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Victoria Loorz, Founder of Wild Church Network, Welcomes the Coupling of Easter and Earth Day

A gathering of Church of the Lost Walls. Photo courtesy Rev. Matt Syrdal.
Easter and Earth Day arrive on successive days this year, and some churches are welcoming the coupling.
Among them are the 100 or so churches that are part of the Wild Church Network, a loose circle of Christian congregations that meet outdoors as a way of fostering a deeper relationship with God through nature.
The three-year-old network was founded by Victoria Loorz,a graduate of the evangelical nondenominational Fuller Theological Seminary and an environmental activist. Loorz, 57, now leads Echoes Church in Bellingham, Wash., which this year will host an Easter Walk starting at Bellingham City Hall and ending at the Maritime Heritage Park.

Victoria Loorz

The Wild Church Network includes pastors from the Episcop...

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Drew Shriner on the Controversy Sparked by Mike Pence’s Planned Commencement Address at the Evangelical Taylor University

Image: Keith Srakocic / APVice President Pence spoke at Grove City College’s commencement in 2017.
Taylor University recently made national news with its announcement that Vice President Mike Pence will deliver this year’s commencement address—spurring backlash from students, alumni, parents, and faculty.
This is not the only recent political clash to put the small evangelical college in the spotlight. Last year, an anonymous newspaper titled Excalibur was created and distributed by a group of Taylor faculty who wanted to take a stand against the increasing liberalization that they perceived on campus.
In many ways, it is fitting that the 2019 commencement has become so controversial...

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Jeff Christopherson on Why We Need Christians Marked by the Living Presence of Christ

“Follow me, as I follow Christ,”[1] seems like a pretty audacious statement to make for the average modern-day church leader. It presupposes that the things that I spend my time doing, if carefully imitated,[2] would have a kingdom revealing affect[3]. It presumes a level of spiritual integrity that is wide open to personal inspection and private scrutiny. It is the quintessential call of disciple-making in its original first-century intent. And it is as foreign to most twenty-first century evangelicals as a medium-rare filet mignon in a church potluck. In theory we believe its possible, but we’ve never seen it.
Now we have more modest goals...

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Jonathan Merritt on His New Book ‘Learning to Speak God From Scratch’

Ed Stetzer: I am glad to welcome Jonathan Merritt to The Exchange. Jonathan is one of America’s most prolific religion and culture writers. Yesterday we started our conversation. You can view that exchange here. Today, we dive deeper into his new book, Learning to Speak God from Scratch.

Ed: You talked a lot about the importance of learning to speak of God, particularly as you went from the South to NYC. How did that change impact your relationships in NYC?
Jonathan: When I moved to New York City, I encountered an unexpected language barrier. I could still speak English, but I could no longer speak God. I couldn’t have free-flowing conversations on spirituality and faith because I was encountering people who practiced different faiths or none at all.
And even many of my Christian friend...

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Jay Riley Case: Both Missionary Opponents and Evangelicals Misunderstand Jim Elliot’s Waorani Mission

Image: Photos Courtesy of the Billy Graham Center Archives, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL. / From the collection of Lars GrenElisabeth Elliot sits with Waorani women, one of whom is examining her Dictaphone.
When news broke in November 2018 that missionary John Allen Chau had been killed while trying to contact the isolated Sentinelese tribe off the coast of India, debates about his methods and motivations erupted across the media landscape. Some critics argued that Chau behaved unethically in trying to contact an isolated people who clearly resisted interaction with the outside world. Some Christians wondered whether Chau had gone about his goals in the best way...

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Jim Denison: 3 Biblical Responses to the Released Summary of the Mueller Report

While I was flying home from Israel yesterday, US Attorney General William Barr released his summary of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller’s two-year-long investigation into President Trump and his aides.
The summary addressed the question America has been asking for the last 676 days: Did the president, or anyone working for him, conspire with Russia to influence the 2016 election in his favor? Further, did he or those working on his behalf attempt to obstruct federal investigations into this matter?
The significance of the Mueller report is enormous. If the special counsel determined that such collusion or obstruction took place, the ramifications for our democracy would be foundational and tragic.
WHAT THE REPORT TELLS US
Mr...

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Tish Warren Harrison: Willow Creek’s Crash Shows Us Why Denominations Still Matter

The main campus of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill. The megachurch has been in turmoil since sexual misconduct allegations came to light against its founder, Bill Hybels. Photo courtesy of Global Leadership Summit
It’s become common among some Protestants — and especially evangelicals — to call themselves “Jesus followers.”
Not Christians. Not Baptists or Pentecostals. Not members of the Presbyterian Church in America or the Anglican Communion. Not Wesleyans or Methodists or Lutherans.
Just people following Jesus.

I appreciate the spirit behind the moniker.
Christians want our first loyalty to be to Jesus, not a particular institution or tradition...

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Laura Hurd: God’s Creation & Six Dollars

The other day I took my 11-year-old to get a haircut. We went early on a Saturday to try to beat the crowd and were pleasantly surprised when we walked in. There was only one other person in front of his name when I wrote it on the sign-in sheet.
When one of the hair stylists called his name, he went back and took a seat in the chair. After I briefly described how he wanted it cut, I sat down to wait. Normally, I would distract myself with an app on my phone or pick up a magazine on a nearby table. On this particular day, I did neither.
The storefront was completely glass from top to bottom. Because we had started out early that morning, the fog was still pulling away from the mountains in the distance. My gaze was drawn to God’s creation.
Moments earlier, I had been distracted by my to-do...

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Harlem’s Aging Houses of Worship Grapple With the Neighborhood’s Development Boom

Rev. Harper sees little hope of saving his church’s building, but he’s determined to leverage the property to fulfill its mission.
The Rev. Darnell Harper stood in the darkened theater that for nearly 70 years has been the home of his Harlem church, the New Covenant Temple, and stretched a finger to the heavens. More specifically, to a mottled plaster ceiling marked with water stains and pocked with holes. “We’ve repaired the roof four or five times already, and the same thing happens,” Harper said. “It is definitely a building that is breaking down.”
Like dozens of church leaders across Upper Manhattan, Harper is wrestling with an earthly dilemma: As Harlem real estate values skyrocket, shrinking congregations and crumbling buildings are putting tremendous financial pressure on local ...

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Happy Women’s History Month!: Celebrate These 8 Notable Women Who Left Their Mark in Christian History

March is Women’s History Month in the United States, a time in which Americans focus on the many contributions women have made in the past.
The observance has its federal roots in a February 1980 proclamation by President Jimmy Carter meant to celebrate “National Women’s History Week” during the week of March 8, which is International Women’s Day. It became an official annual month celebration by an act of Congress in 1987.
Through the centuries, women have made substantial and various contributions to church history, from evangelism to leadership. Indeed, there are too many to list in a single piece.
With that noted, here are eight notable women from Christian history...

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