Saturday, November 18, 2006

A directional challenge: Episcopal Church struggles to unite despite differences

Here is a recent article from Robyn Passante from the Island Packet. She always does a great job of taking the temperature of things here in the low country in regards to the "episcopal" church and the present condition of the Anglican ethos in America.

Just so folks know, no signage at either of our campuses at The Church of the Cross have the word "Episcopal" on it. Three years ago, when our vestry and clergy were presented with a plan to "Brand" our church, we decided to leave the word Episcopal out of the signage and letterhead, etc. of the Church because we felt that the overall witness of the Episcopal Church in the United States was not reflective of our Anglican-Evangelical heritage.

Instead, the vestry and clergy felt strongly that we should keep our focus on growing the kingdom. The plan has allowed many people to come to know Jesus better rather than simply becoming a type of religious person tagged with a denominational trademark. By emphasizing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, we continue to add about 12 families a month to the Church. We are keeping first things first. And, first things first mean that we are missional (we are concerned with reaching folks who do not beleive or who do not have a first allegiance to a Church) not denominational first.

Published Saturday, November 18, 2006

Three years after an openly gay Episcopal bishop was consecrated, the Episcopal Church U.S.A. is still faced with a dilemma that has been described as moral, biblical, political and logistical -- whether and how it can stay unified in the face of divisive views on the issue of gay leadership, and the larger issue of biblical authority.

In the months after the consecration, Episcopalians everywhere met to discuss what they believe, and whether their church had been -- or would be -- faithful to those beliefs. Those who disagree with the consecration say that it disregards God's opinions laid out in the Bible about homosexuality, and sex outside marriage, and therefore turns the entire church away from God's authority.

It's been three years of hand-wringing and parishioner-swapping, as believers figure out what they believe and where those beliefs are most welcomed. Bishop John Lipscomb of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, who visited recently to speak to concerned local Episcopalians about the issue, estimated that the church lost 100,000 Sunday attendees in the last three years. Locally, Episcopal pastors and parishes have suffered as well.

"It's contentious. It's painful," said the Rev. Greg Kronz of St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Hilton Head Island, who estimated he's lost 40-50 parishioners. "I've had people who I've pastored through difficult times, and they've walked away, some without a goodbye. That really hurt."

The Rev. Richard Lindsey of All Saints Episcopal Church on Hilton Head said he's had similar trouble.

  • Photo: From left are the Rev. Mark Lawrence, his wife, Allison, and retiring Bishop Edward Salmon. Lawrence recently was elected to replace Salmon as head of the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina, although he has said he disagrees with the direction of the national church.
    Sylvia Weeks/Special to the Packet
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"What's happening that is both good and bad is we've had musical chairs," Lindsey said.

"People have settled in where they feel most comfortable."

Lindsey said he's striving to be inclusive of the entire spectrum of beliefs on the issue. His parish is among the most moderate of those in the diocese.

"In this church," Lindsey said of All Saints, "we believe we are part of the Diocese of South Carolina and the Episcopal Church."

Those dual affiliations work for now, but there's a question as to how long the two entities will be one and the same.

Kronz is among the majority of pastors in the diocese who identify with the beliefs of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which largely disagrees with the direction of the Episcopal Church, its American branch. Most of the parishes in the Diocese of South Carolina wish to be aligned with the Anglican Communion.

The diocese has taken the first steps toward such an alignment by joining the Anglican Communion Network, a 3-year-old group of about 10 conservative dioceses in the U.S., and by asking the archbishop for "alternate primatial oversight," which would assign someone from the Anglican Communion, instead of Episcopal Church leaders, to oversee its ministry and development. That request has not yet been answered.

When asked if Kronz still considers himself an Episcopalian, he becomes uncomfortable.

"Ewwwhhh, that's a tough question," he said. "In terms of the historic Episcopate and what it has stood for over time, yes. In terms of what it stands for now, no."

Clearly, clergy at The Church of the Cross feel similarly.

"We opened our new campus at Buckwalter last year, and the word 'Episcopal' is not part of the name," said the Rev. Jay Slocum, who leads worship services there.

The diocese's direction was made more evident in September by the selection of the Rev. Mark Lawrence of St. Paul's Episcopal Parish in Bakersfield, Calif., to replace retiring Bishop Edward Salmon. All three of the finalists for the position shared similar traditionalist views. Lawrence's own California diocese also is part of the Network.

