Handel this: Handel’s Messiah is most often sung during the Christmas season, but Handel intended it to be performed during Holy Week. In his lifetime the work was seldom sung in churches but was sung in playhouses, where opera was performed. When the influence of Puritans in 18th-century England led to the banning of operas during Lent, oratorios like the Messiah became a popular alternative form of entertainment (Frank Burch Brown in Interpretation, January).
Alicia Swaringen of Eugene, Oregon, received heart-swelling news the morning after the deadly January 12 earthquake in Haiti: Sthainder, the four-year-old boy she planned to adopt, was safe. And then it hit her.
Andover Newton in the Boston area and Colgate Rochester Crozer in upper New York State—two seminaries with American Baptist ties—have agreed to end merger talks, saying that plans fell short of being “financially viable” due to “economic realities.”
The Holy Cross Hospital and an affiliated nursing school in Leogane, Haiti, have been approved to receive a $200,000 grant from the Louisville-based Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. The hospital was described as destroyed in news reports, but the nursing school began operating as a makeshift hospital quickly after the January 12 earthquake struck.
When a church is deemed no longer viable and is ordered to be closed, who gets to decide what happens to the building?
Catholic dioceses in Ohio and Massachusetts are resisting moves by local officials to apply landmark designations to shuttered churches, saying such moves raise issues of religious freedom and expression.
After a firestorm of complaints arose from both believers and atheists, a Michigan military contractor said it will remove encoded scripture references on the gun sights it builds for the U.S. military.
Germany’s senior Protestant bishop, Margot Kässmann, who has criticized her nation’s military strategy in Afghanistan since giving a New Year sermon in which she said that weapons were “clearly not creating peace” there, has recently drawn support from a Catholic archbishop.
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.
The Bible plays a starring role in The Book of Eli, a postapocalyptic action film starring Denzel Washington that opened in mid-January. A two-time Academy Award winner known in Hollywood for his Christian beliefs, Washington portrays a lone warrior making his way across a desolate American landscape defending the world’s last copy of the King James Version of the Bible.
Appeals for the world’s banking leaders to cancel the remaining foreign debt owed by earthquake-devastated Haiti were made in late January by the leader of the World Council of Churches and by a newly founded alliance of U.S. Christian leaders.
Representatives of Middle Eastern Anglican, Lutheran and Reformed churches have voted unanimously in favor of the ordination of women as pastors. “This is historic,” said Jerusalem Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan after the January 12 decision of the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches meeting in Harissa, Lebanon.
The drive-by gunfire killing of six Coptic Christians in Egypt at their church on January 6, the eve of their Christmas celebration, has drawn widespread shock from the Vatican and church leaders in Europe, the Middle East and Australia.