seemed to carry us right up in prayer to the Throne of God. One indeed had the feeling they were communing face to face with God.

What impressed me was the practical nature of the revival. It was no wild gust of "religious enthusiasm" dying with the wind upon whose wings it had been borne. There were the usual outward manifestations that accompany such miraculous outpourings of spiritual power. But beyond that there were tens of thousands of Korean men and women whose lives had been completely transformed by the divine power.

Every one seemed almost pathetically eager to spread the "Glad Tidings." Even little boys would run up to people on the street and plead with them to accept Christ as their Saviour. Everywhere I saw an evident devotion for the Holy Word. Everyone seemed to carry a Bible. And permeating it all was that marvelous spirit of prayer.

On my return to China, I was asked by the missionaries of Kikunsghan to tell them the story of the Korean Revival. On Sunday evening as I drew to a close my account of the Spirit's outpouring on the churches of Korea, it seemed the stillness of death pervaded the assembly. The suppressed sobs became audible here and there. In a little while missionaries were rising to their feet and in tears were confessing their faults one to another.

Revival Is The Beginning Of A New Obedience Towards God

In the autumn of 1906, I was preparing to set out to see what could be done about reviving the outstations. There was a matter, however, between a brother missionary and myself that had to be made right. I honestly felt that I was right. Nevertheless I felt it would please the Lord for me to go and make this matter absolutely straight. But I argued with the Lord, saying it was the other missionary's fault, not mine, and that it was up to him to come to me, not for me to go to him.

But the pressure continued until I cried out to the Lord saying, "He came to my study and in tears confessed his fault. Does that not settle the matter?"

"You hypocrite!" I seemed to hear Him say, "You know you are not loving each other as brethren, as I have commanded you to do." Still I would not yield.

Then came the final word from the Lord, "If you do not straighten this thing out before you go on that trip, you may expect to fail, for I cannot go with you." That humbled me. I did not want to go on that difficult trip without His help.

The night before I was to start on the trip I had to lead a prayer meeting for the Chinese Christians. All the way to the church the pressure continued: "Go and straighten this thing out, so that I may go with you to the outstations."

Still I would not yield. I started the meeting. It was all right while they sang, and during the reading of the Scripture. But as soon as I opened my mouth in prayer I became confused, for all the time the Spirit kept saying: You hypocrite! Why don't you straighten this thing out?" I became still more troubled while delivering a short talk on prayer. Finally, when halfway through my talk, the burden became utterly intolerable and I yielded.

"Lord," I promised in my heart, "as soon as this meeting is over, I'll go and make the matter right."

Instantly something in the audience seemed to snap. In a moment the whole atmosphere changed. Upon the meeting being thrown open for prayer, one after another rose to their feet to pray, only to break down, weeping. For almost twenty years we missionaries had longed to see a tear of repentance roll down a Chinese cheek.

It was late at night when the meeting closed. As soon as I could I hastened over to the house of my brother-missionary...the difficulty was settled, and because I was led of the Spirit and obeyed the Lord, the blessings on my tour of the outstations far exceeded anything I had dared to hope for.

At each station the Spirit of judgment was made manifest. Wrongs were righted and crooked things were made straight. At one station, I was only able to spend one night but that night the whole audience broke down before the Lord....

Often during the meetings, great waves of prayer would sweep the congregation. Some one would cry, "Pray for my outstation, we are so cold and dead." Or another would ask prayer for their unsaved loved ones and plead with the people to join them in prayer. Instantly scores all over the audience would respond.

It seemed nothing could resist such importunity. A number of influential Chinese leaders had opposed the meetings and declared they would not attend them. Special intercession was offered upon their behalf, and some of the most broken confessions during these meetings came from them.

Hindrances To Revival

We cannot emphasize too strongly our conviction that all hindrances to revival in the Church are due to sin! The appalling fact is that every sin found without the Church is found also within the Church although perhaps to a lesser degree.

It is sin in individual Church members, whether at home or on the foreign field, which grieves and quenches the Holy Spirit! I imagine that we would lose much of our self-righteousness if we were to find that pride, jealousy, envy, greed, bad temper, backbiting, gossip, talebearing, and all their kindred are just as heinous in God's sight as the so-called grosser sins.

