21 March, 2023

News Briefs for Jan. 13

by | 6 January, 2021

Spire Huddles will be resuming at 1 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, Jan. 13. Huddles offer an online, interactive, conversational, and free way to connect with other church leaders and discuss important topics presented by expert speakers. There is a different huddle focus and host/presenter each week.

Huddles (and hosts) over the next few weeks include:

• Jan. 13, Church Planting (Jeff Reed of Stadia)

• Jan. 20, Preaching Teams (Arron Chambers)

• Jan. 27, Children, Students, & Families (Keith Parker)

The huddles last roughly 90 minutes. An additional 30 minutes are allotted for final questions at the end of the main presentation. More than half of the time is spent in small groups.

Only about 100 attendees can participate weekly. Huddle descriptions are available at spireconference.network/huddles/; go there to select the huddle or huddles you would like to attend, and then register.

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A longtime member of a Christian church in Russell, Ky., was sworn-in via Zoom Jan. 1 as the newest member of the Kentucky Supreme Court, the Daily Independent reported.


Robert B. Conley grew up in the congregation now known as Bridges Christian Church (and formerly known as Russell Christian Church). He previously served the church as a teacher, small group leader, deacon, and elder before stepping away from leadership due a serious illness in his family.

Conley is serving as justice for the 7th District, which consists of 22 eastern Kentucky counties. He was welcomed to the state’s highest court by the other six justices, including Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., who administered the oath of office. Conley’s term began Monday. A more traditional investiture ceremony will take place later at the Capitol building when the pandemic eases.

Conley previously served 26 years as trial court judge for Greenup and Lewis counties.

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The Exponential 2021 National Conference will take place Oct. 18-21 in Orlando, Fla. The theme will be “Empowered: Moving with the Spirit.” Learn more here.

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A pastor was shot and killed and two others were injured Sunday morning at Starrville Methodist Church in Winona, Texas. Mytrez Woolen, 21, a suspect in two earlier drive-by shootings and a high-speed chase, is also the suspect in the church shootings, according to news outlets. Woolen was arrested shortly after the incident while driving a pickup truck owned by the pastor, Mark McWilliams, 62.

Others who were injured included McWilliams’ wife, who fell during the incident, and another church member who was shot in the back and shoulder. Those injuries are not life-threatening.

After the drive-by shootings Saturday night in Marshall, Texas, police say the suspect fled from authorities but crashed near the church. Authorities searched a wooded area near the church but couldn’t find the suspect. At about 9:00 the following morning, the pastor found a man hiding in a bathroom stall. McWilliams, who had a gun, tried to subdue the man, according to NBC News, but the pastor became distracted and the man was able to disarm him and used the weapon to shoot the pastor before fleeing.

Woolen is being held in Smith County jail in lieu of a $3.5 million bond.

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The JournalStar of Peoria, Ill., wrote a nice feature story about Pattonsburg Christian Church—a small, rural congregation marking its 175th anniversary. The article included information about the church’s very earliest days, but also interviewed several present-day attendees.

“We’re still alive, still welcoming new members,” Donna Thomas told the newspaper. Thomas, 77, has been with PCC for a half-century.

“These guys grab you,” said Terry Renfrow, a four-year member with his wife, Carol. “They bring you into their congregation. They really want you to be there. They tell you how much they want you to be there. And that makes a difference, it really does.”

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Neil Wheeler, director of leader care with Waypoint Church Partners, will conduct a webinar entitled “Soul Care: Tired in Ministry or Tired of Ministry?” at 7:30 EST on Jan. 11. Learn more here.

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An emergency overnight shelter has moved into the basement at First Christian Church in Elgin, Ill. The shelter opened for the first time this season on Christmas Eve, the Chicago Tribune reported. The shelter was hosted for many years by a Methodist church in downtown Elgin. Elgin Dream Center works with the city of Elgin and area churches to run the shelter, which is open whenever temperatures drop to 15 degrees or below.

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Christianity Today compiled several Top 10 and Top 20 lists for 2020. Among its “Top 10 Articles for Pastors in 2020” were these three: “Can Social Distancing Reinvent Youth Ministry?” (No. 7), “How to Lead Online Worship Without Losing Your Soul—or Body” (No. 4), and “I Was a Pastor’s Wife. Suicide Made Me a Pastor’s Widow” (No. 1).

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Send news to [email protected].


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