Wednesday, August 26, 2009

26 August 2009

Presbyterians Week Headlines

[1] Cornerstone Investment Ministries Bankruptcy Investigated by World Magazine Reporter Ken Walker
[2] North Carolina Governor Recognizes John Calvin’s 500th Birthday and Calvin’s Influence on U.S. Freedom, Liberty, and Founding Principles
[3] Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Adopts Unbiblical Positions on Human Sexuality and Lifts Ban on Homosexual Clergy
[4] Minneapolis, Minnesota, Minister John Piper Witnesses and Comments Upon Tornado Concurrent with Scheduled ELCA Sexuality Vote
[5] The Irish Emigrant Reviews the History of Ulster Scots in the Appalachians
[6] Belhaven College Introduces Classical Education Major
[7] 7 November 2009 Conference on Christian Education with Theme “Christian Education In a Post-Modern Age” Scheduled in DeMotte, Indiana
[8] “Traditionalist Catholics” in Mexico Expel Fifty-Seven Evangelical Christians from Homes and Farms
[9] Iran’s Muslim Cleric Supreme Leader Urges Muslims to Prepare for the Arrival of the Islamic Messiah or “Twelfth Imam”
[10] Muslim Honor Killings Come to America
[11] South Korean Newspaper Correspondent Claims United States Appeases Islam Under President Barrack Hussein Obama
[12] Happy 250th Birthday William Wilberforce

[13] Battery Box Part from Through Gates of Splendor Martyrs’ Plane to be Taken on Space Shuttle Mission

[1] Cornerstone Investment Ministries Bankruptcy Investigated by World Magazine Reporter Ken Walker

On the eve of the final stages of Cornerstone Investment Ministries (CMI)’s February 2008 Chapter Eleven bankruptcy filing, a 15 August 2009 World Magazine article titled, “Victim of a Bad Economy or a House of Cards?,” by reporter Ken Walker, reviews the circumstances surrounding the founding of CMI, what led to CMI’s financial demise, and the effect CMI’s bankruptcy is having on its clients.

Walker describes CMI’s founding in late 1985 by ordained Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) ministers the late Cecil Brooks (d. June 2009) and John Ottinger Jr., as the Investors Fund for Building and Development (IFBD) (later named the Presbyterian Investment Fund (PIF)) that began loaning money for church construction in early 1986 under a board of directors elected by the 1986 PCA General Assembly. IFBD kept its headquarters at the PCA denominational offices in Atlanta, Georgia, until 1994, when following a never-released audit of IFBD, the PCA disassociated itself from IFBD and received US$1.3 million from previous PCA investments in IFBD.

[Editor’s note: as late as the publication date for the Winter 1999/2000 issue of Multiply, the PCA Mission to North America’s magazine, a PIF ad was published that had no differentiation from the other Multiply articles, with a background graphic of a modern church building overlaid with “God’s Money for God’s Kingdom,” offering certificates of deposit in the PIF Mortgage Loan Fund and Church Development Fund with interest rates up to eight percent for three years and nine percent for five years respectively for the two funds.]

In 1996, Brooks and Ottinger founded CMI with a US$3.7 million initial public offer (IPO), and later merged CMI with PIF. CMI began to offer bonds to investors, then paying nine percent per annum interest, that attracted individuals and churches wanting a high rate of return on their investments and liking the fact that CMI made loans to churches and related organizations.

Walker references the March 2009 report of bankruptcy examiner Pat Huddleston that cites several questionable practices by Brooks and Ottinger that contributed to CMI’s downfall. In 1999, Brooks and Ottinger unilaterally began making loans to other type of businesses, including senior housing facilities, multi-family homes, and single-family homes, and according to Walker, culminating pre-bankruptcy in CMI having sixty-three percent of its investments in second mortgages. The pair created what Huddleston called a “tangled web of non-profit and for-profit corporations and limited liability companies,” including “phony non-profits to hold some of Cornerstone's properties while appointing figurehead officers to oversee them.” A representative of one of CMI’s creditors described the corporate web as a “shell game” where “you move money around and siphon a little off.”

