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Diverse anthology of current Christian research on Islam, the Quran, and Muhammad suggests biblically-faithful paths for better engagement beyond polemics or dialogue.

American evangelicals often find themselves frustrated in their approach to Islam.

Two options are consistently placed before them: a polemical argument few are educated enough to engage in, or an awkward dialogue urging friendship but emptied of theological significance.

Help, therefore, may come from abroad—where evangelicals interact with Muslims everyday.

A new book, The Religious Other: Toward a Biblical Understanding of Islam, the Quran, and Muhammad, answers both concerns. An anthology of recent academic contributions to Arab Baptist Theological Seminary (ABTS), located in Beirut, Lebanon, the publication delves into the details of the debate over how evangelicals should view the rival religion.

But it also promotes a “kerygmatic method,” based on the New Testament Greek word for proclamation and connoting among biblical scholars the core message of early church gospel preaching. The book applies the term to seek a middle ground between polemics and apologetics on the one hand, and syncretistic and common ground approaches on the other.

Built on a foundation of academic rigor, this method aims for a tone of love within a spirit of Jesus-centered proclamation.

CT interviewed Martin Accad, editor of the anthology and associate professor of Islamic studies at ABTS. Though he remains on faculty, he recently resigned from his leadership positions at the seminary to found Action Research Associates, seeking holistic application of the kerygmatic method within the troubles of sectarian Lebanese society.

Accad described the value of the book for evangelical engagement with Islam, but also how its principles can guide interaction with “the religious other” in both Lebanon and the United States:

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Two authors encourage Christians to rededicate themselves to attentive, artful reading.

Among many evangelical literature-lovers (and likely many CT readers), Leland Ryken is a familiar name. Longtime (now emeritus) professor of English at Wheaton College, he is the author of numerous books, including The Christian Imagination and How to Read the Bible as Literature. In his latest offering, Recovering the Lost Art of Reading, he teams up with professional writer Glenda Faye Mathes to take on one of the ecclesial crises of our time (though not one that tends to make the headlines): By and large, Christians aren’t engaged in serious reading.

Ryken and Mathes set out to provide Christians with the reasons and tools they need to start reading again. Their overriding hope is that readers will find it easier to pick up a book and responsibly—indeed, artfully—lose themselves in it. (In this, their intentions overlap somewhat with those of Karen Swallow Prior in her 2018 work On Reading Well, although Recovering the Lost Art of Reading is a very different book.)

Ryken and Mathes describe their project as addressing “first the concept of reading as a lost art, then distinctive features of various types of literature and tips for reading them, and finally, ideas for ways to recover reading.” To put it more plainly, the book asks and responds to three questions: What is literature? Why should Christians read it? And what do they need to know (either about literature or about why they’re not reading it) before they can read it well?

While Recovering the Lost Art of Readingisn’t exactly literary criticism, it brings aspects of a literary-critical engagement to would-be readers and provides insight into things like the difference between literary and nonliterary uses of language, the ...

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Why Your Children’s Ministry Leader Needs More Education and Training.

As both a professor and ministry coach, pastors and search committees often ask me, “How much education is really necessary for a children’s ministry pastor or director?” On the surface, that can be an easy query to answer by asking a few questions: Is the position full-time or part-time? What are the responsibilities? Does this position require the person to administer the sacraments, (such as baptism), which might require ordination? But the question can also be a complicated one, because behind it is an attitude of value toward ministry with children.

A few months ago, Ed Stetzer tweeted a question asking if church leaders should pursue a PhD. A colleague of mine at Wheaton College, Dan Trier, wrote an eloquent response regarding the importance and joy of further biblical and theological studies. But let’s be honest—it’s rare that people ask that question in reference to children’s ministry leaders.

In every discussion I have had, churches affirm that ministry with children is important and valued. Why else would the church pursue hiring someone to lead the ministry? But often, leadership in children’s ministry isn’t viewed the same way as leadership in other ministries. Children’s ministry leaders are hired for their administrative skills: ministry organization, volunteer recruitment, curriculum and supply ordering.

These needs are real, but, as I pointed out in a recent journal article that surveyed the past 40 years of trends in children’s ministry, we’ve assigned “backseat” status to children and their spiritual development in the church. While churches say they affirm ministry with children, they are more likely to be ambivalent about ...

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President of the Assyrian Aid Society–Iraq (AASI) passes away from COVID-19 complications.

Ashur Sargon Eskrya, president of the Assyrian Aid Society–Iraq (AASI), passed away today from COVID-19 complications.

A champion of the Assyrian Christian minority, he was also a central figure in US efforts to shelter refugees from ISIS and later rebuild the Nineveh Plains.

AASI was honored for its work with a Nobel Peace Prize nomination in 2016.

“Ashur has played a prominent role in being a voice for our people in international forums, speaking on behalf of us all especially on the subject of indigenous rights,” stated the official account of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), of which Eskrya was a senior member.

“He will always be remembered for his leadership.”

