10 Minutes With … Mother Mary Bryant

c. 2007 Religion News Service CLEVELAND _ Mother Mary Bryant celebrated her 100th birthday on Sunday (Aug. 12) by singing with her former choir, the New Jerusalem Mass Choir in Cleveland. The Tennessee native began singing gospel at age 4 in Nashville; she moved to Cleveland in 1947 and sang at New Jerusalem for 50 years. She now lives with her daughter in Nashville.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Missouri Synod Criticizes ELCA on Gay Clergy Decision (RNS) The president of a St. Louis-based Lutheran denomination said the recent decision by the nation’s largest Lutheran body to refrain from disciplining noncelibate gay clergy “troubles me greatly” and may strain relations among Lutherans. The Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, president of the 2.5 million-member Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, said action last week (Aug. 11) on gay clergy by the larger Evangelical Lutheran Church in America “is causing serious concern and consternation among members and leaders” of his church.

RNS Weekly Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Faith Leaders Praised for Spreading the `Eco-Gospel’ (RNS) The Dalai Lama, Pope Benedict XVI and the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians were among 15 “Green Religious Leaders” cited by a Seattle-based environmental group. Grist, an environmental news and commentary Web site that also highlighted “green” actors, musicians and chefs, among others, said the 15 names on the list and five runners-up are dedicated to “spreading the eco-gospel.” Names on the list, released on July 24, include: _ Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, leader of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians, who has been dubbed the “Green Patriarch” for his environmental activism, including a 2003 cruise to discuss overfishing. _ The Dalai Lama, who says it is “our responsibility toward others to ensure that the world we pass on is healthy, if not healthier, than we found it.” _ The Rev. Sally Bingham, environmental minister at Grace (Episcopal) Cathedral in San Francisco, who has been a leader in Interfaith Power & Light, which encourages houses of worship to purchase green power and conserve energy. _ Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who has encouraged Anglican clergy to use organic bread and wine for Communion.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Methodist Group Files Lawsuit Over Civil Union Flap (RNS) Luisa Paster and Harriet Bernstein of Ocean Grove, N.J., say they were not trying to start a federal case when they complained last month to the state’s civil rights agency. “All that we were trying to accomplish was to have our civil union in the boardwalk pavilion” in Ocean Grove, a popular seaside setting for weddings in years past, Paster said. But a federal lawsuit is just what Paster and Bernstein provoked. It was filed as a pre-emptive strike by the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, the Methodist group that owns the boardwalk pavilion.

Graham, Presidents Shared Deep Personal Bonds

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) Harry Truman: “Don’t worry about it. I realized you hadn’t been properly briefed.” _ Billy Graham, in his autobiography, “Just As I Am,” recalling Truman’s acceptance of his apology in 1967 for his actions during a White House visit years earlier. Dwight Eisenhower: “Billy, you’ve told me how to be sure my sins are forgiven and that I’m going to heaven. Would you tell me again?” _ Graham, in “Just As I Am,” recalling a question posed by Eisenhower months before his death in 1969.

Billy Graham’s Access to the Oval Office Spanned 11 Presidents

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) It doesn’t take long to make a list of religious leaders who’ve made personal connections with each of the last 11 U.S. presidents. There’s really just one name: Billy Graham. The evangelist who has spent the last six decades preaching the gospel around the world also served as a chaplain and confidant to American presidents. While some relationships were rosier than others, Graham met with all 11 in the White House on at least one occasion and learned lessons from carefully _ or not so carefully _ walking the treacherous line between religion and politics.

COMMENTARY: No More Whining!

c. 2007 Religion News Service (UNDATED) “I am so tired of Microsoft products,” I muttered while waiting for my computer’s operating system to respond. Then I caught myself. Stop whining, I thought. You’re not helpless.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service S.C. Bishop Elected Again After First Ballot Thrown Out (RNS) The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina has again elected the Rev. Mark Lawrence as its bishop, less than five months after Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori nullified his previous election. Lawrence, 56, was re-elected at a special convention on St. James Island, S.C., and was the only candidate on the Aug. 4 ballot.

Monks Find a Home _ and a Hope _ in an Urban Neighborhood

c. 2007 Religion News Service NEWARK, N.J. _ The thin stream of blood extended the length of the sidewalk running by the Catholic monastery’s front door, trickled around the corner and ended midway down the block. The friars who live inside assumed a gunshot victim had collapsed. The monks gathered that night last summer and prayed, as nearby residents looked on. Two months later, the friars showed up in religious garb at a funeral for another young area gunshot victim, and they again drew stares.

Lutheran Debate on Gay Clergy Goes Down to the Wire

c. 2007 Religion News Service CHICAGO _ The nation’s largest Lutheran denomination failed to resolve a debate on allowing noncelibate gay and lesbian clergy Friday, pushing a resolution on the divisive issue to Saturday, the last day of a churchwide assembly here. Delegates to the biennial assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted down a resolution to strike the celibacy requirement on Friday (Aug. 10). A resolution remains on the floor to refer the matter to a church task force.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Vatican Clarifies Meeting With Controversial Polish Priest VATICAN CITY (RNS) Responding to protests from Jewish groups in Europe and the United States, the Vatican on Thursday (August 9) issued a “clarification” regarding a meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and a Polish priest accused of anti-Semitic remarks. Benedict met with the Rev. Tadeusz Rydzyk last Sunday (August 5) at the papal summer home, Castel Gandolfo, following the pope’s weekly Angelus prayer. Two days later, Polish newspapers published photos of the two together. Rydzyk is founder of Radio Maryja, a Polish radio network with a Catholic and nationalist orientation and millions of listeners.

Summer Camp Trains Kids for `Spiritual Warfare’

c. 2007 Religion News Service KELSO, Tenn. _ “What’s this?” roars “Sgt. Major” Henry Phillips. “There’s trash on the floor in here.” Inside the simple block cabin, teenage girls stand at attention at the ends of their bunks, each bed neatly made up with a Bible and study notebook placed on top of the pillow.

RNS Daily Digest

c. 2007 Religion News Service Assemblies of God Elect New Leader (RNS) The Assemblies of God have elected a veteran church executive as the new leader of the Pentecostal denomination. The Rev. George O. Wood, general secretary of the Assemblies of God since 1993, was elected general superintendent Friday (Aug. 10) during the denomination’s biennial General Council in Indianapolis. Wood, 65, succeeds the Rev. Thomas Trask, who announced in July that he would leave the position two years into what was to be a four-year term.

With Cremation Up, Quiet Cemetery Seeks to Cash In

c. 2007 Religion News Service PORTLAND, Ore. _ If you wanted to be crass about it, you might explain River View Cemetery’s dilemma this way: People just aren’t dying to get in there anymore. They’re still dying, of course. But more and more, particularly on the West Coast, consumers are choosing cremation over burial.

Cleaning St. Peter’s Requires a Careful, Acrobatic Touch

c. 2007 Religion News Service VATICAN CITY _ As the tomb of the first pope and the principal church of most of his 264 successors, St. Peter’s Basilica is Roman Catholicism’s greatest shrine. It’s also a treasure trove of artistic riches, with works by such artists as Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini. At over 600 feet long, with a dome 450 feet high, it is one of the biggest churches in the world.