New Zealand massacre survivor receives top award for civilian bravery

Abdul Aziz was among ten people to receive New Zealand’s highest honor for civilian bravery on December 16, 2021. Aziz is one of two Muslim worshipers who at different times charged toward a gunman to try to stop his massacre.

Aziz survived after dodging bullets and chasing the gunman away in the 2019 attack at two Christchurch mosques, in which 51 people were killed. Naeem Rashid, the other worshiper, was killed when he tried to tackle the gunman.

The New Zealand Cross has previously been given to just two other people since it was founded in 1999.

Elizabeth Conde-Frazier named head of Association for Hispanic Theological Education

Elizabeth Conde-Frazier will be the next director of the Association for His­panic Theological Education, an orga­nization dedicated to promoting and improving theological education for Hispanic individuals and communities.

She has been involved with AETH since its inception in 1992 and currently serves as its coordinator of relations with theological entities.

Ammie Davis to lead Turner Theological Seminary

Ammie L. Davis has been named presi­dent and dean of Turner Theological Seminary. She will be the first woman to head the African Methodist Episcopal institution in Atlanta.

Davis currently serves as pastor of Zion Chapel AME Church in Hatties­burg, Mississippi, and as connectional first vice president of AME/Women in Ministry. She is also state director of the Child Evan­gelism Fellowship of Mississippi.

Prior to pastoring, Davis spent almost 28 years in the US Navy—14 as a hospital corpsman and 13 as a chaplain. She retired from active military service in 2016.

Influential feminst writer bell hooks dies at 69

Gloria Jean Watson, known by her pen name, bell hooks, died on December 15, 2021, at her home in Berea, Kentucky, where she was a resident professor of distinction at Berea College. She was 69. According to a statement on Twitter by her niece, Ebony Motley, she died surrounded by family and friends. The Washington Post reports that she died of end-stage renal failure.

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Rastafarians seek benefits of cannabis legalization

Mosiyah Tafari banged on drums and chanted psalms with other Rastafarians in a ballroom where the smoke of frankincense mixed with the fragrant smell of cannabis—a substance his faith deems sacred.

The ceremony in Columbus, Ohio, marked the 91st anniversary of the coronation of the late Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie I, whom Rastafarians worship as their savior. For hours, the group played traditional Nyabinghi music for its most important holy day.

Church agency: Captive missionaries in Haiti made daring escape

Captive missionaries in Haiti found freedom in December by making a daring overnight escape, eluding their kidnappers and walking for miles over difficult, moonlit terrain with an infant and other children in tow, according to the agency they work for, officials said on December 20.

The group of 12 navigated by stars to reach safety after a two-month kidnapping ordeal, officials with the Christian Aid Ministries, the Ohio-based agency that the captive missionaries work for, said at a press conference.

In new book, Mark Meadows confirms Trump Bible photo op was Ivanka’s idea

A new book by Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows offers a detailed account of the former president’s infamous Bible photo op at St. John’s Church in Washington, DC, on June 1, 2020, during the height of that summer’s racial justice protests.

Meadows said it was Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who came up with the idea to “send a message to people of faith.”

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Americans give aid, hope to tornado victims

Some removed broken tree limbs from the ground. Others prepared hot meals and shelters for those who have nowhere to turn. And many collected cash, toothpaste, soap, and other items for the many who need them.

In the days after December 10, 2021, when tornadoes ravaged the South and Midwest, killing at least 90 people and displacing hundreds, people across the country pitched in to help. 

Dr. Oz hopes to be first Muslim in US Senate

Mehmet Oz, the celebrity surgeon and host of The Dr. Oz Show, has launched a campaign for Pennsylvania’s open US Senate seat. If Oz wins the Republican nomination, he will be the first Muslim to be nominated for a Senate seat by a major American political party.

The son of Turkish immigrants, Oz was a widely known cardiothoracic surgeon and Columbia University professor of medicine before rising to national prominence on television, initially as a frequent guest on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show before debuting his own syndicated show in 2009.