COMMENTARY: Developing a Spirituality of Abundance

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Tom Ehrich is a writer and computer consultant, managing large-scale database implementations. An Episcopal priest, he lives in Durham, N.C. Visit his Web site at EMERALD ISLE, N.C. _ Our new gear for this beach trip is a portable canvas gazebo, i.e. sunburn prevention device. Otherwise, it’s just family, sand and surf. The simple life.

NEWS FEATURE: Sports Arena Churches _ Trend or Exception?

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Stop by a typical church on a weekday night and you might find an Alcoholics Anonymous group or Boy Scout troop meeting there. At Faithful Central Bible Church, you just might find Madonna. That’s because Faithful Central is among a small but growing number of megachurches using sports and entertainment facilities as their houses of worship. This spring, the pop star spent six weeks rehearsing for her “Re-Invention Tour” at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, Calif., the former home of the Los Angeles Lakers, now owned by Faithful Central.

NEWS STORY: Democrats Tread Carefully on Both Sides of the `God Gap’

c. 2004 Religion News Service BOSTON _ Democrats gathered here for their presidential nominating convention have a lot of issues on their minds, but for many, whether religion is the exclusive political property of the right is not among them. “God teaches us in the Scriptures that he was the biggest social reformer on the Earth,” said Carmalee Brock, an Oklahoma delegate wearing a festive “Kerry-Okie” T-shirt. “The Scriptures tell us that, what better do they want?” Brock, who describes herself passionately as a Christian, walks the line that the party hopes more will tread _ insistent on church-state separation, but personally motivated by religious faith. She is among other delegates, party officials and religion and political scholars who are in Boston exploring the role of faith in politics generally and the Democratic Party in particular.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Pope Appeals for End to Conflicts in Uganda, Darfur Region of Sudan (UNDATED) Pope John Paul II has appealed for an end to the long and “tragic conflict” in northern Uganda and urged the world to not “remain indifferent” to intensifying warfare in the Darfur region of Sudan, which has forced more than a million people to flee their homes. Addressing pilgrims who gathered in the courtyard of his hilltop residence in the town of Castelgandolfo south of Rome on Sunday (July 25) for the midday Angelus prayer, the pope said that he wanted to “draw attention to the tragic events” in Uganda and Sudan. The Roman Catholic pontiff sent Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, to Darfur last week because of his “great concern” over the humanitarian situation there. Cordes coordinates Catholic aid worldwide.

NEWS FEATURE: Abortion, Segregation Different Issues for Catholic Bishops

c. 2004 Religion News Service NEW ORLEANS _ For more than a year, some conservative Catholics have invoked the memory of former New Orleans Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel in urging discipline of Catholic politicians who support abortion rights _ much as Rummel excommunicated a group of vocal segregationists in 1962. But, as some scholars point out, the comparison is not apt. Rummel did not excommunicate three Catholic public figures merely because they espoused racist views, several church officials said. Instead, he sanctioned only those few who also challenged the archbishop’s authority to desegregate Catholic schools _ and to do so as a matter of Christian witness.

NEWS FEATURE: Catholic Church Has History of Disciplining Dissidents

c. 2004 Religion News Service NEW ORLEANS _ The blow fell just before Easter 1962, in a city attuned to the solemn rhythms of traditional Catholicism. On Monday of Holy Week, Archbishop Joseph Francis Rummel announced the excommunication of three Catholic public figures for loudly condemning his decision to integrate the archdiocese’s Catholic schools. Until they repented, Rummel declared, Leander Perez, Jackson Ricau and Una Gaillot were outside the church. New Orleans knew them well as furious public warriors against integration.

NEWS FEATURE: Reclaiming Downtown Birmingham: Worshipping in Unlikely Buildings

c. 2004 Religion News Service BIRMINGHAM, Ala. _ The driveway on the east side of Crossroads Community Church’s downtown building once led to an automotive shop. Now, travelers pull in to get their souls serviced instead of their tires. Through the years, downtown Birmingham buildings that were once warehouses, a bank and even a bus station have been reborn as houses of worship.

NEWS STORY: Democrats Tap First Director of Religious Outreach

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ The Democratic National Committee, believing President Bush’s support among moderate religious voters may be growing soft, has hired its first director to specifically reach out to faith groups. The Rev. Brenda Bartella Peterson was named senior adviser for religious outreach on Friday (July 23). She will serve at least through the November elections. “Brenda has dedicated her life to showing us all how religion and politics intersect with integrity,” DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe said in a statement.

