Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at RNS.

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Unitarian Universalists Elect First Woman President

The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray steps to the podium as the newly elected president of the Unitarian Universalist Association during the 2017 General Assembly on June 24, 2017, in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of UU World/Nancy Pierce

An Arizona pastor and immigrant advocate has been elected as the first woman president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. The election of the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray on Saturday follows the resignation of the Rev. Peter Morales, who left office in April three months short of the end of his second term amid controversy about diversity in the UUA.

Evangelical Leaders Push for Criminal Justice Reform

Image via Adelle M. Banks/ RNS 

“The Church has both the unique ability and unparalleled capacity to confront the staggering crisis of crime and incarceration in America,” the declaration reads, “and to respond with restorative solutions for communities, victims, and individuals responsible for crime.”

Like Father, Like Son: Black Activists Tag-team Preach on Father’s Day

Image via Dawn Stephens/ RNS 

Father: The necessity of the black church, the African-American church, I think is continuing and compelling. We in my generation depended on the delivery of the Word from the individual but we did not take advantage of all of the technology that was becoming big. I think in this age we must utilize all of the technology plus imagination and all of the equipment that’s available to us to communicate, to involve and to be relevant and liberating both in our word and in our deed.

In Dramatic Turnabout, Southern Baptists Condemn ‘Alt-Right White Supremacy’

Image via RNS/Philip Bethancourt

After a fierce backlash on social media, Southern Baptists reversed course and adopted a statement denouncing “alt-right white supremacy,” calling it “antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The unusual move on June 14 was a shift from the previous day, when the Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolutions Committee declined to bring to a vote a Texas pastor’s proposed resolution condemning the “alt-right” movement, whose members include white supremacists.

Southern Baptists Decide Not to Bring Forth Resolution Condemning Alt-Right

Image via RNS/Matt Jones

Southern Baptists, grappling with the country’s political realities, adopted a statement on the importance of public officials who display “consistent moral character.”

But, within minutes of that action at their annual meeting, they agreed with a committee’s decision not to bring forth a proposed resolution condemning the “alt-right movement,” whose members include proponents that call themselves white nationalists.

Faced with Declining Numbers, Southern Baptists Refocus on Conversions

Steve Gaines, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, speaks at the Pastors’ Conference at the Phoenix Convention Center on June 12, in Phoenix. Photo courtesy of Matt Miller

Faced with continuing declines in membership and baptisms, Southern Baptist Convention President Steve Gaines implored delegates to the denomination’s yearly meeting to turn to God and put their emphasis on evangelism.

Nearing 60, Bishop T.D. Jakes Strives to Bridge Racial, Political Divides

Image via RNS/The Potter's House of Dallas

The June 28-July 1 event he calls “a bit of a vacation in a spiritual atmosphere” drew 90,000 when it was last held in 2015 — a predominantly black crowd that also included whites, Hispanics, and people from 40 other countries.

Jakes, an author, media producer, and pastor of The Potter’s House talked to Religion News Service about bridging racial and political divides, coping with terrorist threats, and his approaching 60th birthday.

Christian School Denies Pregnant Teen Right to Walk at Graduation

Image via RNS/Maddi Runkles

The determination to not let Runkles “walk” when she completes her studies at the Hagerstown school prompted a sharp critique from Students for Life of America, which asked its supporters to urge the school to reverse its decision.

But Hobbs said the school is standing its ground about the June 2 ceremony for Runkles’ class of 15 students.

Black Clergy Decry Trump Policies as Detrimental to African Americans

Image via RNS/Ray Chen/Office of Public Witness, PC(USA)

At a news conference on May 15, in front of the United Methodist Building, leaders of congregations and denominations called on fellow African Americans to speak up, and urged Congress to vote down proposed plans by the new administration that they believe help the rich and hurt the sick and the poor.

Religious Liberty Executive Order Draws Mixed Reviews

Photo via RNS/Reuters/Carlos Barria

“America is a deeply religious country because religious freedom and tolerance of divergent religious views thrive. President Trump’s efforts to promote religious freedom are thinly-veiled efforts to unleash his conservative religious base into the political arena while also using religion to discriminate. It’s a dual dose of pandering to a base and denying reproductive care.”

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