Christianity

Pass the plate? Not yet, as churches rethink their routines

May 1, 2020

 

It’s almost unheard of to go into a Southern Baptist church and not have a plate passed for donations.

Until now.

“It took a pandemic for a Baptist church to quit passing a plate. That’s almost unthinkable. It’s close to heresy. Real close,” said David Uth, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Orlando and president of the Southern Baptist Pastors Conference on a video conference on how to reopen churches. “It’s just not going to be the same.”

The meeting was set up by the Florida Family Policy Council and had about 800 church leaders...

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Religious freedom attorneys pick their battles amid pandemic

May 1, 2020

As states grapple with when and how to reopen establishments amid the pandemic, religious freedom remains a legal flashpoint — particularly for the conservative nonprofits that have taken a leading role in representing churches which have challenged stay-home orders.

At least a dozen state or federal suits filed since the virus outbreak started have focused partly or fully on freedom to worship in person, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Those lawsuits break primarily into two strategies. Both camps — which include legal nonprofits with significant...

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Spiritual counselors adapt to serve faithful in pandemic

April 24, 2020

 

Esther Roman wasn’t even in the room when she witnessed what she describes as “probably the holiest thing I’ve ever seen.”

A doctor whose patient was suffering from COVID-19 had used an iPad to connect with Roman, a 38-year-old staff chaplain at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai Morningside hospital, and members of the patient’s family. As the patient’s family told him that if they could, they would be in the room to comfort him, Roman saw – in the digital frame – the doctor reach out and stroke his hair.

“I don’t think that image will ever leave me,” Roman...

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Amish Cheese Maker Moves To Online Sales — Without The Internet

April 24, 2020

 

Daniel Byler started a recent Friday morning by packaging online orders of Camembert, cheddar and other cheeses scheduled for customer pick-up at the local farmers market the following day. But unlike the market's other vendors, Byler operates his family "micro-dairy" without the internet.

Byler, who is Amish, now also poses a risk to fellow members of his tight-knit Christian community, which is known for eschewing technology and living in separation from mainstream American culture. That's because he relies on non-Amish customers despite the coronavirus...

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Covid-19 has killed multiple bishops and pastors within the nation’s largest black Pentecostal denomination

April 22, 2020

 

The Church of God in Christ, the country’s biggest African American Pentecostal denomination, has taken a deep and painful leadership hit with reports of at least a dozen to up to 30 bishops and prominent clergy dying of covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Officials from the denomination did not return requests for comment, but media reports and interviews...

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‘People Would Be So Receptive Right Now, and We Can’t Knock on Doors.’

April 20, 2020

 

Brenda Francis settled into the Kingdom Hall in Calhoun, Ga., in mid-March, surrounded by dozens of familiar faces. Signs cautioning against shaking hands and hugging were posted around the room. It felt weird to her but was certainly understandable with the threat of an outbreak looming. She herself already had stocked up on some masks and gloves.

When it came time for members to comment on the Bible readings, Ms. Francis noticed the microphones typically passed around the room were now attached to the end of long poles.

That was the moment Ms....

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Confession by Zoom? Pandemic revives conversation about reconciling from afar

April 17, 2020

 

The social distancing measures imposed on most of the world's population during the coronavirus pandemic have not only prevented Catholics from going in person to celebrate the Mass, but have also largely put a stop to the practice of confession.

This new reality, especially serious for those suffering from the virus or nearing the end of their lives, has revived conversation around a basic question: Why can't we do this by phone?

Several theologians queried about the matter by NCR pointed to concerns about the possible surveillance of electronic...

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Religious leaders stress ‘We’re all in this together’

April 15, 2020

 

Different religious institutions in South Florida have joined together to host virtual interfaith services and uplift people’s spirits during the new coronavirus pandemic.

One of these online services was an “Interfaith Vigil of Prayer” that was led by clergy of three houses of worship in Jupiter –Temple Beth Am, JupiterFirst Church and St. Peter Catholic Church. The service featured prayer, music, conversations and candle lighting.

Rabbi Alon...

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Easter, Passover, Vaisakhi, Ramadan: Milwaukee celebrates major religious holidays during a pandemic

April 13, 2020

 

Religious holidays this month are being celebrated using social distancing, but faith leaders say that doesn't mean people of faith have to be spiritually distant.

Many places of worship around the state are getting creative in how they celebrate. Many have moved their services online. Others are offering drive-up services.

At Faith Builders Church, they held a virtual service on Easter Sunday and invited congregation members to a drive-up blessing after the service was over. Senior Pastor Jeff Pruitt prayed over each family as they drove up...

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Blessings from afar

April 10, 2020

 

Social distancing in the age of coronavirus means improvisation, and members of the Harvard community are nothing if not creative. Over the past several weeks students, faculty, and staff have found innovative ways to mark some of the holiest days in the Jewish and Christian calendars remotely, including Passover seders and Holy Week services.

Harvard Divinity School

At Harvard Divinity School (HDS), two students have pulled together a virtual Passover seder set for Monday. The online meal will be open to anyone regardless of faith and will blend...

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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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