Rose French writes about religious and spiritual matters for the Star Tribune. Before arriving in the Twin Cities this fall, she covered religion for the Associated Press in Tennessee, where she wrote about the Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Gideons and other religious groups and issues.
E-mail Rose with your thoughts or questions.
The leader of one of the most prominent Minneapolis churches has announced his retirement.
The Rev. James Gertmenian shared his plans to retire as senior minister from Plymouth Congregational Church by early 2015 during worship service on Sunday, according to a released statement from the church.
Gertmenian, 66, has served in the position for 17 years at Plymouth, which has close to 1,500 families attending the church located near downtown.
“Few clergy get the opportunity to preach regularly to such a stimulating and discerning congregation,” he wrote in a letter to church members.
“Gertmenian was among the people responsible a decade ago for the founding of the Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation, now known as Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. Having grown from one to more than 20 congregations, Beacon addresses the problem of homelessness through supportive housing and advocacy. Gertmenian also co-chaired Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak’s 2006 Commission to End Homelessness and served with Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness,” according to the released statement.
“A promoter of interfaith dialogue, Gertmenian received the 2009 Temple Israel Interfaith Award for Commitment to Interfaith Understanding.”
Gertmenian decided to give advance notice to the congregation of his retirement “so that, if it wishes, it may search for a successor while he is still serving.”
Want to get teenagers interested in going to church? There’s an ad for that.
Actually, several ads.
A group of students at Benilde-St. Margaret in St. Louis Park recently embarked on a unique project, creating an array of different ads geared toward getting teenagers in the pews, The Catholic Spirit reports.
Trying to get younger followers interested in being more involved in organized religion remains a key goal for a number of faith groups as their membership numbers have stagnated or dwindled in recent decades.
“Getting the message out in an enticing way and conveying the deeper meaning of the Eucharist proved to be a challenge. The students had to integrate what they learned over the course of the semester into the ad campaign," The Catholic Spirit reports.
“'They realized that it is difficult to contain a real message while still being appealing and catchy,'” said Alison Frank, one of the teachers who developed the project.
“In all, about 50 groups worked to create a print, radio and TV ad. The students in the group that produced the best ad in each category were able to skip the final exam for the semester.”
To check out the winning ads and others, go to www.thecatholicspirit.com.
Southern Baptists gathering this week for the group's annual conference in Texas on Wednesday voted in support of a resolution that opposes a new Boy Scouts policy allowing for openly gay members.
"The resolution also calls on the Boy Scouts to remove executive and board leaders who tried to allow gays as both members and leaders without consulting the many religious groups that sponsor Scout troops," The Assocated Press reports.
"While the resolution does not recommend that Southern Baptists drop ties with the Scouts, it expresses support for those churches and families that decide to do so."
The largest Protestant denomination in the U.S. with close to 16 million members, the Southern Baptist Convention joins other conservative Christian groups that are reconsidering their support of the Boy Scouts since the controversial policy change.
Following the vote Wednesday, Russell Moore, who serves as president for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention, tweeted that "Southern Baptists affirmed a wise, balanced, and gospel-focused Boy Scouts resolution. It's not frantic or angry."
The Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America elected a new bishop over the weekend at the group’s annual assembly in Rochester.
The Rev. Steven Delzer, of Faribault, Minn., will serve a 6-year term as bishop of the Southeastern Minnesota Synod of the (ELCA). Delzer was elected on the fifth ballot with 310 votes during the synod assembly on Saturday, according to a released statement from the synod.
The Southeastern Minnesota Synod has the third-largest membership in Minnesota --nearly 125,000 -- following the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Area Synods. There are nearly 800,000 ELCA members total in Minnesota.
Delzer is currently pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Faribault, where he has served since 2002. He previously served as an interim pastor at Zion Lutheran Church, West Union, Iowa (2000-2001) and First Lutheran Church, Albert Lea, Minn. (2001-2001). Prior to 2000, he served congregations in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Delzer will be installed Sept. 7. Information about the Southeastern Minnesota Synod is available at semnsynod.org.
It looks like not all Catholic clergy are crazy about the new translation of the Roman missal used in mass ceremonies.
That’s according to a survey released Tuesday by St. John’s School of Theology in Collegeville, Minn. It found 59 percent of priests surveyed do not like the new mass translations, which began to be used in fall 2011.
“Eighty percent said they agreed with an assessment that the Latin to English translation is 'awkward and distracting,' according to the St. John’s study. Sixty-one percent also said the new language needs to be revised “urgently,” according to the National Catholic Reporter
“The study was conducted by the school’s Godfrey Diekmann, OSB Center for Patristics and Liturgical Studies. It invited all 178 U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses to ask their priests to respond to online questions regarding their experience with the new translations.
“According to the school, 1,536 priests in 32 U.S. diocese responded. The survey took place from Feb. 21-May 6.
“The translations, which were first indicated in a 2001 Vatican document, include small and large changes from previous versions of how priests say prayers and celebrate the Eucharist. They also affect ways Catholics respond throughout the ceremony.
“In one of the most obvious changes, Catholics are no longer to respond “And also with you” when the priest wishes them peace, but rather “And with your spirit.”
“This survey shows fairly widespread skepticism about the new Missal by U.S. Catholic priests, with strong differences in opinion between the majority of priests who do not like the Missal and the minority who do,” the school said in a release.
“Among findings highlighted by the school:
•Priests surveyed did not like the new texts by a 3-2 margin, with 59 percent saying they do not like them compared to 39% who do.
•More than 1/3 of priests surveyed said they “strongly disagree” that the new missal is an improvement over its predecessor.
•80 percent of those surveyed said they agreed with an assessment of the new language as “awkward and distracting.”
•61 percent of those surveyed said the new language needs to be revised “urgently,” with 43 percent strongly agreeing."
What role does prayer play in open public meetings?
That’s the question the Supreme Court is scheduled to take up today in a case highlighting the intersection of religion and government, according to The Associated Press:
"The justices said they will review an appeals court ruling that held that the town of Greece in suburban Rochester in upstate New York violated the Constitution by opening nearly every meeting over an 11-year span with prayers that stressed Christianity.""The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the town should have made a greater effort to invite people from other faiths to open its monthly board meetings."
"The town says the high court already has upheld prayers at the start of legislative meetings and that private citizens offered invocations of their own choosing. The town said in court papers that the opening prayers should be found to be constitutional, "so long as the government does not act with improper motive in selecting prayer-givers."
"Two town residents who are not Christian complained that they felt marginalized by the steady stream of Christian prayers and challenged the practice. They are represented by Americans United for Separation of Church and State."
"Reacting to the court action Monday, the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said, "A town council meeting isn’t a church service, and it shouldn’t seem like one."