Huddleston reported that Brooks, Ottinger, and two other CMI directors in 2006 purchased seventy-five percent interest in a similar company for US$1,000 each, then later received distributions of approx. US$171,000 each—even though the subsidiary never made any money. Huddleston additionally reported that CMI officers failed to report some of their earnings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, include profits of US$6.2 million each apiece for Brooks and Ottinger from the 2007 sale of a senior housing facility. Huddleston also cited CMI for spending funds on first-class and private jet travel, memberships in a championship golf course, and US$250,000 sponsorships of a Dallas,
Texas marathon, the aggregate of which resulted in financial problems for CMI subsidiaries, including a low-income housing project that was delayed by insufficient funds.

Walker described the devastating effect of the CMI bankruptcy on creditors including churches who have lost funds for emergency medical care, missions, orphanages, scholarships, and other ministry programs; and, individuals that have lost a significant part of their retirement savings, a disabled woman who invested US$523,000 from an insurance settlement, and other families whose college savings for their children have been severely depleted.

Bankruptcy court documents describe more than 3,500 CMI investors holding US$142 million in CMI bonds that can expect to receive back only between nine percent and thirty-six percent of their claims. Huddleston reported that: "In light of the evidence described above, the examiner believes that bondholders have valid causes of action against broker-dealers, Cornerstone directors and others," for their mismanagement, conflicts of interest, and failure to disclose material information. An Atlanta, Georgia, attorney specializing in securities arbitration and class action has recommended that CMI creditors not pursue additional legal action, due to the dearth of assets of the out-of-business or bankrupt brokers that sold CMI bonds.

Walker concluded the article by wondering if CMI’s previous ties to the PCA will in the long term hurt the denomination. Reformed Presbyterian minister, former PCA ruling elder, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Liberty University, and professor of history specializing in U.S. church history, Dr. Roger Schultz, pinpointed an important aspect of the problem as being the church mixing commerce too closely with religion. Shultz said that the church should stick to missions and church planting, and should not complicate these missions by playing the role of a banker.

Additional analyses of the CMI bankruptcy are available in the Atlanta Constitution article, “Church Investors Suspect Bad Faith; Presbyterian Firm Branched into Secular Risk, and Lost Millions,” and on the Georgia Bankruptcy Law Blog article, “Cornerstone Ministries Investments, Inc., Lender To Churches And Faith-Based Organizations, Files Chapter 11 Petition” and updates.

+ World Magazine, 85 Tunnel Road, Suite 12, Asheville, North Carolina 28805, 828-232-5415, Fax: 828-253-1556,

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1000, Fax: 678-825-1001,

[2] North Carolina Governor Recognizes John Calvin’s 500th Birthday and Calvin’s Influence on U.S. Freedom, Liberty, and Founding Principles

In its spring 2009 stated meeting, First Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) adopted a memorial which called upon First Presbytery and the ARP Synod to seek recognition by the governor of North Carolina of the 500th anniversary of the birth of theologian John Calvin, and for Calvin’s influence on the Protestant Reformation and on the founding of the United States. The memorial was submitted after the June 2009 ARP Synod meeting to the office of North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, and the following 10 August 2009 letter (body reproduced below) was issued by the governor:

On behalf of the State of North Carolina, it is a pleasure to join the First Presbytery in recognizing the 500th Anniversary of the birth of John Calvin, French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. His teachings are the foundation of the Presbyterian and other reformed churches and have guided generations of Christians across the globe.

During a time when heretical views were condemnable by death, John Calvin worked to reform the Catholic Church. His scholarship helped lead a movement of religious change across Europe and inspired his masterpiece,
Institutes of the Christian Religion.

John Calvin’s influence can be felt in how we live and govern. His notions of freedom of men and liberty are principles that helped form our nation, and it is my privilege to honor John Calvin and his teachings as part of our heritage.

+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Center, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

[3] Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Adopts Unbiblical Positions on Human Sexuality and Lifts Ban on Homosexual Clergy

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) 2009 Churchwide Assembly, meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, 17-23 August 2009, on 20 August adopted new policies allowing the church to approve and bless non-marital sex, both homosexual and heterosexual.

On 21 August, the assembly voted to lift a ban prohibiting sexually active homosexuals from serving as ministers. Under the new policy, an ELCA congregation can hire homosexuals as clergy as long as the prospective minister is in a committed relationship. Until now, homosexual clergy had to remain celibate in order to serve.

In other assembly news, the ELCA on 20 August adopted full communion with the United Methodist Church.

The 4.6 million member ELCA, has lost nearly 1 million members during the past four decades.

