Christianity

Black Baptists Discover Lost Cemetery in Virginia

February 8, 2022

They needed a John Deere Gator to reach the perimeter. Then, in the forested area behind a power plant in Williamsburg, Virginia, Colette Roots and her small expedition had to jump over ditches full of rainwater, where they could see tadpoles and mosquito eggs. They went in.

The plot of land belonged to a Black congregation in the 1940s. The historic church, Oak Grove Baptist, is still active. Roots grew up in the congregation, and as a child, she helped her mother maintain the graves at the church’s main cemetery—a much larger plot roughly a mile from this one, with about 150...

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Religious Organizations Collaborate To Combat Effects of Gentrification

February 7, 2022

Amid Black History Month, a group of D.C. religious organizations–comprised of various pastors–  have recognized that in order to secure Black futures, they must invest in Black homeownership.  

The Black Equity Through Homeownership (BETH) program is an initiative of the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) that seeks to help Black homeowners and long-term D.C. residents negatively impacted by housing...

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Suds in the sanctuary: Craft breweries populate vacant US churches

February 1, 2022

Bruce Lindsay never expected to own a church. But when his mother died shortly before the pandemic, he wanted to use his inheritance to do something extraordinary.

“My mother, if she were alive today, I think would have a great chuckle at what I’ve purchased,” said Lindsay. “I found myself surrounded by a church when it was the last place on earth I wanted to go to as a kid.”

In August, after purchasing a 900-square-foot-Methodist church built in 1876, Lindsay and his business partner, Anna Cronin, opened Dirt Church Brewing Co. in East Haven, Vermont. It’s one of...

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First rabbi chosen to lead Essex County social justice group

February 3, 2022

For much of the past two decades, Rabbi Margie Klein Ronkin has worked on the front lines of campaigns to secure fairer treatment and greater opportunities for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Now, the veteran activist has a new opportunity to put those organizing skills to work as the next leader of the Essex County Community Organization.

ECCO, a faith-based grass-roots organization that fights for racial and social justice, named Ronkin its new executive director effective Jan. 15. The Jamaica...

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For tornado-ravaged churches, rebuilding means rethinking

February 3, 2022

Mayfield First United Methodist Church, a century-old temple with stately columns and stained-glass windows, has long been an anchor in the life of Kathy O’Nan, the city’s 68-year-old mayor.

She directed the children’s choir for 42 years and attended countless worship services and ceremonies, from weddings to funerals to the baptisms of both her children — before a massive tornado tore off the church’s roof and covered the front entrance in rubble.

“It was just my home,” O’Nan said. “For all of us, it was our home.”

Source:...

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Tenn. pastor, first African American, named to key SBC post

February 1, 2022

Tennessee pastor Willie McLaurin has been named interim president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, becoming the first African American to lead one of the denomination’s ministry entities in its more than 175-year history.

McLaurin’s appointment as one of the top administrators for the largest Protestant church body in the United States was announced Tuesday in Baptist Press, an official SBC news outlet. He will lead the day-to-day business of the committee, which acts on behalf of the convention when it is not holding its annual two-day...

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Scholar: America is still reacting to the religious right, in more ways than one

January 13, 2022

A religion scholar believes major trends in religion and politics can be traced back to the rise of the religious right in the 1990s, a sea change moment that set in motion an array of phenomena ranging from an uptick in religious disaffiliation to the radicalization of some Christian conservatives.

The sweeping theory is outlined in a ...

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Reformed Church in America splits as conservative churches form new denomination

January 7, 2022

On New Year’s Day, 43 congregations of the Reformed Church in America split from the national denomination, one of the oldest Protestant bodies in the United States, in part over theological differences regarding same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy.

The departure of the theologically conservative congregations to the new group, the Alliance of Reformed Churches, leaves some who remain in the RCA concerned for the denomination’s survival. Before the split, the nearly 400-year-old denomination had fewer than 200,000 members and 1,000 churches.

At...

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On eve of March for Life, Catholic abortion rights advocates counter-protest pro-life vigil

January 21, 2022

The liberal group Catholics for Choice staged a protest outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Thursday evening (Jan. 20), projecting messages in support of abortion rights onto the building’s walls as an anti-abortion vigil was in progress inside.

Members of Catholics for Choice assembled near the basilica ahead of the protest, which occurred the evening before the March for Life, a massive annual anti-abortion rally in Washington. Shortly before they began the demonstration — which organizers said was conducted with a permit — the group’s...

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Muslims in interfaith bonds are proliferating. Imams willing to marry them are not.

January 10, 2022

When Faiqa Cheema and Jeff Beale were planning their September 2021 wedding, it was important to Cheema that it include elements of the traditional ceremony of her Muslim faith, while also being meaningful for her husband, who was raised Baptist.

The couple’s path to their dream interfaith wedding turned out to be more complicated than they expected. While such unions are increasingly common, Muslim clergy have long frowned on marrying outside Islam, and Cheema and Beale struggled to find an imam who would officiate, much less adapt the Islamic ceremony, known as a nikah, to...

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Some parishioners upset over pandemic protections have left for other congregations

January 11, 2022

At a time when many churches were already trying to attract and retain members, the pandemic has prompted some to seek out new places of worship.

Church shopping is nothing new and some are reluctant to try and find a new religious community, but a couple in northern Wisconsin felt they had no choice but to leave their longtime church because of misinformation about COVID-19 and the lack of pandemic precautions it was taking to protect parishioners. 

One member of the couple told Wisconsin Public Radio's WHYsconsin...

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Christian nationalism has deep roots in America, faith leaders say

January 6, 2022

Shannon Rivers believes that Indigenous people are the moral compass of this country.

A member of the Native American Akimel O’otham, or River People, of the southwestern United States, Rivers points to historical accounts of the northeastern Wampanoag, who in the 1600s taught the Pilgrims how to grow crops and weather harsh winters.

“We were the ones who had that initial moral understanding of how you take care of one another, and we still maintain that today, despite every wrong...

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Historic Westside interfaith service celebrates MLK holiday

January 17, 2022

Although Louisiana schools desegregated right before Charles Lee Bilberry’s senior year in 1969, he was not allowed to attend his graduation ceremony, he said, because “the white parents didn’t want their children to graduate with colored children.”

Bilberry collected his diploma from the principal’s office and soon moved to Southern Nevada. He recalled his mother’s hug and kiss on the cheek when she told him, “Son, when you go to Las Vegas, be the best that you can be.”

He spoke of the moment Sunday afternoon during an Interfaith Service at Second Baptist Church in...

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For dying congregations, a 'replant' can offer new life

January 5, 2022

From the time he was a teenager, Min Lee wanted to be a missionary.

Lee, who grew up in a Korean American Christian family, said he gave his life to Jesus during a retreat where a missionary from Costa Rica was the guest speaker — which inspired him to think about missionary work as well.

He studied Spanish and ended up spending six months doing missions in Mexico, along with about two years living in a mostly Muslim neighborhood in Toronto. Lee eventually landed in Los Angeles, not far from where he grew up, doing an internship to become a church planter.

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Rev. Dr. Wes Bixby Is Making Church a Place of Diversity and Inclusion

January 4, 2022

As an ordained minister for 20 years, the Reverend Dr. Wes Bixby has had a calling to create a diverse and inclusive church environment. He found a home at First Congregational Church of Christ in Sarasota, a church he has led for eight years. First Congregational is a denomination of the United Church of Christ, known for standing with social justice issues and for being supportive of LGBTQ members.

“I got into this work because church was always a place where I felt safe,” says Bixby. He wants to create this same...

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