The Monks Save European Civilization

by Jesus Christ Savior | Pope Gregory the Great, as a leader and defender of the Holy Roman Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, ensured that the Church would endure and grow during those difficult times, when much change was taking place in the Roman Empire and beyond (Image, Pope St. Gregory the Great 540-604).

The Monastic Orders have been a premium influence on the formation of Christian culture. For not only have they been islands of asceticism and holiness that have served as ideals to a secular world, but also they have provided many if not most of the religious leaders within each historic age, especially during times of renewal and reform. The word monos is the Greek word for one or alone. Monasticism began in the East and spread throughout Europe and saved European civilization.

The practice of leaving the ambitions of daily life and retreating to the solitude of the desert was seen throughout Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, St. John the Baptist (Mark 1:4) an early example.

The father of Christian monasticism was St. Antony of the Desert (251-356), the first of the Desert Fathers. Antony of Egypt took to heart the words of Christ to the rich young man, ” Go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven” (Matthew 19:21). He headed across the Nile to a mountain near Pispir to live a life of solitude, prayer, and poverty . Soon many gathered around him to imitate his life, living as hermits in nearby caves in the mountain, and in 305 he emerged from solitude to teach his followers the way of the ascetic. He then moved further into the desert by Mount Kolzim near the Red Sea, where a second group of hermits gathered and later formed a monastery. He lived there for 45 years until his death in 356.

St. Maron (350-410), a contemporary of St. John Chrysostom, was a monk in the fourth century who left Antioch for the Orontes River to lead a life of holiness and prayer. As he was given the gift of healing, his life of solitude was short-lived, and soon he had many followers that adopted his monastic way. Following the death of St. Maron in 410, his disciples built a monastery in his memory, which would form the nucleus of the Eastern Catholic Maronite Church of Lebanon.

The fall of the Roman Empire to the barbarian invasions left European civilization in disarray, for the social structure under one ruler in Rome was destroyed. The preservation of culture and the conversion of the barbarians to Christianity was left to an unlikely group: the monastics of Europe. Their missionary efforts converted one tribe after another, so that eventually all of Europe was united in the worship of the one Christian God.

St. Patrick as Apostle to Ireland founded the monastery of Armagh in 444 and other monasteries throughout Ireland. As the social unit in Ireland and much of Europe at the time was the tribe in the countryside, the monastery was the center of Church life and learning. The Irish monks that followed him converted much of northern Europe. The lasting legacy of the Irish monks has been the present-day form of confession. In early times, penance was in public and severe, often lasting for years, such that Baptism was generally postponed until one’s deathbed. The Irish monks began private confession and allowed one to repeat confession as necessary.

The monk St. Benedict (480-547) was born in Nursia of nobility but chose a life of solitude in Subiaco outside of Rome. Soon he moved nearby to build a monastery at Monte Cassino in 529 and there wrote the Rule of Benedict. Monte Cassino placed all of the monks in one monastery under an abbot. The guiding principle for the monastery was ora et labora, or pray and work. The monastery provided adequate food and a place to sleep and served as a center of conversion and learning. Known for its moderation, Monte Cassino and Benedict’s rule became the standard for monasteries throughout Europe and the pattern for Western civilization.

The first monk to become Pope was St. Gregory the Great (540-604). Born to Roman nobility, Gregory at first pursued a political career and became Prefect of Rome. However he gave up position and wealth and retreated to his home to lead a monastic life. He was recalled to Rome and soon was elected Pope in 590 and served until his death in 604. A man of great energy, he is known for four historic achievements. His theological and spiritual writings shaped the thought of the Middle Ages; he made the Pope the de facto ruler of central Italy; his charisma strengthened the Papacy in the West; and he was dedicated to the conversion of England to Christianity. Gregory sent the monk Augustine to England in 597. The conversion of King Aethelbert of Kent led St. Augustine to be named the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Soon English Benedictine monks were being sent to convert the rest of Europe, such as the English monk Winfrid, better known as St. Boniface, who served from 723-739 as the Apostle to Germany.

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.



Pope Leo the Great (440-461)

Jesus Christ Savior | The Council of Chalcedon in 451 was the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which supported Leo’s stance that Christ had two natures, Divine and human in perfect harmony, in one Person or hypostasis.

Pope Leo entered the Papacy at a difficult time. Alaric had sacked Rome in 410, and the Huns and the Visigoths were gaining strength. However the Pope proved to be a master statesman and history has deservedly accorded him the title of Pope Leo the Great.

One of his first actions in 441 was to bless the missionary efforts of St. Patrick and to ordain him as Bishop of Ireland.

A tension in Church authority between papal leadership and collegiality of the bishops was developing over theological questions. Rome was the place of martyrdom for Saints Peter and Paul. Rome’s position as the capital of the Roman Empire was also supportive of a leadership role for the Bishop of Rome. The Bishop of Rome as successor to St. Peter was the Pastor and Shepherd of the whole Church, as seen with St. Clement of Rome in his First Letter to the Corinthians in 96 AD, and with Pope Leo the Great.

The Council of Ephesus, the Third Ecumenical Council, in 431 recognized Mary as the Mother of God, which was intrinsic to the human nature (ϕύσις – physis = nature) of Christ. The independent Church of the East in Persia believed in two distinct natures (dyophysite) in Christ and did not accept the wording. Pope Leo synthesized the thought of the differing Schools of Antioch and Alexandria in a letter known as the Tome. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 was the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which supported Leo’s stance that Christ had two natures, Divine and human in perfect harmony, in one Person or hypostasis. This set the theology for Roman and Byzantine theology and was important for European unity. However, Eastern Christians in Armenia, Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and India who still believed that Christ was one incarnate nature (monophysite) of the Word of God objected to Chalcedon and formed the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Just one year later (452), Attila and the Huns were threatening outside the walls of Rome. Pope Leo met Attila, who decided to call off the invasion!

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.



Experience Modern Day Life-size Noah’s Ark

Experience Bible history at the life-size Noah’s Ark! Meet Noah, his family, and the animals on the Ark. The family-friendly Ark Encounter theme park near Cincinnati also features a zoo, zip lines, and timber-frame restaurant.

About The Ark
Ark Encounter features a full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Spanning 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, this modern engineering marvel amazes visitors young and old. To put it in perspective, the wood structure stands seven stories high and is the length of 1 1/2 football fields. Ark Encounter is situated in beautiful Grant County in Williamstown, Kentucky, halfway between Cincinnati and Lexington and right off I-75. Ark Encounter cost $100 million to build and it’s drawing up to 2 million visitors a year along with millions in tourism to Williamstown, Kentucky.

Ark Tickets

Plan Your Visit to the Ark Encounter

Choose from a variety of ticket options as you plan your visit to the life-size Noah’s Ark.
Go with a combo ticket or annual pass to also experience the Ark’s sister attraction, the high-tech Creation Museum (only 45 minutes from the Ark).

Places to Stay

The Ark Encounter is located in the beautiful Northern Kentucky area, right off I-75, halfway between the large metropolitan cities of Cincinnati and Lexington. Dozens of hotels and restful places to stay are only a brief drive away from the life-size Noah’s Ark. You might want to consider staying closer to Cincinnati so that you can conveniently visit the Ark’s sister attraction the Creation Museum during your trip.

Hotels Near Ark Encounter

Work with our exclusive travel provider, DAT Travel, to find the best hotels in the tri-state area, suggested itineraries, deals and discounts, and more.

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Other Lodging Options

From campgrounds to vacation rentals to bed and breakfasts, a number of other lodging options are available near Ark Encounter. We recommend searching the following popular travel sites:

Things To Do

Ark Encounter is a world-class theme park featuring the most authentic full-size replica of Noah’s Ark in the world. Travel back in time on a mile-long scenic bus ride and ascend in view of the massive Ark. Next, take a wild adventure and soar across gorgeous valleys on a zip line tour. Then spot some exotic animals at Ararat Ridge Zoo, or relax with your friends and family at our casual two-story restaurant.



The Writings of St. Augustine (354-430 AD)

Jesus Christ Savior | St. Augustine was a living example of God’s grace that transformed nature. He died August 28, 430, during the sack of Hippo by the Vandals.

St. Augustine (354-430 AD) was the greatest of the Latin Fathers of the Church and a foundational figure to Western Christian civilization. He was born in Tagaste, near Hippo, in north Africa. His mother, St. Monica, was a devout Christian and taught him the faith. However, when he studied rhetoric in Carthage, he began living a worldly life.

