There is a lot going on in the Church of SoNoGo

South Park – North Park – Golden Hill

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A Lutheran's Case for Roman Catholicism


Catholic leaders react to the Derek Chauvin conviction

A 'small start': Catholic leaders react to the Derek Chauvin conviction

Following the conviction of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who on Tuesday was found guilty of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, Black Catholic leaders say it's a "small start" in both the country and the church's long overdue efforts for racial justice. 

"It's a small start," said Ralph McCloud, the director of the U.S. bishops' domestic anti-poverty program, Catholic Campaign for Human Development. "But I can't help but think what it took for us to get here." 

"Millions of people had to see the video of Floyd's killing and then take to the streets in protest for many Americans to see how the systems are skewed against people of color," McCloud told NCR. "So many other trials that are looming and so many other trials that have passed didn't have the luxury of this kind of exposure." 

McCloud said he hopes the national attention of the trial causes a reckoning within "Catholic parishes, diocesan offices, chanceries and across the board." 

"If we're quiet, we're complicit," he said, adding that Catholic institutions need to ask themselves what "makes people disregard and disrespect human life because of their race?"

You can read more reaction to the verdict here.

Closures of Catholic schools in Black neighborhoods provoke sense of abandonment

On the evening of Feb. 25, the St. Louis Archdiocese sent an email announcing Trinity Catholic High School would close at the end of the academic year. A letter attached to the email said that enrollment at the school, located in a predominantly African American area just a 15-minute drive from Ferguson, Missouri, had slipped too low and the building was too old to maintain.

Kimora Williams, 17, came to Trinity for the reasons many other Black students do: The academics were better than at the nearby public schools, but Trinity also felt like a family. Now, Williams feels betrayed.

"I do feel that the archdiocese has abandoned the community, especially a community that is predominantly Black," Williams said. "I feel that it is racially motivated for them to close us, because I feel like if it was in a predominantly white neighborhood that would never be a choice."

Trinity is just one of the hundreds of Catholic schools to be shuttered since the pandemic began, but the school, which teachers say is more than 80% African American, highlights another trend: Schools serving Black students are more likely to close.

You can read more of the story here.

More headlines

It’s not just young white liberals who are leaving religion

‘The struggle continues’: Faith leaders on Chauvin’s conviction
Sojourners: National faith leaders agreed that the verdict must be considered in the broader context of Floyd’s death.

White evangelical racism: An interview with Anthea Butler
Religion & Politics: “Racism is a feature, not a bug, of American evangelicalism,” she writes in her new book.

‘Within minutes I was weeping’: The US pastor using scripture to mobilize climate action
The Guardian: Religious leaders, who know how to relate to communities on an emotional level, may be best positioned to convince people to support climate activism, experts say.

Quebec’s ban on public religious symbols largely upheld*
The New York Times: The ruling exempts English-speaking schools and effectively allows provincial legislators to wear turbans or head scarves, but it angered civil liberties advocates as discriminatory.

It’s not just young white liberals who are leaving religion
FiveThirtyEight: Compared to the U.S. population overall, nonreligious Americans are younger and more Democratic-leaning. But the number of Americans who aren’t religious has surged in part because people in lots of demographic groups are disengaging from religion.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Episcopal Church releases racial audit of leadership

Last North Carolina immigrant to take sanctuary at a church goes home
Religion News Service: Juana Luz Tobar Ortega was the first person to seek church sanctuary in North Carolina in 2017 and she is the last to leave.

Episcopal Church releases racial audit of leadership, citing nine patterns of racism in church culture
Episcopal News Service: The Episcopal Church publicly released a report on April 19 that assesses the racial makeup and perceptions of a broad sampling of the church’s leadership and summarizes how race influences internal church culture.

Howard University’s removal of classics is a spiritual catastrophe*
The Washington Post: Academia’s continual campaign to disregard or neglect the classics is a sign of spiritual decay, moral decline and a deep intellectual narrowness running amok in American culture, Cornel West and Jeremy Tate 

Poland activists urge people to think before ticking Catholic box in census
The Guardian: Campaigners hope more accurate picture of country’s makeup will challenge government narrative of near-universal Catholicism.

