November 30, 2008
News staff writer
EONTA - Eleven juveniles who had been at a faith-based home for troubled boys were returned to their parents and guardians Tuesday while a probe continued into charges of abuse at the facility.
The boys, who had lived at Reclamation Ranch Ministries' Lighthouse Academy in western Blount County, were the subject of a hearing before Circuit Judge Steve King to determine if they should stay in the custody of the Department of Human Resources. The boys, who hailed from places including California, Kentucky and an Amish community in Ohio, were released by the court throughout the day to parents, relatives or other adults.
Some of the boys said their time at the academy had changed them for the better. But some foster parents,[who were never at the home and don't know anything at all about it] with whom DHR had placed some of the boys after removing them from Lighthouse Academy on Saturday, said the facility seemed unduly harsh. (Snip, click here to read article.)
November 24, 2008
The swarmed our Lighthouse Academy dorm in true "swat" style, breaking down the door with a battering ram, and entered with pistols and guns drawn!
The Parkinson's and their children were awaken with pistol drawn in their bedroom, forcing Bro. Parkinson onto the floor and cuffed him, kept the guns on him and his family forcing them to sit with guns drawn. Finally producing the search warrant they went about arousing the other staff members from the other house, the Gregory's with their three small children, and Bro. Rick and his wife Samantha who is pregnant.
Once we received the call at 6:15 a.m. we went straight to the Lighthouse property where we were not allowed to see or to speak with any of our staff members and were told to go back to our other "compound" (the girls dorm 2 miles away in Walker County).
The pictures seen here are just a few I took before leaving the property that morning. After getting everyone out of bed, they would not let the staff see the boys nor the boys the staff. They then proceeded to interview the boys. After a search of the facilities they proceeded to take out miscellaneous items and them proceeded to take all of the boys that are in the program and placed them in "state" custody.
After we were told to leave and go to the girls "compound" (the great "Waco" terminology) we returned and met with our staff there and decided rather than cause our girls unnecessary trauma we would send them to the church to clean up after our jubilee.
About a quarter of a mile away one of our vans was pulled over and swarmed by the police cars you see here.
The other van went onto the church to begin cleanup. They proceeded to hold them there while waiting on information from Blount County and then decided to call in the social worker from Walker County to hold individual interviews with the girls there on the side of the road.
After about an hour, they decided to take them to Sumiton Police Station where they would continue the interview and asked us to bring the other girls from the church to the police station. We complied with every request that Walker County asked for...when asking for paper work or information on the girls we were not required to give them anything without a warrant but decided that cooperation is always best, especially when you have nothing to hide.
After over eight hours we were able to have the girls back, they decided at this time the girls were in no "danger". We do appreciate the treatment by the Sumiton police department to the girls. (While I only wish we could say the same for the way Blount County department handled the boys situation. In such a "Cops" attitude.) While the social services could not find no reason to keep the girls they have made calls to all the parents of the girls implying that they should remove their girls from Rachel Academy.
The girls holding their bible before going into the police station.
We have 100% support of the parents of all of the girls and there are a few who are going to bring their daughters home until the situation stabilizes. We totally understand and respect the seriousness of the situation seeing how quickly things can turn as resulted in the boys being placed in "state" custody.
The picture below is of the girls hugging Ms. Trudy before going into the police station. They were terrified because we were not able to be with them during the process. They love our staff and our staff loves the girls. They know that we protect them. We do not do anything to hurt them or endanger them in anyway!
One more note: the girls while inside the police station (none of us on staff were allowed in the police station during the hours of interviews) they got together and begin singing songs about the Lord and giving testimonies to the officers in the station. In fact one officer was so impressed he recorded the girls on his phone and wants to place it as his "ringing" tone. He came out and gave us updates often! Brother Jack bought the girls pizza for lunch (at the request of the police station) and opened one of the box tops and wrote "I love you" on it. When the girls opened the box the officer saw it and had a real problem with it, they removed the pizza out of the box and took it out and said that we should not have done that. My..my...we've come a long way.
Now I would like for you to keep in mind that we work with boys and girls have had many problems in many different areas that resulted in their family member to place them with us to try and help them learn respect for themselves, each other and how to become a better individual that the Lord Jesus Christ can produce in their lives. During the year that they are in our program we do not allow "worldly" influences into our program. Our homes takes many of the young people off of the streets, out of abusive situations, out of gangs and away from video games, promiscuous activities, and quite often away from friends who are leading the young people in the wrong. direction.
Please join us on Tuesday, November 25th at the park in Oneota, Alabama, across from the court house at 9 a.m. where we will be showing support to the parents whose sons were taken away during the raid on the boys dorm. We have many friends, family of the youths in our facilities, pastors and other Christian based facility superintendents coming in from all across the country.
