Evangelism in nursing home

Religion News Service relates how one church evangelizes at nursing homes:

Rhonda Rowe and her team gathered around a diagram of the nursing
home’s floor plan and determined how to split up to avoid praying with
anyone twice.

Rowe made her way to a room where a 93-year-old woman lay in her bed
while her 87-year-old roommate sat in a wheelchair. Rowe knelt between
them and went through her “Nursing Home Gospel Soul-Winning Script.” “Fill me with your Holy Spirit and fire of God,” the 93-year-old repeated. “I’m on my way to heaven. I have Jesus in my heart.” Rowe was soon off to the next room, but before she left, acknowledged that she might never see them again on earth. “I’ll see you girls in
heaven!” she chirped.

Welcome to the world of nursing home evangelism, where teams of lay
evangelists target senior citizens for one last chance in this life
for glory in the next.


Bishop Mariann Budde interviewed about women as bishops

Bishop Mariann Budde was interviewed on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on NPR talking about women in the church on Monday. Partly a response to the Church of England vote on women in the episcopate, but more wide ranging. WAMU has the transcript:

From WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. I'm Jen Golbeck from the University of Maryland sitting in for Kojo. ... the Church of England recently announced that going forward, it would allow women priests to become bishops. It was a major shift that's been happening across religious denominations for decades. Including the Episcopal Church here in the US, which approved the ordination of women priests and bishops back in the 70s. But it's taken time, and women still face many challenges in rising to leadership positions. The Washington Diocese of the Episcopal Church ordained its first female bishop in 2011. The Right Reverend Mariann Budde joins us to talk about women inside and outside the clergy. It's good to have you here.

... So you're the bishop of the Episcopal Church of Washington and its first woman to serve as bishop. It's coming up on two years now. Let's start by just telling us, what's the bishop's role?

Thanks for having me. I want to -- may I just say something about being the first bishop?... Because anyone of us who's gone first is always standing on the shoulders of people who've gone before us. I am the first elected diocesan bishop, but there was another bishop of the Diocese of Washington who was elected as an assisting bishop. Her name was Jane Dixon and she served ably in this diocese for many years. And even took on the authority of bishop, in a temporary capacity, before the next bishop was elected. And so even though I'm the first elected Diocesan Bishop, every one of us who stands in a position like this has great forebears....And Jane Dixon was certainly one of mine. The role of bishop is as spiritual oversight -- overseer. And so, a diocese is a geographic area. Our diocese is the Diocese of Washington, D.C. and for Maryland counties. 89 congregations, the Washington National Cathedral.

Read it all here.

Across the theological spectrum U.S. Religious Leaders Embrace Cause of Immigrant Children

The New York Times reports that across the cause of immigrant children is not limited to one segment of the religious spectrum.

“This is a crisis, and not simply a political crisis, but a moral one,” said Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. On Tuesday, Mr. Moore led a delegation of Southern Baptist officials to visit refugee children at detention centers in San Antonio and McAllen, Tex. In an interview after the visit, Mr. Moore said that “the anger directed toward vulnerable children is deplorable and disgusting” and added: “The first thing is to make sure we understand these are not issues, these are persons. These children are made in the image of God, and we ought to respond to them with compassion, not with fear.”

Also on Tuesday, a coalition of evangelical organizations sent a letter to members of Congress, opposing proposals for expedited deportation of the migrants. A similar letter is being prepared by a wide range of mainline denominations, including the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Earlier this month, 20 national Jewish groups issued their own statement.

Read it all.

40 years as priests - where are they now?

Where are they now? Forty years ago the first women were ordained as priests in The Episcopal Church. Religion News Service reports:
On July 29, 1974, in Philadelphia, 11 women broke rank and were ordained as the first female priests in the Episcopal Church. They became known as the “Philadelphia Eleven.”

While there was no church law explicitly prohibiting the ordination of women, there also was no law allowing it. After the Philadelphia protest at the Church of the Advocate, the 11 women were deemed “irregularly” ordained, and Episcopal bishops warned the church not to recognize the women as priests.

In the 40 years since, the “Philadelphia Eleven” have gone on varied paths working in churches, at therapeutic horseback riding centers, retirement and more. Click here to read about each one.


Photo courtesy Episcopal Divinity School

Episcopalians, start your engines!

St. Martha's Episcopal Church in Papillion, Nebraska have a race
team to compete in a Figure 8 competition at the County Fair in
Council Bluffs, Iowa. The race will take place this Friday evening.

