Sister Wives Family Suffers, Challenging Polygamy Law

I think most people have heard about the show, ‘Sister Wives’ on TLC.  The show highlights Kody Brown, a polygamist normal guy, who is legally married to one woman, but has three other “wives” (not legally).  With several states redefining who can be married, it seems that Brown thinks he can fight a law that Mormons unsuccessful tried to in the 19th century.

Brown’s arguement is that his four wives, Robyn, Christine, Meri and Janelle, have a consensual relationship in the privacy of their own household. He believe that it is a private concern and wants to use  a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning sodomy laws for the benefit of gay couples.  The law was overturned because of the argument that states cannot govern “intimate conduct” between consenting adults.

All this heat on Brown’s marriages forced the family to move from Utah to Nevada. Apparently, the famous polygamist might have a chance to win his case.  Civil rights attorney Brian Barnard said,
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Mark Driscoll’s (non)Ministry of Social Media

If you never heard of Pastor Mark Driscoll then maybe you should. His church, Mars Hill Church in Seattle has over 6,000 members in just 11 years. Driscoll is often described as a maverick in the ministry and has one the most innovative churches in the country. TIME magazine was interested in this pastor’s ministry and has featured him in a few articles.

Recently, the mega church pastor caught fire from Christians with this Facebook update:


This comment clearly takes a shot a certain type of person in the ministry.  Not only that, the undertones of a comment like this do nothing to advance the kingdom of God. If you are shocked by this comment, as am I, do not think this is the first time Driscoll said something like this.  Many in the Christian community have a hard time with Driscoll’s “tough guy” persona and some question his ability to lead.

The New York Times wrote about Driscoll’s ministry and his tenancy to “male-ize” his ministry:
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Crystal Cathedral: End of Mega Church Era?

The reports out of Orange County, California have not been encouraging for the once mighty Crystal Cathedral. Robert Schuller founded the church and recently retired as the church’s senior pastor.  In turn, the church never fully recovered from Schuller’s pastoral departure. Though he stayed on the church’s governing board, two of his children took a shot at pastoring the large church. Schuller’s son, Robert became the senior pastor and two years later resigned. Then, Sheila, daughter of the elder Schuller, became senior pastor.  The church then filed for bankruptcy last year with $50 million in debt.

If this was not enough, reports of the the founder, Robert Schuller’s departure from the church’s governing board surfaced last week. However, his position on the board was moved from voting member to “honorary Chairman of the Board Emeritus” in order to free him up for more speaking engagements.  Ah huh.

Membership and attendance have fallen since the founding pastor’s departure. Now with the debt issue over the church’s head, a few organizations have considering buying the church. The Catholic Diocese of Orange said it was considering buying the bankrupt church and converting it to a Catholic cathedral.  Chapman University bid $46 million and would allow the church to lease back its core buildings.

With all of these issues surrounding the Crystal Cathedral, the question rolls around in many minds: Can “newly” planted mega churches survive when the founding pastor leaves?

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What we are guilty of in Casey Anthony’s case

Casey Anthony was just found not guilty of serious crimes related to the death of her young child. The physical evidence linking Anthony’s involvement in the disappearance of her daughter was dubious, but many “felt” that she was responsible. Ultimately, Anthony was found guilty of lesser charges of lying to law enforcement.

As the live video feed displayed Anthony crying and then smiling after the verdict, many were felt unsettled.  The facts point towards Anthony.  Her actions and behavior made many feel that she is guilty.

I’m concerned about this case, but not because of the facts. I’m concerned about what is happening around Casey Anthony’s court room saga.

The hype around this case is disgusting. The speculation, coverage, and conjecture are indicative of what kind of culture we have become. Some have even compared the coverage to OJ’s trial in the 90′s.  Remember how the OJ trial dominated the news?

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Biennial Day Three Live Blog

Business Session

3:55 p.m. Session ended.

3:54 p.m. Statement #4 has a speaking for the Statement of Concern. Statement passed. I did see one or two people against this one on war.

3:49 p.m. Statement #3 passed.

3:47 p.m. Statement #2 passed.

3:43 p.m. Statement of Concern presenting.  Voting with no speakers for or against. Vote by raising ballot.  #1 Statement passed.

3:25 p.m. Roy Medley bringing the report for the Office of the General Secretary. Puerto Rico church is the #1 giving church to United Mission.

3:11 p.m. International Ministries report. 10 new missionaries. Signs of the Holy Spirit.

3:00 p.m. Report from American Baptist Home Mission Society and video.

2:49 p.m. Motion: approval of ABC USA officers Ruth Clark, Donald Ng, James Raliff. President, VP, and budget officer (respectively). Ballots collected.