All sin in the believer, of whatever kind, mars the redemptive work of Christ. The filth and bloodguiltiness of the churches can only be swept away by the Spirit of Judgment, and the Spirit of Burning.

In view of the prominence that is given to confession of sin in this article, perhaps I ought to make plain my own views on the subject. We have a strong feeling that sins committed before conversion are under the blood of God's Son and never should be confessed. To do so is to bring dishonor upon Christ's Calvary sacrifice.

We believe that as regards secret sin, that is sin which is only known to the individual soul and God, to confess it at the private altar is, as a rule, sufficient to ensure pardon and cleansing. Yet there are times when secret acknowledgment of secret sin is not sufficient and public confession is the only way to secure relief...

As to sin against an individual, the Scriptures are quite plain. "Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift" (Matt. 5:22,24).

It is vain for us to pray while conscious that we have injured another. Let us first make amends to the injured one before we dare approach God at either private or public altar.

I am confident revival would break out in most churches if this was done. Then again, as regards public sins, experience has shown us that those can only be swept away by public confession.

True, this amounts to crucifixion; but by our willful disobedience, we have put the Lord of Glory to open shame, and it is the price we must be willing to pay if we are to see revival sweeping through our churches."

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Death of the Episcopal Church


The big news from the Connecticut Episcopal Convention was widely reported: the Bishop of Connecticut announced that churches will now "bless" same-sex unions. However, little attention was actually focused on the Bishop's actual words and his reasoning, which will undoubtedly split his diocese into pieces.

Even close observers of Episcopal Church controversies seemed stunned at the implosion and polarization in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church worldwide over the past few days. And Connecticut is providing the loudest bang at this controlled demolition.

At the Connecticut Episcopal Diocese's annual convention, Bishop Andrew Smith made a stunning address in which he castigated the remaining five parishes engaged in the Connecticut Six controversy. If you can remember back this far, this controversy stems largely from matters of church discipline arising from the ordination of a practicing homosexual man as the Bishop of New Hampshire. The Bishop wants the traditionalists to toe his line or leave:

To the clergy and members of the five congregations. Perhaps in your mind or in meetings some of you already have made the decision to leave this church. Perhaps you are caught in this fray. It is time for your yes be yes, and your no be no. If one church, or two churches, or all five churches will return to the life and mission and communion of this Church, and, clergy, if you will honor your ordination vows, the door is wide open. If you cannot tolerate the life and openness of The Episcopal Church, then honorably move on. Above all, stop the whining and the destructive behavior which diminish all of us and the Lord Jesus. This Church has gospel work before us, and we have been more than patient, and the attacks continue and it is time for us to say, enough!

In other words, get out and stop hindering our "gospel work."

The Bishop then took the occasion to, in essence, invent new Scripture for his diocese:

Again, at the heart of the matter is whether we as a Church will welcome and embrace and serve with and care for and bless persons who are homosexual and partnered as cherished and fully accepted members of the Body of Christ. I believe it is right to change our current policy which prohibits our clergy from blessing same-sex relationships....

There are several verses of Scripture that have been used for argument over and over by folk from every side.

What has not been heard, however, is the sweep of Scripture witness in which Jesus and later the apostles over and over open up new dimensions of what it can mean to live in faithful relationships with God and one another and the whole world. Without question there I see a progression of revelation, beginning with our Lord’s inclusion of women among his disciples. It continues as Peter and then Paul recognize that in the New Covenant faith is not about family lineage, dietary laws or the Biblically mandated mark of circumcision, but about accepting Jesus, and receiving the gifts and bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit.

It is convincing to me as I read the New Testament and also see how the implications of the person of Jesus and his teaching and actions continue to unfold in new ways in the Church. Even though we continually slip back into old ways, there have been triumphant breakthroughs in new ways: equality regardless of nationality or social classes, equality regardless of being male or female, equality regardless of age, and equality regardless of race.

Was the Church in the forefront of all of these new understandings, leading the way? In reality we the Church struggled with those issues sometimes against and often with the rest of the culture. And so it is now.

Jesus’ ministry so radically redefines what life in faith is that, says Jesus, it is a call to a new realm, the Kingdom of God. Both Jesus and Saint Paul say that entrance into it means dying and being born over again. Because I see this teaching and its implications unfolding in the Bible and through history, I believe that God continues to open our eyes to new insights and truths of living in faith.

