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The need for online religious education and spiritual formation

According to the 2010 Faith Communities Today survey, the utilization of church websites and email by congregations has more than doubled in the past decade. The use of social media, blogs, projection screens in worship, and membership databases in the office are also on the rise in American congregations. Many churches, however, have been unsuccessful in utilizing online technologies to assist them in their religious education and spiritual formation programs.

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Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly – April 29, 2016

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Visit www.pbs.org/religionandethics for additional information. Show #1935 will be fed over PBS at 5:00 p.m. EST on April 29, 2016 (check local listings). Christians Countering Anti-Muslim Rhetoric – With suggestions of banning Muslims from coming to the US, “patrolling Muslim neighborhoods” and questioning whether Muslims are qualified to be president, there has been much negative rhetoric about Islam this election season. Kim Lawton reports on efforts in Nashville, Tennessee to counter the rhetoric through building personal relationships between Christians and Muslims. One of the leaders of the movement is Rev. Josh Graves, pastor of an evangelical megachurch. Extraterrestrial Intelligent Life – What if scientists listening for it finally found it?

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Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly – April 22, 2016

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly is a production of THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET. Visit www.pbs.org/religionandethics for additional information. Show #1934 will be fed over PBS at 5:00 p.m. EST on April 22, 2016 (check local listings). 
Digital Addiction – Americans are increasingly dependent on their digital devices, and while this has undeniable benefits, many analysts say the negative impact must also be addressed. Kim Lawton talks with Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Sherry Turkle about how relationships are being harmed. She also interviews Tanya Schevitz of the Jewish group Reboot and Zen Master Jane Dobisz about efforts in the faith community that urge people to reassess their use of digital technology. Assisted Suicide – Should physicians and even families be allowed to end the life of someone terminally and painfully ill who wants to die?  Despite the protests from many sides, particularly religious leaders, California, this June, becomes the fifth state to legalize such action.  NPR radio host Diane Rehm has a book just out – On My Own – about her family’s struggle to help Diane’s late husband, who wanted to be allowed to die.  Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly spoke with Diane about her personal experience with the issue, including the Death With Dignity Movement, which she now supports.

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Brothers in Arms: The Berrigan Letters

MARYKNOLL, N. Y. – The story of Daniel and Philip Berrigan, two American Catholics whose actions against the war in Vietnam and nuclear proliferation made headlines around the globe, is now told through their weekly correspondence covering some 70 years. Selected from over 2,000 missives, The Berrigan Letters: Personal Correspondence between Daniel and Philip Berrigan provides access to this historic correspondence for the first time. Editors Daniel Cosacchi and Eric Martin introduce the letters in chronological order, situating them in both the lives of the brothers and the turbulent history of America in the second half of the twentieth century. In their selection and editing, the letters illuminate a gradual evolution to the Berrigan brothers’ activism; the planning and reflection on the various acts of civil disobedience, and the outcome and consequences of those actions–particularly long prison confinements. The letters also reveal the tensions and conflict between the brothers, and among those they worked with in communities; their relationship to the Roman Catholic church and authorities; and their concern with ultimate things, particularly in Daniel’s most recent work with AIDS patients in New York City and Philip’s final illness after years of prison.

Religion News Service names new Christianity beat reporter

(RNS) Emily McFarlan Miller, an award-winning journalist who has written extensively on news and trends in Christian America, will take on one of Religion News Service’s most important beats, covering Christians and Christianity. 

Miller, who worked at the Chicago Sun-Times as its digital editor for social media, has delved deeply as a journalist into the debates, trends and challenges animating Christianity in the U.S. today. Her work has appeared in online and traditional media, including the Chicago Sun-Times, Relevant Magazine, Crux and Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog, where she has written on topics as diverse as the new abstinence movement, evangelical attitudes toward masculinity and the Christian response to Internet trolls. “I am excited and honored to join a team of journalists I admire in a mission I truly support – to provide unbiased, nonsectarian coverage of religion, spirituality and ideas,” Miller said. “There are a wide variety of voices within evangelical and mainline Christianity in the United States, and I can’t wait to hear from them and share their stories.” Miller is not new to RNS.

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Christian media to tackle immigration and civility at national convention

LANCASTER, Pa. — Writers and editors within the Christian periodical market will address the two hot-button issues of immigration and civility during the annual convention of the Evangelical Press Association when it convenes in Lancaster, Pa., on April 6 to 8, 2016. “The Evangelical Response to Immigration and the Refugee Crisis” is the subject of a forum scheduled for Thursday morning, April 7. Speakers include Jenny Yang, Vice President of Advocacy and Policy at World Relief; David Shenk, Global Missions Consultant with Eastern Mennonite Missions and author of “Christian. Muslim.

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On Supreme Court – Let the people speak first, NRB says

MANASSAS, Va. – National Religious Broadcasters support Congressional leaders in their resolve to allow the American people to have a voice at the ballot box before anyone is considered to fill the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court following last month’s passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, leaders said today in response to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. “Let us remember that Justice Scalia was an exceptional jurist with unwavering commitment to the integrity of the United States Constitution,” stated Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB. “We know the poor track record of the Obama Administration on respect for freedom and the rule of law.  The American people should at least have a chance to vote in November before this President gets to place a third and likely generational-altering pick on the Court.”