+ Institute on Religion and Democracy, 1023 15th Street Northwest, Suite 601, Washington DC 20005-2601, 202-682-4131, Fax: 202-682-4136,

+ St. Cloud Times, 3000 7th Street North, St. Cloud, Minnesota 56303, 320-255-8700, Fax: 320-255-8775,

+ Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 8765 West Higgins Road, Chicago, Illinois 60631, 773-380-2700, Fax: 773-380-1465,

+ United Methodist Church, 7178 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, Maryland 21046, 410-309-3400

[4] Minneapolis, Minnesota, Minister John Piper Witnesses and Comments Upon Tornado Concurrent with Scheduled ELCA Sexuality Vote

John Piper, in his desiringGod blog, reports that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) 2009 Churchwide Assembly was meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Minneapolis Convention Center and using Central Lutheran Church right across the street from the convention center as the assembly’s official church. Scheduled for 20 August at 2:00 p.m. was the assembly’s Fifth Session and a vote on whether or not to adopt new policies allowing the church to approve and bless non-marital sex, both homosexual and heterosexual.

Piper relates that a tornado, on a day when meteorologists had predicted no severe weather, touched down a little before 2:00 P.M. just south of the Minneapolis downtown area, followed I-35W toward the city center, crossed I-94, then at 2:00 PM struck the Minneapolis Convention Center, severely damaging the roof and shredding the tents set up outside for the assembly; then crossed the street to Central Lutheran Church where the tornado ripped a piece of the church steeple off the roof, cleaved a remaining part of the steeple into two pieces, then the tornado lifted back into the sky.

Piper then reviewed four relevant biblical passages and concluded: “The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.”

+ Desiring God, Post Office Box 2901, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55402, 612-435-2401, Fax: 612-338-4372,

[5] The Irish Emigrant Reviews the History of Ulster Scots in the Appalachians

Matthew Crow has written an article in The Irish Emigrant titled “Ulster Scots in the Appalachians,” which reviews the history of Ulster Scots’ emigration to America and their settlement in the southern Appalachians. Crow describes the emigration of mostly Protestant Scots from Ulster starting around 1705, which culminated in the emigration between 1717 and 1775 of about 200,000 Ulster Scots to America.

While alluding to remaining areas of poverty in Southern Appalachia, Crow relates how British historian Arnold Toynbee’s 1947 book, A Study in History, “did more to denigrate the image of the Appalachian people and associate them with the Scots Irish than any other person,” by creating the myth of a “land of backwoods, uneducated and violent hicks.”

Crow discusses the possible origin of the word “redneck” being derived from the Scots Covenanters who signed in blood in 1639 and 1641 documents advocating Presbyterianism and refuting the Church of England, and who wore red scarves around their necks. Crow similarly tells of the possible origin of the work “hillbilly” being derived from the Protestant Ulster Scots that supported King William of Orange, known as “Billy boys.”

Crow concludes by reviewing the many persons of Ulster Scots descent that contributed to the building of the United States, and tells of a Hessian soldier who wrote in his Revolutionary War-era diary, "Call this war by whatever name you may, only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less than a Scotch Irish Presbyterian rebellion."

+ The Irish Emigrant, Post Office Box 51549,
Boston, Massachusetts 02205, 617-268-8322, Fax: 617-268-8762,

+ Church of England, Church House, Great Smith Street, Westminster, SW1P 3AZ, England, 44-0-20-7898-1000

[6] Belhaven College Introduces Classical Education Major

Belhaven College of Jackson, Mississippi, has introduced a Classical Education major, a degree program for students who seek to serve in classical Christian schools as teachers or administrators, desire a strong foundation in the liberal arts, and seek to learn in an environment that promotes a biblical worldview.

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

[7] 7 November 2009 Conference on Christian Education with Theme “Christian Education In a Post-Modern Age” Scheduled in DeMotte, Indiana

Immanuel United Reformed Church’s 2009 Conference on Christian Education with the theme “Christian Education In a Post-Modern Age” is scheduled for 7 November 2009 at Covenant Christian High School in DeMotte,

Calvin Seminary Professor of Systematic Theology Dr. John Bolt will speak at 8:30 a.m. on "The Reformed Foundation and the Challenges," and Mid-America Reformed Seminary Professor of Ethics and New Testament Dr. Nelson D. Kloosterman will speak at 10:00 a.m. on "Building on the Foundation for the Future."

Free conference registration is available on the Immanuel United Reformed Church website.

