Christianity

With Passover, Easter and Ramadan looming, clergy scramble to create holidays at a distance

April 6, 2020

 

The Rev. Richard Mosson Weinberg canceled the Boston ferns and the yellow daffodils for the Easter service ordered for his Episcopal church in Washington’s affluent Kalorama neighborhood. Rabbi Levi Shemtov scrapped plans for the 200-person Seder dinner for Passover in his Chabad synagogue nearby. And Imam Yahya Luqman called off the Ramadan dinners at his mosque down the street.

These three faith leaders, who normally lead worship within walking distance from each other in Northwest Washington, are all scrambling to find...

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As coronavirus death toll mounts, faith leaders the world over grapple with funerals

April 3, 2020

For Menaka Kannan, it was bad enough when she heard that a fellow member of New York City’s Baha’i community had contracted the novel coronavirus. But she was not emotionally prepared for the news that came roughly a week later: He had succumbed to the infection and died.

“The news of his passing, of course, is very shocking,” she said.

As the community grappled with the grief, a lingering question arose: How do you conduct a funeral in the midst of a global pandemic, when a healing hug is now seen as a potential death sentence?

It’s a conundrum facing...

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How religious leaders are keeping faith during coronavirus, even from a social distance

April 1, 2020

REV. THOMAS CONWAY 

Executive Director of St. Anthony Shrine, Boston; interviewed on Sunday, March 15.

"I got a call yesterday from a woman saying, “I’m sitting outside the [church] building,” and she was crying. Her brother was in ICU, and because of the coronavirus crisis, she wasn’t able to go visit him. And he was dying. She had a very reasonable request: “Can we just pray for him for a minute?” And I said, “Sure, we can do that.” So we stood outside, and we prayed on the...

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Clergy laugh off bloopers as the coronavirus forces churches online

March 27, 2020

 

The Rev. Megan Castellan has been livestreaming morning prayer from home every day through the coronavirus pandemic for her parishioners at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ithaca, New York.

But Thursday’s prayer (March 26) was an “epic disaster,” Castellan told her followers on Twitter.

Both the rector’s dog and cat decided to participate in ...

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Stay-at-home faith. There’s a podcast for that.

March 27, 2020

While the doors at many houses of worship are closed to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, there are still ways to access spirituality online. Houston is home to a number of locally made podcasts, dedicated to exploring faith. These digital audio files can be downloaded and listened to whenever and wherever is convenient.

Interfaith Podcast Project

If Houston could tell its story, it would include a tale of diverse religions thriving in one city. That’s a challenge “Interfaith Podcast Project” accepted — exploring different faith traditions in a way that...

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As offerings dwindle, some churches fear for their future

March 23, 2020

As in-person worship services are canceled or downsized amid the coronavirus outbreak, some churches across the U.S. are bracing for a painful drop in weekly contributions and possible cutbacks in programs and staff.

One church leader, Bishop Paul Egensteiner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Metropolitan New York Synod, said some of the 190 churches in his region were unlikely to survive because of a two-pronged financial hit. Their offerings are dwindling, and they are losing income from tenants such as preschools which can no longer afford to rent church...

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The new sound of worship services: ‘Can you mute your mic? Amen.’

March 20, 2020

It was the last day of a 19-day period of daytime fasting for Baha’i believers all over the world. The Washington area’s Baha’i community would have ordinarily been looking forward to joining at night to feast in celebration and welcome in the Baha’i new year.

Instead, alone in their kitchens and bedrooms and living rooms on Thursday afternoon, they opened up a Skype window.

The sounds of religious worship these days are intermingled with the vocabulary of conference calls: “Try to mute your microphone.” “You’re frozen.” “I can...

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I’m a nun and I’ve been social distancing for 29 years. Here are tips for staying home amid coronavirus fears.

March 16, 2020

For the past 29 years, I’ve chosen to practice social distancing.

Of course, I and the 17 other nuns I live with don’t call it that.

We are formally called cloistered sisters, meaning we never leave our walled-off monastery in Summit except for doctors’ visits or...

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Catholics are turning to Communion Closets to borrow those white dresses and suits for their kids

March 13, 2020

It's First Holy Communion season.

For months, Catholic children across the Philadelphia region have been preparing to receive, for the first time, the Holy Eucharist, traditionally the third of the faith's seven sacraments and usually dispensed in the spring. The day is often filled with family gatherings, parties, and photos of the new communicants decked out in classic white outfits to mark the special occasion.

But the budget-busting cost of those dresses, veils, suits, and shoes can run into the hundreds of dollars.

Now some area parishes are creating...

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Beyoncé Mass replaces hymns with ‘Survivor’ and ‘Flaws and All’

March 11, 2020

 

The worship service began with the sound of Beyoncé singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song also known as the “black national anthem.”

Over the next hour, a choir-backed quintet of black women singers belted out other songs in the pop star’s repertoire. Beyoncé's music filled the air between prayers, a sermon and a Communion-like time when congregants dropped rocks labeled “homophobia,” “body shaming” and “racism”...

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