Retired bishop Melvin Talbert of the United Methodist Church, who shared a jail cell with Martin Luther King Jr. and whose ministries included leadership in national ecumenical bodies, became in late October the first UMC bishop to bless publicly a same-sex union in a church.
It’s tough enough for aspiring clergy to take on a student loan to finance three years of M.Div. studies at a seminary. For the applicant (and perhaps spouse), it might mean quitting a job and facing added financial problems.
Bucking popular opinion and a decades-old IRS policy, a group of conservative evangelicals is urging that pastors be allowed to endorse political candidates in church without risking their congregations’ tax-exempt status.
Robert N. Bellah, an eminent sociologist of religion most remembered for defining the interplay of U.S. religion and politics as a civil religion and for describing Sheilaism, a forerunner of today’s “spiritual but not religious” individualism, died July 30 of complications related to heart surgery at an Oakland, California, hospital.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) approved a resolution at its recent general assembly in Orlando, Florida, that called upon its churches to affirm that no grounds exist to bar Christians from fellowship or service within congregations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Two days after the U.S. Supreme Court issued two rulings favoring marital rights for same-sex couples, the largely liberal United Church of Christ was in a celebratory mood as its biennial national convention opened June 28 in Long Beach, California.
A prominent Lutheran scholar and theologian in California will become the first openly gay bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a denomination that opened its ministry to gay and partnered pastors only four years ago.
The United Methodist Reporter, a national weekly newspaper that once produced nearly 300 separate editions, each with regional church news, said that the financial losses of recent months were part of an irreversible trend. Its final 45 editions, dated June 7, were scheduled to be mailed out May 31.
A survey that asked churches how they fared during the economic recession found that there was a collective sigh of relief from most pastors and congregational leaders—nearly 75 percent said “well” or “very well.” And the majority of congregations (65 percent) reported that their finances either remained the same or improved in giving from 2010 to 2011, after the worst of the recession.
The National Council of Churches, long strapped for cash, is leaving its costly digs in Manhattan and consolidating with a slimmer staff in a Washington, D.C., office within walking distance of two branches of the federal government.
One week after Justin Welby was confirmed as the next archbishop of Canterbury, a frail Pope Benedict XVI surprised the Christian world February 11 by announcing that he would step down by the end of the month.
Bangor Theological Seminary plans to give degrees to about 45 students this spring—a large graduating class for a school that had only 13 graduates the year before. But it will be the last commencement in the seminary’s long history of serving rural churches in northern New England and beyond.
Late last year Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota—the largest of eight seminaries in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—announced that its president and chief financial officer had resigned amid a $4 million budget shortfall and a hefty drop in the value of the seminary’s endowment.
Bishop K. H. Ting, the longtime leader of China’s official Protestant Church, died in Nanjing on November 22 at age 97. Ting drew high praise from the World Council of Churches and the evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary, among others.
To most American voters in 1972, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota was way too liberal on many issues—and he was beaten badly by incumbent Richard Nixon. But to many fellow Methodists he was also a churchgoing humanitarian who in the 1960s directed the new Food for Peace Program and a forward-looking politician informed by the Social Gospel.
With yearly budget problems bedeviling the National Council of Churches, the ecumenical body recently finished taking a six-month look at what structural changes would enable the organization to concentrate on theological dialogue and interreligious relations as well as on issues of social justice.
During his long ministry at Judson Memorial Church in New York’s Greenwich Village, ex-marine Howard Moody led religious assaults on tough social issues of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s—openly aiding women seeking abortions, blacks calling for civil rights and people entangled by drug addiction, AIDS or prostitution.
In an announcement from Rome that seemed scripted by The Da Vinci Code novelist Dan Brown, a Harvard professor stated that an ancient scrap of papyrus mentions Jesus’ wife. The fourth-century fragment written in Coptic contains part of a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples, said Karen King, a historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School.
Promising an “uncompromising scientifically rigorous” approach, a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, says he has received a three-year $5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to research beliefs and traditions about an afterlife and how those ideas affect humans.