Category Archives: Christian-Catholic

Ecumenical Good Friday service celebrates the Easter mystery

By Tracy Simmons
SpokaneFAVS.com

Tenebrae "herse" (candelabrum)/Wikipedia

On Friday evening, the sanctuary at Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral will slowly get darker and darker, symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus and the suspense of his resurrection.

It’s the second year the church has hosted the Ecumenical Tenebrae Prayer Service, which will be celebrated by five of Spokane’s Christian leaders.

“It darkens as Christ moves further and further away from us,” said the Rev. Jeff Lewis, parochial vicar of the cathedral, adding that only a single candle will remain at the end of the service, signifying the unconquerable light of Christ.

The Tenebrae service is a long-time tradition at Our Lady of Lourdes, but in an effort to be more inclusive Bishop Blase Cupich, of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, changed it last year to be an ecumenical service.

About 150 people attended the 2011 program.

This year the service will be led by the Rev. Sheryl Kinder Pyle, transitional executive presbyter of the Presbytery of the Inland Northwest, Bishop James E. Waggoner, Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of Spokane, Bishop Martin Wells, of the  Evangelical Lutheran Church of Eastern Washington – Idaho, the Rev. Dale Cockrum, the inland district superintendent of the Pacific Northwest Conference United Methodist Church, and Cupich.

Kinder Pyle will deliver the sermon and the other faith leaders will read the accompanying scriptures and Good Friday texts. The Cathedral singers will lead the congregation in traditional chants and songs.

“One of the ways we can really celebrate our commonalities is through these kinds of things,” Lewis said. “It’s really a very subtle, but very unique and prayerful opportunity to reflect upon the Paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ.”

The service will begin at 7 p.m.

Also on Good Friday, at noon, the cathedral will celebrate the Lord’s Passion with the veneration of the cross.

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Spokane’s religion wrap-up: Easter baskets, genealogy, Passover and Tutu

By Tracy Simmons
SpokaneFAVS.com

For kids, the best part of Easter is getting a basket filled with bunny-shaped chocolates and plastic eggs filled with coins. But when was the last time mom got an Easter basket? This year Christ Kitchen is selling ‘grown-up Easter baskets’ filled with soups, breads and other home-made goodies. You can order online.

(By the way, you still have time to get your Easter listings turned in to SpokaneFAVS, but better hurry).

Since we’re on the topic of family — are you interested in learning more about your genealogy? The Spokane West Stake will host a Family Search Symposium from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 28. It’s free and you can register online here.

Flickr photo of Passover seder by Suzie T

Let’s not forget that Easter isn’t the only sacred holiday on next weekend’s calendar. Passover begins April 7 and continues through April 13. Passover is a time to commemorate the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt under the leadership of Moses, who was directed by God. Traditionally on the first two nights of Passover, it is traditional for a Jewish family to gather for a special dinner called a seder in which the story of the Exodus is retold.

In this month’s newsletter from the Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod, the director of evangelical mission writes an interesting reflection on missional leadership. Helga Jansens writes, “Being missional means worrying less about ourselves: a self-denying forgetfulness about our congregational  size and resources. It is to be concerned with what God is already doing and what God wants to have done in  the community.” She offers some ideas in her piece about how to be more missional-minded.

Finally, you probably know Desmond Tutu is coming to Spokane later this year. But did you know his visit isn’t without controversy. The Inlander did a nice job explaining this story here.

Have something you think should be included in next week’s wrap-up? Email it to tracy.simmons@religionnews.com

When are your Holy Week services?

By Tracy Simmons
SpokaneFAVS.com

Flickr photo by katybate

Many Christians will walk out of church on Sunday with a palm leaf folded into a small cross. The palm is a reminder of John 12:12-23, when a crowd used them to welcome Jesus to Jerusalem.

Later, many in that crowd urged for his execution.

Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, which is the week leading to Easter.

Holy Week includes Maundy Thursday, when Christians remember Jesus’ last supper. And on Friday, Good Friday, Christians will reflect upon his crucifixion.