2:47 p.m. Motion passed with show of ballots. No’s asked to stand. No one standing.

2:45 p.m. Motion to approve the slate of nominees for the Board of General Ministries.

2:40 p.m. New bylaws passed: 518 favored 44 against. Near 90% favored. Room cheered and applauded. Vice President Patty Stratton praying and asked us to lift our hands to God.

2:39 p.m. Business session starting. Room not as full as yesterday.

2:35 p.m. Still waiting to begin. Room slowly filling up.

2:20 p.m. Discernment Session focusing on Bylaw changes, Program Board reports, Statements of Concern Voting, and Election of Officers. Everything starts at 2:30 EST.


This morning I had the pleasure of attending the American Baptist Home Mission Societies breakfast which featured Rev. Dr. J. Alfred Smith Sr.  Dr. Smith is J. Alfred the pastor emeritus of Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, California, and professor of Preaching and Church Ministries at American Baptist Seminary of the West.  He spoke on having hope in uncertain times and challenged us to embody Jesus’ mission as found in Luke 4.

Later in the morning everyone was invited to attend worship in local churches.

Biennial Day Two: Bylaw Changes

3:36 p.m. In recess till tomorrow.

3:32 p.m. Frank Christine Jr. recognized as out going President. Ballot results will be announced tomorrow.

3:27 p.m. 2010 Audit Report

3:25 p.m. Ballots being submitted.

3:22 p.m. Rev. David Gregg speaking for the motion. Two supportive reasons: First, problems with public witness statements are not important enough to vote down the new bylaws. Everyone has a issue with a witness statement. Second, increase freedom to mission with creative like minded people. New bylaws keep us flexible.

3:18 p.m. Rev. Dr. Roberto Dieppa-Baez (speaking in Spanish with translation) speaking for the motion. Structure will allow freedom for new projects.

3:15 p.m. Rev. Dr. Crane (General Board member) speaking for. We modified as a denomination since the beginning. We’ve been repositioning historically. Mission table and mission summit with allow for opportunities. Mic cut off because of 5 minute time limit.

3:09 p.m. Rev. Gordon C Swan speaking against. Article 12: What is proposed for future will require simple majority not super majority. Vote against: promoting an exclusive attitude. Find new ways to dialog.

3:05 p.m. Rev. Susan Johnson speaking in favor: Policy statements will not resolve conflicts within denomination. Rules tell us what playing field we are on. Rules tell us how to play the game. New bylaws will not be about maintenance.

3:00 p.m. Grant Ward from Central Baptist Church Wayne, PA speaking against the motion. Concerns: Bylaws fail to include voices, identity statements. Restructuring does not allow minority voices. Worried about dis-fellowship through policy statements.

2:50 p.m. Reasons why the last bylaw vote failed.  It’s very smart to include this discussion. Airs missteps and misunderstandings. Hard copies of bylaws are present.

2:46 p.m. Motion from Patty Stratton: To approve proposed bylaws.

Head table: Proposed bylaws will not change the mission of the denomination.

Bylaw changes: focuses on mission, less organizational focus…

2:45 p.m. Introductions for Bylaw changes

10 a.m. Social Media Pavilion

Biennial: Day One

6:45 p.m. Major internet outage. Here are my notes from the afternoon celebration:

Rev. Dr. Gary Nelson, a Baptist:


1950’s 75% of people thought it was a good idea to go to church.

Less than 10% of urban Canadians now attend

Now, Canadians not mad 80% believe in God but 83% believe in God.

The church needs to reintroduce its self to the community

Luke 19 – Zaccheus

  1.  Jesus is in the crowd, not synagogue (God is a seeking God)
  2. Jesus knows him by name (Walmart syndrome: greet people at the door, greet at the church)
  3.  Jesus identities with this man.

Are you willing to be in the crowd? We are not to judge what has been.


Differences between Canadian and US?  – Context Urban vs. Country – Still a sense to go to church in US, not so much in Canada.

“Borderline Church” – book

How do I challenge people to cross the cultural border?

Faith, unfaith, and other faith intersect – Borders

Don’t change a congregation that you don’t love.

“Missional church conversation occurs with 50 year old white guys.”

2:00 p.m. “What is the lifespan of a church? When should a church die?” – Good question

Question: Where are the young people in ministry? (My public comment: Young people are going into ministry but the future of the traditional M. Div program is changing and seminaries and churches need to know the new changes.)

1:45 p.m. People still flowing in.  About 75 in the room now. Glad I found a spot by a power outlet.”What are the current trends and needs in culture that need to be addressed?”