The race team is made up of The Rev. Ernesto Medina (Stock Car
Division), Jammie Hermans Gaffer (PowderPuff Division), and Jeff
Stangl (Mechanic Division).


Medina writes:

The car number is 421... but if you look carefully it is really "Judges 4:21" which tells the story of Jael putting a tent peg through the temple of Sisera.

Members of the parish painted the car after church last Sunday and
were proud to put the Episcopal Shield boldly on the hood of the car.

The parish involvement in the Figure 8 race is part of series of
Fellowship events which have been planned for July... including an
Outdoor European Style Cookout and Family Camping Trip. (Some in the
parish consider it to be part of the Rector's 2nd Mid-life Crisis.)

The car itself is "special".... There is no PARK.... There is a piece
of chicken wire in front of the driver to help keep mud out... AND a
hole underneath the gear shift that allows the air from the engine fan
to cool the driver down.

We expect to have GoPro footage from inside the car available after the race.

"The Cross of Bullets"

From a story on The Diocese of Salisbury website:

The Right Revd Dinis (pronounced ‘Dinnish’) Sengulane presented Bishop Nicholas with a pectoral cross made from two bullets and the firing bolt of a rifle – deadly artefacts of Mozambique’s 15 year civil war from the 1970s until the 1990s, now turned through creativity into symbols of peace.

The cross is a product of one of Bishop Dinis’ proudest achievements – the ‘Swords into Ploughshares’ initiative. When Mozambique’s civil war ended in 1992, the country was awash with weapons, much productive farmland was strewn with mines, and the younger generation had grown up knowing nothing but war.

Bishop Dinis created a scheme where more than 600,000 weapons were anonymously exchanged for items useful in civilian life, such as books, bicycles, building materials and sewing machines.

A case for "irreverence"

Cindy Brandt explores the virtues of irreverence in Huffington Post:

The Church, by and large, keeps irreverence at arm's length. Sure, some pastors like to open sermons with a couple of clean jokes, but that's about the extent humor interacts with the Faithful. While I agree there's a social maturity required in expressing irreverence through appropriate channels, the Church is missing out on a deep authenticity of the human experience if we continue to fear irreverence, instead of finding beauty in it....

It is this fear of irreverence that I believe deprives the Christian community from learning what it really means to be faithful. Irreverence shows the world how to be real, prophetic and passionate.

Irreverence says it like it is. It's the child who calls out the emperor has no clothes. It's the uncouth teenager who wears his boredom on the outside. It's the hippie activist who won't shower until world peace reigns. Irreverence gives the Church permission to engage in full-blown lament amidst the hardships of life. As I have written elsewhere, learning from the popular and unabashedly irreverent comedian, Louis C.K., we cannot shut down feelings of true sadness with reverent calls to thanksgiving and praise. In order to enter true covenantal relationship with God, we must have the freedom to use the wide range of emotion given to us in our humanity to express what is real to our human experience. Instead of flinching from irreverent curses directed at God, let's listen closely to the deeper pain of struggle, because that which is real, even when delivered in coarse language, is human, and therefore deserves to be heard.

(her boldface)

Your thoughts?

Gaza update

Conflict in Gaza continues...

The New York Times reports that, after 15 days of fighting, at least 620 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have died.

NPR has an extensive coverage by Eyder Peralta: Gaza Conflict Day 16: Here's What You Need To Know. Includes in the recap was this report:

— The U.N.'s high commissioner for human rights said Israel's targeting of civilian installations could amount to war crimes.

"The disregard for international humanitarian law and for the right to life was shockingly evident for all to see in the apparent targeting on 16 July of seven children playing on a Gaza beach," Navi Pillay said. "Credible reports gathered by my office in Gaza indicate that the children were hit first by an Israeli airstrike, and then by naval shelling. All seven were hit. Four of them — aged between 9 and 11, from the same Bakr family — were killed. These children were clearly civilians taking no part in hostilities."

NPR's Emily Harris, who is reporting from Gaza, tells our Newscast unit that Israel has said that schools, mosques and private homes can be legitimate targets if militants use them to stash weapons.

