The notion that enrollments at theological schools rise in tough economic times did not hold true for Protestant and Catholic seminaries in North America this academic year. In fact, over the past three years, the total student population slipped about 6 percent—down to 75,500 from a three-year plateau in mid-decade when more than 80,000 students were studying theology.
The United Methodist Church is withholding funds from two of its seminaries until they submit updated financial reports, and one campus—Claremont School of Theology in southern California—will also have to defend its proposed reconfiguration into a multireligious university.
A man who by his own testimony sought chances to kill Dr. George Tiller, one of the few U.S. physicians who perform late-term abortions, was quickly convicted of murder in a Kansas trial. The outcome was welcomed by pro-choice groups and by most established pro-life groups.
Nearly a week after the devastating earthquake, with the capital city suffering from a shortage of water, food, medical help, gasoline, housing and safety from looters, Haiti’s Episcopal bishop Jean Zache Duracin rejected an offer to evacuate him from Port-au-Prince. “No, I will stay with my people.
Despite public school controversies that generate sparks every December, church-state columnist Charles Haynes of the Freedom Forum recently wrote, “The First Amendment solution is stunningly simple: Schools should plan holiday programs that are educational in purpose and balanced in content [but] to pretend Christmas doesn’t exist . . . is just plain silly.”
In October, Lutheran Bishop Margot Kässman of Hanover, Germany, was elected as the first woman and, at 51, the youngest cleric to head the Evan gelical Church in Germany (EKD), an umbrella body of Protestant churches with 24 million members.
Although many ex-Episcopalians in the U.S. identify with Catholic rules against ordaining women and noncelibate gays to the priesthood, the traditionalists heading their own rival Anglican organizations in North America say that few followers are likely to become Roman Catholics.
The presiding bishop of the historically black Church of God in Christ, one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the U.S., has announced that its leadership supports the White House healthcare reform proposals, including an optional government-run plan.
Amid their “slow but general retreat” this decade in terms of financial health and membership, the oldline Protestant churches are especially hampered by the aging of their memberships, a new study says.
Close on the heels of a similar decision by the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lifted its ban on calling gay and lesbian pastors and approved of supporting committed, same-sex relationships of church members.
The Jesus Seminar began making headlines in 1986 as more than 70 biblical scholars voted on which sayings attributed to Jesus in the Gospels probably derived from him and what words were more likely put in his mouth by Gospel writers or early church tradition.
Only days after Archbishop Rowan Williams of the worldwide Anglican Communion cautioned Episcopalians against making decisions “that could push us further apart,” delegates at their July 8-17 convention in California voted—swiftly and by a large majority—to open the doors for gay and lesbian bishops.
The recession has forced seminaries to undertake cost-cutting measures that affect people, projects and their own best-laid plans for sustainability. “The current economic environment has magnified any weaknesses present in seminaries,” according to Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools.
Methodists opened the ordained ministry to women in 1956, and today female ministers account for about 20 percent of the clergy in the denomination. And 14 bishops heading the 50 U.S. regional jurisdictions of the United Methodist Church are women—28 percent of the total.
The recent dramatic high seas rescue of a merchant ship captain held hostage by Somali pirates stirred a public debate on whether cargo vessels should be armed. It also drew attention to the more than 1 million mariners who are essential in transporting 90 percent of the world’s traded goods, including humanitarian aid to needy countries.
On the verge of losing accreditation in 2006 during its third straight year of bleeding red ink, the Claremont School of Theology faced an uncertain future. Some faculty members left the United Methodist–related seminary nestled near scenic mountains in southern California, and a new president was hired whose expertise was primarily in directing seminary and university libraries.
The church sign of a Pentecostal congregation facing a busy Los Angeles–area street bore a single message for months: let us pray for our new president. The church’s pastor, a Republican, said that right after the November elections he and congregational leaders decided to follow New Testament admonitions to pray for those in governing authority.
The White House has an oft-overlooked religious ally for solving the country’s social problems through greatly expanded government programs, if a new survey of senior pastors in mainline Protestant churches is a good indication.