I believe that it is time for us to re-think, re-pray and re-form our theology and our pastoral practices, to welcome, recognize, support and bless the lives and faith of brothers and sisters who are gay and lesbian in the equal fullness of Christian fellowship.

I could go on but here's the kicker:

Many times, in the presence of gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, I have felt a little like Peter in the house of Cornelius. Recognizing the presence of God where it wasn’t supposed to be, in a pagan household, Peter baptized the entire family. Like Peter, who when criticized by the elders in Jerusalem for breaking the traditions, I have said to myself, “Who am I that I can hinder God?”

Read that again - Bishop Smith compares his recognizing the Presence of God around homosexuals to Peter's recognizing the Holy Spirit (the real Holy Spirit) being poured out upon the Gentiles in Acts 10.

This is like bad dialogue from a cheap "end-times" novel. The "Connecticut Six" couldn't make this up if they wanted to.

So now we have new revelation that sodomy is OK, good even, just as the apostles received important revelation from God in the New Testament. It's just a part of the ongoing process of God's revelation to humankind. We're making it up as we go along with no reference to Scripture or the teaching of the Church throughout history that homosexuality is sin and a sign of profound human brokenness and not a grace from God. Acceptance of homosexuality in the Church is a "triumphant breakthrough."

You can call this whatever you like, but what you can't call it is Christianity. There's nothing to look for now except for the few remaining traditional parishes to pick up their hats and coats and go out the door.

There's a lot more to it, all bad, and you can get Virtue's take here.

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Updated list of locations for regional prayer meetings this Sunday




The following is an updated list of regional prayer meetings being conducted on October 29 and sponsored by When Connecticut Prays. Please visit their site for up-to-the-minute changes and please come out to pray for Connecticut this Sunday night!

We ask you to kindly spread this post around by e-mail to as many contacts as you can.

All meetings are held on the evening of Sunday, October 29 unless otherwise noted.


FAIRFIELD COUNTY

Shelton

Huntington Chapel, 177 Ripton Road (6:30 p.m.)
Pastor Doug Steeves
203.929.1222
Click here for map
www.thehuntingtonchapel.org


HARTFORD COUNTY


Enfield
Calvary Presbyterian Church, 1518 King Street (6:30 pm)
Pastor Steve Thayer
860.745.5211
Click Here for Directions

Farmington
River Valley Christian Center, 12 East View Drive (6:30 pm)
Pastor Al Chapman
860.676.0896
www.come2rivervalley.org
Click Here for Directions

Kensington
Wellspring Church, 222 Lincoln St. (6:30 pm)
Pastor Rick McKinniss
860.225.0661
Click Here for Directions

Manchester
The Salvation Army, 661 Main Street (6:30 pm)
Maj. Les Bussey, Pastor
Contact: Rev. Richard Crossette
860.875.9719
Click Here for Directions

Southington
Apple Valley Worship Center, 594 W. Center St. (6:00 p.m.)
Pastor Ken Gray
860.628.5329
Click Here for Directions


LITCHFIELD COUNTY

New Hartford
Bakerville Methodist Church, 1087 Litchfield Turnpike - Rt 202
Saturday, October 28, 7:00 p.m.
Pastor Ron Boratko 860.496.1580
Click here for map


MIDDLESEX COUNTY

Old Saybrook
Shoreline Church, 139 Mill Rock Rd East (6:30 pm)
Pastors Michael & Meredith Calo
860.395.1713
www.shorelinechurchct.org
Click here for map


NEW HAVEN COUNTY

Waterbury

First Assembly of God, 1245 Thomaston Avenue (6:30 pm)
Pastor James Lilley
203.753.8023
www.houseofprayer.org
Click here for map


TOLLAND COUNTY

Vernon
Rockville Church of the Nazarene, 47 East Street (6:00 pm)
Contact: Pastor Weston Brooks, River of Life Christian Fellowship, Tolland
860.871.1070
www.rockvillenazarene.com
Click here for directions


WINDHAM COUNTY

Columbia
Baptist Fellowship, 195 Rt 6 (6:30)
Pastor Dennis Reiter
860.228.0102
www.baptistfellowship.net
Click here for map

Eastford
Congregational Church, 8 Church Road (6:30 pm)
Pastor Mike Moran
860.974.0294
Website
Click here for map


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Monday, October 23, 2006

Changing from a blue state to a green

Despite the headline, this post has nothing to do with politics - at least not directly. I recently became aware of this interesting map, which is based on data from the Glenmary Research Center. (Hat tip: the Informational Inflammation blog.)