+ Immanuel United Reformed Church, 831 Azalea Street, DeMotte,
Indiana 46310, 219-987-6247,

+ United Reformed Churches in North America, C/O Mr. Bill Konynenbelt, 5824 Bowwater Circle Northwest, Calgary, Alberta T3B 2E2, Canada, 403-286-0521, Fax: 403-286-0759,

+ Calvin College 3201 Burton Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 49546, 616-526-6000

+ Mid-America Reformed Seminary, 229 Seminary Drive,
Dyer, Indiana 46311, 219-864-2400, Fax: 219-864-2410,

[8] “Traditionalist Catholics” in Mexico Expel Fifty-Seven Evangelical Christians from Homes and Farms

“Traditionalist Catholicism” (TC) in Mexico is a hybrid religion that combines Roman Catholicism with native rituals. In July 2009, TC leaders expelled thirty-two Christians from their homes and farms in a village in Los Parajes in Hidalgo state and another twenty-five from Yavelotzi in Oaxaca state because the Christians refused to participate in drunken festivals that include worship of Roman Catholic idols.

The Los Parajes Christians were violently torn from their homes on 13 July 2009 when the town’s TC leaders struck them with machetes and ropes. They were forced to leave behind 121 acres of land planted with crops, as well as their homes and animals. The TC’s in Los Parajes on 28 July offered to allow the Christians to return if they denied their faith and paid the equivalent of nearly US$13,900 in “fines” for having refused to contribute to the traditionalist Catholic festivals. The Christians declined the offer.

After refusing to participate in TC festivals in Yavelotzi, twenty-five Christians on 17 July were threatened with beatings and death if they did not immediately leave town, thus losing their homes, crops, and communal rights. The Christians and were warned not to return unless they renounced their faith in Jesus Christ.

+ Compass Direct News Service, Post Office Box 27250, Santa Ana, California 92799, 949-862-0304, Fax: 949-752-6536,

+ The Vatican

[9] Iran’s Muslim Cleric Supreme Leader Urges Muslims to Prepare for the Arrival of the Islamic Messiah or “Twelfth Imam”

Iran’s supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, during the week of 17 August 2009 called upon Muslims in countries neighboring Iran to intensify preparations for the arrival of the Islamic Messiah known as the Mahdi or the “Twelfth Imam,” by urging the Muslims to mobilize forces to defeat the United States and Israel. Khamenei has declared himself to be the direct representative of the Mahdi, and that obedience to him is equivalent to obeying the Mahdi – the prophesied Savior of Islam.

Al Arabiya explains: “The Mahdi is believed by Muslims to be arriving before Judgment Day to rid the world of injustice. Although present in both major Islamic schools of thought, the Mahdi is more prominent in the Shiite [Predominant in Iran] doctrine than the Sunni [Predominant in Saudi Arabia] one.”

Joe Rosenberg’s Weblog, referencing a Jerusalem Post article, says: “Now comes the news that Saudi Arabia is moving forward with plans to build a series of nuclear power plants. This is clearly a move to respond to the Iran nuclear threat, and suggests the Sunni Muslim royal family are actively preparing for a nuclear arms race with their Shia Muslim enemies in Iran.”

+ Joe Rosenberg’s Weblog

+ Al Arabiya, MBC Building #3, Dubai Media City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 971-4-391-9999, Fax: 971-4-369-7397,

+ International Conference of Mahdism Doctrine, No 5 - 23rd Alley Safaieye Street, Qom, Iran, 0098-251-78-34329, Fax: 0098-251-783713,

+ Jerusalem Post, Post Office Box 81, Jerusalem, 91000 Israel, 972-2-531-5666, Fax: 972-2-538-9527,

[10] Muslim Honor Killings Come to America

The Muslim practice of “honor killings” has long been a danger to women in Muslim countries, but the practice is now being seen in the United States. The latest incident involves Fathima Rifqa Bary, a seventeen year old girl from Ohio that fled to Florida because she says that her Muslim father threatened to kill her when she became a Christian. Bary is currently in the custody of an Orlando, Florida, couple that are Christian ministers, while her father is attempting to have the court system force Bary to return to Ohio, where Bary claims she will be killed within a week of returning there.

