News Roundup

OFFICIAL CATHOLIC HYMN
The Vatican is sponsoring a contest to choose music for the official hymn of 2025 Jubilee Year. The Dicastery for Evangelization announced the sacred music writing competition Sept. 17. The contest will open for submissions early next year. Click here to read article

UMC AFRICAN BISHOPS DENOUNCE SEPARATION
Separatist forces suffered a major blow to their political strategy Sept. 8 when a majority of African bishops repudiated a special interest group and its traditionalist sponsor for “working to destroy our United Methodist Church.” The “Statement from Africa Colleges of Bishops” was issued via the UMC’s Council of Bishops after a four-day meeting at United Methodist-founded Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. Click here to read article

HOMELAND SECURITY FAITH ADVISORS
The Department of Homeland Security has announced the appointment of a new, 25-member faith-based advisory council to assist Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in finding ways to protect houses of worship. The council consists of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh clergy plus some law enforcement and nonprofit faith group leaders. Click here to read article

SURVEY: AMERICANS FAVOR ACCEPTING REFUGEES
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the war in Ukraine, violence and turmoil in Central America, and other conflicts around the world continue to force many people to cross international borders in search of safety and security. Against this backdrop, the Pew Research Center reports, around seven-in-ten Americans (72%) say taking in civilian refugees from countries where people are trying to escape violence and war should be a very or somewhat important goal for immigration policy in the United States. Click here to read article

BAPTIST SEMINARY PRESIDENT RESIGNS
Adam Greenway, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, has resigned just three and a half years after being named president. Click here to read article

PERCENTAGE OF CHRISTIANS DECLINES
“If recent trends in religious switching continue, Christians could make up less than half of the U.S. population within a few decades.” That is one of the take-aways from a new report from the Pew Research Center that models several hypothetical scenarios describing how the U.S. religion landscape could change over the next half century if recent trends continue. Click here to read article

CATHOLIC REFORMS
Pope Francis’ consultation with Catholics across the globe in an effort to reform the Catholic Church has drawn praise and criticism. Click here to read article

MUSLIMS AND POLITICS
The political and cultural power of Muslim Americans has grown in the past 20 years as a result of an expanding voter base and record numbers of candidates running for office at both at the local and national level. But the rise in political power has come with its difficulties. Click here to read article

$1 BILLLION SAMARITAN’S PURSE
In early September, Samaritan’s Purse, headed by evangelical leader Franklin Graham, made its 30th airlift since Russia began its offensive against Ukraine in February. The ministry has grown from its signature Operation Christmas Child to become a $1 billion humanitarian aid powerhouse. Click here to read article

CURSILLO SAINT
The Archdiocese of Madrid has begun the diocesan phase of the canonization process for Father Sebastián Gayá, one of the main developers of the Cursillo (short course) in Christianity, an ecclesial movement that had its beginnings in Spain in the 1940s and today has spread throughout the world. Click here to read article

EPISCOPALIANS HONOR QUEEN
Episcopalians in the United States are joining Anglicans worldwide in paying tribute to the life of Queen Elizabeth II, who died Sept. 8 at age 96. The Episcopal Church in the United States is part of the Anglican Communion. Click here to read article

MOTHER TERESA DOCUMENTARY
The “definitive movie” about Mother Teresa of Calcutta will be in theaters in October. It sheds new light on — and delivers powerful images of — the life of this venerated Albanian-Kosovar nun. Click here to read article

APACHE SACRED SITE
Members of Apache Stronghold seek to stop a private venture from turning Apache sacred land into an underground copper mine. Click here to read article

SUPREME COURT DECLINE
A Pew Research Center survey shows Americans’ ratings of the Supreme Court are now as negative as – and more politically polarized than – at any point in more than three decades of polling on the nation’s highest court. Click here to read article

MIDLAND CHRISTIAN SCHOOL SUED
Four former employees of Midland Christian School and a current employee who says he was demoted from his assistant principal role filed a federal lawsuit against the City of Midland and three police officers. Click here to read article

CHURCH VANDALIZED TWICE
For the second time in six weeks a United Methodist Church in McKinney was vandalized with spray-painted racial slurs and swastikas. Stonebridge UMC is led by the Rev. Jeff Lust, who formerly was chaplain at McMurry University. Click here for a video and article about the vandalism.

HISTORIC CALLING
The historic Crescent Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, has called a gay man, Jordan Conley, as co-pastor. Conley and his husband Patrick Allison were married in the church in 2016. Click here to read the article in the Louisville Courier Journal.

WORKER’S RIGHTS
From the beginning, the Methodist movement has focused particular attention on the concerns of workers. Justice, dignity and equality for workers are an integral part of the church social teachings and heritage. Click here to read article about the United Methodist Church’s affirmation of worker’s rights.

