6801 N. 43rd Avenue
Just South of Glendale
Come early for coffee
Church Mailing Address
P O Box 2557
Glendale, AZ 85311
Follow us on Facebook at
To bear the image of God is a declaration of dignity that challenges power.
“This is not Charlottesville” was the refrain that I heard many times. Our neighbors sought to assure us of this. We had moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, just days after white supremacists’ Unite the Right Rallies shattered the town’s charm. As blatant outside emissaries of racial hatred, they were vehemently opposed by people of faith and of goodwill.
On the other hand, I recall a ride with an African American taxi driver who grew up in Charlottesville. He recalled, without venom or vengeance, countless episodes of racism. The cruelty he suffered and the consequent disparities of life are part of growing up black in Charlottesville.
This is Charlottesville. This is not Charlottesville. Both statements are true. Somehow sorrow and hope coexist. Race remains both a painful and perplexing reality throughout America. Our nation writhes under its trauma—past and present. Wounds already raw have been inflamed. The media diagnoses our current racial turmoil as malignant, but the Bible calls it far worse. Racism is rooted more deeply than in our nation’s history. It derives from human depravity and the deadly combination of prejudice and power.
Power and Image Inequality
Our identity as humans is based on being made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). More than a premise for discussion, to be made in God’s image is a declaration of dignity and a prophetic challenge to power. In antiquity, the notion of a god’s image was exploited for royal propaganda. About the Neo-Assyrian King Esarhaddon (7th century B.C.) we read: “A free man is as the shadow of God, the slave is as the shadow of the free man; but the king, he is like unto the very image of God.” Only the sole bearer of ...
(UPDATED) Orthodox leaders and UNESCO object to famous former church no longer being a museum.
As Christians feared and many expected, the Hagia Sophia is now—again—a mosque.
The Turkish Council of State ruled today that the original 1934 decision to convert the sixth-century Byzantine basilica into a museum was illegal.
When Ottoman sultan Mehmet II conquered then-Constantinople, he placed the iconic church in a waqf—an Islamic endowment administering personal property, usually designated for religious purpose. The original stipulations opened the building for Islamic prayers, and sharia law keeps waqf designations in perpetuity.
Shortly after the decision, President Recep Erdogan signed—and tweeted—a decree handing the building to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate.
In a televised address to the nation, Erdogan said the first prayers inside the Hagia Sophia would be held on July 24, and he urged respect for the decision.
“I underline that we will open Hagia Sophia to worship as a mosque by preserving its character of humanity’s common cultural heritage,” he said, adding: “It is Turkey’s sovereign right to decide for which purpose Hagia Sophia will be used.”
Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, considered the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, warned in late June that the building’s conversion into a mosque “will turn millions of Christians across the world against Islam.”
Greek Orthodox Archbishop Ieronymos II earlier stated that Erdogan “would not dare.”
And UNESCO reminded Turkey of its international obligations, as the Hagia Sophia is registered as a World Heritage site.
“A state must make sure that no modification undermines the outstanding universal value of a site listed ...
More Christian refugees were welcomed from 50 worst persecutors in 2016 than in President Trump's first three years combined, according to Open Doors and World Relief report.
The United States is on track to welcome the fewest refugees since its resettlement policy was formalized in 1980, by a substantial margin.
Capped at 18,000 people for 2020—the lowest ceiling on record—the US has resettled 7,600 refugees, with only three months left in the fiscal year.
According to a joint report released today by World Relief and Open Doors USA, persecuted minorities representing a variety of religions have been harmed by the decline in resettlement.
“Among those most disadvantaged have been Christian refugees from the countries where Christians face the most severe persecution in the world,” the report states.
So far in 2020, the US has resettled fewer than 950 Christians from the 50 countries where it is hardest to be a Christian, according to Open Doors’s annual World Watch List. At this rate, the US will receive 90-percent fewer Christian refugees this year than five years ago.
For example, the US is projected to resettle only 20 Syrian Christian refugees, 50 Iranian Christians, and 86 Iraqi believers this year, despite their countries ranking No. 11, No. 9, and No. 15 on the 2020 World Watch List.
Historically, the US has welcomed significant numbers of Christian refugees from countries where they are persecuted. For instance, in 2016 the US took in nearly 2,300 Christians from Iran and 2,000 from Iraq.
But the resettlement of Christians from the world’s top persecutors is now a fraction of what it was only a few years ago.
Christians aren’t the only ones suffering. Compared to 2015, US resettlement of Baha’i from Iran, Muslims from Burma, and Yezidi from Iraq has decreased by 98 percent, 95 percent, and 92 percent, respectively.