He obtained a post as master of rhetoric in Milan, accompanied by an unnamed woman and child Adeodatus, born out of wedlock in 372. The woman soon left him and their son, and Monica joined them in Milan. Under the incessant prayers of his mother, and the influence of St. Ambrose of Milan, he eventually converted at age 32 in 386 AD. Perhaps the most eloquent examination of conscience is found in The Confessions of St. Augustine, where he describes his moment of conversion in the garden reading St. Paul to the Romans 13:14, But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the desires of the flesh.

Both his mother and son died soon afterwards and he returned in 388 to his home in Tagaste. He was ordained a priest in 391, and became Bishop of Hippo in 395. Augustine was people-oriented and preached every day. Many of his followers lived an ascetic life. He had a great love for Christ, and believed that our goal on earth was God through Christ himself, “to see his face evermore.” Our goal in life should be to please God, not man.

Augustine was one of the most prolific writers in history, and his writings show an evolution of thought and at times a reversal of ideas, as seen in his Retractations. His Scriptural essays on Genesis and Psalms remain starting points for modern Biblical scholars. His commentary on the Sermon on the Mount is still read today. Perhaps most debated are his views on predestination.

St. Augustine is the doctor of grace. In his book Grace and Free Will, he explained simply why he believed in free will. If there was no free will, then why did God give us the Ten Commandments, and why did he tell us to love our neighbor? Augustine’s arguments against the Pelagian heresy set the doctrine of grace for the Catholic Church to the present day. Pelagius thought that man could achieve virtue and salvation on his own without the gift of grace, that Jesus was simply a model of virtue. This of course attacks the Redemption of man by Christ! If man could make it on his own, then the Cross of Christ becomes meaningless! But Augustine saw man’s utter sinfulness and the blessing and efficacy of grace, disposing man to accept his moment of grace, and hopefully ultimate salvation. Grace raises us to a life of virtue, and is the ground of human freedom. “When I choose rightly I am free.” The Council of Orange enshrined Augustine’s teaching on grace and free will in 529 AD.

Perhaps one of his greatest works was The City of God, which took 13 years to complete, from 413 to 426. History can only be understood as a continued struggle between two cities, the City of God, comprised of those men who pursue God, and the City of Man, composed of those who pursue earthly goods and pleasures. He refers to Cain and Abel as the earliest examples of the two types of man. The Roman Empire was an example of the city of man (which had just been sacked by Alaric in 410 and was the occasion of the book).

St. Augustine was a living example of God’s grace that transformed nature. He died August 28, 430, during the sack of Hippo by the Vandals. August 28 is celebrated as his Feast Day in the liturgical calendar.

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.



Archaeologists Dig Up Authentic Biblical Artifacts at Ancient City of Shiloh

by Chris Mitchell/CBS News – JERUSALEM, Israel – Archaeology doesn’t set out to prove or disprove the Bible. What we want to do is to illuminate the biblical text, the background of the text, so to set it in a real world culture to what we call verisimilitude, Dr. Scott Stripling

Driving along the route known as the Way of the Patriarchs in Samaria, the heart of biblical Israel, you’ll come to ancient Shiloh.

The Bible says this is the place where Joshua parceled out the Promised Land to the 12 tribes of Israel. It’s also where the Tabernacle of the Lord stood for more than 300 years.

Excavation Director Dr. Scott Stripling, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Excavation Director Dr. Scott Stripling, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Dr. Scott Stripling directs the excavations at Shiloh. Along with dozens of volunteers, he and his crew are digging into history.

“Welcome to ancient Shiloh,” Stripling greeted us. “This is the first capital of ancient Israel and it’s a sacred spot because the Mishkan was here, the Tabernacle, where people came to connect with God.”

“We’re dealing with real people, real places, real events,” he continued. “This is not mythology. The coins that we excavated today – we’re talking about coins of Herod the Great, Pontius Pilate, Thestos, Felix, Agrippa the First, Agrippa the Second. The Bible talks about these people. We’ve got the image right here.”

Aerial view of ancient Shiloh, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Aerial view of ancient Shiloh, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

That ‘image’ includes a fortified wall built by the Canaanites. The team finds a treasure trove of artifacts there, which includes ancient coins and some 2,000 pieces of pottery a day.

“Now, this one was from yesterday,” he said. “It’s been washed already so you see the same form right out of the ground in yesterday and those are those handles from the stone vessels. Remember, Jesus’ first miracle in Cana? There were stone jars full of water. That’s that ritual purity culture of the first century.”

Unearthing ancient pottery, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Unearthing ancient pottery, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

An archaeologist like Dr. Stripling looks at these shards as a fine time piece.

“Just like your great grandmother’s pottery is different from your pottery that you’re using today…once we learn the pottery, then we can use it as our primary means of dating.”

Stripling says literally digging into the Bible can change your life.”

“You can read the Bible, you can walk the Bible, but the ultimate is to dig the Bible,” he said. “You know, when we actually get into the swill, like these students from Lea University. They’re literally – it’s under their fingernails and in their nose and in their mouth and their ears and they’re exposing this ancient culture. It becomes one with you. It’s sort of like we came out of the soil and as we dig into the soil, we connect with God and with each other, I think, in a very important way,” he said.

Abigail Leavitt, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Abigail Leavitt, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Abigail Leavitt, a student at the University of Pikesville, serves as object registrar.
“I love getting my hands dirty. I love digging in the dirt. It’s my favorite thing,” she told CBN News.

While people of all age volunteer at the dig, the main drivers are students like Abigail.

“It’s tiring and exhausting, but it’s really rewarding,” she said. “It’s exciting to find ancient things – things that have been just waiting for us for thousands of years.”

Leavitt says the Bible comes alive in the dirt.

“I read the Bible totally differently than I did before I came here, and I can see when I read the Bible I know the places, I know what’s going on. I understand it more deeply, especially where previous archaeologists have claimed the archaeology disproves the Bible. But when we dig here, we find that everything matches. You read it in the Bible. You dig in the dirt and there it is,” she said.

Stripling said, “Archaeology doesn’t set out to prove or disprove the Bible. What we want to do is to illuminate the biblical text, the background of the text, so to set it in a real world culture to what we call verisimilitude,” he explained.

Cross-section of the Archaeological dig - Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

Cross-section of the Archaeological dig – Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff

“So, we get an ancient literary description. Now, we have a material culture that matches that,” he continued. “Chris, you’re sitting where Samuel and Eli and Hannah and these people that we have read about, they came just like us, needing answers, needing to connect with God, needing forgiveness.”

Stripling says they dig into the past and find lessons for the present.

One of the faith lessons for us is that God is the potter and we are the clay

One of the faith lessons for us is that God is the potter and we are the clay

“One of the faith lessons for us is that God is the potter and we are the clay. And even if our lives are broken like these vessels are, God told Jeremiah after He had told him to go to Shiloh and see what He had done, He told him to go to the potter’s house and look at a flawed vessel and see how the potter puts it back on the wheel and works out the imperfections. So my faith lesson is this: Yes we’re imperfect, but if we will allow God, He wants to put us [on] His potter’s wheel and make us a vessel of honor.”

Stripling often cites Psalm 102.

O Zion, your servants take delight in its stones and favor its dust.” (Ps. 102:14)

“For me this is sacred soil. This is where the Mishkan was that answers the most basic of all human questions: ‘How do I connect with God?’ And I think that’s their most basic question,” he said.

“I know I messed up. I know that God is holy. How do I bridge that gap when I sin against other people, when I sin against God. Ultimately, Chris, if the Bible is true, then the God of the Bible has a moral claim on our lives. And as we establish the veracity of the biblical text, I hope that everyone watching would just think about that – that God loves us and He has a moral claim on our lives.”

Please check out the original article on the CBN News website. Please don’t forget to support their work on their website.

Chris Mitchell covers CBN News and events in Israel and the Middle East. He brings a Biblical and prophetic perspective to these daily news events that shape our world. Chris first began reporting on the Middle East in the mid-1990s. He repeatedly traveled there to report on the religious and political issues facing Israel and the surrounding Arab states. One of his more significant reports focused on the emigration of persecuted Christians from the Middle East.

In addition to his reports for The 700 Club, Chris is also a regular contributor to Christian World News, a weekly 30-minute newscast that airs nationally in multiple markets. After almost a decade with CBN News, Chris’s goal is to provide in his stories the Biblical “understanding of the times” described in I Chronicles 12:32. Connect with Chris via @JlemDateline and .