Last month in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Dr. Johnson assured him the NRB would stand with him in his decision to wait on consideration of any Scalia successor until after the November elections.  In that letter, Dr. Johnson declared:
The Constitution that Justice Scalia fought for decades to uphold provides the President the power to nominate judges and the Senate the power of advice and consent.  This is a key principle in the separation of powers between the branches of our nation’s government.  Unfortunately, America’s current President has shown little restraint in asserting authority in areas properly belonging to other federal branches, the states, or the people themselves.  I urge you to do all that you can to prevent the President from attempting to work around the will of the Legislative Branch in this matter. Moreover, Dr. Johnson noted, “The American people began to vote for change in 2014 by giving a new party control of the chamber, and the people will have a chance to speak again in the months ahead essentially on the fate of all three branches of government.”

The full text of Dr. Johnson’s letter to Leader McConnell is here.  Also, a letter signed by Dr. Johnson and more than 100 other leaders committed “to make clear to the American people what is at stake and to rally our fellow citizens to the cause of saving the Constitution” is here. About NRB
The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) is a non-partisan, international association of Christian communicators whose member organizations represent millions of listeners, viewers, and readers.

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Proclaim 16 to feature presidential candidates forum

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Proclaim 16, the NRB International Christian Media Convention, will feature a Presidential Candidates Forum. Taking place just days before the “Super Tuesday” primaries in Tennessee and many nearby states, this will be an opportunity not to be missed. “This is a pivotal year for our nation, and Christian communicators will be well-served to hear firsthand from those candidates who seek to hold the highest office in the United States,” said Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB. “The policies and priorities of the next President of the United States will have major ramifications for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so we must pay attention.

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Thousands of Christian ministry and media professionals to gather in Nashville for Proclaim 16

MANASSAS, Va. – Next month, thousands of Christian media and ministry professionals will make their way to Proclaim 16, the NRB International Christian Media Convention in Nashville, TN, to make strategic connections, to acquire new resources, and to discover the latest tips, trends, and insights in their respective field of work. Every year, the Convention draws a wide range of participants, including radio and TV station owners and operators, pastors, church media professionals, radio and TV program producers, college educators, students, filmmakers, Web and mobile developers, social media managers, marketing representatives, and ministry staff members. “Thousands of Christian communicators come to our annual Convention to find the connections, resources, and insights that will help them advance their organizations, their careers, and their mission,” said Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB). “If you’re in the business of reaching people for Jesus Christ through media, you have got to be here!”

A highlight of the annual gathering is the bustling Exposition, the world’s largest marketplace dedicated to Christian media and ministry professionals seeking to harness the power of electronic media to spread the Gospel.

Jerome Socolovsky named Editor-in-Chief of Religion News Service

(RNS) Jerome Socolovsky, an award-winning journalist with experience at some of the world’s leading media organizations, has been named Religion News Service’s new editor-in-chief. Socolovsky, a seasoned religion reporter and editor who has worked for Voice of America, National Public Radio, The Associated Press and United Press International, will lead an editorial staff of six reporters and editors, and dozens of bloggers and freelancers. He will begin his new role in November. “I’m honored and thrilled to have been chosen to lead such a superb team of reporters and commentators,” Socolovsky said. “Their clear and balanced reporting on religion has never been more vital in our world, where belief is a crucial and often misunderstood component of so many news stories.

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Francis of Assisi will come to life for 800 children from New York City

In honor of Pope Francis’s visit to New York City, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York, has invited the Francis in the Schools program from California to stage a celebration of the inspiring life of the pontiff’s namesake, Francis of Assisi, for 800 third- through-fifth-grade children from nearly a dozen schools in the Bronx and Washington Heights- Inwood neighborhoods of New York City. Francis in the Schools, a day-long field trip, will be presented on September 28, three days after the pope’s visit. It will begin with a lively musical play about Francis’s life at the Church of the Good Shepherd, followed by a festive Umbrian Renaissance-style “Faire” at a nearby park. There the children will enjoy a nutritious lunch, live music, games, dancing, a puppet show, face and hand painting, flower arranging, and a chance to meet “Francis” and other characters from the play. Founded in 2011, the nonsectarian Francis in the Schools program has been presented 17 times, serving more than 7,000 children from underserved communities, on the West Coast and most recently in Baltimore and Washing- ton, DC.

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Oliver Crisp of Fuller Seminary Awarded $2 Million Templeton Grant for Analytical Theology Research

Fuller Theological Seminary is proud to announce the award of a John Templeton Foundation grant to Professor of Systematic Theology Oliver Crisp. A three-year grant that began September 1, 2015, the award of $2 million will fund a major undertaking in Analytical Theology research. Analytic Theology (AT) is an approach to theology that seeks integration between theological investigation, on the one hand, and the methods and results of progressive and truth-oriented disciplines such as the empirical sciences and analytic philosophy, on the other. Dr. Crisp (PhD, King’s College, University of London) and his team, including colleagues Dr. Justin L. Barrett and Rebecca Sok, will be joined by two postdoctoral research fellows, an administrator, and two doctoral students. The project, titled Prayer, Love, and Human Nature: Analytic Theology for Theological Formation, hypothesizes that AT supplies an intellectual framework for the training and formation of church leaders.