So, I'm lookin' for a group of Christians to fellowship with on Sunday mornings.
And I found... prayer from 6:30-7:30 M-F at TCBC. Woah! I stumbled across this because of an article about Brian McMurray that mentioned that he worships at Covenant Fellowship Church. Let me get this straight: this fellowship has eight different prayer times each week?! Mornings, Monday through Friday from 6:30-7:30, as well as evenings, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday. The Wednesday one goes from 10PM - 3AM?! Woah: this is amazing.
They have two Sunday services. One's at 9:30, and the other's at 12:30. They also meet from 7-9PM in the Wesley Foundation.
So why am I looking any further? I want to see what else is out there. This church's list of events said nothing about their being involved
I also looked to see if there were any Messianic Jewish fellowships nearby. There's a whole listing of the ones in Illinois, blessedly! The closest one is in Springfield, though. That's a 1:26 hr. drive, and their website hasn't been updated since 2007! Ah...
I looked up Life Chain Urbana to see who's coordinating it here in Champaign-Urbana. (I actually didn't know until last year that it was happening!) Here's the sponsors: John & Myrna Buyno. The pick is at 1:30, on Kirby Ave. at Hessel Park, and the Life Chain will be happening from 2-3PM. So where do these sponsors go to church?
According to a news story about their prize-winning, abortion-themed parade float, St. Matthew's Parish. (Another nugget from the story is that Mr. and Mrs. Buyno have started a pro-life group called "Life is for Everyone," and their church also has a pro-life "Respect Life Committee.")
Okay. This is feeling more and more like a lit. seminar. Should I start with an application and find a technique, or start with a technique and find an application? After trying the first approach multiple times, I found that the second approach was much better. So instead of looking for churches and finding out later if they care about abortion and other frontline issues, I'm going to look at abortion and other issues in the area and see what churches are involved. I started this a couple months ago by calling the two crisis pregnancy centers in town and asking what churches they would recommend. Birthright is Catholic-based, and when the gal knew it was a "Protestant" church I was looking for, she recommended TCBC. The lady from the other center recommended TCBC, and Midwest Believers' Church. I'd been to TCBC before, but was not excited about the message of some of the songs we sang, the organ, and the view that some of the members/Bible teachers take toward Scripture's teaching about politics (and more broadly, worldview formation). I tried out the Midwest Believers' Church and found myself in the midst of Olsteen-esque health and wealth gospel preaching -- from a woman. The woman was yelling "Hallelujah" and "Ha, ha, ha" over people that responded to the altar call while calling song requests over her shoulder to her husband who was tinkering away on the keyboard. It was pretty wacky, and I knew that her premise -- that God doesn't want us to be poor or sick -- was unScriptural. I left as soon as the "Ha, ha, ha's" started, and didn't turn around.
I loved the worship and sharing at Stratford Park, but thoughts I heard during my first Sunday there were reiterated in a myriad of ways. In the first sharing time I attended, it was right around election time. A man stood and talked about how as Christians we have no part in the poltical process, but must sit by and watch what happens. With a chilling symmetry, this is the same line that the teaching elder and his wife took when they talked to me about the role of their church and the culture wars.
So... I'm looking!
Wow -- a search for "prolife Champaign" showed there was a 40 Day Vigil in Champaign starting in April. People fasted and stood outside Planned Parenthood. Is this still going on? Ahh... I see. It was from February 25 - April 5. Their kickoff rally was at the Newman Center on campus. Woah!!! That place's a hotbed!!!! There's a video featuring the national director, David Bereit, and a local contact person named Michael DeClerck. Woah. I looked through the calendar to see if people had signed up for time slots to hold vigils at the local Planned Parenthood. But no one seems to have signed up. Boy, that's sad. Hmmm... I wonder where Mr. DeClerck goes to church? (Note: the next 40 Day Vigil will be held September 23 – November 1, 2009, and they have a facebook group: 40 Days for Life. They have a national website, too).
According to an article about this year's 40 Day Vigil in Champaign, DeClerck is a member of the Newman Center. All roads, it seems, lead to the Newman Center. (Check out this article, by the way. It's great to hear from local people why they care enough to do this).
Wikipedia lists 1893 as the date the first Newman Center was founded (and one of the co-founders was a medical student!). They're named in honor of John Henry Cardinal Newman, who encouraged Catholics to attend non-Catholic universities (see the website for his society here). The centers are oases that encourage Catholics in their faith. Hmmm... what do ya know? The UIUC St. John's Catholic Newman Center is the largest in the nation, and a model one to boot!
Okay, so that river went into the ocean of the Newman Center, as well. Hmmm... looking... This is interesting: Find a Champaign ministry through www.usachurch.com/illinois/champaign/ministries.htm. Great! No ministries listed under any subject! Looking... (Incidentally, I came across the Illini Collegians for Life website! Lots of good stuff, along with some junk. For example, they advertised a speaker who is working to end the death penalty: "Jennifer will be speaking at the YMCA on Wright Street on April 23rd, at 7:30pm. In addition to the speaker, students in a university social justice course will be reading some of their poetry as well as the poetry of local prisoners in the Champaign jail. There will be snacks, as well as entertainment by Brazilian samba band Desafinado." Now if that isn't PC (shall I saw culturally Marxist?), nothing is. Oh great. It gets worse. Another anti-death penalty event featured the "Buddhist teacher" of an executed criminal. Where's the discernment, folks? On the awesome side, students from this organization have gone to several March for Life events! Their sign had a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government." They also had a protest against a Planned Parenthood gala on campus Also, take a look at the Cemetary of the Innocent they put out on the Quad, April 10, 2007. Woah! How'd I miss that?). Illini Collegians for Life partners with the statewide organization Students for Life of Illinois.