Constantine and the Edict of Milan (313 AD)

Jesus Christ Savior | Five centers of Christianity within the Roman Empire – Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Byzantium, and Rome – evolved into Patriarchates after Constantine recognized Christianity in the Edict of Milan in 313 (image: Remains of the Imperial palace of Mediolanum (Milan). The imperial palace (mainly built by Maximianus, colleague of Diocletian) was a large complex with several buildings, gardens, courtyards, for Emperor’s private and public life, for his court, family and imperial bureaucracy by Lorenzo Fratti).

Christians were severely persecuted through three centuries of the Roman Empire, especially at the hands of Nero (64 AD), Trajan (98-117), right up to Diocletian (284-305). But their powerful witness through martyrdom only served to spread Christianity!

Constantine became Emperor of the West in 306. As he was in Gaul at the time, he still had to capture Rome where Maxentius held sway. Prior to battle, he had a dream or vision of Christ on the Cross, a cross of light, and was instructed to ornament the shields of his soldiers with the Savior’s monogram – the Greek letters Χ (chi) and Ρ (rho). He defeated Maxentius at the Battle at Milvian Bridge over the River Tiber and became the sole Roman Emperor in 312, attributing his victory to the Christian God.

Welcome relief from Christian martyrdom came with the Edict of Milan in 313, through which Constantine and Licinius, the Emperor of the East, granted Christianity complete religious tolerance. His defeat of Licinius in 324 made him sole Emperor of the entire Roman Empire, and he moved the seat of the Empire to Byzantium in 330 and renamed it Constantinople.

Constantine considered himself Christian and did much to protect and support Christianity. Sunday as the Lord’s Day was made a day of rest, and December 25 was celebrated as the birthday of Jesus. He restored property that once belonged to Christians. After his mother Helena discovered the True Cross, Constantine built the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at the site of the crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. He also built the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem and the Church of St. Peter in Rome.

Five centers of Christianity within the Roman Empire – Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, Byzantium, and Rome – evolved into Patriarchates after Constantine recognized Christianity in the Edict of Milan in 313.

Christianity remain undivided until mankind sought to define the hidden nature of God and the mystery of Christ. A dispute concerning the relation of the Father and the Son arose in Egypt known as the Arian controversy. Constantine called the First Ecumenical Council in 325, known as the Council of Nicaea. The Council declared that the Son was of the same substance – ὁμοούσιος – homoousios – with the Father, and formed the initial Nicene Creed. The Nicene Creed was expanded and finalized at the Council of Constantinople in 381 to include homoousios for the Holy Spirit as well, by quoting John 15:26, “the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father,” to form the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (still called the Nicene Creed). The Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds are important to the Tradition of the Church.

Constantine considered himself both head of state and father of the Christian Churches. The alliance of Church and State in the Roman Empire first seen under Constantine was the beginning of Christendom. 1, 17-22.

Our anonymous author is a physician and a Masters graduate in Theology and Christian Ministry from Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio. He teaches Sunday Bible Class at St. James Catholic Church and serves both Pastoral Care and the Medical Staff at St. Joseph’s Hospital.



A Brief History of Women’s Rights Movements

Scholastic | In the United States the first definitive position on women’s rights—hitherto intermingled with antislavery issues—was taken in 1848 under the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton at the Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, N.Y. (Gettyimage).

This account of women’s history started since 1776 and even before the Colonial era when the roles of women were ignored not only in textbooks but in all popular documented histories at the time. Women’s rights movements are primarily concerned with making the political, social, and economic status of women equal to that of men and with establishing legislative safeguards against discrimination on the basis of gender. Women’s rights movements have worked in support of these aims for more than two centuries. They date to at least the first feminist publication, in 1792, entitled A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by British writer Mary Wollstonecraft.

Militant political action among women began in Britain in 1903 with the formation of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) for the right to vote. The organization was led by Emmeline Pankhurst. Women of all ages and classes demonstrated on a massive scale; the demonstrators were jailed, locked out of their meeting places, and thrown down the steps of Parliament. National divisiveness ended in a truce at the outbreak of World War I (1914) with the WSPU’s decision to support the war effort. The ensuing mobilization by the WSPU of thousands of its members for voluntary participation in the war industries and support services was a highly influential factor in overcoming government resistance to WSPU aims. The right to vote was granted in 1918; it was confined to women age 30 and above. In 1928 the voting age was lowered to 21.

In the United States the first definitive position on women’s rights—hitherto intermingled with antislavery issues—was taken in 1848 under the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton at the Women’s Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, N.Y. (see Seneca Falls Convention). In 1850 the National Women’s Rights Convention was held, led by Lucy Stone, an early activist. Both groups coalesced in the formation (1863) of the Women’s National Loyal League, under Susan B. Anthony. Anthony wrote and submitted in 1878 a proposed right-to-vote amendment to the Constitution.

In 1890, Wyoming became the first state with women’s suffrage. The movement was accelerated by the formation (1890) of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and the election (1900) of Carrie Chapman Catt as president. The ensuing campaign attracted many educated, wealthy, and influential women to the cause, with resultant political professionalism, increased funding, and the development of massive parades and demonstrations in the major cities. The Anthony amendment, as written in 1878, was ratified as the 19th Amendment and became law in 1920.

From 1920 to 1960, militancy on behalf of a single issue diffused into a number of women’s political groups, such as the League of Women Voters (1920) and the National Council of Negro Women (1935). Such groups supported various types of liberal reforms related to the rights of both men and women. An equal rights amendment drafted in 1923 by the National Women’s party (founded 1913) remained dormant for another 50 years.

At the international level, however, the women’s rights movement made progress. The preamble to the United Nations (UN) Charter (1945) referred to equal rights for women; in 1948 the UN Commission on the Status of Women was established; in 1952 the UN General Assembly held a convention on the political rights of women. The United Nations Decade for Women (1976–85) emphasized the international scope of the women’s rights movement. Three related conferences—in Mexico City (1975); Copenhagen (1980); and Nairobi, Kenya (1985)—did the same. Beijing was host to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. That conference endorsed a nonbinding “Platform for Action.” The platform would serve as a blueprint for promoting women’s rights in the 21st century. In September 2010, UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon appointed former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet to the new UN position of undersecretary-general for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).

During the 1960s a militant feminist trend emerged in the United States. It was encouraged by significant feminist studies, such as The Second Sex (1953) by Simone de Beauvoir and The Feminine Mystique (1963) by Betty Friedan; it was also aided by a general legislative climate favorable to minority rights and antidiscrimination movements. Militant women’s groups were formed. The Women’s Liberation Movement, which was social rather than political and was manifested in literature and demonstrations by radical feminists, may have raised the awareness of the nation to the prevalence of discriminatory beliefs and attitudes.

More significantly, feminist political organizations arose that developed into a full feminist movement by the 1970s. These included the National Organization for Women (NOW), formed in 1966 under the leadership of Betty Friedan; the National Women’s Political Caucus (1971), composed of such nationally known feminists as Bella Abzug, Shirley Chisholm, and Gloria Steinem; the Equal Rights Amendment Ratification Council (1973); and the Coalition of Labor Union Women (1973).

The force of the women’s rights movement, spearheaded by NOW, was brought to bear on the major issue of the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution. The ERA was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971 and by the Senate in 1972. On June 30, 1982, however, ratification of the ERA fell three states short of the 38 needed by that deadline. Later congressional efforts to reintroduce the measure have failed, although a number of states have added equal-rights clauses to their constitutions.

Since the 1980s the women’s movement has focused on diverse issues. These include reproductive rights, that is, preserving a woman’s right of choice to have an abortion against the fervent pro-life movement; sexual harassment; and the “glass ceiling” that impedes women in corporate advancement.
Women continue to make advances in the political field. In 2008, Sen. Hillary Clinton made a historic bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Although she was defeated in the primaries by Sen. Barack Obama, she won some 18 million votes in those polls. In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro was the first female Democrat to be nominated for the vice-presidency. Sarah Palin followed her as the first female Republican nominee for that office in 2008.

Women have made considerable gains in the other political arenas. In 1991, there were 2 women serving in the U.S. Senate and 28 in the U.S. House of Representatives. Following the 2010 elections 17 female senators and 75 female representatives were serving, including 3 nonvoting delegates. In January 2007, Rep. Nancy Pelosi became the first woman selected Speaker of the House. She was chosen House minority leader after the Republican party won control of the House in 2010. Also, 6 women were governors in 2011. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed the first woman, Sandra Day O’Connor, to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ruth Bader Ginsburg followed her to the nation’s highest bench in 1993. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Sonia Sotomayor as the third woman and the first Hispanic American Supreme Court justice. Elena Kagan became the fourth woman to join the high court in 2010. Madeleine Albright was the first woman to serve as secretary of state (1997–2001); Condoleezza Rice held that post during the George W. Bushadministration. In January 2009, Hillary Clinton succeeded Rice as secretary of state.

