Unhappy evangelical mainliners; Holistic churches; Merry Russian Orthodox Christmas

Jason Kane reports in Thursday's RNS report on evangelical mainliners who say their denominations have become too liberal. They've vowed to try and change them from within: In the traditionally liberal Northeast, United Methodist minister Chuck Ferrara has been coping with what he calls "the very definition of insanity." Over the course of several decades, the conservative Connecticut minister has mounted the pulpit each Sunday increasingly frustrated with his denomination's liberal leanings and its refusal to change despite slipping numbers. Ferrara's frustrations mirror an escalating movement within each of the mainline denominations as conservatives gather strength from within to reintroduce evangelism and combat liberal interpretations on issues from homosexuality to abortion. At times, the self-described evangelical has considered completely abandoning the church. But Ferrara and thousands of other conservatives in the Protestant mainline describe themselves as missionaries in their own faith.

Molly Bloom reports on churches that take a holistic approach to healing their members, by offering weight-loss and exercise classes: Clad in black sweat pants and a baggy black T-shirt, Tammy Holmes wasn't appropriately dressed for church, but it was the perfect ensemble for her to lead one of the weekly Christian holistic weight-loss and exercise classes offered by Morning Star Community Christian Center. Holmes is the pastor of the church's health ministry, which illustrates how churches nationwide are increasingly finding ways to address their members' bodies as well as their spirits. Morning Star's 2-year-old health ministry was a natural at a church led by a medical doctor.

Ryan Mills writes about the Russian Orthodox Christmas, which is celebrated on January 7: During the first week of January most people are finishing boxing up Christmas ornaments and disposing of dried-out Christmas trees. But for the Rev. Benedict Tallant of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, the first week of January is a time for making last-minute Christmas preparations. The Russian Orthodox Church, which still follows the Julian calendar, celebrates Christmas on Saturday, Jan. 7-13 days after the traditional Western Christmas.