This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.
According to the Christian Post, A large Alabama congregation has returned to online only worship services following what its pastor described as a “spike” in COVID-19 cases among the membership. First Baptist Church of Tillmans Corner, a Mobile-based congregation with approximately 1,500 members, had recently reopened with socially-distanced worship services of about 350 people. However, in an announcement posted on Facebook Wednesday, the church’s pastor explained that they were canceling in-person services as well as their Kids Camp, which was going to begin next week.
According to Reuters, A predominantly Black group of heavily armed protesters marched through Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta on Saturday, calling for removal of the giant Confederate rock carving at the site that civil rights activists consider a monument to racism. Video footage of the Independence Day rally posted on social media showed scores of demonstrators dressed in black – many in paramilitary-style clothing and all wearing face scarves – quietly parading several abreast down a sidewalk at the park. Many of the protesters carried rifles, including military-type weapons, and some wore ammunition belts slung over their shoulders. Although African Americans appeared to account for the vast majority of the marchers, protesters of various races, men and women alike, were among the group.
According to the Christian Post, As activists demand a full investigation into the death of a white New Jersey pastor’s adopted black son found hanging from a tree and question possible murder motives, authorities say they are still investigating after the medical examiner ruled the death a suicide. The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office says Amani Kildea, 20, of Long Valley, was identified after his body was found in the Sugarloaf section of Morris County Park on June 28. A park visitor who spotted his body called police at about 2:47 p.m. to alert them of the death. Kildea, who was known as a gifted athlete, was also a member of the anti-pedophile group Pedo Got Caught, which catfishes and exposes child predators similar to the television series “To Catch a Predator.” Kildea was also the adopted son of the senior pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Succasunna, Tom Kildea, and his wife, Janice. The couple adopted him from Ethiopia at the age of 5.
According to The Christian Post, More than a week after at least 51 members of Calvary Chapel of San Antonio in Texas got infected with COVID-19 since the congregation started meeting in person, the church’s pastor says he takes full responsibility. “I accept full responsibility. I’m the leader of the church,” said Pastor Ron Arbaugh, according to News 4 San Antonio, while adding, “We kept all of the rules to the letter of the law.” Late last month, at least 50 church members, including Pastor Arbaugh and his wife, Paula, tested positive for the novel coronavirus, leading to the church being immediately closed until July 12 and thoroughly cleaned. “CCSA is suspending all other church activities through July 11,” the church says in its bulletin.
According to the Associated Press, Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Monday that she had tested positive for COVID-19. The 50-year-old Democrat is among the women named as a potential vice-presidential running mate for presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden. “COVID-19 has literally hit home. I have had NO symptoms and have tested positive,” Bottoms tweeted.She told MSNBC that she decided her family members should get tested again because her husband “literally has been sleeping since Thursday.” She said the only other symptoms she and her husband have been experienced are those similar to allergies they have.
According to CBS News, The Florida Department of Health confirmed a case of what is commonly referred to as a brain-eating amoeba in the Tampa area. According to the department, one person in Hillsborough County contracted Naegleria fowleri, which is a single-cell amoeba that attacks brain tissue and is usually fatal. Since 1962, there have been only 37 cases of Naegleria fowleri in Florida, according to the Department of Health. Only four people of the 145 known infected individuals in the U.S. have survived, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
According to NPR, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is activating up to 1,000 National Guard troops after a spate of shootings and protests in Atlanta over the weekend. Five people died, including an 8-year-old girl, and at least 30 people were injured. The Republican governor issued an executive order Monday that would send the National Guard to protect the state Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion and the Department of Public Safety’s headquarters, where close to 100 demonstrators set fire to part of the building early Sunday morning. In the order, Kemp slammed Atlanta officials who “have failed to quell ongoing violence” over an especially turbulent few months that have seen the resignation of the police chief, increased sickouts of officers and two officers charged in connection with the killing of a Black man by law enforcement.
According to Deadline, Jim Gaffigan and Joel Courtney have been tapped to lead the faith-based feature “Jesus Revolution” for Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, producer of the Jeremy Camp biopic, “I Still Believe.” Written by Jon Erwin and Jon Gunn, and directed by Gunn, film is inspired by the true story of a national spiritual awakening in the early 1970s and its origins within a community of teenaged hippies in Southern California. Courtney will play Greg Laurie, a counterculture teen in the late 1960s seeking meaning and purpose, who eventually joined the Jesus Revolution in Southern California and went on to start Harvest Christian Fellowship, one of the largest congregations in America. Gaffigan is Chuck Smith, the real-life pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, who served as a mentor to Greg Laurie. Chuck famously opened his church to a generation of hippies and seekers, helping to launch the last great spiritual revival in America.
According to AFP, Ennio Morricone, one of the world’s best-known and most prolific composers of film scores notably for spaghetti westerns, died in Rome on Monday at the age of 91. Tributes poured in for the man who composed the music for about 500 films, including his old childhood friend Sergio Leone’s 1966 epic “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” and Quentin Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” for which he finally won an Oscar in 2016. Morricone died in hospital where he was being treated for a fractured femur following a fall, according to a statement from lawyer and family friend Giorgio Assuma. Morricone “passed away in the early hours of July 6 with the comfort of his faith”, the statement said. He remained “fully lucid and with great dignity right until the end,” it added.
According to Movieguide, Zachary Levi will star as the former NFL two-time MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner in the upcoming biopic “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story.” Jon and Andy Erwin are directing and producing the movie under their Kingdom Story Company alongside Mark Ciardi and Kevin Downes. Production is scheduled to start later this year. The movie will be co-produced by Kurt and Brenda Warner and distributed by Lionsgate. “Kurt’s story is one of relentless faith—in his own abilities but even more so in a higher power,” Levi said. “When I read Kurt’s story, I identified with the quiet strength he found to persevere— that’s something I think anybody can recognize in their own lives. This is the kind of underdog story that sports movies are all about, and the fact that it’s true makes it even more special. I’m thrilled to be part of bringing his story to audiences.”
According to ESPN, The Chiefs and Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes have reached agreement on a 10-year contract extension that ties him to Kansas City through the 2031 season, the team announced Monday. League sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal is worth $450 million over the 10-year period and could be worth up to $503 million. The extension includes a $140 million injury guarantee, as well as a no-trade clause. It also includes the ability for Mahomes to have outs if certain “guaranteed mechanisms” aren’t exercised, a source told Schefter.
According to BBC News, Fourteen drivers took a knee before the Formula 1 season-opening Austrian Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton wore a T-shirt with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’. All other drivers wore similar black T-shirts that displayed the words ‘End Racism’. Many team staff and personnel also took a knee. “End racism. One cause. One commitment,” Formula 1 said. Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen said they would not before the race, but both emphasised their support for the fight against racism. Antonio Giovinazzi, Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz and Kimi Raikkonen were the other drivers to remain standing.
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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!