  1. H. Roy Merrens and George D. Terry, “Dying in Paradise: Malaria, Mortality, and the Perceptual Environment in Colonial SouthCarolina,” Journal of Southern History (1984) 50: 533–50,
  2. “The Virginia Dare Story”. Virginia Dare. Archived from the original on April 23, 2015. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  3. “Claiming Their Citizenship: African American Women From 1624–2009”. Nwhm.org. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
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  6. Alan Brinkley (1998). Liberalism and Its Discontents. Harvard University Press. p. 34. ISBN 9780674530171.
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  10. “Women Airforce Service Pilots; Becoming a WASP”. www.kcdawnpatrol.org. Retrieved January 7, 2013.


Abraha: An Aksumite Christian Ruler of Yemen in 570AD

by Sergew Hable-Selassie | Ancient Christian Church in Ethiopia | General Abraha was a Tigraian military genius from Axum. General Abraha became a Governor of present day Yemen and Hijaz (western Saudi Arabia) under Emperor Kaleb of Axum. When the Jews of Yemen persecuted the Christians in the land of Arabaia and Emperor Kaleb of Axum sent an army to stop the Jews from oppressing the Christians (image: Ethiopian News).

Abraha (Ge’ez: ‘Abreha) also known as ‘Abraha al-Asram or Abraha b. as-Saba’h, was an Aksumite Christian ruler of Yemen. Accounts of his origin differ. Procopius recorded that he was once the slave of a Roman merchant at Adulis, while Tabari says that he was related to the Aksumite royal family. Be this as it may, he was either one of the commanders or a member of one of the armies sent by Emperor Kaléb against Dhü Nuwäs, the Judaized ruler of Yemen, in the period c. 523-525 A.D. to exact vengeance for the latter’s persecution of Christians in his realm. According to Procopius, ‘Abraha later seized control of Yemen from Esimiphaeus, the Christian Himyarite viceroy appointed by Kaléb, with the support of dissident elements in the Ethiopian occupation force
A reference map of the empire of Kaleb of Axum

A reference map of the empire of Kaleb of Axum

eager to settle in the Yemen, then a rich and fertile land. This event may have happened about 530 A.D. although a date as late as 543 has been postulated by Jacques Ryckmans. An army sent by Kaléb to subdue ‘Abraha joined his ranks and killed the ruler sent to replace him (this is perhaps a reference to ‘Ariat) and a second army was defeated. In the version of these events preserved by Tabari details vary slightly. ‘Abraha is said to have been the commander of the second army sent by Kaléb after the first, led by ‘Ariat, had been annihilated by Dhü Nuwäs through a ruse. This second army of 100,000 men successfully crushed all resistance and, following the suicide of Dhü Nuwäs, ‘Abraha seized power, establishing himself at Sana’a and proclaiming Christianity. He aroused the wrath of Kaléb, however, by withholding tribute and Kaléb sent his general ‘Ariat once again to take over the governorship of Yemen. ‘Abraha rid himself of the latter by a subterfuge in a duel in which ‘Ariat was killed and ‘Abraha suffered the injury which earned him the sobriquet of al-Asräm, “scar-face.” After this Kaléb had to accord him de facto recognition. ‘Abraha’s rule was probably confirmed by Kaléb successor, Emperor Bétä-‘Esra’él in return for nominal tribute and he went on to become an outstanding figure in Yemeni history, ruling efficiently and promoting the cause of Christianity in the face of the Judaism prevalent in Yemen and the paganism of Central Arabia.

A number of legends of popular origin have been woven around ‘Abraha’s name in Arab tradition which have not yet been substantiated. Of these traditions, the best-known concern the expedition against Mecca. At this period Mecca was the thriving center of the pagan cult

Two years ago arab news published a small article about what the Saudi historians found and documented. “During their tiring journey across mountains and rough terrain, the young Saudi men took photographs of important landmarks, beginning from north of Najran, to the east of Asir, and then east of Baha. Some of the most important historical sites along the way included inscriptions of elephants on rocks in the Al-Qahr Mountain, southeast of Tathlith; an old well in Hafaer, east of Asir; and a paved road near Kara in Aqeeq principality in the Baha region.” Arab news said.

In 2014, Arab news published a small article about what the Saudi historians found and documented. “During their tiring journey across mountains and rough terrain, the young Saudi men took photographs of important landmarks, beginning from north of Najran, to the east of Asir, and then east of Baha. Some of the most important historical sites along the way included inscriptions of elephants on rocks in the Al-Qahr Mountain, southeast of Tathlith; an old well in Hafaer, east of Asir; and a paved road near Kara in Aqeeq principality in the Baha region.” Arab news said.

of the Ka’aba and the pilgrim traffic was in the hands of the powerful Qurays family. Fired with Christian zeal, ‘Abraha set out to build a magnificent church at Sana’a to serve as a counter-attraction to the surrounding pagan peoples. This aroused the hostility of the Qurays who feared that the pilgrim traffic with its lucrative offerings would be diverted to Sana’a. It is sometimes said that one of their adherents succeeded in defiling the church and this led ‘Abraha to embark upon a campaign against Mecca. This event is associated in Islamic tradition with the year of the Prophet’s birth, c. 570 A.D. ‘Abraha is said to have used elephants in the campaign and the date is celebrated as the Year of the Elephant, ‘am al fil.’ An indirect reference to the event is found in Surah 105 of the Quran. ‘Abraha’s expedition probably failed due to the successful delaying tactics of the Qurays and pestilence broke out in the camp, which decimated his army and forced him to withdraw. Another tradition relates the expedition to an unsuccessful economic mission to the Qurays by ‘Abraha’s son.

We are fortunate in possessing irrefutable epigraphic sources which throw further light on ‘Abraha’s career. Of these the most important is the long inscription on the Marib dam which records the quelling of an insurrection backed by a son of the deposed ruler Esimiphaeus in the year 657 of the Sabaean era, i.e. between 540-550 A.D.; vital repairs effected to the dam later in the same year; the reception of envoys from the negus, from Byzantium, from Persia and from Harith b. Djabalat, the phylarch of Arabia; and the completion of repairs to the dam in the following year, followed by a great feast of rejoicing. The inscription indicates that the reign of ‘Abraha was a period of security and prosperity for the Yemen. The royal title adopted by ‘Abraha is similar to that of his immediate predecessors and to that of Emperor Kaléb, “King of Saba’ and dhü-Raydän and Hadramawt and Yamanat and of their Arabs on the plateau and the lowland.” A further text (Ryckmans 506) discovered at Murayghän records a defeat inflicted by ‘Abraha on the North Arabian tribe of Ma’add in the year 662 of the Sabaean era.No reliable information exists about the date of ‘Abraha’s death although tradition places it immediately after his expedition to Mecca. He was succeeded on the throne by two of his sons, Yaksum and Masruq, born to him by Raihäna, a Yemenite noblewoman whom ‘Abraha had abducted from her husband.


Bibliography

T. Noldeke, Geschichte der Perser und Araber zur Zeit der Sassaniden (Leyden, 1879), 200 ff.

F. Praetorius, “Bemerkungen zu den beiden grossen Inschriften von Dammbruch zu Marib”, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Vol. LIII, (1899), 1-24.

E. Glaser, “Zwei Inschriften über den Dammbruch von Mareb,” Mitteillungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft, VI (1897), 360-488.

A. Wiedemann in Orientalische Letteratur-Zeitung, 1 (1898).

Procopius (H. B. Dewing, ed.), De Bello Persico (London, 1957), I, xx.

Tabari (H. Zotenberg, ed. and trans.), Chronique (Paris, 1958), Vol. II, 184-208.

J. Ryckmans, L’institution monarchique en Arabie méridionale (Louvain, 1951).

——–, La persécution des chrétiens himyarites au sixième siècle (Istanbul, 1956).

Sidney Smith, “Events in Arabia in the 6th century A.D.,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. XVI (1954).

A. F. L. Beeston, ABRAHA in Encyclopaedia of Islam (1960).

——–, “Problems of Sabaen Chronology,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies , Vol. XXVI (1954).

M. J. Kister, “The Campaign of Huluban. A New Light on the Expedition of ‘Abraha,” Le Muséon, Vol. LXXVIII (1965).

Sergew Hable-Selassie, *Ancient and Medieval Ethiopian History to 1270 *(Addis Ababa, 1972).


