Christianity

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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Meditation and surround sound meet prayer in Brooklyn church

March 6, 2020

 

Meditation and immersion in soothing sounds meet church liturgy at All Saints Episcopal Church in Brooklyn. The combination takes on stress – and self-examination. Welcome to sound bath Evensong.

The first time Alexis Dixon attended a sound bath Evensong at the church, she cried. “I was just sitting there and the light was coming through a stained glass window. Incense was burning, and it felt like, really moving. It was pretty unreal.”

In the Anglican tradition, Evensong is a liturgical service that combines...

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Coronavirus reshapes Chicago religious practices, but some not changing their ways

March 6, 2020

 

Even as coronavirus concerns spread across the world and religious groups in the Chicago area made changes to their practices to deal with the disease, some churchgoers said they aren’t worried enough yet to change how they worship.

At St. James Episcopal Cathedral, a group of about 15 parishioners gathered for an afternoon Mass on Wednesday. Prior to beginning the readings, the Rev. Courtney Reid told the group that some tweaks in the ceremony will apply because...

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Jehovah’s Witnesses complete entire Bible in American Sign Language

March 2, 2020

When Howard Mallory first saw the Gospel of Matthew rendered in American Sign Language nearly 15 years ago, he said he was able to understand it more easily than when reading it in English.

“Seeing it in sign language, it was amazing,” said Mallory, a deaf Jehovah's Witness from Northfield, New Hampshire. “Of course, we wanted more. Only one book was done.”

On Feb. 15, the last of the Bible's 66 books — the story of Job — was released in video on the Jehovah's Witnesses website...

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Should Catholic women give up fasting for Lent?

February 26, 2020

When Lent arrives each year, I find myself in conversations about fasting with other Catholic women. We exchange plans for our seasonal food abstinence — small meals and no meat on Fridays, often accompanied by a fast from sweets, or alcohol, or snacking between meals.

Then, inevitably, someone voices what many of us have privately considered: "Hopefully this will help me lose another few pounds."

Such admissions are often accompanied by some self-deprecating acknowledgement that weight loss is not supposed to be the goal of our seasonal penance. Nevertheless,...

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Do religious dating apps like Mutual, Christian Mingle endanger users?

February 24, 2020

When Marla Perrin, now 25, first heard about Mutual, the dating app designed for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she was thrilled.

Perrin had tried dating apps like Tinder in the past, but found the experience fruitless and frustrating: the men she matched with often didn’t share her faith, and her guard was always up, worried that someone would harass or stalk her. 

But Mutual seemed like a dating oasis to Perrin, who was living in Hawaii and looking to find a partner. She thought that the men on...

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Reggie Wilson’s Fist and Heel Performance Group finds inspiration in Black Shakers

February 19, 2020

For choreographer Reggie Wilson, who has dedicated decades to researching and illuminating the spiritual and cultural traditions of the African diaspora, Shakers would seem an unusual source of obsession. But when his investigations led to the discovery of a community of Black Shakers in the middle 1800s, he was all in. He’d always felt there was nothing “any whiter than a New England Shaker,” he admits with a chuckle. “Finding such a thing as a Black Shaker didn’t fit easily into my model of reality. I wanted to understand ... how that existed and what that might have looked like.” That...

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Father Josh: A married Catholic priest in a celibate world

February 17, 2020

The priest wakes up at 4 a.m. on the days he celebrates the early Mass, sipping coffee and enjoying the quiet while his young children sleep in rooms awash in stuffed animals and Sesame Street dolls and pictures of saints. Then he kisses his wife goodbye and drives through the empty suburban streets of north Dallas to the church he oversees.

In a Catholic world where debates over clerical celibacy have flared from Brazil to the Vatican, Joshua Whitfield is that rarest of things: A married Catholic priest.

Source:...

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Rabbis’ perspectives vary when it comes to co-officiating at interfaith funerals

February 14, 2020

With the rise of interfaith marriage, it is no surprise that families are seeking ways to meld the traditions of various faiths. From weddings performed jointly by clergy representing different religions, to the December holiday mashup “Christmakkah,” cultures and customs are being blended in ways unimaginable a century ago.

Interfaith funerals, co-officiated by a rabbi and a non-Jewish clergy member, while not yet ubiquitous, now can also be added to that canon. 

Rabbi Chuck Diamond, spiritual leader of Pittsburgh’s Kehillah La La, recently co-officiated a...

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Judge rules in favor of Boston in flag-raising fight with Christian group

February 12, 2020

Boston doesn’t have to raise a Christian flag in place of the city’s flag at City Hall Plaza, a judge ruled Tuesday in a federal suit brought by a religious group claiming discrimination by the city’s initial rejection.

An order by U.S. District Court Judge Denise Casper denied a summary judgment for Harold Shurtleff and his Camp Constitution organization, who filed a federal suit in 2018 after the city denied their request to fly the...

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Moving faith: Mexican town’s saint feast lives in Minnesota

February 4, 2020

In Midwestern boots or bare feet in sandals, the faithful walked in procession down a snow-covered street here, keeping the rhythm of festive music and carrying paintings of St. Paul, the patron saint of their hometown of Axochipan, Mexico.

For the thousands of migrants from the south Mexico town 2,200 miles away who have built new lives in Minnesota over the last two decades, throwing a wild, two-day bash for St. Paul’s Catholic feast day in January is a crucial way to celebrate their roots and feel a bit more at home, closer to the families they left behind...

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