The devastation left in the wake of scores of spring tornadoes and storms that swept through the country has been astonishing, and the deadliest, which hit Joplin, Mo., on May 22, created unspeakable trauma.
“It ripped through a mile and a half wide for six or seven miles and took down everything,” said Missouri resident Kathy Morriss, co-chair of disaster assistance for the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.’s John Calvin Presbytery. “It’s a catastrophe that I never thought I would see.”
The Washington Post reported that the Joplin tornado was the single deadliest tornado since officials began keeping records in 1950. The twister destroyed a third of the town, and more than 150 people perished as a result. Thousands have signed up for housing help, and mounds of debris remains.
Jake Medcalf didn’t set out to be an inner city urban church planter. But four years, a non-profit and a worshipping community later, that’s where he has found himself.
As the youth pastor at La Jolla Presbyterian Church, located in one of the wealthier neighborhoods of San Diego ― one of the wealthier areas of the country ― Medcalf was simply trying to be faithful in his ministry role.
In addition to being a youth pastor at La Jolla Church, Medcalf was also on Young Life staff.
As Christians in South Sudan mark one month after independence, churches in the Muslim north are facing pressure from government officials and members of the public who are demanding their closure.
The development is causing some church leaders to close schools and congregations and consider moving to the south, but even those actions are difficult because they see themselves as northern Christians.
“Some churches are being left empty and those in the outskirts without proper documentation are being forced to close. Some individual government leaders are going there and telling pastors to close them down,” said the Rev. Ramadan Chan Liol, general secretary of the Sudan Council of Churches, in a telephone interview.
Often accused of ignoring religion as they craft foreign policy, the White House and State Department are trying to show that religion is a rising priority for U.S. diplomacy.
The most recent case in point: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Istanbul on July 15 promoted a new U.S.-backed international agreement to protect freedom of speech and religion, an accord described by her department as a “landmark” change.
“These are fundamental freedoms that belong to all people in all places,” Clinton said, “and they are certainly essential to democracy.”
A short video, a little bit of show and tell, and a lot of discussion ― it’s the way Kim Coulter led her class on social media here at Buena Vista University (BVU) during the 58th Synod of Lakes and Prairies’ Synod School.
With an opening video that proclaimed, “If Facebook were a country, it’d be the world’s third largest,” Coulter made the argument that social media can play a role in the church.
The video, Erik Qualman’s “Social Media Revolution 2011,” pointed out that 93 percent of marketers use social media for business and Coulter said, “If companies can do that, why can’t churches do that?”
Like many a biblical dreamer before her, the Rev. Sharon Selestewa heard God call her name while she slept. And not just once, but three times.
Raised by devout Christian grandparents of Native American heritage in Salt River, Ariz., Selestewa had at first distanced herself from their faith community and traditions. “Growing up, I didn’t want to have anything to do with the church,” she says. “I was in the world for quite a while.”
Her first dream changed all that.
As Haiti struggles to recover from the deadly January 2010 earthquake that killed over 200,000 people and forced nearly 1.5 million into camps, international funding is failing to keep pace with the generous pledges made last year, and in- fighting in Haiti’s new government is hindering the disbursement of aid.
“The amount of debris still littering the streets could fill 8,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools,” the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) said in a study released here.
Most of the rubble is still clogging the capital, Port-au-Prince, preventing people from moving back to their homes, resuming their lives and allowing the recovery process to truly take hold in Haiti’s capital city.
Many faith communities in England are working together on the front line this week after three days of rioting in which hooded youths ransacked hundreds of businesses and shops in many parts of London, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham and smaller towns.
A 26-year-old man was reported killed in Croydon, south of London and more than 500 people have been arrested after business and shops were burned and looted.
Prime Minister David Cameron recalled Parliament from summer recess and vowed to put an additional 16,000 police officers on the streets.
On a recent Sunday, Rep. Michele Bachmann offered a Pentecostal church in Iowa an intimate account of her pilgrimage from apathetic teenager to devout Christian whose faith has persevered through hardship, including a miscarriage.
But when a reporter asked about the churches her family has attended, the Republican presidential candidate went mum.
“We’re not here to talk about anything other than just the church. Thank you,” Bachmann, told IowaPolitics.com, referring to Des Moines First Assembly of God, where she recited her spiritual testimony before 500 fellow Christians ― and potential caucus voters ― on July 17.
The Minnesota congresswoman’s eagerness to bare her soul but not the site of her Sunday worship seems to reflects a convergence of wider concerns: evangelicals’ increasing aversion to religious labels, a dread of being caught with “pastor problems,” and the cold political calculus of reaching the largest possible constituency.
It’s not that there was anything wrong with Bel Air Presbyterian Church. Located on the Sepulveda Pass, which connects west Los Angeles with the San Fernando Valley, the church is home to those who come from across town.
But for a core group of people who loved the mission, vision and values of Bel Air, there was one significant problem: traffic.
Living in the South Bay, they were a mere 20 miles away, but more than an hour’s drive in traffic. Many of this core group had been involved at Bel Air as part of the college or young adults group and had begun to get married, have children and move further away from the church.
But it became increasingly clear that the inconvenience was more of an evangelistic problem.