Century Marks

Century Marks

Attitude adjustment

An Angli­can study, Church Growth in East Lon­don, concludes that church growth is more about attitude than theological or liturgical tradition. It challenges the notion that only evangelically oriented congregations using contemporary forms of worship can grow. The churches that engaged in the most social action attracted the largest number of new Christians. “The degree of intentionality behind growth is related to the likelihood of growth,” the report says. Willingness to adopt new leadership forms and structures and the congregation’s ability to reflect on what faithfulness means in its context were also key variables (Church Times, September 2).

Two firsts

There are two First Baptist churches in Macon, Georgia, one black and one white. Until 1845 they were one congregation made up of slave owners and slaves. The pastors of each congregation met two years ago to explore ways their congregations could become friends. Their first joint activity was an Easter egg hunt in the park that separates their properties, followed by a book drive, a Thanks­giving Day potluck, and a trip to Orlando for black and white youth. Congregants were surprised to discover that their sanctuaries have nearly identical designs. The congregations next plan to hold conversations about racism (Post Register, August 29).

Conflict of interest?

Presi­dential candidate Hillary Clinton has been criticized for a potential conflict of interest with the Clinton Founda­tion, started by her husband Bill. While she served as secretary of state, the foundation received contributions from foreign governments and domestic donors. Bill Clinton has said he’d step away from the foundation if Hillary wins the election. That still leaves the door open to having their daughter, Chelsea, run it or to some backdoor involvement by the Clinton family. Bloomberg View columnist Albert Hunt suggested that the Clintons turn the foundation over to the Carter Center, which does similar philanthropic work (Chicago Tribune, August 25).

Surprise visitor

Pope Francis paid a surprise visit last month to 20 former prostitutes who were victims of sex trafficking. The women, seven of whom were from Nigeria, were promised jobs and then forced into prostitution. They all suffered serious physical abuse. After being rescued, the women were given refuge by a Catholic charity in Rome (BBC).

Taking a stand

The tradition of playing the national anthem before sporting events stems from World War II, when it was used to enhance patriotism. Major League Baseball began the practice in 1942, and the National Basketball Association followed suit in 1946 at its inception. Over the years a number of high-profile athletes of color have protested against the practice, often with stiff pushback from the public. At the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave a Black Power salute while the national anthem was played during a medal ceremony. Baseball great Jackie Robinson said in his memoir, I Never Had It Made, “I cannot stand and sing the anthem. I cannot salute the flag. I know that I am a black man in a white world” (Los Angeles Times, September 1).