The selection process was deliberate, said Kronz, who headed up the search committee.

"We wanted someone in line with our diocese, not necessarily in line with the national church, but someone who reflected the nature of this diocese," he said.

But not everyone in the diocese agrees that Lawrence's selection was a good idea.

"This is a person trying to become one of the leaders of the church he's trying to leave," said Lynn Pagliaro, a board member of The Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, a group of moderate Episcopalians within the diocese who wish to remain in the Episcopal Church. On Oct. 31, The Forum sent a letter to all presiding bishops and standing committee members, who must consent to Lawrence's selection before he is consecrated, urging them to consider the consequences of their consent.

"Mark Lawrence was broadly supported as an individual, and as the best choice available. However, his election is being touted in the diocese as a mandate for separation from The Episcopal Church," the letter states. "We want to emphasize the fact that that is not unanimous, nor do we accept it."

Lawrence could not be reached for comment. The approval process can take up to three months.

The viewpoints of those in The Forum, though in line with the vast majority of the national church, are few and far between in the diocese.

"People in the Network make up only about 10 percent of Episcopalians," Pagliaro said. "But in South Carolina it looks more like 80 percent."

At a recent forum held at All Saints and led by Lipscomb, a friend of Lindsey's whose views are decidedly more traditionalist, the amount of concern local parishioners still feel for their church's future was evident.

"The minority is not given a voice in this diocese," said one local Episcopalian, to the agreement of others. Lipscomb urged them to open a dialogue with the bishop about their concerns for the direction in which the diocese seems to be headed.

"We can't even do that in our own church," said a woman in attendance who was not a member of All Saints.

If Lawrence is approved and consecrated, and the diocese breaks from the Episcopal Church, issues will arise as to whether parishes would have to forfeit land that technically is owned by the Church. Plus, there are moderate parishes in the diocese that would likely choose to remain in the Episcopal Church, and they'd need new leadership.

Kronz and Lipscomb both believe nothing will be decided until the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the next meeting of the archbishops and bishops of the Anglican Communion, held once every 10 years.

Until then, parishes of both viewpoints continue to pray, and worship, side by side.

Pagliaro said he's remaining optimistic about his future as an Episcopalian in South Carolina.

"We're hopeful in the Forum that a lot of Episcopalians would stay in the Episcopal Church," Pagliaro said. "I've been an Episcopalian for 40 years. It's a joyful, inclusive church. I'm just proud to be a part of it."

Lipscomb was more guarded in his comments about the direction of the church he serves.

"Optimism," he said, "is for people who don't understand the problem."

Contact Robyn Passante at 706-8131 or

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cash and Saul for Breakfast

I am reading 1 Samuel AGAIN for my morning devotions. God is moving me toward a series on three men, their flaws, their greatness, their triumphs, and their down-falls (Saul, Samuel, and David).

This morning I spent time reflecting on the story of Saul, both by reading chapters 8-15 of 1 Samuel and by watching the Johnny Cash video God's Gonna Cut You Down.

Johnny was not cynical when he wrote the song. He really was in touch with the reality of being a part of the dark side of life and being a man who was tearing himself up and those he loved through addiction and a dark rebellion. The story of Saul is so tragic and rough. Saul had these demons, these dark rebellious undertones to his personality that where so dangerous. I have been spending time thinking and praying and studying men in the Bible who did great things and who were great men, and yet there lives where messy and complex and had a darkness about them- a shadow. I got the sense from reading about Saul of God's right to stop Saul, to cut him down, because he was just so out of control. I think many of us want to think of God as Love, because he is Love. But, we do not think of Love correctly. Love is not just light and sweetness, it is also strong and protective and capable of bringing justice. I am exploring both the dark and light side of Love and the way God expresses it in relation to His creatures who are often capable of both radical rebellion and amazing levels of kindness, beauty and intimacy. Leave it to Johnn, and the Bible to always deliver to us real life- blood, sweat, tears, and laughter.

Artist: Johnny Cash
God's Gonna Cut You Down
From the Album: American V: A Hundred Highways You can run on for a long time,

Run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Sooner, or later, God'll cut you down.
Sooner, or later, God'll cut you down.

Go and tell that long tongue liar,
Go and tell that midnight rider,
Tell the rambiler, the gambler, the back biter,
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down.