Many churches will hold Easter vigils on Saturday night (Holy Saturday) where the Easter, or Paschal, candle is lit.

Holy Week will conclude on Easter Sunday, April 8.

SpokaneFAVS will publish local Holy Week listings very soon. If you’d like your church included email services times to Tracy.Simmons@religionnews.com.

Study Shows Giving Finally Rebounding for Majority of Churches

By Tracy Simmons
SpokaneFAVS.com

Numerous churches suffered from plummeting donations after the recession began in 2008. But in the past year, a majority of congregations experienced giving increases because of a better economy, higher attendance and more church teaching on giving, according to a press release.

Trends in 2011 included higher budgets, greater attention to fiscal transparency and board governance and a rise in electronic giving through technological tools.

The fourth annual “State of the Plate” constituency survey of more than 1,360 congregations revealed that 51 percent of churches saw giving increase in 2011, up from 43 percent in 2010 and 36 percent in 2009.

According to the press release, among churches that saw giving increases, 50 percent attributed the rise to greater attendance. Forty-two percent said it was because people gave more after their church conducted financial/generosity teaching initiatives, such as sermons, classes, seminars or distributed devotionals about the subject.

“As giving has improved for many churches nationwide, this survey shows many have made budget decisions that directly care for people,” said Matt Branaugh, director of editorial for Christianity Today’s Church Management Team, a survey sponsor. “Many churches increased their spending for missions and benevolence – two ways churches work to meet the needs of people locally and globally. And pay raises for staff and pastors were a move to care for their own, after many churches were forced to freeze or cut salaries during the recession.”

For an executive summary with charts, graphs and trends, visit www.STATEofthePLATE.info/media2012.htm.

Is it enough to confront evil with prayer?

By Blogger Dr. Karin Heller

Bonjour Dr. Heller,

I’ve been reflecting on our last lecture about overcoming evil in the world. This has prompted a new question I’m hoping you will answer for me. 

I realize there was evil back in biblical times, but I truly believe it is far worse today and so much more destructive — morally, spiritually, as well as literally with all the military advances. In your lecture you said Trinitarian life is the answer to whatever evil is generated by the world and prayer is an important part. I know perseverance through prayer is possible for me, but I am unsure what the expectations are beyond that, for me, and the congregation of Christians as a whole. If we persevere through prayer as Jesus did, is that enough; is there more we should be doing now? You said to confront evil and not to run away, but some of the evil in this world is very overwhelming and frightening. I am worried that prayer is not enough. In addition, and to be perfectly honest, I fear what will happen when I am confronted by evil. Please share your thoughts. Is prayer really enough, or am I missing something? 

Thank you so much,I truly value your insights and wisdom! 

Kind Regards,

Kirsten

Dear Kirsten,

Dr. Karin Heller

Thank you for your insightful question. If you look up your class notes your should see o I gave at least three ways to confront evil. You only retained prayer. It’s funny you don’t remember the other two. One can’t just confront evil with prayer. One has to add service and the ‘right meal’ taken within a fellowship. When evil is at work we also have to continue the service to which God called us. This reminds me of a Catholic priest who, on Sept. 11 entered one of the twin towers to assist the dying there. He did not simply pray outside of the tower for the dying. He continued to act as a priest just as the fire fighters continued to act as firefighters. Yes, evil was around them, but they went ahead with their missions. The mission preserves us from focusing all the time on evil and fear of that evil which has paralyzing effects. This, of course, means we have to figure out first what our mission is!

Then, in the face of evil, we desperately need to share in the Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist, in communion with all of the Lord’s faithful. That’s why I spent so much time in class on the Lord’s Supper. When you get into a deeper understanding of the Lord’s Supper you’ll be better equipped to resist evil and to endure. Every meal allows us to endure, to overcome loss of energy, psychological weakness, depression and so forth. There are meals and the memories of certain meals that stimulate us and allow us to endure. This can be a special meal with a particular friend, or with your kids, or after graduation, or on your birthday or on a vacation. Certain meals (or the memories of these meals) I took with friends in France during summer always help me to keep on going during my fall or spring semester! The Eucharist is doing this also in a special way because it’s during this meal that the Lord himself is the host and makes us share in his body and blood, the only thing capable of defeating whatever evil power!

