RNS photo by Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Catholic priests pushed to become better preachers

ST. LOUIS (RNS) The Rev. Don Wester believes homilies should be practical and direct — that they should draw a connection between the everyday struggles of parishioners and biblical truths. And it’s exactly the kind of preaching that Catholic bishops across America are hoping for as part of a new national effort to improve preaching at Catholic parishes. By Tim Townsend.

RNS photo by J.B. Forbes/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

In Missouri, Mormons see Adam’s fall after Garden of Eden and Jesus’ return

DAVIESS COUNTY, Mo. (RNS) To non-Mormons, it sounds odd that a bluff on a bend 124 feet above the Grand River represents to 15 million faithful both the beginning and end of human time. Mormon doctrine makes reference to the place as the site where Adam and Eve went after God banished them from the Garden of Eden. It's also regarded as a gathering place for the faithful at the second coming of Jesus Christ. By Tim Townsend.

RNS photo courtesy Wikimedia/Public Domain (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Michelangelo,_giudizio_universale,_dettagli_26.jpg)

Episcopal priest under scrutiny for nude photos

ST. LOUIS (RNS) It will be difficult for critics to compare Michelangelo's nudes with the ones photographed by the Rev. John Blair. Just after Episcopal leaders launched a sexual misconduct investigation of Blair, he lost his job as a hospital chaplain. By Tim Townsend.

RNS photo by Sid Hastings/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Concerts and controversial opera bring faiths together in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS (RNS) Terrorism stories are rarely happy stories, and yet the path Timothy O'Leary has taken — from bringing the controversial opera “The Death of Klinghoffer'' to St. Louis last year to the Sheldon's second annual Sept. 11 memorial concert this Sunday — ends with a hopeful, permanent pairing of faith and the arts in St. Louis. By Tim Townsend.

Missionary fellowship put big emphasis on the littlest converts

WARRENTON, Mo. (RNS) “Ask at what age a Christian formed a relationship with Jesus Christ, and 85 percent will say before their 15th birthday,” says Reese Kauffman, president of Child Evangelism Fellowship. The Missouri-based group spends $5 million on its international missions, focusing especially on children. By Tim Townsend.

Catholic theologians stand up to the Vatican

ST. LOUIS (RNS) As Catholic theology has branched out, bishops have struggled to curb theological thinking they consider beyond acceptable boundaries. At the Catholic Theological Society of America meeting, the theologians were girding for a fight. By Tim Townsend.

Religion News Service file photo by Andrea Useem

As Muslim community grows, Muslim funerals follow suit

ST. LOUIS (RNS) Until recently, many Muslims buried their loved ones in Muslim sections of Christian cemeteries, relying largely on non-Muslims to guide them through the process of death. As the Muslim population has grown, so has the need for Muslim-specific services like funeral homes and cemeteries. By Tim Townsend.