Author Namoi Wolf made a powerful statement, originally on Facebook, and then shared on Philip Weiss' Mondoweiss:

I mourn genocide in Gaza because I am the granddaughter of a family half wiped out in a holocaust and I know genocide when I see it. People are asking why I am taking this ‘side’. There are no sides. I mourn all victims. But every law of war and international law is being broken in the targeting of civilians in Gaza. I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people had stood with the Jews in Germany. I stand with the people of Gaza because no one stood with us. I went to synagogue last Friday night and had to leave because I kept waiting for the massacre of Gaza to be addressed. … Nothing. Where is god? God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice. I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews…I don’t mean Israelis, a separate issue…about the genocide now in Gaza.

I want no other religion than this, that is, seeing rather than denying my neighbor under fire and embracing rather than dismissing those targeted with annihilation and ethnic cleansing.

William Saletan's "How to Save Gaza" in Slate says that "the most plausible way to stop this cycle of violence is through internationally supervised demilitarization. He makes these observations (and elaborates on them):

-Gazans have no government to protect them.

-The absence of a protector in Gaza has worsened Israel’s behavior.

-Israelis have lost faith in a military solution.

-There’s an obvious candidate to take over Gaza.

-The pieces of a solution are in place

The vanishing of middle class clergy

The Atlantic notes that full-time salaried church positions for clergy are becoming rarer:

... despite applying to nearly a hundred jobs over the course of two years, Barringer, who lives in Lexington, Kentucky, could not secure a full-time, salaried church position.

Barringer’s story is becoming increasingly typical as Protestant churches nationwide cut back on full-time, salaried positions....

Working multiple jobs is nothing new to pastors of small, rural congregations. But many of those pastors never went to seminary and never expected to have a full-time ministerial job in the first place. What’s new is the across-the-board increase in bi-vocational ministry in Protestant denominations both large and small, which has effectively shut down one pathway to a stable—if humble—middle-class career.

For example, the Episcopal Church has reported that the retirement rate of its clergy exceeds the ordination rate by 43 percent. And last year, an article from an official publication of the Presbyterian Church wondered if full-time pastors are becoming an "endangered species."

Interview with first woman appointed to Pontifical University

Vatican Insider interviews Franciscan Sr. Mary Melone newly appointed head of the Pontifical University Antonianum. She spoke about theology of women and says more collaboration between men and women needs to happen instead of quotas:

She was the first woman to obtain a permanent position as a professor at the Faculty of Theology of the Pontifical University Antonianum, the Roman university run by the Order of Friars Minor; she was the first woman to be appointed a dean, which is equivalent to the position of department head and now that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is Pope, she is the first woman to become a rector of a pontifical university in the Eternal City. The Vatican congregation for Catholic Education – headed by cardinal Zenon Grocholewski for the period 2014-2017 - has nominated Franciscan Sr. Mary Melone, an expert on St. Anthony of Padua, to lead the pontifical university.

“I don’t give much importance to these kinds of labels, female theology,” Sr. Melone said in an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, published on the occasion of her election as dean of Theology. “Above all I don’t like comparisons, although I recognize that in the past there may have been a reason for making comparisons. Maybe there is one today as well, I don’t know. More space definitely needs to be given to women. The reference to female theology does not really fit with my vision of things: all that exists is theology. Theology as research, as a focus on mystery, as a reflection on this mystery. But precisely because this requires different sensitivities. A woman’s approach to mystery, the way in which she reflects on this mystery which offers itself and reveals itself, is certainly different from that of a man. But they do not contrast. I believe in theology and I believe that theology created by a woman is typical of a woman. It is different but without the element of laying claim to it. Otherwise it almost seems as though I am manipulating theology, when it is instead a field that requires honesty from the person who places him/herself before the mystery.”

As far as the role of women in the Church is concerned, “a reflection on this cannot be commensurate to the Church’s age as this reflects a development of thought that has gone on for hundreds of years,” she went on to say in the 2011 interview. “ However, in my opinion a new space does exist and it is real. I also think it is irreversible, meaning that it is not a concession but a sign of the times from which there is no return. It is no pretense. I believe this depends a great deal on us women too. It is us who should get the ball rolling. Women cannot measure how much space they have in the Church in comparison to men: we have a space of our own, which is neither smaller nor greater than the space men occupy. It is our space. Thinking that we have to achieve what men have, will not get us anywhere. Of course, although the steps we take may be real, this does not mean the job is complete. A great deal more can be done but there is change, you can see it, feel it. I think that (my case aside) the election of a woman in a pontifical university is also proof this. The body who elected me was made up entirely of men!” So doesn’t the Church need gender quotas? “No, it doesn’t need quotas, it needs collaboration. And collaboration needs to grow!”