Well my goodness gracious,
Let me tell you the news.
My heads been wet with the midnight dew.
I've been down on bended knee,
Talkin to the man from Galiee.
He spoke to me in a voice so sweet,
I thought I heard the shuffle of angels feet.
He called my name and my heart stood still,
When He said "John go do my will"

Go and tell that long tongue liar,
Go and tell that midnight rider,
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter,
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down.

You can run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Sooner, or later, God'll cut you down.
Sooner, or later, God'll cut you down.

You can throw your rock, hide your hand,
Workin in the dark against your fellow man.
But as sure as God made black and white,
What's done in the dark,
Will be brought to the light.

You can run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Sooner, or later, God'll cut you down.
Sooner, or later, God'll cut you down.

Go and tell that long tongue liar,
Go and tell that midnight rider,
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter,
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down.

Appearing in the Johnny Cash Video

1. Iggy Pop-Singer (Stooges)
2. Kanye West-Rapper/producer
3. Chris Martin- Cold Play Singer-guitarist
4. Kris Kristofferson-Singer/Songwriter/Actor
5. Patti Smith- Singer and Punk Icon
6. Terrence Howard- Actor
7. Flea- Red Hot Chilli Peppers bassist
8. Q-Tip-Rapper (A tribe Called Quest)
9. Adam Levine- Maroon 5 Singer/guitarist
10. Chris Rock- Comdeian
11. Justin Timberlake- Pop Singer
12. Kate Moss- Model
13. Sir Peter Blake- Beatles Sgt. Pepper Album Cover Artist
14. Sheryl Crow- Singer
15. Dennis Hopper- Actor
16. Woody Harrelson- Actor
17. Amy Lee- Singer (Evanescance)
18. Tommy Lee- Motley Crew drummer
19. Dixie Chicks- Band
20. Mick Jones- The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite Singer/Guitarist
21. Sharon Stone- Actress
22. Bono- U2’s Frontman
23. Shelby Lynne -Country Singer
24. Anthony Kiedis- Red Hot Chilli Peppers lead singer
25. Travis Barker- Blink 182 drummer
26. Lisa Marie Presley- Celebrity
27. Kid Rock- Singer
28. Jay Z- Rapper and CEO
29. Keith Richards- The Rolling Stones lead guitarist
30. Billy Gibbons- ZZ Top guitarist
31. Corinne Bailey Rae- UK Singer
32. Johnny Depp- Actor
33. Graham Nash- Crosby Stills Nash and Young
34. Brian Wilson- Song writer and bassist for The Beach Boys
35. Rick Rubin Record Producer (for Johnny Cash)
36. Owen Wilson- Actor

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Treasure (Rust) Digital Sermon

Click on the above ICON to watch this weeks Digital Sermon, Treasure (Rust).

Sermon Notes

I. Treasure
Θησαυρός thēsauros (thay-sow-ros') a deposit, that is, wealth (literally or figuratively): - treasure.

II. Loving Things

  • Stolen Treasures Break Hearts
  • Rusting Treasures Corrupt Hearts

III. Loving People

  • Everlasting Treasures Fulfill Hearts
    • The treasure of celebrating a life
    • The treasure of redeeming a life

Romans 5:6-8
6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

IV. Loving God
Tithes and Offerings are a gracious Outpouring from Our Hearts

Treasure (Rust) A Digital Teaching (on Youtube)

Thank You

The Sound Track for this week's digital teaching was written and performed by Katherine Rosenblum, a member of our Band. Many thanks to her for stepping out and doing what God wanted. What a beautiful song. Many thanks also to Atlantic Bank here in Bluffton and to Amos Hummel for allowing us to film at his studio. Thanks also to Bill Cease for making the motorcycles that grace Calhoun Street in Old Bluffton. Finally, thanks to David Sadd and Jodie Dorrell for their patience and diligance in making it happen in the tech and editing department.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Time (Skittles) A Digital Sermon

To WATCH this weeks Sermon, Click the above Time, Talent Treasure Icon

Stewardship means taking good care of God’s resources. Since everything belongs to God and everything comes from God, we approach life, not from the perspective that we own a single thing. Rather, we believe that we are God’s stewards; people who take good care of God’s stuff. The three really big areas that God has asked us to take good care of include our time, talent, and treasure. I am excited about this year’s stewardship season. During this time, we will explore ways in which we can please God by taking good care of the Time, Talent, and Treasure that He has offered to us to steward. This series will include some emergent teachings tat will mix the mediums of film, graphic design, and music into a dynamic teaching. I hope you enjoy this.

