Tim Townsend

Tim Townsend is the religion writer for The Post-Dispatch in St. Louis.

All Stories by Tim Townsend

Navy chaplains to receive more training on sexual abuse

October 7, 2013

ST. LOUIS (RNS) Each year, Navy chaplains receive professional development training around a specific issue. Next year’s focus will be on pastoral care for sexual assault victims.

Catholic priest with a taste for ‘self-bondage’ returned to ministry

September 17, 2013

(RNS) Last November, the Rev. Thomas Donovan called 911to say he needed police help to free himself. Police found him wearing an orange jumpsuit and “a leather bondage-type mask with a bar in his mouth.”

Breakaway parish mulls joining the Episcopalians

September 6, 2013

ST. LOUIS (RNS) Missouri Episcopal Bishop George Wayne Smith said the independent-minded St. Stanislaus Kostka Church may be “coming into union” with his diocese. Under such an arrangement, Smith said, the historically Polish church would have the flexibility to retain its own rites.

Lutherans may discuss disputes over joint worship

July 19, 2013

(RNS) Missouri Synod Lutherans will spend the next several days discussing a range of issues from the future of Lutheran education to theological disputes over worship practices.

Mother searches for God’s purpose in the midst of grief

July 11, 2013

ST. LOUIS (RNS) After losing her husband and two sons in a hiking accident, Sarah Decareaux says God “wants to use us for a purpose. I don’t know why he would do that to us, to serve some purpose, but I know there is one.” Now she’s trying to figure out what it is.

Lutherans re-elect Matthew Harrison despite Newtown “debacle”

July 9, 2013

(RNS) Harrison made national news in February when he asked the pastor of a Lutheran church in Newtown, Conn., to apologize for participating in an interfaith prayer vigil following the Sandy Hook school massacre.

Gay Catholic priest comes out to an uncertain future

May 29, 2013

ST. LOUIS (RNS) “I have tried over the years to reconcile my silence as a gay priest with that of the Church’s increasingly anti-gay stance. I have been unsuccessful,” the Rev. Gary Meier writes in his book “Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay, Catholic Priest.”

Can grief be a mental illness? With new diagnostic changes, maybe

May 20, 2013

(RNS) In a move that could add to the tension between religion and science, the American Psychiatric Association changed a controversial diagnosis regarding how grief relates to mental health, rekindling a debate about whether spirituality or medicine offers the best pathway out of bereavement.

Jesuits face a shrinking pool of university presidents

May 9, 2013

ST. LOUIS (RNS) For nearly two centuries, St. Louis University has been led by the Jesuits. But now, because of a rapidly shrinking pool of eligible leaders, SLU — like many Jesuit schools — could be lead by a lay person.

Catholics try their hand at old-fashioned evangelism

April 25, 2013

SHREWSBURY, Mo. (RNS) About 125 Catholics packed a basement conference room — most of them lay people, many of them older. They gathered to learn how to spread the faith, a concept that is both fundamental to Christianity and nearly foreign to modern Roman Catholics.

Tax or fee? Pastors push back against city’s ‘annual registration fee’

April 15, 2013

EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (RNS) City officials say a new $100 “annual registration fee” will help defray the costs of building safety inspections. Pastors, however, say it’s a tax by another name, and possibly unconstitutional.

St. Louis Archdiocese gives up fight for control of breakaway parish

February 14, 2013

ST. LOUIS (RNS) The Archdiocese of St. Louis will end its appeal of a court decision that handed over control of a disputed Polish church after a years-long dispute.

Newtown ‘debacle’ reopens old wounds for Missouri Synod

February 13, 2013

ST. LOUIS (RNS) A decision to censure a pastor for participating in a prayer service for victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre has reopened old wounds for the often politically divided Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Catholic bishop tries to explain how a priest ended up in ‘self-bondage’

January 28, 2013

There are signs that a younger generation of Catholic leaders have learned lessons from the last decade and are attempting to be as open as possible when a crisis comes to their diocese. Yet in the case of a priest diagnosed with “non-sexual self-bondage,” that desire for transparency may have produced a response that caused more harm than good.

Fate of accused abusive pastor in the hands of his flock

December 13, 2012

STOVER, Mo. (RNS) In any denomination, Christians confronted with the shocking news that a pastor has been accused of sexual misconduct, many congregations circle the wagons. But what happens when those circling the wagons around their pastor are also those who have to make the ultimate decision about his fate — his career, his paycheck, his reputation? By Tim Townsend.


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