On Friday, the Republican presidential candidates will audition at a “Values Voter Summit” in Washington for the role of “candidate most likely to win the blessing of Christian conservatives” by hitting hard on the hot-button issues of abortion and homosexuality. Meanwhile, a broad alliance of religious leaders, some of them also conservative Christians, is trying to persuade the candidates that the faith and values agenda is larger than those issues. They are inviting Republican and Democratic candidates to speak at back-to-back “Compassion Forums” on Nov. 26 in Greenville, South Carolina, an early primary state. They want to ask the candidates where they stand on climate change, torture, poverty in the United States and abroad, and genocide in Darfur – as well as abortion. Backing the event is an unusual left/right alliance of evangelical, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders who only recently would have made very strange bedfellows indeed: including Dr. Frank Page, President of the Southern Baptist Convention; Dr. Paul R. Corts, President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of the liberal group Sojourners and author of “God’s Politics;” Dr. Syeed Sayeed, general secretary of Islamic Society of North America; Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Bishop Vashti McKenzie, of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The organizers, a relatively new Washington group called Faith in Public Life, say they have interest from top candidates, although none have confirmed yet. They say they are negotiating with a network to broadcast it, that John Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek, will moderate, and that churches and Christian colleges will organize viewing parties. It is one of a growing number of efforts under way among religious leaders to declare a ceasefire in the culture wars and focus on issues they can all agree on. Earlier this month, Third Way, a liberal think tank, issued a paper signed by several prominent evangelicals calling for new approaches to polarizing issues, such as reducing abortion by making birth control more widely available and expanding tax credits for adoption.
Courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle
by Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer In addition to knowing President-elect Barack Obama for a decade, the Rev. Jim Wallis would seem like the type of nationally known, centrist, evangelical pastor chosen to give the inaugural invocation. Instead, Obama is still hearing criticism for inviting the Rev. Rick Warren, a conservative Orange County pastor who opposes same-sex marriage and abortion rights, to take that marquee inaugural position. But choosing Warren makes long-term political sense, say Wallis and others. Even though Warren’s support of California’s Proposition 8 and comments made in a Beliefnet.com interview last month equating gay marriage to pedophilia drew widespread criticism from some of Obama’s core supporters, analysts say Warren is symbolic of a new political reality. “White evangelicals are no longer an extension of the Republican Party,” said the Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and pastor at a Sacramento church. Plus, the choice is philosophically consistent with how Obama has been reaching out to opposing constituencies during his transition period. On Tuesday night, he dined at the home of conservative columnist George Will at a party attended by conservative commentators like William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks. The next day, the Democrat hosted a meeting at his transition office with centrist and left-wing commentators ranging from MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow to TheAtlantic.com’s Andrew Sullivan to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. And Obama has invited V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man to be a consecrated bishop in the Episcopal Church, to pray at an inaugural ceremony today. Meanwhile, gay rights supporters planned to demonstrate this morning outside Warren’s Saddleback Church in Lake Forest to protest his opposition to same-sex marriage. “The issue isn’t Rick Warren per se,” said Wallis, who co-hosted a 2006 conference where Obama made one of his first major speeches on politics and his faith. “It is very Obama-like to reach out to conservative evangelicals who didn’t vote for him. Whether people like Rick Warren or not is not the issue.” Instead, the Warren pick is post-election evidence that one political trend will continue: Both parties will actively pursue evangelicals younger than 40 – and particularly those under 30. Warren, author of the 30 million-selling “The Purpose-Driven Life” and pastor of a 20,000-member Orange County megachurch, is a nationally recognized avatar of this new generation of conservative evangelicals. That pursuit paid dividends in November for Obama, who won votes from 32 percent of white evangelicals between 18 and 31 years old. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry had support from 16 percent of that demographic slice. Obama won more of them by talking about how he came to his Christian faith, analysts said, and his campaign and other liberal organizations increased outreach to conservative Christians. In states like Colorado, where supportive organizations like the Matthew 25 Network purchased TV ads promoting liberal religious themes, Obama improved his share of white evangelical votes by 14 percent, according to Steven Waldman, the Beliefnet.com editor in chief who conducted the interview in which Warren made his controversial statement. While young evangelicals may oppose abortion rights and same-sex marriage, they are not defined by those issues, as was their parents’ generation, which was shepherded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Rev. Pat Robertson. “Rick Warren is not Jerry Falwell,” said Bill McKinney, president of the progressive-leaning Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley. “He does not demonize people who disagree with him. Warren at least gives the impression that he isn’t like that.” “On balance it is a smart pick,” Waldman said. “Obama is doing something dramatic to reach out across ideological lines.” But others, like Rob Boston of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, described Warren as “Jerry Falwell in a