NEWS FEATURE: Scoop of Spirituality: Ice Cream Parlor Linked to Ministry

c. 2004 Religion News Service FLINT, Mich. _ How about this for a curious combination: an ice cream parlor on one side of the room and a religious ministry on the other? It’s easy to explain, says owner Andrew McGarry. “I have yet to see anyone who comes in to get ice cream who is not in a good mood or at least receptive to it,” said McGarry, who has gone biblical with the name of his recently opened ice cream parlor, Isaiah’s.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2004 Religion News Service Prisons taking steps to prevent religious extremism (RNS) In an effort to prevent religious extremism, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has made more than a dozen changes in its selection and supervision of providers of Muslim religious services, according to a government analysis. A May report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General had advocated changes to increase security and prevent the potential spread of an anti-American ideology. An analysis by that same office, released this month (July), found that 13 of 16 recommendations had been resolved. The analysis credited the Federal Bureau of Prisons in “taking important steps” to implement the recommendations, which addressed how the prison system screens and recruits religious services providers, relies on Muslim chaplains and supervises religious activity.

NEWS STORY: Survey: One out of Three Protestant Teens Read Bible Weekly

c. 2004 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Nearly one-third of U.S. Protestant teens say they read the Bible by themselves once a week or more, according to the National Study of Youth and Religion. The survey by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found 32 percent of Protestant teens reported reading the Bible at least once a week. Breakdowns by denomination reflect the differing emphasis Protestant denominations place on Bible reading. “What we really want traditions to do is compare the results, not necessarily against other traditions, but against their own expectations,” said Melinda Denton, project manager for the NSYR study.

NEWS STORY: New Thought Conference Urges Followers to Spiritual Innovation

c. 2004 Religion News Service VIENNA, Va. _ Leaders of the New Thought movement used their annual conference as an opportunity to encourage a nontraditional spiritual quest. At a morning session of the 89th Annual Congress of the International New Thought Alliance, held July 18-23, speakers suggested new ways to approach the metaphysical path on which they walk. In a speech titled “Thinking With NewER Thought,” the Rev. Noel McInnis of Wilsonville, Ore., supported the congregational singing of a revamped version of “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” “We just need to make over the old song,” said McInnis, an ordained minister of Religious Science.

COMMENTARY: Presbyterians Approved Words _ and Actions _ for Justice and Peace

c. 2004 Religion News Service (Bruce Gillette, co-pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pitman, N.J., was a delegate to the 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Richmond, Va. He served as moderator of the Committee on Peacemaking, which handled most international issues.) (UNDATED) Jewish cantor Sunny Schnitzer was a leader for the opening worship of the recent General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), held in Richmond, Va. He sang Psalm 23, first in Hebrew, then in English. Our church’s outgoing moderator, the Rev. Susan Andrews, explained in her sermon that her church in Bethesda, Md., has shared “sacred space” with Schnitzer’s Bethesda Jewish Congregation for 38 years.

NEWS FEATURE: A `Summer Camp’ for Jailed Moms and Their Kids

c. 2004 Religion News Service WASHINGTON _ In a training room of the city jail, Joyce Morris and her 10-year-old daughter Kathryn instinctively held hands. It was something they hadn’t done for six months. On this mid-July day, they had just begun a unique experience _ a “summer camp” for incarcerated mothers and children designed by Hope House, a Washington faith-based organization. Staffers of Hope House and The Rebecca Project for Human Rights coordinated a get-acquainted game called “Zip, Zop, Zap” and arts and crafts projects to help break the ice after months of separation.

NEWS FEATURE: New Bishop Willimon May Shake Up Methodists With Puckish Style

c. 2004 Religion News Service RALEIGH, N.C. _ The outspoken dean of the Duke Chapel was once elbowed by the university president to explain what she considered an inappropriate remark. “Why do you say some of the things you say?” former Duke University President Nan Keohane asked the Rev. William H. Willimon. Willimon paused, he said, and answered straight-faced: “Jesus was crucified for what he said. The greatest sin Christians can commit is boredom.” Now, Willimon _ the often puckish champion of Christian faith _ has been elected a bishop in the United Methodist Church, the second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States.