Category : Urban/City Life and Issues
Last year marked 500 years since the Protestant Reformation, but it’s not hard to see that the impact of the most significant Church split in history is still felt today. For instance, the World Christian Encyclopedia estimates that over 30,000 Christian denominations exist worldwide. Churches of all stripes practice their own flavor of ministry in cities across the United States, all based on particular interpretations of scripture and style. But what is the denominational makeup of each city in America? What are the most Catholic cities? Which areas have the greatest percentages of Baptist, or Lutheran or Pentecostal residents?
Over the years, Barna has been tracking denominational affiliation and publishing this data in our cities reports. In the infographic below, we list the top five cities for each of the main denominational categories and a few of the largest Protestant ones (specific denominational definitions below).
I was baptized in Central Methodist Church, so many decades ago. I remember Sunday school, attending services with my mother and grandmother. My mother had a glorious contralto and, a child prodigy trained as a concert pianist, sometimes played the immense pipe organ, with its 4 divisions, 28 stops, and 41 registers. In the 1960s, it was common for each service to see a thousand people or more, filling the sanctuary and its three balconies. Central was a prime posting for veteran ministers — only doctors of divinity reached the senior rank — and the choir was superb. I was confirmed there, age 13.
When I returned to Phoenix in 2000, I started attending Central again, this time with Susan. Getting a hundred people in the pews was a victory by that time. The quality of preaching was uneven, as individual ministers came and went (long gone from the days of a senior minister and others). But the music program was very strong under Don Morse. The core, including the corps of ushers, was committed. Important for us, Central still offered a traditional service, with the wonderful Methodist hymns. Christmas Eve could see five services in the soaring sanctuary, with luminarias in the courtyard. We continue to attend. When I lived in Charlotte, people would ask me if I had found “a church home.” No — in that hotbed of religion, the question irritated the secular me. “I have a bar home,” I would respond. But the truth was different. My church was here. It always was. Always will be.
But this year brought heartbreaking news. First, the music program was downgraded, with Morse and seemingly most of the choir gone. Finances were an issue; the church and Morse, who had already taken a pay freeze/cut, couldn’t come to terms. But respect also seemed an issue, the lay leaders wanting to downgrade his position to “choirmaster.” A botched remodel of the sanctuary was probably another cause, including the loss of the pipe organ and removal of two of the balconies. I don’t claim special insight. I spent many years in United Methodist choirs, but tried to avoid church politics whenever possible. Next came word that the sanctuary would only be used for special occasions. A traditional service would be held in the small Pioneer Chapel and a contemporary one in Kendall Hall.
— Tim Hoiland (@timhoiland) April 2, 2018
(Wash Post) Duke Kwon–The tragedy to communities when church buildings are demolished to make condos
I walk by a brown brick church in my neighborhood every day. On Sunday, the aging but still impressive building will be empty on Easter for the first time in a hundred years. And soon, the building will be converted into luxury condos.
While the impact of gentrification on affordable housing in D.C. and other cities has been a topic of ongoing study and debate, still underappreciated is its impact on a different sort of “housing” — namely, houses of worship. The issue is on my radar because I am the pastor of a church that met in that building until November.
For four years, Grace Meridian Hill was the sole tenant of 3431 13th Street NW, a 100-year-old building formerly owned by Mount Rona Missionary Baptist Church. In 2014, our landlord sold the property to developers. We recently learned the groundbreaking is scheduled for this week.
Although we grieved the loss of our home, our greater concern and lament is for the neighborhood and city. Numerous church properties within a few blocks have been sold to developers in the past few years, including Southern Bethany Baptist Church on Monroe Street NW, Iglesia Ni Cristo on Morton Street NW and Meridian Hill Baptist Church on 16th Street NW.
(Wash Post) Court in Metro’s ad ban case discusses Christmas shopping, beer-making monks, charitable giving
A central question before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit: Can Metro allow secular advertisers to promote Christmas shopping and charitable giving, but not the church?
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh was unrelenting in questioning Metro’s lawyer, former solicitor general Donald B. Verrilli Jr., and stated unequivocally his view that the policy is “pure discrimination” in violation of the First Amendment.