This article is reproduced, with permission, from The Dictionary of Ethiopian Biography, Vol. 1 ‘From Early Times to the End of the Zagwé Dynasty c. 1270 A.D.,’ copyright © 1975, edited by Belanesh Michael, S. Chojnacki and Richard Pankhurst, Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. All rights reserved.



Imagine No Religion, Too

by Deacon James H. Toner | “This is not the important thing. The inner life of faith and morality can remain, while the outer political order changes. What matters is that we love one another and practice that love.” Such noble practice might well change the world, said Pope Francis. (Images: Raphael: Raphael Rooms, The School of Athens)

We simply cannot, said Pope Francis. His interlocutor was puzzled, wondering what it is that we cannot do. The answer came swiftly and inexorably.

“Fight another war. The error came in the early Church when its fathers made a false peace with Rome and allowed Christians to serve in its legions. The only way to have peace is not have armed forces. The Quakers have been right all along on this. The Church must make pacifism an integral part of its moral teaching.”

The Holy Father’s interlocutor was stunned, perhaps understanding the ramifications of this declaration by Pope Francis, who continued: “How can it be moral for mass armies to kill each other as well as innocent civilians? Or for Christians to join those armies? Christ was a pacifist. He preached pacifism, and he practiced it in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary. There is simply no way you can love your neighbor and then go about preparing to murder him.

The interlocutor had to object. “Holiness,” he began, “what about our ancient Catholic moral and philosophical tradition of ‘just war’?

Pope Francis responded: “How can there be ‘just murder’?” After a moment, the Pope continued: “We must not only condemn war but categorically forbid all Catholics—yes, all humans—to participate.

But what would happen when the forces of evil saw all Catholics, and others, refuse military service? Would they then not conquer the world?

Pope Francis responded: “This is not the important thing. The inner life of faith and morality can remain, while the outer political order changes. What matters is that we love one another and practice that love.” Such noble practice might well change the world, said Pope Francis.

The conversation above, which is, of course, fiction, is taken from chapter 33 of Walter F. Murphy’s novel, The Vicar of Christ.

If, in time, we can abolish the death penalty, or at least forbid Catholics from approving it, the current pope, taking a cue from the fictional Francis, might well reason that, in time, we can also abolish war, or at least forbid Catholics from approving it or participating in it.

Is it not now time to abolish capital punishment, life imprisonment—and war? One is reminded, after all, of the saying so often and fondly quoted by Senator Robert F. Kennedy: “Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not.”

But in George Bernard Shaw’s play Back to Methuselah, the speaker of that line was the devil. The call to a man-made utopia is the ancient and perennial heresy (Gen. 3:5).

The abolition of the death penalty and the exaltation of pacifism are signs of a quixotic mentality which Monsignor Ronald Knox knew as “Enthusiasm.”

Saint Thomas More called it “Utopianism.” Joachim of Flora preached it as the “Third Age.” A host of modern philosophers are associated with various strains of secular chiliasm. If we can dream a sufficiently revolutionary dream and thus change the political or economic structure in a way that it is sufficiently modernized—so goes the Panglossian pipedream—there will be peace. And progress. And prosperity. And paradise.

What is always missing from the progressive agenda is the failure to recognize evil. “Without the knowledge Revelation gives of God we cannot recognize sin clearly and are tempted to explain it as merely a developmental flaw, a psychological weakness, a mistake, or the necessary consequence of an inadequate social structure” (CCC #387). As the French writer Charles Peguy put it: “It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of not looking progressive enough.” Moreover, the New American Bible offers this translation of 2 John 9: “Anyone who is so ‘progressive’ that he does not remain rooted in the teaching of Christ does not possess God.” Or perhaps such people possess a false god.

Can it be that the death penalty deters murder and that its abolition will result in more violence? Edward Feser and Joseph Bessette, in By Man Shall His Blood be Shed, think so. Can it be that the U.S. armed forces help to deter terrorism and that pacifism may lead to more violence? The late Jean Bethke Elshtain argued this affirmatively in Just War Against Terror.

Can it be that the root of the problem is failure to perceive evil? In his novel The Apostle, Brad Thor quotes George Orwell: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

That the decision to “work with determination” to abolish the death penalty is a Micawberish foray into secular politics; that it is ultra vires, i.e., beyond papal authority as the custodian of doctrine and not its progenitor; that it ignores the traditional properties of punishment (the medicinal and the vindictive [see CCC #2266]); that it ignores and traduces settled Church and biblical teaching; and that it creates a precedent with conspicuously dangerous probabilities—all these matters, and others, again suggest that the Church is altogether too eager to please the liberal, progressive, and secular society to which it is supposed to be witnessing and preaching (John 12:43; Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4).

As Feser and Bessette prophesy: The abolition of the death penalty “will tend to reflect, and to reinforce, a trajectory away from theological orthodoxy and traditional morality. Abolitionism thus inadvertently provides powerful ‘aid and comfort’ to ideas and movements that any Catholic must regard as morally and socially destructive” (207).

The abolition of the death penalty is based upon a metaphysically mistaken notion of human dignity (CCC #1881), which places man at the center of all human institutions. “Dignity” provided by human customs can be repealed by human institutions. The Church has always insisted, despite the trendy liberalism of the past half-century, that human dignity is grounded in our ensoulment and in our reflection of God’s image. When that truth is twisted to mean human exaltation, liberty becomes license; moral freedom (which means sinlessness [cf. John 8:34]) becomes moral autonomy; and moral agency can be socially detached from objective and universal norms. We begin, in short, to worship the creature and to forget the Creator (aversio a Deo, conversio ad creaturam).

It is, in short, not only heterodox theology—but it is also deranged politics—to mistake respect for the dignity of every human and the nature of our relationships with others as our highest duty and chief virtue as somehow more important than the duties and virtues which lead us and bind us to God. There is a reason, in short, that the First Commandment is first (Dt. 6:5).

In pridefully exalting human dignity (cf. Jer. 17:5), we fallaciously conclude that there can be no such thing as just war; that the moral law against sodomy is somehow an assault upon our prized human dignity; that civil laws forbidding same-sex “marriage” are demeaning; and that the time and circumstances of our deaths are to be matters of personal choice and of private convenience.

Considerations of space preclude lengthy rehearsal here of the many reasons which tell us clearly and cogently that pacifism and the abolition of the death penalty are more than merely Pollyannaish. We can, though, point out here that they are perilous, and that they will result in moral and political catastrophe because they misjudge human nature. They are saccharine and sentimental, for they are, at heart, Pelagian, and they look forward to a time and place where no grace is necessary. They hope for peace and healing, but “terror came instead” (Jer. 8:15, 14:19). And when murderers and aggressors do come, the Pelagian progressives can’t beat them; so, too often, they join them. It’s all right, they think, for the prevailing ideology determines the boundaries of right and wrong, and dignity comes from allegiance to the morals of the day. Taste matters, it seems; truth doesn’t.

The romance of the political left is always grounded in the belief that we can be as gods. If we have within us the seeds of our own magical flowering, surely we can dispense with reminders that we are inclined to evil thoughts and deeds. The days of the death penalty—for any offense—and the days of military service—and just war against aggressors—will finally be ended. We will have achieved harmony, and we will have done so ourselves. The Tower of Babel will finally be built, and there won’t be any need for police, soldiers, or weapons inside it for defense.

Criminals of every sort and stripe will listen to sweet reason; international aggressors will be deterred by the reinstitution of the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact, in which nations pledged not to use force to resolve disputes; and the lion will lie down with the lamb—if only we imagine it, as John Lennon taught us so memorably:

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today.

Imagine there’s no countries [or borders]
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace.

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

John Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980. On that tragic night, when Lennon was shot in the back multiple times, there was present no rough man in a blue suit ready to do “violence,” if need be, to save the life of the singer/song writer. John Lennon would be 77 today if vigilant, and armed, police had been able to deter his murderer.

Lennon’s woolly-headed imaginings clash, and not only with historical knowledge and political experience; they deny—“and no religion too”—the biblical teaching which is at the heart of the ancient and ever-new faith, expressed most succinctly in Job: “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (19:25). I know I need a Redeemer, for I cannot save myself. As Jeremiah put it: “Who can understand the human heart? There is nothing else so deceitful; it is too sick to be healed” (17:9). The Catechism teaches that “Sin is present in human history; any attempt to ignore it or to give this dark reality other names would be futile” (#386).

However, the belief that we alone can conquer sin is more than “futile”; it is blasphemous and debauched. When we lose sight of the need for defense against criminals and aggressors or terrorists, abandoning the idea of protecting the innocent and of punishing the guilty, “the very idea of justice will go with it,” say Feser and Bessette, “[and it will be] replaced by a therapeutic or technocratic model that treats human beings as cases to be managed and socially engineered [rather] than as morally responsible persons.”