This marks ...
Breakaway congregations in South Carolina and Texas continue protracted fight with the Episcopal Church.
Last month, a South Carolina circuit court judge ruled that 36 Anglican churches in that state don’t have to turn over their property to the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
It was the latest decision in the long legal struggle between the Episcopal Church in South Carolina and the more conservative Anglican congregations, which officially broke away in 2012.
“I’m encouraged but not elated,” said Mark Lawrence, the bishop of the Anglican Diocese of South Carolina. “The mill of the legal system grinds slowly, so I try not to be overly discouraged when it seems to have gone against us, nor elated when it goes for us.”
Lawrence said he’s cautiously optimistic about the latest ruling but expects an appeal.
The chancellor of the Episcopal Church in South Carolina, Thomas S. Tisdale Jr., has said the ruling was “not a final decision,” but “yet another step on a long journey to full reconciliation within our diocese.”
Molly Hamilton, the diocese’s communications director, said Tisdale hopes that the breakaway congregations will come back. “Our vision is for every returning congregation to live into its future as a vital, mission-minded Episcopal congregation,” she said.
In the Anglicans’ view, that’s not likely. “I think if that was going to happen, it would have happened a long time ago,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence’s Anglican diocese began its legal dispute in 2013, a few months after leaving the Episcopal Church over doctrinal disagreements, including whether belief in Jesus is the only way to salvation and whether homosexual behavior is sinful.
The theologically conservative breakaway churches started the Anglican Diocese ...
Our divided responses to national challenges reflect deep divisions on what it means to be human.
All interest in disease and death is only another expression of interest in life.” Novelist Thomas Mann penned these words long ago, and they continue to prove true in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national police protests we’re experiencing today.
These ongoing challenges present litmus tests for our beliefs about ourselves. Our answers to questions like “Should I wear a mask in public?” or “How should I respond to police brutality?” are rooted in our answers to more foundational questions, such as: What does it mean to be human? How much is a human life worth? Who are my neighbors, and what do I owe them? What is the destiny of humankind?
In other words, our divided responses to the pandemic and protests expose the fact that we’re deeply divided over the nature and purpose of humanity. Any meaningful effort to address our nation’s challenges, then, must be grounded in a deep understanding of what, who, and why we are.
It’s precisely these three categories that Joshua Farris explores in his new book, An Introduction to Theological Anthropology: Humans, Both Creaturely and Divine. A theologian and philosopher, Farris has been writing and lecturing on a host of anthropological issues for years. This latest book represents his attempt to distill these issues into a single, accessible volume that traces his answers to the what, who, and why questions.
“Humans live and die by stories,” writes Farris. He means that each of us possesses a “narrative identity” that’s made up of the stories we tell ourselves to help us make sense of ourselves and our place in this world. The question, then, is not whether we identify with ...
What readers of Lewis tend to neglect, are in fact the very books Lewis thought were his best and most important.
Ed: Many are familiar with C. S. Lewis’s Narnian Chronicles and his Christian apologetics. How can you say he was neglected?
Jerry: While Lewis is a well-known author, nevertheless, very few are familiar with his academic books. Yet, these are his best books. They were born out of his professional life and his study as a scholar of medieval and renaissance literature while at Oxford and later at Cambridge University. Mark Neal and I wanted to reintroduce these books to a wider public.
Ed: How important are these academic works?
Jerry: Lewis thought them very important. For example, one of the books we highlight, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, took Lewis over 15 years to write. He said that of all the other books he wrote during that time, they were, by comparison, only the ‘twiddly bits.’ That means that Lewis classified as ‘twiddly bits’ Mere Christianity, the Narnian series, his science fiction, and Screwtape Letters. What readers of Lewis tend to neglect, are in fact the very books Lewis thought were his best and most important.
Ed: Do you think some people look past his academic books because they feel too intimidated by the depth of the books?
Jerry: Perhaps. Nevertheless, Lewis was such a great writer that nobody should be intimidated by him. His prose is well reasoned and imaginatively depicted. The material is presented with such wit that even his most rigorous volumes leave the reader chuckling (and in some cases belly laughing).
To be intimidated by these books is short sighted. It is not that we lack the capacity to enjoy them; we often simply lack the discipline to stretch academically.
I think we have become slaves to social media and short sound bites. We want immediate ...
Childbearing is too often defined by restrictions against vice instead of invitations to virtue.
