Christianity

Spirituality underpins migrant activism in US borderlands

June 8, 2021

Alvaro Enciso plants three or four crosses each week in Arizona's desert borderlands, amid the yellow-blossomed prickly pear and whip-like ocotillo, in honor of migrants who died on the northbound trek.

Each colorful wooden memorial denotes where a set of bones or a decomposing body was found. Over eight years, the artist has marked more than 1,000 locations across public lands dotted with empty black plastic water jugs and camouflage backpacks beneath circling turkey vultures.

“Anything out here can kill you," Enciso said. "A blister, a snake, not enough water.”...

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Houses of Worship Reconsider Their Real Estate During Pandemic

May 28, 2021

MIAMI—The biggest low-profile landowner in Florida is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of Salt Lake City. The devoutly private faith is known to have at least 630,000 acres, including the massive Deseret cattle ranches in Central Florida.

The church seems to thrive with for-profit businesses they keep separate from their tax-exempt temples. But they're not typical.

"They've paid prices that other churches would not pay. Most churches have to raise their money on their own, they're not able to operate like that," says John Muzyka, a church real estate...

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Tulsa pastors honor ‘holy ground’ 100 years after massacre

May 31, 2021

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — When white attackers destroyed the prosperous Black neighborhood of Greenwood 100 years ago this week, they bypassed the original sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of North Tulsa.

By the church’s own account, the attackers thought the brick veneer structure was too fine for a Black-owned church. The mob destroyed at least a half-dozen other churches while burning and leveling a 35-square-block neighborhood in one of the nation’s deadliest spasms of racist violence. Estimates of the death toll range from dozens to 300.

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Alabama Lifts Its Ban on Yoga in Schools

May 20, 2021

For the first time in nearly three decades, Alabama will allow yoga to be taught in its public schools, but the ancient practice will be missing some of its hallmarks: Teachers will be barred from saying the traditional salutation “namaste” and using Sanskrit names for poses.

Chanting is forbidden. And the sound of “om,” one of the most popular mantras associated with the practice, which combines breathing exercises and stretches, is a no-no.

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100 years later, Black church leaders seek reparations for Tulsa massacre

May 19, 2021

(RNS) — On the first Wednesday in May, as the centennial of the Tulsa massacre approached, the Rev. Robert R.A. Turner stood outside Tulsa City Hall with his megaphone, as he does every week.

“Tulsa, you will reap what you sow and that which you have done unto the least of these my children, Jesus said, you have done also unto me,” said Turner, 38, the pastor of Historic Vernon African Methodist Episcopal Church, captured on a video posted on Facebook.

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Megan Rohrer Elected As 1st Openly Transgender Bishop In U.S. Lutheran Church

May 16, 2021

The Rev. Megan Rohrer has been elected as a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, becoming the first openly transgender person in the U.S. to do so in a major Christian denomination. 

Rohrer will serve as bishop of the Sacramento-based Sierra Pacific synod, which encompasses close to 200 congregations in Central and Northern California and northern Nevada.

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Officials grapple with coronavirus vaccine hesitancy among Latino evangelicals

May 5, 2021

EVERETT, Mass. — Sunday after Sunday, parishioners would approach Victor Chicas privately after he delivered his sermon in a small storefront church next to a Dunkin’ Donuts.

Was the coronavirus vaccine safe, they asked their beloved pastor. Would it enable the government to track them? And what, they wanted to know, might the vaccine represent for Christians?

Chicas agonized over what to tell the 80 members of Ministerio Dios Habla Hoy’s congregation, weighing concerns about his own ill health against his interpretation of the word of God and rumors spreading on...

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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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