Progressives—utopians—think that we stand at the threshold of a brave new world. We are dreaming dreams and asking why not. We are soaring! “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High” (Is. 14:14). Like Icarus, however, we crash and burn when we seek self-exaltation, denying the objective truth of sin and our personal and institutional need to always guard against it.

The Church has always faithfully taught the need for repentance, for accountability, for daily conversion to Christ, and for working out our salvation in “fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). This is the call to redemption, not to social engineering. By the grace of God, it is not yet too late to restore our understanding of the divine mission of Holy Mother Church.

Deacon James H. Toner, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Leadership and Ethics at the U.S. Air War College, a former U.S. Army officer, and author of Morals Under the Gun and other books. He has also taught at Notre Dame, Norwich, Auburn, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Holy Apostles College & Seminary. He serves in the Diocese of Charlotte.

 



Being ECWA Today: ECWA Identity and Sense of Belonging in Christ in an Age of Challenge

by Emmanuel Datiyong Akanet | Reclaiming ECWA Believers’ Identity and Sense of Belonging in Christ: A Problem of Christian Identity
Download Reclaiming ECWA Believers’ Identity and Sense of Belonging in Christ
I had the privilege of participating in the Lord’s ministry in Nigeria for twenty-eight years before I came to Asbury Theological Seminary in the fall of 2004, and I realize that the Lord enables me to serve better in the areas of teaching, preaching, and writing Christian literature. I served as a teacher and principal in one of my denomination’s Bible schools as well as pastoring several churches at various locations and times.

A mission body known as the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) founded the denomination to which I belong: the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA) back then but now known as the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Nigeria. My previous observations and experiences as well as the history of the church shows that early congregations started on a solid foundation, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, with a desire to grow towards maturity in Christ. At the beginning believers were known for what they profess to be believers in Christ otherwise called “Christians.” They were not afraid to share their faith with others in obedience to the Lord’s command to preach the gospel to all nations of the world (Matt. 28: 18-20). They were continuously striving and engaging in Bible studies, evangelistic activities, and constant fellowship in community settings. They collaborated with the missionaries in building and sustaining the body of Christ.

Nevertheless, the time came when missionaries handed over the church leadership to nationals who followed the examples set forth by the founding fathers. The work continued well. Leaders gave their time and resources in selfless service in the Lord’s vineyard, and the congregations trusted them and their leadership. Fifty years after the handover to the nationals, several problems seem to have crept into the life of the church. The spiritual state of believers appears to be declining, and some of the leaders seem to be deviating from the mission of the church which is to glorify God in life and service. Sensing the problem is what prompted me to be devoted in preaching, teaching, and writing.

This report includes a brief history of Nigeria and the church, biblical and theological foundations for the research, a literature review on leaders, leadership tasks, leadership approaches, the qualities, competencies as well as the spirituality required of a leader. The ministry intervention aimed at helping ECWA believers reclaim their identity and sense of belonging in Christ and to one another. Assessments confirmed the existence of spiritual decline among ECWA believers and the need for leaders with spiritual vision and direction to lead the church in reclaiming ECWA believers’ identity and sense of belonging in Christ and to one another. The ministry intervention of this research was designed with a need for spiritual and visionary leaders to provide learning environments that would facilitate a learning process in helping ECWA believers reclaim their identity and sense of belonging in Christ and to one another. This need, which has been a burden upon my wife and I, led us into starting a Servant Leadership Ministry to the disable persons, widows/widowers, orphans, senior citizens, and the poor in Madakiya community in which we were brought up and to which we belong.

Ministry Intervention
The distinctly Christian response to any need is a ministry response (i.e., a servant response). Jesus conceived of his own ministry as a response to specific human need. He articulated this construal of his ministry in his explanation of his unconventional behavior of “eating with tax collectors and sinners” (Mark 2:13-17). He responded to questions about this behavior in terms of the link between human need (the “sick” and their need of a “physician“) and his own purpose (why he “came” [Mark 2:17]). Similarly, in his programmatic statement summarizing his whole ministry, he claimed he had come “not to be served but to serve” and to “give [his] life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Therefore, a most fitting response to the perceived need in ECWA is along the lines of the following design, judging from the research.

Encouragement from Greater Africa and a Testimony
The need for trans-formative leaders seems to be of great concern among many ecclesiastical leaders in many African countries. Other Africans are leading awakenings like that proposed in this study. Two ministry initiatives that are taking place in Africa today encourage one to think that a ministry intervention of the sort here proposed has, by God’s grace, a reasonable likelihood of success.

Calembo’s International Leadership Institute of Southern Africa (ILISA)
A premier example of these African ministries is the International Leadership Institute of Southern Africa founded and led by Alfred Calembo. His ministry aims at recruiting and training potential leaders who would also train others in their localities. The ministry appears to be flourishing, apparently meeting well the needs of adult learners and meeting perceived leadership needs. Calembo demonstrates the servant leadership attitude needed to be able to influence leaders in a community. His ministry is administered at the national and international levels. Its main aim is influencing the direction of his denomination by shaping leaders who would go and shape others, too.

The core values of Calembo’s ministry emphasize the importance of visionary leadership, relevant evangelism, stewardship, and leadership multiplication processes that seek and train men and women who, in turn become leaders of leaders who will effectively train others. According to Calembo, the curriculum emphasizes the importance of character and integrity because credible leaders exert greater influence on their followers. His ministry focus is based on:

  • Training and mobilizing leaders of leaders,
  • Evangelization and Church planting,
  • Ministering to HIV/AIDS, widows/orphans and vulnerable children,
  • Community health,
  • Education, and
  • Economic empowerment and emergency food relief

Producing leaders with a vision such as Calembo’s who will lead transformational learning programs like his is the goal of this proposed ministry intervention. Calembo exemplifies the fruit anticipated when ECWA believers find their identity and sense of belonging in Christ and to one another.

Akanet’s Servant Leadership Ministry
My own experience encourages me to think that new awareness of ECWA’s identity in Christ, of belonging to Christ and to one another, can take hold across the denomination from national to local grassroots levels to energize and shape local ministries and Christian witness. Based on my understanding of the gospel, which offers full liberation from the ravages of sin and the call to Christian leadership as a call to serve, my wife and I started a “servant leadership ministry” in the community in which we were raised. This ministry extends God’s grace and love to the disabled, the sick, the less privileged, and to HFV/AIDS victims and other needy persons within the range of our influence. The ministry focuses on the following:

  • To support and encourage young widows struggling with young children ages 1-15;
  • To support and encourage disabled persons and the disadvantaged to be self-supportive and self-reliance;
  • To support and encourage young persons in leadership positions to strive towards excellence, able to balance their lives between family and ministry demands;
  • To encourage and support senior citizens who have no relatives to support and care for them.
  • To help and support the sick who have much difficulty or no means of getting medical care; and,
  • To provide economic empowerment and emergency food relief to the diverse groups as described above.

The ministry is microcosm, done in a neighborhood environment that could be done at regional and national levels. However, the success and positive response to our limited efforts has encouraged me to think similar ministries could be creatively replicated in many local ECWA congregations. The spirit and direction of the holistic ministry could also set the tone and direction for national and regional leadership and would be a harbinger of spiritual renewal in ECWA.

Connect with Emmanuel Datiyong Akanet @datiyongx



ECWA USA History

by Sunday & Grace Bwanhot | ECWA formerly launched its foreign missions during the centennial celebrations in December 1993 when its own ‘three pioneer couples’:  Simon & Ruth Yako, Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko, and Sunday & Grace Bwanhot were commissioned at the Jos township stadium.

ECWA grew out of SIM’s ministry (formally Sudan Interior Mission; Now: Serving In Missions). It began its work in Nigeria in December 1893 through the pioneering efforts of Rowland Bingham, Thomas Kent and Walter Gowans. The Church planted then was called SIM church but it was handed over to nationals in 1954. ECWA was registered in Nigeria as Evangelical Churches of West Africa on June 11, 1956. Later the name was amended to be: Evangelical Church of West Africa and now: Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA).

With the exception of some EMS (Evangelical Missionary Society) missionaries working in some countries in West Africa and the few churches in the USA and Britain, ECWA has largely remained a Nigerian church. It is to be noted that EMS of ECWA is the single largest indigenous mission agency in Africa. Although ECWA, through its mission agency, EMS, has a foreign mission policy, the policy continues to remain in the back burner of ECWA.

