Christianity

Religious holidays arrive for the faithful as pandemic restrictions rolled back across U.S.

March 31, 2021

For Christians across the United States, Easter services on Sunday will reflect an extra measure of joy as the nation experiences rising optimism after a year of pandemic. Even if still observing restrictions, many churches may draw the largest numbers of in-person worshippers in months.

It’s a season of major holy days for other faiths as well, occurring in a brighter mood than a year ago. Jews are observing Passover this week, and Muslims will enter the holy month of Ramadan in about two weeks.

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‘Why is Jesus covered in popcorn?’: Memories of Vietnamese Catholic Holy Week in New Orleans

March 31, 2021

One Holy Saturday morning, my mother took me to church to kiss the bloody feet of Jesus. I was 6 or 7 years old at the time. When we arrived at the church, I saw the regular and occasional churchgoers, young and old, also waiting in line to venerate the Lord. Many tied white cloth headbands around their heads, a Chinese tradition that signifies the mourning of a teacher or family member. White, for many Asian communities, is associated with death.

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Members of many Covid-weary Vermont faith communities are staying online

March 30, 2021

A year after moving to online offerings, some Vermont spiritual communities are returning to in-person services this Easter, Passover and Ramadan, while others continue to restrict gatherings to virtual ones.

“If you recall, none of our churches were open for the Easter celebrations last year as we began the initial struggle to contain the Covid-19 pandemic,” Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne said. “Unlike last year, Easter this year is a bit more festive, a bit more celebratory.”

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Religious Life at BU Is “Resilient and Resurgent,” despite Pandemic

March 30, 2021

In spring 2020, the 104-year-old widow of a former BU professor became one of Marsh Chapel’s first congregants to die from COVID-19. “We have not been able to gather” to memorialize her or others lost during the pandemic, as on-premises gathering remains suspended, Marsh Chapel Dean Robert Allan Hill laments one year later.

Yet while the virus forced what Hill calls “worshipping...

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Asian American churches plan acts beyond prayer for healing

March 19, 2021

Asian American Christian leaders said Thursday their congregations are saddened and outraged after a white gunman killed eight people — most of them women of Asian descent — at three Atlanta-area massage businesses. And they’re calling for action beyond prayers.

Asian Americans were already rattled by a wave of racist attacks amid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic across the United States. While the motive behind Tuesday’s rampage remains under investigation, some see it as a wake-up call to stand up against a rise in violence against the community.

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Pittsburgh religious leaders offer prayers, comfort and encouragement during COVID memorial service

March 19, 2021

Out of grief and sheer frustration due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rev. Karie Charlton of Third Presbyterian Church in Shadyside admitted that she cried herself to sleep at several points throughout the past year.

In sharing her story of grief and vulnerability, Rev. Charlton said she hopes others may feel inspired to make themselves vulnerable to their loved ones as well during such a difficult time.

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After a 28-Year Ban, Alabama Could Allow Yoga in Public Schools

March 18, 2021

For nearly three decades, teaching yoga in Alabama’s public schools has been forbidden by the state’s school board.

One lawmaker, Jeremy Gray, has been trying to change that since 2019. He made progress on Thursday, when the state’s House of Representatives passed a bill that would override the ban. The bill, which was approved by a vote of 73 to 25, will soon be taken up by the Senate.

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Religious Groups Keep Faith During Pandemic, Remote Academic Year

February 23, 2021

D. Anthony Alvarez ’21, a member of the Harvard Latter-day Saints Student Association, has attended religious services at the same congregation off campus since he arrived at Harvard as a freshman.

This semester, Alvarez said he still attends services at that same congregation. Amid Covid-19, though, he must sign up to attend ahead of time, don a mask, and eschew singing, which can spread infectious particles.

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Ash Wednesday during a pandemic means sprinkles instead of markings to keep distance

February 17, 2021

At Our Lady of Lourdes in Seaford, the Rev. Steven B. Giuliano will be following the Vatican's request this year.

Unlike every Ash Wednesday that has come before, Giuliano will not be using his finger to make the sign of the cross on the foreheads of his congregation. Instead, he'll follow the advice from his church's leaders and sprinkle them upon their heads.

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