Christianity

Despite heat and COVID-19 restrictions, St. Mary's Feast continues tradition

July 20, 2020

The soaring temperatures didn’t stop the 115th St. Mary’s Feast in Cranston on Sunday, but the coronavirus pandemic forced it to change some of its plans.

The celebration, which is held every year in July, was scaled back significantly.

It’s an integral part of the Italian-American community in Cranston’s Knightsville section.

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'A dangerous environment': As churches reopen, outbreaks are sprouting and some are keeping doors shut

July 20, 2020
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Racial justice a long-time concern for Roxbury parish

July 17, 2020

Conversations about racial injustice are nothing new at St. Katharine Drexel Parish, a black Catholic community whose members hail from the United States, the Caribbean, and various African countries.

Even before nationwide protests began in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody, St. Katharine Drexel Parish's social justice committee had been discussing and raising awareness of systemic racism for years. In addition to running ministries within the parish, such as its food pantries and Advent giving tree, the committee regularly has a table at the archdiocese's Social...

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In Los Angeles, Catholic schools plan to resume in-person classes, while public schools go online

July 16, 2020

While Los Angeles public schools will remain online this fall, Catholic schools in the county still plan to reopen their doors for in-person classes.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles on Wednesday (July 15) told Religion News Service it would continue with plans to resume in-person instruction for its Catholic schools throughout Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

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Bingo ban hurts religious community

July 15, 2020

Religious institutions in our community are not immune from the impact of the pandemic. While places of worship have been allowed to reopen with limited services, many fundraisers have been either cancelled or postponed.

There's one particular tradition that's on hold for now according to Bruce Corris, the congregation president for Temple Shir Shalom in Amherst. 

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Mormon leaders ask church members to wear face masks in public to defend against coronavirus

July 14, 2020

Mormon church leaders are imploring followers to wear masks in public to defend against the coronavirus as temples reopen and church activities resume. 

The Utah Area Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which consists of local leaders who preside over the church's...

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Months into COVID-19, funeral directors and clergy continue to innovate death care

July 13, 2020

Norman J. Williams has been in the funeral industry business long enough to remember how the HIV epidemic changed not only the way they cared for bodies, but also for those who lost loved ones to the deadly virus.

"We wanted to be compassionate. We wanted to be professional. We wanted to be understanding. We wanted to be nonjudgemental," said Williams, president and funeral director of Unity Funeral Parlors in Chicago, a family business operating for more than 80 years.

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Churches Are Building Housing Developments ‘in God’s Back Yard’

July 13, 2020

The Arlington Presbyterian Church in Virginia was dealing with declining Sunday attendance, and fewer donations, before deciding to turn to an affordable housing developer for help. In 2016, with membership down to about 60 from a height of 1,000 in the 1950s, the church sold its century-old sanctuary to the nonprofit Arlington Partnership for Affordable...

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Jehovah’s Witnesses cancel in-person conventions globally, first time in religion’s history

July 10, 2020

For the first time in the history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization, they will be holding their worldwide annual conventions virtually.

Last year, more than 14 million people attended these conventions. In the US alone, Jehovah’s Witnesses typically hold 800 conventions with an attendance of nearly 2 million.

Global attendance spans 240 lands, making it the largest convention organization in the world. ...

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Churches Were Eager to Reopen. Now They Are a Major Source of Coronavirus Cases.

July 9, 2020

Weeks after President Trump demanded that America’s shuttered houses of worship be allowed to reopen, new outbreaks of the coronavirus are surging through churches across the country where services have resumed.

The virus has infiltrated Sunday sermons, meetings of ministers and Christian youth camps in Colorado and Missouri. It has struck churches that reopened cautiously with face masks and social distancing in the pews, as well as some that defied lockdowns and refused to heed new limits on numbers of worshipers.

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Supreme Court broadens scope of ministerial exception

July 9, 2020

The Supreme Court has ruled that religious school teachers who perform a religious role, even if they are not ordained, and even if religious instruction makes up a small part of their overall responsibilities, are subject to a ministerial exception from civil rights protections afforded to other employees.

The 7-2 ruling on Wednesday (July 8) hands religious institutions a big win after a momentous defeat last  month when the high court ruled that gay and transgender people are protected from workplace discrimination. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor...

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Two COVID-19-ravaged churches take different recovery paths

July 8, 2020

The paths of two New York City churches diverged this week — one reopened and one stayed closed. But they have shared a tragic fate, together losing at least 134 members of their mostly Hispanic congregations to the coronavirus.

Saint Bartholomew Roman Catholic Church in Queens, where at least 74 parishioners have died from COVID-19, on Monday hosted its first large-scale in-person services since mid-March: an English-language midday Mass and a Spanish one in the evening. At Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in Manhattan, with a death toll nearly as high, the pastors say it’s too...

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We have a story to tell: Indigenous scholars, activists speak up amid toppling of Serra statues

July 8, 2020

Jessa Calderon initially felt numb watching the Junipero Serra statue topple to the ground as it was yanked from its platform with yellow rope tied around its neck.

Within minutes, she was in tears.

“I began to cry hysterically. It was like a sense of relief,” said Calderon, a descendant of Gabrielino-Tongva and Ventureño Chumash, who witnessed the toppling on June 20 in downtown Los Angeles.

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Maine, Vermont next in fight over aid to religious schools

July 2, 2020

A U.S. Supreme Court decision that says states can’t cut religious schools out of programs that send public money to private education could breathe new life into efforts to force Maine and Vermont to help fund religious educations.

A lawsuit by three families in Maine who want the state to pay for for religious school tuition is already pending in the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

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Filipino American who had strict religious upbringing launches Queer Youth of Faith Day

July 1, 2020

When Jun Young came out at the age of 45, he thought back to his childhood.

He was raised in a Catholic household in the Philippines, where he was taught early on that being gay was against God's will. So when he realized around the age of 12 that he was attracted to other boys, he kept it locked away for more than three decades.

"I felt like I didn't really have a choice," Young told NBC Asian America. "I couldn't really come out or accept that I was gay or even explore what that meant without giving up my faith. And my faith was so important to me and continues to...

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