Hawaiian shirt.” While Obama’s team has cited Warren’s support for combatting AIDS and poverty in Africa, a DailyBeast.com story this month showed Warren’s tight connection to a Ugandan pastor named Martin Ssempa. Ssempa has been linked with crusading against homosexuals in Uganda and lobbying against condom use in the promotion of a safe-sex message there. (Warren declined an interview request from The Chronicle.) But Obama is banking on the belief that politically attuned conservative evangelicals in the under-40 generation are more interested in issues like human trafficking, genocide in Darfur, the environment, and crime and education in their own communities than the previous generation’s issues of abortion and same-sex marriage. Like their secular peers, they are Internet-savvy and “more globalized than their parents,” Wallis said. “They care what’s going on around the world, and they want to do something about it.” That generation is also much more ethnically and racially diverse, including 16 million Hispanic born-again Christians, according to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. But others wonder how much conservative evangelicals have actually changed politically. Last month, Richard Cizik – who has strongly encouraged evangelicals to embrace global warming as a top issue and a spiritual calling – resigned from his position as vice president of governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals. His transgression: On National Public Radio he said, “I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions.” That is contrary to what his now-former organization believes. “When they fired Rich Cizik, they fired the future,” Wallis said. “He was speaking to a new generation about issues like climate change.” So did the Obama camp not do its homework on Warren? Did it underestimate the passion of gay-rights supporters, particularly after the passage of Prop. 8 to outlaw same-sex marriage in California? Geoff Kors, executive director of the civil rights organization Equality California, declined an invitation to the inauguration, saying he “cannot be part of a celebration that highlights and gives voice to someone who advocated repealing rights from me and millions of other Californians.” In a letter to Obama, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a large national gay-rights organization, said that “by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.” On Thursday, Faith in America, an organization that works with religious groups and others to expose what it calls “religion-based bigotry against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,” released a project called “Can You Understand the Harm?” – a collection of videos and letters to Warren about his comments. The Courage Campaign, an online liberal organizing hub, has invited Warren to debate Prop. 8 and same-sex marriage with the Rev. Eric Lee of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On Monday, they will keep heat on the issue with an event in Washington to highlight their challenge. When Obama invited Warren, “was it a misstep? No. Both short term and long term, it is smart,” said the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference’s Rodriguez. “Politically, Obama is looking at 2010 and 2012. It’s a win-win-win.” But any positive feelings Obama generates among evangelicals by picking Warren won’t last if he pushes policies that evangelicals find offensive. One example: Obama wants legislation to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Rodriguez said evangelicals want religious organizations to be exempt from its provisions. If that doesn’t happen, he predicted that Obama would lose a lot of goodwill – and, eventually, support. “This is a very fluid group,” said Rodriguez, who described himself as an “independent moderate,” but declined to state who he voted for; his wife led a prayer at the Republican National Convention. “This group is not going to be like white evangelicals, which was part of the Republican Party. This group is more interested in issues.” The new leaders of evangelical politics Here are some evangelical pastors who are emerging as national leaders. While some oppose gay marriage and abortion rights, they are being courted by conservative and progressive political leaders because their interest in social justice topics extends beyond those issues. The Rev. Jim Wallis: The Washington pastor, leader of Sojourners, a social justice religious organization, and best-selling author (“God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It”) held events at both the Democratic and Republican national conventions to seek common ground between the parties on abortion and poverty. The Rev. Sam Rodriguez: The Sacramento pastor supported Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California, and has been an advocate for immigration reform and social justice issues. The president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference has been courted by national political leaders ranging from Karl Rove to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Richard Cizik: Pro-Bush conservative and former powerful lobbyist for the National Association of Evangelicals drew criticism from the right by asserting that “creation care” – a form of environmentalism that is rooted in the Scriptures – should be a political priority for evangelicals. He resigned in December after he mentioned his support for same-sex civil unions in a radio interview. The Rev. Rob Bell: Michigan megachurch pastor, author of “Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith” and star of a popular online video series, the 38-year-old Bell focuses more on helping the poor than on wedge political issues. The Rev. Joel Hunter: Evangelical pastor in Florida supported a same-sex ban in his state, but also gave a benediction at the Democratic National Convention last year. Cameron Strang: The founder of the Christian pop-culture magazine Relevant is wooed by both parties. Was supposed to give a benediction at the Democratic National Convention, but bowed out at the last minute. In his blog he wrote: “It wouldn’t be wise for me to be seen as picking a political side when I’ve consistently said both sides are right in some areas and wrong in some areas.” Along with Cizik, was part of a group of Christian leaders that met with President-elect Barack Obama in June.
