There is a lot going on in the Church of SoNoGo

South Park – North Park – Golden Hill

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Reformed Church in America moves toward restructuring

Amid pandemic turmoil and curriculum fights, a boom for Christian schools*
The New York Times: With public schools on the defensive, is this a blip or a ‘once-in-100-year moment for the growth of Christian education’?
A century after partition, Ireland’s churches are cooperating more closely than ever
The Conversation: Despite a history of sectarian strife, cooperation between the leaders of the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches in Ireland has deepened in recent years, with the churches increasingly speaking with one voice on important social and political issues.
The Reformed Church in America moves toward restructuring, prepares for departures
Religion News Service: The decisions follow decades of debate over LGBTQ ordination and same-sex marriage.
Social capital in Black communities is often overlooked
Scientific American: Altruism, spirituality and civic engagement are keys to resilience.
Ravi Zacharias’s daughter steps down to launch new ministry
Christianity Today: Exit appears to mark end of internal struggle over RZIM culture review.

God used a prison sentence and a church invitation

In CT’s newest cover story, researchers make the case that declining church participation is actually a public health crisis.

It’s been nearly a year since the ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and religious clerics are still trying to broker peace where politicians and generals have failed.

How God used a prison sentence and a church invitation to teach James D. Croone his worth in Christ.

The head of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship says he’s learned about spiritual resilience from Generation Z believers.

This week on The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, Mike Cosper falls down the rabbit hole of church planting.

In other news

Calvin University announced plans this week to add a school of health, thanks to a $15 million gift from an anonymous donor.

A diver off the coast of Israel discovered a 900-year-old shell-encrusted iron sword from the Crusades.

An artist in Cyprus got in trouble with the government and the Greek Orthodox church for his depictions of Jesus criticizing wealth and power.

Joe Donnelly named ambassador to Vatican

I committed matricide, so you can too: Gavin Newsom's strained relationship with his mother ended when he assisted her with her suicide

Joe Donnelly named ambassador to Vatican: Anticipates working on immigration, climate change, peace, poverty

A week of ultimate sacrifice – Ignatius of Antioch, Luke, North American Martyrs: Can you drink the cup of suffering?

Christian Schools Boom


Catholics in Africa fight dual battles

Catholics in Africa fight dual battles: COVID-19 vaccine scarcity, skepticism

As access to coronavirus vaccines continues to be limited across Africa, Catholic officials across the continent are struggling to maintain prevention measures. At the same time, they are also trying to fight misinformation about the inoculations and convince those who have the chance to get themselves vaccinated.

Local parishes are leading these awareness efforts. Fr. Bennet Umeh, an associate priest at St. Kevin Catholic Church in Nigeria's capital city of Abuja, said making constant reminders from the pulpit has been a good strategy to convince parishioners to get vaccinated.

"I have made it part of our weekly announcements to remind people that COVID-19 is real and they should observe the relevant hygienic practices like washing hands with water and soap, wearing facemasks and social distancing," said Umeh.

You can read more of the story here.

In adapting to climate change, technology will not save us

"Strap yourself in for a ride," writes Jon Magnuson in his review of anthropologist Josh Berson's new book, The Human Scaffold: How Not to Design Your Way Out of a Climate Crisis, adding that the book invites readers into a world that turns upside down conventional arguments about how we should best meet the challenges of climate change in the 21st century.

Berson's thesis takes time to unfold in five complex, interwoven chapters, but the final message is clear: Technology will not save us, Magnuson says. The environments we find ourselves living in are, Berson writes, changing our very physiology, our intellectual, and our emotional lives. That is where, he argues forcefully, we need to better place our attention and our commitments.

You can read more of the review at EarthBeat.

More headlines

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Thank God for Pope Francis

Francis has shifted teaching on just war theory, US military instructors say

Pope Francis significantly shifted the Catholic Church's teaching on the use of military force in 2020, declaring in the encyclical Fratelli Tutti that because of the brutality of modern combat it is now "very difficult" for countries to invoke the just war theory in pursuing violent conflict.

