International disability advocate Sarah Newland Martin dies at 75

Sarah Newland Martin, an internationally recognized disability advocate and leader in the Jamai­ca Baptist Union, died June 8 following complications related to surgery. She was 75.

A member of Bethel Baptist Church in Kingston, Newland Martin was the longest-serving head of the Young Men’s Christian Association—a position she held from 1988 until her death. She was active in the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network and also served as chair of the Jamaica Baptist Union’s ministry to persons with disabilities committee.

Anthony Poggo named Anglican Communion secretary general

Anthony Poggo, a South Sudanese bishop who was forced with his family into exile before he was a year old, has been named as the next secretary general of the Anglican Communion. Poggo, the former bishop of Kajo Keji in the Episcopal Church of South Sudan, is currently the archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser on Anglican Communion affairs.

He will take up his new role in September, succeeding Josiah Idowu-Fearon, who is stepping down this summer.

South African scholar Jerry Pillay elected WCC general secretary

On June 17, South African scholar Jerry Pillay was elected general secretary of the World Council of Churches during the central committee’s first in-person meeting since 2018.

Pillay, who was one of two candidates standing for election, will replace Ioan Sauca, who has served as acting general secretary since April 2020.

Agnes Abuom, moderator of the central committee, congratulated Pillay on his election.

Flint pastor builds laundromat to counter ‘hygiene poverty’

The nearest laundry facility to Good Church is technically just under three and a half miles away, but lead pastor Leo Robinson II rounds up.

After all, if most of your congregation in Flint, Michigan, relies on public transportation, three and a half miles might as well be four—or 30—when it comes to doing a load of laundry.

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Adviser to Pope Francis calls resignation rumors ‘cheap soap opera’

In an interview published June 8, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Mara­diaga dismissed rumors circulating in the media that the pope might resign as nothing more than “a cheap soap opera.”

According to Rodríguez Maradiaga, who advises the pope within the Council of Cardinals, news reports suggesting Pope Francis’s physical decline will soon lead to a new conclave are “fake news” perpetrated by outlets located primarily in the United States, where, he added, the pope notoriously faces “strong opposition.”

Southern Baptists change direction on sexual abuse after years of delay 

In summer 2008, Morris Chapman stood before a gathering of thousands of Southern Baptists in Indianapolis for their annual meeting and denounced the evil of sexual abuse.

Then Chapman, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee at the time, told his fellow Baptists the SBC would not set up a database to track abusive pastors—citing local church autonomy.

First transgender bishop in ELCA resigns

The first transgender bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ameri­ca has resigned amid criticism over the decision to remove the pastor of a Latino congregation on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in December.

“The constant misinformation, bullying and harassment has taken too hard a toll on the Synod I love, my family and myself,” said Megan Rohrer, who pre­sided over the Sierra Pacific Synod of the ELCA, in a resignation letter posted June 6 on Twitter.

However, questions remain about the timing of the resignation.

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Lawsuit against faith-based schools continues gaining steam

A class action lawsuit accusing the US Department of Education of wrongly allowing discrimination against LGBTQ students at faith-based schools has grown in number of participants and in general support over the past 15 months.

The Religious Exemption Account­ability Project filed its lawsuit March 29, 2021, challenging Title IX exemptions granted to religious schools that re­ceived tax dollars through grants and scholarships.

Fall of Roe met with rejoicing, dismay from faith groups

After nearly 50 years, Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, is no more.

In a 6-3 decision on June 24, the Supreme Court overruled both Roe, decided in 1973, and a 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed the constitutional right to abortion. The ruling came in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged a Mississippi law that imposed strict restrictions on abortion.

Brett Opalinski to lead Methodist studies at Candler School of Theology

Brett Opalinski has been selected as the next dean of Methodist studies at the Candler School of Theology. He will also serve as an assistant professor in the practice of spiritual formation and church leadership.

He succeeds Anne Burkholder, who is retiring after 14 years of leading the school’s Methodist studies program.