Katherine Burgess writes for Religion News Service.
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'No Makeup November' Inspires Women to Focus on Inner Beauty
As countless men grow mustaches this month to raise money and awareness for men's health issues, women and girls of all ages have put away their blush and mascara, seeking to remember they are beautifully made by God — even without the makeup.
"I think a lot of times we get so caught up in 'God made the world and the trees and the beauty and nature' and we see God's handiwork in the leaves changing in the fall, or we see his handiwork at the beach," said Becca Daniel, team leader at Rave Ministries.
"What we forget is we're told in all those other Scriptures that God made us, down to the last detail too."
Women and girls from 37 states and seven countries are participating in "No Makeup November," which is coordinated by Rave Ministries, a Christian girls ministry associated with the Churches of Christ.
Activists to Fast on Capitol Hill Until Congress Passes Immigration Reform
As an icy wind whipped the sides of a packed tent, five activists committed themselves Tuesday to fast from food and drink and to camp in front of the U.S. Capitol until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform.
“I know that there are going to be difficult days ahead of me,” said Eliseo Medina from the Service Employees International Union. “I know that going without food will not be easy and I know that I will suffer physical hunger."
“But there is a deeper hunger within me, a hunger for an end to a system that creates such misery among those who come here to escape poverty and violence in search of the American dream.”
Religious and labor leaders joined immigration activists at the launch of the “Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship.” Many will participate as “solidarity fasters,” fasting for a shorter time.
Despite 'Huge' Hesitancy, Seminaries Branch Out in Online Degrees
Theological education has increasingly left brick-and-mortar schools and headed back to congregations and family homes as more seminarians study online.
“The old move — uproot your family, get a new job, move to the seminary — that model isn’t working for so many people today,” said Ronald Hawkins, vice provost at Liberty University, which has around 9,000 students in its online seminary.
“They are looking for a way to increase their biblical theological knowledge, to expand their ministry skills and to remain within the context of the ministry setting.”
Despite “huge” hesitancy to allow online theological degrees, online education is growing, said Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, the main accrediting body for more than 270 seminaries and graduate schools.
'Church Rescue' Propels Unlikely Reality TV Stars: Church Consultants
They’ve rescued bars and restaurants and shabby houses, but this month reality television stars are set to rescue something new.
The series will feature three “Church Hoppers”: the Rev. Kevin “Rev Kev” Annas, a business analyst; the Rev. Anthony “Gladamere” Lockhart, a marketing specialist; and the Rev. Jerry “Doc” Bentley, a spiritual counselor.
“The Church Hoppers exist to build balance in church through systems, business, and marketing,” said Lockhart, who like his fellow rescuers comes out of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Calatrava Unveils Designs for Ground Zero Church Destroyed on 9/11
Twelve years after falling rubble from the World Trade Center towers destroyed St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, images have been released showing the design for an elaborate new building.
“We want people to feel like this is their house,” said the Rev. Mark Arey, spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. “I do believe what Jesus said, ‘My house will be a house of prayer for all people.’ Even though it is a Greek Orthodox church, it will be open to all people of all faiths, a place of solace for them.”
Santiago Calatrava, the renowned Spanish architect who designed the new World Trade Center Transportation Hub, is designing the new St. Nicholas Church, which will include a nondenominational bereavement center as an open place for rest and meditation.
Originally housed in an old row house, the original St. Nicholas Church was a narrow, largely unadorned building. The new designs, however, show a luminous domed building modeled partly on the Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, both in Istanbul.
The designs had to meet two criteria, Arey said. First, the church had to look like a Greek Orthodox church. Second, it had to fit in with the environment surrounding Ground Zero.
Church Giving Reaches Depression-Era Record Lows
WASHINGTON — Collection plates are growing even lighter as Protestant church member giving reached new lows in 2011, and tithing probably will not recover from the recession, according to a new report by Empty Tomb, a Christian research group.
“Is the issue that the church is not providing an authentic alternative to the consumer mindset?” said Sylvia Ronsvalle, executive vice president of Empty Tomb. “Over a period of time, if the church isn’t providing more of an authentic alternative, the church will lose.”
The percentage of a church member’s income given to the church dropped to 2.3 percent in 2011 (the latest year for which numbers are available), down from 2.4 percent in 2010, according to the Empty Tomb study.
Supreme Court Affirms Monks’ Right to Sell Caskets
A group of Catholic monks can continue selling their handmade caskets after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Louisiana funeral directors.
“We really can now move forward without worrying about being shut down,” said Deacon Mark Coudrain, manager of St. Joseph Woodworks in Covington, La. “This is going to affect a lot of other people. A lot of people are going to have opportunities to do things that are their legal right to generate revenue.”
In a little-noticed ruling on Oct. 15, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case between the brothers of St. Joseph Abbey and the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.
Christian Conservatives Divided Over Common Core Education Standards
Even though the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez had a 3.9 GPA in high school, his teachers kept pushing him to be a car mechanic.
He is Hispanic, said Rodriguez, now president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and his teachers did not believe he could succeed academically.
Rodriguez wants the same bar set for all students, something he believes can come out of the Common Core State Standards. Across-the-board standards could help end the poor education that fuels “our multigenerational poverty, the proliferation of drugs, participation in gangs, teenage pregnancy,” Rodriguez said.
Looking to Get Married? Try a Christian College
When Dordt College graduates Jordan Harmelink and Rachel Tennant said “I do” at their July wedding, they joined the masses of graduates who meet their spouse at private Christian colleges.
According to an analysis by Facebook, of the top 25 colleges where men are most likely to meet their spouse, all are private Christian institutions. For women, more than half (64 percent) of the top 25 colleges where they’re likely to find a husband are religious schools.
The 12 schools that appear on both lists: They’re all Christian colleges.
Faithful Filibuster: Christian Leaders Read Scripture, Exhort Congress to Care
Under a cloudy and drizzly sky, across the street from the U.S. Capitol, David Beckmann read passages from the prophet Isaiah.
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God,” read Beckmann, president of Bread for the World and one of several Protestant and Catholic leaders who gathered Wednesday to launch “Faithful Filibuster.”
The effort is intended to remind members of Congress that the government shutdown is hurting poor and vulnerable people.
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