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Ms. Penny Cost delivers a message during the Hope United Methodist Church virtual service in Bloomington, Illinois, on April 11, 2021. Video screengrab

First drag queen certified as a candidate for United Methodist ministry ‘speaking in a new way to new people’

By Emily McFarlan Miller — April 15, 2021

(RNS) — Isaac Simmons is the first openly gay man to be certified within the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and, as far as anyone can tell, the first drag queen certified in the United Methodist Church.

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A sticker from a Planned Parenthood rally in New York City. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Planned Parenthood announces new clergy advocacy board members, many from red states

By Jack Jenkins — April 13, 2021

(RNS) — ‘As a clergyperson who discovered my call to ministry within a Planned Parenthood, it was a no-brainer,’ said the Rev. Katey Zeh, who heads the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

FILE - This is a June. 2, 1953 file photo of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, as they wave to supporters from the balcony at Buckingham Palace, following her coronation at Westminster Abbey. London.  (AP Photo/Leslie Priest, File)

Anglican convert and Pacific Island deity: 5 faith facts about Prince Philip

By Paul O'Donnell — April 9, 2021

(RNS) — Married for 73 years to the head of the Church of England, the prince consort built a religious profile that was more complicated than his official role might suggest.

Sarah Bessey, editor of

Why some Christians want Target to stop carrying a bestselling book of prayers

By Emily McFarlan Miller — April 9, 2021

(RNS) — Editor Sarah Bessey and other contributors to ‘A Rhythm of Prayer’ responded to the backlash with a statement Thursday evening (April 8), saying critics are missing the point of the prayer.

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas looks on as President Joe Biden signs an executive order on immigration, in the Oval Office of the White House, Feb. 2, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Canceled flights, expired clearances: US refugee resettlement in limbo awaiting promised changes

By Emily McFarlan Miller — April 8, 2021

(RNS) — In March alone, more than 700 refugees who were scheduled to arrive in the United States had their flights canceled, according to Refugee Council USA.

President Joe Biden visited the Virginia Theological Seminary on April 6, 2021, to celebrate the seminary’s provision of COVID-19 vaccines. Photo by Elizabeth Panox-Leach, Virginia Theological Seminary

Biden says seminary COVID-19 vaccine clinic is example of ‘America at its finest’

By Adelle M. Banks — April 7, 2021

(RNS) — Biden said the partnership between the seminary and a community health center is one of many that are happening between religious and medical organizations across the nation.

Pastor Raymond Chang, president of the Asian American Christian Collaborative, speaks during a panel titled Black & Asian Christians United Against Racism, livestreamed Monday, April 5, 2021, from Apostolic Faith Church in Chicago. Video screengrab

Black and Asian Christian leaders discuss role of church in fighting racism

By Emily McFarlan Miller — April 6, 2021

(RNS) — ‘Our oppression is linked together, but also our liberation is connected at the same time,’ said the Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.

The Rev. William Barber II speaks during a virtual Easter vigil service April 3, 2021, titled “Easter in Jerusalem: The Sabeel Community Celebrates Holy Saturday 2021,” led by a Christian activist group in Jerusalem. Video screengrab

William Barber preaches at Easter vigil service spotlighting Christian Palestinians

By Daoud Kuttab — April 6, 2021

(RNS) — Barber’s appearance served to recognize Christians in the Palestinian liberation movement, which some American evangelicals paint as an apocalyptic conflict between Christians and Muslims.

Unaccompanied minor Kaylee Samantha, right, 7, who said she came alone from Mexico, gets off of a small inflatable raft onto U.S. soil after being delivered by a smuggler in Roma, Texas, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. She claims she is trying to reach relatives in the U.S. A surge of migrants on the Southwest border has the Biden administration on the defensive. The head of Homeland Security acknowledged the severity of the problem but insisted it's under control and said he won't revive a Trump-era practice of immediately expelling teens and children. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills)

Faith-based agencies invite volunteers, donations as they care for children at border

By Emily McFarlan Miller, Jack Jenkins — April 2, 2021

(RNS) — Some struggle to cobble together resources decimated under the policies of former President Donald Trump’s administration.

People gather at the Mount Davidson cross in San Francisco, Sunday, April 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

At second Easter under pandemic rules, Christians glimpse church’s future

By Adelle M. Banks, Emily McFarlan Miller, Alejandra Molina, Bob Smietana, Yonat Shimron — April 2, 2021

(RNS) — The pandemic has ‘redefined for me what church is going to be like and what the definition of membership is,’ said one pastor in North Carolina.

10 nonfiction books (and one novel) to keep Women’s History Month going all year

By Emily McFarlan Miller — April 1, 2021

(RNS) — Here are 10 new nonfiction books, both forthcoming and released in the last year, that explore women’s roles and influence in Christian traditions — plus, one bonus work of fiction.

People raise their hands in praise while singing in church. Photo by Carolina Jacomin/Unsplash/Creative Commons

Behind Gallup’s portrait of church decline

By Wesley Granberg-Michaelson — March 31, 2021

(RNS) — America’s religious life will be shaped not by secularization alone.

Kat Armstrong, left, with her Sunday school teacher, Beth Moore. Photo courtesy of Kat Armstrong

Like Beth Moore, many women preachers have had to break free to follow God’s call

By Bob Smietana — March 29, 2021

(RNS) — For women preachers, following their call has often conflicted with the rules put forth by their churches — even though people in the pews are open to a woman in the pulpit.

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