Friday, July 26, 2013


Greetings from Gatlinburg TN!

This has been a very full but rewarding week.  Those of you who have who follow me on Twitter (@brucesofia)and/or Facebook (Joseph Bruce Sofia) have watched this divinely orchestrated week unfold from Philadelphia to Gatlinburg where ECA’s (Evangelical Church Alliance) Annual Conference was held.

I would be remiss if I did not share the highlight of the event – the ordination of 17 ECA graduates (27 with spouses), the majority of Korean decent; there was also a strong delegation of military personnel going into the chaplaincy.  I don’t believe there was a person present who did not shed joyful tears at the laying on of hands (commissioning).  God’s presence was so “there.” 

As a staff we go to large conferences where ministry leaders by the thousands gather – e.g.: Andy Stanley’s Catalyst and Bill Hybels’ Globel.  They are inspiring and motivational, however this conference was different, 'deeply' different.  Let me explain.

While catching a quick lunch with Dr Rob Schenck, ECA’s Board Chairman, I said, “What this conference did that the ‘big conferences’ do not do is ‘get dirty’.”  Here’s what I mean: Ruth Bell Graham shared the pain of two divorces (Down But Not Out); Walter Wally had to leave ministry for 10 years, today he ministers to those broken in or by ministry; Chaplain (Colonel) Dr Elmon Krupnic and his wife addressed how every deployment is a loss both on the home front and again on foreign soil.  And the Jamaican, Huntley Brown, featured pianist for the Billy Graham association, blessed us with his incredible gift.

What do I mean by deeply different?  Ruth confronted the question: “Where does a person in the ministry go when life isn’t treating him/her to kindly?”  Hey, remove the “all is well mask” at your church and in your community, and most likely, in many cases you’re packing bags.  Yet, ministers, like all of us, are not absent from the ‘uglies’ of life.  The battle is never won alone, that's why God has given us the body of Christ

Some of the ‘Breakout’ sessions looked at the power of social media ( and and its necessity in today’s age, and the need for a biblical understanding of marriage.  Powerful stuff!  Stuff that dealt with the "nitty-gritty" of life.
Personally I had the privilege of conducting a breakout session on "suicide" and the honor of bringing the keynote address to the Ordination Graduates.  For all of you who prayed for me – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!  The (my) address was noticeably bathed by your prayers.  Oh, and I left Tennessee having sold every book (Hope Beyond Suicide) shipped.

I’m not sure what God intends to so with the associations made at this conference, but I’m sure none of them were without purpose.  Oh, one more delight – just before I spoke I asked Huntley Brown to play (my schedule did not provide me the opportunity to hear him), he said: “Only if I can come to your church?”  I told him he had a deal.    

Pastor Bruce
Loyalty is a man's best friend. Josh 1:5

Monday, July 1, 2013



"Taxation without representation!"  That was the battle cry of the 13 colonies in America that were forced to pay taxes to England's King George III with no representation in Parliament.  As dissatisfaction grew, British troops were sent in to quell any signs of rebellion, and repeated attempts by the colonists to resolve the crisis without war proved fruitless.

On June 11, 1776, the colonies' Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia formed a committee with the express purpose of drafting a document that would formally sever their ties with Great Britain.  The committee included Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston.  The document was crafted by Jefferson, who was considered the strongest and most eloquent writer.  (Nevertheless, a total of 86 changes were made to his draft.)  The final version was officially adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4.

The following day, copies of the Declaration of Independence were distributed and, on July 6, The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to print the extraordinary document.  The Declaration of Independence has since become our nation's most cherished symbol of liberty.

On July 8, 1776, the first public readings of the Declaration were held in Philadelphia's Independence Square to the ringing of bells and band music.  One year later, on July 4, 1777, Philadelphia marked Independence Day by adjourning Congress and celebrating with bonfires, bells and fireworks.

Congress established Independence Day as a holiday in 1870, and in 1938 Congress reaffirmed it as a holiday, but with full pay for federal employees.  Today, communities across the nation mark this major midsummer holiday with parades, fireworks, picnics and the playing of the "Star Spangled Banner" and marches by John Philip Sousa.


1. It is America’s biggest non-religious holiday.

2. America celebrates July 4 as Independence Day because it was July 4, 1776 that the members of the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and adopted the final draft of the Declaration of Independence.

3. In 1777, Philadelphians remembered the 4th of July by ringing bells, firing guns, lighting candles and setting off firecrackers.

4. When the War of Independence ended in 1783, July 4th became a holiday in some places – Boston being one of them.  Speeches, military events, parades and fireworks marked the day.

5. In 1941 Congress declared July 4th a Federal Holiday.  Today it is celebrated throughout America in every State.