Category Archives: Christian-Orthodox

When are your Holy Week services?

By Tracy Simmons

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

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.

Advancing your church in the Digital Age

Flickr image by James at Uni

Many churches are struggling to figure out this whole Internet thing. Does a church need a website? What should be on it? What about Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Pinterest?

Overwhelmed yet?

On April 10 SpokaneFAVS editor Tracy Simmons will lead a workshop, “Advancing your church in the Digital Age” where she’ll discuss how churches can develop a true Web presence.

A new report by Faith Communities Today shows 69 percent of congregations have websites and 40 percent use Facebook.

“Ministry should be, even must be, a technological hybrid venture in this day and age. But technology is not an end in itself. It has to be employed strategically and intentionally as a component of the overall ministry effort of the congregation. It is not a matter of having a webpage, a Facebook account or projection screens, but of using these to enhance and expand the activities and communal life of the congregation,” said Scott Thumma, author of the FACT study.

Another study, by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, shows 79 percent of Americans belonging to a faith group are active Internet users. Millions of Americans are on Facebook, the average user spending 15 hours and 33 hours a month on the site. Twitter is adding 500,000 users a day, according to the Search Engine Journal.

To stay relevant to today’s digital world, churches need to meet people where they are — online (in lots of places). Find out how at the workshop, which is SpokaneFAVS first fundraiser. It will be at 7 p.m. at St. John’s Cathedral, 127 East 12th Ave. Donations are appreciated.

RSVP on the Advancing your church in the Digital Age Facebook page.

SpokaneFAVS is an online publication that covers faith news in the Spokane area through news stories, multimedia and blogs. Simmons has worked as an online journalist for nearly a decade and has studied social media, multimedia and Web design.


Monday’s Religion News Roundup: Tornado churches; Dolan’s “Irish”; GCBs

By Daniel Burke
Religion News Service

Houses of worship in Henryville, Indiana, and across the Midwest and South are helping pick up the pieces from devastating tornadoes that killed 39.

Military investigators found that five U.S. service members are responsible for Quran burnings in Afghanistan. They could lose rank, but will not be put on public trial, despite calls from Afghanistan’s top religious council.

“What they did was careless, but there was no ill will,” a military official told WaPo.

Georgetown University’s, John J. DeGioia, quoted St. Augustine in his defense of GU law student Sandra Fluke, whom Rush Limbaugh called a mean word last week. “Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance.  Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth,” runs the quotation from Augustine.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan urged Roman Catholics to get more involved in the church’s religious freedom battle against the govt. Dolan also said the bishops “got our Irish up”when White House officials suggested that they heed more conciliatory Catholic voices.

 Read full post here.

Mmmm, pancakes

By Tracy Simmons

Flickr photo by rob_rob2001

Call if Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras – whatever you want. Whatever you call it, tonight, on the eve of Lent, many Christians will feast on pancakes.

Why pancakes, you ask?

Because it’s tradition. Nowadays most people give up something like chocolate or meat during Lent, but once upon a time people commonly gave up eggs, sugar and flour. Pancakes were a good way to use up those ingredients before the Lenten fast.

Lots of churches are having pancake dinners tonight. You can find listings here.

Or, if you want to stay at home, here are some tasty Fat Tuesday Recipes.

Spokane area holiday listings


Flickr Photo by C.P.Storm

Christmas and Hanukkah are upon us, and that means worship services, pageants and concerts abound. Below is a list of Spokane area events.


All Saints Lutheran Church, Candlelight Service, Saturday, 5 p.m.

All Nations Christian Center, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 7 p.m.

Chattaroy Community Church, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 6 p.m., Christmas Service, Sunday, 10 a.m.

Crossover Church, Christmas Service, Sunday 10:45 a.m.

Dayton First Congregational Church-UCC, Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, Saturday, 11 p.m., Christmas Day Worship Sunday,  11 a.m.

Eastpoint Church, Christmas Services, Friday 6:30 p.m., Saturday 2, 4 and 6 p.m.

Episcopal Church of the Resurrection, Christmas Eve Services, Saturday 7 and 10 p.m., Christmas service, Sunday 10 a.m.

Faith Bible Church, Christmas Eve worship Service, Saturday, 5 p.m., Christmas Worship Service, Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

First Congregational UCC, Colville, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 7 p.m.

First Presbyterian Church of Spokane, Christmas Eve services, Saturday, 4, 7, 9 and 11 p.m.

Foothills Community Church, candlelight service, Saturday, 7 p.m., Christmas service, Sunday, 10 a.m.

Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Christmas Eve service, Saturday, 6:30 p.m.

Immanuel Baptist Church, Christmas Eve communion service, Saturday, 6 p.m.

Liberty Park United Methodist Church, Christmas Eve Service with carols and candlelight, Saturday, 7 p.m. , Christmas Service with carols and story, Sunday 9:30 a.m.

Life Center North, Christmas Services, Friday 7 p.m., Saturday 1, 2:30, 4 and 5:30 p.m.

Liferoads Church, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 5 p.m.

Liberty Baptist Church, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 6 p.m., Christmas Service, Sunday 11 a.m.