POPE JOHN PAUL I BEATIFIED
Pope Francis beatified John Paul I, who reigned as pope for only 33 days, amid a thunderstorm in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, Sept. 4. Click here to read article

ST. PETER’S HOUSE?
A team of archaeologists uncovered evidence this month that may be the “smoking gun” confirming the location of the house of St. Peter. Click here to read article from Catholic News Agency

TESTING TEXAS LAW
An activist who lives in Florida plans to test the Texas ‘In God We Trust’ law with signs in Arabic. The law requires public schools to display signs and posters with the national motto “In God We Trust” in “conspicuous places.” Click here to read article from NPR

NEWEST AMERICAN CARDINAL
The newest and youngest American cardinal, Bishop Robert McElroy, 68, stands out for how closely aligned he is to the pope’s pastoral style and vision for the Church. Click here to read article from Catholic News Agency

UMC DIVORCE
Will Willimon, who will speak at the Festival of Faith in January at First Central Presbyterian Church, has written an editoral about why “the United Methodist divorce is a mistake.” Willimon is Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke Divinity School. Click here to read the article in Christian Century

BIBLE AND DEBT FORGIVENESS
Within hours of its announcement, the new White House plan to forgive $10,000 to $20,000 per person in student loan debt became a theological dividing line as much as a political one. Click here to read article from Baptist Global News

MALE PRIVILEGE?
Rob Sellers, professor of theology and missions emeritus at Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary, has a new article posted on Baptist News Global about being blind to the “innate privileges I enjoy and the advantages from which I benefit because I was born a male.” Click here to read the article

MAKING REPARATIONS
What does it mean to make reparations? After decades of votes and commissions and studies and promises, hundreds of clergy and lay leaders voted at the annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to commit $10 million to reparations. Click here to read article in the Washington Post

SPIRITUAL, NOT RELIGIOUS?
Criticism of spirituality as inherently selfish may be overblown, according to two new studies that suggest people who are spiritual but not religious are civically and politically engaged. Click here to read article from Religion News Service

 NOT FORGOTTEN
Six months into the war in Ukraine, Catholic prelates in the bombarded country hope to rally the spirits of Ukrainian citizens, while urging world leaders to remember their plight. Meanwhile, Pope Francis continues to call for dialogue. Click here to read article from Religion News Service

 BAPTISTS AND BAYLOR
The Baptist General Convention of Texas is seeking to “review and consider changes” to the special agreement that defines its relationship with Baylor University. The BGCT has related to Baylor by special agreement for more than three decades. Click here to read article Baptist Press

PRESBYTERIAN YOUTHS MAKING A DIFFERENCE
A donor in a Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma, provided money for youths to make a difference. Find out how they did it. Click here to read article from Presbyterian News Service

SHARED SPACE
Venuely, a space sharing website launched this month as an interfaith platform to match houses of faith in New York City that have surplus space to short-term renters in search of a deal. It’s also founded by two nonprofit organizations (Bricks and Mortals and Partners for Sacred Places) that aim to develop capacity for faith communities, not line their pockets. Click here to read article from Episcopal News Service

WHAT GIVES?
What motivates people to give? In Barna’s latest release, The Giving Landscape—the first of several journals created in partnership with Gloo and a collective of other partners as part of The State of Generosity series—brand new data highlights the reasons why U.S. adults and practicing Christians choose to give. Click here to read Barna news release

TEACHING THE HOLOCAUST
Connections between past and present are being made at seminars offered to public and private school teachers across the United States and abroad by The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights, or TOLI. Its mission is to educate middle- and high-school teachers in how the systematic murder of European Jews could have happened and how misinformation campaigns can metastasize into human rights violations, the destruction of democratic norms, even genocide. Click here to read article from Religion News Service

RACIAL RECKONING
A joyous celebration honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe was well underway at Misión Latina Luterana last December when the Rev. Megan Rohrer, then-bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod, announced to the Latino congregation that its pastor, the Rev. Nelson Rabell-González, had been fired. Eight months later, the 100 or so members of Misión Latina Luterana — now renamed Iglesia Luterana Santa María Peregrina — find themselves at the center of a racial reckoning in the ELCA, one of the nation’s least diverse denominations. Click here to read article from Religion News Service

UMC UPHEAVAL
Texas has long been a stronghold of The United Methodist Church in the U.S., boasting the most annual conferences (five) and ranking at the top in number of local churches and prevalence of megachurches. But this summer has seen many traditionalist congregations in the state weighing whether to leave the denomination. On Aug. 7, in votes taken within hours of one another, The Woodlands Methodist Church and Faithbridge — both large, traditionalist churches in suburban communities north of Houston — chose to disaffiliate. Click here to read United Methodist news article

ANGLICAN COMMUNION
Over 650 bishops from across the Anglican Communion, led by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, ended the 12-day Lambeth Conference Monday, Aug. 8. The Lambeth Conference normally is held every 10 years, but was postponed from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In his third and final keynote address of the 15th Lambeth Conference, Welby called on the church “to tell, to teach and to transform by responding to human need,” driving home the conference’s theme, “God’s Church for God’s World.” Click here to read the article from Episcopal News Service.

EDITOR IN CHIEF
Russell Moore, the former Southern Baptist ethicist, has been named editor in chief at Christianity Today. Moore joined Christianity Today as a public theologian in 2021 after resigning as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. His tenure there had been controversial, in part because of his opposition to Donald Trump and for advocating for sexual abuse reforms. Click here to read article from Religion News Service

ENVIRONMENTAL TRIUMPH
The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) is celebrating “with the majority of Americans and the world that the United States is again assuming its leadership responsibility to address the climate crisis” after the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The measure has been sent to the House of Representatives, which is expected to vote on Friday. Click here to read statement from EEN.

MISSIONS?
How do Christians define missions? Recent data published in The Great Disconnect, a Barna report produced in partnership with Mission India, show that Christians’ and pastors’ perceptions of missions—whether it’s a calling or a mandate—vary widely. Click here to read Barna article

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