How to help: kids who cross the border

Ariel Miller, one of our commenters on Episcopal Café, has researched information on how to help the kids on the border who have come from Central America:

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IRS agrees to monitor churches for electioneering

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has agreed to monitor churches for electioneering. Religion News Service has the story:

The settlement was reached Friday (July 18) in federal court in Madison, Wis., where the initial lawsuit was filed in 2012 by the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist advocacy group that claims 20,000 members nationwide.

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45 Years Ago: Communion on the Moon

Yesterday marked the forty-fifth anniversary of the first time humanity set foot on the lunar surface. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin stepped off the spaceship and onto the moon, and thus stepped into history.

What is not as widely known, however, is that it is also the forty-fifth anniversary of the first communion service to occur on the moon.

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Reflection on Children at the Border

The Rt. Rev. Susan Goff, suffragan bishop of the Diocese of Virginia, recently returned from a trip to Guatemala. While there, the news of the children migration crisis in the States became apparent.

She posted a reflection about her experiences there on the diocesan webpage.

She writes:

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Inequality in Israel, as humanitarian crisis deepens in Gaza

The ongoing violence in Gaza has been agonizing to watch, even as it fills the front pages, and the A blocks of the news lately.

At the moment, Ha'aretz reports the death toll as encompassing over 500 Palestinians dead, 18 Israelis. Earlier today, the UNRWA has said that the number of Palestinian children in the conflict now surpasses 100, and comprises more than 1/4th of the fatalities. (See here. )

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Executive order protecting LGTBQ will not have religious exemption

Today, President Obama is expected to sign an executive order to ban discrimination of LGTBQ individuals by companies that do government work.
Significantly, it will contain no exemption for religious groups who do not agree with the order.

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How the poor cope with ADHD

According to experts, children from low-income households are more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. NBC News Plain Sight has the report here.

Root causes of the migration crisis

Following pastoral letters from Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori and House of Deputies President Gay Clark Jennings, some churches in Episcopal dioceses along the border with Mexico have been working to meet local needs of migrant people. However, in the media, there are many conflicting reports and stories about reasons for the migrant crisis. At Vox, Dylan Matthews features an in-depth interview with Cynthia Arnson, the director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars:

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Church history and divorce

As the Roman Catholic Church considers changing its teaching on divorce, and some theological conservatives push back, Lutheran pastor Benjamin Dueholm takes a look at the story of St. Augustine and St. Peter's wife in light of potential changes:

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Children have been coming to America alone since Ellis Island

Mother Jones offers some historical perspective on the issue of unaccompanied minors seeking refuge in the U.S.:

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Upset about Hobby Lobby decision? Knit a brick

The Secular Coalition for America is extending the deadline for its "Knit A Brick" campaign, an effort to protest the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision by creating knit bricks to "rebuild the wall of separation" between church and state. The group is asking supporters to knit or crochet rectangular bricks to be delivered to the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House. The deadline is Aug. 5.

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The religious underpinnings of World War I

From Religion News Service:

As the world marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I — a conflict that left 37 million dead or wounded and reshaped the global map — a number of scholars and authors are examining a facet of the war they say has been overlooked — the religious framework they say led to the conflict, affected its outcome and continues to impact global events today. ...

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Archbishop Welby writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops in the CofE

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has written to ecumenical partners about the General Synod’s decision to allow women to become bishops, emphasizing that churches “need each other.”


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Still a long road to equality

Muriel Porter writes that even with the Church of England opening the door to women bishops this week, there is still much to do. Australian Anglicans, she says, still have a long way to go.

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Flash: We tend to like people who look and act like us

The Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project asked Americans to rate how they feel about different religious groups on a "feelings thermometer." Guess what? We tend to like people who think and act like us.

Pew Research:

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Prayers for the victims of flight MH-17

Canon Mark Collinson, Chaplain of Christ Church, Amsterdam, and Area Dean for The Netherlands (Church of England) is encouraging the prayers of the people of this diocese, following the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17.


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What to do when all the news is bad

With a flood of bad news coming out Israel and Palestine, the Ukraine, Syria and Iraq and, finally, along the U.S.-Mexico border, it is easy to be overwhelmed. How does one cope and stay spiritually engaged when all the news is bad?

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, who blogs as the Velveteen Rabbi, shares some thoughts:

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The Hospitality Center: "I don't know what we'd do without them"

In three brief years, The Hospitality Center, founded by Deacon Kevin Stewart and the people of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Racine, Wisconsin has become the largest feeding program in the city. Listening to some of the stories in this video makes the Baptismal Covenant come alive.

