Candice Marie Benbow hired by TheGrio

Theologian and essayist Candice Marie Benbow has been hired as the daily lifestyle, education, and health writer at TheGrio, MSNBC’s website for Black news and entertainment.

Benbow is perhaps best known for creating #LemonadeSyllabus in 2016 following the release of Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. What began as a hashtag and social media campaign eventually became a free, downloadable resource with more than 250 works by over 70 contributors.

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Hyacinth Stevens to lead MCC East Coast

Hyacinth Stevens has been named the executive director of Mennonite Cen­tral Committee’s East Coast office. Stevens will replace Bruce Campbell-Janz, who is stepping down after ten years in the role.

For the past seven years, Stevens has worked as MCC’s New York City program coordinator, where she helped the New York Mennonite Immigration Program achieve nonprofit status and Board of Immigration Appeals accreditation.

UMC's first Asian American bishop, Wilbur Choy, dies at 103

Wilbur Wong Yan Choy, the first Asian American to be elected as a United Methodist bishop in the United States, died December 28, 2021. He was 103.

Choy, who was born in Stockton, California, was ordained in 1946. In 1954, he was appointed to his first pastorate at St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Stockton. In 1967, Choy served as the chaplain to the California Senate.

Author, Peace activist Jim Forest dies at 80

Orthodox author and peace activist Jim Forest died January 13 at the age of 80.

Forest, who was born to unchurched communist parents, converted to Catholicism in 1960. The following year, he joined the Catholic Worker movement, serving as managing editor of its eponymous magazine.

But it was not until eight years later that Forest would become a public figure.

Indigenous Mormons struggle to balance pride in the faith with LDS history

When Sarah Newcomb was in third grade, she and her classmates got their choice of roles in the Thanksgiving play: a Pilgrim with a buckled hat or a Native American wearing a feathered headband.

Growing up in Virginia as an ethnic Tsimshian, a Native Alaskan people, Newcomb was the only Indigenous person in her class, and she was proud of it. She went straight for the headband but was surprised to see every other child pick the Pilgrim hat.

When she got home, she asked why there weren’t more brown girls like her with long, dark hair.

Was Mary Magdalene really from Magdala? Two scholars examine the evidence

The findings were heralded with bold headlines. Archaeologists excavating near the Israeli town of Migdal, also known as Magdala, had found remnants of a first-century synagogue. The De­cember 2021 discovery in the town on the western edge of the Sea of Galilee adds tangible evidence of Jewish life at the time of Jesus’ ministry.

But two scholars are calling into question the quick assumption that the town is the birthplace of Mary Magdalene, one of Jesus’ earliest followers and the first witness to his resurrection.

MCC sends relief to Cubans in crisis

Over the last two years, pandemic travel restrictions have deprived Cubans of one of their most important sources of income: tourism. That plus new 2020 restrictions that have made it harder for Cubans abroad to send money back home have put Cuba in what some are calling a dire situation.

Without a steady stream of beachgoers coming in and out of the country, Cuba’s already hampered economy is barely hanging on. The country hasn’t seen scarcity like this since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

Episcopal Church webinar marks 20 years of Guantanamo Bay human rights ‘disaster’

Twenty years ago, the first detainees arrived at the United States detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of the Bush administration’s war on terror, launched in 2001 in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. Since then, 780 people suspected of terrorist connections have been held at Guantanamo, but few were ever tried or even charged.

Reformed Church in America splits

On New Year’s Day, 43 congregations of the Reformed Church in America split from the national denomination, one of the oldest Protestant bodies in the United States, in part over theological differences regarding same-sex marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy.

The departure of the theologically conservative congregations to the new group, the Alliance of Reformed Churches, leaves some who remain in the RCA concerned for the denomination’s survival. Before the split, the nearly 400-year-old denomination had fewer than 200,000 members and 1,000 churches.

Fiji church leader dies after brief illness

Iliesa Naivalu, general secretary of the Methodist Church of Fiji, died on Decem­ber 17, 2021, at the Colonial War Memo­ri­al Hospital in Suva following a brief period of illness.

Naivalu was known for his work in promoting Chris­tian unity in Fiji.

“His service de­m­onstrated his en­during faith in the Almighty God, his love and dedication to his church, and his victory that sought Eternal life,” wrote Mele’ana Puloka, the World Council of Churches’ Pacific president, in a condolence letter to Naivalu’s family.

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