The patriarchs of three ancient Orthodox Christian churches met Sept. 1-2 in Istanbul to discuss the situation of Christian minorities in the Middle East, and perhaps an even more prickly topic ― the move toward a historic pan-Orthodox council ― removing major stumbling blocks to what would be the first such gathering in centuries.
The pan-Orthodox council is regarded with great interest by the world’s Orthodox churches, many of which are in unstable regions following revolutions in the Middle East, or in countries facing a third decade of economic and social transition following the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
Interfaith worship services have doubled in the decade since the 9/11 attacks, according to a new study released Sept. 7, even as more than seven in 10 U.S. congregations do not associate with other faiths.
The survey by an interfaith group of researchers found that about 14 percent of U.S. congregations surveyed in 2010 engaged in a joint religious celebration with another faith tradition, up from 6.8 percent in 2000.
Interfaith community service grew nearly threefold, with 20.4 percent of congregations reporting participation in 2010, up from 7.7 percent in 2000, according to the Cooperative Congregations Studies Partnership. After the attacks, “Islam and Islamics’ presence in the United States (became) visible in a way that you couldn’t ignore,” said David A. Roozen, one of the report’s authors and the director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut.
On the porch of the garden cabin at Warren Wilson College on September 1, the Presbytery of Western North Carolina’s two new For Such a Time as This pastoral residents were welcomed by their Asheville-area peers.
Just back from their extensive training and orientation at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville, Ky., Melissa Upchurch and Esta Jarrett joined 16 local Presbyterian pastors to introduce themselves, answer questions and learn about ministry in the WNC Presbytery.
In the ten years since the September 11 attacks exposed fissures in America’s patchwork quilt of religions, the number of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations involved in activities with other faiths has increased 50 percent. One-quarter of congregations, up from 16 percent, are now involved.
In this regard, PC(USA) congregations’ activities parallel those of U.S. religious congregations across the faith spectrum. The number of U.S. congregations participating in multifaith activities also doubled in ten years, going from 14 percent in 2000 to 27 percent in 2010.
The Association of Presbyterians for Cross-Cultural Mission (APCCM) ― founded in 1984 to give Presbyterian mission workers a larger voice in post-reunion conversations about global mission in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ― has ceased operations, effective Sept. 1.
“We have over the past several months realized that as an association [APCCM] has outlived its original purposes, and that with the latest developments in information technology its newsletter ― now in an electronic format ― can no longer keep up with the many other ways of receiving and sharing significant information in the expanding area of international mission,” the APCCM board …
Asante Uzuri Todd is the first teaching fellow through a new partnership program between Vanderbilt University and Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The program, funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc., and Vanderbilt University, helps prepare doctoral students at Vanderbilt for vocations as teachers and scholars in theological education.
The Sudan Council of Churches has dispatched peace teams to calm regions of Jonglei state in South Sudan, where humanitarian agencies say hundreds have died and more than 26,000 people have been displaced in inter-ethnic fighting.
The Rev. Ramadan Chan Liol, the council’s general secretary, said the two teams will deliver a message to the warring communities that there is no future without peace and forgiveness.
In a post-9/11 bid to better relations with local Muslims, pastor Bob Roberts invited Muslims to his NorthWood Church in Keller, TX, for Q-and-A sessions, a cooking club and to help on a few home remodeling projects.
The result: Roberts lost “a bunch of church members,” he said.
In Denver, pastor Max Frost asked volunteers from his Roots Vineyard church to help paint a local mosque. Friends and family told him it was a bad idea.
Two “Joining Hands” networks related to the Presbyterian Hunger Program and their partner network in Bolivia have announced a photojournalism contest on the theme “Poverty, Pollution & Solutions.”
The Joining Hands networks of San Francisco and Cascades presbyteries and the UMAVIDA network in Bolivia are accepting photo essays of three to five photos each that document an ecological injustice and a person or group working on a local solution to it.
The contest is open to young people between the ages of 14 and 30. Deadline for entries is October 3, 2011. Winning entries will be exhibited in both the U.S. and Bolivia in November.
Last month I attended the Fellowship of Presbyterians gathering in Minneapolis. I think it’s fair to say that the organizers of the event are driven by concerns over the effect of the new ordination standard in the Book of Order – G-2.0104b – as well as by how the church in general can proclaim the gospel both effectively and with integrity in the 21st century. With nearly 2,000 in attendance, obviously the issues and concerns raised by the organizers struck a chord in many.
I was thankful that the tone of the gathering was not angry; rather, it was, “Where do we go next?” There was much energy, much conversation, and much discussion – all of which, it seems to me, is good for the church.