Manito Presbyterian Church, Family Worship Service, Saturday, 4 p.m., Candlelight Communion Worship, Saturday, 9 p.m., Christmas Day Worship, Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

Mt. Spokane Church, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 6:45 p.m., Christmas Service, Sunday, 10 a.m.

New Life Church, Christmas Service, Sunday 10 a.m.

North Addison Baptist Church, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 6 p.m., Christmas Service, Sunday, 10 a.m.

Northwood Presbyterian Church, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 7 p.m.

One Church, Christmas Entertainment, Friday, 7 p.m., Saturday, 3 and 4:30 p.m.

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Christmas Eve Services, Saturday, 4 and 10 p.m., Christmas Worship Service, Sunday, 10 a.m.

Redeemer Lutheran Church, Christmas Eve Candlelight and Communion, Saturday, 4, 6, 8 and 10 p.m.

Rockford Community United Methodist Church, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 6 p.m.

Salem Lutheran Church, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday 10 p.m., Christmas Service with story and carols, Sunday, 11 a.m. – joint service with St. Paul’s United Methodist Church

Shadle Park Presbyterian Church, Contemporary Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, Saturday, 4:30 p.m., Traditional Candlelight Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 9 p.m., Christmas Day Worship, Sunday, 9 a.m.

Shiloh Hills Fellowship, Candlelight Service, Saturday, 5 p.m., Christmas Service, Sunday 10 a.m.

Spokane First Assembly of God, Christmas Service, Sunday, 10 a.m.

Spokane Valley Baptist Church, Christmas Eve Service, 7 p.m., Saturday, Christmas Service, Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

St. David’s Episcopal Church, family Eucharist with Christmas pageant, Saturday, 5 p.m., Eucharist, Saturday, 10 p.m., Eucharist, Sunday, 10 a.m.

St. John’s Cathedral, family Eucharist, Saturday, 4 p.m., festival Eucharist, 10 p.m., Christmas Eucharist, Sunday 10 a.m.

St. Joseph Parish, Christmas Eve Children’s Service, Saturday, 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.,  Christmas Eve Evening Service, Saturday 10 p.m., Christmas Service, Sunday, 11 a.m.

St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Christmas Worship Service, Sunday, 10:45 a.m.

St. Mary’s Catholic Parish, Christmas Eve Mass, Saturday, 4, 7 and 10 p.m., Christmas Mass, Sunday, 7:30 and 10 a.m.

Southside Christian Church, Christmas Eve Services, Friday, 7 p.m., Saturday, 2, 3:30 and 5 p.m.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Family Eucharist and Pageant,  Saturday, 5 p.m., Festive Choral Holy Eucharist, Saturday, 10 p.m., Christmas Lessons and Carols with Holy Eucharist, Sunday, 10:15 a.m.

The Porch, Christmas Eve Service, Saturday, 5 p.m.

Tri-County Christian Center, Candlelight Service, Saturday, 6 p.m.

Unity Church Spokane, Christmas Eve Candle Lighting Services, Saturday 6,8 and 10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.

Valley Assembly, Christmas Eve Services, Saturday, 3:30 and 5 p.m., Christmas Service, Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

Westminster Congregational United Church of Christ, Christmas Eve Service of Carols and Candles, Saturday, 7 p.m., Christmas Service, Sunday, 10:30 a.m.

Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church, Traditional Candlelight and Communion Service, Saturday, 4 p.m. and 11 p.m., Family Christmas Eve, Saturday, 5:30 p.m., Jazz Christmas Eve, Saturday, 7 and 9 p.m.

For a full list of services around the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane click here.


Congregational Emanu-El, Hanukkah party, Dec. 27, 6 p.m.

If you have an event you’d like added to this list, email

Tuesday’s Religion Roundup: The real St. Nick, defending Newt, awkward Bachmann

Happy Feast of Saint Nicholas! Or that “jolly old elf,” as we’ve come to know him.

Though in fact – as this recent facial reconstruction from his 1,600-year-old-skull shows – he was a tough, olive-skinned battler for Christian orthodoxy back in Asia Minor, or what we know today as Turkey.

And, yes, he was born into a patrician family and used that wealth to help others, hence the reason so many Americans who can’t afford basics go into credit card debt at Christmas buying stuff.

The draw of the season is so powerful, in fact, that a sizeable minority of atheists in one study liked to go to church more than a year. Christmas is a good bet for one of those times.

Read full post here.

“Our research shows just how tightly linked religion and family are in U.S. society – so much so that even some of society’s least religious people find religion to be important in their private lives,” said Rice University sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, a lead researcher in the study.

Tuesday’s Religion News Roundup: The Last Testament; Episcopal abandonment; Western Wall

Just in time for the holidays, God has a new book out called the “The Last Testament,” as “revealed” to a Daily Show writer. The NYT calls it “pseudoquaint.”

Speaking of writers, the late David Foster Wallace reportedly flirted with joining the Catholic Church near the end of his life.

David Brooks has been reading about Augustine and says Republicans and Democrats remind him of the Donatists. “They were more interested in following their accepted doctrine than in looking at reality.”

Lisa Miller has been reading about the black church and says it may be the answer to the laggardly liberal movement’s prayers.

The Episcopal bishop of South Carolina has been cleared of charges that he “abandoned” the communion of Episcopal Church.

Read full post here.