Christianity

Last parent of a child killed in 1963 church bombing dies

January 3, 2022

Maxine McNair, the last living parent of any of the four Black girls killed in a 1963 Alabama church bombing, died Sunday. She was 93.

McNair’s family announced her death in a press release. A cause of death was not given.

McNair’s daughter, 11-year-old Denise McNair, was the youngest girl killed in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, the deadliest single attack of the civil rights movement. Also killed were three 14-year-olds: Addie Mae Collins, Carole Rosamond Robertson and Cynthia Dionne Wesley.

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'Reach the Nones wherever they are': How religious leaders are trying to stem the tide

December 22, 2021

It's a Sunday afternoon in Fort Worth, Texas, and a flock of young people wander into a bar to kick back a few beers, sway to live music and mingle.

And then, they recite the Lord's Prayer.

It's quite a departure from traditional services, which have driven so many away from church in recent years. There's no confession, no fire and brimstone, and nobody's wearing their Sunday best.

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When Churches Closed, Religious Leaders Turned To Tech

December 20, 2021

When congregations were forced to turn to online services when the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020, some religious leaders had to embrace digital platforms for the first time.

Not all churches were technologically equipped to produce worship services online. One Methodist pastor had to lend her own digital camera to the church, which had no digital resources. Another duct taped a borrowed smartphone to a ladder in order to stream a service. An Episcopal priest from Indianapolis described feelings of exhaustion and fatigue, saying that her online services fell flat and “wasn’t...

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Across US, houses of worship struggle to rebuild attendance

December 19, 2021

When Westminster United Methodist Church in Houston resumed in-person services late last year, after a seven-month halt due to COVID-19, there were Sundays when only three worshippers showed up, according to the pastor, Meredith Mills.

Since then, attendance has inched back up, but it’s still only about half the pre-pandemic turnout of 160 or 170, Mills estimates.

“It’s frustrating,” she said. “People just seem to want to leave home less these days.”

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The little-known Jewish origins of Boston's annual Christmas tree tradition

December 20, 2021

On an unseasonably warm December night earlier this month, some 12,000 people flocked to Boston Common for the lighting of the city’s official Christmas tree: a majestic, 48-foot white spruce. 

The event marked the 50th straight year that the people of Nova Scotia supplied Boston’s tree — a tribute to how the city, led by a prominent Jewish businessman, supported the Canadian province at a time of crisis.

At the Dec. 2 festivities, recently sworn-in Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who also took part in three public menorah lightings that week, was joined by Nova...

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Mormon women's influence expands despite priesthood ban

December 14, 2021

When she was younger, Sharon Eubank figured she would one day marry and form the kind of nuclear family typically expected of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Today, at 58, she is neither married nor a mother but glad to embody a different image of womanhood as one of the top female leaders in the male-dominated faith widely known as the Mormon church.

“We have to broaden out our approach and talk about family in a really inclusive way,” said Eubank, who is both first counselor of the Relief Society and president of Latter-day Saint...

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What's your religion? In US, a common reply is now 'None'

December 14, 2021

Nathalie Charles, even in her mid-teens, felt unwelcome in her Baptist congregation, with its conservative views on immigration, gender and sexuality. So she left.

“I just don’t feel like that gelled with my view of what God is and what God can be,” said Charles, an 18-year-old of Haitian descent who identifies as queer and is now a freshman at Princeton University.

“It wasn’t a very loving or nurturing environment for someone’s faith.”

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Tarot cards are having a moment with help from pandemic

December 10, 2021

She won’t read your fortune like a psychic might, but 29-year-old Skye Marinda will guide you through a tarot reading to try to find clarity in the present. A self-described “tarot coach” who lives near Capitol Hill in D.C., Marinda began reading tarot decks on her own five years ago and hoped to start publicly reading for others in early 2020.

“I did one event in person at a bar in D.C., and I was like, ‘This is fun, I should keep doing this,’ ” she said. “Two weeks later, everything shut down.”

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Catholic, Jewish orgs work to find homes for arriving Afghan refugees

December 10, 2021

Three months after the Taliban took over Afghanistan, prompting hundreds of thousands to evacuate the country, Catholic Charities and its Jewish community partners have helped dozens of Afghan immigrants to find homes and begin new lives in the Greater Boston Area.

In a webinar held on Nov. 22, titled "Together We Respond," representatives of Catholic Charities of Boston (CCAB), Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) shared updates about how they have served people arriving from Afghanistan over the past few months. They expressed...

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Virgin of Guadalupe, first Indigenous apparition of Mary, remains sacred and towering figure among Latinos

December 12, 2021

Latinos across Nevada, especially those with Mexican ancestry, gathered at churches this weekend for prayer of the rosary and novena, a nine-day prayer and meditation; multiple mass services; traditional Aztec dance performances; and to sing las mañanitas, a birthday song, at midnight. 

It’s all part of the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a significant spiritual event celebrating the manifestation of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, in what is now modern-day Mexico. Her history is rooted in the nation's history of colonization.

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Reading faiths unite for menorah blessing, tree lighting

December 3, 2021

As many gathered around the Christmas tree and the menorah on downtown Reading's Penn Square for the city's holiday lighting celebrations Thursday evening, the sentiment was that this year's event was especially joyous.

"We are really excited that we are getting to somewhat of a little bit of normalcy this year," said Reading Mayor Eddie Morán. "We are inviting the community to come out and celebrate with us in a dual celebration."

As Hanukkah comes to a close in a few days, the Jewish Federation of Reading lit the latest candle on the...

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U.S. Catholic bishops encourage government search for boarding school graves

December 2, 2021

Two influential U.S. Roman Catholic Church bishops are encouraging their peers to cooperate with a federal investigation into abuses committed within the former Native American boarding school system.

In a letter sent to all U.S. bishops in November, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, who heads a church committee on domestic justice, and Bishop James Wall of Gallup, New Mexico, who leads a church committee on Native American affairs, asked fellow bishops to hand over records investigators may seek and allow access to...

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A Public Flagpole, A Christian Flag and the First Amendment

November 29, 2021

There are three flagpoles in front of Boston’s City Hall. One flies the American flag, and the second that of Massachusetts. What appears on the third is at issue in a case the Supreme Court will hear in January.

That flagpole, which ordinarily flies the flag of Boston, is occasionally made available to groups seeking to celebrate their backgrounds or to promote causes like gay pride. In a 12-year period, the city approved 284 requests for the third flag.

It rejected only one, from ...

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Church members decry changes at Minnesota's 1st Hispanic parish

November 23, 2021

About 50 parishioners protested outside Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in St. Paul on Sunday over what they say is the eradication of culture and tradition from Minnesota’s first Hispanic parish.

Many of the demonstrators were third-generation members of the Catholic church, which has a 90-year history in St. Paul. Among specific complaints, they say Aztec dancers are no longer allowed inside the church, there is no Sunday school or choir, masses previously led in Spanish are now in Latin and women are not allowed on the altar.

One of the protesters, Vincent Mendez,...

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