Fellow ADM member Jessi Arabou called him one of the Assyrian nation’s “biggest assets.”

Born in 1974, Eskrya was a civil engineer and graduate of Baghdad University. He became a member in AASI in 2003, and assumed the presidency in 2010. Founded in 1991 to respond to the humanitarian crisis following the first Gulf War, the nonprofit is funded through branches of the Assyrian diaspora in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Sweden.

“Ashur did much to make [AAS] what it is today. His energy and passion fueled and propelled the work on a daily basis,” stated the Assyrian Aid Society of America.

“[His] tireless efforts in bringing international attention to the plight and struggle of Assyrians is commendable and will be remembered and honored for generations to come.”

Under Eskrya’s leadership, AASI administered projects for refugee relief, reconstruction, irrigation, and medical clinics. Over 2,600 students in 27 schools were provided with K-12 education, including ...

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He brought archaeological expertise to Israel, Egypt, and North America.

If you met Robert E. Cooley, you remember his arresting handshake. If you sat in a meeting with him, you recall a brilliance that stopped committee chatter or—more improbably—made sudden sense of it. If you worked with him, you remember a measured decisiveness that could pull your organization back to its mission or lead a whole new movement.

Cooley, a Near Eastern archaeologist and former president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, died Thursday, April 1, at age 91.

Best known for his presidency of the seminary from 1981 to 1997, Cooley spent much of his earlier career at archaeological sites in Israel and Egypt. His most important discoveries were made at Tel Dothan, in the West Bank, where he brought to light the burial rituals of the ancient city that speak volumes about how they lived. He played a key role in the founding of the Near East Archaeological Society.

His later research of 106 Native American sites while director of the Center for Archaeological Research at Missouri State University became central for the U.S. government’s “cultural resource management studies.”

But it was in higher education that he had his greatest impact on American religious life, much of it after he retired from Gordon-Conwell. He helped Tim Laniak, then-dean of the Charlotte, North Carolina, campus, develop that campus and plant a satellite school in Jacksonville, Florida.

“Those who knew Dr. Cooley,” Laniak said, “assumed the whole world did.”

In 2008, Cooley helped to reorganize the governance of Oral Roberts University at a time when the school had fallen into debt and was on the brink of closing. Mart Green, a co-owner of the Hobby Lobby stores who brought Cooley in to help rescue ...

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Part 2 of Sherelle Duckworth's contribution to our Critical Race Theory series.

In Part I, we walked through four precursors about sociological theory to consider before engaging Critical Race Theory (CRT). Those precursors included understanding that:

  1. Sociological theories are suggestions on how to see the world.
  2. Sociological theories show us what to look for in the world.
  3. Sociological theories morph into a multitude of ideas and assertions.
  4. Sociological theories are descriptive but are used with research orientations that aim at prescribing solutions.

Since CRT traces its lineage to critical theory, it will be helpful to grasp some tenets of critical theory that will help use draw conclusions on how to approach critical race theory.

1. Critical theory utilizes an oppressor/oppressed binary in its investigation and interpretation of the social world.

The roadmap for sociological analysis for critical theory is a fixed binary of oppressed versus oppressor. These two groups exist in conflict, tension, and struggle as the oppressed group seeks liberation and the oppressor group seeks to maintain the status quo and their social dominance. Critical theory challenges the notion that society is “fixed” in hopes of removing the traditional norms and ideologies that allow the oppressor group to maintain power and privilege.

2. Critical theory is rooted in a desire for activism and social change.

John Macionis defines critical sociology as, “and activist orientation that ties knowledge to action and seeks not just to understand the world as it exists but also to improve it.”[1] Vern Poythress defines critical sociology as research, “which endeavors to highlight the injustices and inequities in a society and to suggest or implement change.”[2] In accordance with Marx’s critical ...

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Part 1 of Sherelle Ducksworth's contribution to our Critical Race Theory series.

Over the last year I have read and listened to many views and opinions on CRT. In an effort to not be redundant since the previous contributors to this series provided a lot of information and thoughtful commentary on CRT, I hope to contribute to the conversation as not only a Christian but as a sociologist by profession. My contribution will consist of two parts. Part I is a discussion on four precursors on sociological theory one should know before approaching CRT. Since CRT is arguably a sociological theory, understanding sociological theory might be helpful in how we engage it. Part II is a discussion on four precursors on critical theory one should know before approaching CRT and a final admonishment for Christians.

I was a sophomore at a community college when I first heard of sociology. Sitting in class one day, my instructor grabbed my attention as she examined, analyzed, and explained the nuances of everyday social experiences that produced fascinating outcomes. What I remember most is learning about socialization and how who we were as individual persons had come from a host of influences such as our families, the media, and even our neighborhoods. I was intrigued and that intrigue began my path as a sociologist. After graduation, I enrolled in a Historically Black University and majored in sociology where I learned graduate social theory and became familiar with how sociologists like Karl Marx and Max Weber understood society. Two years later, I enrolled at Mississippi State University to pursue a Master of Science in sociology with an emphasis in social stratification and eventually graduated and became a sociology instructor. I have spent the last 14 years studying sociology, understanding the discipline, and ...