Officially, ECWA formerly launched its foreign missions during the centennial celebrations in December 1993 when its own ‘three pioneer couples’:  Simon & Ruth Yako, Joshua and Joanna Bogunjoko, and Sunday & Grace Bwanhot were commissioned at the Jos township stadium. The Yakos proceeded to Togo (Now in Nigeria), the Bogunjoko’s to Niger (Now in USA) and the Bwanhots in the USA. God made the move in spite of ECWA’s non committal to global evangelization. While God was using Rev. James Gabis to initiate ECWA’s ministries in the UK, God worked also through individuals here in the US to establish the ministry. Currently Israel and Gambia are the latest mission fields where ECWA is engaged in church planting.

ECWA Church New York

Late Elder Francis (left) and Grace Dada (Right), ECWA NY

Late Elder Francis (left) & Grace Dada (Right), ECWA NY, 1987

This is the first ECWA Church to be planted in the US in 1987 through the inspiring work of Elder Francis Dada’s father in-law. The church uses a rented facility located at 966 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY. Attendance at its peak averaged 60 to 75 people. The biggest challenge of this church has been a lack of a resident pastor. They have had several people fill in for brief periods of time. There was a conflict that led to several leaving the church and till today the church is yet to recover from that. Attendance currently is about 10 people.

 

ECWA Church Maryland

ECWA Church MD

ECWA Church MD, 1997

This is the second ECWA church planted in the US in January 1997 and it is currently the largest of all our churches with attendance in the neighborhood of 75 or more. The church bought a property that is being used for worship services and is located at: 5526 Marlboro Pike, District Heights, MD 20747. Rev. George Adekeye has been the pastor of the church since its inception.

 

ECWA Church Chicago

ECWA Church Chicago, At Handover, Jan 7, 2007

ECWA Church Chicago, At Handover, 2007

This is the third ECWA church planted in the USA on June 1, 1997. The church has been meeting in the lower level of Uptown Baptist Church at 1011 W. Wilson Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640. Attendance is between 40 and 50 and members come from several different countries. On January 7, 2007 Rev. Dr. Isaac Laudarji took over as the pastor from Rev. Sunday Bwanhot who started the church and pastored it till then.

 

First & Second ECWA Church Louisville

First & Second ECWA Church, Louisville, KY, 2001

First & Second ECWA Church, Louisville, KY, 2001

This is the fourth church planted in the US and is being pastored by Rev. Dr. Stephen Awoniyi. The church was officially inaugurated April 15, 2001. The church worships at 5007 Southside Dr. Louisville, KY 40214. Although attendance has declined from the average of 40 in the main church, the blessing of having the 2nd ECWA Church – Swahili speaking congregation under the leadership of Rev. Jean Nzeyimana is highly appreciated.

 

ECWA Church, Atlanta

ECWA Church, Atlanta, GA, 2007

ECWA Church, Atlanta, GA, 2007

This is the fifth ECWA Church in the USA. It was officially inaugurated on Sunday September 2, 2007 under the leadership of Rev. Innocent Nwaobasi. The church currently meets at the home of Elder Josiah Osasona. Attendance is still low – under 20. Property was purchased early this year and Lord willing the church will move to its permanent site in due course.

 

 

Prayer Houses

ECWA Prayer Cell, Columbia, SC, 2006

ECWA Prayer Cell, Columbia, SC, 2006

While several Prayer houses have been started across the country, there is a general struggle to keep these prayer houses going:

  • Prayer House, Columbia SC, 2006
  • Prayer House in Los Angeles CA,
  • Prayer House in Dallas/Fort Wayne TX
  • Prayer House in Houston, TX, 2012
  • Prayer House, Xenia, OH, 2012
  • Prayer House in Minneapolis/St. Paul’s area, MN.

We need to pray for these Prayer Houses to stand.

 

How We Got Organized

Steering committee members that helped in mobilizing ECWA in the US.

Steering committee members that helped in mobilizing ECWA in the US, 1999

The first two churches planted came about because of the efforts of some ECWA individuals who felt the Lord leading them to do that. There was no organization, no plan or strategy for church planting for ECWA here in the US. The two churches existed independently of each other and of ECWA Headquarters.

Rev. Panya Baba (former ECWA President) visited the US and he and Rev. Bwanhot had a discussion. The outcome of which was a February 15, 1997 meeting in MD with the following in attendance: Rev. Panya Baba, Rev. George Adekeye, Mr. Sunday Buge, Rev. Innocent Nwaobasi, Elder Henry Bello, Dr. James Angbazo, Rev. Joseph Obielodan and Rev. Sunday Bwanhot. Our agenda was to consider our role as ECWA members in the spiritual well-being of our people and others in the US. A Sub-Committee was appointed to plan a big ECWA Family Reunion for July 2-5, 1999.



ECWA History

ECWA is the result of several missionaries that traveled to Africa from Canada and the United States in the late 1800’s. ECWA is currently the largest Protestant denomination in Nigeria with over 6,000 churches having an adult membership of 2.5 million and nearly 5 million in total attendance.

The Evangelical Church of West Africa was renamed “Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA)” because of its wide spread to beyond its scope. It was a result of ministry history and the wide spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ in Africa by several missionaries who came from several places in the Canada and the United States of American on what can be termed “evangelical suicide mission” which was coined by Oji Chukwudimma Chukwudike because it will be glaring to see that West Africa, at that time, was known to be heavily infested with malaria and there is almost a 100% possibility that a white man will not survive it as they even called the West African region “the white man’s grave.” These missionaries braved malaria and yellow fever to preach the gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ under the auspices of the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) and planted several churches as they preach along like Paul the Apostle and around mid 20th century these churches became independent to carry on the gospel. ECWA has the largest mission organization of any African church living up to its name Evangelical which by name Evangelical Mission Society (ESM) has sent out over 1,400 missionaries.

Throughout Nigeria, but especially in the central regions, ECWA churches are growing rapidly. Some churches have experienced as much as 400% growth in the last several years. Churches in the Northern (traditionally more Islamic) parts of the country are also growing. There are currently more than five thousand ECWA congregations with more than five million attendees and a church membership of over three million people. ECWA has over eighty District Church Councils called DCC’s and a number of Local Church Councils called LCC’s.

ECWA has three Theological Seminaries: ECWA Theological Seminary, Kagoro was established in 1931, ECWA Theological Seminary, Igbaja in 1941, and Jos ECWA Theological Seminary in 1980. There are also eight Bible colleges and fifteen theological training institutes. ECWA’s Medical Department coordinates a wide network which includes four hospitals, a Community Health Program with over 110 health clinics, a Central Pharmacy and the School of Nursing and Midwifery. It is also involved in radio, publications for outreach and discipleship, rural development, urban ministries, and cross-cultural missions. There are more than 1,600 missionaries from ECWA churches who serve in Nigeria and other countries with the Evangelical Missionary Society (EMS), the missionary arm of ECWA.

There has been a serious confrontation between evangelical Christians standing in opposition to the expansion of Sharia law in northern Nigeria by militant Muslims since 1999. The confrontation has radicalized and politicized the Christians. Violence has been escalating.



America’s True History of Religious Tolerance

Above Left : During the 1944 campaign for president, anti-Semites scrawled hate messages on a shop window in the Bronx, New York. (FPG / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
Above Right: In 1844, an anti-Mormon mob murdered Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum while they were held in an Illinois jail cell. (Granger Collection, New York)
By Kenneth C. Davis | The idea that the United States has always been a bastion of religious freedom is reassuring—and utterly at odds with the historical record

Wading into the controversy surrounding an Islamic center planned for a site near New York City’s Ground Zero memorial this past August, President Obama declared: “This is America. And our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakeable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country and that they will not be treated differently by their government is essential to who we are.” In doing so, he paid homage to a vision that politicians and preachers have extolled for more than two centuries—that America historically has been a place of religious tolerance. It was a sentiment George Washington voiced shortly after taking the oath of office just a few blocks from Ground Zero.

In the storybook version most of us learned in school, the Pilgrims came to America aboard the Mayflower in search of religious freedom in 1620. The Puritans soon followed, for the same reason. Ever since these religious dissidents arrived at their shining “city upon a hill,” as their governor John Winthrop called it, millions from around the world have done the same, coming to an America where they found a welcome melting pot in which everyone was free to practice his or her own faith.

The problem is that this tidy narrative is an American myth. The real story of religion in America’s past is an often awkward, frequently embarrassing and occasionally bloody tale that most civics books and high-school texts either paper over or shunt to the side. And much of the recent conversation about America’s ideal of religious freedom has paid lip service to this comforting tableau.
From the earliest arrival of Europeans on America’s shores, religion has often been a cudgel, used to discriminate, suppress and even kill the foreign, the “heretic” and the “unbeliever”—including the “heathen” natives already here. Moreover, while it is true that the vast majority of early-generation Americans were Christian, the pitched battles between various Protestant sects and, more explosively, between Protestants and Catholics, present an unavoidable contradiction to the widely held notion that America is a “Christian nation.”

