Elizabeth Evans, Religion News Service

Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans is an Episcopal priest and a freelance writer.

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'Sanctuary Churches' Vow to Shield Immigrants From Trump Crackdown

Image via Thanate Rooprasert/Shutterstock.com

First came the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Seattle declaring their cities “sanctuaries”, and saying they will protect undocumented immigrants from President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deport them.

Then thousands of students, professors, alumni, and others at elite universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown, signed petitions, asking their schools to protect undocumented students from any executive order.

Now, religious congregations, including churches and synagogues, are declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants fleeing deportation.

10 Years After Amish Schoolhouse Killing, the Work of Grieving Remains

Image via RNS/Reuters/Tim Shaffer

The West Nickel Mines School is long gone. Two of the survivors are now married. Several of the couples who lost their daughters have had more children.

The shooting 10 years ago in [Bart Township, Pa.] made headlines across the world as the Amish rushed to forgive the shooter. But the grief and pain live on.

On Oct. 2, 2006, a heavily armed milk truck driver, Charles Carl Roberts IV, burst into the West Nickel Mines School shortly after recess. By the time Roberts had committed suicide, less than an hour later, five girls aged 6-13 were dead, and five others severely wounded.

Funeral Director Caleb Wilde Posts Irreverent Thoughts on Death

Caleb Wilde is an undertaker with a media presence. Photo by Andrew Hostetler, courtesy Caleb Wilde.

Most days, Caleb Wilde is a funeral director, discreetly making burial arrangements and guiding survivors in a time of loss.

But in his off hours Wilde has another, less conventional online side, in which he shares candid observations, irreverent thoughts on death, and photos that sometimes skirt the edge of outrageous.

Wilde is an undertaker with a media presence seemingly tailor-made for the age of disclosure.

His blog, “Confessions of a Funeral Director” has more than 80,000 monthly readers, a Twitter following of more than 16,000 and a Facebook page that attracts well over half a million visitors a week.

Denver Mennonites Take First Step Toward Gay Ordination

First Mennonite Church of Denver ordained Theda Good. Photo: Court. Theda Good, First Mennonite Church of Denver. Via RNS.

On Sunday, a Denver congregation of Mennonites licensed the first lesbian in a committed same-sex relationship, the first step toward ordination.

Theda Good’s licensure was celebrated by some Mennonite Church USA clergy and greeted with dismay by others.

Good was licensed for ministry as pastor of nurture and fellowship at First Mennonite Church of Denver, where she is currently on the staff. Originally from Lancaster, Pa., Good is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite Seminary in Harrisonburg, Va.

Entrepreneur Sees Hope for Clean Water on Wal-Mart Shelves

RNS photo courtesy T.J. Foltz

Humankind Water, RNS photo courtesy T.J. Foltz

T.J. Foltz has a recipe to help the world's poor: Take one part entrepreneurship, one part social media savvy and one part faith-based motivation. Fold in the world's largest retailer.

Then add water.

If every American spent $10 per year on his Humankind Water — less than they spend on Halloween candy — it would be enough to nearly eradicate the world's water sanitation problems, Foltz says.

Foltz, a former Christian youth minister, put out his first bottle of Humankind Water last October. The idea is to sell bottled water in a socially conscious way, with 100 percent of net profits going to fund clean-water projects in Haiti, Asia and Africa.

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