Christianity

When Quakers Become Takers

May 20, 2020
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was not mad; he was disappointed. Several of the nation’s wealthy private schools—including St. Andrew’s Episcopal in Maryland, where President Donald Trump sends his youngest son, and Brentwood School in Los Angeles, which at least two of Mnuchin’s children attend—had received loans earmarked for small businesses to keep paying their employees during the coronavirus crisis. On Twitter, Mnuchin softly chided the schools; they did not have to return the funds, he suggested, but they should.
 
In response, these...
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Four young people of different faiths move into a home together, then a pandemic happens

May 20, 2020
Hadar Cohen, Ala’ Khan, Maya Mansour and Jonathan Simcosky arrived as strangers, ready to embark on a new interfaith journey.
 
The four roommates moved into a five-bedroom, five-bath house in Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood earlier this year. They come from different faiths: Baha’i, Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Cohen came from Jerusalem but had already lived in the Bay Area for a few years. Simcosky made the trek from Salem, Massachusetts, to L.A. Khan and Mansour were already in Southern California.
 
They...
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Where Group Prayer Meets Group Fitness

May 20, 2020
At first glance, the streaming fitness class looks like any other: blue yoga mats against a neutral background, with ambient music and candles to set the mood. Two athleisure-clad instructors, flanked by hand weights, introduce themselves.
 
The giveaway is the flash of a wooden crucifix.
 
“Surrender all and prepare yourself to go on this journey with us through the stations of the cross with Jesus,” one of the instructors says, her hands in prayer position.
 
Many such classes are...
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Priest Draws Squirt Gun in Fight Against Coronavirus

May 20, 2020

A Roman Catholic priest in the Detroit area has taken aim at his parishioners in a bid to maintain social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, using a squirt gun to shoot holy water.

Photos posted on social media by the St. Ambrose Church show the Rev. Tim Pelc shooting water into a car window as it stopped by the steps of the church on Easter. He wore a mask, face shield and rubber gloves as further precautions against spreading the coronavirus.

The photos of the priest at the church in Grosse Pointe Park have inspired memes online. One shows the 70-year-old...

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German churches stopped singing to prevent virus’s spread. Should Americans clam up, too?

May 8, 2020

 

Preparing to reopen his church on Sunday, Florida pastor Doug Sides feels heat from two sides.

Some of his Southern Baptist parishioners have sent him pictures from the beach and restaurants, while others are remaining isolated in their homes. One person was horrified that he did not wear a mask when he preached during drive-in services, even though he stood far away from vehicles as people listened on FM radio.

Sides is preparing a list of precautionary measures he plans to give parishioners before Sunday....

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Nuns vs. the Coronavirus

May 4, 2020

Until last month, Florence Facciolo and Karen Malzone were the dining-hall queens of their Catholic nursing home in Newark, Delaware. Karen, a mirthful woman in her late 70s, would use a walker to shuffle over to their assigned table, which was adorned with a fresh tablecloth for each meal and a new centerpiece every season. The two women would pass several hours laughing about nothing. When they got in trouble for being too raucous, 87-year-old Flo would give a “Who, me?” look and point at their third seatmate, Pat Klevence, the quiet one, who would just shake her head and smile from...

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As states ease lockdown restrictions, churches must decide when — and how — to reopen

May 4, 2020

 

The Rev. Jim West was feeling terrified as the state of Tennessee — and the church he pastors there — prepared to reopen after a month under stay-at-home orders.

But he was also looking forward to it.

“I just hope everything goes okay and nobody gets sick because that would be a nightmare,” he said on Tuesday afternoon (April 28).

West’s church — Petros Baptist Church in Petros, Tennessee — planned to reopen in phases in May, starting with Wednesday...

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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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