– Karin

Dr. Karin Heller is a professor on the theology faculty at Whitworth University. Her blog, Table Talk with Dr. Karin Heller, features her responses to questions that students have asked her over the years.  Check back each week to see new posts, and if you have a question leave it in the comment section below.

Wednesday’s Religion News Roundup: Romney does less bad, Springsteen’s Catholicism, Orthodox abuse

By David Gibson
Religion News Service

As the Jewish victims in the French school shooting were being buried in Israel,police in France laid siege to the house of the suspect, a 24-year-old Islamic militant claiming ties to Al Qaeda.

French Jews and Muslims grapple for answers.

Mitt Romney won big in Illinois last night, and did less bad with conservatives and evangelicals than he has before. He did a lot better than the first Mormon to run for president did in Illinois, a state he didn’t leave alive.

So Romney’s good now, right? Please? CBN’sDavid Brody is already warning Mitt that he has to do more to win evangelical hearts and minds or it’ll be a “hold your nose” vote in the fall: “A standard evangelical turnout won’t do the trick for Romney.”

Illinois was considered a “must win” for Rick Santorum to remain viable. So now it’s on to Santorum’s next “must win,” Louisiana – which he could actually win, despite attempting todistance himself from the rather controversial remarks of Pastor Dennis Terry at a Baptist church service Santorum attended.

Read full post here.

Building community through social media

By Contributor Rev. Jim CastroLang

Rev. Jim CastroLang

I am a “social media writer” for SpokaneFAVS. I care about the ways social media can help spiritual communities. For many years I have been advocating the potential for good that can come from the tools of technology. I am a veteran of almost 30 years through “trial and error” dating back to 1984 when I got my first computer. Less than a decade later, I was spending countless hours online in the Ecunet Community.

A spiritual community needs to focus on developing its communication tools for sharing, relationship building and living out its vision. I will discuss some of these tools in this space. I will use the phrase “spiritual community” to describe any church, denomination, synagogue, temple, mosque, or group of people who organize themselves around common spiritual beliefs, practices or principles.

As a pastor in the United Church of Christ, I have heard people lodge two key criticisms of the use of social media. First, all this social media is distracting people from building the meaningful relationships we focus on in our spiritual community. And second, face-to-face communication is what spiritual communities are about — everything else offers so much less.  I am not interested in social media for marketing purposes. I am interested in social media for its potential for bringing people together and enhancing the development of spiritual communities.

Last summer when the United Church of Christ had its national gathering (General Synod) in Tampa, Fla., I brought the church I pastor to the conference without ever leaving our town of Colville. I wanted the people in my church to connect to the energy of the people gathered in Tampa. With the live feed coming from the synod and the big screen in our sanctuary, I encouraged the people in my church to “attend the synod” from our pews. We downloaded and printed the bulletins for worship and shared in singing the songs and contributing our voices to the common responses. We had a table with synod resources such as resolutions up for a vote. I used Twitter and Facebook to interact with those in Tampa and around the country who participated in this great five-day event. As synod was coming to a close, one of the delegates in Tampa from our conference told me how much it meant that we were participating from afar. He said, “We felt connected to you back home. So often we go to these events.  We get energized but back home no one understands. This time we didn’t feel alone.” Through the use of social media, there were people in Tampa who were certain that I was there in the hall with them.  My church was not in Tampa but my church did attend the synod.

My writings will explore the ways we can strengthen our connection with each other, even when we are not in the same room. I hope to hear your stories and learn of areas you would like me to address.  Strengthening our connections one to another and building our spiritual communities can bring hope to a hurting world.