Dear Friends of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and The entire Hispanic Evangelical Community, For God’s Glory and Praise, we are pleased to announce Newsweek Magazine’s recognition of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and our President, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez as the Top Religious Leader and subsequent organization in the WHO’S NEXT FOR 2008 Edition. The Religious leader TO LOOK FOR IN 2008, Rodriguez serves on the boards of some of America’s most prominent evangelical organizations including Promise Keepers, NAE Executive Committee, World Relief, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Alliance For Marriage and Evangelicals For Human Rights. He also contributes to the Washington Post ON Faith Columns, Ministry Today, Outreach Magazine and Enrichment Journal. On behalf of the NHCLC executive committee and Hispanic Evangelicals throughout America, we share this news with you, our strategic partner, in order to acknowledge God’s Sovereignty and purpose for a Church in America that works together, crosses racial and ethnic lines, and strives to build the Kingdom of God for His Name’s Sake. The Magazine is available in your nearest newsstand and the article appears on page 86. Or click here to read a summary of the article online. Blessings and Happy New Year. Rev. Felix Posos, National Chairman, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference The Hispanic NAE Dr. Jesse Miranda, National Board Advisory President, Hispanic NAE Chairman, World Hispanic Evangelical Alliance
There is a beautiful scripture that is found in 2 Samuel 1:17-27. David laments the death of the King of Israel, Saul and his very dear friend Jonathan. In his eulogy David cries out; “how the mighty have fallen.” It gathers up all of the loss that Israel suffered on one day into one haunting phrase. I was reminded of my visit to Hawaii last year, when I stood at the national cemetery where those who died at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 are buried. My heart was heavy with the awareness of the loss that was represented there. I watched an older couple from the Midwest stand for the first time at the grave of their son and their tears could not be held back. They would have understood the theme of David’s lament, ” how the mighty have fallen”. It is my sad duty to inform the members of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference that one of our members and a very dear friend, Rev. Dr. Richard Tanon has “finished the battle.” Dr. Tanon went to be with the Lord on the 7th of February at 7:00 p.m. He was a Pastor with an Evangelist heart, an educator that had huge dreams for young people. He served as a Chaplain with a compassionate heart for the lost and forsaken. He was a friend that had no problem traveling the second mile to help those in need. He was a Leader with an indelible vision. He will be missed by the body of Christ. Dr. Tanon had big shoes to fill being the son of the first Hispanic Pastor that had a mega-church at a time that churches were not recognized by their size. The New York John 3:16 Hispanic church became known through-out the nation as the largest church. Richard Tanon carried his parents name with dignity and respect and became a chaplain in the New York Sing-Sing Prison. There he witnessed the transforming power of the Gospel as men gave their heart to Christ and began a new life serving Jesus. Reverend Tanon went on to become the Senior Pastor of “Templo De La Cruz” in Hayward, CA. serving God and the church for well over 20 years. During his pastorate he bought land for the church and remodeled the church to its original state. He had just begun his work as the Assistant Superintendent of the Northern Pacific Latin American District Council of the Assemblies of God. He will be missed by all the ministers of our District as well as the constituency of The NHCLC . May our Dear Brother Dr. Richard Tanon rest with God! Felix Posos Chairman, National Hispanic Leadership Conference
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
September, 2005 – The NHCLC is working with World Relief and Convoy of Hope to address the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. “Although the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference is a Latino Organization, we are all Americans affected by this disaster requiring us to lift the hands of all our citizens,” stated Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President. Moreover, entire Latino communities were devastated in Mississippi and Louisiana. “We are working in networking Hispanic Churches in Texas and other
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
October, 2005 – Laredo, TX — Dr. Gilberto Velez, Senior Pastor of “Mercy Christian Church” in Laredo, Texas, one of America’s largest Latino Congregations, has been elected to Preside over the Hispanic Mega Church Association. The first ever association of Latino Churches with that have membership of 2000 or more. “These type churches have a culture of their own. They demand resources, relationships and mechanisms that address the specificity of these thriving congregations. We surely believe that the next Rick Warrens, Bill Hybels, Joel Osteens and TD Jakes will be last name Garcia, Velez, De Leon and the like. In September the Association will host the first ever conference in Laredo, Texas.