When I was pregnant with my first child, I looked for books to tell me what it all meant. I wanted to know how I should understand the strange situation of having a whole other mysterious person folded up inside my middle. Surely I had entered into a special spiritual category. When I made choices about what to do, I was taking another person’s safety into account. And when I prayed, two of us were already gathered, so Jesus must have been present with us.
In addition to asking big questions, I was also following guidelines, as American women have grown accustomed to doing in pregnancy. I was watching my diet, avoiding medicines and household chemicals, walking carefully, taking vitamins, and drinking tankards of water. The implication of prenatal instructions was that following them to the letter would ensure a healthy baby.
Of course, prenatal good behavior doesn’t guarantee a healthy baby. But if not, what is the point of doing all this stuff? Pregnant mom rules are focused almost entirely on vice and the avoidance of it. Women who are “with child” are warned away from drugs and strong drink, deli meats and soft cheese, acne lotions and champagne toasts. Even resting has rules. We’re told which side of the body is best to sleep on.
These prohibitions matter, of course, but they also blind us to the bigger picture. We call out the vices of childbearing without having any notion of what the virtues might be. Applying the framework of virtue to pregnancy isn’t necessary for persuading a woman to do good on behalf of a child—she’s already doing that—but rather for naming this good.
To be sure, talking about virtues alongside pregnancy requires caution. Pregnancy itself is ...
Returning to normal after such a historic moment would be nothing short of missing one of the greatest opportunities of our lifetime.
As states have begun varied and nuanced approaches to reopening businesses, parks, and more, we find ourselves asking more and more "How do we move forward?" I'm concerned about life after the pandemic, but my concern is in a direction that may surprise you.
God's people are deployed at a higher level, a more faithful level, and a more fruitful ...
Jasmine Holmes spotlights the realities black families face.
As he breathed his last obstructed breaths, George Floyd called to the mother who died before him, “Momma! Momma!” Black mothers, in our communal tradition, hear Floyd calling to us, too. George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown not only could have been our sons, but they were our sons. When we hear the news of their deaths, our chests tighten and our tears flow. We are praying with everything in us that our son or husband or nephew isn’t the next name printed on police brutality protest signs.
Black Christian mothers in this moment need comfort, support, and direction. We struggle against our hearts hardening. We know that it is difficult for our white Christian family to completely understand our fear and pain, but we need our brothers and sisters to hear us.
Through her recent book Mother to Son: Letters to a Black Boy on Identity and Hope, writer and speaker Jasmine Holmes amplifies the voice of black Christian mothers by highlighting her own concerns and advice for her toddler-aged son Wynn. She offers the church a window to see what black boys face as they grow into men in America. By giving voice to the underrepresented perspectives of their mothers, Holmes offers the church a way forward toward racial unity and understanding.
Black mothers have often felt minimized or excluded from opportunities in white Christian spaces to share our unique struggles and cultivate understanding in the body of Christ. This reality is true even when motherhood is the focus. National groups like MOPS and Moms in Prayer have scant black leadership. There are no black women on the MOPS executive team and only one black woman on their board of directors. Except for international leadership ...
For Christians who despaired over recent Supreme Court rulings, the Our Lady of Guadalupe decision has a lot to offer.
The Supreme Court defended religious liberty on Wednesday, bolstering and broadening the so-called “ministerial exception.” In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that the Constitution protects the freedom of religious organizations to hire and fire employees who play a vital role in fulfilling their religious mission. The decision, Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, reaffirms important religious liberty principles and offers valuable guidance to religious organizations concerned about the strength of the protections of the First Amendment.
In an opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito, the court held that the ministerial exception barred two fifth-grade teachers at Catholic schools in Southern California from bringing employment discrimination claims against their schools. The court reversed the decision of the Ninth Circuit, which held that the teachers fell outside the ministerial exception because they lacked religious training and credentials, and did not hold themselves out as faith leaders.
Rejecting the lower court’s formalistic approach, the Supreme Court stated that religious titles and training were neither necessary nor sufficient for determining whether a particular employee falls within the ministerial exception. “What matters,” Alito wrote, “is what an employee does.”
Wednesday’s ruling built upon the unanimous 2012 decision in which the Supreme Court first recognized the ministerial exception. In that case, which CT called the biggest religion case in 20 years, the court held that the First Amendment barred an ordained teacher from suing her employer, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran School, for alleged disability discrimination.
The 2012 decision relied ...
for real people
in a real world
Jesus established the church to be a community of believers, a family, to encourage each other in unity and to project His love to the world. As a family, our goal is to love each other without conditions or expectations