2007 (just the vid-teaching)

10-29-06 Psalm 90:1-17

"Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."

Have you ever noticed how we keep track of the things in life that we really love. Have you ever seen a child with a new pack of candy? Candy is a major component of a kids life. They love candy. Just watch what they do with a pack of Skittles. Rarely will a kid randomly shovel a pack of candies into her mouth. Instead, she separates out the reds from the oranges, the blues from the greens, the purples from the yellows. The things we love end up receiving a lot of our attention. I separate my books into categories. My daughter categorizes her dolls. Of all the precious things in our 24-7-365 lives, nothing is tracked more closely than our time. We track it to the second, wear watches, set alarms, make schedules. Our time is precious. Have you ever thought about what a gift it is to give your time away? Really, when it comes down to it, who we give our time to expresses who or what we love most. To give our time away is a huge expression of love. God has given us a certain amount of time to take good care of. I wonder if we have ever considered just how delighted he is in us when we offer our time to Him and His service?


I. His Time: God is the measure of all things (1-6)
II. Our Time: We are Not the measure of all things (7-11)

Giving our time to “the man”
Thinking that our time is our own
III. Numbering Our Days: Sharing with God what is precious to us. (12-17)

Talent 2007

11-5-06 Matthew 25:14-30

“The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more.”

The world is just so full of amazing talent. Just think of the dedicated practice that goes into mastering a craft or a sport. Consider the skilled effort of talented workers capable of turning raw materials into finished products. What about the breathtaking ability that certain artists demonstrate in producing music and films. And who can forget the inspiring task of caring for children, making dinner, and managing a household budget with grace or a teenager’s ability to surprise a community with his SAT scores. I am certain, from what I see of this world, that God made us with the potential to be spectacular. He gives us talents and when we share them with the world, it becomes a better place. It’s a funny thing, though, about Jesus’s teaching on talents. When he starts sharing with his friends about how we are to use our talents, he never says that he is unhappy if we aren’t as talented as others. He is happy when we use whatever he gives us to make the world a better place. It’s only when we “sit on” our talents that he gets upset. He hates it when we bury them because he hates to see good things go to waste. Everyone of us has something to offer, some talent. I wonder what talent God is waiting for you to share with the world? The service will include special music and a video short that demonstrates God’s desire for us to use our talents to make this world a better place.

Treasure 2007

11-12-06 Matthew 6:19-24

“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

Having possessions is great. In fact, God wants us to have treasures here on earth because the use of our stuff (what we possess) shows God and the world our generosity, love, and ability to care for and use all God has given us. But stuff wears out- all of it. Notice Jesus’ teaching about possessions. He never says, “You are not allowed to have stuff.” Instead, he simply notes that all our possessions wear out and “You can’t take it with you.” Then, he introduces an incredible teaching. He says that there is something that will last for ever (people) and if we use our treasures to invest in and love people, then we will have a treasure that lasts for ever! You cannot bring anything into heaven, but you can help bring others into heaven. When we use our treasure to get others into heaven, we have treasure that will never rust or break or wear out. I wonder how much happier our lives would be if we really took this teaching seriously. This service will include special music and a video short that demonstrates God’s desire for us to use our treasure to bring others into a relationship with him that will last forever.

Talent 2007 (Talantos)

Click on the icon above for this week's complete digital teacing on Talents.

This weeks digital teaching was filmed on Warf Street in Savannah Georgia. We had the priveledge of working with a street performer and evangelist named John Michael Blue. The teaching is based on Jesus' parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30.