The blue states on this map are those which only had between 1% and 3% of the population in evangelical churches in the year 2000. The Northeastern states and Utah have the lowest percentage of Evangelicals, owing to the large populations of Mormons and Roman Catholics in those areas relative to the rest of the country.

No real surprises here, I suppose, although my (unscientific) observations lead me to think that Connecticut is changing color to green.

Based on the criteria of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research (2000+ average weekly attendance) we now have 3 megachurches: First Cathedral (Bloomfield); New Life Christian Fellowship (Darien); and Kingdom Life Christian Church (Milford). And certainly we have other churches with an attendance of over 1000: Gateway Christian Fellowship (West Haven), Black Rock Congregational Church (Fairfield), and Walnut Hill Community Church (Bethel) come to mind immediately, and I'm sure there are some others.

The many stories we're hearing of growth in all areas of the State leads me to believe that God is doing something in our day and sending a fresh wind of revival to New England.

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Christian Events in Connecticut This Week

There are lots of events coming up in our cute little State OTHER than the election...

October 25
***Alpha Course Interactive Conference Call, with Nicky Gumbel

October 26-28
***Uprising Annual Women's Conference, with Jane Hansen and Barbara Yoder (West Haven)

October 27
***New Canaan Society Men's Breakfast, with Alan Wright (Stamford)
***Jan Nel (Darien)

October 29
***County-Wide Prayer Meetings sponsored by When Connecticut Prays (various locations)
***Philip Yancey (Wethersfield)

For additional details on these events, visit the CT Christian Events Calendar, powered by Google!

Want to submit an event? Write us at info@prayct.org.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Fairfield megachurch moving out of town

It's the "mega" in megachurch that has the town fathers in Fairfield uncomfortable enough to block expansion of Black Rock Congregational Church. Following the town Conservation Commission's decision to block their expansion plans, BRCC is seeking elbow room in neighboring Easton after 150 years in Fairfield.

From the Fairfield Citizen-News:

Dr. Joseph Ricciotti, who resides on Lindmir Lane, a cul-de-sac behind the church, is a member of the local grass-roots opposition group Preserve Upper Black Rock Turnpike, which had been opposed to the expansion proposal ever since its beginning. "We felt that the wetlands were in jeopardy and we felt that that the size of the structure was inappropriate for area," he said.

"Needless to say we're pleased that we don't have to be concerned about the building projects that we felt were not appropriate," said Ricciotti. "We wish them well and we hope they are successful in their new location."

Currently, the BRCC has 1,200 church members and at the Sunday services, as many as 1,300 to 1,400 people attend the church. The growth in church members prompted the plans for the expansion last winter. "We've had a steady growth over the years," said [church business administrator Timothy] Kanuch.

At the BRCC's new membership classes, there are approximately 40 new members who join the church three times a year, which Kanuch said is a growth rate of approximately 8 to 10 percent each year.

We know some fine folks at BRCC and we wish the congregation well.

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Connecticut Election Endorsements from FIC

(With apologies to Will Rogers.)

For some reason, the Family Institute of Connecticut is the most vilified group of people in the whole State. I can't figure out why this is.

In the newspapers and on the radio there are lots of people always angry at the FIC. These people always seem to be very angry indeed. They use big words when talking about the FIC like "abomination." Using a word like that, you would think this meant the angry people were big Bible readers but then I saw that there was another person who called the FIC the "Christian Taliban!"

This was really a surprise to me because I've met Brian Brown a few times and I really don't think he would decapitate people he doesn't care for like the Taliban-type people do over in Afghanistan. He never seems to be angry like all the angry people I mentioned a minute ago.

Knowing Brian and what he actually does support, I'm suspicious of people who talk about him like that!

So, I'm happy to help spread FIC's list of endorsements for the November 7 elections.