Catholic peace activists at the time hailed the move, calling it an historic development in church teaching that could undercut efforts by national leaders to legitimize their uses of military force.

Reviewing the document a year later, instructors at U.S. military academies did not quite agree with the activists' assessment. But some did concur that Francis had adjusted church teaching in a real way.

You can read more of the story here.

More background:

Thank God for Pope Francis: Now, if only our culture war bishops would listen to him.

On a papal visit to Hungary and Slovakia in mid-September, Pope Francis told reporters aboard his airplane that bishops should behave like "pastors, not politicians." He went on to say that he had never denied the Eucharist to anyone and repeated something he had said before. "The Eucharist is not the reward of saints but the bread of sinners," Francis said. "Communion is not a prize for the perfect."

"Thank God for Pope Francis," comments Fr. Peter Daly in his latest contribution. "He said what many of us have been thinking — that our bishops are behaving more like politicians than shepherds." 

"What does the pope want from pastoral bishops? He wants dialogue, not condemnation," Daly continues. "But what do we get from our 'culture warrior' bishops here in the U.S.?"

You can read more of Daly's commentary here.

More background:

More headlines

New amendments to Russia’s religion laws

Christian Aid Ministries, an Anabaptist group based in Ohio, is praying gang members will repent and release 17 missionaries and family members, who were kidnapped in Haiti over the weekend.

The CEO of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries is stepping down to launch a new apologetics minsitry.

New amendments to Russia’s religion laws—this time regulating ministry training and education—are said to represent the biggest increase in government oversight of faith since its 2016 evangelism ban.

NASA is planning to send humans back to the moon, and then on to Mars. One one of the experts involved knows from personal experience that NASA’s plan is part of God’s larger plan.

Churches who leave the RCA over LGBT issues will be able to retain their assets and buildings, the denomination decided at its recent synod.

In other news

First Lady Jill Biden attended the fiftieth anniversary celebration for the South Carolina pastor she credits with helping rebuild her faith after Beau Biden’s death.

Apple has removed multiple apps from its app store in China to comply with new rules restricting religious material, including Bible apps and audio books.

A service marking 100 years since the partition of Ireland will feature a sermon from the first African to lead one of the country’s main churches, Methodist Church president Sahr Yambasu.

Welcoming the stranger: A church ministry

baked goods
By Kate Morrissey
Almost 30 years after beginning its ministry to those who’ve fled their home countries, a San Diego church has seen its community strengthened by shared leadership and a willingness to adapt.
Strategy questions:

• When was the last time you examined the boundaries of belonging for your church?
• At this moment, will your congregation choose to see newly arrived Afghan and Haitian refugees as families who belong?

How maternity leave made me a better leader

Haiti gang wants $17M ransom for kidnapped American and Canadian missionaries
CNN: The gang that kidnapped a group of 17 American and Canadian missionaries in Haiti has asked for $1 million each for their release, a top Haitian official told CNN Tuesday.
What being rich, religious or Republican has to do with getting married and having children
Deseret News: A new study exposes a growing divide when it comes to post-COVID-19 family formation.
Millions wanted to ‘Save Saeed.’ Few wanted to help his abused ex-wife.
Religion News Service: In a 2016 recording, Franklin Graham is heard pressing an abused spouse to go to counseling with her husband. ‘This can be fixed, easy.’
How maternity leave made me a better leader
Fast Company: This tech CEO made a plan, delegated her duties, and then disconnected for 18 weeks from the company she cofounded to have a baby.
The Muslimness of Dune: A close reading of “Appendix II: The Religion of Dune” The Muslim influences on the series go deeper than many may have realized.
Religion News Service:
‘Dune’ novels draw on Islamic motifs and have in turn inspired Muslim artists