Pictured here below is one of the boys father whose son was taken away and placed in state custody without his permission. The purpose of the hearing on Tuesday is to see if the parents can have custody back or if the state is going to keep the custody and run the boys through the "foster care" maze. Please continue to pray for all of our young people and parents whose lives are being turned upside down by one young man who is bringing these accusations. Needless to say if these children were not known for their lying, manipulations etc. they would not have been in a situation where they had to come to one of our homes.
We do not nor will we ever condone abuse to any young person whether it is in a Christian based facility such as ours or in a parents home. We protect these children from so very much and yet this is one more of your liberties as a parent that you are about to lose from the state.
We are losing our freedoms when a police force can come into a home with guns and battering rams ...handcuffing the superintendent and scaring everyone. Please keep us in your fervent prayers.
November 23, 2008
Decatur First Baptist keeps woman in the pulpit
By DONNA WILLIAMS LEWIS
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, November 23, 2008
On the Sunday before Thanksgiving, in a fellowship hall flanked by overstuffed easy chairs and candlelit bar tables, visitors and members of Decatur First Baptist Church were asked what they were thankful for.
“We all have days, or even seasons, when gratitude is a real stretch for us,” the Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell told the early service congregation. “Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.”
One woman was happy about her new niece. Another was grateful some parts of her “disjointed family” would be together for the holiday. A teacher thanked God for answering his prayer that a disruptive student do his work.
And then a man stood to say, “I’m thankful for Julie Pennington-Russell.”
It was a poignant statement, coming, as it did, on the first Sunday Pennington-Russell took the pulpit since Georgia Southern Baptists approved a policy aimed at diminishing the role of churches led by women pastors.
A Southern Baptist statement of faith says only men can serve as head pastor in churches, but the churches are independent and can call whom they want as pastor.
Last year Pennington-Russell became head of the nation’s largest Southern Baptist church with a female senior pastor when she was called to the 2,700-member Decatur First Baptist Church. Her appointment led to talk in the Georgia Baptist Convention of breaking ties with the church.
On Nov. 11, the convention approved a policy that allows the convention to refuse donations from churches that do not adhere to Southern Baptist beliefs. That move would make the churches lose their association voting privileges but allow them to maintain an affiliation with the convention.
So far, the convention has taken no action against Decatur First Baptist. Pennington-Russell said Georgia Baptist Convention’s executive director has asked to meet with the church, and that the meeting will probably occur in December.
In the meantime, “Folks here realize the mission of this church is just moving forward in all kinds of creative, wonderful ways,” Pennington-Russell said in an interview between services. “I think it’s an unfortunate momentary distraction.”
She said Decatur First Baptist has, over time, become much more invested in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a national organization for moderate Baptists, which accepts women as pastors.
“This church really is historically tied to the Southern Baptist Convention, but lately it’s only been tied by the slenderest of threads,” Pennington-Russell said.
Member Gail Roper, 63, would probably vouch for that.
“If they would like to ask us to leave the Southern Baptist Convention, I think that’s fine,” Roper said. “I think our new minister is wonderful.”
Chris Stanford, 35, of Decatur, who plays guitar in the morning service’s band, said he hadn’t given the matter much thought.
“I don’t really care what a governing body thinks about the spirit leading us in a certain direction,” he said.
Dawn Shorb hadn’t heard the news, but it didn’t matter to her, either.
“Coming here benefits us and backs up what we’re learning about now,” said Shorb, 40, who has attended the church since June with other women from a local halfway house. “From the first time we came we just felt such warmth.”
Member John H. Davis, 70, of Decatur, said he’s happy with his [sic] mininster.
“As long as Christ is being preached, I can accept anyone,” Davis said. “In fact, some of my favorite preachers are women.”
November 18, 2008
Does he look more like his white grandfather who raised him? Or does he look like the Kenyan father he never knew?
Is Obama a Muslim? I doubt Obama is a Muslim, although he is very partial to the religion due to spending about 3 years as a youth in Indonesia with a Muslim stepfather.
Is Obama a Christian? I doubt it, even though he spent the majority of his life being raised by his white grandparents and attending a Christian school in Hawaii. He has stated he doesn't actually believe in any of the major Christian doctrines.
Does he really believe in change? I doubt it.
Everyone he has hired so far for his administration are tired and warmed over white liberals from the Clinton years. He's slapped his black Christian constituents in the face by naming 7 practicing homosexuals to important posts on his transition team.
Of course, he was just giving all those black folks lip service anyway. He isn't like them and has nothing in commom with them. He was raised in a white home, in a white community, in all white private schools by his white grandparents.
Obama has no idea what the average black person has had to live through, because he has never wanted for a thing his whole life.
He's just another rich almost white liberal using the black man for a vote.