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Volunteers at the Highland Church of Christ in Cordova, Tenn., welcome Asher Honshell, center, to a recent Vacation Bible School for children and adults with disabilities.
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Photo provided by Hanna Thrasher

Across the Nation: Vacation Bible School, community outreach and more quick takes


Across the Nation is our monthly rundown of news briefs, links and quotes from Churches of Christ across the U.S. Got an idea for this column? Email Audrey Jackson at [email protected].

Featured image (above): Volunteers at the Highland Church of Christ in Cordova, Tenn., welcome Asher Honshell, center, to a recent Vacation Bible School for children and adults with disabilities.

“Our church has a vision for making the church a more inclusive environment for those with special needs.”

“Our church has a vision for making the church a more inclusive environment for those with special needs,” said Hanna Thrasher, a Highland youth minister.

Smiles were contagious as participants, who ranged in age from 5 to 41, experienced a VBS tailored to their needs. Read the full story.


KENTUCKY

FRENCHBURG — A flash flood damaged the Menifee County Church of Christ parsonage, where minister Randy Imel and his wife, Cathy, have lived for 21 years. 

The couple lost appliances, furniture and personal mementos, and the July 30 flooding damaged the floors, cabinets and bathroom fixtures.

The elders at Rolling Hills Church of Christ assist with flood cleanup.

The elders at Rolling Hills Church of Christ assist with flood cleanup.

The Rolling Hills Church of Christ in Mt. Sterling, Ky., which oversees mission work in Menifee County, helped with cleanup and let the couple live in a cabin at Rolling Hills Christian Camp. 

“Cathy and I have lost much due to (the) flood, but we still rejoice in the Lord!” Randy Imel posted on Facebook.

Their son, Justin Imel, started a GoFundMe page to raise $15,000 to help replace their losses.

MISSOURI

ROLLA — As delta variant cases surge, Rolla Church of Christ elder Jeff McKune sees vaccines as part of God’s plan to end the pandemic.

McKune, a former EMT, said his faith led him to be vaccinated. 

“I cannot pray to God, ‘Please end this pandemic,’ and then limit how he should answer that prayer.”

“I cannot pray to God, ‘Please end this pandemic,’ and then limit how he should answer that prayer,” McKune said in an open letter published online by The Christian Chronicle. “I cannot ask God for his intervention and then say, ‘Just so long as I don’t have to get a vaccine.’” 

“The Bible is filled with examples of people of faith being required to do something,” McKune wrote. 

Read the full letter.


Related: An open letter to fellow Christians: Please get the COVID-19 vaccine


NEW YORK

GREECE — Six years and one pandemic later, the Northgate Community Garden started by the Lawson Road Church of Christ keeps growing. The church built the garden in 2015 to connect with the community. Since then, the garden has doubled in size, with 20 beds available for planting. 

“It has provided opportunities to engage the community in ways that we wouldn’t be doing otherwise,” minister Peter Horne said. 

The sign for the community garden illustrates a rainbow and flowers.

The sign for the community garden illustrates a rainbow and flowers.

The church had a waitlist of gardeners for 2021. Facebook advertising and the pandemic helped increase interest, Horne said.

“This year was our best year for actually recruiting community members,” he said.

TENNESSEE 

HOLLADAY — Joshua Burton Henley, 32, former minister for the Holladay Church of Christ, has been arrested on three state charges of statutory rape by an authority figure and one count of aggravated sexual battery. 

He also faces federal charges in the Western District of Tennessee for the sexual exploitation of a minor, receipt-distribution-possession of child sexual exploitation material, enticement and solicitation of a minor and interstate transportation of a minor to engage in criminal sexual conduct.

Josh Henley is shown in a Benton County Sheriff's Office booking photo.

Josh Henley is shown in a Benton County Sheriff’s Office booking photo.

At the time of his June 18 arrest, Henley was serving as youth minister for the Washington Avenue Church of Christ in Evansville, Ind. He previously held ministry roles with the Elkhart Church of Christ in Kansas, Black Mesa Bible Camp in Kenton, Okla., and the Central Church of Christ in Hereford, Texas. 

The Washington Avenue church terminated his employment following the arrest. 

Initially booked into the Benton County jail on a $500,000 bond, Henley was later moved to a federal facility in Jackson, Tenn., and his bond was increased to $1 million. Henley has entered a “not guilty” plea, according to C. Mark Donahoe, his defense attorney. 

The investigation is ongoing. 

Read the full story.


Related: Church of Christ minister charged with state, federal sex crimes against minors


Newsmakers:

HONORED: Abilene Christian University will rename the Cullen Auditorium after Pat Boone in 2022. Boone, who funded endowments at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., and Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., was a prominent singer in the 1950s and 60s. 

HIRED: Logan Pipes as the youth and family minister for the Edgemere Church of Christ in Wichita Falls, Texas. David and Kathy Jones by the Tri-Cities School of Preaching & Christian Development in Elizabethton, Tenn. David will serve as a school instructor, and Kathy will work with the women and current secretary.

APPOINTED: Andy Burcham as chief financial officer and Lisa Fraze as the director of alumni relations for Lubbock Christian University in Texas. Jason Morris as executive director of ACU’s Center for Building Community and director of the Lynay program. Morris, who has worked at ACU for 25 years, will continue to serve as dean of the Honors College and director of the Office of Major Scholarships.

Quote of the month

“We know that when the church comes together to pray, the Lord will intervene.” — Motshabi Sophia Mtshazo, a member of the East London Church of Christ, who translated a prayer request into South African languages for #PrayerHourSA. Read the full story.

Filed under: Across the Nation child sex abuse churches and sexual abuse community outreach Features flooding Kentucky floods 2021 National News Vacation Bible School

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