U.S. Surgeon General urges masks, social distancing for churches that have reopened
If churches want to stay open for worship, said U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, leaders should advocate for cautionary measures. Wheaton College’s Ed Stetzer published the interview with Vice Admiral Adams, who spoke with faith leaders July 30.
“If you are meeting, make sure you do it in a socially distanced manner, at least six feet and encourage people when they’re around other folks who aren’t in their household to wear a mask,” Adams said. A recent LifeWay Research survey found at least 70% of Protestant churches reported meeting for in-person worship in July.
Illinois breaks sales record for recreational marijuana
Pot dispensaries in Illinois sold $61 million in recreational marijuana in July, an increase of 28% from the previous month. Since recreational use of the drug became legal at the beginning of 2020, sales only declined in one month–February. CBS Chicago notes marijuana dispensaries were allowed to stay open when many other businesses closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alabama pastor resigns after praying at celebration for KKK leader
Will Dismukes, a Southern Baptist pastor and Alabama state representative, resigned from his church after participating at a birthday celebration for Ku Klux Klan leader Nathan Bedford Forrest. Dismukes, 30, prayed the invocation at the July 25 celebration in Selma, Ala., the site of same-day ceremonies honoring late Civil Rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
Ortberg resigns amid investigation into conduct
Citing “a collective desire for healing and discernment,” elders at Menlo Church in California asked for the resignation of long-time pastor John Ortberg. Leaders placed Ortberg on leave last fall amid an investigation of how he handled a volunteer’s admission of an “unwanted thought pattern of attraction to minors.” (In June, it was revealed the volunteer is his son, John Ortberg III.) The initial investigation found no evidence of misconduct, but elders announced a new, “supplemental” investigation on July 11.
Ortberg, a native of Rockford, Ill., is a former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicagoland.
Promise Keepers returns—virtually
For the first time in almost 10 years, a global men’s ministry planned to host the kind of rally that led it to prominence in the late 1990s. But COVID-19 forced Promise Keepers to hold the event online, Religion News Service reports, where the event was expected to reach viewers in more than 65 countries.
Portland pastors see God move
“Don’t give up on Portland,” said church planter Aaron Bennett. “This is a place filled with people that Christ has died for.” Bennett’s city has made headlines for protests and unrest since the death of George Floyd, an African American man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
Bennett and fellow pastors are working to be a peaceful presence in Portland, Baptist Press reports. “In a time of tremendous anxiety,” the pastor said, “we see it as our calling to live as the called-out people of God in a way that is so anchored to God’s word.”
Sources: Christianity Today, CBS Chicago, LifeWay Research, Baptist Press, Christian Post, Religion News Service