Conservative justices aren’t alone in supporting religion at the Supreme Court
Deseret News: Liberal justices often join their more conservative colleagues in rulings favoring religious rights, according to a Deseret News analysis.

How to navigate the chaos of returning to in-person church


A group of cords go from parallel to tangled
By A. Trevor Sutton
With their plans upended on Holy Monday, a pastor and staff at a Michigan church leapt into Holy Week and Easter, revising as they went. He shares three insights he hopes will help others returning to in-person worship.

Let's re-envision "normal"


Pastor stands behind video camera
By Alex Shea Will
Along with the hard lessons of the pandemic, churches have learned things that can make them healthier for clergy and congregants, a pastor writes.

Making our health care system more equitable is a matter of faith


Man sits in doctor's office
Q&A with Terri Laws
The coronavirus pandemic has made clear the inequities in our health care system, including Black underrepresentation in clinical trials, says a researcher of unequal access to innovative treatments.

Black church history is Black history is American history


Henry Louis Gates Jr. standing in front of stained glass
Q&A with Shayla Harris
The Black church has played an indelible role in the lives of its members and in the evolution of the nation as a whole, says a producer-director of a recent PBS series.

Young people and planting house churches

Group of people sitting in a circle in a backyard
In a student ministry at the University of Mary Washington, two pastors have overseen the birth of several house churches by relying on the power of creativity and connection.
Strategy questions:

• How is your church equipping young people to feel confident in their ability to lead?
• How can your church or organization be a launching pad for others’ dreams?

Bahamian church seeks to assist Haitian refugees

Bahamian church seeks to assist Haitian refugees facing loss of homes

Most Haitians in the Bahamas are undocumented and thus unaccounted by the Bahamian government in any official population total, even in death.

On Abaco Island alone, where up to 8,000 Haitians lived in shantytowns called the Mudd and Pigeon Peas, one government estimate of Haitians lost in 2019's Hurricane Dorian was 75 persons. But the Haitian community on the island believes the number of souls swept out to sea is at least 1,000.

The Haitian community on Abaco are setting up residences, temporary and permanent, on a plot of abandoned land owned by foreign interests that raised citrus and sugar cane and attempted to cultivate tobacco. They call this plot of land The Farm, and nearly 1,000 homes have been constructed with an estimated 3,000 people living there.

But following an April 10 government raid, residents of The Farm received notice the government will bring bulldozers into the community on April 28 to demolish structures — both permanent and temporary. Outcry from Bahamians and human rights groups has, as of yet, gone unnoticed by government officials.

You can read more of the story here.

Learning to like Ramadan while living in Morocco

Britt Luby, a hospital chaplain in Fort Worth, Texas, writes in a commentary for NCR about her unexpected love for Ramadan.

She and her husband had lived in Morocco as Peace Corps volunteers for about six months before Ramadan, a time she writes was "difficult."

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and commemorated this year from April 13 to May 12, is a holy month and a time of spiritual reflection and self-improvement. Many Muslims will fast from food and water from sunrise to sunset as a spiritual practice.

"As a practicing Catholic, a month or so of fasting was fairly familiar to me," Luby writes. "I was used to giving up sweets from Ash Wednesday until Easter. But giving up water? From sunrise to sunset on a 100-degree day? For 30 days in a row? This was too hard!"

You can read more of her commentary here.

More background:

  • Christians and Muslims share a conviction that God calls them to be "witnesses, restorers and builders of hope" both in this life and for the life to come, said the leaders of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

More headlines

  • At Global Sisters Report, read a Q&A with Sr. Suzanne Susany, who, inspired by the needs of immigrants, enrolled in law school in her 60s to become an immigration attorney.
  • In the latest Francis, the comic strip, a cardinal believes the Holy Spirit will descend on him and make him pope.
  • ICYMI: Pope Francis voiced apprehension over a recent Russian troop buildup near the border with Ukraine and called for efforts to ease tensions in the 7-year conflict in eastern Ukraine pitting Ukrainian forces against Russia-backed rebels.