Kavanaugh, who is on President Trump’s list of candidates for possible Supreme Court vacancies, made several references to recent high court opinions, including a 2017 ruling that sided with a Missouri church denied access to government grants meant for a secular purpose.
The two other judges on the panel — Judith W. Rogers and Robert L. Wilkins — pointed out that the archdiocese had acknowledged its ads were designed in part to promote religion, not just charitable giving.
The two stone churches near the foot of Broadway, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, have seen fire and calamity and the sweep of American history, and through it all have kept their doors wide open.
But in a sign of the times, Trinity Church and St. Paul’s Chapel both installed metal detectors this month. Visitors on their way to see Alexander Hamilton’s tomb in Trinity’s historic graveyard, or who want to sit in the pews at St. Paul’s where George Washington prayed and dust-covered rescue workers rested after 9/11 attacks, now have to pass through airport-style security checkpoints.
The metal detectors, installed March 1, will be there “until this world becomes a safer place,” said Trinity’s vicar, the Rev. Phillip Jackson.
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) March 27, 2018
— The Post and Courier (@postandcourier) March 20, 2018
Even ardent opponents of school choice accept that parents have the right to send their children to private schools. That may soon change in New York state, where education officials are preparing new guidelines to impose strict regulations on the instruction that religious and other private schools provide, while empowering local school districts to shutter those schools if they fail to meet state standards. The plan is not only ill-advised, it may end up costing the state billions in annual school aid to nonpublic schools.
Parents have had a legally recognized constitutional right to guide their children’s education for nearly a century. The Supreme Court’s 1925 decision in Pierce v. Society of Sisters established that children are “not mere creatures of the state” and that parents have the right to choose “schools where their children will receive appropriate mental and religious training.” Almost 50 years later, in Wisconsin v. Yoder , the court reaffirmed these rights, recognizing the “fundamental interest of parents, as contrasted with that of the State, to guide the religious future and education of their children.”
The trade-off has always been that parents, not the state, must foot the bill for private education. In New York the government saves billions annually because parents choose to send their children to religious or private schools. New York’s Jewish and Catholic schools alone educate 330,000 children, nearly 200,000 of whom attend New York City parochial schools.
Only a fraction of these savings finds its way back to New York’s nonpublic schools and students.
The paper from the Church of England’s Cathedrals Working Group sets out new ideas on how cathedrals could be governed and funded.
The proposals, emerging from seven months of meetings and discussions, aim to recognise and enhance the vital role that cathedrals play while building a robust framework for the future.
A consultation on the recommendations opens today, seeking views from interested groups.
They range from recommendations on how the structure of Chapter – a cathedral’s traditional governing body – could be reformed to new financial auditing processes.
The Working Group was set up by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York after a small number of cathedrals highlighted challenges in governance and management.
A church in the centre of the west of England port city of Bristol is to re-open 65 years after it was closed. Once it re-opens in the Autumn, St Nicholas’ Church will focus on engaging with young people who don’t currently go to church, and will act as what the diocese is calling a “Resourcing Church”, serving the wider city and assisting future church plants. It will be led by the Revd Toby Flint, currently the Lead Pastor at London’s Holy Trinity Brompton, home of the Alpha Course and a significant participant in church plants.
Bristol is a young city – some 60 per cent of people in the city centre are aged between 15 and 29. “The new church’s particular focus will be on younger generations,” the Diocese of Bristol said. The diocese has set out three priorities in its vision: making disciples, growing leaders and engaging younger generations. The new St Nicholas will explore those three priorities as well as partnering with other churches and organisations for social action, including looking at ways to tackle homelessness, food poverty and youth unemployment.
“As Bristol becomes younger and more diverse, we want to make an impact on the city,” the Bishop of Swindon and acting Bishop of Bristol, Dr Lee Rayfield, said. “We are excited about how St Nicholas will grow the Church and bring about social transformation.
[Michael] Gilbreath (a CT editor at large) hearkens back to the 1963 Birmingham civil rights campaign, to the world of Martin Luther King Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, and other heroic Christian leaders. Today, we idolize these figures for leading a beleaguered people to the Promised Land. But as Birmingham Revolution makes clear, the civil rights movement was no slam dunk. Uncertainty, scarce resources, and outside hostility could have ground its progress to a halt.