Comment: “Have faith” from the pulpit not working any more.

Comment: Communities are changing with diversity. How are we to change?

Comment: “My church is growing and have young and old.”

Comment: Emerging and missional churches are future. Moderator: How many are a part of an emergent church? A few people raise their hands.

1:30 p.m. Statement of Concern: Envisioning Our Church in the 21st Century. This gathering is an open conversation on declining attendance and income for church budgets, changing societal norms and needs, the struggle to be relevant to younger generations, waning denominational loyalty, and inability to recognize and respond to new opportunities for ministry.

Good mix of young, old, culture, and geography.

Awaiting moderation and comment.

10:30 a.m.  The San Juan convention center is new and beautiful.  You are greeted with local music. Very festive in here.  Great to see many American Baptists. There are few kinks to work out with registration and arrangements.  The expo room is open. Check back for more posts.  3:00 p.m. starts off the celebration time. This location is wonderful. Remember to use the hastag on twitter #celebrate11 for updates and interaction with others.

Looking forward to the “The New Normal” event which will feature Dr. Peggy Kendall, associate professor of Communication Studies at Bethel University, and author of Reboot: Refreshing Your Faith in a High Tech World.  Dr. Kendall also hosts a website on Technology and Faith ( Friday morning’s session will feature Dr. Gary Nelson. An urban missiologist, Dr. Nelson is President of Canada’s Tyndale University College and Seminary, former General Secretary of Canadian Baptist Ministries and author of Borderland Churches: a Congregation’s Introduction to Missional Living.  Both sessions of “The New Normal” will encourage conversation among Dr. Kendall, Dr. Nelson and those in attendance.

My Social Media in Puerto Rico

Check out the blog this week as I will be live blogging at the American Baptist Churches Biennial in San Juan, Puerto Rico. For you Baptist folks, or observers, I’ll give all the live coverage of events, business meetings, votes, and festivities.

In addition, I’m giving an interactive lecture on social media entitled, “Sink or Swim: Treading the Sea of Social Media” on Saturday at the Pavilion Experiences during the Biennial. Three 50 minute repeating sessions 9 – 9:50, 10 – 10:50, 11 – 11:50 (morning) on June 25th at the Puerto Rico Convention Center. The immediate application will be how to better connect and integrate social media for you, your church, non-profit, or even business.

Make sure you stay tuned into On The Bema and follow me on twitter: @alanrud  Here is a little sneak peak of a social media tip we’ll talk about:

Prayer for Trinity Sunday

Creator God,
you created us a little lower than the angels,
but elevated in your love.
Bless us with your presence,
your whole presence:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
so that we may experience the full measure of your grace.
Sustain us with your Spirit.
Redeem us through your Son
Guide us by the Father.
In the strong name of the triune God,
we pray, Amen.

Alan R. Rudnick (c)

Feel free to use this prayer, but please give credit.

Trinity Sunday A

A Taste of My Own Pastoral Medicine

As I write this blog post I’m traveling on a plane heading to 37,000 feet and living in fear. I wonder when I will become dizzy, experience vertigo, pass out, lose my breakfast, or if my head is going to explode. Gross, I know. I have never been a woozy air traveler, but everything just changed.

After waking up one morning last week with maddening ringing in my head and unable to hear in one ear, I found myself sitting in a doctor’s office. “Well, we don’t know what you have but we have some good ideas. We need to run some more tests. Until then, I would not recommend loud places or air travel.” My doctor said.

Gulp. “I have to fly next week and I’m leaving the country the week after that.” I said. The doctor rolled his eyes and asked, “Do you have to fly?”

As I sat and listened to the extended directions on medications, tests, dangers of flying, and theories into sensory hearing loss from my physician, I could not help but think of the sermon I just preached to my congregation:

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Why 9 in 10 Believe in God but not Church


Many in the religious right have been running for the hills because this “godless” nation has become too secular.  The rhetoric of our nation’s direction is flawed by the growth of atheists and secularists is over played.  It seems a recent Gallup study confirmed what has simply is unknown to many: We are still a religious nation.  More than 9 in 10 Americans still say “yes” when asked the basic question “Do you believe in God?” Perhaps even more encouraging is that 84% of 18-29 year-old segment and 94% of 30-49 year-old segment answered in the affirmative.

And this is not a statistical bump, but historically, since 1943, the vast majority of Americans believe in “God”.

godbelieveIt would seem that we are still a religious nation, but obviously church leaders want to know how many of those 90 plus percent are Christian. Logically, many ask the question, “If we are such a God-believing country, then why is church attendance so low?”

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