When newspaper circulation in the U.S. peaked in the 1970s
and '80s, large news outlets could afford to have specialists covering such
fields as science, medicine, legal affairs, environment and religion. At the Los Angeles Times, where I worked for
three decades through 1998, there were always at least two or three of us on
the religion beat.
In a complex transaction designed to strengthen nonpartisan religion reporting, the newly nonprofit Religion News Service received a grant of almost $3.5 million from the Lilly Endowment and was acquired by the Religion Newswriters Association, effective June 1.
Few experts in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) were predicting that 2011 would see the denomination dropping its three-decade opposition to ordaining gay and lesbian clergy. The PCUSA's General Assembly last July approved a measure to do just that—for the fourth time. But in all previous cases, a majority of regional presbyteries had overruled any change.
Total enrollment is up for the first time in four years at seminaries of the Association of Theological Schools—thanks to the addition of 11 new schools to the roster of North America's accrediting organization.
"They have taken my Lord away," says a tearful Mary Magdalene, "and I do not know where they have laid him." Mary utters some version of this lament
three times in the Easter Sunday reading from John. D. Moody Smith calls it "an answer of unparalleled poignancy."
When the 2011 edition of the Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches was published in February, the Seventh-day Adventist Church drew special notice for its reported 4.3 percent jump in membership. It turns out, however, that the figure was miscalculated.
The United Church of Christ, with its traditionally liberal leadership, has often passed resolutions at national gatherings that seemed "ahead of their time." Such was the case when the UCC's biennial General Synod in 1993 "strongly urged" the U.S. government to end the ban against gays and lesbians in military service. But it wasn't until the U.S.
The day before elections some 20 Christian leaders met and prayed
with President Obama at the White House and discussed a host of
concerns, including Middle East conflicts, domestic poverty and
incivility in political life.
Donald G. Bloesch, a theologian who as a United Church of Christ minister actively critiqued his denomination's liberal tendencies yet found faults with some forms of evangelical theology, died August 24 in Dubuque, Iowa.
The political-moral spin from online bloggers and television opinion-makers is enough to make citizens dizzy, if not profoundly unsure of where U.S. public opinion is headed. The controversies relating to religious views have put the nonpartisan Pew polls in the spotlight.
After giving the keynote address at a recent conference on “ecological civilization” attended by more than 60 scholars and government officials from China, theologian John Cobb joined conferees in a group photo. Then, in a spontaneous break in the schedule, Chinese participants took turns standing or sitting near Cobb while associates and friends snapped their pictures.
The ever-growing phenomenon of the megachurch continues to elicit study from researchers intrigued by how these huge congregational complexes—with more than 2,000 adults and children attending church on a weekend (using the usual definition)—market their religious product.
Officials at the Claremont School of Theology, which has a long-term project to create a multifaith university and seminary campus, breathed a sigh of relief in late June when United Methodist Church agencies released about $350,000 in funding and reinstated the school’s standing in the church.
After reading the research on booming Protestant megachurches and their senior pastors, I couldn’t help noting how my neighborhood megachurch and its lead pastor (an acquaintance for more than a dozen years) fit the trends.