You can download the list here as a PDF.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Updates to the Connecticut Church Map


Pastors Todd & Leslie Foster of Church on the Rock in New Haven

We've added several new churches to the Connecticut Church Map:





The Church Map is one of the most popular features on our website, and is a great way to find a church or let people find yours! To suggest a church, write us at info@prayct.org.

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Darien church seeks relief from Bishop's oversight; South Windsor church makes arrangement with Bishop

A Darien Episcopal church involved in the "Connecticut Six" controversy continues to seek relief from the oversight of the Episcopal Bishop of Connecticut, the Rev. Andrew D. Smith:

In a recent ruling that was dismissed by a federal judge involving the role of gays in the Episcopal church, the six priests who filed the lawsuit against Connecticut Bishop Andrew D. Smith are appealing the decision.

The Rev. Christopher Leighton, of St. Paul's Episcopal Church on Mansfield Avenue, said the "Connecticut Six"—a group he is apart of and is a term used to designate the opposing priests—feel they are continuing to be "marginalized and pushed aside" in wake of the court's decision.

"Nobody wanted it to go this far," Leighton said. "We're not trying to punish the bishop by appealing the decision; we just want relief from under his leadership."



Rev. Leighton spoke strongly about the direction of the church and how properly to view the response of dissenting congregations:

"The Episcopal Church has made it a point of walking apart from the Anglican community for some time now," Leighton said, pointing out that nearly 77 million people worldwide practice Anglican Christianity. "Our goal is only to stay true to the faith we know, which resides alongside the Anglican Church."

Leighton did say, though, that the "Connecticut Six" would be able to strike a deal with Smith under one condition.

"I would tell the bishop that if he was to let us remain Anglican, we would drop the pending lawsuit and call it a draw," he said.

(Source: Darien News-Review)


The worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church in the USA is a part, is in the process of tearing itself to bits over the practices of its American and Canadian constituents. Largely unknown to Americans, the conflict is raging worldwide as "Third World" bishops have been calling Western believers to repent from their Scriptural departures. Congregations which are of a mind to actually follow the Scripture are leaving the Episcopal Church, either seeking alternative oversight by other bishops or else going independent.

According to the Episcopal News Service, St. Peter's Episcopal Church in South Windsor has now concluded their own arrangement with Bishop Smith. That church will receive pastoral care for a time from retired Bishop of Connecticut Clarence Coleridge.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

The Book Contest rolls out

We've been having a lot of fun here the last few days as we rolled out our book contest... I'm not allowed to play, of course, but somebody's already nominated one my favorites: Gene Edwards's A Tale of three Kings: A Study in Brokenness. It's the kind of book you can't really explain to people; you can only bug them until they read it for themselves. You will be challenged and you will definitely see yourself at some point within the book. Which kind of heart do you have? Are you most like Saul, David, or Absalom? Sometimes, it's hard to know... the point is that God is looking for leaders who are more broken than brave or self-important.

Complete info about the Book Contest here. Keep those nominations coming in to info@prayct.org!

More fun came in the form of our post "Top Ten Reasons People Stop Attending Church" receiving record-setting traffic from Reddit (record-setting for us, anyway) and even a tiny bit from Digg. If you're not sure what that means, follow those links and have fun.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Top Ten Reasons People Stop Attending Church



There are always good churches around, and the Lord's own words tell us that he is building up the Church as his own personal project. Therefore, we know that the Church (with a capital "C") will never go "out of business." However, for the sake of those who need to know God, honesty requires us to admit that some of our churches do need a doctor. Furthermore, history tells us that churches that don't see a doctor end up getting examined by a pathologist!

With that in mind, here's a list that may make us cringe: 10 reasons why people stop attending church. As Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let Him hear." (Please note that total may be more than 100% because respondents could supply more than one answer. Survey sample = 469 "formerly churched adults.")

  1. Simply got too busy - 19 %
  2. Family/home responsibilities prevented attendance - 17 %
  3. Church members seemed hypocritical - 17 %
  4. Church members were judgmental of others - 17 %
  5. Moved too far from church - 17 %
  6. Work situation prevented church attendance - 15 %
  7. Church was not helping me develop spiritually - 14 %
  8. Stopped believing in organized religion - 14 %
  9. Church was run by a clique that discouraged involvement - 12 %
  10. Got divorced/separated - 10 %
Lots of food for thought here. Three of the top ten had to do with the actual behavior of church members and another one had to do with the church's failure to effectively make disciples as Christ commanded.