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
October, 2005 – Los Angeles, CA — Samuel Molina, one of the most respected Christian Financial and Stewardship Leaders in America has been appointed to serve on the National Board of the NHCLC. “We welcome Sam to the Board and believe he is an asset to the Organization and to the collective Hispanic Church”, said Rev. Felix Posos, Chairman of the NHCLC. In addition, two top tier business people and entrepreneurs also joined the board. Mrs. Sylvia Samayoa is the President of the Investors Trust Brokerage Firm. This businesswoman is an example to all Latinas in America. Her passion for God, Family and Community exhibit a model worthy of duplicating throughout our country. Finally, Mr. Ferdinan Morlaes also joined the Board. Mr. Morales is currently a well respected Young Entrepreneur and Business Leaders. His Philosophy and exemplary model will motivate young Hispanics to pursue their dreams and realize the American Dream. .
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
December, 2005 – Israel Bermudez, Pastor of The Pentecostal Church of God of Puerto Rico and Former Caribbean Sales Director of Snap On Tools, received appointment as Board Treasurer of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Rev. Bermudez will provide oversight to the financial and accounting practices of the Board a long with the identification of viable income streams to facilitate the growth of the organization. His appointment is effective December 1st, 2005.
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
December, 2005 – Rev. Danny DeLeon, Senior Pastor of Calvary Church in Santa Ana, Ca, America’s largest Bi-lingual Congregation with over 15,000 members and adherents, joins the speakers bureau of NHCLC. Rev. DeLeon recently received the Hispanic Leader of the Year Award for his years of successful and effective ministry. Rev. DeLeon hosted for many years the 700 Club broadcast for Latin America. NHCLC welcomes Pastor Danny to the Conference.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Joins TD Jakes, Benny Hinn & others in discussing issues of Church including the Latino Church in America
J. Lee Grady
Breaking News from the Hispanic Church
January 13, 2006 2006: The Best of Times, the Worst of Times When charismatic leaders gathered this week to assess the future, they looked at the good, the bad and the ugly sides of American ministry. Quote: “There is a dimming of the gospel taking place in America.” –-Steve Hill When revivalist Steve Hill took the microphone this week at the annual meeting of the Charismatic Leaders Council, he asked a woman in the back of the conference room to dim the lights. After speaking for a few minutes he asked her to dim them even more. “This is what is happening in today’s church,” Hill told the group, which included healing evangelist Benny Hinn, Baptist broadcaster James Robison, theologian C. Peter Wagner and missionary statesman Dick Eastman. “There is a dimming of the gospel taking place in America. We’ve got to start preaching the Cross again,” Hill said. The impressive group of Pentecostal and charismatic church leaders met in a hotel ballroom in Dallas on Jan. 9 and 10. Convened by veteran Pentecostal pastor Jack Hayford and Charisma’s publisher, Stephen Strang, the group listened to four panels of speakers that included Bishop T.D. Jakes, Argentinean pastor Claudio Freidzon, Jane Hansen of Aglow International and John Dawson, president of Youth With a Mission (YWAM). Hill’s sober warning was underscored by Ron Luce, founder of Teen Mania, who delivered an impassioned plea for renewed focus on youth ministry. Luce rattled off a list of depressing statistics about American teens that made some people squirm. Included at the top of his list was the fact that only 4 percent of today’s teens are or will be evangelical Christians—the lowest percentage of Christians in any generation of American history. “We are losing,” Luce said bluntly. “What sort of world will our children and grandchildren grow up in?” Several panel members lamented the fact that charismatic church leaders are faltering, either by lack of integrity or by failure to pass the baton to younger leaders. Other participants expressed concerns that American churches are watering down the gospel and making their message seeker-sensitive in order to attract crowds. Said Seattle pastor Casey Treat: “I am excited about ‘relevant’ ministry. But have we become so relevant to the world that we’ve become irrelevant to God?” Not all the talk in Dallas was negative. Many panel members said they were hopeful that genuine spiritual revival is around the corner—just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Azusa Street revival that launched the Pentecostal movement. Korean-American pastor Ché Ahn of Los Angeles, for example, reminded the group that God has heard the prayers of American Christians during recent hearings to confirm Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. And missionary spokesman David Shibley noted that although American teenagers have not been evangelized in large numbers, a greater percentage of them are going to the mission field today. “Out of our constriction and confinement, a new thing will emerge in 2006,” predicted healing evangelist Mahesh Chavda, who said his North Carolina church is fasting and praying for a spiritual awakening this year. Bible teacher R.T. Kendall, former pastor of Westminster Chapel in London, said he has sensed for years that