First, a little overlooked history: the initial encounter between Europeans in the future United States came with the establishment of a Huguenot (French Protestant) colony in 1564 at Fort Caroline (near modern Jacksonville, Florida). More than half a century before the Mayflower set sail, French pilgrims had come to America in search of religious freedom.

The Spanish had other ideas. In 1565, they established a forward operating base at St. Augustine and proceeded to wipe out the Fort Caroline colony. The Spanish commander, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, wrote to the Spanish King Philip II that he had “hanged all those we had found in [Fort Caroline] because…they were scattering the odious Lutheran doctrine in these Provinces.” When hundreds of survivors of a shipwrecked French fleet washed up on the beaches of Florida, they were put to the sword, beside a river the Spanish called Matanzas (“slaughters”). In other words, the first encounter between European Christians in America ended in a blood bath.

The much-ballyhooed arrival of the Pilgrims and Puritans in New England in the early 1600s was indeed a response to persecution that these religious dissenters had experienced in England. But the Puritan fathers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony did not countenance tolerance of opposing religious views. Their “city upon a hill” was a theocracy that brooked no dissent, religious or political.

The most famous dissidents within the Puritan community, Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson, were banished following disagreements over theology and policy. From Puritan Boston’s earliest days, Catholics (“Papists”) were anathema and were banned from the colonies, along with other non-Puritans. Four Quakers were hanged in Boston between 1659 and 1661 for persistently returning to the city to stand up for their beliefs.

Throughout the colonial era, Anglo-American antipathy toward Catholics—especially French and Spanish Catholics—was pronounced and often reflected in the sermons of such famous clerics as Cotton Mather and in statutes that discriminated against Catholics in matters of property and voting. Anti-Catholic feelings even contributed to the revolutionary mood in America after King George III extended an olive branch to French Catholics in Canada with the Quebec Act of 1774, which recognized their religion.

When George Washington dispatched Benedict Arnold on a mission to court French Canadians’ support for the American Revolution in 1775, he cautioned Arnold not to let their religion get in the way. “Prudence, policy and a true Christian Spirit,” Washington advised, “will lead us to look with compassion upon their errors, without insulting them.” (After Arnold betrayed the American cause, he publicly cited America’s alliance with Catholic France as one of his reasons for doing so.)

In newly independent America, there was a crazy quilt of state laws regarding religion. In Massachusetts, only Christians were allowed to hold public office, and Catholics were allowed to do so only after renouncing papal authority. In 1777, New York State’s constitution banned Catholics from public office (and would do so until 1806). In Maryland, Catholics had full civil rights, but Jews did not. Delaware required an oath affirming belief in the Trinity. Several states, including Massachusetts and South Carolina, had official, state-supported churches.

In 1779, as Virginia’s governor, Thomas Jefferson had drafted a bill that guaranteed legal equality for citizens of all religions—including those of no religion—in the state. It was around then that Jefferson famously wrote, “But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” But Jefferson’s plan did not advance—until after Patrick (“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”) Henry introduced a bill in 1784 calling for state support for “teachers of the Christian religion.”

Future President James Madison stepped into the breach. In a carefully argued essay titled “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” the soon-to-be father of the Constitution eloquently laid out reasons why the state had no business supporting Christian instruction. Signed by some 2,000 Virginians, Madison’s argument became a fundamental piece of American political philosophy, a ringing endorsement of the secular state that “should be as familiar to students of American history as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” as Susan Jacoby has written in Freethinkers, her excellent history of American secularism.

Among Madison’s 15 points was his declaration that “the Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every…man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an inalienable right.”

Madison also made a point that any believer of any religion should understand: that the government sanction of a religion was, in essence, a threat to religion. “Who does not see,” he wrote, “that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects?” Madison was writing from his memory of Baptist ministers being arrested in his native Virginia.

As a Christian, Madison also noted that Christianity had spread in the face of persecution from worldly powers, not with their help. Christianity, he contended, “disavows a dependence on the powers of this world…for it is known that this Religion both existed and flourished, not only without the support of human laws, but in spite of every opposition from them.”

Recognizing the idea of America as a refuge for the protester or rebel, Madison also argued that Henry’s proposal was “a departure from that generous policy, which offering an Asylum to the persecuted and oppressed of every Nation and Religion, promised a lustre to our country.”

After long debate, Patrick Henry’s bill was defeated, with the opposition outnumbering supporters 12 to 1. Instead, the Virginia legislature took up Jefferson’s plan for the separation of church and state. In 1786, the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, modified somewhat from Jefferson’s original draft, became law. The act is one of three accomplishments Jefferson included on his tombstone, along with writing the Declaration and founding the University of Virginia. (He omitted his presidency of the United States.) After the bill was passed, Jefferson proudly wrote that the law “meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew, the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.”

Madison wanted Jefferson’s view to become the law of the land when he went to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. And as framed in Philadelphia that year, the U.S. Constitution clearly stated in Article VI that federal elective and appointed officials “shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution, but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

This passage—along with the facts that the Constitution does not mention God or a deity (except for a pro forma “year of our Lord” date) and that its very first amendment forbids Congress from making laws that would infringe of the free exercise of religion—attests to the founders’ resolve that America be a secular republic. The men who fought the Revolution may have thanked Providence and attended church regularly—or not. But they also fought a war against a country in which the head of state was the head of the church. Knowing well the history of religious warfare that led to America’s settlement, they clearly understood both the dangers of that system and of sectarian conflict.

It was the recognition of that divisive past by the founders—notably Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madison—that secured America as a secular republic. As president, Washington wrote in 1790: “All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunity of citizenship. …For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens.”

He was addressing the members of America’s oldest synagogue, the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island (where his letter is read aloud every August). In closing, he wrote specifically to the Jews a phrase that applies to Muslims as well: “May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants, while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

As for Adams and Jefferson, they would disagree vehemently over policy, but on the question of religious freedom they were united. “In their seventies,” Jacoby writes, “with a friendship that had survived serious political conflicts, Adams and Jefferson could look back with satisfaction on what they both considered their greatest achievement—their role in establishing a secular government whose legislators would never be required, or permitted, to rule on the legality of theological views.”

Late in his life, James Madison wrote a letter summarizing his views: “And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

While some of America’s early leaders were models of virtuous tolerance, American attitudes were slow to change. The anti-Catholicism of America’s Calvinist past found new voice in the 19th century. The belief widely held and preached by some of the most prominent ministers in America was that Catholics would, if permitted, turn America over to the pope. Anti-Catholic venom was part of the typical American school day, along with Bible readings. In Massachusetts, a convent—coincidentally near the site of the Bunker Hill Monument—was burned to the ground in 1834 by an anti-Catholic mob incited by reports that young women were being abused in the convent school. In Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, anti-Catholic sentiment, combined with the country’s anti-immigrant mood, fueled the Bible Riots of 1844, in which houses were torched, two Catholic churches were destroyed and at least 20 people were killed.

At about the same time, Joseph Smith founded a new American religion—and soon met with the wrath of the mainstream Protestant majority. In 1832, a mob tarred and feathered him, marking the beginning of a long battle between Christian America and Smith’s Mormonism. In October 1838, after a series of conflicts over land and religious tension, Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs ordered that all Mormons be expelled from his state. Three days later, rogue militiamen massacred 17 church members, including children, at the Mormon settlement of Haun’s Mill. In 1844, a mob murdered Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum while they were jailed in Carthage, Illinois. No one was ever convicted of the crime.

Even as late as 1960, Catholic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy felt compelled to make a major speech declaring that his loyalty was to America, not the pope. (And as recently as the 2008 Republican primary campaign, Mormon candidate Mitt Romney felt compelled to address the suspicions still directed toward the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) Of course, America’s anti-Semitism was practiced institutionally as well as socially for decades. With the great threat of “godless” Communism looming in the 1950s, the country’s fear of atheism also reached new heights.

America can still be, as Madison perceived the nation in 1785, “an Asylum to the persecuted and oppressed of every Nation and Religion.” But recognizing that deep religious discord has been part of America’s social DNA is a healthy and necessary step. When we acknowledge that dark past, perhaps the nation will return to that “promised…lustre” of which Madison so grandiloquently wrote.

Kenneth C. Davis is the author of Don’t Know Much About History and A Nation Rising, among other books.