Source: Lifeway Research.

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Christian Movie Week!


Tiffany Dupont as Queen Esther in "One Night With The King"

OK, nobody has actually declared it to be Christian Movie Week, but it certainly feels like it. A number of movies with biblical and Christian themes have just been released or are about to be released, along with some important documentaries about the Christian movement. This coming week we'll be looking at some of them in a little bit of detail.

The first of these, and possibly the most-anticipated, is One Night With The King, a re-telling of the story of the Book of Esther based on the historical novel Hadassah: One Night With the King by Tommy Tenney. Actress Tiffany Dupont makes her debut as Esther, but there are also well-known players such as John Rhys-Davies, Peter O'Toole, Omar Sharif and "Tiny" Lister. (Click link for trailer, etc.)

None other than Hollywood movie magazine Variety gives One Night With The King a very good review, almost surprising itself in the process:

Blessed with abundant production values and a minimum of campy excess, "One Night With the King" is a surprisingly satisfying attempt to revive the Old Hollywood tradition of lavishly appointed Biblical epics aimed at mainstream auds. Pic has a much broader appeal than earlier product produced by Gener8Xion Entertainment ("The Omega Code," "Carman: The Champion"), and conceivably could attract ticketbuyers who have ignored other recent pics aimed primarily at devout churchgoers. Indeed, even a few diehard non-believers may be won over by the considerable charisma of top-billed newcomer Tiffany Dupont.

If you're interested in seeing One Night With The King, it's playing at these Connecticut locations:

Bridgeport: Showcase Cinemas, 286 Canfield Avenue

Danbury: Loews, 4-6 International Drive

Orange: Showcase, 100 Marsh Hill Road

Plainville: Plainville 20, 220 New Britain Road

Waterbury: Brass Mills Stadium 12 , 495 Union Street

I'm planning on seeing this in the coming week. Has anyone seen it already? Send us a review at info@prayct.org.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Benefit Concert for George Kiriakis, Oct. 14

A concert to benefit George Kiriakis will be held on October 14th 2006 at 7:00p at New Life Christian Fellowship Church, 65 Tokeneke Road, Darien.

We were saddened to learn that George suffered a stroke in the month of August. George has been a vital part of the Christian community in Fairfield County and beyond for many years. We encourage you to come together to help George and and his wife, Marion, with medical expenses and everyday needs. Admission is free and an offering for George will be taken.

For more information visit www.friendsofgeorge.net.

(Blog hint: please use the e-mail icon that appears under the post to send this message around. It's the one that looks liek a little envelope. Thanks!)

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Connecticut Christian Events Calendar Takes Top Spot in Google Calendar Listings














Our Connecticut Christian Events Calendar, powered by Google, has quickly become one of the most visited "inside" pages on our website, second only to the Connecticut Church Map.

And now, thanks to Pray CT's regular readers and visitors, we are now listed first among all Google Calendars related to Connecticut. Thank-you, readers! This is a great milestone and shows the continuing growth and reach of the Christian community in our State.

(By the way, some of you are doubters and need proof on everything, so here you go...)


















Google Calendar is really taking off and for good reason; it's got lots of great features. You can use it in a limited way without a free Google account, but using it with an account is better. You can subscribe to different calendars (like Pray CT's) and even integrate them calendar with your own, personal calendar.

Keep telling your friends about our calendar, and thanks again for making it such a success.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Announcing Pray Connecticut's Book Contest: Win Top Christian Books



We've never run a contest or drawing before, but I've been spurred to do so this week by seeing Christianity Today's list of "The Top 50 Books that Have Shaped Evangelicals." The list makes for very interesting reading - and sure brings back a lot of memories! It's also going to make for plenty of arguments. Many of the entries are "no-brainers," but some lack "man in the street" appeal. For example, Understanding Church Growth, by Donald McGavran, is # 2 on the list because CT sought the opinion of American Evangelical leaders they were acquainted with when they created the list. But most Christians who are not clergy have never heard of the book.

But... I'd like to know what has helped and formed the faith of everyday believers. What books have, well, just really blessed you or inspired you? What are the books you go back to over and over again - your "desert island" books? I think this list would be more interesting than CT's list! Here's a chance to vote for your favorite - and also win a great book for free!