The Birmingham campaign was pivotal. On the heels of defeat in Albany, Georgia, victory in Birmingham restored the movement’s momentum. Failure could have crippled it, by drying up funding, discrediting the nonviolent method, and validating fears that the leaders were—take your pick—extremists, rabble-rousers, too Christian, not Christian enough, too Southern, or insufficiently urban.
How—amid the noise and ambiguity, the internal struggles and self-doubts, the bone-deep weariness and constant fear of death—did the Birmingham leaders maintain their focus? And how might their example instruct the church today? Gilbreath gives four answers.
(CT) God, Guns, and Oil A Los Angeles church seeks the good of its neighborhood by confronting crime and environmental distress
For [Richard] Parks, shutting down the oil well is part of a bigger story of how the gospel is transforming the Exposition Park neighborhood. Members of Church of the Redeemer have tied their fate to the fate of the community. They want to see their neighbors flourish.
Shutting down oil wells or nuisance liquor stores, planting trees, tutoring kids, holding neighborhood Bible studies, and making friends with neighbors during a community service project are all part of how a neighborhood is reached with the gospel, Parks says.
“In the context of friendship—there are normal, natural opportunities to talk about our love for Jesus,” he said. “Our church is made up of people that our kids go to school with, our kids play soccer with, neighbors that we clean up trees with. That is how the gospel is going out in our community.”
(Local Paper) Charleston, South Carolina, mayor reaches out to religious leaders to build relationships, promote good deeds
Shortly after Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg took office in 2016, he reached out to several pastors for counsel.
He had been thinking about how the city fared following 2015’s Emanuel AME Church massacre, about how a web of strong relationships helped Charleston shine during one of its darkest hours.
Tecklenburg hoped that this gathering of religious leaders not only would build on those relationships but also find new ways to promote good works.
A government review has recommended scrapping charging policies for entry to Cathedrals.
The review on ‘Cathedrals and Communities’ found that Chester Cathedral has reported increased profits since doing away with charging, while Durham Cathedral has pledged to keep its main space free to enter.
The report released by the Department of Communities and Local Government, explains that for lesser-known cathedrals, creating an active programme of events can increase visitors and income.
The report was the culmination of a year-long tour that saw the Minister for Faiths, Lord Bourne, visit all of England’s 42 Anglican cathedrals to better understand their continued importance both to local communities and wider society.
His report also recommends the use of crypts and naves for events, commending Sheffield cathedral, which transformed the space below the cathedral to help the city’s homeless.
Read it all (requires subscription).
If there is ever a competition for the title of Busiest Minister in America, the smart money will be on Yoan Mora, senior pastor of Primera Iglesia Cristiana, a small but vibrant Spanish-speaking congregation in San Antonio, Texas. The weeks are nuts: worship services, classes, and meetings on Sundays; a radio program on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays; prayer service and Bible study on Tuesdays; house church meetings in the southern reaches of the city each Thursday; a job-training program hosted at the church on Saturdays, plus other meetings scattered through the weekend.
Those are just his top-level duties. He still has to find time to write sermons, oversee church-building maintenance, teach small groups, manage budgets, and, most of all, be with people in all the ways pastors need to be with people: births, deaths, sicknesses, celebrations, life events big, medium, and small. Being a pastor is a full-time job, and then some.
But being a pastor is not Mora’s full-time job. Most of Mora’s weekday hours are devoted to his work as an accountant at a health-care clinic in the northeast part of town. He’s also trying to finish a master’s degree in theology.
Mora believes he was placed on this earth to pastor, so that’s what he plans on doing. But for now, he can’t make a living as a pastor because the congregation he serves is in an extremely low-income neighborhood. Pastor salaries are drawn from church budgets, which are drawn from the household budgets of congregants. So in a low-income area, even when a church grows, its budget does not expand so much as stretch. Primera Iglesia Cristiana can’t pay Mora much for all his efforts, so for the foreseeable future, he’ll hustle.