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Joint PB Nominating Committee releases 2nd essay.

The Joint Nominating Committee for the Next Presiding Bishop has released the 2nd in its series of essays on the Office of Presiding Bishop:

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Almost half of Americans want to deport child refugees

Dara Lind at Vox has the story:

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Sympathy for the Devil, as the Church of England bids him goodbye

Matthew Bell of "The World", a radio program from Public Radio International, has reported one of the more intelligent and balanced stories about the Church of England's decision to "nix any mention" of the devil from its services.

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EPPN: "Support unaccompanied immigrant children"

Episcopal Public Policy Network issued an action statement today:

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"Like a girl" and "Not sorry"

Two recent videos with product ties challenge culture norms:

Lauren Greenfield directed a short video commissioned by Always. "Like a Girl" was seen as a social experiment: and Greenfield wrote about it in The Telegraph.

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How to fix the Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Michael C. Dorf thinks the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (the statute cited in the Hobby Lobby case) can be fixed. He writes in Verdict on Justia.com:

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Things the church needs to say and do

"Who wants to devote life and loyalty to a religion that debates trifles and bullies the outsider?"

So asks Tom Ehrich in his latest article for Religion News Service (and picked up by Sojourners). He lists eight things we should say and do.

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Presiding Bishop among 12 women who shaped Christianity

The Telegraph names The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church as one of 12 women who shaped Christianity:

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Gaza hospital needs urgent aid

Episcopal News Service reports on the need for aid to the Anglican Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City:

Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City is appealing for urgent aid as it struggles to provide critical healthcare services to anyone in need following more than a week of Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas militants.

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Fasting for Peace today

In the face of continuing bombing and counter attacks, Jews, Muslims, Christians and others are fasting for peace today. July 15 is a Jewish fast day (17th of Tammuz) and this year coincides with the Muslim observation of Ramadan. Religion News Service reports:

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Raising funds for accessibility project

Trinity Episcopal Church in Kirksville, MO, is raising funds for their accessibility building project. They made this video to show why they need a more accessible building.

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Video: Archbishop Welby talks about the vote to allow female bishops

The Most Rev. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury appeared on the BBC's Newsnight program to talk about the Church of England's decision to ordain women as bishops.

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Episcopal Church granted consultative status at UN

From the Office of Public Affairs:

The member states of the United Nations (UN) Committee on NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) have granted to The Episcopal Church special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) at the United Nations.

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Who will be the first female bishop in the Church of England?

Who will be the first female bishop in the Church of England?

Andrew Brown has some thoughts. Among the leading candidates:

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Women will soon be bishops in the Church of England

The General Synod of the Church of England has approved legislation that will allow women to be appointed bishops. The Huffington Post has a brief story, and we will be updating it as the day goes on.

The BBC has also filed a story.

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EPF Palestine Israel Network reflection on violence in Gaza

As the violence in Gaza escalates Canon Brian J. Grieves, a member of the Steering Committee of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship's Palestine Israel Network, offers his reflection:

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Anglicans host Christian-Muslim conference in Tanzania

The Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary recently partnered with Msalato Theological College in Dodoma, Tanzania to host the 2014 Christian-Muslim Conference. Facilitated by the Rev. Christ Ahrends, diocesan missioner of the Diocese of Saldanha Bay in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, over 60 Muslim and Christian faith leaders from Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, the United States and Tanzania came together to learn from one another and discuss local peacebuilding commitments:

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World Council of Churches divests from fossil fuels

The London Guardian reports that the World Council of Churches, which represents over 500 million Christians, has divested from fossil fuels:

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The Pope's popularity and American culture

In On Faith and Culture, Jonathan Merritt examines the popularity of Pope Francis in America and what it might reveal about American attitudes toward Christianity in general:

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Inspirational closing Eucharist with Bp. Curry at EYE14

Bishop Michael Curry of North Carolina wowed the youth at EYE14's closing Eucharist.

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Are modern detectives our new priests?

Giles Fraser, a big fan of the HBO series "True Detective," muses in the Guardian about whether the heroes of modern detective fiction play a theological role in society.

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Nicholas Kristof on violence against Christians by Islamic fundamentalists

Nicholas Kristof writes in the New York Times about the troubling rise of violence against Christians by Islamic fundamentalists:

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