Here's how the contest will work:

Win A Great Christian Book In Time For Christmas - up to $25 value!

  • Submit a list of the books which have had the most impact on your faith and your walk with the Lord. Books may be fiction, non-fiction, biographies, or devotionals. (Don't submit the Bible, reference works or prayer books such as The Book of Common Prayer.)
  • The contest is open to anyone living in the USA or Canada.
  • Entries must be e-mailed to us at info@prayct.org and will be accepted through the end of November 30, 2006.
  • Because of our specific focus, books must be written by evangelical or charismatic authors.
  • The books must have been written since 1950.
  • Votes will be tallied and a list of the top 50 entries will be released and discussed on our blog during the first week of December.
  • Seven happy people will be chosen at random to receive (free, shipping included!) a copy of any book which appears on the final list, up to a $25 value. If a person picks a book on the list which sells for more than $25, that person will receive an electronic gift certificate from Christianbook.com.
  • The seven winners will also be given the opportunity if they desire to guest post on the Pray Connecticut blog during December about the books they voted for and the book they picked.
Voting starts right away, so get those entries in to us at info@prayct.org!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Walk For Life Fundraiser coming up October 21


















Hopeline Pregnancy Resource Center is holding a "Walk for Life" fundraiser on Saturday, October 21st in three locations:

1) Walnut Hill Church Community Church in Bethel,

2) Calvary Evangelical Free Church in Trumbull, and

3) Harrybrooke Park, New Milford.


The object of the walk is to raise funds for the needs of Hopeline Medical Clinic and administrative needs. Walkers should register at the different sites beginning at 8:30am. The event will be held from 9am - 12 noon. We are asking for a minimum of 2 miles per walker.

Praise Report:
Hopeline has been given a grant by Focus on the Family to purchase an ultrasound machine for the new medical clinic which is in the process of opening in Danbury. Statistics show that women who view a picture of their baby through an ultrasound 90% of the time will change their mind as it relates to abortion.

Hopeline is believing God for many miracles in the upcoming years and many efforts are being poured into the medical clinic and other needs that women have.

For more information, please contact:

Linda J. Cochrane R.N., Executive Director
Hopeline Pregnancy Resource Center
1.203.207.4673
hopeline@sbcglobal.net
1.800.203.4673

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Monday, October 09, 2006

New survey on Pentecostals and Charismatics opens eyes

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released a very large survey on Pentecostal and charismatic groups in 10 different countires, including the U. S. Although the entire 233-page complete report may be tough sledding for some, anyone interested in the role of religion in American life will find the survey highly interesting.

Among the survey's findings: in the USA, some 23% of the population can be described as "renewalist," meaning they are either Pentecostal or charismatic. The survey addresses the beliefs of renewal Christians compared to other Christians and discusses religious trends in different countries.

To browse a summary of the report, click here.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Pray Connecticut now an affiliate of ChristianBook.com!














Need a new Bible?

Just in time for Christmas, which will be here before you know it, our main site at www.prayct.org has been approved for an affiliate relationship with Christianbook.com, usually referred to in Christian circles as CBD.

What does this mean for users of our site? We can now sell Christian books, music, and videos through the Pray CT website! You can also search the entire CBD website right from Pray CT's homepage.

Worried about selection? CBD is the largest Christian products distributor in the world.

Check us out often as our online bookstore and music store begins to take shape over the next few months!

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Prayer Request Update

Please continue to pray for Pastor Rick McKinniss of Wellspring Church in Kensington. Pastor Rick is making what is truly a miraculous recovery after suffering a 20-foot fall from a ladder. We give thanks to the Lord and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Rick and his family.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Remembering Jonathan Edwards























Today is the birthday of Jonathan Edwards, often referred to as America's greatest theologian, and one of the greatest leaders of the Great Awakening of the 1740's. Born in Connecticut (the East Windsor Hill section of what is now South Windsor) in 1703, Edwards was a prodigious writer as well as an anointed preacher.

His most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God, left hearers gripping the pews in terror for fear they should slip into Hell itself.