Sermon Notes

I. The Wicked Servant (24-30)

  • Excuses: I knew you were a hard man (24)
  • Fear: I was afraid (25)
  • Laziness: I buried it in the ground (25)

II. The Faithful Servant (16-23)

  • Urgency: He went at once (16)
  • Risk: He put his talents to work (16)
  • Pride: He said, “See, I have gained two more.” (20)

My prayer in this life is the report of a soldier to his general: This is what I did today, this is how I fought to save the entire battle in my own sector, these are the obstacles I found, this is how I plan to fight tomorrow. My God and I are horsemen galloping in the burning sun or under drizzling rain. Pale, starving, but unsubdued, we ride and converse. "Leader!" I cry. He turns his face towards me, and I shudder to confront his anguish. Our love for each other is rough and ready, we sit at the same table, we drink the same wine in this low tavern of life. Nicos Kazantakis

How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of life? The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables. Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly-but what use is all that if in the very center of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? No crooked legs or ill-fitting drawers ever, I dare swear, came out of the carpenters shop at Nazareth. Dorothy Sayers

Digital Teaching: Talantos
(On Youtube)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Tim Keller's On Youtube

Two things that I enjoy immensely these days are
1. Watching great clips on Youtube
2. Listening to Tim Keller preach

The youtube watching is recent. The Tim Keller listening goes all the way back to 1990. Tim is my preaching hero. He is a boomer pastor who GETS the Gospel and is presently reacing a ton of twenty-somethings in NYC. When Catheirne and I were twenty somethings we drove 60 miles every week to go to his church. Please take some time to listen to Tim on Youtube.

The Gospel Moralism Irreligion

Is the Bible Culturally Conditioned?

The Importance of Doctrine

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Looking for Talent in Savannah, GA

This week I rode my bike down warf dtreet in Savannah praying the whole time that God would deliver to me a street musician that would work with us on our upcoming video. One minute into my ride I introduced myself to the only man on warf street who was carrying a guitar. I asked if he played. He said. "I play some." I asked if he would be interested in making a video. He said. "What for?" I said "church." He whipped out some tracks and tried to save me rigt there. It was great. We talked and he agreed to meet us the next day. This week we will be filming a digital teaching that features John Michael Blue. He does a cover of the Van Zandt song below that is gritty and pure and full of the love of God. I am so looking forward to Sunday. Get right with the Man!

Help Somebody- Van Zandt

Well grandaddy was a hillbilly scholar,
blue collar of a man...
He came from the school of
"you don't need nothin' if you can't make it with your own two hands"
He was backwoods, backwards, used words like:
no sir, yes ma'am, by god, I'll be darned, hell yeah I'm American..
and all the years he walked this earth
I swear all he did was work.
He said the devil dreams on an idle horse
so you listen to me squirt..

Don't get too high on a bottle,
and get right with a man.
Fight your fights, find your grace
and all the things you two can't change, and help somebody if you can

Now Granny said sonny
stick to your gun if you believe in something
no matter what
cause it's better to be hated for who you are
Than loved for someone you're not.
She was 5 feet of concrete
New York born and raised on a slick city street.
She'll stare you down, stand her ground,
still kickin' and screamin' at 93

I remember how frail she looked
in that hospital bed
taking her last few breaths of life
and smiling as she said

Don't get too high on a bottle,
just a little syrup now and then,
fight your fights,
find your grace,
and all the things you two can't change
and help somebody if you can,
and get right with a man

I never let a cowboy make the coffee
yeah thats what Granny always said to my Grandad
and he'd say never tell a joke
that ain't that funny more than once
and if you wanna hear God laugh,
tell Him your plans

Don't get too high on a bottle,
get right with a man, son.
fight your fights,
find your grace,
and all the things you two can't change
and help somebody if you can
and get right with a man
and get right with a man

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Religious beliefs leave some families exploring alternatives

We had about 800 people at this years All Saints Festival. It was a wonderful subversive time. Here is an article anticipating the event.


The Island Packet
Published Saturday, October 28, 2006

All Hallows Eve, The Church of the Cross campus off Buckwalter Parkway will be bustling with treats, costumed kids and holiday fervor.

While little ghosts and goblins will be scouring neighborhoods in the name of Halloween, The Church of the Cross will be doing something similar in the name of All Saints Day.

The All Saints Festival comes complete with cotton candy and goodies, a costume parade -- minus the more ghoulish or satanic getups -- games and, perhaps, a unicorn appearance.

Organizers say it's an alternative to the trick-or-treating tradition, a more church-friendly approach to the ancient custom.

Halloween poses a quandary for some religious people. Its roots lie in pagan customs, and in modern society it can take on ghostly, even evil, overtones that make some uneasy. So when the whole neighborhood is awash in Jack-o'-lantern light, what's the proper way to celebrate the holiday?