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Two pastors advocate reparations for victims of white supremacy.

When trying to solve any problem, large or small, it’s important to remember that hasty solutions based on poorly diagnosed problems lead to failure and frustration. This is true whether we’re talking about marketing, medicine, or ministry. And it’s especially true when it comes to repairing an injustice as complex as slavery and racism in America.

Today, there is a tendency to oversimplify the problem. But anyone objectively examining the history of American racism knows that the problem is far from simple. In his own reflections on American race relations, the Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck expressed confidence that the resources for a solution existed within Christianity. According to biographer James Eglinton, however, he lamented that this solution would never come to pass unless the American church “underwent a profound transformation.”

Unfortunately, I see little evidence that such a transformation has taken place. Although pockets of hope and moral clarity exist here and there, white evangelicals have largely glossed over the embarrassing parts of their history and reacted indignantly to any suggestion of needing to make amends.

In Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair, pastors Duke L. Kwon and Gregory Thompson offer something of a crash course in American racial injustice and the church’s complicity in it. They trace the history of white supremacy from the country’s founding to the present day, explaining why overcoming a 400-year legacy of personal and institutional sin requires getting a firm grasp on what happened, knowing why the Bible calls it sinful, and working toward repairing the wreckage.

Words like reparations and white supremacy often ...

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The pastor of the Alberta congregation recently spent a month in jail for repeated refusals to comply.

Health officials in Alberta, Canada, made the decision to “physically close” a local church building until its leaders agree to finally comply with coronavirus regulations.

Police vehicles blocked entrances to the parking lot of GraceLife Church in Edmonton Wednesday morning and temporary fencing was erected around the building. The congregation has met normally since summer 2020, despite requirements that church gatherings limit capacity, require masks, and practice social distancing.

Over the last nine months, the province’s health department fielded more than 100 complaints about GraceLife and conducted 18 inspections, resulting in multiple fines and orders to comply. Its pastor was arrested and spent a month in jail refusing the conditions of bail, that he agree to follow health regulations.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, which represents GraceLife and its pastor James Coates, said the move to barricade private church property prevents citizens from “exercising their Charter freedoms of peaceful assembly, association, and worship.”

As officials surrounded the church, dozens of GraceLife members gathered outside and sang hymns, according to a report by the Globe and Mail.

“Please pray for wisdom as our elders navigate this new development!” one member tweeted, posting a screenshot of the view of the new fencing from the church’s security camera.

Premier Jason Kenney told Albertans a week ago that the province is in its third wave of COVID-19 outbreaks. He suggested that more stringent enforcement by police may be necessary at this point, saying authorities have “been very patient ...

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85% said cash giving in 2020 came rather close to 2019 cash giving numbers—with a sizable portion of that group saying that 2020’s cash giving ended higher than 2019’s.

The pandemic’s much-feared financial toll on churches and nonprofit ministries failed to materialize in 2020. That’s the verdict from a survey of 1,292 members and friends of ECFA (the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) published March 4 in a 12-page illustration-rich report titled “Remarkable Resilience.”

Every three months since the nation’s coronavirus-driven financial upheavals began last spring, ECFA has polled its membership, plus other likeminded churches and nonprofits. After an initial dip in charitable giving, donations rose and held somewhat steady in the summer and fall. Donor fatigue apparently did not set in even across the end-of-year’s final appeals.

What did our survey uncover? For 85%, 2020’s income from cash giving was close to 2019’s. The breakdown of the 85% is instructive: while 18% said it was close—i.e., that 2020 was lower than 2019 by 1-10%, and 14% said the two years ended the same, 27% said that 2020’s cash giving was 1-10% higher than 2019’s, and an amazing 26% said that 2020’s cash giving was more than 10% higher than 2019’s. Thus 53% said that 2020 ended higher than 2019 for cash income.

For most churches and nonprofits, cash giving is their largest slice of the income pie. ECFA’s 2,546 member organizations average 58% of their revenue as coming from green cash, checks, online giving, etc. Another 27% of revenue comes from “other income” such as facility rentals, tuition, program fees, etc. The remaining 15% comes from non-cash giving such as gifts in kind, donated services, etc. This formula varies across many ministry types, with child sponsorship ministries averaging 99% of their income ...

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Hosanna AME Church
2418 Castleton Road
Darlington, MD 21034
About Us:

The mission of our church is to minister to the spiritual, intellectual, physical, emotional, and environmental needs of all people by spreading the good news of Christ's redeeming gospel through the preached word and outreach ministries and activities. Christ has called us to seek and to save all those who will believe and call on the name of Jesus and accept Him as Savior and Lord!

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2015 Hosanna A.M.E. Church

Lasted updated 7/18/2018

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