Edwards is also renowned for his famous tract on prayer and revival called A Humble Attempt. In this piece he sought to summon the Church throughout the world to concentrated intercession for a revival that would do no less than accomplish the final conversion of the heathen and usher in the Kingdom of God. The longer title of A Humble Attempt reveals Edwards's thinking:

A Humble Attempt to Promote the Agreement and Union of God's People Throughout the World in Extraordinary Prayer For a Revival Of Religion And The Advancement Of God's Kingdom On Earth, According To Scriptural Promises And Prophecies Of The Last Time.

United prayer would be the key to an outpouring of the Spirit. Edwards gave an example of how intercessory prayer had recently been used to accelerate the work of God - and I would not doubt that the "concert of prayer" he referred to greatly helped to advance the Gospel throughout the English-speaking nations of the world:

In October of 1744, a number of ministers in Scotland, considering the state of God's Church, and mankind in general, believed that God was calling those concerned for the welfare of the Church to unite in extraordinary prayer. They knew God was the Creator and source of all blessings and benefits in the Church so they earnestly prayed that He would appear in His glory, and strengthen the Church, and manifest His compassion to the world of mankind by an abundant outpouring of His Holy Spirit. They desired a true revival in all parts of Christendom, and to see nations delivered from their great and many calamities, and to bless them with the unspeakable benefits of the Kingdom of our glorious Redeemer, and to fill the whole earth with His glory.

These ministers consulted with one another on this subject and concluded that they were obliged to begin such prayer and attempt to persuade others to do the same. After seeking God for direction, they determined that for the next two years they would set apart some time on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings every week for prayer as one's other duties would allow. More importantly, it was decided that the first Tuesday of each quarter (beginning with the first Tuesday of November) would be time to be spent in prayer. People were to pray for either the entire day or part of the day, as they found themselves disposed, or as circumstances allowed. They would meet in either private prayer groups or in public meetings, whichever was found to be most convenient.

It was determined that none should make any promises or feel under strict obligation to observe every one of these days without fail; for these days were not holy or established by sacred authority. However, to prevent negligence, and the temptation to make excuses for trivial reasons, it was proposed that if those who resolve to pray cannot take part on the agreed upon day, they would use the next available day for the purpose of prayer.

The primary reason for this cooperation in prayer was to maintain, among the people of God, that necessity of prayer for the coming of Christ's Kingdom, which Christ directed his followers to do. We are, unfortunately, too little inclined to pray because of our laziness and immaturity, or because of the distraction of our own worldly, private affairs. We have prayed at times, but without special seasons for prayer, we are, likely, to neglect it either partially or totally. But when we set aside certain times for prayer, resolving to fulfill this commission unless extraordinarily hindered, we are less likely to neglect it.

We can certainly profit from this example. What would it accomplish in our day if New England - or perhaps even the entire English-speaking world - would unite in prayer once a quarter, and all ministers of Christ sowed their time into prayer for revival every week?

Let's pray that Christians will unite in prayer for a Heaven-sent revival that will once again, as Edwards said, bless the nations with the "unspeakable benefits of the Kingdom of our glorious Redeemer, and to fill the whole earth with His glory."

For more on Edwards, visit the Yale Edwards site here.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Praying for the Upcoming Elections

We'll have more to say about Connecticut elections in the days to come, but please begin to pray now (if you haven't already) for the many other elections taking place, including the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate.

A prayer guide calling America back to repentance and praying generally about the elections can be found at the 40 Days USA site. The site is sparse, but in addition to the prayer guide it contains some articles on prayer and an audio message by Derek Prince called "Fasting Precipitates God's Latter Rain."

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Special Prayer Request

Please remember in your prayers Pastor Rick McKinniss of Wellspring Church in Kensington, CT. Pastor Rick took a bad fall from a ladder on September 30 but, miraculously, only suffered four cracked vertebrae in his lower back. Rick is in the forefront of Connecticut's apostolic leadership and our prayers and wishes are for a speedy recovery.

Monday, October 02, 2006

God TV comes to America

Worldwide Christian television station God TV has come to the US and is broadcasting on DirectTV Channel 365. Many Connecticut residents don't have good access to good Christian programming and God TV could fill this gap for some. We'll give it a shot.

More good news: for those who don't have satellite TV, you can also watch God TV by going to http://www.god.tv/US/WatchNow/ and watching it streaming live on the Web via Windows Media Player. I have it on right now and it's good quality, 312K.

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