true revival will erupt in the United States, but only when evangelicals and charismatics dissolve their differences and link arms. “The church will not begin to make an impact until these two camps come together,” Kendall predicted. James Robison, who is more often identified with Baptists than charismatics, surprised everyone in the room with his passionate pleas for Christian unity. Admitting that he cannot wear the charismatic label, he begged everyone else to take theirs off. “We cannot let our theological beliefs nullify love itself,” he said. Several voices also reminded the group that God is doing a new thing among women by calling them not simply into ministry but also into church leadership. In one of many candid moments during the event, Hayford lamented the fact that some leaders in his own denomination—the Foursquare Church—are resistant to the concept of women in top pastoral positions. YWAM’s Dawson told the group about 25-year-old Brianna Esswein, a vivacious missionary nurse who died in Nigeria in December when a truck plowed into her van. He expressed hopes that Brianna’s story will inspire a new generation of women to head to the mission field. Perhaps the most hopeful and positive signals given at the conference came from international and ethnic voices. Hispanic church planter Sammy Rodriguez, who is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, reminded the group that Hispanics and other immigrant communities are the fastest-growing segments of the American church. Ahn, whose father started the first Korean Southern Baptist church in the U.S. 47 years ago, said Asian charismatics in this country are using their wealth and education to transform society. Myles Munroe, a Bahamian megachurch pastor and international speaker, chided the Americans for being too narrow—noting that our sport of baseball celebrates a “World Series” that is for American teams only. Said Munroe: “You must develop a global focus.” J. Lee Grady is editor of Charisma and an award-winning journalist. He participated in the Charismatic Leaders Council in Dallas this week
By James Robison Founder and President, LIFE Outreach International January 10, 2006 It was an honor to be with you yesterday. I’m sorry I was unable to attend this morning’s session. When I left last night, I continued to pray and did so this morning. I feel impressed to share the following insights and areas of concern. I think we all heard the Lord. It is critically important that we interpret, understand and properly apply it. If not, we will mistake a clear word from God, act according to the flesh, produce another Ishmael and miss the promised Isaac or, at best, delay the birth. I continue to relate to all visible and labeled parts of the Evangelical community and even representatives in the Catholic community. Sadly, we are a divided family, wasting much time defending experiences and beliefs. I caution all attendees to beware lest we find ourselves caught up in, participating in and even promoting a labeled movement, rather than fanning the flames and yielding to the fresh move of the Holy Spirit. The issue at hand is not to defend or even define the Holy Spirit—but to demonstrate His person and power. Be prayerful, be careful. His Spirit is to be poured out on all flesh and, certainly, every part of His body, His family. Correctly understanding His kingdom purpose and dominion must not be taken as “rule by power” or forced control of society. I don’t think last year’s statement concerning dominion was a misinterpretation, but a careful attempt to emphasize the true nature of the kingdom. Remember, the disciples wanted Him to establish His earthly throne, and they were arrogant enough to request a seat on either side. I think kingdom dominion, clearly demonstrated throughout the book of Acts and the entire New Testament, was typified when Paul and Silas were held in the Philippian jail, bound in stocks. They had such supernatural dominion they sang praises to God. They were abiding in peace and, as Paul said, “content in whatever state or condition they were in.” Their clear demonstration of true kingdom dominion impacted the guard entrusted with their watch-care. Previously fearing their possible escape, he was suicidal. But after experiencing supernatural conversion, he marched them down main street in front of the whole world and right into his house. He was delivered of all fear, freed within and joined the apostles in demonstrating kingdom dominion. Let’s beware, lest we misinterpret the holy vision, as did Constantine when he saw the vision of the cross, heard the words “by this conqueror,” and sadly set Christianity on its heels by taking up the sword of the flesh rather than the sword of the Spirit. He created another Ishmael by trying to conquer in his own power rather than through the liberating power of the Holy Spirit. Because of this Ishmael, as with the first Ishmael, we are still reaping the tragic results even today. Those of us gathered in that room, along with many others who may never attend such a meeting, have been entrusted with the glorious opportunity and privilege of exposing a world in darkness to the liberating light and power of God’s transforming love. Theological clarification will follow, but it is my firm belief that our personal heart commitment must be that of Paul: “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified…And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:2-5, KJV). Grace and peace to all…and glory to God!