"Right now, we're living in a time where a lot of religious people are nervous about the origins of Halloween," said Henry Selby, headmaster of Cross Episcopal School of Bluffton.

The holiday's origin stretches back some 2,000 years to the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain on Oct. 31, when the Celts believed the summer season ended and winter began. It was that night that they believed the dead arose, enabling their priests, or Druids, to be able to predict what was in store for the winter. Costumes were worn, typically of animal skins.

It wasn't until several hundred years later when the Catholic Church designated All Saints Day on Nov. 1 and later All Souls' Day on Nov. 2, a means in part to honor saints and the dead, but in a church-blessed ceremony instead of the previous pagan custom.

Hundreds of years since, Halloween is widely viewed as secular, although some note that the word Halloween roughly translates from old English to "evening of the holy."

Some churches hold All Saints or Souls' Day remembrances or fall festivals, a mix of traditional Halloween festivities and those reminiscent of the ancient autumnal festivals celebrating the seasonal harvest.

The Church of the Cross' All Saints Festival is intended to be a safe, fun family evening, a celebration of life. Ghoulish costumes are discouraged, organizers said.

Warren and Lisa Alston's 6-year-old daughter will come dressed as Little Red Riding Hood. The Okatie couple are in charge of organizing the event after becoming enamored with it last year.

Warren used to dress up in a simple skeleton costume as a child but is uneasy about the amount of gore incorporated into today's trick-or-treating. The festival works to promote a more "Christian environment," he said.

"We're not going to turn people away, but the message is to come dressed not in (a ghoulish) way," he said.

While some find certain aspects of Halloween to be objectionable on a religious basis, others reject the holiday as a whole. The Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate Halloween, seeing it as a pagan ritual, and thus a false religious holiday. Christmas, Independence Day and Thanksgiving are similarly rejected.

This poses challenges to some Jehovah Witnesses who are parents of kids who just want to dress up and get candy like their classmates. John Redmond's two elementary school-age children won't be dressing up and trick-or-treating, though their neighborhood will be buzzing with activity.

"Sometimes it's not easy for the children, especially at school," Redmond said of them not celebrating the holiday. "But we want to make sure they have the background behind (our beliefs)."

Redmond will explain to his kids that celebrating the holiday wouldn't be pleasing to God. That is among a core set of beliefs that the Redmonds are passing down to their children, who will one day be free to follow in their parents' religious footsteps, or not, Redmond says.

Meanwhile, some churches will be taking part in celebrations for the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. The ancient Aztec celebration, a national holiday in Mexico, honors the lives of deceased loved ones. Locally, altars honoring the deceased will be set up in churches with large Hispanic congregations, such as St. Francis by the Sea Catholic Church.

But the Day of the Dead is not a religious holiday, celebrants say.

"It's a cultural celebration, not a religious celebration," said Diana Lopez, who's helping to organize the St. Francis remembrances.

Despite Halloween's pagan roots, most churches don't put up a fuss about parishioners getting into the ghoulishness of it all.

"I think that for most it's a pretty benign celebration," said the Rev. Jerry Kramer of Lowcountry Presbyterian Church. "For most Presbyterians, they'll buy candy and hope for trick-or-treaters -- and not tricks."

Contact Justin Paprocki at 706-8143 or To comment on this story, please go to

Baby Jesus?

I like to picture my Jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt, cuz it says, Hey I'm formal, but I like to party. I like my Jesus to party. Cal Naughton Jr. in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

C.S Lewis said that Jesus was either, Lord, Lunatic, or Liar. This has been used as a way to explain true Christianity and has been really effective in the past. The idea here is that you have to deal with Him as the God-Man (Lord) or as a mere man who claimed to be God but was not (Liar or Lunatic). But, what if we never even get to a place where we take Jesus seriously enough to even draw these conclusions? What if I make Him into someone He wasn’t; White Middle-Class-Suburban-Jesus, Tiny-Infant-Jesus, Teenage-Rebel Jesus, Swedish-Feathered-Haired-In-A-Blue-Sash-Jesus, Velvet-Elvis-Jesus? Maybe before Christianity can be real for us we need to figure out first whether the Jesus in our heads is true or false. Am I worshipping the real Jesus or just a figment of my imagination? If I can answer that, then maybe I can worship the true Son of God.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby