Category Archives: Featured Content

A Spiritual Approach to Health and Healing Brings Results

Rodriguez

DARIEN — Prayer can be a trusted and effective means for bringing peace, freedom and healing into everyone’s  life, according to  Lorenzo Rodriguez, a Christian Science lecturer and spiritual healer.  Rodriguez will give a public talk titled “Spiritual Solutions for Desperate Situations”, on May 3 at 7:30 pm at the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Darien.” On May 5 Rodriguez  will deliver the same talk in Spanish at 11 am at Alexis Hill Montessori School in New Haven and again in English at 2 pm in the Christian Science Reading Room on the New Haven Green.

In his remarks, Rodriguez will show how people from every walk of life have demonstrated the power of God to bring solutions to adversity of every sort. He will describe his own experience in learning to engage the power of God and the divine law  of Truth and Love.

“Understanding God as infinite good brings trust in the power of good to help us overcome worry, doubt and fear,” Rodriguez says.

Claiming one’s  divine rights as a child of God is empowering and satisfying, he asserts.

Rodriquez’s talk will draw on ideas from the original sourcebook for Christian healing, the Bible,  along with Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, a  companion book of universally applicable ideas on practical spirituality that has sold more than ten million copies.

Born in Cuba and raised in Mexico and the US, Rodriguez graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BS in Chemical Engineering.  Although he practiced engineering for a time, he felt since childhood that his calling was for the helping professions.  He became a pioneer in the field of employment for people with disabilities before  dedicating himself to the full-time practice of healing through spiritual means.  Rodriguez,  a Miami-based teacher of Christian Science and a member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship  , is fluent in English and Spanish.

The Darien talk will be held at the Christian Science church edifice, 2331 Post Rd., near the YMCA. In New Haven, the Spanish lecture will be held at the Montessori school ,  330 Grand Ave., New Haven and the English version at 950 Chapel Street. For more information, call Darien’s Christian Science Reading Room at 655-2772

The future of Creedible

Hello everyone. By now you know that Creedible is in a transition period. I founded Creedible in 2009 and last year sold it to Religion News LLC.

I also work for Religion News now and live in Spokane, WA where I’m editing a site that will eventually become Creedible’s sister site.

Here is a link to the Spokane site, called SpokaneFAVS. This is what Creedible will look like too! Like the Spokane site, Creedible will have lots of local writers, a free community calendar, news articles, multimedia and so much more!

Living in Spokane, I haven’t had much time to dedicate to Creedible, and I apologize for that. But I promise Religion News is seeking a qualified replacement and working hard to rebuild the site, making it as cool as the Spokane site is.

Thank you for your continue patience! While you wait for the new site, I urge you  to check out SpokaneFAVS. You can like us on Facebook here!

- Tracy Simmons

Interfaith seder aims to raise hunger awareness

By Tracy Simmons

Wikipedia photo

The Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut and End Hunger Connecticut will host an interfaith Seder on April 2 at the state capitol.

The goal of the Third Annual Interfaith Hunger Seder is to raise hunger awareness.

It will be led by Rabbi David Small and Rev. Tim Oslovich and will include readings from elected officials, anti-hunger advocates and faith leaders.

Passover and poverty related songs performed by the Glastonbury Ukulele Band.

The seder, which is open to the general public, will be from 4:30 to 6 p.m. in the Old Judiciary Room. RSVP via email hungerseder2012@gmail.com or by calling (860)727-5789.

Bridgeport Church Reborn To Serve Community

By Tracy Simmons/Creedible.com

“Summerfield was the church on the hill that nobody knew about. Now, it’s the light on the hill that many, many people know about,” said Elsie Pratt as she reflected on her 25 years at Summerfield United Methodist Church in Bridgeport.

Pratt, 85, was watching her church slowly die. A fence wrapped around the church, locking it away from the East Ward neighborhood.  And except for a handful of retired, Caucasian adults who pulled into the parking lot on Sunday mornings, the church was eerily quiet.

“It was like a cemetery,” said the Rev. Marjorie E. Nunes.

Nunes

Nunes didn’t plan helping Summerfield UMC come back to life. In fact, she didn’t plan on becoming a minister at all.

She was content working as an executive at a software firm in New York City, but God kept nagging at her, she said.

“When God is calling, you get an uncomfortable feeling. He has his hands on you, he’s made up his mind calling you to ministry, and you can’t get rid of it (the uncomfortable feeling) until you say yes,” Nunes said.

She already had her bachelor’s and master’s in economics, but decided to enroll at Union Theological Seminary to study religion, hoping it would ease the badgering feeling she had in the pit of her stomach.

It didn’t work.

After making an impression in a preaching class, a professor urged her to pursue a career in ministry. Now an academic and God were nagging her and she couldn’t ignore it anymore.

Nunes earned her Master of Divinity degree, went through the ordination process and began working as an associate pastor of a vibrant church in Brooklyn before being called to serve at Summerfield in 2002.

When she arrived at the church to lead her first worship service, she found the gate in the front of the sanctuary padlocked with a note instructing guests to drive around to the social hall for service. Inside were about a dozen people.

“The church had lost its identity. No one was going to stop and come into a church with a lock on the gate,” she said. “Nobody knew the church. They knew the building, but didn’t make a connection to the church because nothing was going on.”

Nunes, the church’s first African American pastor, knew she had a lot of work to do. With the help of enthusiastic parishioners she started new programs at the church to help members reconnect to the community, went door-to-door handing out fliers, added two new congregations — Spanish and Haitian, and slowly heard the church start to buzz again.

“It took three or four years to let people know we’re a church, and we’re open for business,” she said.

Pratt said Summerfield is a thriving congregation again, thanks to Nunes’ efforts.

“The church used to be open on Sundays and that was about it. Now, you can go in almost any time of day and something’s going on,” she said. “We’re a very busy church now.”

Photo courtesy of Rev. Nunes

It was in the midst of the Summerfield revival when Nunes got that “uncomfortable feeling” again. This time, it was the push to pursue a Doctorate of Ministry.

Nunes resisted.

“Not another degree, what am I a professional student?,” she thought to herself. “I had my church to worry about.”

But Nunes listened and enrolled at Harford Seminary’s doctor of ministry program.  This decision, she said, changed her life and her church.

She named her thesis, “To dream again: A new dream of a new community for new times.” The DMIN project, she said, is what kept her on track as she continued to  help the congregation transform.

“It (her project) fueled me. It kept me focused. God uses many tools to get us to where God wants us to be. You have to be open to all those tools and Hartford Seminary was one of the tools that God was going to use to revitalize this church,” Nunes said.

Through classes, academic readings, a supportive Hartford Seminary faculty and ministry colleagues Nunes got to see her project come to fruition, she said.

Summerfield now has a summer program for neighborhood children, a food pantry, a clothing closet, has a new music program, overhead projectors and is an ethnically diverse congregation. Between the English, Spanish and French services, Nunes said about 140 people worship at the church each weekend.

“We have projections to go over 200 on a weekend, which would be a big deal for us, because we were the church nobody knew,” she said.

Bishops’ point man on ‘religious liberty’ gets a promotion

By David Gibson
Religion News Service

Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., testifies on President Obama's proposed contraception mandate before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform. RNS photo courtesy House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

BRIDGEPORT — If there is any Catholic bishop in the U.S. who probably didn’t need a bigger platform, it would be William E. Lori, who was named Tuesday (March 20) by Pope Benedict XVI as the next archbishop of Baltimore.

For the past decade, Lori has led the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut’s Fairfield County, but in recent months he’s become the public face of the hierarchy’s new signature issue: the fight for “religious freedom.”

It’s a fight that has defined Lori’s career — and is likely to define the public face of the church in the months to come.

In political terms, Lori has been tasked with coordinating the bishops’ opposition to the White House’s birth control mandate as well as opposing gay marriage and a host of other hot-button controversies.

Last September, Lori was tapped to lead the bishops’ new Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty in order to sharpen the bishops’ message and raise their profile after years of playing defense in the clergy sexual abuse scandals.

In recent months, Lori has testified in Congress three times, and the bishops’ fight with the White House has dominated the headlines and even seeped into the 2012 presidential race.

“To tell you the truth, I feel a sense of urgency about it,” Lori said, with some understatement, in an interview a few days before his promotion. “But at the same time it’s a work that’s important and fulfilling and I enjoy it.”

Quiet and soft-spoken, Lori nonetheless brings a single-minded focus to defending sacred principles while also deploying the kind of double-edged humor that a religious leader needs to do battle in the public square. He can be sharp to the point of sarcastic but also self-effacing in regards to his own career.

“They say timing is everything,” Lori said with the quiet laugh of a man who tends to see the irony and absurdity of so many aspects of modern life.

Now, with the move to Baltimore — the oldest archdiocese in the U.S. — timing is again Lori’s ally. At just 60 years old, his new post will put him that much closer to the action, and now he’ll have a papal imprimatur to bring with him.

Unlike the gregarious Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Lori is slightly-built and almost shy. He likes nothing more than reading history, and loves books so much that he named his pair of sibling Golden Retrievers “Barnes” and “Noble.”

“I am dialed-down quite a bit from Cardinal Dolan, no doubt about that,” Lori said during an interview in the chapel at Sacred Heart University.

Lori learned the virtue of hard work from his immigrant family, especially his Sicilian grandfather, who arrived in America in the depths of the Great Depression and managed to launch a successful fruit and vegetable store. Born in Louisville, Ky., and raised in nearby Indiana, Lori watched his grandfather work in his garden until he was 87, and it was a lesson he never forgot.

“I’m happy, and I love working,” he said. “Happiness and hard work go hand in hand.”

It was also a lesson Lori took to the seminary, and it paid off. After studies in Kentucky, he earned a master’s degree from Mount Saint Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was ordained in 1977. He earned his doctorate from Catholic University five years later, and after a brief stint as an associate pastor in suburban Washington, he went to work for the late Cardinal James Hickey of Washington.

Lori wound up working for Hickey for 18 years, serving in a variety of posts and learning even more about what it meant to work hard: “There are two words that I feared most at 10:00 at night from the cardinal: ‘Second wind.’ That would mean you were going until one in the morning.”

In 2001, Lori was appointed to Bridgeport. Knowing that he could be made a bishop, he says he checked to see which dioceses had vacancies, and saw two: Bridgeport and Fairbanks, Alaska. “I said a little prayer that it might be the former. I’m just not that good at ice fishing and flying a Cessna,” he said.

Within months, Lori was facing two huge crises: the 9/11 attacks that claimed many of his new flock, and the clergy abuse crisis that has continued to dog the hierarchy.

While Lori is known for his orthodoxy on doctrine and social issues, he was praised by many for taking a hard line in dealing with abusive priests, and in dealing with subsequent financial scandals that emerged. On the other hand, Lori also fought all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep documents on private settlements with victims — reached before he became bishop — sealed. He argued his case on religious freedom grounds, but eventually lost.

But two other episodes helped shape his outlook. One was a proposal by a pair of state senators to change the structure of Catholic parishes to have lay people, rather than priests and bishops, in charge. Critics suspected it was legislative mischief prompted by Lori’s vocal opposition to Connecticut’s gay marriage law.

Lori rallied the state’s bishops and thousands of Catholics in a public campaign against the bill, which died fairly quickly. But it provided a template for Lori’s current national approach.

“If it’s just bishops speaking, in a democracy, we understand that as charming and as reasonable and as innately delightful as we all are, we’ll have a better chance for a hearing when there’s a lot of people out there saying, wait, this is a problem.”

Another case, however, showed that Lori also knows the value of a strategic retreat. In 2007, Connecticut mandated that all hospitals provide emergency contraception to rape victims, a mandate that Lori and the other Connecticut bishops resisted much as they have the White House’s current contraception mandate.

Within months, Connecticut bishops said they had undergone “an evolution in thinking” and now believed that the Plan B pill would not necessarily cause an abortion and so could be used at Catholic medical facilities.

Lori says the decision was a prudent one, based on the facts, and that the current Obama mandate is different because it includes other pills that are closer to abortion, as well as sterilizations. Despite the White House’s assurances, he also doesn’t believe that compromise proposals will not force the church to pay for contraception.

In that view of President Obama, Lori is voicing skepticism shared by the bishops but not necessarily their flocks. That sort of disagreement is the kind of thing that really gets his “dander up,” as he said in explaining why he wrote a “nippy” response to an editorial in the Jesuit magazine America that had critiqued the bishops’ wisdom in the religious freedom battle.

“I felt that an ironic — some would say sarcastic — little piece was a knife to cut through the fog,” Lori said, relishing the memory of the exchange. “I enjoy a good piece of writing that has a bit of an edge to it, and other people do, too. We’re all big boys and girls.”

Lori believes that exuding joy as a bishop, not to mention displaying a sense of humor, is key to preaching the gospel. But if Lori’s approach and sense of humor isn’t to everyone’s liking, he insists that too much is at stake to let personal feelings get in the way.

“Once you have preached the principle that a government can define a church and tell a church what to do, well, it could tell us about contraception today, it could tell us about abortion tomorrow, and physician-assisted suicide the day after that. It is the principle of the thing,” he said.

“We certainly have to speak reasonably and civilly. But we also have to speak prophetically. And sometimes prophets are thought to be strident.”

Romney Tell Us The Story Of Wall Street’s 2008 Failure

By Tobin Hitt

We’re 300 hundred million souls in 2012 in search of a little political narrative now and then.

Moses told the people of the promised land (Exodus 13,4-5; 15,13). Jesus told Peter of feeding the sheep (John 21:15).

I’m thinking even Brigham Young told the flock why they should follow him to Salt Lake City.

But Governor Romney we haven’t heard you tell the story and of the Wall Street collapse of 2008, and the subsequent taxpayer-funded bailout. Wasn’t it greed and the pervasive “it’s all about the money” attitude that caused the whole mess?

Read full story here.

Bishop hopes to restart White House contraception talks

By DAVID GIBSON
c. 2012 Religion News Service
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (RNS) The Catholic bishop leading the push against the White House’s contraception mandate says the bishops hope to restart contentious talks with the Obama administration, but cautioned that church leaders “have gotten mixed signals from the administration” and the situation “is very fluid.”
Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., who chairs the religious liberty committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told Religion News Service that Catholics have to stay united if the hierarchy is to have any chance of prevailing in negotiations with the White House.
Ever since President Obama bowed to growing pressure and shifted the mandate to provide contraception mandate to insurance companies and away from religious employers, the White House has been hosting talks with various religious groups about a plan to modify the regulation.
Catholic institutions like hospitals, universities and social service agencies are most directly affected by the regulation because they are the biggest faith-based employers. They have also been much more amenable to the Obama accommodation than have the bishops.
Many bishops are upset with Catholic groups that have dealt independently with the administration, and some have also accused the administration of trying to divide the church.
“I think the hardest thing is that the administration deals with us in a segmented way,” said Lori, who has testified before Congress three times in opposition to the mandate.
“If there is really going to be a solution to things, we ought to all be in the room,” he said.
Lori said the bishops “do not have a monopoly on the church” but are nonetheless “responsible for a large part of how this works and for the Catholicity of all the institutions. So there ought to be an attempt to have an inclusive conversation with the Catholic Church, and not a segmented one. And I think that is in part why we are in a fairly unhappy spot right now.”
Lori and some 40 other leading bishops will meet in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday (March 13-14) for discussions expected to focus on relations with the White House and, in particular, the contraception mandate.
Lori said that the bishops “are not looking for a fight with the administration.” The bishops, he said, “are painfully aware that it is awfully difficult, in an election year and in the culture we have now, to have that conversation” about birth control.
“Are we doing it perfectly? No, of course not. But that’s certainly our intent.”
He reiterated earlier criticisms by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, who charged the administration with acting peremptorily in negotiations, and with wielding statements from Catholics that are critical of the bishops’ stance.
Administration officials have rejected those charges, and say the White House “has sought the views of bishops on resolving difficult policy problems, only to be rebuffed.”
Lori said that if there are “the conditions for the possibility of success,” then the talks can move ahead.
“All of us want to have a civil and productive conversation here,” he said. But he agreed with Dolan that “it isn’t looking good, and that’s too bad.”
Lori said that barring an advance in talks with the White House, the bishops see hope of modifying or overturning the contraception mandate through the courts. He added that rallying Catholics “and public opinion in general” around the theme of religious freedom remains the church’s best chance for changing the mandate through legislation or by giving the bishops political leverage.
One problem for the bishops, however, is the shifting and unsettled political terrain. Thanks in large part to the ugly comments about women and contraception by conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh and others, public opinion seems to be swinging in favor of the administration’s policies.
Congressional Republicans seem less eager to push legislation against the mandate, and the White House is exploiting this shift by courting women voters by reiterating the president’s support for contraception coverage and abortion rights.
Lori noted that “there are points of agreement” between the administration and the bishops, such as on the need for health care reform.
“I think if we see the whole relationship only through the lens of the … mandate, we will probably get a skewed view of it.”