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At Forlorn Urban Churches, Mass Gets Crowded in a Flash
The latest trend in Rust Belt Catholicism, the Mass mob, is bringing thousands of suburban Catholics to visit the struggling urban churches of their parents and grandparents. (The New York Times)
Interactive Chart of Decades-old Usher Hand Signals
Church ushers still use the "National Silent Uniform System", developed in the 1940s, to communicate with each other during church services. (NYT)
Church ushers use hand signal codes
Ushers use hand signals that were developed in the 1940s and are still used and taught at a convention.
Christian Post interviews Elevation Church about spontaneous baptisms
"So when we do them (baptisms), the tanks are all outside, the changing areas are all outside, we rent huge tents, people don't know where to go so we've gotta have volunteers to lead the way so that people know which direction to go." (Christian Post)
Church 'is on the brink of extinction': Ex-Archbishop George Carey warns of Christianity crisis
Former head of Church of England warns it could be just one generation away from extinction (The Daily Mail)
NYT talks to Sarah Young
Sarah Young defends her books using Jesus in the first person.
Churches Take a Stand on Pews, Replacing Them With Chairs
Congregations see shift as versatile, modern; Asking unchurched youths to have a seat (The Wall Street Journal)
New trend: pastors working for free
Some see unpaid pastors as the future of the church.
Holyoke police investigating armed robbery at church service
Police are investigating an armed robbery during which a masked man interrupted a church service to steal from the worshipers. (The Republican, Mass.)
Back to church Sunday draws 21,000 churches
Back to Church Sunday, happening Sept. 15, is continuing to gain national momentum.
  • How a Megachurch Melts Down - The Atlantic
    Churches who belong to established denominations have established institutional methods for excising troubled leaders, and for surviving once they are gone. “Nondenominational” organizations like Mars Hill, built on faith and charisma alone, will always be vulnerable to the fate of losing the popularity contest.
    Race, relevancy among challenges facing black Baptist leaders
    Recent shootings of black men present challenges to new leaders of four of the nation’s largest African-American Baptist denominations, which observers say must become champions for racial reforms in America.
    How Church Sales Reflect the Shifting American Demographic
    Beyond the Christian faith, immigration is shaping the religious landscape of America and influencing the church purchasing process. (The Atlantic)
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  • Uganda: 'Pentecostal' Priest Upsets Catholic Church, Tranferred
    A group of Ugandan Christians are seething after the archbishop of Kampala transferred a priest. Fr Kibuuka, a young priest ordained in 2008, last year started charismatic prayer sessions in the Lubaga Nursing School, a stone's throw away from the cathedral, which attracted huge crowds, on Sunday afternoons. These prayer sessions reportedly attracted non-Catholics, including Muslims, coming from as far as Jinja, Masaka and Mukono districts. This was after some believers claimed that Kibuuka worked miracles.
    Catholic Church Argues It Doesn't Have to Show Up in Court Because Religious Freedom - Mother Jones
    Herx filed a discrimination lawsuit in 2012. In response, St. Vincent de Paul School and the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, her former employers, countered with an argument used by a growing number of religious groups to justify firings related to IVF treatment or pregnancies outside of marriage: Freedom of religion gives them the right to hire (or fire) whomever they choose. But the diocese took one big step further. It is arguing that, in this instance, its religious liberty rights protect the school from having to go to court at all.
    Heartache for New York’s Catholics as Church Closings Are Announced - The New York Times
    The reorganization announced on Sunday has been long in coming, reflecting demographic trends that have plagued Roman Catholic dioceses across much of the nation for decades. The number of priests has fallen each year, as retirements outpace ordinations. And attendance has been declining; as of 2013, only about 12 percent of the New York archdiocese’s 2.8 million Catholics regularly attended Sunday Mass, according to the archdiocese.
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  • How a Megachurch Melts Down - The Atlantic
    Churches who belong to established denominations have established institutional methods for excising troubled leaders, and for surviving once they are gone. “Nondenominational” organizations like Mars Hill, built on faith and charisma alone, will always be vulnerable to the fate of losing the popularity contest.
    Foreclosure case filed against Family Christian Center pastor
    Only a few months after reports that Indiana's largest megachurch was digging itself out of a financial hole, Family Christian Church Senior Pastor Steve Munsey and his wife face a foreclosure action against the home they've attempted to sell...Last year, a Times investigation revealed Family Christian Center had been spending millions annually on leadership compensation, travel, meals, and jet fuel, yet fell behind on mortgage payments and racked up a list of past-due bills.
    Lawsuit filed in family battle over Orange County megachurch | abc7.com
    The family of Pastor Chuck Smith is embroiled in a legal battle over control his Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa megachurch. His daughter has filed suit alleging elder abuse and neglect when Smith died.
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  • Conservative reach
    Conservative Anabaptists from across North America gathered for the first time at a ministry conference a month ago in a meeting seen by some as an indication of growing unity. (MWR)
    UMC launches new ecumenical, interfaith office
    On any given Sunday, more Christians are attending worship services in China than in the United States or Europe. That is one indicator of the challenges presented by a changing world of ecumenism as the United Methodist Church reorganizes how it addresses issues of Christian unity and relationships with other faiths. (UM Reporter)
    Brutal Presbyterian Disunity
    Anglicans get plenty of well-deserved attention for their efforts at disunity, but Presbyterians at least deserve an honorary mention in this game.
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  • When pulpit and pew disagree
    What can Christian leaders do when the official teachings of mainline Protestant churches and the political ideologies of the laity diverge? (Elesha Coffman, Faith and Leadership)
    How Clergy In Ferguson Succeeded Where The Police Failed
    To some extent, the police and the clergy at the protests have an overlapping mission: to keep the gathering peaceful. For clergy, that has meant speaking with protesters who become agitated until they calm down. It has meant acting as intermediaries between the crowds and police. At times, it has meant doing crowd control and helping keep people within designated areas.
    Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy
    As full-time pastors become a thing of the past, more and more seminary grads are taking on secular jobs to supplement their incomes. (The Atlantic)
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Medical Missionaries' Ebola Pullback: No More Kent Brantlys?
Medical Missionaries' Ebola Pullback: No More Kent Brantlys?
As ministries report record interest in serving, Samaritan's Purse shifts strategy on what expat doctors do.
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