Bary’s fears are very real in light of other recent American “honor killings.” In July 2008, twenty-five year old Chaudry Rashid of Jonesboro, Georgia was strangled to death with a bungee cord by her Muslim father after Rachid announced that she was seeking a divorce from her spouse from an arranged marriage. In January 2008, seventeen year old and eighteen year old Sarah and Aimna Said were found shot to death in a taxicab in Irving,
Texas. Police are still seeking the girls’ Muslim father who is suspected in the shootings. Sarah and Aimna along with their mother fled Dallas, Texas in December 2007 after Sarah received a death threat from her father via text message, and the girls were murdered soon after they returned to Dallas.

+ Assyrian International News Agency

[11] South Korean Newspaper Correspondent Claims United States Appeases Islam Under President Barrack Hussein Obama

The Seoul Times Tokyo, Japan, correspondent Jay Lee Walker wrote a 26 August 2009 letter saying that U.S. President Barrack Hussein Obama is trying to manipulate the United States closer to the Muslim world by spouting Islamic propaganda.

Walker quotes Obama saying that the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, “remind us of the principles that we hold in common, and Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.,” and then Walker rhetorically asks, “…what “justice” and “tolerance” is Obama talking about?”

Walker points out that, “Mohammed himself did not believe in the dignity of all human beings…Jews and Pagans were killed and enslaved, [and]…all faiths would be banned from the lands of Mecca and Medina. The multi-religious nature of Arabia would be shattered and destroyed by both Mohammed and the early Muslim leaders who would then eradicate Christianity from Arabia.”

Walker compares the inherent superiority of Muslims in Islamic Sharia law with the equality of all citizens before the law inherent in modern Western law, then reminds the reader about Muslim “tolerance” of non-Muslims “…in recent incidents of burning Christians alive in Pakistan, beheading Christian converts from Islam in Somalia, killing innocent Shia Muslims in Iraq, killing Buddhists in Southern Thailand, beheading Christian pastors in Nigeria, persecuting Coptic Christians in Egypt, and so forth.”

Walker continues to review many other facets of Muslim treatment of non-Muslims, women, and others, and asks: “…[W]hy is Obama making false statements and why is he ignoring reality?....[W]hy does Obama close his eyes when it pleases him and why does he make false statements which can be ridiculed or openly contradicted at the drop of a hat?....[W]here is the justice and equality in Islamic Sharia law and the Koran for non-Muslims?”

+ The Seoul Times, Yangjae-dong 364-7, Seocho-gu, Seoul, Korea 137-130, 82-2-555-6188, Fax: 82-2-6918-6188,

[12] Happy 250th Birthday William Wilberforce

The 250th anniversary of the birth of William Wilberforce was 24 August 2009. Living out his Christian faith, Wilberforce worked tirelessly and arduously for eighteen years to successfully bring a peaceful end to the British slave trade.

Chuck Colson writes: “To speak of Wilberforce is to speak of biblical worldview in action….Wilberforce’s worldview led him to engage in more than just the issue of slavery. He fought for prison reform. He founded or participated in sixty charities. He convinced King George III to issue a proclamation encouraging virtue, and reinstated The Proclamation Society to help see such virtue encouraged. He cared for God’s creation, founding the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And he championed missionary efforts, like founding the British and Foreign Bible Society.”

(Photo is Rwandan bishop, John Ruchyahana, being honored as Chuck Colson presents the 2009 William Wilberforce Award to Bishop Ruchyahana for helping perpetrators and victims of genocide forgive one another.)

+ Breakpoint, 44180 Riverside Parkway, Lansdowne, Virginia 20176, 877-478-0100

[13] Battery Box Part from Through Gates of Splendor Martyrs’ Plane to be Taken on Space Shuttle Mission

Astronaut Patrick Forrester is taking aboard his August 2009 flight on the space shuttle “Discovery,” a part from the battery box of Nate Saint’s Piper PA-14, which was the plane used by the five missionaries martyred in Ecuador in January 1956 when they flew into the jungle to meet with a tribe of Waodani Indians who speared the five missionaries to death.

Elisabeth Eliot, widow of slain missionary Jim Elliott, in 1957 wrote Through Gates of Splendor, which tells the story of the five missionary men killed that day and their families. Missionaries Pete Fleming, Ed McCully, and Roger Youderian were killed along with Nate Saint and Jim Eliot.

Upon return of the shuttle flight, the battery box part and a certificate authenticating its shuttle flight will be returned to its home with the rest of the Piper PA-14 at the Mission Aviation Fellowship headquarters in Nampa, Idaho.

+ Mission Aviation Fellowship, 112 North Pilatus Lane, Nampa, Idaho 83687, 208-498-0800, 208-498-0801,