"Prolife churches Champaign" had some hits. And on another rabbit trail, I found a letter from October 2007 by Joy Pace, the head of the Pro-Life committee at her church -- Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church in Champaign. She urges her readers not to trust Planned Parenthood with their kids. She speaks of the bonuses Planned Parenthood awards to students they've trained to convince kids on campus to have abortions. Wow. This is evil.
Cool! Here's a directory of pro-life churches in Illinois "whose leadership is courageous enough to speak out on this issue." But none listed in Champaign or Urbana? Urggh! Ahh... it is only for Central Illinois. Fortunately they do have a list of links to explore. Here's the website of the Illinois Right to Life Committee.
Neat-o! Here's a story from January of this year about John Paul Deddens speaking at First Church of the Nazarene in Galesburg. They have an annual prayer service for life. Problem: Galesburg is 2:23 hrs. from here! Urggh...
Umm... here's a hit! Living Alternatives listed sponsors for their 2008 fundraising event, and First Christian Church of Champaign is on there! All of the other listed sponsors are businesses! I wonder if their preacher talks about abortion? (Incidentally, Living Alternatives notes that "The cost for us to advertise monthly in the area phone books is a little over $1,000 a month! That is $250 a week or $35 a day! That seems high, we know, but what is a life worth?")
Ahh.. I'd forgotten. First Christian Church was also one recommend by Living Alternatives when I called them. And it lists Living Alternatives on its website as a ministry it supports. But I went there one Sunday and found that they're a semi-mega church. That is, it's huge, has an weekly operating budget bigger than my annual salary, and looking to get bigger. Yikes!
Great. Looking for "Urbana prolife church" found an article by the Urbana Theological Seminary weighing in on the Octomom debate. Here's their efforts, which shed darkness on the subject: "Who would be so bold to appeal to religious traditions which might assert that Ms. Suleman should not have pursed children at all as a single woman with no husband? We can be thankful that those dogmatic, culturally insensitive statements have been banished from the public square, rightly condemned as discriminatory and an affront to both our collective rationality and autonomy. After all, judgments stemming from such religious strictures are unfairly restrictive, and call our unencumbered pursuit of fulfillment into question... But unlike many of the scurrilous, vitriolic comments leveled by rights-respecting citizens who want to ensure that their tax dollars are never put toward supporting this misguided mother and her newborns, the church ought to be the one place where all of our assumptions are critiqued by the community of faith, by brothers and sisters significantly shaped by the wisdom discerned in Scripture, which certainly includes the truth that 'the kingdom of God belongs to such as these' (Luke 18:16b). " Thank you, UTS.
Switching for the time being to another topic, I've found a church not to go to. Church of the Brethren
Champaign, IL, with the Rev. Paul S. Kohler as pastor, participated in the 2006 Evolution Day2009 event, though sadly a church from my hometown (Christ Lutheran Church) did, and the number of participating churches more than doubled from 467 in 2006 to 1,049 in 2009).
OK. Looking for "Worldview church Urbana IL" came up with a link to "WorldViewEyes," a ministry directed by Dr. Richard Knopp, who is the president of the board for Christian Campus Fellowship. His full CV is listed on the website, and "[ and were congratulated for it. Clergy were encouraged to assure their congregants that there need be no conflict between "religion" and "science": just accept evolution! (To give them the benefit of the doubt, this congregation was not listed as participating in the m]uch of his graduate work focused on the relationship between science and religion." He obtained his PhD from UIUC, in Philosophy. He currently gives seminars on apologetics, and stands strong in creationism! He has spoken to the med school at Peoria on "The Compatibility of Faith and Science." He's had two retinal detachments in his left eye. Hmmm! Worldviews! Campus ministry! Sounding good!
This ministry's homepage lists their weekly events, including Lifegroups (small groups), and a weekly worship service at 7PM on Thursdays. They offer rides to area churches, including the Vineyard (the closest thing we have to a megachurch), TCBC, Stratford Bible Chapel, and First Christian church. Hmmm... here's the question: I wonder where Richard Knopp goes! The seminary he teaches at is in Lincoln, IL, which is a 1:27-hr. drive from here.
He taught an apologetics course at First Christian Church of Champaign back in 2001. He was also a deacon of that church from 1982-1983. (And, interestingly, he was "Youth & Bus Minister" for a Christian Church in Florissant from 1972-1974 and Youth Minister at First Church of Christ in an Illinois town from 1970-1971. Currently he's listed on Facebook as being in Peoria. (And comparing this profile picture to the one on the CV, it looks like the same person).
(And if he doesn't live in Chambana, maybe he can recommend a church with a solid emphasis on worldviews! Maybe there's one that's hosted him for a WorldViewEyes conference!)
Okay... I'm going to email Dr. Knopp and ask what churches he would recommend in the area that maintain a strong, Biblical worldview. Yeah! His email address is listed here.