For 24 years, Barbara Myers worked with Barry R. Herr at a small denominational office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where everybody knew everybody. Co-workers were aware of when someone’s family had a baby, a wedding or a death.
Pain too shall pass: The great French painter August Renoir suffered from painful arthritis in his later years, and had to strap a brush to his paralyzed fingers to do his creating. When friends suggested he give up painting, Renoir responded, “Pain passes but beauty remains forever” (Paul Coutinho, S.J., in Just As You Are).
Facing incendiary charges that health-care reform would result in government financing of abortion and euthanasia, President Obama has made an unusual appeal to religious groups to help sell the plan and debunk critics’ “false witness.”
Religious antitorture groups said the release last month of a partially declassified 2004 CIA report on treatment of terrorism suspects justified their critique of Bush administration policies on detainee treatment.
Michael A. Battle Sr., president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, home to six theological schools, will leave that office after a six-year term to become the U.S. representative to the African Union with the rank of ambassador. The African Union, based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, integrates the political interests of 53 African nations.
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.
Homeboy Industries, the storied Los Angeles jobs program for gang members founded by Catholic priest Gregory Boyle, has received funding from the Los Angeles City Council to temporarily ease a recession-caused cash crunch at the charity.
Lutheran theologian Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the Church of Norway’s ecumenical and international council, has been chosen as the top executive of the World Council of Churches. His election as general secretary was announced August 27 in Geneva during a meeting of the WCC Central Committee.
A New Jersey pastor who once worked for American Baptist Churches USA has been chosen as the top executive for the Progressive National Baptist Convention, one of the leading black Baptist denominations.
Though they’re not merging, the nation’s two largest mainline Protestant denominations have agreed to share ministers and resources. The full-communion agreement, which was approved at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s biennial assembly in Minneapolis, connects the 4.6 million–member ELCA with the United Methodist Church, which has 11 million members.
The Assemblies of God reaffirmed its doctrine of speaking in tongues during its biennial General Council meeting and declared—on a second try—that showing God’s compassion for the world is their “fourth reason for being.”
African-American members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) are joining other church bodies in boycotting the state of South Carolina for displaying the Confederate flag on the state capitol grounds.
Two Episcopal dioceses have nominated gay and lesbian priests in same-sex relationships to become bishops, testing a weeks-old policy and the Episcopal Church’s place within the global Anglican Communion.
Books to change lives: Hakim Hopkins was in juvenile detention when his mother sent him a copy of the classic Native Son, by Richard Wright. Reading the book changed Hopkins’s life and gave him a vocation: he runs an independent bookstore in inner-city Philadelphia with the name Black & Nobel (playing off the names of both Barnes & Noble and the Nobel Prize). A banner outside his store advertises, “We ship to prisons.” One customer who purchases books for her father in prison reported that he reads the books she sends him real fast—though he wasn’t a reader when he was out on the street.